Family Stories

‘A Delightful Day’s Journey’ – Washington and Marion Counties

The following article was printed in the April 4, 1935, edition of either The Springfield Sun or The News Leader, both published in Springfield at that time.  It is truly a ‘delightful’ trip through rural Washington and Marion counties.  Mr. Orval W. Baylor wrote weekly articles about the history of the area during the 1930’s.

A Delightful Day’s Journey

Sometime this spring, when the sun shines and all nature is in bloom, and you feel the urge to get out and ride through the country, take a trip to the one notorious site of Sandusky’s Station.  Take along a lunch basket with plenty of good things to eat and sit yourself down beside the rippling waters of Pleasant Run, and your outing will be complete.

A few days ago, I made the circuit from Springfield to Pleasant Run meeting house, Sandusky’s Station site, Cartwright’s Station and meeting house sites, then on to Lebanon and back to Springfield.  Mr. C. F. Bosley was my pilot and historical informant.  If you follow closely my description of the sites and things seen, you’ll have a guide for a similar jaunt at your leisure.

Out the Perryville Road we journeyed, stopping on the bridge that spans Mill Creek, to note the site of a once-flourishing mill that stood a few yards north of the highway, serving the settlers who came for many miles in every direction.

Leaving Mill Creek, we moved on, crossing Pleasant Run and passing the school house just beyond the Run, to the first road to the right at the farm of Robert Mattingly.  A small old log house, weather-boarded over, stands near the turning-off place.  The Petitt family lived there many years ago.  Not far from the house, as we drove along the road headed southward, we sighted the ruins of an old burying-ground situated on a knoll to our left.  I’ve had so many requests for directions to long-forgotten family graveyards, and I have had to disappoint so many people by telling them that I knew nothing about the particular plot in which they were interested, so that now I never sight the ruins of a burying-ground without stopping to explore the site.

So we parked our car, climbed a fence, crossed a small stream, and went up the hill to explore the graveyard.  Three gravestones, standing in a row like soldiers drawn up for review, attracted our attention first of all.  By the aid of the bold inscriptions we learned that there repose the remains of the thrice married Benoni Hardin and two of his three wives.  He was born in 1786, the year the Hardin clan landed in these parts after a long and perilous journey from the Monongahela country of Virginia and Pennsylvania.  Living to be 67, he died May 22, 1853.  His first wife, whose given name was Elizabeth, lived to be 35 years and 4 months of age, so her gravestone tells us.  Harriet, his second wife, was 40 years old when she died in 1835.  Rachel, Benoni’s third wife, as I later learned, lived to be 95, and she who lived without him last, was content to let his remains rest beside those of his first and second wives, while her grave was made in the cemetery at Pleasant Run meeting house.

Three additional stones in the Hardin burying ground bear inscriptions.  Elizabeth, daughter of Benoni, was born April 24, 1820; died February 5, 1855.  Harriet, another daughter, who married J. C. Rollins, was born December 4, 1824; died May 17, 1855.  C. Ann, a third daughter, who married a Rinehart, born in 1828; died May 1, 1854.

Leaving the Hardin burying ground we traveled southward and soon came to the land that once belonged to the Rev. John Sandusky.  He was a noted pioneer preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  His home, no longer standing, stood a few yards west of the road.  The field between the road and his house bore the first bluegrass grown in Washington County.

John Sandusky’s kinsman, James Sandusky, credited with the founding of Sandusky’s Station, later removed to Bourbon County where he built another Station on Cane Run.  John Sandusky visited his kinsman in Bourbon and upon his return to Washington County, brought along a bed-tick filled with bluegrass seed.  This seed he planted in his field in front of his house.

On the Sandusky farm there’s an old barn that John Sandusky built more than a hundred years ago.  I shall not try to estimate the length of time required to build it.  I’m satisfied that our present-day builders would have to do considerable ‘grunting’ and perhaps, no little ‘cussing’ to get it done in six months’ time!

I took one look at the barn John Sandusky built, and to my companion I said, ‘There’s a barn that is a barn!’  It’s 50 feet square, and every log, with the exception of where the few openings are, is 50 feet long.  As near as I could estimate, the logs, practically uniform in size and looks, are 20 inches high, 12 inches thick and 50 feet long.  A log that size is some log!  If you don’t believe it, try to lift one half that size!

Running east and west through the center of the barn is a tie-log, smoothly dressed and placed there to keep the roof from drooping.  I’m still trying to figure out how John Sandusky and his slaves put it in place.  The old rafters, many of them with the bark still on, make our modern-day two by fours look tiny.

At the place that was once the home of John Sandusky, the road we traveled from the Mattingly place on the Perryville Road, runs into the Texas and Lebanon Road.  Leaving the old barn, which is just over the line in Marion County, we moved westward a short distance before making our next stop.

