The seventy-sixth county in order of formation, Meade County is located in the northwestern section of Kentucky along the Ohio River. Bordered by Breckinridge and Hardin counties, from which it was formed on December 17, 1823, it has an area of 305 square miles. The county was named in honor of Capt. James Meade of Woodford County, who fought in the Battle of Tippecanoe and was killed at the Battle of the River Raisin in 1813. The county seat is Brandenburg.
Before settlement, herds of wild game, such as buffalo, deer, and elk, abounded in the area, which attracted pioneers who were seeking homes in the Kentucky wilderness as well as Indian tribes who hunted there. Among the early settlers were Squire Boone and his son Enoch. In 1780 Boone claimed 1,000 acres at the head of Doe Run for Joseph Helm. That same year, John Essery and others claimed land in Buck Grove. Boone claimed 6,000 acres below Doe Run for himself in 1783. Wolf Creek was the first permanent settlement in the county. Periodically, the Indians from across the Ohio River would raid the Meade County area. Lookouts were placed on the hills above the river to detect the approach of hostile Indians.
The county owes much of its early development to churches. Local historian George Ridenour placed the first Baptist church gathering between the forts of Thomas Helm, Andrew Hynes, and Samuel Haycraft in Severn's Valley on June 18, 1781. Four churches met on October 29, 1785, to form what later became the Salem Association of Baptists.
During the early years of the nineteenth century, John James Audubon came through Meade County making sketches of the birds for which later he became famous. During the Civil War, Meade County was the site of a daring raid by Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan's troops on July 7, 1863. The Confederates captured two steamboats, the John T. Combs and the Alice Dean, and Morgan stopped briefly in Brandenburg before invading Indiana and Ohio. During the war, Confederate guerrilla Marcellus Jerome Clarke ("Sue Mundy") was captured near the community of Guston.
The Fort Knox Military Reservation, established in 1918, occupies 15,000 acres in Meade County. The Meade County economy is aided by the proximity of the fort, which employs 21 percent of the county's work force.