Still working on this. Before I go any further I must give credit to Mr. Bill Thompson and his 
book "The History and Legend of Breckinridge County, Kentucky".  His love of the county was 
obvious and his research priceless.

Map of Breckinridge County	
Communities:	Glen Dean		Hudson			Kirk
		Falls of Rough		Hardinsburg		Axtel
		Bewleyville		Lilac Hill		McDaniels
		Cloverport		Irvington		Harned
		Stephensport		Union Star & Sample	Kingswood
Population 1810-2000
Local agencies to contact
Miscellaneous Data
Formation of County
Courthouse fires
Big Bill Hardin & the Fort - from History & Legend of Breckinridge County, Kentucky by Bill Thompson 

No Indian tribes ever lived in Breckinridge County but rather used it as a hunting ground.  In
many areas of the county evidence can still be found of their visits.  There was an abundance
of wild life, a thick growth of hardwood trees, and numerous water sources.

Kentucky was the 15th state of the Union, joining in 1792.  In the beginning it was Kentucky
County of Virginia.  The Ohio River brought the first white settlers in 1780 who built Hardin's
Fort, later to become Hardinsburg.  Of the pioneers to follow many came through the Cumberland
Gap from Virginia and North Carolina.  When Kentucky became a state in 1792 Hardin County was 
formed from Nelson County.  Breckinridge County was formed from Hardin County in December of 1799.  
It was named for John Breckinridge of Virginia who was a lawyer and a statesman.  The first court 
was held at Hardin's Fort in 21 April 1800 with Ben Comstock, James Jennings, and Edgar Pate
serving as judges.  The first Grand Jury consisted of: Thomas Brown Sr., John Frank Sr., Peter 
Peckenpaugh, Peter Claycomb, William E. Smith, Edward Smith, Jacob Bruner, Leonard Bruner, 
Fredrick Claycomb, Richrd Abbott, Henry Hardin, Henry Ashfield, Lawrence W. Cannon, Richard 
Scheckel, and George Bruner.  The first case was against John Sterrett for public profanity.

Glen Dean
Located in a valley 10 miles southwest of Hardinsburg is Glen Dean.  Here settlers built one 
of the first Christian churches in the county, Goshen Baptist Church. "Goshen" means a land of 
peace and plenty.  The first settlers were the Deans, Moormans, Owens, and Robertsons. It was 
named in honor of one of the largest land holders in the county, William Johnson Dean. When the 
railroad came through in 1891 it became a thriving little town.  D.C. Moorman was the first chief 
officer of the town and William Owen its first constable.  Joe Mattingly built the first business 
place, the Glendean House.  Utopia School was built in 1893.  It had two classrooms on the first 
floor and the second floor was used as a town hall.  Irene Board and Mary Moorman were the 
teachers, Frank Lyons the principal.  Enrollment was 224 but average attendance 100.  Glen Dean 
had one of the best blacksmiths in the state, J.A. Mattingly.  R.T. Dempster and his son, P.E.
Dempster migrated to Glen Dean from Canada and provided had a medical practice and drug store.  
The railroad left in 1941 and now there is no school, no doctor, no hotel etc. Daniel's Creek  
and a few houses are all that remains.

Falls of Rough
Falls of Rough lies on the boundary between Breckinridge and Grayson Counties. Many Indian relics 
have been found here from several different tribes.  The Falls of Rough River must have played 
a big part in their lives.  In 1792 George Washington owned 5,000 acres in the area.  White men 
harnessed the power of the falls in 1790 and built a mill there.  The first settler there was 
George Wilson from North Carolina who built the first dam there.  One of the first judges of the 
Kentucky Court of Appeals was Benjamin Sebastian.  His political views gave him a lot of trouble 
and to get out of the public arena he purchased several thousand acres of land at the falls.  Some 
years later it sold it all to Willis Green.  In 1823 Willis Green built the house and store that 
still stand today.  In 1855 the rock dam built by Willis Green washed out. Lafe Green borrowed 
$20,000 from B.F. Beard to rebuild it.  The stonework in the new dam was done by Edgar Bennett 
and has stood the trials of time.  After years of operation the saw mill ran out of quality trees 
in the area and shut down in 1933.  Between 1915 and 1920 the Greens owned over 8,000 acres of 
land making it the largest single farming operation in the state at the time.  A flour mill also 
operated here.  They processed 6,250 barrels of flour a day.  The best grade was called "Grayson 
Lily", the next "White Rose" and the third "Good Enough".

