AHGP Transcription Project

Greenup County

Greenup County, erected in 1803, out of part of Mason County, and named in honor of Gov. Christopher Greenup, was the 45th formed in the state. Part of its original territory has been taken, in forming Lawrence County in 1821, Carter in 1838, and Boyd in 1860. Until the latter was made, Greenup was the extreme N. E. county of the state; it lies on the waters of the Ohio and Little Sandy rivers; is bounded north by the Ohio River, east by Boyd county, south by Carter, and west by Lewis County; is rich in mineral resources, her iron ore being of a very superior character and the supply inexhaustible, while coal is found in great abundance; there are five blast furnaces in operation, employing a heavy capital and a large number of hands; the water-power of the county is not excelled in the state.

Greenup, the county seat, incorporated, February 4, 1818, as Greenupsburg, and always known by that name until an act of the legislature, March 13, 1872, changed it to Greenup (to prevent further inconvenience from confounding it in the mails with Greensburg, Green County) is 132 miles from Frankfort, 19 miles below Catlettsburg, 13 miles below Ashland, 20 miles above Portsmouth, 72 miles above Maysville, and 133 miles above Cincinnati; is situated on the Ohio River, immediately above the Little Sandy River, on an elevated and beautiful bottom; population in 1870, 507.
Springville, on the Ohio River, in the lower part of Greenup County, and opposite Portsmouth, Ohio, has about 250 population.
Linn, formerly called Liberty, 10 miles south of Springville and 6 miles west of Greenup, was famous in 1846 for the number of shoemakers, and the business done in making shoes.
Riverton, on the Ohio river, 1¼ miles above Greenup, is the terminus on the river of the Eastern Kentucky railroad, which is finished to Grayson, Carter County; population about 50.
Hunnewell, at Hunnewell Furnace, 8 miles south from Riverton, has the machine shops of the railroad, and is a thriving point; population about 400.
Laurel Furnace, is 12 miles south,
Pennsylvania Furnace 6 miles South East,
Raccoon Furnace 6, and
Buffalo Furnace 8 miles south west from Greenup. There are other furnaces, out of blast.

Members of the Legislature from Greenup County, since 1815

Thompson Ward, 1820-26;
John M. McConnell, 1826-30;
Wm. Conner, 1830-34, 42-46;
Wm. G. Carter. 1834-38;
John C. Kouns, 1850;
Henry M. Rust, 1857-61;
Wm. J. Worthington, 1865-69.

House of Representatives
Thompson Ward, 1815, '17, '18, '30;
Francis H. Gaines, 1816, '20;
Thos. T. G. Waring, 1819;
John M. McConnell, 1822, '24, '25;
Wm. Conner, 1826, '27, '47;
John C. Kouns, 1828, '29, '31;
Samuel Seaton, 1832, '33, '45;
John Hollingsworth, 1834, '35;
David Trimble, 1336, '37, '38, '39;
Basil Waring, 1846;
Robinson M. Biggs, 1841;
Joseph D. Collins, 1842, '43;
Jesse Corum, 1844;
Jeff. Evans, 1846;
Jas. W. Davis, 1848;
Richard Jones, 1849, '55-57;
Marcus L. Williams, 1850;
Wm. C. Grier, 1831-53;
Christopher C. Chinn, 1853-55;
Joseph Patton. 1857-59;
Wm. C. Ireland, 1859-63;
Edward F. Dulin, 1863-65;
John D. Russell, 1865-69;
Jas. L. Waring, 1869-73;
Dr. Samuel Ellis, 1873-75.

Greenup County in 1857
Three years before the erection of Boyd County, which took off a large portion of the upper or eastern end, Greenup county bordered 40 miles on the Ohio River, with an average width of 12 miles. The principal crop was corn, with about 75,000 bushels of wheat. Eleven steam furnaces were in operation, manufacturing about 1,800 tons of pig iron per annum each; and 2 more furnaces were out of blast. In the county were 2 iron foundries, 3 steam flouring mills, 4 water saw and grist mills, and 2 fire-brick factories.

