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About Breathitt County

Breathitt County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. As of the 2010 US Census, the population is 13,878. Its county seat is Jackson, Kentucky. The county is named for John Breathitt who was Governor of Kentucky from 1832 to 1834. The town of Jackson is named in honor of President Andrew Jackson. Breathitt is a prohibition or dry county.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 495 square miles (1,282 km2), essentially all of which is land.

Adjacent counties

Wolfe County (northwest)
Magoffin County (northeast)
Knott County (east)
Perry County (southeast)
Owsley County (southwest)
Lee County (west)


Breathitt County was formed on February 8, 1839 from portions of Clay, Estill and Perry counties.

During World War I, this county attained national prominence by filling its quota of service men by volunteers. No men had to be drafted from Breathitt, the only county in U.S. with this record. During the war 3,912 men registered, 405 volunteered; of 324 called, 281 were inducted and 43 rejected. Kentuckians ranked among highest in nation in physical fitness.


As of the 2010 US Census, there were 13,878 people residing in the county. The population density was 32 per square mile (12 /km2). There were 6,231 housing units at an average density of 14 per square mile (5.4 /km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.8% White, 0.3% Black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.5% Asian, and 0.08% from other races. 0.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino.

There were 6,170 households out of which 34.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.00% were married couples living together, 14.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.40% were non-families. 23.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.50% under the age of 18, 10.00% from 18 to 24, 28.90% from 25 to 44, 24.00% from 45 to 64, and 11.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 97.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $19,155, and the median income for a family was $23,721. Males had a median income of $26,208 versus $20,613 for females. The per capita income for the county was $11,044. About 28.10% of families and 33.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.90% of those under age 18 and 26.80% of those age 65 or over.

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