Prehistoric Fort Once Stood Near Bardstown

Author Unknown
The Kentucky Standard - 1901

On the farm of Mr. Jere Hagan, near Balltown (just south of Bardstown in Nelson County), is a remarkable stone fort or dwelling, which was very accurately described by Col. Bennett H. Young in the Courier-Journal several years ago.The walls of the fort, he said, were about six feet high, in the shape of an "L," 16 feet apart; and running east, west, north, and south. These walls were constructed north and south 225 feet, and then running west 225 feet.

When the farm was first settled in 1777, these stone remains were in a good state of preservation. The walls have a foundation, three and a half feet below the surface. The masonry below the foundation was made of irregular stone; and above the surface, for three feet, it was constructed of long flat stones, about three feet in width, and some of them being nine feet long. On top of these flat rocks, with uneven shapes, were built three feet more. The stones used for this purpose were of irregular shape and fitted together by these ancient stonemakers made a strong and compact wall.

The fortification stands half way between two never-failing springs, each about 500 feet distant from the wall. A number of years ago, hundreds of wagon loads of these stones were purchased and used in the construction of the turnpike, near which the wall is situated. Many of these stones were also used in the construction of foundations of residences and barns in the neighborhood.

For a considerable space between the two stone walls was laid a stone floor, and in this floor, in two places, were found evidences of fire. There was no chimney or fireplace, but if used for a dwelling, the smoke could find an outlet in the roof.

In the construction of this stone wall, the earth had been removed down to the solid rock and the masonry constructed on its surface. The stones were laid with great care and skill and bore no signs of any metal instrument having been used to dress them. Some of the stones used in the foundation would probably weigh 1,000 pounds. They were a foot thick and covered the width of the whole wall. Where the large stones were irregular in shape, they were filled out, so as to make an evenly-finished surface, and the outside presented a straight line. No stone of the same quality, of which the walls are constructed, is in the immediate vicinity, but about a mile and a half away is a quarry of the same kind as found in the walls. How such large stones could be carried so far, as they undoubtedly were, it is difficult to conjecture.

That two parallel walls should have been built in the shape of an "L" for 450 feet, 16 feet apart, cannot very easily be determined; but from the fact that a portion of the space between the walls, which was covered with a stone floor, shows traces of numerous fires, it is to be supposed that it was a sort of mansion or residence for a large number of people. Across these walls had been placed a roof, and the spaces between the walls had been used as a dwelling place for the early inhabitants of Kentucky.

It could not have been used as a protection against invading foes, as the location would have been better selected. It is no higher than many surrounding points, and it could have been approached easily on a level from all sides, except the east; and from this point, it could have no advantages from a foe. Mr. Hagan's father came into possession of the place about 125 years ago. At that time, the walls were in a fair state of preservation, but nobody could give any account of them.

About three-quarters of a century ago, Mr. Hagan's father sold a tree, which had grown up out of the foundation, and it measured four feet in diameter. This tree, when Mr. Hagan's father settled on the farm, showed at least 100 year's growth, and it had lifted a portion of the wall up more than three feet.

When the wall was erected, there were no means of knowing, but it was probably before the discovery of America by Columbus. Similar forts have been discovered in New Mexico and Mexico. They were the homes of the Aztecs.