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From a letter written to me by Judge Lucius P. Little, of Owensboro, the highest authority on the history of the Green River country, I quote:
"When Henry Rhoads came to this part of the Green River country he stopped at Barnett's Fort, on Rough River, above Hartford. He first located his claim for land at the site of the present town of Calhoun, and laid out a town in 1784 and called it Rhoadsville. When Rhoads was defeated by Captain John Hanley, agent for the Dorseys, of Maryland, the name of the town was changed to Vienna. Rhoads then went back to Barnett's Fort for a short time and soon after located in the bounds of the present county of Muhlenberg, five miles from Paradise on Green River and a mile from the present town of Browder on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad.
"Simultaneously with the departure of the Germans to the south side of the river, they erected a fortification about five miles south from Rumsey for refuge in case of Indian attack. This was called 'Pond Station.' This was in Muhlenberg until the territory embracing it was made a part of McLean County. About the same time such of the residents of Fort Vienna as owned slaves quit the fort and opened up farms north of the river, where some of their descendants are still to be found.
"As late as 1840 the settlement south of Cypress Creek and extending far enough south to embrace Sacramento and Bremen was commonly called 'The Dutch Settlement.' While these people were thrifty, yet few of them owned slaves."
In 1798, a few years after settling in Logan County, Henry Rhoads became a member of the State Legislature and on December 14, 1798, an act was passed creating a new county out of parts of Christian and Logan. It was Henry Rhoads who proposed and secured the name of Muhlenberg for the new county. Ed Porter Thompson, in his "School History of Kentucky," page 162, says:
General Muhlenberg was at no time a resident of Kentucky. His name and his deeds, however, are of interest to us because some of the gallant members of his church who followed him when he left his pulpit to fight for independence, had grants of land for military service, which they located on and below Green River, soon after the close of the Revolution, and made their homes in what are now Muhlenberg, McLean and Ohio counties. One of them, the Hon. Henry Rhoads, was a member of the legislature in 1798 when Muhlenberg county was established, and procured it to be named in honor of his pastor and general, ... Through the influence of one to whom General Muhlenberg had been a pastor in peace and a valiant captain in the fight for freedom, his ever enduring monument (a county's name) was erected, not in his own land, but in the wilderness of Kentucky.
While faithfully and successfully serving the public, Henry Rhoads had, for a number of years, more or less trouble in establishing his claim to the land to which he was entitled and on which he lived after he moved into what later became a part of Muhlenberg. This land, of which he finally gained possession, lay in what was up to 1798 a part of Logan County. It was part of a grant of almost 7,000 acres which he had surveyed in 1793 for General Alexander McClanahan, with the understanding that he was to receive part of it. It is possible that 1793 was the year Henry Rhoads first settled in what is now Muhlenberg. In 1797 the State of Kentucky issued to McClanahan and Rhoads a patent for this survey. In October, 1801, a commission of six men was appointed to divide this tract between the two and issue a deed to each for his share. Order Book No. 1, page 1, gives the names of these commissioners, all of whom were prominent pioneers--John Dennis, Henry Keith, Matthew Adams, William Bell, Benjamin Tolbert, and Solomon Rhoads Deed Book No. 1, page 66, shows that they granted Henry Rhoads two thousand acres of the survey, for which he received a deed October 26, 1801. Thus, after a long and patient struggle, he held a title to land against which no priority of claim was ever brought. In 1798 he bought an adjoining survey of five hundred acres that had been granted to General George Matthews.Grave of the "Godfather of Muhlenberg County"
It was on this 2,500-acre tract that he built his home, shortly after his arrival from Hartford. The original dwelling has undergone many changes, but is still standing, near the Greenville and Rochester Road about nine miles from Greenville. The farm on which this house stands has passed from father to son for more than a century, and is now owned by Professor McHenry Rhoads. Near this historic house is the old family graveyard. In it, among five generations of Rhoads buried there, is the grave of the "Godfather of Muhlenberg County," on which was placed, almost a century ago, a sandstone about two feet high and marked: "H. R., B. J. 5, 1739, D. M. 6, 1814."
