When the Pioneers Came to Meade County, Kentucky

In 1778 Squire Boone passing through this way in company with a certain John McKinney discovered at the head of Doe Run a spring which he frequented sundry times. In 1780 Squire Boone entered for Joseph Helm at this place 1,000 acres of land. August 20, 1786, Patrick Henry, Esquire, governor of the commonwealth of Virginia, signed the patent for this land which ad-joined 5,000 acres entered by James Larue. The land at the head of Doe Run was covered with large sugar trees.

In November or December 1780 John Essery was with Samuel Wells, Senior, and others in the Buck Grove. Samuel Wells, Senior, entered 150 acres southeast from Doe Run. On May 29, 1804, Richard Willett resided on this land. Samuel Wells, Senior, also made an entry in 1780 in Big Hill Grove. Jonathan Simmons lived on this tract in 1804. In March 1781, Wells made two entries in the Big Hill Grove. One of these began “on a high ridge at a pond and sugar tree.” This party made an entry in the Hill Grove for John Carr, Sr.

October 15, 1780, Samuel Wells, Senior, entered on Doe Run 500 acres of land “to include the four springs and a sulphur lick.” The Wells party spent the fall and winter of 1780-81 in the vicinity of Doe Run.

January 3, 1783, Squire Boone entered 6,000 acres of land “on the Ohio River below the mouth of Doe Run. In this year Boone visited Hill Grove, which he named Black Oak Grove.

The members of the Wells party of 1780-81 were John Essery, Lew Wells, Samuel Wells, Senior, Samuel Wells Junior, John Carr and others. This party suffered many hardships from their long stay. Samuel Wells, Junior, while making a survey of 810 acres about two and one-half miles below the mouth of Salt River, was surprised by a roving band of Indians. Wells and his surveyors abandoned most of their equipment near an old buffalo road.

In 1780 Daniel Boone built a hunting camp and planted a patch of ground at the “Boone Spring” near Big Spring. This is now owned by Sam J. Bunger. The following year he returned with Edward Bulger. They remained at the hunting camp and cultivated a patch of land. In 1793 John May purchased Bulger’s claim and received a patent for the “Bulger Grove tract,” “beginning at the spring of Boone and Bulger, northeast of the camp of Boone, thence southeast . . . poles to a post oak, beginning corner of Bulger’s survey, etc. . .”

In 1783 May, Bannister and Company purchased the “tomahawk mark,” or boundary of Daniel Boone, and took out a patent for this land. All this land is about a mile and a half northeast of Big Spring.

In 1780 Squire Boone entered 3,335 acres of land in the name of Isaac Larue in a grove about ten miles from the Blue Ball. This entry in 1797 adjoined an entry made by Edward Bulger. The original roll of Captain Joseph Bowman’s company at Harrodsburg and neighboring stations, January 24, 1778, contains Ed. Bulger’s name. In 1780 Ed. Bulger was an ensign in Captain William Harrod’s company at the stations near the falls of the Ohio.

Also Squire Boone deposes that in 1780 “he passed through Bulger’s Grove,” and that he “became much better acquainted with same and in the year 1783 the entry of Larne was by my direction and adjoining the same.”

January 12, 1780, John May purchased the right and title of James Hickman, heir at law of his two deceased brothers, Richard and Thomas Hickman were officers in the regiment commanded by Adam Steven in 1763. By the King of Great Britain’s proclamation of 1763 each officer was entitled to a land warrant of 1,000 acres. January 31, 1780, John May entered 2,000 acres on the Ohio River opposite the mouth of Blue River. June 14, 1787, he was granted a patent for 10,000 acres, which included a tract of 3,000 acres on the Ohio River in the Round Bottom, or Big Bend.

William Preston, June 1, 1785, patented land at Wolf Creek. This patent included a part of James and Ann Harrod’s preemption and settlement of 1,000 acres. On this tract of land a station, or fort, was built but later abandoned. No one knows the date of this settlement. But from all the evidence perhaps the oldest settlement made by white men in Meade County was at the mouth of Wolf Creek.

Barbour and Banks recived a patent for 42,400 acres of land on the headwaters of Spring Creek. This tract and the Banks and Claiborne survey of 113,482 acres were the largest surveys in this section.

The land along the Ohio River between the mouth of Doe Run and the mouth of Otter Creek was entered by General Henry Crist. November 6, 1809, Jesse Moreman bought this tract of land including the Armstrong preemption for $3,960.

