Clark County was formed from Bourbon and Fayette in 1792.  The county seat is the city of Winchester.

  

 

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Historical Winchester and Vicinity
Submitted by Nancy Bray
Where the National Foxhunters Association will meet November 14, 1938
Winchester, Blue Grass Gateway to the Kentucky Mountains and county seat of Clark County (Named for General George Rogers Clark) is located in the center of “Pioneerland”, and is one of the most beautiful and historical places in Kentucky. Clark is called and justly so, the “Cradle of Kentucky History”, for here long before the days of Daniel Boone was the French-Canadian trading station at the Shawnee Village “Eskippikithiki” or “Ken-ta-ke”, now the present “Indian Old Fields”. The oldest trail in America passes through Winchester and Clark County, “The Warriors Path”, from Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico over which passed, years before the coming of the white man, innumerable bands of northern warriors and southern braves. On a section of this trail now known as “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine”, and “The Appalachian Way”, will be held in the 1938 annual meeting of the National Foxhunters Association, and a more ideal place for this meeting could not found in the United States.

For years this has been a great foxhunting country. The ante-bellum days and even before the Mexican War fox-hunting was a favorite pastime here, and numerous hunters from a number of states far and near came here to hunt sly “Sir Reynard” and listened with rapt attention and quickened pulse to the musical baying of the distant fox hounds. General “Cerro Gordo” Williams, General Roger Williams, Captain Leland Hathaway, Calmes brothers, A.R. Sphar, Dr. Washington Miller, Joe T. Quisenberry, Captain Buford Tracy, Nathaniel Ramsey, William Spencer, “Tuck” Piersall and others were the famous hunters in the past.

To the visitor who comes to the meeting, should he be historical minded, he can revel to his heart’s content in places made famous in the years gone by. Henry Clay made his first speech in the Clark County Courthouse, another famous speech he made here, July 4, 1805 on an oak stump in the center of Main and Fairfax Streets. He made his last speech in the Clark County Courthouse, in the celebrated Quisenberry case, a few days before going to Washington City where he died. The finest collection of oil paintings in any Courthouse probably in America is housed here. Portraits of General George Rogers Clark, the hero of the old Northwest, Daniel Boone, Catahecassa, or Blackhoof, the famous Shawnee Indian Chief who was born here, Governor James Clark, General Charles Scott, General Richard Hickman, General “Cerro Gordo” Williams, General Roger Hanson, Judge James Simpson, Judge Richard French, Honorable Chilton Allen, Honorable Samuel Hanson, General John B. Huston, Dr. Andrew Hood, Joel T. Hart, the world’s most famous sculptor, Bishop Kavanaugh of the Methodist Church, Dr. Peter F. Whitehead, hero of the yellow fever epidemic in Vicksburg in 1878 and others, all national figures, adorn the walls of the circuit court room.

Two blocks south on Main Street is the site of the birthplace of Jane Lampton, the mother of “Mark Twain” (Samuel L. Clemens). A block beyond is the home of Captain Leland Hatahway, who commanded the bodyguard of President Jefferson Davis of the Southern Confederacy, when he was a captured in South Carolina at the close of the Civil War. For nearly a hundred and fifty years on the corner of South Main and Fairfax Streets (now Lexington Avenue) there has been located a hostelry or hotel and famous people have been entertained here for a century and a half. Here LaFayette was wined and dined on his visit to General Fletcher in Bath County in 1825. General Andrew Jackson and Presidents James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson were guests. Henry Clay stopped quite often and General John C. Breckenridge was a frequent visitor. In more recent years General John B. Gordon, General John B. Hood, Governor Bob Taylor, Mr. And Mrs. Tom Thumb, William Jenning Bryan, Carrie Nation, Billy Sunday, Homer Rodheaver, Sam Jones, Bob Fitzsimmons, Vice Presidents Charles W. Fairbanks and Thomas R. Marshall, Senator Joe Robinson, Otis Skinner, Robert Mantell and other national and international celebrities have stopped here. General John B. Huston died in this hotel in the same room in which he first met his wife. After the Civil War when General John C. Breckenridge was sojourning in England, he was entertained at a banquet by the Lord Chief Justice and was asked who was the most learned and distinguished jurist in America and he very promptly replied “General John B. Huston” of Winchester, Kentucky. Past the Old Hotel ran the first stagecoach line in Kentucky-from Lexington to Olympia Springs in 1803.

