Ancient Fayette County KY
Source: The Daily Lexington (Kentucky) Transcript, Saturday, December 2, 1882.
Some Interesting Items of Local History Which Have Not Been
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.
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
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
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