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TIP 247, THE CUMBERLAND TRACE

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TIP 247, THE CUMBERLAND TRACE

Sandi Gorin (View posts)
Posted: 10 Jun 1999 6:00AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 23 Jun 2001 9:32AM GMT
Surnames: Vance, Pitman, Maxey, Edwards, Tucker, Prewitt, Phillips, Bell, Doublehead, McFaddin, Bryant, French, Donelson, Jackson, Hutchins, Boone, Finlay, Hatcher, Harvie, Jennings
The Cave City Progress, Cave City, KY., Friday, July 5, 1974; contributed by the late Marion Vance, then president of the South Central Kentucky Historical Society and Member of the Executive Board).

The Cumberland Trace meandered from Stanford, Kentucky as the Southwest prong of the Wilderness Road which traversed the grounds from Cumberland Gap to Harrodsburg and Boonesborough. The Cumberland Trace was a dangerous trail because there were no stations where settlers in the early days of the 1789Â’s could gather to counter-attack Indian raids, which were spawned by Spanish intrigue.

The trace crossed in Kentucky, a no-manÂ’s land, the Barrens, since the settlements were in Central Kentucky and to the South, the Cumberland settlements (Tennessee). The Indian danger did not subside until 1795 when the Treaty of Nickojack was made. It was learned after that the Spanish had a secret treaty with the Creek Indians, the most deadly, to harass the settlers traveling the Cumberland Trace through the Barrens and elsewhere.

The Trace followed RobinsonÂ’s Creek and thence along Trace Creek in Green County where it crossed Green River just above PitmanÂ’s Station (established 1790 by William Pitman), then west-southwest crossing Little Barren River at Elk Lick, a salt lick, about a mile from its junction onto Green River, and about a mile or so Southeast of Elk Lick Knob (Now MaxeyÂ’s Knob); thence near Monroe, Hart County, Kentucky, and then on the South side of the 100-acre pond, thence by Oven Spring (between Pascal and Monroe), an ancient land-mark where the Indians made their hunting and war tools, implements and pottery and where the Indians attacked and captured the women mentioned in Cyrus EdwardsÂ’ book; thence the trace meandered to Bearwallow (VaughnÂ’s Knob) where during the heat of summer the Bears each three or four days wallowed in the spring-mud as a coating to shield their skin from the bites of insects; thence to Horse Well located on the Hart-Barren line, thence towards Cave City transversing the late George Tucker farm, thence on the East Side of PrewittÂ’s Knob, thence Southwesterly direction to Limestone Spring which is at Brushy Knob, three miles below PrewittÂ’s Knob, where it joined a prong of PhillipsÂ’ Station near Hodgenville; thence to WalkerÂ’s Stand or Three Forks (later BellÂ’s Tavern), thence to the Dripping Springs in Edmonson County where in 1795 Chief Doublehead captured five Virginians and killed and boiled their bodies as a symbol for future travelers not to travel their hunting grounds.

Upon many occasions the Indians dismembered the captured settlers and spread their bodies up and down the Cumberland Trace through the Barrens for two reasons, first, to stop settlers in their migration, and secondly, the Indians believed that the dismembered bodies would not re-assemble in heaven.

From Dripping Springs it went to the South Pilot Knob (now called the Smith Grove Knob) following the general course of 31-W and I-65 highways, thence southwesternly to Big Barren crossing at the junction of Drakes Creek, where in 1785 William McFaddin's Station was located (now known as the Triple-J Farm of James Bryant and his father, John Bryant, prominent citizens of Warren County). From here it meandered up Drakes Creek and a southwesternly course to the Cumberland settlements.

Those who traveled the Cumberland Trace used escorts. And they were expensive as life is precious. An 1802 Warren County law suit upon a promissory note revealed that Benjamin French, a famous Indian guide and fighter, escorted a lady from Mashborough to Frankfort during the Indian danger and he demanded his pay from her while passing over the Trace through the Barrens; they disagreed on the amount and she defended the suit alleging that he economically coerced her to sign a twenty pound note as her escort, else he wold cut loose the horses and leave her stranded and return himself without her.

Col. John Donelson, one of the famous founders of Tennessee, father of Rachel Donelson, wife of Andy Jackson, was killed somewhere along the Cumberland Trace in southern Kentucky. Andrew and Rachel Jackson adopted a young HutchinsÂ’ child, her sisterÂ’s child who married into the Lt. Thomas Hutchins family, who was the first in 1766-1769 to survey Green River and write a description of it even
before the advent of the Long Hunters. Lt. Hutchins was geographer general of the United States following the Revolution.

Phillips Trace was named for Phillip Phillips, a young Dutchman who spent his life with the Indians and along the Kentucky frontier, dating some two decades before the advent of the Long Hunters or the publicized Daniel Boone. In 1853 as a young lad, Phillips was at the Shawnee village in Clark County, Kentucky with the praying Indians who captured eight of John FinlayÂ’s traders; he was a resident according to the 1761 census at Fort Pitt where he worked with the white settlers; and he was an Interpreter for His MajestyÂ’s government with the Indians of the six nations at the Treaty of Fort Stanwix 1768 in New York, and he was the founder of Nolynn or PhillipÂ’s Station at Hodgesville 1779-80, as well as a magistrate of Jefferson County, Virginia in its beginning and a noted surveyor of lands North of Green river and who first staked out the Pollard 19,000 acre tract mentioned in Cyrus EdwardsÂ’ book.

PhillipsÂ’ Trace is mentioned in the earliest surveys and for this reason was easy for the writer to establish. It ran from Hodgenville to Buffalo to Munfordville where it crossed Green River, then through Woodsonville to near Summer Set Knob where it took the route of I-65 through the Hatcher Valley and struck the Cave City area passing Kuckleberry Knob on the west until it came to Limestone Springs.

It too pronged at or below Cave City and took a due south course to the noted salt licks in Monroe County, Kentucky traversing just north of Glasgow, “Phillip (salt) lick”, just west of the present country club on the old Walter Depp farm, later called the Lee Seminary road or the Knob Road or the Glasgow-Lexington Road or the Munfordville Road.

Historian Cyrus Edwards in his book lists “John Harvie” as a land shark. But, may I say, he happened to be a reputable financier and owned Horse Cave, Woodsonville and Park City and was head of the Virginia land office at Richmond, Va. For many years and a noted leader in frontier development. He was a wealthy developer and promoter and naturally speculated in the choice lands up and down the Cumberland Trace, as is true today of those of wealth.

Many portions of the Trace remain even today. They trace was originally made by the buffalo and legend says it was two to four feet deep at places and wide enough for the space of two wagons to pass one another. Since the herds ranged as high as 5,000 in number, and some over 2,000 pounds in weight, it is easy to comprehend how such a natural trace could be encountered.

Green River was originally called the Big New River or Buffalo River, but from 1766 to 1769 the trading houses of Philadelphia employed frontiersmen from Pennsylvania and Virginia to obtain their hides, reducing the buffalo in a three year span before the Long Hunters to one-twentieth their population. It was called “Green River” in the Journal of John Jennings 1767 when he journyed the Ohio and Mississippi from Fort Pitt to Fort De Chartier in the Illinois territory.

(c) Copyright 10 June 1999, Sandra K. Gorin, All Rights Reserved. sgorin@glasgow-ky.com

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