AHGP Transcription Project

Fleming County

Fleming county, erected out of Mason, and named in honor of Colonel John Fleming, was the 26th in order of formation in the state, and the first of a batch of 13 counties established in 1798, a year famous for giving birth to counties, as if that were the chief end of legislation. It is situated in the north east middle part of the state, on Licking River; and is bounded north by Mason and Lewis counties, east by Lewis and Carter, south east and south by Rowan and Bath, and west by Nicholas and Robertson. The face of the country is variegated, and the soil as diversified as that of any county in the state; the west portion rolling or undulating, abounding in limestone, and very productive of grasses, hemp, and corn, and a part well adapted for wheat; the east and north east portions hilly or mountainous, with fertile creek bottoms adapted to corn, wheat, clover, and tobacco, and abounding in mineral waters (among them, Phillips' and Fox springs, the latter the most uniformly popular watering place in eastern Kentucky since the civil war). It is well watered by Licking River, Fleming, Fox, and Triplett creeks and their tributaries. Its principal exports are hogs, cattle, mules, horses, hemp, corn, and wheat.

The county and principal town is Flemingsburg, on the Maysville and Mountsterling turnpike, 17 miles south of the Ohio River at Maysville, 6 miles east of the Maysville and Lexington railroad, and 79 miles nearly north east from Frankfort; has a handsome brick court house and clerks' offices, 6 churches, 2 academies, 6 physicians, 13 lawyers, 3 hotels, 1 newspaper (Democrat), 1 bank and 1 banking house, 8 stores, 18 mechanics' shops, and several mills; was incorporated in 1812, and named after the Fleming family; population in 1870, 425, a falling off, if the U. S. census be correct, of 334 since 1850.
Elizaville, 5 miles west of Flemingsburg and 1 mile from Elizaville station on the M. and L. railroad, has 2 fine churches (Presbyterian, and Reformed or Christian), and several business houses and shops; incorporated February 12, 1835; population in 1870, 180.
Tilton, 6 miles south of Flemingsburg; incorporated March 1, 1854; population in 1870, 125.
Sherburne, on the north bank of Licking River, 13 miles south east of Flemingsburg; population 158, in 1870; incorporated February 17, 1847.
Poplar Plains, 5 miles south east of Flemingsburg; incorporated in 1831; population about 250; is one of the prettiest towns in the state.
Hillsborough, 9 miles south east of Flemingsburg; incorporated February 7, 1839; population about 250.
Mount Carmel, 7 miles east of north of Flemingsburg and 15 miles from Maysville; population about 200; incorporated December 21, 1825.
Centerville and Farmville are small places.
Elizaville and Ewing stations, on the M. and L. railroad, are new places, growing rapidly.

Members of the Legislature from Fleming County

Michael Cassidy 1800-06;
Jas. Parks, 1806-10, '10-14, '14-18;
Wm. P. Fleming, 1818, '27-34;
Wm. B. O'Bannon, 1819, 24-27;
Wm. P. Roper, 1820-24;
Daniel Morgan, 1834-43, '50;
Wilson P. Boyd, 1843-50;
John S. Cavan, 1853-57;
Landaff W. Andrews, 1857-61;
Wm. S. Botts, 1863-67;
Jos. M. Alexander, 1867-71.
From Fleming and Nicholas counties, Thos. Throckmorton, 1820-21.

