Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy

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Guide to Nelson County, Kentucky ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: Bardstown
Organized: October 18, 1784
Parent County(s): Jefferson [1]
Neighboring Counties
Anderson  • Bullitt  • Hardin  • Larue  • Marion  • Spencer  • Washington
See County Maps
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Location Map
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County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

Nelson County was named for Thomas Nelson, Jr. The county is located in the north-central area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Nelson County Courthouse
113 E Stephen Foster Ave
Bardstown, KY 40004
Phone: 502-348-1820[3]
Nelson County Website

Nelson County, Kentucky Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1852 1784 1852 1785 1784 1784 1810
*Statewide registration for births and deaths started in 1911. General compliance by 1917.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

  • 1784--Nelson County was created 18 October 1784 from Jefferson County.
  • County seat: Bardstown[5]

For animated maps illustrating Kentucky county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Kentucky County Boundary Maps" (1776-1939) may be viewed for free at the website.

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit Hometown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[6]

Unincorporated communities
  • Deatsville
  • East Bardstown
  • Gethsemane
  • Greenbrier
  • Highgrove
  • Howardstown
  • Hunters
  • Lenore
  • Nazareth
  • Nelsonville
  • Samuels
  • Stiles
  • Withrow
  • Woodlawn
Census-designated places

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Nelson, Kentucky online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
TombstoneTranscriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Kentucky Cemeteries for more information

The following web sites have additional information on Nelson county cemeteries.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 11,315
1800 9,866 −12.8%
1810 14,078 42.7%
1820 16,273 15.6%
1830 14,932 −8.2%
1840 13,637 −8.7%
1850 14,789 8.4%
1860 15,799 6.8%
1870 14,804 −6.3%
1880 16,609 12.2%
1890 16,417 −1.2%
1900 16,587 1.0%
1910 16,830 1.5%
1920 16,137 −4.1%
1930 16,551 2.6%
1940 18,004 8.8%
1950 19,521 8.4%
1960 22,168 13.6%
1970 23,477 5.9%
1980 27,584 17.5%
1990 29,710 7.7%
2000 37,477 26.1%
2010 43,437 15.9%
Source: "".

1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 federal population schedules of Nelson County are available online. For tips on accessing census records online, see Kentucky Census. If you're having trouble finding your ancestors in online indexes, try checking printed indexes. Created by local experts familiar with the area's families, these indexes are often transcribed more accurately than online nationwide indexes.

See Kentucky Population Schedule Indexes: Fiche, Film, or Book for more information about statewide printed indexes.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about Kentucky denominations, view the Kentucky Church Records wiki page.

Baptist[edit | edit source]
  • Little Union. Church minutes and membership lists (1811-1919) are available online.
  • New Salem. Church minutes and membership lists (1801-1910) are available online.

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Abstracts of Early Kentucky Supreme Court Cases
Contact information for all Kentucky County Court Clerks. Scroll down or use index at top of page to find desired county.

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

African Americans[edit | edit source]

More information about African American resources in Kentucky can be found on the African American Resources for Kentucky and the United States African Americans Wiki pages.

