Warren County, Kentucky

From Kentucky: A History of the State, by W. H. Perrin, J. H. Battle, and G. C. Kniffin (Louisville, KY, Chicago, ILL, F. A. Battery and Company), p. 74-75: 1887), Volume 3, pp. 863-864:


WARREN COUNTY was created in 1796 from a part of Logan, and named for Gen. Joseph Warren, one of the first martyrs to the war of independence, and who fell at the battle of Bunker Hill. It is situated in the southern part of the State, and is bounded on the north by Edmonson and Butler Counties; on the east by Barren; on the south by Allen and Simpson; on the west by Butler and Logan, and by the census of 1880 had 27,531 inhabitants. The Big Barren River, which has its source near the Cumberland, flows through the county, and is navigable as far up as Bowling Green. The other watercourses are Gaspar River, Bay's Fork, Drake's and Jennings' Creeks. The surface of the country is undulating and well adapted to agriculture. The soil is rich and fertile, and tobacco, wheat and corn are raised in great abundance. Of late years much attention has been paid to stock raising, and with satisfactory results.

The first record of the Anglo-Saxon, in what is now Warren County, was discovered upon the forrest trees. On the north bank of the Big Barren River, some three miles from the present site of Bowling Green, the following names are found cut in the bark of a large beech tree: "J. Neaville, E. Bulger, I. Hite, V. Harman, J. Jackman, W. Buchannon, A. Bowman, J. Drake, N. Nall, H. Skaggs, J. Bowman, Tho. Slaughter, J. Todd." The date was given upon the tree as follows: "1775 June Th13." In the immediate vicinity were other trees bearing the same silent records of the presence of the white man. A beech tree, a few paces from the one described, bore on one side the following inscription: "Wm. Buchannon, June 14, 1775," and on the other side: "J. Todd, June 17th, 1775." Still another beech tree standing two or three rods distant, showed the following record: "J. Drake, Isaac Hite, 15 June, 1775," and above the names the date "June 23, 1775." It does not follow, however, from these silent records that the men whose names were thus perpetuated, ever became actual settlers of the county. They did not. They were merely a company of hunters who camped in the vicinity for a short time. The dates, June 13, June 23, show that they were here at least ten days, and the early history of Kentucky bears record that several of them became conspicuous in the settlement of the State and the Indian wars of those times.

Bowling Green, the seat of justice of Warren County, is the largest and most important city in the Green River country. It is situated on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, 114 miles south of Louisville, and on the Big Barren River, at the head of slackwater navigation. It is one of the handsomest inland cities in Kentucky, and is as enterprising as handsome, showing a steady growth and increase in population; in 1870 it had 4,574 inhabitants, and in 1880 over 5,000. In the center of the city is a beautiful park and fountain, where, in the warm summer evenings, after the business of the day is over, is a pleasant and attractive place to while away a few leisure moments. Such little attractions add a value and interest to a city that cannot be expressed in dollars and cents, nor quoted in price currents.

Bowling Green can boast of many find residences, business blocks, churches and school buildings. No city of its size surpasses it in these regards, and the people, as they may well be, are justly proud of them. Its court house is one of the finest in the State, and the water-works cannot be excelled in any city, the reservoir being over 200 feet above the general level of the town, and thus obviating the necessity of fire engines. Several banks afford the business men of the city and surrounding country with ample facilities of trade, and a press, much above the average of small inland cities, guards well their interests. The liberal and extensive educational and religious privileges of Bowling Green, and its circle of polished society, render it one of the pleasantest resident cities in Kentucky.

Other towns and villages in Warren County are Oakland, Woodburn, Smith's Grove, Rockfiled, Bristow, Memphis Junction, Rich Pond; these are all situated on the railroad. Green Hill, Three Forks and Claypool are postal villages in the southeastern part of the county. Martinsville is situated on the Big Barren River; Galloway's Mill is in the south-western part, and Hadley, Tourgee and Clark's Landing are in the western and northwestern part. No portion of the State has better railroad facilities than Bowling Green and Warren County. The mail line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad passes through the center of the county, with the Memphis branch diverging a few miles south of Bowling Green, thus giving shippers the advantage of two routes south and one north, with several other routes south and one north, with several other roads within accessible distance. The following statistics of the Louisvile & Nashville Railroad are of interest in a sketch of Warren County: "In 1851, Warren County subscribed $300,000 stock to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, and issued bonds for its payment. A tax to meet interest was collected for some years, since when the dividends from the road have paid the interest and part of the principal of the debt each year."

