Kentucky Genealogy and History

Anderson County, KY

Source Historical Sketches of Kentucky  By Lewis Collins
Transcribed and Contributed by Barb Z.

Anderson county was formed in 1827, and named for the Hon. Richard C. Anderson. It is situated in the middle portion of the state; the Kentucky river forming its northern boundary, and Salt river entering its southern border from Mercer, penetrating near the center, when it takes a different direction, and flows out on the western border, passing through Spencer, and uniting with the Rolling Fork in Bullitt county. The county is bounded on the north by Franklin ; east by the Kentucky river; south by Mercer and Washington ; and west by Spencer county. The tributaries of Salt river are Crooked, Fox, Stoney, and Hammond creeks; while Bailey's run, Little Benson, and Gilbert's creek fall into the Kentucky river. The surface is generally rolling, though some portions are level, rich, and very productive—the hills producing fine tobacco and grasses. The staple products are wheat, corn, hemp, and tobacco ; the articles of export, horses, mules, cattle, and hogs.

The auditor's report for 1846, gives to this county 101,891 acres of land; average value of land per acre, $5,66 ; total valuation of taxable property, $1,137,922; number of white males over twenty-one years of age, 1,001 ; number of children between five and sixteen years old, 1,401. Population in 1830,4,542; in 1840, 5,452.

Lawrenceburg, the county seat of Anderson, is situated on the turnpike road leading from Louisville to Harrodsburg, fifty-five miles from the former, and twenty from the latter place; three and a half miles from lock and dam No. five, and twelve miles from Frankfort. Contains four stores, four groceries, two taverns, a handsome court house and other public buildings; Reformed or Christian, Presbyterian and Baptist churches; one seminary; five lawyers ; four doctors ; one each, carpenter, hatter, gunsmith, and blacksmith shops—population 350. Established in 1820, and called after Capt. James Lawrence, of the U. S. navy, whose last words on board the Chesapeake, it will be remembered, were, " Don't give up the ship." This place was first settled by an old Dutchman by the name of Coffman, who was killed by the Indians. When his good wife first heard of his melancholy fate, she exclaimed in the bitterness of her affliction, " I always told my old man that these savage Ingens would kill him; and I'd rather lost my best cow at the pail than my old man."

Richard Clough Anderson, Jr., (in honor of whom the county of Anderson was named,) was born at Louisville, in the then district of Kentucky, on the 4th day of August, 1788. His father was Richard C. Anderson, St., who served with great gallantry, as an officer, throughout the revolutionary war, at the conclusion of which he was a lieutenant colonel. His mother was Elizabeth Clark, a sister of the celebrated General George Rogers Clark.

Mr. Anderson was sent at an early age to Virginia for his education; and after being graduated at William and Mary college, studied law under Judge Tucker. Upon his return to Kentucky he commenced the practice of his profession; and, possessing all the qualities, intellectual, moral and social, necessary to insure success, soon took a high stand at the bar, as an able counselor, and as an eloquent advocate. His popular talents would not permit him long to devote himself to private pursuits. The solicitations of friends and a natural ambition, drew him, in a very short time, into the service of the public. He commenced his career, as a politician, in the popular branch of the State legislature, in which he served several years, with distinguished credit to himself, and with the marked approbation of his constituents. He was accordingly elected to congress, in 1817, by a handsome majority over his opponent—the old incumbent. in congress he continued four years, during which time he participated in the splendid debates of that most interesting period, with an ability and access, which reflected no slight honor on his character as an orator and a statesman. His reported speeches, during this period, are admirable for their terseness, beauty of arrangement, closeness of argument, and unambitious elegance of diction; but they now lack the charm of that distinct and melodious elocution—that graceful and manly and persuasive manner—which gave interest and attractiveness to their delivery. In 1822, declining a re-election to congress, under the belief that his services were more needed in the councils of his own State, than in those of the nation, he again entered the State legislature, and was chosen speaker of the house of representatives. The duties of this office he discharged, in that most excited period of our State history, with a courtesy, propriety, discretion and ability, that caused him to be regarded, by many of that day, as the perfect model of a presiding officer. This was the origin of the angry controversy existing between the old and new court parties, to the former of which Mr. Anderson belonged. In January, 1823, Mr. Anderson was appointed, by President Monroe, the first minister plenipotentiary to the Republic of Colombia. Upon his arrival at Bogota—the capital—with his family, he was received with every demonstration of honor and respect. He resided there but a very short time, before he came to be regarded, by the authorities of the republic, rather as a friend and counsellor than as a stranger. His intercourse with the principal officers of state, was of the most agreeable and confidential character. In 1824 he negotiated the treaty between the two republics, which was ratified among the last acts of President Monroe's administration. In 1825 he lost his wife—an admirable and estimable lady, to whom he was most tenderly attached. This loss induced him to return home for a short time, in order to place his children—two daughters and a son—with his friends in Kentucky. In October of that year, he revisited Bogota, accompanied by his brother, now Captain Robert Anderson of the U. S. Army, and remained until July, 1826, when he was instructed by President Adams to repair to Porto Bello, to join Mr. Sergeant, who had been appointed together with himself, an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the congress to be assembled at Panama. On his way to Carthagena, his intended place of embarkation, he fell sick at Turbaco, a small village some twelve miles distant from that city, where, on the 24th day of July, his disease terminated in death. He was succeeded in his mission to Colombia, by the late ex-president of the United States, General William H. Harrison.

Thus prematurely ended a brilliant career of usefulness and honor, and of still higher promise. The writer of this slight sketch heard one of the most distinguished men of our country declare, that Mr. Anderson's death alone in all probability, prevented his reaching the highest office in the Union. A brief but discriminating notice by the editor, in the National Intelligencer, of August 29th, 1826, renders the following just tribute to his worth and memory. "The United States in general, and his native State of Kentucky in particular, have sustained a great loss in the death of this distinguished gentleman. On his former visit to Colombia he lost his excellent wife—which bereavement he did not long survive.

" Mr. Anderson was one of the most amiable of men, and most discreet of politicians. A career of a few years in congress disclosed his valuable qualities. He possessed in an eminent degree, a clear discriminating mind, combined with the most conciliatory and persuasive address, the effect of which has often been seen on the floor of the house of representatives, and afterwards on that of the popular branch of the legislature of Kentucky, in the midst of the greatest contentions, like oil stilling the agitated waves of the ocean. In this point of his character, it is sufficient praise to say, he nearly resembled the late lamented William Lowndes. In brief, without offence be it said, the country could not boast a better man than Richard C. Anderson."

Mr. Anderson was so actively engaged in professional and political pursuits, that he had but little leisure for literature. He was fondly addicted, however, to reading, and devoted most of his spare time to books—principally of biography and history. His writings are few, but those few are characterized by strong sense, sober reasoning and sagacious insight. He was the author of the article in the North American Review, for October, 1826, on the constitution of Colombia—an article well worthy of perusal for its general excellence, as well as for the statesman-like suggestions it contains, relative to our own constitution. He was also engaged on a larger work, upon the political institutions and history of Colombia, the completion of which was unfortunately frustrated by his untimely death. Besides these, a fragmentary journal, of the last few years of his lire still exists, possessing great interest, from the judicious observations upon books, and the shrewd remarks upon men and events, with which it is interspersed.

In making an estimate of the character of Mr. Anderson, in his public and private relations, it may be truly said of him, that while in private life he was without a rice, in his public career he was equally without a reproach.

 




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