Tag Archives: Henry Clay

Ben Hardin – Famous Lawyer of Bardstown

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Tuesday Morning, December 18, 1900


Former Residence of Old Ben Hardin

In Suburbs of Bardstown

The Place Where The Famous Lawyer Lived and Died

[Bardstown Record]

One of Kentucky’s historic residences is ‘Edgewood,’ the former home of Ben Hardin, in his day one of Kentucky’s greatest lawyers.  This old homestead is situated in the suburbs of Bardstown, and is a large and irregular structure built entirely of brick.  It was originally a one-storied building, with two rooms in front.  To this an addition was made on the left, comprising a wide hall and front room and chambers in rear with similar apartments above.  These added rooms and the hall are unusually large and airy.  The hall is entered by a large door in front, and contains a massive old-fashioned staircase, connecting with the upper story.  The present occupant, Hon. Lud. McKay, has added a handsome veranda to the house, which greatly improves its general appearance.

This dwelling was erected between 1819-1822 by Mr. Hardin on land that was contained in the original pre-emption of Bardstown.  The tract contains about two hundred and fifty acres of as fine soil as there is in Nelson County.  A wide lawn in front of the residence stretches down to one of the streets of the town, and is liberally shaded with a fine growth of forest trees.

Ben Hardin, who erected and long occupied the residence, was born in Pennsylvania, February 29, 1784, and at the age of four years was brought to Kentucky by his parents, who settled in Nelson County.  At an early age he was placed in the school of Dr. Priestly, then the most able educator in the West.  At the age of twenty, young Hardin began the study of law, which he soon mastered and was admitted to the bar of Bardstown.  His first case was one in which a large tract of land was involved.  He was alone on his side and opposed by several of the most distinguished lawyers of the day.  However, he won his case and his fame was made, and from that time on he never lacked for clients.  Readers of the Standard are familiar with the history of Mr. Hardin; his public services; his numerous debates in Congress with Henry Clay; how he was dubbed the ‘Kitchen Knife’ by John Randolph, and the ‘Red Fox’ by some other equally as great man.  Suffice it to say that he was one of the shrewdest and most successful attorneys that ever practiced his profession within the domains of this old Commonwealth.

In early life Mr. Hardin was married to Elizabeth Barbour, daughter of Col. Ambrose Barbour, of Washington County, one of Kentucky’s most distinguished pioneers.  She is described as a handsome woman, with many admirable traits of character.  Seven children were the result of this union – three sons and four daughters.

The latter were Lucinda, who married John Helm, afterward Governor of Kentucky; Emily, who married Dr. Palmer, a prominent physician of Washington County; Kate, who married Thomas Riley, a prominent attorney of Bardstown, and Sallie, who married Thomas W. Dixon, a Kentuckian living in the West.  Of the sons, William died of a fever in childhood; James and Rowan married in early life – the former a Miss Chinn; the latter a Miss Cartmell.  James died a short time after his marriage.  Rowan became an able lawyer; served in the State Legislature, and in 1851 was appointed by President Fillmore Secretary of Legation to Guatemala.  During the year it is supposed he was assassinated in the mountains of the Isthmus of Darien, as a skeleton was discovered and identified as his by some papers that were found in the vicinity.

Old Ben Hardin’s home life was always a happy one.  His doors were always open, and he dispensed the most lavish hospitality to all who came beneath his roof.  Many distinguished men were entertained by him at his residence, among whom may be mentioned Gen. William Preston, ex-Senator Garland, Bishop Kavanaugh, Judge John Rowan, gov. William Duvall, and many others who afterward became men of national reputation.  Mr. Hardin’s death occurred in September 1852, and was the result of a fall from a horse which he received as he was journeying from Bardstown to Lebanon to attend court.  He was buried in an old grave yard in a field near the pike leading from Springfield to Lebanon, by the side of his mother.  His grave is marked by an unpretentious stone bearing the simple inscription: ‘Ben Hardin, of Bardstown.’  Mrs. Hardin had preceded her husband to the grave in August, her death being hastened by constant attendance upon Mr. Hardin.  She is buried in the old pioneer cemetery here, in the midst of children and relatives.  A marble shaft, that has been sadly disfigured by vandals, marks her last resting place.  The only inscription is bears is ‘Elizabeth Barbour Hardin, wife of Ben Hardin.’

