John Hinkson's Fort

From: "Stockading Up" by Nancy O'Malley. Kentucky Heritage Council, University of Kentucky Program for Cultural Assessment, April 30, 1987, pp. 240-244.

Harrison County

Harrison County originally was part of Fayette County's 1780 territory. In 1786, all but the northeastern corner became part of Bourbon County. It was established as Harrison County in 1794 with minor transfers of acreage to or from surrounding counties in the following year.

Very few stations were established in this county although its territory was well known to early pioneers. Only four candidates for stations were located for Harrison County.

Haggin's Blockhouse or Station

This site was usually referred to as "Haggin's Blockhouse" rather than a station although it served the same purposes. John Haggin had come to Kentucky in April of 1775 and and raised a corn crop about eight miles above Cynthiana on Hinkston or Stoner Creek (Draper mss. 11CC257263). According to a deposition by Samuel McMullen (McMillan) in a suit between Patrick Burns and John Haggin, Haggin received property from Samuel's brother, Thomas, "to furnish him with a place" (Staples, Charles R. History in Circuit Court Records, Fayette County. "Register of the Kentucky Historical Society." 1930:216). In another suit between Humphrey Marshall and William Gunnell vs. John Fowler, Samuel McMullen deposed the following (Staples 1934:156):

He has this day [June 4, 1811] shown the surveyor of Bourbon County the place where John Haggin's cabin, that he lived in the summer of 1776 stood. Deponent came to this cabbin about the last of April 1776 in company with said Haggin and family and the said cabbin was notoriously known to the inhabitants of this part of the country at that time. Deponent continued with said Haggin and in the neighborhood until the Christmas following about which time the neighborhood was driven off by the Indians and the settlement entirely evacuated. Deponent first became acquainted with William Kennedy at Hinkston settlement about two miles from Haggin's cabbin during the summer of 1776. Kennedy alternately made his residence at Haggin's cabbin and at Hinkston's settlement during the summer of 1776 . . .

Upon removal from the cabin on the Licking, Haggin and McMillan lived at Harrodsburg.

Later historians placed this cabin or blockhouse either at the mouth of Paddy's Run (Lafferty, Maud Ward. "Destruction of Ruddle's and Martin's Forts in the Revolutionary War." Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, Kentucky. 1957) or opposite Sellars Run one and one-half miles above Cynthiana (Jillson 1934:85). The mouths of these two creeks lie on opposite sides of the same bend of the Licking River about 4800 feet apart in a north-south line. Neither of these locations agree with an 1800 survey plat (M.I.K. Library Special Collections: Map 148) which shows "Haggin's cabbin" on the east bank of the Licking River just south of the Bourbon-Harrison County line at the mouth of an unnamed creek. John Hinkston is shown as having land within the bend opposite the "cabbin" in an area acquired at an early date by the David family. John Haggin was assigned a 400-acre land grant on the south fork of the Licking River by his brother, James Haggin (Virginia Survey Book 7, pp. 109-110). He was also assigned two 1000-acre tracts on Indian Creek or its waters (Virginia Survey Book 4, pp. 9-10; Book 11, p. 229) by George and Samuel Givens (Brookes-Smith, Joan E. "Master Index: Virginia Surveys and Grants 1774-1791." Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfurt, Kentucky. 1976:75). The 400 acre grant lies on the west side of a bend of the South Licking River as shown in Figure IV-70 (see below). Cabin locations at Sellars and Paddy's Run could fit within this 400-acre tract. The location indicated on the 1800 plat is not within Haggin's settlement tract.

Benjamin Harrison's Station

References to this station are sparse and somewhat confusing. Jillson (Jillson, Willard Rouse. "Pioneer Kentucky." The State Journal Company, Frankfort, Kentucky. 1934:85-86) located the site "prior to 1786 at a point about two miles from Harrison's Fort and about three miles from the present town of Cynthiana." The term "Harrison's Fort" is not readily explicable unless it is a typographical error, intended to read "Hinkston's Fort" (later called Ruddell's Station). Ben Guthrie (Draper mast 11CC253-257) mentions Harrison's Station as having been defeated in 1784 and lists Stephen Lowry and Jimmy Sterrett as nearby inhabitants. The Kentucky Gazette (8 September 1787) reported that a Mr. Schooler was fired upon by Indians at Harrison's Station on Licking Creek. Benjamin Harrison had a 500-acre grant on the South Fork of the Licking which fits on the west side just north of the community of Lair (Figure IV-70, see below). The station may have been located on this property.

