AHGP Transcription Project


Harrison County


Harrison County, the 17th county in order, and the 8th formed after Kentucky became a state was made in 1793 out of parts of Bourbon and Scott counties, and named after Col. Benj. Harrison, who was at the time a representative from Bourbon County in the Kentucky legislature. From the original territory of Harrison, portions have been taken to help form Campbell County in 1794, Pendleton and Boone in 1798, Owen in 1819, Grant in 1820, Kenton in 1840, and Robertson in 1867. It is situated in the north middle section of the state, lying on both sides of South Licking River; is bounded north by Pendleton County, north east by Bracken and Robertson, east by Nicholas, south by Bourbon, west by Scott, and north west by Grant County. Main Licking River runs through a small portion of the county in the north east, and the creeks emptying into it are Cedar, West, Beaver, and Richland, while Indian, Silas, Mill, Twin, and Raven put into South Licking. About one-half of the county is gently undulating, rich, and very productive; the other portion, hilly and also quite productive; the whole well adapted to grazing; the soil based on red clay, with limestone foundation. This "blue limestone formation seems to be traversed by veins containing some sulphuret of lead, accompanied with sulphate of barytes. In the south west part, commencing 4 miles north of Cynthiana, is a dark crumbling soil, based on a mulatto sub-soil derived from rough weathering sub-crystalline, close-grained, light-grey limestones.

Towns
Cynthiana, the county seat and chief town, named after Cynthia and Anna, two daughters of the original proprietor, Robert Harris, established December 10, 1793, incorporated as a town in 1802 and as a city in 1860, is situated on the right bank of South Licking, or the South fork of Licking, 37 miles from Frankfort and 66 from Cincinnati, being connected with both cities by railroad. It contains a brick court house, 7 churches (Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Reformed or Christian, besides 2, Methodist and Baptist, for colored people), 10 lawyers, 9 physicians, 8 dry goods stores, 16 groceries, 5 hotels, 2 academies, 2 common schools, and 1 select school, 2 public halls, 2 drug stores, 2 mills, 3 distilleries, 5 wholesale whisky houses, 9 saloons and restaurants, 1 wool factory, 2 printing offices, 40 mechanics' shops, and a number of other stores and occupations; population in 1870, 1,771. Large quantities of stock are annually shipped from this point, north and east.
Oddville, 6 miles north of Cynthiana, contains a Methodist church, school house, 1 doctor, 4 preachers, 3 stores and shops, and a steam mill; about 60 inhabitants.
Claysville, on Licking River at the mouth of Beaver creek, laid out by Alex. Curran and called Marysville, about 1799 or 1800, incorporated December, 1821 and name changed to Claysville, grew to be quite a flourishing commercial village, being a shipping point for the upper parts of Harrison and Bourbon counties, until the K. C. R. R. was completed, when it began to decline; population 125—93 whites and 32 blacks; contains 3 stores and shops, hotel, school, 1 doctor; 2 congregations, Reformed or Christian, and Methodist, worshipping in the same edifice. Havilandsville, named after Robert Haviland, a small village near the Pendleton county line, 15 miles from Cynthiana, contains 1 store, a steam mill, school house, and church.
Antioch, 13 miles from Cynthiana on the state road to Falmouth, contains 5 stores and shops, a flouring and saw mill, school house, church (Reformed), and 2 physicians.
Berryville, formerly called Berry's Station, on the east bank of South Licking, and a station on the K. C. R. R.; contains 3 stores, several shops, 2 hotels, 1 public school, and 1 distillery, which makes annually 3,000 barrels of Bourbon whiskey; population 230.
Colemansville, 1˝ miles from Berry's Station on the K. C. R. R., has about 100 inhabitants; 2 churches (Baptist and Reformed), one public and one private school, 4 stores and shops, 1 tavern, and 2 physicians; has suffered greatly from destructive fires.
Boyd's Station, on K. C. R. R., 16 miles north of Cynthiana, contains 80 inhabitants, a store, hotel, steam mill, and distillery; named after Andrew Boyd, a soldier of the war of 1812, who was still living, June, 1872.
Robertson Station, 9 miles north of Cynthiana, has 50 inhabitants, a store, school house, and mill.
Connersville, 7 miles west of the county seat, population 100; 4 stores and shops, a school house, and a doctor; named after Lewis Conner.
Leesburg, 10 miles south west of Cynthiana, contains 160 inhabitants, a carding factory, 6 stores and shops, hotel, 2 churches (Reformed or Christian, and Presbyterian), and 4 physicians; this part of Harrison County is noted for the extreme fertility of the soil.
Leeslick, 8 miles from Cynthiana, noted for its white sulphur springs, is a small village with a store and school.
Lair's Station, on the K. C. R. R., 4 miles south of Cynthiana, contains a store, wagon and blacksmith shops, 2 flour mills, 2 distilleries, and a school house; population 125.
Tricum, 6 miles west of Cynthiana, on the Raven creek turnpike, has 40 inhabitants, 2 stores and a school house.
Buena Vista, Scott Station, and Rutland are small villages, each containing a store, church, school, and physician.

