Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

The Southern States of America
The History of Kentucky - Chapter I


KENTUCKY A PART OF VIRGINIA, 1606 - 1792.

Finding of Kentucky

THE early explorers of this continent gave the name of Virginia to all that vast region lying along the Atlantic coast and of undefined boundary on the west, which, in the era of territorial acquisition in the New World, was claimed by England.

On April 10, 1606, the first English charter for the establishment of colonies in North America was signed by King James I. This grant provided for the founding of two colonies, but for the purposes of this article one only, the "Southern," need be mentioned. It was to be planted anywhere between 34 and 41 degrees of N. latitude, and to extend fifty miles north and fifty south of the spot first chosen for settlement, and fifty miles inland.

In 1609 this charter was amended and the boundaries of the colony enlarged. They were to extend 200 miles north and 200 miles south of Old Point Comfort, at the mouth of the James River, and "up into the land from sea to sea."

Col. Reuben T. Durret in his address delivered June 1, 1892, at the celebration of the centenary of Kentucky, furnished an exhaustive and interesting account of the explorations beyond the mountains.

"Two explorers," he said, "of different nationalities, but in pursuance of the same wild hope of a waterway across the continent to the Pacific, discovered Kentucky almost at the same time. They were Capt. Thomas Batts, a Virginian of whom nothing but this discovery is known, and Robert Cavalier de La Salle, whose explorations in America made him known in both hemispheres In 1671, Gen. Abraham Wood, by the authority of Governor Berkeley, sent Capt. Thomas Batts with a party of explorers to the west of the Appalachian Mountains in search of a river leading to China. The journal of their route is rendered obscure by meagre description and the changes of the country and the names since it was written, but it is possible that they went to the Roanoke, and, ascending to its head waters, crossed over to the sources of the Kanawha, which they descended to its falls. Whether they wandered southward to the Big Sandy and crossed over into Kentucky we cannot determine from their journal; but whether they did so or not, they were in that part of Virginia of which Kentucky was a part, and their discoveries would open the way to the one as well as to the other.

"Less doubtfully connected with the discovery of Kentucky is the name and fame of La Salle, one of the greatest explorers of the Seventeenth century. . . . At the age of twenty-three he came to America to devote his great enthusiasm and indomitable energy to the solution of the problem of a great transcontinental river running towards China.

In 1669 some Seneca Indians hastened his plans by telling him that there was a river that rose in their country and wound its way southward and westward to the distant sea. This was evidently extending the Allegheny, the Ohio, and the Mississippi into one great river, and it so fired the imagination of La Salle that he at once began preparations to explore it. He entered the Alleghany by a tributary near its source, and followed it and the Ohio through the wild forests on their banks until he reached the falls where Louisville now stands. In making this long journey he was the discoverer of Kentucky from the Big Sandy to the rapids of the Ohio."

Almost another century elapsed after the discoveries of Batts and La Salle before authentic information about this territory was obtained. In July, 1749, the Virginia Council authorized the Loyal Company to enter and survey 800,000 acres of the public lands of Virginia, upon which families should be settled. These lands were to be located north of the line dividing Virginia and North Carolina, and to extend westward. Dr. Thomas Walker was selected by the Company to locate these lands.

With a party of five men he began his journey into the wilderness on March 16, 1750. Having crossed the valleys of the Clinch and Powell rivers, as they were afterwards called, he came to that branch of the Appalachian range which he named, and -which is now called, the Cumberland Mountains. He bestowed the same appellation on the river flowing along its northwestern slope. Skirting the mountains to find an opening, he entered what is now Kentucky through Cumberland Gap.

Ascending the Cumberland River to a point near the site of the present town of Barbourville, Walker erected on the northwest side of the river a log-house twelve by eight feet in dimensions, which he hoped would be the headquarters of a future settlement. Clearing a small plot of ground around this cabin, be planted corn and peach stones. This little cabin was finished April 15, 1750, and "was," says Colonel Durrett, "the first house built in Kentucky by white men."

The Ohio Company had also been authorized to locate 500,000 acres on both sides of the Ohio River and settle families thereon. Christopher Gist was appointed its agent to select these lands. He entered the designated territory at a point opposite the mouth of the Scioto on March 13, 1751, ascended the Licking river, crossed to the headwaters of the Kentucky and came out by way of Cumberland Gap.

