AHGP Transcription Project


Boyd County


Boyd County, the 107th in order of formation, was organized in 1860, out of parts of Greenup, Carter and Lawrence counties, and named after Hon. Linn Boyd. It is the extreme north east county of the state, bounded north by the Ohio River, east by the Big Sandy River, south by Lawrence, and west by Carter and Greenup counties.

Towns
Catlettsburg, the county seat, on the west bank of the Big Sandy River at its junction with the Ohio, is an important point, commanding the entire trade of the former river; population in 1870, 1,019.
Hampton City, adjoining and south of Catlettsburg, is a small village where the Lexington and Big Sandy railroad bridge is now (January 1873) building over the Big Sandy River.
Ashland, on the Ohio, 5 miles below Catlettsburg, is one of the most thriving manufacturing points in the state, the center of a large iron and coal business over a railroad (formerly the northern division of the Lexington and Big Sandy R. R.) extending 16 miles south east; population in 1870, 1,459, now about 2,000.
Coalton is the southern terminus of the railroad from Ashland;
Gannonsburg, a village 6 miles from Ashland and 6 miles from the county seat; both small.


Members of the Legislature from Boyd County

Senate
Kenos F. Prichard, 1869-73.

House of Representatives
John D. Ross, 1864-65;
John H. Eastham, 1867-69;
Mordecai Williams, 1871-73.

First Visitors
The first white visitor of whom we have a precise account disregarding those who passed down the Ohio River without landing in any part of Boyd County, was the Rev. David Jones, of Freehold, New Jersey,* afterwards a chaplain in the Revolution, in the Indian wars under Gen. Anthony Wayne, and in the war of 1812. One of his companions on his first voyage from Fort Pitt, June 9, 1772, was George Rogers Clark, "a young gentleman from Virginia, who inclined to make a tour in this new world" the first recorded mention of this great military chieftain. They came as far as the Great Kanawha, 51 miles east of the Kentucky line, and explored that stream for 10 miles; then turned back by canoe, 162 miles, up the Ohio, to Grave creek, and traveled through the country to Fort Pitt. On his next trip, leaving his home October 26, 1772, in a covered wagon over the Allegheny mountains, he reached Redstone, on the Monongahela River (now Brownsville), on November 17. At Grave creek. West Virginia, where he had been detained until December 27, he embarked in a canoe, 60 feet long and 3 feet wide, manned by six hands and very deeply laden, belonging to John Irwin, an Indian trader at the Shawanese Town, (now Portsmouth, Ohio,) but then controlled by James Kelly. January 1, 2, 3, 1773, they spent in now Boyd County, at "Great Sandy creek" on the head of which, he was informed, was "the most beautiful and fertile country to be settled that is anywhere in this new Province [i. e. east of the Scioto River] and most agreeable in all respects. Very convenient to this are the most famous salt springs, which are a peculiar favor of God. I have also seen in this country what the people call alum mines, though they rather appear to me as a mixture of vitriol and alum. Throughout this country we have a very great abundance of stone coal, which I have often seen burn freely; the smiths about Redstone use no other sort of coal in their shops, and find that it answers remarkably well. This one article, in process of time, must be of great advantage to this country. Another advantage it enjoys is abundance of limestone, with excellent quarries of freestone, fit to erect the best of buildings."

* Cist's Miscellany, vol. I, pp. 244, 252, 254.

In the summer and fall of 1772, Simon Kenton,* John Strader, and George Yeager were hunting together, along the Ohio River, in the country between the Great Kanawha and Big Sandy Rivers. It is probable, but not certain, that they were at times in what is now Boyd County. In the fall of 1771, they had passed down the Ohio as far as the mouth of Kentucky River, and on their return examined the Little and Big Sandy Rivers for cane lands, but found none. In July, 1773, Simon Kenton, Michael Tyger, and some others from Virginia, made some surveys of land, with "tomahawk improvements," along and near the Ohio River, in now Boyd and Greenup counties. The winter of 1773-4, Simon Kenton, Wm. Grills, Jacob Greathouse, Samuel Cartwright, and Jos. Lock spent around the mouth of Big Sandy, engaged in hunting and trapping. They sold their peltries, in the spring, to a French trader, and as an Indian war appeared inevitable, ascended the Ohio River. The remarkable battle of Point Pleasant, at the mouth of the Great Kanawha River, was fought October 10, 1774. Shortly after Simon Kenton and Thos. Williams came down to the Big Sandy and "thence up that river some distance, formed a camp, and remained during the winter of 1774-5, with good success in hunting."

Indian Attack
In the spring of 1780, as John Fitch, the surveyor, who became famous for his steamboat invention, and others were descending the Ohio in boats, conveying cattle and horses, when at the mouth of Big Sandy they were fired upon by 30 Indians, wounding 2 men, killing 1 cow, and wounding 2 cows and 14 horses.*


Linn Boyd, in honor of whom this county was named, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, Nov. 22, 1800. His educational advantages were limited, but he was a man of great force of character and strong native intellect. In early manhood he removed to southern Kentucky, and soon engaged in politics. He was a representative in the state legislature in 1827, from the counties of Galloway, Graves, Hickman, and McCracken, in 1828 and 1829 from Calloway, and in 1831 from Trigg County. He represented the first district in congress 1835-37, and in 1839 was again elected, serving by regular re-elections until 1855, in all 18 years; during four years of which, Dec. 1851-55, he occupied the distinguished position of speaker of the house of representatives, an honor never conferred oftener or longer in 83 years, except upon Nathaniel Macon, Henry Clay, and Andrew Stevenson. In 1859, he was chosen lieutenant governor upon the Democratic ticket, but when the senate met was too ill to preside over its deliberations, and died at Paducah, December 17, 1859, aged 59. Mr. Boyd was distinguished in politics as a strict constructionist Democrat.


* McDonald's Sketches, Life of Simon Kenton, pp. 202-8.
+ Chas. Whittlesey's Life of John Fitch, Spark's Am. Biog., xvi., p. 105.


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



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