Ballard County was formed from portions of Hickman County and McCracken County. Ballard County has the distinction of being the county in Kentucky that borders both Illinois and Missouri.It was named for Bland Ballard , a Kentucky pioneer and soldier who served as a scout for General George Rogers Clark during the American Revolutionary War, and later commanded a company during the War of 1812. On February 17, 1880, the courthouse was destroyed by a fire, which also destroyed most of the county’s early records. At this time the countyseat and courthouse was located in Blandville.
The county seat was transferred from Blandville to Wickliffe in 1882. This courthouse was built in 1903 with the designs of Missouri architect Jerome B. Legg. It is located in the heart of Wickliffe making it the county’s most prominent structure. On February 27, 1980 the courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
We all know the story of how the Harlan County courthouse was burned by confederates during the civil war. But did you know that this is actually the fifth courthouse of Harlan County and the second to sit on this site.? The present Harlan County courthouse was constructed in 1918-22. The courthouse is built using Indiana limestone and is a two-story, stone structure with a Beaux-Arts influence.
The initial site for the first three courthouses in Harlan located on a mound in the city, which due to this mound was initially called Mount Pleasant. Turns out that this was an Indian burial mound, as further digging an excavation during the building of subsequent buildings onsite revealed bones and other artifacts. When the courthouse was moved to the present site pictured above, the old courthouse remained, and was later used as a meeting hall and Masonic lodge.
The doughboy statue at the Harlan County Courthouse
Sitting on the courthouse lawn is a monument to those who were killed in coal mines. Im honestly unsure of how many names are listed on this monument but the names date back to the 1920s. Coal mining remains an important part of Harlan and its history. Repeated attempts to organize labor and the related conflict between mine owners and their security led to a great deal of violence in the region, and the nickname “Bloody Harlan” being attached to the area. The National Guard was even called in May 5, 1931, in response to violence surrounding a strike.