Author: Dennis Partridge

Town of Trenton, Todd County, Kentucky

The town of Trenton was laid out originally in about 1819, by Lewis Leavell. The plat consisted of fifty-nine lots lying immediately around the intersection of the Hopkinsville road and Clarksville Street. In 1867, after the coming of the railroad, Lawson & Col-well’s addition of some thirty lots was added on the north and east. The Legislature of 1883-84 also increased the corporate limits of the town by about one-half. This latter addition has not as yet been laid off into lots. Mr. Leavell at first gave the name of ” Lewisville ” to the town in honor of himself. But there being another post office in the State by the same name, he changed it soon after to ” Trenton.” It was his desire to have the county seat located at this point upon the formation of the new county, and before the matter was finally decided in favor of Elkton, he and Maj. John Gray had a very severe contest in the matter. Early Merchants Probably the first men to do business at the new town were Reyburn & Woods, who merchandised here until 1825, and then moved to Clarksville. Soon after the laying out of the town John H. Poston opened a store here. He engaged in business by himself until about 1825, and then took in as a partner Granville W. Garth. This firm continued...

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Town of Elkton

On the 8th day of May, 1820, the county seat of Todd County was located at Elkton. With this the history of the town properly commences, although in March, 1819, Thomas Garvin and Thomas Jameson laid out the original plat of the town. This plat was recorded in the Christian County Court, and consisted of about eighteen lots. The first addition to the town of Elkton, after it had been made the county seat, was that of John Gray, which was made and recorded on Nov. 16, 1820. This addition lay west of the original plat, and consisted of 251 lots. It contained the grounds now covered by the major portion of the town of Elkton, including the public square. John Mann, Jr., and Charles Smith made another addition to the town two days after-ward. It consisted of nine lots, and joined the original plat on the south. On the same day William Greenfield made a third addition to the town. It consisted of fifty-six lots, and lay to the east. At the last session of the Legislature a new charter was granted to the town of Elkton, in which the corporate limits were extended to a considerable extent, but as yet no survey has been made of the portion added, and no definite statement can be made as to the number of lots. The first portion of the...

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Todd County, Kentucky Timber

There is a wide difference in the timber growth found in the different parts of the State. No coniferous tree or bush, with the exception of the swamp cypress and a few small cedars, are to be found in western Kentucky, and in this section the hemlock seems to be generally confined to the coal measures. Magnolias are found in the precincts of the lawn, but they are exotics. Originally, southern Todd was known as a ” barren,” where the timber was kept down by frequent burnings, and in this connection it may be observed this county was thus deprived of much valuable timber that otherwise would be found in great abundance in the forests that have grown since the settlement of the whites. It seems to be undisputed, that certain timbers, especially white oaks, do not return again to forests from which they have once been driven by such an agency as fire. In the State report upon this subject Prof. Shaler re-marks: ” The formations best adapted to the growth of the chestnut are the conglomerate and Chester sandstones (mill grit). On soils from these formations chestnut is normally found in the greatest abundance, and growing to the greatest perfection. In passing from western to eastern Kentucky my attention was therefore attracted to the fact that when the Big Clifty (Chester) sandstone first appeared, which was in...

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Todd County, Kentucky Pioneers

The early immigration to the State of Kentucky, as has been noted, came to the blue grass region and upper Kentucky Valley. A few of the more adventurous spirits pushed out to the southwest in the upper valley of Green River, and of these were the founders of Davis Station in Christian County, and Justinian Cartwright, in Todd County, in 1792. It is to be regretted that the sketches of the Hon. Urban Kennedy, published in a county paper, have not been preserved in-tact. Through the care of W. P. Stephenson, a few fragments have been secured to which the following summary is principally indebted for its facts. At the time Davis’ Station was established, the Indians were still actively engaged in a determined effort to repel the encroachments of the whites, and this settlement was disturbed, if not broken up, later in the year. Cartwright’s seems to have escaped the general fate of outlying improvements, and the settlement of the county dates in an unbroken line from 1792. A trace ran from the Russellville settlement, established in 1780, to the cabin of Bat Woods, on the present site of Hopkinsville, and across this trace, about four and a half miles west of Elkton, Cartwright built his cabin. It was situated in the edge of some timber near a good spring, and was the only house in the territory...

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Todd County, Kentucky Indians

The relation of the Indians to the Mound-Builders has not been satisfactorily determined by scientists. Indian traditions are so vague, and so utterly lacking in the prime essentials for a scientific basis, that few archaeologists have taken them into the account. Some, how-ever, have hazarded an hypothesis in accordance with the traditions mentioned above, while others (among whom the late Mr. Morrison, an account of whose researches in New Mexico have been published by the Smithsonian Institute), have taken the ground that the Indian is a degenerate descendant of these ancient people, and that the famed Montezuma, whose halls have furnished so rich a store of poetic illusion, was nothing but a dirty Indian in a mud hut. Whatever may be the truth in all this, the Indian still stands, by the great mass of evidence, an independent race, and the successor of the Mound-Builder, whose remains are found in this county as well as elsewhere in the State. Whether the traditions quoted sufficiently account for the fact or not, it remains unquestioned that the Indian did not choose to make his home in the ” dark and bloody ground,” and while the pioneers possessed the land only after a long and determined struggle, the early annals contain no record of the wigwam blaze or the council fires in this State. There are abundant evidences of their presence in...

