Collection: Counties Of Todd And Christian Kentucky

Early Kentucky Amusements

The early sports were allied to useful occupations. Quiltings, wool-pickings and spinning-bees were made up by the women, when the afternoon was given to work and the night to games, the young men coming in to share the entertainment and escort the girls home. House-raisings, log-rollings and husking-bees were occasions when the men after a hard day’s work would spend, the evening with the young women invited in. As society developed, however, the times showed “smart signs of wickedness ” in place of these earlier amusements. Horse racing, shooting matches, raffling and dancing came in to disturb the staid people of the community, and intoxicate the young and giddy. Dancing had formed a part of the amusements at social gatherings, but then the jig danced by a gentleman and lady, the four and eight-hand reel and the horn pipe had prevailed. But when the cotillion and waltz came upon the floor it brought out the strongest disapproval. In the fall and winter of 1811 Armstrong Bailey, Jesse Irvine and Farrow White, all from near the present site of Daysville, came in company with a dancing master, and made up a dancing school at John Harvey’s. This dancing accomplishment took the fancy of the young people and soon became the gossip of the neighborhood. Several of the young church members were enticed by a desire to improve their steps, a...

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The Log-Cabin

The log-cabin was the universal residence for years. But there are distinctions even in this simple class of structures, and the majority of those found here were of the better sort. While the larger number of the first settlers were not wealthy for even that day, there were some that were well-to-do, and there was manifested a disposition to secure all the comforts to be had at the cost of labor simply. The cabins therefore were as neat and comfortable as the rude carpentry and materials at hand would afford. The roof was made of clapboards; boards were supplied by splitting a piece of straight-grained timber with a froe. These were about four feet long, as wide as the timber would admit, and used in-doors and elsewhere without further dressing. Puncheons, split trees of about eighteen inches diameter, and smoothed upon the upper surface with a broad-ax, supplied the floor. The furniture was generally made from the same material and fashioned with an ax. A split slab supported by four legs did duty as a table; three-legged stools took the place of chairs, while the bedstead was made to go upon one leg. At a proper distance from the side of the cabin, adjacent to a corner, a single fork was placed with the lower end in a hole in the floor and the upper end fastened to a...

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A Kentucky Barren

The name popularly applied to the region embraced within the limits of Barren, Warren, Simpson, Logan, and the lower part of Todd, Christian and Trigg Counties, is very misleading to the modern ear. To the pioneers of the early part of this century, impressed by the stern experiences of frontier life, it meant a land ” where every prospect pleases” the eye only to dupe the understanding. They had been brought up in a timbered country, and had been educated to believe that it was necessary not only to their comfort but to their very existence. They had an exaggerated idea of the amount of timber needed for dwellings and fuel, and seemed to believe that soil too poor to grow it would scarcely grow anything else, while the exposed situation would expose them to the burning sun of summer and the fierce blasts of winter. The region thus early passed by presented a beautiful picture of the splendor and bounty of untrammeled nature. Unlike the great prairies of the Northwest, there was great variety in the configuration of the surface. Beautiful springs of unfailing water gave rise to small rivulets, which, uniting, formed branches of creeks, the banks of which were skirted by more or less extended groves. The more open places between streams had been kept clear by the fires kindled by the Indians so long as...

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The Pioneers of Todd County, Kentucky

The early immigration to the State of Kentucky, as has been noted, came to the blue grass region and upper Kentucky Val-ley. A few of the more adventurous spirits pushed out to the southwest in the upper valley of Green River, and of these were the founders of Davis Station in Christian County, and Justinian Cartwright, in Todd County, in 1792. It is to be regretted that the sketches of the Hon. Urban Kennedy, published in a county paper, have not been preserved in-tact. Through the care of W. P. Stephenson, a few fragments have been secured to which the following summary is principally indebted for its facts. At the time Davis’ Station was established, the Indians were still actively engaged in a determined effort to repel the encroachments of the whites, and this settlement was disturbed, if not broken up, later in the year. Cartwright’s seems to have escaped the general fate of outlying improvements, and the settlement of the county dates in an unbroken line from 1792. A trace ran from the Russellville settlement, established in 1780, to the cabin of Bat Woods, on the present site of Hopkinsville, and across this trace, about four and a half miles west of Elkton, Cartwright built his cabin. It was situated in the edge of some timber near a good spring, and was the only house in the territory...

