After an aborted attempt at settlement in 1794,the hill overlooking the Horseshoe Bend of the Licking River just downriver from the present city was fortified and settled around 1800 by Archibald Prater, Ebenezer Hanna, and others. Originally known as Prater’s Fort, the community had become Licking Station by the time of its first post office in 1839.
In 1849, the post office was moved to the community at site of the present city and renamed Adamsville after local landowner William “Uncle Billy” Adams. In addition to his farmland, Adams operated a hotel, a gristmill, a tannery and a blacksmith at the new location.
In 1860, Magoffin County was formed from parts of the surrounding Floyd, Johnson, and Morgan counties. Billy Adams donated land for the platting and establishment of a new county seat and the community was renamed “Salyersville” in gratitude to State Representative Samuel Salyer,who sponsored the bill creating the new county. The post office changed the following year.
Salyersville lies on the Licking River at the intersection of US460 and Kentucky State Route 7 and State Route 40 in central Eastern Kentucky between Paintsville and West Liberty.
On March 2, 2012, the same EF3 tornado that hit West Liberty caused widespread damage to the town of Salyersville.
In 2002, the second Magoffin County court house (erected in 1960) was demolished. In its place, a new Justice Center was constructed, which opened in Spring 2006. The new Justice Center’s architecture plays tribute to Magoffin County’s original courthouse