Ritchey and I have visited the Pioneer Cemetery in Bardstown, but we did not see a stone for Elizabeth Barbour Hardin.

Matthew Harris Jouett – Kentucky Portrait Painter

Last weekend my son, Linton, and I had a day together in Louisville.  He lives in Indianapolis, not the ends of the earth, but not an easy day trip.  When our weekend was planned I told Ritchey and Kate he was mine on Saturday, but I would share him with the rest of the family on Sunday!  We had a huge family dinner and Julian had quite a day with Uncle Linton.

Most of our day together was spent at bookstores, record shops, eating and talking.  Beforehand I searched for those rare and used bookstores and the first we visited was A Book By Its Cover on Dartmouth.  When we turned in it was a residential area.  We searched again and came up with the same place.  Linton called, and, yes, we were in front of the business!  The gentleman told us most of his business is online, but he welcomes those who want to come and peruse.  And he had one room of Kentucky history and county histories – I was in heaven!

One book I found was Matthew Harris Jouett – Kentucky Portrait Painter (1787-1827) by E. A. Jonas.  The book is in excellent condition, being No. 264 of 500 copies of the first edition.  About forty of his portraits are reproduced in the book.  Being a Mercer County resident and having a little knowledgeable about the history of our county, I recognized the last name as the same as the wife of Thomas Allin, our first county clerk.  Thomas Allin married Mary Jouett on February 16, 1789, at the home of her brother, Captain John Jouett, Jr.  Their parents were John Jouett, Sr., and Mourning Harris.  Captain John Jouett, Jr., better known as ‘Jack’, was the father of Matthew Harris Jouett.  Matthew was born in 1787, two years before his aunt’s marriage.

After a local education, Matthew’s father sent him to Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, to be educated as a lawyer.  He studied and became a lawyer, but his free time was spent painting.  In 1812 he married Miss Margaret Allen of Fayette County.

He could not continue his law profession, gave up his business and started painting portraits as his livelihood.  His father was not happy, and that is an understatement.  The War of 1812 changed everyone’s lives, and Matthew Jouett volunteered his services and served valiantly.  He enlisted in Captain Robert Crockett’s Company, Third Mounted Regiment, Kentucky Volunteers, Colonel Allen commanding.  July 13, 1814, he was appointed paymaster, with the rank of captain of the 28th United States Infantry by President Madison.  At the battle of the River Raisin the payrolls and papers, in his care as paymaster, fell into enemy hands and were never recovered.  He found himself in debt to the War Department for $6,000.  That doesn’t sound like a huge sum today, but it would be about a million dollars.  This was not due to negligence or lack of prudence, just a fortune of war.  He was determined to pay the money back – and he did so through painting portraits.  His father was furious and called him a ‘sign-painter’, never realizing how great his talent truly was.

Matthew Jouett went to Boston in 1817 and studied for a year with Gilbert Stuart – who painted the famous George Washington portrait.  Back in Kentucky Matthew painted assiduously.  Those who sat for him sound like a Who’s Who of history – Henry Clay, Judge John Rowan, Andrew Jackson, Hon. George M. Bibb, Mr. Justice Thomas Todd, Captain Robeson DeHart, Colonel Edmund Taylor, Sr., General LaFayette, Hon. John Brown, Hon. Robert S. Todd, George Rogers Clark and many, many others.  It is said that in the ten years of his career he produced over 400 portraits – and there could be more.  In 1964, at an auction in Lexington, a gentleman bought a portrait of a child for $22 – and afterwards found out it was a Matthew Jouett painting, worth $1600-$2000!

