Saturday, April 12, 2008

Matthew Lyon's Opinion of Eddyville

Eddyville, Kentucky began as part of old Livingston County. When Caldwell County was created from Livingston in 1809, Eddyville was located in that county. It wasn’t until 1854 that it fell into the new county of Lyon and today is the county seat of Lyon.

Many of you have heard that Matthew Lyon brought a large number of people from Vermont to settle in and around old Eddyville, Kentucky. Just recently I came across a newspaper item in the 16 January 1801 issue of the Columbian Courier, which states that Lyon petitioned the Legislature of Kentucky for a grant of 20,000 acres in the counties of Christian and Livingston for the use of himself and “certain Emigrants” from Vermont. His petition was rejected.

He didn’t give up on his quest to populate Eddyville with Vermonters as just a few days later, Lyon wrote a letter to the editor of the Vermont Gazette, in which he described the area around his Kentucky home. He said, “I am settled at a place called Eddyville, situate about forty miles up Cumberland river, which empties into the Ohio, at about sixty miles from its confluence with the Mississippi, and few miles above the mouth of the Tennessee.

“Eddyville is in the centre of Livingston county well situated to enjoy a good country trade of forty or fifty miles extent, and to command its share of the river business, the river being navigable for light boats for 300 miles above Eddyville, and for heavy flat boats down to New-Orleans, at all seasons of the years, and at high water for any vessel whatever. The country is new, having been among the hunting ground of the Indians at the time of Wayne’s treaty. The Indians have all retired some hundred miles south and west of Cumberland, and there are now a great many good farmers settled in Livingston, Christiana [sic] and Logan counties, which too last are adjacent to and older settlements than Livingston county, and whose trade will be considerable advantage to Eddyville, if the settlement prospers.

“Money is not yet plenty here nor yet to scarce as in Vermont ... The present and ensuing years sale of tobacco, cotton, hemp, wheat, beef and pork will help us greatly in this respect, as our imports are small, and salt is made in great quantities among us. Cast iron is made in Kentucky ...

“There is in Kentucky, particularly in the counties of Livingston, Henderson, Christiana and Logan, large quantities of vacant land, a considerable share of which is good for cultivation. For 2 years past I have petitioned the legislature to set apart a share of that land for such republicans from Vermont as may emigrate hither. The legislature have not thought best to comply in all points with my petition, but they have done more, they have offered their vacant land to any body that will settle it, in 400 acre lots or less, except that those settlers who have had 200 acres already, shall have but 200 acres more.”

Lyon went on to encourage people from Vermont to take advantage of this generous offer. He described “the situation” as desirable with luxuriant soil, temperate climate and provisions easily obtained. I know a number of families from Vermont did settle in and near old Eddyville, but do not know how many. Do you?

Published 12 April 2008, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,


RoadScholar said...

In answer to your question about folks coming with Matt from Vermont:

"Of those who went with or followed my father, besides our family, G. D. Cobb, who
married Modena Clark, resides at Eddyville; has a large and respectable family,
but is reduced in his circumstances in consequence of losing a valuable farm,
which was taken by a prior claim after a long law suit, which he had highly
improved. Capt. Throop has been dead many years; he died as he lived, poor. His
wife, second daughter, and youngest son went to her brother, Samuel Vail, at
Baton Rouge, La., and all are dead. His eldest son, John, resides at Eddyville, a
vagabond. His daughter, Betsy, is a widow. Samuel C. Clark resides with G. D.
Cobb; is poor, and has lost one leg, amputated close up to the body; and last,
old General Whitehouse, who you no doubt recollect followed my father to
Kentucky, and survived both my father and mother, and several of the younger
branches of the family, and died about eighteen months since, having been a
charge on my hands for many years..."

-letter from Chittendon Lyon 1828.

-Thomas Brown, Lyon descendant

Brenda Joyce Jerome said...

Thank you.