AHGP Transcription Project


Bell County



Josh Bell County, the 112th in order of formation, was organized in May, 1867, and named after Joshua F. Bell, of Danville, Kentucky. It was formed from part of Knox and Harlan counties, and in 1870-71 a portion of Whitley County, about 45 voters, known as the South American district, was cut off and added to it. It is bounded north by Clay County, east by Harlan, south by Lee County, Virginia, and Claiborne County, Tennessee, and west by Whitley and Knox counties, Ky.

It is very mountainous; the river and creek bottoms, the coves and north side of the mountains afford some rich and productive soil, the ridges and south side of the mountains are thin lands. White oak, black oak, poplar, sugar tree, maple, black and white walnut, beech, lynn, sycamore, dogwood, elm, and chestnut exist in abundance; and on the south side of Pine Mountain quantities of the yellow and black pine are to be found. The mountains produce good grazing for cattle and sheep; the latter do well without feeding all winter. The products are corn, wheat, rye, oats, and small quantities of tobacco. The country abounds in timber; there are a few saw mills near Pineville, but for want of water they are at a stand-still the greater part of the year. Some of the finest banks of coal in the world are in this county; one on Clear creek is 14 feet thick. The county is watered by part of the Cumberland river, and by small streams emptying into it, Right fork, Left fork, Caney fork, Stony fork, and Turkey, Straight, Four Mile, Browning's, Hause's, Yellow, Big Clear, Little Clear, and Big Run creeks. The Wilderness turnpike road extends through the south west part of the county.

Pineville, the county seat, 16 miles east of Barboursville and 14 miles north of Cumberland Gap, is situated on the west bank of the Cumberland River, on a very narrow strip of land where the river breaks through Pine Mountain; hence its name. The mountains rise very high on both sides (east and west) of the village, and are almost perpendicular, with large cliffs or rocks overhanging. Immediately bordering on this town northwest is Cumberland Ford, one of the oldest settlements in this part of the country, said to have belonged originally to Governor Shelby, and been bought from him by James Renfro, whose family owned it for several generations. During the civil war the house and fences were destroyed by the Federal army, but have since been rebuilt, and the place is now in a fine state of cultivation. This was considered the most desirable site for a town, but it was opposed by the owner, who, instead, gave an acre of ground for it, a level piece of land on the side of the mountain, where a large frame court house was built, and around which the town has grown. Pineville has now 4 stores, 3 hotels, 2 mechanics' shops, 4 lawyers, 1 doctor, and 1 good school; and there are a grist mill and a flour mill in the county.

Members of the Legislature from Josh Bell County

Senate
None resident in the county.

House of Representatives
Hugh H. York, 1869-71;
W. H. Evans, 1871-73.


Change of Name
Among the earliest acts of the Kentucky legislature, in January, 1873, was one cutting off the too familiar prefix of Josh. Hereafter this county ascends in the alphabetical scale to B, as plain Bell County, and loses forever the singularly undignified name of Josh Bell County.

Mound
In the large bottom at Cumberland Ford is a mound, 10 or 15 feet high, and 100 feet in circumference. Bones, pots, and other curiosities have been dug from it. It has evidently been a burying-ground of the Indians, or of some earlier and extinct race.

An Image
In the winter of 1869, L. Farmer, of Pineville, was hunting a fox (that had caught his turkey) among the cliffs that surround Pineville, and found a wooden image of a man, about two feet high, in a sitting posture, with no legs. It looked as though it might have been made by the Indians centuries ago. It is a good imitation of a man, and is made of yellow pine. Some of its features, part of its nose and ears, are obliterated by time, although found in a place where it was kept entirely dry. One ear is visible, with a hole pierced in it as though once ornamented with jewelry. It is a great curiosity to travelers. The oldest inhabitants can tell nothing about it.

The Clear Creek Springs, 4 miles southwest of Pineville, are valued highly for their medical properties. The water has a taste similar to powder, and is thought to be peculiarly adapted to the cure of old sores and ulcers.