House of Representatives
Wm. Kennan, 1799;
John Finley, 1800, '01, '02, '03;
Robert Andrews, 1800, '01;
John D. Stockton. 1802, '03, '04, '18;
Robert Barnes, 1804, '06, '07;
William P. Roper, 1805, '11;
William G. Lowry, 1805, '13;
George Stockton, Jr., 1806, '07, '08;
Michael Cassidy, 1798, 1808, '09, '17, '20, '22;
Daniel McIntire, 1809, '10;
Cornelius Gooding, 1810, '11;
Benjamin Plummer, 1813;
William P. Fleming, 1814, '16, '17, '19;
David Hart, 1814, '15, '16;
Leaken D. Stockton, 1815;
William B. O'Bannon, 1818, '20, '22;
John Taylor, 1820, '21, '24, '28;
Jas. Crawford, 1821, '22;
Jesse Summers, 1824, '26, '28;
Richard R. Lee, Martin P. Marshall, 1825;
Jus. Secrest, 1826, '27;
Edward H. Powers, 1827;
Jas. H. Jones, 1829;
Wm. Cassidy, 1829, '30;
Benedict H. Hobbs, 1830;
Daniel Morgan, Abraham Megowan, 1831, '32;
Dorsey K. Stockton, John Heddleston, 1833;
Wm. W. Blair, 1834, '35, '38, '48;
Landaff Watson Andrews, 1834, '38, '61-63, resigned Aug. '62;
Robert G. Lewis, 1835, '36, '48, '51-53;
Franklin W. Andrews, 1836, '37;
Abraham Gooding, 1837;
John Botts, 1839;
Henry D. Burgess, 1839, '42;
John H. Botts, Woodson Morgan, 1840;
Geo. W. Forman, 1841;
Wm. S. Botts, 1841, '46, '62-63;
John W. Vaughan, 1842;
Leonard Tally, 1843, '44;
Leander M. Cox, 1843, '45;
Thos. Porter, 1844;
Dixon Clack, 1845;
Wm. M. Phillips, 1846;
John A. Cavan, Wm. R. Pearce, 1847;
Jas. C. Sousley, Ben. Harbeson, 1849:
Edward F. Dulin, 1850;
Alfred F. Graham, 1850, '55-57;
Elisha S. Fitch, 1851-53, '63-55:
Harvey T. Wilson, 1853-55;
Horatio W. Bruce, 1855-57;
George S. Fleming, 1857-59;
Henry B. Dobyns, 1857-59, '59-61;
Wm. Bell, 1863-65;
John M. Gray, 1865-67;
George M. Caywood. 1867-69;
Francis R. Davis, 1869-71;
E. Arnold Robertson, 1871-73;
Stephen R. Campbell, 1873-75.

The First White Visitors to any part of what is now Fleming County were General Wm. Thompson and his surveying party, from Pennsylvania, of whom Colonel Jas. Perry and Jas. Hamilton were also surveyors, and Joshua Archer an assistant. They were certainly in Fleming County before July 26, 1773, and probably as late as November. (See under Mason and Nicholas counties.)

George Stockton, who, in his infancy, had been taken prisoner, together with a sister, by the Indians in Virginia, and carried to New York, there remained until he became so much attached to the Indian manner of living, that the desire to see his friends and family could scarcely overcome his reluctance to part with those whom association had made dear.

After he had grown up, he accompanied his tribe on a trading expedition to Pennsylvania, and there determined to visit his friends in Virginia. A fondness for forest life had so intertwined itself with his very nature that he could ill support the dull uniformity of society, and he soon set out for Kentucky, to enjoy the glorious solitude and freedom of the woods. He settled at Stockton's station, in sight of Flemingsburg, in 1787, and died in 1818.

Robert Stockton and Beacham Rhodes set out from Stockton's station in the winter of 1789, for the purpose of hunting on the waters of Fox's creek and its tributaries, then the favorite resorts of the buffalo, deer, bear, &c. Regarding the season of the year, it was not considered any adventure fraught with great danger, as the Indians rarely visited Kentucky except in the seasons when the necessaries of life were more easily obtained. The hunters pitched their camp upon the bank of Fox's creek, and enjoyed several days of successful hunting and exciting sport. On the night of the 15th February, after a day of unusual excitement and fatigue, the hunters, replenishing their fire, rolled themselves up in their blankets, and stretching themselves (with their two fine dogs) upon the ground, after the manner of the hunters of that day, without other "means and appliances," were soon soundly asleep. About the middle of the night, they were aroused by the simultaneous discharge of two guns. Stockton sprung to his feet only to fall lifeless to the earth. Rhodes, though severely wounded in the hip by two balls from the same gun, succeeded (whilst the dogs made fiercely at the Indians") in crawling beyond the light of the fire. Stationing himself behind a tree, he calmly awaited the re-appearance of the Indians, resolved to sell his life at the cost of one of theirs. The Indians, doubtless, suspecting his purpose, were wise enough to mount the horses of the hunters, and made for the Kentucky River, where one of them was afterwards killed. The Indians not appearing, Rhodes determined, if possible, to conceal himself before day should dawn. With this hope, he crawled into the Creek, and that his trail might not be discovered, kept in the water until about a half a mile from camp he came to a large pile of brush and logs which the creek had drifted. In this he remained secreted (in momentary expectation of hearing the Indians) all day. At night he set out on a painful journey towards home, and on the seventh day after his wound, reached Fleming creek, having crawled a distance of fourteen miles. The creek was considerably swollen, and in his wounded and exhausted state, presented an insuperable barrier to his further progress. Fortunately, however, he was found by another hunter, who aided him in reaching his home. The friends of Stockton, instantly collecting, started for the camp, where they found guarding his body, though so weak from starvation, as to be unable to walk. A circle of torn earth all around the body of Stockton, marked the rage and disappointment of wolves and panthers, and told how watchful and firm had been the protection of the dog. Stockton was buried where he fell, and his grave, marked with a large slab, is yet to be seen in going from Flemingsburg to Carter courthouse, one mile beyond Phillips' springs. The friends of Stockton carried home the dog, and after several weeks, the other dog, which had followed the horses, also returned.