Members of the Legislature from Harrison County, since 1814

Senate
Josephus Perrin, 1814-18, '18-22;
Peter Barrett, 1822-26, '26-30;
John O. Beaseman, 1830-31;
Jos. Patterson, 1834-38;
Hugh Newell, 1842-46;
Wm. K. Wall, 1846-50;
John Shawhan, 1851-55;
John Williams, 1855-59;
Isaac T. Martin, 1867-71, died in 1870, and succeeded by Dr. Lewis Perrin, 1870-71.

House of Representatives
Wm. K. Wall, 1815, '16, '17, '18;
Gresham Forrest, 1815;
Isaac Holman, 1816;
John Givins, 1817;
Jos. Taylor, 1818;
Stephen Barton, Peter Barrett, 1819;
Benj. Warfield, 1820, '21;
Jas. Patton, 1820;
Jos. Patterson, 1822, '26, '27, '30, '32;
Samuel Griffith, 1821, '22;
Nicholas D. Coleman, 1824, '25;
Henry O. Brown, 1824;
Josephus Perrin, 1825;
John Trimble, 1826, '33, '34;
John 0. Beaseman, 1827, '28, '29, '34, '35, '37, '42;
Napoleon B. Coleman, 1828, '29, '31;
Theophilus Chowning, 1830;
Jas. C. Coleman, 1831;
John Williams, 1832;
Solomon C. Perrin, 1833, '36;
Larkin Garnett, 1835;
Hugh Newell, 1836, '38, '39, '40, '47, '48, '57-59, '65-57;
Benj. Brandon, 1837;
Whitehead Coleman, 1838;
Dr. Alex. H. Innes, 1839, '40, '41;
John Chowning, 1841;
Lewis Perrin, Henry Thompson, 1843;
Lucius Desha, 1844, '45, '46, '50, '61-63;
Jos. Shawhan, 1844, '45, '47, '57-61;
Napoleon B. Durbin, 1846;
John Shawhan, 1848, '50;
Addison L. Thomson, Stephen B. Curran, 1849;
Alvin M. Hume, 1851-53;
John S. Boyd, 1851-55;
Duncan Harding, 1853-55;
Thos. J. Terry, David H. Raymond, 1855-57;
Wm. W. Cleary, 1859-61;
A. Harry Ward, 1863-65;
Mortimer D. Martin, 1867-69;
Nehemiah C. Dille, 1869-71;
Thos. J. Megibben, 1871-73;
J. Quincy, Ward. 1873-75.

Distilleries
In Harrison County are 30 distilleries, which manufacture annually about 50,000 barrels of whiskey, much of it of quality unsurpassed in the world. The manufacture of, and trade in, this whisky constitute the greatest business and wealth of Harrison County.

Newspapers since 1834
Cynthiana News, 1850; Kentucky Farmer, 1851; Kentucky Age, 1856; Cynthiana Democrat, 1868. The News was discontinued during the civil war, but shortly after its close was revived by the same publisher, and is now one among the oldest journals in the state.

Mound
Near Claysville is a large mound, of earth and stone, in dimensions at the base about 100 feet from east to west, and 75 feet from north to south, and in height about 25 feet. Upon its summit is growing a sycamore tree 4 feet in diameter, and supposed to be at least 500 years old.

First Battle of Cynthiana
On July 17, 1862, the Confederate general, John H. Morgan, with a force 816 strong when he started, nine days before, upon this first Kentucky raid, attacked the Federal forces at Cynthiana, nearly 600 strong (mainly home guards), under Col. John J. Landram, who after a brave resistance were overpowered and defeated, and the town captured. The Federal pickets were surprised, and captured or driven in; and before the commander had time to dispose his force, the Confederates commenced shelling the town, producing a wild consternation among the inhabitants. Capt. William H. Glass, of the Federal artillery, occupied the public square, from which point he could command most of the roads. Another force took position on the Magee Hill road, south of the town, along which the Confederates were approaching. A third detachment was instructed to hold the bridge on the west side of the town, towards which Morgan's main force was pouring. Capt. Glass opened on Morgan's battery, which was planted on an eminence a quarter of a mile distant, between the Leesburg and Fair Ground turnpikes. The Confederates were now approaching by every road and street, and deployed as skirmishers through every field, completely encircling the Federals. Their battery on the hill having ceased its fire, Capt. Glass with grape and canister swept Pike street from one end to the other. By this time the contestants were engaged at every point. The fighting was terrific. The Federals commenced giving way. The force at the bridge, after a sharp fight, was driven back, and a Confederate cavalry charge made through the streets. A portion of the Federals made a stand at the railroad depot. A charge upon the Confederate battery at the Licking Bridge, was repulsed, and the Confederates, in turn, charged upon the force at the depot, while another detachment was pouring deadly fire from the rear, about 125 yards distant.