Warren County has numberless caves and caverns and all the natural wonders common to the cavernous limestone region. Some of these caves are of considerable magnitude. One of the most extensive is some six miles from Bowling Green in a northeast direction. In the bottom of the cave great numbers of human bones found, but whether the cave was a sepulcher for the prehistoric race, or a den of murderers and robbers of modern times, there is no means of knowing. In the level barrens about three miles south of Bowling Green is another cave, which, together with the stream of flowing into it, is, even in this cavernous region, something of a curiosity. A large steam of water issues from the earth, flows a short distance and empties into the cave. A mile or so from the cave the stream breaks out again (it is presumed to be the same, though nobody, so far as it is known, has ever explored the subterranean windings) and finally mingles its waters with those of the Big Barren River. In the cave, a water grist-mill and wool-carding machine were erected years ago--the rock ceiling of the cave serving as roof to the mill. Over the cave and mill passed the turnpike road to Nashville, and the numbers of people, who were wont to travel the road daily, little dreamed perhaps of the busy hum of machinery beneath them. Another of the wonders of nature, in the county, is thus described:

In the level open barrens, eight miles east of Bowling Green, there is a large deep sink, about 50 yards wide, and 100 yards in length. On the south side the descent is near 20 feet; on the north it is 150 feet deep. Large river trees are growing on it. Shortly after the first settlement here a blind horse fell in this sink. A hungry wolf had the folly to jump in after its prey, and being unable to get out was found and shot. Since that time it has been known by the name of the "Wolf Sink."

A number of mounds and earth-works were to be seen in the county at the time of its early settlement by the whites, but the hand of time has obliterated most of them, and the plow of the husbandman will soon have effaced all traces of them. All of the mounds, so far as investigated, were found to contain human bones. On the bank of the Big Barren River, near Bowling Green, were the remains of a fort. Within the inclosure was a large fort and a number of graves. Another fort, or the remains of one, was found on the Green River, some ten miles from Bowling Green. It was situated on a high bluff, and was as inaccessible and as difficult to scale as the "Heights of Abraham," except from a single point.

Among the noted men of Warren County may be mentioned the Hon. Joseph R. Underwood, who, though not a native of the county, was a citizen of it for a half a century or more. He was born in 1791, in Virginia, and was the eldest child of John Underwood; his mother was a sister of Edmund Rogers, a sketch of whom will be found under the head of Barren County, and in whose family Mr. Underwood was brought up. After receiving a good education he was sent to Transylvania University to "finish off," and upon his graduation he commenced the study of the law, under the supervision of the Hon. Robert Wickliffe, of Lexington. While thus engaged our second war with England came on, and Mr. Underwood enlisted in a company of volunteers recruited in Lexington, Capt. John C. Morrison, and in which he became a lieutenant. He took part in that memorable but disastrous battle known in Western history as "Dudley's Defeat," and was severely wounded, narrowly escaping massacre. The Americans engaged, who were not killed, were captured and many of them were murdered by; the savages after they had surrendered. Lieut. Underwood was finally paroled and returned home. He located in Glasgow and was licensed to practice law, and in 1823 removed to Bowling Green. In 1828 he was commissioned a judge of the court of appeals, a position he held until 1835, when he resigned. He was several times elected to the Legislature, where he served with ability. He was elected to Congress in 1835, and continued to serve in that body until 1843; in 1847 he was elected to the United States Senate.

Judge Underwood was a Whig in politics during the existence of that party. When the civil war broke upon us he stood a firm and unflinching Union man, and, like many other able men of that time suffered himself to be again elected to the Legislature. No period, perhaps, in the history of the State, could the Legislature of Kentucky boast of the assembly of brains that flourished within its halls during the years of the civil war. When the war was over Judge Underwood retired from politics; and in peace and quiet spent the remainder of his days.

Many other able men, past and present, figure in the history of Warren County. To mention all, however, would require a volume of itself and it is deemed advisable to leave them to the future historian. An historical sketch of the county, however, that omitted mention of the long and patriotic services of Judge Underwood must have been pronounced by the general reader unsatisfactory and imperfect.



Warren County Kentucky Genealogy on USGen Web.



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