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ROCK CASTLE AND BETHESDA PRECINCTS-GENERAL DESCRIPTION, BOUNDARIES AND TOPOGRAPHY-SETTLEMENT-A PR0LIFIC FAMILY -OTHER PIONEERS - FRONTIER HARDSHIPS-ROCK CASTLE VILLAGE-HURRICANE BAPTIST CHURCH-BETHESDA METHODIST CHURCH, ETC., ETC.
ROCK CASTLE AND BETHESDA PRECINCTS, forming of themselves a magisterial district, lie in the northern part of the county between Wallonia Precinct on the east, and Cumberland River on the west. Little River flows along the southern border, and Lyon County forms the northern boundary. Contiguous to the Cumberland River the land is undulating, with stretches of bottoms the soil of which is of great depth and fertility. In some places along the stream are large embankments of limestone rising to a height of many feet, one of which-Castle Rock-which gave name to the precinct and village, is considered one of the most interesting natural features in the northern part of the county. Back from the river the country is more uneven, stretching away into hills which were originally clothed with a dense forest growth of oak, hickory, maple, poplar, ash and many other varieties of timber found growing in this portion of the State. The soil on the uplands is clay mixed and comparatively fertile, although for general farming purposes it ranks far below the alluvium of the bottoms and creek lands. When first cleared these hill lands are said to have been unexcelled for their productiveness, but as years passed by the soil became thin by continuous tillage, while a great portion of it was washed into the ravines and bottoms, until now the district is considered about a second-class farming region. The district is principally drained by the Cumberland and Little Rivers, which receive a number of small creeks traversing the country in various directions. The most important of these minor water-courses are Hurricane Creek and Hawkin's Branch, both of which flow a westerly course, and empty into the Cumberland near Rock Castle Village. They arc fed principally by springs, many of which are found throughout the precincts. Another small stream known as Dyer's Creek rises near Trigg Furnace and flows through an irregular channel and empties into Cumberland River a few miles from the village of Rock Castle.
Pioneer Settlement.-In tracing the history of the early settlement of this district we have drawn largely from Mr. McKinney's published reminiscences, the credibility of which is generally conceded. The settlements on Dyer's Creek were among the first in the county and date back as early as the year 1796. At that time or perhaps a little earlier there was living near the head of the stream where the old Trigg Furnace stands, one John Mayberry, who is remembered as one among the very first permanent settlers of the county. He settled on the farm owned at the present time by Bob Cunningham, and appears to have been a man of considerable intelligence and an honorable and upright citizen. He was a man of some attainments, and filled the office of surveyor in an early day. His descendants are all dead. Near the head of the same creek, on the place now owned by James Burnham, lived an old man by name of Thedford, who came to the country as early as the year 1798. He was the pioneer mill builder of this part of the county, having erected a rudely constructed horse-mill near the site of Trigg Furnace before the beginning of the present century. His brother, James Thedford, who came about the same time, settled where the widow Wallace lives. Their descendants have all died or left the country. Another very early corner was a Mr. Gillahan, grandfather of William Gillahan, who lives between the rivers. Mr. Gillahan settled opposite the old Empire Iron Works at a place known as Ferry Corner, and is supposed to have immigrated to the locality in the year 1798. John Grasty moved from South Carolina and settled not far from the location of Trigg Furnace early in the present century. "He was a man of great industry and manifested a disposition, so far as their meager facilities would allow, to improve the morals and the intelligence of the little community." "He taught near the old Cunningham place perhaps the first school that was ever taught in Trigg County. giving it up to an Englishman by name of Price, who continued to teach it for several years." Mr. Grasty was the father of several sons, one of whom-John M.-is still a resident of the precinct, living at the present time near the old Hurricane meeting-house.
Jesse Birdsong, a brother-in-law of Grasty, came about the same time and made his first improvements on the Baker place, settling on a hill not far from the old graveyard. He sold this farm several years later to Blake Baker. Isaac Burnham came from North Carolina and located near Ferry Corner about the year 1805. Isham Osborne, a Virginian, came in a very early day and settled in the same locality. His descendants moved West a number of years ago. "What is known as the old Dyer place was first settled by a very indolent old man by name of Curtis, who was the original Izaak Walton of the country. He had no occupation but that of a fisherman, and would do nothing but fish and talk of nothing else.