The time, however, was unpropitious for such enterprises and neither company was a financial success. The Loyal Company surveyed 201,554 acres of its grant, and was allowed title to 45,390 acres. The Ohio Company located 200,000 acres on the Licking River, but the scheme to settle families on these lands failed utterly. The French and Indian War, the King's proclamation, issued in 1763, forbidding settlement on lands beyond the sources of rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, and finally the Revolutionary War effectually interfered with it.

But the time was coming when a very different character of exploration was to be inaugurated. The day of curious or scientific exploration, or that attempted in the interest of chartered companies, intent on "gainful" investment, was past. Men like Walker and Gist were to be succeeded by men like Boone and Kenton. Henceforth the wilderness was to be penetrated, as it was finally to be conquered, by the hardy and adventurous "pioneer." White men, almost as restless and tameless in temper as the Indian himself, were about to enter the forests of this much-coveted region. This class of explorers meant really to settle; to clear away a part of the dense woodland and make themselves abodes; and they sought fertile lands and pleasant waters, so that plenty and comfort might dwell with them in their future homes. But they were hunters rather than husbandmen; they expected to live rather by the chase than by the cultivation of the soil. An abundance of game was the chief desideratum, and their first duty the defense of themselves and families against the savage. Originally their habitations and the "stations" - the small collections of cabins established for mutual protection-were widely separated. But immigration poured in with a rapidity which, under the circumstances, was marvelous; so that in less than a quarter of a century after actual settlement began the population was sufficiently numerous to form another commonwealth to be admitted into the Union.

The inevitable conflict between France and England for supremacy upon this continent was at hand - the struggle that was to determine which should rule it and the character of its future institutions.

England was looking inland from the frontiers of her colonies along the Atlantic coast, and claiming an immense realm, comparatively little of which had been explored. The people of those colonies felt in full vigor the spirit which had impelled their fathers to seek fortune and empire beyond the seas. The ancestral instinct of emigration had been strengthened and stimulated by generations of life in the New World.

The Crown and the councils might strive to confine its manifestations within certain limits, but royal proclamations were of slight avail against an impulse as general as it was natural. Not even a king's edict could hold back the host of dauntless "Knights-errant of the Woods," whom neither danger nor distance, toil nor any hardship could appal.

While French settlement in North America was begun even earlier than the English, the French evinced neither such aptitude for the work of colonization, nor the same energy and persistency in its prosecution as did their rivals. In 1512, soon after Cartier had sailed along the mainland of Canada and into the estuary of the St. Lawrence, Roberval established the first French settlement. Quebec was not founded until 1608. Immigration to these colonies was slow, and when, in 1754, the final grapple between the rival powers came, the total number of white inhabitants in the French possessions in America was less than 100,000, while the English colonies numbered more than 1,000,000.

Nevertheless France entertained the hope of complete dominion upon the continent, and at an early date prepared to secure military control of it.

In 1673 Marquette and Joliet descended the Mississippi River to the mouth of the Arkansas. The geographical information furnished by Marquette's expedition turned La Salle from his chimerical quest for the river flowing to China to one worthier of his genius and enthusiasm. He conceived the idea of establishing French rule and directing French immigration throughout the vast territory lying along the Mississippi and its tributary waters. In 1678 he was commissioned to complete the explorations begun by Marquette. He followed the great stream to its mouth and reached the Gulf of Mexico in the spring of 1682.

The almost boundless domain stretching the entire length of the Mississippi and extending to the mouth of the St. Lawrence was now christened New France, and France made ready to maintain her claim to that part of it which would certainly be disputed.

A chain of French forts and military posts was established at points of immediate strategic value, but apparently future commercial possibilities were considered in their selection. Important cities -Toledo, Detroit, Fort Wayne, Vincennes, Natchez -have been built on the sites so chosen.

The surveys made by the Ohio Company, and which were deemed an intrusion into French territory, probably precipitated hostilities. Regular troops were employed on both sides in this war, but the larger number of the combatants were the Indian allies of the French and the British colonial militia. The war terminated in 1760 with the fall of Quebec and Montreal, and France was compelled to surrender all the disputed territory and both the Canadas.

Settlement of Kentucky.