The area around Bewleyville is made up of gently rolling hills and valleys. Quality soil makes it
one of the best farming areas in the state.  Around 1800 the first settlers to arrive here were 
the Stiths, Bewleys, Sanders, Jordans, Hardaways, Blanfords, Jollys, Chicks, Bandys, and 
Washingtons.  The first Methodist church in the county was built here with the pastor from 1834 
to 1850 being James Taylor.  Brother Taylor married 824 couples and his name is familiar to any 
of us researching family in this area.  In 1844 politics and opinions about slavery split the 
church into two sections.  Around the time of the Civil War, Edgar Bennett opened up a rock quarry.  
He was one of the best stone masons around and stone from this quarry could be found in the Falls 
of Rough dam, foundation of the Courthouse, and many of the bridges in this part of the state.  
The Bewelyville Masonic Lodge was chartered in 1851 with the first Master being John Gaston.

Cloverport was formerly called Joe Ville and was settled in 1803 by Joe Huston.  In its day was 
one of the busiest spots on the Ohio River.  The only market for farmers of the day was in New 
Orleans and the Ohio River the way to get there.  In 1821 the state established one of the first 
roads in the state which ran from Bowling Green to Cloverport. A hotel at Tar Springs also brought 
money to the area from people who can for its natural beauty and to drink its "miracle waters".  
Not long after the Civil War the old hotel was replaced with a three story brick structure and 25 
cabins.  There are 12 springs here located close together but each yielding a different type of 
water.  The railroad arrived in 1887 and the town grew even more.  The Cloverport Brickyard 
started in 1898.  On March 13, 1901 a fire broke out and with no fire fighting equipment the 
town was soon in ashes.  These weren't folks who gave up and soon a new town stood on the same 
ground.  The Cloverport Post Office opened in 1828 with its first postmaster being George LaHust.  
The town is a mere shell of its former self today but recent federal grants have begun an attempt 
to revive the downtown area.

Stephensport is located where Sinking Creek flows into the Ohio River.  Sinking Creek is a bit of 
an oddity.  It starts some 15 miles east of Hardinsburg and flows northerly.  After 8-10 miles it 
suddenly sinks into the ground and then shows up again after another 10 miles where it continues 
until it reaches Stephensport at the Ohio River.  The land around the town was once owned by 
Richard Stephens who served in the Revolutionary War and was given the land for his service.  At 
one time he is said to have owned 94,000 acres.  The town was incorporated in 1825 and had a 
population of 160.  In 1830 Daniel J. Stephens had a large brick church built.  With river trade 
during the Civil War the town prospered.  The railroad arrived in 1888.  In 1902 W.J. Schopp built 
a large store that handled everything "from the cradle to the grave". In 1912 a fire destroyed 
stores owned by Mr. Schopp.  In 1927 another fire destroyed stores owned by Robert French and Abe 
Hardesty. In the 1937 flood many of the homes washed away. The town of today in no way resembles 
the town of yesteryear.

In 1810 Joseph Hudson arrived in Breckinridge County, taking up land referred to as the Hudson 
community.  The first settlers were George Holmes, Rafeal Cox, Doctor George Legrand, Steve 
Critchelow, Henry Tucker, and Mac Jauncy.  During the Civil War Gorillas plundered all the houses 
in the community.  Shortly after the war Mac Jauncy built a gristmill so people of the community 
could grind their own meal.  Riley Johnson operated a distillery here until Prohibition.  Hudson 
is another town that is disappearing and there is littler there today.

