Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Jimmy Taylor General Store


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

Jimmy Taylor’s general store and gathering place was in business for over 50 years on Chiles Streets.  When Taylor sold the property in 1969, it was to make room for progress.  It was during the demolition a log structure, dated back as early as 1797, was found under the weather-boarding.  This photograph shows the exposed logs just before it was razed.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Sandusky Brothers Mill


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

This 1940s photograph shows Sandusky Brothers Mill and its employees, located on Chiles Street next to the town creek.  The farm supply operation was headquartered there.  There has been a mill on this site since the late 1800s and there have been many owners throughout the years.  

Monday, September 28, 2020

Who Was James Harrod?

Year of the Bloody Sevens

Along the American Revolutionary War’s western front, Kentuckians called 1777 the bloody “Year of the Three Sevens.” Cabins were torched, leaving bloated, mutilated corpses of men, women, and children. The nerves of the walking wounded were frayed and ragged as they surveyed the burned crops and the slaughtered cattle, hogs, and goats. Lack of food and ammunition led to starvation and overwhelming death.

            The year 1777 opened with two months of calmness. The Native Americans committed no raids and seemed to have abandoned their wrath against Kentucky. The pioneers began to recover their spirits and venture away from the support and protection of the stockades. Unbeknownst to them, the British Governor of Canada was directing his Native American allies toward Kentucky with instructions to destroy the settlements there.

            At first the Native Americans roamed around in small war parties causing mischief and mayhem. They would set fire to a cabin in Harrod’s Town, disappear into the woods, only to reappear and scalp a hunter. They would snatch infants from mothers at the gates of forts and other times they would just lie in wait. The white men were also coldblooded, collecting scalps and feeding Indian bodies to their dogs thinking it would make them ferocious.

March 5, 1777, the militia of Kentucky County started a regiment, with a company mustered from each settlement - Boonesborough, Harrodsburg, and Logan’s Station - and elections for officers were held at Fort Harrod and James Harrod was made a captain. Prior to this, every fort and every camp had its own selected chief, with but little order or subordination.

            Most of the pioneers knew there were troublous times in store for Kentucky if the Native Americans should again take the warpath. At this time when the Kentucky settlements were in greatest need, they were also at their weakest stage. Indian attacks and the rumors of war had pretty well emptied the country. Three hundred people had left Kentucky and seven stations had been abandoned. Boonesborough, Harrodstown, and Logan’s Station alone survived, and the latter was temporarily abandoned in the early days of 1777. Many of the people from the abandoned forts had found refuge at Harrod’s Town. There were in essence only two settlements and a possible one hundred and fifty men in Kentucky. Although Harrod’s Town was made the capital of the new county, all Kentuckians had to work together in order to survive.

            The first attack on March 6, 1777 at Fort Harrod was a Shawnee war party led by war Chief Blackfish. They ambushed three men at their maple sugar camp near the fort. One man was wounded and captured, but James Ray, who possessed what were possibly the longest legs on the western continent, made his escape and ran away while the Native Americans stood dumfounded at his speed. The last man hid in a hollow log and struggled to keep quiet as the Shawnees tortured and eventually killed the first man. When James Ray reached the fort, he gave the alarm and thirty men set out for the sugar camp.  While Blackfish failed to take the fort, he did cause the delay of spring preparations for corn planting, so no corn was planted at Harrodsburg during 1777.

            The Native Americans killed all the cattle they could find and continued to molest the fort throughout the year.  On March 8, several men ventured out from Harrod’s Town to bring in corn from the corn cribs raised the previous year; it took them ten days.

            On March 28, 1777, a large number of Native Americans again attacked Harrod’s Town. They divided into small parties and waylaid every path and avenue to the fort from the fields or forest, concealing themselves behind trees and bushes. They also attempted to cut off all supplies arriving at the fort.

By May 1, 1777, there were only eighty-four men fit for militia duty at Harrod’s Town, twenty-two at Boonesborough and fifteen at Logan’s Station. This made one hundred and twenty-two men fit for duty in Kentucky. Most of the cattle had been killed and most of the horses stolen. No corn was planted at Harrodsburg.

Hardly a week went by without one or two deaths because of ordinary activities near the fort.  On June 22, 1777 one man carelessly wandered outside the fort above the Big Spring, against Harrod’s orders. He was killed and scalped by the Native Americans. They cut off his head and stuck it on a pole. For years after that, the boys living near the fort used to say that at night when the moon was full, they could see a ghost around the fort springs.

