History for Henderson, KY
With its longest-running tavern being established in 1869, it may come as a surprise that the city itself did not reach the status of being a city until two years earlier. That’s right, Henderson didn’t officially become a city until 1867! Now, that isn’t saying that overnight a town just suddenly appeared out of nowhere with residents. In fact, acres of land that make up historic Henderson were laid out in 1797 by the Transylvania Land Company.
Originally, there were 17,000,000 acres of land that were purchased from the Cherokee Indians that resided there, which makes up most of what is now Kentucky, but this purchase was voided due to the Virginia legislature. Although the purchase of such a large amount of land was voided, there was a smaller amount, 200,000 acres, that was granted to Colonel Richard Henderson and Company due to a payment of $50,000 in the Treaty of Watauga.
This is not only where Henderson Kentucky got its start, but it is also the source of the town’s name. While Richard Henderson may be where the town gets its name, it is through his agent, General Samuel Hopkins, and Thomas Allin, that the City of Henderson was laid out and “born”. In fact, the city considers its birth date to be April 6, 1797. When Henderson was incorporated, which means it was officially considered a town, in 1810, it held a population of 183 people. Three years after being incorporated, the first private school, Henderson Academy, was established and the first bank opened in 1818. In 1825, Henderson’s first church, the Old Union Church, was founded. Also, the first County Court in Henderson was built in 1814 and later had to be replaced twice.
Another important person to mention when it comes to the history of Henderson, Kentucky, would have to be John James Audubon. Audubon resided in the town from 1810-1819. It was during that time that Henderson was still considered a frontier village. While Audubon ran a small mill on the riverfront, which had mixed success, it was his eagerness to explore the forests of the region and the works that were produced that left such an impact on Henderson. It was because of Audubon’s attention to detail and his ability to translate what he saw in real life to paper through his sketching and painting that led to people knowing the importance of nature.
Now, when it came time to name one of the State Parks that is located in Kentucky, Henderson decided that Audubon was the best fit for their park. Just like John J. Audubon used to do, tourists and locals can hike the trails that Audubon may have founded. They can also watch for the various species of birds that populate the park. Along with those activities that can bring one closer to nature, there are also other more modern forms of entertainment that can be found on the grounds of the John J. Audubon State Park.