AHGP Transcription Project

Green County

Green County, the 16th in order of formation, was erected out of parts of Lincoln and Nelson counties in 1792, the last of seven, during the first year of the legislature, and named in honor of Gen. Nathanael Greene. The following counties have been taken entirely from Green, Cumberland in 1798, Adair in 1801, and Taylor in 1848; and the following in part, Pulaski and Barren in 1798, Hart in 1819, and Metcalfe in 1860; from having been one of the largest, it is now one of the smallest counties. It is situated in the middle section of the state, on Green River and some of its tributaries; and is bounded north by Larue and Taylor counties, east by Taylor and Adair, south by Adair and Metcalfe, and west by Hart. The surface of the country is generally undulating, in some places broken and hilly; the soil based on red clay and limestone. Tobacco is the staple product of the County.

Greensburg, the County seat, established in 1794, is on the northern bank of Green River, 90 miles from Frankfort, 26 miles from Lebanon, and 20 miles from Munfordsville: population in 1870, 351; contains a stone court house, built in 1803 by Waller Bullock, of Fayette County, 3 churches (Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist), 2 taverns, and about 15 stores and mechanics' shops; it has been slowly decreasing in population and business.
Somersville, incorporated December 1817, is 6 miles north west of Greensburg.
Oceola, incorporated 1868, is 8 miles from Greensburg and 14 from Munfordsville; population in 1870, 89.
Allendale, Catalpa Grove, in the north west, and Haskinsville, in the South east part of the County, are post offices and small places.

Members of the Legislature from Green County, since 1815

Elias Barbee, 1821-23;
Gen. James Allen, 1824-32;
Wm. T. Willis, 1833-38;
Alfred Anderson, 1839;
Jas. C. Simpson, 1840-44;
Wm. N. Marshall, 1844-48, '50;
Wm. Barnett, 1848-49;
Samuel A. Spencer, 1851-55;
Wm. H. Chelf, 1869-73.

House of Representatives
Richard A. Buckner, 1815, '37, '38;
John Emerson, 1815, '17, '19;
Liberty Green, 1816, '18, '19;
Robert Barrett, 1816, '17, '18;
Samuel Brents, 1820, '21, '24;
Benj. Chisham, 1820;
Wm. Buckner, 1822;
Wm. T. Willis, 1824;
Elias Barbee, 1825, '26, '27;
Samuel White, 1825, '26, '27, '28;
Jas. Durham, 1828, '29;
Wm. B. Allen, 1829;
Jas. W. Barrett, 1830, '31;
Wm. N. Marshall, 1830, '31, '36, '39, 40, '41, '43;
Gen. Jas. Allen, 1832, '35;
Alfred Anderson, 1832, '33, '34, '35, '38;
John P. White, 1833, '36;
Benj. G. Burks, 1834;
Jas. C. Simpson, 1837;
Robert Colvin, 1839;
Aaron Harding, 1840;
Thos. R. Barnett, 1841, '44;
Aylett Buckner, 1842, '43;
Thos. W. Edwards, 1842;
John R. Allen, 1843;
Geo. W. Towles, 1844, '46;
Felix T. Murray, and Wm. Barnett, 1845;
Ignatius Abell, 1846, '47;
Daniel P. White, 1847, '57-59, '59-61;
Fielding Vaughan, 1848, '55-57;
Wm. F. Barret, 1849;
Wm. T. Ward, 1850;
Alfred M. Jones, 1851-53;
Jas. B. Montgomery, 1853-55;
David P. Means, 1861-63;
John B. Carlile, 1863-65;
Wm. S. Hodges, 1865-67;
Thos. H. Moss, 1869-71;
Dr. A. S. Lewis, 1873-75.

Iron Ore
In the western part, on Brush creek, and extending into the counties of Hart and Larue, iron ore is found of excellent quality. Some years ago, several furnaces and forges were in active operation.

The Burning Well, on the north bank of Green River, four miles east of Greensburg. has been an object of curiosity ever since it was dug, by Samuel White, in 1828. When first bored, it discharged great quantities of oil and gas, the coal-oil or rotten-egg odor of which is observable at times at a distance of ten miles. Efforts were made to fill up the well, but, failing to shut off the gas, it was accidentally set on fire. The flames extended from three six feet above the ground, in a volume as large as a hogshead; and burned for months, with little or no diminution. Notwithstanding these and similar indications, all efforts during the oil epidemic, a few years ago, to obtain oil in paying quantities entirely failed.*

Among the ancient fortifications in Green county-some of which have almost disappeared by reason of the constant cultivation of the soil around and over them-the most extensive was on Pittman's creek, at a point called the Narrows, near Pittman's old station, 2 1/2 miles from Greensburg. A bend of the creek at this point includes an area of some 200 acres of land. At the Narrows, or neck of the bend, there was but little more room than a wagon-way, hemmed in on either side by great precipices. The fortifications, three in number, just beyond this neck, enclosed several large trees, which had grown up since their abandonment, and a mound four or five feet high from which human bones were dug at an early day. In the year 1826, Doctor N. H. Arnold cut a channel or canal across this neck, and erected a mill, which is still in operation.

Old Stations
Pittman's station, one of the earliest in the Green River country, was situated upon the top of the cliff, outside of the curve of the creek and about three-fourths of a mile from the fortifications. The station at Greensburg was located upon the very spot, it is said, which is now occupied by the court house. A third station was on Little Barren River, south-west of Greensburg, about ten miles. A fourth, called Shank Painter or Skaggs', was situated six miles north-west of Greensburg, where the village of Somersville stands. About eight miles east of Greensburg, on the road to Columbia, Gray's station was erected about the year 1790. Two miles further east, near the present Mount Gilead meeting house, is a spot famous as the camp, in 1770, of the "Long Hunters," under the lead of Col. James Knox.

The caves in Green county are generally small. That in the edge of Greensburg, with an average height of eight feet and width of ten feet, extends over six hundred yards. More than seventy years ago, in this cave a human skeleton was discovered, in a recess, about which an outer wall of stone had been built by some extinct race. At the extreme limit of the cave is an exhaustless spring of pure water, claimed to be the source of the town spring. Green county abounds in remarkable springs, several of which still furnish ample water-power for mills, and others did so in former years. "The Drip" is the fanciful name of a popular bathing resort, a short distance below Greensburg, where the united waters of three springs fall over a projecting river cliff, like heavy rain, from a height of sixty feet.

Major General Nathanael Greene, for whom this county was named, was born May the 22d, 1742, in the town of Warwick, Rhode Island. His father was an anchor smith, and at the same time a Quaker preacher, whose ignorance, combined with the fanaticism of the times, made him pay little attention to the worldly learning of his children, though he was very careful of their moral and religious instruction. The fondness for knowledge, however, of the young Greene, was such that he devoted all the time he could spare to its acquisition, and employed all his trifling gains in purchasing books. His propensity for the life of a soldier was early evinced by his predilection for works on military subjects. He made considerable proficiency in the exact sciences; and after he had attained his twentieth year, he added a tolerable stock of legal knowledge to his other acquirements. In 1770, he was elected a member of the State legislature, and in 1774 enrolled himself as a private in a company called the Kentish guards. After the battle of Lexington, Rhode Island raised what was termed an army of observation, and chose Greene as commander, with the title of major general. This sudden elevation from the ranks to an important command, may give some idea of the estimation in which his military talents were held. He accepted a commission from Congress as brigadier general, although under the State he held that of major general, preferring the former, as it promised a larger sphere of action, and the pleasure of serving under the immediate command of Washington. When the American army went to New York, the division posted on Long Island was under Greene's command; but at the time of the unfortunate affair with the enemy, he was suffering under severe sickness, and General Sullivan was in command. When he had recovered his health, he joined the retreating army, having been previously raised to the rank of major general, and was appointed to command the troops in New Jersey, destined to watch the movements of a strong detachment of the British, which had been left on Staten island, December 26th, 1776. When Washington surprised the English at Trenton, Greene commanded the left wing of the American forces. In the battle of Brandywine, Greene commanded the vanguard, together with Sullivan, and it became his duty to cover the retreat, in which he fully succeeded. He commanded the left wing of the American forces in the disastrous attempt on Germantown. At the battle of Monmouth, he led the right of the second line, and mainly contributed to the partial success of the Americans. When General Washington, alarmed for the safety of the garrisons on the North river, repaired to West Point, he left Greene in command of the army in New Jersey. On the 23d of June, he was attacked by Clinton, but the enemy were repulsed with loss. October 6th he was appointed to the command of West Point. On the 14th of the same month he was appointed to succeed General Gates in the chief command of the southern army. The ability, prudence and firmness which he here displayed, have caused him to be ranked in the scale of our revolutionary generals, second only to Washington. In this command he continued till the close of the war. When peace released him from his duties, he returned to Rhode Island; and his journey thither, almost at every step, was marked by some private or public testimonial of regard. He died June 19th, 1786, in his forty-fourth year, in consequence of an inflammation of the brain, contracted by exposure to the rays of an intense sun.

