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Title: The story of Kentucky
Author: Eubank, Rice S.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                         The Story of Kentucky

                         _By R. S. Eubank, A. B._


_Copyright 1913, by F. A. Owen Publishing Co._

                            TABLE OF CONTENTS

   Geography and First White Visitor
   The Virginians and Daniel Boone
   Beginnings of Settlements
   How the Pioneers Lived and Fought
   George Rogers Clark and the Revolution
   Later Days of Famous Pioneers
   After the Revolution
   Early Schools and the First Seminary
   State Government and Foreign Intrigue
   Indian Wars and War of 1812
   Internal Improvements
   Kentucky and Slavery
   The Civil War and Later

                          THE STORY OF KENTUCKY

                    Geography and First White Visitor

Lying west of the Allegheny Mountains and extending westward for some
three hundred miles, bounded, for the most part, on the north by the Ohio
River and extending to the Mississippi, lies the State of Kentucky. In its
eastern portion, constituting nearly one-third of its area, the surface is
broken, and so high as to be termed mountainous. A large area occupying
the central third, and in the early day mostly a prairie land, is now
known as the famous Blue Grass section. The western third of the State is
practically level, being but a few feet above the sea, and cypress swamps
are not infrequent. This section is commonly termed “The Pennyrile.”

In the middle of the eighteenth century, Kentucky was a portion of that
unexplored western realm belonging by grant to the State of Virginia, and
designated as a part of Fincastle County. The eastern portion in the early
day abounded in wild game common to the Appalachian forests. The
undulating grass lands in the central part of the State provided ample
grazing for the herds of buffalo and deer that were found there at the
time of the coming of man. The skeletons that have been exhumed indicate
that it was the feeding ground of the giant mastodon before the discovery
of America.

About two hundred years after Columbus discovered America, a young man
twenty-two years of age came to Canada from the Old World. On his arrival
he learned from the settlers and Indians the possibility of a passage to
the South Sea, which they then thought the Gulf of Mexico to be. Desirous
of making this journey, and lured by the possibility of reaching the
Pacific by water, he secured the assistance of Indians and some white
hunters as guides and set out upon an expedition of exploration into the
country concerning which he had heard such fascinating stories.

Crossing the St. Lawrence and traveling southward, he came to what is now
called Allegheny River. Securing birchbark canoes, he and his party
descended the Allegheny to its junction with the Monongahela, then turning
southwestward on the beautiful stream formed by these two small rivers and
now known as the Ohio, he explored the country along the banks of the
river to what was called by him the Rapids of the Ohio. Thus, LaSalle was
the first to gaze upon the country from the mouth of the Big Sandy to the
present site of Louisville, and to make a record of such discoveries.

                     The Virginians and Daniel Boone

Near the middle of the eighteenth century, or about 1750, a party of
Virginia hunters, growing weary of the monotony of home life and desiring
to find better hunting grounds, penetrated the Appalachian Mountains by
way of Powell’s Valley and through Cumberland Gap, into the eastern
portion of what is now Kentucky, and hence were the first white men to
approach the land from the eastern side. In 1767, John Finley and Daniel
Boone, hearing of the fine hunting in this section, came to Kentucky from
North Carolina and built a cabin on Red River, near where Estill, Powell,
and Clark counties are now joined. Two years later, about forty hunters
and adventurers came to the territory and made their camp at what they
then called Price’s Meadows, about six miles from the present site of
Monticello in Wayne County. This camp, by virtue of its location near the
Cumberland River, developed into a distributing point for the country
lying along the Cumberland, now included in Wayne, Green, Barren and
Warren counties. Another station was built near Greensburg. These stations
or camps seem to have served only the immediate needs of the hunters while
they were in the territory.

  [Illustration: Daniel Boone]

Daniel Boone seems to have been the only one of these hunters to whom the
wilderness especially appealed. Consequently, for many years he made
frequent trips into the territory, staying as long as two years on one
occasion, and winning the title of The Long Hunter. Boone was alone on
many of these trips, never seeing the face of a white man, but frequently
meeting roving bands of Indians. From a cave in the side of Pilot Knob in
Powell County, he could catch glimpses of the joyous sports of the Shawnee
boys at Indian Fields; and from the projecting rocks he feasted his eyes
on the herds of buffalo winding across the prairie.

No permanent Indian villages were found in Kentucky. It seems to have been
a choice bit of hunting ground strongly contested by the tribes of the
North and the tribes of the South. The Shawnees had a village at Indian
Fields, in the eastern portion of Clark County, near the beautiful stream
called Lulbegrud Creek.

Boone seems to have been endowed with the faculty that enabled him to
pass, in his first years of wandering, from tribe to tribe; and from these
Indians he learned that the common name of the country, known to all, was
Kan-tuckee (kane-tooch-ee), so called by the Indians because of the
abundance of a peculiar reed growing along the river, now known as
pipe-stem cane.

Boone remained in the wilderness so long that his brother and a searching
party came to find him. They found him in good health and spirits,
enjoying life, and living in peace with the Indian tribes. The party, with
Boone, returned to the valley of the Yadkin, and told such stories of the
enchanted land as caused the settlers of the region to listen eagerly, and
to feel the stirring of the pioneer spirit. Not caring for the growing
crops and with no relish for the monotonous labor, Boone easily persuaded
a company of men to come with him to the wilderness and to bring their

  [Illustration: Boone’s Trail]

The journey was tedious. Those on foot went ahead and blazed a trail for
the few wagons, pack horses and domestic animals, and killed game to
furnish meat when the next camp should be struck at nightfall. It was a
courageous, jolly party that thus marched through Cumberland Gap, and
blazed a way which has since been known as Boone’s Trail. Hostile Indians
had to be fought along the way, and several of the party were slain, among
them being Boone’s son. An Englishman, also, was killed, and his young son
was adopted by Boone and thereafter known as his own son.

