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Sandi Gorin (View posts)
Posted: 936878400000
Classification: Query
Edited: 993310358000
Surnames: Carter, Washington, Fields, Bagby, Thomas, Casey, Riffe, Lincoln, Christian, Warren, Clark, Fisher, Boone, Henderson, Clay, Harrison, RedBird, Hornsby, Nunn
Carter County in eastern Kentucky is a land of rugged beauty an almost unlimited opportunities for outdoor fun. It was established in 1838 from parts of Greenup and Lawrence Counties and was named in honor of Colonel William Carter, a State Senator at the time Carter County was formed. The county seat, Grayson, was founded in 1838 and named for an aide-de-camp of General Washington. On the courthouse lawn is a monument to Governor William Jason Fields, famous in Kentucky politics as Honest Bill from Olive Hill. Also in Grayson is the beautiful Bagby Memorial United Methodist Church with stained-glass art work imported from France by a generous philanthropist, George Bagby. The church is kept open at all times during the summer months so visitors can enjoy its beautiful interior. About 16 miles from Grayson is a natural bridge which spans 219 feet across, and is 196 feet high and 112 feet wide. Carter County receives thousands of visitors annually at Carter Caves State Park, a complete resort park and a great place for vacationers. The park features beautiful forest land with rugged cliffs and mountain streams above-ground, and several underground caverns with colorful formations. Caveland Lodge and its attractive dining room are completely modern. There’s great fishing in the 45-acre Smoky Valley Lake, swimming, boating, horseback riding, and golf on a 9-hole course. The park is also a fine place to hike, picnic, and camp, and has a souvenir shop for its guests. Its most distinctive attractions, of course, are the caves, and guided tours are given from April through October. In the past several years, Miss Jean Thomas, the famous “Traipsin Woman” has brought her American folk song festival to Carter Caves. This is one of the major mountain song festivals in the country – started 38 years ago in Miss Thomas’s House in Ashland, when the American Folk Song Festival outgrew her place. She brought it over to Carter County, where it is now an annual attraction, one that reminds the entire nation of our mountain people’s rich native culture.

Casey County became our 49th county in 1807, formed from a part of Lincoln County. Located in the beautiful country of the Green River Valley, Casey County’s forests and sparkling streams provide wonderful outdoor recreation. Colonel William Casey, a pioneer in whose honor the county was named, moved to Kentucky from Virginia in the early part of the winter of 1779-1780. In 1791 he moved to Russell Creek, a tributary of the Green River. Since he was fifty miles from any white settlement, he and several other families built a station here, which served to protect the pioneers from Indian attacks. Associated with Colonel Casey was Christopher Riffe, who in 1793 bought from the grandfather of Abraham Lincoln 800 acres of land in what is now Casey County. The county seat, Liberty, is at the headwaters of the Green River in the eastern section of Kentucky’s Pennyrile region and on the southern edge of the Knobs belt. Liberty was named by veterans of the Revolutionary War who came to this section from Virginia in 1791. The land of this area is poplar with archaelogists who delve into the surface soil to uncover Indian relics and artifacts of even earlier people. Some of their finds include arrowheads, spearheads, pipes, net sinkers, axes and game balls. These articles are derived from four distinct cultures – the Cherokee and Shawnee who waged war against the pioneers, their predecessors, the River People, The Woodland People, and the earliest of these groups, the Floson People, a culture which dates back 12,000 to 20,000 years. Over 200 Indian campsites have been located in Casey County.

Christian County became the 21st of Kentucky’s counties in 1797. It was formed from part of Logan County and was named in honor of Colonel William Christian, a remarkably popular Virginia officer who moved to Kentucky in 1785. Christian County is in Kentucky’s Pennyrile Region. This name “Pennyrile” comes from a small wildflower indigenous to the section, the Pennyroyal. A member of the mint family, syllable-saving Ango-Saxon settlers gave the Pennyroyal its present pronunciation, “Pennyrile”, and most of us accept the new spelling as well. The pride of the Pennyrile is the county seat of Christian County, Hopkinsville, which is notable for its beautiful parks and handsome homes. In Civil War days, Federal troops headquartered in the Ross Dillard house during their occupation of the Pennyrile. As a visitor, you’ll find fascination in one of Christian County’s natural curiosities five miles south of Hopkinsville, the Swallow Springs. The unpredictable springs is sometimes a boiling spring that creates several acres of lake, and sometimes a sinkhole. It actually swallows itself. Also a curiosity are two forks of the Little River, which sink into the ground, disappearing entirely, and emerge miles further on in Trigg County. Pennyrile Forest State Park, to the northwest of Hopkinsville, has a variety of activities for the outdoorsman ... horseback riding, hiking, fishing, swimming .. and lodge and cottage accommodations that will keep the family comfortable during a full vacation. The park is surrounded by 15,000 acres of deep forest. It’s possible you’ve already had a vicarious trip through the Pennyrile District in the writings of Kentucky’s renowned author, Robert Pen Warren. Christian County is the scene of the famous novel of the tobacco wars, “Night Rider.”

