~ About Benjamin McClendon ~
~ The McClendon Letters ~
~ Early 1800’s ~

Henderson County Kentucky
Copyright © 1999, TNGenNet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

       Sons, Joel, William, and Jessie
       Sarah McClendon, wife of Benjamin - Henderson Co., Ky.
       Early 1800’s

       My husband and father of my three sons was a tall man, broad shoulders, square face, high forehead and loving roving blue eyes. An uprite South gentleman, klear cut, good dressier. He said when he started growing beard he never shaved and it growed to the length of the flor; it did knot bother him, only for dress did it flor across his breast, other times he plaited and threw it acros his shoulders, when working to keep it in place he pinned it in place with a safety pin in the bak pockets of his breeches.

       Rok, the Indian that stayed with us here always wanted to plait it as did our slaves. Bengy would do his own combing. He compared his beard with “Swift’s poem.” - Only a woman’s hair - he saide -meaning innocence, beauty, purity, fidelity, and love in the tenderest heart of his for me, his boys, his country and fellowmen as he told me many time,- with his concern for the welfare of all, was shown in his gentle dignity, discrimination against no one -broad interest and experiences and everlasting friendship.

       After roving through Virginia we with a wagon caravan of others came to Kentucky bringing out slaves and everything we had not much spiled in. Sacks of straw layed flat in the wagon for beds turnkling iron kettles teid on copling poles of wagon. Once when the wheal broke down such twlinging of pots and kettles, one churn was saved to make butter and milk from the cows teid behind the wagon. Sometime we took straw from our bed sack to fead the oxen. We gathered wild berries, kucumbers, grens and such lik for food on our trip. Spreading tent early we cooked the meals -the only thing at nights the slaves was fraid of bers, snakes and the like - who was not? They took turn on gard. Benjy had pepple hear and others did to, so here we come - lookin bak -the trip had falts but it had gode things two. Bengy kept a record of it and I want our boys to have hit. Most of all the kontry was covered in forest, bigest trees I ever saw - we pitched tent on Bottom Walnut - rond Der Kreek, High Water L and each place had a name. The slaves and men started kutting and hewin logs for kabins - all pitched in and many, many was soon ready to unload in to get away frum snakes, moles, wild ducks and wolves, bears, elks, pahthors, trillion of chigers, nats, moskitoes - you name it they was there. And the shieing Indians amongst the treas. Son a high barracade house was built taller than the house so some one kould gard.

       The Indians some was friendly and helped us to ketch wild animals, skin and cure them, showed us where water was berries and other things, it seamed they was knot living hear coming bak, Rok Indian boy liked Benjy and stayed with us, he kaled our boys “the owls” - he taut Benjy things, kared for “thu owls” and staid with us when Benjy died - he lerned the “owls” to draw Indian wards, lay on grond for sonds, ride hosses Indan fashon and meny things - Joel sad that waz reson he was goin to have a race trat. Jim Stratcher had Indian boy Scratch stayed with him, and most other families did. Rok wood test the Negroes on gard at nights - but one night was his last - he diden let old Negro Bill no who he was in time -the feathers from his cap flu high to the sky. Benjamin did not want a Indian killed an none outhers did as they knew there wood be trouble and we all had plenti of that. Benjamin from past experience began to have slaves to klear up the trees and he helped, for prospects that come in to settle. That was the way he added to his fortune. Where we wood settle and bild up others coming in wanted it so off to another part we went always getting klose to a spring or flowing kreek of water. *....,.................,..... with some by pepple that lived on the byway. I was glad to get away from Highland Creek as high water was a problem.

       We liked the Diamond Island Seckon as we was well established and good nebors so packing pulling up our stobs again we found a new home about 20 miles from Red Banks on way to Madisonville. Some of our slaves was living there had cleared up several akers as Benj and I liked the site very well, bult cabins for living, spinning, cooken and the like not far from a deep clear spring of water that had made it way in a valley on the left side of a rolling hill covered with forest. All land was, at the back a small rolling hill, on the right was a strip of level land rolling up a high knoll here at the left of the high knoll we bult the best house we had ever had - 2 big rooms with a hawl in between at the bak of each was a room each of these 2 covered 1/4 of each end of the back of the haul so a dore kold be put up in winter, 2 rooms upstairs one for Mammy Mary, the other for hanging our clothes and so on. All had white pine wide plank flors, Curtains were made from spinning cloth, coverlids for beds. Chimney was at both end of the house with windows on either side and on each side of dore, later the haul was klosed and two windows on side of dore. The slaves had warm houses, some in yard near back where the cooking was done -some for spinin, weavin. The spring runned as far through the land as you kold see, peppermint growed around it.

