Laurel County became the 80th county to be organized in Kentucky after its establishment on December 21, 1825, from parts of Rockcastle, Clay, Knox and Whitley Counties. The county was named after the Laurel River which is noted for dense laurel thickets along its banks. Due to some other reseacrh and discovery, it was the location of the Battle of Wildcat Mountain which was a pivotal yet little known battle during the American Civil War which kept Confederate armies from advancing on Big Hill which a major stronghold during the war. After a fire damaged the courthouse in 1958, a new structure was completed in 1961. Now the county has a total area of 444 square miles and is also home to over 60,000 residents.