Martin County, formed on September 1, 1870 from parts of Pike, Floyd, Johnson, and Lawrence Counties, was named in honor of Col. John P. Martin, a popular and highly esteemed Eastern Kentuckian. Originally, the county seat was established in Warfield, seperated from West Virginia by the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy. In 1874, the county seat was moved to Inez. When Inez was settled around 1810, the location was known as Arminta Ward's Bottom, and the name was later changed to Eden in appreciation of its beautiful mountain senery. The name had been given earlier to another Kentucky town, however, so Inez was the name chosen on July 23, 1874, honoring the daughter to Leo Frank, postmaster of nearby Louisa, Kentucky. The county seat is situated in a vally, surrounded by beautiful hills and mountains.
Early settlers were the Crums, Williamsons, Cassadys, Stepps, Endicotts, Wards, and Delongs. The descendants of pioneer settler James Ward, who settled at the forks of Rockcastle Creek in 1810, and of Adam Crum who came from Bedford County, Virginia, in 1806, and others peopled the creeks, farmed the valley bottoms, and sought by stern initiave to bring from the inhospititable lands some sembleance of security and to endow themselves with a few of the amenities of life they had known in Virginia.
Coal was first mined in Martin County in the late nineteenth century at Warfield. One of the major operations was at Himlerville, where in 1918 Hungarian immigrant Martin Himler began mining a seam of good coal. Himler's company was sold in 1929 and the town was renamed Beauty.
President Lyndon Johnson visited Inez on April 24, 1964 to initiate his "War on Poverty." Martin County has changed since Johnson's historical visit. Begining in the 1970's, Martin County has sprung from poverty to become the state's second largest coal producer. In 1986 about one hundred mines were in operation, producing more than 7 million tons of coal underground and 5.5 million tons by surface mining. In addition to coal, the county's chief resources are oil, natural gas, and hardwood timber.
Several beneficial projects have developed in Martin County. The local transportation system was improved with four lane highways. A regional airport, two new libraries, a new courthouse annex, Senior Citizens Center, and nursing home are the result of the prosperity. The population of Martin County was 9,377 in 1970, 13,925 in 1980, and 12,526 in 1990.
Time Line and Interesting Facts
1779 - Pioneer James Ward arrives in Kentucky and accompanies George Rogers Clark to Ohio
1826 - Famed pioneer Moses Stepp settles in what is now Martin County 1864 - The Home Guard stands off Confederate soilders; called the Warfield Skirmish
1870 - Martin County formed
1874 - City of Eden changes name to Inez and becomes the county seat 1905 - First high school is built
1919 - Himlerville, a Hungarian mining town, later named Beauty is established
1928 - William McCoy is appointed by the governor as commissioner on the first text book
1941 - Inez High School wins State Basketball Championship
1954 - Inez High School wins State Basketball Championship again
1964 - President Johnson visits Martin County to declare his "War on Poverty"
1970 - Coal boom begins
1977 - Warfield is devistated by flood waters
1987 - A regional airport is built on the boundary of Martin, Floyd, and Johnson Counties
1998 - Federal Prison Project begins
A Pictorial History Of Martin County
(Left) The first courthouse in Martin County. (Right) The Himler house, located in what was called Himmerville.
(Left) An aerial photo of Inez in the early 1900's. (Right) What is thought to be the first graduating class of Inez in 1905.
(Left) The first sheriff of Martin County, Phillip Cassady. (Right) 1964, President Johnson and the First Lady visit Martin County.