Garrard County is located in the Knobs Region of the state of Kentucky. The region is an arc shaped that consists of hundred of hills, or “knobs”. Around 16, 912 residents call the beautiful county home.
The county is comprised of 234 square miles of land. Of the land, 3.9 square miles is water. It is in the Bluegrass Region in the central part of the state where rolling hills, farms and horses are abundant. The people who reside in the county are said to be some of the friendliest ever.
Garrard County’s history goes back to pioneers who settled in the area in the 1700’s. A spring in Lancaster, the county seat, provided a constant source of water which made it a very desirable place to put roots down at. Log cabins were built and the settlers thrived.
The county was actually formed from parts of three nearby counties – Madison, Lincoln and Mercer. It was named for the acting Governor of Kentucky at that time, Col. James Garrard. He was a Democrat-Republican who stood for anti-slavery, prison reform, public education, business subsidies and militia presence.
The author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe visited Gerrard County in her one and only trip to the South. The Thomas Kennedy home in Paint Lick was on her list of sites to see. The cabin became her inspiration for Uncle Tom’s cabin in her book.
The area is bursting with Civil War history. Historically a Republican and Whig County, most of the county were Henry Clay fans. The Union was strongly supported during the war. Camp Dick Robinson was built within the border which was the first Federal base to the south of the Ohio River. The area remained largely Republican until recently when it turned mostly Democratic.
Lancaster is the county seat of Garrard County. It was established in 1797 when Captain William Buford generously donated the land to be used as a town around the Major Andrew Wallace settlement which is at Wallace Crossroads. The community was named after the town in Pennsylvania, perhaps due to the fact many of the settlers came from Lancaster or because the town followed a similar plan of design. No one is quite sure.
Gerrard County’s current courthouse is one of the very oldest courthouses in the state that is still being used continually.
There are many things for locals and visitors to see and do in Garrard County. Logan Hubble Park is one of the more popular spots with a 400-acre nature park that includes two miles of walking trails, wildlife habitats, a 12-acre lake for fishing, basketball courts, outdoor class rooms, a volley ball court, picnic areas, a playground, horse can and shelters. The park is available for daily use and for event booking as well.
Herrington Lake is thirty miles from Lexington. It sports a playground and great outdoor recreation. Tubing, water skiing, cliff jumping and swimming are among the activities visitors can engage in at the lake.
There are two glorious nature preserves in the county. The Kentucky River Palisades is one and the Dupree Nature Preserve is the other. They are wonderful places for enjoying the outdoors.
The Pleasant Retreat Hiking Trail is another outdoor-lover favorite. It is a one mile loop that goes right into the Lancaster city limits. It also follows the Lancaster/Garrard County Reservoir contour.
The Wonder of Life Farm is a working horse farm. Visitors can enjoy hands-on tours that include petting alpacas, gathering fresh eggs, checking out the gifts, arts and crafts on the farm and purchasing free range eggs as well. The working farm gives tourists the chance to experience farm life – up close and personal.
The Governor William Owsley House in Lancaster is a gorgeously restored home from 1804. Boasting 13 rooms, two stairways, two hall ways and more, it offers breathtaking views to the countryside surrounding it and to Lancaster Public Square as well.
One of the sweetest attractions in the county is the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s Bluegrass & Backroads Mom Blakeman’s Creamed Pulled Candy. The candy shop opened in 1961 but the story dates back much further. Ms. Blakeman owned a restaurant in the county where she generously fed the servicemen during World War ll. Later on, she opened her delicious delicacies store. Today, her original creamed pulled candy is available at the location with other confectionaries as well.
The Old Garrard Jail is a fun and interesting site to see. The historic building was used as the county jail from 1873 to 1986. It made the National Register of Historic Places during 1984.
The Central Kentucky performing arts center is a beautiful place where new meets old. Recently re-opened, the Lancaster Grand Theatre dates back to 1925. It is a beautiful venue that has gone through restoration.
There have been a number of movies and films that have been shot in the county. The 1957 movie “Raintree County” was one of the oldest. “It’s Garrard County” was a more recent one that introduced the county to viewers around the world. John Michael Montgomery’s 1995 movie “Sold” and portions of his 1997 it “I Miss You a Little” were filmed in beautiful Garrard County.
“Expect the Best” is the motto of the Garrard County school system. The focus is a positive relationship between, home, community and school. The power of staff, students and families working together is the mission of the county’s education association.
The Garrard County Tobacco Cutting Contest was a longstanding event for the area. For over thirty years, the contest has been held in the late summer to celebrate a dying tradition of culture which is the harvesting of the tobacco crop.
There are seven communities within the county: Bryantsville, Buckeye, Davis Town, Cartersville, Hyattsville, Lancaster and Paint Lick. Jessamine, Rockcastle, Madison, Lincoln, Boyle and Mercer counties are adjacent to it.
Garrard County is full of the best of the best in the old and the new. It is a small, yet upwardly moving spot to live and to visit as well.