Name: John MARTIN

John Martin's Station [1]

One of the most famous Central Kentucky stations was established by John Martin, an early Ft. Boonesborough resident (Draper mss. 12CC6478). Martin first improved the site in 1775 or 1776 with William Whitsett (Ardery 1939:14; Jillson 1934:93). It was located on Stoner Creek five miles from Isaac Ruddell's Station and three miles below Paris. A major aboriginal path, identified by Jillson (1934) as the Alantowamiowee Trail, passed by the site. The improvement was enlarged and fortified as a station in the spring of 1779 after Lexington was begun (Draper mss. 12CC64-78). Numerous families settled there but, in June of 1780, Martin's Station was taken by Capt. Henry Byrd and his army (Coleman 1951). Byrd left Detroit in the spring of 1780 with 150 soldiers and 100 Indians with orders to launch a defensive against the exposed Kentucky settlements. He reached Cincinnati on June 9th where a council with the Indian chiefs led him to reluctantly agree to an attack of the interior settlements rather than attacking George Rogers Clarke's settlement at the Falls of the Ohio. At this time, 300-350 families, many of whom were loyalist Pennsylvanian Germans, lived in the Martin's/Ruddell's Station neighborhood. Byrd first arrived at Ruddell's Station with two field artillery pieces, having sent an advance unit ahead under the command of Capt. McKee. The station had been defending themselves against McKee's unit but the sight of Byrd's 6-lb cannon led them to surrender. Despite promises to the contrary, several of the inhabitants were killed. Byrd then moved to Martin's Station, arriving there on the morning of June 26. Capt. John Martin was away on a hunting trip. When demanded to surrender, the station inhabitants did so without firing a shot. The majority of inhabitants from both stations were marched as captives to Detroit (Coleman 1951).

The location for Martin's Station is well documented. John Martin had five Virginia land grants on Stoner Fork of the Licking River (Brookes-Smith 1976:126-127). His 400-acre settlement tract included the station as specified in his survey entry. Connected to his settlement was a 1000-acre preemption and three Treasury Warrants containing 333 acres, 666 acres and 801 acres respectively. His 1000acre preemption connected to Samuel McMillan tract in which Kiser's stone house is located.,

The Martin's Station location is indicated on a plat drawn for a land dispute between the heirs of Thomas Elliott and James Garrard, Sr. et al. (Bourbon County Court Records, Sept. 3, 1804). It is in the southern corner of Martin's settlement on the west bank of a large bend of Stoner Creek (Figure IV-15). A later stone house called Fairfield was built by James Garrard, Jr. on the station tract (Lafferty 1957:30). Both the station and the house (which burned and a smaller structure rebuilt of the same stones) are the subject of a Kentucky Historical Society marker on the Cynthiana. Road. Local family history claims that Mrs. James Garrard, Sr. chose the site for Mt. Lebanon (a stone house on the opposite side of the creek) from their log home which was a "stone's throw" from Martin's Station (Kentuckian-Citizen 1944). The same source stated that a stone wall had been placed around the site. Lafferty (1957) later claimed that the family cemetery (which is walled) is on the exact site of the station. This enclosure does not appear to be large enough to contain a sizable fortified settlement. However, close inspection on four occasions of exposed fields near the house and cemetery revealed no trace of historic archaeological remains. Nor did shovel probing and soil coring in areas of more lush vegetation reveal any cultural midden. Several explanations can be suggested for the paucity of archaeological indications at the site. House construction may have disturbed or destroyed some of the site, particularly since the associated spring and the aboriginal trail (still used as a farm road) is on the opposite side of the house from the garden and cemetery. The disadvantage to this area is that it is not the most elevated section of the topography and, therefore, less defensible. However, the higher hill to the north was carefully examined without result. This hill is considerably farther from water which the pioneers might have perceived as disadvantageous. It also has suffered from erosion through cultivation and archaeological remains may have been destroyed. Although physical remains dating to the eighteenth century were not located, this site was given a designation of 15Bb8l due to the excellent historical documentation of its location. However, its significance could not be determined.


1. Nancy O’Malley, Stockading Up, Kentucky Heritage Council, Frankfort Kentucky, revised edition, 1994, pp. 70-71.

Last Modified: November 5, 2000
Created: August 15, 2002