“The Court House was of open round logs on the hill… Court House of logs with a cabin roof and a log partition for a jury room. It cost just $16.”
That’s how Benjamin Allen recalled the earliest days in Winchester in an interview years later with John D. Shane who conducted numerous interviews with Central Kentucky’s aging pioneers in the 1840s and ‘50s. Shane allowed his subjects to relate their personal experiences in their own words. They told of their adventures in coming to America’s first western frontier.
Many recounted their clashes with Native Americans for Shane, often in graphic detail. Shane recorded their stories in plain language that includes a wealth of information about everyday life in the wilderness that was then Kentucky.
“John Baker, Lord Mayor of Winchester… had a little half faced camp of red oak logs down where Mrs. Lingingfelter’s house is now in the hollow, little tother side of the hollow from hers,” Allen recalled in his interview with Shane. “His family in one end and a barrel of whiskey in the other and a couple of red oak poles run along at the lower end, where the barrel was, for a bar room — only of court days though. Put his half face camp there in the winter, and the Court House was put there in the spring. Had me there for a tapster that first Barrel. I was the first man that ever sold a pint or half pint of whiskey there.”
Shane’s interviews with Allen and numerous other pioneers, previously available only on difficult to read microfilm, have been republished by Clark County author and historian Harry Enoch in “Pioneer Voices,” a new publication now available at the Bluegrass Heritage Museum, 217 S. Main St.
A book signing will be held at the museum from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Enoch’s numerous works of local histories include “In Search of Morgan’s Station,” “Affair at Captain Creek,” “Grimes Mill, Kentucky Landmark on Boone Creek, Fayette County,” “Colonel John Holder, Boonesborough Defender and Kentucky Entrepreneur” and “Where In The World? Historic Places in Clark County, Kentucky.”
The museum is open noon to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday.