Wayne County, Kentucky
A Century of Wayne County Kentucky, 1800-1900
by Augusta Phillips Johnson, 1939
Donated by Nancy Piper
Coming of White Men - Long Hunters - Revolutionary Soldiers
The First White Men, of whom we have any record, to reach the region later known as Wayne County, Kentucky, were the "Long Hunters," who came in the summer of 1770. They made camp near Mill Springs and remained there hunting and trapping for more than two years. It is easy to understand their extended stay, for nature has made this a region of rare beauty. The quiet meadows margining into verdure-clad hills, the clear, running streams on their way to the Cumberland River, make of this a beauty spot not excelled anywhere in the state. And here were fur-bearing animals in abundance.
Among these "Long Hunters" were James and Richard Knox, William Allen, Joseph Drake, Obadiah Terrell, John Rains, Uriah Stone, Henry Smith, Edward Cowan, Christopher Stoph, Humphrey Hogan, Cassius Brooks, Robert Crockett, James Graham, John Montgomery, Abraham Bledsoe, Richard Skaggs, Henry Skaggs, David Lynch, Kasper Mansco, and Russell and Hughes.
They made a camp and a depot for their game and skins near an excellent spring about six miles from the present site of Monticello. They found no trace of human settlement but in dry caves were many places where stones had been set up that covered quantities of human bones. Dr. W. D. Funkhouser and Dr. William Webb, on an archaeological expedition in 1922 for the University of Kentucky, explored the caves of this section and in their book, Ancient Life in Kentucky says:
"Hines Cave, about six miles from Monticello, yielded the most remains of any in Kentucky. The cave is spacious and well drained. The entrance is protected from wind, rain and snow by high cliffs, yet well lighted for some distance. The bottom is level and dry and this must have been a desirable shelter to the people who occupied it. There were remains from many fires and in the graves were many artifacts, awls, needles and skinning knives; in the ash beds were bones of many animals. In one grave was found the skeleton of a young woman with a round piece of shining mica of the type that comes from North Carolina. Many skeletons were found and many more artifacts, stone hoes, flint arrowheads, pipes, pottery and textiles. Animal bones were those of wolf, bear, wildcat, raccoon, faox, deer, buffalo, beaver, rabbit, turkey, quail, turtle shells, and mussel shells. Many other caves in this section indicate they were the homes of the cave dwellers or Indians who lived in caves in prehistoric times."
The hunters separated into groups to meet here again. They built another depot on Caney Fork of Russell's Creek, where Mt. Gilead Church was built later. Some of the hunters returned home. Some built rafts, loaded them with skins and floated down the Cumberland River to the Ohio, thence to the Mississippi and on down to New Orleans. Stoph and Allen were captured by Cherokees. The Indians plundered the camp during their absence, carrying off skins, pots, pans, etc. Bledsoe's profanity is perhaps excusable when, returning he wrote on a fallen sycamore: "2300 deerskins lost; ruination, by God."
These men were from the settlements on the Holston and Clinch and New River - as hardy a band of pioneers as ever came into the Wilderness. They knew not the word fear. They were skilled in woodcraft and could meet the Indian on his own ground, but they lacked the cruelty of the savages who were even then committing depredations on the Virginia border. In the meantime, growing dissatisfaction with British rule was steadily leading to war. In 1774 Colonel William Preston commanding the militia in Southwest Virginia, gave orders to Captain Billy Russell, of Russell's Fork, to warn settlers and surveyors in Kentucky of an Indian uprising. Captain Russell selected Daniel Boone and Michael Stoner for this undertaking. They camped about five miles from Monticello, and Stoner liked the country so well that he afterwards returned and made his home there for many years and is buried near Monticello. Lewis Preston Summers, in his "History of Southwest Virginia", page 226, quotes the following report of a battle between Indians and British and the settlers in Southwest Virginia, as given to Colonel William Preston, Colonel of Militia, by Captain Shelby:
"On the nineteenth of July, 1776, our scouts returned and informed us that they had discovered a great number of the enemy, a force not inferior to ours. We marched out to meet them, not going more than a mile when we were attacked from the rear. Our men sustained the attack with great intrepidity and bravery, immediately forming a line. They endeavored to surround us but were prevented by the uncommon fortitude of our men who took possession of an eminence that prevented their design. Our lien of battle extended about a quarter of a mile. We killed many. There were streams of blood every way and it was generally thought there was never so much execution done in so short a time on the frontier. Never did troops fight with greater calmness than our. Our spies deserve the greatest applause. The troops are in high spirits and eager for another engagement."
It was signed by James Shelby, James Thompson, William Buchanan, John Campbell, William Cocke, and Thomas Madison.
This was known as the Battle of Long Island Flats of the Holston and Clinch. Near here were many settlers who later removed to Kentucky. Joshua Jones was wounded in this battle. The following is a certified copy of an entry on June 16, 1777, in the Journal of the Virginia House of Delegates.
"Resolved as the opinion of the committee (of public claims) that the petition of Joshua Jones, a soldier who received a wound in the battle near Long Island, on Holston River, in his left arm, which rendered it for some time useless, and still remains very weak, is reasonable and that the petitioner ought to be allowed the sum of one pound for his present relief."
Many instances of savage cruelty are related by Summers, but the persistence of the militia on the frontier finally made the border a safer region.