Iron Ores
Seven varieties of ore from one neighborhood in this county (which then included Boyd) were analyzed by Prof. Robert Peter, in connection with the state geological survey; five of these were hydrated oxides, and two mixed carbonates of iron and oxides of iron. The ''big block ore" was the richest, yielding 47.69 per cent and the "red ochre" the poorest, containing only 18.62 per cent. Including this last, the average per cent, of iron which the seven ores yielded was 37.60; or, excluding the red ochre ore, 40.56. These required about one-tenth of limestone as a flux. A yellow limestone ore, in the Greenup hills, contains so large a percentage of carbonate of lime that it can be worked by itself, without any limestone as a flux. The richest ore found in the county yielded 60.90, and the poorest 11.35 per cent, of iron. At the furnaces, in 1856, the cost of delivering the ore was from $2.25 to $3 per ton; 200 bushels of charcoal were consumed in making a ton of iron. Dr. Peter ascertained, from chemical analysis of ores from all parts of Greenup County, that they would average it least one-third the weight of iron from the raw ore. "Taking the united thickness of the different beds in a single hill at 5 feet, and the specific gravity of the, ore at 3.— then each acre of land underlaid by these ores is capable of yielding from 6,000 to 7,000 tons of iron, worth in the form of pig iron at least $180,000. The same hills usually contain beds of coal with a united thickness of 5 to 6 feet, which, after deducting for waste and shack, would yield 8,000 to 10,000 tons of coal, worth from $16,000 to $20,000."

Col. Daniel Boone, for a time, just at the close of the last century, was a citizen of Greenup County, living on the bank of the Ohio River, where Riverton now is (the terminus of the Eastern Kentucky railroad), 1¼ miles above the county seat. In March, 1857, old Mr. Warnock, then 79 years old, made oath that in the fall of 1799 he saw Daniel Boone, at a point 1½ miles up Little Sandy River, cut down a tree out of which to make a canoe; and that, soon after, he saw Boone in the canoe when he started for his new home in Missouri. At that time, 1857, it was contemplated to dig up the roots of the tree, to make up into canes.

The First Village in Kentucky, and the only one village within the borders of the state prior to the settlement at Harrodsburg in 1774-75, was in Greenup County, opposite the then mouth of the Scioto River, where in 1805 stood the little village of Alexandria, about a mile below where Portsmouth, Ohio, now stands, built by the Shawnee Indians and some French traders, years before the French war in 1753. It consisted, in 1773, of 19 or 20 log cabins, with clapboard roofs, doors, windows, chimneys, and some cleared ground. There is no evidence of those French traders having ever penetrated into the interior of the state, and the cabins and all vestiges of such a village disappeared before 1800. On July 23, 1765, Col. Croghan, an agent of the British government among the Indians, was here, with two batteaux, at least two white men, and a delegation of Seneca, Shawnee and Delaware Indians, on his way down the Ohio to the mouth of the Wabash River, thence up that river to Vincennes, and on horseback thence to Detroit. In his journal, of this date, he says:
"On the Ohio, just below the mouth of the Scioto, on a high bank, near 40 feet, formerly stood the Shawnesse town called Lower Town, which was all carried away, except 3 or 4 houses, by a great flood in the Scioto. I was in the town at the time. Although the banks of the Ohio were so high, yet the water was 9 feet over the top; which obliged the whole town to take to their canoes, and move with their effects to the hills. The Shawnesse afterwards built their town on the opposite side of the river, which during the French war they abandoned (for fear of the Virginians), and removed to the plains on the Sioto."

