AHGP Transcription Project


Hardin County


Hardin County, the 15th of the counties of Kentucky, was established by the first legislature in 1792, out of part of Nelson County, and named in honor of Col. John Hardin. From its original territory have been formed Ohio county in 1798, Breckinridge in 1799, Grayson in 1810, Daviess in 1815, Meade in 1823, and Larue in 1843, and, in part. Hart in 1819, and Edmonson in 1825. It is situated in the west middle part of the state, on the waters of Salt river; and is bounded N. by the Ohio river and by Bullitt and Meade counties, E. by Bullitt, Nelson and Larue, s. by Larue, Hart and Grayson, and AV. by Breckinridge, Grayson and Meade counties. In the northern and western portions, the land is hilly and thin; in the eastern and southern portions, it is rolling, with rich alluvial soil; and in the center, presents the flat and sandy surface known as "barrens." The staple products are corn and tobacco.

Towns
Elizabethtown, the county seat, is on the southern slope of Muldrow’s Hill, and Severns Valley creek, a branch of Nolin which empties into Green river; 10 miles south west from the Beech and Rolling Forks of Salt river, 42¼ miles from Louisville, and 75 miles from Frankfort. It is a prominent station on the Louisville and Nashville railroad, and the eastern terminus of the Elizabethtown and Paducah railroad; population in 1870, 1,743, and in January, 1873, about 2,000.
Sonora, on the L. & N. R. R., 13 miles south of Elizabethtown; population in 1870, 266.
West Point, on the Ohio River, at the mouth of Salt river, 24 miles from Elizabethtown, and 26 miles below Louisville; population in 1870, 206.
Nolin, Glendale, Upton, Colesburg, and Stevensburg are railroad stations.


Members of the Legislature from Hardin County, since 1815

Senate
Daniel Waide, 1816;
Jas. Crutcher, 1817-22, '24-28;
Christopher Miller, 1822-23;
Armistead H. Churchill, 1832;
George Roberts, 1833-40;
Wm. Conway, 1842-44;
John L. Helm, 1844-48, '65-67;
John Gofer, 1848-50;
James W. Hays, 1850, '73-77;
Samuel Haycraft, 1857-61;
Jacob B. Haydon, 1869-73.

From Hardin, Breckinridge and Ohio counties
John Handly, 1814;

and from Hardin and Meade
John C. Ray, 1828-32;
Jesse Craddock, 1840-42.

House of Representatives
Benj. Shacklett, 1815, '17, '20;
Jas. Crutcher, 1815;
Geo. Helm, Samuel Stephenson, 1816;
Aaron Hart, 1817;
Christopher Miller, 1818, '19;
Adin Coombs, 1818, '31;
John Churchill, 1819;
John H. Geohegan, 1820;
Martin Hardin, 1821, '22, '24;
Squire Larue, 1822;
Isaac C. Chenowith, 1824-25;
John L. Helm, 1826, '27, '30, '33, '34, '35, '36, '37, '39 '42, '43;
George Roberts, 1829, '30, '31;
John Y. Hill, 1832;
John S. Cully, 1832, '33, '43;
Wm. Conway, 1833, '34, '35, '41;
___. Wilson, 1836;
Harrison Hough, 1837;
John Cofer, 1838, '40;
Chas. G. Wintersmith, 1838, '47, '51-55;
Bryan R. Young, 1839, '61-63, '65-67;
Jas. W. Hays, 1840, '44;
Thos. D. Brown, 1841, '44, '45, '46, '47;
George French, 1842;
Claiborne Howell, 1845;
Wm. D. Vertrees, 1846, '48;
Thos. M. Swan, 1848;
Thos. S. Geohegan, 1849;
Jacob B. Haydon, 1849, '53-55;
Robert English, 1850, '59-61;
Randolph G. Hays, 1850;
William T. Samuels, 1851-53;
Robert B. English, Benj. Hardin Helm, 1855-57;
Wilford Lee Harned, 1857-59;
Vene P. Armstrong, 1857-61;
Samuel B. Thomas, 1863-65;
George L. McAfee, 1867-69;
Thos. H. Hays, 1869-71;
J. L. Nail. 1871-73;
Geo. W. F. Strickler, 1873-75.

From Hardin and Meade
Robert Martin, 1825;
Wm. Love, 1826;
John C. Ray, 1827;
John Sewards, Thos. Patton, 1828;
Thos. Chilton, 1832.

Hardin County, as originally formed, was nearly 140 miles long, with an average width of nearly 50 miles. It extended from Salt River and the Rolling Fork, on the east, to Green River, on the west: and from the Ohio River on the north, to a line on the south from the Salt Lick on the Rolling Fork across the hills to Green River.

First Settlers in Hardin County
In the fall and winter of 1780, Capt. Thomas Helm, Col. Andrew Hynes, and Samuel Haycraft settled where Elizabethtown now stands, and built three forts with block-houses, about one mile from each other. The residence of the late Gov. John L. Helm now occupies the site of Capt. Thomas Helm's station; Haycraft's was on the hill above the cave spring; while Hynes' occupied the other angle of the triangle. These were the only settlements, at that early day, between the falls of the Ohio and Green river. The forts or stockades, afterwards called stations, were erected thus; The settlers dug a trench, with spades or hoes or such implements as they could command; in which they set split timbers reaching 10 or 12 feet above the level, enclosing space sufficient for 5, 6, 8 or more dwellings, and a block-house (as a kind of citadel,) with port-holes. This was defense enough against Indian bows and arrows or rifles.

Those who composed the colony which came, in 1780, with Samuel Haycraft, were Jacob Vanmetre, his wife, 3 sons, 7 daughters, and 3 sons-in-law, viz.; Mrs. Margaret (wife of Samuel) Haycraft, Susan and her husband Rev. John (Jerrard, Mary and her husband David Hinton, (the latter was drowned in the Ohio river, on the way,) Jacob Vanmetre, Jr., Isaac, John, Rebecca, Rachel, Ailsey, and Elizabeth; also, a family of slaves. Most of them opened farms in the Severns' valley. Judge Thos. Helm, also, had quite a family of children and blacks. Other men with their families. Col. Nicholas Miller, Judge John Vertrees, Miles Hart, Thomas, Brown, Shaw, Dye, Freeman, Swank, and others followed. Among the earliest settlers of Elizabethtown was Christopher Bush, of German descent, who reared a large family of sons and daughters. Of the latter, one married Thomas Lincoln, an excellent carpenter and joiner, father of the late ex-President Abraham Lincoln, who was the son of a former wife. She was an excellent woman, and upon her devolved the principal care of rearing and educating the future President.

