Col. William Christian, in honor of whom this county received its name, was a native of Augusta county, Virginia. He was educated at Stanton, and when very young, commanded a company attached to Col. Bird’s regiment. which was ordered to the frontier during Braddock’s war. In this service, he obtained the reputation of a brave, active and efficient officer. Upon the termination of Indian hostilities, he married the sister of Patrick Henry, and settled in the county of Bottetourt. In 1774, having received the appointment of colonel of militia, he raised about three hundred volunteers, and by forced marches, made a distance of two hundred miles, with the view of joining the forces under General Lewis, at the mouth of the Great Kanawha. He did not arrive, however, in time, to participate in the battle of Point Pleasant, which occurred on the preceding day, the 10th of October, 1774. In 1775, he was a member of the general state convention of Virginia. In the succeeding year, when hostilities had commenced between Great Britain and the American colonies, he received the appointment of colonel in the Virginia line of the regular army, and took command of an expedition, composed of 1200 men, against the Cherokee Indians. No event of moment occurred in this expedition, the Indians having sued for peace, which was concluded with them. After his return from this expedition, Colonel Christian resigned his command in the regular service, and accepted one in the militia, at the head of which he kept down the tort spirit in his quarter of Virginia throughout the revolutionary struggle. Upon the conclusion of the war, he represented his county in the Virginia legislature for several years, sustaining a high reputation for his civil as well as his military talents.
In 1785, Colonel Christian emigrated to Kentucky, and settled on Bear-grass. The death of Colonel Floyd, who was killed by an Indian in 1783, rendered his location peculiarly acceptable to that section of the state, where a man of his intelligence, energy and knowledge of the Indian character, was much needed. In April of the succeeding year, 1786, a body of Indians crossed the Ohio and stole a number of horses on Bear-grass, and with their usual celerity of movement, recrossed the river, and presuming they were in no further danger of pursuit, leisurely made their way to their towns. Colonel Christian immediately raised a party of men, and crossed the Ohio in pursuit of the marauders. Having found their trail, by a rapid movement he overtook them about twenty miles from the river, and gave them battle. A bloody conflict ensued, in which Colonel Christian and one man of his party were killed, and the Indian force totally destroyed. His death created a strong sensation in Kentucky. He was brave, intelligent and remarkably popular.