Kentucky Genealogy and History

Shelby County, Kentucky



History of Shelby County, Kentucky

Source: Written, Compiled & Edited by Geo. L. Willis, Sr. (1929)



Geology and Geography

Shelby County is located on the Globe's surface, in all probability, about where it was when,

"He rounded out the new green Earth and flung,
It out to roll the centuries away"

The waters which are said to now underlay it may have been underlain by it. The surface that it then had, may have been brushed away by the glaciers. The "eternal" rocks upon which it rests may be its comparatively new foundation, but it was probably then, as it is now, situate 2,310 miles South of the top of the world and 5,130 miles west of what later became Greenwich, England?in latitude 38.30 and longitude 85.30.

From the Silurian limestone capping its highest knobs down to the Eden shale that crops out along the Eastern boundary and the waters on its Southern line, it is, because of the meager exploratory boring and limited topographical surveys, still more or less a geological mystery. Its structural attitude is described by Dr. Tillson. the Geologist, as "monoclinal" the dip being pronouncedly to the Northwest "from a medial position on the Lexington dome of the Cincinnati arch. Minor flexures are recognizable at various points as anticlines and synclines, while in the vicinity of Jeptha Knob, Crypto-volcanic structure is responsible for a remarkable monadnock." Of its soil, an amateur poet has said that here, we gaze on
Shelby's beauty, as she stands on her native heather "where the Bluegrass touches the Beargrass, and they lie down in peace together." It is not generally known, however, that the highest point in the whole Bluegrass region is up Shelby's gentle rise to the top of Jeptha Knob, near Clayvillage, where the elevation is 1,163 feet above sea level.>There are other high spots, literal and figurative, in Shelby County and it is upon
some of these which this Part I of the volume seeks to touch. Aside from its geology, topography and soil, Shelby County in Kentucky was for long the geographical center of the United States and for a longer period its center of population. In 1792, when Kentucky County, Virginia, had been made into a State of three Counties, one of which was Jefferson, Shelby County, named for the State's first Governor, was carved out
of the latter, and was the third created after Kentucky was admitted into the Union. When Henry and part of Franklin, Oldham and Spencer were created from, and pared off of the original territory, and the exact boundary lines had been determined (by surveys of Commissioners, appointed by succeeding legislatures) it came to contain an area of 273,280 acres, 427 square miles, and remained and continues to be territorially one of the largest Counties in the State. From the beginning, throughout the one hundred and fifty years since its settlement by whites, it has been almost exclusively an agricultural county, whose Anglo-Saxon people have known practically no other vocation, and whose chief avocations from the beginning have been their churches, their schools and their politics. With but little rugged, uncultivated territory even on its Northeast and Western boundaries, it slopes undulatingly and beautifully in two directions from the highest point already mentioned?the Northeast portion toward the Kentucky River Valley and the South and Western portion toward the Salt River and Ohio Valley. The streams of the Northeastern slope are Benson and Six Mile Creek, flowing into the Kentucky River; the streams of the much larger South and Western sheds are Clear Creek, Beech, Gist, Brashears, Bull Skin, Fox Run, Plum, Long Run and Floyds Fork, all joining and flowing into Salt River.

First Inhabitants

The ethnologists are demonstrating, convincingly to some, that, a few hundred thousand years ago a race of people crossed over from Asia by way of Siberia, the Diomede Islands and Seward Peninsula, into Alaska , down through the costal plains and the Yukon and into North, and later South America The Red man found by the first white visitors Shelby County> , they believe, was a descendant of these rather "old families."

As to the first white visitors into what was then Shelby County there is considerable reason, in the writer's opinion, to believe that he was not Dr. Walker nor any of those who preceded Boone, into eastern Kentucky, but John Finley, adventurous woodsman and hunter, who in 1767 came out of North Carolina and entered not only eastern Kentucky but what is now known as the Bluegrass region.

Several historians agree he was the first white man to penetrate the Kentucky wilderness as far as the center of the State. Who were with him, where else they went, what they did, is not told on the printed page, but Finley went back and told Daniel Boone and their neighbors of the "wonderful land" with such
eloquent enthusiasm as to inspire them with a determination to visit not only the Kentucky wilderness but what he even then called "God's Own Country.">What became of Finley after his second visit with Boone is unrecorded, but it is reasonable to suppose that somewhere within the "stillness and sublime
silence of the great forest to which he led the white man," the red man found him, took his life, and left him "as his shroud the leaves of the forest," and as his monument the mighty trees which stood sentinel through the ages over the genial and fertile soil of Central Kentucky. At any rate, it was a Boone who began the settlement of Shelby County> Territory; for most accredited historians agree that the first of Shelby's peculiarly large number of Stations was that of the "Painted Stone," established in 1779, by Squire Boone, a younger brother of Daniel and that his and his associates' lives are those which etched in Shelby soil the first tragic traces of its start toward civilization. The Squire Boone Station is the first sketched in the sub-division of Part II of this volume, devoted to Shelby's Settlements and Stations.