"His faithful dog, in life his firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart was still his master's own,
Who labor'd, fought, lived and breathed for him alone,"

Zadock Williams, whilst working in a tobacco field, in sight of Stockton's station, was shot by an Indian in the year 1790. There were no men in the fort at the time; and the old settlers, to this day, speak with wonder at the efforts of an old negro woman upon a horn, with which she alarmed the residents of a fort five or six miles distant. The Indians, probably terrified at such prodigious blasts, made off.

The three forts or stations in the county, (Stockton's, Cassidy's and Fleming's) had in their service two brothers, named Stuart, whose duty it was (dressed after the Indian fashion) to keep a look out, and give timely notice of the presence of hostile Indians. It was understood by all the settlers, that no one was to fire a gun within hearing of either fort, unless at an Indian. In returning at Cassidy's station in the evening, one of the brothers was overcome by the temptation to shoot a large owl. Michael Cassidy and John Clifford, who were at the fort, supposing the gun to be fired by an Indian, seized their rifles and issued forth into the woods to reconnoiter. They soon observed the two brothers approaching, but owing to the dusk of the evening and their Indian dress, did not recognize them. Old man Cassidy, who was proverbial for his resolution and bravery, pushed on until within gun shot, fired, and one of the brothers fell to the ground. Clifford, in the meantime, was exerting all his ingenuity and stratagem to get a shot at the other brother, until he finally made himself heard. The three then went to the wounded man, and found him with but just enough life to tell Cassidy his death was the result of his own folly in firing his gun within hearing of the fort, forgave him, and expired. The surviving brother afterwards declared, that he was once or twice upon the point of shooting Clifford, to save his own life.

Michael Cassidy, the individual mentioned in the foregoing narrative, was a native of Ireland, whence he immigrated to the United States in his youth. At the breaking out of the revolutionary war, he enlisted and served for several years in the ranks of the army. After leaving the army, he came to Kentucky, and attached himself to Strode's station, in what is now Clark County, and from thence removed to this county, and settled at Cassidy's station. He was remarkably small in stature, little if at all exceeding five feet, and there are many amusing stories told of his contests with Indians, who looked upon him as a boy.

Upon one occasion, while encamped in the woods with two other friends, (Bennett and Spor), three Indians attacked their camp, and killed Bennett and Spor at the first fire. Cassidy sprung to his feet, but was soon overpowered and made prisoner. The Indians, supposing him to be a boy, and proposing to relieve the tedium of the night, selected the smallest of their number to carve him up with a large butcher knife, for their diversion. Cassidy, whose fiery spirit little predisposed him to suffer an unresisting martyrdom, grappled his antagonist, and flung him several times with great violence to the earth, greatly to the amusement of the other Indians, who laughed immoderately at their companion's defeat by one seemingly so disproportioned in strength. The two Indians, finding that it was growing a serious matter, came to the rescue of their companion, and with several strokes of their war clubs, felled Cassidy to the ground. Fortunately, Cassidy fell with his hand upon the knife which his competitor had let fall, and rising, brandished it with such fierceness that the Indians gave back, when he, stepping to one side, darted rapidly into the woods. The darkness of the night enabled him to elude his pursuers until he came to a deep pool of water, overhung by a large sycamore. Under the roots of this tree, up to his neck in the water, he remained concealed until the Indians, flashing their torohes around him in every direction, gave up in despair. He carried to his grave the marks of the Indian clubs, to testify with what good will they were given. Colonel Thomas Jones, who was at the burial of the two men, (Bennett and Spor), yet lives near Flemingsburg.