Henry Rhoads died on the 6th of March or May, 1814, aged seventyfive. His "last will and testament" was written April 15, 1812, witnessed by J. W. McConnell and Wm. Sumner." It was recorded in 1813 and probated in August, 1814, as attested by "C. F. Wing, Clerk," in Will Book No. 1, page 194:
In the name of God, Amen. I, Henry Rhoads, of the county of Muhlenberg and State of Kentucky, being weak in body but of perfect mind and memory, do make and ordain this my last will and testament.
First, I recommend my soul to the Almighty God, and as touching my worldly effects wherewith He has helped me, I give and dispose of them in the following manner.
First, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Barbay Rhoads all the property she brought with her after we were married, agreeable to contract, and one cow, a large heifer and one iron pot and the corner cupboard and chest and my large Bible, and the low posted bedstead, one large and one small wheel including all the furniture we have got since we were married. I also give and bequeath to my beloved wife Barbay all that is allowed to her agreeable to the courts of a bond on my son David Rhoads bearing date August 23, 1810.
Secondly, I give and bequeath all my debts, dues and demands and all the property I own in this world except what is expressly mentioned in this my last will to my children, namely my sons, Jacob Rhoads, Daniel Rhoads, Henry Rhoads, Solomon Rhoads, David Rhoads, Susanah Nighmyoir and Caty Jackson, Elizabeth VanMeter and Hannah Jackson, all my daughters, to be equally divided among them, at the discretion of my executors at my decease.
Lastly, I do hereby nominate and appoint my brother Daniel Rhoads and Solomon Rhoads and David Rhoads as executors of my last will and testament, hereby ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament, hereby revoking all other wills by me made as witness and seal this 15th day of April in the year of our Lord 1812 and the presence of viz: Henry Rhoads. (Seal) 2
When Henry Rhoads settled on his tract of land Muhlenberg was practically an unbroken wilderness. Many wild animals, large and small, held sway. A number of stories are told about the game that roamed over these hills in olden times. I here repeat two of these stories, because they are characteristic of life in the wilderness and because they are incidents from the life of Muhlenberg's first great pioneer, handed down by local tradition.Henry Rhoads (Grandson of Pioneer Henry Rhoads), His Wife and Daughter, in 1854
When Henry Rhoads was building his log house his neighbors were few and far between, but all came with a helping hand and a happy heart to take part in his "house-raising." These old-time house-raisings were attended as much for the sake of their social features as for the purpose of building a house.
One afternoon, while the crowd was busily engaged on the roof of this building, a large bear leisurely wandered into sight. When the men saw the animal they stopped work and immediately started on a bear chase. Some ran after him with axes and others with guns. The women of the wilderness always lent a helping hand. In this instance one woman followed in the bear chase with a pitchfork. After an exciting time old Bruin was finally killed. That night a large bearskin was stretched on the new log wall and barbeeued bearmeat was served in abundance at all the other meals prepared for the house-raising party.
But the noise made by the bear-chasers evidently did not scare all the wild animals out of the neighborhood. About a year after that event Henry Rhoads, while walking in his wood, which is still standing a short distance north of the old house, espied a large drove of wild turkeys. He slowly raised his flint-lock rifle for the purpose of shooting a fine gobbler strutting under a white oak within close range. When he was about ready to pull the trigger he heard a rustling in the dry leaves behind him. Rhoads looked around, and to his great surprise saw a huge panther preparing to spring upon him. Without stopping to take sure aim he fired at the threatening beast. Luckily, the bullet hit the animal between the eyes and killed it instantly. A half-hour later Rhoads walked back home with the panther skin on his arm and his trusty flint-lock on his shoulder.
These old flint-locks were, as a rule, fine-sighted and unerring. They were slow but sure, although they did not kill every panther they were aimed at. Compared with modern rifles they were slow in all the operations that preceded and resulted in the discharge of the bullet.
