Jefferson's Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy

By Boynton Merrill Jr. | Go to book overview

13
THE SMITHLAND
NEIGHBORS

THE SECTION of Livingston County where the Lewises lived was called the Smithland neighborhood. Except for the residents of Smithland town, the families of the district were comparatively isolated, often living several miles from the nearest homestead. One such neighbor of the Lewises was Amos Persons, who had moved to the vicinity from Georgia about a year before the Lewises arrived. Although he was two years older than Randolph, he had been married for only two years. Person's “extensive” farm was located on the Ohio River at the mouth of Bayou Creek,1 about two miles up the river from Randolph's property. The owner of nine slaves, eight horses, and a grist mill, Persons was a prosperous and respected man.2 He was a conscientious friend and good neighbor of Randolph's family.

A closer neighbor of the Lewises was Jonah Hibbs, a native Pennsylvanian who had come to Kentucky about ten years before the Lewises.3 Following his arrival, Hibbs had acquired over 1000 acres of land in the county, and had established his farm, home, and orchard on a 6oo-acre tract of land that joined Lilburne's Rocky Hill farm on the north and east sides. Hibb's home farm did not front on the Ohio, but lay a mile or more back from the river in the broad undulating valley below and to the east of the property of the Lewis brothers.4 Since Hibbs's house was about a mile from Rocky Hill, Jonah probably was Lilburne's nearest neighbor. The east fork of Cypress Run flowed out of Hibbs's farm and meandered through the back part of Randolph's farm on its way to the river.5

Hibbs appears to have been a steady sort of citizen. His family consisted of his wife and four children. He owned three slaves and three horses. He was appointed a justice of the peace in 1809, and was promoted to the rank of major in the militia that same year. Evidently he was an abstemious man for, that fall, he presented another neighbor, Jonas Menser, to the grand jury for retailing one-half pint of whiskey without a license. There is

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