More Brandenburg History, Meade County, Kentucky

Of the family’s removal to Meade County and to Brandenburg, James Larue Fairleigh, a son of William and Elizabeth Fairleigh, leaves the following account, written July 10, 1880.

“At the first courts my father was appointed clerk of each court (county and circuit) and of course had to move to the county. As young as I was, (not four years old) I remember incidents in the moving, very distinctly, the stalling of one of the wagons on the road and the arrival at Little York, the place of our destination. I remember very well Ma was troubled about the appearance of things at the hotel where we stopped, and then, the house where we were to occupy had been occupied by stock. This had to be scraped, scrubbed, washed and cleaned, but she made the best of it she could, and it was not long till things assumed a better aspect.

At that day Little York was quite a village with its two grist mills, saw mill, a store or two, blacksmith and other shops. There was also quite a settlement along Doe Run of mostly Eastern people from the state of New York but they have long since, mostly, left the state.

The county seat was finally located at Brandenburg’s ferry on the Ohio River about four and one-half miles west of Little York. To this place my father moved in the spring of 1825. Captain Brandenburg’s house was perhaps the only dwelling in the place and that was situated on the high bench of ground fronting the river in the hollow between the two hills. This house served as a hotel, courthouse and storehouse until other and more convenient accommodations could be prepared and I might say it was used for a schoolhouse also. The first school I ever attended was taught in it and it long remained the leading hotel of the place. The bench of ground upon which it was situated is now occupied by the present new courthouse.

My father’s house, if not the first, was among the first built in the place. It was a double log house, one and a half stories high. It was in the spring of the year and the family lived in a tent made of plank and boards which served as a reception room, parlor, dining room, bed chamber and kitchen, until one room of the house was sufficiently completed to do the same duty when it was occupied. They did not wait to have the shutters to the doors and windows but moved in as soon as the roof was on and the lower floor laid. When it was necessary to close the doors and windows, bed quilts and blankets were brought into requisition and they answer-ed the purpose very well as sneak thieves and their ilk were rather scarce in those days. The other end, or room of the house, with loose boards laid down with boards for a floor, was occupied and used as a clerk’s office for perhaps two or three years, or at least until the double frame house was built on the corner of the lot west of the home mansion (the one now owned by Judge Alexander) when the clerk’s office was removed to one room of that house.

The house was built in the woods. The woods extended near or quite to the brow of East Hill. The hillside next to Captain Brandenburg’s house was cleared off and on this was an apple orchard. Captain Brandenburg’s farm was entirely or at least, most on West Hill.

The town was laid off by Nathan Raitt, an experienced surveyor of that day, and presents a fine appearance on paper, however rugged its surface may be. The public sale of the lots were held in the same year, 1825, at which quite a number of persons from a distance, as well as the immediate vicinity, attended.

The crowds at night spent their time in various ways of amusement into all of which the social glass entered largely. ‘0n one occasion when all were merrily filled with the intoxicating fluid and were musically inclined it was agreed that every one should sing a song. And the one who failed to “pack” the tune should be thrown over a large bake oven which stood in front of Captain Brandenburg’s house on the brow of the bench, or bank, next to the river.

In those days a man’s word was as good as his bond, drunk or sober. So at it they went, each singing his song in turn and all carrying the tune through well. At last it came to the turn of old Mr. Hambrick, a stonemason, who began his song but in the midst of it, he broke down and could not “pack” the tune, perhaps, from having imbibed too much. He was immediately tried by his peers for a breach of the agreement, or failure, to “pack” the tune and found guilty and sentenced to undergo the penalty agreed upon. It was immediate-ly put into execution by four men, one taking each limb and giving him a swinging motion. Over the bake oven he went feet foremost. Although drunk he was considerably hurt and it was sometime before he put up another chimney, this being his employment at that time.

In the spring of 1832 occurred the great flood on the Ohio River. (The river reached its highest at Louis-ville, February 21, 1832.) Haystacks, dwelling houses, mills, etc., floated by frequently. And for many days a great many houses lodged on the head of Flint Island. The river was up to where Mr. Boling now lives in Brandenburg and flatboats laid alongside the houses on Main Street. In the spring of 1847 was the next highest water but it did not reach the height of the water in 1832 by several feet.”

Many of the early Hardin and Meade County men were engaged in the flatboat business in the early days. From the old James Crutcher papers there is a record of a trip from Curd’s warehouse on Dick’s River to New Orleans. A cargo of corn, tobacco and lard was received on board the good flatboat, Eliza, March 19, 1819, and it was received at New Orleans, June 1, 1819. It was stipulated on the bill of lading that the shipper must risk “the Dangers of the river and other unavoidable accidents.”

Another copy of the bill of lading from the Crutcher papers follows:

“36,648 pounds of tobacco shipped by William Akin, Danville, Ky., on board the good flatboat called the No. 4, whereof is master for the present voyage, James Crutcher, now lying in the River Kentucky and bound for the port of New Orleans. To be paid at the rate of 1 cent a pound. 1-2 at New Orleans. 1-2 at Danville. River transportation was slow. The following order may still be seen in the Crutcher papers:

“Mr. James Crutcher will please to bring M. A. Wilson, viz.:

1 chest, 1 trunk, one demijohn, 1 stone jug, 1 bed, 2 venison hams, 1 oven and led (lid), 1 saddle with your own trunk. The two trunks and saddle are at Mr. Howl’s store. The other things are at the Ware House of Youngs, Esqr. M. A. Wilson.”

After delivering a cargo on flatboats at New Orleans Mr. Crutcher would walk back to Kentucky. On these trips he carried his money in a close fitting deerskin vest, which he wore under his shirt.

The first page of the Methodist Episcopal class book kept by Reverend John G. Denton has the names B. T. Crotch, William Helm, F. H. Blandig. 1832. “For the Class at Brandenburg, Meade County, Ky. Stephen Harber.”

Members names, 1833: William Fairleigh, Elizabeth Fairleigh, Thomas B. Enlows, Ann Enlows, Serajah Stratten, Mary Stratten, Electa Miller, Chas. Rawley, Lourane Hascall, Abijah Bodine, Alenson Moreman, Martha Case, Emily Straten, W. T. Foushee, Ratchel Furguson and Ratchel Moreman. Colored-Peter, Sole-mon, Toby, Hannah, Susan, Lidia.”

That the Methodists had services previous to 1832 is certain. It is altogether probable that the first Methodist services were held in the residence of William Fairleigh on East Hill.

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