*Some think that these first arrivals on the continent may have come over "Atlantis" before it was an ocean and that they evolved, through the ages. into entirely separate
races, with intermittent civilizations. The Indians who were found here two hundred years ago had some such theory themselves, for they claimed that their lands had been taken by them from the first occupants too long ago for history. Indian traditions say that the last great battle between the red men and the "long ago people" was fought near Louisville , and Col. Durrett in his "Centenary of Louisville" in 1880. says, Here and at Clarksville, on the opposite side of the river the first settlers found great quantities of human hones in the confusion in which the last struggle for life would naturally have left them, and the Indians claimed that these were the bones of the "long ago people," exterminated by their ancestors.

Mostly Anglo-Saxon

The first settlers at the "Painted Stone" and at several other first Stations of the County seem to have been largely of pure Anglo-Saxon blood.>Kentuckians generally, in the Mountains as well as the lowlands, are so largely of pure English stock, because it was principally the Virginia Anglicans who found their way to Cumberland Gap through which most of the Kentucky Stations' settlers first came.>The people of other races who early landed on the Atlantic coast, were either far North or South of the Jamestown settlers and when they migrated they went, because of the mountains, far to the North and far to the South of us, and settled in the direction they took. This theory is true of the first settlers in Shelby County and it was some time before even the Ohio River brought its scattering quota from among Pennsylvania's and New England's sturdy Dutch and other races. Even those of the English who had left the Jamestown section for either North Virginia or North Carolina, when they came to Kentucky, frequently came on down to, or up to the "Gap," through it and up along the Wilderness road. The first Kentucky forebear of whom the writer knows went from Culpeper Court House all the way to Carolina for his bride (also once a Jamestown-Virginian) and then back up to, and through the gap and on down into what was to become the original County of Shelby  and which at that time comprised no small part of "God's Own Country"?of which some of the other predecessors of Boone may have had a glimpse, but about which Finley was the first to tell Boone. So doubtless was the story of many from Virginia and the Carolinas who made up the little heroic bands who were first into the forts and stations from which this County grew.

When the Hives Swarmed

The population of the several Stations grew as large villages and towns grow. They were hives that soon began to "swarm," and the individual bees, among whom there were no drones, began, each with his own queen bee, to find fields of sweet clover and to build hives of their own. By 1790, or ten years after the settling of the first of these stations, and after the massacre of Long Run there were in the County's broad expanse, and where Shelbyville the County seat now is, a population all told of possibly two thousand people. Agitation began for a County, a Government of their own, for a Court House and most of all for somewhere that churches, schools and more homes could be built. The year 1792, was big with important events for Shelby as for Kentucky itself. History-making events trod one upon the other's heels so fast they did follow. First the county was created, cutting off from the County Jefferson the whole of the territory that is now contained in Shelby and Henry and in parts of Carroll, Franklin, Owen and Spencer. The creation of the County was by the little body of Legislators meeting in the old first Capitol, at Lexington . The baby county was named for brand-new Kentucky 's brand new first Governor, Isaac Shelby, of "Traveler's Rest," then and now in Lincoln County. He signed the act, creating the County and naming commissioners, on June 28, 1792, and on the same day appointed David Standiford (afterward Senator) Sheriff. It was a large-sized baby, and like most of the newly born a little helpless at the start. It had so much more territory than people. Several times the size it now is, it contained as already indicated not more than two thousand population, and these continued to be for the most part within a few miles of the several old stations and the point where the County seat was that year located.

Locating a Courthouse
The first road or trail was off to the North and East of where the great trans-continental Midland Trail, formerly called the "Old State Road," now runs. Probably for that reason the first stations, that Squire Boone settled in 1779, and Tyler settled three years later, were both North of where the main highway later and now approaches Clear Creek at Shelbyville. Also, that is the reason many wanted the new Court House Building at or near the sign of the "Painted Stone," the Squire Boone Station (changed the next year to "Lynch's" Station) which would have located the town of Shelbyville two and one- half miles North of where it now is. It Was the legislature of 1792, as said, which enacted a law appointing a Commission to lay off the town of Shelbyville and under the Chapter in the portion of this work devoted to Towns and Villages the names of the Commissioners and patriots and the details concerning the birth and growth of Shelbyville and other municipalities will be found.

