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Nicholas County, Kentucky facts for kids

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Nicholas County
Nicholas County courthouse in Carlisle
Nicholas County courthouse in Carlisle
Map of Kentucky highlighting Nicholas 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 1799
Seat Carlisle
Largest city Carlisle
 • Total 197 sq mi (510 km2)
 • Land 195 sq mi (510 km2)
 • Water 1.7 sq mi (4 km2)  0.8%
 • Total 7,537 Increase
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 6th

Nicholas County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 7,135. Its county seat is Carlisle, which is also the only incorporated community in the county. Founded in 1799, the county is named for Col. George Nicholas, the "Father of the Kentucky Constitution".


Nicholas County was established in 1799 from land given by Bourbon and Mason counties. Nicholas was the 42nd Kentucky county in order of formation. Among the population of 10,361 in 1850 were over 1,500 slaves. For example, there were two slave holders in Nicholas County with the surname Rogers out of over 70 so named in the state. W. C. Rogers held three slaves, a mulatto women aged 44, a black woman aged 19, and a black boy aged 10. John Rogers held three slaves, a black woman aged 45, a black boy aged 5, and a black man aged 31.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 197 square miles (510 km2), of which 195 square miles (510 km2) is land and 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2) (0.8%) is water.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 4,898
1820 7,973 62.8%
1830 8,834 10.8%
1840 8,745 −1.0%
1850 10,361 18.5%
1860 11,030 6.5%
1870 9,129 −17.2%
1880 11,869 30.0%
1890 10,764 −9.3%
1900 11,952 11.0%
1910 10,601 −11.3%
1920 9,894 −6.7%
1930 8,571 −13.4%
1940 8,617 0.5%
1950 7,532 −12.6%
1960 6,677 −11.4%
1970 6,508 −2.5%
1980 7,157 10.0%
1990 6,725 −6.0%
2000 6,813 1.3%
2010 7,135 4.7%
Est. 2021 7,712 8.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2021

As of the census of 2010, there were 7,135 people, 2,809 households, and 1,956 families residing in the county. The population density was 35 per square mile (14/km2). There were 3,261 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile (6.2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.9% White, 0.6% Black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 0.7% from two or more races. 1.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 2,809 households, out of which 29.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.60% were married couples living together, 11.10% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 30.40% were non-families. 25.60% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 26.40% under the age of 19, 4.8% from 20 to 24, 25.50% from 25 to 44, 27.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.5 years. For every 100 females there were 93.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,259, and the median income for a family was $43,410. The per capita income for the county was $18,452. About 9.70% of families and 13.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.20% of those under age 18 and 16.80% of those age 65 or over.


Notable residents

  • Barton Stone Alexander, born in Nicholas County, brigadier general in the American Civil War, designer of Fort McPherson
  • Daniel Boone, moved to Nicholas County in 1795 after living in the Kanawha Valley, Virginia. Circa 1798, Boone moved to the mouth of the Little Sandy River at the site of present-day Greenup, Kentucky. Boone left Kentucky with his extended family for Missouri in 1799. While in Nicholas County, Boone lived on the Brushy Fork of Hinkston Creek in a cabin owned by his son Daniel Morgan Boone.
  • Thomas Metcalfe (March 20, 1780 – August 18, 1855), also known as Thomas Metcalf or as "Stonehammer", was a U.S. Representative, Senator, and the tenth Governor of Kentucky. He was the first gubernatorial candidate in the state's history to be chosen by a nominating convention rather than a caucus. He was also the first governor of Kentucky who was not a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, Metcalfe's primary concern as governor was the issue of internal improvements. Among his proposed projects were a road connecting Shelbyville to Louisville and a canal on the Falls of the Ohio. When President Andrew Jackson vetoed funds to construct a turnpike connecting Maysville and Lexington, Metcalfe built it anyway, paying for it entirely with state funds. Following his term as governor, he served in the state senate, and completed the unfinished term of John J. Crittenden in the U.S. Senate in 1848. After this, he retired to "Forest Retreat", his estate in Nicholas County, where he died of cholera in 1855. Metcalfe County, Kentucky was named in his honor.
  • Author Barbara Kingsolver was raised in Carlisle, Nicholas County.
  • Joseph Drake was born in Nicholas County. Drake was a lawyer, plantation owner, and Colonel in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War.
  • David Rice Atchison (1807-1886) lived for a brief period in Nicholas County and holds the distinction of (possibly) being President of the United States for one day. Zachary Taylor was supposed to be inaugurated on March 4, 1849, but refused to hold the inauguration on a Sunday. Vice President Millard Fillmore was also unable to be inaugurated on that day, so according to the rules of succession at that time, the President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate (the position held by Atchison) became the president. Although he was never sworn in - a requirement for serving as president - Atchison's grave marker bears the inscription, "President of the United States for One Day."
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