                        Beginnings of Settlements

The party passed the present site of Richmond in Madison County, and
reached a point on the Kentucky River, in 1775, where Boonesborough was
built. The site selected was a broad, level stretch of land, with the
river to the north, and high hills to the south. This particular spot was
selected because of a fine spring of water, and high hills that could be
used for sentinel towers, inclosing fine level ground for cultivation. The
settlers cut trees and constructed a stockade in the form of a hollow
square. It was from this fort that Rebecca Boone and the Calloway girls
were stolen by Indians while boating on the Kentucky River.

  [Illustration: Boone’s Fort]

About the same time that Boonesborough was being established, Captain
James Harrod with a party of forty men descended the Ohio River, stopped
for a time at the mouth of Licking River, and felled some trees on the
present site of Cincinnati. Not being satisfied with the location of the
settlement, they followed the Ohio to the mouth of the Kentucky River and
ascended the Kentucky to a spot now known as Oregon Landing. Being
fatigued from their long and difficult voyage, they left their boats and
took a course from the river and found a big spring at which they built a
stockade on the present site of Harrodsburg.

The large flowing spring one mile west of the present town of Stanford,
Lincoln County, was made the site of a third settlement. Capt. Benjamin
Logan headed this party of pioneers, and the station was, for a time,
known as Logan’s Fort. Afterward, because of the fact that the fort was
made by planting logs on end, it was called Standing Fort, and in later
years the town was called Stanford. In the Logan party was a priest who
was a musician of rare ability. In his daily walks, he was accustomed to
sit, meditating, at the mouth of the cave from which ran the water of this
great spring. The ripple of the stream flowing from the cavern, over the
rocks and through the spearmint, was music to the Father’s ear, and to him
it seemed the spirit of St. Asaph, the director of King David’s choir. He
it was who named the spring and the creek which flows from it, St.

While the people busied themselves at Harrodsburg, Boonesborough and
Logan’s Fort, Simon Kenton, disappointed in a love affair in Virginia,
seeking relief from sorrow by satisfying his hunger for hunting and at the
same time acting in the interest of Lord Dunmore, came to Kentucky. He
reached a point near Old Washington in Mason County, where he and his
party cleared an acre of land, planted corn and ate the roasting ears the
same summer. So far as we know, this was the first agricultural activity
in the Commonwealth.

In April, 1775, the first battle of the Revolutionary War was fought at
Lexington, Mass. At that time a party of hunters was camped at the big
spring near the present site of the Fayette County courthouse, in
Lexington, Ky. Months later, the news of the American victory reached the
settlers, and because of their great joy over the victory gained, they
named the camp site Lexington.

Limestone (now Maysville), Royal Springs (now Georgetown) and Martin’s
Station were also built this year.

  [Illustration: Stockade and Cabins at Lexington]

In 1779, Lexington was first permanently improved and cabins built. From
these rude stockade cabins grew the beautiful city of the Blue Grass, in
which town for many years were manufactured practically all the fur hats
worn in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. Being in the center of the
hemp-growing section, practically all the ropes and cables used in boating
on the Ohio, Mississippi and Kentucky rivers were made in Lexington. These
commercial enterprises, together with the exceptional fertility of the
soil, account for the development of the city of Lexington more rapidly
than the surrounding forts and stations.

Daniel Boone was consulted regarding the advisability of the location of
all settlements made during the early days, because he knew the country
better than any other one person, and knew the wilderness as few have
known it.

Hunters and trappers began to traffic along the Ohio River, and supplies
for the more northern settlements were shipped on the Ohio and unloaded at
Limestone or at The Rapids. At this latter point it was necessary, if
supplies were sent farther down the stream, to unload and carry them to a
point below the rapids, when the boats would have to be launched again and
reloaded. This necessitated a delay, especially as the traders soon fell
upon the plan of having one line of boats plying above the rapids and
another plying between points below the rapids. Men for unloading and
loading were kept always on the ground. This little settlement became
permanent, and is now the largest town in the State—Louisville.

                    How the Pioneers Lived and Fought

  [Illustration: First Stockade and Cabins at the Falls of Ohio, now
  Louisville. Built by George Rogers Clark in 1776.]

After the wives of the settlers in the various forts came to Kentucky,
home life took on the appearance of a settled community. Homes were built
outside the stockades, nearly every man of family had a farm of his own,
land was cleared, fruit trees were set out, attention was given to the
raising of hogs, sheep, cattle and horses, and a little Empire of the West
began to appear. The women were busy with spinning, weaving and general
housework. The men cleared and fenced their land. The fortifications were
kept only as a refuge in time of an attack by the Indians—which, however,
was not infrequent, because the French in the North coveted the rich lands
beyond the Alleghenies, and incited the Indians to warfare against the
white people who were settling there. It was the sturdy pioneers of
Kentucky, acting in the name of Virginia, who held the frontier against
the encroachments of the French, as the property of the English crown.