It was here that Col. Landram was wounded, and Thomas Ware, one of the oldest citizens, Jesse Currant, Thos Rankin, Capt. Lafe Wilson, and others were killed, besides a number wounded. Unable to stand the concentrated fire, the handful of Federals that were left commenced a precipitate retreat. The 7th Kentucky cavalry, posted north of town to hold the Oddville road, were soon overpowered, and compelled to surrender. Three-fourths of the Federal force had now been killed, wounded, or captured, and the Confederates held undisputed possession. The prisoners were marched into town, and lodged in the upper room of the court house, and their paroles made out and signed that night.

Second Battle of Cynthiana
On Saturday, June 11, 1864, Gen. Morgan marched a second time upon Cynthiana, defeated and captured the forces under the command of Gen. E. H. Hobson. The first of this series of engagements took place early in the morning, between the 168th Ohio infantry and Morgan's whole command, about 1,200 strong. The Federals were soon overpowered, and fell back to the depot buildings, (where Col. Berry fell, mortally wounded,) and thence to Rankin's unfinished hotel; others retreated to the court house. The Confederates, following closely, charged into these several places, causing the utmost consternation among the inhabitants. While the battle was raging, a stable opposite the Rankin hotel caught or was set on fire, and the terror of the flames added greatly to the alarm.

Across the river, west of the town, another battle began between Gen. Hobson, commanding the 171st Ohio, and a detachment of Confederates. This is known as the battle at '"Keller's Bridge," one mile west of Cynthiana, which had been destroyed by the Confederates on the Thursday previous, to prevent the sending of troops along the railroad. The trains which had conveyed the 171st Ohio to this point were backed down the road two miles for safety, but were there thrown from the track by the Confederates and burned. Upon being disembarked, the men were supplied with ammunition, and proceeded to eat their breakfast. Suddenly their quiet was disturbed by the rattle of musketry at Cynthiana, telling that hot work was going on there between the 168th Ohio and the Confederates; and in a few minutes the fields around themselves were alive with Confederates. A volley of musketry was poured in upon them, by a squad of Confederates massed behind the fence of a clover-field. Gen. Hobson was now completely surrounded. The Confederates displayed great activity in firing, and considerable skill in keeping under cover from the fire of the Federal troops. The fight continued about five hours, the loss on both sides unusually heavy. Gen. Morgan, who was in Cynthiana when the fight at the Bridge commenced, arrived on the field at 9 a. m. with reinforcements, and with these the line was drawn still closer; and Gen. Hobson was finally compelled to accept the flag of truce and Morgan's conditions of surrender, that the private property of the troops should be respected, and the officers retain their side-arms. The Federal forces were drawn up along the pike, their arms stacked and burned, and they were marched through Cynthiana, a mile east, to a grove, where they found the other Federal forces who had been in the fight at Cynthiana, prisoners like themselves. After resting an hour, the prisoners were marched 3 miles north, on the Oddville pike, where they passed Saturday night.

Early on Sunday morning, with the first announcement of the approach of Burbridge, came an order from Morgan to the guard over the Federal prisoners to start them north; which was done, and that, too, on the double quick-Morgan's main force, pursued by Burbridge, following at a distance of a few miles. This forced march brought them to Claysville, 12 miles north east of Cynthiana, where they were halted, drawn up in line, paroled, and allowed to depart.

While the battles were in progress on Saturday, the fire continued to rage, notwithstanding vigorous efforts to stop it by the citizens. By twelve o'clock all the business portion of the town was consumed, with most of the contents. The fire, commencing at Rankin's stable, swept on to the West House, burning all the buildings; thence across to Broadwell's corner, and down to Isaac T. Martin's store; thence across to Dr. Broadwell's buildings, to the jail, including that and the adjoining buildings, 27 in all, the most valuable in the place.

On Sunday morning, the 12th of June, the day after the two battles above described, Gen. Burbridge, with a strong force, fell upon Morgan's men at Cynthiana, while they were at breakfast. Fatigued as they were by the previous day's operations, which resulted in the defeat and capture of two distinct Federal forces, the Confederates were not in condition to withstand the shock of a fresh body of troops. Burbridge, with his cavalry, was enabled to flank them, and thus turn their lines; while his infantry, in the center, advanced steadily, forcing them back on the town. The fighting commenced on the Millersburg pike, about one mile east of Cynthiana. But the Confederates, unable to hold out against the rapid and determined advance of superior numbers of fresh troops supported by artillery, soon gave way, and, by the time they reached Cynthiana, were in full retreat, and the retreat a rout. One by one, they fell back through the town, crossed the river, and followed the Raven Creek pike. Thus ended the last battle that was fought at Cynthiana in the war for Southern independence.