Previous to this, on Tuesday, January 29, 1751, Christopher Gist, in a journey "undertaken on the account of the Ohio company," and having as his "old company the above named George Croghan, Andrew Montour, Robert Kallendar, and a servant to carry their provision" reached the mouth of "the Sioto creek, opposite to the Shawane town. Here we fired our guns to alarm the traders, who soon answered and came and ferried us over. The land about the mouth of Sioto creek, is rich but broken, fine bottoms upon the river and creek. The Shawane town is situated on both sides of the Ohio, just below the mouth of Sioto creek, and contains about 300 men. There are about 40 houses on the south side of the river, and on the north side about 100, with a kind of state house of about 90 feet long, with a light cover of bark, in which they hold their councils."†

On June 11, 1773, Capt. Thos. Bullitt and Hancock Taylor, both surveyors, each with a surveying party, bound for the Kentucke "region", and also the "McAfee Company" who had joined them on the Kanawha, were at this place. From the journal of one of the McAfees, the information first above is taken.

The First White Child, born of American parents, west of the Allegheny Mountains, Mrs. Lucy Downs, was a resident of Old Town, Greenup County, for over 40 years. She was the daughter of Jeremiah and Lucy Virgin, born September 17, 1769, in what is now Fayette County, Pennsylvania, near Uniontown, which was then called Beesontown. She removed in 1790, with her parents and brother Brice Virgin, to Limestone, now Maysville, Kentucky, and thence in 1792 to Cincinnati, where she was married September 20, 1800, under a marriage license issued by Gen. Arthur St. Clair, as governor of the territory of the United States north-west of the Ohio. In June, 1845, part of her regular family at Old Town were her daughter, grand-daughter, and great-granddaughter; she then distinctly remembered Gen. Washington's visit to her father's and a neighbor's in 1773, when surveying what was afterwards called Washington's Bottom.

Old Town for many years has been claimed to have been, in early times, an Indian village. Old residents, as far back as 1800, considered it such, from all they could learn, 'tomahawks, flints, pipes, and other articles of Indian wear and use, were once found there in abundance. If it be true that comparatively modern Indians ever dwelt there, as they certainly did on the Ohio River opposite the old mouth of the Scioto, this is the only portion of Kentucky ever inhabited by them; except a part of the land along the Cumberland River, south and west of it, which was once the home of the Shawnees, who afterwards emigrated to the Scioto river valley in Ohio. Kentucky was the middle ground where the Indian tribes of the north and the south met to hunt and to fight.

The Fourth White Child born in Kentucky, Mrs. Ann Poage, wife of Gen. John Poage, was a resident of this county from the spring of 1802 (when there were only six families in what is now Greenup County) until her death, April 24, 1848. She was the daughter of Wm. Pogue, whose family came with Col. Richard Callaway and his family to Boonesborough, in September, 1775. He removed to Harrod's Station, near where Harrodsburg now is, in February, 1776, and there this daughter was born, August 26, 1777. Wm. Pogue was shot by Indians, August 25, 1778, while going from Danville to Lincoln court.

Longevity and Numbers, Mrs. Mary Gray died in Greenup County, Kentucky, November 25, 1872, aged 113 years 8 months and 16 days. Her mother, Mrs. Bonafil, lived to be 100 years old. Her husband, Thomas Gray, was born in 1755 and died in 1819, aged 64 years. Their first born, a son, lived to the age of 90. Four of their children are now living: Mrs. Elizabeth Gray Smith, aged 83; Elias Gray, aged 88; Miss Nancy Gray, aged 73; and Joseph Gray, aged 70. Mary Gray's descendants are: 1st generation, children 13; 2nd generation, grandchildren 65; 3rd generation, great-grandchildren 617; 4th generation, great-great-grandchildren 337; 5th generation, great-great-great grandchildren 44; total 1,076.

* Journal of Col. Geo. Croghan.
† Journal of Christopher Gist.

The accompanying sketch is a modified view of the remarkable works known in the "Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley" as the Portsmouth Group. We have condensed the description given by Prof. C. S. Rafinesque, about 1820, and preserved in the splendid collection of the works of the Pre-Historic Inhabitants of the Ohio Valley.
The beautiful plain at the confluence of the Scioto and Ohio Rivers, where the flourishing city of Portsmouth, Ohio, is located, is the site of a remarkably interesting series of works. They consist of three groups, extending along the Ohio River for 8 miles, and connected by parallel lines of embankments. Two of these groups are on the Kentucky side; the larger and connecting one on the Ohio side. The engraving shows the relative positions and general plan. Many persons have assigned them a military origin, but many others ascribe them to the superstitious notions of the mound-builders. The total length of the parallels traceable in 1820 was about 8 miles, giving to the parallels 16 miles of embankment, and, including the walls of the entire series, a grand total of upwards of 20 miles.

