County Connection: Why does Kenton County have two operating courthouses?

03/28/2018 12:03 PM

COVINGTON – Kenton County, along with Campbell County, is one of Kentucky’s two most northern counties with a total of 164 square miles.

One thing that makes the county stand out is the fact that it is only one of two counties, the other being Campbell, that has two functioning courthouses, one in the county seat of Independence and one in Covington.

Kenton County Clerk Gabrielle Summe says the decision to have a second courthouse constructed in Covington dates back to the Civil War.

“You started having all of these issues, this is where a lot of the troops were, the troops were also stationed or garrisoned over in Campbell County, so, because of the volume of people here it made sense to also satisfy that population and so there was a second courthouse, that’s how it started,” Summe said.

Summe is also a history buff, and has been active in digitizing and preserving historic documents which have been discovered in the basement of the courthouse in Independence.

Her most prized find is a poll book from 1879.

“I use it a lot to take to schools because when you show it to them, they’re thinking oh, that was before private vote, so you walked up to somebody and they literally wrote your name down and checked off how you wanted to vote,” Summe said. “The coll thing about it is it was before women had the right to vote, so there are no women’s names in this book. I’ll often take it to schools and say what is it about this book that is missing, and kids look at it and they’re studying it, and they can never come up with that.”

(Historic photographs courtesy of the Kenton County Public Library)

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