History of Cumberland County
(taken from excepts of History of Cumberland County by J.W. Wells)
Settlement of Kentucky
Although white people, mostly Scots-Irish and German were in Kentucky as early as 1674, Kentucky did not become a recognizable governmental landscape until after the Revolutionary War. At the close of that war, some 30,000 souls made their home in Kentucky. On December 31, 1776 the Virginia Legislature organized Kentucky as the Kentucky County of Virginia, which it remained until 1780 when it was divided into three counties: Jefferson, Fayette, and Lincoln. Before its admission as a state on June 1, 1792, six more counties were named.
The Long Hunters
Some of the first visitors to Kentucky, in about 1770, were the Long Hunters, so named because their hunting expeditions into the wilderness of Kentucky that often took a year or more. The known names of these hunters were: James Knox, Richard Knox, William Allen, Josiah Drake, Obadiah Terrell, John Rains, Uriah Stone, Henry Smith, Edward Cowan, Christopher Stoph, Humphrey Hogan, Cassius Brooks, Robert Crocket, James Graham, John Montgomery, Abraham Bledsoe, Richard and Henry Skaggs, David Linch, Kasper Mansco, Billy Russell, Joshua Horton, William Baker and two men named Hughs. While not all of the Long Hunters came to Cumberland County, many of them did and their descendants have made their home here for generations.
Daniel Boone and his brother explored Kentucky from July of 1770 to March of 1771 and Daniel later brought his family here to live. J.W. Wells, in his History of Cumberland County, states, "In the northern part of the present territory of Cumberland County, on Buck Branch, now owned by L.C. Allen, near a small sulphur spring, he carved his name and date on a slate rock, to wit.: 'D.BOON 1771' noting that Boone was one of the first white men in the area."
First Land Titles
The first title to the land of Cumberland County within its present limits was given by the Iroquois Indians and signed at Ft. Stanwix, New York in 1768. A second was signed by the Cherokee on March 17, 1775 to Col. Richard Henderson of North Carolina, at Sycamore Shoals for "a satisfactory consideration of merchandise."
Confusion Over Titles
In the dim period between 1763 when the State of Virginia enacted the Military Bounty Warrant Law, forty cents per acre, few records remain. Due to laxity in recording the land ownership, over 3,000 land controversies were settled in 1779 in the state. One of those land controversies during this time period whose dispute was lost was that of Daniel Boone, who then moved his family on to Missouri.
The two Commissioners for Cumberland and adjoining territory in 1782 were Nathan Montgomery and William Casey.
CUMBERLAND COUNTY was organized in 1798 when it became Kentucky's thirty-second county. At the time it was a very large county encompassing what are now parts of Metcalfe, Monroe, Russell, Wayne and Clinton Counties. The Walker line further confused things, as some farms which were believed to have been located in Kentucky actually ended up in Tennessee. Cumberland County received its name from the Cumberland River which flows through the county from end to end.
War of 1812
Kentucky, and particularly Cumberland County, were well represented in the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans as the Kentucky and Tennessee riflemen were known for their marksmanship and tenacity. During America's stand on the river Raisin, just south of Detroit, January 8, 1815 Cumberland Countians played their biggest role. Fifty-nine names of settlers in Cumberland County are known to have played a part, mostly under David McNair.
During the Civil War, Cumberland County men were taken up into the 5th Kentucky Cavalry USA and CSA, 3rd Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Infantry USA, 15th Volunteer Infantry USA, and Home Guards, as well as other units. Col. David R. Haggard who organized the 5th Kentucky Cavalry USA, was from Burkesville, KY, the Cumberland County seat, and was joined by nearly 789 fellow Cumberland Countians. Some were lost in skirmishes and battles at Burkesville, Gallatin, Monroe Cross Roads, North Carolina, Adairville, Millers Grove, and Sweet Water, Georgia.
From Wells':"The 3rd Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Infantry was organized at Camp Dick Robinson in October, 1861. Its first line of march was from camp to Lexington, Camp Dick Robinson, Rock Castle, Crab Orchard, Somerset, Wayne County, Pulaski, and on November 19 to Columbia, where sickness and death of many of the soldiers held it there until January 7, 1862, when the ablest ones marched to the mouth of Renox Creek near Burkesville, Cumberland County. There they camped until January 16, '62, when the 300 men marched to Russell County, trebling their strength, embarked on a steamboat for Nashville, Tennessee. During the four years of war this regiment covered most of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia, engaging in 22 of the heaviest battles of the Civil War."
The 16th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry wintered in southern Kentucky in 1862. At that time Cumberland County was overrun by guerrillas from Tennessee. At Marrowbone, the 16th engaged the guerrillas.
Tom Keeton of the Home Guard skirmished with the Rebels at Brownwood in Lawsons Bottom and on the opposite side of the Cumberland River at Irish Bottom. Keeton then chased Champ Ferguson's forces up Crocus Creek and out up Puncheon Creek with Ferguson firing at Keeton's men over his shoulder.
John Hunt Morgan camped with part of his army at Salt Lick Bend and stripped the country of most of its food stuffs. He also stayed at Pleasant Hill near Whites Bottom for three weeks and stripped the county of its products. The teacher at Pleasant Hill adjourned school for the duration of the school year due to the fear of John Hunt Morgan.
In 1865 General Lyons entered into Cumberland County, having burned 28 county seats along his way. On December 23, he burned the Campbellsville Court House and on January 3, 1865, came into the town of Burkesville and robbed all the stores, took all the best horses and supplied his men with food from stores and smokehouses. He took the benches of the Cumberland County Courthouse and split them into kindling wood and set fire to the building. Fortunately, it was after all the records were removed. These records, going back to the formation of the county survived until a courthouse fire in 1933, in whichall would have been destroyed had it not been for the fact that some were safely in storage at another building nearby.
All wars subsequent to the Civil War have seen volunteers from Cumberland County and Cumberland County women have shared in the grief of losing loved ones and the joy of having them returned to them safely.
The earliest church in Cumberland County on record was of a Christian Church under the leadership of David Haggard, it was noted in August 1800. The first church of that denomination was built in 1836 and was two stories high, the upper room used for a school room and a Masonic Lodge and the lower floor used for the church. Some of the early ministers were: Newton Mulkey, William Sweeney, John Emerson, William P. Clark, and Raccoon John Smith. In 1848 a Brother Clark had the greatest meeting on record with the addition of 104 members.
Although not officially recorded, the Baptists claim the honor of being the pioneer church, with William Hickman preaching in Kentucky (then Fincastle County, Virginia) in 1776. Lewis Craig established a church at Lancaster, KY in 1781, but the Baptists in "a constant stream, poured into Kentucky" after the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
The oldest church in the county is the log house on Casey's Fork of Marrowbone built in 1802. Salem Church dates back to July 9, 1808 and has kept a continuous record to 1945 (and beyond) except for 1809-1822. Black slaves belonged to the church in the early days and attended with their masters, as it was against Kentucky laws to preach to blacks unless one or more whites were present.
The people of Cumberland County never voted to approve a railroad in their county and until the 1960s many of the roads in Cumberland County were in poor shape and impassable in poor weather. Many relied upon the Cumberland River as their highway until the construction of Dale Hollow Dam in the 1940s or on horse and wagon on the winding roads of the area. Today, most streets, roads, and highways are in good condition and allow of easy travel at 55mph. The area has become famous for its rural environ, proud history, excellent sports fishing, hiking and camping. It hosts thousands of tourists in the summer season and is the proud location of the new Dale Hollow Resort Park operated by the Kentucky State Parks.