A Boy Pioneer
On Christmas day, 1780, Benjamin Helm, then a mere boy of 14, son of Capt. Thomas Helm, walked barefooted to the falls (now Louisville) for salt or meal.

First Court
On the 23rd July, 1793, the county court held its first term at the house of Isaac Hynes, who produced a commission and qualified as the first sheriff. John Paul was made clerk and also coroner, Samuel Haycraft assessor, and Ben. Helm surveyor. At the October term, viewers were appointed to lay off roads from the place of building the court house (as yet it had no name) to Pierrepont's mill, to Hodgen's mill, to the Burnt Lick on Rolling Fork, to Salt Lick, and to the crossing of Meeting creek on the way to Hartford.

Col. Andrew Hynes, in 1703, laid out 30 acres of land as a place to erect the public buildings, and called it Elizabethtown in honor of his wife's Christian name. The settlers on Nolin were dissatisfied with this location, and for about ten years a very bitter controversy was kept up between the people of the two settlements, resulting in many hard words and harder fist-fights. The first court house was built of yellow poplar logs, in August, 1795, John Crutcher contractor, the price about $220; the second court house of brick, was not finished until December, 1806, two years and eight months from the time it was let to James Perceful; it still stands, a monument of the enterprise of seventy years ago and of the eloquence of former days, but is no longer a model of architectural elegance and convenience.

Other Towns
Besides the court house, there were three towns in the county: Vienna, at the falls of Green river, Hartford, and Hardin's settlement or station (Hardinsburg).

Hardin's Station was founded by Wm. Hardin, who on account of his almost giant size and weight was known, and a terror, to the Indians, far and near, as " Big Bill;" they were accordingly intensely anxious to secure his scalp. One morning early, at his door preparing for a hunt, he fired off his gun and began to wipe it out; just then an Indian stepped from behind the chimney, aimed his gun, and with an exulting taunt exclaimed "Hooh, Big Bill" a fatal pause, for Hardin with his own knocked off the Indian's gun, and clubbed his brains out instantly.

Indian Fight
Col. Nicholas Miller, young Dan Vertrees, and others, one day in eager pursuit of a band of marauding Indians, came suddenly upon them and engaged in a desperate fight. At the first fire, Vertrees fell; another of the party was seized by a stout Indian, who wrenched his gun out of his hand, and was in the act of cleaving his skull with his tomahawk, when Miller, by a movement quick and terrible as lightning, killed the Indian; the rest fled in dismay, abandoning their dead.

Another Fight
In March, 1794, a party of Indians made an incursion into Hardin County, and stole a number of horses. They were pursued, over-taken, and dispersed, and the horses recovered. Capt. Wm. Hardin was wounded in the skirmish.

Second Baptist Church in Kentucky
June 17, 1781, under the shade of a sugar tree near Hynes' station, a Baptist church with 18 members was constituted by Rev. Wm. Taylor and Rev. Joseph Barnett. Rev. John Gerrard was installed as first pastor; his pastorate was of short duration, for in March, 1782, he was captured by Indians and never heard of afterwards. All the members and the preacher emigrated from Virginia. This was the second Baptist church organized in the district of Kentucky, and is now the oldest in the state. They then had no house of worship; in summer they worshipped in the open air, in winter met around in their log-cabin homes, with dirt floors, as there were no saw-mills, and no planks could be had for flooring, except that a few cabins had puncheon floors made of split timber. The men dressed in pioneer homespun; leathern leggins and moccasins on their feet and legs; hats, made of splinters rolled in buffalo wool, and sewed together with deer sinews or buckskin whang; shirts, and hunting shirts, of buckskin. A few dressed in full Indian costume, wore nothing whatever but breech-clouts. The females wore a coarse cloth made of buffalo wool; underwear of dressed doeskin; sun-bonnets something like the men's hats; moccasins in winter, but in summer all went barefooted. For many years they never met for worship without the men carrying their trusty rifles, and a sentinel kept watch outside.

Christopher Miller, of Hardin County, Kentucky, was taken prisoner by the Indians in 1783, when about 15 years of age; and remained a prisoner among them for eleven years. In 1794, he was taken from them by the spies of Gen. Wayne, and immediately entered the service as one of his spies, going into the environs of the Indian towns, taking prisoners from them, and bringing them to Gen. Wayne. It became necessary to send another flag to the enemy, several having been sent and none returned. The eyes of the board of officers were turned to Miller. He was applied to by Gen. Wayne, with the earnest assurance that if he would undertake the task and should succeed, he should receive from his government an independent fortune. The agreement was made, the ambassador set out on his perilous journey, the anxious eyes of the officers and army followed him, but with scarcely a gleam of hope that he would ever return. Two years before, Col. John Hardin and Maj. Truman had gone upon a like errand of peace, but never returned, their lives paying the forfeit of an honorable but misplaced confidence. But Miller performed his undertaking, effected the object of his mission, and on the fourth day returned in safety. Peace was concluded, and the shedding of innocent blood by a merciless foe thereby ended for years. Time wore on, Gen. Wayne died, Miller was forgotten. Once he appealed to congress, but for want of proof of his extraordinary services no allowance was made. On January 13, 1819, a quarter of a century after the services had been cheerfully and successfully rendered, and when he himself was the sitting representative from Hardin County, the Kentucky legislature unanimously adopted a resolution setting forth the facts above, as within the personal knowledge of several members of that body, and appealing to congress to make a liberal provision for Christopher Miller "to whom they conceive the general government is greatly indebted, not only upon the principle of rewarding real merit, but on the score of justice, founded on a promise made by a m.an on the part of the United States, on whose promise Miller had a right to rely."

