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History of Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky


Historical Tidbits

The Oldest Town in Kentucky

By Max Charleston

(September, 1929)

So much has been written on the subject of this paper that any recapitulation of the facts or addition to them may be regarded as superfluous, but when its importance is considered one may be excused for entering this particular field of research.

That the subject is of special interest cannot be gainsaid. In the Eighteenth century important events were begun in this section of the State – propaganda that now deserve both patient research and adequate appraisal. Nowadays, too, many people are getting to recognize the fact that there is a commercial element involved, and that in the determination of the question what town in the State is entitled to historical priority, dollars and cents are an important and appealing factor.

However that may be, the claims of history and our duty to those who labored so heroically in the early days render any excuse for activity in this line unnecessary.

As I have indicated, quite a good deal has been written about Kentucky’s oldest town, but I find that hidden away in the archives of the State and in those of other States there is material relating to the subject that has scarcely seen the light of day. One’s duty, therefore, to disclose all available facts is rendered all the more imperative, and on that account I feel I am entitled to be exonerated from any charge of undue zeal or an overwhelming literary impulse.

To me also the matter presents several questions of legal import, the solution of which is not only of great interest, but of a convincing character, and I consider it a duty to call attention to them at this time.

The first town to be considered is Harrodsburg to which the following historians, among others, make reference:

Lewis Collins, “History of Kentucky.” Speaking of the coming of the early settlers he says: “In the season of 1774 other parties of surveyors and hunters followed and during this year James Harrod erected a log cabin upon the spot where Harrodsburg now stands which rapidly grew into a station, doubtless the oldest in Kentucky…”

Perrins, “Kentucky” “In the meantime a notable event was occurring near the vicinity of these surveys. In May (1774) James Harrod, who had been in one of the surveying parties of the preceding year led a party of 31 men into what is now Mercer county and laid the foundation of the first settlement and village in Kentucky … On the 16th of June the company united to lay off a town in which was assigned to each man a half acre lot and a ten acre outlot…”

Temple Bodley, “History of Kentucky” — “1774 was a year of outstanding importance in the history of Kentucky for it was then that the first attempt was made to found a settlement there. Among the men who had been members of Bullitt’s party surveying lands along the Ohio two years before was James Harrod. He then learned of the rich Bluegrass region of central Kentucky and determined to settle there. On his return to the Monongahela region he gathered a party of about 50 frontiersmen and in the spring of 1774 went down the Ohio and up the Kentucky to a point afterward called Harrod’s Landing, and thence a short distance overland to the head of Dick’s River. There they laid out lots and began building log cabins for a town, which they called Harrodstown. Their work, however, was interrupted by the Shawnees and other Indian tribes North of the Ohio… There was a rapid retreat across the Monongahela…”

Biographers, too, refer to the town. Timothy Flint in “The First White Man of the West, or the Life and Exploits of Colonel Danl Boone, the First Settler of Kentucky” — Among the names of the conspicuous backwoodsmen who settled the West we cannot fail to recognize that of James Harrod. He was from the banks of the Monongahela and among the earliest immigrants to the “Bloody Ground” … in 1774 fixing himself at one of the earliest settlements in the country, which in honor of him was called Harrodstown.”

George Canning Hill, “Life of Boone” — “In 1773 a party of surveyors went to Kentucky headed by Captain Thomas Bullitt. This party included Harrod, Taylor, Bullitt and McAfee. The next year Captain James Harrod at the head of a body of 40 men came down the Ohio in the month of May from the Monongahela and proceeded to lay out the town then known as Harrodstown, but now as Harrodsburg. They laid out the place in lots of half an acre each and allowed for each another outlying lot of five acres, a liberal style of setting a new town on foot and proving the land was to be had in plenty…”

Cecil B. Hartley, “Life of Daniel Boone” Between 1769 and 1773 various associations of men were formed in Virginia and North Carolina for visiting the newly discovered regions and locating lands and several daring adventurers at different times during this period penetrated to the head waters of Licking River and did some surveying, but it was not until the year 1774 that the whites obtained a permanent foothold in Kentucky. From this year, therefore, properly dates the commencement of the early settlements of the State… Among the hardy adventurers who descended the Ohio this year and penetrated to the interior of Kentucky by the river of that name was James Harrod who had led a party of Virginians from the shores of the Monongahela. He disembarked at a point still known as “Harrod’s Landing” and crossing the country in the direction nearly West, paused in the midst of a beautiful and fertile region and built the first log cabin ever erected in Kentucky on or near the site of the present town of Harrodsburg. This was in the Spring or early part of the summer of 1774…”

W. H. Bogart, “Daniel Boone and The Hunters of Kentucky” — “In 1774 other surveyors followed. In May, Captain James Harrod with a band of 41 men descended the Ohio River from the Monongahela and arrived at the present location off Harrodsburg, or, as it was then called, Harrodstown, or Old Town. When the town was laid out the town lots were of one half acre and the outlets five acres. There corn was first raised…” Ross F. Lockridge, “George Rogers Clark” — “Lord Dunmore who was the last royal governor of Virginia, took prompt action to protect these adventurous colonists. The conflict which followed from May to November 1774 is known as Lord Dunmore’s War. When the conflict broke out Lord Dunmore dispatched Daniel Boone and Michael Stoner to pilot back to the safety of Virginia some surveyors whom he had previously sent to Kentucky. These two hardy scouts made the round trip of eight hundred miles in 64 days. The hunters and settlers as well as the surveying parties quickly left this dangerous territory, so that before the end of 1774 there were few, if any whites left in Kentucky, or middle Tennessee. Harrodsburg, the first permanent settlement in Kentucky, was temporarily abandoned…”

Happily, we are not obliged to rely solely on historians and biographers for data as to the early settlement of this section of the State, for the pioneers themselves have left us records that are both graphic and dependable and throw a good deal of light on the events of the time. A few excerpts from these records will therefore be of interest:

Robert B. McAfee writes: “The year 1774 the above company (the one of which he was a member, the McAfee company) intended to return to Kentucky to improve and look after their lands, but previous to their getting ready to start hostilities broke out with the Northern Indians, Shawanoes Mingos and Delawares, on account of the murder of Logan and his family on the Ohio River which eventuated in a war and James and Robert McAfee and George McAfee joined the troops under Col. Shelby and marched to the aid of Gen. Andrew Lewis, who had a battle with the Indians at the mouth of the Kenaway called tthe Battle of the Points on account of its being at the point between the two rivers. But while then absent another company under Col. James Harrod consisting of about 41 men in all, Harrod having 30 men with him, was afterwards joined by another company of 11 men on the Ohio. They pursued nearly the same route that the McAfee had, only they ascended the Kentucky River in canoes to the mouth of Landing Run (then so called) in the month of May, nearly opposite the now village of Salvisa, at a place called Oregon, and from thence they passed over on Salt River and made other improvements on portions of the land made by the McAfees… This company also found Fountains Blue Spring, which was claimed by Isaac Hite, one of Harrod’s company, who finally held it by a compromise with Samuel Adams. Col. Harrod’s company also discovered the big town spring of Harrodsburg which they made their headquarters and on the 16th of June, 1774, laid off a town on the South side of the town branch below this spring and built some five or six cabins and called it Harrodstown…”

