Madison County 150 Years Ago

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Madison County 150 Years Ago


From the Kentucky State Register for the year 1847, we learn the following details about the people and places in Madison County over 150 years ago. These first paragraphs were gleaned from some of the earliest records kept for our county, a county that was formed in 1785. Many of the houses and businesses were still in the form of log cabins. Some of the names will be familiar even today. These are some of the people that first acted in public service in Madison County.

County Attorney — W. J. Moton, Richard Runyon; Jailer — John Hockersmith, David J. Rowland; Coroner — James M. Beall, M. M. Kennedy; Constables — Robert Cellis, James McAllen, James M. Perry, Fountain T. Allison, James O. Rogers, Leonard J. Page, James M. Townsend, James M. Terry, James W. Price. The first name of James obviously resonated with the voters across the county.

Surveyor — Constant A. Wilson; Commissioners of Tax — Fountain S. Allison, John J. Marshall, Elisha W. Roberts, James W. Estill. Attorneys at Law — George W. Ewing, Elijah Hisle, John B. Semple, George T. Edwards, William J. Morton, Robert C. Bowling, Peter Maxey, William H. Carpenter, James W. Carpenter, David Beech, Curtis F. Burnam, Thomas Turner Jr., Henry T. Allison, Curtis Field Jr., William M. Irvine, James C. Stone, Richard Runyon and John Speed Smith.

Local physicians from the early years through 1847 included James B. Bowling, William K. Bowling, Robert Bowling, Walter Jones, James K. Wilson, W. M. Jones, W. A. Whitaker, William R. Letcher, Alexander R. McKee, Charles J. Walker, John Scott, John M. Harris, Andrew J. Burnam and John W. Kennedy.

Listed as “principal merchants” were A.F. and N. Long, P.S. Roberts, Grotzan and Bibb, Richard W. Courts, S. Becker and Son, Barclay and Risen, J.H. Gough and Co., John M. Gilbert, P. E. Norton, J. F. Stockdale and Co., William F. Caldwell, L.D. Gilbert, Field and Holloway, Allen Embry and Sons, White and Russell, Miller and Harris, Walker and Stockton, Burnam and Barnett, Chenault and Bushy, Sol Smith and Patrick Doyle. Many of these names can still be found in the latest city phone directory.

The terms of the Madison county court were described as “the first Monday in every month, except August, then the second Monday, and for March and September, the courts are held on the last Monday of the previous month, viz: February and August.”

Here we find evidence of a typical late frontier county seat, providing much work for local attorneys, a large enough county population to support physicians, while small local businesses in the form of partnerships and family-run operations abound.

Our thanks go out to Jasper Castle, local historian, for providing most of the research for this article.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “Madison County 150 Years Ago,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed June 15, 2024,