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Col. Samuel HaycraftFounded in July 1797, Elizabethtown is the Hardin County seat. In 1779, three early settlers, Capt. Thomas Helm, Col. Andrew Hynes, and Col. Samuel Haycraft, built forts with block houses to use as stockades for defense against Native Americans. The forts, being one mile apart, formed a triangle. At the time, there were no other settlements between the Ohio River and the Green River. Soon, however, other people came and settled around these forts.

Hardin County was established in 1793 and named for Colonel John Hardin, an Indian fighter who had been killed by Native Americans while on a peace mission with tribes in Ohio. It did not take long for the settlement to become an active community. In just a few years, professional men and tradesmen came to live in the area. In 1793, Colonel Hynes had thirty acres of land surveyed and laid off into lots and streets to establish Elizabethtown. Named in honor of the wife of Andrew Hynes, Elizabethtown was legally established on July 4, 1797.

Historical ElizabethtownThomas Lincoln was a resident of Hardin County and helped Samuel Haycraft build a millrace at Haycraft's mill on Valley Creek. He married Nancy Hanks in 1806 and they lived in a log cabin built in Elizabethtown. Their daughter, Sarah was born there in 1808. Soon after, they moved to the Sinking Spring Farm where Abraham Lincoln was born. Thomas Lincoln took his family to Indiana in 1816. After his wife died in 1818, he came back to Elizabethtown and married Sarah Bush Johnston. Sarah had the privilege of rearing ten year-old Abraham.

The Louisville and Nashville Railroad was built in Elizabethtown in 1854. The opening of the railroad brought growth and prosperity to Elizabethtown. The community became one of the most important stops along the railroad and a strategic point during the Civil War.

CannonThe Elizabethtown City Cemetery was used by Confederate Forces under General John Hunt Morgan as the position for an artillery attack upon the Federal troops on December 27, 1862. Confederate cannons atop cemetery hill fired into the downtown area.

According to local folklore, one cannon ball from that battle is still embedded in the wall of a building on the Public Square.

From 1871 to 1873, the Seventh Cavalry and a battalion of the Fourth Infantry, led by General George Custer, were stationed in Elizabethtown. The battalions were stationed in the community to suppress the Ku Klux Klan and Carpet Baggers and to break up illegal distilleries which began to flourish in the South after the Civil War. General Custer and his wife Elizabeth lived in a small cottage behind Aunt Beck Hill's boarding house, now known as the Brown-Pusey House.

Today Elizabethtown is still a growing community. With a population of over 20,000 persons, the community has a growing industrial and commercial economy. There are also many cultural and recreational opportunities in the area, including the summer concert series at Freeman Lake Park, organized sports, and the Heartland Festival. The City Seal, with the inscription "Elizabethtown, Strong and Growing Since 1779" still rings true today.

Genealogy and Family Histories

Elizabethtown and Hardin County have a rich history. Many can trace their family roots to the Elizabethtown area. Some prominent and noteworthy surnames include Hynes, Helm, Haycraft, Lincoln, VanMeter, Bland, and Huddleston.

There are many sources in Elizabethtown for tracing family histories, including the Brown-Pusey House. The historic Brown-Pusey House, built in 1852, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The old boarding house is now the home of a genealogical library and meeting space. The library holds over 600 files in various local families and over 1000 volumes of marriage licenses, land titles, tax records and census information. For more information contact:

Twylane Van Lahr, Director
Ph: (270) 765-2515
Brown-Pusey House
Genealogical Library
128 North Main Street
Elizabethtown, KY 42701

Genealogical Resources

Hardin County MuseumElizabethtown-Hardin County Heritage Council
25 Public Square
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Phone: 270-737-4126

Hardin County Public Library
100 Jim Owen Drive
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Phone: 270-769-6337
Phone: 270-769-0437 (fax)

Hardin County Clerks Office
R.R. Thomas Building
Public Square
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Phone: 270-765-2171

Elizabethtown Community College Media Center
600 College Street Road
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Phone: 270-769-2371

Ancestral Trails Historical Society, Inc.
PO Box 1796
Elizabethtown, KY 42702-1796
Phone: 270-982-0881

Hardin County History Museum
201 West Dixie Avenue
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Phone: 270-763-8339