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Early Anderson County was rich in farmland with tobacco, hay, corn, wheat, hogs, cattle, sheep and hemp raised.
Another pride of Anderson farmers was the horses and mules it raised. However, stills were abundant all over the county before the Civil War; through oral history interviews I counted at least 50, but these were all small operations. However, two legends of note were created by the quality of the booze.
One was the moving of the county line between Franklin and Anderson at the request of a plantation owner in Rough and Ready who wanted to be able to put “Distilled in Anderson County” on his liquor label because Anderson liquor was the best outside of Louisville.
The other legend I was told was that survivors of the Battle of Perryville on the flight north out of the area, of course, drank any liquid they could find and later attested to the fact that Anderson had mighty fine liquor.
I’m going to jump a few years and pull information from the Order Book of 1836. This was the meeting of the county court of Jan. 11 1836: “Present were Thompson Thomas, John G. Jordan, Reubin Boston and Jas. M. Wash, Esq’s.: Edward Atkins, a Revolutionary soldier presented in Court a Declaration for the purpose of obtaining Bounty Lands and pay in conformity with an Act of Congress in that law ... he made oath in open court and is ordered to be certified.”
Although it was specified that all Revolutionary soldiers land grants were to be south of the Green River, I never found that to be a hard feet. It seems that wherever they produced the proper documents they were granted land.
And also it seems the county was growing administratively: “Ordered by the Board of Internal Improvements for Anderson County, that Jacob Elliston be appointed to make an arrangement with the County Court for the free passage of all the citizens in this county to and returning from Lawrenceburg on horse back for one year.”
No reason is given for the fine distinction in the mode of travel.
No mention is made of people on foot or by wagon. I think it would be safe to infer from the foregoing that toll roads were becoming a nuisance. In the early days you could not find a sitting of the court when there were not at least two or three people requesting a road either to their house or farm or ferry, and of course if they maintained said road it was possible they would charge a fee for the use of the road.
A couple of paragraphs later we find: “On motion it is ordered by the County Court of Anderson County that they give to Jacob Elliston, President of the Board of Internal Improvements of said county, by virtue of the power visited in him, the use of 100 hands to the board for three days in the year to work on the turnpike road in said county for which the citizens of said county is to pass on foot or on horse back free for one year to the Court House.”
So perhaps free passage was on the turnpike.
And now, the tax man cometh. “Ordered thus that John F. Hudgins and Alvin Herndon be appointed to assist James McBrayer to examine into and calculate the amount of per cent each individual free holder shall pay on the valuation of his landed estate in this county for the purpose of paying the amount subscribed by the county Court of Anderson to the Board of Internal Improvement of this County, and that McBrayer an Hudgins make this report to the Sheriff of this county forthwith and also make their report of such estimate to the next term of this court.”
There must have been some discussion by the commissioners as a couple of paragraphs later “Ordered that the Sheriff of this County be, and he is directed to collect only the sum of $2,000 instead of $2,500, the amount he was commanded to collected by a previous order of this court as by a call on the County Court of Anderson by the board of Internal Improvement.”
Suzanne Kauffman is a history columnist for The Anderson News.