       We plan to live hear. Hear we kold do and deavelop things - a race track, a place for keeping travelers and on and on. A cherch was alreadie bilt and godly pepple went, sonn a school was bilt. We was klose to city.

       It was well the open haulway had been closed by windows and door for on a Thursday, February 1807 was the coldest day ever temperature fell 60 degres in twelve hors by dark it was warm and rainen changing to ten inches of snow follered by a huranance by morning the trees were popping like guns as the heavy ice was breaking limbs off. More prayers were said than ever before I think, Benjamin and the Negroes were half froze rounding thc stock in the stockade which was covered with tree logs , We was good to our stock and took good care of them, Skin clothes was handy at that time. If the law offers in Red Bank faled in there dutes they was fined. Benjamin was a jureman at times. During our time of sickness we went to Dr. Rankin Adams a verrie good one. Some thought Mike Sprinkle saloon was as good. The only time I really saw Benjamin realie mad was when the Kort let Johathan Aunthony have the lisense to run the ferry across the river. They promised it to him - that was when Benjamin saw officers doing durty deeds. Rok told im to get Hannah Dunn with her pretty hat to take over.

       I don’t know why Irote this,only I’want my thre “Owls” to know that they had a good, religious, loving hard working father, willing to help them in need - even on his dying bed. I may marry another man. I have had him to sign a paper before the kort in case I marry him, he can not have a say over my three boys, our negroes or the land. He was a wonderful husband, kind neighbor and master and a man of unempectchable intergrity, a devoted and true father, his God came first, then we four. His death cast sadness and gloom over this section and no man’s death here was ever more keenly morned. I remember how he cherished helping to build a school - a rude unhewn log cabin building a chimley of mud and sticks the roof was covered first with bearskin. They split the logs throw the meddle and bored holes in the rond side and pushed small logs throw for legs. They covered these seats with bearskin. Teachers taut for each child for 50c a month, reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic. Many teachers were thoro ugh and intelligent teachers and I am sure as in Old Virginny many noted farmers had business men will emerge, as he hoped your futures would be from such school He never lived to see but by God’s help you three boys will come threw with a father like him.

       With such energy and spirit as his you my three sons, -Joel, William and Jesse will rise to your highest rank, and honors and wealth will follow, as you my “Owls” has grown to maturity before you have learned to read and write, as your father was a man of wealth, large influence, generous to friends, gentle to dependents and servants, and much beloved by old and young. These qualities I want you to remember, cherish and follow. Your father has been away nearly a year and I guess God endevored me - “in this gloomy place” to Jot down these things. I pray you will never indulge in likker and the like and become an unwanted, no good boys. I think when he left nearby Red Banks about 125 pepple live their. I am glad we left. Your father had no desire for offical life wanted to live on his land quietly with us enjoy the pleasure of wild woods and hunting, buying and selling land. He left us 1785 akers.

       I remember Rok learning you and the uther children to play Pop the whap. The one on the end got the pop how all laughed. You was little but lerned it. I feel like I have played it only I did not get the pop. I crashed. I did it all by myself. We had to watch and protect ourselves and all we had from pirates, murderes, thieves and the like roaming around; if those on guard were slow in learning they were close by - the cows and sheep would give the alarm by running around the stockade ringing their bells around their neck - I hope the big old cowbell that come all the way with us our “Owls” will keep and hand down to their youngins. It was the ringing of this bell that alarmed us that Luper and his men was across the road hanging Harpes head - the meanest murder of the time on the ole wild cherry tree. I wish I could forget that time 1797. I was in the family way with William. The horror of a man’s bleeding head across the road. All the bushes began to dye. Such a stink it was - the birds, dogs, and cats and wild animals -swarmed in gangs, fighteng, screaming. How that old bell did ring. Everybody scared to death - if it had not been our God that we had lived with and protected us all our lives we could not have stood it. Everybody that new of it miles around came to see the sight, No one dared to take it down. Could anyone blame the Lupers and all. Benjamin and all the men were helping to scour the country for them but Benjamin was not with the men that cut his head off. It kould have been any of us burned alive as others was or had our bellies split and stuffed with rocks and thrown in the river. The people was our nebors even if we was miles apart, they was hear to help bild up the wilderness. Benjamin really was shure the Harpes Gang stopped at our sping, he sent Rok and John our faithful slave to alarm the folk but before they got here, they left me, that they saw the gard tower and smelled the powder they asked if we had bow and arrows, powder horns or guns to sell.

