Mount Vernon Precincts, Christian County, Kentucky

To this part of the county of which we now write came principally emigrants from the Carolinas. They were a brave, adventurous set, and were well worthy to become the progenitors of so hardy a race as the present population of northeast Christian. The first, or one among the first, who came to the Mount Vernon Precinct was not from either of the Carolinas, nor from Virginia, but from the good old State of Pennsylvania, the Germany of America. He was a sturdy old German named Fritz, and located on the West Fork of Little River, where he carried on a blacksmith shop for many years. He had four sons, Solomon, William, Michael and John, and as many daughters, Polly, Betsey, Susan and Melinda. Sol was a gunsmith and a good one too, and was highly appreciated for his skill in this line by the hunters for miles around. Altogether they were an industrious, worthy family. They came as early as 1790-91, and perhaps earlier, and opened up the farm now owned by Messrs. Steele, Dulin and Shaw.

Another family that came about the same time but not from the same place, and settled on the West Fork, was that of William Shaw. At an early day he built a horse-mill on his place, which was resorted to from far and near. He had two sons, James and William, twins, and four or five daughters. The Shaws came from South Carolina. George Shaw, a grandson, still lives at the old place. William Cannon, a Carolinian, came about 1790 also, and located on the East Fork of Little River, about one mile north of Benjamin Earned. He remained till about 1812, when he and his family removed to the Wabash country, where, shortly after, he and his son Isaac and his son-in-law John Starks, were murdered and scalped by the Indians, and his wife and two daughters carried into captivity. Mrs. Cannon and her two daughters, after suffering many indignities and cruelties, were upon the conclusion of peace ex-changed and restored by the Indians to their friends.

Several years later Joseph Hays moved in from either North or South Carolina, it is not now certain which, and settled on a place between the two forks of Little River, East and West Fork. He was a Methodist, perhaps one of the very first of this persuasion to settle in the neighborhood, and was highly esteemed for his piety and good works. He had a large family of daughters, one of whom, Polly, was an old maid. One day Larkin Harned, who was a youth just budding into manhood, and who was desirous of taking a lesson in love-making from some experienced hand before making his debut among the girls, called on Miss Polly. After hemming and hawing and blushing and stammering for a while in the vain effort to acquaint her with the object of his mission, he finally succeeded, when, much to his discomfiture, she leaned toward him with a peculiar gesture and a most maternal air, and said, “Larkin, I guess you need a little milk, son.” Whether the youth improved upon the suggestion or not does not appear, but the lesson was effectual nevertheless, at least Larkin did not enter the lists again for several years. About the year 1800 there was quite an influx from Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas into the county. Among others were William Warren, an old Revolutionary soldier, who bought the old Cannon place; Gideon Tighlman, a bachelor; Ezekiel Wood, Thomas and James Vaughn, and William Morrow, a brother-in-law of the Vaughns. Wood was a saddler, James Vaughn ran a distillery and Morrow was a farmer. The latter built on the present site of Mount Vernon. James Crabtree, a North Carolinian, in 1800 settled on the place where John Harrison now lives. He brought some fifty slaves with him, much fine furniture and silver plate, and maintained quite an air of state. Besides running a blacksmith shop and his farm, he is said to have manufactured both castor and linseed oils. He owned more than 1,000 acres of rich land, and besides was rich in sons and daughters. Their descendants still live in the county.

About the same time, 1800, Benjamin and James Colvin Harned, brothers, moved to the county, the former settling on the head waters of Little River, the latter near by. When a young man, Benjamin worked at the salt works in Western Virginia and made more than one narrow es-cape from the hostiles of that region. With his family, some time before the beginning of the present century, he moved from Kanawha to Hardin County. While there the Indians massacred a family in the neighbor-hood, and were pursued by a party led by Bob Samuels and Peter Kennedy. They came up with them about daylight, attacked and after a fight in which one of their number was killed, succeeded in killing all but two of the enemy. One of these was desperately wounded, and was tracked by the blood, which he vainly endeavored to stanch by wads of leaves pressed into the orifice of his wound. On coming up with him he was summarily dispatched. Thus all but one of the marauding party were killed, and even he it is supposed by some died near by of wounds received in the fight. Some years afterward the body of an Indian was found in a cave near the scene of conflict, and was supposed to be the body of the missing brave. After this, the last Indian raid into that part of the State, Harned moved with his family to Christian. Mr. Larkin Harned, who lives on the Russellville road four miles from Hopkinsville, is a son of the old pioneer. The old Earned place is now owned by the ” eleventh ” Wood. Dr. Pyles came about 1812 from South Carolina and settled on the Press Cushman farm. He raised a large family, and when not under the influence of intoxicants was esteemed by his neighbors as a good physician.

Farther up the country, in the precincts of Wilson, Fruit Hill and Stewart, and reaching to the extreme northern point of the county, where it wedges in between Muhlenburg and Hopkins, there were settlements made quite as early as those we have mentioned in the Mount Vernon Precinct. Indeed, it is an unquestioned fact that these and the other hill-lands of the north part of Christian were the first to be generally populated, and their settlement was only antedated by the immediate settlement of John Montgomery and James Davis on the West Fork of Red River. The reason for this preference for the northern portion of the county was, as has been intimated, the convenience of building material, fuel and water, and perhaps the greater abundance of all kinds of game. While that portion of the Mount Vernon Precinct lying immediately along the borders of Casky and Pembroke is very much of the same character topographically as those precincts, but a short distance to the north the country begins to take on less inviting and more rugged features. The gentle undulations gradually grow into pronounced hills, which increase in height and ruggedness till they rise to the apex of the water-sheds of Pond River and its tributaries. The character of the land also changes, the soil becoming thinner and less productive, and the sand-stone rocks cropping out nearer the surface. This is the general complexion of these precincts, but there are many rich and productive spots to be found interspersed here and there between the hills and ridges and along the many water-courses, and everywhere there is a superabundance of good timber and pure, good water. It is especially eligible for the growth of fruits, and as a horticultural district may yet become a source of greater revenue to the county than the southern precincts with their more level and richer lands.


Perrin, William Henry, ed., Counties of Christian and Trigg, Kentucky, Historical and Biographical, Chicago : F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1884.

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