County's First Decade

It is difficult to say how many "farms" had been "cleared," how many farm cabins had been built and how much population the big County contained in 1793. The total was probably still less than two thousand, for in that year it was made the law that every male over 16 years of age was a "tithable" and
the total number of such males found in the County that year were 519, and in 1794 there were 620. However, the new "hives" and honey making were not all built and begun immediately near the town and were probably not all known to the tax gatherers as "tithable." Older people remember, that fifty or sixty years ago, and even on the farms ten or twelve miles distant from the County seat, there were in the fields "black spots" where the corn, wheat and tobacco grew more rankly than elsewhere, and in which could be found many evidences that a human habitation had stood there  and not far away frequently could be found strangely shaped stones that had undoubtedly marked the graves of pioneers, all trace of whose lives are lost. The number of these spots and the signs of former burying places all went to show beyond doubt that there were many settlers' homes and cultivated spots far removed from the county seat, long before, and when the log Court House and hewn log residences of the town were also new.* In other words that swarm of the station hives began
early and the people then and for years after multiplied more rapidly than they do now.

The town and the County by the middle nineties had begun to take on the air of civilization. The first civilization a people learn after proper attention to their religion, and education is to submit to taxation. And taxes paid according to the property owned and ability to pay are, so long as public funds are indispensable, the proper method and should be the prevailing ways and means of supplying not only governmental expenditures, but for sustaining our churches, our ministers, our charities, and all public enterprises. These "tithable" males of over 16 years of age grew in a few years to more than a thousand.
Not only had they begun to be taxed, they had begun to be compensated in the only way we still soothe the taxpayer, viz.: by allowing him to talk politics. They early had an election of some kind, for in 1793, the next year after the birth of the County, they sent to the House of Representatives at Lexington, William Shannon, who, it will be later learned donated an acre, the land for the county seat and otherwise showed his public-spirited patriotism. They were also represented in the State Senate from 1793 until 1796, by David Staniford, recorded to have been the first Senator to represent the District then containing Shelby County only. Their names and the names of all their successors in the legislature, for a hundred and thirty-six years of the County's existence, are to be found in the list published in Part VII of this volume. The growth of the new town and the incorporation of other towns and villages, the erection of churches and schools also are told about all in more detail under the Classified Parts and Chapters hereinafter devoted to them.

?The Lincoln paper published in Part VI shows that President Lincoln's grandfather was granted land in the Long Run-Floyds Fork neighborhood in 1784 and that the nearby station was several years older

"To avoid duplications, the sketches of pioneers, with important papers, reminiscences, etc., will be found in other portions of the book and the reader disposed to criticize the brevity and seeming omissions is once again advised that he will find the data that he misses under some other head considered more appropriate for it. The sketch of the wonderful life of Bland Ballard, tells of the Long Run and Tyler Station massacres, as
does the John Williamson and Wilcox papers.

Part II

Stations, Towns and Villages


Boone's Station

If, as Macauley said, the best history of a Country is a record of the lives of its people, then also are the records of the stations, churches, and schools and towns, the best history of a county's people themselves. What tomes of romantic stories of absorbing human interest could be written around and about the lives of those who lived in every one of the first stations?of those who participated in the activities of each and all of the primitive churches and schools?and about most of whom we really know so little! This year of 1929, is the sesqui-centennial anniversary of Shelby County's settlement by the whites?of the best authenticated important event of its early past?the establishment of the "Painted Stone Station" by Squire Boone in 1779. The story of Boone's interesting arrival and first years in the State is told in the sketch of his life, in Part III.* It was the first Station situated near Shelbyville in the center of what was later Shelby County and was for nearly two years the only station between Harrodsburg and the Falls of the Ohio, and because of the tragic fate of many of its settlers and for other reasons the history of Boone's Station or the station at the "Painted Stone" is better known to the general public than any other in that section. Squire Boone arrived there with his party and began the erection of the little log fort or cabins in the late summer of 1779. Besides his own family and those of Evan Hinton and Peter Paul, who arrived in the early autumn, Alex Bryan, John Buckles, Richard Cates, Chas. Doleman, John and Joseph Eastwood, Jere Harris, John Hinton, Abraham Holt, Morgan Hughes, John McFadden, John Nichols, John Stapkton, Robert Tyler, Abraham Vanmeter, -James Wright,?Adam, Jacob and Peter Wickersham and Geo. Hunt are known to have been in the company that followed the dread winter of 1779-80, and undaunted, pursued the work begun in the previous fall. The population of the station had grown continuously for a year and was reasonably happy and prosperous when its inhabitants in September, 1781, were "flushed" by Bland Ballard's news of Indian uprisings and suffered the loss
of some forty or fifty men, women and children slaughtered by the Indians just west of the western line of the county on their flight to Lynn's Station and the other larger stations near the Falls of the Ohio and Beargrass Creek.

