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Marshall County, Kentucky facts for kids

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Marshall County
Map of Kentucky highlighting Marshall County
Location within the U.S. state of Kentucky
Map of the United States highlighting Kentucky
Kentucky's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Kentucky
Founded 1842
Named for John Marshall
Seat Benton
Largest city Benton
 • Total 340 sq mi (900 km2)
 • Land 301 sq mi (780 km2)
 • Water 39 sq mi (100 km2)  11%%
 • Total 31,448
 • Density 104/sq mi (40/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 1st

Marshall County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 31,448. Its county seat is Benton. It was a dry county until July 28, 2015, when residents voted for the county to go "wet". It is the only Purchase Area county to not border another state.

Marshall County was named Kentucky's "Best County to Live In" ten years in a row, from 1999 to 2009.


Marshall County was created by the Kentucky legislature in 1842 from part of Calloway County. The first settlers arrived in about 1818, shortly after the area was bought from the Chickasaw Indians as part of the Jackson Purchase. The Chickasaws then moved to new lands west of the Mississippi River. Marshall County was named in honor of Chief Justice John Marshall, who had died shortly before the county's creation. Like most of the Jackson Purchase, Marshall County was strongly pro-Confederate during the American Civil War, with many local men serving in the famous Kentucky Orphan Brigade. On March 23, 1864, detachments of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's Confederate cavalry clashed with Union cavalry near Benton, when each side scouring the countryside for needed cavalry remounts. A state historical marker stands at the site.

From its settlement until the 1930s, Marshall County was almost completely agricultural. In the 1940s, however, the Tennessee Valley Authority created Kentucky Lake, which brought tourism to the county with lake shore resorts. The Kentucky Dam's cheap and plentiful electricity also attracted chemical and manufacturing plants, mainly in the Calvert City area. Unfortunately, the flooding created by Kentucky Dam destroyed two historic Marshall County towns: Birmingham, six miles north of the present town of Fairdealing, and Gilbertsville, located at the dam's site. Gilbertsville was relocated west of its original location, but Birmingham residents had to find new homes elsewhere. Gilbertsville was an incorporated town until the 1970s, when its charter was dissolved by public vote. Kentucky Lake (created on the Tennessee River) and Lake Barkley (created on the Cumberland River) now form one of the largest man-made bodies of water in the world.

Historically, Marshall County has been a stronghold of the Democratic Party. Since the county's creation the county, Democrats have dominated county politics. At present, all elected county officials are Democrats, except for one. Republican Kevin Neal defeated Melonie Watkins Chambers to finish the unexpired term of the late Mike Miller, who died in office on December 17, 2014.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 340 square miles (880 km2), of which 301 square miles (780 km2) is land and 39 square miles (100 km2) (11%) is water. The county's northeastern border is formed by the Tennessee River and Kentucky Lake.

Adjacent counties

National protected area

  • Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge (part)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 5,269
1860 6,982 32.5%
1870 9,455 35.4%
1880 9,647 2.0%
1890 11,287 17.0%
1900 13,692 21.3%
1910 15,771 15.2%
1920 15,215 −3.5%
1930 12,889 −15.3%
1940 16,602 28.8%
1950 13,387 −19.4%
1960 16,736 25.0%
1970 20,381 21.8%
1980 25,637 25.8%
1990 27,205 6.1%
2000 30,125 10.7%
2010 31,448 4.4%
Est. 2015 31,101 −1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2013

As of the census of 2000, there were 30,125 people, 12,412 households, and 8,998 families residing in the county. The population density was 99 per square mile (38/km2). There were 14,730 housing units at an average density of 48 per square mile (19/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 98.57% White, 0.2% Black or African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.22% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. 0.76% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race.

There were 12,412 households out of which 29.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.40% were married couples living together, 7.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.50% were non-families. 25.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.83.

The age distribution was 21.80% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 27.00% from 25 to 44, 26.20% from 45 to 64, and 17.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 96.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $35,573, and the median income for a family was $43,670. Males had a median income of $36,673 versus $21,941 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,069. About 6.60% of families and 9.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.60% of those under age 18 and 10.90% of those age 65 or over.



