The community of Hartford was named for a deer crossing, or hart ford, on the Rough River. It was founded as part of a 4,000 acre grant by Virginia to Gabriel Madison. It was surveyed in 1782 and settled sometime before 1790. The fortified settlement known as Fort Hartford was subject to Indian attacks, but the community survived and once the threat of attack had passed, it became the seat of the newly created Ohio County, KY in 1798.