Henderson County, Kentucky Biography
Governor of Kentucky

      LAZARUS WHITEHEAD POWELL, Governor of Kentucky 1851 – 1855, was born in Henderson, in 1812, the son of Lazarus, who had married a Miss MCMAHON of Henderson.  Powell attended private schools in Henderson until he was 14 years old, and was then sent to St. Joseph’s College, Bardstown.  Upon completing his academic training there he read law under the preceptorship of the celebrated Judge John ROWAN, of Bardstown.  He remained in the office of Judge Rowan until the winter of 1834 – 35, when he removed to Lexington to attend a course of lectures at Transylvania.  Powell was admitted to the bar of Henderson County in 1835, and a few months later became associated with Archibald DIXON in the practice of law.

    In November, 1837, Powell married Harriet Ann JENNINGS.  She died in 1846, leaving three sons.

    Powell was elected Governor of the State on the Democratic ticket in 1851.  After completion of his term he resumed the practice of law in Henderson.  During the Mormon uprising in 1858, Powell and Major General MCCULLOCH of Texas were named commissioners by the United States Government to treat with the Mormons.  Through their efforts a threatened military move, on the part of the Government, was averted when the Mormons were induced to accept the Government’s proposals.

    In 1858 Powell was elected United States Senator and served in that capacity from 1859 to 1865, a period of great political excitement.  Being a Union Democrat and slaveholder, his seat in the Senate was beset with many difficulties.  Garrett DAVIS, a colleague from Kentucky, in 1863, publicly accused Powell of pro-Confederate sympathies and at the same time introduced an expulsion resolution in the Senate.  However, the resolution was quickly defeated.

    After his term in the Senate expired, Powell continued the practice of law in Henderson until his death in 1867.  Governor Powell was a forcible and sometimes and eloquent speaker and an able lawyer.  Powell County was named in his honor.

    Story was found on pages 95 & 96 in the “Henderson, Home of Audubon”Henderson, Home of Audubon was compiled by the Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Kentucky and sponsored by Susan Starling Towles, Librarian, Public Library, Henderson, KY.

According to the 1840 Henderson County  Federal Census page 16, L. W.  Powell age 30 is shown with (10 son age 5 and (1) female 30.


According to the 1850 Henderson County Census page 2,   Lazarus W. Powell age 38 with sons James H. age 11, Charles age 5 and Richard age 4.

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS

Copyright 2002 HCH&GS