A Brief History of Hindman
A postcard "View of Hindman, Kentucky"
Hindman, the county seat of Knott County is situated in a narrow valley at the fork of Troublesome Creek along KY 80. The city was founded in 1884 as the seat of newly established Knott County and named for James P. Hindman, then lieutenant governor. The land for the city was donated by Peyton M. Duke, who ran the McPherson post office at the site of the city. The first known settle near the fork of Troublesome Creek was Samuel Cornett. Later settlers were the Dukes, of North Carolina, and Capt. Anderson Hays. At the time of the formation of Hindman, a few businessmen and farmers, including F.P. Allen and Robert Bats, lived or owned land there.
When Hindman was established as county seat it was little more than few log houses. Wagon roads led out to Whitesburg, Hazard, Jackson, and Prestonsburg, from which most goods arrived via mule-pulled freighters. The first courthouse, a log structure built in 1884, was replaced by a brick structure with a unique arched front in the 1890s. It burned in 1929. The Works Progress Administration built the present courthouse in 1935-36.
Political strife began in Hindman soon its formation, when Clabe Jones lost a race for jailer to his old Civil War opponent, Anderson Hays. The two and their factions warred for several years and after the feud ended, other men perpetuated the violence in the city. The establishment of Baptist and Methodist churches and George Clarke's school (1888), the predecessor of the Hindman Settlement School, helped to provide outlets other than feuding for the people.
Hindman's location on Troublesome Creek made it susceptible to occasional flooding, and the isolated mountain town grew slowly. The rugged terrain prevented the extension of rail service to the town. The economy of the town is heavily dependent upon coal. A statue in front of the courthouse honors Hindman's best known native son, Carl D. Perkins, who served eastern Kentucky as a U.S. representative from 1949 until 1984.
The population of the fifth-class city was 808 in 1970; 876 in 1980; and 798 in 1990.
John E. Kleber, Editor
The University Press of Kentucky