Family Stories

The Jolly Family

from Kentucky – A History of the State by Perrin – 1887

Breckinridge County

The Jolly Family were among the earliest settlers in Breckinridge County.  Nelson Jolly, the progenitor of the family in Kentucky, was a native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  In 1780 he left that state in company with thirteen other families and immigrated to Kentucky, then beyond the borders of civilization.  The little band stopped at the mouth of Beargrass Creek – the present site of Louisville, where they remained one year.  Not satisfied with the look of the surrounding country they determined to go further, and in 1781 they embarked in flat boats and floated down the Ohio, landing at the mouth of Sinking Creek.  From there they proceeded through the unbroken forest until they reached the spot where Hardinsburg now stands, which place had previously been selected as a place of settlement by the leader of the band – William Hardin.  Here they at once constructed a log fort, as a protection against the Indians, that soon became known on the frontier as “Hardin’s Fort”.  In this rude fortification the little band remained for several years.  Mr. Jolly was an inmate of the fort some two years, when he located two miles west of Hardinsburg, and lived there until his death, in 1814.  Nelson Jolly, Jr., his son, was also born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1786, and was quite young when the family came to Kentucky.  He grew to manhood in Breckinridge County, and was a man of some prominence.  He was a magistrate a number of years, and as senior magistrate of the county, under the old constitution, became high sheriff, and then was again elected magistrate and served out his term, and became sheriff a second time, January 15, 1849.  He lived for a number of years at the mouth of Sugar Tree Run, in the Union Star Precinct, and there he died, in November, 1878.  His wife was Barbara Barr, born in 1781, and died in 1863. Her father, Adam Barr, was a native of Virginia; came to Kentucky in 1792, and settled near where the village of Union Star now stands; he died there in 1859, at the age of one hundred years.  The children of Nelson and Barbara Jolly were Mary, Sallie (deceased), John B., James G. (deceased), Samuel J., Gideon P., Bettie A., Adam N., Thomas J., David C. (deceased), H. Clay and Francis M. (deceased).

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