Allen County was first settled in 1797, at several points east and north of Scottsville, by Jos. Ficklin, Toliver Craig, Henry Collins, Daniel Monroe, Abram Wood, and others. The first church organized was by the United Baptists, on January 31, 1801, four miles northeast of Scottsville. The first justices of the peace, and who organized the county court on April 10, 1815, at a point four miles west of the present county seat, were Walter Thomas, Edward Martin, David Harris, Wm. R. Jackson, John Ragland, Hugh Brown, and Elias Pitchford; the first sheriff, Thomas Cook; the first clerk, of both county and circuit courts, David Walker.
There are a number of Mineral Springs in Barren, which are considered efficacious in many diseases; but none have been as yet, much resorted to. There is a white sulphur spring on the east fork of Little Barren River, 16 miles east of Glasgow, the waters from which, as they flow off, form quite a respectable branch; and is supposed to be the largest stream of mineral water in the Green River country. There is a well on Buck Creek, nearly 14 miles west of Glasgow, which was commenced for salt water, but at the depth of 30 feet or more, a very large stream of medical water was struck (sulphur, magnesia, etc.), which rises about four feet above the surface of the earth through a large pipe, and runs off in a branch of considerable size. This is becoming a place of considerable resort. There are, also, several smaller springs within a few miles of Glasgow, which are thought to be very beneficial to invalids.
Bridges. - In 1815, some enthusiastic persons spoke of a bridge across the Ohio River. The anticipation did not become reality until 1869, when the wire suspension bridge, with two piers, between Covington and Cincinnati was completed. The iron railroad bridge, with seven piers, between Newport and Cincinnati was crossed by railroad trains on April 1, 1872, but not open for foot and vehicle travel for several months after. The wire suspension bridge between Newport and Covington was opened in January 1854, and the Short Line Railroad bridge, two and one-half miles above the mouth of Licking, in 1871. A substantial wooden bridge over the Licking River, opposite Butler Station, on the Kentucky Central Railroad, was finished in 1872.
Aboriginal Village. - In the bluffs, not far from Reel Foot Lake, are found various ancient stone implements, earthen ware utensils, and carved images, associated with human bones; affording evidence that this country has once been the site of some considerable aboriginal village.
Hurricanes. - The region of Reel Foot Lake is subject to frequent severe hurricanes, which prostrate the largest trees in their course. There is strong reason to believe that many of them originate here, usually taking a northeast course. One of these, which cannot be traced further south, took place March 20, 1834, between 9 and 10 a.m., passing by Feliciana on the edge of Graves County; and within four miles, destroying six or seven houses, and carrying clothing a distance, some say, of 20 miles.
The First Naval Engagement in the West, during the Civil War, took place just above the town of Hickman.
Caves. - The caves in Green County are generally small. One in the edge of Greensburg, with an average height of eight feet and width of ten feet, extends over 600 yards. More than 70 years ago, in this cave, a human skeleton was discovered in a recess, about which an outer wall of stone had been built by some extinct race. At the extreme limit of the cave is an exhaustless spring of pure water, claimed to be the source of the town spring. Green County abounds in remarkable springs, several of which still furnish ample water-power for mills, and others did so in former years. "The Drip" is the fanciful name of a popular bathing resort, a short distance below Greensburg, where the united waters of three springs fall over a projecting river cliff, like heavy rain, from a height of 60 feet.
Covington was established by an act of the legislature, approved February 8, 1815, on 150 acres of Thomas Kennedy's farm, purchased of him in 1814 by Gen. John S. Gano, Richard M. Gano, and Thomas Davis Carneal, for the round sum of $50,000. By the act, the title was vested in Alfred Sandford, John C. Buckner, Uriel Sebree, John Hudson, and Joseph Kennedy, as trustees; who were to make title to purchasers of lots upon the order of the proprietors. The first sale of lots was at a public auction, March 20, 1815, at prices exceeding what the same lots sold for ten years afterward; indeed, in 1828, some of the lots changed hands for less than half what had been paid for them in 1815.
Centenarians. - James Byrum died in Madison County, in 1871, aged 107 years, having been born in Hillsboro, North Carolina, in 1764; came to Kentucky about 1793; and was never sick in his life. Enos Hendren, another citizen of Madison, and native of North Carolina, who frequently was at work in his garden during the last year of his life, died August 12, 1872, aged 108 years. The latter had been a member of the Baptist church for 90 years, and the former for nearly 80 years. Daniel Purcell died March 1873, aged 105 years.
Gov. Robert P. Letcher, in honor of whom the county was named, was a native of Garrard County, where he resided and practiced law until 1840; was a representative in the legislature frequently, in Congress for ten years, 1823-33, and again in the legislature; was always a firm and consistent Whig, and in December 1831, received the whole vote of the entire Whig representation for Speaker of the House. In 1838, he was Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, and as such, distinguished for energy and promptitude. As the Whig candidate, he was elected governor, August 1840, for four years, by a 15,720 majority over Judge Richard French. Although one of the most popular electioneers in the state, he was beaten for Congress in the Lexington district, August 1853, by Major. John C. Breckinridge, by a 526 majority; owing to the remarkable popularity of the latter in Owen County. Gov. Letcher died in Frankfort, January 24, 1861.
Among The Early Settlers of Woodford County, in addition to others, were Gen. Chas. Scott (who had a son killed by the Indians), Col. John Crittenden (father of John J. Crittenden), Gen. James McConnell, Col. Wm. Steele (who died November 1826, aged 70), Benjamin Berry, Lewis Sublett, Edmund Wooldridge, Henry Watkins, and one or more of the families of Moss, Wilcox, Holeman, Stephenson, Craig, and Slaughter.
Editor's Note: This is only a few of the entries from this month's Collins' Historical Sketches. For remaining letters, stories, photos, and other features, get your hardcopy of the April 2000 Kentucky Explorer at your favorite news stand or vendor. Thank You!