Joseph Shawhan died September 14, 1871, aged 90 years and 3 days. He was one of the oldest citizens of the state, had served his country in the war of 1812, and his county (Harrison) several times in the legislature. He was a most inveterate lover of horses and of horse-racing, having gone to the Lexington races, both spring and fall meetings, whenever held, since 1800. For 71 years, from his 19th year, this passion for racing and witnessing races had grown upon him; and he lost his life from an accident while returning from the great race won by Longfellow. He was the largest land-holder of fine and costly lands in cultivation, reckoning by the number of acres, in Kentucky, and probably in America.

Curious Phenomenon
Dr. Carson Gibney, a graduate of Transylvania medical school, practicing at Leesburg, Harrison County, Kentucky, was called, November 1, 1841, to see Miss Penelope Stout, daughter of Thos. H. Stout, of that place, a young girl, 3 years of age. He was informed that for some days past, Miss Penelope had been giving off from the thumb of her right hand quantities of hair, varying in hue and thickness, portions of it occasionally appearing thick and harsh, and constructed precisely like hog-bristles; and again it would come long and soft and silky and beautiful as the hair on her head. It would emanate most frequently from the end about the nail, but often about the thumb joints, leaving not a single trace on the sui-face of the skin to tell whence it had come. When grown to a certain length the hair would drop off, creating at times no sensation at all at others producing a numbness about the arm, such as is produced by the foot sleeping. Some four or five were given off in the course of a day. They were from three to twenty-six inches in length. This singular action or disease had been going on constantly for six weeks, when the account was published. She was taken to Lexington, and other physicians were consulted to learn the cause of the phenomenon, but unsuccessfully. Hundreds of citizens visited the wonderful little stranger. No charge was made for admission.

First Visitors and Improvers
From a comparison of numerous depositions of the visitors themselves, taken between the years 1793 and 1821, in several large land-suits in Mason, Nicholas, Bourbon, Harrison, Pendleton, Fayette, and other counties, it appears that a company of fifteen men (in after years frequently called "Hinkson’s Company") John Hinkson, John Haggin, John Martin, John Townsend, James Cooper, Daniel Callahan, Patrick Callahan, Matthew Fenton, George Gray, Wm. Hoskins, Wm. Shields, Thomas Shores, Silas Train, Samuel Wilson, (only 15 or 16 years old,) and John Woods, in March and April, 1775, came down the Ohio and up the Licking River, in canoes, in search of lands to improve. They landed at the mouth of Willow creek, on the east side of Main Licking, four miles above the forks (where Falmouth now is); and on account of high water and rainy weather remained two nights and a day. "The hackberry tree out of which Sam. Wilson cut a johnny-cake board, in the point at the mouth of the creek, was still standing in 1806, 31 years after." [Seven of them, on their way home in the ensuing fall, stopped at the same place and "barbequed enough meat to carry them home."] They proceeded on up the Licking to near the Lower Blue Licks, "where Bedinger's mill was in 1805," thence took the buffalo trace to the neighborhood between Paris and Cynthiana, where they "improved" lands, made small clearings, built a cabin for each member of the company, named after some of the company Hinkston and Townsend creeks, and Cooper's run, and afterwards settled Hinkston and Martin's stations. John Townsend, on Townsend creek, and John Cooper, on the waters of Hinkston, raised corn in 1775, from which the hitter furnished seed to a number of improvers in the same region in 1776.

Miller’s Company
A few days later in the spring of 1775, Wm. Miller, John Miller, Richard Clark, Wm. Flinn, Joseph Houston or Huston, Paddy Logan, Wm, McClintock, Wm. Nesbitt, Alex. Pollock, John Shear, Wm. Steel, Henry Thompson, and two others, 14 in all, came in canoes down the Ohio, and up the Licking to the Lower Blue Licks, where they were joined by Hinkson's company above-named. Each party sent out explorers, who examined the country, and reported to the two companies at the Blue Licks. They all traveled together the main buffalo trace towards what is now Lexington, until they reached a trace turning west, since called Hinkston's trace, which the Hinkson party followed, while the other party encamped on Miller's run, at the crossing of the lower Limestone or Ruddle's road, thence went around the country, selected 14 spots for improvement, and divided them by lot. Wm. Steele's place was on the north side of Hinkston, below the buffalo trace; he improved it by cutting down timber and planting potatoes. They all returned up the Ohio to Pennsylvania in the fall.

John Lacy improved on South Licking, above Martin's station, in 1775. In the fall of 1775, David Williams conducted Nathaniel Randolph, Peter Higgins, and Robert Shanklin, from Harrodsburg to the country between Hinkston and Stoner. In the summer previous, he was on the Middle fork, or Gist's (since known as Stoner's) creek, with Thos. Gist, James Douglass (the surveyor), James Harrod, Sigismund Stratton, Daniel Hollenback, John Severns, Ebenezer Severns, __. Wabash, and others. These were engaged in surveying.