The terror of the survivors was added to by the fate of Col. John Floyd and his men, who hearing of this disaster started in pursuit of the Indians and were next day ambushed a mile further west where what is known as the Eastwood monument marks the spot near where fourteen of his men were slain. (He
himself was fatally wounded by Indians two years later). It is not known how soon again Squire Boone and his family and a few of those who had not left the station were rejoined by the surviving ones who had taken their flight, but the fort was not really reoccupied until about Christmas of that year, 1781. For some reason, probably because Squire Boone was unwilling during his absence at Richmond as a member of the Virginia Legislature to leave his family in so exposed a location, he disposed of his interest in and his proprietorship of the station in 1783 to a Col. Lynch and thereafter the station was known as Lynch's Station. Bland Ballard was not one of the first settlers of Boone Station as will be observed in the sketch of his life to be found elsewhere in this volume. And the fact that his name has been confused with those of the Boone Station pioneers had to do with his being the "Paul Revere" who rode through the night to warn the Boone Station settlers of the near approach of Indians and because among the slain were some of those near to him. Daniel Boone was a frequent visitor to the "Painted Stone" during its first years, and his brother, Squire Boone, and the other settlers there were advised and guided by him in the conduct of their affairs and the precautions necessary to their safety.

Tyler Station

Tyler Station on "Tick Creek," four miles east of the city of Shelbyville and perhaps two miles east of the Boone Station was established in 1783, (about the time the name of Boone Station was changed) by Capt. Robert Tyler, one of the pioneers of Boone's, and by his friend and relative, Bland Ballard, of the Lynn Station near Louisville. This station was north of what is now known as the Midland Trail or U. S. Highway No. 60, but not a great distance from the marker which stands on the roadside five miles east of Shelbyville, and not far from the site of the Ballard Massacre, told of in the sketch of life of Bland Ballard, in Part V. The list of those from Central Kentucky and from the Boone Station and from the stations on Beargrass and at the Falls, who joined Tyler and Ballard at the new station are not recorded in the manuscripts and histories concerning the county's first stations. Ballard remained there and later represented the county, as will be noted in the sketch of his life, in the State Legislature.

Bracken Owen Station

Of the Brackett Owen Station, the best authenticated legend and records indicate that it might have been built only a year or two later than Tyler's, by Brackett Owen, father of the gallant Col. Abraham Owen who fell at the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, and a sketch of whom appears under the head of "Pioneers."* That Brackett Owen owned a great stretch of territory just south of the site of the city of Shelbyville and that his station was located on part of the farm now - owned by Robert Courtney, to the south of the town and to the east of Grove Hill Cemetery, is very well known. (He also owned the western portion of Shelbyville, beginning with Seventh Street, that was at first called Owen.) It was in the house near this fort on what was earlier known
as the J. W. Goodman farm that the first court was held in 1792?one of the historic events that helped to make the name of Owen Station and of Brackett Owen of importance in all historical mentions of Shelby County.

Some Less Known Stations **

Capt. Samuel Well's Station was one of several other small stations that first sprang up under the enterprise of the daring population that came from the first three named and from out of the other parts of Kentucky and from the forts or stations "where the hives" had begun to swarm. This station was located three and one-half miles northwest of Shelbyville in what was long known as the Harrington Mill section of the County. Whitaker's Station sometimes known as the "Red Orchard" was founded by the Rev. John Whitaker on a spot that the late John T. Ballard said was many times pointed out to him by  Col. James Whitaker, son of the founder, and was built just south of the town of Shelbyville on what was long known as the Carrither's Farm across Clear Creek from Shelbyville and not far east of Zaring's Mill. It was told of the wife of the Rev. Whitaker, the founder of the station, that she was as expert as her husband with the rifle and killed not one, but several Indians, with the weapon she carried and with which she guarded the field while her husband plowed the corn. Rev. Whitaker had early planted an orchard which produced what was then an unheard of generous crop of great red apples and it was from these that the other name of "Red Orchard" came to be used.

Little is known of the details or the names of the inhabitants of the Van Cleave Station which was located to the west and south of Shelbyville on what was later known as Bull Skin Creek. Spencer's History of the Baptists in Volume I, Page 209, speaks of a baptist preacher, William Ford, who remained, he says, a short while in "Van Cleave's Station" on Bull Skin in Shelby County.

It is said that a station called "Newlands Station" was located in the southeast part of the county or in what is known in later years as the Olive Branch Neighborhood, but there is no record of which this writer ever has seen that there was such a station though there were a number of families of that name at one time in that section of the county.

