1860 it took about three hours by horseback to cover the 24 miles between
the Woodsmall-Mount-Dowden farm at Floyd’s Fork near LaGrange, Oldham
County, Kentucky and
cousin Stephen May Woodsmall’s plantation in Middletown,
Jefferson County, Kentucky.
The Floyd’s Fork farm was purchased by James William
Woodsmall in 1814. His
younger brother, “Captain”
John Woodsmall, was one of the founders of Middletown about
the same time after he came back from the War of 1812.
The physical distance was short, but the trip crossed
an historical family divide between north and south, between
anti-slavery and pro-slavery and between the Union and the
issue of slavery affected the lives of James and Nancy
Woodsmall and their nine
Lasley Woodsmall, Sr., Margaret, Henrietta, James William,
Lettice, Elizabeth, Jefferson Hezekiah, John and Nancy.
and Tax List data from 1782 to 1796 appear to indicate that
the Woodsmall patriarch, James, was not a slave owner. Whether
he was not by conviction or economic circumstances is not
clear. While many
of his immediate neighbors on Simpson’s Creek, Nelson
County, Kentucky (Virginia until 1792) owned slaves, the
census data corroborates that the Woodsmalls did not own