Van Lear is an unincorporated community in Johnson
County, Kentucky, United States.
Incorporated in 1912, the town was named for a director of Consolidation Coal Company
(Consol), Van Lear Black. It owes its existence to the viable
efforts of John Caldwell Calhoun
. Mayo bought coal rights to land along Miller's Creek in
Johnson County, which he later sold to Northern Coal and Coke
, which in turn
was later acquired by Consol.
Consol built five miles of railroad into the Johnson County
property with money loaned by Van Lear Black's Fidelity Trust.
Eventually five coal mines
were opened and
operated in Van Lear from 1910 through 1946. The vast coal deposits
were mined from five underground mines around the clock. The miners
included immigrant Irish, Italians and Slavs, as well as Appalachians
and locals. The mines were
integrated; both blacks and whites worked underground. During the
boom years the population surpassed 4000.
In 1945 Consol
with the Pittsburgh Coal
, then divested itself of its Miller's Creek properties.
The people who lived in company-owned housing were given first
chance to purchase those homes and many did. However, most of the
major buildings were torn down.
Van Lear today
Currently, Van Lear is an unincorporated community. There are no
deep mines operating in Van Lear proper, although some mines
operate nearby. Most of the residents work in locations
outside Van Lear, including the nearby cities of Paintsville, Prestonsburg, and Pikeville.
People work in mining, education, health care, government, and
retail/service jobs. The present population of Van Lear proper is
roughly 1600. The total population of the Van Lear postal
district (including Butcher Hollow) is over 3000.
The Van Lear mines are referred to by country music
singer Loretta Lynn
in her song "Coal Miner's Daughter
" and in
the title song of her Van Lear
album, and by Dwight
in "Miner's Prayer" from his Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc.,
album. Lynn was born in Butcher Hollow and Yoakam in
Van Lear has an elevation of 643 feet (196 meters) and is located
at (37.7712067, -82.7579371)
According to the census
of 2000, there were
2,106 people, 807 households, and 625 families in the ZIP Code Tabulation Area
Lear's ZIP code
The racial makeup of the community was 98.8% White, 0.0% African
American, and 0.3% Asian.
In the community there were 807 households out of which 33.5% had
children under the age of 18, 63.7% were married couples living
together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present,
and 22.6% were non-families. 19.6% of all households were made up
of individuals and the average family size was 2.99.
The median income for a household in the ZCTA was $26,600, and the
median income for a family was $29,556. Males had a median income
of $30,000 versus $18,375 for females. The per capita income for
the ZCTA was $15,269. About 14.2% of families were below the
Most students in Van Lear attend:
- Porter Elementary school at Hager
Hill (kindergarten-sixth grade)
- Johnson County Middle School in Paintsville (seventh-eighth grade)