Historic Buildings of Greensburg
- The Old Courthouse - 1803
- Allen’s Inn and Stagecoach Stop - 1810-12
- Greensburg Independent Bank - 1818
- William Herndon House - 1816
- Old Clerk’s Building - 1818
- Greenburg Academy - 1815-18
- Captain William Hobson House - 1823
- Green River Hotel - 1825
- Jeremiah Abel Log Cabin - 1830
- Greensburg Railroad Depot (Louisville and Nashville) - 1913
- Taylor-Howell-Penick House - 1820’s
- Elijah Creel House - 1820’s
- Joseph Perry House - 1820’s
- Moore-Graham House - 1848
- John Barret House - 1815-16
For more information or to locate these historic places of interest, contact:Green County Historical Society
P.O. Box 276
Greensburg, KY 42743
History of Green County, KY
The Long Hunters
The First Trails
Forts & Stations
The End of Indian Fighting
Forming Green County
Ranney, a noted genre painter, depicted the scene on the 7th Day of June 1769 when Daniel Boone and his hunting companions, John Finley and James Monay (Mooney-Money), first viewed “the beautiful level of Kentucky.” Not represented in this scene were companions John Stewart, Joseph Holden, and William Cool, all members of the 1769 hunting party.
James Monay, Sr. (Mooney-Money) was an Indian scout and Indian fighter during the French and Indian War. He became an explorer and “Long Hunter” in the untamed lands of Kentucky, long before Kentucky became a state. His name is synonymous with that of Daniel Boone in most history books.
James Monay, Sr. died in Green County on his farm in 1821. He is buried in a small family cemetery located on the top of a small knoll near Highway Route 569 and Lena Ward County Road.
The Long Hunters
About 1770, a group of some 22 hunters from Virginia united for a hunting expedition west of the Cumberland Mountains into what is now south central Kentucky. The Expedition was led by Colonel James Knox. Because they were away from their homes for up to three years at a time, they became known as the "Long Hunters."
They entered into what is now Green County in 1770. They made their Base Camp (Camp Knox), in a valley they called the Beech Woods. Today, the Mt. Gilead Christian Church stands on the historic Camp Knox site. This camp served as their headquarters for frequent hunting excursions throughout a large area surrounding this camp. They brought back to their base camp the skins of deer, buffalo, elk, bear, beaver, and smaller animals. Over a period of several months, they had accumulated an enormous number of skins. They constructed a crude structure they called a "skinhouse" to protect their pelts from the weather. They named the small branch of water that flowed beside their campsite, "Skinhouse Branch."
The Long Hunters were forced to leave their campsite and return to their homes due to Indian raids. They were also forced to leave most of their valuable hides at the camp.
Returning to Camp Knox several years later, they found that many of the hides had been stolen by Indians, and the remaining skins had rotted due to being exposed to the weather. On a nearby tree, one Long Hunter carved, "2300 lost – ruination by God."
Many of these original Long Hunters later returned to this area and settled with their families: Skaggs, Graham, Miller, Workman, Lisle, Hancock, Haskins, Caldwell, Allen, and Montgomery.
The Long Hunters’ Camp Knox Historic Site is located in Southern Green County near the Adair County line near Highway Route 61. A monument dedicated to the Long Hunters is located in front of Mt. Gilead Church that describes the historic Camp Knox to visitors.
The First Trails
The Cumberland Gap
The Cumberland Gap is a natural pass through Cumberland Mountain in Bell County, Kentucky, on the border of Kentucky and the State of West Virginia, just northeast of Tennessee. The pass was one of the most accessible routes to the land west of the Appalachian Mountains. The Shawnee called the path through this pass "path of the armed ones" or "Warrior’s Path." The early hunters and explorers passing through the gap and beyond called it the "Wilderness Road." As early as 1764, Henry Skaggs, an early explorer and Long Hunter, had crossed the Gap and ventured into central Kentucky. By 1783, over 12,000 settlers and land speculators had passed through the gap. By 1800, more than 200,000 had headed west along the Wilderness Road and beyond.
The Cumberland Trace
Late eighteenth century frontier roads were referred to as "traces." They were little more than beaten paths or trails formed by the repeated passage of travelers. They were originally only wide enough to be traveled on foot or on horseback (no wheeled wagons or carts were known to have gone over the Wilderness Road until 1792).
One early significant trail called the Cumberland Trace blazed through what is now Green County as early as 1779. The Trace branched westward off the Wilderness Road near Benjamin Logan’s Fort in Lincoln County. The Trial crossed the south fork of the Rolling Fork River and followed Robinson and Buckhorn Creeks, now in Taylor County. The Trail crossed the ridge between Robinson’s Creek and Sinking Creek (now called Pitman Creek), and followed the southeast fork of Sinking Creek (then called Trace Fork and today named Little Pitman Creek) in both Taylor and Green Counties. The Trail crossed the ridge to Trace Creek and followed it to a ford crossing Green River (approximately three miles west of Greensburg). The Trace crossed the Little Barren River at Elk Lick Ford and continued west and south toward Fort Nashboro (present-day Nashville, Tennessee).
