118 – Early Kentucky Years 1790s

In 1776 there were fewer than 200 settlers in Kentucky. After the Revolutionary War, settlers began pouring in.

Native Americans were very unhappy about this encroachment into their lands. They had been pushed to Northwest Territory, or Indian Territory, north and west of the Ohio River.

Native American Conflict

American Indians lose the Ohio River Valley

The post-Revolutionary period proved a disaster for the American Indians of the Ohio Valley and the Northwest Territory. The Indians, troubled by white incursion, and by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, formed a massive confederacy of tribes to protect their territory north of the Ohio River.

Nevertheless, the tide of war began to turn against the native tribes. In 1789, the federal government established Fort Washington in the new town of Cincinnati. By 1794, with the federal victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers and the subsequent 1795 Treaty of Greenville (now Ohio), the Northwest Territory was finally considered safe for white settlement.

Our Rich History: The Ohio River Valley was the epicenter of a major global war
The Treaty of Green Ville – Howard Chandler Christy

Kentucky 1792

In the ten years after the Revolutionary War, Kentucky’s population had increased from a few hundred to 74,000 in the first US Census of 1790.

The threat of violence between settlers and Native Americans was subsiding.

Kentucky was part of the state of Virginia. In similar fashion, North Carolina and Georgia’s borders extended west to the Mississippi River.

With its rapid population growth, Kentuckians increasingly wanted to become independent from Virginia. Kentucky had different commercial and trading priorities, and travel to the capital of Virginia took weeks.

On June 1, 1792, Kentucky separated from Virginia and was admitted as the fifteenth state in the United States.

The state and a few original counties were re-organized into fifteen counties, among them Scott and Mason.

Their new home

By 1792, William and Margaret Jarvis (5G) had settled in Scott County, Kentucky. They were living near Margaret’s father and brothers and their families.

William was age 32, Margaret 30.

William and Margaret had two daughters that were born in Maryland. Their third child, son Parker Jarvis, was born in Kentucky around 1792.

  • Sarah b. 1785 Maryland
  • Elizabeth b. 1790 Maryland
  • Parker b. 1792

Scott County extended from just north of Lexington all the way north to the Ohio River and Cincinnati.

Once the family found land to live on, shelter was the next priority. A lean-to or dugout might be built until a more substantial cabin could be raised. Then it was customary to build a one-room log cabin. William and Margaret Jarvis likely did so.

Kentucky 1800

Migration to Kentucky from the eastern states boomed in the 1790s. By 1800, the population of Kentucky had grown to 220,000, up from 74,000 ten years earlier.

Scott County’s 1800 population was 8,000 – 6,100 whites and 1,900 black slaves.

Census Tax List 1800

Unfortunately, the 1800 census for Kentucky was lost to fire as it was burned by the British during the War of 1812. So we don’t have the enumerations of individual families.

Scholars have pieced together the Kentucky tax lists for 1800, and they list heads of household on the tax rolls and their county of residence.

In 1800, William and Margaret Jarvis (5G) were living in Scott County, as were Margaret’s brothers.

Daniel, Solomon, and Joshua Jarvis in Mason County

William’s Jarvis cousins were in Mason County, near Maysville.

A growing family

William and Margaret had arrived in Kentucky with two children, Sarah and Elizabeth who were born in Maryland.

By 1800, there were seven children. William was age 40, Margaret 38.

  • Sarah b. 1785 Maryland
  • Elizabeth b. 1790 Maryland
  • Parker b. 1792
  • James William b. 1794
  • Malinda b. 1796
  • Gilbert b. 1798
  • Margaret b. 1800

The inhabitants are all young and middle aged; we saw but one or two old people the whole journey; this scarcity of old men is not because the climate is unhealthy, but because the people are, or were a few years ago, almost all young settlers. Six or eight children, with little else but a shirt on, are generally playing about the door of every house.

Journal of Travels in the United States – John Palmer

Nibbles Extra Credit

Jarvis, Thompson, and Gilbert

William Jarvis married Margaret Thompson. Margaret’s parents were John Thompson and Margaret Gilbert.

You may have noticed that these three names – Jarvis, Thompson, and Gilbert – are peppered all over the names of family members.



2 thoughts on “118 – Early Kentucky Years 1790s

  1. Brenda Teply November 21, 2020 / 3:42 pm

    The Battle of Fallen Timbers took place in what is now Maumee, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo. I grew up only a few miles east of there. One of the major thoroughfares in Toledo is The Anthony Wayne Trail, named after the hero of the battle. My family used to take that roadway to the Toledo Zoo, at least twice a year. Your post brings back fond memories of childhood. Thanks.
    Also, I must add that the 1795 Treaty of Greenville reestablished boundaries, forcing mass migrations of native Americans to lands farther west. Among these nations were the Wyandots and the Shawnee’s. And we know where they resettled; thus the cities, counties, and numerous indian names in our area: Blue Jacket, Olathe, etc. You may remember that a couple of years ago my sister Peggy and I tried, unsuccessfully, to locate a copy of The Treaty of Greenville. Surely a copy accompanied the great, forced Indian migration westward to this area.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark Jarvis November 21, 2020 / 4:52 pm

    Thanks for the deeper dive. I do recall your attempt to find the Treaty of Greenville.

    Sometimes, it’s eerie what a small world and what interesting coincidences there are.

    And thanks again for being such a faithful reader and commenter.

    Liked by 1 person

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