Nicholas Cresswell says: “Harwood’s Landing, Sunday, June 4th, 1775. Arrived at Harwood’s Landing in the evening. Saw a rattle snake about 4 feet long. A bark canoe at the Landing. We have been fourteen days in coming about 120 miles. My right foot much swelled owing to a hurt I go by bathing in the river. Rocky and Cedar hills along the banks of the river. My foot very painful. Monday, June 5th, 1775. This is called Harwood’s Landing as it is the nearest to a new town that was laid out last summer by Captain Harwood, who gave it the name of Harwoodstown, about 15 miles from the Landing for which place Mr. Nourse, Mr. Johnson, Taylor and Rice set out this morning. I would have gone with the, but my foot is so bad I am scarcely able to walk. Applied a fomentation of herbs to assuage the swelling. Very little to eat and no possibility of getting any flour here. Must be without bread very soon. Tuesday, June 6th, 1775. Mr. Nourse and company returned in the evening. He gives good account of the richness of the land, but says it appears to be badly watered and light timbered. They lodged in the town. Mr. Nourse informs me there is about 30 houses in it, all built of logs and covered with clapboards, but not a nail in the whole town. Informs us that the Indians have killed four men about nine miles from the town. This has struck such a panic that I cannot get anyone to go down the Ohio with me on any account. Determined to return by the first opportunity. My foot much better. Much provoked at my disappointment. Wednesday, June 7th, 1775. My foot much better. All of us that had guns went hunting. Rambled over a great hill, saw a great deal of land, but no game. Mr. Johnson left us and went to Harwoodsburg… ”

General John Poage: “Reminiscences.” — On last Friday it being a very pleasant day, we took a foot trip into Kentucky, crossing the river at Tanner’s Ferry. About a mile above the Ferry we stopped in at General Poage’s and here was an end to all further progress that day, so interesting was the conversation of the hale and hearty old gentleman, relating early reminiscences. And as he is almost universally known to our readers by reputation at least, and is ultimately acquainted with much of the early history of this region, we have concluded to sketch down some points elicited in our rambling conversation.

General John Poage was born December 11th, 1775, in Augusta county, Va., about four miles from Staunton, but was raised principally in Bath county. He was the son of Major George Poage.

The father, George Poage, was one of the party that accompanied James Harrod to Kentucky in the year 1774, at which time Col. Harrod built the first house that ever stood in the interior of Harrodsburg. Daniel Boone had previously built a cabin upon the borders of the State. Captain Harrod was a pioneer party…” In 1813 an interesting case, Bowman vs. Thomas, was heard in the Mercer Circuit Court, the depositions in it being all by pioneers familiar with the early history of Harrodsburg, as the following will show:

The Deposition of Abraham Chapline.

This deponent being of lawful age deposeth and sayeth that he was one of the first adventurers to Kentucky and was present when some of the first lots were laid out in the Town of Harrodsburg in the year of 1774.

Question by Complaint: How long has it been notoriously known by the name of Harrodsburg?

Answer: As well as I recollect it went by the name of Harrod’s Town as early as the year of 1775 or 1776, and perhaps sooner.

Question by the Same: Did you not claim a Lot or lots in the said Town?

Answer: I claimed an In-lot.

Question by the Same: Where in the said Town does your lot lay?

Answer: As well as I recollect I drew a lot which included a small spring and sink hole where a stone house is not standing, claimed by Henry Palmer, which place were showed to the Surveyor today by me.

Question by the Same: How far did the Boundary extend North, South East and West of the said Town?

Answer: As well as I now remember the stone House eluded to above, were nearly the South Boundary and the stone Heep were the Eastern Boundary in the year 1776 and upon the hill to the West of Mrs. McGinty’s dwelling were the Western and the Creek the Northern.

Question by the Same: What number of out lots was there laid off? the year 1777 until the year 1780?

Answer: I left Kentucky in September or October 1777 and never returned to the place until the spring of 1780.

The Deposition of Azariah Davis

This deponent being of lawful age deposeth and saith that he was among the first of the Town of Harrodsburg in the year 1774.

Question of Complaint: Where do you conceive the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Bountain of the Town?

Answer: In the year 1775 the Northern Boundary was at an out-lot laid off for me which I showed to Major Thomas Allin today, as to the Southern Boundary I cannot say, the Eastern as well as I recollect was not far from the big Town Spring now claimed by Hite or Clark, the Western Boundary is below where the Fort stood, but the distance not recollected.

Question by the Same: How long has the Town of Harrodsburg been known by that name?

Answer: It has always been called by the name of Harrod’s Town since the year 1774 to the present day. Question by the defendt. John Thomas: Whose lot did yours adjoin?

Answer: I do not recollect.

Question by the Same: What quantity did the lot contain?

Answer: One acre…

Question by the Same: Were the other out lots of the same size of yours?

Answer: Yes.

Question by the Same: What number of out lots was there laid off?

Answer: I do not know.

Question by the Same: Was there one hundred out lots laid out?

Answer: I do not know.

Question by the Same: Was there any improvements on the North side of the town creek before the year 1780?

Answer: I do not know as I was living at Logan’s Station for some time.

Question by the Same: Have you no interest in the Establishment of the Town of Harrodsburg?

Answer: Not as I know of.

Deposition of James Brown

That he, this deponent was one of a company that was piloted to the Kentucky country by James Harrod in the spring of the year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-four, that the said company then began what was known by the name of Harrodsburg from that time to the present date by laying off half as many acre lot as there were men in said company on either side of a street on an East and West direction, this deponent cannot ascertain the beginning of said town but believes it to have entered from or near that spring where Mr. McGinty now lives up the town creek and on the South side there was also an agreement entered into by said company that each person should have an out lot containing ten acres which this deponent believes to have been laid off but does not recollect to have known how near the in lots they were situated.

Inq. by John Thomas (one of the defendants): How many men were in the above mentioned company?

Ans.: Thirty-one.

Deposition of William Fields

This Deponent being of lawful age deposeth and saith that he will answer any question he may be asked on the present occasion.

Question by the Complainant: How long do you know this to be notoriously called and known the name of Harrodsburg?

Answer: From the year 1774 or shortly afterwards until this time.

Question by the Same: Which was the most public place in the town at that time? Answer: The Fort where Mrs. McGinty now lives, that is after the people collected together for fear of the Indians in the spring of the year 1776.

Question by the Same: Did you hold a Lot in said Town as laid off at that time?

Answer: Yes, I held an Inn Lot and an out lot.

Question by the Deft. John Thomas: Do you know whether any of the Claims in the Town of Harrodsburgh extended on the North side of the Creek?

Answer: I understood some of the out Lots extended on the North side of the Creek?

Question by the Same: Do you know if ever they were acted upon or …..(paper torn)….they extended?

