Pioneer Settlers of Trenton Precinct, Todd County, Kentucky

Of the very early pioneers who settled in the district there are many whose coming we cannot locate. They were here so early that there are no chroniclers now left to tell us of their arrival. One of the earliest pioneers in this district was Maj. Sam Moore, who came here some time prior to 1809, and he soon became one of the largest land-owners of the county. At one time he owned nearly the whole of the Trenton District. Land was cheap here in those days. When Mr. Kennedy first came here in 1809 Moore offered him 200 acres of land near the present site of Trenton for his saddle-horse, and all the land he could buy at 50 cents an acre. At that time the land was the wildest of barrens, and Kennedy thought that it was a case of starvation for him to settle there, consequently he declined Moore’s offer. It is also related of Moore that he sold another farm of 300 acres to one of the early pioneers for a couple of calves. Moore lived here for many years, and was one of the leading men of the county.

The first authentic date of a settlement being made here is that of 1796. In that year Brewer and Martha Reeves came here from Augusta County, Va., but in a few years after their arrival they both died. They left four sons to do them honor in the early history of the county. Of these, Col. Benjamin H. Reeves was the most noted. He was born in Augusta County, Va., in 1787, grew to manhood and settled on the farm formerly owned by his father. His first public service was representing old Christian County in the Legislature in 1812. Soon after that he made up a company for the war of 1812, was subsequently appointed Major, and was one of the finest officers in that conflict. He afterward moved to Missouri, and was elected one of the first Lieutenant-Governors of that State. He returned to this county in 1835, and settled on the farm now owned by Lewis Garth. Soon after his arrival here he was elected a member of the Legislature, and served in that capacity from 1838 to 1840. He ‘died here in 1849. Another son, Willis L., was for many years both County and Circuit Clerk of Todd County, and a third son, Ottaway, was a farmer here for many years. He was said to be a man of fine intellect and good education, but did not in any way, as his brothers had done, seek political notoriety. A grandson of Brewer Reeves is still living in the district in the person of Crittenden Reeves, who represented this county in the Legislature in 18q9 and 1881.

Some time prior to 1809 Rev. Finis Ewing came to this district and settled four miles north of Trenton, where Henry Maynard now resides. In an early day he was one of the foremost men of the county. He was a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and was the founder of the church in the county. He built a store on his farm, and had a postoffice established there, which he called Lebanon, and also undertook to build up a town. In 1820 he moved with his family and many of the members of the church to Missouri, giving as his reason for emigrating, that the Baptists and tobacco were taking the county.” After his arrival in Missouri he formed another Lebanon, which afterward became quite a town. Col. Thompson Ewing, a son of this worthy gentleman, grew to manhood in this district, and then settled down on a farm about three miles south of Trenton, on the Clarksville road. There in an early day he had a store and postoffice, and subsequently represented this county in the Legislature. In 1840 he moved to Missouri, where he died a few years since.

Living immediately around Ewing in an early day were several other Presbyterian families, among whom might be mentioned the Weirs, Berrys, Millers, Gillmoors, Doconers, McClures, Bryans and Rubys. It is supposed all these families moved to Missouri with Ewing, as hardly any trace can now be discovered of them.

Another settler of an early day whose arrival cannot be stated with accuracy was Beverly. Stubblefield, who settled three miles southwest from Trenton. He came from Virginia, where he had been a soldier in the war of 1812, and an officer in that conflict. He died here in 1824, but his wife survived him for many years, and taught her children to respect and revere the name of their sturdy father.

Probably as early as 1800 the Harlow family first came to Kentucky from Virginia, and soon after this William Harlow settled in this county and district, where he lived for many years. His father, Elisha B., came from Ireland, and was a soldier in the Revolution, being killed while in the service. A brother of his, Silas, came to this State, and was after-ward killed in the battle of Blue Licks. In this district there are only two or three grandchildren of this family now living, but their progeny are now scattered throughout the Union, and many of that name are now holding positions of trust and honor in this country.