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

September 11, a party men to a settlement at the Cove Spring, five miles southeast of Harrodsburg to shell corn and bring back to the fort. The “corn crib skirmish” occurred on September 22 when a party of Native Americans came through a canebrake and fired upon the whites as they were shelling corn. This spirited little affair was known among the frontiersmen of the day as the Battle of Cove Spring.

Harrod never suffered any injuries during the numerous Indian attacks, but he did end up with two broken bones related to hunting trips, both incidents happening in the same way. Harrod liked to do his hunting on horseback because he needed the extra speed for chasing down buffalo, deer and elk, but managing a long rifle while mounted was risky. Both of Harrod’s accidents happened when he fired and his horse reared up, threw him off, and broke his thigh bones.

James Harrod tried to keep things running cheerfully and smoothly, but it was no fun to be cooped up in the fort all summer. Nerves were frayed and the women were quarreling and gossiping. The women were never safe outside the fort during the summer of 1777, but they could only stand the dirty, smelly clothes just so long before venturing into danger to clean them.

On September 2, 1777 the first court was held at Harrod’s Town. Harrod became a justice in Kentucky County.

Not only were the Indian attacks the most frequent and violent during this year, but the winter of 1777-1778 was the worst ever endured by the pioneers. The temperatures dropped to twenty degrees below zero. The rivers and springs froze solid and travel was impossible. The bears, the buffalo and smaller wildlife were found starved and frozen to death. There was no food or water and Indian attacks were almost daily. Many pioneer men, women and children died of starvation and dehydration. The pioneers were able to survive but they lost all of their livestock and many friends.

            The Fort held. Fort Harrod was the only Kentucky fort never breached.

Personal photo

Friday, September 25, 2020

Independent Order of Odd Fellows


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The Montgomery Lodge 18 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the organization sponsoring many of the street fairs, had their lodge room in the building known as the opera house, at the top of South Main Street in the top photograph.  Inside the circle at the top of the building is the I.O.O.F. emblem, a three-link chain representing friendship, love, and truth.  One explanation as to the meaning of their name “odd fellows” says they were “odd” because it was odd to find people who followed noble values in the 19th century.  

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

This photograph shows members of the Odd Fellows Lodge gathered on Main Street.  Only one or two men are identified, Charles Corn and D. M. Hutton (with the ribbon on his lapel), standing together at the center.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

J. J. Newberry

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The circa 1950 photograph above was the home of J. J. Newberry 5-10-25 Cent store.  The store was owned by Jerry Newby and remained in operation from 1936 – 1975.  Three large window fronts were changed often to display new and modern items. This was THE place to buy almost anything you needed in Harrodsburg.  I remember buying my Trixie Belden Mystery books there, as well as my first embroidery equipment.  In 1976, the store began to decrease inventory until it only carried furniture and appliances.  It became known as the Discount House, though still owned by Jerry Newby.  

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

Unfortunately, the store burned down in 1989, as seen in the above photograph.  Firemen worked hard to save the building, while protecting nearby stores. They did manage to pull some furniture and appliances out, but the building was a total loss.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Louisville Store


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The Louisville store was another fixture on Main Street that managed to compete successfully and survive for 47 years, from 1941 to 1988.  It was one of a chain of similar stores that operated throughout Kentucky.  It was not a fancy store.  It was a solid kind of place that sold things that would last – clothing for the family, material – a lot of women made their own clothes.  They were an authorized dealer for Sportleigh coats, tailored right here in Harrodsburg, which sold for $22.95 and were featured in Vogue and Mademoiselle.  In 1970, they did a complete renovation with “a new modern glass front, all new fixtures and wall-to-wall carpeting throughout.  New and more merchandise was added.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Jimmy Taylor General Store


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

This photograph is Jimmy Taylor’s general store and gathering place, in business for over 50 years on Chiles Streets.  When Taylor sold the property in 1969, it was to make room for progress.  It was during the demolition a log structure, dated back as early as 1797, was found under the weather-boarding..  

The following is a portion of a poem written by Harrodsburg resident, Tony Sexton, entitled “Jimmy Taylor’s Store:”

It’s good to live in a town where some things never change.

Like Jimmy Taylor’s store … It reminds us

the simplicity of life still remains for those who want it.

It’s good to know in our world of fast food chains and freeze dried coffee

There is still a store in our town selling taters by the pound.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Who Was James Harrod?

Photo from the Robinson Library

The Transylvania Company

Later in March 1775, the Transylvania Company, led by Richard Henderson, helped negotiated the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals with the Cherokee Native Americans.  Henderson was an important man in the east – a colonel in the militia, a noted orator, a judge – a self-made man who had dreams of a great fortune in the West. He had a vision of taking over Kentucky and making it a separate country with himself as supreme ruler, or at least a new colony with himself as governor.