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

  • [Abell] House, Katherine Lucille. George Monroe Abell and Lucinda Ludwell Able: A Story of Two Nelson County, Kentucky, Families; with Some Allied Families, Callahan, Carpenter, Coppage, Hurst, Linthicum, Pennebaker, Slaughter, Tucker and Related Families. Utica, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 2001. FHL Book 929.273 Ab35h
  • [Abell] House, Katherine Lucille. George Monroe Abell (1841-1900) and Lucinda Ludwell Able (1853-1934): A Story of Two Nelson County, Kentucky Families, with Ancestors Including George Abell (1802-1866) and Robert Able (1794-1840). Utica, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 2005. FHL Book 929.273 Ab35h 2005
  • [Able] See Abell.
  • [Beard] Cowles, Frank. William Beard of Nelson County, Kentucky and His Descendants. Baltimore, Md.: Gateway Press, 1986. FHL Book 929.273 B38cf
  • [Beeler] Pappas, Carolyn H. "Christopher Beeler, 1705-1775," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 43, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1999):243-255; Vol. 44, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 2000):18-30; Vol. 44, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 2000):115-125. Digital version at American Ancestors by NEHGS ($). FHL Book 975.5 B2vg.
  • [Blue] Erickson, Emma Louise Graves. Richard and Cynthia Goggins Graves Descendants, Shelby Co., Kentucky, Pulaski Co., Arkansas, Northern California Side Line of Abraham and John Blue of Nelson Co., Ky., Washington Co., Miss., Chicot Co., Ark. Corvallis, Ore.: E.L. Erickson, 1982. FHL Book 929.273 A1 no. 5379
  • [Bowling] Bowling, Katherine Louise. Bowling: Thomas Bowling: His Forefathers of Maryland, His Descendants of Nelson County, Kentucky. Cuyohoga Falls, Ohio: K. L. Bowling, 1976. FHL Film 1598229 Item 3
  • [Brown] House, Katherine Lucille. The Descendants of William E. Brown and Katherine Mary Edwards in Nelson County, Kentucky: and Including Brown, Edwards and Sharp family; Ancestors in Washington, Mercer and Anderson Counties in Kentucky. Utica, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 2003. FHL Book 929.273 B815h
  • [Carter] Darling, Lu Ann W. The History and the Mystery of the William Carter Family of Nelson County, Kentucky and Crawford County, Illinois. Los Angeles, Calif.: L.W. Darling, 1997. FHL Book 929.273 C246d
  • [Craven] Craven, Patricia. The Craven Clan of Southwestern Pennsylvania and Various Kentucky Counties Nelson, Washington, Marion, Boone, Fayette, Jessamine, Henry. Chicago, Ill.: P. Craven, 1988. FHL Book 929.273 C855cr
  • [Davis] Moore, Robert P. Ancestors and Nelson Co., Ky., Associates of the Kincheloe, Wickliffe, and Davis Families of Prince William County, Virginia. Lexington, Ky.: R.P. Moore, 1996. FHL Film 1425391 Item 7
  • [Finn] House, Katherine Lucille. The Hurst and Finn Families of Nelson County, Kentucky: Descendants of Abraham B. Hurst and Sabina Bowles and John Finn and Mary Conroy. Utica, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 1999. FHL Book 929.273 H943hk
  • [Frakes] Frakes, Nina Howlett. Descendants of Philip and Phoebe (Case) Frakes of Nelson County, Kentucky and Sullivan and Vigo Counties, Indiana: With Known Data on Other Friggs--Freake--Fraiks--Frakes Families. San Mateo, Calif.: N.H. Frakes, 1979. FHL Film 1033850 Item 4
  • [Gilkey] Gilkey, Kenneth Edward. Gilkeys of Early Kentucky 1780-2000: This Book Focuses Primarily on William Gilkey of Caldwell Co., Ky. and His Descendants and His Brothers, David Gilkey of Union County, Ky. and John Gilkey of Nelson Co. Ky. and Their Descendants. Newburgh, Ind.: K.E. Gilkey, 2000. FHL Book 929.273 G397g
