Jilson Payne
A Biography of Jilson PAYNE (1767 - 1825)
Kentucky State Legislator, Plantation Owner and Baptist Leader

Introduction - Edward and Ann Payne were not typical of most of the families that migrated to the Kentucky wilderness in the late 1700s.  They belonged to the generations old slave owning gentry of Fairfax County, Virginia, not on the same scale as George Washington at Mt. Vernon in the same county but influential land owners nonetheless.

After the Revolutionary War ended, Edward and Ann sold their plantation "Hope Park" and moved their family and slaves to Fayette County, Kentucky. Two of their grown sons also moved their families, as well. Edward's brother Henry moved, too, along with Richard and Ann (WISDOM) Allen.

Edward PAYNE held a number of positions in Fayette County, including Magistrate of Fayette County Court and Fayette County Sheriff, besides his involvement in the local Baptist churches.

While Edward's father William had remained faithful to the Church of England, even belonging to the same church as George Washington, Edward and Ann had become affiliated with the Ketocton Regular Baptist Association of northern Virginia in 1766. Their move to Kentucky, like so many others, was no doubt influenced by Virginia's persecution of members of the Baptist faith or actually any religion outside the Anglican Church of England.

Jilson PAYNE was born to Edward and Ann (Conyers) Payne 3 Mar 1767 at "Hope Park", Fairfax Co., Virginia. He was 18 at the time of the move to Kentucky in early 1785. The Payne family settled on Town Fork a smaller creek off Elkhorn Creek a few miles from Lexington.

On February 19, 1789, twenty-one year old Jilson married sixteen year old Dulcinea HARRISON at Lexington. The HARRISON family was another prominent Bluegrass family. Jilson's brother William PAYNE married Dulcinea's sister Mildred HARRISON.

Jilson's parents owned a number of large tracts of property in central Kentucky, including the 1,000 acre Lulbegrud Creek tract, where Jilson and Dulcinea settled. Jilson PAYNE owned 38 slaves with most of them belonging to five families. By 1802, Jilson's slaves had finished clearing the land and building Jilson and Dulcinea's home, Mt. Pleasant.

No doubt most of the Blacks listed in the front of the Lulbegrud church's minutes belonged to Jilson PAYNE and James FRENCH.

Jilson and Dulcinea PAYNE were received as members of the church Saturday, April 16, 1803 by letter from the Baptist church in Mt. Sterling. At that same meeting, Jilson PAYNE and John TREADWAY Jr were instructed to revise the minutes and orders of the church.

On July 16th, 1803 Brother Jilson Payne was added as Trustee to those formerly appointed for the purpose of building a new meeting house.

We find this entry in the minutes March 18, 1804 "There having been a charge of intoxication exhibited against Brother Edward Williams - it is therefore directed that Brethren Jilson Payne and Anthony Griffin wait on him and cite him to attend next church meeting."

William and Mildred PAYNE moved next door to another family-owned tract. William helped organize the region's first Calvinistic Regular Baptist churches. Around 1802 they sold this 350 acre property to James and Keziah FRENCH, yet another prominent area family with large land holdings. Many early land records show the property was originally entered in the name of James FRENCH. Their daughter Keziah married James PREWITT.

Dulcinea and Mildred's brother Micajah HARRISON and his wife Mary had moved to the Mt. Sterling settlement, where Micajah became the first circuit and county court clerk when the new county of Montgomery was formed in 1797. All early land and probate records bear his signature.

Thus the families of PAYNE, FRENCH, HARRISON and PREWITT and others were interconnected and had much to do with the development of early Montgomery County.

These families were of the 'Calvinistic' Regular Baptist persuasion and were soon at odds with the Separatist Baptists who had also migrated to early Montgomery County. While the Regular Baptists tended to be larger land and slave owners, even living in fine brick homes such as Mt. Pleasant, the Separatists tended to be tenants and smaller land owners living in rough-hewn cabins.

The story of the log that split the Lulbegrud church apart might be indicative of the relations between these two groups. Jilson PAYNE instructed his slaves to cut down a large tree near the Lulbegrud church to use for his own purposes which created hard feelings among the Separatist members of the church.

Never mind that Jilson had donated the land the church was built on; the result was the Regular members started meeting at one end of the church while the Separatist members met at the other end of the same church.

We don't know how this uncomfortable matter was resolved since neither faction apparently wanted any official mention of the incident in the church's minutes.

Besides his engagement in official Baptist proceedings as moderator of North District Association and other layman duties, Jilson was the local school trustee, one of the county's three judges of the Quarterly Court and Captain of the Montgomery County Militia. Some records list him as Colonel Jilson PAYNE.

During the early 1800s, the Lulbegrud church building also served as the local school house with Baptist preacher David Barrow as the school master.

Jilson also represented Montgomery County in Kentucky's second Constitutional Convention in 1799 and was elected to the lower house of the state legislature serving until 1803. From there he was appointed to the state senate and served in that capacity until 1808.

His parents Edward and Ann both died in 1806 in Fayette County at ages 80 and 78 respectively.

Jilson and Dulcinea's only child, Ann Holland PAYNE, was born February 5, 1812 at Mt. Pleasant.

Dulcinea died August 15, 1821 at 50 years of age and is buried in nearby Prewitt Cemetery with Jilson. Sometime during the next four years, Jilson married Ann Michie. Little is known about her background, although we can assume she was a member of one of the local Baptist churches.

Jilson PAYNE died in 1825 at the relatively young age of 58 and is buried in the Prewitt Cemetery within view of his beloved Mt. Pleasant. He updated his will for the last time on August 12, 1825, and it was probated in Montgomery County court on October 3rd.

He willed equal shares of Mt. Pleasant to his second wife, Ann Michie PAYNE, and his daughter, Ann Holland Payne. In a manner not unlike the story of the log that split the Lulbegrud church, he laid out a boundary line through the house itself, permitting his widow to occupy one side and his daughter the other side of the house. Nothing is known of the basis for this arrangement.

In any case, Ann and her stepmother Ann Michie soon sold the Mt. Pleasant to James PREWITT, who had married James FRENCH's daughter Keziah in 1824. The cemetery within sight of Mt. Pleasant where Jilson PAYNE is buried is called the Prewitt Cemetery, probably because James PREWITT's grave marker is the largest one there.

Ann Michie PAYNE moved to Lexington where she died in 1849. Jilson PAYNE's only child, Ann, married at age 14 William JOHNSON and had a son Albert who became a Louisville police chief and a daughter Dulcinea who married wealthy Louisville businessman Thomas COLMAN.

Compiled by Marvin Allen, February 2015

Kentucky Court and Other Records, Volume I & II
, Mrs. William B. Ardery, 2003
Raccoon John Smith: Frontier Kentucky's Most Famous Preacher
, John Sparks, 2005
Lulbegrud Baptist Church Minutes 1793-1804
, transcribed by Marvin and Kathy Allen, 2009
'stauff' database, Rootsweb
, Richard Stauff, 2014