AHGP Transcription Project

Hart County

Hart County, the 61st made in the state, was formed in 1819 out of parts of Hardin and Green counties, and named in honor of Capt. Nathaniel G. T. Hart. It lies on both sides of Green river, in the south-west middle part of the state; and is bounded north by Grayson, Hardin, and Larue counties, east by Green, south by Barren, and west by Edmonson and Grayson. The face of the country, except along the river bottoms, is rolling, and in some parts hilly and broken; the soil generally is very productive. Tobaco and hogs are the leading articles of export. Green River, during a portion of the year, is navigable for steamboats as high as Munfordville. Nolin creek, on the north west border, is navigable for flat-boats in high water, and would furnish fine waterpower throughout the year.

Munfordville, the county seat, named after Richard I. Munford, former proprietor, and incorporated in 1858, is on the north bank of Green River, where it is crossed by the Louisville and Nashville railroad, 73 miles south of Louisville, and 90 miles south west from Frankfort; population in 1870, 249.
Caverna, incorporated 1864, by its old name Horse Cave, is on the railroad, 7 miles south of Munfordville; population in 1870, 479.
Woodsonville, named after Thos. Woodson, sen., and incorporated in 1851, is on the railroad and on the south bank of Green River, opposite Munfordville; population in 1870, 140.
Monroe is 13 miles south east, named after President Monroe.
Leesville is 12 miles north.
The other railroad stations are Bacon Creek, 7 miles north, and Roulett's 2 miles, and Woodland 10 miles south of Munfordville. Hardyville, incorporated in 1861, is 8 miles from Munfordville; population 68. Hammondville, Barnettsville, Canmer, Priceville, and Three Spring are small places, all incorporated.

Members of the Legislature from Hart County

Wm. Murray, 1832;
Claiborne J. Walton, 1855-63, '73-77.

House of Representatives
Richard I. Munford, 1820, '22, '27;
Adin Coombs, extra session, 1822, '23;
Dudley Rountree. 1824, '26;
Jesse Craddock, 1828;
Jas. T. Beauchamp, 1829;
Benj. Copeland, 1830, '31, '32, '35, '36, '44;
Jas. M. Gardner, 1833, '42, '43;
Valentine Garvin, 1834;
Benj. B. Edmonson, 1837, '38;
Lewis Barrett, 1839;
Geo. W. Craddock, 1840, '41;
David W. Maxey, 1845;
John Bowmar, 1846;
Henry C. Wood, 1847;
Wm. B. Thompson, 1848;
David Highbaugh, 1849;
Wm. H. Gardner, 1850, '63-67;
Claiborne J. Walton, 1851-53;
Wm. D. Lester, 1853-55;
John S. Bohannon, 1855-57;
John Donan, 1857-61;
P. L. Maxey, 1861-63;
Geo. T. Wood, 1863-65;
Henry C. Martin, 1867-69;
Wm. Adair, 1869-71;
John P. Rowlett, 1871-73;
B. C. Craddock, 1873-75.

A Charnel House
In 1826, two gentlemen, engaged in hunting wild turkeys, in Hart County, discovered on the summit of a knoll or elevation a hole large enough to readily admit a man's body. Curiosity, says the Harrodsburg Central Watchtower, led them to explore the mysterious place. At the depth of 60 feet, they found themselves in a cave or room, 16 or 18 feet square, apparently cut out of the solid rock. The first object which met the eye was a human skull, with all the teeth entire; the floor of the room was filled with skeletons of men, women, and children. Under the small opening through which they descended, the place was perfectly dry, and the bones in a state of preservation. An entire skeleton of the human body was obtained. They dug down between four and seven feet, but found them equally plentiful as on the top; but there arose an offensive effluvia as they approached where it was a little damp. There was no outlet to the room, and a large snake which they found there, and which appeared to be perfectly docile, passed around the room several times while they were in it. The discovery is a subject for speculation with regard to the period and circumstances attending this charnel-house.