Answer: No.

Question by the Same: Were there any Buildings or Improvements on the North side of the Creek?

Answer: No buildings that I know of in those days, but a few acres of ground cleared.

Question by the Same: Was ever the Old Fort at Mrs. McGinty’s ever considered the Centre of the town in those days?

Answer: I do not know.

Deposition of David Williams.

This Deponent being of lawful age deposeth and saith that he was at this place in the years 1774, 1775 and 1776 and that he always knew it to be called Harrodsburgh or Harrod’s Town from that time until the present day.

Question by the Complainant: Which was the principal part of the town at that time?

Answer: In the year 1774 and 1775 near the pile of stones shown to Thos. Allin this day, the pile of stones is where stood the chimney of Hinton or Boons Cabbin in the winter ensuing or spring of the year 1776 the principal residence of the people were at the Old Fort where Mrs. McGinty now lives.

Question by the Same: How far do you think the Town extended East, West, North and South from the Old Fort?

Answer: I think the in lots extended West from the Fort, Forty of Fifty poles and East as high up as the big spring, I suppose about half a mile, and the out lots North as far as the place shown to Major Thos. Allin this day by Azereiah Davis as his lot and the pile of stones shown to Majr. Allin the same day was the Northern Boundary of the in Lots, and the Southern Boundary of the in Lots I suppose was about forty of fifty poles south of said pile of stones, and I think the South Boundary of the out Lots extended about Eighty poles south from the in Lots.

Question by the Defendants: Are you not interested in the establishment of the Town of Harrodsburg as above stated?

Answer: I do not think I am interested in the suit depending between Abrm. Bowman the Complainant and John Thomas and others as specified Defendants, but I think I am interested otherways in the Establishment of the town.

A part of the decision in the case is also of interest.

“The first question then for the decision of the Court is, was Harrodsburgh at the time of the making the Complts. entry, a place of sufficient notoriety to enable subsequent Adventurers, with certainty, to find out the quarter of the County in which the Complainants Location was made, this point is proved unquestionably by all the testimony in the cause – that it was known by the name of Harrodsburgh or H-town from 1776 up to the present day, the next inquiry will be, what shape shall Harrodsburgh be supposed to have had in Law in 1780. In the year 1779 an Act was passed by the Legislature of Virginia setting apart, for the benefit of those who for their better security were compelled to settle in Villages, the quantity of 640 acres of Land, Harrodsburg stood among the first of those Villages which were entitled to the above legislative bounty.”

This case went to the Court of Appeals and Judge Owsley in delivering the opinion of the Court made the following important statement in reference to the town.: “Harrodsburg is proven to have been settled as early as 1774 and its notoriety from that period to the date of the appellee’s entry is clearly and abundantly proven. But what were the limits or boundary of the town at the date of the appellee’s entry is the main and important inquiry in the cause…”

The year 1775 was an important one in the annals of the town and marked the beginning of propaganda which had a marked bearing not only on the development of the town itself, but on the area which in the end assumed empire like proportions.

Early in the year James Harrod and the members of his company who had been compelled to abandon the new town and neighborhood the previous year on account of the Indians, returned and began activities on a larger scale than in 1774. A writer says: “Indian hostilities having subsided the Western movement of settlers became more active than ever. In the Spring of 1775 James Harrod reformed his party of the year before and with about fifty men returned to Harrodsburg. They completed the construction of their abandoned cabins, erected and established the first permanent settlement in Kentucky.”

An important event that year was the arrival of George Rogers Clark. As a biographer of the famous pioneer says, “By midsummer of 1775 Clark had established a little settlement in Central Kentucky almost on the present site of Frankfort. He named the place Leestown in honor of his chief, Col. Hancock Lee. This settlement, however, war soon abandoned and its inhabitants moved to forts which offered better protection from Indian raids. Clark roved among the various camps and settlements and became well acquainted with this entire section. In the late Summer of 1775 he attached himself to the older settlement of Harrodsburg which James Harrod was now developing after its temporary abandonment during Lord Dunmore’s war… What the settlement needed was a leader end Clark was that leader…”

Another writer dealing with Clark, says: “He spent his time in observation on the condition and prospects of the country… and assisting at every opportunity in its defense.” And again: “At a general meeting of the settlers at Harrodsburg on the 6th of June, 1775, General George Rogers Clark and Gabriel Jones were chosen to represent them in the Assembly of Virginia…”

The year 1775 saw an influx of settlers to this section, the new arrivals coming from Virginia and North Carolina, and Harrodsburg received its quota. A number, it is said, clustered around Harrod’s old cabin the rising settlement. This year, too, saw a commencement made in the work of erecting the Fort which increasing numbers and the ever present menace of the Indians rendered a necessity. It is said that on the arrival of the pioneers in the previous year a temporary fort or shelter was established, but I have found no mention of this anywhere, and it may be merely a matter of tradition.

The construction of a fort was a very important factor in the life of the growing town, retarded in later years by the inroads of the Indians who were so troublesome that the inhabitants of the town were prevented from building cabins as provided by law, and were obliged in conjunction with others to ask the Legislature for an Act extending the time for the work. The Act that followed was in the following terms: “Whereas it is represented that the hostilities of the Indian Tribes and other causes have prevented or will prevent many of the possessors of lots in the town of Clarksburg in the County of Harrison, of Morgans Town in the County of Monongalia, of Harrodsburg in the County of Mercer, and of Louisville in the County of Jefferson, from building thereon, in pursuance of the Acts by which the said towns were established, Be it Enacted By the General Assembly that every possessor of a lot in any of the said towns shall be allowed the further space of three years after the day limited by law shall expire for building thereon, conformably to the Acts for establishing the said towns respectively.”

Without the fort the inhabitants of Harrodsburg and surrounding country could not have existed, for there was no other place of refuge accessible at the time. It was their mainstay and rendezvous in time of peril, their hope for the present and the years to come. It was the center for all propaganda for the development of the settlement and neighborhood; in it men took council together and planned for the needs of the time and in it were started, and matured plans for the conquest of the great North West itself. The importance and significance of the fort cannot, in my opinion, be overestimated, and is conclusive proof of the determination of the pioneers to give permanency to the settlement they had founded and to make it an abiding place in the lives of men. It is true the establishment of such a place did not in one instance have any such effect, but the circumstances of that case were different and much less conducive to such a plan as existed in the minds of those who established Harrodsburg and who came with the intention of founding a town while it showed how keen was their objective in that they returned to the location of their choice after abandoning it by reason of the stress of the time.