Most of the local traditions are subject to a variety of versions. The old panther story, as I have related it, has probably changed very little from the original since Henry Rhoads' day. However, another version of this incident has also crept into circulation, and shows to what extent some traditions are changed. This new version has it that when Henry Rhoads saw the wild turkey in the woods he took steady aim and then pulled the trigger of his flint-lock. He had no more than pulled the trigger when he heard the panther back of him. Rhoads turned, immediately swung his gun around and aimed at the panther, then in the very act of making a long leap from a limb down upon the hunter. But the old pioneer was quicker than the discharging powder or the charging panther, for he had the gun pointed at the animal before the bullet left the barrel, and thus killed the panther with the load that, a few seconds before, had been started toward the turkey! This same version continues with the statement that the animal did not drop to the ground after it was shot, but fell across the shoulder of the hunter, who then leisurely walked home and did not throw the panther down on the ground until he reached the front of his house. I do not adopt this version, but merely record it for its vivacity and novelty.
Henry Rhoads, as already stated, was a member of the State Legislature from Logan County when, in 1798, Muhlenberg was formed, and he was the first man to represent the new county in the House of Representatives. He was sixty years of age when the county was organized. Although he declined various county offices offered to him, he nevertheless continued to work for the good of the community, and probably did as much for the county, if not more, than any of the other early pioneers. He helped draw the plans for the first courthouse and also did much toward promoting the interests of Greenville, the new county seat. He was bondsman and adviser to a number of the younger men whom he successfully recommended for office. Tradition says that many, and probably all, of the German-American pioneers in Muhlenberg came to the county through his direct or indirect influence.
During his last years Henry Rhoads spent much of his time looking after his farm, tanyard, and other personal affairs, but nevertheless lost no opportunity to bring in new settlers and perform such acts as he thought would advance Muhlenberg County and its people. To-day a small sandstone is all that marks the spot where rest the bones of this influential pioneer. Some day his labors will be more fully recognized and appreciated and an appropriate memorial will then, I dare say, be erected over the grave of the Godfather of Muhlenberg County. 3McHenry Rhoads, 1912
IV, Beginning and Bounds of the County
Afew Days after the State Legislature began its regular session, November 5, 1798, the subject of forming a number of new counties was brought before the House. Henry Rhoads was then representing Logan County. Through his efforts the act establishing a new county out of parts of Christian and Logan was passed. It was he who proposed and procured the name of Muhlenberg for the new county. This act, passed at the first session of the Seventh General Assembly, creating Muhlenberg, reads as follows:
An act for the erection of a new County, out of the Counties of Logan and Christian. Approved, December 14th, 1798.
 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that from and after the fifteenth day of May next, all that part of the counties of Logan and Christian included in the following bounds, to wit: Beginning at the mouth of Mud river, running up said river with its meanders within three miles of the mouth of Wolf Lick fork on a straight line; from thence with a straight line to the Christian county line, six miles below Benjamin Hardin's; from thence on a straight line so as to strike Pond river, two miles below Joel Downing's; from thence down Pond river with the meanders to the mouth; from thence up Green river to the beginning, shall be one distinet county, and called and known by the name of Muhlenberg. But the said county of Muhlenberg shall not be entitled to a separate representation until the number of free male inhabitants therein contained above the age of twenty-one years, shall entitle them to one representative, agreeable to the ratio that shall hereafter be established by law. After said division shall take place, the courts of the said county shall be held on the fourth Tuesday in every month, except those in which the courts of quarter sessions are hereby directed to be held. And the court of quarter sessions shall be held in the months of March, May, July and October, in such manner as is provided by law in respect to other counties in this state.
 2. The justices named in the commission of the peace for said county of Muhlenberg, shall meet at the house of John Dennis, in the said county, on the first court day after the division shall take place, and having taken the oaths prescribed by law, and a sheriff being legally qualified to act, the court shall proceed to appoint and qualify their clerk, and fix on a place for the seat of justice for the said county, and proceed to erect the public buildings at such place. Provided always, that the permanent seat of justice shall not be fixed, nor a clerk be appointed (except pro tempore), unless a majority of the justices of the court concur therein, but shall be postponed until such majority can be had.
 3. It shall be lawful for the sheriffs of the counties of Logan and Christian to make distress for any public dues or officers' fees unpaid by the inhabitants thereof at the time such division shall take place, and they shall be accountable in like manner as if this act had not passed.
