James Flint


November 25, 1818. Limestone, sometimes called Maysville, is a considerable landing place on the Kentucky side of the river Ohio.  The houses stand above the level of the highest floods.  There is a rope-walk, a glass-house, several stores and taverns, and a bank, in the town. 

On the 26th, I left Limestone by the road for Lexington, which is sixty-four miles distant.  The roads, hitherto scorched by drought, were in a few minute rendered wet and muddy by a heavy shower of rain.  The rods in this western country are of the natural soil. 

The high grounds every where seen from the river, are called the river hills’ they are in reality banks, the ground inland of them being high.  To the south of Limestone it is a rich table land, diversified by gentle slopes and moderate eminences. 

At four miles from Limestone is Washington, the seat of justice in Mason County.  The town is laid out on a large plain, but not thriving. 

May’s Lick is a small village, twelve miles from Limestone.  A rich soil, and a fine undulated surface, unite in forming a neighborhood truly delightful.  The most florid descriptions of Kentucky have never conveyed to my mind an idea of a country naturally finer than this. 

I lodged at a tavern twenty miles from Limestone.  Before reaching that place the night became dark and the rain heavy.  As the tops of the trees overhung the road, I had no other indication than the miry feel of the track, to prevent me from wandering into the woods. 

November 27.  Crossed the river Licking in a boat, at a small town called Blue Licks, from the springs in its neighborhood, from which great quantities of salt were formerly procured. The adjoining timber is exhausted, and the salt-works are abandoned. 

After coming to a flooded creek, where there was neither bridge not boat, I waited a few minutes for the mail coach.  The road is in several parts no other than the bed of a rocky stream.  I also crosses the same creek four or five times.  After riding a few miles, I left the coach.  There is no great degree of comfort in traveling by this vehicle; stowed full of people, baggage, and letter bags; the jolting over stones, and through miry holes, is excessively disagreeable; and the travelers head is sometimes knocked against the roof with much violence.  A large piece of leather is let down over each side, to keep out the mud thrown up by the wheels.  The front was the only opening, but as the driver and two other persons occupied it, those behind them were almost in total darkness.  A peep at the country was not obtained.


This is a brief excerpt from James Flint’s Letters from America, published in Edinburgh in 1822, on his trip in America several years earlier. You can find the entire work on line at the Library of Congress’ American Memory Website, here.  It’s in the Travel Narratives Collection. Search for James Flint Letters.