Source: Historical Sketches of
Kentucky by Lewis Collins Published 1850
Transcribed and Contributed by Barb Z.
Adair was formed in the year
1801. It is situated in the south middle part of the state, and lies on
the waters of Russell's creek and Little Barren river, which flow into
Green river: Is bounded on the north by Green county; east, by Casey
and Russell; south, by Cumberland; and west, by Barren. Contains
209,551 acres of land; average value per acre, $2,54. Total value of
taxable property in the county, in 1846, $1,228,776; number of voters,
1408; number of children between five and sixteen years, 1844; total
population in 1830, 8,220—in 1840, 8,466.
Colombia is the county seat of Adair.
It is a handsome and thriving town, distant about 150 miles from
Frankfort, and 620 from Washington city; contains the usual public
buildings for county purposes; two churches, occupied by four
denominations; two schools, seven stores and groceries, five doctors,
seven lawyers, one tavern, six mechanical shops;—population, 500.
Neatsville, a small village in this
county, contains a population
of about 50.
Breedings, another village, contains a population of 20. Principal
articles of export of Adair:—tobacco, hogs, horses and cattle. Face of
the country, hilly; soil, second rate, based principally on slate and
limestone. Green river runs through the northern portion of the county.
Principal tributaries on the north, White-oak and Case's creeks; on the
south, Russell's creek and its tributaries. The east fork of Little
Barren river passes through the west end of the county.
General John Adair, in honor of whom
this county received its name, was born in South Carolina, in the year
1757. His character was formed in the trying times and amidst the thrilling incidents
of the Revolution. At an early age, he entered the army as a volunteer,
was made prisoner by the British, and as usual, treated with savage cruelty, having been
thrown into prison and subjected to every species of insult and
hardship that the ingenuity of his captors could devise.
In 1786 he emigrated to Kentucky, and
settled in Mercer county. In the border war which raged with so much
fury on the north-western frontier, General (then Major,) Adair was an active and efficient
officer, and frequently engaged with the Indians. One incident of this
nature merits a relation. On the sixth of November 1793, Major Adair, at the head of
a detachment of mounted volunteers, from Kentucky, while encamped in
the immediate vicinity of Fort St Clair, twenty- six miles south of Greenville, near where
Eaton, the county seat of Preble county, Ohio, now stands, was suddenly
and violently attacked by a large party of Indians, who rushed on the encampment with
great fury. A bloody conflict ensued, during which Major Adair ordered
Lieutenant Madison, with h small party to gain the right flank of the enemy, if
possible, and at the same time gave an order for Lieutenant Hall to
attack their left, but learning that that officer had been slain,
the Major with about twenty*five of
his men made the attack in person, with a view of sustaining Lieutenant
The pressure of this movement caused
the enemy to retire. They were driven about six hundred yards, through
and beyond the American camp, where they made a stand, and again fought
desperately. At this juncture about sixty of the Indians made an effort
to turn the right flank of the whites. Major Adair fore-seeing the consequence of this maneuver,
found it necessary to order a retreat. That movement was effected with
regularity, and as was expected, the Indians pursued them to their camp, where a halt
was made, and another severe battle was fought, in which the Indians
suffered severely, and were driven from the ground. In this affair six of the whites
were killed, five wounded, and four missing. Among the wounded were
Lieutenant (afterwards Governor) George Madison, and Colonel Richard Taylor, the father of
the present Major General Zachary Taylor, the hero of Palo Alto,
Monterey. Buena Vista, &c.
The Indians on this occasion, were
commanded by the celebrated Little Turtle. Some years afterwards, in
1805-6, when General Adair was Register of the land office in Frankfort, Captain William
Wells, Indian agent, passed through that place, on hie way to
Washington city, attended by some Indians, among whom was the chief, Little Turtle. General
Adair called on his old antagonist, and in the course of the
conversation, the incident above related, being alluded to, Gen.
Adair attributed his defeat to his
having been taken by surprise. The little Turtle immediately remarked
with great pleasantness, 14 a good general is never taken by surprise."
In 1807, Major Adair's popularity
underwent a temporary obscuration from his supposed connection with the
treasonable enterprise of Burr. His conduct and opinions became the subject of much
speculation, and the public got to regard him with an eye of tome
suspicion* But it is now generally believed that General Adair's course in that affair was
predicated upon an opinion that Colonel Burr's plans were approved by
the government, which at that time contemplated
a war with Spain. General Adair's
opinions and associations at that day, placed him with the federal
party, among whom he stood deservedly high.
In the campaign of 1813 he
accompanied Governor Shelby into Canada, as an aid, and was present in
that capacity at the battle of the Thames. His conduct during this campaign was such as to draw
from his superior officers an expression of their approbation, and his
name was honorably mentioned in the report to the war department. Governor Shelby
afterwards conferred upon him the appointment of adjutant general of
the Kentucky troops, with the brevet rank of brigadier general, in
which character he commanded the Kentuckians in the glorious battle of New Orleans. The
acrimonious controversy between him and General Jackson, growing out of
the imputations cast by the latter on the conduct of the Kentucky
troops on that eventful day, is fresh in the recollection of all.
In 1820, he was elected governor of
Kentucky, in opposition to Judge Logan, Governor Desha, and Colonel
Butler. * He was often a member of the State legislature, and on several occasions was
speaker of that body. In 1806 he was elected to the senate of the
United States, from Kentucky, for the term of one year. In 1831 he was
elected to congress, and served in the house of representatives from
1831 to 1833, inclusive.
General Adair, in all the situations,
military and civil, to which he was elevated by his countrymen,
discharged his duties in such a manner as to command the respect and confidence of his fellow
citizens. He was a brave soldier, an active, vigilant and efficient
officer—a politician of sound principles and enlarged views, and an ardent patriot Among the
early pioneers of Kentucky, he deservedly occupies a prominent place
and a high rank. He died on the 19th of May, 1840, at the advanced age
of 83 years.
Copyright © Genealogy Trails