The notorious renegade, Simon Girty, a white man who for certain reasons
forsook civilized society and associated himself with the Indians of
Northern Ohio, was willing at all times to harass the settlers on the
frontier at the suggestion of the French military commanders. This man
cared not for spilling the blood of his own race, and frequently would
lead his hostile bands in attacks against the unprotected settlements. His
favorite time for attack seemed to be in the spring of the year, when the
men were at work in the fields and offered the least resistance by a
speedy rally of forces.

We have noticed that all these forts were built near a spring of unfailing
water. The pioneers seem always to have left the spring outside the
inclosure, however, and since this worked a great hardship in time of
siege, it seems to have been bad judgment. Girty’s Indians attacked
Logan’s Fort. The supply of water inside the fort was exhausted, and the
suffering was intense. After this siege, General Logan decided never again
to be subjected to such an extremity. He could not bring the spring to the
fort, and it was also difficult to transplant the fort. So he summoned the
settlers and proposed a plan to which they agreed. The hours when they
were not working in the fields or building new cabins they spent in
digging, until a tunnel was made from the stockade to the spring. In
succeeding attacks, the General had his granaries and storehouses well
supplied with food and ammunition, and it was an easy matter to send a boy
with a bucket through the tunnel to the spring for water. This precaution
on the part of the General prevented exhaustion during the next attack on
Logan’s Fort. The Indians, unable to understand how the settlers in the
fort could do so long without water, supposed them to be miraculously
defended by the Great Spirit, and never afterward could Girty lead his
band to attack Logan’s Fort.

The settlers at Bryan’s Station, a few miles from Lexington, did not take
a similar precaution. During one of the Indian attacks on them the supply
of water in the fort became exhausted, and surrender seemed unavoidable.
The women of the fort volunteered to go for water, and taking buckets
marched down to the spring. The Indians were surprised, superstitious, and
panic-stricken, and refused to fire on them. The women filled their
buckets and returned in safety to the stockade.

Notwithstanding the bounteous provision made by Nature to supply the needs
of the settler in the way of fruits, wild meats, and skins for clothing,
life in the settlements was plain in the extreme. Furniture and household
utensils were scant and crude, for the most part being of home
construction. Salt was one of the greatest needs of the settlers. At
first, they made it from the water of the numerous salt licks, each family
making its supply by boiling the water in a kettle until the moisture had
evaporated, leaving the salt encrusted in the kettle. These kettles were
crude, and invariably small. Hence it was more difficult to supply a
family with salt than with sugar, which was easily made by boiling down
the sap from the maple trees. After awhile, the Virginia authorities sent
out a number of large kettles and two expert salt makers, who reported to
Captain Boone for service. Boone, with his two experts and thirty other
men, left Boonesborough for the Lower Blue Lick Spring, fifty or more
miles toward the north. Here they made a camp and set to work to
manufacture a stock of salt sufficient to supply the needs of all the
settlements for a period of twelve months. From time to time a small party
was sent back to the different forts with packhorses laden with salt. On
their return, they would bring supplies, parched corn, and perhaps a few
of the simple comforts that seemed almost luxuries to the hardy
backwoodsmen. Meat constituted the chief article of diet for the workers
of the salt factory. It required no small amount to satisfy the appetites
of thirty vigorous men. Boone, as the most expert hunter among them,
undertook to supply the camp with meat. The task was, to him, a thoroughly
congenial one, which we cannot imagine the more civilized task of
manufacturing salt to have been.

It was Boone’s custom to go out some miles from camp every morning,
returning at the close of the day with as much game as he could carry, and
often leaving a quantity at a particular spot to be sent for with a
packhorse. One afternoon Boone was making his way toward the salt works
after a day of successful hunting, when he suddenly found himself
surrounded by a company of Indians. Not having seen a redskin for months,
and believing it unlikely that they could be present in large numbers at
that time of the year, Boone was not as keenly on the alert as usual. The
savages had found Boone’s trail while wandering through the woods. He was
taken captive, adopted into the tribe, his hair picked out in Indian
fashion, and the war paint added. Boone’s failure to return led the men in
the camp to suspect the presence of Indians, and to guess that Boone had
fallen captive. The alarm was quickly sent to the surrounding forts. Maj.
Harlan, Col. Trigg, Col. Todd, and Boone’s brother led a body of men
against the Indians in what proved to be the bloodiest battle recorded in
the annals of the territory, and known as the Battle of Blue Licks. In
this battle, Boone’s eldest son was slain, and it is said the old man
never could refer to the battle without shedding tears. In the midst of
the battle, Boone escaped from his captors and rejoined the settlers.

                  George Rogers Clark and the Revolution

Among the many men of sterling quality who for various reasons came out to
Kentucky, was one stalwart, well-trained, military genius known in history
as General George Rogers Clark. His first trip to Kentucky was
semi-official, as a representative of the Virginia Legislature, to visit
the various forts and settlements and to report progress to the state
government. He found the settlers in dire need of powder. Reporting this
to the Virginia authorities, he succeeded in securing for the settlers a
quantity, which was yet insufficient to defend them against the Indians.