Hardinsburg is the county seat of Breckinridge County.  The first courthouse was built in 1801 
and was a log structure.  In 1868 it was replaced by a brick building which was the pride of the 
community.  It burnt down 7 February 1958. Groundbreaking for a new courthouse was 11 April 1959.  
There was short concrete wall around the building where local men would sit and whittle. Towns-
people complained of the "mess" it made on the walkway so the men turned around and dropped their 
shavings on the other side of the wall under the practice was totally prohibited.  Today the 
courthouse houses the archives in the basement.  It is one of the best I've been to.  There is 
enough there to keep the genealogist busy for weeks.  The post office was established in 1803 
operated by H. Beardsley.  In the winter of 1917-18 the snow was so deep that mail carrier, Jim 
Noblett, was forced to deliver mail on foot.

Lilac Hill
The house referred to as Ivy Hill was built by Peter Daniel who came to Hardinsburg in 1801.  He 
operated a properious mercantile business and built the beautiful brick home in 1839.  It is a two 
story structure with walls 14" thick.  There are 3 stairways and 5 fireplaces.  The floors are ash 
boards 10" wide and 1.25" thick.  The name has been changed to Lilac Hill because of a cemetery 
named Ivy Hill.  Prior to the Civil War Mr. Daniels was one of the wealthiest men in the county. 
He owned several farms, 26 slaves, and his oldest son, Peter, was a lawyer and graduate of Yale.  
Peter Daniel was killed at Chickamaugua 24 September 1863.

George Bandy came to the Irvington area with a land grant in the early 1800's.  Other early 
settlers were the Jollys, Jordans, Bennetts, Bandys, Adkissons, McCoys, Robertsons, and Washingtons.  
These people led a isolated live.  There were no railroads, no highways, and river travel was one 
way.  Because of this they were even more self sufficient than other people of the time.  In 1887 
R.M. Jolly and Ed Bennett purchased two tracts of land that constitute where Irvington lies today.  
The railroad came in about the same time.  In 1898 E.H. Shellman organized a bank and W.J. Piggott 
opening the First State Bank in 1903.  The first rural postal route was established in 1906 with 
Oscar Dowell as a carrier.  In 1913 he bought a Model T and people would drop whatever they were 
doing to watch him whiz by at 20-25 MPH.

Union Star & Sample
The first known white man to set foot in Breckinridge County soil was at Sample.  Colonel Hardin 
and his party of settlers landed in Sample at the falls of Sinking Creek in 1780.  Union Star was 
settled in 1809.  Adam Barr was an officer in the Revolutionary War and moved here soon after the 
end of the war.  His oldest son Adam Jr., and Peter Cashman fought with Andrew Jackson in the 
Battle of New Orleans.  Joseph Allen fought with Adam Barr and came with him to Kentucky settling 
in 1799.  In 1845 Thomas D. Helm donated a plot of land upon which to build a school and church.  
In 1848 Ed McGlotham left money in trust for the school.  The interest on it paid a teacher for 
two extra months a year making Union Star the only 9 month school in the county.  This lasted 
until the Depression.  The railroad came through in 1887 and the community gained a reputation 
something akin to Las Vegas.  They built a racetrack, Camp Ground Hollow, about half mile north 
of Sample.  Sample went by the name of Chicken Bristle for several years.  It was named because 
of the chicken fights held there. 

Kirk is about 4 miles southwest of Hardinsburg.  Its early settlers were the Withers, DeHavens, 
Jarboes, Sheerans, Mattinglys, Millers, Tauls, Coomes, mcGarys, and Rhodes. With the coming of the 
railroad in 1888 W.K. Withers saw a business opportunity and built a store.  The town was named by 
Harvey McCracken for unknown reasons.  Pete Sheeran built the second store in town.  In the 1890's 
Dock Farrow built his home in town and sold groceries in one room of that home.  Dr. Crosby soon 
arrived followed by Dr. Milton Board.  In 1898 Cyrus Miller built a large store in town.  The 
first postmaster was W.K. Withers.

