History of  Gallatin County, Part 32


Early in the spring of 1804, Jacob Carlock was out looking after some sugar troughs and placing them under spouts (that were made from the stock of the elder with puth removed and driven into the maple tree where there had been an auger hole drilled) that conveyed the sweet sap of this tree into a trough.  He heard the keen crack of a rifle in the distance.  On a cold frosty morning such a sound stirred up lively echoes among the hills while Indians were fast penetrating the fastness of the wilderness before the tidal wave of the husky pioneers.  Yet there were still a few warring bands of these denizens of the forest passing thru the dark and bloody ground on their way westward and to take a last farewell look at their beloved hunting ground.

There had been fear that they were not yet free from Indian attacks along the Ohio river and throughout the Ohio Valley.  On the point of a hill that overlooks the valley, he saw emerging from the undergrowth out into the old deadening as it was commonly called, seven stalwart Indians, dressed in the garb of the breech clout plumed with eagle feathers, and carrying rifles and tomahawks.  They were some distance away, and to make his escape he had to cross an open field and would become a fine target for their practiced eye.  Nearby was a pen of his hogs.  He at once leaped into the pen, lay down, and began feeding the hogs corn by throwing it to them from his filled pockets.  The swine gathered around him rooting and grunting.  When the last grains of corn were consumed they kept up their clamor for more and completely prevented him from being noticed by the savages.  The hog pen was erected near the base of the Barker hill on Two Mile Creek and the home of Mr. Carlock stood on the site of this residence of Mrs. Nancy Kendell, a short distance from the old watermill site.

Sparta at this time contained a mill, tan yard, distillery, blacksmith shop, shoe maker, and several coopers.  Mr. Carlock had flocks brought from his Virginia home, and among them were the long razor-back-poke-root eater hogs, as they were known at that time.

Another story relating to this pioneer and his neighbor, John Scirvin, who built a turkey pen on a point known at this time as the Bond Hill.  A very high prominence overlooking the creek and a place frequently inhabited by wild turkeys.  To catch wild turkeys in a pen was no great project. The pen was constructed of rails and built about five feet high.  A hole was dug extending under the pen at a slant of 52 degrees on the outside and a slant of 30 degrees on the inside.  Corn was scattered in and around this hole leading to the inside.  When the turkeys would step down into the slanting hole from the outerside, he usually hopped up inside, and as it is well known that a turkey never looks down for a pass way out, he would not go thru a hole that was not higher than his own head.  Therefore, once in the pen they were trapped and when one entered, more often a dozen or more would come too.

One morning during the holidays in the year 1807, the date in which Robert Fulton invented the first steamboat [ or not ], the first bank of Kentucky had been chartered in Louisville, the first newspaper, "The Farmer's Library," published in Louisville, these pioneers went out in quest of game for home consumption.  After hunting for a few hours, and meeting with not much success, their thoughts turned to the turkey pen, over on the high point and they at once started toward the high point, and they at once started in the direction of the trap.  On arrival the found that seven had been trapped, three old toms.  Mr. Carlock proceeded to enter the pen by lifting the top and crawling in while his companion stayed on the outside to receive the birds when Mr. Carlock caught and killed them one by one.  However, he did not succeed, as the three old gobblers attacked him and pelted his body with the butts of their great wings in such a way that he had to secure help to capture them.

The woods swarmed with these large birds in those days,  the truly American bird of the forest, and when a farmer needed meat it only required a little time to find his choice, in deer, bear, fowl, buffalo, or fish.  Their cabins were oftentimes too small to properly accommodate the large families that occupied them and they were somewhat cramped for lack of space, but they got along without troubling much about what might happen on the tomorrow.  Their wants were simple and they usually supplied them from nature's fountain.  It was a rugged sort of existence but it suited them.  They had no rent to pay, no fabulous butcher bills, coal bills, and above all no taxes.  They ignored conventions.  They needed little clothing in summer, and went barefoot, men, women and children.  The yielded to circumstances and made the best of what came their way.

The backwoodsman of 1800 wore buckskin trousers and moccasins, and shirts of coarse cotton or woolen cloth of red and blue thrown open at the base of their bronze necks.  Each man carried a dark knife in his buckskin belt.  We owe much to them who paved the way for us.  It is due to such ancestors that our grand old Commonwealth stands out gloriously in the annals of American history.  Nowhere on the continent of North America has there been a set of men equal in courage to the Kentucky pioneer.  They not only faced danger, but curved their spines in daily toil to clear away the trackless forest, and to drive away the savage Indians that constantly disturbed their peaceful pursuit.


May 3, 1930, from the Gallatin County News