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Shelbyville, Kentucky

City of Shelbyville
Main Street
Main Street
Nickname(s): "American Saddlebred Capital of the World"[1]
Motto: "The Gateway to the Bluegrass"[2]
Location of Shelbyville, Kentucky
Location of Shelbyville, Kentucky
Country United States
State Kentucky
County Shelby
Established 1792[3]
Incorporated 1846[3]
Named for Gov. Isaac Shelby[4]
 • Mayor Thomas L. Hardesty
 • Total 7.6 sq mi (19.8 km2)
 • Land 7.6 sq mi (19.6 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation 761 ft (232 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 14,045
 • Density 1,848.0/sq mi (716.6/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 40065-40066
Area code(s) 502
FIPS code 21-70050
GNIS feature ID 0503326
Website .comshelbyvillekentucky

Shelbyville is a home rule-class city[5] in and the county seat of Shelby County, Kentucky, United States.[6] The population was 14,045 at the 2010 census.[7]


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
    • Civil War 1.2
    • Recent history 1.3
  • Geography 2
  • Demographics 3
  • Culture 4
  • Sister city 5
  • Notable people 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Early history

The town of Shelbyville was established in October 1792 at the first meeting of the Shelby County Court after local landowner William Shannon agreed to lay off 50 acres (20 ha) of his property for the community and provide 1 acre free for public buildings.[8] The grant ensured that Shelbyville rather than nearby Squire Boone's Station would become the seat of Shelby County.[4] The agricultural town was located on the west bank of Clear Creek at its confluence with Mulberry Creek and near a route between Louisville and Frankfort. The town required new residents to construct a 1½-story log cabin with a stone chimney; by 1795, there were forty of these and, by 1800, there were 262 residents. New lots were platted in 1803, 1815, and 1816.[8]

The Shelbyville Academy was established in 1798 at Eighth and Washington; it became Shelby College and moved to College Street in 1836,[8] affiliated with the Episcopal Church in 1841,[9] changed its name to St. James College after the Civil War, and closed in 1871, replaced by a public elementary school. Science Hill Female Academy was established in 1825 on Washington Street; it functioned as a college preparatory school for young women throughout the South prior to closing in 1939 at the end of the Great Depression. The Shelbyville Female Seminary was established in 1839 and moved to its longtime residence at Seventh and Main in 1846; it became the Shelbyville Female Institute in 1849, the Presbyterian Stuart's Female College in 1851, the Shelbyville Female College in 1868, and the Baptist Shelbyville College from 1890 until its closure in 1912.[8]

The Louisville and Shelbyville Turnpike was completed in the 1830s, following a ridgeline path between the two sites dating back to the Indians.[8] After the Louisville and Frankfort Railroad was constructed near the road in present-day Cherokee Gardens in 1849, the turnpike company rerouted and constructed a new road nearby (originally known as the "Shelbyville Branch", now Lexington Avenue in Louisville) which was completed in 1851.[10]

Civil War

Late in the Civil War, on August 24, 1864, Confederate guerillas under local sympathizer Capt. Dave Martin attacked the Shelby County Courthouse, attempting to seize its cache of muskets. The local merchant Thomas McGrath and tailor J.H. Masonheimer fought them off, killing three of Martin's men. A black man named Owen was also killed in the exchange, having been forced to hold the guerillas' horses for them. Martin himself missed the gunfight, as he was held up outside the jail behind the courthouse when the jailer's wife Mrs. Burnett began furiously scolding him for endangering the lives of innocent townspeople including Martin's own wife and children. Following the raid, the trustees required all white male residents over the age of 18 to serve as police guards, erecting a blockhouse at Fifth and Main in front of the courthouse to serve as a headquarters.[8]

In response to the slaughter of 35 Harrisonville in October. On the 23rd of that month, Harry Thompson broke jail as well and, according to local lore, fled to Texas and lived out his days as the successful farmer "Henry T. Grazian". The surgery in 1867 to remove the bullet from Terrell's back was unsuccessful, though, and he died soon thereafter, aged 22.[8]