The people of Virginia and North Carolina now looked with greater longing on the rich, unoccupied lands along their western borders, and those who came "came to stay." But a grave and imminent danger now menaced the immigrant. The peace concluded between the two great powers did not bind and had no meaning for the white pioneers who desired, and the red warriors who claimed, and, in rude fashion, possessed this region.

The Delawares, Mingoes, Wyandottes and Shawnees, who dwelt north of the Ohio, and the Indians inhabiting the country farther to the south, the most numerous and powerful of whom were the Cherokees, all jealously guarded this territory as a valuable hunting ground and fiercely resented the presence of the whites.

In 1767 Michael Stoner and James Harrod, the latter one of the most striking figures of the pioneer period, entered Kentucky, and in the same year John Findlay with two or three companions hunted over much of the northern part of it. Upon his return Findlay gave so glowing an account of the wonderful fertility of the country that he enlisted in the ranks of its explorers the man destined to be the most famous and useful of them all.

Daniel Boone came of good strong English stock. His grandfather emigrated in 1717 with 'his wife and eleven children to Pennsylvania. In 1748. when Daniel was yet a youth, his father, Squire Boone, removed to North Carolina and located at Holman's Ford on the Yadkin River. From his earliest boyhood Boone evinced the roving and adventures disposition and the love of the wild wood which characterized him throughout his life. NP married Rebecca Bryan about 1755, but even after he became a husband and father the life of the hunter and the pleasures and the perils of the wilderness irresistibly attracted him.

He had already grown dissatisfied with the increase of population and diminution of game in his of the magnificent and untenanted region whence he had just come determined Boone upon the career which has indissolubly connected his name with that of Kentucky and with the history of the great West.

The popular idea of Boone is largely a mistaken one. The romance with which the life and memory of the old backwoodsman is surrounded makes it difficult to correctly observe or justly estimate him. Some who admire but know little about him believe that he was the first explorer of Kentucky. Others with better excuse, yet unjustly, think he was a mere hunter, a kindly, well-meaning vagrant. He was, in fact, a man of strong character, unusual sagacity and clearly defined purpose. His judgment in all matters within his knowledge was singularly accurate, and he perfectly realized that he was assisting to found a commonwealth.

He had in greater degree than any of his compeers the qualities necessary to cope with the situation. Kenton, more recklessly daring, was nearly his equal in woodcraft and knowledge of Indian character and customs. Harrod and Logan were as courageous and resolute, and as prompt to aid the distressed, or risk life in behalf of an imperilled comrade; but all contemporary evidence compels us to believe that Boone was first among them.

On May 6, 1769, Boone, Findlay and four others began their journey to the "land of promise," as they had come to regard it. Traveling by the necessarily circuitous route through the mountains, a month elapsed before they reached Cumberland Gap, and on June 7 Boone gazed for the first time on Kentucky.

He remained for nearly two years, traversing and becoming acquainted with the greater part of central Kentucky. He was made prisoner by the Indians during this period, an experience repeated more than once afterwards; but with his companion in captivity, John Stewart, escaped after a week's detention. His brother, Squire Boone, sought and found him in the depths of the forest, and these two only, of the entire party, passed safely through the multitude of perils which encompassed it. Boone returned to North Carolina in March, 1771, but firmly resolved to make his future home in Kentucky.

In 1773 surveys were made in Kentucky by Thomas Bullitt, Hancock Taylor and the McAfees, and in 1774 by Floyd, Douglas and Hite. In 1773 Bullitt surveyed the land on which the city of Louisville now stands. In 1774 James Harrod built a number of cabins for his party of men, which was the beginning of the present town of Harrodsburg, and in April, 1775, Boone came with twenty men and built the fort on the Kentucky River at Boonesborough, where Henderson joined him with thirty others. No white woman or child had ever been in Kentucky until Boone's family arrived in the following September, and shortly afterwards came the families of Hugh McGary, Thomas Denton and Richard Hogan.