            The treaty was not really a treaty, but a deed. The company received some two hundred thousand acres of land lying roughly in the area bounded by the Kentucky, Cumberland, and Ohio Rivers. Henderson paid $10,000 in guns and other provisions for the land. However, the Cherokee did not mention they didn’t own the land.

            Daniel Boone helped set up Henderson’s negotiations, perhaps for money or a promise of glory in the new regime. As he left the treaty site, the Cherokee Chief Dragging Canoe, shook Boone’s hand, but said: “We have given you a fine land brother, but you will find it under a cloud and a dark and bloody ground.” Boone left Sycamore Shoals with thirty men and orders from Henderson to establish the capitol of his Transylvania Empire and to build a road through the Cumberland Gap.

            Boone and Henderson reached the banks of the Kentucky on the first of April 1775, and lost no time in clearing the land in anticipation of erecting a fort. Boonesborough would be only twenty-two miles from Harrodstown, as the crow flies. By April 22nd the fort was under way and lots had been laid off for the men.

            Henderson had to move fast in establishing his settlements before the Native Americans could drive him out. He recorded in his journal he was afraid his experiment would be wrecked at the onset. He also worried about James Harrod. Henderson could not risk an open argument with Harrod; he must and would win his support.

Photo (painting) from T. Gilbert White

       In addition to problems with Henderson, James Harrod had another challenger. Colonel Thomas Slaughter brought a party of land seekers from North Carolina to Harrod’s Town. Upon their arrival, Harrod greeted them warmly and sent the newcomers out to begin their search for unclaimed land. When they realized Harrod’s men had already marked vast acreages, they began to grumble and accuse James of unfair tactics. Slaughter complained Harrod’s men had no right to mark every piece of land and secure all the good springs in the area.

            Harrod replied his men had arrived first and had started a town. The men marking land were working for those who had returned to the settlement in order to bring out more supplies or their families. Everyone wanted good land and Kentucky was a new country with plenty of land for the all. Harrod chose his land about six miles from the settlement proper, in what is now Danville. He named his station Boiling Springs.

            On May 7th Harrod and Slaughter came to Boonesborough to ask Henderson to settle their dispute. While Harrod and Slaughter argued, Colonel Henderson saw himself as an uneasy mediator. Henderson secretly favored Slaughter, but fearing Harrod’s wrath, refrained from voicing this conviction and tried to appear impartial. Henderson proposed that 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, Harrod’s Town, Boiling Spring Station, and Logan’s Station (formerly St. Asaph) – agreed to meet at Boonesborough to draw up a constitution and make laws.

Photo from George Washington Ranck

            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.

As the host settlement, Boonesborough was allowed six delegates; Harrod’s Town, Boiling Springs, and Logan’s Station were allowed four delegates each. The eighteen elected delegates would make up the lower house of a legislature, but the land owners would constitute the upper house. Henderson would provide executive leadership, and the Assembly would collect  land taxes of two shillings per hundred acres.

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, including Harrod, was formed and drew up a statement to acknowledge 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 twenty-seventh, 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, finally, preserving the game. This last law was made necessary by the fact that the abundant game of the region was already fast disappearing because of reckless hunting by settlers.

            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 a number of 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 also served on a committee with Daniel Boone for conserving game.

One of James Harrod’s major triumphs was the law providing for freedom of worship. This passed in spite of the fact that 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.

The assembly agreed to meet again in September 1775 and the delegates adjourned. The settlers returned to their surveying, clearing, and planting.

Who Was James Harrod?

Creating Kentucky County


By late spring 1776, the pioneer population in Kentucky was estimated to be two hundred, and most of these people were in forts at Boonesborough, Harrod’s Town, and Logan’s Station. The area north of the Kentucky River had been abandoned.

            During summer 1776 Kentucky County was formed and Harrod’s Fort became an organized body with laws enacted for its government. It became the first capitol of this vast and interesting territory. It gathered men of ability, energy, and determination whose lives were useful to their associates and a blessing to those who came after them. They not only served their own locality well, but did heroic service in behalf of their common country.

            By June 1776, James Harrod’s truce with Richard Henderson abruptly ended and Harrod became an outspoken opponent of the Transylvania Company. He gained followers at the other stations. Jack Gabriel Jones joined Harrod in leading the second revolt. He was a lawyer and son of a prominent Virginia family and his abilities complemented with Harrod’s own natural leadership and charismatic abilities. Jones easily matched the Transylvania lawyers with elegant and rational arguments and knowledge of legislative methods. Later, more help came from George Rogers Clark who had a deep interest in Kentucky.

