Historical Sketches of Kentucky : Embracing Its History, Antiquities, and Natural Curiosities, Geographical, Statistical, and Geological Descriptions
By: Lewis Collins; Published 1850
Ohio county was formed in 1798, and named from the Ohio river. It is situated in the west middle portion of the State, lying on the waters of Greene river, which forms its southern and a part of its southwestern boundary—Rough creek, quite a considerable stream, flowing, in a meandering course, through its northern territory: bounded on the north by Hancock; east by Grayson; southeast by Butler; southwest by Muhlenburg; and northwest by Daviess. The soil of this county is considered equal to that of the Greene river lands generally, producing excellent crops of corn, tobacco, oats, potatoes, clover and other grasses, but supposed not to contain sufficient lime for the profit- able growing of wheat. The timber is heavy and of a superior quality. Iron ore abounds in the county, and the beds of excellent coal are inexhaustible. The morus multicaulis flourishes here, and the culture of silk might be carried on to any extent. Some specimens of the manufactured article have been pronounced equal to the best Italian. Valuation of taxable property in Ohio county, in 1846, $1,280,- 237 ; number of acres of land in the county, 309,630 ; average value of lands per acre, $2.08 ; number of white males over twenty one years of age, 1,407 ; number of children between five and seventeen years old, 2,032. Population in 1840, 6,592—but supposed to be one-third greater in 1847. Hartford, the seat of justice, is situated on the bank of Rough creek, about twenty-eight miles by water from its junction with Greene river, and one hundred and sixty miles from Frankfort. Its location is pleasant and agreeable, remarkable for its fine water, and the general health of the population, which numbers about 400. It contains a brick court-house and other county buildings, two churches (Methodist and Free,) six lawyers, six physicians, two taverns, fifteen stores and groceries and ten mechanics’ shops. Established in 1808, Ohio was the first county formed below Hardin, and once included all of the present counties of Ohio, Daviess and Hancock, with portions of Breckinridge, Grayson and Butler. The immediate vicinity of Hartford was settled at a very early period, and was often the scene of bloody strife and acts of noble daring. Hartford and Barnett’s stations were about two miles apart, and although never regularly besieged, were frequently harassed by straggling parties of Indians, and a number of persons, who imprudently ventured out of sight of the stations, killed or captured. The following facts we have derived from Mr. Stephen Stateler, a pioneer and venerable and esteemed citizen of Ohio county: In April, 1790, the Indians waylaid Barnett’s station, and killed two of the children of John Anderson. One of the party assaulted Mrs. Anderson with a sword, inflicted several severe wounds upon her person, and while in the act of taking oft' her scalp, John Miller ran up within about twenty steps, and snapped his rifle at him. The Indian fled, leaving his sword, but succeeded in carrying off- the scalp of Mrs. Anderson. She however recovered and lived some ten or twelve years afterwards. The same party captured and carried oft' Hannah Barnett, a daughter of Colonel Joseph Barnett, then a girl of about ten years of age. They retained her as a captive until October of the same year, when through the instrumentality of her brother-in-law, Robert Baird, she was recovered and restored to her friends. In August, of the same year, three men were attacked by a party of Indians, near the mouth of Greene river. John Mcllmurray, one of the whites, was killed, a man named Faith was wounded, and Martin Vannada was made a prisoner.
The Indians immediately crossed the Ohio river, and, after traveling for some days in the direction of their towns, struck, as they supposed, the trail of some white men. In order to pursue them with the utmost celerity and without impediment, they tied Vannada to a tree. With the view of rendering his escape hopeless, during their absence, they spread a blanket at the root of a tree, and caused him to sit upon it, with his back against the tree. His hands were then pinioned behind him, and fastened to the tree with one rope, while they tied another rope around his neck, and fastened it to the tree above. In this painful position they left him, and commenced the pursuit of their supposed enemies. But no sooner had they departed, than he commenced the work of extricating himself. With much difficulty he succeeded in releasing his hands, but his task appeared then only to have begun. He ascertained that he could not reach round the tree so as to get to the knot; and it was so twisted or tied between his neck and the tree, that it was impossible for him to slip it one way or the other. Without a knife, he made powerful efforts to get the rope between his teeth, that he might gnaw it in two. Failing in this, he almost regretted having made any effort to effect his escape, as, upon the return of the Indians, the forfeit of his life would, in all probability, be the consequence. At this moment he recollected that there were some metal buttons on his waistcoat. Instantly tearing one off, he placed it between his teeth, and, by great efforts, broke it into two pieces. With the rough edge of one of these, he succeeded in fretting rather than cutting the cord in two which bound his neck to the tree, and was once more free. But in what a condition! In a wilderness and an enemy’s country, with no clothing save a shirt, waistcoat, breeches and moccasins!—no provisions, no gun, no ammunition, no knife, not even a flint to strike fire with! He did not, however, hesitate or falter, but instantly struck into the trackless forest, in the direction of home,— and, under the direction of a kind Providence, reached Hartford the ninth day after his escape, having subsisted upon such small animals and insects as he could catch and eat raw. He was nearly famished, and greatly emaciated; but having fallen into good hands, he was soon recruited, and returned to his family in fine health.
In the year 1786 or 1787, an incident occurred at a fort on Greene river, which displays the dangers which beset the emigrants of that period, and illustrates the magnanimity of the female character. About twenty young persons—male and female—of the fort, had united in a flax pulling, in one of the most distant fields. In the course of the forenoon two of their mothers made them a visit, and the younger took along her child, about eighteen months old. When the whole party were near the woods, one of the young women, who had climbed over the fence, was fired upon by several Indians concealed in the bushes, who at the same time raised the usual war-whoop. She was wounded, but retreated, as did the whole party, some running with her down the lane, which happened to open near that point, and others across the field. They were hotly pursued by the enemy, who continued to yell and fire upon them. The older of the two mothers who had gone out, recollecting in her flight that the younger, a small and feeble woman, was burdened with her child, turned back in the face of the enemy, they firing and yelling hideously, took the child from its almost exhausted mother, and ran with it to the fort, a distance of three hundred yards. During the chase, she was twice shot at with rifles, when the enemy were so near that the powder burned her, and one arrow passed through her sleeve; but she escaped uninjured. The young woman who was wounded almost reached the place of safety, when she sunk, and her pursuer, who had the hardihood, to attempt to scalp her, was killed by a bullet from the fort.