No writer has given a more graphic description of the early pioneer life than this one by Durrett :

"The first inhabitants of Kentucky, on account of the hostility of the Indians, lived in what were called forts. These structures were simply rows of the conventional log cabins of the day, built on four sides of a square or parallelogram, which remained as a court or open space between them. It served as a playground, a muster-field, a corral for domestic animals, and a store-house for implements. The cabins which formed the fort's walls were dwellings for the people, and contained the rudest conveniences of life. The bedstead consisted of forks driven in the dirt floor, through the prongs of which poles extended to cracks in the walls, over which buffalo skins were spread for a mattress and bear skins for covering. The dining-table was a broad puncheon, hewn smooth with an adze, and set on legs made of sticks inserted in auger holes. The chairs were three-legged stools, and the table furniture consisted of wooden plates, trays, noggins, bowls and trenchers, usually turned out of the buckeye. The fireplace occupied nearly one whole side of the house; the window was a hole covered with paper saturated with bear's grease; and the door, an opening over which hung a buffalo skin. Near the door hung the long-barrelled flint-lock rifle on buck's horns pinned to the wall, and from which it was never absent except when in use. In these confined cabins whole families occupied a single room. Here the women hackled the wild nettle, carded the buffalo wool, spun the thread, wove the cloth, and made the clothes. The men wore buckskin hunting shirts, trousers, and moccasins; and the women linsey gowns in winter and linen in summer. Such a life had its pains, but it also had its pleasures. Of evenings and rainy days, the fiddle was heard, and the merry old Virginia reel danced by both young and old. A marriage, that sometimes united a boy of sixteen to a girl of fourteen, was an occasion of great merriment. When an itinerant preacher came and favored them with a sermon two or three hours long, it was also a great occasion. A young man might have difficulty in making his sweetheart understand all he wished to say in a small room filled by the members of her family, but, when essential, it was easy to remove the discussion to the open space. The shooting match, foot-race, wrestling, jumping, boxing, and sometimes fighting afforded amusement out of doors, and blindfold, hide and seek, quiltings, knittings, and candy pullings often made the little cabins merry. The corn-field and vegetable garden were cultivated within rifle range of the fort, and sentinels stood guard while the work went on."

In 1775 immigration began to flow in, and although it was occasionally arrested, even for brief periods turned back, the country was settled with remarkable rapidity. Yet the conditions might have altogether deterred a people of less nerve. "Lord Dunmore's War" had maddened the Indians north of the Ohio to implacable fury. Although the Delawares, Shawnees and Wyandottes were completely defeated at Point Pleasant, the whites had also suffered severely. The subsequent ruthless devastation of the Indian villages in the Scioto Valley made real peace between the two races impossible.

At this time a remarkable episode in the history of Kentucky occurred-something which might be classed with the colossal enterprises of to-day. Richard Henderson and eight other citizens of North Carolina organized the Transylvania Company, and without pretense of authority-indeed, in violation of the known policy and express command of both royal and colonial authority-purchased from the Southern Indians a great part of the most fertile territory of Kentucky.

On March 17, 1775, those gentlemen met a number of the Cherokee chiefs at Wataga, in North Carolina, and took from them a deed to a tract of land which began at the mouth of the Kentucky River, running with that stream to its source, thence following the crest of the mountains to the source of the Cumberland, thence down that river to the Ohio, and thence up the Ohio to the beginning. In this tract were nearly 20,000,000 acres.

The consideration, expressed, for this immense concession was 10,000 sterling. In reality, the Indians received ten or twelve wagon-loads of cheap goods and trinkets and a supply of "fire water."

The audacity of this transaction may be conceived when it is remembered that the colonies claimed these lands under the royal grants, and Virginia had already passed acts forbidding the purchase of lands from the Indians by private individuals. Lord Dunmore issued his proclamation denouncing all concerned in it as disorderly persons who should be deprived of their pretended purchase and punished if they persisted in asserting title. Governor Martin, of North Carolina, made similar proclamation.

Nevertheless the scheme was at first popular with the settlers, and seemed for a short time destined to succeed. Henderson, on the part of the proprietors of the colony, opened a land office at Boonesborough, and in a few months issued warrants for 560,000 acres. He proposed to establish an independent government, and with that end in view called a convention which met at Boonesborough on May 23.

Kentucky a County in Virginia.

The population of the four stations of Boonesborough, Harrodsburg, Boiling Springs and St. Asaphs (Logan's Fort) was then perhaps 200. These stations sent delegates to the convention, which assumed legislative functions and during its session of five days passed a number of bills. Henderson appointed both civil and military officials.

All of these proceedings were. of course, annulled by the General Assembly of Virginia; but as an equitable compensation for the expense incurred and their efforts to promote immigration Virginia ,and South Carolina each granted Henderson and his colleagues 200,000 acres of their public lands.