  • [Greenwell] West, Patricia Greenwell. The Ancestors and Descendants of Thomas Rapier Greenwell: Born 18 June 1889, Nelson County, Kentucky. Blanchester, Ohio: P.G. West, [1984?]. FHL Book 929.273 G855w
  • [Hurst] House, Katherine Lucille. The Hurst and Finn Families of Nelson County, Kentucky: Descendants of Abraham B. Hurst and Sabina Bowles and John Finn and Mary Conroy. Utica, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 1999. FHL Book 929.273 H943hk
  • [Kincheloe] Moore, Robert P. Ancestors and Nelson Co., Ky., Associates of the Kincheloe, Wickliffe, and Davis Families of Prince William County, Virginia. Lexington, Ky.: R.P. Moore, 1996. FHL Film 1425391 Item 7
  • [LaRue] Mather, Otis May. Six Generations of LaRues and Allied Families: Containing Sketch of Isaac LaRue, Senior, Who Died in Frederick County, Virginia in 1795, and Some Account of His American Ancestors and Three Generations of His Descendants and Families Who Were Connected by Inter-marriage: Among Others Carman, Hodgen, Helm, Buzan, Rust ... : Copies of Six Old Wills and Other Documents, Various Incidents Connected with the Settlement of the Nolynn Valley in Kentucky; Also a Chapter on the La Rue Family and the Child Abraham Lincoln. Hodgenville, Kentucky: O.M. Mather, 1921. Available at FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 L329m 1968; FHL US/CAN Film 1208 [2 listings at FHL]; digital versions at Ancestry ($); Internet Archive - free.
  • [McClaskey] McClaskey, Michael J., Carol F. McClaskey, Kenneth L. McClaskey, and Barbara M. McClaskey. Descendants of James McClaskey of Nelson County, Kentucky. Idaho Falls, Idaho: B. M. McClaskey, 1981. FHL Large Q Book 929.273 M132mc
  • [Mills] Hackett, John Davis and Kathryn Dickerson Shannon. "Mills Families of Virginia," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 35, No. 3 (Jul.-Sep. 1991):215-228; Vol. 35, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1991):284-296; Vol. 36, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1992):34-48; Vol. 36, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 1992):109-119. Digital version at American Ancestors by NEHGS ($). FHL Book 975.5 B2vg v. 35 (1991)-v. 36 (1992).
  • [Popham] Burgess, Jane F. "John Popham (by 1757-1815/7) of Culpeper County, Virginia, and His Children," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 45, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 2001):299-304; Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 2002):57-64; Vol. 46, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 2002):119-125. Digital version at American Ancestors by NEHGS ($); FHL Book 975.5 B2vg v. 45 (2001).
  • [Rhodes] Stovall, Wilda Ortkiese and Fern Walker Blanford. Herod Rhodes 1826-1915 Wife Mary Sarah Frances Jenkins 1829-1920 of Nelson County, Kentucky with Some Descendants. n.p.: F.W. Blanford, 2008. FHL Book 929.273 R346bf
  • [Rogers] Rogers, Lon B. "Colonel James Rogers (1742--1828) Nelson County Pioneer," The Kentucky Genealogist, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1961):3-6.
  • [Thompson] Lovejoy, Florence Thompson. Athanatius Thompson, Maryland to Nelson Co., Ky., ca. 1780. MSS., Willard Library, Evansville, Ind. Reproduction: FHL Film 1481385 Item 16
  • [Wickliffe] Moore, Robert P. Ancestors and Nelson Co., Ky., Associates of the Kincheloe, Wickliffe, and Davis Families of Prince William County, Virginia. Lexington, Ky.: R.P. Moore, 1996. FHL Film 1425391 Item 7