It is unclear when the Cumberland Trace ceased to be a major route through Green County, but sometime after 1800. The first wagon was reported to have reached Greensburg in 1793.
Forts & Stations in Green County
For the early settlers, defense against the Indians was only achieved by the construction of forts and stations.
The "fort" was a complex of log structures including houses and outbuildings. They were usually arranged in a square or rectangle and connected by stockades or palisades of upright logs.
A "station" was generally a single family’s log home that was at least one and one-half stories high and had "gun ports" constructed in the walls. It had heavy, thick wooden doors and shutters that could be barred from the inside for protection. Neighbors living in less sturdy cabins would often gather into a station for protection when hostile Indians were in the area.
The Shawnee Indians, led by the British, attacked at least once, if not several times, the earliest settlers living within central Kentucky. The worst attacks occurred in the early spring of 1780 and again in 1781. The forts, then located in what is now Green County, had to be abandoned, and the settlers moved to other eastern, better fortified forts.
The earliest settlements recorded in Green County were "Glover’s Fort," established in the fall of 1779 by John Glover, accompanied by his immediate family, several related families, and their slaves. The fort was abandoned after several Indian attacks in 1781.
Pitman Station was first settled by William Pitman in early spring of 1780. The station (possibly fortified) was located above a stream of water then called Sinking Creek, later to be renamed Pitman Creek. Pitman Station was situated upon a bluff top overlooking a place then called "The Narrows of Sinking Creek" (a horseshoe bend in the creek).
Some 20+ individuals lived near or at Pitman Station prior to March 1781. The Shawnee attacked the settlers at Pitman Station, and they were forced from the area of Green River Country for almost two years. No white man lived here from March 1781 until October 1784. Once the Indian threat was over, Pitman Station was re-settled in late 1784. The Cumberland Trace was the only trail that led to and from Pitman Station.
James Skaggs Station
James Skaggs Station was the third to be established within the modern day Green County. It was located near a tributary of Big Brush Creek, situated in the northern portion of the County. James Skaggs and his wife, three sons, and one daughter settled on land after April 1780. His "station" was located where today’s Jones Cemetery is located, near Highway Route 61.
In the fall of 1781, James Skaggs had decided that they did not have enough provisions to get them through the oncoming winter months and that it would be necessary to return to Brian’s Station (Lexington, Kentucky) to spend the winter.
James Skaggs’s daughter took their iron cooking pot and dutch oven to a small cave (Indian Hollow), to hide until their return the following spring. While at the cave she was surprised by a small band of hostile Indians, who killed and scalped the young girl. Her family found her remains and brought her body back to the cabin where she was buried under the cabin floor. This was the first burial at the Jones Cemetery. The exact grave site is unknown.
In the following spring, James Skaggs and his family, with other settlers, returned to their land and found that the Indians had burned their original cabin. They built a larger structure, two stories high, 22x24 feet in size, with a fireplace on each floor. This structure stood until it was torn down in 1951.
The Treasury Warrant Number for James Skaggs’s 450 acres of land located on Brush Creek was issued on the first day of April, 1780.
Colonel James Skaggs had established Fort Blevins (possibly a station) on Big Brush Creek near Gum Springs about 1780. The exact location of this fort is unknown today.
Indians had attacked the fort when all the men were gone for the day. Several women and Colonel Skaggs’s small infant were horribly murdered. The Indians were tracked by Colonel Skaggs and other settlers, and several Indians were killed.
Graham’s Station was established near the water’s edge of Big Brush Creek about 1787. The station was located in the northeastern part of Green County. It was built by William Graham and his brothers. The station soon grew into a small community having its own spinning factory, training mill, church, and cemetery. There were never any reports of Indian attacks at this station.
Natural Kentucky iron ore was abundant along Big Brush Creek, and by 1818, Graham’s Station had a furnace used in processing the ore into "pig-iron."
Gray’s Station was located on Caney Fork, a tributary of Russell’s Creek. Jesse Gray had built the station before 1792. At 24 settlers were living around Gray’s Station in 1792. After 1794, Gray’s Station quietly disappeared.
The End of Indian Fighting
The end of the Revolutionary War did not bring an end to the danger of Indian attacks in south central Kentucky. The Indian raids continued into the 1790’s.
Indians attacked settlers south of the Green River on Russell’s Creek on the 5th day of April 1792 (militia report of Governor Shelby, November 13, 1973).