In June, 1794, from his headquarters at Port Greenville, (now in Darke county,) Ohio, Gen. Wayne dispatched a company of spies (Capt. Wm. Wells, Robert McClellan, Henry Miller, and three others, May, Hickman, and Harpe Thorpe) with orders to bring into camp an Indian as a prisoner, to be interrogated as to the intentions of the enemy. Of these men, Capt. Wells and Henry Miller had been raised among the Indians, having been captured in youth and adopted. With the latter was captured his younger brother, Christopher Miller, who still remained with them. Pressing forward cautiously into the Indian country upon their singular errand, they at length found a camp, on the Auglaize River, of three Indians, on a high open piece of ground, clear of underwood. The only shelter within reach was a large tree, lately fallen, the top full of leaves. Going around the camp to its rear, they went forward upon their hands and knees, sheltered by the tree-top, until within eighty yards of their object. The Indians were busy roasting meat, and laughing and making merry antics, innocent of danger. McClellan who was almost as swift as a deer, it was arranged, was to capture one Indian, while Wells and Miller should kill the other two. With the fallen tree for rest, the aim was sure, and two victims fell. Right through the smoke of the powder, tomahawk in hand, rushed McClellan, at full speed, after the remaining Indian, who fled for life down the river bank; then turned suddenly, and sprang off the bluff, into the water to cross over. The river bottom was of soft mud, and he sank to his middle. Before he could extricate himself, McClellan was upon him, threatening to kill him unless he threw down his knife and surrendered. Life was still dear, and there was hope of escape from captivity. Dragging the captive from the mire, they washed off the mud and paint, and found him a white man. He refused to speak, or give any account of himself. Scalping the dead Indians, the party tied their prisoner on a horse and set out for headquarters. Henry Miller rode alongside, and in the Indian language tried, without success, to engage him in conversation. At last, it flashed across his mind that it might be his long-lost brother, and he called him by his Indian name. The sound startled him, and with a surprised and eager look he inquired how he came to know his name. There was mystery no longer, they were brothers. A merciful providence had spared him, while his Indian companions were slain. Arrived at the fort, he was placed in the guard-house a prisoner, still refusing to relinquish the only mode of life and change the only association of which he knew anything; in tastes and habits, he was an Indian still. Days elapsed before he gave up his sulkiness and reserve, and talked with any freedom. At length, on condition of release, he agreed to give up his Indian life, and join Wayne's army. Christopher Miller kept his faith, and became as trusty as his brother in his new relation. From this grew the idea of the important peace mission on which he was sent by Gen. Wayne, as narrated above.

When Abraham Lincoln was a boy eight or ten years of age, his stepmother, Mrs. Sallie Bush Lincoln, brought him with her, when shopping, at the store of Helm & Green, in Elizabethtown, where she had contracted to "take out" part of the purchase money for her interest in her father's farm, bought by Maj. Ben. Helm. John B. Helm, a nephew and clerk of Maj. Helm, showed little Abe some kindnesses which he appreciated. In 1860, Mr. Helm, then a judge, residing in Hannibal, Missouri, was called upon by Mr. Lincoln, who was then a candidate for the presidency and returning from a business trip to Kansas. After some inquiries for identification, for 40 years had wrought change in both, Lincoln thus introduced Judge Helm to his traveling companions: "Gentlemen, here is the first man I ever knew who wore store clothes all the week: he is the same man who fed me on maple sugar, when a small boy, as I sat upon a nail keg in his uncle's store;" and then minutely related the whole circumstance. Lincoln had a remarkably retentive memory, and never forgot a kindness. Although they differed in politics, yet after he became president, few men's recommendations or suggestions were regarded with more consideration than Judge Helm's. [In 1840, he was the candidate of the Democratic Party for lieutenant governor of Kentucky, on the same ticket with Judge Richard French; they were defeated by Robert P. Letcher and Manlius V. Thompson.]

The late President James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, was for a short time in 1813 a resident of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. His father had purchased some land near there as an investment, offered to give it to his son, and recommended him to settle in the new "land of promise," and grow up with it. At the first term of court after his arrival, among other visiting lawyers was Ben Hardin, dressed in a suit of unbleached tow-linen, its clumsy fit helping to give the wearer quite a clownish appearance. Buchanan was surprised to see him take a seat among the lawyers. On the third day of the term a case was called, in which the pleadings were very intricate and after the strictest English forms before the days of Chitty. His wonder grew that such a looking man as Hardin had the depth and grasp to grapple with such a case; but when he heard him argue it with a clearness, and tact, and power that evinced a master-spirit, he retired from the court house and prepared to abandon his new home, remarking to himself that if such looking men as Ben Hardin were so smart in Kentucky, there was a better opening for him in his old Pennsylvania home. They met in congress in 1821-23, and both lived to advanced age, Buchanan reaching a degree of continuous political preferment never equaled by more than half-a-dozen Americans. Yet he never ceased to remember his first contact with the always-rough diamond at the Hardin County bar. He told Mr. Hardin that he went to Kentucky expecting to be a great man there, but every lawyer he came in contact with was his equal, and half of them his superiors; and so he gave it up.

The First Teacher
Ichabod Radley, at Hardin's settlement, was the first teacher in Hardin County. He numbered among his pupils some who afterwards became quite distinguished, Ben Hardin, Robert Wickliffe, Chas. A. Wickliffe, Samuel Haycraft, and others. The second school teacher was a lame gentleman, John Pirtle, father of the late chancellor Henry Pirtle, of Louisville.

The First Mill built was by Samuel Haycraft.

The First Brick House was begun in 1801 and finished in 1803 for Benj. Helm; who himself rode on horseback to Lexington, 90 miles, for the (wrought) shingle nails used, (30 pounds at a cost of 37½ cents per pound,) and carried them home in his saddlebags. The planks were sawed at water-mills or by the whip-saw. The next brick building erected was the present court house, in 1804-06.

