Creek News

Creek History – The Last Record of Native American Activity in the Harrods Creek Watershed

Map courtesy of www.davidrumsey.com

Lilburn D. Magruder’s (1868-1960) pioneer family settled in the Harrods Creek watershed and Lilburn penned some of the stories that he heard as a little boy about Harrods Creek. One of those included the last Indian raid as follows:

The pioneers from Maryland and Virginia that settled around Harmony Landing had plans to form an ideal community, building a place for Divine Services with nearby buildings for “The Academy” to educate children.

The first necessity was a supply of pure water. None being “in sight” the “water witch” was called to solve the problem with a fresh cut forked limb from a young sapling tree.

It was customary for travelers to register at the store, and also to leave letters to the folks “back at home”, telling of the progress thus far on the westward journey.

First an area was tried where water was wanted to be found but the forked limb failed to function. Then in a ravine 200 feet away at one particular spot the forked switch became agitated, bowed down. When held in a tight grip, the limb made six profound bows, indicating water was available in quantity six feet below the surface.

When a large excavation was made to the depth of six feet, there was a stream meeting all requirements, a deep pool was lined with stones, a rock wall laid from the bottom to above the surface with stone steps making easy access to the pool where a bucket could be filled at one dipping.

This stream came to the surface 400 feet away and trickled across a wagon trail for 100 years. In later years this trail later became U. S. Hwy. 42 and the “spring branch” that supplied water for many for so long, was honored with a concrete culvert under the highway. The small stream then merrily ran, crossing a pasture in front of the residence (of Mr. Charles Bottorff ) , and continued its journey to its destination in the Ohio River at Harmony Landing.

About 1798, near the excavation of the spring, a store was located at this point, and a new trail was opened to pioneers going farther West. The store with supplies, and the nearby abundance of pure spring water, made an attractive place to camp and rest before tackling the unknown far West regions.

It was customary for travelers to register at the store, and also to leave letters to the folks “back at home”, telling of the progress thus far on the westward journey. Such letters would often be picked up by travelers returning home to the East, and carry them back to the pioneers origins. These pioneers traveled on foot, on horseback and at times in covered wagons, pulling entire families that banded together with other families for mutual company and protection, thus making a caravan.

One night the caravan was attached by a band of roving Indians…

One such group camped, several days at the outpost by the spring. At night the wagons formed a hollow square, oxen tethered at the center. One night the caravan was attached by a band of roving Indians who were repulsed by the pioneers but in the fight, a member of one of the families, a little girl, was killed.

This bereavement caused the campers to shorten their stay. A deep grave was made, and the body of the little girl was laid in the ground, then the travelers turned their backs on the past. The record at the store showed the heart broken family was named Huckleberry, hence in memory of the little girl, the stream was named Huckleberry Creek.

So it is to this day, there is a spring of fresh water, 100 feet from the rear end of the Goshen General Store which continues to be the beginning of Huckleberry Creek.

Historic records provided by:
Nancy Stearns Theiss, PhD
Oldham County Historical Society

Creek Hisotry – The Legacy of the William “Billy” Kellar (1768-1817)

Harrods Creek Baptist Church: first minister was William Kellar, circuit rider and regiment leader in the War of 1812 (courtesy the Oldham County History Center)

The Legacy of the William “Billy” Kellar (1768-1817), Pioneer Baptist Minister

William “Billy” Kellar sought the challenges of the new frontier of westward expansion in the United States. A native of Virginia, Kellar, known as wild and adventurous, was converted to a call of ministry as a young man, soon after his marriage to Ann Netherton, daughter of Col. John Netherton of Shenandoah County, VA.. He moved his family to Kentucky where he settled near Harrods Creek in Oldham County. There were few ministers in the area and Kellar began preaching to both a small community of Methodists and Baptists. The small congregation wrote letters of intent to form a church and selected Kellar to be their leader and teacher. During this time, Kellar became a good friend of a well-known Baptist minister, John Taylor, and was soon ordained into the Baptist ministry.

Kellar organized four Baptist churches, Eighteen Mile, Harrods Creek [in the Harrods Creek watershed] and Lick Branch which were in Oldham County and Beargrass in Jefferson. These churches were part of the Long Run Association which comprised churches in a ten county area. The Harrods Creek church was closest to Kellar’s family and farm and that is the one where his family attended.

always carrying his gun and knife, and on one occasion he killed a very large bear while on his way to preach at Eighteen Mile one Sunday morning.