Census-designated place

Other unincorporated communities

Annual events

On the first Monday of April, Benton holds its Tater Day. Originating in 1842 as a day for farmers to gather at the county seat to trade their agricultural goods, today Tater Day is a celebration that includes a festival and parade. Tater Day derives its name from the main item traded—sweet potatoes for seed, i.e., for bedding in prepared "seedbed" to produce slips for growers to transplant to gardens or fields.

On the fourth Sunday of each May, The Big Singing, an all-day sing-along program of Southern Harmony shape note gospel music is held at the county courthouse. While other major singings still survive, The Big Singing, begun in 1884, is the only singing in the world to use the William Walker Southern Harmony system of shape-note singing. The Big Singing is also distinguished as the oldest continuously operating indigenous music festival in the United States.

Americans celebrate the Fourth of July. Calvert City has AmeriBration and sponsored by the Calvert Area Development Agency(CADA). Ameribration is one of the Lakes Biggest Fourth of July Celebrations. Some of the events include Community Photo Contest,5K race and walk, Car Show, children's Train Ride, Arts and Crafts Vendors, Other community tournaments, Youth and Adult Talent Show, Water wall and slide ride for children, Kids Parade, Live bands, Main Parade, and Fireworks show (45 minutes).

Other annual events include Hardin Day and Aurora Country Festival, celebrated in the small towns of Hardin and Aurora. More recently, the area has become known for the annual Hot August Blues and Barbecue Festival and for the Kentucky Lake Bluegrass Festival, held at Kenlake State Resort Park. Marshall County is also home to Jackson Purchase barbecue, a unique style that is found in the Jackson Purchase region of Kentucky. In Benton, Hutchens Open Pit BBQ has been in continuous operation since the 1940s. While in Aurora there is Belews a drive in dairyette open seasonally since the 1950s.

Other unique factoids

Marshall County is the home of Calvert Drive In Theater, the only one in the Purchase area and one of three within an 85-mile radius in far western Kentucky.

Marshall County is also home to the Silver Trail Distillery where a family legend was revitalized to restore the LBL Moonshine. The distillery and museum is in Hardin and Aurora. The original founder of the moonshine Cilous was known to have a sipping ritual when it came time to drink his shine. "Great Grandfather Cilous' Moonshine Sippin Ritual.... Take a small sip, don't shoot it.. and keep your lips closed. With your lips still closed, swish gently then let it ease down. When it is down to the navel level, open your lips slowly while exhaling. There will be a fresh corn taste on both sides of the mouth and no bitter aftertaste."

Before Interstate 24 rerouted much of Hwy 68 traffic Generations spent summer days and nights at The Forgotten Past Amusement Past with its gift shop, go carts, bumper cars, mini golf, museum, and arcade. For many years it hosted an Antique (steel wheeled) Tractor Show.

Marshall County is home to one of the largest and most complete parks in the purchase area. It has Lighted baseball fields, 2 basketball courts, 4 soccer fields, 2 tennis courts, large fishing pond, Large playground, spray park, and multiple picnic pavilions as well as a conference center. It is built upon land donated from a private family in memorial of their son who was killed in action in the Vietnam Conflict. In September 2000 the park was dedicated as the Marshall County Park. Later that year the local judge executive Mike Miller appointed the new park board. Upon the Grand Opening the park board had named it Mike Miller Park. Several people protested and the park board renamed it Mike Miller County Park. The original statute dedication as Marshall County Park remains at the entrance of the park. The original park didn't have any mention of a veterans in its mission, in response the fiscal court commissioned a large veteran park adjacent to the main conference center.

Marshall County is home to the FLW Bass Tournament organization named after legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood. FLW is, without question, the purveyor of America's largest and most prestigious fishing tournaments, including the FLW Tour, FLW Series, Bass Fishing League, College Fishing and High School Fishing.

Marshall County was at the precipices of the Wal-Mart growth as it became home to one of the earliest stores east of the Mississippi River with Store Number 143.

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