       They say one of the 3 women was one of there wifes sisters. All throught they hid up on the high hill not far to the west and sleeped on the long flat wide level rock that covered a big part of it. We finally got up to see it, only God could make such a thing. We called it God’s Hill - same kind Jesus and Moses went to pray. Benjamin said once when climbing it, his foot slipped, he threw his beard over a tree limb and it saved him. The men found animal bones and baby bones there once, the flesh was rotten and it stinked so the sent led them to it. They had to kill a panther and wild cat before they could get close to it. All of us started to cut the trees to that hill; everybody wanted a house there but it was such a wilderness, no water close by then we knew way up there in winter we wood come near freasing it was cold, cold, cold but a beautiful sight seeing the sun going down over that hill on a clear day, amid the trees swingin forward and backward. A path had been betten out by wild animals we thought for dragging other wild animals there to eat out of others that could not get there so the Harpes had a slim way getten there. [I know where the Hill is mentioned here but have never been able to climb it - Ora] [My daddy said Moonshiners had their stills there. - Ora Chandler]

       Benjamin rote a komplete true story of it for pepple to read so maby sume outher mothers boys won’t cause them and the world trouble.

       How the animals fited and tore up the bloody sack his head was brot here in. They said they killed rond east of Madisonville ges that was rite - we was at Madisonville - a grist mill and few others places there. Benjamin got sume cloth died with wild berrys and Chloe helped me to make a red dress. Benjamin when away if he found things he would bye for me.

       You little “owls” really liked to run yore fingers threw Benjamin long beard. He wood sit you on his kne jerk us his head like a horse fiting flies when you pulled two hard just to see you giggle and grab for a nuther handfull. He wood tell you storys of old, our country we left, our trip, our parents and the good things and worked hard to help that when his Owls growed up they would knot have same hardships. I hope you remember some of them, but you was small so I am writing this so you ca n rember how he loved you.

       Red Banks loked funny as it was a long strip bearen land and wa out in the countryside had no trees, they was found along creeks, wet and marshy places. We would get all kind of wild berries and wild fruit to eat - wild potatoes and so we left the swampy place for the hills and valleys to get such to eat, wild greens, wild dock.

       And took our cattle up with us for there was plenty food for them but had to kep the wild animals from getteng them. The bears, wild cats and wolves would lay in wait for their prey. The screaming of the panther would scare us half to death, afraid they would get our children. I wonder little Owls if you will ever remember this. Well no so I am writing it.

       It was both pretty and scarey to see a herd of elks with long horns marching thru here sometimes they would stir up a home of parrots, - then flying away, the bussing was startling. I can see their pretty colored feathers, some time couldn’t get away, so the feathers would fly way way out of sight if the wind was blowing. If Benjamin didn’t want to look for meat for us he could by turkeys and such. I can smell them roasting in the ashes in the old kitchen at back of house and see Mary are some of negroes wiping off the sweat with their apron as the hot wood would make anybody sweat.

       Some of the men got captured by the Harpes; most was killed a few got back to tell us how mean they was. There was 2 Harpes -Big Harpe his real name and Little Harpe their women was as mean as they was pretending this and pretendin that. The Harpes acted like they was hunting the Harpes so people would not know them and shot men and say he was Harpe. John Gitmorelhad been to salt lick with a sack of salt and Harpes kiled him. Your daddy had just bean home a short time with his sack of salt so you see it could be anybody they saw. When this was done while they camped on way back Harpes said he killed Stigalls wife and baby. Now everybody knew that was a lie and Gilmore had simply been murdered by them, here they set out to get away again.

       Stigall met the Harpes on Deer Creek and said he owed a dollar, don’t remember what for so Stigall sent them to his wife and when they saw she had $35.00 tied up in a sack in pocket of her apron they went back got the money killed her and baby and Jim Love whose horse had played out and ask to stay there. We all took in settlers. When Stigall come back home and found out what happened he never got off his horse but went to Colonel Luper a brave and good man everybody liked and told him this. They said fire popped in his eyes and sweat begin to stream down his forward mixed with tears.

