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Discover > Historical Information

The History of Mayfield, Kentucky

The city of Mayfield, KY is abundant in history, dating from the early 19th century. Mayfield has survived wars and depressions, and it has also thrived in times of prosperity. The city has been a powerful industrial area over the years, while it still manufactures many goods that are sold here in the community. Several famous names have come from Mayfield since its founding, including a few of today's celebrities who proudly join the town's citizens in calling Mayfield "home."

As our mayor, Teresa Cantrell says, "We hold fast to our history, while looking and preparing for the future."

The Story Behind the Name

The town has gathered rich history over the last nearly two hundred years.

  • The first known settler of Mayfield was John Anderson of Albermarle County, NC in 1819. Anderson built the first house in Mayfield-a log cabin-on what is now North 5th Street.
  • Two of the early settlers of the town, Willis Odom and James Ross, were Revolutionary War veterans.
  • Graves County was considered neutral territory during the Civil War, but most of the citizens of Graves considered themselves Confederates. However, many men from Mayfield fought at the Battle of Shiloh as soldiers in the Federal Army.
  • World War I also employed many of Mayfield's young men. One soldier, Marshall P. Helm, wrote these words to his family just before leaving for the war:
    "I hope you get along O.K. and live happy till I get back from kicking the K(aiser)."
    Sadly, this young man, along with several others from Mayfield, caught influenza while on the ship to France and died in the hospital there.
  • The first female sheriff in the United States was Mayfield's Lois Roach in 1922, who took over for her husband after he was murdered on duty.
  • Tobacco was one of the first industries of Mayfield, and one of the longest-lived.
  • The Mayfield Woolen Mills and the Merit Manufacturing Co., which produced pants and suits, once could boast to be two of the largest factories of their kind in the nation.
  • In 1988, the movie In Country, based on a novel of the same name by Bobbie Ann Mason, was filmed, in part, in Mayfield. The movie stars Bruce Willis and Emily Lloyd, and features Mayfield's courthouse, downtown area, and several other landmarks.
  • Jerry Seinfeld stopped in Mayfield for a barbecue sandwich. He did so at the recommendation of Bruce Willis.
  • Mayfield was showcased on NBC's America's Got Talent in 2009, when Graves County native Kevin Skinner was a contestant (and future winner). Several landmarks of the city could be seen when the show presented Skinner's hometown.

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Court Square 1923