It is of but recent years through the enterprising efforts of Mr. R. C. Ballard Thruston, President of the Filson Club that it became known just where the cabin of Abraham Lincoln, the grandfather of the president stood or that the spring used by the grandfather of A. Lincoln is just over the Shelbyville
County line from Jefferson and about twenty miles east of Louisville*

Hume's Station

Established in 1784 seems certainly to have been just east of the Shelby-Jefferson County line and nearby the trans-continental Highway U. S. No. 60. John Hume's grave and nearby the house, the eastern end of which is on where Hume Station stood are located on the Midland Trail just within the County at the western boundary line. Collins History speaks of an ancient fortification situated six miles east of Shelbyville and has caused some to confuse it
with an early station. The outlines of this "fortification" can still be seen on one of the principal knobs 200 feet above the surrounding county, but it is of age far antedating any Shelby County Station and was doubtless the work of Indians many generations older than those first found by the white settlers. In form it is circular with a double line of earthwork four to eight feet high and enclosing about three acres well over- grown with trees j a supply of water overflows from the interior. A few graves and Indian relics were found nearby, and it was perhaps these that a few years ago started the very improbable theory that the knobs of Shelby were themselves only Indian mounds.*

See paper from "Kentucky Highways," Chapter IV., Part VI.

The Low Dutch Colony**
The Low Dutch colony came mainly from Mercer County, Kentucky, and located in and around the site where Pleasureville is now situated. The colonists purchased about 10,000 acres in 1784, from Squire Boone, the famous pioneer. This section of Kentucky was then all forest and inhabited by Indians. It is as remarkable, as true, that some of the descendants of this colony now reside on and own a portion of the original purchase. The Bantas, Bergens and Shucks still own the land of their ancestors, together with many old relics and papers which they value highly. The land was not held separately, but the company had a trustee whose duty it was to look after the estate. There were thirty or more families and they all resided in a fort built of logs and stones. The hostilities of the Indians once compelled them to retire for a short time, part going back to Mercer and part to Clark Counties, but they returned in 1786.

Col. Bennett H. Young: indicates in his books, particularly in the "Prehistoric Men of Kentucky," a rather firm belief in the theories and alleged discoveries of Rannesque, who would have us believe that nearly all the territory in which we live is underlain by ancient villages, dead ditched towns, walls and fortifications, burial grounds and endless numbers of the works of the mound-buildcrs and "Long Ago People."

Written some years ago, by the late Richard H. Shuck, whose forefathers crossed the waters with the original stock and followed the colony through all its migrations.

?Brackett Owen's biographers put him in Shelby as early as 1782, but those of. his son, Abraham, say the latter reached Shelbyville in 1785. The author does not find any authentic record indicating that either Brackett Owen or his son reached the county 

**For much 0f the data as to stations we are indebted to the research of Miss Estella Allen.

Papers show that 34 lots of land were purchased by the company varying in size, but ranging from 200 acres upward, and paid for in pounds, shillings and pence. The following statement shows how the tracts were awarded in the division; that is to say, to whom and the prices paid:

No. -----------------------------------------------L.S.P.


1. Jno. Comingore, transferred to Jasmond..........24-11-01

2. David Vories......................................................52-17-00

Same ..................................................................48-17-11

3. Andrew Shuck ..................................................70-11-11 -

4. Albert Banta ......................................................50-10-03

5. Albert Voras ......................................................26-08-07

6. John Banta ........................................................62-17-03

7. Abraham Banta..................................................J2-17-03

8. Simon Vanisdal ..................................................24-11-08

9. Henry Banta......................................................66-03-03

10. Samuel Demaree................................................52-17-03

11. David Bank........................................................59-03-03

12. Bennett Montfort, transferred to Mason..........52-I7-3

13. Ben Spade..........................................................62-26-06

14. Daniel Banta......................................................S2~l7 -3

15. Heirs Cornelius Cozine......................................19-19-11

17. Samuel Banta ....................................................43-19-11

18. Francis Cosart ....................................................43-19-11

20. Aaron Jno. Montfort.......................................52-17-11

23. Blue John Voras ..........................................21-l6-07

24. Lucas Vanosdal and Jacob Smock a....................21-16-07

26. Peter Banta........................................................12-19-04

Z7. Jacob Banta........................................................32-18-03

29. Wm. Shuck and Big John Vories......................52-17-03

30. Peter Banta........................................................59"I9-03

31. Abraham Brewer................................................17-04-11

32. Cornelius and Peter Banta ................................62-16-09

33. Peter Banta........................................................56-03-09

34- Coptrea Voris ................;...................................29-11-09

Some of the members were missing but there were at least thirty-four tracts. All of this land was managed by Abraham Banta before it was settled up, and then it was transferred to George Bergen as trustee, whose duty it was to look after all the estate. The land was resurveyed in 1833 and* found to contain a large surplus, which was sold and the money divided among the members of the company.

About this time the "Low Dutch Colony," swarmed again and quite a number settled in Johnston County Indiana , and another colony in Switzerland County , same state. The company members worked together, some standing guard while others labored. At night they went into the fort for protection against the Indians?closing the doors and pulling the latch string inside. The old spring that supplied the company with water is still in use. These good old people cleared the Indian from the country and the wild animals from the forest. They also cleared the heavy timber from the land and built houses for themselves, and it was long years before they could safely leave a latch string outside at night.