Colonel Richard Henderson was in Harrodsburg in 1775 and in his “Expedition to Caintucky” he gives us the following details: Monday 8th, Rainey. Was much embarrassed with a dispute between the above gentlemen (Captain Harrod and Col. Slaughter). Captain Harrod with about 40 men settled on Salt River last year, was drove off — joined the army with 30 of the men being determined to live in this country had come down this Spring from Monongahela accompanied by about 50 men most of them without families…” (Here Henderson makes some uncomplimentary remarks about Harrod’s men, but admits Harrod had them in Hand.) Then he goes on to say: “Tho’ those gents were friendly to each other and open in all their conduct they were warm advocates and champions for two different parties. A schism had raised between Harrod’s men… and those from diverse parts of Virginia and elsewhere — amounting to 50 in number on both sides…” Speaking of the taking up of land he says: “Harrod’s men had not contented themselves with the choice of one tract of land apiece, but had made it their entire business to ride through the country, mark every piece of land they thought proper, built cabins or rather hog pens to make their claims notorious — and by such means had secured every good spring in the country of 20 miles length and almost as broad.” Col. Slaughter’s men he says, had done better in clearing the land.

The year 1776 saw the completion of the fort which doubtless was greatly accelerated by Clark’s encouragement and example. One of his schemes at this time was Virginia ownership for Kentucky, deciding to call upon for protection. On June 6 he called a meeting of the settlers at Harrodsburg and they decided to send delegates or deputies to the Assembly of Virginia and Williamsburg with a petition asking the Assembly to establish the County of Kentucky. Clark and John Gabriel Jones, a lawyer, were elected as the delegates.

Clark was in Harrodsburg in 1777 and there he wrote an interesting diary which he had begun in the previous December and which was concluded on March 30, 1778. In this diary he says: “March 6th, 1777, Thomas Shores and William Ray Killed at the Shawnee Spring.

March 7. The Indians attempted to cut off from the Fort a small party of men – a skirmish ensued. We had four men wounded and some cattle killed. We killed and scalped one Indian and wounded several.

March 18. A small party of Indians killed and scalped Hugh Wilson about one mile from the fort near night and escaped.

April 19…James Barry married the widow Wilson.

July 9. Lt. Linn Married — great merriment.

August 9. Surrounded 10 or 12 Indians near the fort — killed three and wounded others, the plunder sold for upwards of seventy pounds.

John Cowan, one of Harrod’s men also kept a diary the same year and in it he gives the census of Harrodsburg as follows:

Men in service


Men not in service




Children above 10 years


Children 10 years


Slaves over 10 years


Negro children under 10 years




In the Spring the Court of Quarter Sessions held its first sitting at Harrodsburg attended by the Sheriff of the county and its Clerk, Levi Todd. The first Court of Kentucky was composed of John Todd, John Floyd, Benjamin Logan, John Bowman and Richard Calloway. Just after the Court had adjourned, the Fort was attacked by the Indians and it is said that all the hunters and surveyors were driven from the surrounding country and forced to take refuge in the fort.

The year 1778 does not appear to have been an eventful one in Harrodsburg for the records I have consulted are more or less silent on the subject, but enough has been recorded to show that the town was in being and the abode of men.

The passage of a Land Act was an important event of the year 1779. Up to that time land had been acquired without money and practically without price, but in that year the public lands of Virginia assumed a new importance. That naturally was the outcome of the Act by virtue of which Commissioners were appointed to sit as a Court to examine and grant certificates of settlements and preemptions. A Court was held in Harrodsburg on the 13th day of October and all who had claims to land were obliged to attend and state them.

Of some of the happenings of this year E. Foley writes: “We started from Frederick county, Virginia, and settled Bowmans fall 1779 about the middle of December; my mother was the first white woman that was there for some time and our coming was the first settling of station. There was nothing but a camp there till some time in March because it was too cold to work. As soon as we had gotten a good camp Col. Bowman brought his family from Harrodsburg and by Spring we had 20 farms…

Jacob Ayers was chain carrier to one Fox, surveyor, down on the Ohio River at a dollar a day. When they had gotten through there was a vacant tract of about 500 acres which Myers wished them to survey for him. On their refusing he said they shouldn’t have a foot of the land they had already surveyed, swearing to what he said. They laughed at him for he could neither read nor write. That night he started on foot for Harrodsburg and entered every foot of the land an hour and a half before they came into the office, they having rode. His memory was perfect…

Col. Bowman was a man of great voice. Could be heard a mile. Went in thru the Wilderness alone and came on a camp of Indians, made a great noise and routed the whole camp. Weighed 300 lbs. stripped. Ran 80 miles from Limestone to Harrodsburg in one day pursued by the Indians and turned round and tantalized them whenever they came near…”

The year 1780 appears to have been comparatively uneventful, but we are told that George May opened a land office, which, however, was subsequently closed by George Rogers Clark, who wanted recruits. The year 1781 seems to have been a quiet one, but doubtless the passage of an Act by the Virginia Assembly appointing a commission of four members to take evidence and report on Western military accounts served to give a flip to matters. The Commissioners first met in Harrodsburg on November 1st, 1782, and the meeting was continued in 1783. Colonel William Fleming was a member of the Commission and in his Journal he says: “Jan. 4. Left Mrs. Trigss’ in company with Mr. Wallace, our servants and baggage, the day cloudy with snow and cold. Went to Harrodsburg where we were to meet an escort of 25 men ordered by the commanding officer of Lincoln county and there met Col. McDowell, the secretary, Gen. Clark, Mr. Shannon and others, some others waited for the escort meeting and one of the servants coming on who had gone by Col. Bowman’s to deliver some letters and 271 for James Smith….”

State Conspiracy meetings were also held in Harrodsburg in 1782, but these were opposed by Clark and other loyal officers.

In 1783 it is said the prospects for Kentucky looked good and there was a consensus of opinion that the public needs called for some reforms. On this subject a writer says: “One of the first was the establishment for the district of a General Court which should have jurisdiction in common law and Chancery cases, including those involving land titles and also in criminal prosecutions. In March 1783 the Court was organized under an Act of the Virginia Assembly. Sam McDowell and John Floyd were appointed judges and John May, clerk. At the same time Walker Daniel was appointed Attorney General for the district. Hardly had the Court been established, however, before Floyd was dead and the next year Daniel likewise was killed by the Indians.” The first session of this Court was held in Harrodsburg in the Spring of 1783.

In 1784 the inhabitants of Harrodsburg and neighborhood were alarmed by reports of Indian depredations and a meeting wax held to consider what should be done in the case, but the alarm proved to be unfounded.

The year 1785 was an eventful one in the history of Harrodsburg for it was considered to petition the Legislature for an Act establishing the town. This petition was duly prepared and was in the following terms:

To the Honorable Representatives of the Citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia in General Assembly met —

The Petition of the Inhabitants of Lincoln County

Humbly Sheweth

That your Petitioners taking into their various consideration a proper plan for trade and Domestic Business and for the more ready procuring these Articles in our precinct that are much wanted in the new country, are of the opinion that the survey of Six hundred and forty acres of land which your Honble House formerly reserved for the use of the garrison and town of Harrodsburg, is the most convenient and suitable in the County, it not only being commodious to any convenient division of the County, but also central to the present inhabitants of the same. And we can assure your Honble House not only its relative but its natural situation and conveniences are almost in every respect suitable for Domestic Trade. The premises being sufficiently level, very fertile and well watered by many never failing streams and a large stream running quite through the same, from which circumstances we are of opinion that no survey of the same quantity can excel it in the County.