Early Merchants of Elizabethtown
Among these were two who, in other fields, became distinguished: John James Audubon (of the firm of Audubon & Frazier), the greatest ornithologist in the world; and Gen. Duff Green, a prominent, perhaps the most prominent and influential, member of what was familiarly called President Jackson's "Kitchen Cabinet." He was a native of Cumberland County, Kentucky, but came to Elizabethtown about 1811, taught school a year or two, volunteered and fought gallantly in the war of 1812, and was a merchant until he went to Washington city in 1817, was appointed surveyor of public lands in Missouri, some years after was printer to congress, editor, etc.; a remarkable man. During his residence at Washington, he visited London, and "on his own hook" had an interview with a portion of the British Cabinet, and suggested to them many items of international policy; it is not known whether they adopted them or not.

Major Ben Helm, the mercantile partner of Duff Green, was born May 8, 1767, in Fairfax County, Virginia; came to the Falls of the Ohio with his father, Capt. Thos. Helm, in the fall of 1779, and to Elizabethtown in the spring of 1780; was clerk of the Hardin courts from 1800 to 1817, a soldier in the war of 1812, filled many positions of honor and trust, and died Feb. 24, 1858, aged nearly 91. His widow, Mrs. Mary Helm, died in 1871, aged 94.

The Jailor of Hardin County, in 1806 to 1808, and probably to 1812, was Rev. Benj. Ogden, a Methodist preacher, a chair maker, and a good worker in wood. In 1803 or 1804 he taught school in Elizabethtown, was a good man and a fair preacher.

The Cold Plague, in March, 1814, raged with great fatality and far greater consternation in Nelson, Hardin, Grayson, and other counties. "The doctors found it a new type, and could not manage it. Those attacked were seized with a chilly sensation. It made rapid work, and the freezing sensation increased, until the patient lost all feeling of warmth, and literally froze to death."

Samuel Haycraft, sen., one of the very first settlers in this region, was born in Virginia September 11, 1752, died Oct. 15, 1823, aged 71; built a station and settled in Hardin County in the spring of 1780; was sheriff of the county; March, 1802, one of the judges of the court of quarter sessions; April 18, 1803, one of the assistant judges who organized the first circuit court at Elizabethtown; representative in the legislature; farmer; an honored and a useful citizen.

Old "Gen. Braddock," a Negro man belonging to the Vanmetre family and who was brought out by them in 1779, took his rifle and went a campaign against the Indians; he reported, on his return, that he had killed nine.

Jacob Vanmetre, Jr., at the time of his father's death, procured a sand rock and cut out a tombstone for the grave, the lettering on which is still distinct: "Here lies the body of Jacob Vanmetre died in the 76 yare of his age November the 16, 1798."

Newspapers
The first established in Elizabethtown was the Western Intelligencer, in 1826, John E. Hardin, editor, Milton Gregg, publisher. In 1828, Jacob Eliot established the Kentucky Statesman. In 1834, his brother, Stephen Eliot, established the Kentucky Register, which was still published in April, 1847. C. G. Smith and Geo. W. Parker published the Elizabethtown Intelligencer, which they sold in 1857 to T. J. Phillips, who established in its place the Elizabethtown Democrat, the second Democratic paper ever published in Hardin County, the first having been published many years before by Chas. Hutchings. In 1860, M. H. Cofer became editor of the Democrat, and published it until shortly before he went into the Confederate army. K. B. B. Wood, in 1862, published a small paper, of the same name, Democrat. In 1865, he and Frank D. Moffitt started the Elizabethtown Banner. In 18__, the Kentucky Telegraph was started by Mr. Barbour, and for a short period was published daily. The Elizabethtown Newswas established in August, 1869, Wm. F. Bell and J. W. Mathis, editors, and is still published. From the interesting "History of Elizabethtown and its Surroundings," by the venerable Samuel Haycraft, published in numbers in the Elizabethtown News, we have condensed a considerable portion of the foregoing historical matter, obtaining the remainder from other sources. As a fitting close to a long and useful life, and a valuable addition to the local history of the state, we trust Mr. Haycraft will soon publish it in permanent book form.

The Greatest Flood ever known in many parts of the state, occurred May 31, 1871. In Hardin county, Valley creek was higher than ever known, except in 1826; the track and platform of the Elizabethtown and Paducah railroad were covered with water, to the depth of several feet; a large portion of Elizabethtown was overflown, 3 to 10 feet, and much damage done in the country.

John Larue Helm, 18th (acting) governor and 25th governor, was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, July 4, 1802, and died in the same county, September 8, 1867, only five days after his second inauguration as governor of Kentucky. While yet a lad he began writing in the circuit clerk's office, and attracted the attention of the celebrated Duff Green, who directed his studies. At 21 he was admitted to the bar; was county attorney; in 1826, one month after attaining the legal age, was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives from Hardin County, and re-elected in 1827, 1830, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1839, 1842, and 1843 (11 years), and to the senate (6 years), in 1844-48 and 186.5-69, but resigned in 1867 to run for governor; presided over the house and senate for seven years (being oftener and longer than any man since the foundation of the state, except Alex Scott Bullitt, twelve years) being speaker of the house in 1835, 1836, 1839, 1842, and 1843, and speaker of the senate (as lieutenant governor) in 1848 and 1849; was beaten for congress in 1838 by Willis Green; was elected lieutenant governor in 1848, on the Whig ticket, and on the resignation of Gov. John J. Crittenden to become U. S. attorney general, became governor of Kentucky, 1850-52; in 1854, became president of the Louisville and Nashville railroad, and by dauntless energy completed that great work while most other similar works were suspended, and retired to private life; during the civil war, bitterly opposed the policy of Mr. Lincoln's administration, sympathized with the South, and gave to the cause his son, Ben. Hardin Helm, who rose to be brigadier general and was killed, Sept 20, 1863, at Chickamauga; in 1867, became the Democratic candidate for governor, and was elected (receiving 90,225 votes, Colonel Sidney M. Barnes, Radical, 33,939, and Judge Wm. B. Kinkead, 3rd party or Conservative, 13,167); and because too sick to go to Frankfort, was inaugurated at his residence in Elizabethtown, September 3, 1867, where he died September 8th.