       Benjamin said he new the Harpes was at our spring - one was red headed . looked like his hair was never combed, wore durty, raggy clothes and was a big man - looked mean and honory. He had a knife, rifle, bow and arrow and tomahawks but every body had them. You would have to be uneasy he looked so kruel. They called the women Honey and Tunny and said Sissy was their child, They said they was cousins trying to find the Harpes boys that had just killed a little girl. Benjamin and me knew her family -James Hank and Christy the only child they had, Dolbaby, she was picking wild berries and wandered further from home as you know children will do, Her head had been cut off and one leg to her body, and all the toes on her other foot. Christy finally lost her mind and jumped in the stream and drowned.

       The country was not settled and was wild so they could do such deeds and be away before it was found out. Jim Hank and Christy and Dolbaby left us and moved on as he wanted lots of land.

       The Other Harpe boy or at least Benjamin thought they was mutch smaller and did not look as wild and wolly and acted like he was afraid of the other. They had good good horse one was lame and wanted to trade with Benjamin. When he told him no - the big man jumped up and down - the women calmed him down but he looked wild and wooly. They told him your brother, the preacher has not prayed enough for you. They asked Benjamin to let them have some gun powder but he did not as he knew they had some but a good ole man Jim Thompson who they met said he did not have any powder to kill for his meat so they gave him some of their so it was this powder that Harpe was almost killed with. He said the wives looked mean. They was dirty and let some bad language slip out. Then they tried to be preachers wives. John Ruby saw the Harpes pass and followed them past Mr. Stigalls to where they camped. When John went back to alarm his brother to get the men together but when they got back -they were gone after they murdered Mrs. Stigall, her baby and a teacher Jim Love and burned them house and all. The men thought they had hid out of their sight, then done that awful deed. Gilmore and John Hugeon camped on their way back with salt to so cover up what they had done to the Stigalls they accused these men of it and shot Charley Gilmore. Then caught John Hugeon and killed him. Benjamin herd Hunny and Tunney tell the law men this.

       After John Leeper and his men set out to find them, Moses Stigall was wild mad they got to a creek where Little Harps was going to shoot Jim Smith as a horse theif across came Big Harps facing Leeper and his men, Big Harpes was riding Loves horse but Jim Thompin was on his fine Virginia horse Nance - Just as big Harpe started to shoot Jim Smith he saw Leeper and his men, hit his mare and away they went.- Little Harpe ran off and was never found. The men that Smith was lined up with Harpes so after he proved he was not - they started after Big Harpe and found him at his camp getting his women so they could get away but lo and behold he left them so with his rifle and guns he left. Leeper left a fat man Richard Magby and Pluopie Hank to guard the women such lies they told not being Harpes, had not killed anyone - was trying to get across the river to their people.

       No one could keep in sight of Harpes for five miles only Thompson riding his fast Virginia thoroughbred. They could easy follow in the horses tracks. At the bottom of creeks Thompson caught Harpe hid behind the big trees. Thompson told Harpes to give up but he said no - Just then he saw Judge Leeper and ran off fast as his horse would run. Leeper was mad because Thompson did not shoot him - he said his mare was so high strung, jumping he knew he would miss Harpe so Leeper got on Thompson Virginia Steed got his gun and pouch as his was wet - soon Leeper was in sight of Harpe when he got about fifteen feet from him jumped off threw the reins over Nance’s head he shot Harpe in the back and come out at his breast bone - but Harped fired at Leeper jumped on his horse and away he went again. Harpe first told him to stop or he would kill him but Harpes gun snapped.

       Leeper got back on Nance soon in sight of Harpes holding on to the horn of saddle, all bent over, caught up with him, pulled him off his horse - Harpe begged him not to shoot but take him to cort. Leeper told him the shots was going to kill him about that time, but first Harpe wanted a drink so Leeper went to the creek and filled one of his shoes with water and looked up saw Jim Thompson and all there and Moses Stigall pulling out his knife and cutting Harpes head off. Harpes said something first but I can not remember now what it was. I hope I can and write it later.