            It was decided Kentucky needed to have its own delegates to assure a fair hearing. Harrod called a gathering to elect delegates to represent them in the General Assembly and to ask for separation from Fincastle County. Harrod also wanted to stop Henderson and his Cherokee land purchase, which would beat the pioneers out of their legal rights.  Clark and Jones were elected as the delegates. The two were instructed by Harrod to appeal to Virginia to overthrow Transylvania and incorporate the country under her own government.

            Harrod helped the men formulate the document as a defense of their land claims, based on bounty warrants granted by Governor Dunmore and on regular prior-occupancy laws of the colony. They claimed Henderson’s purchases were illegal on grounds Virginia had rights to it under their charter. They stated her citizens had “fought and bled for it”, and that had it not been for the defeat of the Shawnee at the Battle of Point Pleasant, the region would still be uninhabitable. In conclusion they asked that their delegates be recognized, stating they had already elected a committee of 21 men to maintain district order.

            Harrod also petitioned for recognition of the new committee and drew attention to the impracticality of having only two delegates to sufficiently represent Fincastle County. He argued it was illogical to allow the colonist to remain impartial, since a group from North Carolina was also formulating a challenge to Virginia charter rights. Harrod knew Kentucky needed help and quickly because the overwhelmed frontier settlements were almost out of gunpowder. They also needed to settle the question of Virginia jurisdiction in order to hope for any future assistance the government.

George Rogers Clark - photo from James B. Longacre

            When Clark and Jones arrived in Virginia, Clark visited the new Virginia governor, Patrick Henry, to secure his backing for the Harrod’s Town cause. Clark appeared before the Council at Williamsburg with a letter from Governor Henry, making the executive council aware of Kentucky’s shaky position and officially informing them of his support. Clark ran into opposition from several peers who did not approve of frontier expansion. After much debate and arguing that the western settlements could not survive without gunpowder, the proposal was accepted and Clark was granted five hundred pounds of gunpowder.

            On August 23, 1776, the powder was sent to Fort Pitt in Pittsburgh. Clark sent a letter to Harrod to tell him to send a party to Fort Pitt to bring the powder home. Little did Clark know, but Harrod never received the letter. 

                The first court in Kentucky County was held on September 2, 1776. George Rogers Clark, Isaac Hite, Benjamin Logan, Robert Todd, Richard Callaway, John Kennedy, Nathaniel Henderson, Daniel Boone, James Derchester, and James Harrod were named justices of the peace. Levi Todd was appointed Clerk of Court.

            With the help of Thomas Jefferson, Clark and Jones were able to bring out their bill and after a month of arguing and closed door maneuvers, the bill passed the House and the Senate on December 31, 1776. The legislature created Kentucky County. With the creation of Kentucky County, the territory was called “the political birth of Kentucky” and George Rogers Clark the “Founder of the Commonwealth.”

            Clark and Jones finished their business in Virginia and prepared to return to Kentucky, but when a messenger from Fort Pitt reported that Harrod had not sent men to get the five hundred pounds of powder, their plans changed. Clark knew those twenty-five kegs of gun powder were vital to Kentucky’s defense, so they set out toward Pittsburg. Once at Fort Pitt, the pair recruited a small group of men to assist them in transporting the black powder down the Ohio and then up the Kentucky River to Fort Harrod.

Unfortunately, Clark’s every move was being shrewdly watched and evaluated by British and Indian enemies, but he was not to be manipulated. Clark and his men slipped out of Fort Pitt in the middle of the night and silently started their long trip down the half-frozen Ohio River with five hundred pounds of high quality, rifle-grade gunpowder. They quickly made their way down the big river, with the success or failure of Kentucky resting squarely on their shoulders.  Clark and his companions were forced to move between numerous bands of angry Indian war parties. Unwilling to run the risk of losing his cargo, he buried the powder in several spots and continued downstream for a few miles before abandoning the boats and setting them adrift as a decoy.

            Clark headed off to the nearest settlement, McClelland’s Station and sent a messenger to Harrod’s Town explaining what had happened and asking for a party to retrieve the gunpowder. Then Clark left to meet up with Harrod to recover the gunpowder. 

            James Harrod and about twenty others left Harrodsburg on the second of January 1777, to recover the powder. Within a short time and without incident, the men reclaimed the powder and returned to Fort Harrod. The brave settlers of Fort Harrod come through to save the day, retrieving the gunpowder and bringing it safely back to the fort through miles and miles of unfriendly, Indian wilderness. 

Once at Fort Harrod, the powder was divided and quickly distributed to the many struggling Kentucky forts and stations. This important event saved the country because now the settlers  could now defend the forts and hunt for food.  There were now one hundred and fifty men fit for active duty and forty families split between Harrodsburg and Boonesborough.