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See Kentucky Land and Property for additional information about early Kentucky land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are available for Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories see the wiki page section Kentucky Local Histories.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Hardin CountyBullitt CountySpencer CountyAnderson CountyWashington CountyMarion CountyLarue CountyKY NELSON.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Civil War[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Regiments. Men in Nelson County served in various regiments and companies. Those listed below were specifically formed in this county:

Confederate soldiers

- 6th Regiment, Kentucky Cavalry, Company I.
- 9th Regiment, Kentucky Cavalry, Company I.

Union soldiers

- 1st Regiment, Kentucky Cavalry, Companies A, B, E and I.
- 1st Regiment, Kentucky Veteran Cavalry (Wolford's Cavalry), Company A.
- 15th Regiment, Kentucky Infantry, Companies A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I and K.
- 28th Regiment, Kentucky Infantry, Companies B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I.

World War I[edit | edit source]

Korean War[edit | edit source]

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate records are held by the Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy Clerk of Court and are housed at the Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy Courthouse. Microfilmed records can be found online at Kentucky, Probate Records, 1792-1977 for Caldwell, Henry, Hickman, Russell and Trimble counties. See the wiki page Kentucky Probate Records for information about how to use probate records.

Content: Probate Records may give the decedent's date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their place of residence.

Record types: Wills, estates, guardianships, naturalizations, and adoptions.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Taxes were levied on free white males over 21 and slaves aged 21 to 60. These persons are referred to as "polls." Tax listings, or digests, of a county generally list the taxable landowners and other polls and the amount of tax. The records for each county are divided by militia district. For more background information and state-wide resources see the wiki page Kentucky Taxation.

  • 1785-1796 - Schroeder, Margaret Johnson and Carl A. Schroeder. Residents of Nelson County, Virginia (now Kentucky) Recorded in Tithable and Tax Lists. [1785-1796] 4 vols. Bardstown, Ky.: Schroeder, 1988. FHL. Volume 1 (1785-1791) is available through the FamilySearch Catalog.
  • 1787 - Schreiner-Yantis, Netti and Florene Speakman Love. The 1787 Census of Virginia: An Accounting of the Name of Every White Male Tithable Over 21 Years, the Number of White Males Between 16 & 21 Years, the Number of Slaves over 16 & Those Under 16 Years, Together with a Listing of Their Horses, Cattle & Carriages, and Also the Names of All Persons to Whom Ordinary Licenses and Physician's Licenses Were Issued. 3 vols. Springfield, Va.: Genealogical Books in Print, 1987. Available at FHL. [Sources for this publication are 1787 personal property tax lists and 1787 tithable lists. Nelson County is included in Vol. 2.]
  • 1790 - Heinemann, Charles B. "First Census" of Kentucky 1790. Washington, D.C.: n.p., 1940. 1981 reprint: FHL US/CAN 976.9 X2ph 1981; digital version at Kentucky Kinfolks. ["1 volume of 1792 was used." (p. 2)]
  • 1800 - 1800 Tax List of Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy is included in Clift's Second Census of Kentucky 1800,[7] digitized by Ancestry ($).
  • Search Tax, Criminal, Land and Wills Records, Ancestry ($)

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital records consist of birth, death, marriage and divorce records. Although Kentucky enacted a statute in 1852-1862 requiring registration of births and deaths,many counties did not comply. A second law was written in 1874-1879, and 1892-1910 but, again, was not always followed. By 1911, the law was more clearly defined and kept by 1920. Any existing births 1852-1960 and death records 1852-1953 can be accessed online. See How to Find Kentucky Birth Records and How to Find Kentucky Death Records for links to indexes and images.

Original marriage records are held at the office of the Nelson County Clerk, with divorce records 1849-1958 located with the Nelson County Circuit Court. For more information see How to Find Kentucky Marriage Records. For Kentucky divorce records see the wiki page Kentucky Vital Records.

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Death[edit | edit source]

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Nelson County. For state-wide archival repositories, see Kentucky Archives and Libraries.

Archives of Appalachia
East Tennessee State University

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Nelson County. For state-wide library facilities, see Kentucky Archives and Libraries.

Nelson County Public Library
201 Cathedral Manor
Bardstown, KY 40004
Phone: 502-348-3714
FAX: 502-348-5578

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Nelson County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see Kentucky Societies.

Ancestral Trails Historical Society
P.O. Box 1796
Elizabethtown, KY 42702-1796
Phone: 270-982-0881

Nelson County Genealogical Roundtable
P.O. Box 409
Bardstown, KY 40004

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Kentucky. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Nelson County, Kentucky" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, ",_Kentucky."
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Nelson County, Kentucky page 274, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Nelson County, Kentucky. Page 268-276 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 251-254.
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Kentucky. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Nelson County, Kentucky," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Kentucky, accessed 5 September 2018.
  7. G. Glenn Clift, Second Census of Kentucky 1800: A Privately Compiled and Published Enumeration of Tax Payers Appearing in the 79 Manuscript Volumes Extant of Tax Lists of the 42 Counties of Kentucky in Existence in 1800 (1954; reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2005).
  8. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at