Tidbits of History

Dublin Core


Tidbits of History


Here are some tidbits of county history — not necessarily connected.

The first white men in Madison County included John Finley and Daniel Boone in 1769. In 1770, Squire Boone left a message for Daniel on a rock, letting him know he was back in Madison County after a trip to North Carolina. The rock is now on display in the county courthouse. Its original location was near Joe’s Lick Knob near Big Hill Road (U.S. 421).

In 1775, Daniel led a group of men as they cut their way through seemingly endless cane stands from Cumberland Gap to the mouth of Otter Creek, later the location of Fort Boonesborough. I have been shown Madison County traces of this now-famous “wilderness road” near the Grant House and along Red House Road. Tweety’s Fort was a temporary defense named for Captain John Tweety, who was killed nearby by Native Americans.

Kentucky County, Va., was formed in 1776. In 1780, this area was split into thirds — Fayette, Jefferson and Lincoln counties. In 1786, Madison County was created out of sections of Lincoln County. Madison County then covered a large area, going east to the Virginia border. Parts of no less than 14 eventual Kentucky counties were carved out of the original Madison County over the years. Was our county named for President James Madison? Trick question — he was not elected president until a number of years later. Milford was the first county seat. Ten years or so later the county seat moved to a new town, Richmond. In 1792, Kentucky left Virginia and became the 15th state in the union. The land on which Richmond was built was owned by Col. Tom Miller, whose hometown was Richmond, Va. Hence the name Richmond was chosen. A courthouse was built in 1799. Fifty-plus years later the current courthouse was built on the same site.

Everyone knows the story of Cassius M. Clay, but where did the Clay estate originally come from? It came from his father, Gen. Green Clay. In 1785, he purchased 1400 acres of land in Madison County. By 1800, the family holdings had expanded to 40,000 acres. He owned distilleries, taverns, warehouses and of course, Clay’s Ferry. He served as county magistrate for 40 years. He was born in Virginia in 1757. He served in the Virginia Legislature as a representative of Kentucky. Later, he served in both the Kentucky Senate and the House. In the War of 1812, he led 3,000 troops with the rank of general. He died in 1828 and was buried on the grounds of the home, which his son Cassius renamed White Hall.

From exploration, to county reconfigurations, to the entrepreneurship of a local squire — bits of Madison County history.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “Tidbits of History,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 30, 2023, https://madisonsheritage.eku.edu/items/show/1838.