And we would further beg leave to present to your Honble House an exact plot of the premises with the plan of a town adapted to the same, praying that your Honble House would take the whole into consideration, pass an Act for conveying the same to freeholders and other citizens in a manner most agreeable to your wisdom and determination.

For which your petitioners are bound in duty to pray –

Sam Dennis

John Hargis

James McCoulting

Daniel Hazel

Thomas Moore

Gideon Higgins

John Gregs

Ebenezer Miller

Patrick Carmikel

Henry Prater

Daniel NcGary

Vincent Dunn

Thos. Denton

Willm Higgins

George Long

Oven Owens

Adam Shepherd

C. 0. Fries

John Thompson

Jno. E. King

Robert Jameson

John Wilson

Henry Higgins

Henry Wilson Junr

Richard Sinot

Val King

Henry Wilson

Samuel Dennis Junr

Henry Thomas

George Wilson

Evan Thompson

Mich Humble

Jas. Wilson

Parmenia Bullitt

Thos. Threlkeld

Alexdr. McClure

Jas Stewart

Dan Sullivan Junr

Wm. Sherpherd

Henry Spillman

308. Smith

Andrew Jameson

James Alexander

James Berry

Thos. McClure

Jacob Spillman

Sam Lapsley

Moses McClure

Randolph Slack

T. R. McDonnly

John Hamilton

Aron Hogg

Daniel Wier

Geo. Campbell

Joseph Conaway

Edmund Hammon

Robt. Cartwright

Charles Howard

Wm. McBrayere

Thos. Cartwright

George Slaughter

Thomas Hunt

Jacob Cartwright

nathias Yocum

Henry Smith

Moses Threlkeld

John Yocum

John Prater

James Thomas

Roger Patton

John Warren

Benjamin Bohun

Nimrod Duncan

James Bray

John Threlkeld

John Ray

John Witton

George Buchanan

Robert Denbow

John Robeson

John Buchanan

John Wilson

John Long

Samuel Jameson

L. Thompson

Adam Funk Senr

Joseph Mallister

Geo. Gibson

Cam Funk Junr

James McCoun

John Gibson

John Gibson

James Doak

Jobe Saplleton

Joseph Snahan

Samuel Finley

Samuel Vanhook

John Miles

James hcAffee Jun

John McCollough


John Armstrong

William Harrison

Hugh Emison

John McAfee

Wil McConnell

John Lawrence

John –

Joseph ncHurtry

Jas. Cowen

James Harrod

David Martin

Elias Fisher

Robert –

Hugh McGary

Saml Graham

James McCoun

Peter Hartman



James McAffee Sen

Jaames Astingus

Jas. Brown

George McAfee

Patrick Brown

Danl. Brown

John McAfee

T. Brown

Thos. Gist

Peter Casey Jr

Richard Overton

Henry Synam

Barnabas Stagner

BenJ. Bradshav

James Ray

Thomas Preator

Thomas Threlkeld Junr

Paul Gibson

Edward Preator

Patrick Yocum

Matthew Yocum

The petition was successful and in October of the same year an Act passed the Legislature duly establishing the town.

The Act was as follows:

I. WHEREAS it is represented to this present general assembly that they laying off the village or township, known by the name of Harrodtown, in the county of Lincoln, into lots and streets, and establishing the same by law, will be of public utility:

II. Be it enacted. That the six hundred and forty acres of land allowed by law, including the said village or township, shall be, and the same is hereby vested in Willlam Christion, John Brown, Robert Mosby, Samuel Lapsley, Peter Casey, John Smith, Samuel Taylor, John Cowan, John Bilmore, James Harrod, Abram Chapline, William Kennedy, and Benjamin Logan, gentlemen, trustees, to be by them, or any seven of them, laid of into lots, with convenient streets, and established a town, by the name of Harrodstown.

III. And be it further enacted, That such of the inhabitants of the said township who were residents there in the first day of June, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine, and have resided there ever since, or who have not obtained a certificate for a settlement and pre-emption from the commissioners appointed in that country for adjusting claims to unpatented lands, agreeable to law, shall retain their just possessions; provided that such possessions shall not exceed half an acre for each family, for an in-lot, and ten acre each for an out-lot; and the said trustees, or a major part of them, shall convey to such claimants their possessions aforesaid, with any other consideration.

IV. The said trustees shall cause an accurate survey to be made of the said township, and after ascertaining the claims of the several persons who may have a right to lots, according to this act, shall proceed to sell the residue thereof, on twelve months credit, giving sufficient notice of the time of such sale, taking bonds with sufficient security, payable to themselves as trustees aforesaid, and convey the said lots to the purchasers in fee; and that after deducting the surveyor’s fees, and other incidental expenses, together with five per centum for collection, shall settle their account on oath, before the supreme court for the district of Kentucky, and pay the balance into the public treasury. Upon the death, removal out of the county, resignation, or other legal disability of any of the trustees, the remaining trustees shall proceed to appoint others to such vacancies, as often as the same shall happen; and the said trustees so appointed shall individually be vested with the same powers, to all intents and purposes, as any one in this act particularly mentioned.

V. And be it further enacted, That the owners or purchasers of lots in the said town of Harrodsburg, shall, within three years from the day of sale, erect and build thereon a dwelling-house of the dimensions of twenty feet by sixteen, at the least, with a brick or stone chimney, or on failure thereof, it shall and may be lawful for the trustees, or major part of them, to re-enter and possess the same again, with full power to dispose of such lots so forfeited, for the best price that can be got, and apply the money arising therefrom to the use and advantage of the said town. The trustees aforesaid, or any seven of the, shall have power from time to time to settle and determine all disputes concerning the bounds of said lots, and to settle such rules and orders for the regular building of houses thereon, as to them shall seem best and most convenient. And the owners or purchasers of lots in the said town, so soon as they shall have built upon and saved the same, according to the direction of this act, shall be entitled to, and enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities which the free holders and inhabitants of other towns in this State, not incorporated, hold and enjoy.

Here the record for Harrodsburg may be brought to a close. I should like, however, to call attention once more to the opinion of Judge Owsley in the case of Bowman vs. Thomas. “Harrodsburg,” he said, “is proven to Have been settled as early as 1774 and its notoriety from that period to the date of the appellee’s entry is clearly and abundantly proven.” The word I wish to direct attention to is “notoriety,” clearly used by Judge Owsley not in its ordinary, but in its legal sense. Judge Owsley evidently had in mind a rule of evidence to the effect that what is well known or notorious need not be proved (manifesta non indigent probatione) and that it would render any testimony as to Harrodaburg’s historical status unnecessary. Where the rule in question obtains one may expect the Court in a proper case to take Judicial notice of the fact in issue, that is to say, the Court will hold as proved what the evidence in a particular case would otherwise establish. This doctrine or rule of evidence is particularly applicable in the case of the Act of 1785 establishing the town of Harrodsburg, so much so that if the question of the town’s historical status happened to come up in Court, this Act would be held to be conclusive evidence of it.

At this point, too, the question may be asked, was Harrodsburg a village, town or township prior to the Act of 1785?

In the preamble of the Act establishing the town the words “village or township” are used. Why, I do not know. West of the Alleghenies a township covers an artificial area of six miles square and this is divided into sections, each one mile square of 640 acres. It will be seen, therefore, that Harrodsburg never was a township, but consisted only of a section of land the exact quantity allowed the town in the Act. Nor was it a town in the usual acceptation of the word, for a town has certain administrative features that Harrodsburg never had prior to its establishment in 1785. Harrodsburg, therefore, partook more of a village, but it acquired the status of a town by reason of its legal notoriety and was entitled to be so designated prior to the Act of 1785.

Again, under what authority was the town of Harrodsburg established?

By an Act passed in 1691 by the Virginia legislature the procedure of the establishment of certain towns is provided and by the last paragraph of this Act it is stipulated that the Governor and Council may assign other places for towns and establish them. It would seem that under this Act towns such as Harrodsburg might be established by the Governor and Council. However in 1692 an Act was passed suspending the Act of 1691, such suspension being based on the idea that the Queen of England had never approved it.

In 1705, again, an Act was passed authorizing the establishment of certain towns and ports and it covered the matter in detail, providing for size, boundary, building restrictions and government. This Act, however, does not provide for the establishment of any towns or ports other than at such places designated in the Act itself, and accordingly it would seem that the Governor and Council did not have power under it to establish other towns. This Act was repealed by proclamation and in the same year another piece of legislation confirmed the titles of the towns established under the Act of 1691. And apparently it was under this particular Act that the Governor and Council and the legislature of Virginia continued to establish towns in language substantially identical with that used in the Act giving Harrodsburg the legal status of a town.

The Act of 1691, therefore, may be the authority for the establishment of the town of Harrodsburg, but I think the Land Act of 1779 must also be taken into account. This Act provides that “Whereas several families of their greater safety have settled themselves in villages or townships under some agreement between the inhabitants of laying off the same into town lots to be divided among them and have from present necessity cultivated a piece of ground adjoining thereto in common, be it enacted that six hundred and forth acres of land whereon such villages and towns are situated and to which no other person hath a previous legal title shall not be entered for survey, but shall be reserved for the use and benefit of the said inhabitants until a true representation of their case can be made to the general assembly, that right and Justice may be done.”

Another questions is, was James Harrod a freeholder and resident of Harrodsburg?

I think it stands to reason that if Harrod was a leader of the men who laid off the town in 1774 and built cabins for themselves there, he himself must have had a lot and cabin. It would be absurd to suppose anything else. It is true he secured interests elsewhere at Boiling Spring and at Sinking Spring, as we find from a deed by him in November 1788, to William Green of Lincoln county, but his heart was in Harrodsburg and in it he saw the realization of a determination to found a town that might take its proper place as a civilizing factor in the new found land.

I have not, however, found in the limited time at my disposal any specific mention of any lot or lots owned by Harrod in the new town, but, as I have already stated, each of the men who arrived at this particular location in 1774 laid out a lot of half an acre, while Harrod is said to have built the first log cabin ever erected in Kentucky. However that may be, the question is settled by the fact that Harrod was, in the Act of 1785 establishing the town, named one of its trustees.

The qualifications of town trustees are not defined by any of the early Acts of Virginia, but their intendment is that both the electors and those elected to office under them had to be freeholders. Moreover, the Common Law of England in force at that time having been retained after the adoption of the Constitution in 1776 rendered it necessary that such trustees be residents of the town in which they were elected to office. And this principle of the Common Law has remained in force until the present day, for our own Statutes provide in the case of towns of the Sixth Class that “No personal shall be eligible to hold any office except that of marshall in such town, whether filled by election or appointment, unless he be a resident and elector therein and shall have resided in said town for one year next preceding the date of such election or appointment.” James Harrod was therefore both a freeholder of and resident in the town of Harrodsburg.

I do not know what the claims of Boonesboro to historical priority are at the present time, but it ought to be considered.

It is quite certain there was no settlement at this point before the erection of the Fort there in 1775, and in erecting the Fort Daniel Boone and his company had no idea of making it the beginning of a town, at least I know of no authority for suggesting anything of the kind. Later, of course, some attempt was made to establish a town, but, as will be seen, this proved futile.

Boone and his men, it is said, reached the banks of the Kentucky on the first of April, 1775, and lost no time in clearing the land and beginning the erection of a fort. Speed apparently was the order of the day, for the fort was completed on June 14, the same year. Towards the end of this year as we saw elsewhere quite a good many newcomers arrived in Kentucky, and some of them located at Boonesboro. This year, also, was signalized by the activities of Colonel Richard Henderson of Transylvania Colony fame, who issued a proclamation appointing a meeting at the fort for the purpose of furthering his pet scheme of forming a State. Delegates including some from Harrodsburg met at the fort on May 23. As one writer puts it: “This extraordinary legislature met on the 23rd of May, 1775, for log hut which Boone erected being at once the fortress, the city, the capital.” In March of that year Henderson had made a deal with the Chiefs of the Cherokees at a fort on the Wataga (N.C.) whereby he acquired, in name at least, the whole tract of country between the Cumberland and the Kentucky Rivers. On the strength of this and for other reasons apparently, Henderson opened a land office at the Boonesboro Fort, and it is said had many transactions with the settlers, who, doubtless, lived to regret the day they had invested in real estate.

Naturally, there was trouble between Henderson and the government of Virginia which looked upon him as a usurper.

Finally, the government declared against his activities and Transylvania with all its brief annals passed into history. Henderson is said to have been placated with a grant of land on the Ohio, some 12 miles square.

Some cabins appear to have been erected near the fort and population at one time is said to have numbered 22. Then in 1779 an Act was passed by the legislature establishing the town of Boonesboro and appointing Trustees. These trustees, however, refused to act and in 1787 another Act was passed appointing other Trustees but no action of any kind appears to have been taken and both Acts fell into desuetude. Boonesboro never became a town.

Next we have to consider the place of Danville in the historical record. Danville played a very important part in the early settlement of the State, and deservedly earned a niche in the hall of fame, but, nevertheless, it must get its proper rating in the chronological scale, and to that end the following facts are submitted.

I can find no evidence of any village or organized settlement where Danville now stands coextensive with the town of Harrodsburg, for at least ten years after the establishment of the latter place. The pioneers who have left us records of the early days do not mention any such village or settlement, and I conclude there was none.

It is true that Harrod’s men in the quest for land and desirable locations spread out for miles around Harrodsburg. As a matter of fact Henderson says that a tract of twenty miles in length and the same in breadth was surveyed for them. Doubtless, therefore, they reached the present site of Danville and took advantage of springs in that section, and we have evidence to that effect. In the suit of Harrod vs. Crow we find a deposition by one James Brown who was one of Harrod’s men and who tells of the erection of cabins or the carrying out of improvements on the site of the future town of Danville. This deposition reads in part as follows:

“The deposition of James Brown of full age, taken in behalf of John Crow in the Suit in Chancery now depending in the District Court of Kentucky wherein James Harrod is Complainant and the said Crow defendant.

