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Jackson County History

Early History

Jackson County, Kentucky was established February 2, 1858, formed from small parts of Madison, Estill, Owsley, Clay, Laurel, and Rockcastle counties; every surrounding county except Lee, which would not be formed until 1870. The population then was about 3,000. Jackson County was named after the 7th President of the United States, Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson, and was the 106th to be formed of Kentucky's 120 counties. The county seat, McKee, Kentucky, is located geographically in the center of the county.

Before being named McKee, the town was known as Yellow Dog. In 1827, a disaster destroyed many records from before Jackson County was formed. 

The town of McKee was also established in 1858, on April 25, and was probably named after state legislator, Judge George Robertson McKee, (1810-1889) from Garrard County, Kentucky. The first McKee Post Office was also established in 1858 on October 25, and the first Post Master was Harris Freeman.  

McKee, Kentucky was incorporated as a city in 1882.




First Woman Sheriff

While not the first woman sheriff in Kentucky, Sarah Jane Morris was the first, and so far the only, woman to be elected Sheriff of Jackson County. Her husband, Johnnie Morris, was elected Sheriff of Jackson County, Kentucky on August 5th, 1933. During the course of his duties, Sheriff Johnnie Morris was tragically shot down while attempting to arrest two suspects of a disturbance in Sand Gap on September 23, 1934. 


Appointed by Judge John Davis to serve in her late husband's place, a practice not altogether uncommon at the time, Sarah Morris served as sheriff until the next election on August 6, 1935. Exactly two years after her husband had been elected, Sheriff Sarah Jane Morris officially became the first elected female Sheriff of Jackson County. 

Sheriff Sarah Jane Morris, the first, and as yet only, woman to be elected Sheriff of Jackson County.

This book on the history of Jackson County was produced by the Jackson County Development Association, and provides a fascinating look into the lives and times of historic Appalachia. 

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