There are a number of natural curiosities, such as caves, sinks, springs, in Hart County. About three and a half miles from Munfordsville, near Green River, there is a large spring, which possesses this remarkable singularity. A short distance below the head of this spring, a milldam has been erected; and at certain hours in the day, the water rises to the height of twelve or fifteen inches above its ordinary level, flows over the dam for some time, and then falls to its usual stand, resembling very greatly the ebb and flow of the ocean tides. The flood occurs about the hour of twelve o'clock each day, recurs at the same hour on every day, and is marked by the utmost uniformity in the time occupied in its ebb and flow. Six miles east of Munfordsville, in the level barrens, there is a hole in the earth which attracts no little attention. The hole is circular, of some sixty or seventy feet in diameter, and runs down in a funnel shape to the depth of twenty-five or thirty feet, where the diameter is diminished to ten or twelve feet. Below that point it has never been explored, and sinks to an unknown depth. On throwing a rock into this hole or pit, its ring, as it strikes the sides, can be heard for some time, when it gradually dies away, without being heard to strike anything like the bottom. It is supposed that more than a hundred cart loads of rocks have been thrown into this pit, by the persons visiting it. Six or seven miles north north-east from the county seat, is the "Frenchman's Knob," so called from the circumstance that a Frenchman was killed and scalped upon it. Near the top of this knob, there is a hole or sink which has been explored to the depth of 275 feet, by means of letting a man down with ropes, without discovering bottom! There are also a number of caves in the county, from a half to two miles in length; but being in the neighborhood of the Mammoth Cave, they excite but little attention.

Powder Mill
On Linn Camp creek, near the line of Green County, was an extensive powder mill, which during the war of 1812, and for a number of years after, produced large quantities of powder.

The First Man shot, after the invasion of Kentucky by the Confederate forces in 1861, is claimed to be Robert S. Munford, near Rowlett's station. The wound was in the right arm and side, and in December, 1871, his hand and arm were still much disabled.

The Bear Wallow is a very noted place in the barrens, where there was a great resort of hunters at an early day in quest of the bears attracted there to wallow and drink at a spring. All that remained of the place, in 1846, was a good tavern with the sign of the "Bear."

Captain Nathaniel G. T. Hart, (in honor of whom this county received its name,) was the son of Colonel Thomas Hart, who emigrated at an early day from Hagerstown, Maryland, to Lexington, which place became his residence, and has continued to be that of most of his descendants. Captain Hart was born at Hagerstown, and was but a few years old when his father came to Kentucky. The Hon. Henry Clay and the Hon. James Brown, so long minister at the French court, were his brothers-in-law, having married his sisters. Under the first named gentleman, Captain Hart studied the profession of law, and practiced for some time in Lexington. Shortly before the war of 1813, he had engaged in mercantile pursuits, and was rapidly making a large fortune. In the year 1813, being then about twenty-seven years of age, he commanded a volunteer company called the "Lexington Light Infantry;" and Kentucky being in that year called upon for volunteers for the war in the north-west, he, with his company, enrolled themselves in the service of their country. His command rendezvoused at Georgetown in the fall of 1819, and from thence proceeded to the seat of war. He served through the winter campaign of 1813-13, a portion of the time as a staff officer. At the battle of Raisin, on the 22nd January, 1813, he commanded his company, and received a wound in the leg. When taken prisoner, he found an old acquaintance among the British officers. This was a Captain Elliott, who had previously been in Lexington, and during a severe illness there remained at the house of Colonel Hart, and was attended by Captain Hart and the family. On meeting Captain Hart he expressed himself delighted at the opportunity to return the kindness he had received, and promised to send his carryall to take Captain Hart to Maiden. Captain Hart relied implicitly upon his promise, but the carryall was never sent, and he never saw Captain Elliott again. He started from Raisin on horseback under the care of an Indian, whom he employed to take him to Maiden; but had proceeded only a short distance, when they met other Indians, who had been excited by the hope of a general massacre of the prisoners, and Captain Hart was then tomahawked.

He left a wife, who was Miss Ann Gist, (a member of one of the most respectable families of the county,) and two sons. His wife died a short time after he did, and but one of his sons is now living. This is Henry Clay Hart, who now resides in Paris, Bourbon County, and who was a midshipman in the navy and commanded a gun in the attack made by the frigate Potomac on the fort at Qualla Battoo in the island of Sumatra, with great credit. The Lexington light infantry, commanded by Captain Hart at the Raisin, existed until after 1847, then its flag waved on the battle field at Buena Vista as the regimental flag of the Kentucky cavalry.

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

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