The courts of the counties of Logan and Christian shall have jurisdietion in all actions and suits depending therein at the time of said division. and they shall try and determine the same, issue process, and award execution thereon.Soction of J. Russell's "Map of the State of Kentucky with Adjoining Territories," published in 1794, showing extent of the original Logan County from 1762 to 1796. Among the orrors on this old map is the location of "Howards Sattlements," which were on Gasper River and not on Mud (or Muddy) River as here indicated.Section of Munnel's Map of Kentucky, published in 1836, thowing outline of Muhlenberg and adjoining counties up to 1856, when McLean County was formed
The line that, before the formation of Muhlenberg, separated Logan from Christian and lay within the bounds of what became Muhlenberg, is described in the act creating Christian County as follows: "Beginning on Green river, eight miles below the mouth of Muddy river 1; thence a straight line to one mile west of Benjamin Hardin's." In other words, this former dividing line ran in a southwesterly direction from a point on Green River eight miles below the mouth of Mud River to a point in the neighborhood of what later became the northwest corner of Todd County. That being the fact, about three fourths of the original area of Muhlenberg County, or about two thirds of the present area, was taken from Christian, and the remainder--the southeastern part of Muhlenberg--was taken from Logan County.Map of Muhienberg County compiled from six atlas sheets issued by the United States Geological Survey (1907-1912)
I judge that after the southern line had been surveyed it was discovered that certain lands originally intended to fall within the bounds of Muhlenberg were, according to the "calls for running the county line," not included in the new county. At any rate, on December 4, 1800, the Legislature passed "An act to amend and explain an act, entitled 'an act for the division of Christian county,' " which I here quote in full:
Whereas, it is represented to the present General Assembly that the act passed in December, 1798, for the division of Christian county is imperfect, and wants amending:
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, that so much of the act as calls for running the county line from six miles below Benjamin Hardin's, to strike Pond river two miles below Joel Downing's, be and the same is hereby repealed; and the line shall run from said six mile tree to Job Downing's on Pond river, so as to include said Downing's dwelling house in Muhlenberg. This act shall commence and be in force from and after its passage.
An act to establish the county of McLean was approved by the Legislature on January 28, 1854, and set "the second Monday in May, 1854," as the time for the beginning of the new county. Muhlenberg, Ohio, and Daviess counties furnished the territory. Muhlenberg's part (about thirty-five square miles) was all the land that lay between Green and Pond rivers north of the line described thus in the acts of 1854: "... the mouth of the Thoroughfare branch; thence up the Thoroughfare branch to the mouth of Big creek; thence up Big creek to a point where the road from Rumsey to Greenville crosses the same; thence a straight line to the head of the island on Pond river, at the Horseshoe bend." 2
In 1890 a change was made in a part of the southeastern boundary of the county. An act passed April 30, 1888, provided for the appointment of commissioners "for the purpose of establishing the lines between Muhlenberg and Butler counties." An act approved May 22, 1890, briefly states: "That Mud river be, and the same is, made the line between Butler and Muhlenberg counties." This act added to Muhlenberg a triangular strip of land covering a few square miles touching on Mud River below the mouth of Wolf Lick Fork. It incidentally ended the occasionally disputed question as to which county the land really lay in, and therefore also settled the discussion as to which county governed it in the sale of liquor. It is said that this strip was, up to 1890, invariably "wet," regardless of whether Muhlenberg or Butler were "dry."
V, Courts and Courthouses
Although Greenville is Muhlenberg County's first and only county seat, the first six county courts and first three meetings of the court of quarter sessions were held elsewhere, before the town was begun. These initial meetings took place at the home of pioneer John Dennis, about two miles southeast of Greenville on the Greenville and Russellville Road. The original Dennis house was a large threeroom log house put up about 1790 by John Dennis, who in 1810 built a twostory brick of four rooms adjoining it. Both houses were torn down in 1902 by W. I. Gragston, who erected a frame residence on the site of the old landmark.
Back of the original log and brick residence were scattered a few slave cabins, a smoke-house and an ice-house; across the road stood a large log barn, a blacksmith shop, a horsepower corn mill, and several sheds, all of which gave the Dennis farm the appearance of a small town. But all these barns and other accessory buildings erected by John Dennis were torn down many years before the log and brick residence disappeared.
