Knottsville Precinct

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Map of Knottsville Precinct in 1876.


In 1867, the following were fixed as the boundary lines of this precinct: Beginning at Ohio County line, where same crosses North Panther Creek, near Charles Hamilton's; thence down said creek to the Leitchfield road, thence with Leitchfield and Owensboro road to the bridge over Caney Creek; thence up Caney Creek, so as to include James McKinney's; thence a line to Ben Allen's, including E. S. Jones's and William McKay's; thence to the Hardinsburg road at Richard Jett's, excluding Jett's and J. W. Gabbert's ; then to the Pike's Peak schoolhouse; thence with the old trace to David Clark's, including said Clark; thence to the nearest point of new road leading to C. Bell's; thence with said new road to the Barker road near C. Bell's; thence with the Barker road to W. Winkler, Jr's; thence to the White Oak ford on Blackford, thence with Blackford Creek and Hancock and Ohio County lines to the beginning. The precinct of Knottsville was named from the village, and the village was named for a Mr. Leonard Knott, who settled here. Formerly the name was spelled "Nottsville."

Early Settlement

The first settlers in this precinct were families by the name of Smeathers, Duncan, Bell, Adams, and Husk. Metcalfs and Winklers came afterward. Valentine Husk came from Virginia. He first settled at Yellow Banks, around 1799; then lived on the Ohio River at the mouth of Pup Creek. In 1801, he moved with his family to a point on the Yelvington and Knottsville road, three and a half miles north of the former place, where he began improving the farm afterward owned and occupied by Henry Johnson. He was the first settler in this part of the country. Soon afterward Benjamin, George, Charles, and Raleigh Duncan came from Nelson County and settled here. James Adams came about the same time, and settled at a point four miles northwest of Knottsville. Eli and Nathaniel Bell came from Maryland about the time of the Duncans. Eli settled on the farm afterward owned by W. B. Head, Esq. Descendants of the Smeathers and Bells are still living in the precinct. Ben Purcell came in 1824; R. N. Wilson, father of Robert T. Wilson, came to the county in 1820, from Nelson County, and settled on a farm four miles west of Knottsville. The Mays came from Nelson County about the same time, and settled on the Hardinsburg road west of Knottsville.

First School

The first school in this part of the county was taught by a man named Walker, who happened to be passing through the country. It was found that he had some education and was straightaway employed to teach a three months' school. It was taught on Pup Creek, on land afterward owned by John Bell, and the old log cabin in which it was held went to decay more than fifty years ago (as of 1883).

First Religious Services

The first religious services were held by a Methodist preacher named Craig, about 1808, in the house of Benjamin Duncan. He organized a church in this house, and Benjamin Duncan and Valentine Husk were among the first members. One of the first priests was Father Derbin, who was born Jan. 1, 1800. He came here about 1822. He lived in Union County, and came here to preach once a month. On one occasion he lost his way, and was belated. He kept his course by the moss on the trees, which always grows on the north side. After dark the wolves were very troublesome, and came near taking him from his horse, but the horse was very spirited, and fought the wolves off. Father Derbin still lived in Russellville, Logan County as of 1883.

First Brick Kiln

The first brick-kiln was burned in 1825, by Thomas Purcell, a native of Virginia, who came to this county in the spring of that year.

First Cemetery

The first burying ground was started about 1806, on the land of Charles Duncan, north of Pup Creek, on the Knottsville and Yelvington road, and the first person buried was Raleigh Duncan, a son of Charles Duncan. This was the first death in the precinct. The first marriage in this precinct was "big Billy Bell" to his cousin, Betsey Bell, about the year 1810. They had two children. Mrs. Bell died, and Mr. Bell subsequently married twice. He raised a large family of children, and died in this precinct several years ago.

In early days the pioneers made all their own sugar and syrup from maple-trees, which were very abundant on Pup Creek. A man named Thomas Montgomery made sugar so extensively that he paid for his entire farm from the sale of the sugar. From that time he was known as "Sugar Tom Montgomery," to distinguish him from another Tom Montgomery living in the precinct. The early settlers paid their taxes with wolf and wildcat scalps. They would get a certificate from the magistrate for the amount of the scalps, which was the same as an order on the County Treasurer at the present day. And if the amount exceeded the taxes, the Sheriff, or Collector, paid the difference in specie. The women wore buckskin dresses every day, and had checked cotton for Sunday. The children had neither boots nor shoes. Some would wrap rags around their feet, while others ran through the snow barefoot. "Uncle" Henry Hazel' tells that when he was a boy he would procure a piece of puncheon, or large block of wood, place it before the fire until thoroughly warmed, then carry it to the wood-pile and stand on it while chopping wood. He would repeat this process as often as the block became cold, until his task for the day was completed.

Post Offices

Many years ago, a post office was established a mile and a half east of where Knottsville now stands, and was named Goreham. It was then the only post office in Daviess County, except the one at Owensboro. A town was also staked off at this point by a Mr. Lang, but nothing more was done toward building it up. The voting place for the upper end of the county was located at the house of Mr. Gore, and remained here until it was established at Knottsville, about I884. The Goreham voting place was the only one in the county except at Owensboro.

Gatewood Post office was established in the summer of 1882, at the store of P. D. Wilson, in the northeast corner of this precinct, with Dr. P. D. Wilson as Postmaster; but he has since resigned, and as no successor has been appointed the office will probably be discontinued.

As of 1876, this area had three stores, a blacksmith shop, cabinet-making shop, wagon shop, and hotel. St. Lawrence Catholic Church is two miles east of the town. The surface in Knottsville Precinct is hill except in the creek bottoms.

Towns in this Precinct

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

An Illustrated Historical Atlas Map Of Daviess County, Ky. Published by Leo McDonough & Co. 1876.

Source: David Rumsey Map Collection, Online Copyright ©2000 by Cartography Associates.