"In relating the most enjoyable and remarkable episodes of his life they were all connected with the capture of some vast monster in the shape of a seventy-five pound cat-fish, and was never so happy as when snugly settled down with half a dozen fishing poles at some favorite 'hole' on Little River. He would make a lusty snatch with his 'grabs ' or fight mosquitoes alternately from the rising to the setting of the sun. He sold the place to Gen. John J. Dyer, and moved off in search of a location where fish were more abundant and a gourd of worms could be obtained without digging for them.
"Among the most noted families of the early settlers of this neighborhood was the old family of Standrods. They were natives of New Jersey, their father moving to North Carolina, and from there here in the year 1805. He settled on the Rock Castle and Princeton road in 1807. He had two sons, Samuel and Basil." The former settled about one mile southeast of Rock Castle, and the latter secured a home a short distance east of the Hurricane Baptist Church. Basil Standrod was a man who did as much if not more toward shaping the character of the early settlement of Rock Castle than any other person who ever resided in the district. Elected to the office of magistrate in an early day he discharged the duties of the position in a manner creditable to himself and satisfactory to the people, who looked to him as a kind of leader and legal adviser from whose opinion there were few appeals. A son, D. W. Standrod, one of the prominent business men of Trigg County, is living in Rock Castle Village at the present time. " A short distance from the old Hurricane Church and about three hundred yards from the residence of John Grasty, old man James Bourland settled in an early day." His son Andrew K. lived in the same vicinity for a number of years, and was the first shoemaker in this part of the country. Shadrach Jenkins and Henry Martin were both very early corners. They settled near the present residence of James Holland, but no facts concerning them could be learned.
Among those who came in a little later were 'William Shannon and a Mr. Hawkins, both of whom located in the neighborhood of Hurricane Church, where the former died more than forty-seven years ago. Richard Holland. a Virginian, settled in the northern part of the district, not far from the Caldwell County line in an early day, and became one of the wealthiest men and largest land-owners in the district. His son James M. Holland is a respected resident of the precinct at the present time. Freeman Baker came from North Carolina and settled near Rock Castle Village some time prior to 1820. He lived in the precinct until about the year 1829, at which time he was drowned in the Cumberland River. Blake Baker, a brother of Freeman, came the same time and settled north. east of Rock Castle on land which he purchased from Jesse Birdsong.
Thomas L. Baker settled in an early day on a place which was afterward bought by the Standrods.
"One of the most respected and certainly one of the most fruitful families that ever claimed a residence in the county was that of William Cunningham, a native of Scotland, who settled where Trigg Furnace now stands as early as the year 1817. The mere mention of the fact that within the present century and within the recollection of men still living a pair of old people should have settled in this county whose posterity at this day would number perhaps over 800 living souls, and all of the highest respectability, has a tendency to recall, and without aid of revelation, render both possible and probable the promise that God made to Abraham. It is like some indubitable fact clothed in the habiliments of romance, and almost startles at once our reason and our credulity. Still it is but a simple truth without exaggeration or adornment." Mr. Cunningham during his life-time accumulated a handsome competency. The names of his children were as follows: John, Gideon, Buck, Malinda, Andrew, Dabney, James, Mickens, Alexander and Robert, all of whom were heads of large families. Prominent among the early pioneers was Gen. John Dyer, a man whose general character was respected throughout the county as much perhaps as any other citizen who ever claimed a residence in Trigg. He was elected General of Militia in an early day, and was looked upon as a kind of leader by his neighbors, all of whom had unbounded confidence in his abilities. George Creekmer, Malachi Creekmer, Thomas Sevills, Hardy Smith, Thomas Evans and John Curlin were all early settlers in the northern part of the district. Reuben Harris settled at Rock Castle, and Thomas Mitchell secured land about a half mile northeast of the village early in the twenties. William Campbell came from Christian County and settled close to the town of Rock Castle prior to 1826. He married a daughter of Freeman Baker, and was considered one of the leading citizens of the district. Thomas Wadlington, another early settler, located on land which he afterward sold to the Standrods. He is remembered as a very singular character, but withal a reputable citizen.