Three blocks west on Lexington Avenue, now the Clark County High School, is the former home of the Hanson family. Several brothers grew to manhood and the Civil War divided the family in twain. General Roger W. Hanson and Isaac K. Hanson were with the Union forces. Two blocks from the High School is Kentucky Wesleyan College, the leading educational institution of the Methodist Church in Kentucky. One block from the College is the colonial home of Governor James Clark, one of the state’s most famous governors.

During the Civil War, Captain Steve Sharp of the Confederate Army, a native of Clark County, with a lone companion (Dudley Veal?) routed a regiment of Federal soldiers, captured the town, and lowered the stars and stripes on the Courthouse steeple and ran up the stars and bars. Sometime later, a sharp fight between the Union and Confederate forces started on Main Street and Broadway and the fighting was continued across the eastern part of the county into Montgomery and Estill Counties.

On the southern outskirts of the city is the Winchester Country Club, one of the finest golf courses in Kentucky. A mile or two south on the Wilderness Trail, Daniel Boone’s first road to Kentucky, is the “Old Stone Meeting House”, the oldest church west of the Alleghenies, where Daniel Boone went to church. Near here was reared Judge Robert Trimble of the U.S. Supreme Court, in this same locality was born Mrs. Julia Tevis the famous teacher who founded Science Hill Academy in Shelbyville, Kentucky and who wrote “Sixty Years in the School Room.” Also was born here Bishop Hubbard Kavanaugh of the Methodist Church. To the east a short distance is the birthplace of Hon.. John L. Rout, Governor of Colorado. Also near here, just to the west is “Caveland” the home of General Richard Hickman, famous soldier and Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky and Governor in 1812 during the absence of Governor Shelby. A short distance south is “Old Fort Boonesborough”, the first fortified station in Kentucky where Elizabeth and Frances Callaway and Jemima Boone were captured by the Indians, where the first legislative body met, where the first laws were enacted, where the first divine services were held, the first romance, the first marriage, first incorporated town, first ferry, etc. It was also here at Boonesborough that Jack Callaway when a small boy was stolen by the Indians out of a water-melon patch and held several years in captivity and adopted by the Indians but was later exchanged and grew to manhood and was a General in the War of 1812.

At a point a mile above Boonesborough on Otter Creek is where Colonel Richard Callaway, the commander of the fort, was killed by the Indians while superintending the building of the first ferryboat in Kentucky. Callaway County, Kentucky is named for Colonel Callaway. Callaway County, Missouri is named for Captain James Callaway, who was a son of Flanders Callaway, (Nephew of Colonel Richard and Jemima Boone, daughter of Daniel Boone) Flanders Callaway and Jemima Boone were married in the fort at Boonesborough and this was one of the earliest marriages in Kentucky, the first being Samuel Henderson and Elizabeth Callaway on August 7, 1776 in the fort.

On the western border of the city is the Winchester Cemetery, the cemetery beautiful, where a number of pioneers are buried. Here also is buried Colonel William J. Lampton, the celebrated New York journalist and poet, and author of “Yawps”. Colonel Lampton was a first cousin of Mark Twain. A mile to the west is “Strodes Station,” one of the early settlements where a Revolutionary battle was fought and here lived Thomas Parvin, Kentucky’s first printer and here he taught school. Also at this place was born the first white child in Clark County James Sphar, in 1779. A mile beyond is the home of General S. “Cerro Gordo” Williams, famous Mexican and Civil War hero, and later United States Senator. Near here is also the place where Aaron Burr was arrested in 1806. In this section of Clark County runs the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, the first railroad in the county and from the highway bridge at Colby station can be seen part of the longest straight line of railroad track in Kentucky, twelve miles without a curve. The right-of-way follows the watershed between the Kentucky and Licking rivers. A few miles beyond to the north is Bryan’s Station, where women carried water to the men in the fort besieged by the Indians. This was perhaps the most heroic deed in the Kentucky wilderness. To the southwest some forty miles distant in Mercer County is Old Harrodstown.