Recent history

A 1910 illustration of Main Street

The agricultural community – principally producing corn, hemp, tobacco, wheat, pork, and beef[11] – experienced a boom after the war. The Shelby Railroad Company connected the town to Anchorage in 1870,[11] reaching the mainline of the Louisville, Cincinnati and Lexington Railroad. Downtown Shelbyville expanded and gained many large, ornate buildings, especially during the rebuilding following a large fire in 1909. The oldest remaining banks were also organized during this time. The late 19th Century also saw a public water system, electricity, and libraries brought to the town.

Following the Spanish American War, 116 men from Shelbyville made up Company C of the 161st Regiment of Indiana Volunteer Infantry, which made up part of the occupation force in Cuba. They were stationed at Camp Columbia just outside of Havana from December 17, 1898, until March 29, 1899.[8]

Interstate 64 was built 2 miles (3.2 km) south of the city in 1960 and helped the area become more industrialized; there are now three industrial parks on the west side of the city. The population increased from 4,525 in 1960 to over 10,000 by the year 2000.


Shelbyville is located at (38.212160, -85.225847),[12] on U.S. 60 near the center of Shelby County and north of Interstate 64. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.6 square miles (20 km2), of which 7.6 square miles (20 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.92%) is water.

The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Shelbyville has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[13]


As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 10,085 people, 3,822 households, and 2,549 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,333.5 people per square mile (515.1/km²). There were 4,117 housing units at an average density of 544.4 per square mile (210.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.97% White, 16.35% African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.33% Pacific Islander, 4.99% from other races, and 2.51% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.51% of the population.

There were 3,822 households out of which 35.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.6% were married couples living together, 16.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.3% were non-families. 26.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% 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 3.03.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.4% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 33.0% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,607, and the median income for a family was $44,481. Males had a median income of $30,913 versus $24,710 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,461. About 12.5% of families and 15.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.0% of those under age 18 and 14.3% of those age 65 or over.


Shelbyville is known as the Saddlebred Capital of the World.[1] The city also holds an annual horse show, which is visited by many famous people including William Shatner.

Sister city

Shelbyville has one sister city, as designated by Sister Cities International:[17]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b Shelby County, Kentucky, Tourism Commission and Visitors Bureau. Official Site. Accessed October 8, 2013.
  2. ^ City of Shelbyville. "Shelbyville City Hall". 2013. Accessed October 9, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Commonwealth of Kentucky. Office of the Secretary of State. Land Office. "Shelbyville, Kentucky". Accessed August 26, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Rennick, Robert. Kentucky Place Names. University Press of Kentucky (Lexington), 1987.
  5. ^ "Summary and Reference Guide to House Bill 331 City Classification Reform" (PDF). Kentucky League of Cities. Retrieved December 30, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". Retrieved March 8, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i The Louisville Encyclopedia, pp. 810 ff. "Shelbyville". University Press of Kentucky (Lexington), 2001. Accessed October 8, 2013.
  9. ^ Receveur, Sharon. The Encyclopedia of Louisville, p. 275. "Episcopalians".
  10. ^ The Encyclopedia of Louisville, p. 176. "Cherokee Gardens".
  11. ^ a b Shelby County Historical Society. "County History". 2013. Accessed October 8, 2013.
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  13. ^ "Climate Summary for Shelbyville, Kentucky". Weatherbase. Retrieved October 4, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  16. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  17. ^ "Online directory: Kentucky, USA". Sister Cities International. Archived from the original on February 13, 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2007. 

External links

  • Official site
  • Visit Shelbyville! Shelbyville Tourism Commission
  • Shelbyville Horse Show
  • Wakefield-Scearce Galleries — Historic Site
  • Shelby County Public Schools
  • Sentinel News — Local newspaper
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