Henderson County, Kentucky History


By Sara Winstead

The meeting of the first court of Henderson County was the occasion of much rejoicing. The justices and under officers immediately became sovereign lords, and were gazed at, upon the adjournment of that imposing body, as though they were of shapes curious, or had mysteriously inherited the power of relieving all ills. They were courted and feasted, and buttonholed, as though they were newcomers, with all authority and power.

In those early days the honor attaching to a commission signed and sealed by the governor was as highly prized as though it was one of our modern papers, ornamented with variegated sealing wax, pink ribbons, or red tape, bearing upon its face the authority to draw upon Uncle Sam for six thousand or more dollars per annum.

It was fortunate that there was but little use for money, as there was but little of it to be had.

There were no expensive amusements, no extravagant social pastime, no glittering extravagances, or cultured professionals, to draw from the buckskin wallet shining values for an hour's season with the great masters. But there was an abundance of good cheer; -- there was the rude, untutored, uncultured swing, of the wild woods fiddler, as he made the welkin ring, tickling the souls of unblacked brogans with the inspiring harmonies of "Leather Breeches," "Molly Put The Kittle On" or "Buffalo Gals."

Little did those people know of operas, grand receptions, or swell occasions. A puncheon floor, splintery and undazed, whereon to dance; a puncheon table, whereon to place their earthen or wooden tableware, a log-heap, sending its sparks up to the clouds whereon to broil the richest of meats, and then to swing corners with the rosy cheeked lasses of the wild west, was fashion and glory enough for them. They had their pleasures, and snuffed freedom from every breeze. The woods, barrens and rivers were therein; all descriptions of wild game were in gunshot of their cabin doors. To open up the country for travel, to clear out the undergrowth, to settle down to the realities of life, and to regulate the settlement according to the forms of progress and law, became the most important question.

The State had been admitted in to the Union of States, the county had been recognized by the State, and up to this time the strong arm of the law had seldom ever brought its protecting fold around the few hardy pioneers of the "Red Banks."

Reprinted with permission
Newspaper clipping found in the Society files

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS