Thursday, December 13, 2012

The First Map 1784

"Daniel Boon", "Levi Todd", and "James Harrod" were called together to witness an introduction to the new best seller titled: "The Discovery, Settlement, and Present State of Kentucky", by John Filson.  This witness was dated May 12, 1784.  They state:

 (we) "...have carefully revifed it, and recommend it to the public as an exceeding good performance, containing as accurate a defeription of our country as we think can poffibly be given:...".

This text contained the first map published by Henry D. Pursell, and printed by T. Rook (Philadelphia) in the year 1784.  The following is taken from this map giving the title image:

It states that the map is drawn from actual observations.  The next figure shows a copy of the area around "Danville", 1784. 

This was certainly a central location in 1784.  The busiest place seems to be the "Lower Dutch" station, where at least six trails connect here.  Clark's Run, a branch of the Dick's River, comes just south Danville.  A careful inspection of the map indicates that Danville is represented as a "station" with a number of other "stations" surrounding it. [Clark's, Irvin's, Caldwall's...etc.]  Reed's is identified as a dwelling house and mill.  A number of dwelling houses are shown around the station labeled Danville.  It would be another three years before it became the town of Danville.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Upon Dry Ground - Sort of

There are 31 rivers, 800 creeks, 45 large lakes, 33 small lakes, and 87,000 farm ponds presently in the State of Kentucky. [Plus or minus here and there.]  Certainly not all these things existed when folks started their way into this area.  At least 4 major rivers had something to do with the water routes into the central area of the State.  The following figure shows roughly an outline of these 4 rivers and their relationship to this area that was to become Danville.

From the east, a branch of the Kentucky River, called "Dix" or "Dicks", comes the closest to the town lands of Danville.  From the northwest,  branches of the Salt River, one called "Chaplin", come close to the lands that were to become Danville.  Green River and Cumberland River finish the circle that surrounded this settlement area.  It would seem that these "town lands" would pretty much be in the center of things such that, heading almost any direction would place you on a water route out of town.   "Upon Dry Ground" I am thinking, sort of.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Way In

In 1782 maps were hard to come by.  It was not until 1784 that John Filson had his map engraved by Henry Pursell and published by T. Rook in Philadelphia.  It outlines "The Road from the Old Settle' thro' the great Wildnenefs".   Now before 1782-1784,  lots of folks had made their way through this great wilderness.  Two accounts giving mileage charts are recorded by The Filson Club, 1886. [The Wilderness Road, A Description of The Routes of Travel By Which The Pioneers and Early Settlers First Came To Kentucky.  Prepared For The Filson Club by Thomas Speed, 1886.]  The chart below outlines these accounts from the start of the Cumberland Gap.   The figure shows the area around what was to become Danville, KY. 

 In 1782 "Doehurty's Station" [Dougherty's = John Dougherty would raised a crop of corn 1776] was the stopping point.   By 1784,  "Crow's Station" [ John Crow = in present city limits of Danville] was given as the end point of this passage.  Both lists give about the same land marks, which can be followed as outlined above.

The present day counties in which these locations existed in 1782-1784 are given in the figure below. One starts at the Cumberland Gap into Bell County, KY.  This then moves to Knox, then Laural, then Rockcastle, then Lincoln, and finally what is now Boyle County, KY.
In 1782 - 1784, getting to what was to become Danville, KY was by a wilderness path...the way in.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Three Ring Circus

Multiple factors were involved in the settlement of Kentucky. [Where this Danville was to be.]    To understand these issues would take imagining  "A Three Ring Circus", all under the influence of the owners.

The owner of this circus was the British central government.  Ever since King William in May, 1696 set up the "Board of Trade and Plantations", they directed the actors to this circus.  Their basic view was to make money for the owners.  Their "board of directors" were the local experts on trade and the various plantations (colonies) spread around the world. 