When Virginia created Kentucky County on December 31, 1776, Harrod’s Town was selected the county seat. Fort Harrod became a stockade stronghold for the pioneer families until they could settle on lands of their own and proved refuge for the settlers when Native Americans were raiding.  Many famous pioneers occupied the fort at some time during its eventful years. This was also the time that Benjamin Logan pushed his settlers to complete the stockade at Logan’s Station.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Spires of Harrodsburg

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

This drawing by Harrodsburg artist Larrie Curry shows the beautiful spires, which are all visible together from several spots in town. Shown from left to right are Harrodsburg United Methodist church, Harrodsburg Christian Church, United Presbyterian Church, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, the courthouse (demolished in 2009), and Harrodsburg Baptist Church. The saying “a church on every corner” holds true here, as all these buildings are located within a three-block radius from the center of the business district.

Friday, September 18, 2020

I.C. James’ Livery, Feed and Sale Stable


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

Mr. I.C. James’ Livery, Feed and Sale Stable, located on the corner of East Office and Greenville Streets, opened in 1882.  He had stabling for as many as 250 horses.  Mr. James was a well-known horseman throughout the state and his stable had the best horses and finest equipment.  When cars replaced horses, the building was used for a garage which burned sometime in the 1920s.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Hoover Food Store


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

Hoover Food Store was on Main Street from 1947 until 1969.  It was the last grocery on Main Street at a time when people still lived downtown and enjoyed being able to walk to the store.  In an interview, Mrs. Hoover said, “we stayed open to nine, 10, maybe 11 o’clock on Saturday nights.  People would come in and shop and leave their groceries here and we would stay until they came and picked them up after the movie.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Harrodsburg Electric Light Plant


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

Located on the corner of Chiles and Factory Streets, the Harrodsburg Electric Light Plant, shown here during the 1930s, provided the city’s electrical power before Kentucky Utilities began buying it from the Dix Dam power plant.  Stream was produced in three large boilers that operated four generators.  At first the plant produced no daytime current, only power for light at night.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Glave Sims Motor Company


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

In the 1930s and 1940s, Glave Sims operated the Glave Sims Motor Company on West Lexington Street. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Who Was James Harrod?

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

Fort Harrod Part Three

The log houses of Fort Harrod consisted of one room with a dirt floor and were approximately twenty feet by twenty feet.  Some cabins had a loft that could be reached by a ladder for sleeping.  The first-floor room usually had a rope bed, crude table and chairs for eating, and a fireplace for heat, light and cooking with cooking utensils hanging from it.  The fort’s cabins, three blockhouses, and schoolhouse were of foot-thick logs that were squared on the top and bottom to fit snugly when chinked with clay and straw. 

James Harrod Blockhouse from Personal photo

The blockhouses measured about twenty-five feet by forty-four feet. Only three of the planned four blockhouses were ever built at Fort Harrod. The northwest blockhouse was never built because of a large freshwater spring located in that corner of the Fort. The southwest blockhouse was the home of James Harrod. The southeast blockhouse was the Kentucky home and office of famed pioneer and explorer, George Rogers Clark. The northeast blockhouse was home to a true pioneer lady, Anne McGinty.

The blockhouses were the main defense system of the Fort. Each contained two levels with five or more-gun ports on each wall, from which the pioneers fired their rifles. They overhung the fort wall by about two feet on both sides and, in the overhang, they placed a trap door. From the blockhouses the defenders could shoot attackers off the stockades if they got too close or tried to climb the walls. Also, the trap doors were used to pour water down to put out fires set by the Native Americans, or to drop boiling water or animal fat down upon attacking Native Americans who had gotten too close to the wall to shoot from the stockades or blockhouse gun ports. Long poles were used to push the hostiles back off the walls and roofs.
Historic postcard personal collection

It took about five months to build the fort. At its height, Fort Harrod contained about eighteen cabins. The cabins were built of notched logs which had to be "chinked", which is where mud mortar and wood chips were put into the cracks between the logs. The first floors were dirt, but later, hewn logs would be used, but they were notorious for painful splinters. Every cabin had a huge stone fireplace. The first chimneys were made of wood which proved unsatisfactory because they caught on fire. Later, they were made of stone to like the fireplace.

Without the fort, the inhabitants of Harrodstown and the surrounding country could not have existed because there was no other place of refuge accessible at the time. It was their stronghold and meeting place in time of peril. Most Kentucky pioneers, although skilled woodsman, were farmers rather than soldiers. Their primary concern was for their families and the crops upon which their survival depended. The fort was the center of all information for the development of the settlement.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Methodist Church Parsonage

 Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The Methodist parsonage, located next to the church, is thought to have been built at the same time as the first church, in 1840.  According to tradition, it is the oldest continuously used Methodist parsonage west of the Allegheny Mountains.  After the Civil War Battle of Perryville, October 8, 1862, the parsonage and church were used as a hospital for both Confederate and Union troops.  The top picture shows the house as it originally looked.  The bottom picture shows it as it currently looks.  In 1910, the wrap-around porch was taken off and a Greek Revival portico and re-worked entrance were built.

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Gem Store


The Gem Store lunch counter
Photo from the Armstrong Archives

What memories does this stir in Harrodsburg natives?

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Graves Jewelers


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The above 1920s photograph is of Graves Jewelers, owned and operated by the Graves family from 1904 until 1989. Graves not only sold jewelry, but also fine china, crystal and collectibles.  Unfortunately, due to fires on both sides of the business, this building was left all alone for many years. The building was eventually torn down and there is currently just a vacant lot between the Olde Towne Park and the corner of Main and East Poplar Streets.

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

Lucille Graves took great pride in her collection of fine china and crystal, as well as the jewelry she had to offer her many loyal customers.  Although there were several jewelry stores on Main Street during the time Graves was in operation, Mrs. Graves’s states in an interview from 1990,“... there was no rivalry [between jewelry stores], we always cooperated with any jeweler that has ever been in Harrodsburg.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Dedman Drug Store

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The photograph above is the inside of Dedman Drug Store.  The man on the right is C. M. Dedman and the other men are unidentified.  Glass display cases line both sides at the front of the store.  The soda fountain is near the back on the left side and the solid cherry apothecary drawers line the back wall.  The second floor of the building was used to sell paint and wallpaper, as well as aisles of books, perfume, comb and brush sets and more.  The soda fountain offered  a delicious soda, ice cream sundae, root beer floats and other mouthwatering treats.  There were only eight stools, so most people took their purchases outside, probably enjoying the shade in the courthouse square.

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The above photograph taken in 1983 shows Harriett Ruby arranging antique bottles in the cherry cabinets of the drug store when it was her antique store.  Although Dedman Drugs changed ownership many times since opening in 1868, it remained a pharmacy until 1983.  From this time until 2001, the building served as several different antique stores.  

Photo from Trip Advisor

In 2001, with the help of Ralph Anderson, the James Harrod Trust was able to buy the store and restore it to its turn of the century beauty.  The photograph below shows the outside of the restored building where the Kentucky Fudge Company at Dedman Drug Store is once again a meeting place for food and conversation.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Who Was James Harrod?

Personal Photo

Fort Harrod
Part Two

Fort Harrod was a defensive, arsenal fortification and its walls served as a stronghold ready to protect settlers living on the outside. It became an important haven to the pioneers of Kentucky because, as the American Revolution intensified, the British encouraged the Native Americans to raid the Kentucky settlements.

Harrodstown had lush grass and abundant water, and the limestone soil made it a pastureland for grass eating animals that was without parallel in pioneer history. Bears provided an excellent meat substitute for bacon.  Game was plentiful but so were Native American raids. The new fort was nearly completed and conveniently located it provided refuge for both the people of Harrodstown and other settlers when the Native Americans were on the warpath. 
Illustration by W. W. Stephenson from Armstrong Archives

Fort Harrod was built of hand-hewn logs ten to twelve feet tall in a "parallelogram" configuration measuring 264 feet by 264 feet. Thousands of trees were cut down and the bark peeled off. The bark had to be removed because it made the fort more prone to fires set by the Native Americans. The logs of the ten-foot-high stockade were embedded in a trench and were pointed to make notches in which riflemen on the fire walk could rest gun barrels and fire without being seen from outside. 

First, the base wall was built with a blockhouse on each end. On the south side of the fort, the cabins' walls formed the actual stockade wall. The chimneys were kept inside the walls so Native Americans could not stop them up. Then the three remaining walls, called stockades, and the blockhouses in each corner were built.

Blockhouses were not only military centers but leader’s dwellings.  Their ample size also sheltered families in times of danger.  At this time, the Fort Harrod community population of about two hundred included thirty-seven outlying farm families, who lived in the fort only when under Native American attack.  The farmers planted seeds they brought from the east and ate the game and wild fruit of the new frontier.

Continued next Monday ...

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Rebecca Hart Log Cabin

 Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The Methodist Church first held services in Kentucky at the home of James and Ann Harrod in Boiling Springs at the Harrod's Station. The large, frame two-story home used for services was burned to the ground by arson in 1833. Technically, Boiling Springs is in Danville, Kentucky.