The number and population of the stations rapidly increased, and in 1776 the demand for their organization into a separate county became general and pressing. The inconvenience of having to seek distant tribunals for an administration of law, and the necessity of a county court, justices of the peace and a sheriff were urged by the settlers and recognized by Virginia. Until this date all of the public and unoccupied lands of Virginia-tin immense area-were included in the county of Fincastle. The legislature passed an act Dec. 31, 1776, dividing Fincastle into three counties, one of which was called Kentucky. This county comprised the same territory which subsequently became the state of Kentucky. It elected burgesses to the General Assembly of Virginia in April, 1777, and the first court held in it was at Harrisburg in September of that year.

In 'May, 1780, Kentucky county was subdivided into the three counties of Jefferson, Lincoln and Fayette. In 1784 Nelson county was formed out of part of Jefferson. In 1785 Mercer and Madison counties were formed out of parts of Lincoln, and Bourbon out of part of Fayette. In 1788 Bourbon was divided and Mason county made of the part subtracted, and in the same year Woodford county was formed of territory again taken from Fayette. These nine counties constituted the commonwealth of Kentucky when she was admitted into the Union in 1792.

Indian hostility to the Kentucky immigrant, always dangerous, was displayed more frequently and actively toward the close of the year 1776. The Indian hated the actual settler as his immediate dispossessor, the man whom he saw in possession of the land he claimed. Moreover, a power once used to protect the settler was now turned against him. When the American colonies renounced and defied the royal authority, English influence, instead of being exerted to restrain, was employed to incite the red savage to ferocious warfare. Armed and encouraged by the British commanders, the warriors of the tribes north of the Ohio repeatedly entered Kentucky and attacked the settlements.

These demonstrations were so continuous and numerous during the years 1777 and 1778 that the settlers, harassed to the limit of endurance and almost reduced to despair, seemed about to give up the struggle and quit the field. The abandonment of every widely separated cabin was compelled; no man dared to live outside of the protection of the stockade. The daughters of Boone and Calloway were made prisoners within sight of Boonesborough. Every station was constantly menaced and at some time assaulted. The important ones were more than once regularly besieged by forces, which, compared numerically with the garrisons, might be termed formidable. Boonesborough was twice so beleaguered, at one time for thirteen days in September, 1778, by Duquesne with eleven Frenchmen and 400 Indians under Blackfish. Boats plying on Salt River and other streams were captured and their crews massacred, and tradition teems with stories of bloody combats and deadly duels fought in the shades of the forest.

Kentucky's Part in the Revolutionary War.

That the Kentucky settlers should have been able to maintain their ground in such straits seems almost incredible. It was due first to their own courage and indomitable purpose, but must be also largely attributed to the energy, sagacity and genius of George Rogers Clark. Clark was born in Albemarle county, Virginia, and was not quite twenty-three years old when he came to Kentucky in 1775. His occupation was that of land surveyor, but he had already evinced military aptitude, having served with credit as captain of a company in the Dunmore War. He remained but a brief time on his first visit, but must have made a favorable impression, for soon after his return in 1776 he and Gabriel Jones were delegated by a general meeting held at Harrodsburg to represent to the Virginia authorities the condition of affairs in Kentucky and ask effective aid.

Clark's chief characteristics were a remarkably shrewd, sound judgment, daring enterprise and a faculty of prompt decision, with that magnetism which wins affection and commands obedience. He had in marked degree the physical traits as essential to leadership among the rude, fighting backwoodsmen he was to command as any mental or moral superiority. He was more than six feet in height and very strong, agile and enduring.

Clark was unquestionably the first to realize the only policy that promised safety. He saw that these isolated communities so few in number, scanty in population and distant from support must seccumb if the attacks of the Indians were systematically continued. He discerned more clearly than anyone else that behind the Indian was an influence which controlled his wild nature and could give methodical direction to his hostility. In only one way could the ultimate and certain destruction of the settlement be averted. That was to strike the beast in his lair; teach him that he, too, was vulnerable, and above all eliminate the influence which was inciting his incursions. In this way Indian aggression might be minimized and rendered less dangerous, and the settlements obtain some respite until they were strong enough to protect themselves.