The first permanent settlements in Meade County were made in the Hill Grove, Stith’s Valley and on Doe Run and Otter Creek. In 1784 Richard Stith (born 1727) and Lucy Hall Stith (born 1736) settled in Stith’s Valley. They were married in Virginia, December 28, 1756, and were the parents of twelve children. Their son, Joseph Stith, (born September 6, 1759) was a soldier in the Revolutionary War.

In 1792 James N. Ross settled near the head of Doe Run. James Tibbs built a round log cabin at the Blue Spring and Walter Finch at the Buffalo Spring. Each of these settlers had rude stockades about an enclosure as a protection from the Indians and wild beasts. The cabin was usually built in one corner of the stockade. The roof of heavy clapboards sloped to the inner side as protection against the Indians’ throwing fire upon it. The chimney usually was built at the end of the cabin within the enclosure.

The first corn mill in Meade County was an under-shot corn cracker built by Jonathan Essery just below the mouth of Blue Spring Branch on Doe Run. Jonathan Essery bought this mill site from Philip Jenkins.

September 22, 1824, Justus Hurd and Zadock Hurd, Senior, executed a note for $75 in round silver, borrowed money, to William Berryman with Daniel S. Richardson, Samuel Root and John Stone securities, also mortgaging two water grist mills and one saw mill on Doe Run.

William Berryman was a good mechanic and accumulated a large estate in land and slaves. Samuel Root and John Stone operated a large tannery on Doe Run.

James Overton built the first flourmill on Otter Creek. At this mill a business place sprung up called Plain Dealing. Soon after a tavern was built by Fleming Woolfolk. He and John Overton were the early businessmen of this town. Calvin Hurd and Jesse Brown bought Essery’s mill on Doe Run. At the death of Calvin Hurd his estate paid Joseph Woolfolk, Senior, $71. At the sheriff’s sale the land was bought by Daniel S. Richardson. This deed calls for a “white oak marked S. B. six poles above a large deep spring and an old hunting camp thereby.” This was the spring Squire Br one discovered in 1778.

Philip Jenkins lived on Doe Run before 1800. March 15, 1796, Michael, Sarah and Charles Campbell sold 3,610 acres of land on the Ohio River below the mouth of Doe Run to James Dickey and James Buchanan for one dollar an acre.

The first settler in the Hill Grove was a man named Allen. He was the first man buried in the old graveyard in Hill Grove. In 1798 Philip Jenkins, Junior, purchased 700 acres of land in this grove. He sold Benjamin Allen 130 acres of this land. February 1808, Phillip Jenkins and his wife, Jane, sold the Hill Grove land to Abisha Ashcraft. Jonathan Siminons came in 1800.

Ben Wooley Shacklett says: “Our family was among the earliest settlers as I get from record. My father and mother emigrated from Pennsylvania, Fayette County, in the year 1796. They took water at Redstone, with their small effects on a flatboat, and floated down the Ohio River and landed at the mouth of Bear grass, at the head of the fall of the Ohio. He lived there two years; assisted in building the first mill that was built on Beargrass in Jefferson County; it was called Higers Mill, as he informed me. In 1798 he dropped down to the Tobacco Landing and settled in Jackey’s Grove, near the center of Meade County, with two boys and a girl.”

Several other families settled in the vicinity of Jackey’s Grove eight miles west from the Big Clay Lick. John Jenkins, the second white child born in Meade County, was born on the old Joseph Woolfolk place in 1798. The first white child, a girl, was born in 1797 at the Tobacco Landing on the Ohio River.

December 17, 1800, Richard Barbour sold George Oldham the Falling Springs tract of 3,000 acres. The present courthouse stands on the site of the first house a log cabin, ever built at Brandenburg.

The Shackletts are said to be of Frcnch origin. The following names and dates are taken from a copy of the record in a Bible owned by Ben Wooley Shacklett.
John Shacklett, born in England, 1678; his son, Ben Shacklett, born in England, 1710; his son, John Shacklett, born in Pennsylvania, 1747; his son, Ben Shacklett, born in Pennsylvania, 1774; his son, John Shacklett born in Kentucky, 1796. Ben Shacklett and Elizabeth Ashcraft were married in Pennsylvania October 9, 1792.