Cumberland Gap is known in history as the point through which eastern and interior Kentucky was first entered and explored. The Lebanon or Knoxville branch of the Louisville and Nashville railroad is surveyed to run through Pineville and Cumberland Gap, to meet the railroad from Bristol on the Virginia and Tennessee side. The former is already finished to Livingston station, 70 miles from the lowest defile in the Cumberland range of mountains, Cumberland Gap, the only place for many miles through which wagons can penetrate into Virginia. As a point of great military importance, it was eagerly seized and persistently held, by turns, by both the contending armies in the war of the rebellion, and was at last abandoned by both. Through this gap, the lamented Gen. Zollicoffer invaded Kentucky with his little army, shortly before his repulse at Wild Cat. One mile south of Pineville he threw up his fortifications, and first planted his cannon. The state road from Frankfort to the state of Tennessee, the Wilderness turnpike, crosses at the Cumberland Ford, and passes out of the state at Cumberland Gap.

The Pine Mountain Cliffs, near Pineville, consisting of almost interminable heaps of limestone, rise to the height of 1,300 feet. In this vicinity is a cave of considerable magnitude.

The Southeastern Corner of Kentucky is at the "Seven Pines," and was ascertained by the remarkably accurate boundary survey of 1859 to be 1,696,578 feet from the western initial point on the boundary line between Tennessee and Kentucky, at the Mississippi river, or 38 feet more than 321 miles; which is, of course, the exact length of the southern boundary of Kentucky. The Virginia and Tennessee corner is not coincident with the southeastern corner of Kentucky, but 8,309 feet in a northeasterly direction therefrom; it is given in the official report of that survey as a portion of the boundary line between Kentucky and Tennessee; but of course is a small portion of the eastern, not southern, boundary of our state.

John Findlay, whom many have been accustomed to regard (but incorrectly) as the first adventurer into the wilds of Kentucky, because of his obscure visit in 1767, and his piloting Daniel Boone and others in 1769, is the least known of all who early "spied out the land." The following court order is preserved among the early records of Washington County, Virginia:

"John Findlay making it appear to the satisfaction of the court of Washington County that he, upon the 20th day of July, 1776, received a wound in the thigh in the battle fought with the Cherokee Indians near the Great Island [in Holston river, East Tennessee, near Kingsport, a few miles south of the Virginia line]; and it now appears to the said court that he, in consequence of the said wound, is unable to gain a living by his labor as formerly; Therefore, his case is recommended to the consideration of the General Assembly of the commonwealth of Virginia."

In the fall of 1793, in Powell's Valley, Virginia, not far from Cumberland Gap, lived in one house two brothers named Henry and Peter Livingston, with their families. The two men had gone out into the field to work, unarmed and unsuspicious of danger, when * "the Indians broke into the house and killed their mother, an old woman, and a negro child, and took the two Mrs. Livingstons, all the children, a negro fellow and a negro boy prisoners, and moved off with such other plunder as they fancied. As the children were running along before their mother, she made signs to them to take a path that turned off to a neighbor's house, and the Indians permitted them to run off unmolested, only retaining the two women and the Negroes. Knowing that the Indians must pass either through Russell or Lee to gain the wilderness, expresses were instantly sent to both these counties. The court was in session when the express reached the court house, and it immediately adjourned, and a party was organized upon the spot, under the command of Captain Vincent Hobbs, to waylay a gap in Cumberland Mountain called the Stone gap, through which it was supposed the Indians would most probably pass. On his arrival at the gap, Hobbs discovered that Indians had just passed through before him; he therefore pursued with eagerness, and soon discovered two Indians kindling a fire; these they instantly dispatched, and finding some plunder with them which they knew must have been taken out of the Livingstons' house, they at once came to the conclusion that these two had been sent forward to hunt for provision, and that the others were yet behind with the prisoners.”

"The object of Hobbs now was to make a quick retreat, to cover his own sign, if possible, at the gap, before the Indians should discover it, and perhaps kill the prisoners and escape. Having gained this point, he chose a place of ambuscade; but not exactly liking his position, he left the men there, and, taking one with him by the name of Van Bibber, he went some little distance in the advance to try if he could find a place more suited to his purpose. As they stood looking round for such a place, they discovered the Indians coming on with the prisoners. They cautiously concealed themselves, and each singled out his man. Benje, having charge of the young Mrs. Livingston, led the van, and the others followed in succession; but the Indian who had charge of the elder Mrs. Livingston was considerably behind, she not being able to march with the same light, elastic step of her sister. When the front came directly opposite to Hobbs and Van Bibber they both fired, Hobbs killing Benje and Van Bibber the next behind him. At the crack of the gun the other men rushed forward, but the Indians had escaped into a laurel thicket, taking with them a Negro fellow. The Indian who had charge, of the elder Mrs. Livingston tried his best to kill her; but he was so hurried that he missed his aim. Her arms were badly cut by defending her head from the blows of his tomahawk. The prisoners had scarcely time to recover from their surprise before the two Livingstons, who heard the guns and who were now in close pursuit with a party of men from Washington, came rushing up and received their wives at the hands of Hobbs with a gust of joy. Four Indians were killed and five had escaped, and it appears they were separated into parties of three and two. The first had the Negro fellow with them; and, by his account, they lodged that night in a cave, where he escaped from them and got home.”

"In the meantime a party of the hardy mountaineers of Russell collected, and proceeded in haste to waylay a noted Indian crossing-place high up on the Kentucky River. When they got there, they found some Indians had just passed. These they pursued, and soon overtook two, whom they killed. They immediately drew the same conclusion that Hobbs had done, and hastened back to the river, for fear those behind should discover their sign. Shortly after they had stationed themselves, the other three made their appearance; the men fired upon them, two fell and the other fled, but left a trail of blood behind him, which readily conducted his pursuers to where he had taken refuge, in a thick canebrake. It was thought imprudent to follow him any farther, as he might be concealed and kill some of them before they could discover him. Thus eight of the party were killed and the other perhaps mortally wounded.”

*. From Letter of Benj. Sharp, in American Pioneer, ii, 467-8

"The state of Virginia presented Capt. Hobbs with one of the finest rifles that could be manufactured, as a token of respect for his skill and bravery in conducting this pursuit and killing Benje."

Swift's Silver Mine
In 1854-5, while making geological investigations in the southeast part of Kentucky, as part of the official survey ordered by the state, Prof. David Dale Owen examined the supposed location of the notorious Swift mine, on the northwest side of the Log mountain, only a few miles from Cumberland Ford, then in Knox, now Josh Bell or rather Bell county. "The Indians are said, in former times, to have made a reservation of 30 miles square, on a branch of the Laurel fork of Clear creek. Benjamin Herndon, an old explorer, and a man well acquainted with the country, guided him to the spot where the ore was supposed to be obtained by the Indians, and afterwards by Swift and his party. It proved to be a kidney-shaped mass of dark grey argillaceous iron-stone, containing some accidental minerals sparingly disseminated, such as sulphuret of zinc and lead, which proved, on examination, to be a hydrated silicate of alumina. This ore originated in a thick mass of dark bituminous argillaceous shale, with some thin coal interstratified, that occurs about 500 to 600 feet up in the Log Mountain."*

Judge John Haywood, who emigrated from North Carolina at an early day to Tennessee, and years after, in 1823, wrote its civil and political history from its earliest settlement up to the year 1796, says of this locality:† "Cumberland mountain bears N. 46° E. ; and between the Laurel mountain and the Cumberland mountain, Cumberland river breaks through the latter. At the point where it breaks through, and about 10 miles north of the state line, is Clear creek, which discharges itself into the Cumberland, bearing northeast till it reaches the river. It rises between the great Laurel hill and Cumberland Mountain; its length is about 15 miles. Not far from its head rises also the South fork of the Cumberland, in the state of Kentucky, and runs westwardly. On Clear creek are two old furnaces, about half way between the head and mouth of the creek, first discovered by hunters in the time of the first settlements made in this country. These furnaces then exhibited very ancient appearances; about them were coals and cinders, very unlike iron cinders, as they have no marks of the rust which iron cinders are said uniformly to have in a few years. There are also a number of the like furnaces on the South fork, bearing similar marks, and seemingly of a very ancient date. One Swift came to East Tennessee in 1790 and 1791; and was at Bean's Station, on his way to a part of the country near which these furnaces are. He had with him a journal of his former transactions, by which it appeared that in 1761, 1762, and 1763, and afterwards in 1767, he, two Frenchmen, and some few others, had a furnace somewhere about the Bed Bird fork of Kentucky River, which runs towards Cumberland River and mountain, northeast of the mouth of Clear creek. He and his associates made silver in large quantities, at the last mentioned furnaces; they got the ore from a cave about three miles from the place where his furnace stood. The Indians becoming troublesome, he went off; and the Frenchmen went towards the place now called Nashville. Swift was deterred from the prosecution of his last journey by the reports he heard of Indian hostility, and returned home, leaving his journal in the possession of Mrs. Renfro. The furnaces on Clear creek, and those on the South fork of Cumberland, were made either before or since the time when Swift worked his. The walls of these furnaces, and horn buttons of European manufacture found in a rock house, prove that Europeans erected them. It is probable therefore that the French, when they claimed the country to the Alleghenies, in 1754 and prior to that time, and afterwards up to 1758, erected these works. A rock house is a cavity beneath a rock, jutted out from the side of a mountain, affording a cover from the weather to those who are below it. In one of those was found a furnace and human bones, and horn buttons supposed to have been a part of the dress which had been buried with the body to which the bones belonged. It is probable that the French who were with Swift, showed him the place where the ore was."

*. Kentucky Geological Survey, i, 222.
†. History of Tennessee, pp. 33, 34

A Memorandum of John Swifts Journal has fallen into our hands,* which is an exceedingly curious document; it has the appearance of being a copy of a portion of the same document referred to above by Judge Haywood. It describes with some minuteness the journeys of 1761 (which began at Alexandria, Virginia), 1762, 1764, 1767-8, and 1768-9, and alludes to three other trips of which he kept no account. "On the 1st of Sept., 1769, we left between 22,000 and 30,000 dollars and crowns on a large creek, running near a south course. Close to the spot we marked our names (Swift, Jefferson, Munday, and others) on a beech tree, with a compass, square, and trowel. . . . No great distance from this place we left $15,000 of the same kind, marking three or four trees with marks. Not far from these, we left the prize, near a forked white oak, and about three feet underground, and laid two long stones across it, marking several stones close about it. At the forks of Sandy, close by the fork, is a small rock, has a spring in one end of it. Between it and a small branch, we hid a prize under the ground; it was valued at $6,000. We likewise left $3,000 buried in the rocks of the rock house." One of the companies in search of the mine was Staley, Ireland, McClintock, Blackburn, and Swift.

This Silver Mine of Swifts has been located by tradition in different counties in eastern Kentucky, from Josh Bell in the south to Carter in the north. The most recent claim is that of the Greenup Independent, in Feb., 1873, of which the following is an extract:

"When Swift was driven from the silver mines in Kentucky, by the approach of hostile Indians, he returned to his home in North Carolina. The money which he had with him created suspicion among his neighbors, and he was arrested as a counterfeiter. In those days there existed no mint in the United States, and the only test of the circulating money was the purity of the metal. Upon the trial of the case against Swift, it was proven that the coins in his possession were pure silver, and the charges were dismissed.”

"The ancient tools and instruments used for coining money, which fell from a cliff in Carter County were seen and examined by men now living. These men are highly respectable and entitled to full credit, and they vouch for the truth of the statement. One of the first settlers of the county found near his cabin a quantity of cinder, of such unusual color and weight as to induce him to have it tested by an expert. This was done, and the result was a considerable amount of pure silver, which at his instance was converted into spoons; these spoons are still in the possession of the family.”

"Several years ago, a couple of Indians, from the far West, visited Carter County, and acted in such a manner as to excite the attention of the citizens. They remained for a considerable time, and were continually wandering over the mountains and making minute examinations of the country along the small streams. When about to leave, they told an old gentleman with whom they said that they were in search of a silver mine which the traditions of their tribe located in that section of Kentucky; but they were unable to find it, owing to the changed condition of the country.”

"At an early day, silver money was in circulation in the settlement of what is now West Virginia, said to have been made by Swift. It was free from alloy, and of such a description as to indicate that it never passed through an established mint.”

"A bar of pure silver was found many years ago near a small mill in Carter County, which was thought to have been smelted from ore obtained from the silver mines said to exist in that country. And, within the past few days, a piece of ore which has every appearance of silver ore, and a small quantity of metal which is said to be silver, was shown by a gentleman of undoubted veracity, who testifies that he got the ore in the mountains of Kentucky, and with his own hands smelted the metal from ore obtained in these mountains."

