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Welcome To KEY TO THE CITY's Page For
Van Lear
Johnson County, Kentucky


Page Contents for Van Lear, Kentucky

Statistics & Facts


History & History-related items

City Attractions


Historical Events

Community events.

Organizations, Churches, and Sports.



Statistics & Facts

The Kentucky state capital is Frankfort.
The population of Van Lear is approximately 2,075 (2000).
The approximate number of families is 438 (1990).
The amount of land area in Van Lear is 13.974 sq. kilometers.
The amount of surface water is 0 sq kilometers.
The distance from Van Lear to Washington DC is 334 miles.
The distance to the Kentucky state capital is 123 miles. (as the crow flies)
Van Lear is positioned 37.76 degrees north of the equator and 82.75 degrees west of the prime meridian.
Van Lear elevation is 689 feet above sea level.
Van Lear per capita income is $ 15,993 (2000).
Van Lear median income is $ 27,862 (2000).
The Van Lear median home price is $ 89,800 (2000).
Van Lear average annual rainfall is 44.6 inches per year
Van Lear average annual snowfall is 25.1 inches per year.


in the south-eastern section of Johnson County in eastern Kentucky. Here is a map page for the Van Lear area. Other nearby communities include West Van Lear, Auxier, Hagerhill, Thealka, Paintsville, Williamsport, Boons Camp, Staffordsville, Leander, Swamp Branch, Riceville and Prestonsburg.
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History & History Related Items

Van Lear, Kentucky, was incorporated in 1912 in Johnson County. Named for Van Lear Black, a director of Consolidation Coal Company, the town owes its existence to the entrepreneurial efforts of John Caldwell Calhoun Mayo, born in Pike County, Kentucky, who taught in a one-room school near the confluence of Miller's Creek and Sorghum Hollow. Mayo bought coal rights to lands along Miller's Creek in Johnson County and along Elkhorn Creek in Letcher County, and later sold those rights to Northern Coal and Coke which was later acquired by Consolidation Coal Company of Maryland. Van Lear Black loaned that Company money to construct five miles of railroad into the Johnson County property, and the town was subsequently named for him. Ultimately, five mines were opened, and the reputation of Miller's Creek block coal as a highly desirable domestic heating coal soon grew. Consolidation operated these mines from 1910 through 1946 when the company divested itself of its Miller's Creek properties. Individuals then residing in the company houses were given first chance to purchase their homes, and many of them did. The town, however, went into decline. Ultimately, most of the major buildings were torn down, the railroad removed. In 1981, a first-ever school reunion was held. The following year, the non-profit Van Lear Historical Society was organized, adopting as its aim the preservation of the town's history for former, present, and future citizens of Van Lear. In 1983, another school reunion was held in concert with a town celebration, and more than eight hundred people attended, most of them former residents and/or descendants of Van Lear miner families. School reunions are now held every even-numbered year, and the town reunions continue as annual events. A quarterly newsletter is avialable for a $ 10 annual contribution to the Van Lear Historical Society, Van Lear, Kentucky 41265

See this page about Van Lear and its history, complete with many pictures from long ago and not so long ago. Also try this page.. This brief history page has one nice picture from about 1920.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's grandfather, Warren Delano, was an early director of Consolidation Coal Company

Van Lear Black's yacht, "The Sabalo", transported FDR to Campobello Island in August of 1910, the year that the future president was struck down by polio.

Black's Fidelity Trust loaned Consol money with which to construct five miles of railroad to the company's five mines along Miller's Creek. The town was named for him.

Loretta Lynn's childhood home still stands "up Butcher Holler" at the head of Van Lear and Miller's Creek. Her brother Herman owns and operates the old store near the site of Mine #155, and conducts tours of the home.
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The incorporation of Van Lear



The Coal Miners' Museum
The museum is open Monday - Saturday 11:00am - 6:00pm.
Admission price is $ 4.00/adult $ 2.00/seniors over 55
Children 12 and under FREE
Contact the museum for group rates and special programs.
Phone: 606-789-8540
Fax: same, but call ahead
78 Miller's Creek Road
P.O. Box 369
Van Lear, KY 41265

Also included on this page are links to many old photos of Van Lear. A great page for Van Lear history.