Matthew Jouett died after a short illness, August 10, 1827, in his fortieth year and at the top of his professional success.  It is said he accomplished as much in ten years as many others were able to do only in a lifetime.  His fame as a great painter truly began at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.  His paintings were given the best place in the gallery by the Hanging Committee because of their recognized merit.  In 1928 fifty to sixty of Matthew Jouett’s portraits were exhibited at the J B Speed Museum in Louisville.  Some of his work is in the Hall of Governors at the Kentucky History Center, and I believe one hangs in a New York museum.

Matthew and his wife are buried in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.  I think there’s another road trip to plan – to the cemetery, J B Speed Museum in Louisville, and the old state house in Frankfort where the life-size portrait of General LaFayette hangs!  I will keep you updated!

Louis A. Bersot Biography

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

Oldham County

Louis A Bersot was born in Carroll County, Kentucky, in 1842.  His father, Julius Bersot, was born in Switzerland in 1803, was of French parentage, and came to America in 1816; settled in Carroll County, and married Miss Maria Poindexter, daughter of Robert Poindexter, of Frankfort, Kentucky, who was in seven campaigns, and twice wounded during the War of 1812, and who was a brother of Governor Poindexter of Mississippi, a trusted friend of Henry Clay.  Mrs. Maria Bersot died in 1868, and her husband, Julius, in 1875, both being members of the Baptist Church.  Louis A. Bersot is the eighth of eleven children, and was reared on the home farm near Ghent, in Carroll County.  He was educated at Eminence College, afterward taught school at Jericho, Henry County, and in 1870 entered the ministry in the Christian Church.  He has had charge of Westport Church about seven years, and the Sandhill Church, about four years, and also of the South Jefferson Church, twelve miles below Louisville.  His residence is on his farm of ninety acres, near Brownsboro.  In 1864 he married Miss Ada R. Smith, of Jefferson County, a daughter of Benjamin Smith, who was a soldier in the War of 1812, a native of Virginia, and of German descent.  The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Bersot are eight in number, and named as follows:  Panolia E., Lizzie J., Letellier F., Julius S., Louis O., Addie M., Vernon C. and Vassie M.  Mrs. Bersot is also a member of the Christian Church, and Mr. Bersot is a Knight of Honor.

Samuel Clay Biography


from History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky, Perrin, 1882

Bourbon County, Kentucky

Samuel Clay, farmer and stock raiser; P. O. Paris.  This gentleman is the largest land owner, and one of the most successful agriculturists in Bourbon County.  He was born in this Precinct [Paris] April 8, 1815, son of Colonel Henry Clay, a native of Virginia, (his wife’s maiden name was Helm), who emigrated to this county from the Old Dominion about the year 1785.  He came here with his father, Samuel Clay, when a lad of eight years.  He was a successful farmer.  To Henry Clay was born twelve children; eleven grew to maturity.  The eldest was Henry; then in order of birth were John, Sallie, Joseph, Letitia, Henrietta, Elizabeth, Samuel, Mary, Frank, and Matt M., all of whom settled in this county.  Sallie married William Buckner; Letitia became the wife of Daniel Bedinger.  Henrietta married three times; first to Mr. Bedford, by whom she had one son, Frank.  Her second husband was Robert Scott, by whom she had one child.  Her third husband was E. S. Dudley.  Elizabeth Married Douglas P. Lewis.  Mary married E. S. Dudley, the husband of Henrietta.


Samuel Clay, born April 8, 1815, died February 14, 1888.  Nancy T., his wife, 1818-1899.  Paris Cemetery, Bourbon County, Kentucky.

