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1789, Col. William Casey and his wife, Jane (Montgomery), with their family and about 30 other families established the Casey/Butler Fort - the first permanent settlement in what is now Adair County. They came from Logan's larger fort at Stanford, Kentucky, and crossed the Green River at Plum Point. In 1793, the Caseys bought land away from the fort and developed a large farm. Their 1816 house, indicted by a historic marker, is on KY Highway West 80.



Col. William Caseys' great-grandson was

Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain.

Samuel's parents, Jane Lampton and John Marshall Clemens, were married in Columbia in 1823.  A year later, they moved to Tennessee and later to Missouri where Samuel,  was born in 1835.  As a young girl, Jane lived in a house (no longer standing) near the public square.

1801 Adair County

Kentucky's 44th County was formed from Green County.

 It was named for General Adair, who served with Col. William Casey in early Kentucky government.

Adair Map

Columbia become the County Seat in 1803.

Settled by Revolutionary War Veterans who were paid with grants of land by the mother state Virginia.  The town grew as these veterans claimed their land, began farms and provided services for pioneers moving westward.


Three men with vision - William Caldwell, Col. Daniel Trabue and Creed Haskins, bought 50 acres speculating that it would be a fitting place for a county seat.  Land owner James Walker also donated 20 acres.


The scenic rolling hills landscape, plentiful water, wild game, timber and location as a crossroads appealed to people then as it does now.

The Public Square was laid out on the original town plat following the traditional European design; the founders decreed it should be the site for the county courthouse.  The first courthouse is finished in 1806.

Old courthouse (2) Columbia_CH Copy of 45451[1]


The Victorian style courthouse built, by famed architectural designers McDonald Brothers is the second one built since 1806

The Historic Courthouse remodeled in 1976 still remains.

While being replace by a new Justice Center, the Adair Heritage Association is dedicted to preserving the Historic Courthouse and the old clock tower which is the very heart of Columbia/Adair County.



The 1806 courthouse had a makeover - the roof was raised and replaced  with a hip roof supported by columns.


The Courthouse was place on the National Register of Historic Places.


Trabue Russell House built 1821-1823 by Daniel Trabue one of the founders of Columbia.

Purchased in 1873 by James Montgomery Russell.

1977 Memorial Rose Garden dedicated to Julia Miller Horton Great-granddaughter of James Montgomery Russell.  

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201 Jamestown Street - Now owned by the City of Columbia

photo 7 Wolford sculpture

John Hunt Morgan Civil War Trail

July 1863, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his troops came through Columbia on route to Lebanon's railway and the warehouse's that were full of supplies for the Union.

Union Colonel Frank Wolford, who was from Columbia, recruited soldiers at Camp Nelson and organized the 1st Kentucky Calvalry.

Wolford and his "Wild Riders" chased Morgan and his Raiders on Morgan's longest raid and capture in Ohio.

April 29, 1872, is one of the most notorious, confused and talked about days in the history of Adair County.  On this day, it is alleged the James-Younger gang robbed the Bank of Columbia.  Teller R.A.C. Martin was killed and  James Garrett was wounded.


Top Left:  Jesse James - Cole Younger - John Younger


Bottom Left:  Frank James - Clell Miller - Bob Younger