Saturday, May 30, 2020

George Rogers Clark Monument

“… The George Rogers Clark Monument was dedicated before a crowd of some 60,000 on November 16, 1934, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.”
The man who did the most to save early Kentucky and stir the history of old Fort Harrod during the American Revolution era was George Rogers Clark. His consummate deeds provided a bright chapter in the nation’s history. He was the liberator of Kentucky and one of the commonwealth’s genuine heroes.
The Pioneer Memorial Park Monument was commissioned by the Kentucky Pioneer Association, a local group of Harrodsburg citizens, and on March 3, 1931 the seventy-first Continental Congress passed a bill appropriating $100,000 for the monument to be erected by the War Department to commemorate George Rogers Clark’s campaign during the Revolutionary War. On November 27, Kentucky Governor Flem D. Sampson, dedicated the monument site.
The First Settlement of the West, the name of the monument, was conceived by sculptor Ulric Ellerhusen and architect Francis Keally. LePoidevin & Company of New York was awarded the general contract. On Armistice Day, November 11, the cornerstone was laid by Senator Alben W. Barkley during a ceremony attended by Governor Ruby Laffoon.
On January 12, 1934, work on the federal monument was halted for three weeks because carvers feared their dull tools would break the granite stones. The carvers demanded a tool smith on the ground to sharpen tools, so an expert tool smith, George Webber of Louisville, was found and the carving resumed. Webber established his shop in a shed fronting the carver’s enclosure and began sharpening tools immediately.
During the month of February sodding, planting and landscaping began around the larger monument. F. C. Byers, in charge for Hillenmeyer Nurseries of Lexington, was in charge of landscaping. He followed designs made by Armistead Fitzhugh, a landscape architect from New York City. The planting of the trees and shrubbery would form the background and setting for the federal monument.
The 30 feet long and 12 feet high memorial was finally completed on June 12, 1934. It is composed of three granite blocks cemented together so it appears to be one huge stone. The monument divides naturally into three parts. The central section depicts George Rogers Clark, the pioneer statesman and military leader and weighs twenty-three tons. The right section symbolizes youth and age, with an older man representing famous frontiersmen such as Harrod and Boone. The left section shows a frontier farewell and is symbolic of family life. These stones weigh seventeen tons each. The granite stone inlay map on the walking platform in front shows the pioneer routes involved in Clark’s campaign of the Northwestern Territory.
On November 16, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to Harrodsburg to dedicate the Pioneer Memorial. This was Harrodsburg’s greatest day and its proudest celebration. All roads leading into town were choked with traffic. Special trains and busses had been arriving for several days prior, swelling the population to numbers that have never been matched since. The President and Mrs. Roosevelt arrived by train and were welcomed by a town decorated with flags and red, white, and blue bunting everywhere.
The monument’s dedication was national news, with the President’s speech printed on the front page of the New York Times. It marked the culmination of a decades-long effort to bring tourists and attention to Harrodsburg. At a time when Harrodsburg had a population of just over 4,000 residents, an estimated 60,000 people filled the park for the dedication ceremony.
In his remarks, President Roosevelt called for a renewal of the spirit of the American forefathers to face the challenges of the Great Depression. Roosevelt described those in attendance as “the pioneers of 1934.” He proclaimed, “We, too, are hewing out a commonwealth – a commonwealth of the States which we hope will give to its people, more truly than any that has gone before, the fulfillment of security, of freedom, of opportunity and happiness which America asks and is entitled to receive.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Harrodsburg: The Birthplace of Kentucky

The first American legislative assembly west of the Appalachians
Here are some interesting facts and happenings during the month of May in pioneer times of Harrodsburg:

On May 7, 1775, James Harrod and Thomas Slaughter went to Boonesborough to ask Richard Henderson to settle a land dispute. While Harrod and Slaughter argued, Colonel Henderson saw himself as an uneasy mediator. Henderson secretly favored Slaughter, who was in favor of Henderson’s Transylvania Company, but feared Harrod’s wrath, refrained from voicing this conviction and tried to appear impartial. Henderson proposed the different settlements in Kentucky should send delegates to Boonesborough on May 23, 1775 and form a representative government to make laws and rules to prevent trouble. The four distinct settlements – Boonesborough, Harrodstown, Boiling Spring Station, and Logan’s Station (formerly St. Asaph) – agreed to meet at Boonesborough to draw up a constitution and make laws.

