History of  Gallatin County, Part 22


First Legislative Session in Gallatin County Held
Under Branches of Mighty Oak Tree

The early history of Gallatin county continues as follows:

But the county just surveyed shall not be entitled to separate representation, until the number of free male inhabitants therein contain, above the age of twenty-one years shall entitle them to one representative, agreeable tot he ratio that shall hereafter be established by law.

"Sec. 2 - A court for Gallatin County shall be held by the Justices on the second Tuesday in every month after said denizen shall take place, in the manner as provided by law in respect to other counties, and as shall be by their commissioners directed."  The justices to be named in Commission of peace for Gallatin met at the house of Richard Masterson on the first day after the dursion and appointed officers.

James Garrad was Governor, Edmond Bullock, speaker of the House, and Alexander S. Bullett, speaker of the Senate, and Harry Toulmin, secretary of the state when this boundary mentioned above was established by the legislature of Kentucky.  Therefore Percival Butler, Richard Masterson and Garland Bullock, Justices of the quarter session court, and John Grimes, Hugh Gatewood, Martin Hawkins, Gershon Lee, Wm. Thomas, and Benj. Craig were our first Justices of the Peace.  John VanPelt, the first sheriff, Francis Barnes  the first coroner and Percival Butler was the first county clerk.

The first legislative assembly held in this part of the county met on Napoleon Ridge in the neighborhood of the "Old Plesant Carlton Farm" in the spring of 1802 under the branches of a mighty oak which could comfortably shelter in its shadow seventy-five people.  They passed a number of laws, to the satisfaction of all concerned, and adjourned to meet in the fall; but it never again assembled.

They led an independent life, took no part in elections, as the only voting precinct was at Port William [Carrollton] from 1798 to 1810, when one was established at the home of Nathaniel Sanders on the present site of the "Old Stone House," Sanders, Carroll County, who completed the erection of his stone house in 1809, and the following year people from this part of Gallatin sojourned on the August election day to cast their vote for Governor, which resulted in the election of Isaac Shelby, the second time, and Richard Hickman, lieutenant governor with Martin D. Hardin secretary of state.  Gov. Shelby and Lieutenant Hickman superseded Gov. Scott and Lieutenant Gov. Gabriel Slaughter, and Jess Bledsoe, secretary of state. 

The settlers enjoyed a three day election instead of one as we now have, while human nature was about the same.  Oftentimes certain issues gave rise to the same embittered and violent conflict of party rancor.  There was very little scratching and bribery was not very easily carried out. The settlers by this time were making great progress, looms being made and placed in most homes.  Emigrants each year brought skilled labor in the form of cabinet makers and mechanics.  The round log cabin with its dirt floor and stick chimney was being replaced by the better type of log house known as the double house, which had an open passage between and the kitchen built a respectable distance away from the main building, as well as a chimney made of limestone instead of short sticks imbedded in mud, yet the clay daubing was used until the lime kiln was introduced by about 1816 for domestic purposes.  Mose Rice built and burnt the first limestone of which we have any knowledge. Others were soon established and the beautiful stone chimneys adorned the hewed log houses of Gallatin in 1820.  These houses were chinked and pointed with lime, many of them one to one and a half stories high with outbuildings to match, including a spring house, which took the place of the modern day Frigidaire.

The first Thanksgiving services were held in the quaint meeting house at Ten Mile, 1805, sometime in November.  Thanksgiving was very much like that of New England, except we had no cranberries (these berries are a native of the coast of Cape Cod).  Every family gathered around the festal board on Thanksgiving to enjoy a Turkey.  They were as fortunate as the Pilgrim Fathers when they observed that first Thanksgiving.  All that was necessary was an excursion into the woods with their guns where they found a great abundance of wild turkeys.  They were magnificent birds, too, larger than the average domestic fowl of the same name.  In the early days of this county, wild turkeys were to be found in abundance almost anywhere in the woods. They were often discovered in great droves of hundreds, feeding upon the mast of acorn and beechnut.  Now the wild turkey is only found in Pennsylvania mountains, in the swamps of Mississippi, in certain sections of Florida and Tennessee, and occasionally in Eastern Kentucky.

It was told by an old pioneer's son that it was not difficult for the hunter, with the adroit use of a leaf placed between his hands to imitate the call of the turkey by blowing his breath thru the hands.  When the misled bird appeared, the old cap and ball rifle could be depended upon to do deadly execution.  It was not an easy matter to kill them, as they were always on the alert, and a hunter could not hope to poke on him.

The threatened extinction of this noble bird is little less than a tragedy.  Adequate laws must be enacted that will save the wild turkey, the one distinctly "American" fowl that is not only a thing of beautiful to behold, but which furnishes meat that has no rival.  In fact the turkey is always the "piece de resistance" of our one distinct national holiday.  We are inclined to agree with Franklin in his advocacy of the turkey instead of the eagle as our national bird.

Among the strane happenings of these early times was an extraordinary shower, of a reddish hue, which many believed to be blood.  It fell on the eve of September 10, 1803.  There was an eclipse of the sun on June 16, 1806.  This was a total eclipse and the country was in darkness for one hour.  About this time Aaron Burr was making frequent visits to Kentucky and the question of his high misdemeanor came up in open court in Frankfort. 

The small settlement of "Lick Creek," later known as Bramblett, in honor of Kentucky's Governor of 1863, and "Old Providence" the present site of Union school house was settled by emigrants coming down the Ohio river in keel boats and landing at the mouth of Craig's Creek.  The fear that malaria lurked in damp places caused many settlers to seek the hills instead of the marshy bottoms of the fertile Ohio Valley.  This disease formerly supposed to be due to poisonous exhalation caused many deaths among pioneers, but was later found to be due to blood parasites transferred to man by mosquitoes.

In the spring of 1803, more pioneers arrived from Virginia arrived from Virginia coming down the Ohio in flat boats to the mouth of Sugar Creek, driving their flocks from the boats and removing their belongings.  They then turned the boats loose to float down stream while they wound their way along the cane brakes to the hills beyond.  Among them were Preston Hampton, James Richardson and others, while Joseph Spencer, Edward Spencer and Barnett Spencer with their families who had also settled in the community, constituted the nucleus of a settlement at Napoleon.


December 8, 1928, from the Gallatin County News