In 1836 our subject married Nancy T. Wornall, who was born January 16, 1816, in Clark County.  She was a daughter of Thomas and Sallie (Ryan) Wornall.  Thomas was the son of Roby and Edie Wornall, who was a native of Virginia.  At the time Mr. Clay started in business for himself, his father gave him 440 acres of land.  From this start he has added to it until he now owns over 7,000 in this county, and several thousand in counties adjoining.  Mr. Clay is a tireless worked, and believes in the adage that it is better to wear out than rust out, and his career has been one of unusual success.  He has had four children:  Thomas H., Susan E., wife of Cassius Clay.  She died in 1879, leaving four children.  James E. resides on farm adjoining.


James E. Clay, born September 25, 1850, died July 17, 1910.  Lizzie A. Clay, born December 25, 1849, died July 2, 1910.


A Beautiful Day at the Lexington Cemetery



‘A rose once grew where all could see, sheltered beside a garden wall.  And, as the days passed swiftly by, it spread its branches, straight and tall.’

On a beautiful day in April Ritchey and I visited the Lexington Cemetery, Fayette County, Kentucky.  It was a glorious day – tulips blooming, trees laden with blossoms of white, purple and pink.  So not only were there gravestones to photo – but the scenery also!


One of the famous persons buried in this cemetery is Henry Clay – the man who was Speaker of the House, senator, secretary of state, five time presidential candidate – but never president.  Clay married Lucretia Hart and together they had eleven children.


Earlier in the year I read Henry Clay – The Essential American by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler.  I highly recommend it!


Dr. H. H. Sheppard, born August 18, 1797, died January 8, 1859.


Sampson Dots, born May 3, 1800, died March 25, 1863.


Mrs. Margaret R. Rodes, born June 4, 1799, died November 27, 1865.


Levi Todd Rodes, 1831-1890.  A relative of Mary Todd Lincoln.


Caroline V. Waters, born January 23, 1801, died April 7, 1876.


Maj. George Parke Richardson, born March 12, 1795, died July 16, 1851.

Sarah Ann McDougald, wife of George P. Richardson, born September 23, 1802, died March 5, 1875.

Georgia Richardson, died January 30, 1884.  ‘She hath done what she could.’


Livia H., wife of W. L. Gardner, born November 7, 1834, died February 21, 1864.

William L. Gardner, born March 27, 1836, died May 20, 1882.



Judge Paul Jones Booker

from The News-Leader, Washington County, Kentucky

June 11, 1896

Judge Paul Jones Booker

Son of Samuel Booker, a revolutionary soldier, was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia, August 20, 1787.  He was educated first at Baxter Log College, then at Hampden-Sidney College, where he was a classmate of two of Patrick Henry’s sons, two of the Crittendens, and Caleb Breckinridge.  He took his law course under Judge Coulton of Staunton, Virginia.

Judge Booker came to Kentucky at the age of twenty-one, and began the practice of law at Springfield.  When quite young he was elected to the Kentucky Legislature, and was appointed to the Circuit Judgeship of this district when barely old enough to hold the position.  His judicial district extended from Springfield by way of Bardstown, Greensburg and Elizabethtown to the Ohio River.

The Buckners, Wickliffes, Rowans, Hardins, Chapeys, Carpenters, Hayes and Joseph Holt were all practitioners in his court.

Judge Booker resigned his position as judge and retired to a large farm four miles east of Springfield, and led a quiet, private life the balance of his days.  He was an Elder in the Presbyterian church, and was esteemed as one of the most cultural and courteous gentlemen and one of the finest conversationalists in the State.

He was in Samuel Hopkins’ campaign in the West in the War of 1812, as Lieutenant of Captain Kidd’s company.

He died near Springfield May 16, 1873.

Paul Jones Booker, Sr., married Letitia Reed on July 10, 1828, in Washington County, Kentucky.  This was a second marriage.  With his first wife, whose name I do not know, he had at least one daughter, Ann Rachel, who was born February 24, 1818.  Paul and Letitia had 6 children:  William M., Eliza, Maria Louisa, Margaret R., Emily and Paul Jones Booker, Jr.