Kentucky Genealogy and History

Allen County Kentucky



Source: Historical Sketches of Kentucky by Lewis Collins Published 1850
Transcribed and Contributed by Barb Z.


Allen county was formed in the year 1815, and named in honor of Colonel John Allen. It is situated in the southern part of the State, and lies on the waters of Big Barren river: Bounded on the north by Warren; east by Barren and Monroe; south by the Tennessee line, and west by Simpson county. Scottsville, the county seat, is about one hundred miles from Frankfort.

Statistics. The Auditor's report for 1846, gives to this county 177,242 acres of land; average value of land per acre, $2,84; total valuation of taxable property, $1,200,645. Number of voters 1,272; number of children between five and sixteen years old, 2,047. Population in 1880, 6,486; in 1840, 7,329 increase in ten years, eight hundred and forty-three.

Towns. There are two towns in Allen Scottsville, the county seat, and Port Oliver. Scottsville contains the court house and the usual public buildings, four churches, four stores, three taverns, five lawyers, three doctors, eight mechanical trades. Established in 1817, and called for General Winfield Scott, of the United States' army. Poet Olivee is situated ten miles from Scottsville, on Barren river, and contains one store and tavern. Salt works are in operation in the latter place, which manufacture three hundred bushels of salt per week.

Inscriptions. On the Sulphur fork of Bay's fork of Big Barren river, at or near the Sulphur Lick, the following words were found cut in the bark of a beech tree " James M'Call dined here on his way to Natchez, June the 10th, 1770." On Barren river, about nine miles from Scottsville, on the lands of Colonel S. E. Carpenter, near where his mill now stands, the following is inscribed on a large beech tree "Ichabod Clark, mill site, 1779." On the other side of the tree, this inscription is found, "Too sick to get over," date and name not mentioned.

Caves. -There are a number of caves in the county, but few of them have been explored to any extent. In the year 1844, two shells were found in one of these caves, resembling a conch shell. One of these shells is about eighteen inches long, has been sawed or cut lengthwise in the middle, having a small hole bored in the little end, so as to be hung up by a string; the other or bowl end, answering a good purpose for a water vessel.

Antiquities. In the west end of the county, about thirteen miles from Scottsville, and seventeen from Bowling-green, is one . of the most remarkable of the remains of those ancient fortifications, belonging to a people unknown, of whom our country exhibits so many traces. The fortification alluded to is at once romantic and impregnable, presenting one of the strongest military positions in the world. At this place, Drake's creek makes a horse-shoe bend running one mile, and then with a gradual bend, returning to within thirty feet of the channel where the bend may be said to commence. The partition which divides the channels of the creek at this point, is of solid limestone, thirty feet thick at the base, two hundred yards in length, forty feet high, and six feet wide at the top. The top is almost perfectly level, and covered with small cedar trees. The area included within the bend of the creek, is to the east of this narrow pass, and contains about two hundred acres of land, rising from the creek in a gradual ascent of one hundred feet, where it forms a bold promontory.   The top of this is leveled and forms a square area containing about three acres, enclosed with walls and a ditch. The outer ditch is still perceptible, and the walls are now about three feet high around the whole circuit of the fort. In die rear of this, are to be seen many small .mounds. This is by nature one of the strongest military positions in the world; the only approach to the fort, being over the narrow cause-way above mentioned tall cliffs intercepting all access from the opposite banks of the stream.

At the west side of the narrow pass, and immediately at its termination, there is a hill similar to the one on the east. Here is to be seen a small mound forty feet in circumference and four feet high. Upon excavating one side of this mound, a stone coffin was dug up two and a half feet long, one foot wide and one foot deep, with a stone covering the top of the coffin projecting one inch beyond the sides. Upon opening the .coffin, the arm and thigh bones of an infant were found in it.  This coffin being removed, others of larger dimensions were to be discovered, but were not removed. Many very large human bones have been exhumed from mounds in this county some of the thigh bones measuring from eight to ten inches longer than the race of men now inhabiting the country.

This county received its name from Col, John Allen, who fell in the disastrous battle of the river Raisin. He was born in Rockbridge county, Virginia, the 50th of December, 1779. His father, James Allen, emigrated to Kentucky in the fall of the year 1780, and settled at Dougherty's station, on Clarke ran, about one and a half miles below the present town of Danville. Here he formed an acquaintance with Joseph Daviess, the father of Col. Joseph Hamilton Daviess. Becoming impatient of the close confinement of the station, these fearless and ardent men removed farther down the creek, and erecting a small station, lived there for three years. At the expiration of this period, Mr. Daviess purchased a tract of land three or four miles west of Danville, and removed to it.

In 1784, the father of John Allen removed to Nelson county, and settled on Simpson's creek, seven and a half miles from Bardstown. In 1786, the subject of this notice attended a school in Bardstown, kept by a Mr. Shackleford, where he acquired a slight knowledge of the classics. This school was succeeded by one under the charge of Dr. Ames Priestly, with whom young Allen finished his education. At this school, Joseph H. Daviess, John Rowan, Felix Grundy, Archibald Cameron, John Pope, and John Allen, all distinguished in after life, formed one class.

In the year 1791, John Allen commenced the study of the law in the office of Col. Archibald Stewart, of Stanton, Va. He pursued his legal studies with great assiduity for about four years, and in 1796, he returned to Kentucky and settled in Shelbyville, where he continued to practice law till 1812. As a lawyer, he ranked with the first men of his profession.

On the breaking oat of the war in 1819, he raised a regiment of riflemen, for the campaign under Harrison in the north-west. Part of this regiment was in the battle of Brownstown, on the 18th of January, 1813. In the fatal battle of the river Raisin, Col. Allen's regiment formed the left wing of the American force. The termination of this affair is too well known to require recapitulation here; and among the many noble and chivalrous Kentuckians who there found a bloody grave, there was none whose loss was more sensibly felt or deeply deplored than Col. Allen. Inflexibly just, benevolent in all his feelings, and of undaunted courage, he was a fine specimen of the Kentucky gentleman of that day, and his name will not soon pass away from the memory of his countrymen.

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