Ancient Fayette County KY - 1882 article


Ancient Fayette County KY

Source: The Daily Lexington (Kentucky) Transcript, Saturday, December 2, 1882.

Some Interesting Items of Local History Which Have Not Been Heretofore Published

When Lexington was first settled Town Branch was a considerable stream, and the boys used to catch fish out of it. A bridge was built across it where Broadway now crosses the track of the L. & N.R.R. Another one spanned it about the locality of the present market house, or just above. The stream was rather crooked, and what is now Vine and Water streets was called "The Commons." The stream was straightened by digging a canal and carrying the water straight through the Commons. The first named bridge was built in the latter part of 1788.
The first Council--then called Trustees--was elected March 26th 1781. Their names were Levi Todd, David Mitchell, Robert Patterson, Henry McDonald and Michael Warnock. Lots were distributed among the inhabitants, and it was stipulated that "Any person removing from the town while it is deemed necessary to reside in the fort, shall forfeit all claim in said town.: The fort was a parallelogram sloped stockade, extending diagonally across Main street, from the Carty building to about where McMichael's store now stands. The large spring which supplied the garrison with water was walled up with a stone wall thirty feet square and four and a half feet high. It is now concealed by Johnson and Talbutt's grocery.

In 1787, a part of the lot was granted to John Bradford, on condition that he establish the Kentucky Gazette, which he did. That square was laid off into five lots, containing one third part of an acre each. The three central lots still belong to the city, and are now leased out for 99 years. There were several other springs in the same square, all emptying into Town Branch. Another walled spring was on Lower street.

The first brick kiln was burned by Jacob Springle, in 1788, who was granted the use of unappropriated town lots for that purpose. His house stood out near the present race track.

The square where the First Baptist church now stands was reserved for a graveyard. Afterwards the Baptists were granted the west half of the lot, and the Presbyterians the east half, for church sites. The Baptists built there, but the Presbyterians, in 1790, through one of their leading members, Robert Megowan, requested the Trustees to put up at public sale the lot on which now stands City School No. 1, corner of Short and Walnut. There they purchased and built their first church, afterwards known as Dr. Rankins'.

The boundaries of the town, lying in the circle, one mile from the Court House every way, were laid off by the County Surveyor in 1791.

The sum of 30 pounds in gold or silver or the value thereof in continental money," was granted by the Trustees in March, 1781, for the erection of a Court House.

The first market house was built in 1791, on Cheapside. It was located by a vote of the citizens, the market master, Peter Higbee, conducting the poll. This was the market house so humorously described by the great naturalist Wilson, in 1811, when he visited Lexington and aroused the citizens by his comments upon the building and its contents.

In 1785 the inhabitants were ordered to take their "hog pens, cabins and cow pens out of the streets.
Robert Parker was appointed Clerk of the Trustees and surveyor of the town, February 24, 1788.
Levi Todd, elected Trustee March 26th, 1781, was the first clerk of Fayette County. He built the house in which Mr. Tim Anglin now resides--the Preston farm on the Richmond pike. The office was burned and with it most of the records. When the Court House was built the records were moved to town. Col. Todd was a prominent leader in all the political and military events of his time, as were also his brothers, General Robert and Col. John Todd, the latter of whom commanded at Blue Licks and ell there. He had previously been Governor of the Illinois country, then a county of Virginia. Levi Todd's son, Robert S., was the father of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln. Col. John Todd, before removing to Kentucky had studied law with Gen. Andrew Lewis, of Virginia, ,and was an officer on his staff at the battle of Point Pleasant (now Pittsburgh) in Dunmore's war of 1774. When the Virginia Assembly incorporated the town of Lexington, in 1872 (sic), the bill named "John Todd, Wm. Steel, Andrew Steel, William McConnelly, Samuel Kelly, William Henderson and William Mitchell, gentleman." John Todd was elected chairman. The first act done by the Trustees after organising was to grant to Francis McConnell in lot No. 67, where Hayman's mill now stands.

Transcribed by pb November 1999