|A map from 1884 courtesy of www.historicmapworks.com|
The website www.historicmapworks.com provides some extraordinary historical glimpses into early life with their precinct maps from 1884. The collection of maps show the old roadways and homes scattered along the land during that time, including the old meeting house and a cemetery located near it. What is not shown is the stone fort. After seeing this map, I wanted to know more about those landmarks and their locations.
Flat Creek, which runs from the Bath/Montgomery County line near US 60 West at the Chenault Farm to the Licking River near Sherburne, was once a prime hunting area for Native Americans. Along the creek and its tributaries are vast fields that at one time were dotted with ancient mounds built by tribes of early people who inhabited the area long before the days of European settlers. The route was a direct link to the springs and salt deposits at Blue Licks from which early natives hunted bison, buffalo and other large animals. These animals provided food and their skins provided clothing and shelter coverings in the nomadic camps along the way. When early pioneer settlers from Virginia began to expand into the region, the natives naturally felt threatened by their presence. Early settlers told stories of how they were accosted by the Native Americans, and is some instances, settlers were killed during brazen raids along the old paths. In an attempt to protect early settlements along Flat Creek, a stone fort was built along what is now known as Sanderson Road in Northeastern Bath County. Not much is known about the old fort, other than it was built around 1799 with the limestone and slate rock that was, and still is, abundant in the area. Portholes were cut into the thick walls to provide a firing point against incoming raiders. It is quite possible that the fort was similar in construction to Morgan's Station in nearby Montgomery County, which is a commanding two-story structure made of rough stone. The above map from 1884 shows a structure built in 1791, but it is a short distance away from the meeting house.
There is one incident involving an encounter with a native and settlers mentioned in John Richards' book that apparently happened at this spot. The men were busy planting crops while the women were washing items in the creek. A baby had been placed on a blanket under some trees within sight of the women, when suddenly, an Indian appeared from out of the shadows of the woods and took the baby. Hearing the women's screams from the creek, the men quickly mobilized and began pursuing the native through the forest. The men quickly began gaining on the abductor, and when the Indian realized he could not escape quickly enough, he put the baby down and fled further into the woods. The baby was returned to the settlement unharmed, but the Indian escaped.
The structure called the Old Republican Meeting House is also a place of intrigue and mysterious in origin. It is known that the first Bath County Court was held February 25, 1811 at the home of James Young located on Flat Creek for the purpose of establishing the county's first government. While there is a settlement marked on the map as being built in 1791 belonging to A. Young, I do not have knowledge of where James Young's house may have been. So, one has to wonder if the old meeting house gained its name because it is where the early fragments that became Bath County were generated, or if it is possibly the location where early legislators and prospective land owners met to establish Kentucky as a state. The cemetery nearby is equally fascinating; and that's where my intrigue begins.
|A reminder of days gone by.|
For a moment, I couldn't fully realize what I was seeing. Large stones covered in the bright green moss lay around, while other smaller rocks protruded out of the ground. These smaller stones were actually unmarked grave markers of people now forgotten; no names on the stones told who they are.
|Resting places of those unknown.|
|A crypt vault or cellar?|
I left the cemetery with a sense of sadness and intrigue to know more about these souls. A trip to the library will be soon, to try to locate what I can about this sacred ground I stood upon. The pictures I took don't give a full appreciation of the old cemetery. Of all the stones there, I could only make out the following:
-John Hawkins, dates of birth and death unknown, however, the unknown name sharing the same stone faintly has a date from the 1700's on it
-George Workman, born 1760, died 183?
-Elizabeth Hawkins, born 1739, died 180?
-Chrsitian Wayra?, died 6 Jan ?. This grave is pictured in John Richards' book and the inscription says "Christian Wayra?, died 6 Jan 1802 A 100", but it has since faded away mostly.
Below are more pictures I took of the Old Republican Meeting House Cemetery:
|Remains of a possible burial crypt or cellar|
|A damaged burial crypt|
|Another view of the crypt/cellar that is partially buried|
|A walled gravesite|
|Resting place of John Hawkins|
|Moss overtakes what man has carved|
|An unknown soul|
|Another illegible inscription|
|A quite large burial crypt|
|Walls bordering some graves|
|George Workman, born in 1760|
|Elizabeth Hawkins' grave states she was born in 1739|
|A lonely, unknown grave marked by only a single rock|
Maybe someone who reads this will know more about this old cemetery and the people resting there. Maybe, too, someone will be able to close a genealogical gap in their family's story as a result of my Sunday expedition. And maybe, just maybe, these souls and the history of this once important area will live on in some way.
***A Follow up, January 29, 2015: Fellow history buff and news editor Cecil Lawson recently drove out to the cemetery site and sent a picture of the old stone house I saw. I also found a drawing of what the Old Stone Fort looked like that was in a publication the Bath County Chamber of Commerce released in 1961 for the 150th anniversary of Bath County. Based on the location and the pictures, we are confident that the old stone house in the woods is in fact the Old Stone Fort. It looks as if it was indeed a large house built similar to Morgan's Station near Mount Sterling. The house has fallen in from what we can tell, and we are working on getting permission from the property owner to inspect and photograph this historical site before the environment reclaims what's left of the house.
|Illustration depicting the Old Stone Fort, courtesy of the Bath County Chamber of Commerce, 1961|
|The Old Stone Fort, 2015, courtesy of Cecil Lawson|
After reading this blog, local historians Richard Oldfield, Don Johnson and Ken Darnell explored the Old Republican Meeting House Cemetery and were able to clean some head stones and recover some of the names previously unseen. Here are some pictures they took that day:
On Memorial Day weekend, 2015, I took my sons to the site of the Old Stone Fort and took a close up picture of the ruins: