April 12, 2009

Sunday’s Easter Egg Hunt

Posted in genealogy at 1:33 PM by Kris P

I’m not very proud to say that I slept through the Easter egg hunt that the two older kids did this morning, however, with a cup of coffee in hand, I’m ready to face the rest of the day.  Through Twitter though, I came across a genealogical easter egg hunt care of RJ Seaver….go to Google, type in a place that you’ve been coming across in your research, type in the name, the state and “genealogical Society”, then go to the site that looks most promising.

I’ve come across this site: MyKentuckyGenealogy.com and through there, the history of Caldwell County, Kentucky:


Caldwell County, the fifty-first county in order  of formation, is located in the western part of the state in the Pennyroyal region. It has an area of 357 square miles. The county seat is PRINCETON.


The County is bordered by Crittenden County (northwest), Webster County & Hopkins County (northeast), Christian County (southeast), Trigg County (south), Lyon County (southwest). Cities, Towns and Communities include Fredonia, Princeton

In 1797 Capt. William Prince of South Carolina received a patent for a tract of land that surrounded Big Spring at the head of Eddy Creek. On a promontory above Big Spring, where many trails converged, he erected a large two-story limestone structure that served as both home and tavern. The building, Shandy Hall, was not only one of the earliest structures in this region but probably the first masonry building in all of western Kentucky. The settlement that developed there around Shandy Hall was originally known as Eddy Grove.

Prince’s settlement originally lay within the part of Christian County from which Livingston County was created in 1799 and which ten years later was subdivided to form Caldwell County. It was named in honor of Gen. John Caldwell, who had served under Gen. George Rogers Clark in the Indian wars and who had been a prominent legislator and businessman in the Bluegrass region before he moved to western Kentucky. He was the first western Kentuckian to be elected to the Kentucky state Senate, and was the slate’s second lieutenant governor (1804). When it was formed, Caldwell County encompassed all of what are now Lyon and Calloway counties and portions of Trigg, Marshall, Hickman, Graves, and Fulton counties. Much to the dismay of the citizens living in the vicinity of Eddy Grove, EDDYVILLE was chosen the first county seat of Caldwell County.

After Prince died in 1810, his widow, Elizabeth Prince, donated fifty acres of land around Eddy Grove, where the new seat of Caldwell County would be established. The county court expressed its appreciation by renaming the town Princetonn, soon changed to Princeton. When Caldwell County was created in 1809, it was one of two Kentucky counties that claimed land west of the Tennessee River in territory recognized by the federal government as Chickasaw tribal lands. After the Jackson Purchase in 1818, the newly created town of Princeton became the staging area for the settlement of the Jackson Purchase region. In 1820 the Kentucky legislature approved legislation creating the Commonwealth Bank of Kentucky. The bank’s westernmost branch was located in Princeton to serve those who settled in the newly opened Jackson Purchase. Two years later, the Register of the Kentucky Land Office opened a branch in Princeton to further encourage settlement of the Purchase.

Princeton’s role in the western movement was enhanced when a state road was built in the late 1820s from Elizabethtown through Princeton to the Mississippi River crossing at Columbus. During the same period, another state road was built northward from Hopkinsville through Princeton to a number of crossings of the Ohio, to accommodate southerners migrating to the Midwest. Farriers, blacksmiths, wagon shops, harness and saddle shops, taverns, and all types of merchants whose wares were needed by settlers moving west, kept the young town of Princeton thriving for years.

Since early settlement, the economy of Caldwell County was based upon agriculture, and the principal crop was dark-fired tobacco. Western Kentucky was the most strategically located of all the regions for the export of tobacco through the port of New Orleans; in 1860 Caldwell County ranked sixth among Kentucky counties in the production of tobacco. In the early 1900s the county was at the center of a farmers’ revolt against monopolistic tobacco processors and manufacturers, known as the BLACK PATCH WAR. David Amoss, of Cobb, Caldwell County, was one of those who organized farmers into vigilante bands.

Before the advent of railroads, Caldwell County produce was shipped to market through the Cumberland River ports of Eddyville, Dycusburg, and the Tradewater River port of Belleville. The Elizabethtown & Paducah (now the Paducah & Louisville) Railroad reached Princeton in 1872, and by the 1880s connections were made through the city to Nashville; Evansville, Indiana; and north-south routes at Fulton, Kentucky. Railroads played a dominant role in Princeton’s growth. Train and maintenance crews were assembled there at the large railroad yard, and a roundhouse existed to maintain the steam locomotives. With the building of interstate highways, the Princeton area remained an important transportation center for western Kentucky as the Western Kentucky Parkway skirted the town and intersected 1-24 just to the west of the town.

The population of the county was 13,179 in 1970; 13,473 in 1980: and 13,232 in 1990. The Official County Website is located at ? . A courthouse fire on 15 Dec 1864 destroyed some records.

Well, gee…maybe that’s why we can’t find anything on John and Phebe (Newton) Laughlin, my grandmother’s great-grandparents on the Laughlin side. One thing I question though…this is the second courthouse fire I’ve come across in my meanderings….are fires as attracted to courthouses as tornadoes are to trailer parks? Sheesh!


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