The next site to engage our attention was the farm once known as the ‘Old Jimmie McElroy’ place.  The farm is now owned by Stanley Pope.  A neat-appearing house of modern construction now stands within a few yards of the site of the McElroy home that has long since disappeared.

The McElroy house stood on a slope and it had 4 or 5 rooms built in a row up the slope so that in passing from one room to the next there was a rise of 2 or 3 steps.  The house was a frame structure, with bricks and mortar between the studding.

Westward from the house site there was once a McElroy family burying ground of considerable size.  I say, ‘there once was,’ because today the stones are gone, and the signs of the graveyard are completely obliterated.  About 50 years ago a thoughtless owner, having no regard for the dead, and according to those who knew him, very little regard for the living, took all of the stones and used them to fill a sink hole near the road.  He then plowed the ground, removing all traces of the graves.

As I looked upon the site of the erased graveyard, I could not refrain from thinking of the sacking of the Holy City, Jerusalem, by the Babylonians when they tore down the buildings and walls, plowed up the ground and sowed salt everywhere, before carrying the Jews away into captivity.  Someday, when some inquiring members of the McElroy family comes looking for the graves of his ancestors, he’ll find them extinct.  But, if he is willing to fish around in the pond by the side of the road, he may perchance draw up a marble or granite slab.

In looking over my notes I find that I failed to mention in its proper sequence, what I consider to be the most remarkable object viewed during the course of my day’s journey.  It is the feed trough in the Sandusky barn.  The trough is 50 feet long and extends the full length of one side of the barn and so placed into the wall as to form one of the wall logs.  It was made from one tree that must have measured at least four feet in circumference.  The tree was cut down, squared off on three side and hollowed out on the fourth side.

From the McElroy place we journeyed to Pleasant Run meeting house and cemetery.  Three meeting houses have stood on the same site there.  Very soon after Methodism invaded Kentucky, a congregation was established on Pleasant Run near Sandusky’s Station. The first house was built of logs, facing east.  It stood for about 50 years before it was destroyed by fire.

The second meeting house on Pleasant Run was a frame structure.  It is said this house was one of the largest ever constructed for use by a country congregation.  Pleasant Run had a large membership then, and the place was the scene of many large gatherings, familiarly known as camp meetings, when people came on horseback and in wagons for as many as 30 or 40 miles.  This second meeting house burned in 1897, and in 1898 the present house, of brick, was built.

In front of the Pleasant Run meeting house, which now faces south, is the cemetery.  Browsing through the burying ground one comes upon such names as Brand, Clark, Lynch, Daugherty, Cregor, Bigger, Land, Goode, Canary, Lannum, Leachman, Rinehart, Funk, Bosley, Barbour, Whitecotin, Swan, Logan, Pearce, McElroy, Askren, Drain, Bagley, Wilson, Sandusky and many others.

As I looked upon the graves of R. Y. McElroy, his wife, Fannie C., and their children, Zana, Joseph F. and Harvey, I thought how fortunate they had not been buried with their kinfolk in the family burying ground now erased.

I was particularly interested in the gravestones of Philip Barbour and his wife, Jane, and their son, James P. Barbour.  The old Barbour homestead stood just across the road south from the cemetery.  They were the ‘aristocrats’ of the Pleasant Run country.  Philip Barbour was born in Virginia, June 26, 1774.  He came to Kentucky and settled near Sandusky’s Station, and there he died September 16, 1835.  His wife, Jane, was born in 1776, and she died in 1845.  Their home of logs had four or five rooms on the first floor, and it was much larger than the other homes in the neighborhood.  It was surrounded by a large number of slave cabins.

James P. Barbour was one of the early graduates of Centre College.  When he was 20 years of age he came home from college and opened a school for boys at his father’s house.  He was a remarkable Latin and Greek scholar, and even when he had passed his 70th birthday, he could pick up his Latin and Greek readers and read with rapidity.  After Marion County was formed from Washington in 1834, James P. Barbour represented the new county in the State Legislature, being a member of the upper house.

From the meeting house and cemetery, the road runs down a short hill, makes a bend to the left and crosses Pleasant Run.  From the bridge we looked upon the site of the once notorious Sandusky’s Station.  The fort stood very near to the edge of the stream on the west side.  The stockade of logs was built around a spring, a most ideal arrangement for the occupants of the fort and the settlers thereabout in the event of an attack by Indians.

Nothing now remains of the stockade or the several cabins that stood within the enclosure.  The spring is still there, with a spring house of rocks.  A few old trees stand about like sentinels put there to guard the spot.  The home of the present owner of the land stands on a knoll westward from the fort site.