About 1809 Lewis Leavell moved to this district, and purchased from Maj. Moore the land now in the immediate vicinity of Trenton. He was one of the largest real estate owners in the county, and was at one time a man of great wealth. In connection with the founding of Trenton he took an active interest.

In 1810 Elijah Garth came from Albemarle County, Va., and settled on the farm now owned by Webster Garth, a grandson. This pioneer was an intimate friend of President Jefferson, and a man of fine capabilities. Accompanying him to this county were his wife and eight children. He died here in 1816, and his son, William Andrew, inherited the home farm. The latter resided here until his death in 1843. Another brother, Littleton, emigrated to Illinois from this county, and settled near Peoria, where he died in 1853. Webster, a son of W. A. Garth, is the only one of the family now living in the district.

Accompanying the Reeves family to this district was a man of nearly as much note, namely, Robert Coleman. He came originally from Virginia to Hopkinsville, and at the latter point he practiced law for some time. Coming to this county he planted a small piece of land with corn that he had brought with him from Hopkinsville in his saddle-bags. This little piece of land now forms part of the farm owned by William Perkins. Coleman finally became one of the largest land-owners of the county, but like many others he did not seem to prize his possessions very highly, as it is said that he once sold the farm now owned by the Gray heirs, and which at that time consisted of about 300 acres, to the wife of one of the early pioneers for a piece of calico. Immediately after the organization of this county, Mr. Coleman was a candidate for the honor of being the first Representative to the Legislature from Todd, against John S. Anderson. The election was an old-fashioned one, and lasted three days. When the last vote was cast it was found that the election was tied. A subsequent vote resulted in the choice of Anderson for the position. Coleman died here in 1843.

Contemporaneous with Coleman was John McFadden, who made a settlement on the farm now owned by Thomas Duson. He was a great fighter, and in an early day had many a brush with the red man. Up to a few years ago a tree stood on his farm that bore the impress of eleven bullets. Behind this tree McFadden had once stood, and by sticking out his hat had drawn the fire of the Indians when they were desirous of killing him. In an early day, west of Coleman’s several families were living, of whom no trace can now be found. They were the Kenners, Bolingers, Fineleys and Norths. Up the creek from McFadden, in an early day, Henry’ Carpenter resided on the farm that was afterward owned by Rev. Reese. He was a full-blooded Dutchman, and as is typical of that race, very cool and phlegmatic. He would work in his clearing with his gun by his side and his pipe in his mouth. One day when chased by the Indians he dropped his ax and seized his gun, and started on the double-quick for the fort at Davis’ Station, which was several miles distant on the Christian County line. And it is said that when he got there his pipe was found to be still smoking; he afterward built a block-house on his own land for his defense in a similar predicament.

In 1809 John Moore made a settlement two miles south of Trenton on the Nashville road. There he resided until a few years ago, when he died. Accompanying him to this point was his, father, who was born in Augusta County, Va., and died in this county in 1832. Newton Moore, a grandson of the latter, is still living on the home farm. Another early settler here was Col. Jeffries, who made an improvement on the land now in the possession of his grand-daughter, Mrs. Barnes; he was a soldier in the Revolution and died here in 1820. Exactly when “Pouncy” Anderson, as he was called, came here cannot be ascertained, but in a very early day he settled down on the land now owned by Col. Sebree. He was a great deer hunter, and died here in about 1835.

In 1810 F. J. Sebree came from Albemarle County, Va., to this district, and settled about two miles south of Trenton; his people were of English-French descent. Soon after his arrival here he went to Missouri, and while prospecting there he had one-half of the present site of St. Louis offered to him for a mere pittance, but not liking the location he returned to this county; here he resided until his death in 1835; his son, Col. E. G. Sebree, was born in this district in 1817, and at the age of fourteen commenced life for himself at Trenton, as a clerk in the store of his uncle, Granville Garth; he remained with his uncle five years, and then commenced business for himself; he continued in business seven years, and turned his attention to farming; he first purchased about 400 acres at $11 an acre, and now owns about 1,700 acres where he now re-sides. He has also been extensively engaged in cotton and tobacco speculations. In 1853-54 he represented this county in the Legislature.

