Welcome to Franklin County, KY History
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Early Settlers

By the early 1800's Leestown was
becoming an important commercial
shipping port.  Dailey shipments of
goods were shipped to New Orleans
and during the War of 1812, Leestown
served as an important supply base.
After the war, Leestown was the site
of a large tobacco warehouse, which
later became the Kentucky River Mills,
a hemp factory producing twine.
By the 1870's distillers at Leestown
were becoming famous for their
production of Kentucky bourbon. In
the 1860's Edmund Taylor, Jr.,
established the Carlisle and O. F. C.
In the years to come this distillery
would be owned by the George T.
Stagg Company, Schenley Distillers
and Ancient Age Distilling Company.
Today, the distillery operates under
the name of Buffalo Trace.

Glenn Willis
In 1774, Willis Lee accompanied his
cousin, Hancock Taylor, his brother,
Hancock Lee and a party of surveyors
to Leestown.  Just a few days before
his death Hancock Taylor left part of the
land he had surveyed to his cousin,
Hancock Lee.  In 1783, Lee gave
his nephew, Willis Atwell Lee, an acre
of ground at Leestown on the banks of
the Kentucky River.  Willis built a two
story log hom, which was his residence
for over thirty years.  Lee became
prominent in Franklin County, serving
as County Court Clerk.  About 1815,
Willis Lee replaced his original log house
with a one and half story brick home he
called Glen Willis.  Lee lived in this
residence until his death in 1824.  The in
1832 the house passed to HUMPHREY
MARSHALL, who resided there until his
death in 1841.  A few years after the
death of Marshall, William Harrison
Murray bought Glen Willis.  He remodled
the house and added a third floor.  At
William's death the house passed to his
son, James A. Murray.  For many years
Glen Willis laid in ruins.  A few years ago
the  house was completely restored, as
much as possible, to its original design.
Today, a kitchen has been added and it
is operated as a restaurant.

The Beeches
HARRISON BLANTON, built a federal
style brick home across from the
distillery on the main road at Leestown.
He named his home the Beeches for
the grove of beech trees that surround
the property.  In 1818 he began the
first phase of the home.  In later years
an addition was added to the back and
side of the house.  One of the noticeable
features of this home is the entry with
a fan light over the entryway and the
four-paneled sidelights.  Over the years
the Beeches has been well maintained
and is occupied today as a private




The area which would become known as Leestown was a popular camp
site for hunters and explorers.  Here on the sandy river banks of the
Kentucky River where the old buffalo trace crossed the river.
Leestown was located on the Kentucky River about one mile below
Frankfort.  Founded in June 1775 by CAPTAIN HANCOCK LEE and his
brother, Willis Lee, of Virginia.  It was the second pioneer settlement
on the Kentucky River.  Franklin County records indicate Hancock
Lee owned the land on which the town of Leestown was established.
Settlers came and several homes were built.  It appeared that
Leestown would becone a properous town on the Kentucky River.
Then in April 1776, Willis Lee was killed by Indians.  And, in the
year that followed Indian attacks forced the residents to abandon
the town.

Lee's title to his claim at Leestown was in jeopardy.  His private
survey had been conducted on December 1775 while he was
serving as a deputy surveyor for the Ohio Company.  Virginia law
stated surveys made prior to 1776 had to be surveyed by surveyors
commissioned for the county in which the survey was made.  Several
of Hancock Lee's surveys, including the claim at Leestown were
void and nullified.  Lee then secured possession of 500 acres through
a Treasury Warrant in October 1779.  The new law sent land hungry
pioneers to the Leestown area to establish land claims.  William
Haydon claimed 1000 acres on the Kentucky River about two miles above
Leestown.  Then George Mason claimed 1000 acres from the Kentucky
River to the Louisville Road.  Humphrey Marshall discovered that Robert
McAfee's 400 acre claim at the bend of the river had elapsed.  Marshall
then entered a claim for the McAfee tract.  Two tracts were located.  The
largest covered most of the northern area of the original site of Frankfort.

Graveyard in the Area

The BELLEVUE CEMETERY , sometimes referred to as the Bellfont Cemetery is
located on a hill above Leestown backing up to Fifth Avenue.  It preceded the
Frankfort Cemetery, which was established in 1844.  The cemetery lay in ruins
and at the hands of vandals for years.  Some graves remain and have been
recorded; however, others were moved to the new cemetry when it was

History of Franklin County, Kentucky, by L. F. Johnson
Lee of Virginia, by Edmund Jennings Lee
Forks of Elkhorn Church, by Ermina Jett Darnell
The Kentucky Encyclopedia, by Kleber


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