Earliest Explorers and Hunters
In 1750, a small party of Virginians from Orange and Culpepper counties, Dr. Thomas Walker, Ambrose Powell, and Colby Chew, among them, entered what is now the state of Kentucky at Cumberland Gap, being the first white men known to have visited interior or eastern Kentucky. The date was preserved by the distinct recollection and statement of Dr. Walker, the most prominent man of the party, and by the carving upon the trees, those silent recorders of Kentucky's earliest history. Isaac Shelby, the first governor of the state, stated that in 1770 he was on Yellow creek, a mile or two from Cumberland Mountain, in company with Dr. Walker and others, when Walker told him of having been upon that spot twenty years before, and "yonder beech tree contains the record of it; Ambrose marked his name and the year upon it, and you will find it there now." Col. Shelby examined the tree, and found upon it, in large legible characters, "A. Powell, 1750."* The party traveled down the Holstein or Holston River, crossed over the mountains into Powell's valley, thence through Cumberland Gap, and along the route afterwards celebrated as the Wilderness, until they arrived at the Hazelpatch in now Laurel County. Here the company divided. Dr. Walker and his party turned northward, to the Kentucky river, which he called Louisa or Levisa river, followed down its broken and hilly margin some distance without finding much level land, became dissatisfied and turned up one of its branches to its head, and crossed over the mountains to New river, in Virginia, at the place now called Walker's Meadows.

*. Through the courtesy of Col. Wm. G. Terrell, from the papers of Wood C. Dollins, of Mounts Sterling, Ky.

Other Explorers and Hunters
In 1761, -2-- a company of 19 men, among them Wallen, Skaggs, Newman, Blevins, and Cox—part of them from Pennsylvania but the greater part from contiguous counties in Virginia, went through the Mockason gap in Clinch mountain, established a station on Wallen's creek, a branch of Powell's River, in now Lee County, in southwestern Virginia, and hunted there for eighteen months. They named Powells mountain, Powell's river, and Powell's valley, from seeing the name of Ambrose Powell inscribed on a tree (see ante, page 000,) near the mouth of Wallen's creek, on Powell's river. They gave names to Clinch River, Copper ridge. Newman's, Wallen's, and Skaggs' ridges, the latter three after three members of the company. They passed through Cumberland Gap; and Wallen, hailing from Cumberland County, Virginia, gave that name to the mountain; and the river of that name he called North Cumberland. How far they penetrated into Kentucky on that excursion, is not known.

This same company of hunters (except two or three who remained at home) in the fall of 1763 again passed Cumberland Gap, and spent the season in hunting on the Cumberland River.‡ Their fall hunt of the next year, 1764, was made on Rockcastle river, near the Crab Orchard, in Kentucky, a region so profitable for hunting that for several years afterwards they continued to visit and hunt there. The same historian who records this says that "Daniel Boone, who then lived on the Yadkin, came among the hunters to be informed of the geography and logography of these woods, saying he was employed to explore them by Henderson & Co. Henry Scaggins (or Skaggs) was afterwards employed by them to explore the country on the banks of the Cumberland, and fixed his station at Mansco's Lick," in what is now Tennessee but was then part of North Carolina.‡ Judge Haywood doubtless makes a little confusion of dates here; for Boone, according to his own autobiography as written by John Filson, never crossed through Cumberland Gap into the Kentucky country until 1769, when he and John Stewart, Joseph Holden, James Monay and Win. Coole, under the guidance of John Findlay penetrated as far as Red River, probably to what is now Estill County, where Findlay had been in 1767 or 1768, when trading with the Indians.

In 1766, about the last of June, a party of five persons passed through Cumberland Gap, along or near a portion of the southern border and down part of the Cumberland river to southwestern Kentucky and the Ohio river whose travels or explorations are preserved, with as much minuteness and distinctness as the scarcity of known points of locality and the universal wilderness state of the country would allow. These men were Captain James Smith, (afterwards, until his death about 1814 or later, a prominent citizen of Bourbon county, Kentucky), the historian of the party and Joshua Horton, Uriah Stone, Wm. Baker, and a mulatto slave about 18 years old of Mr. Horton. They "found no vestige of any white man."* The south branch of the Cumberland River which empties into it eight or ten miles above Nashville, they named Stone River, after one of their number.

*. John Bradford's Notes on Kentucky, published in 1827. Marshall's History, vol. i, page 7, says it was 1758. Hubbard Taylor thinks Dr. Walker told him it was in 1762. But Col. Shelby's statement in person to John Bradford, and the confirmation of the tree, place the date beyond doubt.
†. Haywood's Tennessee, page 33.
‡. Same, page 35.

