Early Lower Troublesome Creek Settlers, Breathitt County

By Victor Jones - 2000

Troublesome Creek enters into the North Fork of the Kentucky River at Haddix, in Breathitt County, eight miles upstream from Jackson, Kentucky. It meanders from this location southeast, through parts of Breathitt and Perry counties, a distance of 25 miles to Dwarf, and then flows northeast through Hindman and Knott County, to its source near the Floyd County line. Some say it is 99 miles long and comes within one mile of being a river.

The section that I am concerned with is the lower 25 miles, between Haddix and Dwarf. This is where the ancestors of both my father and mother settled, and where I have lived for 67 of my 72 years. I am located two miles downstream from the Breathitt/Perry County line on property that was once owned by my great-great-grandparents, Andrew Borkin Jones (on my father's side) and Isaac "Bum" Miller (on my mother's side). The location is about halfway between Haddix and Dwarf.

The first permanent settlers began bringing their families to live in this section of Troublesome Creek in the 1790s and early 1800s. Parts of this region were in Clay County, until 1839. Therefore, most records will list the original settlers as settling in Clay County, when in fact, they settled around the mouth of Troublesome Creek, in (now) Breathitt County, and upstream to Dwarf, in Perry County.

The early settlers to this area came from several routes across or around the Appalachian Mountains. They came mostly from the states of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The Nobles, Neaces, Allens, Sizemores, and other families made their way from the Big Sandy region, across Quicksand, and down Little Buckhorn Creek to its junction with Troublesome Creek; and are credited, by many, as being the first permanent settlers to the area.

William Noble and his wife, Rachel Allen, and other members of this party settled, permanently, in the Buckhorn area; while his brother, Nathan Noble, and his wife, Virginia Neace, along with other members of the party moved downstream to Lower Beaverdam and crossed the hills to what is now Cockrell's Fork, on Lost Creek. Here, they established a permanent camp for the winter, because Virginia was heavy with child. They never left the area.

About the time these groups were establishing settlements upstream at Buckhorn and on Lost Creek, another group was moving into the area, around the mouth of Troublesome and Lost Creeks. These settlers had moved from Lee County, Virginia, and most were related by blood or marriage. It is believed they came across the mountains through Harlan and Leslie counties, and possibly Cumberland Gap.

This group included Samuel Haddix; his wife, Nancy Ann Fugate; and sons Colby, John, and William. Their other son, Henley, would come at a later date.

Others included Benjamin Fugate; his wife, Hanna Deevers; and children, Martin and Zachariah. Benjamin was the brother of Nancy Ann, the wife of Samuel Haddix; Martin Miller; William Harvey; Benjamin Harvey; Nimrod McIntosh; John Hays; and Joshua Barnett.

Zachariah Campbell and Polly Couch were, also, early settlers, who brought their family to the Troublesome Creek area. They settled on Campbell's Branch, near the mouth of Troublesome Creek, near the area where Samuel Haddix and his sons had settled. His children moved to different locations up Troublesome Creek, to Ary, and married members of other pioneer families. Susan Campbell married John Roberts; Caleb married Frankie Miller, daughter of William Joseph Miller and Elizabeth Cockrell; Lewis married Matilda and Mary Polly Fugate, who were granddaughters of Benjamin Fugate; and John C. Campbell married Martha Smith, daughter of Richard Smith and Alicia Combs.

William Harvey, Andrew Harvey, and John Roberts were among the early settlers; while John Russell, Jonathan T. Jones, Henry Hudson, and John Johnson came to the area a few years later.

About ten miles upstream from the mouth of Buckhorn, Richard Smith and his wife, Alicia Combs, along with the Grigsbys, Ritchies, Combses, and Jonathan Fugate formed a permanent settlement. This group had made its way through Pound Gap, Virginia, to the source of the North Fork of the Kentucky River. From there, they moved down the Kentucky River Valley and found their way into the headwaters of Troublesome Creek. This group settled the region between Ball Creek and Dwarf, on Troublesome Creek, and all its tributaries in this area.

