AHGP Transcription Project

Knox County

Knox County, the 41st erected in the state, was formed in 1799, out of Lincoln County. It is situated in the extreme southeastern part of the state (separated only by Josh Bell county from Cumberland Gap), and lies on both sides of the Cumberland River; is bounded north by Laurel and Clay counties, east and south by Josh Bell, and west by Whitley and Laurel. The face of the country, except on the river bottoms, is hilly and mountainous; the staple product is corn, while hogs and cattle are raised in large numbers.

Barboursville, the county seat, is situated on the right bank of the Cumberland River, about 150 miles from Frankfort, 28 miles south east of London, Laurel County, and 32 north east of Cumberland Gap; established in 1812; population in 1870, 438, nearly doubled in ten years.

Members of the Legislature from Knox County, since 1815

Jos. Eve, 1817-21;
Richard Ballinger, 1821-26;
John P. Bruce, 1848, '50;
Radford M. Cobb, 1851-55.
From Knox, Laurel, Rockcastle, and Whitley counties
Jos. Gilless, 1842-5. [See Harlan County]

House of Representatives
Jos Eve, 1815;
Hiram Jones, 1816;
Jos. Parsons, 1817, '18;
Jas. F. Ballinger, 1819;
Westley M. Garnett, 1822;
Henry Tuggle, 1831, '32;
John P. Bruce, 1837;
Green Adams, 1839, '40;
Jas. Hayes, 1841;
Silas Woodson, 1842, '53-‘55;
Radford M. Cobb, 1846;
Wm. D. Miller, 1849;
Jas. W. Davis, 1857-59, '63-65;
John Word, 1859-61;
Jas. W. Anderson, 1861-63;
Wm. B. Anderson, 1865-67;
Dempsey King, 1867-69.
From Knox and Whitley counties
Dr. _____ Wilson, 1834. [See Harlan County]
From Knox and Harlan counties
Andrew Craig, 1820, '21.
From Knox
W. W. Sawyers, 1873-75.

Three miles from Barboursville, on the north bank of the Cumberland River, there are the remains of an ancient fortress, around which a circular ditch, enclosing about four acres of ground, was discernible as late as 1840.

Prominent Men
Barboursville has been the home of a number of distinguished men:
Joseph Eve represented Knox County for some ten years in the house of representatives and senate of Kentucky, was circuit judge for many years, and in 1841 appointed by President Harrison, Charge d 'Affaires to the republic of Texas, and died in that service.

Franklin Ballinger served in the state senate, and was circuit judge for many years.

Samuel P. Miller, who married, and for some years practiced law, in Barboursville before his removal to Iowa, is now one of the ablest of the justices of the U. S. Supreme Court.

Green Adams was a representative in congress for four years, 1847-49, 1859-61, and appointed by President Lincoln, 6th auditor of the U. S. treasury.

His nephew, George Madison Adams enjoys the remarkable popularity and distinction of being one of only 19 members of the lower house of congress (out of the entire number of 183 from Kentucky in 83 years) who were chosen for 8 years, James B. Beck, also being chosen, and Garret Davis, Matthew Lyon, Samuel McKee (1809-17), Thos. P. Moore, and Jos. R. Underwood having served for 8 years, Jas. Clark and Henry Grider for 9, John Fowler, Ben. Hardin, Robert P. Letcher, Thos. Metcalfe, David Trimble, and John White for 10, Henry Clay for 11, Chas. A. Wickliffe for 12, Linn Boyd for 18, and Richard M. Johnson for 20 years.

Silas Woodson represented Knox County in the Legislature for some years, was a delegate to the convention in 1849-50 which formed the present Constitution of Kentucky and the only member of that body who was in favor of the gradual emancipation of the slaves; he emigrated to northwest Missouri, was a Southern man in the times of "border ruffianism" in Kansas, circuit judge of an important district, and is now (March, 1873) governor of that great state.

General Henry Knox, in honor of whom this county received its name, was a native of Massachusetts, having been born at Boston, on the 25th July, 1750. He received a good education, and at an early period of his life was a bookseller. At the age of eighteen, he was chosen one of the officers of a company of grenadiers, and evinced a fondness and ability for the military profession. At the battle of Bunker Hill he served as a volunteer; and soon after undertook the perilous task of procuring from the Canada frontier some pieces of ordnance, greatly needed by the American army, which he successfully accomplished. For this daring feat, he received the most flattering testimonials from the commander-in-chief and congress, and was soon after entrusted with the command of the artillery department, with the rank of a brigadier general. In the battles of Trenton and Princeton, Germantown and Monmouth, he displayed peculiar skill and bravery; and subsequently contributed greatly to the capture of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Immediately after this event, he was created a major-general. He was subsequently one of the commissioners to adjust the terms of peace—was deputed to receive the surrender of New York from the English forces and afterwards appointed commander at West Point, where he executed the delicate and difficult task of disbanding the army, which he executed, with extraordinary address. In 1785, he was appointed secretary at war, the duties of which office he discharged with general approbation until the year 1794, when he retired to his estate, in the then district, but now State of Maine. In 1798, when the state of our affairs with France indicated a rupture, be was again appointed to a command in the army; but the re-establishment of amicable relations with that power, enabled him soon to return to his retirement. He died October 25, 1806, at his seat in Thomaston, Maine, at the age of 56. General Knox was as amiable in private, as he was eminent in public life. But few men in the stirring times in which he lived, possessed in a higher degree those traits of character which dignify and ennoble human nature.

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

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