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Kentucky Progress Magazine

The Siege of Bryan Station

Story of the Heroic Part Played by the Women

By Mrs. Peyton B. Howard

Regent, Bryan Station Chapter, D.A.R., Lexington, Kentucky

Pictoral Tour of Bryan Station

One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1779, five stalwart woodsmen, with their families and all their worldly

possessions, set out from the valley of the Yadkin River in North Carolina to make new homes in what is now the

famous Bluegrass region of Kentucky.

Four of these men were brothers, William, Morgan, James and Joseph Bryan. William, the acknowledged leader, was

a brother-in-law of Daniel Boone. The fifth man, William Grant, was also a brother-in-law of the great pioneer. Two

hunters, Cave Johnson and William Tomlinson, joined the travelers as they journeyed through the wilderness. On

and on they traveled, stopping at Boonesboro for corn and other supplies and pressing on again until the beautiful

valley of the Elkhorn lay before them.

Bryan Station layout

The cabins were placed at irregular intervals on the long sides

of a parallelogram which was something like six hundred feet

long and one hundred and fifty fee wide. At each corner was

built a blockhouse, to be occupied by the single men of the

station. The spaces between the cabins and blockhouses, and

across the ends of the parallelogram, were filled with great

pickets, made from trunks of trees split in two and sharpened

at the ends.

At the foot of the hill, facing Elkhorn creek, was a spring of almost ice-cold water. This spring was not included within

the stockade, despite the fact that its discovery had decided the location of the station.

Thus was founded Bryan's Station, a spot destined to fill so prominent a place in the history of Kentucky. Life in the

new station was filled to overflowing with thrills, romance and very often, tragedy.

Here, William Bryan, the founder, while hunting game in the nearby forest, was wounded by Indians. His was the

first death within the new settlement.

Here, in July of the year 1780, corn sold for one hundred and twenty dollars a bushel in Continental currency. 9/5/2008

Siege of Bryan's Station Page 2 of 3

It was on August 15, 1782, that the Indians and Canadians, spurred on by British officers, and led by two abandoned

white men, McKee and Simon Girty, that the station was besieged.

During this fearful time, a period of three days, twelve women and sixteen girls, led by Jemima Suggett Johnson,

faced death to carry water from the spring into the stockade while the men stood guard to shoot down the savage

enemy hidden so near.

During this same siege, a lighted arrow fell upon the infant Richard M.Johnson, future hero and vice president of the

United States, as he lay in a sugar-trough cradle.

Here, in the year 1782, Lewis Craig preached the first sermon heard within the station.

From Bryan's Station went many of the brave men who took part in the fateful battle of Blue Licks, thirty-six miles

distant. Few survivors returned to recount the exploits of their comrades and their disasters.

It was in 1896, that the Lexington Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, then the only D.A.R. chapter in

Fayette County, erected a memorial wall around the famous Bryan Station spring to honor those heroic women who

carried the water and saved the station. A few years later, the name "Bryan Station" was taken by a new chapter,

Daughters of the American Revolution, to further honor the hallowed spot, as well as the heroic pioneers.

With these, and many more equally notable and thrilling events having taken place at Bryan's Station, is it any

wonder that countless hundreds, scattered far and wide, point with pride and boastfulness to the fact that their

ancestors were among those early settlers who lived in Bryan's Station?

Bryan Station Monument

Bryan Station Memorial at Lexington, erected by the D.A.R. to the memory of the brave women, who carried water to

the besieged fort at Bryan Station under the rifles of several hundred Indians

The Bryan Station spring is located five miles northeast of Lexington, on the southern bank of the North fork of

Elkhorn Creek and on the west side of the Bryan Station road.

Additional notes added by W.H.F.:

The names of Thomas and Joseph Ficklin are near the bottom of the left front panel. The names of Mary Herndon

Ficklin and daughter Philadelphia are on the square panel at the right. John Ficklin's name was placed in the vacant

space on right front panel in 1932.

The above article is taken from the collected papers of W.H. Ficklin.

Letter of Joseph Ficklin 9/5/2008

Siege of Bryan's Station Page 3 of 3

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Lucy Ficklin Dill 9/5/2008