Family Stories

Bartholomew T. Wood – Pioneer of Hopkinsville – Christian County

Bartholomew T. Wood statue in Pioneer Cemetery

Today, Pioneer Cemetery in Hopkinsville is not the area of unmarked graves as mentioned in the article about Bartholomew Woods.  Money was donated by citizens a few years after this article was written, but several years went by with nothing accomplished.  When Ritchey and I visited in October of 2017, there were the winding walkways and stones that had been replaced by the citizens of Hopkinsville – but this work looked new, not that from 100 years ago!

Bartholomew Wood, Town Founder, Frontiersman, Farmer, Tavern Keeper. First Settler 1796, Founder of Christian Court House 1797, Later Town of Elizabeth 1799, Later Town of Hopkinsville 1804, died at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, November 26, 1827.
Soldier in the Revolutionary War, South Carolina Militia, Col. Robertson’s Regiment, 1779

Hopkinsville Kentuckian, Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky

Thursday, April 27, 1905

First Pioneer Was Buried in Old Cemetery

Bartholomew T. Wood Who Settled City in 1796

From North Carolina

His Descendants Are Still Numerous and Represent Prominent Families

It is the irony of fate that the man who staked out a claim where the city of Hopkinsville now is and built a log cabin on it 109 years ago, a man who donated the ground for the first public buildings, for schools and cemetery purposes, should now sleep in an unmarked grave in a part of the very land he gave to the city.  Not only republics but cities as well are ungrateful.

Originally there was a slab of stone at the head of Bartholomew T. Wood’s grave in the old Westside Cemetery, but it has been torn down and no longer marks his resting place.  We have quoted the saying that republics are ungrateful, but there are exceptions.  The United States has recently expended many thousands of dollars in searching for the body of John Paul Jones, a Scotchman who fought for American independence, but subsequently fought for other countries as well and died in a foreign land.  Paul Jones was not an American, but his body has been found and will be brought to America and buried with great honor and a befitting monument erected to perpetuate his memory.  “Bat” Wood lived and died here, a public benefactor and a most useful citizen, doing all that man could do for the infant settlement, from fighting Indians to setting the town up in business and giving of his means to every public enterprise, and yet before a century has elapsed, he lives only as a memory of the past while his body has crumbled to earth in an unmarked grave in a rendezvous of vandals.

In the year 1796, Bartholomew T. Wood, an immigrant from North Carolina, stopped his “mover’s wagon” on the east fork of Little River, at the point still known as Wood’s mill, and camped for the night.  The place looked inviting, with its background of primeval forest a few miles to the north, its streams of clear water flowing seemingly from every direction, and its stretch of “barrens” to the south and west.  Mr. Wood left his family at the camp and crossing the stream ascended a hill a few hundred yards westward and took in the scene; another stream, a timber-lined crescent, enclosed a beautiful track of country, undulating and grass-covered.  For a mile he walked through this scene of beauty until upon the bank of the second stream he came upon a great spring of pure, cold water, gushing out from an over-hanging ledge of rock.  It was the famous “Rock Spring,” now buried under the freight depot of the I.C.R.R., and still, through a miniature tunnel, pouring its stream of fresh water into the sluggish river.  This spring settled the location.  Mr. Wood staked out a claim of 260 acres of land along the west fork of the river and extending eastward to the hill now known as “College Hill.”  With much difficulty he got his wagon across the east fork and proceeded to build a cabin on what is now the southeast corner of Campbell and Fourteenth Streets.  Subsequently he built a better house and moved nearer to the spring, on the present site of the Odd Fellows’ building.

The year that B. T. Wood moved to Kentucky, the Legislature created Christian County, by dividing Logan County.  It embraced a territory as large as Massachusetts, out of which 19 counties have since been formed.  On March 21, 1797, a county court, having been appointed, the court met at the present site of Shiloh Church, on Sinking Fork, and organized for business.  The court met again in August and appointed a committee to consider a place for a permanent county seat.  After investigating locations for three months, the Wood site with its big spring among other, the committee reported November 21, 1797, and the court made an order fixing the seat of government at Rock Spring and the village was named Elizabeth, which was changed seven years later to Hopkinsville.  Nearly 100 years after a flag station on the railroad four miles from Hopkinsville was named Woodville, a name the infant town ought to have been given a century before.  Mr. Wood donated four acres of ground to the town.  A part was used for the court house, a part for a school house near the present L. & N. depot, and still another lot given at a later day, was set apart for cemetery purposes.  Here the first settler lived and saw the little town grow from year to year; he hunted game in the woods, tilled his crops in the valley and reared a large family of children.  On one occasion he killed a bear weighing 400 pounds a few miles from town, on the Campbell farm.  The growth of the town made him a man of liberal fortune and he was a prominent and progressive citizen during the entire pioneer period.  He raised four sons.  Two of them went to Texas and but little is known of them.  Hardin and Bartholomew, Jr., remained here.  Hardin died without descendants.  Bat, as he was called, built a house across the street from his father, married Miss Nannie Saffarans in 1816 and raised a family of 11 children.  He died in 1865 and was buried in the new cemetery.  Many of his descendants are still in and about the city.  One son, Mr. George W. Wood, lives near the city, and is more than 80 years of age.  Another son, Dr. Ben S. Wood, died a few years ago, and his family lives on Main Street.  Two daughters, Mrs. Taylor and Miss Sue Wood are also among the living descendants of Bartholomew Wood, Jr.

Many of the grand-children of the pioneer now have grand-children of their own, and the family is widely connected in many parts of the county and in other states.

Martha Ann, Relict of Bartholomew Wood, born in Virginia June 27, 1763, married Jonesborough, North Carolina, now Tennessee, July 20, 1780, died at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, November 9, 1846.
Children of Bartholomew and Martha Ann Wood – Elizabeth Wood Douglass, Mary (Polly) Wood Gist, Sarah (Sally) Wood Cornelius, Temperance (Tempy) Wood Roberts, Patsy Wood Millholland, Bartholomew T. Wood, Carter T. Wood, Curtis Davenport Wood, William J. Wood, Letitia Charlotte Wood, Hardin J. Wood.

More will follow on this family.

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