By Don Rightmyer
Finding Kentucky Place Names in Family History Research
Kentucky place names and their geographical locations in the state can be an extremely important part of any genealogical research. There are a number of different references that you can use during your family history research that can be a real help in your efforts and in helping to make sense of the genealogical information you find. Kentucky Place Names by Robert M. Rennick is one of the most comprehensive resources published in recent years to help discover in which county a particular place is located and something about its specific location and history.
The place names are arranged alphabetically and each entry description identifies the county, the place name pronunciation, information about the establishment of that community, and some of its early history. The final notation for each place name gives a citation to the reference from which that name was taken. This book has proved to be extremely useful for Kentucky historical and genealogical researchers since its publication, and continues to be in print.
Mr. Rennick has also produced at least eight additional mono-graphic references that are also very useful for locating communities in several different regions of Kentucky. These books deal far more extensively with place names, their geographic locations, and the stories behind those names in various sections of the state. Each of the books ranges in length from 140 to 184 pages and contains a much more detailed description of the various place names in that region based on the counties the volume covers.
Another useful guide to Kentucky place names and the available Kentucky topographic maps that will allow a researcher to identify precisely where a place is located is Thomas P. Field’s A Guide to Kentucky Place Names. This resource is also arranged alphabetically with each Kentucky place name listed with the topographic map on which that place can be found.
Kentucky Place Name References
Field, Thomas P. A Guide to Kentucky Place Names (Lexington, 1961; reprint 1991).
Rennick, Robert M. From Red Hot to Monkey’s Eyebrow: Unusual Kentucky Place Names (Lexington, 1997).
Rennick, Robert M. Kentucky Place Names (Lexington, 1984). (Covers the entire state)
Rennick, Robert M. Kentucky’s Bluegrass: A Survey of the Post Offices. Volume 1. (Lake Grove, Oregon,1993). (Covers Lincoln, Mercer, Washington, Shelby, Harrison, Montgomery, Garrard, Nicholas, Owen, Boyle, and Powell counties.)
Rennick, Robert M. Kentucky’s Bluegrass: A Survey of the Post Offices. Volume 2. (Lake Grove, Oregon,1994). (Covers Jefferson, Meade, Bullitt, Spencer, Nelson, Hardin, Larue, Marion, Hart, and Casey counties.)
Rennick, Robert M. Kentucky’s Salt River Valley: A Survey of the Post Offices of the Greater Louisville Area (Lake Grove, Oregon,1997).
Rennick, Robert M. Place Names of Pike County, Kentucky (Lake Grove, Oregon,1991).
Rennick, Robert M. The Post Offices of Kentucky’s Big Sandy Valley: A Survey of the 341 Post Offices of Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, and Martin Counties (Lake Grove, Oregon, 2002).
Rennick, Robert M. The Post Offices of the Kentucky River’s Upper North Fork Valleys: A Survey of the 459 Post Offices of Perry, Breathitt, Letcher, Leslie, and Knott Counties (Lake Grove, Oregon, 2007).
Rennick, Robert M. Post Offices of Northeastern Kentucky: A Survey of the 343 Post Offices of Greenup, Lawrence, Carter, Boyd, and Elliott Counties (Lake Grove, Oregon, 2000).
About the Author:
Don Rightmyer is the former Editor of Kentucky Ancestors (print edition) and currently serves as part of the library staff at the Mercer County Public Library in Harrodsburg, his home town. After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy where he majored in Military History, he served on active duty for 24 years. His growing knowledge of military history and love of Kentucky history have culminated in the publication of his first book, Torn: The Civil War in Kentucky. Release date: January 2014. Don can also be found speaking about military/Kentucky history on the regional/national levels (NGS: 2011/2014, FGS: 2010)