The above log cabin, the home of Rebecca Hart, was the site of the first Methodist prayer meetings held in Harrodsburg in the early 1800s.  In 1828, an official Methodist Society was organized, paving the way for the future establishment of the Methodist Church in Harrodsburg.  This 1935 photograph shows a pageant reenacting a gathering of early Methodists for an old-time prayer meeting at the Hart cabin.  

This cabin was located on the corner of West Broadway and North College Streets.  Because of its history, the Stoll Oil Company of Louisville, which had bought the property in the early 1930s, decided to restore it, furnishing it with period pieces and opening it as a museum.  The exact date off its demolition is not known.  

These very cabins were Harrodsburg’s oldest buildings, built outside the fort at a time when the threat of Indian attacks had lessened, but close enough to get back inside in the case of trouble.  The settlers, anxious to escape the confines of the stockade, wanted to establish their own paces to raise their families and plant their crops.

Friday, September 4, 2020

1912 Courthouse Construction


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

This picture shows the construction of the new courthouse being built in 1912.  It was not totally new because it incorporated part of the walls of the old courthouse.  The identity of the two men on the rafters is not known.  

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Corner Drugs


Photo from the Armstrong Archives

This corner was a drugstore for over 80 years, having as many as six differently owned businesses there throughout that period.  This photograph of the Corner Drug Store is from the 1920s.  It was a truly versatile store, selling paint and household goods, filling prescriptions, and providing a fountain and luncheonette.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Avalon Inn

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The post card above is the earliest photograph of the Hotel Harrod, in operation from 1852 until 1941; note the horse and buggies unloading at the front entrance.  Located on the southwest corner of Main and Office Streets, this hotel was thoroughly modern with 75 guest rooms and dining areas.  The Hotel Harrod was known for its famous southern food – Kentucky country ham, southern fried chicken and western steaks served year round.  

Photo from the Armstrong Archives

The bottom photograph is a 1940s picture after the name was changed to the Avalon Inn; automobiles have replaced horses and buggies along the streets.  According to Harrodsburg resident Ann Nooe, “A lot of pretty old ladies lived there [Hotel] and they sat out in front of the hotel on the sidewalk at night … many had beautiful white hair that was fixed just right.” 
Photo from the Armstrong Archives

In this photograph, Elija Bryant, from Harrodsburg, is holding a mouthwatering country ham, probably cured on a Mercer County farm.  Dressed in his waiter’s uniform of black pants, a crisp white shirt and a black bowtie, Bryant was a longtime employee of Avalon Inn, and he took pride in his work.

Article from the Advocate Messenger, March 14, 1939

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Birthplace of Kentucky: The Corn Crib Skirmish or the Battle of Cove Springs

Old, Black and White Illustration of Agricultural Scene, From 1800's
Photo by Ideabug/Getty Images

During September 1773, Chief Cornstalk broke the uneasy truce with the white men and directed a massacre of families on the Greenbriar and other outlying stations. This is about the same time Daniel Boone had decided to move his family from the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina to Kentucky with the intent of making a permanent settlement. On September 25, 1773 the Boones and five other families sat out, and upon reaching Wolf Hills at present day Abingdon, Daniel dispatched his seventeen-year-old son, Jamie, and several others to Russell’s Fort to retrieve supplies. On October 9th, Jamie and his group were attacked by bands of Delawares, Shawnees, and Cherokees. 

Harrod was not going to let the Native Americans prevent him from returning to Kentucky. As he continued with his plans, Colonel William Preston, surveyor of Fincastle County refused to enter any of Captain Bullitt’s surveys. He said Bullitt refused to hire Fincastle deputy surveyors as required by Virginia law, and he had staked his surveys in Shawnee land under treaty to the crown. Bullitt also failed to tip Preston a little gratuity for his trouble in overseeing Fincastle’s disputable claims. Colonel Preston demanded the surveys had to be redone under his supervision, and he doubted the men had a legal right to survey below the Kentucky River.

In Harrodstown, during September 1775, 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.

During Harrod’s years in Kentucky, his first loyalty was to the men who had chosen him as their leader. However, some of his men were unwilling to obey what they considered unnecessary and arbitrary restrictions on their movements. Newcomers, seeing the muddled situation in the Transylvania colony, choose to ignore the rulings or returned to their old homes in the east rather than risk their efforts on uncertain claims.

The Transylvania Company announced an increase in land prices from twenty shillings to two pounds ten shillings per one hundred acres. Joining Daniel Boone on his second expedition to Boonesborough was a hot-tempered, loud talking but able Scotch-Irishman named Hugh McGary. After passing through the Cumberland Gap, McGary finally settled himself and his new family near Harrodstown in September 1775.