This deponent being first sworn deposeth and saith, that in the year seventeen hundred and seventy-four, the said Defendant, this deponent, William Fields and many others, were conducted to this District by the Commonwealth for the purpose of exploring the country and improving certain tracts therein for their own use, and that an agreement took place in the Company to the following effect: That a Cabbin should be built for each person contiguous to each other, or as much so, as the situation of the country would admit. That after the cabbins were built, they should be numbered and each person to draw this Lott and to possess that Cabbin on which the number should fall; and that the dividing line should be half way between each Cabbin where they were in one neighborhood. That a number of these Cabbins were built adjacent to and around the Spring which was granted by the Commissioners to Thomas Harrod, with the situation of which this deponent is of opinion the Commonwealth must have been well acquainted. That the Cabbin which was built at the Spring in Danville fell to the lost of Azor Reese who was one of the Company and who afterwards sold his right to the Deft. That the Cabbies adjacent to and around the said Spring fell to the lots of the following persons, viz.: The Deft’s. in Harry Innes’ cleared land, Martin Stulls – where Joseph Cashwiler lately lived, commonly called the round spring; William Fields, at this Station; James Blair’s where Samuel Givens lived, the said Deft’s, as Assignee of the said Rees at the spring in Danville, and this deponent’s where he now lives.

According to the deponent Brown six cabins were erected at this particular location, presumably in the year 1774, but I can find no mention of any others in that or any subsequent year. On the contrary, if we are to believe a certain pioneer narrative, that number shrank to the vanishing point in 1775. This narrative by John Poage read as follows: “Among the first settlers of Harrodsburg was William Poage, an uncle of George Poage. William Poage was with a party of men going to attend a court and when near the town of Danville now stands (Poage is here writing at a time many years after the happening of the event he records) they were fired upon by Indians and Mr. Poage fell from his horse shot in the abdomen. The rest of the party escaped, but returning they found him in the bushes, his horse and rifle gone. They carried him some three or four miles to a deserted cabin when part of the men returned to Harrodsburg for pillows with which to support the wounded man, and the remainder watched over him through the night in the cabin. The men returning with the pillows, Mr. Poage was taken to Harrodsburg, but died in about ten days afterwards.” There is no mention here of any village or settlement on the present site of Danville, and, indeed, the narrative shows that there was no building at all in sight at that location, except the deserted cabin. However that may be, the activities in this particular section must have been of a minor character when they get no mention at all from men who were keenly interested in the development of their new homeland. Boonesboro and St. Asaph come in for attention in their narratives, but they are silent on the subject of the site which in the course of the years was to be occupied by the town of Danville.

The silence of historians, also, is significant. Mention however, is made of Crow’s Station about the location of which there would seem to be some doubt. One authority says it was situated three miles from the present site of Danville, while another says it was at the Town Spring and the town of Danville was built up around it. It is unnecessary to go into this, but it is of interest to know what this station consisted of. It was not a settlement or a village in embryo by any means, but simply a single dwelling built by John Crow himself on some of the many acres he owned in that section. I suspect it was something after the order of Irish Station which was the subject of a deed in 1787 by one Basil Prather of Monongalia county to John Brown of Mercer county, the property apparently consisting of a house and land.

I find, however, that Crow’s Station is mentioned twice in connection with two important events in the life of that particular section. The first was the inauguration of Transylvania Seminary which the Virginia Legislature endowed, providing that it should meet at Crow’s Station, and we are told that the first school session was held there in 1783. The other event had to do with the change made in the location of the District Court held in Harrodsburg in 1783. Fault was found, it seems, with the selection of Harrodsburg as the seat of the Court, and the Attorney General at that time, Walker Daniel, and the Clerk were directed to fix on some place near Crow’s Station for holding the Court. They were instructed to procure a log house large enough to accommodate the Court in one end and two juries in the other. They were likewise instructed to contract for the building of a jail of hewed or sawed logs at least nine inches thick. This detail, of course, is unimportant, but it is interesting to note that both the Seminary and Court were planted at Crow’s Station, indicating very clearly that at the time there was no such place as Danville in existence. If there had been, of a certainty both seminary and court would have been opened up there.

This leads one to inquire, when was Danville laid off as a town? All the historians I have consulted are unanimous in saying that this event happened in 1781, the year that Walker Daniel, the young Virginian lawyer and real estate man, settled at that point. I do not, however, agree with these authorities, and am of the opinion that the town was not established until the year 1784. Walker Daniel in 1781 owned no land in that section and whatever his intentions were he did not become possessed of any until 1784, when John Crow for the sum of five shillings deeded him seventy-six acres of land. Once in possession of this tract, Daniel proceeded to lay off the town and sell lots, but his operations were cut short by his death at the hands of Indians in August of the same year. Walker Daniel, therefore, had very little to do with the establishment of the town which he could not have inaugurated earlier for the simple reason he did not possess the land for the purpose.

Daniel was succeeded as a town builder by his brother, Robert, who apparently had the major part of the work to carry out and who in pursuance of the scheme and in conjunction with his wife deeded in September, 1785, to certain trustees for the sum of five shillings, all the streets, lanes and bypaths of the town site according to a plan annexed to the deed which shows the layout of the town at that time.

Two years later a petition by the inhabitants of Danville and others was posted up at the door of the Court House in Harrodsburg, the county town, and presented to the Legislature to have the town of Danville established by law. The petition is in the following terms:

To the Honorable

The General Assembly of Virginia

The petition of the inhabitants of Danville and others, proprietors of the lotts therein humbly sheweth:

That Walker Daniel late deceased in his lifetime purchased of a certain John Crow seventy-six acres of land for the purpose of erecting a Town thereon, that the said Daniel proceeded to lay off a part of the said land into lotts and streets and in his lifetime disposed of some of the lotts. That since his death Robert Daniel, the elder brother, and heir at law of the said Walker hath laid the remainder part of the said land off into lotts and disposed of them. That for the convenience and safety of the purchasers the said Robert hath conveyed in fee simple the streets and springs within the said tract of land to George Muter, Harry Innes, Peter Tardiveau, Thomas Perkins and Andrew McCalla and their successors in trust for the uses and benefit of the said inhabitants. That there is a public square containing one acre laid off for the purpose of erecting the Courthouse of the District and other public buildings, which is conveyed to Harry Innes and Christopher Greenup in trust for the use and benefit of the District and on which the Courthouse and Prison are now erected.

Your Petitioners, therefore, address you Honble House and pray that an Act may pass to establish the said tract of land as laid off by the said Robert Daniel into a town and that it be called by the name of Danville, that trustees be appointed therefore, that the Springs be reserved in common for the benefit of the inhabitants of the said town under the care of the trustees and that the Deed of Conveyance for the public square may be made valid.

And your petitioners as in duty bound shall pray, &c.