The first ring to this circus was in the north.  The Iroquois had caught the attention of the British central government, and a competing circus (The French) had caused the Mohawk River Valley to become the center of this ring.  An "Indian Superintendent" Sir William Johnson, was place as the "ring master".  He was responsible for all activity relating to the local ethic groups beginning 1768.

In the south was the second ring, where the Carolina's proprietors kept a heavy hand in the happenings in this ring.  The Cherokees blocked the land expansion for this group, and the trade arrangements had to made through this ethic group.

The middle ring was of course Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland who wanted their own control of this ring.  A Irish trader from Pennsylvania (George Crochan) had established his own plans to control this arena. [He was also the "right hand man" of Sir William Johnson.]  Business firms from Philadelphia had formed to take advantage of this activity.  The Shawnee were to block this expansion and provide all kinds of trouble for the traders, business firms, land speculators, hunters, trappers, and a host of acts wanting to get into the rings.

Now Virginia was actively recruiting settlers to the lands in the west.  By 1754, Virginia had granted more than 2.5 million acres to various "companies". [Greenbrier Co., Loyal Land Co., and Ohio Co., to name a few.]  A great wave of activity (settlement) was present in all the rings.

Come one, come all...the greatest show on earth...this three ring circus.  Danville was to become a part.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Mouth of the Great Kanawha

Colonel William Preston held the keys to the first "official" surveys made in what was to become Kentucky.  Under the directions of the governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore", he was appointed the "chief surveyor" of Fincastle County.  Only those properly deputized by him (Preston), could carry out surveys in this new territory.

In the Maryland Gazette, March 10th, 1774 was published the following information:

"Fincastle County, Virginia, January 27, 1774."

"Notice is hereby given to the gentlemen, officers, and soldiers, who claim land under his Majesty's proclamation of the 7th October, 1763, who have obtained warrants from his Excellency, the right honorable the Earl of Dunmore, directed to the surveyor of Fincastle county, and intend to locate their land on or near the Ohio, below the mouth of the Great Kanawha or New River, that several assistant surveyors will attend at the mouth of New river on Thursday, the 14th of April next, to survey, for such only as have or may obtain his lordship's warrant for that purpose..."

                                         "William Preston, Surveyor of Fincastle County"

Such begins the surveys of what was to become Danville, KY.  Issac Hite was one of the deputy surveyors.  He was also a business partner of Walker Daniel.  Both had something to do with the founding of this place, Danville.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Setting The Table

Explorers, hunters, trappers, and traders traversed and prospected this land that was to become Kentucky.  Prior to 1770, there was no permanent settlement, or surveys, either private or official made of this land.  It was under the direction of Col. George Washington that the first survey was made along the Big Sandy River.  Col. Joshua Fry was credited with 2,084 acres and 1,525 acres along the boarder of what is now Kentucky and West Virginia in 1770.  However, this was not to be since Virginia took control, forming Fincastle County in 1772.  Thus the "authentic" records of the settlement of Kentucky began. 

The College of William and Mary had control of this process.  First, to become a surveyor, you had to obtain a "commission" from the Master of William and Mary.  Next, you had to qualify as a deputy surveyor under the watchful eye of the "Chief Surveyor".  Then you would receive an "order" or "mandate" from the chief surveyor to go to work.

Of course this did not stop private, "unofficial" surveys from occurring.  All sorts of folks from other colonies want to get their hands in the pie.  Who was this Virginia anyway, who want to take control of this unsettled land...first come...first served...and the table is large...dive right in.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Before Kentucky

On February 10, 1763, the western most boundary of Virginia was finally set to the Mississippi River.  This Treaty of Paris gave to Britain  all claim to lands in "Louisiana" eastward of this clear landmark.  Virginia had already made claim to all land extending to the "Pacific", so this would certainly cut things a little short. 