When Hugh McGary’s party arrived, they selected land about three hundred yards farther west as a more suitable location, on account of a spring which issued from the foot of a rocky bluff on the north side. There McGary, Denton, Harrod, and three others erected cabins. When the Poague party finally arrived in February 1776, the Hugh Wilson family were the only ones residing in the old cabins.

The Kentucky frontiersmen could plow the ground, fence in new clearings, and erect cabins, but only the arrival of women and children could give stability to the settlements. The women and children began arriving in September 1775. There was also resurgence in the work of completing Fort, which the increasing number of the Indian attacks rendered a necessity. The construction on the stockade began and it was completed by early spring. The fort enclosed an area of about one and a half acres, with a spring and a stream running through for fresh water. Settlers were warned of an Indian attack by a large cedar horn sounded from the fort.  Fort Harrod was a defensive, arsenal fortification and its walls served as a stronghold ready to protect settlers living on the outside. It became an important haven to the pioneers of Kentucky because, as the American Revolution intensified, the British encouraged the Native Americans to raid the Kentucky settlements.

Harrodstown had lush grass and abundant water, and the limestone soil made great pastureland for grass eating animals that was without parallel in pioneer history. Bears provided an excellent meat substitute for bacon.  Game was plentiful but so were Indian raids. The new fort was nearly completed and conveniently located it provided refuge for both the people of Harrodstown and other settlers when the Native Americans were on the warpath.  The fort of 1775-1776 was located about one-half mile south of the Big Spring and was built on higher ground than the 1774 Big Spring’s encampment.

The first court in Kentucky County was held on September 2, 1776. George Rogers Clark, Isaac Hite, Benjamin Logan, Robert Todd, Richard Callaway, John Kennedy, Nathaniel Henderson, Daniel Boone, James Derchester, and James Harrod were named justices of the peace. Levi Todd was appointed Clerk of Court.

George Rogers Clark was still in Williamsburg for the fall legislative session and on the opening day John Gabriel Jones joined him. They presented the two Harrodsburg petitions to the Assembly. They also requested to be seated as delegates from the Western Part of Fincastle County; the council refused to grant the request. Henderson, upset that his purchases had been voided, tried another attack by attempting to have his claims validated under Virginia law at the expense of Harrod’s company.

Thomas Slaughter, a past opponent of Harrod, also had a petition on behalf of himself and others near Kentucky. It turned out Slaughter not only reinforced the Harrodstown pleas but called attention to the need for organized militia. By highlighting the danger of Native Americans, the Kentuckians showed they would be a barricade for the older settlements in the east. This argument was a success and the House of Delegates began considering a bill for creation of the new county.

The Indiana Company also protested Virginia’s claim to the western lands, and Judge Henderson, who did not want a new county created out of his territory, lobbied hard to protect the fading prospects of the Transylvania Company. Clark and Jones did receive support from Thomas Jefferson and George Mason, strong allies with Harrodstown, and they fought valiantly to get Kentucky created as a county with its own local government. Jefferson agreed with Governor Henry about the Transylvania-Harrodstown controversy and helped Clark successfully argue that Kentucky settlements were essential for the protection of the Virginia frontier.

The corn crib skirmish of Harrodsburg occurred on September 22, 1777 but started on September 11. A party of 37 men under Colonel Bowman went to Captain Joseph Bowman’s settlement at the Cove Spring, five miles southeast of Harrodsburg to shell corn and bring back to the Fort. The “corn crib skirmish” occurred on when a party of Kickapoos stole up through a canebrake and fired upon the whites as they were shelling corn. Bowman gallantly hallooed to his men, “Stand your ground! – we are able to beat them, by the Lord!” Squire Boone and six others were injured (one later died that night). Eli Gerrard was killed. This spirited little affair was known among the frontiersmen of the day as the Battle of Cove Spring.

Corn had been raised at the Cove Spring near Harrod’s run, and some five miles northeast of Harrodsburg. A party went there to shell corn – in the cribs, and the Native Americans came upon them. James Berry very severely wounded, and two killed and another wounded who subsequently died. The men fought – Nathaniel Randolph ran all the way to Harrodsburg, got help and returned – the men were still in possession and the Native Americans were moving off – saw bloody signs.

 A boom of children was being born in Kentucky. James and Ann Harrod had been married seven years before finally in September 1785 Margaret Harrod was born; Ann’s second child, and only child of her marriage to Harrod.


Harrodsburg Opera House

  This is a photo we had never seen and Belinda S Kurtz shared this from another group. “Wasn’t Bob Martin that used to run the radio statio...