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The Indians of Todd County, Kentucky

The relation of the Indians to the Mound-Builders has not been satisfactorily determined by scientists. Indian traditions are so vague, and so utterly lacking in the prime essentials for a scientific basis, that few archaeologists have taken them into the account. Some, how-ever, have hazarded an hypothesis in accordance with the traditions mentioned above, while others (among whom the late Mr. Morrison, an account of whose researches in New Mexico have been published by the Smithsonian Institute), have taken the ground that the Indian is a degenerate descend-ant of these ancient people, and that the famed Montezuma, whose halls have furnished so rich a store of poetic illusion, was nothing but a dirty Indian in a mud hut. Whatever may be the truth in all this, the Indian still stands, by the great mass of evidence, an independent race, and the successor of the Mound-Builder, whose remains are found in this county as well as elsewhere in the State. Whether the traditions quoted sufficiently account for the fact or not, it remains unquestioned that the Indian did not choose to make his home in the ” dark and bloody ground,” and while the pioneers possessed the land only after a long and determined struggle, the early annals contain no record of the wigwam blaze or the council fires in this State. There are abundant evidences of their presence in...

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Traces Of The Earliest Kentucky Inhabitants

IT is an interesting suggestion of the archaeologist, that this land, which on the coming of the whites was too forbidding for the habitation of the Indian, centuries before was the home of a race of beings possessing some approach to civilization. The discovery of footprints upon his deserted island by Robinson Crusoe was not more startling than the discoveries of archaeologists to the followers of Petarius and Usher, who place the operations of creation and the whole evolution of civilization within the narrow limits of a few centuries. But science has multiplied its evidence until there is no room to doubt that these ancient people were a living reality in the indefinite past, and worked out their destinies where the whites pioneered their way a hundred years ago. Time has swallowed up their identity, and loosely characterized by the character of their re-mains, they are known only as Mound-Builders. Their footprints may be traced ” wherever the Mississippi and its tributaries flow, in the fertile valleys of the West, and along the rich savannas of the Gulf, upon the Ohio, the Kentucky, the Cumberland, the Licking; upon the streams of the far South, and as far north as the Genessee and the head waters of the Susquehanna, but rarely upon mountains or sterile tracts, and almost in-variably upon the fertile margins of navigable streams. Within these limits the...

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Todd County, Kentucky Geological Speculations

No geological survey has been made of Todd County, and the State work is of such a general nature as to forbid the gathering of anything approaching a particular review of the geological features of this county from its pages. A brief general review is all that can be attempted in the time and space assigned to this topic here. The geological formations of Kentucky, in common with those of the other Western States, generally belong to that great system which extends from the Alleghanies on the east across the Mississippi and to the Rocky Mountains on the west. Throughout this vast region the primary fossiliferous or silurian devonian, and carboniferous rocks prevail with some of the upper formations. These rocks all belong to the class which is termed sedimentary, and were generally deposited upon the bottom of the primeval ocean. Here the fossil remains of the inhabitants of this ocean were gradually covered by clay and sand or limestone and other layers of shells, until, under the heavy pressure of superincumbent strata and by slow and long-continued chemical action, they were converted into solid rocks, and now that the waters of this ocean have retired, are exposed to view as the lasting records of earth’s remotest history. The strata over nearly the entire surface of the State lie nearly horizontal with few dislocations. They have generally a slight...

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Geography of Todd County, Kentucky

The county thus organized and named is situated in the southern part of the State, on the Tennessee line, and in the eastern border of that section of Kentucky arbitrarily called the Southwest. It is bounded on the north by Muhlenburg County, east by Logan, south by Montgomery, in State of Tennessee, and west by Christian, and contains about 330 square miles. The county lies partly in the Green River Val- ley, and partly in that of the Cumberland River, and represents the characteristics of both valleys. The dividing line between these valleys passes in a northwesterly direction through Todd several miles above Elkton, throwing the northern portion into the ” Green River Country,” and the southern in the Cumberland Valley. Curiously enough, in this county, the characteristics of these valleys are transposed; the Green River portion is broken and underlaid by freestone, and lies within the mineral belt, while the lower part belongs to the cavernous limestone’ formation, and possesses those rich agricultural characteristics which have made the Green River Country famous as the great wheat producing area of the State. The Russellville and Hopkinsville road, passing northwesterly through Elkton, forms the general dividing line between these two sections. South from this the surface is a gently rolling expanse of arable country, with little timber and much lowland, ‘which for the lack of good artificial drainage is much...