A plan based on this idea was submitted by Clark to the Virginia officials and was unanimously approved, receiving the hearty endorsement of Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. Every encouragement and some material aid-all that could be afforded-was given. Virginia authorized the expedition suggested by Clark against the British posts in the northwest, especially in Illinois county, and furnished 500 pounds of powder and a small sum of money to purchase supplies. Clark was given the commission of major and empowered to recruit troops for the expedition.

On May 27, 1778, he assembled the men enlisted, numbering about 150, at the falls of the Ohio. This force was composed of four companies commanded by captains Joseph Bowman, Leonard Helm, William Harrod and James Montgomery. Simon Kenton accompanied the expedition as hunter and scout.

On June 24 Clark, placing his men on boats, descended the Ohio to a point on the Illinois shore nearly opposite the mouth 'of the Tennessee River. Thence he marched about 100 miles through prairie and forest uninhabited to Kaskaskia. He surprised and took that village and the fort near by on the night of July 4. Two days later Captain Bowman, sent with a small detachment to Cahokia, took that place. Vincennes surrendered August 1. Three of the principal English strongholds, hotbeds of Indian hostility, had fallen. Clark, however, was unable to adequately garrison these places, and relying on the friendship of the French inhabitants only one man besides Captain Helm was left at Vincennes. That place was retaken in December by Governor Hamilton, the British commandant of Detroit. Late in the following month a Colonel Vigo, of St. Louis, who was a friend of the American cause, brought Clark the news. He also informed him that Hamilton had only eighty men but expected to be strongly reinforced in the spring, when he intended to march into Kentucky with overwhelming forces. Clark had every reason to credit this intelligence, and at once proceeded to act upon it. His small command was widely dispersed, and it was necessary to collect some supplies.

It is difficult in this day of easy, rapid communication and quick transportation to understand the difficulties which delayed such movements then. But on February 7, only nine days after he had been informed of its capture, Clark was on his way to recapture Vincennes. Hamilton believed himself secure. It was the midwinter season. The floods of the many streams had converted the region about Vincennes, and over which any enemy must march, into one alternately of quagmires and ice fields. But he was matched against no common antagonist.

Clark mounted upon a large flat boat two four-pounders, manned it with a company of forty-five men and sent it up the Wabash to the mouth of the White River to prevent any aid coming to Hamilton from that direction. Two companies of gallant French allies, raised at Cahokia and Kaskaskia and added to his Kentuckians, made the force under his own command 170 men.

That march to Vincennes had no parallel, even in those days of hardship, for extreme privation and suffering cheerfully undergone. For days the men waded shoulder deep through the icy waters, and rested at night on any little hillock which rose above the miry or frozen surface. They carried no rations, game was scarce, and it was difficult to light fires with which to cook the scanty food procured. The iron fortitude and endurance of leader and men were tested to the utmost. Clark appeared before Vincennes on February 24 and immediately began the siege. Hamilton sought to parley, but his overtures were sternly rejected and he surrendered on the 25th.

There can be no doubt that the result of these operations was to perfectly verify Clark's anticipation. The first effect was to inspire the settlers with fresh hope and courage, and to furnish a new stimulus to immigration. There was, also, during the remainder of the year and until the summer of 1780 a marked diminution in the frequency of the Indian raids, while the number of the settlers was increasing. They came not only by the "wilderness road" through Cumberland Gap, but down the Ohio. Collins states that "no less than three hundred large family boats, filled with immigrants, arrived at the Falls of the Ohio" in the spring of 1780.

There is reason to believe that when hostilities were actively renewed in 1780 the Indians were less audacious than before Clark had delivered his blow. He continued his offensive-defensive policy, and in May, 1779, sent Bowman into Ohio to attack the Indian towns.

Nevertheless, in June, 1780, Colonel Byrd of the English army with 600 Indians and Canadians came down the Miami Valley and the Ohio River and entered Kentucky by the Licking. He captured Ruddle's and Martin's stations, and retreated without further demonstration. The following month Clark with the men under command of Logan and Linn made a sharp retaliatory campaign into Ohio, destroying the most important villages of the Miami and Scioto valleys.

