Bracken county was formed in 1796, lies in the northern part of the state, on the Ohio river,and bounded as follows: North by the Ohio river, east by Mason, west by Pendleton, south-west by Harrison, and south-east by Nicholas. Brooksville is the county seat - Augusta the principal town and landing place or depot. The lands of the county are high, and the surface rolling and hilly, such as usually border on the Ohio river, the south-west resting upon the Licking river. The upper part, bordering on Mason, is rich and fertile. The staples are tobacco, wheat, corn and pork. The finest "Mason county tobacco" is raised in Bracken; the wheat crops are good, and the land, when new, produces good corn.
Number of acres of land in Bracken 124,844 ; taxable property in 1846, $1,750,242 ; average value of land per acre, $7,99; number of white males over twenty-one years of-age, 1,421; number of children between five and sixteen years old, 1,675. Population in 1830, 6,392; in 1840, 7,053. Augusta lies on the Ohio river, six miles below the Mason line, and immediately below the mouth of Bracken creek. The town includes three hundred acres of land, and is one of the most beautiful situations on the Ohio river, with a fine harbor. It is eighteen miles below Maysville, and forty-five miles above Cincinnati -- has three lawyers, four physicians, and contains three brick churches, (Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist), the town hall, a large brick building fifty feet square, the spacious and elegant edifice of the Augusta college, large steam saw and merchant mills, an extensive tannery, ten stores and groceries, one book and drug store, three tobacco warehouses, a large number of mechanics' shops, and 1,200 inhabitants. A letter from Gen. John Payne, who has resided many years in Augusta, and who was an active, brave, and efficient officer under Harrison at the Mississinaway towns, and on the north-west frontier during the last war with Great Britain, gives the following interesting account of the ancient remains discovered in that place:
The bottom on which Augusta is situated, is a large burying ground of the ancients. A post hole cannot be dug without turning up human bones. They have been found in great numbers, and of all sizes, every where between the mouths of Bracken and Locust creeks, a distance of about a mile and a half from the cellar under my dwelling, sixty by seventy feet, one hundred and ten skeletons were taken. I numbered them by the skulls; and there might have been many more, whose skulls had crumbled into dust. My garden was a cemetery; it is full of bones and the richest ground I ever saw. The skeletons were of all sizes, from seven feet to the infant. David Kilgour (who was a tall and very large man) passed our village at the time I was excavating my cellar, and we took him down and applied a thigh bone to his - the owner, if well proportioned, must have been some ten or twelve inches taller than Kilgour, and the lower jaw bone would slip on over his, skin and all. Who were they? How came their bones there? Among the Indians there is no tradition that any town was located near here, or that any battle was ever fought near here. When I was in the army, I inquired of old Crane, a Wyandott, and of Anderson, a Delaware, both intelligent old chiefs, (the former died at camp Seneca in 1813) and they could give no information in reference to these remains of antiquity. They knew the localities at the mouths of Locust, Turtle and Bracken creeks, but they knew nothing of any town or village near there. In my garden, Indian arrow heads of flint have been found, and an earthen ware of clay and pounded muscle. Some of the largest trees of the forest were growing over these remains when the land was cleared in 1792.
Augusta College, one of the best literary institutions of the west, is located here. It is under the patronage of the Methodist Episcopal church, and was the first college ever established by that denomination in the world. The college was founded in 1822 - has six professorships, and a preparatory and primary school attached to it. The number of students varies from one hundred to one hundred and fifty. The library contains 2,500 volumes. Commencement on Thursday after the first Wednesday in August. Rev. Joseph S. Tomlinson, D. D. President.
Brooksville, the seat of justice, is nine miles from Augusta, and about sixty-five miles from Frankfort - contains a commodious brick court-house and other public buildings ; three taverns, three stores, three lawyers, two physicians, and four mechanics' shops. Population about seventy-five. Named after David Brooks. Powersville, is a small village, three miles south of Brooksville, containing but few inhabitants. Germantown, a handsome village lies on the line between Mason and Bracken, - the greatest portion in Bracken.
The soil of Bracken is based on yellow clay, with limestone foundation. Timber, in some parts, sugar tree, buckeye, black walnut and hickory; in others, white and black oak. Gold has been found in the county, and it is believed by some of the most intelligent citizens that, upon a strict examination, by competent persons, this precious metal might be found in great abundance.
This county derived its name from two creeks: Big and Little Bracken, and these creeks were called for an old hunter, named Bracken, who settled on the banks of one of them, and is supposed to have been killed by the Indians at an early period of the settlement of Kentucky. [Source: Historical Sketches of Kentucky; originally published 1847 by Lewis Collins]
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