Group A occurs on the Kentucky side of the Ohio, opposite the old mouth of the Scioto, and two miles below the city of Portsmouth. The terrace on which it is situated is some 50 feet higher than the first bottom and extends back to the hills, which at this point are some distance from the river. It is much cut up by ravines, and is quite uneven. The principal work is an exact rectangle, 800 feet square. The walls are about 12 feet high, by 35 or 40 feet of base. At the southern angle is a bastion, which commands the hollow way or ditch between the south-eastern wall and the terrace bank. The wall here is not more than 3 feet high. On the south-western side is a sort of runway, resembling a ditch. The outworks, the most singular feature of this structure, consist of parallel walls, 30 feet apart, and each 2,100 feet long, leading north east and south west, and exactly parallel to the sides of the main work. The parallel to the south west is broken by a deep ravine, 400 or 500 feet wide, near its extremity. On the plain beyond, are two clay mounds; also, a small circle 100 feet in diameter, with walls 2 feet high. The parallel to the North East starts from the center of the main work, and is interrupted by two ravines, the walls running to their very edges.

To the left of this parallel, on a high peninsula or headland, is a singular redoubt. To the left is the bank of the second bottom, 50 feet high and very steep; to the right, the hollow of a small stream with steep banks. The embankment is heavy, and the ditch deep and wide, and interior to the wall. From the bottom of the ditch to the top of the wall is 12 to 15 feet. The enclosed oval area is only 60 feet wide by 110 feet long. It has a gate-way to the N. E., 10 feet wide; outside of which, in the deep forest, is the grave of one of the first settlers. On one side are 3 mounds, each about 6 feet high, already greatly reduced by yearly ploughing. The walls of the main work are so steep as to preclude cultivation, and now form the fence lines of the area, which is 15 acres; the area of the parallels is 10 acres each; total, 35 acres.

Modern Indian Town, Between this work and the river were plainly visible, in 1820, traces of a modern Indian encampment or town, shells, burned stones, fragments of rude pottery, etc., and also some graves. [See proof that this was an Indian town in 1751, 1766, and 1773, on second page before this.] This was a favorite spot with the Indians, for several reasons one, because of its proximity to a noted saline spring or deer lick, known as McArthur's Lick.

Group B also occupies the third terrace, and seems to be the grand center from which the parallel lines radiate. The two crescent or horse-shoe shaped walls, each measuring 80 feet long by 70 feet broad, constitute its first striking feature. The earth around them is much excavated. Enclosing these is a circular wall 5 feet high. The elevation to the right is 18 feet high. A full view of the group may be had from the mound, which is 28 feet high, by 110 feet base, is truncated, and surrounded by a low circumvallation. There are several small circles, measuring from 150 to 250 feet in diameter; also a few mounds.

Portsmouth Group of Ancient Monuments, Greenup County, Kentucky

Group C is on the Kentucky shore, and principally occupies the third terrace, or high level at the base of the hills. This work consists of 4 concentric circles, at irregular intervals; and at right angles is cut by 4 broad avenues. A large mound is in the center, truncated and terraced, and with a graded way leading to its summit. From its level summit, a complete view of the surrounding work is commanded. If this work was connected with the religious rites and ceremonies of the builders, this mound must have afforded a conspicuous place for their observance and celebration.

About a mile west of this are a number of mounds, some of considerable size; and a circular work, D, of exquisite symmetry and proportion. It consists of an embankment of earth 5 feet high by 30 feet base, with an interior ditch 25 feet across by 6 feet deep, enclosing an area 90 feet in diameter, in the center of which rises a mound 8 feet high by 40 feet base. A narrow gateway through the parapet and a causeway over the ditch lead to the enclosed mound.