In May 1779, the Virginia Assembly enacted a law opening Kentucky to general settlement by survey, entry and residence. In the same year the General Assembly of Virginia passed an act for marking and opening a road over the Cumberland Mountains in the County of Kentucky. Richard Calloway and John Kinkead, of Washington County, Virginia, were appointed to explore the adjacent land on both sides. They effected the opening of the road by December 1, 1781. It was surveyed from Hand's Meadow, Virginia, through the Clinch settlements, by Cumberland Gap to the Cumberland River, and on to "The Orchard" (Crab Orchard), Kentucky. This was the Wilderness Road over which an unexampled tide of emigration poured for more than ten years.
The privations these pioneers endured and the dangers they encountered make an everlasting tribute to the intrepid spirit of these early settlers.
Many men who had given service in the Revolution came to what in 1800 became Wayne County. Joshua Jones, mentioned before, died in 1816 before the pension laws were enacted. Samuel Newell, that fine old gentleman who was one of the first justices, became reduced to poverty in later years, but pride, it is said, kept him from applying for a pension. He spent his last days in seclusion with his books.
The pension list of the War Department gives the following names of Revolutionary soldiers who emigrated to Wayne county:
Under Act of 1818: Fred Cooper, North Caroline, and Elisha Thomas, Virginia.
Under Act of 1832:
William Acre, North Carolina, born 1753
John Adair, North Carolina, born 1753
Robert Beakley, North Carolina, born 1756
William Bertram, North Carolina, born 1748
Joseph Brown, North Carolina, born 1753
Robert Covington, Virginia, born 1760
Fred Cooper, Pennsylvania, born 1758
William Carpenter, Virginia, born 1759
Reuben Coffey, North Carolina, born 1756
Pat Coyle, Virginia, born 1751
Peter Catron, Virginia, born 1752
Fred Miller, Virgina, born 1750
Died in Kentucky
John Davis, Virginia, born 1756
George Decker, Virginia, born 1740
Martin Durham, North Carolina, born 1753
Geo. Dabney, North Carolina, born 1758
Rody Daffron, North Carolina, born 1755
Abraham Hurt, Virgina, born 1760
Conrad Henninger, North Carolina, born 1734
William Johnson, Virginia, born 1753
Jas. Jones, Virginia, born 1756
Wm. Keith, Virginia, born 1759
Thomas Merritt, North Carolina, born 1761
Dudley Moreland, Virginia, born 1759
Jas. McGee, Pennsylvania, born 1762
Zachariah Sanders, Virginia, born 1757
Charles Worsham, born 1760 (living in 1840)
This is not a complete list of Revolutionary soldiers who emigrated to Wayne, for some made no application for pension. Here are given a few biographical sketches based on data found in their applications for pensions.
John Adair was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1754, and came to Baltimore with his father in 1762. They moved to Pennsylvania in a short time, thence to Sullivan County, North Carolina, where he enlisted as a private in the militia under Colonel William Campbell, with Captain Brooks. He served on the Holston, fought with the Cherokees, and when the war was over emigrated to Kentucky.
Conrad Henninger was born in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, in 1752, of German parents, moved to Maryland when ten years old, thence to North Carolina, where he served in the militia with Captain Billingsly under Colonel Lock. He settled in the upper part of Wayne where he became prosperous.
Joseph Chrisman served with George Rogers Clark in his campaign of the Northwest and was with him at the capture of Vincennes. He took an active part in the early life of the county. He left a line of distinguished descendants.
John Sanders, born in Lunenburg County, Virginia, in 1754, served in the militia with Captain Robert Cary, under Colonel Tucker and General Lawson. He was guard at Albermarie Barracks. He married in Wayne County Kentucky, Sarah Jones Buster, daughter of Joshua Jones and widow of Charles Buster, in 1804.
Reuben and Lewis Russell Coffey were Revolutionary soldiers. Reuben came to Wayne County in 1800 where he settled in Elk Spring Valley. He received a pension for his services. His application states that he was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, September 16, 1759. He moved to Amherst County where, in 1777, he volunteered for "as long as my country needs my service," with Captain Moses Guess, under Major Joseph Winston, Colonel Benjamin Cleveland. He also served with Colonel Isaac Shelby. He was at the Battle of King's Mountain. After the war, he went to Wilkes County, North Carolina, and thence to Wayne County, Kentucky.
Reuben, Lewis Russell, and James Coffey were sons of the Rev. James Coffey and Elizabeth Cleveland, sister of Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, who was with Shelby at King's Mountain.
James Coffey, who had obtained land in Wayne County, returned to North Carolina, exchanging his Wayne County land for Lewis' North Carolina tract. Lewis Russell Coffey married Biddy Moore in North Carolina. Their children were: Elizabeth married Richard Cullom (former Senator Cullom was their son); Rachael married Jefferson Jones; Mary married Joshua Oatts; James married Sally Strange; Henderson married Minerva Alexander; Cullom married Rachael Isaacs; Jesse married Eliza Griffin; Shelby married Emerine Meadows; Cleveland married Sophronia Oatts; Franklin married Mary Ann Worsham; and Coleman married (1) Polly Havens, (2) Jane Miller, (3) Sarah Havens, (4) Amanda Hudson Stone.
Lewis Russell Coffey founded the family of that name in Wayne, a numerous and highly respected family. He is buried just east of Monticello in the Elk Spring Valley Cemetery, where a shaft erected by the family is in a fair state of preservation. His is one of the Revolutionary soldier's graves that is easy to locate, thanks to the foresight of his descendants.
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