Early Settlers of Meshack Creek, Blands Fork and Mud Camp Areas

by Marion Vance, Glasgow, KY (taken from Jan 1974 Traces, Vol 1 #4)  republished in Traces Vol 18 #4.

Cumberland County was formed in 1798 from a portion of Green county, and included the Meshack Creek Areas which later became Monroe County when it was formed in 1820 from portions of Barren and Cumberland Counties.  The names of the original settlers of Meshack Creek community, now Eastern Monroe County, have been reconstructed from the early entry and survey books of Green and Cumberland Counties.

Meshack Creek received its name from the fact that Meshack Skaggs was killed along its waters prior to 1795, when the Indian danger still existed.  In many instances "Meshack" was called "Maches" Creek, which pronunciation is used today by many of the local residents.

Military claims of Virginia soldiers had been completed during 1798, with some exceptions, when the new counties of Barren and Cumberland were formed from Green and Warren.  Simultaneously with the formation of these counties came the land rush by settlers clamoring for the lands not taken south of the Green River by military claims.  Practically all of the Meshack area was void of military claims, thus the settler in compliance with law could take his claim and perfect his title.

The state price was $30.00 per 100 acres tract of second rate land, and $40.00 per 100 acre tract of first rate land; none of the waste, un-appropriated lands were rated first rate, thus giving the settler a monetary benefit, with each settler being allowed a minimum of 200 acres at a location which did not overlap another's claim.  These claims were authorized by and Act of General Assembly of Kentucky in 1797, and were known as "headright" claims.

The law required occupancy, improvements, and at least two acres planted in corn; county government certificates were granted for $1.00 each, and each 200 tract survey costing approximately $2.50 each, to be paid by the settler.  The General Assembly from time to time granted extensions to settlers of their payment of the "state price", as it was called, and in 1835 those who had not completed payment for their lands were forced to finish payment, or work on the county roads in lieu thereof, and they were known as "headright debtors".

By special county law, county governments established academies which were allowed 6.000 acres of waste and un-appropriated land to be used, or re-sold for financing the county educational system.  Thus we find The New Athens Academy (Green County), Bourbon Academy, and Newport Academy making land claims in Meshack and eastern Monroe County communities.

Moses Kirkpatrick was the first to settle in the Meshack area probably in 1776, according to local legend, although he had visited the area much earlier.  He was an explorer, developer, and leader prospering in trade of products along the Cumberland River to Nashville and new Orleans, and dealing in land claims in the area.  He and James Henry, assistant surveyor under John Montford who was Surveyor of Cumberland, were land partners in many instances.  According to legend, his log house at Meshack Village is considered the oldest existing structure south of Green River, and that the friendly Indians helped him to build it.

Thomas Lincoln and Hannaniah Lincoln served as constable and sheriff, respectively, in the formation of Cumberland County.  Thomas Lincoln's territory as constable included the Meshack area, in eastern Monroe County.  Recorded in Barren County, KY, in 1807, is The New Athens Seminary survey of 100 acres, which was located on the Kirkpatrick trace, at the headwaters of Meshack Creek, which record mentions "including improvement made by REYNOLDS LINCOLN" in the description.  Who Reynolds Lincoln was, and his relation to Thomas an Hannaniah remains a mystery to local historians.

The 1798 formation of Cumberland County brought settlers to Meshack who had earlier time been associated with the forts and stations of Central Kentucky, namely, the Potengers of Pottenger's Station (New Haven, KY), the Kirkpatricks, Phillips, and Lincolns associated with Phillips, or Nolynn Fort of Station (Hodgensville), and the three forts at Elizabethtown.  Others from the stations around Greensburg, and some from the south via Tennessee and the Carolinas.

Some pioneers settled in the area long before their title claims were filed on record.  Green County records show claims filed there, in 1796, but not perfected until 1798 when Cumberland was formed.  Many filed claims, stayed a time, became disillusioned, and left, seeking greener pastures.

The trail from Meshack via Persimmon, Cross-Roads, Randolph, Wisdom im Metcalfe County, thence to Elk Lick on Little Barren River, near Monroe County, KY, where it joined the Cumberland Trace, was known as the Moses Kirkpatrick Trace (later Road) at it's lower, or southern end, and from the upper end, Elk Lick due southward along this trace known as "The Road from  Elk Lick to Jackson's Ferry on Cumberland River".  The middle portion of this trace, in the Wisdom and Randolph areas was later referred to as "The Salt Works Road", since it was the route northward to the Bullitt Salt Licks.

Edmund Rogers, deputy surveyor of the Virginia Military Land Office, surveyed the Henry Quarles 1,000 acre military entry (10 Aug 1874) on 13 September 1798, with Thomas and George Dooley, and Jacob Railsback as his crew, and mentioned in the description that the survey "crosses Kirkpatrick's Road.  This survey is located about two and one half miles northwest of Persimmon, on the headwaters of Skaggs Creek, near the southwest branches of the headwaters of marrowbone Creek in Monroe County.  Thus, by 1798, Kirkpatrick's trace had become a "Road".

There were a few military surveys which only mentioned Cumberland River as the description of the location, giving description of the meets and bounds.  It has been difficult to locate some of these, because Cumberland River traversed such a vast area of eastern Kentucky before it joins the Ohio.  Such has been the case with the John and George Walden military survey of 400 acres on Cumberland River in 1786, (see Wells, History of Cumberland County, Ky, p 19), and (Jillson's. Old Kentucky Entries and Deeds, p 539).  The Waldens were some of the earliest settles of the Meshack area, which include Sam Biggerstaff who obtained 1,000 acre tract in 1798 on Cumberland River, according to a survey of Cumberland County, KY.

 Original Landowners of the Meshack Area
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