       After they brought his bloody head here with his tongue sticking out and put it on the cherry tree, the men come over here, we were all scared to death and told about their ride over plane around the wooded tall trees over ditches and all to catch him, and when they got out in the open Mr. Leeper said he knew Nance could catch him. Moses said I want people to know - who that head belongs to and went back took his knife and cut u - “Big” - H. Mr. Leeper said if Harpes gun had not snapped it would not hit him which he said Big Harpe was not the markman people thought he was. Harpe throw his gun down and took off without it as he new he was shot bad - people thought he wanted to get to river and drown. Sunny, Tunny and small babies and the other women was taken to Red Banks and put them in a log dungon on the river bank and guarded them. They had there trial in September 1799 as helpers in murdering - Moses Stigalls wife and baby James and the school teacher Bill Love; he taught the children around her on August 19 or 20 I forgot the day Samuel Hopkins and some man was Justice of Peace found them guilty and stayed in jail but soon the grand jury opened at Ruselville so Sheriff Rowan Andrew Jno Stanley and Harden Gibson and somebody else. They wanted Benjamin to go and tell where Harpes head was put but I was in the family way and begged Benjamin not to go. When they got there the court set them free we all new they had big part in it but they said there men made them take part. Little Harpe got away to some state. Some people thought Moses Stigall turned out bad because his wife and boy ended life so awful and he cutting Harpes head off was cause of it to. He took to being drunk and doing everything so in the next year he married Ellen Jane Vane just come from Virginia and got Vera Maddox to slip away and go with Josh Fleehart a mean mean man. Peaker Fletcher was in love with Vera so he and Vera brother Jake followed them to Ilinois Territory in a log cabin. Vera was on Josh lap loving him they could see Moses and Vera there Moses kicked Vera in the stomach she fell to the floor,. They was looking through the logs. Both fired same time. They left them there after dragging them out of cabin for wild animals to eat and started back with Jane and Vera, they did not want to come back and mad because they killed there men, when they put up to camp at night Josh and Peaker got stupid drunk so at daylight the women was gone and nobody ever new where they went. Some thought maby they all got in a fight, and something awful happened - I don’t know.

       The Governor of Kentucky Mr. Garrard put up $300.00 for the capture of the Harpes so he paid it to John Leeper and that man deserved it, he did all he could and everybody relaid on him as he new best what and how to go about, he worked hard; but he said no one can imagine how he felt and what went through his mind when Moses Stigall took Harpe red hair in one hand and pulled his head up and with his other hand - that long scabbard knife cut his head right off. All the men standing there was stunned and could not speak a word while closes by the hair of of the head of Harpe put it in a sack threw it over his horse, jumped in the saddle and said boys less go. And go they come right in front of our house and took his bloody head with eyeballs popped way out, tongue hanging out stripped off a tree limb and hung it right up there. My God, I am glad he was with us all that time - all us nebors would stay together as much as we could day and nite. Our slaves was scared to death they wood peep around the house at that head, tongue hanging out - years after they would not go by that tree at nights and for a long time when had to pass it in day time would walk backward afraid it would follow them. The picture of all this me and all the others will carry to our grave. Bless the Lord for taking care of us.

       I can see him trimming the tree to a point and there he stuck that head, Benjamin saw John Anderson who had brought his wife and six children from Virginia and Susan their daughter married to Dr. Adam Rankin after his first wife died and found out later that Thomas Yatman killed Spottswood Anderson in a duel somewhere in Tennessee and Judge Towles from Virginia all come over hear about the same time and Benjamin told them about the two Harpes and hoped no other mean men would be around but to watch for them and keep there eyes on the family. He married Gen. Hopkins daughter but that was after Benjamin died. Benjamin met Robert Agnew who was a rambling rover, he told of his grandparents coming from Ireland when his mother died he was sent to Kentucky to live with his aunt, Then his father married and took him back to North Carolina and at 17 went to his sister in Tennessee. How he enjoyed 7 days thru the wilderness alone saw Indians wild animals but liked it lots then went back to North Carolina - not satisfied so he got two friends and they come here. He liked and went back to Tennessee got married to Elizabeth White and brot her here to live right after Harpes had his head cut off, so Benjamin told him to be on lookout for others such men to come this way. If any did we didn’t know it; Maybe God knew we had had enough and diverted them around us. And he associated in business with Edward Ward and Lizzie his pretty wife come to see us. All there grand parents was from Ireland. I told Benjamin that was reason he joined in with them. He told how his great grand father Capt. Tom McCoy was captured took to Augusta, Ga. tried for treason and hung on a tree limb. His wife was on road to him but when she got there, his body was hanging from a tree, she cut it down, put it in her body and took it home and buried it and there son was hanging there to so she took it back. So you see how they swapped sad things. He told him about some man going to Louisiana with 900 negroes and 150 got sick and died on the trip.

