Hawesville is the county seat of Hancock County. It was named for Richard Hawes who donated land for the town.
Kentucky and Indiana residents crossed the river between Cannelton, IN and Hawesville, KY via the Hawesville ferry, which opened in 1831. The ferry was known as the H&C (Hawesville & Cannelton); it became the largest ferry operation in Kentucky until 1966, when it was shut down and the Lincoln Trail Bridge opened.
The chief transportation center for Hancock County was the Hawesville railroad station for many years; in 1959, the last passenger train passed through the station, which later served as Hawesville’s City Hall, and is now the Hancock County Museum.