Verily we are enjoying the fruits of their labor. An uncle of the writer, Cornelius Banta, built the first house in North Pleasureville which was then called Bantatown. Then New Pleasureville began in 1850. The bones of the pioneers are resting in Pleasureville Cemetery .


Towns and Villages

The location of the town of Shelbyville was really determined at the session of the first Court held in Shelby County at the house of Brackett Owen in what was Owen's Station just south of town, on October 15, 1792, because it was at that session of the court and on the second day thereof that the subject of fixing a place for the location of public buildings came up and it was decided that where the "main road leading from Frankfort to the Falls of the Ohio crossed Clear Creek between the mouth of Mulberry Creek and the mouth of the first branch west of the mouth of Mulberry," should be chosen for this purpose.

William Shannon, the owner of the land being present, agreed to donate one acre of land to the County and to lay off fifty acres adjoining into convenient streets and lots. It was ordered by the court that Mr. Shannon's proposition be accepted, and this action settled the rather long and bitter contention about where the town should be located. Trustees, to lay off a town at Shelby Court House, had been appointed by the act of the General Assembly of Kentucky, in 1792; and on January 15,1793, the trustees laid off 50 acres of land, "around and adjacent to the place whereon the public buildings were to
be erected, into suitable lots and streets." The "gentlemen trustees" as they are styled in the record, among their first acts, passed the following resolution, indicating , very clearly, the plainness and simplicity of the style of building of our ancestors: "Ordered, that every purchaser or purchasers of lots in the town of Shelbyville, shall build thereon a hued log house, with a brick or stone chimney not less than one story and a half high, otherwise the lot or lots shall be forfeited for the use of the town." These trustees were David Standiford, Joseph Winlock and Abraham Owen. As those who favored the site of Boone's Station had lost their contention, finally, also those who wanted the public buildings erected on the hill, one-half mile west of where the court house now stands were compelled to abandon their preference.

The town as laid off after the acceptance of the Shannon proposition extended from what is now Third Street to the east side of what is now Seventh Street; Third Street then being called Scott; Fourth Street, Simpson; Fifth Street, Allen; Sixth Street, Logan, and Seventh Street, Owen. Washington and Clay Streets, paralleling Main , were not named until long after and were known as North and South back streets.

The Justices of the "Quarter Sessions," as what then corresponded to our present magistrates, were called, appointed Phillip Whitaker, Bland Ballard and Peter Belia to "view and mark" out the best road from where it had been agreed Shelbyville was to be located, to the Falls of the Ohio. Their selection was what is now Main Street, east of Third, as well as what was then designated as Main Street, west of Third. The road between Third Street and the creek on the east was marsh land and that the trees which fell on the new building lots were used in making of it a corduroy road, is evidenced by the excavation of some of these old logs considerably below the present surface of Main Street years after they were first laid down.

The acre donated for public buildings by Shannon was through arrangements by him with the commissioners, located as near in the middle of the fifty-acre town as possible and while the new jail and court house were being erected thereon the other fifty acres were divided into blocks or lots of two acres each, criss-crossed by the Streets above referred to. The committee in charge of this work was composed of Joseph Winlock, David Standiford and Abraham Owen. Arrangements were also made by Mr. Shannon whereby the town officials were empowered to sell the lots and give deeds to them. The first deed was to the lot on which the Masonic Temple or Hall now stands and some 100 feet to the east, all fronting on the Southeastern city park or quarter of the original acre, and was to John Bradshaw, grandfather of the late B. B. Ross, and the price he paid therefor was twelve pounds and six shillings. A part of the property is still in possession of Mr. Bradshaw's direct heirs.

The lot just west of the court house corner of the one acre  on which are now located four business houses was sold to John Felty for fifteen pounds. Forty fine two-story hewn log houses were put up under an ordinance or requirement that no other kind could be erected on the city lots and all forty of these buildings were said to have been "among the finest of their kind in the world." Every log was nicely hewn and fitted with the finest workmanship, and was of blue ash timber. Some of those first settlers, who are said to have built some of these first houses between 1794 and 1797, and on up to 1802, were Mrs. Carson, Joseph Glenn, William Glenn, J. Mc-Gauhey, and Moses Hall. Others were Steele, Bradshaw, Butler, Felty, A. Owen, B. Perry, Geo. Hansbrough, G. Cardwell, T. Redding, S. Wilson, H. McClelland, A. Bruner, James White, John Shannon, John McCochran, Stout, Lock and Denny. It should have been stated in the foregoing that the acre for public buildings is that which has the four "parks," one of which has long been occupied by the court house and the other three of which are now public parks.

