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  • Chad Hobbs

Meade County's first Judge and why the position is now called Judge/Executive

Collins Fitch, Meade County's first Judge

Daniel Boone and his brother, Squire, explored much of Meade County long before it became a county. Squire Boone's son, Enoch, would eventually settle with his wife and children in what is now the Muldraugh area of the county. One of their daughters, Lucy, would marry a man named Collins Fitch, who would become Meade County's first Judge.

Fitch was born in Washington County, New York on May 13, 1792. According to his obituary, he fought in the War of 1812 and eventually settled in Meade County in 1832. He would live the rest of his 98 years in Meade County until he passed away in 1891. Fitch would build a home in Plain Dealing, a long-lost town along Otter Creek, downstream from Garnettsville, now part of Fort Knox. According to Gary Kempf, author of "Land Before Fort Knox," Fitch operated a merchandise store with his father-in-law, Enoch Boone, at the confluence of Otter Creek and the Ohio River.

Before 1850, the Kentucky Constitution allowed only for justices of the peace as the top judicial and administrators for a county. There were no county judge positions. That year, however, the Kentucky Constitution would be reworked and included the new position of county judge. Under this mandate, men such as Collins Fitch would preside over county court, the court of claims and quarterly court. The county court was very similar to today's fiscal court which oversaw all the legislative and administrative needs of the county. The court of claims dealt with taxes and appropriation of funds for the county. In quarterly court, the judge had jurisdiction over minor civil cases.

In 1975, the State Legislature made a Judicial Amendment to the Constitution. During this reorganization of the Judicial System, the county judge was stripped of all judicial responsibilities and powers but went on to state that "nothing shall be construed to limit the powers otherwise granted by this Constitution to the county judge as the chief executive, administrative and fiscal officer of the county." The General Assembly also changed the title from county judge to county judge/executive to reflect the changes in duties but remain true to the history of the position.

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