Tag Archives: Pioneer History of Washington County Kentucky

Will of Col. John Hardin – Written 1788

Col. John Hardin was an early Kentuckian – came to the state after serving in the Revolutionary War.  In April of 1786, according to Collins’ History of Kentucky, he settled on his preemption on Pleasant Run, then in Nelson County, but part of Washington County when it was organized in 1792.  That is why he mentions the County of Nelson and State of Virginia when he wrote his will in 1788.

In 1792 Col. Hardin was sent by General Wilkinson to make overtures with the Indians.  At an Indian camp about a day’s journey from the site where Ft. Defiance was afterwards built, he encamped with the Indians for the night, on the promise they would take him in the morning to their chief.  John Hardin never made it home, the Indians murdered him that night and made off with his horses and baggage.  In a letter written by John Hardin May 19, 1792, from Fort Washington (later Cincinnati), he stated they were going to ‘try to form a junction at the mouth of the Miami River, which is called Rosadebra, where we expect to form a treaty with all the Indians we can collect at that place.‘  And later in the letter says he ‘reproaches myself for having left my family, throwing myself into the hands of a cruel, savage enemy.’  (This information taken from Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky by Orval W. Baylor.)

Colonel John Hardin’s will is the first in the Washington County Will Book A.

Washington County, Kentucky

Will Book A, Page 4-8

In the name of God amen.  I, John Hardin, of Nelson County and state of Virginia, being in perfect state of health and memory blessed be God for the same,

do make and ordain this my last will and testament, revoking all others.  As far as my worldly goods, I bequeath in the manner following, that is to say, I devise to my beloved wife, Jane, three hundred acres of land, to be taken out of my preemption, including the plantation whereon I now live, binding on the northwest line and not to extend further in Pleasant Run than where the Spring Branch empties.  Also I give to my beloved wife one Negro woman named Camer, but not her future increase, one feather bed and furniture and her choice of all the horses I have.  I devise to my son, Martin, four hundred acres of land binding on the southwest line of my preemption to include the Salt Licks and Mill Seat on Pleasant Run.  I devise to my son Mark, five hundred acres of land to be taken of a fifteen hundred acre survey adjoining my preemption, to be laid out of the east end.  I devise to my son Davis, five hundred acres of land adjoining my son Mark, on the west, it being one third of the fifteen hundred acre survey.  I devise to my daughter Sarah, three hundred acres of land to be laid off of my preemption.  I devise to my daughter

Mary, two hundred and fifty acres of land, part of a five hundred acre tract joining my preemption on the east, to include all the Beech Fork that lies in that survey.  Note, I give to John _____ two hundred and fifty acres of land in consideration for Negro George, to be laid off on the south of the above mentioned five hundred acre tract.  As my beloved wife is likely to have another son or daughter I devise to it five hundred acres of land, part of my fifteen hundred acre survey, adjoining my son Davis’ devised land on the west.  And all other lands that I may be hereafter possessed with I devise to the above mentioned children, to be equally divided amongst them.  Also, Negroes George, Bob and Bet and the future increase of Camer to be equally divided among them in like manner, and all my horses, cattle, household furniture and other estate to be equally divided between my beloved wife and above mentioned children.  Should any of the within mentioned children decease before such part of their estate herein mentioned is given into their possession, it shall be divided equally amongst the living brothers and sisters.

Lastly, I do constitute and appoint my beloved wife, Jane, Executrix, and my brothers Mark Hardin and Martin Hardin, my Executors to this my last will and devise they will collect all debts due and pay all my lawful demands.  In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty-second day of July, anno domini one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight.

John Hardin

Signed and sealed in the presence of Samuel Robertson, John Hardin, Mary Robertson

Note the words ‘hundred’ in the twenty-fourth line underlined on the other side and words ‘and other estate’ as mentioned in the third line on this side was underlined before signed.  Samuel Robertson, John Hardin, Mary Robertson

At a County Court held for Washington County the 4th day of April 1793

This will was proved by the oaths of Samuel Robertson, John Hardin and Mary Robertson, witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded and on the motion of Martin Hardin, Mark Hardin and Mary Hardin, the Executrix and Executors, who made oath and

acknowledged bond as the law directs, a certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.

Hugh McElroy’s Diary

Hugh McElroy, born September 19, 1795, died February 8, 1877.  Susan Frances, wife of Hugh McElroy, born December 29, 1807, died June 22, 1844.  ‘She had a smile for the joyous, an ear of sympathy for ill, and in act of kindness for all within her reach.’  Cemetery Hill, Springfield, Washington County, Kentucky.

If only all ancestors left diaries with the everyday happenings and the history they remember about their ancestors!

Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky, by Orval W. Baylor and Others, from newspaper articles

Hugh McElroy’s Diary

January 1, 1870.  This day I have read a long account of my grandfather, Anthony Hundley, and his family in the Christian Observer of December 22, 1869.  They moved from Charlotte County, Virginia, to this country in the year 1793, seventy years ago.  He settled on Pleasant Run near Sandusky’s Station.  The Indians were very troublesome on the road which they traveled.  They traveled with a large number of emigrants, as alone was very dangerous.  There was not a human habitation except a fort at Laurel River beyond the Cumberland Mountains and between Beams station at Crab Orchard in Kentucky.  Indian deprivations along the line were frequent.  On the route they saw the newly made graves of a large number of persons who had been massacred at night while encamped after a day’s journey.  My mother, then a young lady, and seventeen, was one of the company.  About the same time, my grandfather, Hugh McElroy, moved from Pennsylvania to this place and built the first brick house in the county.  Many of the bricks are now in this house I now live in, between the weatherboards and plastering.  My father helped to make them before I was born.  He married my mother in 1794 and I was born in 1795, 74 years ago.

June 30, 1873.  Sixty years the 20th of next November I came to this town (Springfield) to live, as a store boy with Mr. Elias Davison.  I lived with him six years.  I commenced my fourth year with him before I lost my first whole day.  My salary the first year was $50, the last year $100.  This has been a very wet, rainy Sabbath day and the first time I have been detained from Sunday School this year.

Deaths, 1873.  Ben E. Montgomery died last October, age 80 years.  Judge Booker on May 11th, age 87 years.  May York Sandusky on May 21st, age 80 years.  All these were neighbors.  Old Mrs. Briles died on the 9th June, age 97.

November 1, 1874.  Died this day, cousin William McElroy, 99.  July 18th Mr. Charles Powell died, age 83, and Presley Briles, age 74.

This day, September 19, 1873, I am 78 years old, have lived in Springfield 60 years, have been a school teacher over 40 years and superintendent over schools 20 years.  The cholera has been bad in several counties.  Lebanon and Marion County has suffered much, 84 deaths, most in the county.  Our town has escaped and very few cases in the county.  The Yellow Fever is very bad in the towns south, particularly in Memphis and Shreveport.

In October 1871, while at Louisville, I met an old uncle, Joel Hundley, which I had not seen for 20 years, he had come to Louisville to see his sister, Aunt Jane Thomas.  Courier Journal describes the meeting as follows:  A Romantic Meeting.  Mr. Joel Hundley and Mrs. Jane Thomas, as brother and sister, met in this city at the house of John H. Thomas, son of the venerable lady on Saturday last, after an absence of 54 years.  Mrs. Thomas was born in Virginia at the Charlotte Courthouse, in 1793, he was born in 1791, making her 78 years old and him 80.  She arrived here from her residence in Litchfield, Kentucky, and he, being informed of the fact, started from his home in Mt. Washington, after a late breakfast, and walked to Louisville, a distance of 21 miles to see her.  The meeting of so long a separation was a happy one.  His walk is remarkable, considering his advanced age, but it is not the first long tramp he has taken.  In olden times, before steam boats and railroads were known, and when flat boats were the only means of transportation down the river, he often made the trip from New Orleans to Kentucky on foot.  Mrs. Thomas is the mother of O. W. and J. H. Thomas.  Mr. Hundley is the father of Doctor Hundley.

September 19, 1874.  This day is my birthday, 79 years old.  How thankful I ought to be.  I never had better health in my life and have no pains in my limbs, yet I cannot walk without help, owing to my getting crippled ten years since.  I ride to my counting room in town every day and have missed but one or two days from Sunday School this year.

1794 Will of Hugh McElroy – Washington County

Hugh McElroy, and brothers James and Samuel, emigrated from Prince Edward County, Virginia, to Kentucky in 1789.  They were sons of James McElroy and his wife, Sarah, natives of Ireland.

Hugh McElroy was born in Pennsylvania; married Esther Irvine in Virginia, before coming with his brothers to what is now Washington County, Kentucky.  When the county was formed in 1792, the county Court established the first jail in a cabin belonging to Hugh McElroy.  Several settings of the Court were at his home previous to the building of the Courthouse. 

In 1794 Hugh McElroy fell victim to the epidemic of smallpox that swept the county that year.