Perhaps one of the best known attractions in Axtel is Sand Knob.  The Knob is ~30' wide at the top 
with perpendicular walls rising to 110'.  It can be seen 20 miles away on a clear day.  To cele-
brate the Armistice and the end of WW1 Sidney Owen rode his horse up on top of the Knob carrying the 
American Flag to the cheers of many spectators.  Mr. William Cannon operated a tannery in Axtel 
where people would come for miles around to have their hides tanned.  The availability of good 
leather brought Elias Rhodes who was a cobbler. The earliest people here were the Cannons, Bennets, 
McCrackins, Jarboes, Owens, and McClellans.  At one point the community was yet un-named and Mr. 
Bennett wrote to the Postmaster General to get a name for their applied for post office. "Dear Sir, 
We have wrote to ax you to tel us a name fo our post office." He named the area Axtel.

Axtel is the area of the county I feel is my home.  I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, 
Emmet and Zetta Cannon, as a teenager.  I didn't have any interest in my ancestors at the time but
knew I liked it there.  My grandparents had lived a lot of other places in the county and it was
doing my research I found that is where the Cannons started out.  I also discovered my forefathers
on the other side of my family are buried in a small plot on the back of their farm.  No wonder
it feels like home to me.  I am the product of those early Cannons and McClellans with a few
of the others thrown in for good measure.

William McDaniels was one of the original pioneers of the county and where the town got its name.
He was with Col. Hardin, John Jolly, Christopher Bush and Mr. St. Clair when they came to the county
in 1779.  While the men folk went to get their belongings Mrs. McDaniels and Mrs. Jolly stayed at where
Sinking Creek joins the Falls.  Indians came and during the attack Mrs. McDaniels fell in the creek and
drowned.  Mrs. Jolly, her small child, and a slave were taken by the Indians to their village in Indiana.  
Mrs. Jolly didn't travel fast enough to suit them because of carrying the child.  The Indians killed the 
child and the slave but kept Mrs. Jolly.  After several months she was rescued and returned to her husband.  
After a few years William was also killed by two Indians while bringing some cows in to be milked.  Sam 
Spencer managed to kill both of the Indians.

Rillus Dockery ran a blacksmith shop from the Civil War to around 1900.  Eli Storms and Frank Rhodes ran 
a mercantile business in the early years after the Civil War.  Pleasant Hill Methodist Church was founded 
in 1853 with James Parson as a member of the original board. John H. Hart practiced medicine here from 
1876 to his death.
Nicholas Scott was the earliest land owner in Harned.  He arrived in 1800 and was married to Mary Pate.  
From 1816 until the Civil War Hopkins Otey Wale operated a stage coach station and inn.  It is thought 
Abe Lincoln stayed here during his families trip to Illinois.  Archibald Weatherford operated a general 
store here in 1898. From 1914 to 1946 Joseph Matthes was the town doctor.  Wilbur Pile was the postmaster 
in 1918 and Cleve Black the first carrier.

Kingswood is a "new" town compared to many of the others and was named after Kingswood College in England.  
In 1906 John Wesley Hughes moved to the area and built what was to become Kingswood College.  In 1914 the 
Rev. E.T. Adams took over his work at the school. Other to serve the school before its end in the 1930's 
were: Rev. Hogue, Rev. E.E. Shelhammer, Mrs. Hadley and H.P. Thomas. It was also the home of an orphanage 
1920-1930.  Sam Heninger built the first store in 1907 which was bought by George Meddler in 1908.