Col. Henderson's Report
A letter, dated at Boonesborough, June 12, 1775, from Col. Richard Henderson to his co-proprietors of Transylvania, Thos. Hart, Nathaniel Hart, David Hart, John Luttrell, John Williams, Wm. Johnston, James Hogg, and Leonard Henly Bullock, gives this "idea of the geography of our country," at that time: [Hall's Sketches of the West, ii, 267]
     "We are seated at the mouth of Otter creek, on the Kentucky River, about 150 miles from the Ohio. To the west, about 50 miles from us, are two settlements, within 6 or 7 miles one of the other [These were the Boiling Spring (afterwards called Fontainebleau), and Harrodsburg]. There were, some time ago, about 100 at the two places; though now, perhaps, not more than 60 or 70, as many of them are gone up the Ohio, etc.; and some returned by the way we came, to Virginia and elsewhere. These men, in the course of hunting provisions, lands, etc., are some of them constantly out, and scour the woods from the banks of the river near 40 or 50 miles southward. On the opposite side of the Kentucky River, and north from us, about 40 miles, is a settlement on the crown lands, of about 19 persons [Probably the "Hinkson company"]; and lower down, towards the Ohio, on the same side, there are some other settlers [Probably the "Miller company"]—how many, or at what place, I can't exactly learn. There is also a party of about 10 or 12, with a surveyor, [The "Douglass and Gist party" above,] who is employed in searching through that country, and laying off officers' lands; they have been for more than three weeks within 10 miles of us, and will be for several weeks longer, ranging up and down that country."

First Family north of Georgetown
In the latter part of April, 1776, Samuel McMillin came with Capt. John Haggin and family "to the cabin where Haggin lived in that year, and remained there, or in that neighborhood, until after Christmas, about which time the neighborhood was driven off by the Indians and the settlement entirely evacuated." Capt. Haggin removed his family in July to McClellan's fort, at Georgetown. John Miller, Alex. Pollock, Samuel Nesbitt, Wm. Steele, and Wm. Bays came to John Haggin's cabin in July, 1776 "where Haggin was then living with his family.'' Wm. Kennedy was there, also. Haggin's cabin was on Paddy's run, in Harrison County, not far from Hinkson's settlement or station.

Besides those just named, Wm. Nesbitt, Wm. Craig, Geo. Bright, Jas. McGraw, Jas. McMillin, John McMillin, Jos. Peake, Thos. Shores, Robert Thompson, Wm. Miller, Wm. McClellan, Wm. Houston, Col. Benj. Harrison (after whom the county was named), Thos. Moore, and Robert Keen, came to Harrison county, and most of them made improvements, in 1776. Thos. Shores planted potatoes in the spring of that year, and several of the others raised corn. Michael Stoner, Thos. Whitledge, and Thos. Dunn raised corn in what is now Bourbon County, in 1776. James Kenney, Thos. Kennedy, Robert Whitledge, James Galloway helped to make improvements in Bourbon county.

John Lyons Company
On May 3, 1776, a company of 10, from Pennsylvania John Lyon, John Boggs, Henry Dickerson, Thos. Dickerson, Wm. Graydon, James Kelly, James Little, Wm. Markland, John Virgin, and Reason Virgin—'' came to John Hinkson's improvement, where some persons had resided for nearly a year past." At the instance of Hinkson, Wm. Hoskins conducted them to some rich lands which had not been taken up, some miles to the east, probably on Houston creek (then called Martin's creek), in Bourbon County; at any rate, "Townsend and Cooper's run were between their improvements and Hinkston." Besides the usual improvements, uncovered cabins, small clearing, initials on trees, etc. they covered John Lyon's cabin, 14x16 feet, with boards, made it their "station-camp," split some rails, enclosed a piece of ground, planted some corn, peach stones, and apple seeds, and lived there until .June; when seven, and shortly after two others, returned up the Ohio River to Redstone. Wm. Graydon remained in the country, and in the summer of 1777 was killed by Indians at the Shawnee spring.

Hinkson's Settlement, "on Licking creek," says a letter from Col. John Floyd to Col. Wm. Preston, dated at Boonesborough, July 21, 1776, "has been broken up; 19 of the settlers are now here, on their way in, John Hinkson among the rest. They all seem deaf to anything we can say to dissuade them; 10, at least, of our people are going to join them, which will leave us with less than 30 men at this fort. I think more than 300 men have left the country since I came out, and not one has arrived, except a few cabiners down the Ohio." On July 7, 1776, the Indians had killed John Cooper, who raised the first corn in Harrison County; at least the first in quantity sufficient to furnish seed to the immigrants in 1776.