       After we got our first post office at Red Banks in 1801 we got letters from our people and sent them some. It took a long time to get there in winter but was worth it to get mail. George Holloway a good friend of us was the first to open it. And John Husband was there when Benjamin died and when I mailed a letter home, John said that letter carries sad death of Benjamin, did you tell them he was a friend of mine. And Ambrose Barbour was the clerk that helped me with Benjamin’s business. He told me if I married Joseph Wendall he would help me to fix Benjamin’s property so me and our children could have it and do did Charley Davis the Sheriff he did not either want me to marry him. I guess they new he was not good, boys like your father Benjamin was and Mr. Sellers the jailer said not to. Dan Talbott told me I would be sorry. Benjamin helped him dragged the chain when they laid off land.

       Benjamin did not get to be with Arch Dixon very many years after he come to Henderson in 1805 as he lost his big property and everything and come here to start a11 over he look Benjamin up and wanted him to tell him about the good land and prospect here. They liked to be together and everybody wanted to see the tree and hear the story about Harpes Head. Benjamin was known as a......

       Benjamin was hoping Arch would joint the Jerusalem Lodge he helped Enis Brew and Ambrouse Barbour there, maybe reason Ambrouse gave me good advise they liked each other very much. The State of Kentucky government gave Henderson County 6,000 acres of land for school to be build in 1798. Benjamin tried with others to get the officers to get busy and let him and others survey it but they did not, he worried him as he wanted good schools for our boys and other children, well other countaines was to get part of the 6,000. I don know whether they did or not, I hope so I did not follow it up as I had your father business to finish up and thinking about marrying which was a failure, guess I was lonely.

       During earthquakes in 1811 I was prone to most everything but gathered you all to my kness and prayed to God as I did of old and was redeemed again thru his loving care and we was unharmed it was not as hard here as in other places but the shock was enough to make me think of my living now and turn me back to God. Many thought the end of time had come, our negroes did, and all come to the house and wanted to dye with us.

       All of us prayed as never before then we rejoiced shouting and praising the Lord. Once really embedded in God’s love and care, though you err - he will take you back when you prove to him in earnest and ask his forgiveness. I know he will - he did it for me. I pray you my boys will not error. I guess my mother prayed the same for me. You remember after this when we all went to your fathers grave at the Springs how we rejoiced and praised the Lord -all of our negroes and us - except Joseph just stood there looking awful. Benjamin wante us to take a boat trip on Nancy for you boys to see and enjoy but we did not get to - it was just barges propelled by hands of men, he thought it would be fun to help the men and you could see how strong he was. There was people and many already here and new coming here and many mean people and many already here and mean women, The officers tried to keep order and make people do right.

       Hannah Dunn was not the only mean women. We was glad when the court rebuilt the old bridge over Cance Creek then we could get to Red Banks. Peter Casey got the 2000 acres of land on Highland Creek instead of us by crook or turn Benjamin said.

       We saw the first ship of any size with 750 barrels of flour going somewhere I forgot and then one named Nonpariel - a sight to see. Many things had to be first for instance the first Habeus Corpus was issued in Circuit Court in 1809 to a man and his wife be taken out of jail. The man was a mean man and when he went before Gen. Hopkins he said he was afraid Lydia Johnson, Mary, and Susan Hoarton would kill him and asked they be put under a peace bond which Gen. Hopkins did and went on their bond. After rejoicing happily bu this man - just now his wife asked the same thing be done to him as he had had done for the three women, no one volunteered to go on his bone - so back to jail he went. Benjamin was on jury and made the leading men of the place pay fines when they broke the law. Joel Lambert, Tom Walker, Judge Henry and Attorney Featherstone pay five shillings for profane swearing -they looked like sheep killing dogs and some judge stole some corn he had to take the corn back and pay his find. They did not brag anymore about the negroes using a ship saw to rip logs for planks to build there house - only a few. Which was there had this kind of weather boarding. We had this kind of stand up saw dangerous working straight up with one man standing above the other. You boys was afraid Rok wood get cut on this. People paid finds for spitting on streets. Benjamin talked about how men holding courts conducted themselves - with feet proped on windows telling jokes, etc. - men producing false papers to gain more land and other false things, so when Dr. Rankin and John Hollway took Judge Knox place they changed things. They wanted a good religious community good morals and virture and that was Benjamin way of thinking so the future looked better for us and everybody to raise their children right. Sometimes the jury men was drunk. Judge Holloway kicked Henry Housley off for being drunk and paid a fine.

