Welcome to Franklin County, KY History

Biographies


Captain Hancock Lee

Hancock Lee, born about 1736 and died in 1815.  He was the second son of Hancock Lee and Mary Willis, who married in 1733 in Spottsylvania County, Virginia. Hancock
was a civil engineer by trade, surveying land in Kentucky where he filed eighteen personal surveys totalling 7,200 acres. Excerpts from the Kentucky Gazette state, "in 1774
several surveyors arrived in Kentucky, among them were Colonel John Floyd, Hancock Taylor, James Douglass, Isaac Hite and Willis Lee".

Hancock came to Kentucky, accompanied by his older brother, Willis Lee and his cousin, Hancock Taylor.  They arrived in Kentucky around June 1st to conduct extensive
surveys for the Ohio Company. The party traveled to the buffalo crossing at the bend of the Kentucky River, where they established Leestown.  The village was to endure
significant problems in its formative years.  Growth was slow; early settlers into Kentucky used Leestown as a stop-over on their way to Boonesboro and Harrodsburg. The
settlement was plagued with the threat of Indian attacks.  Early in July of 1774, Hancock Taylor was killed during an attack and Willis Lee was wounded. Hancock Taylor
made his will a few days before he died, leaving his cousin Hancock Lee, part of the lands he had surveyed in Kentucky.  In April 1776, a band of Indians suddenly attacked and
burned several cabins at Leestown.  During this attack, Willis Lee was killed; Cyrus McCracken and Joseph Lindsey were wounded.  Indian attacks continued to cause havoc on
the residents and in 1777 they temporarily abandoned the Leestown settlement and relocated to Boonesboro.

During the land boom of 1780, settlers returned to Leestown. Captain Lee gave his nephew, Willis Atwell Lee, son of John Lee of Versailles, an acre lot on the Leestown Pike,
about a mile north of Frankfort on the Kentucky River.  At this site Willis built a two-story double log cabin.  In March 1789, Hancock Lee offered lots in Leestown at
public auction.   And, in 1792 he offered Leestown as an available site for the Kentucky state capital.

Hancock returned to Virginia, however this would not be his first trip to Kentucky.  In his lifetime he would make twenty visits to Kentucky. Hancock married Winifred
Beale, daughter of John Beale, of Westmoreland County, Virginia in December 1776. They had ten children, although very little is known about them.

Another son of Hancock and Mary Willis Lee was very instrumental in the settlement of Kentucky.  Major John Lee, their third son, settled in Leesburg, Woodford
County.  He was one of the early founders of Versailles.   John Lee and his wife, Elizabeth Bell had a large family.  Son, Willis Atwell Lee, the first Clerk of Franklin
County built Glen Willis and daughter, Sarah, married John J. Crittenden a governor of Kentucky.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Sources:
Capital on the Kentucky, by Kramer
Forks of Elkhorn Church, by Ermina Jett Darnell
Lee of Virginia, by Edmund Jennings Lee


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© 1999 - 2011 Anne H. Lee

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