Hugh and Esther McElroy were the parents of ten children – James married Rosa Hardin, then a Mrs. Dorsey, no issue; Margaret married Captain John Muldraugh, a pioneer settler in the Rolling Fork neighborhood (for him the submountainous range of over 100 miles in length and known as ‘Muldrough’s Hill’ was named); Sarah married a Sandusky and left a small family; Mary married first John Simpson and second, John McElroy, her cousin, a son of Samuel McElroy; John married a Miss Hundley; Hugh, Jr., married a Miss Dorsey; Samuel married a Miss Weston and his family moved to Missouri and Texas; Robert Abraham married Dicia Hundley and left a small family; William married a Miss Crawford and left issue; Elizabeth died single.

Above information from Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky by Orval W. Baylor.

Will Book A, Pages 27-29

(Corners of the pages were difficult to read.)

hm-will-aIn the name of God Amen.  I, Hugh McElroy, of Washington County and State of Kentucky, being sick and weak of body, but of sound memory, do this thirtieth day of January one thousand seven hundred and ninety four make and appoint this my last will and testament in manner and form following (to wit).  First my will and desire is that all my just debts be paid.  I then lend to my loving wife Easter McElroy the house and tract of land whereon I now live, three Negroes (to wit) Beck, Tom and Jack, three horses and one mare of her own choice, all the plantation tools, one half of the household furniture and one third part of

hm-will-bthe cattle and sheep during her life.  I give to my son James McElroy a Negro boy by name Len, to him and his heirs forever.  I give to my son John McElroy a Negro boy by name Sie, to him and his heirs forever.  I give to my son Samuel McElroy a Negro boy by name Dick to him and his heirs forever.  I give to my son Hugh McElroy a Negro boy by name Ned, to him and his heirs forever.  I give to my daughter Peggy Mulder a Negro girl by name of Kitty, to her and her heirs forever.  I give to my daughter Sally Sodusky a Negro boy by name Stephen, to her and her heirs forever, also twenty pounds to be paid out of my estate at the decease of my wife.  I give to my daughter Mary Simpson a Negro boy by name Fleming, to her and her heirs forever.  I give to my daughter Elizabeth McElroy a Negro girl by name Rose, and the house and lot in town to be sold and the money arising therefrom, also a feather bed, a horse worth fifteen pounds and riding saddle to her and her heirs forever.  At the death of my wife I give to my son William McElroy the tract of land whereon I now live, also the roan mare’s stallion colt to him and his heirs forever.  My will and desire is that the remainder of my lands, stock and household furniture be equally divided between my four sons, ?, Samuel, Hugh and Abraham McElroy.  My will and

hm-will-cdesire is that at the death of my wife my son Abraham McElroy shall have my Negro boy Jack and my son William McElroy to have Tom or any other that my wife may think proper to let him have.  My will and desire is that at the death of my wife all the moveable property lent to her and not otherwise disposed of be equally divided between all my children.  My will and desire is that my son William and daughter Elizabeth McElroy be schooled out of my estate.  My will and desire is that my stills be disposed of as my wife may think proper.  And I hereby appoint my loving Wife, Easter McElroy, Executrix, and my sons James and John McElroy, Executors, to this my last will and testament.  In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written.

Hugh McElroy

In presence of us, John Irvine, Philip King, Thomas King

At a County Court held for Washington County the 5th day of June 1794.  This was proved by the oaths of John Irvine and ? King, two of the subscribing witnesses thereto.  Ordered to be certified.  And at a County Court held for the said County the ? day of July 1794.  The same was fully proven.



Jonathan Wright Revolutionary War Pension Application

As you know, I cannot resist a mention of Loudoun County, Virginia – someone who may have known Captain John Linton when he lived there!  There is also the mention of Lewis brothers, Isaac and Jacob, who also lived there.  Captain John Linton’s sister married a Lewis.

from Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky, by Orval W. Baylor, 1930’s

Jonathan Wright, Hannah Wright – W. 11803 Virginia

Shelby County, Kentucky, September 12, 1833.

Affidavit of Isaac Lewis, age 73, and Jacob Lewis, age 67, made in Shelby County, Kentucky, who state that they used to live in Loudoun County, Virginia, a near neighbor to his [Jonathan Wright] father.  They were all boys together.  They have no doubt but that he did serve as a soldier, knowing that he was away from home and are well satisfied that he enlisted in the spring of 1782.

Washington County, Kentucky, October 29, 1833.

Personally appeared Jonathan Wright, age 70, states that he was born in Prince George County, Maryland, August 12, 1762, as copied from his father’s registrar, that he was drafted in the county of Loudoun, state of Virginia, May, 1781, in the Virginia Militia under Captain John Henry Newman.  Marks Lt. at John Moore’s Tavern in said county.  We marched from there to Fredericksburg, having served three months was discharged in the spring of 1782.  I volunteered in Captain James Linville’s Company.  He said he could prove his services by Isaac and Jacob Lewis of Shelby County, Kentucky.  States that he moved to Washington County, Kentucky, where he now lives in 1815.

Hannah Wright, his widow, made application for pension in Washington County, Kentucky, 1846, age 81, states that she was married to him July 22, 1783, in Fauquier County, Virginia, by Parson Thompson and that her husband died 27th day of January 1845.  States that she has records of her children in a book which her brother John Lewis wrote in about 30 years previous.

Records as Follows:

  • Warren Wright, born July 26, 1784
  • Laben Wright, born October 27, 1786
  • Fendley Wright, born April 9, 1789
  • Sally Wright, born December 1, 1791
  • Elizabeth Wright, born April 4, 1794
  • Nancy Wright, born July 2, 1796
  • Kitty Wright, born August 20, 1799

Deposition of Kitty (Wright) Dunn, made in Washington County, Kentucky, 1846, states that she is the daughter of Jonathan Wright and wife.

Springfield’s “Silent City of the Dead”

IMG_6295from Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky, by O. W. Baylor

Article written November 7, 1935

Cemetery Hill, Springfield

Springfield’s “Silent City of the Dead,” on the south side of Road Run and situated on one of the highest points in this community, is known as “Cemetery Hill.”  This city of the dead on the south is nearly as old as the town of the living on the north side of the Run.  General Matthew Walton, on whose land the town of Springfield was laid out in 1793, gave the land on the hill to be used as a resting place for the dead of the town and surrounding community.

It seems strange that Springfield’s “City of the Dead” should be known as “Cemetery Hill,” but that is the name it has borne through all the years of its history.  In late years a number of Springfield’s citizens have suggested that the name by changed.  As a substitute for “Cemetery Hill,” the name of “Walton memorial Cemetery” has been suggested.

The write has spent considerable time on Cemetery Hill, noting the numerous graves and reading the inscriptions on the stones.  There is no systematic and complete record of the burials now in existence.  Only by the stones that mark many of the graves can we determine whose mortal remains rest on the Hill.  The graves unmarked, and there appear to be many of them, are probably in the main unknown to any person of this day.

There are some distinguished bones resting on Cemetery Hill awaiting the general resurrection.  There are many less distinguished, yet none the less beloved in their day of life and by their descendants yet living.

The grave most prominent from the point of view of all Washington Countians is that of General Matthew Walton.  To him belongs the title of “Father of Washington County.”  General Walton, more than any other, was responsible for the formation of the county in 1792.  He, too, may be called the Father of Springfield, for he set aside the land on which the town was established in 1793.

IMG_6285General Matthew Walton

General Walton’s grave was covered with a large stone slab on which were recounted the virtues and deeds of his life.  This slab, many years ago was broken and a portion thereof has disappeared.  Some of the older citizens of Springfield say that when the imposing monument of John Pope was erected the now missing portion of General Walton’s monument was used as a part of the base of the Pope memorial.

Enough of the original Walton grave slab is yet intact so that by painstaking reading it may be determined that the General was born December 16, 1739, and died January 11, 1819.  He was a resident of Springfield at the time of his death, his home being the same now occupied by Mrs. Nan Mayes.  His widow, who afterward married John Pope, is buried nearby.  Her epitaph appears on the Pope monument where we read:  “Frances Pope, consort of the Hon. John Pope, formerly of General Walton.  She died aged 71 years.”

IMG_6286The Hon. John Pope, born in Prince William County, Virginia, February 1773, died in Washington County, Kentucky, July 12, 1845.

Another important grave is that of the Hon. John Pope, lawyer, jurist and statesman, who came to Springfield about 1820 and died here in 1845.  He was thrice married, his last wife being Mrs. Frances Watkins Walton, widow of General Matthew Walton.  Their home in Washington County was first where Mr. Alex Barber now lives and then in Springfield in the imposing old brick house now owned by Miss Sallie McElroy.

Over the grave of John Pope there once stood an imposing shaft of marble.  I say once stood because the shaft has been broken in several places and the pieces now lay scattered about on the ground.  There is a portion of the inscription on the monument that tells us that “The affectionate gratitude of his grandchildren has reared this monument to his memory.”  Another inscription might be fittingly placed there by some of his descendants to read:  “Restored by his remembering descendants – 1935.”

The inscription on the monument of John Pope reads as follows:  “The Hon. John Pope.  Born in Prince William County, Virginia, February, 1773, died in Washington County, Kentucky, July 12, 1845.  Member of the United States Senate, Governor of Arkansas and Representative in Congress.  He was alike distinguished as a profound jurist, a brilliant orator, and enlightened statesman; while his Roman dignity of character, his sterling integrity and truthfulness, and his many private virtues threw the softening halo of respect and love over the stirring scenes of his public life.”