AHGP Transcription Project

Barren County

Barren County, the 37th in order of organization, was formed in 1798, out of parts of Warren and Green; and takes its name from what is generally termed the barrens or prairies which abound in this region of our country. It is bounded on the north by Hart County, east by Metcalfe, south by Monroe and Allen, and west by Allen and Warren. From Glasgow, north and northeast for about 10 miles, the land is level and the soil rich; beyond, it is generally hilly and poor; the remainder of the county is mostly rolling, with a productive soil. The subsoil is of clay, founded on limestone. Tobacco is the most important article of export. Petroleum is produced from wells in large quantities. There were three small salt furnaces in 1846.

Glasgow, the county seat, established 1809; is 11 miles from the L. and N. railroad, by Branch railroad; population in 1870, 733.
Cave City, on the L. and N. railroad; population in 1870, 387.
The other towns and villages in the county are:
Glasgow Junction,
Prewitt's Knob, and
Horsewell, or Cross Roads.

Members of the Legislature from Barren County, since 1859

Jas. R. Barrick, 1859-63;
Jas. W. Gorin, 1867-71, who was speaker from 1869-71, and became Governor on February 13, 1871;
John S. Barlow, 1871-75.

House of Representatives
John W. Ritter and Ishmael H. Smith, 1859-61;
John S. Barlow, 1861-63, but resigned February 7, 1862, and succeeded by W. W. Waring, 1862-65;
Benj. F. Trabue, 1865-67;
Basil G. Smith, 1867-69;
Joseph H. Lewis, 1869-71, but resigned 1870, and was succeeded by Samuel W. Brents, 1870-71;
Wm. R. Bates 1871-73;
Geo. C. Young, 1873-75.

Preston H. Leslie, 26th governor of Kentucky, was born in that part of Wayne, which now forms Clinton, County, Kentucky, March 2, 1819. Left an orphan at an early age, his fellow-citizens are proud of that self-relying spirit and indomitable energy which made him, in his poverty, a cart-driver in the streets of Louisville at the age of 13, a wood-chopper at 14, a ferryman, farmer's boy, and cook for tan-bark choppers at 15, a lawyer at 22, a representative in the legislature at 25, a senator at 31, and governor of the 8th state in population of the American Union at 51. He began the practice of law in Monroe County, and represented that county in the legislature in 1844 and 1850, and the counties of Monroe and Barren in the senate in 1851-55. After removing to Barren, he was again in the senate, in 1867-71; in December, 1869, was chosen speaker of the senate, and thereby acting Lieutenant Governor; on February 13, 1871, upon the resignation of Gov. Stevenson, was inaugurated governor for the unexpired term, until September, 1871; in August, 1871, was the Democratic candidate, and elected governor for four years, from 1871-75, by the remarkable majority of 37,156. If he shall serve out his term, he will be governor for a longer period than any other since 1804. He is an active member of the Baptist church, and practices temperance principles at the receptions and levees in the governor's mansion.

There are a number of mineral springs in Barren, which are considered efficacious in many diseases; but none have been as yet, much resorted to. There is a white sulphur spring on the east fork of Little Barren river, sixteen miles east of Glasgow, the waters from which, as they flow off, form quite a respectable branch, and is supposed to be the largest stream of mineral water in the Green River country. There is a well on Buck creek, fourteen miles nearly west of Glasgow, which was commenced for salt water, but at the depth of thirty feet or more, a very large stream of medical water was struck (sulphur, magnesia, etc.), which rises about four feet above the surface of the earth through a large pipe, and runs off in a branch of considerable size. This is becoming a place of considerable resort. There are, also, several smaller springs within a few miles of Glasgow, which are thought to be very beneficial to invalids.

The Indians in the early settlement, made but few incursions into this county. Edmund Rogers, one of the first surveyors and pioneers, was compelled on several occasions, to abandon his surveys from the signs or attacks of Indians. On one occasion when in hot pursuit of him they overtook and killed one of his company and he imputes his escape alone to the time occupied in dispatching the unfortunate individual who fell into their hands.

Edmund Rogers, one of the pioneers of the Green River Country, was born in Caroline County, Virginia, on the 5th of May, 1762. He served as a soldier in the memorable campaign of 1781, in his native State, which resulted in the capture of Cornwallis. He was in the battles of Green Springs, Jamestown, and at the siege of York. For these services he refused to apply for a pension, although entitled under the acts of congress. It was the love of his country's liberty and independence, and no pecuniary reward, which induced him to fight her battles. He immigrated to Kentucky in 171^3, and became intimate with most of the early pioneers. He possessed a remarkable memory, and could detail with accuracy up to the time of his death, all the important events of the Indian wars and early settlement of Kentucky. He had enjoyed better opportunities to learn the history of these transactions than most persons, in consequence of his intimacy with General George Rogers Clark (his cousin), and captain John Rogers (his brother), and captain Abraham Chapline, of Mercer, in whose family he lived for years. Mr. E. Rogers was the longest liver of that meritorious and enterprising class of men who penetrated the wilderness of Kentucky, and spent their time in locating and surveying lands. It is confidently believed that he survived all the surveyors of military lands south of Green River. He began business as a surveyor in the fall of 1783, in Clark's or the Illinois grant as it was called, on the north side of the Ohio River, opposite to Louisville. In the spring of 1784, his operations were changed to the military district in this State, on the south side of Green River. He made most of the surveys on Little and Big Barren Rivers and their tributary streams. Muldrow's hill was the boundary of the settlements towards the south-west in Kentucky, when Mr. Rogers commenced surveying in the military district. He settled upon a tract of land, upon which he afterwards laid out the town of Edmonton in Barren County, in the year 1800. He married Mary Shirley in 1808. She died in 1835, leaving seven daughters and one son. In 1840 owing to his advanced age, he broke up housekeeping and removed with his single daughters to the house of his son John T. Rogers, where he died on the 28th day of August, 1843. His remains were taken to his own farm and buried by the side of his wife near Edmonton.