The lots on which the jail and the jailer's residence are located were long afterwards bought by the County. The town's first pavements were ordered built by the trustees in 1808. Moses Hall, who owned all the property east of the town limits, and much to the south of both, built a bridge across Clear Creek on what is now known as the Mt. Eden pike, or Cemetery Road and donated to the town sufficient land for a road to Main Street. It is now known as Third Street. The land from that point to the Clear Creek bridge on the main road which is now a part of Main Street, had been previously donated to the town, and in 1814, we find that Moses Hall, was advertising for sale all the land east of the town lots of Shelbyville, or that bounded by Third Street, Main Street and Clear Creek.

The subsequent growth of Shelbyville, the lives of its pioneers and their descendants also would make a long interesting story, but the building of the town itself, its growth from a hamlet in the wilderness to a splendid little city with churches, schools and homes, already described as a pattern for those of other counties and states, are told in the chapters devoted to the County's churches, schools, courts and other institutions.

Some of the first influential citizens of Shelbyville, whose names are not mentioned in other parts of the volume include the first physicians. Doctors Knight and Pendigrass who were succeeded by Doctor Wardlow and Doctor Moore in 1800, and Doctor Willitt in about the same year. The first taverns were kept by John McGaughey, John Felty, and George Hansborough. The first tragedy was when the innkeeper, Felty, had a difficulty with William Shannon, the surveyor who laid out and donated most of the site of the town on it. Shannon stabbed Felty (with a thrown dirk), and was struck by a rock thrown by Felty. Shannon's skull was fractured. Both men died of their wounds. Felty's tavern was located on the southwest corner of the public square. 

Daniel McClelland succeeded him as proprietor and married his widow. A Col. Tunstall succeeded McClelland and converted the old tavern into a brick, pretentious and imposing for that day and time.

The present day tendency toward voluminous law books and innumerable laws was to some degree prevalent early in the State's and County's history. Ordinances on the subject of taxes and many others were enacted by the first Board of Trustees of Shelbyville. One of these enacted as early as 1793 (then an order of the County Court instead of an ordinance) provided that tavern keepers in the County should charge no more nor less for whiskey than six shillings per gallon; that breakfast with tea or coffee was to cost one shilling, three pence; warm dinner, one shilling, six pence; cold dinner, one shilling; and lodging "with clean sheets," six pence.
Twelve years later at the August term of court, the rates which tavern keepers were allowed to charge were fixed?regular meals, twenty cents; night's lodging, eight cents, whiskey, one-half pint, eight cents; hay and keeping a horse all night, seven-teen cents; for corn and oats, eight cents per gallon. The town limits were first enlarged in 1803, by an Act of the Legislature. The whole territory between what is now Third and Seventh Streets had been taken up, the territory added by the Act of the Legislature was divided into lots and sold privately and presumably at auction. The square between Eighth and Ninth Streets on the north side of Main sold for $175. The square further out between Ninth and Tenth on north Main brought $61.00, whereas, the block to the north of it between Ninth and Tenth at Washington and College sold for $42.00. Property from College Street north to the creek and between Eighth and Ninth Street on which the graded school building and numerous residences are located sold for $154.50. One of the principal lots between Eighth and Seventh Streets near to where the Government Building stands sold for $24.50. 

In. 1806, another order of the court allowed many claims presented, for the scalps of wolves  twelve shillings being paid for those from old wolves and six shillings each for young wolves' scalps. The County Attorney was allowed forty-five pounds for his services that year. In 1808, there were three thousand, two hundred and ninety-nine tithers paying fifty cents each and as only males over sixteen years of age were tithable some idea of the very rapid growth of the .County and town is gained. Two hundred and ninety dollars and fifty cents of that year's receipts were paid for building pavements around the court house and across the public square, but in that year, a flood washed away the bridges over Clear Creek on the Eminence and Frankfort Pikes, as well as other smaller bridges, and superfluous funds of the young County and town were quickly used.

In 1814, the town Board of Trustees were functioning and enacting ordinances or new laws with the same readiness that characterizes their descendants. One new ordinance provided a fine of $2.00 for laying hold of any article of merchandise in or out of the market house until after the same had been offered for sale, and parents of children or owners of slaves were held responsible for infractions, the parent being fined and the slave receiving ten lashes on his or her bare back, at the town whipping post. Another ordinance provided that no water from the public well or public springs of the town was to be used in watering horses or cattle and the "washing of clothes on the public square in water obtained from the public well" was ordered discontinued. Exhibitors of wax figures could operate within the town limits for two weeks upon the payment of $15.00 license. In that year stone was ordered to be put onto the dirt street on Main between Third and Sixth, the owners of the property along the street each paying his half of the expense.