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Biography of Col. John Todd

Col. John Todd, whose honored name this county bears, was the eldest of three brothers, and a native of Pennsylvania. He was educated in Virginia, at his uncle’s-the Rev. John Todd-and at maturity entered upon the study of the law, subsequently obtaining a license to practice. He left his uncle’s residence, and settled in the town of Fincastle, Va., where he practiced law for several years; but Daniel Boone and others having explored Kentucky, Col. Todd, lured by the descriptions given him of the fertility of the country, about the year 1775 came first to Kentucky, where he found Col. Henderson and others at Boonesboro. He joined Henderson’s party, obtained a pre-emption right, and located sundry tracts of land in the present county of Madison, in Col. Henderson’s land office. He afterward returned to Virginia, and in the year 1786 again set out from Virginia with his friend, John May, and one or two others, for Kentucky. They proceeded some distance together on the journey, when for some cause Mr. May left his servant with Col. Todd to proceed on to their destination, and returned to Virginia. Col. Todd proceeded on to the place where Lexington now stands, and in its immediate vicinity improved two places-the one in his own name and the other in that of his friend, John May-for both of which he obtained certificates for settlement...

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Act Forming Todd County, Kentucky

The text of the act is as follows : SECTION 1. Be it Enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, That from and after the first day of April next, all that part of said counties of Logan and Christian, contained in the following boundary, to wit: Beginning on the Tennessee State line, at the present corner of the counties of Logan and Christian, on said State line; thence on a straight line to the Muhlenberg County line, two miles east of the present corner of said counties of Logan and Christian, on said Muhlenberg County line; then westwardly with said Muhlenberg County line, until a due south line will strike a point ten miles due east of the most eastwardly boundary of the town of Hopkinsville, and continue south to the said State line, and eastwardly with it to the place of beginning, shall be one distinct county, called and known by the name of Todd, in honor of the memory of Col. John Todd, who gallantly fell in the service of his country on the [19th] day of August, 1782, at the battle of the Blue Licks. SEC. 2. The said county of Todd shall be entitled to thirteen Justices of the Peace, who shall be appointed and commissioned as in other cases, who shall meet at the dwelling house of James Kendall in...

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Kentucky’s Early Political Development

Kentucky had been erected into a county of that name in 1776. In the spring of 1783 it was made a judicial district, and a court of criminal as well as civil jurisdiction was established, John Floyd, Samuel McDowell and George Muter being appointed Judges; John May, Clerk; and Walker Daniel, Prosecuting Attorney. The first session was held at Harrodsburg the same spring, Floyd and McDowell only being present, Muter not putting in an appearance until two years later. Seventeen cases were presented by the grand jury, nine for keeping tippling houses and eight for fornication, which probably illustrates the prevailing vices of the time. In the summer a log court house and jail, of hewed or sawed logs nine inches thick, were erected on the site of Danville, which subsequently became the seat of justice for the district. In the latter part of 1780 Kentucky County was divided into three counties-Jefferson, with John Floyd as Colonel William Pope, Lieutenant-Colonel, and George May, Surveyor; Lincoln, with Benjamin Logan, Colonel; Stephen Trigg, Lieutenant-Colonel, and James Thompson, Surveyor; and Fayette, with John Todd, Colonel; Daniel Boone, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Col. Tom Marshall (father of the Chief Justice of the United States), Surveyor. In the summer of 1784 some Indian depredations were committed on the southern frontier, and the fear be-came general that a serious invasion was contemplated by the savages. Col. Logan,...