Capture of Ruddle's and Martins Stations
From depositions of Isaac Ruddle, James Ruddle, Nicholas Hart, Samuel Vanhook, and John Burger who were among the prisoners taken, and whose lives were spared and from other sources, it appears that Vanhook and probably most of the others were not released from captivity for 4 years and 2 months; that several never returned, but continued to live among the Indians; and that, when on their way to besiege Bryan's station, August 14, 1782, in which they failed, and in the disastrous battle of the Blue Licks on the 19th of the same month, the Indians required Nicholas Hart and several others of the prisoners to come with them, thus making them witnesses of the perils and sufferings of their friends, without the power to help them. When murdering some of the women and children, after the capture, they concluded to adopt little Johnny Lail, two years old, if he should have the nerve and endurance required of an Indian boy; so they rolled him rapidly down the bank, and he did not cry, thus securing his own adoption and that of his brother George, three years older. Johnny was returned, with the other prisoners, after the close of the war, and lived to be nearly eighty years old and a useful citizen. George remained with the Indians and married among them; afterwards he came back and settled in the home of his childhood, but his Indian wife deserted him and went back to her people.

Hinkson's or Ruddle's station was on the north side of South Licking, about a mile below the mouth of Townsend creek, and a mile and a quarter above the present Lair's station, on the Kentucky Central railroad. It w.as originally settled by John Hinkson in April, 1775 who remained there for fifteen months, and a little community was gathering around it; but it was abandoned in July, 1776, through fear of the Indians, Hinkson came back afterwards and occupied his "improvement" on the south side of South Licking, opposite his first settlement. In April, 1779, Isaac Ruddle, from Logan’s station, assisted by John Burner, rebuilt the old station and fortified it; his brother, James Ruddle, and others soon followed; it increased in strength, and henceforth was most generally known as Ruddle's station, although still frequently called Hinkston's. [The common belief that there was once a pioneer station at what is now well known as Ruddell's Mills is incorrect.] In 1845, the late Charles Lair, whose farm embraced the station, and who, in 1794, had taken down the old gate and remnant of the stockading, blasted in the side of the rocky river-bluff below his house, and about 300 yards from the old fort, a substantial vault, to which, in addition to the dead of his kin, he transferred all the remains of the murdered at the time of the capture in 1780, the bodies having been thrown in a pile and covered with stones at the time.

The following account of the capture of the two stations is the fullest and most accurate to be obtained:
In the summer of 1780, a formidable military force, consisting of six hundred Indians and Canadians, under the command of Colonel Byrd, an officer of the British army, accompanied by six pieces of artillery, made an incursion into Kentucky. The artillery was brought down the Big Miami, and thence up Licking as far as the present town of Falmouth, at the forks of Licking, where, with the stores and baggage, it was landed, and where Colonel Byrd ordered some huts to be constructed, to shelter them from the weather. From this point Colonel Byrd took up his line of march for Ruddle's station, with one thousand men. Such a force, accompanied by artillery, was resistless to the stockades of Kentucky, which were altogether destitute of ordnance. The approach of the enemy was totally undiscovered by our people until, on the 22d of June, 1760, the report of one of the field pieces announced their arrival before the station. This is the more extraordinary, as the British party were twelve days in marching from the Ohio River to Ruddle's station, and had cleared a wagon road the greater part of the way. This station had been settled the previous year, on the easterly bank of the south fork of Licking River, three miles below the junction of Hinkston and Stoner's branches of the same stream. A summons to surrender at discretion to his Britannic majesty's arms, was immediately made by Col. Byrd—to which demand Captain Ruddle answered, that he could not consent to surrender but on certain conditions, one of which was, that the prisoners should be under the protection of the British, and not suffered to be prisoners to the Indians. To these terms Colonel Byrd consented, and immediately the gates were opened to him No sooner were the gates opened, than the Indians rushed into the station, and each Indian seized the first person he could lay his hands on, and claimed him as his own prisoner. In this way the members of every family were separated from each ^ther; the husband from the wife, and the parents from their children. The piercing screams of the children when torn from their mothers, the distracted throes of the mothers when forced from their tender offspring, are indescribable. Ruddle remonstrated with the colonel against this barbarous conduct of the Indians, but to no effect. He confessed that it was out of his power to restrain them, their numbers being so much greater than that of the troops over which he had control, that he himself was completely in their power. After the people were entirely stripped of all their property, and the prisoners divided among their captors, the Indians proposed to Colonel Byrd to march to and take Martin's station, which was about five miles from Ruddle's; hut Col. Byrd was so affected by the conduct of the Indians to the prisoners taken, that he peremptorily refused, unless the chiefs would pledge themselves in behalf of the Indians, that all the prisoners taken should be entirely under his control, and that the Indians should only be entitled to the plunder. Upon these propositions being agreed to by the chiefs, the army marched to Martin's station, and took it without opposition. The Indians divided the spoils among themselves, and Colonel Byrd took charge of the prisoners.

