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The story of a Jefferson County Pioneer
Published in the Madison Courier – Nov. 5, 1873
In Hanover Township you frequently hear of old Grandfather Logan, the oldest man in the township. “Squire” Logan was born in Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary war. His parents removed to Kentucky in 1784, George being but four years old at the time. He grew up from childhood to manhood on a farm eight miles from Lexington, but, before reaching his majority, the evils of slavery so impressed him that he determined to forsake his home and make a new
Shortly after this resolution was formed, young Logan, in partnership with a friend, bought up a lot of country produce with the intention of floating it down to New Orleans. They accordingly procured two barges, lashed them together and with a crew of four men started down the Kentucky River. This was as early as 1801. A small village already marked the present site of Carrollton, but between that point and Clarksville (Jeffersonville) or Louisville was not to be seen the hut or encampment of a single white man. Mr. Logan says he frequently saw Indians along the shore hunting, and occasionally a camp with a fire where the squaws were cooking. The country was utterly wild, there was nothing but heavy timber upon the flats and hills. No person had settled on the bottom land where Madison now stands, it was all covered with woods. Deer and buffalo seemed plentiful, and at night wolves kept up a very dismal howling.
In this grip an incident occurred which has something of romance in it, and which affected the hero’s afterlife very materially. Mr. Logan’s boats passed Madison on the last day of February, 1801. The wind blew such a gale that navigation in low barges was both slow and perilous, so a landing was made on the northern bank, about a half mile below our present Hanover landing. The river continued rough with white caps for three days, compelling the voyagers to hug the shore to escape destruction. Young Logan got tired of sitting around on the boats, so he shouldered his gun and walked up the hill. There he soon fell in with a flock of turkeys and shot two of them. The river from the hill was so beautiful that he inwardly resolved to settle right there whenever he entered land. To mark the spot, after fixing the general features of the place in his memory, he carved his name in full, with the date, “MARCH 1st, 1801”, upon two large beech trees which stood near the verge of the hill.
The river from this bluff is as lovely as the imagination of poet or painter could conceive. There is no tradition that the Ohio, when a little rill flowing to join the brimming river, paused, loitering in this enchanting land one sunny day to add yet another charm to the landscape by its meanderings-there is no tradition to this effect, but if there was it would almost merit credence, for nowhere throughout its entire course does the river present lovelier features, or its hills rise in more calm and gentle majesty. So at least Logan must have thought, for fourteen years later, in 1815, he passed along the river bluffs in this vicinity searching for the old landscape and the two beeches which bore his name. Some changes had taken place during that time and the trees could not be found, though Logan was pretty sure he had discovered the proper spot. But here another difficulty presented itself: the land was already entered by one Christopher Harrison. But Logan was not to be balked at the last, so he hunted up Mr. Harrison, who was not a resident, and purchased the place of him.
And now to return to the barges. After the wind-storm moderated they were unloosed from the bank and again started down the river. Nothing of importance transpired during the trip, which occupied four weeks time, when New Orleans finally came in sight. Mr. Logan landed his boat above the city, instead of floating further down to it. The Spanish, who then owned Louisiana, laid heavy duties on all goods sold within the city limits, and it was to avoid this tax the boats were kept above, where the party also boarded. After the produce was sold the party disposed of their barges and bought mules, having determined to return to Kentucky by land.
A day’s journey towards home was made without interruption, but the next morning before breakfast a Spanish officer and seven soldiers overtook the Americans. Mr. Logan took the landlord aside and instructed him to delay breakfast and at the same time give the soldiers all the liquor they wanted, and he would pay for it. As was customary the captain and he sat down at the first table, leaving the soldiers in the bar room. On returning to the bar room the Spanish captain found five of his men lying on the floor, dead drunk, and the other two leaning against the wall. Mr. Logan quietly pointed out the situation, and remarked that he would take his men and continue his journey, and the captain might haul his noble army back to New Orleans or stay there until they got sober enough to foot it, whichever he chose. The captain could do nothing buy yield under the circumstances, and they parted amicably.
The journey from New Orleans to Lexington was mainly through a wilderness, broken by very few settlements. The mules escaped from the camp one night and the party saw rough times footing it. Food was also scarce. Mr. Logan gravely asserted that he walked 180 miles upon one occasion between breakfast and supper. – this was between Natchez and Nashville, and there is no exaggeration about it. He couldn’t get anything to eat after breakfast one morning until he sat down to his next meal, which was supper, and he was obliged to travel one hundred and eighty miles before he obtained that. Mr. Logan is a truthful man, however, and does not say that he walked this distance in one day; if you question him closely, it will be found that the sun traveled a good deal further than he did, and moreover was several days at it.
Mr. Logan after reaching his home bought another trading boat and went up the Missouri river, selling goods to the Indians. When the war of 1812 broke out he was in Ohio and promptly raised a company in defense of the settlements. Captain Logan’s company marched with the army of Gen. Harrison to the relief of Fort Meigs on the Maumee, than besieged by the British and Indians. On the march home, a young man in Logan’s company who was rather delicate took sick; the captain immediately gave him his horse to ride, and offered to stand guard in his place at night. General Harrison and Major Galloway coming along at this time and seeing Captain Logan afoot, enquired the cause. Upon being informed, they concluded to walk awhile too, and loan their horses to some of the fatigued men.
