The Devolution of Communities in Kentucky

Authors: Glen Conner*, Western Kentucky University
Topics: Rural Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: Kentucky, Community, Post Office
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: 8217, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Research has been completed that identified 68 named communities in one 363 square-mile Kentucky county. Over the past 203 years of that county’s existence, settlements developed as population slowly increased. Named communities formed at about one per five square miles. There were 42 of the communities that had rural post offices at one time or another. Most of the communities had rural schools and country stores that anchored them. This paper will describe the toponymy of the communities. That description includes the origin of their names, the subsequent changes of names, the changes in the type of village, and the causes and results of devolution. About 20 of the community names are lost to memory of the current residents. The discontinuation of names did not occur by planning. Instead, names that have persisted on maps for a century disappear without deliberation. The vestiges of some of the communities are still visible even though the community name is no longer used. Conclusions will be presented about the future of rural communities.

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