The ease with which these two stations were taken, so animated the Indians, that they pressed Colonel Byrd to go forward and assist them to take Bryan's station and Lexington. Byrd declined going, and urged as a reason, the improbability of success; and besides, the impossibility of procuring provisions to support the prisoners they already had, also the impracticability of transporting their artillery by land, to any part of the Ohio river, therefore the necessity of descending Licking before the waters fell, which might be expected to take place in a very few days.

Immediately after it was decided not to go forward to Bryan's station, the army commenced their retreat to the forks of Licking, where they had left their boats, and with all possible dispatch got their artillery and military stores on board and moved off. At this place the Indians separated from Byrd, and took with them the whole of the prisoners taken at Ruddle's station. Among the prisoners was Captain John Hinkson, a brave man and an experienced woodsman. The second night after leaving the forks of Licking, the Indians encamped near the river; everything was very wet, in consequence of which it was difficult to kindle a fire, and before a fire could be made it was quite dark. A guard was placed over the prisoners, and whilst part of them were employed in kindling the fire, Hinkson sprang from among them and was immediately out of sight. An alarm was instantly given, and the Indians ran in every direction, not being able to ascertain the course he had taken. Hinkson ran but a short distance before he lay down by the side of a log under the dark shade of a large beech tree, where he remained until the stir occasioned by his escape had subsided, when he moved off as silently as possible. The night was cloudy, and very dark, so that he had no mark to steer by, and after traveling some time towards Lexington, as he thought, he found himself close to the camp from which he had just before made his escape. In this dilemma he was obliged to tax his skill as a woodsman, to devise a method by which he should be enabled to steer his course without light enough to see the moss on the trees, or without the aid of sun, moon, or stars. Captain Hinkson ultimately adopted this method: he dipped his hand in the water, (which almost covered the whole country), and holding it upwards above his head, he instantly felt one side of his-hand cold; he immediately knew that from that point the wind came, he therefore steered the balance of the night to the cold side of his hand, that being from the west he knew, and the course, best suited to his purpose. After traveling several hours, he sat down at the root of a tree and fell asleep.

A few hours before day, there came on a very heavy dense fog, so that a man could not be seen at twenty yards distance. This circumstance was of infinite advantage to Hinkson, for as soon as daylight appeared, the howling of wolves the gobbling of turkeys, the bleating of fawns, the cry of owls, and every other wild animal, was heard in almost every direction. Hinkson was too well acquainted with the customs of the Indians, not to know that it was Indians, and not beasts and birds that made these sounds, he therefore avoided approaching the places where he heard them, and notwithstanding he was several times within a few yards of them, with the aid of the fog he escaped, and arrived safe at Lexington, and brought the first news of that event.

The Indians not only collected all the horses belonging to Ruddle's and Martin's stations, but a great many from Bryan's station and Lexington, and with their booty crossed the Ohio river near the mouth of Licking, and there dispersed. The British descended Licking River to the Ohio, down the Ohio to the mouth of the Big Miami, and up the Miami as far as it was then navigable for their boats, where they hid their artillery, and marched by land to Detroit. The rains having ceased, and the weather being exceeding hot, the waters fell so low, that they were able to ascend the Miami but a short distance by water. The following account of an adventure at Higgins' block-house, near Cynthiana, is from the notes of Mr. E. E. Williams, of Covington, Kentucky, an actor in the events which he records:

After the battle of the Blue Licks, and in 1786, our family removed to Higgins' block-house on Licking River, one and a half miles above Cynthiana. Between those periods my father had been shot by the Indians, and my mother married Samuel Vanhook, who had been one of the party engaged in the defense at Ruddle's station in 1780, and on its surrender was carried with the rest of the prisoners to Detroit.

Higgins' fort, or block-house, had been built at the bank of Licking, on precipitous rocks, at least thirty feet high, which served to protect us on every side but one. On the morning of the 12th of June, at day light, the fort, which consisted of six or seven houses, was attacked by a party of Indians, fifteen or twenty in number. There was a cabin outside, below the fort, where William M'Combs resided, although absent at that time. His son Andrew, and a man hired in the family, named Joseph McFall, on making their appearance at the door to wash themselves, were both shot down, M'Combs through the knee, and McFall in the pit of the stomach. McFall ran to the block-house, and M'Combs fell, unable to support himself longer, just after opening the door of his cabin, and was dragged in by his sisters, who barricaded the door instantly. On the level and only accessible side, there was a corn-field, and the season being favorable, and the soil rich as well as new, the corn was more than breast high. Here the main body of the Indians lay concealed, while three or four who made the attack attempted thereby to decoy the whites outside of the defenses. Failing in this, they set fire to an old fence and corn-crib, and two stables, both long enough built to be thoroughly combustible. These had previously protected their approach in that direction. Captain Asa Reese was in command of our little fort. "Boys," said he, "some of you must run over to Hinkson's or Harrison's." These were one and a half and two miles off, but in different directions. Every man declined. I objected, alleging as my reason that he would give up the fort before I could bring relief; but on his assurance that he would hold out, I agreed to go. I jumped off the bank through the thicket of trees, which broke my fall, while they scratched my face and limbs. I got to the ground with a limb clenched in my hands, which I had grasped unawares in getting through. I recovered from the jar in less than a minute, crossed the Licking, and ran up a cow-path on the opposite side, which the cows from one of those forts had beat down in their visits for water. As soon as I had gained the bank, I shouted, to assure my friends of my safety, and to discourage the enemy. In less than an hour, I was back, with a relief of ten horsemen, well armed and driving in full chase after the Indians. But they had decamped immediately, upon hearing my signal, well knowing what it meant, and it was deemed imprudent to pursue them with so weak a party, the whole force in Higgins' block-house hardly sufficing to guard the women and children there. McFall, from whom the bullet could not be extracted, lingered two days and nights in great pain, when he died, as did M'Combs, on the ninth day, mortification then taking place.