John Hinkston's or Isaac Ruddell's Station

This station had a short but colorful history. John Hinkston first established a settlement here in 1775 with fifteen cabins but Indians caused its abandonment fifteen months later (Ardery, Julia Spencer. Bourbon Circuit Court Records. Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. 1939:11; Lafferty, 1957:13; Perrin, William Henry. History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky. O.L. Baskin & Company, Chicago. 1882). John Townsend on Townsend Creek and John Cooper on Cooper's Run reportedly raised corn to supply the station's seed for the 1776 crop. Some other early inhabitants included William Kennedy and Thomas Dunn (Staples 1934). Simon Kenton and Thomas William spent the winter of 1776-1777 and helped to build a blockhouse here (Kenton, Edna. Simon Kenton, His Life and Period. Doubleday, Doran and Co. Garden City, N.Y. 1930:76).

The site was enlarged and fortified by Isaac Ruddell in April, 1779 and became known as Ruddell's Station. A great many people lived here and at Martin's Station in 1780 when both sites were captured by the British and Indians under Captain Byrd. Drake (1942:2115-216) lists the following settlers who were among the residents at the time of the attack:

John Bird
Frank Berry
Francis Berry
Mrs. Nelly Sharp Berry and children
Samuel Brooks
John Burger
Mrs. Carroll
Mrs. John Conway and seven children
Mrs. Samuel Conway two Conway girls
Michael Conway
Samuel Conway
Sally Conway
Joseph Conway
Benjamin Cooper
Casper Karsuer
Thomas Clark
Sarah (Ruddell) Davis
Thomas Davis and wife
John Denton, wife and Miss Denton
John Duncan, wife and son
George Finley
Capt. & Mrs. Charles Gatliff and children
George Givens
Michael, Peter and John Goodnight
James Gray
Henry Grott
Misses Goodnight
John Haggin
Col. Benjamin Harrison
Nicholas Hart
Capt. John Hinkson
Mrs. Honn
Catherine Honn
Joseph Houston and his company from Pennsylvania
Robert or Charles Knox
Rhoda Long and other children
Mr. and Mrs. George Lail and children
Mrs. Laport, son and Judy Laport
John Long and wife
William Marshall
Jacob Markle
Patrick Mahan and wife
Thomas Mahan
Margaret Mahan
James Mahan
John Mahan
William Mahan
Jane Mahan
John Martin
William McCune
Robert McDaniel, wife, children
John McFall, wife
James Morrow
William Nesbitt
Mr. Purseley
Elizabeth Bowman Ruddell
Stephen Ruddell
Abraham Ruddell
Lt. (Thomas) Ravenscraft
Capt. Isaac Ruddell
Isaac Ruddell, Jr.
Elizabeth Ruddell
James Ruddell
Mr. and Mrs. (John) Sellers, children
Hugh Shannon
William Steele
Mr. and Mrs. Christian Spears
Martin Toffelmire, wife, 6 children
William Whitsett
Anne Maria, fiancee of Mat Detroit
Samuel Van Hook
William Whitesides

To this list can be added John Conovery (possibly Conway) and Capt. John Smith (Staples 1934:1-22, 265), both of whom were captured. William McCune deposed that the station had 30-40 men, women and children in 1780 (Staples 1934:156-158), meaning probably 30-40 families. A large number of settlers were taken prisoner and marched to Detroit. Lafferty (1957:13) indicates that twenty were killed on the spot. These victims were later buried in a mass grave by piling stones over their bodies. Matthias Lair and his brother, John, settled on the property after the Revolutionary War. In 1845, a Lair descendant gathered the bones of the massacre victims and placed them in the Lair family crypt where they remain today.

The location of the station site is well established as it was used as a landmark on many surveys and other maps for years after its abandonment. It was located on the east bank of the South Fork of the Licking River along the buffalo road from McClelland's Station to Lower Blue Licks. It was also very near the Lair's house called "The Cedars" which still stands, although now in partial ruins. An 1800 survey plat (M. I. King Library, Special Collections: Map 148) also notes its location and that of the buffalo road. Based on various sources and a visit to the site itself which is marked by a monument placed by one of the Lairs, the station location is indicated in Figure IV-70 (see below).

The survey of the site (designated 15Hrl9) revealed only ephemeral remains of a former settlement. It is located on a broad, flat ridgetop which was in a recently mown hay pasture, allowing about 25% ground visibility. A faintly perceptible rectangular shape characterized by a slight mounding may indicate the walls of the stockade. This "enclosure" measures 100 feet north-south and 250 feet east-west roughly. Limestone rock is scattered through the field but appears to be slightly more concentrated in the approximate center of the "enclosure" where the soil also is slightly darker. Unfortunately, no artifacts were found to further verify that an historic settlement had existed here.

However, its location is further supported by the survey calls for John Hinkston's 1400-acre settlement and preemption which mentions the site. According to entry, the 1000-acre preemption was to include "the lands of Ruddle's Station" (Virginia Survey Book 1, p. 306).