The walls around the ten acres are constructed of earth—the breadth on top is twelve feet, at bottom thirty, and in height ten feet. The openings are twelve feet wide; the wings about six feet high. The ground within is a level plain, and covered with trees of the largest class—beech, sugar-tree, poplar, &c. The walls are covered with trees also. When or by whom this fortification was constructed, must forever remain a mystery.

Governor Christopher Greenup was born about the year 1750, in the then colony of Virginia. When the American Revolution occurred, he was in the prime of youth. It was not in his nature to see his country engaged in such a struggle, without engaging in it himself. He accordingly devoted his youth to her cause, and was one of the soldiers and heroes of that great conflict; and passed through its scenes of trial and hardship, acting well his part, and winning no small share of that honor which crowned the triumph of the American arms. In the bloody war which took place between the pioneers of the west and the Indian tribes, he also bore a part, and brought into active service against that formidable foe, the skill which he had acquired during the revolution. To the dangers of such a warfare he freely exposed his life, and risked, with a manly and brave heart, all its perils. After thus gaining for himself considerable distinction in arms, he settled in Kentucky, and on the 4th of March, 1783, was sworn in as an attorney at law in the old court for the district of Kentucky, established by an act of the Virginia legislature. On the 18th day of March, 1785, he was appointed the clerk of that court, which office he held during the existence of the court. In 179-3, he was elected a member of Congress, and served as such until the year 1797. After this he filled the office of clerk of the senate of Kentucky to within a short time of his election as governor, which occurred in August, 1804. For four years, he discharged the duties of this office with high honor and credit both to himself and the State over which he presided. At the expiration of his gubernatorial term, he was elected to the legislature from the county of Franklin. In 1813, he acted as a justice of the peace for the same county. He served also many years as a director in the old bank of Kentucky: and, after a long life of public service to his country, he died on the 27th of April, 1818, in the 69th year of his age. Whilst he filled the highest executive office of the State, it may be said of him that no one ever discharged its duties with a more scrupulous regard for the public good. Prompt, assiduous and faithful in the labors which claimed his own, personal attention as governor, he required the same of all who were under his immediate control and influence. In his appointments to office, he always reserved and exercised the right to select those only whom he knew to be qualified, and in whom he himself reposed confidence. In this he was never governed or swayed by the number or character of the petitioning friends of an applicant for office. It was to the man himself he looked, and that, too, through his own and not the eyes of another. His great object in making choice of public officers having been always to promote those only who were the most worthy and the best qualified, it was a source of the highest gratification to him afterwards, to know himself, and to see all convinced, that he had accomplished it. Often has he been heard in conversation to dwell, with pride, on the appointments of men to office, who afterwards proved themselves, by their public services, to have been worthy of them. And it may not be improper to say, that of none did he speak more frequently, and with a prouder satisfaction, than of his appointment of William M'Clung as judge of the Mason circuit court, of Robert Trimble as judge of the court of appeals, and of Robert Alexander as president of the bank of Kentucky. In consequence of Judge M'Clung's connection with a family in Kentucky who were looked upon as leading federalists in the State, his appointment to office WIS at first unpopular. Time, however, convinced the community, as they acknowledged to the governor, that he had appointed a man of the highest integrity, firmness and capacity.

A circumstance occurred while he was in office, calculated to illustrate very forcibly the character of Governor Greenup as a man of high sense of justice, and who felt always the full force of moral obligations in the administration of civil government. Before the resignation of Judge Muter as one of the judges of the court of appeals, it was known that, although a correct and honest man, who performed the duties of his office to the best of his abilities, he had become superannuated; and owing to this fact, he was induced to resign his seat, with a promise that a pension should be allowed him during the remainder of his life, in consideration of his public services. The legislature accordingly passed an act, shortly after his resignation, allowing him a small pension. Sometime after wards, however, an effort was made in the legislature to repeal this act, which ultimately proved successful. Governor Greenup, however, esteeming it an act of injustice, and a breach of the public faith, with a degree of decision and high moral courage worthy of himself and his fame, interposed his constitutional prerogative, and vetoed the bill.

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

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