Since 1643, Virginia had made settlement of this western land a priority.  Jurisdiction depended upon occupation, and Virginia had a plan.  Settle an area;  then establish a church, parish, and vestry; build a courthouse and jail; then elected representatives to the legislature; and then name a new county extending westward as far as one could go.  Henrico Co., #1(1643); Orange Co. #2(1734); Augusta Co., #3 (1738); Botetourt Co. #4(1770); and Fincastle Co. #5(1770); all before King George was fired July 4, 1776.  It was not until December 31, 1776 that the name "Kentucky" came into public records.  On this date, Virginia established its jurisdiction on this land that was to become Danville.  Kentucky County, Virginia it became.  For more than 15 years this was Virginia before it ever became Kentucky.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Name It and Claim It

It is extremely difficult to put together an understanding of all the forces that came together to make this Danville, KY.  There was first, the central British government [The Crown] that resided some 3,000 miles away.  They were busy making their own plans about this Ohio Valley that had come under their control after this thing called the French and Indian War.

Prior to this, there were a number of separate colonies [PA, MD, VA, NC, SC]  and special interest groups [Ohio Company, Loyal Land Company, Transylvania Company] that had laid claim to a vast area of this Ohio Valley.

           [This shows a copy of the history, Ohio Co., written in the Kentucky Law Journal, 1926.]

 Also, there were the local ethic groups that were actually living on this land, and making it their battle ground.  Then there was the government of Virginia that took control, to organize Fincastle County, Virginia. [1772]    Although other folks had already sent their traders, land speculators, and hunters to this Ohio Valley, this colony [VA] was  the first to claim "official" surveys to this Ohio Valley.  You can begin to see the confusion there must have been when all these folks ended up around the same time,  in the same area, making their own surveys...the perfect storm some may say.  In the middle of this storm stood was what to become Danville, VA before it was to become Danville, KY.    Name it, and claim it...not as easy as it sounds.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Keep Off The Grass

A sure fired way to get people to walk on your grass is to put a sign that says "Keep Off The Grass".  It is sort of like that "Wet Paint" have just got to touch it...just to it dry yet?  Such was the British government's issue of the October Proclamation of 1763.  It prohibited migration and settlement beyond the crest of the Appalachians.  This was done as a way to help establish boundaries between the Indians and English who were fighting over this territory [with the French], and give clear title to the Indians for a hunting ground in this Vally of Ohio.

A problem to this proclamation was the fact that Virginia had already promised land to those who had fought in the French and Indian War [1754-1763].  Gov. Dinwiddie in his own proclamation of February 19, 1754, had promised land to the military who would help Virginia maintain their claims to the western lands.  Several private groups had already planned their own use of this territory once the dust of war had settled.  [George Washington was one.]  Likewise, other colonies had their own ideas how this western land should be taken advantage of, for their settlements.

What was to become Kentucky, was right in the middle of it.

"Keep Off The Grass"...well right...not!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Trying to Sort Things Out

Over the river and through the the river and through the woods would be more like it.  They were the only ways to get to this new, western settlement area that was to become Kentucky.

Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina all wanted to get their fur traders and land speculators into this western territory.  These colonies' geographic relationship to "the river" (Ohio), and "the woods" (mountains) are shown in the drawing to the right. 

Pennsylvania was essentially located at the head waters of the Ohio.  Virginia and North Carolina competed for the land access (gaps) to this territory, and were soon to run into folks from Pennsylvania coming down that Shenandoah Valley.  Virginia also had some of the earliest explorers to find this "New River" that was to open the door to western expansion.  Each colony was determined to settle this area to the advantage of the merchants and money backers who on the most part were living the good life back along the coast.

Who would have known that this little place that was to become Danvillle would find all these folks in 63 acres of land in a small square trying to sort things out.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Face to Face

Geography will often define the boundaries for settlement.  Where to go and how to get there will be directed by water, hills, mountains, fertile land and the like.  Figuring things out will often take time and adjustments.