Things to see and do in the Van Lear area

Rucker Park
A community park and playground owned and operated by the Van Lear Historical Society, Inc.
The facility has a picnic shelter, a retired C&O Railroad caboose, volleyball court, basketball court, swings, and other playground equipment for small children. Restrooms are available for booked events.
The park is open to the general public during daylight hours. Small children are expected to be supervised by an adult and park rules are posted. Drugs and Alcohol are prohibited.
For special events call the Van Lear Historical Society at : (606) 789-8540 or (606) 789 - 9725 or email:
The Van Lear Historical Society, Inc. is NOT responsible for items stolen or personal injuries incurred at Rucker Park.


Loretta Lynn - Country Singer - To the northeast of Van Lear is the valley known as Butcher Hollow, the birthplace of musician Loretta Lynn. She mentioned, "my daddy worked all night in the Van Lear coal mines" in her hit song,"Coal Miner's Daughter". Loretta had three siblings to go on to record on major record labels, Jay Lee Webb, Peggy Sue and Crystal Gayle.

A page with information and links about Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, & the Lynns

Loretta Lynn and family are not the only stars who Have a Van Lear connection. In an early album of singer/actor, Dwight Yoakum mentioned the "Van Lear mine" in a song entitled,"The Miner's Prayer". Marty Roe of the country music supergroup, Diamond Rio also has ties to the town. Rowe's grandfather worked the mines at Van Lear.
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Van Lear City Government

Van Lear Volunteer Fire Department
326 Miller's Creed Rd.
P.O. Box 2
Van Lear, KY 41265
Protecting a 30 square mile area, the department was formed in 1991..

Van Lear Historical Events

2001, March
My names is James P. Smith, Sr. and I just wanted to write to u all and let you know that I was born in Van Lear, Ky. I lived in Butcher Hollow and I was born at home in a log cabin. I lived the first house down from Loretta Lynn. Her last name was Loretta Webb then. We played together when we were kids. I haven't had any contact with her since then, but when I lived in Huntington, Indiana, I used to go over to her mother's house in Wabash, Indiana. Her mom used to be a promoter and she was a very nice person, god rest her soul. I really would like to see Loretta again, but I can't seem to be able to go anywhere because I'm on a fixed income and the money doesn't last very long. If you all see Loretta, please pass this letter along to her. I sure would appreciate it so much. Tell her my grandfather's name was Paris Smith and her brother next to her knew all of us and Crystal Gayle(Brenda} I remember when she came to Huntington and performed. This was before she became a country music star. My cousin (Carlos) Carl Smith of Wabash, Indiana and I started a band back in the sixties and we auditioned at Buck Lake Ranch at Angola, Indiana, but we came in 2nd. place. Like I said, I hope someone will write back to me and also let Loretta know. Thanks for taking the time to read my letter and I hope to hear from someone soon
James P. Smith, Sr.
Mailing address
108 Page St.
Maud, Texas 75567
Phone: 903-671-2600 Email

Van Lear Community Events

August - First Friday-Saturday weekend each year
Annual Van Lear Town Celebration
The Annual Van Lear Town Celebration is held on the first Friday - Saturday weekend in August. The 21st Annual Van Lear Town Celebration will be held on August 4th and 5th, 2006.
This year's Grand Marshal will be singer / songwriter, Peggy Sue Wright. Peggy Sue is the sister of recording stars, Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle and Jay Lee Webb. Peggy is best known for her Top 10 Country Hit, "Dynamite." She also co-wrote Loretta's megahits, "Love Whatcha Got at Home" and "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' ...with Lovin' on Your Mind."
The Annual Town Celebration features: Free music concerts, country cooked meals, kiddie games, sporting tournaments, 1950's costume contest, Free tours of the Coal Miners' Museum, official ceremonies, special postal cancellations, and much more!
For additional information visit our website at: or email: .

Van Lear Schools

Registry page for graduates of the Van Lear High School - 1924 to 1968

Currently, there are no schools operating in Van Lear. The Van Lear Public Schools were consolidated into the Johnson County School System. Most of the elementary students attend Porter Elementary School (Named in honor of Van Lear High graduate, Virgil Porter) located at Hager Hill, Kentucky. Likewise, most of the high school students attend Johnson Central High School in Paintsville, Kentucky.

Some Van Lear students opt to attend the schools operated by the Paintsville Independent School System. Van Lear


Van Lear is located in the eastern time zone and does participate in daylight savings time from March through October.

The population of Van Lear was:
1999 - 1,604
2000 - 2,075

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