Hart County was founded in 1819, created from land from Hardin and Barren Counties. The county was named for Kentucky native Captain Nathaniel Gray Smith Hart, who died in the War of 1812. At the time the county was formed, Munfordville was the largest town in the new county and was designated as the county seat for this reason. Currently, the largest city in Hart County is Horse Cave.
Hart County has had three courthouses. The first was built in 1820 and then torn down seventy-five years after construction. The second courthouse burned on January 3, 1928. The current courthouse was constructed on approximately the same location as the second courthouse.
In terms of ancient history, Salts Cave lies beneath portions of Hart County. It is one of the richest repositories of Native American artifacts in this part of North America. Many of the artifacts found in Salts Cave are now housed in the Heyl Museum in New York City. Most of Salts Cave lies within Mammoth Cave National Park.
Hart County has a significant link to Daniel Boone. Daniel Boone’s family camped above Boiling Springs in 1775. During their encampment a young son died. He is reported to be buried above the spring in an unmarked grave.
In the nineteenth century, Hart County was host to several noted visitors who came to stay at the Old Munford Inn. Local legend says that Andrew Jackson stayed overnight in the inn. Jenny Lind is said to have visited in the 1850’s.
Hart County was home to two Civil War generals. Thomas J. Wood and Simon Bolivar Buckner, who later became governor of Kentucky, both went to Green River Academy and then to West Point. The two fought on opposite sides in the war, which was the case with many family members and friends in Kentucky during the war.
The single most significant series of events in Hart County’s history was the Civil War conflicts that occurred in the county in 1861 and 1862. Three battles took place in the Munfordville area over control of the Green River Railroad Bridge, with the largest battle in Woodsonville at Fort Craig. The significance of the “Battle for the Bridge” is celebrated each year during Hart County Civil War Days in September.
The first towns established in this area were:
• Hammonsville founded 1785, once a large bustling town, home to the Hammons and Gaddies among others.
• Horse Cave founded after the arrival of the L & N Railroad c 1850, centered around the cave from which it’s named. Early settlers here were Grinstead, Wilson, Martin, Lafferty, and Amos.
• Cub Run founded c 1874, though there were settlers here in the early 1800’s including the Craddocks, Reams and Gardners.
• Munfordville founded c 1801, Richard J. Munford of Amelia Co., VA obtained 2500 acres here and settled it in 1801. With the increasing number of settlers arriving, Richard designated 100 acres of his land to be set aside and established a town.
• Woodsonville founded 1816, laid out by Thomas Woodson, originally known as Amos Ferry. John Hunt Morgan was sworn into service on the steps of a church in Woodsonville.
• Bonnieville founded 1849, originally Bacon Creek, one of the first settlers here was Kendrick Jameson.
• Priceville founded mid 1800’s, named after Meredith Price.
For more information on Hart County’s rich history, contact:
Hart County Historical Society
P0 Box 606, Munfordville, KY 42765.