Living On "The Line"

People, Places and Items of Interest from the Adair/Russell County line!

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Story and Photo Contributed By: Jack and Marilyn Phelps

This was taken from Notes on Adair county, Kentucky by John Avrow Steele
which was the pen name of Judge Rollin T. Hurt.  This was
originally part of a series of articles published in the Adair
County News in 1919.

This photo is of a Phelps cabin, however, it is not documented as the one in the story below.

 The erection of the first cabin in Adair County with a view to permanent
settlement in the county was very much removed, both in time and place, from
the time and place usually accredited by history and tradition as being the
time and place of the first settlement of this county.  We have all been
taught to believe, both by history and tradition, that the first settlement
made in the county was that made by Colonel William Casey and his associates
in the year 1789 upon the farm once known as the Settles farm and later as
the James Callison farm.  This farm lies beside the old road from Columbia
to Springfield, between Mount Pleasant and Doke's Fork over Green River, and
about five miles northeast of Columbia.  Such, however, is far from being
the fact.  The erection of the first cabin in the county antedates the building of
Casey's and Butler's Station upon the Callison farm by ten years.  The truth
of the above declaration, although so contradictory of history and the
accepted tradition of the county, is born out by the sworn testimony of many
old pioneers who gave evidence as witnesses in the case of Thomas
Montgomery, etc. versus [Tyree Station], etc, which was filed in the Adair
County Court in the year 1816, and by which was proven the truth of the
statements made herein  Above the village of Pellyton, on the north side of Green river, a stream,
which is called the Spruce Pine, empties into the river.  Opposite it's
mouth, upon the south side of the river, is a considerable cliff or bluff
which is clothed with spruce pine trees and from which the stream takes its
name.  Upon the north side of the river, immediately above the mouth of the
Spruce Pine, is a body of land, which, in the vernacular of the neighboring
people, is called an island.  It is separated from the mainland on the north
side of the river by a lagoon, which extends from the river, above the
island, to the Spruce Pine; and when there is a large flow of water in the
Spruce Pine, it is discharged into the river both through the mouth of the
creek and the lagoon.  There is also a pond of water upon the island.
Upon this island, in the month of February 1779, William s. Phelps, Sr.,
William Phelps, Jr., Nicholas Phelps and Samuel Phelps established a camp,
where they were joined by one Edward Lowe.  Samuel Phelps, desiring to
possess himself of the lands and to acquire title to them, with the
assistance of Lowe and the other Phelpses, erected a cabin upon the island,
and, thereafter, proceedings to pre-empt the land was taken, either by him
or his successors.  During the autumn of 1779 he sold his improvements, and
rights by reason of same, to one Thomas Hurley, who occupied the cabin
during the following winter, but was driven away through fear of the Indians
in the spring of the following year.  The pre-emption right covered four hundred acres, which Hurley, afterwards, perfected.  The land seems to have been occupied, not regularly, but from
time to time, as the temporary cessations of troubles from the Indians
permitted, from the time of its occupation by Phelps.  The island is only a
short distance below the site of the corner of Lincoln and Jefferson
Counties, when the portion of Adair County, which is north of Green River,
was embraced within the county of Jefferson.
 The relationship which existed between the Phelpses who made the settlement
at the mouth of Spruce Pine is not known, but it is to be presumed that it
was that of a father and three sons as they came together to Logan's Fort in
Lincoln County in the year 1777-1778, where they, with the exception of
Samuel Phelps, lived until the year 1780; when Nicholas Phelps established a
home upon the banks of the Green River in what is now the county of Casey,
about three miles above the mouth of the Spruce Pine.  The last heard of
Nicholas Phelps, residing in Butler County, was in the year 1816, at which
place he gave his deposition in the suit above mentioned.
 Colonel William Casey, testifying in the same case, stated that the first
knowledge he had of any settlements in the neighborhood of Spruce Pine were
those made by the Stanleys and Rutherfords in the year 1780.
 The place about which he was speaking, however, particularly was Bryant's
Lick, which is a point on the Columbia and Stanford road between the mouth
of Spruce Pine and Goose Creek, and is in Casey County, a short distance
from the Adair and Casey County line.  A century ago Bryant's Lick appears
to have been a noted landmark, but it has now lost its ancient name is not
known in the neighborhood by that name.

Additional Background

Marilyn Phelps writes: "My PHELPS went to Russell Co. from Madison Co. in
1796.......Shadrach & brother Carey/Cary....Shadrach settled on a huge
homestead on Greasy Creek (which is still lived on by PHELPS) I have not
found Cary's homestead but I do have a few deeds....I know anything I have
seen on him was before Russell became a county in 1825 and was part of
Adair......Of course in 1796 it was all Green Co.  Cary's
daughters married into the Frankums,Brockmans, Sallee's & Darnells..........
all Adair Co. families....
The picture of the PHELPS cabin, is a PHELPS owned cabin, but I rather think it is a picture of the one up in Madison Co., KY which still stands and was lived in by Shadrach, Cary &
their siblings with father John & mother Mary Phelps.  After John passed in
1798, it was lived in by daughter Mary Magdaline  and Reubin Stapp."

"The William Phelps referred to in this article is NOT the son of William
Phelps, Sr., who died 1749 in Albemarle Co. VA. in what is now Buckingham
Co., VA , but rather is William, the son of John of Goochland Co., Virginia,
who died in 1747.

This Williams' in the Phelps cabin story in Adair Co, KY, wife's name was
Sarah, maiden name unknown.  It is  not known where and when William died,
but it was most likely in Warren, Butler or Grayson Co., KY after 1810.

William & Sarah had 12 children.  Their son Nicholas ended up in Butler Co.,
KY where there was/is a large contingent of PHELPS descendants.  In 1779,
Nicholas laid claim to 400 acres of land along the Green River in present
day Adair Co, KY, as did his father, William Sr., and two brothers, Wm.,
Jr., and Samuel   Within a year it seems all four Phelps men sold or
assigned their Warrants and moved down the Green River, west, to Green
County where they settled for a time at Pitman's Station in Green Co., KY.
See below a document showing the assignment of Samuel PHELPS to Thomas
HURLEY in present day Adair Co.

1787 - Entry in Kentucky Land Grants - Entry #4631, Dated Nov. 30, 1787, in
Book 2, Page 294. Land to go to Thomas HURLEY, Assignee of #1, Samuel
PHELPS. 400 acres. WT #1: 2729, Type of WT: Preemption. Water course: Green
River. Surveyed. Included an improvement made by PHELPS near Green River and
was about 3 miles below Nicholas PHELPS' improvement.

Samuel might have stayed on his 400 acres in present day Adair Co. for a
while, but we know he died in 1790 in Nelson Co., KY.  By 1796, the rest of
the clan/family eventually continued down the Green River to the Mammoth
Cave area in Logan, then Warren Co., KY.  But by 1810, most of the clan had
once again moved farther west, down the Green River into the area that is
Butler Co., KY, where most of them remained, leaving hundreds of descendants
in Butler Co., KY.

J.C. Rogers, who still lives in the original Buckingham Co., VA area is a
descendant of Thomas Phelps, d:1751 in Albemarle Co., VA.  He has done
tremendous research on the Thomas line as well as the John of Goochland
line.  M. Galgan has also worked tremendously hard researching her Goochland
Co., ancestor John Phelps  who d: 1747 and his descendants, most of whom
ended up in Butler Co., KY.

It has been proven that the William Phelps d: 1749 in Albemarle Co., VA, the
son of Thomas,  and the John d:1747 in Goochland are not related. The
research done to date has found no relationship of any kind between them."