In 1767, a party from South Carolina, Isaac Lindsey and four others came, through Cumberland Gap, to what Lindsey called Rockcastle river, from a romantic-looking rock, through the fissures of which the water dripped and froze in rows below. They proceeded down that river to its junction with the Cumberland, and down that stream as far as the mouth of Stone River, where they found Michael Stoner, who had come hither with Harrod from Illinois to hunt, having reached there down the Ohio from Fort Pitt. These two adventuring hunters and woodsmen became, seven to ten years later, somewhat prominent in Kentucky, James Harrod at or near Harrodsburg, which was begun by and named after him, and Michael Stoner, in Bourbon County, where Stoner creek was named after him. Before that time, some French, from their settlements in southwestern Illinois, had settled on the bluff where Nashville now stands. They also had a station at the same time on the Tennessee River, 10 or 12 miles above its mouth, and one at Fort Massac on the Illinois shore of the Ohio River, opposite McCracken County, Kentucky.

For John Findlay s trading visit in 1767, see sketch of Daniel Boone under Boone County; and under Madison County.

For Daniel Boone's visit in 1769, piloted by Findlay, see same sketches.

The Long Hunters
A company of over 20 men from North Carolina, and from Rockbridge County, and the valley of New river in Virginia, John Rains, Kasper Mansco, Abraham Bledsoe, John Baker, Joseph Drake, Obadiah Terrell, Uriah Stone, Henry Smith, Edward Cowan, Thomas Gordon, Humphrey Hogan, Cassius Brooks, Robert Crockett, and others† each with one or more horses, left Reedy creek, a branch of New River, in June, 1769, coming by what is now Abingdon and Powell's valley to Cumberland Gap; thence to Flat Lick, 6 miles from Cumberland river, down which they traveled, and crossed the river at "a remarkable fish dam which had been made in very ancient times;" thence passed a place called the Brush, near the fish dam— where briars, brush, vines, and limbs of trees were heaped up and grown together, and nearby immense hills and cliffs of rock. Following for some distance and then crossing the South fork of Cumberland, they came to a place since called Price's Meadow, near an excellent spring, in Wayne County, 6 miles from Monticello, where they made a camp and a depot for their game and skins, which they were to deposit there every five weeks. They continued to hunt to the west and southwest, through a country covered with high grass which seemed inexhaustible, and finding no traces of human settlement; though under dry caves, on the sides of creeks, they found many places where stones were set up that covered large quantities of human bones; they also found human bones in the caves with which the country abounds. Some of the company returned home on June 6, 1770; while ten of them, including Mansco, Stone, Baker, Gordon, Hogan, and Brooks, built two boats and two trapping canoes, laded them with furs and bear meat, and started down the Cumberland and Mississippi rivers to the French fort Natchez, and thence home.

* Life of Col. James Smith, Philadelphia, 1834; and vol. i, p. 16.
†. Haywood's Tennessee, pp. 75, 76.

In the fall of 1769, James Knox, Richard Skaggs, and four others left the main party upon Laurel River because game had become scarce; and starting westwardly, crossed Rockcastle River, and going up Skaggs' creek, met a party of Cherokee Indians. Learning they were hunting for meat, the head or chief Indian, Captain Dick (who was pleased at being recognized by several of the party who had seen him at the lead mines on the waters of Holston), told them to go up that creek to the head, and cross the Brushy ridge, and they would come upon his, ever since called Dick's River, where they would find meat plenty; "to kill it, and go home."* Deer and bear were plenty.

In the fall of 1771, Mansco† came out again to the same (Wayne County) region in company with James Knox, Henry Knox, Richard Skaggs, Henry Skaggs, Isaac Bledsoe, Abraham Bledsoe, Edward Worthington, Joseph Drake, John Montgomery, ____ Russell, ____ Hughes, Wm. Allen, Wm. Lynch, David Lynch, Christopher Stoph, and others, 22 in all, with several horses. They were so successful in getting skins they could not pack them all back; and as their hunt was prolonged, they built what they called a skin house, at a common center in what is now Green County, upon the Caney Fork of Russell's creek, almost upon the very spot now occupied by a Baptist meetinghouse called Mt. Gilead. Their hunt extended into the barrens of Green River. One of the hunters named Bledsoe wrote on a fallen poplar which had lost its bark, near where Creed Haskins lived until his death in 1851, "2,300 Deer Skins lost; Ruination by God."* Part of the company returned to the settlements in February, 1772, but others remained. Stoph and Allen were captured by Indians, and the camp deserted for a while. The dogs remained at the camp; and when the party came back, after two months absence, had grown quite wild, but in four days were as well tutored as ever. The party fixed a station on Station Camp creek, this circumstance giving the name to the creek which it still retains; in their absence this station was plundered by 25 Cherokee Indians, who carried off all the pots and kettles, clothing, and 500 deer-skins. Joseph Drake (who was hunting again in 1775 around where Bowling Green now is) discovered Drake's Pond, a great resort for deer, and Drake's lick, both named after him; Isaac Bledsoe discovered Bledsoe's lick, and Mansco the celebrated lick named after him. The party returned late in 1772, some of them having been out from home for between two and three years; they have been known ever since as the Long Hunters. Most of them afterwards settled in the new country, Mansco and the Bledsoes in Tennessee, Col. James Knox, Capt. Ed. Worthington, Henry Skaggs, and others, in Kentucky.


Hon. Joshua Fry Bell, in honor of whom this county was named, was born in Danville, Kentucky, November 26, 1811, and died there, August 17, 1870, aged nearly 59. His father was a leading merchant of Danville, a native of Newry, Ireland; his mother, Martha Fry, of Virginia, was the daughter of Joshua Fry, distinguished for his literary attainments and, after his removal to Kentucky, as an educator of many of the great men of the state, and the granddaughter of Dr. Thomas Walker, already spoken of under this county as the first white visitor to the interior of Kentucky (in 1750), and who in 1780 surveyed the boundary line between Kentucky and Tennessee. His great grandfather, Col. John Fry, of Virginia, was commander of the American forces during the Colonial days, previous to the election of Gen. Washington. Joshua F. Bell graduated in 1828, when 16˝ years old, at Centre College, then under the presidency of Rev. John C. Young, D. D.; studied law at Lexington; spent several years in travel in Europe; at 22, returned to Danville, and entered upon the practice of law, obtaining a large and lucrative practice, which he zealously cultivated until ill health prevented, a few months before his death ; was representative in congress for two years, 1845-47; secretary of state under Gov. John J. Crittenden, 1850; made a remarkable race as the opposition candidate for governor, in 1859, being beaten by Gov. Magoffin; was chosen by the Kentucky legislature, by a unanimous vote in the senate and 81 to 5 in the house, one of six commissioners to the Peace Conference at Washington city, February, 1861 (see vol. i, page 86) and there plead most earnestly for "peace between embittered and hating brothers;" March 19,1863, was nominated by the Union Democratic state convention for governor, receiving 627 votes to 171 for acting-governor James F. Robinson (see page 121, vol. i), but, April 24th, declined the nomination, because under them existing circumstances he would be elevated rather by the bayonet, than by the free suffrage of the people. From the beginning of the great civil struggle he was a zealous advocate of the Union, "for the upholding and maintenance of the government, right or wrong." His last service in public life was as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, 1865-6.

Mr. Bell, in politics was emphatically a Whig, of the staunch old Clay stripe; and to the end of his life remained true to those early principles never yielding himself, even for expediency or policy, to the Democracy or to Know-Nothingism; against the latter, his Irish blood, transmitted from his father, rebelled most violently. After the disruption of the old Whig party, the only party with which he united was that, originating after the war was over, called the "Third Party," and formed for what its members believed to be "the good of the state and the people." Even while he co-operated with this, he claimed to be "a thorough Whig still." Mr. Bell was acknowledged to be one of the ablest candidates in the state, a close terse logician, a powerful pleader, joined to a beauty and eloquence as a rhetorician which gained for him the sobriquet of the "silver-tongued." His power of sarcasm was terrible, his wit sparkling, his fund of anecdote and humor inexhaustible, his conversational power remarkable and brilliant. As a ''stump" orator he had few equals even in Kentucky.

In 1836, Mr. Bell married Miss Helm, of Lincoln County, who, with three daughters and a son, survives him. He was an active member of the Presbyterian Church from his youth.

*. Statement of Col. James Knox to Wm. Buckner, while surveying together before 1800, repeated in 1841 by the latter to and written down by John M. S. McCorkle, and by him sent to the author in August, 1871. Also, letters to the author from Dr. Christopher Graham, grandson of Edward Worthington, one of the Long Hunters. R.H.C.
†. Haywood's Tennessee, pp. 78, 79.


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



Be sure to add us to your favorites list and check back often.

This page was last updated Sunday, 24-May-2015 19:11:06 EDT.

Webspace for this site is generously provided by
    and


Information contained on this website may be used for personal genealogical research only and not to be given to pay to view sites or used on any other web site without the express consent of the contributor.

Copyright © 2014~2019 by Paula Franklin & Judy White