When the Transylvania Assembly held their meeting, it was the first American legislative assembly west of the Appalachians. They had nowhere to house the delegates, so they found the shade of a “giant divine elm” between Boone’s stockade and the unfinished Boonesborough fort as a suitable meeting place. This majestic tree stood on a beautiful plain, covered and perfumed by a turf of fine white clover which made a thick carpet of green up to the trunk. It is said that between the hours of ten and two, the shade of the elm would comfortably cover a hundred people. It was a good enough place, Henderson expressed privately, for “a set of scoundrels, who scarcely believe in God or fear a devil”.
As the host settlement, Boonesborough was allowed six delegates; Harrodstown, Boiling Springs, and Logan’s Station were allowed four delegates each. Henderson explained the rights of the Assembly, its policies for the colony, and the procedures that were to be followed. The Assembly would remain in jurisdiction of the territory and land would be sold at company prices. The eighteen elected delegates would make up the lower house of a legislature, but the owners would constitute the upper house. Henderson would provide executive leadership, and the Assembly would collect feudal-type land taxes of two shillings per hundred acres. English common law dealing with land ownership was based on the feudal system in which the monarch owned all the land but allowed favored individuals the use of it, as tenants.
Reverend John Lythe, a Harrodstown settler and Anglican minister, opened the meeting with a prayer. Henderson then addressed the group, calling attention to the fact they were assembled for a worthy purpose.

“You are called and assembled at this time for a noble and honorable purpose – a  purpose, however ridiculous or idle it may appear at first view to superficial  minds, yet it is of the most solid consequence … If any doubts remain among you with respect to the force or efficacy of whatever laws you now, or hereafter make, be pleased to consider that all power is originally in the people; therefore make it their interest by impartial and beneficial laws, and you may be sure of their inclination to see them enforced … As it is indispensably necessary that laws should be composed for the regulation of our conduct, as we have the right to make such laws without giving offense to Great Britain, or any of the American colonies.”
Henderson proceeded to discuss the problem facing the new assembly. Referring to English law instead of Virginia or North Carolina law, Henderson skirted the touchy subject of prior land claims.

A three-man committee was formed, including Harrod, and they drew up a statement to acknowledge the wisdom of Henderson’s reasoning and expressed an earnest desire to meet their legislative tasks. The first order of business was to draft a constitution for the new colony. Henderson wanted the constitution to have an elected assembly, with perpetual rents, and a power of veto reserved for the landowners.
The convention remained in session until the May 27, and during that time passed nine laws. These laws concerned themselves with a variety of topics: establishing courts, regulating the militia, punishing criminals, preventing profanity and Sabbath breaking, writs of attachment, clerk’s and sheriff’s fees, preserving the range, improving the breed of horses, and preserving the game. This last law was made necessary by the fact that the abundant game of the region was already fast disappearing, owing to reckless hunting by settlers. The law for improving their horses shows that even at this date the Kentucky people were interested in the subject that later enjoyed their exclusive attention.
The delegates agreed it was highly necessary to provide for courts, a militia, the collection of debts, and the punishment of criminals. Harrod served on several committees, including the one on lands in which he was chairman. He drew up regulations for the militia, helped amend the bill prohibiting profane swearing and Sabbath breaking, and served on a committee with Daniel Boone for conserving game. One of his major triumphs was the law providing for freedom of worship. This passed although at the time, the Church of England was a state institution in Virginia. The religious provision must be accredited to the temper of the frontier delegates themselves, many of whom, like Harrod, were dissenters, Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, or indifferent churchgoers.
At intervals throughout their lawmaking the legislators concerned themselves with other things. A committee was appointed to confer with Henderson concerning a suitable name for the colony. Henderson suggested “Transylvania” and the name was adopted.
Another committee, consisting of Boone and Harrod, was appointed to urge the company to grant no land to newcomers except on the conditions of higher prices than the original settlers paid. Harrod’s presence on this committee was significant, because he would later change his attitude entirely. Before the convention adjourned, Henderson, inviting open investigation, appeared before them and displayed the deed the Native Americans had given him at Watauga.

On the last day of the session he entered into a written agreement with the people. By the provisions of this contract, delegates were to be elected and meet annually, judges were to be appointed by the proprietors but answerable to the people, all civil and military officers were to be appointed by the proprietors, there should be a surveyor-general who should not be a partner in the purchase, and the legislative authority thereafter should consist of the delegates, a council of twelve men and the landowners.

The assembly agreed to meet again in September 1775 and the delegates adjourned. The settlers returned to their surveying, clearing, and planting. In Harrodstown they erected more cabins around the Town Creek, chinked the older buildings, and worked on construction of Fort Harrod. By the end of summer, Harrodstown boasted a seventy-acre cornfield and eight to ten cabins.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is when we remember what was sacrificed for our freedom, but veterans need to be remembered EVERY DAY!
Springhill Cemetery in Harrodsburg, Kentucky

Friday, May 22, 2020

Daniel Boone Cave

The cave near Shawnee Run Springs where Daniel Boone spent the winter of 1769-1770. The opening was covered with boards and helped protect him through the winter. There was a large, white oak tree growing near the cave and the initials "D.B." were found carved into the trunk. At one time, these initials were protected by glass attached to the tree. When the tree was cut down, the initials were removed from the tree and presented to Henry Cleveland Wood, who later donated it to Old Fort Harrod's Mansion Museum.

Harrodsburg High School

  Historic photo from The Harrodsburg Herald The old Harrodsburg High School.