Now, who occupied the land was always a problem for those who wanted to occupy the land.  The geography of the mountains had separated a land grabbing group of folks [on the east] who wanted it all, from a number of ethic groups [on the west] who had been fighting one another for a good long while.  These ethic groups had settled their own differences following a warfare that had lasted until around 1700.  Wyandot, Delaware, Shawnee, Cherokee, and Miami had generally laid claim to their homeland on the western side of this Cumberland-Allegheny mountain ridge.  You can see on the drawing above the general areas occupied by these groups.  The Shawnee and Cherokee were to have the most say about coming into this Ohio Valley after the Wyandot got things rolling with those folks on the eastern side of the mountains.  Anyway you went, down the water (Ohio) or around the mountains (to become the Cumberland Gap) you would have to face the Shawnee or Cherokee.  Face to face was yet to come.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Coming Round The Mountains

Getting to this new land [what was to become Kentucky] was some kind of chore.  The New River (Wood's River) offered a pathway to the west, but gave all kinds of trouble to those who were on the other side of the mountains.  All these mountains stood in the way.  For many years, the Blue Ridge Mountains seem to be the greatest barrier.  Once over these, there were the Shenandoah Mountains separated by a valley area that gave a little brake to the mountains.  Then came the Allegheny Highlands  that seemed to go on forever into the distance.  What were these poor folks along the coast to do?

The drawing to the right shows the general idea about these mountains.  The "Blue Ridge" in blue, the "Shenandoah" in purple, and the Cumberland-Allegheny Highlands in green are outlined.    The river road is again shown in orange, and one can get a sense of why those folks above the mountains [PA, NY, etc.]would find the river route a much better avenue.  The folks from VA, NC, and MD would have to figure out another way perhaps...coming round the mountains.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Yet to Come

Abraham Wood and his crew were the first to record a "New River" that flowed to the "West" instead of back to the "East".  This "English" discovery opened the doors to a potential route to China.  No one knew what was really out there, but Abraham and his associates were determined to find out.  At 37 degree parallel, they had some idea that China would lay to the south.  This New River [at first called Wood's River], seemed to flow north, and this would have put some damper on the exploration.   But, who was to know that this river flowed to a larger, and then larger River which was to run southwest.

The drawing to the right shows roughly the 37 degree parallel as it runs though Virginia and Kentucky.   Abraham Wood started somewhere past Roanoke [most likely near Blacksburg], and the record begins.  Following the orange colored line, the flow of the river formed a u-shaped pattern, up to the Ohio River, down to the Kentucky, and off to the Dix River, meeting the land that would become Danville, Kentucky.  The colonies of PA, MD, VA, and NC are shown to place their settlement along this new river.  All certainly wanted to get there, and the story of Danville, connects these dots.  Being at the head waters of the Ohio, PA would certainly have an advantage to this water way.   Of course the mountains lying between would play a mayor roll in the settlement pattern, but that is yet to come.

Monday, June 25, 2012


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Jerry E. Jones, MD, MS, The Jones Genealogist. Library of Congress No. 6192-01064476.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Go "West" to End Up "East"

After returning to Venice, 1294, Marco Polo made a name for himself writing a book about his travels to Cathay.  A new world, and all kinds of opportunities for trade and wealth.  How to get there was the problem.  It was "East" of Europe [particularly the trade centers of northern Italy], and a very long way by land.  What if you could go "West" by water, and get there?  Who would have thought... go "West" to end up "East"!

All those merchant folks in Europe wanted to get there first.  They understood that Cathy [China] was on the 32 degree parallel [latitude] and in theory, all one would have to do is sail western along this latitude, and would hit it.  They certainly did not count on this huge land mass in between them and all those riches.  The picture above shows "China" as it was drawn on a very early map.  The compass is drawn "east - west" along the 32 degree latitude, with China to the right.  Simple, yes.

Well the English folks had to squeeze between the French to the north, and the Spanish to the south, seeking their door to this land of riches.  The mouth of the James River is along the 37 degree parallel.  All one had to do is find a water way flowing northwest to the 32 degree parallel.  The James River, or one of those other rivers along this tidewater would certainly lead to China.  Let's go and see.