Presently the three officers came to a spring. Harrison and Galloway stooped over and drank from the spring with their mouths. Logan jokingly accused them of unsoldierly conduct, and upon being asked why reminded them of the test Gideon employed when he chose his army from the Israelites, how he refused each one that lapped up water with his tongue or bowed his knees in drinking. A good soldier, continued he, ought to stand upright and lap the water with his hands, then he can look about with his eyes and be prepared to meet his enemy. They laughed then and thought it a good joke.
Galloway didn’t like people to get ahead of him, so he persuaded Harrison to go with him that night when Logan was on guard to see him make it even. When the two men approached him Captain Logan recognized them, but gave the challenge “Who’s there?” sharp and quick. The General replied, “Your commander.” Advance and give the countersign. “I want to show you how to salute your commanding officer.” “That won’t do”, grimly rejoined the sentinel, bringing his gun to his shoulder, “Halt; Mark Time, or I fire.” The discomfited jokers thereupon marked time vigorously until the guard came up and marched them off to the guard-house. Galloway was very angry but Harrison took it good naturedly and sent up the vigilant Captain’s name for promotion to a Colonelcy.
In 1815, after hostilities ceased, Mr. Logan returned to Jefferson County, as has been related, and purchased a farm of Christopher Harrison. The land near the river was bought at the rate of $17 50 per acre, but upon paying the cash down it was secured at $10 per acre. Mr. Logan also bought a tract from the government at $ 1.25 per acre. There was a hewed log cabin of two rooms, with a stairway on the outside, and a blacksmith shop upon the Harrison place. Mr. Logan occupied the cabin until 1819, when he built his present residence. Hanover College originated in that old log cabin.
An old bachelor McLain taught school near the present village of Hanover. When winter came on he discontinued his school. Six boys in the neighborhood wished to learn Latin and Mr. Logan offered to board the “Master” during the winter if he would teach them at his house. McLain assented and taught the class a short time, but as he soon left the country, another teacher was procured, and finally Dr. Crowe, of Fayette County, Kentucky, was called as teacher and pastor for the little community. Dr. Crowe established an academy which was afterwards enlarged, and became Hanover College.
In 1815 Indians frequently came into the neighborhood and camped, the men traded venison, skins, &c., for guns, powder and groceries. Squaws accompanied these parties, sometimes as many as twenty being in one group. These were Shawnee, Delaware and Miami Indians. They gave no trouble at this time and were not feared by the whites. Mr. Logan’s neighbors, as many as he remembers, were Williamson Dunn, at Hanover; Col. Smock, on the Lexington road, one mile below Hanover; a Mr. Anderson where John Brown now resides on the pike road; John and Elizabeth Pogue, parents of Tyree Pogue, lived in the bottom just below my place. Their cabin stood right on the river bank and was finally washed away. George Shannon had a farm on the hill immediately below mine.
The people were very friendly then. Kentuckians often came across the river to our log rollings and we went to theirs. We cleared our land by cutting the small timber and deadening the large trees. All the neighbors helped each other clearing, building and log rolling. I once hired a man’s service for three months and only had his labor four weeks. Two-thirds of the time he was working on my neighbors’ farms. There was a good deal of game in the woods at this time, especially wild turkeys. I once caught twelve in traps during one night. We had more meat than bread; corn bread and Johnny cake was all we got generally. We kept a little wheat bread for company, and was always glad when any came, because then we had biscuits. We went to Madison by the river road, descending the College hill by the old road Williamson Dunn made. In passing through the streets of Madison we had to zigzag from one side to the other to avoid the logs and stumps.
In 1815 there were not many streets besides Main and Main Cross. The frame house where Dan Lyle has his grocery, according to my recollection, is the oldest frame house in the city. Old Newbury, and Dr. David McClure kept a store, too. Newbury was smart then, and very much respected. He read a little mechanical work on perpetual motion, then studied on it and wrote till he went crazy. In those days you would always meet Col. Paul, Mr. McIntire, William Hendricks, Judge Sullivan, Milton Stapp and Dr. McClure about the streets. There was another old settler, meet him when or where you would, who always answered a questions about his health, “Oh! I’ve got a chunk of cold or a headache.”
It can be safely said that Mr. Logan has witnessed greater changes in this county than any other man either living or dead. What a change transpired between 1801, when he first cut his name upon the beeches, and the year 1859 when he accidentally discovered the carving with its early date. In the lapse of fifty-eight years an Indian hunting ground, wild and woodsy and lonesome, was cleared of its timber, its lands broken and tilled and dotted here and there with comfortable homes of farmers, its rivers traversed by steamboats and its heaviest woods penetrated by railroads. Standing underneath the trees upon which he had carved his name, when all the country round was a wilderness, he saw stretched at his feet a brick-built city of twelve thousand inhabitants, with schools and churches, factories and foundries, and all the evidences of another race and another and a higher civilization.
JEFFERSON COUNTY PIONEERS
This was a series of articles that appeared in the Madison Courier. Some were first hand accounts by the early settlers and others were taken from autobiographies from other sources. They are reproduced in their entirety by the Jefferson County Historical Society and with their permission we offer them on our website.
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