       Hugh McGary had a Tavern and whiskey shop a rich man Sam Baker put up there. Hugh stole 50 guines English 3 half eagles 100 dollars in silver and lots of bank notes from him. Benjamin helped take Hugh McGarry to Russelville and Joel you was three months old but Benjamin new we would be cared for by Rok, Mammy Mary and the others but that night some other negroes come over and with some of our had a little fist fight. I thought they had several drinks but Rok put them straight. He was first found selling whiskey without a license and Hugh McGary was in first mob and first man to ride naked on streets of Red Banks on a horse. Benjamin did not like things like that but said only way to break Hugh McGary was to break his neck. We could use tobacco just same as money to buy things we needed and it helped as raised it very well. Everybody had to come to courthouse to vote and brought tobacco in exchange at Hannah Saloon for whiskey. I guess I am just rambling away telling here but you was too little or not here to know about our early settling and it may never be in books for you to read about so I am writing it for you. Men and women was living in adultry which was against God’s law but they could hardly be found, the court sent John Smutscher and Benjamin to bring them in but they said get them among yourself first and they did. I won’t write there names here as some of their children might learn about their parents. I just write as it come to me. I do want to leave so much of the past for you I may write the same thing again. William was a great big boy when Benjamin died and the difference in age we lost a baby between him and you Joel. Some said I would lose William after seeing that awful Chrade about Harpes gang. I Pray Lord that never never such a thing again to happen in this land of ours. Many good things has happened to us maby we forgot our Lord and such things is to remind us that if we hold up and follow Jesus our Lord will never put on us more than we can bear. Try not to do wrong but if we do - do as I have be in earnest and ask forgiveness will never forsaken you. I have seen some of my nebor women fall on the wayside and men to they asked and it was given. When that devel was after them, only John McGary did not think so. I think I am threw writing then I think of other things I want you to know. When you get grown I want you to make trips upon God’s Big Hill and see how he rocked and made a smooth floor for it, guess thinking of it tells me what God’s power can do. Only live and believe in him.

       You are like an apple the most commonest and the most beautiful of all children. You are so alive, you glow like a ruddy flower. I love to stroke your hair and feel the glow of your face with my hand, it brings back the same way your daddy did me. You are company. I press your face to mine, toss you in the air, roll you on the ground, so you shine where ever you are. You are so alive. How you laughed when your father had Rok or some of them wash his beard, 2 times a week, in summer let it dry, in winter set in front of the fire side. He would let you Owls help if he did it by himself and how I liked to come and plait it. We had fun my little Owls.

       We thought it was the Harpes that shot holes in buckets of buttermilk that we hung on the trees for wagon caravans coming to settle here. Sometimes there wagons would fall apart and they would chop down a big tree with forks, pile all there things on it and hitch their oxen to it to finish there trip, once the news come to us that a family of four had been killed and the hide skinned off of the oxen, soon after that 2 galloping men had stopped at Civitan Town and when question that there covering smelled like new skin, one sent a tomohawk through John Whistle head, cut off ear put it on his nose. They made his brother Jim stand by and see them to this and galloped away, just as the men here found out what had happened Bill Newman swore it was the Harpes - but the posse never found them, somehow they got away until Mose Stigall got him.

       Mose Stigall watched Harpes head hanging on that tree for days, sighted his gun at his head, one day on his bay steed he kept taking sight in front, then on the side, kicking his mare in the in the flanks making her turn this way and that way with his gun aimed at his head, finally standing still at the side he shot Harpes nose off - he was a fine marksman never failed, Rok said the nose bone flew in every direction. Soon all the flesh was gone -nothing but the skull left, the skull was blewed off the animals rolled, kicked and dragged it around, water washed it here and there, sometime covered with mud -trampled by the hoofs of animals, probably it was washed in the spring stream and flowed away, no human person around us ever picked it up. Mose would come and dig it up out of the mud kick it around try to make his mare step on it, people would throw rocks at it.