The settlers suffered severely in 1782, but had grown too strong to feel serious apprehension. This was the year of "Estill's Defeat," when twenty-five Wyandotte braves beat an equal number of whites in fair battle. In August of that year nearly 600 Indians, led by the renegade Simon Girty, besieged Bryan's station for three days. On this occasion occurred that heroic incident of the women going outside of the fort for water sorely needed, although they knew the Indians were in ambuscade near the spring whence it must be obtained. The garrison repulsed their assailants and they retreated, pursued by 182 men hastily collected from the nearer stations; but turning on their pursuers at the Blue Licks, August 19, the Indians defeated them with heavy loss. Boone's son was killed in this battle.

Clark had been appointed brigadier-general to command all of the Kentucky militia. Prompt and indefatigable he instantly began preparations for a campaign which should avenge the latest disaster, and teach his red foes a lesson they would remember. Collecting more than 1,000 men under Floyd, Logan and other excellent subordinates, he again invaded Ohio. The damage inflicted by this expedition and the withdrawal of English aid and encouragement following the negotiations for peace between the colonies and Great Britain, about the same date, put a stop to Indian incursions into Kentucky in large numbers; but depredations and murders by small parties continued for some years longer. It is estimated that more than 3,000 of the settlers were victims of this savage warfare in the first decade of Kentucky history.

In 1783 Kentucky was constituted one judicial district, and John Floyd, Samuel McDowell and George Muter were appointed judges. The first session of this court was held at Harrodsburg in March of that year.

Steps to Statehood.

John Filson, the first historian of Kentucky, estimated that in 1784 the population was 30,000. At any rate it was large enough to justify an application to Virginia for an independent state government.

Reasons similar to those which had urged the settlers to ask that a separate county be created now induced them to desire that Kentucky should become a separate commonwealth. One such reason had become more potent. The peace with Great Britain had not caused a cessation of Indian hostility, and the Kentuckians lacked the official machinery necessary to furnish means for their proper defense.

In the fall of 1784 Col. Benjamin Logan received information which induced him to believe that the southern tribes of the Tennessee valley were preparing for an invasion of Kentucky. It occurred to him, as to every other experienced Indian fighter, that the most effectual method of preventing such an incursion was to anticipate it by an expedition directed against the Indians- themselves.

He therefore invited a number of the most public-spirited citizens to meet him at Danville, that they might consult and adopt measures necessary to such an undertaking. But it immediately became apparent that no one in Kentucky had authority to order such an expedition, to call the militia into active service, or in any way to inaugurate offensive measures. There was no authority even to provide ammunition and supplies for the use of the militia.

Realizing their impotent condition and the dangers liable to result from it, those who attended this meeting called by Logan recommended that a convention should be held which might devise some remedy. It was to consist of one delegate from each military district-or militia company-and was called to meet at Danville Dec. 27, 1784. This was the first step in the tedious and protracted process by which Kentucky finally became separated from Virginia and an independent state.

It does not appear that the free navigation of the Mississippi and the right of others than citizens of Spain to deposit produce at New Orleans for exportation, matters which were subsequently of absorbing interest to Kentuckians, were considered at this date. The importance of such concessions were doubtless realized even then, and the failure of the general government to obtain them afterwards created intense dissatisfaction. The subject was publicly discussed at Danville as early as 1787, and in the same year Guardoqui, the Spanish minister to the United States, let it be understood that he had authority to grant to the people of Kentucky the navigation of the Mississippi and all privileges of exportation, if they would declare their severance from and independence of the government of the United States. But there is no evidence that this question influenced the effort for statehood in 1784.

The convention of Dec. 27, 1784, resolved "that many inconveniences under which they labored might be remedied by the legislature of Virginia, but that the great and substantial evils to which they were subjected were beyond the power and control of the government, namely, from their remote and detached situation, and could never be remedied until the district had a government of its own." It recommended that delegates should be elected to another convention to be held May 3, 1785.

Accordingly, a second convention met at Danville on that date and resolved: "First-That a petition be presented to the Legislative Assembly, praying that this district be established into a state separate from Virginia, second-That another convention of representatives be elected to meet at Danville on the second Monday in August, to take further under consideration the state of the district; third-That this convention recommend that the election of deputies for the proposed assembly be on the principles of equal representation on the basis of population."

This latter proposition was significant in view of the fact that representation in the House of Burgesses of Virginia had always been apportioned more on the basis of territory than of population.

The necessity for this third convention is not apparent, but it met at the appointed date (Aug. 14, 1785), and the committee of the whole on the state of the district offered a very pertinent report and resolutions, and an address to the legislature of Virginia, embodying the views of the convention, all of which were adopted.

