Bon Harbor, Kentucky

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Two miles west of Owensboro. Robert Triplett, a Virginian who arrived in the area during the 1820s to open several coal mines founded the town at the landing in 1842. He called it Bon Harbor for the natural harbor there and built textile factories and homes for the workers. Bon Harbor post office was established April 17, 1848, but lasted only 2 years. Triplett’s efforts to develop an industrial metropolis ended by 1860. In the 1890’s coal mining was re-established and the settlement was also called Bon Harbor Hills. The street car line extended its tracks to Bon Harbor to run coal into Owensboro.

Source: Reference to article by Shelia Heflin

The first survey of Bon Harbor into town lots was in 1842. The place then bid fair to become a manufacturing town of some importance. A woolen factory was built there, and afterward a large cotton and woolen factory was put up; but the machinery was too old and worn out to accomplish much. It was one of the largest factories at that time in the West. In this business Robert Triplett and Alexander Beard were partners. Triplett went to Europe to bring out factory hands; but the enterprise dragged along so tediously that it was finally abandoned. The Bon Harbor coal mines were the first to be put in successful operation in the county. An old man named Bassett opened the first mine, and the Bon Harbor mine proper, three fourths of a mile from the river, was the next mine worked. About 1830 a considerable quantity of coal was shipped to New Orleans from this point by Robert Triplett. He constructed a railroad from the mine to the river, at the terminus of which was erected the large cotton and woolen factory before mentioned. Several houses were built, the population being principally composed of operatives, and numbering two or three hundred.

There is no village now at the old site of Bon Harbor.

About the middle of June, 1878, Mr. Aud was cultivating the farm of Mrs. Carter, near Owensboro, and boarding at her house, while his own family were at their home in Knottsville, about sixteen miles distant. One night, without any warning, a number of disguised men, who suspected Mr. Aud of two great intimacy with Mrs. Carter, collected at the house of the latter, took Mr. Aud out, tied him to a tree and threshed him most unmercifully. They debated among themselves whether to kill him outright; but, on his promise to leave the country, they let him go. He afterward took out a warrant against a half-dozen or more persons, charging them with ku-kluxing him. Among the accused were some very reputable and worthy citizens. William T. Ellis was prosecuting attorney, and on the other side were most of the prominent lawyers of Owensboro. The case was an exciting one. In the preliminary examination the defense relied mainly upon proving alibis. The witnesses were examined separately. All the accused parties, however, were held over to court; but the grand jury failed to indict them, and Mr. Aud left the community.

Source: History of Daviess County, Kentucky. Chicago: Interstate Publishing Co., 1883. Print.