Three miles north of Winchester is the birthplace of Judge William H. Wallace, the famous Missouri lawyer, who prosecuted and broke up the notorious James Boys gang of outlaws. A mile or two beyond is “Cavewood” the seat of the Gist family and home of General Charles Scott, fifth governor of Kentucky and a famous Revolutionary soldier. Scott County, Virginia and Scott County Kentucky were both named for General Scott. Just beyond this is the birthplace of John Fox the celebrated author. Some miles further is Blue Licks State Park in Robertson County where the last battle of the Revolution was fought in 1782.

Some ten miles northeast of Winchester is Xalappa, the celebrated Sims farm at North Middletown where from the high limestone water tower can be obtained a wonderful view of the Blue Grass Country of Clark, Bourbon and Montgomery Counties. A mile or two further on is “Old Cane Ridge Church”, where the Christian Church was organized in 1804. This old log church is the second oldest church in Kentucky.

To the east on the edge of the city is the birthplace of Joel T. Hart, the famous sculptor, who died in Florence Italy and is buried with other state celebrities in the Frankfort cemetery. Just beyond is the trail followed by the five Indians on the July 15, 1776, who had captured Jemima Boone and the Callaway Girls the previous day at Boonesborough. Their recapture the following day by their fathers and lovers at Upper Blue Licks is the most romantic incident in Kentucky history and was used by James Fennimore Cooper in the “Last of the Mohicans”. Subsequently all three girls married their lovers who rescued them and theirs were the first marriages in Kentucky. Some fifteen miles beyond is the battlefield of “Estill’s Defeat”, the most sanguinary of all the pioneer battles – twenty-five Indians against twenty five whites, where Captain James Estill was killed and Captain James Berry severely wounded was carried back by way of Winchester to Boonesborough on the back of the “Monk” the faithful slave of Captain Estill. A few miles beyond in Bath County, is the old Thunder Mill of General Andrew Jackson where cannon balls were made and shipped to New Orleans in the War of 1812.

To the southeast in Clark County is “Old Lublegrud” so named by Daniel Boone where he spent the year of 1770, and Oil springs whose healing and medicinal waters were used by the Indians long before Columbus discovered America. Here within one acre are five mineral springs all of different waters and it is said to be the only place in the world where such a condition occurs. Near here in 1753 was the first fight on Kentucky soil between the Indians and the Whites, and this fight was really the first battle in the French and Indian War. In this same locality is “Indian Old Fields”. "Eakippikithiki” or “Kent-ta-ke", only Indian village in the state where Kentucky gets its name and overlooking this beautiful meadowland is the “towering eminence of Pilot Knob” where Daniel Boone on that memorable day in June, 1769 first beheld the wonderful Blue Grass Country. It was at this place that the famous “Blue grass” started growing in Kentucky, the seed coming from the Blue Grass hay that John Finley, who operated the trading post, had packed his goods in, in Pennsylvania. In 1816 Blackhoof the famous Shawnee Indian Chief who was born here, when over one hundred years old, walked back from the reservation in Northern Ohio where he was living to visit Indian Fields, his old home and stayed several weeks at the home of Leonard Beall, whose life he had saved at the battle of the River Raisin in the War of 1812. The old Chief pointed out many places of interest and related many tales of border warfare among others. That he was at the battle of Braddock’s Defeat and that he shot repeatedly at Washington and although a crack shot, he could not hit him and the Indians all thought Washington bore a charmed life. Near here lived the ancestors of John Fox Jr. and no doubt when a boy while visiting his grandfather Boaz Fox, the young author gazed in the dim distance at the blue foothills of the Cumberland’s, and wondered what lay beyond the jagged horizon in the mountain vastnesses and the inspiration he got in all probability enabled him to write in later years the world famous novels, “The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come” and "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine”. The Kentucky State Highway Commisssion in June 1935 in honor of John Fox, Jr., officially named the principal highway through this region "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine". Along this trail are those quaint and peculiarly named places made famous the world over by the novels of John Fox, Jr., Outshin, Bullskin, Viper, Lonesome, Troublesome, Helfer-Sartin, Happy Valley, Kingdom Come, Hazard, etc.

Winchester and Clark County have had a glorious past and the future looks exceptionally bright, so come to Winchester, where you will find a most hearty welcome awaits you, where you will be entertained in true southern-style in Kentucky’s most hospitable manner and where every thing possible will be done for your comfort and convenience to make your stay with us most pleasant and enjoyable.

J.F.

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