       Our negroes wood watch it faithfully and was glad when it was out of sight, but you could see them walking fast and eyeing where it used to be. People coming from the salt liek close Rock Cave where all the mean mean people killed and got loot off when crossing the river said they wood not let the Harpes take up camp with them - said meaner than they was.

       The only person ever nown as far as I known was Grace Levi to get away from the Harpes alive - they found her making wool in strings all her people was some miles away helping a nebor to get his cabin ready to move in, she was from a bible home and thought that anything she prayed for it would be given to her. She knew if she tried to get away right then they could murder her. She said they ask about every body and every thing they had, gun powder, guns, money and if she knew the Harpes boy was roaming around there and where they could go to get with them to help capture them, if she did not tell them the truth they new she was one of the Harpes women. She answered them by verses from the bible, finally they got mad and said they was going to drown her by taking her to a creek they met young Silver May afraid he knew who they was they tied a rope and wire rond his neck, one rond his feet and each Harpe got hold of the end standing across the creek, swung him backward and forward letting his head drop down in the water til he was drowned dead.

       Helen said she had prayed but never before as she did this time. She prayed her parents would not look for her for they would kill them. She prayed out loud which made them nervous, there women began to cry, they seemed to weaken and got afraid. Harpe told the little Harpe to cut her head off with his tomahawk. They kicked her down on the ground and one stood on her hand and arms outspread from her body, but she kept praying, when he raised his tomahawk the women started screaming, running off in the wood, he let the tomahawk fell and runned after them, the other got off her hand and jerked off ground by hair of head shoved her up against a tree, kicking her till her legs and arms were black and blue he got on his horse to find the women. She asked God for help. She twisted, turned, jerked until she was given out with her head limp on her chest, she kept praying, “Oh, Father, Father come to me.” When it seemed she was to die there faintly she said, “Father, Father help me.” Then she heard a familar scared voice say - Helen I am coming, which was her father and others looking for her. Thank God, you set my father to me. Ernest prayers never fail. Again they had got away.

       It took Helen some time to get well over this. Her parents, brothers or some of us stayed with her day and night. Everybody was afraid she would go crazy. She wood scream - “Oh, God, do not let them beat his brains out agaist them rocks, do not let them drown them.” “Mama they made him take his clothes off come and stand in front of me and things like that.” She did get well but it was a long time - that proves that God will give you strength if you only believe in him - he will not give you more than you can partake -only trust in him.

       I am by the open window and think of our home far away thinking of many things of beauty. Benjamin with his long berd, sweetly fanning my brow, covering my lips with sweet kisses, so you see I go back to fond remembrance and think of the faded past, no one ever will be half so dear to me as himi but I ca n see amid my tears this manly man of mine. Here I am wreeked of hope but never will I forget his sweet voice and gentle carresses and ever love for me and you Owls - his sweet face I will ever hold to my throbbing bosom, his voice on this earth is forever silent, his face we can not see no more but down in a beautiful grave is a wonderful man that never faltered in his struggle to help conquer the wilderness is a beautiful picture I will carry in my heart and bosom for ever and ever.

       A lots of good people in this world these are the ones to be with and your bible at your side from the fireside we loved to read and follow and this I know you will follow in the home you Owls make - You got so when we called you - you answered with a “hoot hoot hoot” and that tickled Rok and the negroes and they would hide you so we could call to get that hoot hoot answer. You little Owls you, oh, how I love you.

       He makes me think of the eagle, king of his crew - wonderful strength and great courage but has dignity, respect and love just not for us but for all he knew and loved his creator. He went through dark wood, gloomy place where no lived to help a fellow man who needed him, with a keen eye to aforesee the danger he is coming to, with his kindness of speech, voice of gladness and understanding could bring the evil person calmly to his way of thinking therefore escaping death many time from the cruel evil person he came in kontack with. Many people said had the Harpes had just a tiny spark of his love for his fellow man his head wood still be on his body and not on a pole. Lord forbid that this ever happens again.

       Times I have prayed that this awful scene be blotted out, but dear Lord I know thou does not as you want it to stay to make me think and stay with the salvation your son Jesus died for us. These thing my Owls and I hope you learn from and set your mark high, be something, do something for yourself and the world and never yield to discouragment. May the Good Lord of charity and his angels go with you my Owls, look over you in sickness keep you from doing evil things, and keep your heart full of Joy and care for others as he has filled mine today. My three little owls - I Love you a whole, whole lots more than I can ever tell.

Your mother
Sarah or Love

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