Kellar was a member of the volunteer company, the Mounted Rifleman, during the Revolutionary War. He recruited one hundred local men that lived in the vicinity, to join him at the Wabash River to fight the Illinois Indians in the last war with Britain. The following excerpt is an early church history from the archives of the Oldham County History Center that was written by Elmo Anderson on September 20, 1900 about circuit riding preacher William Kellar:

One hundred years ago, when civilization had barely made its entrance in the forests of Kentucky, and when she had been only eight years a State, when nature in dominance reigned in its fullest glory, when nothing but a little log cabin here and there was suggestive of human existence, and during this period Eighteen-Mile had its origin.
 The church was first gathered by the famous pioneer of this region, William Kellar, and was constituted by William Kellar, Ambrose Dudley and William Payne, September 12, 1800, the constituent members being nine in number, viz.. John Coons, Rheuben Pemberton, Garvin Adams, Joel Camper, Zelick W. Quinn, Elizabeth Coons, Elizabeth Pemberton, Ann Camper and Sarah, a black woman.
 The lot upon which it was first built was purchased from John Coons, near Brother Pembeton’s spring…William Kellar was chosen as first pastor and served in that capacity until his death, November 6, 1817.


William Kellar had many difficulties with which to contend, owing to the newness of the settlements, having had to walk from the Harrods Creek settlement to this place, a distance of about 12 miles, through a pathless forest, always carrying his gun and knife, and on one occasion he killed a very large bear while on his way to preach at Eighteen Mile one Sunday morning. Few men have been better fitted for pioneer preachers than William Kellar. He possessed great physical strength and courage, and unflagging industry, and it added much to his popularity that he was a skillful hunter, a boss mechanic (cabinet maker), and the best hand in the settlement at a log rolling or a house raising. He was of a cheerful temperament. His doctrine was built on sovereign grace, and he was eminently practical in applying it. Of him John Taylor says: ‘Everything that was calculated to recommend a man to his fellow men was summed up in Mr. Kellar. Generosity, good will and liberality, as well as justice and truth, were predominant in him. Of the value of this man a tenth part has not been told.

Historic records provided by:
Nancy Stearns Theiss, PhD
Oldham County Historical Society

Creek History – Commodore Richard Taylor

Gravestone of Commodore Richard Taylor located at his land grant property Woodlawn in the Harrods Creek Watershed. (courtesy the Oldham County History Center

Other large tracts archived at the history center in the Harrods Creek watershed were given to Phillip Barbour, Gabriel Madison, Nicholas Buckner, and Francis Slaughter. One of the most famous Revolutionary War soldiers from the area, Commodore Richard Taylor, acquired 5,333 1/3 acres in the Harrods Creek watershed for his service. The family settled on 5,333 1/3 acres of land in the Goshen area that had been granted to him in 1783 for Revolutionary services. Taylor built a two-story log house with huge stone chimneys a mile from the Ohio River. The home came to be known as Woodlawn.

One of the most famous Revolutionary War soldiers from the area, Commodore Richard Taylor, acquired 5,333 1/3 acres in the Harrods Creek watershed for his service.

Born in Orange County, VA., The Commodore married twice and had six sons and five daughters. Taylor was commissioned as a Captain in the Navy during the Revolutionary War in 1776. He was wounded twice, in the knee and thigh and retired from active duty in 1781. His vessel, “The Tartar” was engaged in battle with an English schooner when he received his first wound, which was in the thigh. In November of 1781 he was Commodore of “The Patriot” in another battle with an English cruiser, just

Taylor was friends with General Marquis de LaFayette, and when LaFayette made his visit in America, as a guest of the nation in 1824, he visited the Commodore and his family in Westport. Taylor’s grand-daughter, who lived at Woodlawn until she was 14 years old at the time of Taylor’s death, recalled LaFayette sitting her on his lap and giving her a kiss, which caused her to be the envy of all her playmates. A few years before LaFayette’s visit to Woodland, the little girl’s mother, Matilda Taylor, had a beautiful family wedding at Woodlawn in May, 1799 which was known as the event of the year. Matilda married her childhood sweetheart, Isaac Robertson. They met in Virginia before the Taylor family moved to Oldham County.

In 1817 Congress approved and passed a measure for the relief of Commodore Taylor with an annual pension as long as he lived. His great-grandson and namesake, Col. Richard Taylor Jacob, was born at Woodlawn on March 14, 1825. Col. Jacob had a beautiful monument of red granite erected over the graves of the Commodore and his wife. The base of the granite slab contains the stones from the chimneys of Woodlawn. In 1959 the Peter Foree Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution officially marked the grave which is located on private property on an Oldham County farm.

Historic records provided by:
Nancy Stearns Theiss, PhD
Oldham County Historical Society

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