  [Illustration: George Rogers Clark]

Of Clark’s second appearance in Kentucky, General Ray, who was at that
time a boy of sixteen, living at Harrodsburg (or Harrod’s Station as it
was then called), gives the following account: “I had come down to where I
now live, about four miles from Harrodsburg, to turn some horses on the
range. I had killed a small blue-winged duck that was feeding in my
spring, and had roasted it nicely by a fire on the brow of the hill. While
waiting for the duck to cool, I was startled by the sudden appearance of a
fine, soldierly-looking man. ‘How do you do, my little fellow? What is
your name? Aren’t you afraid of being in the woods by yourself?’ Answering
his inquiries, I invited him to partake of my duck, which he did, without
leaving me a bone to pick, his appetite was so keen. Had I known him then
as I did afterwards, he would have been welcome to all the game I could
have killed. Having devoured my duck, he asked me questions about the
settlers, the Indians and the condition of affairs in the locality.” These
the boy answered as well as he could, and then ventured to ask the name of
his guest. “My name is Clark,” was the response, “and I have come out here
to see how you brave fellows are doing in Kentucky, and to lend you a
helping hand, if necessary.”

With the universal consent of the settlers, Clark naturally assumed the
military leadership of the territory, visiting all the fortifications,
looking after their military stores, drilling the men, and otherwise
strengthening the defenses of the pioneers. Clark made other trips to
Virginia in behalf of the frontiersmen, but since the resources of
Virginia were severely taxed by the necessary support given to the other
colonies during the Revolutionary War, he received little or no
encouragement, and practically nothing in the way of military supplies. It
is stated that he provided the necessities at his own expense, defraying
the cost of transportation and distribution. Later, powder was made by the
settlers of Kentucky by leaching saltpetre from the soil in various
sections and combining it with charcoal and other ingredients.

The English army officers formed alliances with the Indian tribes living
north of the Ohio River in the territory now composing Ohio, Indiana and
Illinois and incited them to frequent attacks on the Kentucky settlements,
with the hope that they would the sooner capture the State of Virginia by
an approach from the west. Clark, as military commander of Kentucky, sent
spies into this northern country to determine the location of the
fortresses and the number of English and Indians in each. One of these
spies was the celebrated Simon Kenton, who was not content with locating
the enemy but attempted to recapture a lot of horses stolen from Kentucky
by the Indians on a former raid. Kenton and his companions were not able
to travel fast with the number of horses they had secured, and when they
were attacked by a band of Indians, Kenton’s companions were slain and he
was captured. The Indians hated him cordially and began to beat him
unmercifully, calling him the “hoss-steal.” They easily could have
murdered Kenton on the spot, but since he had proved such a terrible foe
to them in the past, they preferred to enjoy their capture all the more by
torturing him for awhile. He was carried by the Indians to Chillicothe,
where he was several times forced to run the gauntlet. Finally, when tied
to the stake to be burned, he was recognized by his boyhood friend, Simon
Girty, who sent him to Detroit, from which place he made his escape and
returned to Kentucky, reporting to General Clark the conditions as he had
found them.

Other spies returned, and from the general reports General Clark thought
it necessary to make another appeal to Virginia for aid. In 1778, Governor
Patrick Henry of Virginia gave to Clark a commission as commanding officer
to take such soldiers as he could secure in Virginia, together with his
Kentuckians, and go against the British and Indians north of the Ohio
River. Leaving Corn Island, now Louisville, he and his brave followers
marched northward through swamps and swam streams, capturing every
fortification to which they came. Among these were Kaskaskia and
Vincennes. By this heroic deed of Clark’s the great territory north of the
Ohio River was secured from the British, and became a part of Virginia’s
territory. Clark continued at the head of military affairs in Kentucky,
but his greatest work was done before he was thirty years of age.

                      Later Days of Famous Pioneers

When peace came, Clark settled about eight miles from Louisville and fell
into habits of intemperance which unfitted him for public service. He was
given large land bounties by Virginia, in recognition of services
rendered, but conflicting claims prevented him coming into possession of
the land for years, thus leaving him helpless and poor in his old age. The
Virginia legislature voted him a jeweled sword, which was sent to the old
man by a special messenger. When the young man made his speech presenting
the sword, Clark replied, “Young man, go tell Virginia, when she needed a
sword I found one. Now, I need bread.” The worn-out old soldier lived only
a little while longer, and in 1818 died and was buried at Locust Grove,
Ky. It has been said that a French officer who met Clark at Yorktown, on
his return to France, said to the king: “Sire, there are two Washingtons
in America.” “What do you mean?” said the king. “I mean,” said the
officer, “that there is Washington whom the world knows; and there is
George Rogers Clark, the conqueror of the Northwest, as great a man as
Washington in his field of action and for his opportunity.”

Simon Kenton shared a like fate. Losing his land, acre by acre, this
simple-hearted old pioneer found himself penniless in his old age. He was
then allowed by law, to the shame of all civilization, to be cast into
prison for debt upon the same spot upon which he had built his first cabin
in 1775. In 1799, as a beggar, he moved into Ohio. In 1813, he joined
Governor Shelby’s troops and was with them in the Battle of the Thames. In
1820, this poor old man moved to a site on Scioto river, where the Indians
forty years before had tied him to a stake to be burned. Near the close of
his life he was given some mountain lands and a small pension.

Daniel Boone lost all his fine lands in Kentucky, also, and came to such
poverty as to lead him in one of his petitions to say, “I have not a spot
of ground whereon to lay my bones.” He left Kentucky, saying he would
never return to live in a country so ungrateful. About 1796 he moved to
Missouri and settled fifty miles from St. Louis. Spain owned that
territory then, and the Spanish government gave him a liberal grant of
land. Around him his sons and daughters and their families settled. The
broad forests were full of game, and here Boone again indulged his passion
for a hunter’s life. The old hunter neglected to complete his titles to
his new lands, and these he also lost. Congress afterward made him a
smaller grant. He died in Missouri in 1820, at the age of eighty-six, and
was buried in a coffin which he had made for himself some years before. In
1845, the Legislature of Kentucky had the remains of the pioneer and his
wife removed and buried with honor in the cemetery at Frankfort. A
suitable monument was erected to mark their resting place.