Population 1810-2000

2000		18,648
1990		16,312
1980		16,861
1970		14,789
1960		14,734
1950		15,528
1940		17,744
1930		17,368
1920		19,652
1910		21,034
1900		20,534
1890		18,976
1880		17,486
1870		13,440
1860		13,236
1850		10,593
1840		 8,944
1830		 7,345
1820		 7,485
1810		 3,430

Breckinridge County Herald News
P.O. Box 1
Hardinsburg, KY 40143

Breckinridge County Library
112 S. Main St.
Hardinsburg, KY 40143

Breckinridge County Archives
P.O. Box 538
Hardinsburg, KY 40143
(270) 756-6112
Archivist: Karen Schafer

Miscellaneous Data
39th county to form
6th largest in area (572.4 sq. mi.)
elevation 383-920
longest name (12 char.) of the 120 counties
Latitude 3746'N Longitude 8625'W
borders Hancock, Hardin, Grayson, Meade, Ohio Counties and the Ohio River

Formation of County
Jefferson County formed 1780
Nelson from Jefferson County in 1784
Hardin from Nelson County in 1792
Breckinridge from Hardin County in 1799

fire - 12/28/1864
fire - February 1958

History and Legend of Breckinridge County, Kentucky
by Bill Thompson 1978 McDowell Publications

