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

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