In the early days of the settlement of Kentucky, all men were not engaged
in fighting Indians, building forts and clearing ground. On the contrary,
the fertility of the soil and the wealth of timber and mineral led men to
look to the commercial value of real estate, and consequently there was
formed a powerful company known as The Transylvania Land Company, which
had for its purpose the ownership and control of the valuable lands. Judge
Richard Henderson, a native of Virginia, was the leader in the formation
of this Company.

Taking advantage of the unsettled boundaries west of the mountains and
knowing that the several states claimed the country by right of grants
from the kings of the countries of Europe, the Transylvania Company
attempted to organize the territory into a separate government. These men
gave the settlers no little worry over the ownership of their lands, and
because Virginia was engaged in the War of the Revolution little attention
was paid to affairs in Kentucky. Finally, in 1776, the settlers in
Kentucky called a meeting at Harrodsburg and sent Gabriel Jones and George
Rogers Clark to the Legislature of Virginia with a statement that unless
Virginia should protect the settlers against the Transylvania Company and
others, the people would organize the territory into a separate
government, and take their place among the States. To this statement the
Virginia Legislature gave heed, and cut off from Fincastle County,
Virginia, all that unsurveyed territory west of the Allegheny Mountains,
and organized it into the County of Kentucky, as a part of Virginia. This
act enabled the settlers to have a regular form of county government with
a sheriff and other county officials, as well as two representatives in
the Virginia Assembly.

Things went well in the new county for awhile. Agriculture was engaged in
more extensively and the good work of developing the country went steadily
on, interrupted all too frequently by the attacks of the Indians from the
north, in very much the same manner as before, though less frequently.

People in the eastern colonies heard of the fertility of the soil and of
the many attractive features of the country, and as a result large numbers
from all the older settlements determined to try their fortunes in the
favored land. Population increased to such an extent that it was thought
advisable to divide the territory into three counties (Jefferson, Lincoln
and Fayette), and courts were established.

                           After the Revolution

The treaty of peace which ended the War of the Revolution was concluded in
November, 1782, but the people of Kentucky did not get the news for nearly
four months later. All were rejoiced that the struggle was ended and
confidently expected that trouble with the Indians would cease, since
there seemed no further reason for inciting them to make war on the
Kentuckians. The people were doomed to disappointment. The treaty left
possessions so poorly defined that not only did the Indians make
occasional invasions into the territory to plunder, under the direction of
the military commanders of the north, but the people were threatened by a
still graver danger. The unsettled boundaries and titles of lands along
the Mississippi River caused a question of ownership to arise between
France, England and Spain. Spain at that time controlled the lower
Mississippi River, and men from that country secretly came to Kentucky
attempting to arouse the people to the act of establishing a separate
nation under the protection of Spain. The loyalty of the good men of
Kentucky to the rights of Virginia cannot be too highly praised. There
were some persons, though, who for glory and private gain did all in their
power to stir up the rebellion and to establish a separate government.
Kentucky was virtually left to her fate beyond the mountains during the
trying times following the close of the Revolution.

The needs of the territory and the constant menace from these Spanish
agents led the better class of men in Kentucky to consider the question of
asking Virginia to be allowed the privilege of separation, with the
expectation of the territory’s being formed into a State, equal with
others of the Union. This would give a better administration of affairs
and would put an end to the efforts of agents from other countries
desiring to establish a separate nation.

On May 23, 1785, a convention of delegates met at Danville and sent the
following resolution to the Virginia Assembly: “Resolved: That it is the
duty of the convention, as they regard the prosperity and happiness of
their constituents, to pray the General Assembly at the ensuing session
for an act to separate this district from the present government, on terms
honorable to both and injurious to neither, in order that it may enjoy all
the advantages and rights of a free, sovereign and independent republic.”

In 1786, Virginia passed the act providing for the separation of Kentucky,
but she made it conditional on the willingness of the Congress of the
United States to admit Kentucky as one of the States of the Union, and
upon the willingness of Kentucky to become a member of the Union as soon
as separated from Virginia, thus preventing Kentucky from becoming an
independent republic, or a part of any foreign nation. It was during these
days that enemies to both Kentucky and the nation were busiest in their
efforts secretly to plan for either an independent government or an
alliance with Spain. Kentucky became a State in 1792, being the fifteenth
in the Union.


While the preceding pages have dealt largely with the struggle for
existence in the frontier country, it must not be understood that during
these years the entire attention of the settlers was given to waging war
against the Indians. The Indian invasions were altogether too frequent,
and their savage cruelty entirely too terrible to be mentioned here, and
this continued for many years after the country was supposed to be
entirely free from terrors of the sort. Yet the people had all the while
been doing remarkably well, not only in their efforts to conquer the
wilderness, but to establish a civilization which compared favorably with
the progress made in the more settled sections of our country at that

The question of land titles offered a fine field for litigation, and among
the brilliant lawyers attracted to the country was Henry Clay of Virginia,
who in his twenty-fifth year was elected to the State Legislature of
Kentucky, and at thirty was a United States Senator. From this period,
with but few brief intervals, his long life was spent in the public
service, and in the highest positions within the gift of the people. It
was he who said, “I would rather be right than be President.”

