Collins' Historical Sketches

Nicholas County
Paint Creek Expedition. - About the August 1, 1778, Col. Boone, tired of the suspense and determined to ascertain their movements, made an incursion into the Indian country to surprise a small town on a branch of the Scioto River called Paint Creek. His party of 19 men was composed of Simon Kenton (then called Simon Butler), John Holder, John Kennedy, Col. John Logan, John Callaway, Pemberton Rollins, Edmund Fear, Alex Montgomery, John Stapleton, Jesse Hodges, Alex Barnett, Stephen Hancock, and seven others. Within four miles of the town, they came suddenly upon a party of 30 Indians, who had just started to join the large force already on the march to Boonesborough. The whites made a vigorous attack, killing one and wounding two Indians, and capturing their baggage and three horses, without loss to themselves. On the return of two scouts, with intelligence that the town was evacuated, they made a rapid march homeward, on August 6th, passing the main body of Indians undiscovered; and on the 7th reaching Boonesborough. On the 8th, the Indian army, 444 strong, with British and French colors flying, appeared before the fort, commanded by Capt. Duquesne (father of Tecumseh and the prophet).


Pulaski County
Antiquities. - Several ancient burying grounds have been discovered in Pulaski County, from some of which were taken human bones of giant size.

Coal. - There are in Pulaski County at least five beds of coal, two of them workable, in the sub-conglomerate member of the millstone grit formation, 190 to 233 feet thick. One of these beds is three and one-fourth feet, including a clay parting and a thin band of sulphuret of iron, together about three inches thick. In another place, the main coal vein is four and one-half feet thick, with the clay parting of one and one-fourth feet.

Milling Power of the finest kind is furnished by Buck and Pitman's Creeks, and flour of superior quality is made at mills established on them about 1855.

Newspapers published in Pulaski County: Somerset Gazette, by John G. Bruce, 1851-60; Somerset Democrat, Barry and Bachelor, 1852-60, but for some years published by R. S. Barron and Company; and Somerset Morning Herald, by R. S. Barron, 1867-68.

Among the Distinguished Citizens born in Pulaski County were: Sherrod Williams, for six years, 1835-41, a popular member of Congress; Andrew J. James, Representative in the Legislature, 1855-57, and now, 1872-75, Secretary of State of Kentucky; and Dr. Galen E. Bishop, a distinguished physician now resident in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Among the First Settlers were the Prathers, the Jaspers, _____ Pitman, John Newby, Thos. Hansford, Wm. Owens, Alex McKenzie, Jesse Richardson, Chas. Neal, and John James.


Rockcastle County
Saltpeter Caves. - Among the Rockcastle hills are numerous saltpeter caves, at which large quantities of saltpeter were manufactured during the War of 1812. One of these, called the "Big Cave," or the "Great Saltpeter Cave," four miles north of Pine Hill Station on the railroad, and eight miles northeast of Mount Vernon, extends entirely through a spur of the mountain or "Big Hill" over half a mile. It was discovered by John Barker, who, in company with his wife, commenced exploring it with a torchlight. At the distance of about 300 yards, their light went out, and they were forced to crawl about, in perfect darkness, for 40 hours, before they found the place at which they entered. The arch is from 10 to 20 feet high. Large rooms branch off several hundred yards long, and the end of one has not been reached. Some of the rooms cover an area of several acres. The saltpeter manufactured here, before and during the War of 1812, gave employment to 60 or 70 laborers. There is a fine, bold running stream of water in the cave, and works were constructed inside, for the manufacture of saltpeter by torchlight. Carts and wagons passed through, from one side of the mountain to the other, without difficulty. The way is so level and straight that oxen were soon taught to pass through in perfect darkness, without a driver. Visitors through it find a succession of grand and startling views. Dr. Graham calls it a twin to the Mammoth Cave in Edmondson County, only less extensive. He writes that in some of these caves he has traveled for three miles, without finding an end. The formations being limestone, there is but little crumbling or giving way.


Muhlenberg County
Mounds. - One mile north of Greenville, near the old Caney Station, which was the first settlement in the county, are several mounds. From the largest, about 75 feet in diameter, have been dug portions of human skeletons. Trees of considerable size are now growing on the mounds.


Spencer County
The Original Sale-bill, dated October 31, 1785, from Edward Tyler to Jacob Yoder, of a family of Negroes, Judah and her son, Harry, and an infant daughter (unnamed), is preserved. This family was brought to Kentucky from North Carolina by Squire Boone. The boy, Harry, was still living in September 1871, 89 years old, in the family of Capt. Yoder's daughter, Mrs. David R. Poignand, near Taylorsville. Harry knew well, and often speaks of John Fitch, one of the pioneers of steamboat navigation; whom he describes as short and stout, speaking with a foreign accent, and always conversing with said Capt. Yoder in Dutch or German.


Shelby County
Trustees to lay off a town at Shelby Courthouse were appointed by an act of the General Assembly of Kentucky in 1792. On January 15, 1793, the trustees met and laid off 51 acres of land, "around and adjacent to the place whereon the public buildings are to be erected into suitable lots and streets." The "gentlemen trustees," as they styled themselves in the record, among their first acts, passed the following resolution, indicating, very clearly, the plainness and simplicity of the style of building of our ancestors: "Ordered, that every purchaser or purchasers of lots in the town of Shelbyville, shall build thereon a hued-log house, with a brick or stone chimney, not less than one story and a half high, otherwise the lot or lots shall be forfeited for the use of the town." These trustees were David Standiford, Joseph Winlock, and Abraham Owen.


Trigg County
The First White Visitors to Trigg County, except occasional canoe trips up or down the Cumberland and Tennessee, of French and American adventurers or explorers, were Dr. Thomas Walker and Daniel Smith; the Virginia commissioners appointed to establish the boundary line between the western portions of Virginia and North Carolina (now Kentucky and Tennessee), and their surveying party. On March 23, 1780, having run the line entirely across Trigg County westward, and across the Tennessee River, they closed their survey, according to directions from Richmond. They made a tolerably good map of the Cumberland River, the first ever made. One of them went down the river with the baggage, while the other proceeded through the woods with the survey. Their report speaks of the Cumberland as "a fine river, navigable at least 700 miles from its mouth."