MY WORD: Help needed for preservation of pioneer graves

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By Michael W. Harrod

Shelby County has the honor of being the final resting place of two of Kentucky’s foremost pioneer frontiersmen, Gen. Benjamin Logan and Col. James Knox. They both lie in peaceful repose in the Logan family cemetery on a bluff overlooking Bullskin Creek on what was the Benjamin Logan farm. They played key roles in history, and our county needs your help to preserve their heritage.

James Knox was one of the legendary Long Hunters of Kentucky. He first came to Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap in October 1768, before Daniel Boone began his famous long hunt in 1769. In 1770 Knox and his long hunters visited the valleys of the Kentucky, Cumberland and Green Rivers. He served as an officer in the Revolution, in Washington’s army. It is stated on very good authority that he was the man who gave his name to Knoxville, Tenn. He served as Shelby County’s representative to the state General Assembly from 1797 through 1800. He died Dec. 24, 1822, in Shelby County.

The early history of Kentucky from 1775 to 1803 may be divided into three periods. The name Benjamin Logan appears frequently in all these periods. From 1775-1783, typified by the struggle with Indians; from 1784-1792, the struggle for separation from Virginia and creation of a new state; and from 1792-1803, the struggle of a new state to write and rewrite its constitution and to enact essential legislation.

Logan first came to Kentucky in the spring of 1775 and settled in what is now Lincoln County, near the current town of Stanford. He soon assumed a position of leadership.

As a woodsman and a hunter, he had few superiors in Kentucky. As a commander of men in engagements with the Indians – he was second only to George Rogers Clark. Between 1783 and 1788 – he was looked upon as the leading military man in the then District of Kentucky.

By 1785 positions of leadership in the civil affairs of the district were being filled by men of more education than the early frontiersmen such as Boone, Harrod and Kenton had been able to obtain. Logan alone among those early pioneers continued to make his influence felt in public affairs, serving on the first board of directors of Transylvania Seminary (now university), as a delegate to the constitutional conventions held in Danville, in the House of Representatives and as a candidate for governor twice (some believe he was elected the second governor in 1796 but that political chicanery stole the office from him).

He died Dec. 11, 1802, in his 60th year, at the home of Brackett Owen in Shelby County. The general assembly, in session when he died, passed a resolution in favor of the wearing of mourning “in token of that high regard and respect which the people of Kentucky entertain for the memory of the deceased General Benjamin Logan, the firm defender of his country” (emphasis added).

The lapse of time and the ruthless hand of ignorance have taken its toll on the Logan family cemetery. Though this historic pioneer cemetery is in a sad state of repair, it can be restored. The Shelby County Cemetery Preservation Board has requested and received permission from the property owner to access the cemetery. The board proposes to restore and preserve this historic pioneer cemetery.

A committee made up of the SCCPB – Paula Mitchell, Mark Brooks, Rosemary Taylor, Cheryl Harper and Linda Clemmons along with Charles Long and me as volunteer members – has met on site and developed a plan for restoration with estimated costs to complete:

  • Phase 1, (estimated costs of $250) clear all undergrowth and lower canopy trees from the cemetery and locate all gravesites.
  • Phase 2, (estimated costs of $250) repair wire fencing around main portion of the cemetery (does not include repair to the rock wall fence).
  • Phase 3, (estimated costs of $500) repair, reset, stabilize monuments in the cemetery.

All labor will be volunteered.

The restoration began the first of October. A generous donation has already been received to help us move forward. However, more funds are needed along with volunteers to complete this restoration. Donations can be made to Shelby County Cemetery Preservation Board, Logan Cemetery Restoration, c/o Paula Mitchell, 1421 Waddy Road, Waddy, 40076.

Members of the committee are available to address your organization to discuss the project in more detail and answer any questions you might have. You can contact any of the committee members. We have posted pictures of the cemetery as it appears currently on our Facebook page, Shelby County Cemetery Preservation Board, and invite you to view them there.

Please be a part of this historic preservation project.


Michael W. Harrod, a cemetery preservationist volunteer, lives in Bagdad.