Kentucky Genealogy and History

Garrard County Genealogy Trails

James Garrard (January 14, 1749 – January 9, 1822)

Born:  January 14, 1749
Died:  January 19, 1822
Birth State:  Virginia
Party:  Jeffersonian Republican
Family:  Married Elizabeth Mountjoy; twelve children
Religion:  Baptist

He was an American soldier and second Governor of Kentucky from 1796 to 1804.

Garrard was born in Stafford County, Virginia. While serving as colonel in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, he was called from the army to a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1779; he was reelected in 1785. Garrard was a zealous advocate of the bill for the establishment of religious liberty.

He moved to Kentucky in 1782 (then a county of Virginia) and settled on Stoner Fork of the Licking River, near Paris, where he became a member of the convention which framed the first constitution of the state. He was ordained to the Baptist ministry having also been a farmer, lumber miller, and whiskey maker. In 1791 Garrard was chairman of a committee that reported to the Elkhorn Baptist Association a memorial and remonstrance in favor of excluding slavery from the commonwealth by constitutional enactment.

Garrard was elected governor as a Democratic-Republican in 1796, and re-elected in 1800—the only Kentucky governor to serve a successive term until the state's constitution was amended in the late 1990s. His election was not without controversy. The state's electoral college named Garrard governor on the second ballot. Benjamin Logan contested the election and petitioned the legislature, which refused to overturn the second ballot. Logan had received 21 votes to Garrard's 17. Garrard was reelected in 1800, the state's first popular vote for the office. During his governorship, twenty-six counties (including Garrard County) were created, the circuit courts were established, and he was the first governor to live in the Governor's Mansion. Garrard attempted to get a prisons bill and a public education system established, but both were defeated by the legislature.

Garrard died at Mount Lebanon, his residence in Bourbon County, Kentucky. He is buried in the Garrard Family Burial Grounds at Ruddels Mills in Bourbon County; the Kentucky Legislature erected a memorial over his grave in 1823. Garrard County, Kentucky was named for him in 1797. Four of his grandsons, including Kenner Garrard, became generals in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky, by H. Levin, editor, 1897. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago. Reprinted by Southern Historical Press. p. 639. Bourbon County.

JAMES GARRARD, in whose honor Garrard county was named, was the second governor of Kentucky and was an important factor in founding the state and molding its early policy. He was born in Stafford county, Virginia, January 14, 1749, and served with distinction as one of the Revolutionary patriots. He was a member of the Virginia legislature and at an early day removed to Kentucky, where he bore a prominent part in the events which formed the early history of the state. He was a member of the convention which met in Danville in 1785, looking to the formation of a new state; served in the conventions of 1787 and 1788, representing Bourbon county, and was a member of the Virginia legislature from Kentucky. He was also a prominent figure in the convention of 1792, which framed the first state constitution; was several times the representative of his district in the Kentucky legislature, and in 1796 was elected the second governor of the new commonwealth, filling the office by re-election for eight years, the only man so honored in the history of the state, he administering its affairs with distinguished ability and thereby promoting the peace and prosperity of the state. He was beloved by all Kentuckians and was honored for his able public service, for his Christian character and the purity of his private life. He died at his home in Bourbon county, January 19, 1822, and in the winter of that year the legislature ordered a monument to be erected to his memory.

Military Service: Army
War(s) Served:  Revolutionary War
JAMES GARRARD, Kentucky's second governor, was born in Stafford County, Virginia on January 14, 1749. He served as a colonel in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. In 1872, he moved to Kentucky and settled near Paris on the Stoner River. He became instrumental in establishing churches in the area, and served as the first minister of the Cooper's Run Baptist Church. Garrard entered politics in 1779, serving as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, a position he held again in 1785. He also served as a member to the 1785, 1787, and 1788 conventions, and was a member of the constitutional convention of 1792. On a second ballot in 1796, the state's electoral college elected Garrard to the governorship. However, Benjamin Logan, who had won the first ballot's majority, contested the election of Garrard. He petitioned for assistance from the legislature, but they refused to overturn the second ballot. By a popular vote, Garrard was reelected to a second term in 1800. During his tenure, the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and 1799 were endorsed, new counties and towns were developed, a circuit court system was established, and an insurance company was commissioned with banking privileges. After leaving office, Garrard returned to his family farm, retiring from public service. Governor James Garrard died on January 19, 1822, and was buried at a graveyard in Bourbon County, Kentucky.


Submitted by: Debbie Quinn

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