In 1787, there was established at Lexington The Kentucky Gazette, by John
Bradford. This was the first newspaper to be published west of the
Allegheny Mountains. Since they had no rural delivery in those days the
paper was sometimes weeks old before the people received it. It was
practically the only medium for the general dissemination of knowledge
throughout the settlements. With great eagerness would the people of any
particular section assemble at their fort, store or tavern, on “paper
day,” and the brightest youngster or the most accomplished reader in the
community would delight his auditors by reading aloud the things that had
happened in the world at large, the colonies in general, and in Kentucky
in particular.

                   Early Schools and the First Seminary

At this early date, schools were established in Kentucky and taught in the
stockade forts. A Mrs. Coons “kept” school at Harrod’s Station; John May
at McAfee, and a Mr. Doniphan at Boonesborough. Later, log cabin school
houses were built farther out into the settlements. The school boys were
required to carry guns with them to school, that they might be ready to
meet any danger. School books were rare and very expensive. The diligent
teacher would copy from his rare and expensive texts lessons to be learned
in the subject of arithmetic and other branches, often one copy serving a
whole family. In 1798, local school books appeared. The Kentucky Primer
and The Kentucky Speller were printed at Washington, the old county seat
of Mason county, and Harrison’s Grammar was printed at Frankfort in the
same year.

Twenty thousand acres of land were given by Virginia for the establishment
of Transylvania Seminary in 1783. Its first principal was the Rev. David
Rice, a pioneer Presbyterian preacher and a graduate of Princeton
University. In 1787 the institution was moved from near Danville to
Lexington. George Washington contributed liberally to the maintenance of
this school, and Lafayette, on his return to America, visited the school
and made a donation to its support. From this seminary grew the now famous
Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky.

In 1798 the Legislature of Kentucky donated six thousand acres of land to
each county then in existence, for the purpose of establishing county
seminaries. In many sections of the state these old pioneer buildings of
brick and stone may be seen today. These institutions did much for
education in their time.

Our Commonwealth had, even at this early period, produced an unusual
number of inventors of note. John Fitch, in 1786, first successfully
applied steam as a motor power to passenger boats. James Rumsey, the same
year, propelled a boat with steam. Edward West, in 1794, constructed a
model boat and propelled it by steam, on Elkhorn Creek, near Lexington. He
later invented the nail-cutting machine which made it possible to cut
nails rapidly from wrought iron, whereas they had formerly been hammered
out by hand. Thomas H. Barlow invented the Planetarium, an instrument by
which the movements of the earth and moon around the sun were shown.

                  State Government and Foreign Intrigue

Isaac Shelby, a native of Maryland, but who had spent his early life in
North Carolina with the frontiersmen, fighting the Indians and rendering
valiant service in the War of the Revolution, after the conclusion of
peace with England had come to Kentucky in 1783. He, like Clark, was a
great leader of men. He took an active interest in political, civil,
military and social affairs in Kentucky, and was elected the first
Governor of the State. On the fourth of June, 1792, the Legislature
assembled at Lexington. The chief business of the first Legislature seems
to have been the selection of a site for a permanent seat of government,
or capital. Frankfort was finally decided upon, and a State House of stone
was erected.

  [Illustration: Gov. Isaac Shelby]

Intrigue on the part of foreign governments, however, did not cease with
the organization of State government. The Spanish governor at New Orleans
continued to send emissaries into the State, seeking to arouse a spirit of
discontent, and if possible bring about a separation of the State from the
Union. So successful were these agents that they were able to secure the
good will of some men in high places, by paying as high as two thousand
dollars a year salary. One Thomas Power seems to have been the most active
agent of the Spanish government, and he held out as an inducement the
great commercial privileges that would come to Kentucky through the free
navigation of the Mississippi River, and he further offered to place two
hundred thousand dollars at the disposal of his friends if they would
bring about a separation from the nation. These treasonable offers,
however, were spurned, with one or two exceptions, by the sturdy and loyal
manhood of Kentucky.

After the overtures of the Spanish agents, came the royal offers of an
English protectorate, and later the offensive scheme of Genet and his
French agents to arm and equip a flotilla of two thousand Kentuckians for
the purpose of capturing New Orleans, and thus reopen the Mississippi
River for navigation, which had been so profitable to Kentuckians prior to
the withdrawal of that privilege by the Spanish government.

In 1805, Aaron Burr, whose term as Vice-President of the United States had
expired, became unpopular because of his criticisms of the administration
of President Jefferson, and because of his having killed Alexander
Hamilton in a duel. Being ambitious, Burr was morbidly restless because of
the turn his fortunes had taken. He visited Kentucky and different points
between New Orleans and St. Louis. He succeeded in drawing into his plans
one Blennerhassett, a wealthy man who lived on a beautiful island in the
Ohio River. It is supposed that his plan was to found an empire in the
West, and to make himself the ruler of the same. During Burr’s visits to
Kentucky, it is said that he frequently made his headquarters at an old
brick residence in Eddyville, overlooking the Cumberland River. In
November, 1806, Burr was brought into court at Frankfort, charged with
organizing a military expedition against Mexico. He was defended by Henry
Clay and the grand jury failed to indict him. This acquittal was
celebrated by a ball at Frankfort. A few months later he was arrested in
Alabama, taken to Richmond, Va., and acquitted of treason after a trial
lasting six months.