In purity of life and manly virtues, Mr. Rogers had but few equals. His intercourse with mankind was characterized by great benevolence and charity, and the strictest justice. He was ever ready to lend a helping hand to the needy and deserving. He raised and educated his nephew, the honorable Joseph Rogers Underwood.

He was not ambitious of distinction. He accepted the office of justice of the peace shortly after he settled in Barren County, at the solicitation of his neighbors. Perceiving as he thought, an act of partiality on the part of the court, he resigned his commission at the first court he ever attended, and thereafter persisted in his resolution to hold no office.

Mr. Rogers believed that the distinctions made among men, arising from the offices they filled, without regard to their intellectual and moral attainments and qualifications, were often unjust. He therefore spurned official stations and those who filled them, when he thought genuine merit was overlooked, and the shallow and presumptuous promoted. "He believed that the fortunes of men, were controlled by things apparently of little moment, and that there was in regulating and governing the affairs of this world, if not of the whole universe, a chain of causes and effects or consequences, in which every link was just as important as every other in the eyes of God, although in the estimation of men, they were regarded as very different in importance. To his philosophic mind, he saw what mankind usually call great things, springing as results from very little things, and he was not disposed to concede that the effect was entitled to more consideration than the cause. He admitted a controlling providence, which operated in a manner inscrutable to man; and hence he never despised what were called little things, and never became greatly excited with passionate admiration for what were called great things. He admitted there were two great principles at work in the earth, one of good, the other of evil. His affections and his actions were all with the good.

Mr. Rogers and his brother captain John Rogers, made a very singular contract. It was firmly agreed between them, that he who died first, should return from the world of spirits, and inform the other what was going on there. This engagement between the brothers, was most seriously entered into. Mr. Rogers has often told the writer, that there could be no such thing as visits from the spirits of the dead, and holding intercourse with the living; for said he, if such a thing could be, I know my brother John would have kept and fulfilled his promise. He discountenanced everything of a superstitious character.


Mr. Butler, in his History of Kentucky, states, upon the authority of Judge Underwood that Edmund Rogers had discovered on a beech tree, standing upon the margin of the east fork of the south branch of Little Barren River, before there was any settlement south of Green River, the following inscription: "James M'Call, of Mecklenburg County. North Carolina, June 8th, 1770." These words were cut in very handsome letters, with several initials of other names.


The most remarkable mounds in the county, are situated at the mouth of Peter's creek, on Big Barren River. Twelve miles south-west from Glasgow, on the turnpike leading to Nashville, and immediately in the fork of the river and creek, there are a large number of small mounds, which closely resemble each other in size and shape. They now appear to be two or three feet high, of an oval form, about fifty yards apart, forming a circle of from four to five hundred yards in circumference, and presenting strong indications of having had huts or some other kind of buildings upon them. About the center of the circle of small mounds, is situated a large mound, twenty or thirty feet high, and from ninety to one hundred feet in diameter. Without the circle, about one hundred yards distant, is another large mound, about the same dimensions of the one within the circle of small ones. Upon these mounds trees are growing, which measure five feet in diameter. Some two hundred yards from these mounds, are a number of small mounds, which contain bones, teeth, and hair of human beings, in a perfect state of preservation. These bones are found in graves about three feet long, and from one to one and a half feet wide, all lined with flat stones. In the neighborhood, for half a mile or more, are found many of these graves. There is a large warehouse standing on the mound which is within the circle of small mounds.

There is a cave in the bluff of the river, about three miles above Glasgow, which contains a large number of bones; but it is of small dimensions, and no correct description has been obtained of it. On Skaggs' creek, about five miles south-west of Glasgow, there is a small cave, in which human bones have been found, but they appeared to be those of infants altogether. One bone was found, which seemed to be that part of the skull bone about the crown of the head; it was made round, about two and a half inches in diameter, scalloped on the edges, and carved on the outside. Whether this was made for an ornament, or for eating out of, could not well be determined, although it was sufficiently large to be used as a spoon.

A Catacomb

In December, 1870, a party of hunters chased a fox into a cave, on Beaver creek, 5 miles from Glasgow, and about 50 feet from the Columbia road. The cave is well known, and had been occasionally visited. But in the southern avenue the hunters explored a tortuous fissure in the rock, about 20 feet long, just large enough to admit the body of a man, which led them into a small oblong chamber, 18 feet long and 20 feet high. In this they found the remains of at least ten human beings; the skulls nearly all sound, many bones perfect, others too much decayed for removal. On several of the skulls, lying on the surface, was a limestone formation, caused by the dripping of water from the stone ceiling. The robbers and murderers who infested this road and region, in early days, probably used this cave, and in this secluded chamber deposited their murdered victims.

Source: History of Kentucky, Volume II, by Lewis Collins, Published by Collins & Company,
Covington, Kentucky, 1874

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