Sandusky’s Station was one of the oldest forts in the wilderness of Kentucky.  While we know that some member of the Sandusky clan built the station, there is some question as to what his given name was.  As has been previously stated in this department, the earlier historians gave the credit to James Sandusky, a member of the company of pioneers who founded Harrodsburg.  James Sandusky, they said, tiring of the life at Harrodsburg, moved further into the wilderness in search of solitude and game, found a delightful spot on Pleasant Run and built himself a fort.  That was in 1776.

After spending several years on Pleasant Run, according to the earlier writers, James Sandusky felt the urge to move again.  This time he traveled northward, passing his old home at Harrodsburg, and on up to Bourbon County where he built a fort on Can Run that became known as Sandusky’s Station.

Among the members of the Sandusky clan who came into the wilderness of Kentucky we find in addition to James, such others as Jacob Sandusky, Anthony Sandusky, John Sandusky and Samuel Sandusky.  John and Samuel were brothers and sons of Anthony.  What relation Anthony and his sons bore to James and Jacob is not known.  Anthony was probably a brother of James and Jacob.  All the aforementioned are known to have lived at Harrod’s Fort and at Wilson’s Station before the migration to the Pleasant Run country.  Josiah Wilson, for whom Wilson’s Station near Harrodsburg was named, married Hannah Sandusky, a sister of James, Jacob and Anthony.  Wilson removed to the Pleasant Run country and settled very near to Sandusky’s Station at or about the time the fort was built.

From the site of Sandusky’s Station, we proceeded along the road that runs a little south to west and crossed the dividing ridge to come upon the waters of one of the forks of Cartwright’s Creek.  The road then follows the fork for some distance to the point where the other fork joins to form the main body of Cartwright’s Creek.  At the junction of the forks, the road makes an abrupt turn to the southward and follows the creek for some distance.  The old road, I am told, wove in and out of the creek, following the creek bed a greater part of the time.

Our next point of interest was the site of Cartwright’s Church.  Of the history of the church I have been able to learn practically nothing.  Mr. Bosley says it stood on a hill to the left of the road and not far from the junction of the forks of Cartwright’s Creek.  It is not a great way from the church site to the supposed site of Cartwright’s Station.  Mr. Bosley says that the statement of the old pioneer and Indian fighter, Philemon Waters, that Cartwright’s Station was located about five miles above the mouth of Shepherd’s Run, would tend to place the station and church sites very close together.  Perhaps the arrangement was similar to that on Pleasant Run.  The church and cemetery located on a hill and the station in the valley on the edge of the creek.

Mr. Baylor stops his story here, but we know from the beginning he and Mr. Bosley drove on to Lebanon, probably catching US 68 at the junction of Hwy 1195, and taking Hwy 55 back to Springfield.  Ritchey and I have been in the area of Sandusky’s Station – we visited St. Ivo Catholic Cemetery.  No church is still standing, only the cemetery remains.  After reading this article I want to return to the area and visit Pleasant Run Cemetery and photograph the gravestones.

If you follow the purple lines from Springfield you can somewhat imagine the journey that was taken back in 1935.  As they traveled east on US150 they would have taken the Old Perryville Loop, as the road would not have taken its present route.  I have circled in black where Mill Creek crosses the road.  Onto Old Perryville Loop and a right onto Hwy 1195 would have been location of the Mattingly farm, or at least the area.  A little further down was the Hardin Cemetery, and past it, the location of the Sandusky farm with the huge barn, the McElroy homestead nearby.  My little black star shows the location of Pleasant Run Church, with Sandusky’s Station very near it.  My ‘CC’ at the intersection of 1195 and Cartwright’s Creek gives an approximation of where that fort stood.

Mr. Baylor is a man after my own heart – nothing like a day spent driving the old roads, searching for homesteads and cemeteries.  I just want to know – what was in his picnic basket full of goodies?

3 replies »

  1. Would love to read what he wrote about driving up from Lebanon to Springfield on highway 55 (the old McElRoy, McMurtry, etc., place is along there. The McMurtry’s bought the home/farm in December 1936 if memory serves me correctly.

    Billy Ray Chitwood

    On Wed, Sep 11, 2019 at 6:05 AM Kentucky Kindred Genealogy wrote:

    > Kentucky Kindred Genealogical Research posted: “The following article was > printed in the April 4, 1935, edition of either The Springfield Sun or The > News Leader, both published in Springfield at that time. It is truly a > ‘delightful’ trip through rural Washington and Marion counties. Mr. Orval > W. Bayl” >

  2. Thank you for publishing this article! Although my ancestors from the area are not mentioned in it, reading it transports the mind back to a time much different than today. I really enjoyed the read. Shame our big-city newspaper publishes little about Kentucky history.

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