KENTUCKY, formerly considered one of the "Western States" of the American Union, may now be ranked among those on the map at the right hand of the observer, since, by the immense extension of territory towards the setting sun, there is vastly more space between Kentucky and tho Pacific Ocean than between that state and the Atlantic. It was originally included within the limits of Virginia, from which state it was separated in 1786, when it was organized under a territorial government, and so remained until its erection into a state in 1792. No extensive exploration of the country is known certainly to have taken place until about the year 1770, when the celebrated and eccentric adventurer Colonel Boone penetrated its then remote and inhospitable wilds. Four years afterwards, a permanent settlement was made at Harrodsburg; but the inhabitants of the territory, wherever located, were constantly harassed by the predatory incursions of various savage tribes, until the conclusion of the treaty with General Wayne in 1795. Boundary and Extent. — The Ohio River constitutes the northern boundary of this state, separating it from the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. On the east lies Virginia, and on the south Tennessee. The Mississippi, on the west, separates Kentucky from the State of Missouri. It extends from north latitude 36° 30' to 39° 10', and lies between 82° and 89° 30' west longitude. Its length from east to west is about 400 miles, and its average breadth does not greatly exceed 100 miles. Its area, as officially reported, is 37,680 square miles. Government. — The present constitution, adopted in 1850, provides for the quadrennial election of governor and lieutenant governor by a plurality of the popular suffrages; but the former magistrate cannot be reelected until after a lapse of four years. The lieutenant governor is, ex officio, the presiding officer of the Senate, and, in extraordinary cases, discharges the duties of the executive. The number of senators is limited to 38: one half of the number are elected every two years, in a manner that each member may serve four years. The representatives, 100 in number, apportioned to the several counties or districts every eighth year, are chosen biennially. The legislature holds biennial sessions at Frankfort, continuing only 60 days, unless by a two thirds concurrent vote. All white males, 21 years of age, after a residence in the state of two years, and in the district of one year, are qualified voters. The manner of voting at elections is by open vote, or viva voce. Judiciary. — The courts consist of a Court of Appeals, having appellate jurisdiction only throughout the state, Circuit Courts in each county, and County Courts. The judges of the former, four in number, are elected by the people for eight years, and so classified that one shall retire every two years. Those of the Circuit Courts, 12 in number, are chosen for six years. Those of the County Courts, consisting of a presiding and two associate justices in each county, are chosen by the people for four years. Two justices of the peace are elected, in each county, for terms of four years. Sheriffs are chosen for two years, and cannot serve beyond a second term. Education. — The state possesses a bountiful school fund, which, for the year 1849, yielded an income of about $67,000, three fourths of which, however, are applied to the ordinary expenditures of the state. In the above year, there were 193,000 children between the ages of five and sixteen years, nearly one half of whom attended the district schools connected with the public system. Among these latter the sum of $29,166 was distributed from the permanent school fund, and $21,874 from the "two cent tax." Finances. — In 1849, the whole amount of the funded debt was $4,497,652-81, a part of which, viz., $836,000, was due to the school fund. The income in the same year, from all sources, amounted to $468,630-19, and the expenditures to $447,620-64. To meet the interest of the public debt, the state owns bank stocks, turnpike and railroad stocks, and other property, from which an annual revenue of more than $100,000 is derived. The residue of the interest is made up from the yearly tax, which is about 17 Cents on each $100 worth of property. The amount of taxable property in 1849 was upwards of $285,000,000. Surface, Soil, &tc. — Kentucky presents a great diversity of surface. In the eastern quarter, where it is bordered by the Cumberland Mountains, there are numerous lofty elevations ; and on the northern boundary, adjacent to the Ohio River, and running through the whole extent of the state, there is a strip of hilly but fertile land, from 5 to 20 miles in breadth. Along the immediate margin of the Ohio is a tract, one mile wide, of bottom lands, periodically overflowed. The intermediate country, between the hilly regions on the north and on the south-east, is gently undulating; and here, within an area of 100 by 50 miles, the soil is of extraordinary richness. In the neighborhood of the Cumberland River, there is another tract of about 100 miles in extent, which, though denominated "barrens," has been within a few years transformed from an extended and unbroken prairie into forests of thrifty and valuable timber. The soil throughout the state is generally of excellent quality, producing hemp, tobacco, wheat, corn, and numerous other fruits of the earth in great abundance. Among the native trees, the most common are black walnut, black cherry, mulberry, locust, ash, elm, papaw, buckeye, whitethorn, cottonwood, and sugar maple. Grapes, of fine quality, also abound; and all the fruits adapted to the climate are successfully cultivated. Rivers. — The largest rivers are the Cumberland and the Tennessee, both branches of the Ohio, which latter flows along the northern boundary for a distance of 637 miles. These branches are navigable to a very considerable extent. They enter the Ohio at points about 12 miles apart, and within 50 to 60 miles of the junction of the Ohio with the Mississippi. The other principal streams, besides those which bound the state, are the Kentucky, Licking, Salt, and Green Rivers, all of which are extensively navigable. Internal Improvements. — The Louisville and Portland Canal, two and a half miles in length, is a work of extraordinary magnitude and importance. It was completed in 1831, at great cost, and after some years of labor; its bed having been excavated out of lime rock, a portion of it to the depth of 12 feet. By this work, a fall of 22 feet on the Ohio River at Louisville has been overcome, and vast numbers of steamboats and other craft are constantly passing through it. The Lexington and Ohio Railroad, extending from Lexington, via Frankfort, to Louisville, 95 miles in length, is nearly, if not quite, completed. Another, from the former city to Covington on the Ohio, opposite Cincinnati, is under contract; and some others are projected. Minerals. — The most abundant of the mineral products of Kentucky are iron, coal, lime, and salt. Large quantities of the latter article are annually exported. Limestone, at various depths, underlays the soil of a large portion of the state. Manufactures. — A large amount of capital is invested in the manufacture of hemp, cotton, wool, iron, tobacco, leather, and other staple commodities. The fabrication of almost every article of domestic use is also carried on throughout the state. Indians.—Few or none of the descendants of the aboriginal possessors of the soil now remain within the limits of the state. Population. — Sixty years since, the population of Kentucky numbered less than 75,000. By the last census, it has reached over 1,000,000, more than one fifth of which number are slaves. Climate. — The winters in this state rarely continue longer than two or three months, and are generally mild, but humid. The other seasons are remarkably pleasant, and the temperature varies less between the extremes of heat and cold than in some of the neighboring states. The climate is consequently healthy. Religion. — Of the various Christian denominations, the Baptists, perhaps, are the most numerous. The Methodists are next in numerical order. Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Roman Catholics have each a large number of churches. There are also some societies of Shakers and Unitarians. Curiosities. — Among the extraordinary objects of wonder found in this state is the celebrated " Mammoth Cave," which has not, probably, an equal in the known world. It is situated in the county of Edmonson, near the centre of the state, and its subterranean vaults have been explored to the extent of some eight to ten miles. Its earthy floor is impregnated so strongly with nitre, that considerable quantities of this article have been extracted therefrom. There are several other remarkable caverns in the state, principally in the south-west part, between Cumberland and Green Rivers. Many of the lofty, perpendicular precipices of solid limestone on the banks of Kentucky River, and the frequent chasms formed in the subjacent calcareous rocks by the rapid action of large streams, may likewise be enumerated among the natural curiosities of Kentucky.
John Hayward, Gazetteer of the United States of America… (Philadelphia: James L. Gihon, 1854), 56-58.