It took a little while, but the first folks to find a new river which flowed to the west was 1650.  Edward Bland and his fellows describe the "...firft River in New Brittaine, which runneth Weft; being 120. Mile South-west, between 35. & 37. degrees, (a pleafant Country,)...".  This would be just 2 degree below China!  Little did they know that this little town of Danville would be built along this 37 degree parallel, a little further along this river road to China.

[I do not know the origin of the map pictured above.  It is copied from a wall hanging I have.  Any one know the source?  Bland and his account can be found: Alvord, C.W., Bidgood, L. The First Explorations of the Trans-Allegheny Regions by the Virginians 1650 - 1674. Clearfield Company, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio, 1912.  The context and story can be found: Jones, J.E., "KEN-TAH-THE" The Life and Times of Walker Daniel, Founder of the Town Lands of Danville, Kentucky, 18th Day of June 1784.]

Friday, June 1, 2012

Who's The First

"The City of Firsts" is what it is called...this town of Danville, Kentucky.  But before there was ever this town, or state, or country, the French, Spanish, and English were all trying to get here first.

However, the first to occupy this land that was to become Kentucky, were ethnic groups called the Shawnee and Cherokee.  As early as 1673 [When the French were roaming the land.] the Shawnee had defeated the Cherokee and occupied a major settlement and ceremonial grounds called "Eskippakithiki".  This was along one of the earliest recorded trails west of the Appalachian mountains called "The Warriors Path".  North to south, it ran along the length of the eastern side of this land that was to become Kentucky and my own family's home at Clark County, Kentucky.

What the Shawnee and the Cherokee were yet to face were the arrival from the north, of the powerful Iroquois.  The warfare which resulted between these ethic groups was felt to have been a cruel and devastating struggle leading to the defeat of the Shawnee and the Cherokee.   The last battle in this struggle is believed to have been fought near the Falls of the Ohio before the year 1700.  The Iroquois were left the victors and claimed the right by combat to the title of the valley of the Ohio.  Therefore, they were actually the first to name this area "Ken-tah-teh" which means "tomorrow", or "coming day".  How about that!  The Iroquois were the first to name this land.

Documentation is taken from: Wallis, F.A., Tapp, H.(eds.) A Sesqu-Centennial History of Kentucky. Vol.I - III, The Historical Record Association, Hopkinsville, KY, 1945.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

An Early Map

The world powers of the day were trying to get their land claims clearly established in this new land.  Drawing a map was one way to show that you had been there and made a record of this exploration.

Who would have thought of putting this huge land mass in the middle of the expected water route to China anyway?

At any rate, the French were the first to show the geographic outline of this place that was to become Danville, Kentucky.

There was this river running east to west, that came out of the mountains which separated the occupied area [eastern side of the mountains], from to the road to China [the western side of the mountains].  North to south there was this other, much longer river that would connect the French controlled north to the warm water ports to the south.  Good idea to get there first!

The map shown above is the one first published in 1697 by the French.  The Ohio River [Hohio] is drawn pretty much like it flows from the Appalachian Mountains [Mons Apalachie].  The land that was to become Kentucky was just south of this "Hohio" River.  You can use your imagination to trace the outline of the state as it is drawn on this map.  Smack in the center of this area would become Danville, Kentucky.  A century or more yet to come of course.  Wow, here we were before anyone would ever guess it!

This map was published in 1697 by Louis Hennepin and titled: Le Cours du Fleuve Missippi 1697.
Hennepin, (Louis, SJ) Amsterdam, J.F. Bernard.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Beginning

Danville, Kentucky, Boyle County, is the geographical center of the State.  Its history begins at the end of the trail they called "The Wilderness Road".  Just after the Revolutionary War it was the first place you could mail a letter, buy supplies, get put in jail, and all kinds of fun stuff.  It has its own history, which needs to be shared.

A blog centered on the center of Kentucky.  How about that?  Spending some time on researching this topic, there is much to be said.  So come join me, and others who might have an interest.  Historic Danville, Kentucky...the beginning.

The figure to the right shows the cover of the book titled "Ken-Tah-The" which gives the story to the naming of Danville.  There is much more to tell.