Many descendents of the early families, who came to this area 200 years ago, are still living on the original home sites. Many of the creeks and hollows bear the names of their ancestors. Beginning at the mouth of Troublesome Creek, there is: Haddix, Hays' Branch, Nix's Branch (once called Harvey's Branch), Harvey Bend, and Fugate's Fork. On Buckhorn Creek, Noble was the post office. Lewis Fork, Clemons Fork, Miller's Branch, Dan's Fork, and Jake's Fork were named for families or individuals.

In Perry County, there is Noble, Mac, Nelly, Tom's Branch, and McGilton. Many other smaller streams and hollows also bear individual or family names.

My goal is to trace the descendents of the first families, who settled in the lower Troublesome Creek area (from Haddix to Dwarf), locate the original homesites, trace family ties, burial locations, discover other pertinent family history, and preserve this information for future generations.

I have read and recorded all the major cemeteries, from Grassy Gap (at the head of Lewis Fork, on Buckhorn Creek) to the Thorpe Cemetery, at the mouth of Troublesome Creek, at Haddix; and I'm attempting to locate and mark all of the smaller, isolated cemeteries which are located in the backwoods.

The graves of many of the first settlers to this area have been located, but the location of many others are lost, forever. Some of the ones located are Nathan Noble and Virginia Neace; Benjamin Fugate and his wife, Hanna Deevers, and many of their children; John Haddix and his grandsons, Henley and William; Benjamin Miller and his wife, Nancy Holcomb, and many of their children; Richard Smith and his wife, Alicia Combs, and their descendants; Jonathan Fugate and his wife, Lettie Wells (the location has been established, but markers have not been found), and their descendants; Lewis, John C. Jackson, and Caleb Campbell, and many of their descendents; Ira Noble (born 1811) and many of his children; William Harvey, Jr., Alford Combs; Jonathan T. Jones and his descendants; and numerous others.

The records of the Old Buckhorn Regular Primitive Baptist Church have been used, extensively, in my research. The Buckhorn church was established on October 25, 1839, and is still in operation. Services are held the third Sunday in each month.

Most of the original records are in my possession, except for the ones used by James Clell Neace, in his article "Religion in Eastern Kentucky," published in the May 1999 issue of The Kentucky Explorer. Those were, somehow, separated from the original records of the church, while they were in the care of a past church clerk. The original records are the property of the Buckhorn church. I have a copy of the material that Mr. Neace used, and the original records from 1854, until the present.

I have been a deacon of the church since 1986. Deacons of the past include Caleb Campbell, John Holliday, Ira Noble, Wilson Tincher, and Andy B. Marshall.

Many of the names that appear on the organizational charter of the Buckhorn church were the first settlers to arrive in the Troublesome Creek area. Some of them include Lewis Campbell, Caleb Campbell, Franky (Miller) Campbell, Jonathan Fugate, Lettie (Wells) Fugate, Alford Combs, Ira Noble, Rachel (Fugate) Noble, William Miller,
Joseph Miller, Sally (Noble) Miller, Lorenzo Dow Smith, Hanna (Deevers) Fugate, Phoebe Fugate, and others.

My studies have revealed that there are very few individuals, if any, who can trace their ancestry to an early settler on Troublesome Creek, between Haddix and Dwarf, and not be related by blood or marriage to everyone else. It is my goal to record the descendants of all the early families of Troublesome Creek. I realize they are scattered throughout the United States, and perhaps, other countries. I would welcome any information concerning any descendants from this area and will include them in my genealogical record of Troublesome Creek families.

In particular, I would like any information on Jonathan T. Jones, who settled in Perry County, on McGilton Creek, between 1835-1840. His wife was Lucinda; and his children were Elizabeth, Andrew Borkin, Delitha, Samantha, and William. The 1870 Perry County Census lists Jonathan, as being born in 1800 and coming from Lee County, Virginia. However, I have been unable to find any records in Lee County on his family.

Victor Jones, 575 Bethel Church Road, Hardshell, KY 41348, phone: 606-666-5396, shares his research with our readers. He is a retired educator of the Breathitt County school system. All photos courtesy of the author.