About the year 1781, a band of Indians came into Hardin County, and alter committing numerous depredations and killing some women and children, were pursued by the whites. During the pursuit a portion of the Indians, who were on stolen horses, took a southerly direction so as to strike the Ohio about where Brandenburg is now situated; while the other party, who were on foot, attempted to cross the Ohio at the mouth of Salt River. The whites pursued each party, the larger portion following the trail of the horses, the smaller the foot party. Among the latter was the hero of this sketch, Peter Kennedy. Young Kennedy was noted for his fleetness of foot, strength of body and wary daring. He was selected as their leader. They pursued the Indians to within a mile of the river, the Indians awaiting them in ambush. The Indians were ten in number, the whites six. As they were led on by their daring leader in an effort to overtake them before they could reach the river, all of his comrades were shot down, and he was left to contend single handed with ten fierce and savage Indians. This was an odds calculated to make the bravest tremble; but young Kennedy was determined to sell his life as dearly as possible. With one bound he reached a tree, and awaited his opportunity to wreak vengeance upon the savage foe. The savages, with their usual wariness, kept their cover; but at last one, more impatient than the remainder, showed his head from behind a tree. As quick as thought, Kennedy buried a rifle ball in his forehead, and instantly turned to flee; but no sooner did he abandon his cover, than nine deadly rifles were levelled at him and instantly fired, and with the fire a simultaneous whoop of triumph, for the brave Kennedy fell, pierced through the right hip with a ball. Disabled by the wound, and unable to make further resistance, he was taken prisoner and immediately borne off to the Wabash, where the tribe of the victorious party belonged.

The wound of Kennedy was severe, and the pain which he suffered from it, was greatly aggravated by the rapid movement of the Indians. The arrival of the party was hailed with the usual demonstrations of Indian triumph, but Kennedy, owing to his feeble and suffering condition, was treated with kindness. His wound gradually healed, and as he again found himself a well man, he felt an irrepressible desire for freedom. He determined to make his escape, but how to effect it was the question. In this state of suspense, he remained for two years; well knowing that, however kindly the Indians might treat a prisoner when first captured, an unsuccessful attempt to escape would be followed by the infliction of death, and that, too, by the stake. But still Kennedy was willing to run this risk, to regain that most inestimable of gifts, freedom. The vigilance of the Indians ultimately relaxed, and Kennedy seized the opportunity, and made good his escape to this side of the Ohio.

Hitherto Kennedy had rapidly pressed forward without rest or nourishment, for he knew the character of the savages, and anticipated a rapid pursuit. Hungry and exhausted, he was tempted to shoot a deer which crossed his path, from which he cut a steak, cooked it, and had nearly completed his meal, when he heard the shrill crack of an Indian rifle, and felt that he was again wounded, but fortunately not disabled. He grasped his gun and bounded forward in the direction of Goodin's station, distant nearly thirty miles. Fortunately, he was acquainted with the localities, which aided him greatly in his flight. The chase soon became intensely exciting. The fierce whoop of the Indians was met with a shout of defiance from Kennedy. For a few minutes at the outset of the chase, the Indians appeared to gain on him; but he redoubled his efforts, and gradually widened the distance between the pursuers and himself. But there was no abatement of effort on either side, both the pursuers and pursued put forward all their energies. The yell of the savages as the distance widened, became fainter and fainter, Kennedy had descended in safety the tall cliff on the Rolling fork, and found himself, as the Indians reached the summit, a mile in advance. Here the loud yell of the savages reverberated along the valleys of that stream, but so far from damping, infused new energy into the flight of Kennedy. The race continued, Kennedy still widening the distance, to within a short distance of Goodin's station, when the Indians, in despair, gave up the chase. Kennedy arrived safely at the station, but in an exhausted state. His tale was soon told. The men in the station instantly grasped their rifles, and under the direction of Kennedy, sallied forth to encounter the savages. The scene was now changed. The pursuers became the pursued. The Indians, exhausted by their long continued chase, were speedily overtaken, and nut one returned to their tribe to tell of the fruitless pursuit of Kennedy! Kennedy lived in Hardin to a very old age, and left a numerous and clever progeny.

About the middle of September, 1782, a roving band of Indians made their appearance in Hardin County, and committed several depredations. Silas Hart, whose keen penetration and skill as an Indian fighter, had extorted from them the name of Sharp-Eye, with other settlers, pursued them; and in the pursuit, Hart shot their chief, while several others of the party were also killed. Only two of the Indians made good their escape. These conveyed to the tribe the intelligence of the chieftain's death. Vengeance was denounced by them against Sharp-Eye and his family, for the death of the fallen chief, and speedily did the execution follow the threat! A short time thereafter, a band of Indians, led by a brother of the slain chieftain, secretly and silently made their way into the neighborhood of Elizabethtown, where they emerged from their hiding places, and commenced their outrages. The neighborhood was instantly aroused, and Hart, always ready to assist in repelling the savage foe, was the first upon their trail. The whites followed in rapid pursuit for a whole day, but were unable to overtake them. As soon as they had turned towards their homes, the Indians, who must have closely watched their movements, turned upon their trail, and followed them back to the settlements. Hart arrived at his home (five miles from Elizabethtown) about dark in the evening, and slept soundly through the night, for he had no apprehension of further Indian depredations. On the succeeding morning, just as the family were seating themselves to partake of their frugal meal, the band of Indians, who had been prowling round the house all night, suddenly appeared at the door, and the brother of the fallen chief shot Hart dead! The son of Hart, a brave youth only twelve years old, the instant he saw his father fall, grasped his rifle, and before the savage could enter the door, sent a ball through his heart, thus avenging, almost as quick as thought, a beloved parent's death. The Indians then rushed to the door in a body, but the first who entered the threshold, had the hunting knife of the gallant boy plunged to the hilt in his breast, and fell by the side of his leader. A contest so unequal, could not, however, be maintained. The youth, with his mother and sister, were overpowered and hurried off to the Wabash as captives. The sister, from the feebleness of her constitution, was unable to bear the fatigue of a forced march, and the Indians dispatched her after proceeding a few miles. The mother and son were intended for a more painful and revolting death.