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Development of the Kentucky Settlements

The present State of Kentucky was visited by various parties at different times from 1747 to 1772. The first of these which gave promise of the return of the parties were those made in 1773 by surveyors sent out by Dunmore and others. An “improver’s cabin,” a square of small logs, but neither roofed nor inhabited, was erected this year in Bracken County, but there were none elsewhere in the country at this time. In May, 1774, Capt. James Harrod settled near Harrodsburg with thirty-one persons, and soon after Isaac Hite with ten men joined them. These men erected their cabins in various places in the immediate vicinity, and in the following year Harrod established another settlement at Boiling Spring, six miles south of Harrodsburg. These settlements were temporarily abandoned, but were resumed later in this year, when the Transylvania Company made its settlement at Boonesboro. These, with the settlement formed by Col. Benjamin Logan, in Lincoln County, formed the “Transylvania Colony,” and the nucleus of the State’s growth. A single cabin was built near the site of Maysville by Simon Kenton, and a similar improvement by Floyd near the site of Louisville in this year. Other similar outlying improvements were projected, but all were abandoned in the same year, save the colony settlements in the valley of the Kentucky River. In 1776 important permanent settlements were made at...

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George Rogers Clarke’s Campaign

It was evident that these attacks were inspired, and munitions supplied, by the British stationed at Kaskaskia and Vincennes. George Rogers Clarke, who had visited Kentucky in 1775, had taken in the situation from a military standpoint, and had conceived a plan by which the infant settlements of Kentucky might be freed from this additional source of danger. He communicated it to Gov. Henry of Virginia, and had no difficulty in impressing him with the advantages of its successful prosecution. But the colony was then in common with the other twelve engaged in the stirring scenes of the Revolution. This struggle demanded every resource of the Revolutionists, and however attractive the plan might appear, the means for its accomplishment was felt to be a serious addition to the already great burden imposed by the war. The Governor gave his _support to the plan, however, and by June, 1778, Major Clarke had reached the Falls of the Ohio with 153 men composed of the Virginia line and Kentucky scouts. Proceeding down the river in the latter part of this month he disembarked on the Illinois shore and marched thence through the wilderness to Kaskaskia, a distance of 120 miles. The expedition was a complete success; the English force, completely surprised, surrendered without a shot on July 4, and two days later Cahokia furnished another bloodless victory. While engaged in securing...

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Indian Demonstrations at Boonesboro, Kentucky

The Indians had not been inattentive to the activity of the whites. They met the very first organized party with slaughter, and up to 1775 had succeeded in disheartening and driving out all who had effected a temporary settlement. The cluster of settlements near and including Boonesboro seems to have impressed the natives with the necessity of better preparations to resist the encroachments of the whites which were growing more formidable in their character. In 1777 the attacks of the Indians, which had hitherto been made with very little concert of action, began to evince evidence of some guiding influence, and were so well directed that all settlements were soon abandoned save those at Boonesboro, Harrodsburg and Logan’s Fort, which, combined, could barely muster 102 men. Early in the following year, Boone, with thirty men, was at the lower Blue Licks engaged in making salt, when he was surprised by a war party of some 200 Indians on their way to attack Boonesboro. The whole party was captured, but not before they had succeeded in gaining by parley very favorable terms of capitulation. By these terms, which were faithfully observed, by their captors, the whites were taken to Detroit and turned over to the English Commandant. Boone, however, was reserved and taken by the Indians to Chillicothe, where his captors treated him with great kindness and permitted him to...

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Early Surveys and Settlements of Kentucky

The first authorized survey made by an official surveyor in this Territory was in the northeast corner of the State, in what is now Lawrence and Greenup Counties. One plat covered the present site of the town of Louisa, and the other eleven miles from the mouth of the Big Sandy, on the river. These were made for John Fry, to whom the lands were conveyed by patents. The corners were marked with the initials ” G. W.,” and it is believed in the locality that the surveys were made by George Washington himself, although no documentary evidence can be found to sustain this belief. These surveys, however, were probably not induced by the reports of the hunters in the interior of this region, but in the following year the royal Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, dispatched a party of surveyors down the Ohio River to select and survey lands in the newly opened country for himself. One party, under Capt. Thomas Bullitt, selected lands under his warrant along the river from the falls to Salt River, and up that river to Bullitt’s Lick; the other, under James McAfee, following up the Kentucky River, surveyed the flats about the present site of Frankfort. In August of 1773 Bullitt platted the village of Louisville, probably under the same authority, but . the Revolution occurring soon afterward brought these schemes on...

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