John Jenkins and Sarah Shacklett Jenkins came to Meade County before 1800. At that time the settlers had to go with packhorses to Severn’s Valley to mill. They got their salt from the salt works at Bullitt’s Lick; Salt cost a dollar a bushel. It was wet and would drip all the way to the pioneers’ cabins. At that time salt was a luxury.

The Carrs came early from Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Carr Ashcraft (born in 1750) came in 1799. Her husband, Richard Ashcraft, was a noted Indian fighter in Pennsylvania. On account of the Indian atrocities in the valleys of western Pennsylvania he formed a bitter enmity against the Indians. He was a scout during the American Revolution. Uusually he would come into the camp from a scouting expedition with his shot pouch full of scalps. He spoke the Indian dialects and was familiar with the Indian character. Once he was captured but made his escape. His brother, Jed Asheraft, was killed by the Indians about 1790 in what is now Grayson County, Kentucky.

The Asherafts built a fort, or station, in what is now Fayette County, Pennsylvania. It is related that Mrs. Rachel Asheraft, hearing a turkey gabbier call, was instantly on the alert with a rifle. Presently she heard the call again and then she saw an Indian peeping around a tree near the fort. The Indian fell with a rifle bullet through his head.

Absalom and Abisha Ashcraft, whose mark was a capital A, were early settlers in Meade County. Abisha was a son of the old Indian fighter, Richard Ashcraft. Ben Shaeklett’s wife, Elizabeth, and Blancet Shacklett’s wife, Rachel, were his daughters. Neither knew what fear was. Abijah Ashcraft was known in Kentucky as the “old he wolf” on account of his vindictiveness towards the savages. Expert in woodcraft and with the rifle he was a terror on an Indian’s trail.

John Shacklett’s will was probated in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, October 27, 1809. The will provided for the widow and the children. The children were named in the following order: Sarah Jenkins (born 1772), Benjamin, Priscilla Horne (married Thomas Horne), Katherine Davis (married Enoch Davis), Polly (married first, Thomas Mills, second, Ben Fulton), Hannah (married Daniel Hayden), John (born 1784 and married Rachel Wimp in 1801 or 1802.), Blancet (born 1787), Sophia (married Jacob Hayden), and Jesse (married Sallie Dodson).

Benjamin was appointed one of the executors and was sworn, March 1, 1810. After the estate was settled the children immigrated to Meade County. They landed at Solomon Brandenburg’s Landing and Ferry, which was called “Buzzard Roost,” bringing their household goods, stock and supplies with them. They “paid for their land with bar iron, castings and mill stones, the latter quarried and dressed by themselves at their father’s quarry in Pennsylvania, (Laurelhill).”

With them came John Wimp and his family. John Wimp married Roxina, or Rosina, Kirkpatrick in Ireland. He served as a sergeant in Captain James Floyd’s Company of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, (April 23, 1779) in the Revolutionary War. Their children were: Daniel (married Rachel Welch), Polly (married George Dowell), Ben, Ephraim, and Rachel (married John Shacklett, after his death, married James Ross, March 8, 1830).

John Wimp was well educated. He joined the Masonic order in Europe. “He frequently spoke of having met General Washington in the lodge at Fairfax, and had a Masonic Medal which he greatly prized, having brought it from the old country, which was tied about his neck and buried with him as requested, at Hill Grove.” He died at the age of ninety-eight.

Ben Wooley Shacklett tells the following: “After the death of my grandfather, my grandmother rode on horseback from near Beasontown, Pennsylvania, to where her children lived in Kentucky, with her young est son, which was a trip of upwards of 500 miles; her age about 64 at that time. She was 97 years of age when she died. She was buried on the high ground of Hill Grove.

After the death of my grandfather, my father, Ben Shacklett, went back to Pennsylvania and settled up the estate of my grandfather, and brought down the river a flatboat load of castings, bar irons, axes, hoes, reaping hooks and some square box stoves, the first that were ever introduced in the county.”

Next | Return to Meade County

4 thoughts on “When the Pioneers Came to Meade County, Kentucky”

  1. My maternal great grandmother, was Malinda Schlacklett of Meade County, never knew my grandparents or grandparents, am thrilled by this account of my ancestors! Helen Kennedy, Charleston SC

  2. Dr. Marshall Myers

    I am greatly impressed by each one of the articles contained herein. I will sign up for more, but I can’t print out any more than the first pape of each. Is there a way I could get all of the articles printed? Dr. Marshall Myers

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