History of  Gallatin County, Part 33


Close by the foothills of the mountains across which came the makers of Gallatin county and Napoleon, lies Charlottesville, the home of the immortal Jefferson.  Into this productive border of the Bluegrass section the Lillards, the Connors, the Spencers, the Skirvins and many others whose family names are still a synonym of the early pioneers settled in the year 1801-02.

They crossed the Big Sandy near the present site of Louisa and forged their way thru the Cumberland mountains, passed thru a portion of the bluegrass country that spreads its rich fields of farm land history laden to the north (this having been settled for nearly twenty years), and settled on the wooded ridges of Gallatin county.

Napoleon boasts the remnants of the old grist mills, a pile of stone lies half buried beneath the surface now in the bluegrass pastures of Joseph Lillard, where it crumbled back to dust.

These burrs were made in Germany and were shipped to America by the water from Philadelphia early in the nineteenth century.

Along the lazy creek banks were many stills that produced pure corn whiskey.  It wasn't many years after the settlement was established that a little log church (Baptist) was erected, in 1804.  I believe later a log school house (Ten Mile) was built and the first teacher was a man whose name I never learned, and the patrons paid him with corn, bacon and whiskey.

The little hamlet grew and reached its peak in about 1850-1860.  It was incorporated in 1842, and named Napoleon in 1821.  There was a dispute as to what name should be chosen.  Some wished to call it Madisonville in honor of President Madison, but the gratitude toward France had not yet faded from the hearts of those gallant Kentuckians, and they just called it Napoleon, in honor of the French hero.

I shall look forward to a glowing account from the pen of the noted writer whom I would call the “Mark Twain of Kentucky.”


May 31, 1930 from the Gallatin County News