Among those who settled back from the river in what is now Bethesda Precinct, were James Caraway, who improved the place where Benjamin Shryer lives, on the Rock Castle and Princeton road, and Stephen Pearl, who settled in the same locality. Abner Crump came in an early day also. Mordecai Fowler settled near the Caldwell County line, in the northern part of the precinct, as did also John Hanberry, both of whom were very early residents. Jarrett Mitchell improved the place where Mollie Mitchell lives, in the southern part of the precinct, and can be classed among the pioneers of the county. The above list, we think, comprises the earliest and most prominent settlers in the two precincts. Other names could be added, but the limits of this chapter forbid a more extended mention.
Village of .Rock Castle. -- " Up to 1842, Old Ferry Corner, opposite Empire Iron Works, was the shipping point for all the northern part of Trigg and the southwestern portion of Caldwell Counties. As a business point it was discontinued after the erection of the furnace on the opposite bank, the property having been purchased by Messrs. Watson & Hill-man, the owners of the iron works." The furnace store was kept in the old storehouse that is yet standing on the east bank of the river, up to 1848 or 1849, but the point from this date was used only as a boat landing for the individual interest of the furnace. The first store in Rock Castle was kept by Messrs. Marshall & Bradley, who engaged in business as early as 1835 or 1836; they kept a general stock of goods, and were well patronized by the citizens of the northern part of Trigg and the southern portion of Caldwell Counties. No great amount of business was done, however, until D. W. Standrod and George Creekmer obtained possession of the property. They continued as partners about four years. at the end of which time King Baker purchased Creekmer's interest, and under the firm name of Baker & Standrod, a successful mercantile and commission business was carried on until 1862. Standrod carried on a commission business until within the last two years, and is still a resident of the village.
J. H. Whitney started a store in 1869, and keeps a fine stock of goods at the present time. Several warehouses have been built in the town, the largest of which were those belonging to D. W. Standrod, Joseph T. Harris and John Grasty. The first physician of the place was Dr. A. Calloway, who located in the village soon after its settlement; since then the following medical gentlemen have practiced their profession here, to wit: Doctors Inge, Samuel Standrod, K. S. Campbell and Samuel E. Standrod.
Hurricane Baptist Church, the only religious organization in Rock Castle Precinct, was established in the year 1845, by Rev. J. F. White. Among the constitutional members were the following: Thomas Wadlington and wife, Miles Osborne, and Alexander Cunningham and wife. The first meetings were held in an old log schoolhouse, on Hurricane Creek, which was also used for a preaching place by the Methodists at the same time. A house of worship was afterward erected on John Grasty's land, and cost the sum of $600. Since its organization the church has been ministered to by the following pastors, viz. : J. F. White, George Patterson, 0. Meacham, Elder Rowland, J. H. Spurlin, James Oliver and John Spurlin. The present officers are: Robert Allen and Blake Baker, Deacons; Robert Wallace, Clerk. The society is one of the aggressive organizations of the county, and numbers at the present time about 132 communicants.
Bethesda Methodist Episcopal Church. --- The society was organized in 1845, with thirty members, among whom were: William Larkins, Penelope Larkins, Samuel Larkins, Henry Lark ins, Mrs. Sallie Mitchell, David Etheridge, Mrs. Ann Sanders, Mrs. Elizabeth Savills, D. C. Savills, Miles Savills, Rebecca Hanberry, D. S. Hanberry and J. W. Hanberry. The first Class Leader was Robert Hawkins; the first Steward was Samuel Larkins. The organization took place in Duvall's Schoolhouse, which was used as a meeting place for about four years, when a frame church was built one mile southwest of the present edifice. It was built on land donated by Colmore Duvall, and stood until 1877. The present temple of worship was erected on ground donated by John Larkins, and cost about $600. The first pastor of the church was Rev. Zachariah M. Taylor. The present pastor is Rev. J. R. McDaniel!. There are the names of about 100 members on the church book. tinder the labors of Rev. Samuel Feltener in 1877, the church enjoyed a most successful revival and perhaps one of the best ever held in this part of the county; some sixty persons professed conversion, and more than forty were added to the church.
*- County of Trigg Kentucky , HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL - EDITED BY WILLIAM HENRY PERRIN - ILLUSTRATED. - F.A. BATTEY PUBLISHING CO. 1884.
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