Collins' 1878 Historical Sketches Of Kentucky 


Bourbon County:

The Kentucky Wesleyan University, at Millersburg, Bourbon County, Kentucky, was established in 1866, as the continuation or successor of the Millersburg Seminary, established in 1852 by Rev. John Miller, M. D. It is under the care of several conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, but is not so well-sustained as it ought to be by a church so powerful in numbers, intelligence, and wealth.


Campbell County:

The First Courts of Campbell County met, by law, at Wilmington, on Licking River, 22 miles from Newport, but the county seat was afterwards located at Newport. In 1827, a law was passed fixing it at Visalia, a site supposed to be the center of the county, near the present Canton Station, on the Kentucky Central Railroad; and courts were held there that year. Visalia, was not the center, and the courthouse was launched for Pond Creek, a little lower down on Licking. But by the shrewdness of interested parties, it landed at Newport and was made fast until 1840, when, on the erection of Kenton County out of that portion lying west of Licking River, the "center" idea again prevailed; and Alexandria became the permanent county seat. At Newport, by a progressive series of legislative acts, are held the long terms of the circuit, criminal, and chancery courts. Campbell, thus, has practically two county seats.


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 Baker, 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 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.


Harrison County:

Joseph Shawhan died September 14, 1871, aged 90 years and three days. He was one of the oldest citizens of the state, had served his country in the War of 1812, and his county (Harrison) several times in the legislature. He was a most inveterate lover of horses and of horse racing; having gone to the Lexington races, both spring and fall meetings, whenever held, since 1800. For 71 years, from his 19th year, this passion for racing and witnessing racing had grown upon him. He lost his life in an accident, while returning from the great race won by Longfellow. He was the largest landholder of fine and costly lands in cultivation, reckoning by the number of acres in Kentucky and, probably, in America.


Jefferson County:

The First Encampment of regular settlers (the six families of Capt. James Patton, Richard Chinoweth, John Tuel, Wm. Faith, John McManus, and another whose name has not been preserved) was, in the spring of 1778, on Corn Island, opposite the present city of Louisville (now all washed away). The island was so named, because those families planted and raised corn upon it that year, probably the first ever raised within a circle of 25 miles around. The ground had been cleared for the purpose by Gen. George Rogers Clark's troops, on their way to conquer the British possessions in Illinois. In the fall of the same year, 1778, they removed to the mainland, at a place called, in 1819, White Home, where they erected their cabins. In the spring of 1779, a few emigrants arrived from Virginia and settled adjoining and a little below them.


Muhlenberg County:

A Sink, of the general appearance of similar sinks elsewhere in Kentucky, but comparatively bottomless, is in the barrens six miles east of Munfordville. It is funnel-shaped, tapering from about 70 feet diameter at top, to ten, at the depth of 30 feet. Its depth has not been explored, but stones cast into it are not heard to strike bottom.

A Cave in the south part of the county, ten miles from Greenville, is worth attention. In October 1872, an exploration for half a mile "reported" the discovery of two petrified figures, man and woman, dressed in the old Roman costume; and each is holding in their arms a child. The man one of ten years, and the woman a baby of one to two years. It was first discovered in the winter of 1852/3, by a person who tracked raccoons into it.

In August 1853, G. P. McLean, of Mississippi, and others explored it for about two miles to a pit beyond, which they could not pass over for want of a ladder. Eight or ten branches led off in different directions, some of them apparently larger than the direct avenue. A petrified monkey, as perfect in shape as if alive, was found in the cave a few weeks previous.