George Muter

Jno. Belli

Stephn. Ormsby

Harry Innes

John Crow

Andrew McCalla

P. Tardineau

Tho Barbee

M. Nagle

Robert Daniel

Samuel Irvin

Christ Greenup

Martin Daniel

Ben Grayson

John Irvine

Robert Corbin

Jas. Dunlap

Ro. Craddock

James Lawrence

Willis Green

Thomas Lodge

David Ferguson

J. Brown

Attention is called to the opening words of this Petition: “That Walker Daniel, late deceased, in his lifetime purchased of a certain John Crow seventy-six acres of land for the purpose of erecting a town thereon.” These words mean but one thing – that the tract of land in question was the beginning of the town of Danville and that the town did not exist prior to the time Walker Daniel acquired the land in 1784.

An Act vas passed by the Legislature on December 4 the same year and was in the following terms:

“An Act to establish a town in the county of Mercer (Passed December the 4th, 1787)

I. WHEREAS, Walker Daniel, in his life-time, laid of part of seventy-six acres of his land, in the county of Mercer, into lots and streets, and sold and conveyed them to the purchasers; and Robert Daniel, his brother, to whom his lands descended, hath since the death of said Walker Daniel, laid off the residue of the said seventy-six acres into lots, and sold and conveyed them to the purchasers; and did moreover convey the springs within the said town, to certain persons and their successors, in trust, for the use of those persons who should reside on the said lots, and also conveyed a square of ground to other persons, in trust, for the special purpose of erecting thereon the public buildings of the district. And application being made to the present general assembly, to establish the lots and streets so laid off, into a town, and confirm the said two deeds of conveyance.

II. Be lt further enacted, That the lots and streets so as aforesaid laid off, shall be, and they are hereby established a town, by the name of Danville, and that John Jouit, William McDowell, sen., Harry Innes, Christopher Greenup, Samuel McDowell, Abraham Irvin, sen., George Muter, and Willlam Kennedy, gentlemen, be trustees thereof who, or the major part of them, shall have power from time to time, to settle and determine all disputes concerning the bounds of the said lots, and to establish such rules for the regular building of houses thereon, as to them shall seem best. In case of the death, removal out of the county, or other legal disability of any one or more of the said trustees, it shall be lawful for the remaining trustees to supply such vacancy; and the persons so chosen shall have the same power and authority as any one particularly appointed by this act. So soon as the purchasers of lots in the said town shall have respectfully built thereon a house sixteen feet square, with a brick or stone chimney, they shall be entitled to, and have and enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities, which the freeholders and inhabitants of other towns not incorporated, hold and enjoy.

III. And be it further enacted, That the deeds conveying the springs and square of ground within the said town as aforesaid, shall be, and they are hereby declared to good and valid, for the uses and purposes therein expressed.”

Attention is also called to the Preamble of this Act: “Where Walker Daniel in his lifetime laid off part of seventy-six acres into lots and streets and sold and conveyed them to the purchasers, and Robert Daniel, his brother to whom his land descended hath since the death of the said Walker Daniel laid off the residue of the said seventy-six acres into lots and sold and conveyed them to the purchasers…” All this confirms what I have said about the inauguration of the town and determines absolutely when and how it had its beginning. Moreover, the preamble shows that there was not village or town in existence before the tract of seventy-six acres was acquired. If there had been, the fact would have been stated in the Act, just as was done in the case of the Act, establishing the town of Harrodsburg. In that case the village or township was the foundation of and justification for the establishment of the town itself. Nothing of the kind was applicable in the case of Danville, which, by the Act, had its beginning in the seventy-six acres of land referred to. One cannot add to or take from an Act of the Legislature and in this case the beginning of the town of Danville is fixed forever, a fact that affords no loophole for sophistry or specious argument of any kind whatsoever.

On the fact, therefore, I find

1. That the town of Harrodsburg was laid off by James Harrod and the men of his company to the number of 31 on June 16, 1774, that the town was temporarily abandoned the same year, but that possession was resumed in 1775.

2. That inlots and outlots were assigned to each man, that cabins were built on the townsite, some on one side of the main street and some on the other; that James Harrod himself built a cabin in the town and that he continued to be a freeholder and resident of town in succeeding years.

3. That in 1775 there were, on the authority of Nicholas Cresswell’s men, 30 cabins in the town and that the cabins were roofed with clapboards, bespeaking occupation.

4. That the town was continuously occupied in subsequent years up to and including the year in which it was established at Act of the Legislature, beyond which I have not carried the history of the town.

5. That the work of erecting the Fort was begun in 1775, that it was finished in 1776; that it was for years the principal refuge from the Indians not only for the inhabitants of the town but for those of the surrounding territory as well, and that major activities were inaugurated there.

6. That the town of Harrodsburg for 10 years at least was the main centre of all civic, judicial and political activities in the State.

7. That Boonesboro never attained the status of a town, altho the site of a Fort.

8. That Danville was laid off as a town in 1784 by Walker Daniel, after whom it was named, that there was no village or organized settlement there prior to that date and that seventy-six acres of land deeded to him by John Crow constituted the land and the only land on which the town was so laid off.

And on the law I find —

1. That Harrodsburg’s status as a pioneer town is fixed and determined by notoriety, which is conclusive in the premises.

2. That the rule of judicial notice can be applied in the determination of the town’s legal status in the matter of origin and establishment.

3. That the town’s status historically was determined and pronounced by the Court of Appeals in the case of Bowman vs. Thomas.

4. That it was legally established by Act of the Legislature in 1785.

5. That the Act establishing the town of Boonesboro and the subsequent Act of appointing New Trustees for the town fell into desuetude and that the town never had an existence in law.

6. That the establishment of the town of Danville was not preceded by any village or settlement giving it a status by legal notoriety, priority or otherwise.

7. That the town was legally established in 1787 and that the Courts will take judicial notice of the fact.

8. That the town of Danville is not entitled on any legal ground to rank as an older town than Harrodsburg or as coexistent with it for the first ten years of its history.

I conclude, therefore, that Harrodsburg is the oldest town in Kentucky.

* * * * *

At the close Mr. Charleston exhibited the following by way of illustrating his paper:

1. The “Nicholas Cresswell” map showing this section of the State in June, 1775. Harrodsburg is shown on the map, but no other settlement in this section is in sight.

2. The map annexed to the History of Kentucky by John Filson and published in Paris, France, in 1785. This map shows both Harrodsburg and Danville.

3. Photostat of Petition by the inhabitants of Lincoln county in 1785 to have Harrodsburg established a town by the Legislature. About 144 men signed this Petition.

4. Photostat of Petition by the inhabitants of Danville, and others to have the place established a town. The Petition is dated 1787 and is signed by 23 men.

5. Plan of the town of Danville in 1785 showing in all 63 lots. A number of these had been identified and a list of the owners was shown.

6. A list of the original lot owners in the town of Harrodsburg, showing the allocation of 189 lots out of the 200 ingots in the survey of 1785.

7. Photostat of the Fort at Boonesboro established 1775.