Big Bill Hardin and the Fort 

	William Hardin was a real pioneer, known as "Big Bill". He was of large physique, and a capable leader. He was not 
only a great warrior, fighting back the Indians, but was also a man engaged in the business and political life of the 
	There were three brother, French Huguenots, who, in order to escape religious persecution in France fled to Canada. 
The extreme cold of the Canadian climate caused them to emigrate to Virginia. 
	Two of the brothers settled there permanently, the other emigrated to South Carolina. From the brothers who settled 
in Virginia, descended the Kentucky Hardins. John, Martin, and William came to Kentucky and William was the pioneer of 
Breckinridge County. 
	John Hardin, for whom Hardin County was named, was murdered by the Indians in 1792, while on an embassy to their 
	Lydia Hardin, a sister, married Charles Wickliff, and was the mother of distinguished men and eminent statesmen. 
	Sarah, another sister, married her cousin, Ben Hardin, and was the mother of the great criminal lawyer, Ben Hardin. 
	William Hardin (Big Bill) was born in 1747. He married Winifred Holtsclaw and they had eight children. 
	His wife having died, he was married a second time to Susannah McGee, July 9, 1808. The children of the first 
marriage were: Winnie Ann, who married William Comstock. This lady grew, picked, carded, spun and wove the cotton into 
cloth from which she made her wedding gown. Henry Hardin, lived and died on a farm on Sugar Tree Run in Breckinridge County. 
Malinda married William Crawford, died and was buried in the Fort. William was postmaster in Frankfort for many years. 
	Elijah was killed at Hustons Springs in Hardinsburg in 1815. The other children were Amelia, John, and Jehu. 
Colonel Hardin also reared a niece and nephew. Daniel Hardin and Polly, his sister who later married Ben Huff, the first 
sheriff of Grayson County. 
	John Hardin, William's uncle, also made his home with this daring nephew, and was murdered by Indians, it was 
generally supposed a short distance from the Fort on what is now the Old Brandenburg Road. 
	Colonel William Hardin and his party had floated down the Ohio River as far as the Falls of Louisville. Here they 
remained for a short time but not liking the lay of the land he and a party of five men floated on down the river looking 
for a place to make a colony as he called it. Upon reaching the point where Stephensport now stands, he liked the looks of 
the country, and sailed from the Ohio River up Sinking Creek to the Falls near where Sample is. 
	It so happened that there was a party of Indians at the falls where they landed. They left their boat and went 
overland, followed by the Indians, to the present sight of Hardinsburg where Big Bill declared the place for his colony. 
	By the time they reached the spot which they chose for their colony they realized they were being followed by 
Indians in superior numbers. They decided to avoid a fight by traveling over land to Hines Fort, now Elizabethtown, 
which was established the year before, 1779. By traveling all night they reached a large spring near Rough Creek, where 
they stopped to slake their thirst and rest for a few minutes. "It is probable that this is where Big Springs is now,". 
It was at this point that the Indians caught up with Hardin's party, and a fight followed. One of the group Mr. St. Clair 
was killed but Big Bill and the rest escaped to Hines Fort. 
	Determined to establish his colony he returned the following spring with twelve families and built a typical 
frontier fort of stockade walls and watch towers at the corners, and several cabins near the fort. This was the last 
pioneer fort built on the frontier, and the fartherest west of any frontier fort in America. When his settlement was 
completed, news came of an Indian Village being built on the Saline Creek in Illinois. 
	Hardin was not well pleased that the Indians should be in such a close vicinity to his little settlement so he 
secured a group of eighty men and went into Illinois to dislodge them. When they arrived there were but three warriors 
guarding the village. They were shot, Hardin, then deployed his men to a small forest surrounded by open land on all 
sides to await the return of the Indian party. When they returned the battle was furious, often hand-to-hand combat. Many 
of the whites were killed. At the out bread of the battle, Big Bill was shot through the leg. Sensing the moral support 
his men needed, he climbed upon a huge fallen chestnut log and continued to direct the battle. The Indians were all killed 
or put to flight. This battle was never reported to the government and so has more often than not been passed over 
by historians, but it was reputed to have been one of the bloodiest battles in the winning of Kentucky. Among the number 
of the eighty men who went with Colonel Hardin to dislodge the Indians in Illinois were: Christopher Bush, Samuel Spencer, 
William McDaniels, William Luce, John Jolly, William Weatherholt, Charles Hamiliton, John Bruner, --- Brearshera, James 
Jennings, William Kelso, Henry Dean, --- Barger, --- Carlyle, --- Shiveley, Mordicia Lincoln, John Faith, --- Miller, 
Samuel Crawford, Edgar Pate, Adam Barr, Ben Huff, Ben Comstock, Horace Marry, Archibal Lochard, Daniel Meredith, --- 
Haynes, --- Hardiwas, --- Claycomb, ---- Payne, William Perrin, --- Rice, Joseph Toby, --- Taul, George Robards, Richards 
Stevens and --- Lampton. 
	The descendants of many of the above families have remained in Breckinridge County, the place of their birth, and 
are prominently connected with the business, social, and religious life of the county. 
	Colonel William Hardin wore a coveted trophy under his coonskin cap. and many a young Indian brave paid the 
supreme price for trying to collect it. Among the Indians, he was reported to have been killed more than once and as a 
result he was feared by many as a ghost and has dispersed large groups of them by just being seen. 
	The year after the fort was built, several acres of ground had been cleared and the settlers were planting corn. 
Miss Sarah McDonald, a young girl, was dropping corn for Colonel Hardin when they were attacked by the Indians. Colonel 
Hardin was shot through the lungs, a lesser physique could not have survived. One Indian warrior, realizing he was shot, 
came forward with his knife to take Big Bill's scalp. Sarah handed Colonel Hardin his rifle which he pointed at the Indian 
causing him to run back. Sarah finally succeeded in getting Colonel Hardin on his horse, but by this time the Indian was 
coming very close. Again Miss Sarah handed Colonel Hardin his gun and said, "Point it at him, Mr. Bill or he'll kill us 
both." With great effort Big Bill pointed his gun at the Indian who retreated until Sarah, too, could get on the horse 
and they reached the safety of the stockade. 
	Colonel Hardin did not shirk his political responsibilities. From 1810 to 1813 he was a member of the legislature 
of Kentucky. 
	All residents of Breckinridge County are recipients of Colonel Hardin's charity and foresight. Whether we sit on 
the courthouse rail and whittle, or once a year visit the sheriff's office to pay taxes; whether we hold political office 
in the courthouse or pay for our misbehavior in jail, we are on ground donated to Breckinridge County as a public property 
by this great man. 
	This magnificent man died in Breckinridge County, and lies today in an unmarked grave near U.S. 60 and Hardin's 
Creek. No one knows his exact burial place to any closer tolerance than one acre. What an end to our county's greatest