"Big Joe Logston"
About the year 1790, an individual, known as "Big Joe Logston," removed from near the source of the north branch of the Potomac to Kentucky, and resided many years in the family of Andrew Barnett, in Greene county. He subsequently removed to Illinois. Big Joe seems to have been a rare chap. Mr. Felix Renick has given some anecdotes of him in the Western Pioneer, in which he says-"No Kentuckian could ever, with greater propriety than he, have said, 'I can out-run, out-hop, out-jump, throw down, drag out, and whip any man in the country.'" The following account is given by Mr. Renick of a desperate fight between Joe and two Indians:
"The Indians made a sudden attack, and all that escaped were driven into a rude fort for preservation, and, though reluctantly, Joe was one. This was a new life to him, and did not at all suit his taste. He soon hecame very restless, and every day insisted on going out with others to hunt up the cattle. Knowing the danger better, or fearing it more, all persisted in their refusal to go with him. To indulge his taste for the woodman's life, he turned out alone, and rode till the after part of the day without finding any cattle. What the Indians had not killed, were scared off. He concluded to return to the fort. Riding along a path which led in, he came to a fine vine of grapes. He turned into the path and rode carelessly along, eating his grapes, and the first intimation he had of danger, was the crack of two rifles, one from each side of the road. One of these balls passed through the paps of his breasts, which, for a male, were remarkably prominent, almost as much so as that of many nurses. The ball just grazed the skin between the paps, but did not injure the breast bone. The other ball struck his horse behind the saddle, and he sunk in his tracks. Thus was Joe eased off his horse in a manner more rare than welcome. Still he was on his feet in an instant, with his rifle in his hands, and might have taken to his heels; and I will venture the opinion, that no Indian could have caught him. That, he said, was not his sort. He had never left a battle ground without leaving his mark, and he was resolved that that should not be the first. The moment the guns fired, one very athletic Indian sprang towards him with tomahawk in hand. His eye was on him, and his gun to his eye, ready, as soon as he approached near enough to make a sure shot, to let him have it. As soon as the Indian discovered this, he jumped behind two pretty large saplings, some small distance apart, neither of which were large enough to cover his body, and to save himself as well as he could, he kept springing from one to the other.
"Joe, knowing he had two enemies on the ground, kept a look out for the other by a quick glance of the eye. He presently discovered him behind a tree loading his gun. The tree was not quite large enough to hide him. When in the act of pushing down his bullet, he exposed pretty fairly his hips. Joe, in the twinkling of an eye, wheeled and let him have his load in the part so exposed. The big Indian then, with a mighty "ugh!" rushed towards him with his raised tomahawk. Here were two warriors met, each determined to conquer or die-each the Goliah of his nation. The Indian had rather the advantage in size of frame, but Joe in weight and muscular strength. The Indian made a halt at the distance of fifteen or twenty feet, and threw his tomahawk with all his force, but Joe had his eye on him, and dodged it. It flew quite out of the reach of either of them. Joe then clubbed his gun, and made at the Indian, thinking to knock him down. The Indian sprang into some brush or saplings, to avoid his blows. The Indian depended entirely on dodging, with the help of the saplings. At length Joe, thinking he had a pretty fair chance, made a side blow with such force, that, missing the dodging Indian, the gun, now reduced to the naked barrel, was drawn quite out of his hands, and flew entirely out of reach. The Indian now gave an exulting "ugh!" and sprang at him with all the savage fury he was master of. Neither of them had a weapon in his hands, and the Indian, seeing Logston bleeding freely, thought he could throw him down and dispatch him. In this he was mistaken. They seized each other, and a desperate struggle ensued. Joe could throw him down, but could not hold him there. The Indian being naked, with his hide oiled, had greatly the advantage in a ground scuffle, and would still slip out of Joe's grasp and rise. After throwing him five or six times, Joe found that, between loss of blood and violent exertions, his wind was leaving him, and that he must change the mode of warfare, or lose his scalp, which he was not yet willing to spare. He threw the Indian again, and without attempting to hold him, jumped from him, and as he rose, aimed a fist blow at his head, which caused him to fall back, and as he would rise, Joe gave him several blows in succession, the Indian rising slower each time. He at length succeeded in giving him a pretty fair blow in the burr of the ear, with all his force, and he fell, as Joe thought, pretty near dead. Joe jumped on him, and thinking he could dispatch him by choking, grasped his neck with his left hand, keeping his right free for contingencies, Joe soon found that the Indian was not so dead as he thought, and that he was making some use of his right arm, which lay across his body, and on casting his eye down, discovered the Indian was making an effort to unsheath a knife which was hanging at his belt The knife was short, and so sunk in the sheath, that it was necessary to force it up by pressing against the point. This the Indian was trying to effect, and with good success. Joe kept his eye on it, and let the Indian work the handle out, when he suddenly grabbed it, jerked it out of the sheath, and sunk it up to the handle into the Indian's breast, who gave a death groan and expired.
"Joe now thought of the other Indian, and not knowing how far he had succeeded in killing or crippling him, sprang to his feet. He found the crippled Indian had crawled some distance towards them, and had propped his broken back against a log and was trying to raise his gun to shoot him, but in attempting to do which he would fall forward and had to push against his gun to raise himself again. Joe seeing that he was safe, concluded that he had fought long enough for healthy exercise that day, and not liking to be killed by a crippled Indian, he made for the fort. He got in about nightfall, and a hard looking case he wasóblood and dirt from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, no horse, no hat, no gun, with an account of the battle that some of his comrades could scarce believe to be much else than one of his big stories, in which he would sometimes indulge. He told them they must go and judge for themselves.
"Next morning a company was made up to go to Joe's battle ground. When they approached it, Joe's accusers became more confirmed, as there was no appearance of dead Indians, and nothing Joe had talked of but the dead horse. They however found a trail as if something had been dragged away. On pursuing it they found the big Indian, at a little distance, beside a log, covered up with leaves. Still pursuing the trail, though not so plain, some hundred yards farther, they found the broken backed Indian, lying on his back with his own knife sticking up to the hilt in his body, just below the breast bone, evidently to show that he had killed himself, and that he had not come to his end by the hand of an enemy. They had a long search before they found the knife with which Joe killed the big Indian. They at last found it forced down into the ground below the surface, apparently by the weight of a person's heel. This had been done by the crippled Indian. The great efforts he must have made, alone, in that condition, show, among thousands of other instances, what Indians are capable of under the greatest extremities."

