Henderson county courthouse in Henderson, Kentucky.
Location within the U.S. state of Kentucky
Kentucky's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Richard Henderson|
|• Total||466 sq mi (1,210 km2)|
|• Land||437 sq mi (1,130 km2)|
|• Water||30 sq mi (80 km2) 6.4%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||106/sq mi (41/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
Henderson County is a county in the U.S. state of Kentucky. The county is located in western Kentucky on the Ohio River across from Evansville, Indiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 46,250. The county seat is Henderson.
The county was formed in 1798 and named for Richard Henderson who purchased 17,000,000 acres (69,000 km2) of land from the Cherokee Indians, part of which would later make up the county.
Henderson County lies within the West Kentucky Coal Field area. It is also part of the Evansville, IN-KY Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The Transylvania Co., also known as Richard Henderson & Co., in 1775 purchased from the Cherokees a large swath of wilderness between the Kentucky River and Cumberland River, encompassing approximately half of what would become Kentucky as well as a portion of northern Tennessee. Their intention was to establish a 14th colony to be called Transylvania Colony. To help attract people to purchase land and populate the region, Henderson & Co. hired pioneer, explorer, woodsman, and frontiersman Daniel Boone to lead settlers through Cumberland Gap and direct woodsmen to cut the Wilderness Road through the Kentucky forest. However, the Continental Congress declined to act on Transylvania Co.'s petition without the consent of Virginia and North Carolina, which laid claim to the disputed lands.
In December 1778, Virginia's Assembly declared the Transylvania claim void. In compensation, Henderson and his partners received a grant of 200,000 acres on the Ohio River below the mouth of Green River. In 1797, the surviving Transylvania Company investors and heirs sent Samuel Hopkins and Thomas Allin to the Henderson Grant land to lay out a town and mark off land for the respective investors. The location they selected for the town was the site of an existing settlement that sat high above the Ohio River called Red Banks. The new town was subsequently named Henderson.
Henderson County was created out of Christian County in December 1798, and was officially established in May 1799. Henderson was designed as its county seat. The county initially encompassed a larger area than it does today. It was reduced in size when Hopkins County was formed in 1806, when Union County was established in 1811, and when Webster County was established in 1860.
In August 1799, serial killers Micajah and Wiley Harpe came to the house of Moses Stegall, near what is now Dixon in Webster County, and murdered his wife, child, and a visitor. Moses Stegall later tracked down the brothers, and killed Micajah Harpe, cutting off his head and hanging it in a tree as a warning to other outlaws. Wiley Harpe was captured and hanged four years later in Mississippi.
During the 19th century, a cultivar of dark tobacco raised in Henderson County became very popular in Great Britain and continental Europe. Henderson became the largest dark-tobacco market in the world, generating considerable wealth in Henderson County. Around 1880, Henderson had 17 stemmeries in the city and 18 in the county. Stemmeries were where tobacco was stripped from its stem and made ready for use.  However, tobacco production in Henderson County declined through the 20th century and early 21st century, with few farmers still raising the labor-intensive crop. 
A peninsula across the Ohio from Henderson, which now forms Union Township, Vanderburgh County, Indiana, was the subject of Handly's Lessee v. Anthony, a U.S. Supreme Court case in 1820. An area known as "Green River Island" is part of Kentucky, even though it is on the Indiana side of the Ohio River. The Ellis Park Race Course is located there.
A workplace shooting occurred at an Atlantis Plastics factory in Henderson, Kentucky, United States on June 25, 2008. The gunman, 25-year-old Wesley Neal Higdon, shot and killed five people and critically injured a sixth, before taking his own life. The mass murder is the worst in the history of Henderson County, surpassing the triple homicides that took place in 1799 and 1955.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 466 square miles (1,210 km2), of which 437 square miles (1,130 km2) is land and 30 square miles (78 km2) (6.4%) is water. The county's northern border with Indiana is mostly formed by the Ohio River, though some of the county lies north of the river.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 44,829 people, 18,095 households, and 12,576 families residing in the county. The population density was 102 per square mile (39/km2). There were 19,466 housing units at an average density of 44 per square mile (17/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 91.16% White, 7.10% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.39% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.97% of the population.
There were 18,095 households, out of which 32.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.40% were married couples living together, 11.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.50% were non-families. 26.40% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.60% under the age of 18, 8.40% from 18 to 24, 30.00% from 25 to 44, 23.90% from 45 to 64, and 13.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $35,892, and the median income for a family was $44,703. Males had a median income of $33,838 versus $22,572 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,470. About 9.70% of families and 12.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.20% of those under age 18 and 10.10% of those age 65 or over.