Upon another occasion, whilst hunting on Cassidy's creek, in what is now Nicholas County, he very unexpectedly found himself in close proximity to a powerful Indian, in a place quite free from timber. Each observed the other at the same time, and both leveled their guns. But Cassidy, to his consternation, found that his pocket handkerchief was tied round the lock of his gun, so as to prevent its being cocked, and he feared to untie it, lest the Indian perceiving it, should fire. They remained pointing their guns at each other in this manner for some time. The Indian not firing, Cassidy suspected that something was the matter with his gun also, and began to take off" his handkerchief, when the Indian fled to a tree. Cassidy followed in full speed, and taking a circuit so as to bring the Indian in view, fired and wounded him in the shoulder. Drawing his knife, he made towards the wounded Indian, in whose gun he now perceived the ramrod. When Cassidy approached, the Indian (lying on the ground) extended his hand, crying "brother!" Cassidy told him he was "a dód mulatto hypocrite, and he shouldn't claim kin with him. Saint Patrick! but he would pummel him well." After a desperate conflict with the Indian, who, though deprived of the use of his right arm, proved no contemptible foe, and whose nakedness afforded no tangible hold, Cassidy succeeded in dispatching him.

Cassidy was in upwards of thirty Indian fights, and such and so many was his 'hair breadth 'scrapes,' that he was commonly said to have a charmed life. He served in the legislature repeatedly, lived respected and died regretted, at his station, in the year 1829.

Colonel John Fleming, after whom Fleming County was called, was born in Virginia; and in company with Major George Stockton, emigrated to Kentucky in the year 1787, descending the Ohio river in a canoe, and settled at Stroud's station. He afterwards removed to Fleming County, and settled Fleming's station in the year 1790, where he remained till his death in the year 1794. The witnesses of his life, like the fabled leaves of the Sybil's prophecy, have been so scattered by the hand of death, that it is impossible to collect the history of any save the following incidents:

Some twenty Indians having stolen horses, and made prisoners of two children near Strode's station, in Clark county, in the year 1791, were pursued by about fifteen whites, and overtaken on a creek, since called Battle run, in Fleming county. A sharp contest ensued, in which the loss was about equal on either side; but the whites, being outnumbered, were forced to give way.

Col. John Fleming, the settler of Fleming's station, was severely wounded in the engagement, and in the retreat, being hotly pursued by an Indian, directed one of the men who was flying past him, to point his gun at the Indian and compel him to tree, until he could reload his gun. The man replied that his gun was not loaded. Fleming quickly remarked, "the Indian don't know that;" where upon the man did as directed, with the effect that Fleming foresaw. Whilst the Indian was intent upon the maneuvers of the man, Fleming succeeded in loading his gun. The pursuit becoming alarming, the man fled. The Indian, supposing Fleming to be too badly wounded to be dangerous, made confidently towards him with uplifted tomahawk. Fleming, supporting his gun upon a log, waited until the Indian came very near, when, firing, he fell headlong almost against the log behind which Fleming was lying.

Fleming's mare, which had broken loose during the fight, came galloping by, recognized the voice of her master, went to him, received him on her back, and carried him gallantly off the field. He reached the large pond near Sharpsburg, where, exhausted from the loss of blood, and burning with thirst, he, with a fellow fugitive, encamped. Such was his fever from his wound, that, to allay his insatiate thirst, he kept his friend constantly engaged throughout the night in bringing water. Next morning, he was sufficiently recovered to resume his way, and arrived safely at the station.