The old Dennis house was one of the earliest "stopping-places" in the county, and in its day one of the most noted. Among the other early places of entertainment for man and beast were the Tyler Tavern at Kincheloe's Bluff and the Russell House in Greenville. The Dennis tavern was situated on a comparatively much-traveled public road leading from Nashville and Russellville to Owensboro and other towns. Stage coaches, loaded with passengers and their deerskin trunks and carpetbags, halted at this tavern in the olden days. All travelers over this route, whether in public conveyance, horseback, or afoot, or in their own sulkies, buckboards, wagons, or landslides, lingered here. Those who were on long trips made it a point to spend the night with the genial John and the members of his household. Circuit riders occasionally appeared on the scene and held services in the house or under an arbor near by.
Before Greenville was started, the Dennis place was the principal headquarters for the pioneers who lived in the southern part of the county. On the stile-blocks and around the large open fire-places the local happenings were related by the pioneers, who came not only to discuss such affairs but also to trade in the store and to hear the latest news brought by the traveling public. But after Greenville became the county seat one patron after another changed his trading and meeting place to the new town, and long before 1822, when John Dennis died, the Dennis place had been relegated to the past. In the meantime, one after another, the pioneers died, and many of the stories of their adventures that had often been told by them were no longer heard, and so in the course of time most of the long-past events gradually ceased to be topics of conversation, slowly faded out of memory, and were finally lost forever. Only a few of these once-familiar facts were handed down for a generation or two, and are now but dimly remembered as traditions. 1
Written official records are required by law, and these, from the beginning down to the present, are still preserved and are now on file in the courthouse at Greenville. The first of the county court records I quote in full:
May 28th, 1799. At the house of John Dennis, in the county of Muhlenberg, on Tuesday the 28th day of May 1799.
Agreeably to an Act of Assembly entitled an Act for Forming a New County out of the Counties of Logan and Christian, a commission of the peace from his Excellency, James Garrard, Esquire, was produced, directed to James Craig, John Dennis, William Bell, Isaac Davis, John Russell, Robert Cisna, Richard Morton, John Adams and Jesse McPherson, appointing them justices of the peace in and for the county aforesaid, which being read, thereupon John Dennis, Esquire, administered the oath to support the Constitution of the United States, the oath of fidelity to this Commonwealth, and also the oath of a justice of the peace to James Craig, Isaac Davis and William Bell, whereupon the said James Craig administered the said several oaths to John Dennis, Esquire.
And thereupon a court was held for said county. Present: James Craig, John Dennis, Isaac Davis, William Bell, Esquires.
John Bradley, Esquire, produced a commission from his Excellency the Governor appointing him Sheriff in and for said county which being read, he, the said John, thereupon took the oath to support the Constitution of the United States, the oath of fidelity to this Commonwealth and also the oath of office of Sheriff, and together with Isaac Davis and William Worth ington, his securities, entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of Three Thousand Dollars conditioned as the law directs.
The court appointed Charles Fox Wing their clerk pro tempore who thereupon took the oath to support the Constitution of the United States, the oath of fidelity to this Commonwealth and also the oath of office, and together with Henry Rhoads, Sen., and William Campbell, his security, entered into bond in the penalty and conditioned as the law directs.
Alney McLean, Esquire, produced a commission from his Excellency the Governor, appointing him surveyor in and for the county of Muhlenberg, whereupon he took the oath to support the Constitution of the United States, the oath of fidelity to this Commonwealth and also the oath of office, and together with Robert Ewing and Ephraim McLean, Sen., his securities, entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of six hundred pounds conditioned as the law directs.
On the recommendation of Alney McLean, Esquire, surveyor of the county, William Bradford, George Tennell and James Weir, Esquire, were Reduced Facsimile of Commission admitted as his deputies, who thereupon took the oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the oath of fidelity to this Commonwealth and also the oath of office as deputy surveyors.
Peter Lyons' stockmark: two smooth crops and a nick under each ear. On his motion ordered to be recorded.
Henry Davis' stockmark: a hole in each ear. On his motion is ordered to be recorded.
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Refine your search of the A History of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky

Source Information: A History of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2001. Original data: Rothert, Otto A. A History of Muhlenberg County. Louisville, KY, USA: 1913.

Compiled by Otto A. Rothert, this book details some general information about the county, including information on the local facilities. Family historians will find the wealth of information on the first settlers of the county, and their decendents, most...
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