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Todd County, Kentucky Agriculture

Something more than the southern half of Todd County was originally included in what was known as the ” barrens,” so called, not because the soil lacked fertility, but because of the former absence of timber and the numerous ” sinks ” to be found. This area lies upon the cavernous formation, and the soil is notably of very high quality, but is easily restored when worn. The soil of the northern portion of the county rests upon the clifty sandstone and is of a less desirable quality. There are occasional patches of the red clay subsoil, but these are rare, the greater part being the white pipe clay or kindred soils of meager fertility and difficult to build up. Todd is pre-eminently an agricultural county. Its numerous streams in the early history of its settlement gave rise to a number of mills, but these have had a local significance only. Of the large number that have had existence less than a dozen now survive, and of these only the mills at Elkton are an important feature in the manufacturing interests of the county. The lack of shipping facilities and the scarcity of merchantable timber has retarded the development of manufactures, so that Todd is not only a purely agricultural district, but is likely to remain so for all time to come. The first settlers sought an agricultural region...

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The Start in a New Country

The first settlements were made in the timber, and the first step toward the establishment of a home was to clear a patch for corn and potatoes and plant a crop. The timber thus removed furnished material for the cabin and fences, which were then constructed. The earliest settlers generally brought their families to some strong station, and then, equipped with an ax, rifle, frying-pan and a small stock of salt and meal, the father would set out on a prospecting tour to be gone, frequently, for several months. Before his return he often made the first necessary clearing and erected a temporary hut to receive his family. Later, as cabins were found more frequently in the country, the immigrant had no hesitation in breaking up his home in a distant State, and with his family and household goods on wagons or pack animals start out for a new home, influenced and guided solely by rumors and picked-up information on the road. Deciding upon a locality for his future home, he found no difficulty in securing temporary shelter for his family in some cabin already well filled by its owners, but which the simplicity of early manners and an unstinted hospitality rendered elastic enough to comfortably entertain the welcomed addition to the community. A new arrival of this nature was heralded with welcome for miles about and a neighborhood...

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Social Development of Todd County, Kentucky

THE early society of Todd County was derived from Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. The natives of the latter State largely preponderated in the northern part of the county, while the Virginians and North Carolinians were found in about equal proportions in the southern part. The greater part of those who came here early were in limited financial circumstances, though the cheapness of the land and the opportunity of profitable speculation attracted a few who. were remarkably well-to-do for that period. There were few, if any, of outward marks of difference, and neighbors were too highly prized in the sparsely settled community for society to exact too much in the way of credentials. There was now and then a little disposition on the part of Virginians to assume some superiority because of their possible connection with the “F. F. V.,” but then was so little opportunity to display this innocent vanity that an aristocracy never gained a reasonably sure foothold. Society here was very democratic, and those who persisted in asserting any other pretension, found eventually that they had danced to an expensive piper, and left the country poorer if not wiser. As a rule, there was little ” book learning among the people, and schools were very slowly established. Public offices were filled for the period of ” good behavior ” by the Governor, and once supplied there...

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Sharon Grove Precinct, Todd County, Kentucky

IN date of settlement, Sharon Grove District occupies a foremost rank among the districts of Todd County. Its pioneer settlements were made very early, and to undertake to give an exhaustive and detailed account of the interesting and varied scenes and occurrences incident to the time thereto, would be a most difficult task as well as one demanding more space than can be allotted to it at this time. The study of man is a most proper one for the present and future generations, and it is one that is calculated to give rich returns to any thoughtful and inquiring mind that will undertake it; and in the lives of our forefathers we see that they sacrificed their own comforts and interests, and oft times their own lives for the benefit of those to follow them. The generally impoverished circumstances of these men, the hardships, privations and positive dangers immediately surrounding them, the formidable obstacles with which they were almost daily called upon to contend, all are conditions of life under which not many of the present day could live and make progress. So we say that the careful study of the lives and times of our pioneers might well be the ambitious work of one’s life, and how invaluable would such a work be. Sharon District, to the history of which this chapter is devoted abounds in historical...

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The Second Struggle

The early settlement of Kentucky demanded every resource of the pioneer. For thirty-five years he was hunter, scout, warrior and farmer by turns, and even women were called from the distaff to seize the death-dealing rifle. Up to the close of the war of 1812 no hour came that did not bring with it the distant threat of war. The first fury of the Indian onslaught had hardly spent itself, when the national questions involved in the free navigation of the Mississippi River, and the treason of Aaron Burr, were added to keep up the general alarm. Then in close sequence came the agitation over England’s high-handed outrages which culminated in actual conflict. It was amid such scenes that Todd joined the sisterhood of counties, and though remote from the threatening border, the interest of each became the duty of all, and this county freely sent forth her sons to do battle for the general weal. The West, with its thousand savages, sullen with defeat, offered an admirable theater for the action of the enemy, and the flame of war rapidly spread toward the wilderness of Ohio and Michigan. Kentucky entered the ranks with ardor, and on every field her sons were “where danger called or duty.” The population of Todd was small, but it is said the Hon. Benjamin Reeves organized a company which served in the war....

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