In the family of Major George Stockton was a slave named Ben. Ben was a "regular" Negro, devoted to his master, hated an Indian with an enmity passing Randolph's aversion to sheep, loved to moralize over a dead one, got into a towering rage, and swore "magnificently" when a horse was missing, handled his rifle well, though somewhat foppishly, and hopped and danced and showed his teeth with infinite satisfaction, at the prospect of a chase of the "yaller varmints." His master had every confidence in his resolution and prudence, and in fact Ben was a great favorite with all the hunters, adding much to their stock of fun on dull expeditions.

A party of Indians having stolen horses from some of the upper stations, were pursued by a party of whites, who called at Stockton's station for reinforcements. Ben, among others, gladly volunteered. The Indians were overtaken at Kirk's springs, in Lewis County. The whites dismounting, secured their horses, and advanced to the attack. Only eight or ten Indians could be seen, and they retreated rapidly over the mountain. The whites followed, but in descending the mountain, discovered, from an attempt to out-flank them, that the retreating Indians were but a part of the enemy remaining behind to decoy them into an ambuscade, prepared it the base of the mountain. Various indications plainly showed that the Indians were greatly superior in number, and the whites were ordered to retreat. Ben was told of the order by a man near him, but was so intently engaged, that he did not hear. The man, in a louder tone, warned him of his danger. Ben turned upon him a reproving look, with indescribable grimaces and ludicrous gesticulations, admonishing silence, and springing forward, set off at a furious rate down the mountain. The man, unwilling to leave him, started after, and reached his side in time to see him level his rifle at a huge Indian down the mountain, tiptoe on a log, peering with outstretched neck into the thick woods. Ben's rifle cracked, and the Indian, bounding high in air, fell heavily to the earth. A fierce yell answered this act of daring, and "the Indians, (said Ben) skipped from tree to tree thick as grass-hoppers." Ben, chuckling with huge self-satisfaction, bawled out, "take dat to 'member Benóde 'black white man;" and set off in earnest after his retreating party.

William Kennan
The following interesting incident of a well-known and highly esteemed citizen of Fleming (which occurred after St. Clair's defeat in November, 1791), is related in M'Clung's Sketches of Western Adventure:
The late William Kennan, of Fleming County, at that time a young man of eighteen, was attached to the corps of rangers who accompanied the regular force. He had long been remarkable for strength and activity. In the course of the march from fort Washington, he had repeated opportunities of testing his astonishing powers in that respect, and was universally admitted to be the swiftest runner of the light corps. On the evening preceding the action, his corps had been advanced, as already observed, a few hundred yards in front of the first line of infantry, in order to give seasonable notice of the enemy's approach. Just as day was dawning, he observed about thirty Indians within one hundred yards of the guard fire, advancing cautiously towards the spot where he stood, together with about twenty rangers, the rest being considerably in the rear.

Supposing it to be a mere scouting party, as usual, and not superior in number to the rangers, he sprang forward a few paces in order to shelter himself in a spot of peculiarly rank grass, and firing with a quick aim upon the foremost Indian, he instantly fell flat upon his face, and proceeded with all possible rapidity to reload his gun, not doubting for a moment, but that the rangers would maintain their position, and support him. The Indians, however, rushed forward such overwhelming masses, that the rangers were compelled to fly with precipitation, leaving young Kennan in total ignorance of his danger. Fortunately, the captain of his company had observed him when he threw himself in the grass, and suddenly shouted aloud, "Run Kennan! or you are a dead man!" He instantly sprang to his feet, and beheld Indians within ten feet of him, while his company was already more than one hundred yards in front.

Not a moment was to be lost. He darted off with every muscle strained to its utmost, and was pursued by a dozen of the enemy with loud yells. He at first pressed straight forward to the usual fording place in the creek, which ran between the rangers and the main army, but several Indians who had passed him before he arose from the grass, threw themselves in the way, and completely cut him off from the rest. By the most powerful exertions, he had thrown the whole body of pursuers behind him, with the exception of one young chief, (probably Messhawa), who displayed a swiftness and perseverance equal to his own. In the circuit which Kennan was obliged to take, the race continued for more than four hundred yards. The distance between them was about eighteen feet, which Kennan could not increase nor his adversary diminish. Each, for the time, put his whole soul into the race.