Maj. William K. Wall, for sixty-one years one of the leading citizens of Harrison County, was born in Washington co., Pa., May 19, 1786. His parents, John Wall and Hannah Ketchum, immigrated to Kentucky about 1791, settling first in Mason County for a few months; but removed to the neighborhood of what is now Cynthiana, more than a year before the organization of Harrison County. In March, 1794, when the court of quarter sessions first met in Harrison County, John Wall was one of the associate judges. The son, then only eight years old, received in the schools of Scott and Harrison counties a fair English education, with a partial course in Latin. He and Hon. John T. Johnson studied law together at Georgetown, in the office of Col. Richard M. Johnson. Young Wall was licensed, September 9, 1809, by judges John Allen and Wm. McClung, and settled to the practice in Cynthiana; in the war of 1812, was a private in Capt. Johnson's company; a representative in the Kentucky legislature in 1814, '15, '16, '17, and '18, and a senator, 1846-50; commonwealth's attorney, under commission from six successive governors, 1820-43, when he resigned; a candidate for congress in 1843, but after a vigorous canvass in a district politically opposed to him, was beaten by about 343 majority, by Col. John W. Tibbatts. Maj. Wall was a clear, forcible, and practical speaker, but not often eloquent; a lawyer of decided ability, and a citizen of high character, honored and useful. He died of pneumonia, March 22, 1853, aged nearly 67.


Judge John Trimble, one of the most eminent citizens of Harrison County, was among the earliest natives of Kentucky, born December 4 1783, 8˝ years before it became one of the United States. His oldest brother Robert—distinguished as a judge of the court of appeals at 31, appointed chief justice of Kentucky at 33 but declined, judge of the U. S. district court for Kentucky at 39, and on the bench of the U. S. supreme court at 49—was born in Virginia in 1777 and in 1780, their father, Wm. Trimble, emigrated to Kentucky, and settled in Clark co., not far from Boonesborough, where John and another brother, James, were born. The younger boys were liberally educated by an uncle, who came to reside in their father's family.

At the age of 19, John Trimble was secretary to Robert Evans, governor of the territory of Indiana, and resided for two years at Vincennes; returning to Kentucky, studied law with Col. Geo. Nicholas, one of the greatest jurists of America; practiced law at Paris, 1807-16; was appointed circuit judge, and removed to Cynthiana, where he resided until his death, July 9, 1852, aged nearly 69; resigned that office, and was immediately, Jan. 15, 1825, appointed by Gov. Desha third judge of the "new" court of appeals, which he held a short time and resigned; May, 1826, was tendered by President John Quincy Adams the U. S. judgeship for the district of Kentucky, but ill health prevented its acceptance; was a representative in the legislature in 1826, 1833, and 1835; in the latter session, extending into 1836, he strenuously advocated the proposed railroad from Charleston to Cincinnati, thereby exciting the violent opposition of the leaders of his party (Democratic), and he never again was a candidate before the people.

Judge Trimble was an able lawyer. His argument in the U. S. circuit court, in the case of Shores' Heirs vs. Casey and others upon the question whether the issuing by the government of a patent for land conferred seisin, was pronounced by Preston S. Loughborough (no mean judge) the finest he had ever heard in any court. Few men could equal him, in arguing an abstract question of law depending upon principle. The law to him was an object of enthusiastic attachment. He was as noble as a citizen and as true as a friend, as he was able as a lawyer. Only those who came into professional collision with or knew him intimately, ever suspected the general variety of his knowledge and his severely critical judgment.

This county was named in honor of Colonel Benjamin Harrison, who removed to Kentucky from Pennsylvania at an early day. He was a member of the convention which met at Danville in 1787, from Bourbon County; was a member of the convention which met the succeeding year (1788) at the same place; and was also a member, from Bourbon, of the convention which formed the first constitution of Kentucky, and which assembled at Danville in 1792. In the same year, after the adoption of the constitution, he was elected a senatorial elector from Bourbon County. In 1793, he was elected a representative from Bourbon County, being a member of the legislature when the county of Harrison was formed.


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



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