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Early Residents

By September 1797 there were only
183 white men above the age of 21
south of the Kentucky River in Franklin
County.  This reflects the following
land owners in the Benson Valley.
John Adams, John Armstrong, Robert
Armstrong, James Arnold, John Arnold,
Benjamin Bennett, William Bennett,
William Boyd, Peter Carr, Henry Gibson,
William Hickman, William Lane, Thomas
Logan, James McBrayer, John McBrayer,
William McBrayer, Lapsley McBride,
William McBride, John McCampbell,
John Magill, John Major, Timothy
Mayhall, John Reading, John
Robinson, William Robinson, Thomas
Smith, Thomas Wilson and John
Veness

Churches

The Bridgeport Christian Church was
established in the late autumn of 1846 by
a group of men and women living in the
village of Bridgeport and vicinity.  For many
years they had been members of the South
Benson Baptist Church; however, had
become disrupted by the Calvinistic
denouncements preached by the
Reverend Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone
and others during the decade 1825 - 1835.  
The original church record states the
following "We whose names are hereunto
subscribed being Disciples of Jesus Christ,
do this day form and constitute ourselves
into a church to be known by the name of
The Church of God at Bridgeport, given
under our hand this 7th day of November
1846".  Soon after the organization of the
new church, Mary Bailey Jenkins, one of the
charter members gave a tract of land
south of the Frankfort-Shelbyville road.  And,
the first Christian Church of Bridgeport
was built.

Lower Benson Church was established in
1802 and was the first Presbyterian church in
close proximity to Bridgeport.  Robert
Armstrong and William Boyd were elected
elders and Reverend Samuel Shannon
preached the first sermon.  In 1803, Robert
Armstrong presented a plot of land located
on Arnold's Ferry Road to build their first
meeting house.  The small, one-story log
building was located about a mile east of
Bridgeport and one mile southwest of the
Big Road on Cardwell Lane.  After the Civil
War, membership had fallen and the church
could no longer function.  Many left to join
the First Presbyterian Church in Frankfort.
The remaining members ask for admittance
to the Southern Presbyterian assembly.  A
lot was purchased on Steele Street and the
Southern Presbyterian Church was built.

South Benson Church
On February 28, 1810 members of the
Forks of Elkhorn Church living in the
South Benson Valley, ask for dismissal to
organize a new church closer to their
homes.  John Major, William Hickman, the
Christian's and Nancy Berryman were
accepted as charter members of the South
Benson Church.  Located in southwestern
Franklin County the membership quickly
grew making South Benson one of the
largest congregations in the Bluegrass.
A building was erected on the Farmdale road
one and a half miles south of Bridgeport.
Throughout the years, the early minuet book
of the South Benson Church has been lost.
It is impossible to ascertain the names of the
ministers and members of the church.  In
1883, on the same location as the original
building, the Baptist constructed a new brick
church and gave the old building to the
Christians.  They removed the materials to
Bridgeport where a new church was built.
Misunderstandings concerning the building
of a new brick church caused the South
Benson Church to divide again.  The
contributing group withdrew from the church
and organized the EVERGREEN BAPTIST
CHURCH
located about one mile east on the
Farmdale Road at the intersection of
Cardwell Lane.

Upper Benson Church
The Presbyterians in the area need a
church.  They contributed materials and
labor to erect their first meeting house in
1795.  The Upper Benson Church was
located on Little Benson Creek some
miles southeast of Bridgeport and about
fives miles south of Frankfort.  Reverend
Samuel Shannon was instrumental in its'
organization as well as that of the Lower
Benson Church in 1806.  He served both
churches until 1812.  The Elders of the
Upper Benson Church now desired to
move to town.  In 1816, former elder
Thomas Paxton, along with a congregation
of fifty-nine moved to Frankfort and
formed the First Presbyterian Church.