                       Indian Wars and War of 1812

The great Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, formed a federation of all the northern
tribes of Indians for a general massacre of all settlers west of the
Alleghenies. Kentucky contributed a great number of soldiers to the army
under General William Henry Harrison. This army, with Governor Shelby at
the head of the Kentucky brigade, marched against the northern tribes and
defeated them at the Battle of Tippecanoe. The fleeing Indians were
overtaken at the River Thames, and the cry of the Kentuckians was,
“Remember the Raisin and revenge.” In this battle, Col. Richard F. Johnson
of Kentucky slew the noted chief, Tecumseh.

In the second war between the United States and England, in 1812,
Kentuckians took a prominent part in nearly all battles against the
British. Especially did they distinguish themselves as expert riflemen at
the Battle of New Orleans. Most of the cannon ball used in this battle had
been made at the old iron furnace in Bath County, near where Owingsville
now stands, and a great portion of the powder had been manufactured from
the saltpeter leached from the soil in Mammoth Cave, Edmonson County,

While Kentuckians were winning laurels on the battlefields of the Indian
wars and the War of 1812, literary pursuits were not neglected. In 1785,
John Filson wrote the first history of the State, and drew maps of the
region. In 1812, Humphrey Marshall, Sr., also wrote a history of Kentucky.
Colleges were being established, and young men were being trained in
classical lore and oratory. Among the prominent orators of the early day
were Thomas F. Marshall and Richard M. Menefee. The genius, ready wit,
satire, and forensic power of Marshall made him a favorite with all
audiences at all times; but unfortunately his habit of intemperance
lessened his powers and closed his career. The oratory of Menefee was so
pleasing and convincing as to cause him to be called the Patrick Henry of
the West.

                          Internal Improvements

The wealth of timber, mineral, and farm products of the State was so great
as to cause early improvements in the building of macadamized roads or
pikes, and as early as 1830 the turnpike from Maysville to Lexington was
built to facilitate the movement of freight and farm products from the
bluegrass region to the towns along the Ohio River on the northern
boundary. A similar road was built from Louisville through Glasgow and
Bowling Green to Nashville, Tenn., and this road not only served as a
commercial outlet to the South, but has played an important part in the
history and subsequent development of the State.

Early in the past century, interest was shown in the making of the water
courses of Kentucky navigable throughout the year by the building of locks
and dams. These were built on Kentucky, Barren and Green Rivers. Kentucky
is said to have a greater number of miles of navigable streams than is
owned by any other State. Its territory was supposed, in the early days,
to extend to low water mark on the eastern side of the Big Sandy River, to
the northern bank of the Ohio River, and to the western bank of the
Mississippi on the western border, while the Kentucky, Barren and Green
rivers lie wholly within its borders, and the Cumberland and Tennessee
rivers cross the State in the western section. Green River is said to be
one of the deepest river waterways in the world, and the scenery along its
banks is indeed picturesque. The towering walls on either side of the
Kentucky River between Frankfort and Beattyville rival in grandeur and
majestic beauty the famous palisades of the Hudson or the castellated
southern shore of the beautiful Columbia River.

Railroad construction was early commenced in Kentucky. While traveling
from Lexington to Frankfort today over the L. & N. railroad, one can see
from the car windows the old grade and the cuts indicating the line along
which ran the early cars on stones in which grooves were cut for the
guidance of the wheels instead of the steel rail and the flange wheel of
the present day. These early cars were drawn by mules, after they had been
pulled by a windlass up the cliff from the boat landing at Frankfort. The
mules and the rock rails were soon replaced by two locomotives and iron
rails. One engine brought the train from Frankfort to a point half way, by
noon, and after the passengers had eaten dinner at Midway, the other
engine took the train on to Lexington.

                           Kentucky and Slavery

The early settlers from Virginia brought their slaves with them, and when
the State was established, no one thought of abolishing the institution of
slavery. The melodious voices of the blacks could be heard in the clearing
grounds and the “black mammies” and the little pickaninnies were familiar
objects about every well-to-do home. For the most part, the Kentuckian was
considerate of the welfare of his slaves, and both master and slave were
happy in the olden day. Those who are old enough to remember, can tell
some stories of the loyalty of the slave to his master, and of the kindly
relationship that existed between the two races. About 1829 there began to
develop in the minds of many Kentuckians a sentiment which afterward grew
into strong opposition to the state of affairs which made it possible for
one man to own the body and control the actions of another. In 1831,
Cassius M. Clay, while attending Yale College, became thoroughly aroused
to the evils of slavery, and when he returned to Kentucky he began to
speak and to write in opposition to the institution. He established a
paper in Lexington by means of which he was able to arouse sentiment in
support of his contention against slavery. He was probably the first
pronounced and powerful abolitionist in the State, and became almost as
famous in the South as was William Lloyd Garrison in the North.

The question continued to be one of absorbing interest, and the
anti-slavery party gained in strength steadily. When Texas declared her
independence from Mexico, and sought admission into the Union of States,
the slavery question was discussed in that connection in Kentucky as
heatedly as in any other section. General Zachary Taylor, a native
Kentuckian, born and reared near Louisville, was placed in command of the
American forces when war was about to be declared against Mexico. This and
the fact that William O. Butler and Thomas Marshall were commissioned
officers under Taylor, and also from Kentucky, served to increase the
interest in the approaching struggle with Mexico, and intensified the zeal
of both the slavery and the anti-slavery parties. Everywhere the question
was, “Shall Texas come to us as a slave or a free state?”