In 1812 Henry T. Burns came to this district from Orange County, Va., and made a settlement; he died here in 1825. Quite a large family of his children are still living here.

In 1815 a Mr. Carver, of Virginia, settled on the Clarksville road in this district, where he died in 1847. In the same year a Mr. Gillam settled on West Fork, near the Christian County line, and there resided for many years. A Mr. ‘Henderson, a cousin of President Jefferson, also made a settlement in this district in 1815. The farm on which he then resided is not owned by Mrs. Williams. At one time he was a man of considerable wealth, and wielded a large influence in this section of the county. Two sons of his, Hudson and Charles Henderson, also grew to manhood in this county, but they too have now gone to their reward.

In 1816 Robert Durrett came here from Virginia. The first few years after his arrival he rented, but afterward settled on the farm now owned by C. Dickinson. He afterward moved to Christian County, where he remained a short time, but subsequently returned to this district. Here he resided until his death in 1835. A brother-in-law of his, Reuben Mansfield, came to this county about the same time, and settled on the premises now occupied by Oscar Tandy; he died here in 1840; he left a large family, but all of them except two have passed away. Harrison Mansfield, a son, is now living in the Purchase, and Mrs. Susan Camp, a daughter, is now living at Louisville. In 1816 James Beazley also came to this district. He was accompanied by Thomas McDaniel. Both settled about three miles south of Trenton. They were both horse-fanciers and had a race-track kept up for many years. Here in an early day the people for miles around came in large numbers to view the races, which at that time were one of the institutions of the county. In the same year John Massey made a settlement on the Sebree farm, where he resided for many years. In 1819 James L. Tutt came here with his father, Lewis B. The latter was a native of England, and died here in 1820. James L. came here from Culpeper County, Va., and died here in 1833. His soil; James F. Tutt, is still living here at a hale old age. He is surrounded by a large family of children, who minister to his comfort in his declining years. Thomas D. Adams also came to this district in 1819 from Fayette County,’ Ky. He was originally a native of Virginia, and died ‘here in about 1845. His son; William D., who was born in the upper part of the State; grew to manhood here and resided in the district until his death in 1875. ‘A large family of children are still living here. In about I820-Dr. Fox’ came to this district and settled near Trenton. Here he finally ‘became quite a noted physician for his day and time. He was a. magistrate of the district for many years. In 1847 he was killed on the public road by some egroes, and his loss was regretted far and wide. In 1822 Alexander McElwain came to this district. This gentleman was born in the city of Cork, Ireland, and came with his widowed mother to Maryland in 1790. In 1800 he and his mother came to Logan County and purchased 1,000 acres; in that county the mother died. Mr. McElwain after his arrival here purchased the land now owned by his son, and resided here until a good old age. His son, James C., who was one year old when the father arrived in this county, is still living here, and needs no mention at our hands. In 1822 W. C. Harrell moved to this county from Nelson County, Ky., and re-sided here until 1872, when he moved to Clay County, Mo., where he is now residing. His son, Dr. George A. Harrell, who was born here, is now practicing medicine at this point. In 1825 George W. Camp came to this district from Virginia. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and died in this county in 1860. Edmund Ware was born in Franklin County, Ky., came to Chistian County in 1820, and in 1827 he came to this county, where he resided for many years. His son, Charles Ware, is still living here, and is one of the leading farmers and tobacco dealers in the district. About this time Granville Waddill emigrated to this district from Shelby County. After his arrival here he settled on the farm now owned by Col. Sebree. He was well read, and was considered a very fine historian for his day and time.; he died here in about 1852. In 1827 Edmund Turnley came to this county from Spottsylvania County, Va.; in this district he settled on the farm now owned by a Mr. Smith, on the Miller’s Mill road. Here he resided until he passed to his reward in 1852. Another settler who arrived in the district about this time was Rev. William Boone, who had come to this county in 1817 with his father, Squire Boone, who settled in the Allensville District, and there died William Boone afterward came to Elkton District and subsequently came here. He was first a preacher in the Baptist denomination, but subsequently joined the Christian Church, and became a leading preacher in that denomination; he died here in 1836. In 1827 Zachariah Billingsley came here from Virginia, and made a settlement on land now owned by Webster Garth. In 1828 Samuel Chestnut came to this district from Princeton, Ky. To that point he had originally emigrated from North Carolina in about 1819. Prior to that time he had taken an active part in the war of 1812; he died in this county in 1866. His son, William A. Chestnut, who came with his father, died here in 1879, leaving a large family of children to mourn his loss. About the same time Henry White also emigrated to this district from Virginia; he settled on the farm now owned by his heirs, where he died in about 1863. His son, Clay White, was a soldier in the late war. Another settler who arrived in this district in about 1828 was Daimler Smith, who settled on the farm now owned by his heirs, two miles south of Trenton, where he died in 1850. Still an-other pioneer, contemporaneous with the above, was William B. Simms, who settled on the farm now owned by his daughter, Mrs. Stigger. He was a brickmason by trade, and put up a large number of the early houses in the district.