Kennan, as far as he was able, kept his eye upon the motions of his pursuer, lest he should throw the tomahawk, which he held aloft in a menacing attitude, and at length, finding that no other Indian was immediately at hand, he determined to try the mettle of his pursuer in a different manner, and felt for his tomahawk in order to turn at bay. It had escaped from its sheath, however, while he lay in the grass, and his hair had almost lifted the cap from his head, when he saw himself totally disarmed. As he had slackened his pace for a moment the Indian was almost in reach of him, when he recommenced the race, but the idea of being without arms, lent wings to his flight, and for the first time, he saw himself gaining ground. He had watched the motions of his pursuer too closely, however, to pay proper attention to the nature of the ground before him, and he suddenly found himself in front of a large tree which had been blown down, and upon which brush and other impediments lay to the height of eight or nine feet.

The Indian (who heretofore had not uttered the slightest sound) now gave a short quick yell, as if sure of his victim. Kennan had not a moment to deliberate. He must clear the impediment at a leap or perish. Putting his whole soul into the effort, he bounded into the air with a power which astonished himself, and clearing limbs, brush, and everything else, alighted in perfect safety upon the other side. A loud yell of astonishment burst from the band of pursuers, not one of whom had the hardihood to attempt the same feat. Kennan, as may be readily imagined, had no leisure to enjoy his triumph, but dashing into the bed of the creek (upon the banks of which his feat had been performed) where the high banks would shield him from the fire of the enemy, he ran up the stream until a convenient place offered for crossing, and rejoined the rangers in the rear of the encampment, panting from the fatigue of exertions which have seldom been surpassed. No breathing time was allowed him, however. The attack instantly commenced, and as we have already observed, was maintained for three hours, with unabated fury.

When the retreat commenced, Kennan was attached to Major Clarke's battalion, and had the dangerous service of protecting the rear. This corps quickly lost its commander, and was completely disorganized. Kennan was among the hindmost when the flight commenced, but exerting those same powers which had saved dim in the morning, he quickly gained the front, passing several horsemen in the flight. Here he beheld a private in his own company, an intimate acquaintance, lying upon the ground, with his thigh broken, and in tones of the most piercing distress, implored each horseman who hurried by to take him up behind him. As soon as he beheld Kennan coming up on foot, he stretched out his arms and called loud upon him to save him. Notwithstanding the imminent peril of the moment, his friend could not reject so passionate an appeal, but seizing him in his arms, he placed him upon his back, and ran in that manner for several hundred yards. Horseman after horseman passed them, all of whom refused to relieve him of his burden.

At length the enemy was gaining upon him so fast, that Kennan saw their death certain, unless he relinquished his burden. He accordingly told his friend, that he had used every possible exertion to save his life, but in vain; that he must relax his hold around his neck or they would both perish. The unhappy wretch, heedless of every remonstrance, still clung convulsively to his back, and impeded his exertions until the foremost of the enemy (armed with tomahawks alone,) were within twenty yards of them. Kennan then drew his knife from its sheath and cut the fingers of his companion, thus compelling him to relinquish his hold. The unhappy man rolled upon the ground in utter helplessness, and Kennan beheld him tomahawked before he had gone thirty yards. Relieved from his burden, he darted forward with an activity which once more brought him to the van.

The late governor Madison, of Kentucky, who afterwards commanded the corps which defended themselves so honorably at Raisin, a man who united the most amiable temper to the most unconquerable courage, was at that time a subaltern in St. Clair's army, and being a man of infirm constitution, was totally exhausted by the exertions of the morning, and was now sitting down calmly upon a log, awaiting the approach of his enemies. Kennan hastily accosted him, and enquired the cause of his delay. Madison, pointing to a wound which had bled profusely, replied that he was unable to walk further, and had no horse. Kennan instantly ran back to a spot where he had seen an exhausted horse grazing, caught him without difficulty, and having assisted Madison to mount, walked by his side until they were out of danger. Fortunately the pursuit soon ceased, as the plunder of the camp presented irresistible attractions to the enemy. The friendship thus formed between these two young men, endured without interruption through life. Mr. Kennan never entirely recovered from the immense exertions which he was compelled to make during this unfortunate expedition. He settled in Fleming County, and continued for many years a leading member of the Baptist church. He died in 1827.

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

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