Education 

Belle Collins "Beautiful Hill"
The finishing school for girls was founded
sometime before 1840 by Reverend
James Braddock.  The school was located
about one mile from Bridgeport on the
Bridgeport-Farmdale Pike.  Braddock and
his wife was in charge of the school until
it was destroyed be fire in the 1850's.
Advertisements indicate the school was
still in operation in 1855; however, like
many private schools its' days were
numbered.  Trustees were: Dandridge
S. Crockett, J. Russell Hawkins, John W.
Russell and ALEXANDER JULIAN.

Bridgeport Female Institute
Feeling the loss Belle Collins a group of
residents purchased a lot from William
and Elizabeth Hodges, which was located
on the north side of Main Street. The
Bridgeport Female Institute was established
in 1858.  Mr. and Mrs. C. M. Moore of New
York were administrators. The school
building was a two-story frame building;
first floor for classes and second floor was a
dormitory.  Like Belle Collins, its' income would
not meet expenses and at the end of Spring
term of 1860 the doors closed.

Bridgeport School
In the summer of 1851 the first school was
constructed in Bridgeport.  It was a one
room frame building located on Evergreen
Road.  Due to over crowding a two room
school was built.  A larger building was
built on the present site; however, it burned.
The next school building was completed in
1942.  High school students occupied the
second floor while elementary classes were
on the first floor.  About ten years later
high school students were given a new
county high school.  The Bridgeport
School continued as an elementary for the
next fifty years or so. It's doors closed and
a new school was completed in 2005 on
King's Daughters Drive.                                 

Lattice School
Shortly after the Civil War, in the fall of
1865, another private school established
for grown girls.  The old Bridgeport Female
Institute, was sold by the Hodges, to Dr.
John B. Stout on October 24, 1865.  The
building was remodeled and became the
Lattice School.  It was a two-story building
with a double latticed porch, from which it
derived its' name.  In latter years small
girls were admitted for studies beginning
in the grades.  The school received some
financial aid from Franklin County until it
was abandoned in 1875.  Dr. Stout turned
the building into a residence. It burned to
the ground in the fire of 1880.

                                                                                      

Bridgeport - Benson

The community of Bridgeport is located about five miles from downtown Frankfort.  It's name
was derived from the two cover bridges which once spanned Armstrong's Branch and South
Benson Creek.  The covered bridges are now gone and the taverns that have endured the test
of time are now private residences.  The general store and post office, once the local gathering
place to met and reminisce of old times, has  long been closed.  Travel between Frankfort and
Louisville on the "Big Road", once so vital to the economy in Bridgeport is no more.  Today,
this once thriving little town is now a residential area where modern life intertwines among
the few remaining structures of days gone by.

In the early summer of 1774, a party of hunters and explorers, led by James Harrod traveled
into the wilderness of Kentucky.  James Harrod was on his way to establish a settlement on the
waters of the Salt River, which would later become known as Harrod's Fort.  In canoes the party
left the Ohio and worked their way down the Kentucky River to the mouth of a large creek.
Harrod, interested in learning of the surrounding countryside, sent Richard Benson, one of his
best men to explore the creek.  A few miles up the creek, Benson found a bottom land of
thick forest.  Following a natural route he located a smaller stream which fed back into the
river.  The next day, at the mouth of this stream, he met Harrod and his party who had continued
up river.  This large creek was immediately given the name Big Benson Creek and the smaller,
Benson called Little Benson.  Harrod's party continued up stream, then overland to join in the
building of the first settlement in Kentucky.  Harrod returned to Little Benson Creek in the
early spring of 1775; built a cabin and planted a crop of corn.

In 1780 Harrod was granted a preemption of 1400 acres for settlement.  The beginning of land
acquisitions in the Bridgeport area was first acquired by William Armstrong, who made an entry
for 300 acres on the Kentucky River, March 6, 1781.  Governor Benjamin Harrison of Virginia
approved this grant on the Little Benson and the stream became known as Armstrong's Branch.
The second grant was issued to Sherman Nunnery on August 9, 1785 for 773 acres.  The northern
section of the Nunnery grant was to become the future village of Bridgeport.  In the years to
come additional grants were issued to:  Thomas Paxton, which he later transferred to
James McCoun, John Robinson, Lawrence Flournoy, George Slaughter and Benjamin Bennett.
Many years later, the McCoun heirs sold to Abraham Bailey.

 In 1810 the Franklin County Court passed a motion to build a bridge over the south
fork of Benson Creek, just wests of Richard Smart's property.  With a good bridge over the
creek and a more substantial road, good transportation was needed.  In 1817, James
Johnson established the first stage coach line in the community, known as the Old Line and
the Opposition Line.

Bridgeport, because of its' location, had become a rest stop for people on their way to
Shelbyville and Louisville.  In 1826, FREDRICK ROBB, came from Maryland and settled in the
area.  Being somewhat of a land speculator, he sold tavern sites near the intersection to
Morris Fox, John Jenkins and SHELAH BAILEY.  A post office was established in 1837 and in
1848 an act incorporating Bridgeport as a town, not to exceed more than fifty acres. JOHN JENKINS,
Frederick Robb and H. Edwards were appointed trustees.  Some of the leading citizens where
chosen as magistrates and constables.

Burial Ground in the Bridgeport Area

North Benson Baptist Church Cemetery is located on highway 1005, about four miles past
Choatville.  The cemetery is on the church grounds to the front and left of the church.  As of
1976, there were approximately 100 marked graves.  Anderson Cemetery is a family burying
ground with approximately 15 marked graves.  The cemetery is located off Old U.S. 60 on
Sheep Pen Road, one mile northwest of Benson Creek.  The Armstrong Cemetery is located
on the west side of Bridgeport about one-half mile north of U.S. 60.  This oldest grave in
this cemetery is that of John W. Armstrong, born 1822.  There are approximately 10 marked
graves in this cemetery.  BAILEY GRAVEYARD, the final resting place of the Shelah Bailey
family, one of Bridgeport's first residents.  It is located at Bridgeport .3 miles off U.S. 60 on
Browns Lane.  Six graves are marked and legible.  Conner Cemetery is located at Little
Benson Creek.  Three graves are marked, one of whom is Thomas Paxton.  Gorman-
Duke Graveyard is located near Evergreen Baptist Church, where six marked graves were
legible in 1976.  Located one mile north of Devil's Hollow Road on Highway 1005, four miles
from Frankfort is the Grennan Cemetery, where members of the Moore and Hulette family
are buried.  Hale Graveyard, off Bryant-Benson Road, has one marked grave and others marked
with fieldstones.  Herndon Cemetery is on Sheep Pen Road just north of the Taylor Branch
junction.  Approximately 10 graves are marked.  The JENKINS GRAVEYARD is the burial place
of of members of one of the first families of the area.  Located near the intersection of Bridgeport
and Evergreen intersection.  Kirk Cemetery is located on Old Sheep Pen Road with 10 graves
marked.  Lower Benson Burying Ground is on the Julian farm off U.S. 60.  A large cemetery with
100 or more marked graves.  The Mayhall family burying ground, one of Bridgeport's pioneer families,
is located on Browns Lane.  Only two stones remain. Some inscriptions were recorded years ago
Located on Bryant-Benson Road is the Moore Graveyard.  Only 5 graves are marked; however,
other members of the Moore family are believed to be buried there.  Another of Bridgeport's
pioneers families, the Parrent's lie at rest in a small burying ground across from the Bridgeport
Christian Church.  In a field at the first bridge on Taylor Branch Road is located the Power-Hieatt
Cemetery.  The Redding Cemetery is located at the intersection of Botkin Road on Highway 1009.
Graves of the Redding family are marked.  Another cemetery located at the intersection is that
of the Riddle family.  Members of the Cardwell and Powers family are buried here.  Riner Graveyard
located near the intersection of Sheep Pen and Taylor Branch.  The family of John Riner, who
migrated to Franklin County from Virginia.  About twenty-five graves are illegible.  Roberts Graveyard
back of Roberts Schoolhouse on Roberts Road is the final resting place of the Hulker and Truell
families.  Along the tracks, at the Benson Depot on Highway 1665 is the Robinson Graveyard.  The
Sargent Graveyard is located in the back of Broadview Manor Subdivision.  Graves marked with
fieldstones.  Charles Smith, is buried in the Smith Cemetery north of Benson Creek on Sheep Pen
Road.  The Taylor Burying Ground is the burial place of the Revolutionary War soldier James
Taylor and members of his family.  It is located on Taylor Branch, near Bryant-Benson Road.
Jeremiah Tracy, one of Franklin County pioneer families graveyard is located on Bridgeport-Benson
Road north of U.S.60.  Some graves not marked, although records have been kept.  Tracy-Stockton
Graveyard is located at Sheep Pen and Roberts Road.  The Stockton family was another pioneer
family of the Benson-Bridgeport area.  The Wright Burying Ground is another burial site located
at the southeast corner of the Julian farm at the junction of U.S. 60.

In May of 1860 fired destroyed the Old Fellows Hall and several homes in Bridgeport. The
population was greatly depleted. Many of the citizens moved to Frankfort to
re-establish their lives.

Property Owners in Bridgeport-Benson Area - 1870

Name

Place of Birth

Occupation

Date of Settlement

Acreage

Angraves, J. Leiester, England Butcher

1850

15

Armstrong, E. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1827

185

Bradley, T. B. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1839

60

Branch, A. B. Shelby County, KY Dairyman

1864

101

Brown, R. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1822

770

Crockett, Rebecca C. Virginia Farmer

1848

100

Crutcher, W. L. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1844

40

Hamilton, J. B. Clark County, KY Farmer

1851

213

Hawkins, J. R. Spottsylvania County, VA Physician

1851

200

Hulette, J. M. Clark County, KY Farmer

1842

118

Jenkins, J. W. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1837

Julian, Alex. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1000

Julian, Alex., Jr. Franklin County, KY Deputy Sheriff

1854

Julian, C. H. Franklin County, KY Cattle trader

1856

305

Jenkins, J. W. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1837

150

Moore, J. D. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1844

200

Moore, J. P. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1835

76

O'Connell, J. J. Franklin County, KY Machinist

1851

Parrent, C. H. Franklin County, KY Teacher

1842

Parrent, Joseph, Sr. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1818

160

Parrent, T. Franklin County, KY Merchant

1848

Lot

Pattie, P. R. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1821

250

Pryor, J. P. Lauderdale County, AL Journalist

1871

311

Roberts, P. H. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1844

80

Robinson, J. O. Palestine, Texas Student

1871

Rodgers, B. F. Scott County, KY Farmer

1850

Riner, M. A. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1837

105

Samuels, R. M. Mercer County, KY Farmer

1860

10

Shoush, J. H. Montgomery County, KY Carpenter

1852

92

Staten, Joe T. Trimble County, KY Dairyman

1876

103

Stockton, J. P. Franklin County, KY Carpenter

1821

280

Sudduth, Geo. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1827

152

Suttles, J. U. Oldham County, KY Farmer

1864

21

Taylor, W. F. Franklin County, KY Farmer

1834

33

Terry, Jos. Madison County, KY Farmer

1853

116

Waring, Jacob Virginia Farmer

1865

36

                                                                                                                                                                                     

Old Bridgeport
by: Williard R. Jillson

The Register - Kentucky Historical Society, January 1956

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Submitted by: Bill Lattin


 

 

            

Sources:
Old Bridgeport, by Willard Rouse Jillson

The History of Franklin County, Kentucky, by L. F. Johnson
Frankfort Celebration 1786-1986, by Frankfort's 200 Birthday Committee
Capital on the Kentucky, by Kramer
Church and Family Graveyards of Franklin County, by KY Genealogical Society

                                       

                                             


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