The concluding paragraph of Mr. Renick's sketch of Logston, must have reference to the frontier of Illinois, and not of Kentucky, as we have the best authority for saying that Joe left Greene county for the then territory of Illinois. The following is the paragraph:
"Some years after the above took place, peace with the Indians was restored. That frontier, like many others, became infested with a gang of outlaws, who commenced stealing horses and committing various depredations. To counteract which, a company of regulators, as they were called, was raised. In a contest between these and the depredators, Big Joe Logston lost his life, which would not be highly esteemed in civil society. But in frontier settlements, which he always occupied, where savages and beasts were to be contested with for the right of soil, the use of such a man is very conspicuous. Without such, the country could never have been cleared of its natural rudeness, so as to admit of the more brilliant and ornamental exercises of arts, sciences and civilization."

Col. Wm. B. Allen was born near Greensburg, Ky., May 19, 1803; educated in the celebrated schools of Rev. John How, of Greensburg, and of Dr. Jas. Priestly, of Nashville, Tenn.; taught school awhile; studied law with Samuel Brents, and began the practice before he was 21; postmaster at Greensburg, 1823-28; representative in Ky. legislature, 1829, and made a speech in favor of a system of common schools; attorney Greensburg branch of Bank of the Commonwealth, 1829; an editor, 1834; clerk Greensburg branch of Bank of Kentucky, 1835-37, and cashier of same, 1837-57; master in chancery for Green county, 1843-45; resumed practice of law, 1858; compiled "The Kentucky Officer's Guide," 400 pp., 8 vo., 1859; county attorney, 1862-70; again master in chancery, 1866-70; was for many years colonel 16th Ky. militia; and for nearly fifty years has been one of the most active and prominent members and officers of the Masonic order in the state. But the crowning act of a long and useful life is his "History of Kentucky," just issued, Nov., 1872, 449 pp., 8 vo.

For sketches of some of the distinguished men of Green county: Rev. John How, D.O., Rev. David Rice, Rev. John H. Brown, D.D., Robert Wickliffe, Col. Wm. Casey, Henry C. Wood; see those names in General Index.

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

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