Upon the arrival of the party at the Wabash towns, preparations were made for the sacrifice, but an influential squaw, in pity for the tender years, and in admiration of the heroism of the youth, interposed and saved his life. The mother was also saved from the stake, by the interposition of a chief, who desired to make her his wife. The mother and son were ultimately redeemed by traders, and returned to their desolate home. Mrs. Hart (who has often been heard to declare, that she would have preferred the stake to a union with the Indian chief) subsequently married a man named Countryman, and lived in Hardin to a very advanced age, and died about the year 1840. Young Hart also lived to old age, in Missouri.

In the year 1790, Mr. Frederick Bough arrived in Kentucky, and being on the 13th of October in that year, in company with a young man of his acquaintance, near Jacob Vanmeter's fort, in Hardin County, fell in with a party of Indians. As they approached, he observed to his companion that he thought he saw an Indian; but the young man ridiculed the idea, and coolly replying, "You are a fool for having such thoughts," kept on his way. They soon discovered a party of Indians within ten yards of them. The young man, exclaiming, "Good God! There they are!" fled with the utmost precipitation, but taking the direction from the fort, was soon caught by one of the savages, and barbarously killed. Mr. Bough, in running towards the fort, was fired at by the whole party in pursuit, which consisted of four, and was hit by three of them. One bail struck him the left arm, another on the right thigh, and the third, passing through his waistcoat and shirt, grazed the skin of his left side. He was still, however, able to run, but, in attempting to cross a creek on his way to the fort, he stuck in the mud, when one of the Indians caught him, pulled him out, and felt of his arm see if it was broken. Finding it was not, he pulled out a strap with a loop at the end, for the purpose of confining Mr. Bough; but he, suddenly jerking away his hand, gave the savage a blow on the side of the head, which knocked him down By this time two other Indians came up, the fourth having gone in pursuit of the horses. Mr. Bough kicked at the one he had knocked down, but missed him. Just at that moment one of the other Indians aimed a blow at his head with a tomahawk, but in his eagerness struck too far over, and hit only with the handle, which, however, nearly felled Mr. Bough to the ground; but he, instantly recovering himself, struck at the tomahawk and knocked it out of his antagonist's hand. They both grasped at it, but the Indian being quickest, picked it up, and entered into conversation with his companion. The latter then struck Mr. Bough with a stick, and as he stepped forward to return the blow, they all retreated, (probably fearing an attack by a party from the fort), and suddenly went off, leaving one of their blankets and a kettle, which Mr. Bough took with him to the fort. [The foregoing particulars were communicated to the editor of the Western Review, in 1821, by Mr. Bough himself, then residing in Bath County.]


Colonel John Hardin was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, October 1st, 1753. His parents were poor, and compelled to labor for their livelihood. Martin Hardin, the father, removed from Fauquier County to George's creek, on the Monongahela, when John was about twelve years of age. He had already learned the use of the rifle. The new settlement was quite a frontier. Old Mr. Hardin thought it was in Virginia; but it turned out, when the line was settled and run, that he was in Pennsylvania. In their new situation, hunting was an occupation of necessity; and it was not long before Indian hostilities commenced, and war was added to the former motive for carrying the rifle. Young Hardin, finding even in the first of these, scope for the exercise of his active, enterprising disposition, and not being called to any literary occupation, for there were no schools, hunting became his sole pursuit and chief delight. With his rifle he traversed the vales, or crossed the hills, or clambered the mountains, in search of game, insensible of fatigue, until he became one of the most expert of the craft. The rapidity and exactness with which he pointed his rifle, made him what is called a "dead shot."

In the expedition conducted by Gov. Dunmore against the Indians in 1774, young Hardin served in the capacity of ensign in a militia company. In the ensuing August, he volunteered with Captain Zack Morgan, and during an engagement with the savages, was wounded while in the act of aiming his rifle at the enemy. The better to support his gun, he had sunk on one knee, and whilst in this position, the ball struck his thigh, on the outer side, ranged up it about seven inches, and lodged near the groin, whence it never was extracted. The enemy were beaten and fled. Before he had recovered from his wound, or could dispense with his crutches, he joined Dunmore on his march to the Indian towns. Soon after the peace which ensued, Hardin turned his attention towards Kentucky, as to a scene for new adventure; and had actually prepared for a journey hither, but this was abandoned, probably on account of the increasing rumors of an approaching war with Great Britain. The American Congress having determined to raise a military force, Hardin applied himself to the business of recruiting, and with such success that he was soon enabled to join the continental army with the command of a second lieutenant. He was afterwards attached to Morgan's rifle corps, which was generally on the lines; and with which he served until his resignation of his commission as first lieutenant, in December 1779. In the meantime he acquired and held a high place in the esteem of General Daniel Morgan, by whom he was often selected for enterprises of peril, which required discretion and intrepidity to ensure success. A few anecdotes have been preserved, which illustrate very forcibly the coolness, courage, and eminent military talents of Hardin, and which are for that reason related. While with the northern army, he was sent out on a reconnoitering excursion with orders to capture a prisoner, for the purpose of obtaining information. Marching silently in advance of his party, he found himself on rising the abrupt summit of a hill, in the presence of three British soldiers and a Mohawk Indian. The moment was critical, but without manifesting the slightest hesitation he presented his rifle and ordered them to surrender.