In 1815, the town pump near Sixth and Main was ordered taken out and the spring filled up because of the growth of traffic at that point. The town tax in 1816, raised to $1.00 for each male, white or black, over sixteen years of age, and in 1817 and '18, the poll tax was reduced to sixty-two and one-half cents, but a small ad valorem tax on each one hundred dollars was assessed. Joshua D. Grant (whose widow afterwards married Robert Lawson, Sr., of the Clay Village neighborhood) and Company were publishers that year of the Impartial Compiler, which seems to have succeeded the Kentuckian as the County paper. In 1824, a stage line was established between Maysville and Louisville. It was in May, of 1825, that the visit of LaFayette along that route from Lexington to Louisville was made so notable. On the morning of the Twelfth of May, 1825, he, General LaFayette, was met by a committee of gentlemen between Simpsonville and Shelbyville and escorted to the principal tavern where he was entertained during the day and where a ball and banquet were given in the evening. The old newspaper files say that Miss Eliza Bullock, afterwards Mrs. Pettit, and Miss Jane Hardin, afterwards Mrs. Logan, mother of James M. Logan, were belles of a large company of "brave men and fair women."

In that year (1825), the property in the town of Shelbyville was valued at $231,300. There were 176 white and 111 black tithes and the tax on these for that year was seventy-five cents, while the property was taxed at fifteen cents on the one hundred dollars. The following year for some reason the property
was assessed at nearly a thousand dollars less, but the tithes had increased by thirty and the poll tax had increased to $1.00 and the ad valorem tax was increased from fifteen to twenty cents on the hundred. A strange new ordinance in 1826, ordered that Sunday School for slaves be prohibited, and an order was made prohibiting the sale of any merchandise except that produced in this State or sold inside a house. By April, 1828, the question of streets had become paramount and the owners of property on Sixth Street and other cross streets from Third to Seventh were ordered to macadamize from the line of their property to the middle of the street and on some of the more thickly populated streets were ordered to make foot pavements. Two years later, or in 1830, the chief improvement to the town was the building of a second story to the market house, the rooms of which were rented out for the production of city revenues.

That year was a tragic one for the forty-year-old town. An epidemic of smallpox was followed by a drouth in town as well as all over the County, and the procurement of sufficient drinking water was a serious problem. Besides the drouth and the raging smallpox, mad dogs became more common than before
or since.In 1831, more pavements were ordered built. In 1832, February 22, the birthday anniversary of Washington was celebrated, and according to the files of the Examiner and Recorder, edited by William Knight, and which had succeeded the Impartial Compiler, the celebration turned out a tragedy in that J. M. Owen, the grandfather of the present merchants of that name and father of the late Mrs. Mary L. Moore, lost his left arm and Mr. Marius Hansbrough, the great-uncle of Rodman Hansbrough, lost his right arm in an accident with the cannon used in the celebration.

The Shelby Sentinel (then the Shelby News) was established as the principal newspaper of the town in 1842, and having been continuously published since then, its files give in detail the innumerable happenings since those years, many mentions of which excepting in the general way they have been treated, would make this record voluminous beyond all reason. The reader is again reminded that so many events in the history of the town and County are recorded in some one of the other many pages, chapters and parts of the book and have therefore been deleted from some of these articles, chapters and paragraphs in which he or she might reasonably expect to find them.


Simpsonville, long a small settlement, was laid out in 1816, and incorporated January 14, 1832. It was named for Capt. John Simpson, prominent lawyer of Shelbyville, sketch of whom is to be found in Part III. Simpsonville while a tavern town and a stage coach station, never grew to beyond a few hundred inhabitants, though surrounded by some of the first families and, like Shelbyville, always a school and church center.

Harrisonville was laid off in 1825, and was at that time Connorsville. Afterwards it was changed to Harrisonville, twenty-two years later, when on February 26, 1847, it was incorporated.

Clayvillage was first laid off in 1830, but was not incorporated until February 18, 1839; it was of course named for the "great Commoner" Henry Clay. Hardinsburg (or ville), was incorporated December 18, 1850, and the name was changed to Graefenburg a number of years later by the Post Office Department, because of an already existing Post Office of similar name in the State.

Bagdad, Jacksonville, Waddy, a part of Pleasureville and Consolation (the latter now the smallest of all incorporated in (1860) have never grown beyond a few hundred inhabitants and are for the most part now unincorporated, though made up of happy, prosperous, cultured homes surrounding the churches and schools whose primitive beginnings are elsewhere detailed. The name "Bagdad" was taken, tradition says, from the afflicted little son of a local miller who could not talk, but who when a customer appeared could say "Bag-Dad."

Taylorsville, the present County Seat of Spencer County, was in Shelby County when it was laid off in 1799, on the lands of Richard Taylor, who was the proprietor of a grist mill and large tract of land at the mouth of Brashear's Creek and above the intersection with Salt River where the aforementioned town is located. About sixty acres were taken from Taylor's tract by the Shelbyville Court on motion of Taylor himself and the first trustees of the town born on the era of a new century were: George Cravinston, Wm. Bridgewater, Robert Jeffries, Elisha Prewitt and Isaac Ellis Gent.



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