"April 6, 1792, being informed by Colonel Casey…from Green County, that a large body of Indians, had the day before made an attack on Tucker’s Station (established by John Tucker, a Methodist preacher), about a mile from Casey’s Station, near Casey’s Creek on Russell’s Creek…"
Reverend John Tucker, his wife, and several other individuals were cruelly murdered by Indians at Tucker’s Station. Many individuals located within Tucker’s Station were able to escape to Casey’s Station.
These two stations were originally located in Lincoln County. When Green County was formed in 1792 from Lincoln and Nelson Counties, these residents became citizens of Green County. With the creation of Adair County from Green County in 1801, the residents became citizens of Adair County.
Colonel William Whitley, First Major, 6th Regiment, with about 21 men, guarded the Russell Creek area south of Green River for eleven days. On the 8th day of April 1792, Major General Benjamin Logan, 1st Division, Kentucky State Militia, sent a small guard to Russell’s Creek for thirty days to protect Green County settlers.
The expenditure book authorizes payments for militia ordered to the "Frontiers of Green County" in April 1793 and May 1793.
By the winter of 1795, the threat of Indian attacks to the settlers of Green County was over.
Note: In the early days of Green County, Russell Creek was then called Russell’s Creek.
Forming Green County
Kentucky became the 15th state in the American Union on the 1st day of June 1792. Green County was formed in 1792 becoming effective on the 1st day of January 1793 from parts of Lincoln and Nelson Counties. Green County was named in honor of General Nathaniel Greene, a Revolutionary War hero.
The town of Greensburg was established and incorporated on the 4th day of December 1794, and became the county seat of Green County.
An act to establish a town on the lands of Walter Beal, "in the County of Green" was presented to the general assembly. One hundred acres of land had been "laid off into convenient lots and streets by the said Beal," with a public square for a courthouse.
The one hundred acres were vested in a group of trustees for the purpose of forming a town. The trustees sold the lots to prospective buyers. The purchasers of the lots had three years to build a house, at least 16 square feet, with a brick or stone chimney, and a shingled roof. If they did not do so, the lot would be forfeited and resold by the trustees.
In the first Minute Book the town is recorded as the City of Greensburgh. At that time, "City" was a strange title for the little village of Greensburgh (this spelling continued to be used until about 1818, when the “H” was dropped and it became Greenburg).
The location for the town was above Green River at a natural ford. This crossing became a major north to south roadway. The fording place in the river bed was covered with rock and had a solid bottom, so wagons pulled by teams of oxen, horses, or mules could cross with ease.
First Courthouse Built in Greensburg
At a county court held for Green County on the 11th day of November 1794:
"Ordered that the sheriff (Nathaniel Owens, first sheriff of Green County) advertise at the next county court that the building of the courthouse for this county, agreeable to a former order will be let to the lowest bidder at next county court."
This was to become Green County’s first courthouse. It was built of log in 1796 by Isham Burke only four years after the county had been formed. The total cost for the first courthouse made of logs was 135 (English) pounds (about $450 in silver coin) (Minute Book 2, page 20).
Old Stone Courthouse
The "Oldest Courthouse West of the Allegheny Mountians", 1804
On the 21st day of June, 1802, the commissioners for Green County hired Walter Bullock of Lexington and Daniel White of Green County to build a suitable courthouse of stone. Robert Ball was in charge of the stonework. Edward J. Bullock and Daniel Lisle were the carpenters. There is some contradiction regarding who actually constructed the stone building, though many believe that Thomas "Stonehammer" Metcalfe of Virginia was the stone mason. He later became the tenth governor of Kentucky.
Stone Courthouse Contruction
The courthouse was to be built for the total sum of 900 English pounds (equivalent to about $2900 in "specie" silver coin), the sum to be paid in six annual payments of 150 pounds (about $500 silver coin). An extra 18 pounds was to be paid for the construction of an additional fireplace.
Specifications for the construction of the courthouse building are recorded in the Green County clerk’s office in Deed book 4, pages 78-80:
The courthouse building to be two stories high, forty by thirty-four feet from outside to outside, the walls to be two feet thick, and to be sunk in the ground at least two feet in every part and to be twenty-four feet high above the surface at the front door, to have seventeen windows…to have an outside chimney…one fireplace in each jury room, two outside doors. Roof to be sheeted…all exposed wood to be painted…the house to be finished by the 25th day of December 1803 except for the plastering and that by the first day of June following under the penalty of eighteen hundred pounds.
"We the commissioners appointed by the Court of Green County… have examined the building, are of the opinion that it is completed in a workman-like manner agreeable to his articles entered into with the Said Commissioners. Witness out hands this 25th day of June 1804. And the Courthouse duly received by the Court."