Clark County, in the central part of Kentucky, was established in 1793 from parts of Fayette and Bourbon Counties and was named in honor of Kentucky’s great military hero, George Rogers Clark. The western end of the county is part of the Inner Bluegrass Region and is exceptionally fertile land. Winchester, the county seat, incorporated in the same year the county was established, was named after Winchester, Virginia, where the great statesman opened and closed his legal career. A historical marker and obelisk at Colby Pike and Wheeler Street designate the home and grave of James Clark, who was governor of Kentucky from 1836 to 1839. The Clark home is a two-story brick structure of ionic columns, a fanlighted doorway, and a palladian window on the second story facade – quite an imposing old edifice. Also in Clark County is a statue of Daniel Boone created by a Winchester sculptor, A. D. Fisher. Near the bridge over the Kentucky River, on Highway US 227, is the place where Boone’s daughter and two young companions were captured by Indians and later rescued by Boone and some of the other settles of Boonesborough. A member of the rescue party, Samuel Henderson, later married one of the girls he had helped to free. Their wedding, in 1776, was one of the first solemnized in Kentucky. About six miles from Winchester is an oblong stone structure built in 1780. It was Kentucky’s first constituted church, and many early marriages were performed in the old stone meeting house. A place of history and interest is the Indian Old Fields about 12 miles southeast of Winchester. A fertile plain, the old fields was the place where peaceful Shawnees cultivated corn long before the arrival of the pioneer settlers. It was one of the few recorded instances of Indians raising crops in the rich and fertile country they called “The Land of Tomorrow.”

Clay County became our 46th county in 1807. It was formed from parts of Madison, Knox, and Floyd Counties. It is watered by the South Fork of the Kentucky River and is rich in coal, iron ore, salt and fine timber. Clay County was named in honor of General Green Clay, who was born in Virginia in 1757. He was the son of Charles Clay and a descendant of John Clay, a British Grenadier. When Clay moved to Kentucky as a youth, he had a limited education but soon obtained some knowledge of surveying. The first few years of his Kentucky life was spent in exploring Kentucky, and becoming acquainted with the land in the northern Kentucky country. Clay established a good reputation and gained a great deal of land from surveying, for in those days it was the custom to give half of the land to surveyors who endured the dangers of the primitive country. Before Kentucky became a state, Clay was elected a delegate to the General Assembly of Virginia and was a member of the Constitutional Convention of Kentucky. After Kentucky’s statehood was established, Clay represented Madison County in each branch of the Legislature. When the War of 1812 was declared, Clay was a Major General in the Kentucky Militia. Clay commanded 3,000 Kentucky troops who served to help General Harrison to take Detroit from the British and invade Canada. General Clay died on Oct. 31, 1826. The Clay County seat, Manchester, is named for the large manufacturing center in England. An Indian mound, made of white sand, is outside the community of Fogertown and contained arrowheads made of copper. In the town of Red Bird, a famous Indian chief who was friendly to the white settlers was murdered, and a memorial now stands in his honor. Near Garrard is the site of the Old Garrard Salt Woks, and south of Garrard is the Hector Memorial park whose firetower providees a lofty overlook of the surrounding country. The park also features camping and picnic facilities. Goose Creek, in Clay County was the birthplace of Henry Hornsby, whose novel “Lonesome Valley,” had a Clay County setting.

Taken from a speech at the Kentucky State Fair many years ago by then Governor Louie Nunn.

(c) Copyright 9 September 1999, Sandra K. Gorin, All Rights Reserved,

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