In 1830 William P. Arnold came to this district. He was born in Louisa County, Va., and came with his parents to Christian County in 1812, where the latter died. After his arrival here he taught school for many years, but subsequently turned his attention to farming; he also became one of the largest. tobacco speculators in the county, and made and lost several independent fortunes in his operations. He is still living in Trenton with his son, Lycurgus H., who was born here in the year after his father’s arrival. The latter began merchandising here in 1869, and of late years has been serving as Postmaster and Magistrate. Reuben Bradley also came to this county in 1830 from Virginia, and settled on the farm now owned by Mr. Hogan, where he died in about 1865.

About this time Thomas Waller, a native of Virginia, also made a settlement on the farm now owned by his children.

Roscoe C. Dickinson was born in Louisa County, Va., his father being a soldier in the war of the Revolution. The former came here in 1831, and settled in the south part of the district. Here he died in 1863; his son, Dr. Joseph S. Dickinson, who came here with the father, is still living, and is practicing his profession in this district.

Thus briefly, and perhaps hurriedly, we have gone over the settlements of this district. Many there are, probably, who have been omitted in the list of early settlers, and who are as deserving of mention as those whose names and deeds have been written here. Their actions and their lives are enshrined in a more enduring volume, the unwritten archives of the past that linger to-day in the minds of the people who are now walking in the footsteps so well and so plainly carved by the men of by-gone days.

All honor should be given to these heroes of the past, for theirs was a grand and a noble work, and the memory of their toil, privations and hardships will linger with the people here as long as time shall last. A. lasting monument of their labor is seen in the agricultural prosperity of the district to-day. Truly, of the early settlers we can say:

” Ye pioneers, it is to you
The debt of gratitude is due ;
Ye builded wiser than ye knew
The broad foundation
On which our superstructure stands.”


Battle, J. H., W. H. Perrin, Counties of Todd and Christian, Kentucky : historical and biographical, Chicago : F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1884.

2 thoughts on “Pioneer Settlers of Trenton Precinct, Todd County, Kentucky”

  1. Margaret Bloodworth Ruppel

    I have a lot of history around Col. E. G. Sebree plus many items that belonged to him. I am a descendent, but have no one in family that is interested. Looking for any assistance. Thanking you in advance.

    1. There is a church named in your families honor. It was uses by African American Methodist. It is now in disrepair. But is a great heritage site that should be preservedñ

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