On the third of June, 1808, just about four years before our Kentucky
soldiers were called upon to enlist to do battle against the British in
the War of 1812, there was born in an old-fashioned log house in that part
of Kentucky where the town of Fairview now stands, a boy named Jefferson
Davis, who was destined to become one of the conspicuous characters in the
nation. As a child, he was mild of manner and rather timid, but possessed
a strong and resolute will. He willingly and easily learned the contents
of such books as the schools of the time afforded, and at an early age he
matriculated as a student at Transylvania Seminary, where he distinguished
himself as a gentleman and a scholar. A point of interest in Lexington is
the quaint little house where he roomed while he was a student at the

The spirit of the times led young Davis to choose a military career, and
he entered West Point from which he graduated in 1828. We find him soon as
a captain in the regiment commanded by General Zachary Taylor. While
stationed at Louisville, he met, wooed, and wed the beautiful daughter of
General Taylor—not, however, with the consent and blessing of the General.
A pretty story is told of Davis and Taylor concerning their
reconciliation. During the Mexican War, Davis commanded a company of
artillery. On one occasion, General Taylor ordered Captain Bragg to
unlimber and fire at the enemy, and Bragg was disposed to urge the
futility of the effort, since it would result in presenting the battery to
the Mexicans and he thought there was no hope of holding the position.
With the coolness for which he was noted, Captain Davis was seen to wheel
his battery into line, and he directed the maneuvres in such manner as
soon to be in complete control, and the battle was won. The next morning,
says the story, General Taylor sent an orderly to the tent of Captain
Davis, commanding him to report at headquarters. The order was obeyed; and
when Davis had saluted his superior officer and stood at attention, the
crusty old general stepped forward and, with a moistened eye, extended his
hand and said, “Captain Davis, my daughter was a better judge of a man
than I.” They were the warmest friends ever afterward.

  [Illustration: Jefferson Davis]

While Davis was Secretary of War of the United States, he practically
reorganized the army and revised the tactics. After the close of the
Mexican War, he became a Congressman from Mississippi, and afterward was
sent to the United States Senate from that State. When he resigned his
seat in the United States Senate, he delivered a farewell speech setting
forth his reasons for so doing. This is said to be one of the greatest
addresses ever delivered before the Senate. He was chosen President of the
Southern Confederacy at a time when another great Kentuckian, who had been
born in the same section of the state, was President of the United States.

In a rude log hut, not many miles from the place where Jefferson Davis
first saw the light, was born a boy whom the world has placed on the
highest pedestal of fame. Abraham Lincoln was born in Larue County on
February 12, 1809; his life is so well known that there is little of it
not familiar to the average school boy.

                         The Civil War and Later

When the Civil War between the States of the Union was about to begin,
Kentucky refused to take sides in the controversy, and in the strict sense
of the term was never out of the Union. When the President of the United
States called on Kentucky to furnish men and equipment for the Union army,
the Governor replied that the State was neutral and would take no steps
toward secession, nor would it espouse coercion by force of arms. The
people, however, chose for themselves, and enlisted in the Union or in the
Confederate army, as they believed to be in the right of the controversy.
The result was that about an equal number enlisted with both armies. Hence
the State became a common battleground during the struggle, very much as
it was in the days when the Indian tribes from the North and from the
South met on our soil as a common battleground. Families were divided as
to their espousal of the respective sides of the contest, father and son
frequently taking up arms on opposite sides. When the war closed, the
people went to work with a will to repair the damages incident to the
struggle, and no state has shown greater progress in the development of
its natural resources.

Probably no state has greater resources capable of development. The coal
beds of Eastern Kentucky comprise an area of more than ten thousand square
miles or about one-fourth the area of the whole state, and the western
coal fields underlie four thousand square miles, or about one-tenth of the
area of the state. Inexhaustible deposits of iron ore are found, and the
forests are exceedingly rich in fine lumber.

The state has made wonderful progress in the development of the school
system. In fact, no other state has a more practical and efficient school
system, nor has any state a more determined set of school workers.

Kentucky has had three permanent Capitol buildings. The last was completed
in 1909 at a cost of $1,750,000, and is considered one of the handsomest
structures of its kind in the Union.

Great virtues are sometimes accompanied by great faults; but Kentucky’s
faults have been those born of isolation and inaccessibility. Now that her
railways are penetrating into even the remotest districts, bringing her
citizens into closer and quicker communication with the outside world, her
people rapidly are becoming united in their efforts to make her future
eclipse her glorious past. With the purest Anglo-Saxon blood in the United
States forming the greater part of her citizenship, and the riches of her
forests and mountains even now just beginning to pour into the laps of the
people, a great future is inevitable for Kentucky, “The land of the China

  [Illustration: Ancient Mound, Greenup County]

                            TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE

The Table of Contents has been added in the electronic version.

Spelling variations were not normalized (“pack horse” and “packhorse”,
“saltpetre” and “saltpeter”).

The following typographical errors were corrected:

      title page, period added following “Co”
      page 4, “possibilty” changed to “possibility”
      page 9, “the the” changed to “the”
      page 14, “apppearance” changed to “appearance”
      page 29, period added following “1828”
      page 31, “His” changed to “his”

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