The British immediately threw down their arms, the Indian clubbed his gun. They remained motionless, while he continued to advance on them; but none of his men having come up to his assistance, he turned his head a little to one side and called to them to come on. At this time the Indian warrior observing his eye withdrawn from him, reversed his gun with a rapid motion, with the intention of shooting. Hardin caught the gleam of light which was reflected from the polished barrel of the gun, and readily devising its meaning, brought his own rifle to a level, and without raising his piece to his face, gained the first fire, and gave the Indian a mortal wound, who however was only an instant too late, sending his ball through Hardin's hair. The rest of the party were marched into camp, and Hardin received the thanks of General Gates. Before he left the army he was offered a Major's commission in a regiment about to be raised; but he declined, alleging that he could be of more service where he then was. In 1779 he resigned and returned home. It appears that in 1780, the year after leaving the army, he was in Kentucky, and located lands on treasury warrants, for himself and some of his friends. In April 1786, he removed his wife and family to Nelson, afterwards Washington County, in Kentucky. In the same year he volunteered under General Clark for the Wabash expedition, and was appointed quartermaster. In 1789, among other depredations, a considerable party of Indians stole all his horses, without leaving him one for the plow. They were pursued, but escaped, by crossing the Ohio. In the course of this year he was appointed county lieutenant with the rank of colonel, which gave him the command of the militia of the county. As the summer advanced he determined to cross the Ohio, and scour the country for some miles out in order to break up any bands of Indians that might be lurking in the neighborhood. With two hundred mounted men he proceeded across the river, and on one of the branches of the Wabash, fell on a camp of about thirty Shawanees, whom he attacked and defeated, with a loss of two killed and nine wounded. Two of the whites were wounded, none killed or taken. From these Indians Colonel Hardin recovered two of the horses and some colts which had been stolen in the spring; and it is worthy of remark, that no more horses were stolen from that neighborhood during the war. There was no expedition into the Indian country, after Hardin settled in Kentucky, that he was not engaged in; except that of General St. Clair, which he was prevented from joining by an accidental wound received while using a carpenter's adze. In the spring of the year 1792, he was sent by General Wilkinson with overtures of peace to the Indians. He arrived on his route towards the Miami villages attended by his interpreter, at an Indian camp about a day's journey from the spot where Fort Defiance was afterwards built. Here he encamped with the Indians during the night, but in the morning they shot him to death. He was a man of unassuming manners and great gentleness of deportment; yet of singular firmness and inflexibility. For several years previous to his death he had been a member of the Methodist church.

The foregoing sketch is abridged from Marshall's History of Kentucky, and much of it is his exact language. Letters preserved by Hardin's family show that he reached Fort Washington, April 27, 1792. May 19th, he was still at the fort, whence he was to set out, on the ensuing Monday, "for the Sandusky towns, and Maj. Truman for the Miami towns, and try to form a junction at the mouth of Miami River, which is called Rosadebra, where we expect to form a treaty with all the Indians we can collect at that place." He hoped to return in two or three months, but it might be longer, as he would have to "wait the pleasure of the Indians." He reproached himself, in this letter, for having left his family, and "thrown his life into the hands of a cruel, savage enemy." Another account says, "He was on his way to the Shawnees' town; had reached within a few miles of his point of destination, and was within what is now Shelby County, Ohio, when he was overtaken by a few Indians, who proposed encamping with him, and to accompany him the next day to the residence of their chiefs. In the night, they basely murdered him, as was alleged, for his horse and equipments, which were attractive and valuable. His companion, a white man, who spoke Indian and acted as interpreter, was uninjured. When the chiefs heard of Hardin's death they were sorry; for they desired to hear what the messenger of peace had to communicate. A town was laid out on the spot, about 1840, in the state road from Piqua through Wapakonetta, and named Hardin in memory of the unfortunate man."

Col. Hardin left three sons and three daughters, several of whom became distinguished, or raised children who became distinguished. The eldest, Martin D., born June 21, 1780, died Oct. 8, 1823, aged 43, was a man of singular ability, cut off in the prime of life. His second son, Mark, born 1782, is still living at Shelbyville (January, 1873), aged 91, hale, hearty, an elegant gentleman of the old school; was register of the land office of Kentucky from 1805 to 1814, resigning because of the small salary; in May, 1866, was one of the elders, (and ex-Gov. Chas. A. Wickliffe the other,) of the Presbyterian church, who, as commissioners or delegates from the Presbytery of Louisville to the old school Presbyterian General Assembly, in session at St. Louis, were excluded from seats in that body because they had signed and adopted the "strangely abused and still more strangely admired Declaration and Testimony." The eldest daughter married Rev. Barnabas McHenry, and was the mother of the late John H. McHenry, of Owensboro, and Martin D. McHenry, both distinguished at the bar and in congress, and the former also on the bench.


Abraham Lincoln, late President of the United States, born in Hardin County, Kentucky, in that part since included in Larue county, February 12, 1809; removed to Spencer co., Indiana, in 1816; received but a limited education; worked at splitting rails, and was a boatman on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers; removed to and worked on a farm in Illinois, 1830; served as a volunteer captain in the Black Hawk war, 1832; for four terms, 1834-36-38-40, a member of the Illinois legislature; studied law in the interim; a delegate to the national convention which nominated Gen, Taylor for president, 1848; a representative in congress from Illinois, 1847-49; president of the United States, 1861-65; re-elected November, 1864; assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, "Good Friday," while seated in a private box in Ford's Theatre, in Washington city. Such, in brief, is the public record of Abraham Lincoln.

He put on the robes of office as president at a stormy period of our country's history. The cotton states had seceded. They had formed a provisional government at Montgomery, Ala., under the name of the Confederate States, and formally separated from the Federal government. Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated March 4, 1861, the military under Lieut. Gen. Scott being present for his protection. It was a needless precaution, and the result of unfounded apprehensions. His inaugural was couched in unhappy terms, but nevertheless it announced the firm determination to "hold, occupy, and possess the places belonging to the Federal government," and to maintain tho Union unbroken.

Mr. Lincoln must be judged by his declarations and his public acts. He said he had no feeling other than kindness towards the Southern people; and there can be no question but that he was disposed towards a conciliatory policy, at the outset of his administration. He could scarcely have said or done otherwise. In his celebrated canvass with Mr. Douglas for U. S. senator in 1854, he admitted that he was hostile to slavery, but denied that he had any purpose or right to interfere with that institution as it existed in the states under the Constitution. He only claimed that congress had the right, if they deemed proper, to forbid its existence in the territories. Moreover, the party which nominated and elected him to office had promulgated the same doctrines. It is fair, then, to admit that Mr. Lincoln's sole purpose, before the war, was to preserve the Union in its integrity. Great changes occurred afterwards.