An address was also issued "To the Inhabitants of the District of Kentucky," calling their attention to the danger of Indian invasion. It called a fourth convention to meet in September, 1786, to complete the work of separation and frame a constitution for the new state. This was done in pursuance of the action of the Virginia legislature, approving the petition for separation and indicating the date when the terms upon which it would be granted should be considered by the people of the district. The act providing for the separation passed in January, 1786, made it contingent on certain conditions relating to boundary, the proportion of the public debt to be assumed by Kentucky, that private interests in land derived from Virginia should be determined by existing laws, and that the navigation of the Ohio should be free to the citizens of the United States.

But the legislature, influenced by a memorial addressed to it by certain members of this fourth convention, repealed this act before it had completed a quorum, and its subsequent acceptance was consequently nugatory. A11 that had been done was ',but so much time and labor wasted, and a fifth convention was called to do the work again. But it is scarcely necessary to recite in detail the history of this effort for separate state government, the reiterated and long profitless procedure and vexatious delay for eight expectant years.

Five other conventions, ten in all, were held before the work was consumated. The Constitution of the United States was adopted Sept. 17, 1787, although not ratified until June 26, 1788. After receiving this news and in anticipation of ratification, the petition for separation addressed to Virginia by each subsequent convention making application was accompanied by one to Congress asking admission into the Union. Virginia always assenting to separation, nevertheless attached conditions which the people of the district were not willing to accept.

Congress for a time objected and interposed delays. The Hon. John Brown, of Danville, who had been chosen to represent the district of Kentucky as one of Virginia's representatives in Congress, thus explained the animus and action of that body in a letter to Judge Muter, dated June 10, 1788: "The Eastern States would not, nor do I think they ever will, assent to the admission of the District into the Union, as an independent state, unless Vermont or the province of Maine is brought forward at the same time. The change which has taken place in the general government is made the ostensible objection to the measure, but the jealousy of the growing importance of the Western Country, and an unwillingness to add a vote to the Southern interest, are the real causes of opposition."

Finally Virginia, Dec. 18, 1789, passed an act authorizing the separation on terms with which the people of the district were satisfied. A convention met July 26, 1790, accepted the conditions of the last act, fixed June 1, 1792, as the day on which Kentucky should become a separate and independent state, and called a convention for April 2, 1792, to frame a constitution for the new commonwealth. Congress passed an act Feb. 4, 1791, admitting Kentucky into the Union, to take effect June 1, 1792.

The tenth convention, composed of five delegates from each of the nine counties of the district, assembled on the date appointed and made and adopted a constitution, thus ending the long travail.

The first governor, Isaac Shelby, was a soldier who had served with distinction at King's Mountain and Point Pleasant, a record which, with the Indian troubles still pressing and unsettled, of itself commended him to his people, but he was also a man of sterling worth and character. The first senators elected to Congress were John Brown and John Edwards.

Collins and Smith, in their respective histories of Kentucky, estimate the population in 1790 to have been 73,677, and Durrett estimates it to have been 100,000 in 1792. But in addition to this rapid growth of population, the state was already developing an agricultural capacity which was a fair augury of its future prosperity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. - Allen. Wm. B.: History of Kentucky (1872); Bradford, John: Notes on Kentucky (in the Kentucky Gazette, Lexington, 1826-29); Butler, Mann: History of the Commonwealth of Kentucky (1834); Collins, Lewis: Historical Sketches of Kentucky (1847); Collins, Richard: History of Kentucky (1874); Filson, John: The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucky (1784); Marshall, Humphrey: History of Kentucky (1812, enlarged 1824); McAfee, Robert B.: The General and Natural History of Kentucky (1804-1907); McClung, John A.: Sketches of Western Adventure (1832); Rafinesque, C. S.: Ancient History or Annals of Kentucky (1824); Shaler, N. S.: Kentucky as a Pioneer State (in American Commonwealths, 1885); Smith, Z. F.: History of Kentucky (1886); The Filson Club Publications (commencing 1884), especially Durrett, Reuben T.: Life and Times of John Filson, The Centenary of Kentucky.

BASIL W. DUKE,
Member Shiloh National Military Park Commission: author The History of Morgan's Cavalry.


Return to Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast