WILLIAM & NANCY (YANCEY) MILLER
EARLY PIONEERS OF KENTUCKY
The following article came from the August 17, 1939 edition of "The Central Record" of Lancaster Kentucky. It was written by Anne Burnside Brown - a noted Kentucky genealogist and historian. Although the interview which follows between William Miller and his grandson is fictional, the people, places and stories are all based on fact. Nancy Yancey, the wife of Lieut Col. William Miller, is thought to be a possible daughter of John & Mary Laton Yancey of Culpeper County, Virginia. Although the article is based on facts, it has been discovered that a few dates and places, among other things, have been proven to be inaccurate - and one should avoid using this document as proof for any genealogical information without other supporting evidence.
Ancestry: Nancy Yancey, was the daughter of John Yancey, son of Lewis Davis Yancey.
"AN EARLY FORT, AND THOSE WHO LIVED WITHIN"
"Seated in front of a log fire, were grandfather and grandson. These two were chatting over the current happenings of yesteryears that had flowed into the present.
The younger man was Isaac Newton Brown, who later became illustrious as Commander Brown of Ram, Arkansas, before Vicksburg in 1862.
The older man was Lieut. Col. William Miller, who had served his country gallantly during the trying times with the Indians and British, and helped to establish this commonwealth. He was now enjoying the peace and memories that comes with old age.
"Tell me", asked his interested grandson, "something of your life and that of your family in Kentucky during the pioneer days".
"I was born in Botetourt Co., Va in 1747" replied the Colonel, settling down for a long fireside story. " A vigorous man, eager for adventure, and to do my share in conquering, and settling this wilderness".
"Among all my experiences, there are two which I value most. When the Virginia Legislature provided for Col. Daniel Boone to mark a trace from Virginia to Boonesborough, Kentucky. It was my privilege to join this party that helped to mark the trace for guiding the future citizens of this state over Cumberland Gap, and into these fortifications, that were being erected for their protection. Our company was joined by Captain William Twetty and his men; making thirty in all. Col. Richard Calloway and John Kennedy were in our party.
"the company worked unmolested until we reached the headwaters of Silver Creek, when we were attacked by Indians. Captain Twetty and his negro servant were killed, and Felix Walker seriously injured. When we reached Taylor's Fork of Silver Creek we were again attacked, and one more of our number killed.
"When Col. Boone was ready to bring his wife and daughter to Kentucky I was one of the guards who helped to escort them. Mrs. Boone was the first white woman to step on Kentucky soil after the immigration began, or to stand on the banks of Kentucky River, of which Col. Boone was very proud.
"In 1776 I chose a site for a settlement on Paint Lick Creek, and raised a crop of corn. This was one of the famous salt licks and there was an abundance of cane. The Indians painted their signs along the creek banks. For this reason the two primitive words, paint and lick were combined to name this water course and settlement.
"Here I built a log fort and stockade, known as Fort Paint Lick. I was joined by many of the early settlers who resided there until it became safe to establish separate homes for themselves. Among these were Alexander Denny, William Champ, George Adams and others.
"I fought in the Northern Campaign in 1774-75. One of my worse battles was that of Little Mountain, in which Captain Estill was defeated by the Wyandotte Indians. The Indians outnumbered us".
"Grandfather", interrupted Isaac Newton Brown, "Some day I would like to be decorated for bravery like you have been."
"I believe I can count on my grandson never to show the white feather if the occasion arises," said William Miller, as he continued with his story.
"In 1780 I went back to Virginia, Abingdon, and there claimed a pretty girl of Welsh parentage. She is your grandmother, Nancy Yancey, who was born in Bowling Green, Va in 1760. A brave girl who was wiling to face the hardships of this wilderness with me.
"Isabella was our first child, and first born in the fort in 1781. As you know, we had five daughters and no sons. Isabella first married Alexander Adams, and had two sons. After his death she married Benjamin Leavell. Cynthiana married John Snoddy. Susannah married Rev. Samuel Brown (your parents) and your father performed a great many marriage ceremonies in the early days. Margaret first married William McLean of Middle Tennessee. After his death she and a negro slave rode horseback from Tennessee and carried her five children to my home. Her daughter, Nancy McLean, married Samuel Campbell. Margaret married the second time, George Denny. They had two children, twins, Margaret and George. Margaret married Rice Woods. My other daughter, Betsy, died at the age of four.
"after a time I abandoned the stockade for this comfortable log house where Margaret resides. George Denny, son of Margaret, and his wife, Elizabeth Faulkner Denny, built the colonial red brick house near the log one that commands a view of this famous creek.
"I don't believe that I told you that the fort was built over a cave-like spring, which you entered by steps leading down into it.
"The Indians were a great annoyance to the settlers. There were frequent battles between Paint Lick Creek and Back Creek. It has been said that the Indians were often driven back and made to retreat at Back Creek and that is how it got its name.
"Jenny, one of the Adams girls, was killed by Thunder, and Indian Chief, in 1791. She lies in the first marked grave in the fort cemetery.
"William Mitchell, who lived nearby, went with his wife and children to visit a neighbor. On their return, when they approached their cabin, they observed the Indians at a distance fleeing in the direction of the knobs.
"They had ripped up the feather beds, scattered the feathers, and used the sacks. They were taking as much of the household and kitchen furniture as they could carry. Two horses had been left in a pen, which the Indians tried to secure, but they were wild and had escaped to the woods. Isabella Leavell's daughter, Betsy, married a son of William Mitchell.
"I have had a large acreage of bounty warrants and tried to divide liberally with my slaves, the annual products of the farm, cultivated by their labor. I am a Calvinist by belief. I have much to be thankful for. Now I am growing old, yet I have retained my physical and mental faculties. Of all my descendants each are without defect of body or mind, and of good standing in their communities.
[DJY - Boonesborough, mentioned in this article, was established by Daniel Boone and others and was the second permanent settlement in Kentucky. Fort Paint Lick was in what is now, Garrard County, Kentucky. The grave markers for William and Nancy are still there in the Paint Lick Cemetery. From their headstones: "William Miller was born the 30th of March in the year of our Lord 1747. Departed this life Aug 31 1841. Settled Paint Lick '76". "Nancy Yancy Miller was born the 3rd of Jan in the year of Our Lord 1761. Departed this life Oct 23 1837."]