In March, 1861, the Confederate States sent three commissioners to Washington to secure the withdrawal of the Federal soldiers from Fort Sumter, and to arrange if possible for a peaceful separation of those states from the old government. Mr. Seward, the secretary of state, whether with or without the consent of the President, adopted a temporizing policy, and deluded them by a quasi assurance that their hopes might be realized. The commissioners awoke to a sense of their situation when an attempt was made secretly by the Federals to send succor ro Maj. Anderson at Fort Sumter. They at once left Washington and returned to Montgomery, Ala. The assault on Sumter was followed by President Lincoln calling out 75,000 men to "defend the capitol," but it was in truth to inaugurate the war. The North obeyed the invitation with alacrity; but Kentucky, Virginia, Missouri, Maryland and Delaware either maintained a sullen silence, or declined, in defiant terms, to furnish their quota. The South, now aroused to her danger, prepared to meet the invaders. And even the ''Union" men of that day in Kentucky denounced the "hare-brained policy" of Mr. Lincoln, and resolved to maintain strict neutrality as between the hostile sections. The folly of that position was plainly demonstrated when, four months afterwards, the federal troops overran the state, without even a protest, much less a show of resistance, from the authorities.

It is not within the scope of this sketch to present in detail the events of the war, nor of Mr. Lincoln's connection therewith, other than those measures which give him a place in history. The legislation of congress, in its various phases, bore to a great extent the impress of his mind; but the chief measures on which he relied to demoralize and subdue the Southern people were his proclamations for "amnesty" and the emancipation of the blacks. The former was puerile, for no one of any value to the Confederacy abandoned its cause. The latter was remote in its effects, for it raised no rebellion among the slaves, and scarcely any disaffection was apparent. They toiled faithfully as of old, and in the absence of the master in the field they protected his wife and little ones at home. Nor were these relations changed until the cessation of the war. Mr. Lincoln had removed Gen. Fremont for a premature attempt to free the slaves in Missouri as a war measure. He had disapproved of a similar action of Gen. David Hunter in South Carolina; and in issuing his proclamation it was declared to be an "indispensable necessity" of the war. But his public plea and private explanations, in this as well as in other matters, justifies the assertion that he was not candid and straightforward. It was understood to be a war measure; and it excited anger, and perhaps disgust, among his "Union'' supporters in the Border slave states. On the other hand, it caused a corresponding joy among the fanatics of the North.

Now, the history of the emancipation proclamation, as detailed by Mr. Lincoln to an ex-governor of Kentucky, together with his own opinion of it, forms an interesting episode. Mr. Lincoln said he was reluctant to make the proclamation. But there had been a meeting of the governors of nine Northern states at Altoona, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1862, to consider the conduct of the war. They resolved, and informed Mr. Lincoln of their determination, that they would furnish no more men for the war unless a measure of this character was adopted. Mr. Lincoln further said he had no power to coerce them to furnish troops, and without their earnest co-operation the war would prove a failure and the Union perish. Its safety he considered paramount. Nevertheless, so reluctant was he to issue the proclamation that in September he merely gave warning of what he proposed to do, hoping that in the meantime something would occur that would relieve him from the necessity of so doing. These state officials, however, subsequently, renewed their demand, coupled with the same threat; and the campaign of 1862 closing with disaster and gloom to the Federal cause, he promulgated the proclamation, January 1, 1863.

Mr. Lincoln, in the conversation referred to, admitted that the proclamation had no validity in law, and afterwards urged the adoption of a constitutional amendment which would give it force and legality. Mr. Lincoln violated his pledges to the Border slave states, and most flagrantly in regard to Kentucky. Repeatedly he promised that slavery should not be interfered with in those states, and that there should be no recruiting for soldiers among the slaves of Kentucky. When our people were satisfied that the war was for the abolition of slavery, for the subjugation of the people of the South, and not for the restoration of the Union, they entered their protest. Their manliness invited the criticism and censure of the fanatics in and out of congress, and they determined on the humiliation of Kentucky. This was the secret of Negro recruiting in Kentucky. Mr, Lincoln possibly could not restrain this action; but the Union men, to whom he originally made his pledges, consider that he broke his faith with them. And far less excusable was his conduct in declaring martial law in Kentucky, July 5th, 1863—on the plea that certain persons in the state were concocting a plan to invite the Confederates into the state for the purpose of "civil war." The result was that Joshua F. Bullitt, late chief justice of the state, ex-Lieutenant governor Richard T. Jacob, and other prominent citizens were arrested, without warrant, without proof and either sent to prison or banished. In one instance, a brutal Federal general, one Paine, at Paducah, sent into banishment not only a number of citizens, but also women and children. This was done without any specifications of guilt, and no time or opportunity was allowed them to establish their innocence. These and many other gross outrages are justly chargeable to Mr. Lincoln's administration.

But the war was a success. The Confederacy was crushed, and the spirits of her warriors broken. Mr. Lincoln, who in the meantime had been chosen for a second term for president, visited Richmond after the capitulation at Appomattox Court House. He met there leading Virginians, and gave his consent for the legislature to meet; and although this was withdrawn through malign influences on his return to Washington, yet he otherwise indicated a friendly and generous spirit towards those lately in rebellion. In the midst of the preparations to rehabilitate the South, to re-establish peaceful relations between the two sections, a pistol in the hands of John Wilkes Booth sent a bullet crashing into his brain. He was never again conscious, and died the next morning. A sad end to an eventful history!

The historian of this day cannot do justice to this remarkable man. The North-man would draw his character in terms of glowing eulogy; the Southern would point his pen with bitterness and gall. The one would absurdly ascribe to him the lofty virtues of Washington, the other would class him with Grimaldi the clown. And both would be wide of the mark. He was a man of quaint humor and genial disposition, patient, calm, self-poised, and thoroughly honest. His administration of the government was for no selfish or personal ends, but meant for the general good. The rectitude of his public conduct was above suspicion, and his love of country must ever challenge admiration.


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



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