By L. S. Pence
The Lebanon Enterprise March 6, 1920
When Captain Samuel Pottenger returned from the Revolutionary war he found that George May, the eminent surveyor, had been sent from Virginia to Cox’s Station (then in Jefferson County) with full powers and instruc-tions to open a “land entering office” at said station. In this move a stroke of fortune fell upon Captain Pot-tenger in disguise. This station had been in a measure the parental roof of Captain Pottenger, he having arrived at its portals when scarcely 22 years of age. Therefore, Colonel Isaac Cox commenced a zealous effort and an honest influence before this newly established office to aid Captain Pottenger to old his boundary of 1,400 acres. Captain Pottenger was enabled to give satisfactory proof that the original commissioners had granted to him a certificate entitling him to legally hold his entire boundary of land. He also produced proof before said office that he had been prevented in having his original certificate “registered,” after the same had been pre-vented in having his originally “surveyed,” on account of his being in the same “Continental service.” These facts constituted the prominent features of the equity set forth by Captain Pottenger to repel the alleged claim by Samuel Oldham of 4,000 acres upon the same “stream” (Pottenger’s Creek). If, however, Captain Pottenger succeeded in holding his boundary of 1,400 acres, then Oldham would be restricted to 2,600 acres instead of his entire 4,000 acres. The steadfast friends of Captain Pottenger stood ready to stake their all upon the outcome. If injustice should prevail at this momentous hour, what good that might be accomplished in behalf of humanity upon the waters of Pottenger’s Creek, and its vicinity, by that son born at Parrot’s Manor, stood paused in the balance. “Adversity is the first path to truth.” William May had succeeded his lamented brother as official sur-veyor at Cox’s Station, and William May’s heart was given to equity. That official ruled as follows: “The act granting original certificate of settlement right as a remedial statute and should be liberally construed.” This official ruling planted the home fires of Captain Pottenger upon the land included within his entire boundary of 1,400 acres. Often the thought has occurred to my mind that both judge Collins, and his son, omitted the prime duty when they utterly failed to narrate in their history of Kentucky the life problems of Captain Samuel Pot-tenger, who erected a “Station in 1781,” and who every day for over fifty years, in the pathless forest, ham-mered out many links in Kentucky's civilization, and ardently worked for the uplift of religion. But proceeding again to the discussion: Samuel Oldham, the confederate of Jonah Heaton and company, lost no time in return-ing to the “Mononahala country.” Before departing, however, he sold his 2,600 acres, and for the continual memory of all future generations these faithful words are in the deed: “Beginning at the upper corner of (Cap-tain) Samuel Pottenger’s (1,400 acre) tract on Pottenger’s Creek.” Thus was terminated one of the earliest land contests in the then District of Kentucky.
Many of the Pottenger name have inquired for the exact location of the original “settlement survey” of 400 acres granted to the beloved ancestor. Here is the answer. One Elias Barbee, in 1782, “enters 1,100 acres on Pottenger’s Creek, upon the opposite side of the creek from his (Pottenger’s) original settlement, and running up the line of his (Pottenger’s) pre-emption, and out towards the knobs and up the creek for quantity.” This Barbee tract is warrant “No. 14561,” and lies on the “mouth” side of Pottenger’s Creek. The town of New Hope is wholly upon this Barbee tract. It is interesting to know that Captain Pottenger’s original settlement certificate numbered less than 2,000, while this Barbee tract, south and east from it, within about four years climbed to number “14561.” Settlers poured into the District of Kentucky in vast numbers. An ancient judgment in Nel-son County mentions the following historical facts: “The settlement (400 acres) survey of (Captain) Samuel Pottenger is mostly made on the north (Bardstown) side of Pottenger’s creek; that Pottenger settled upon the land in the winter of 1778; and has resided thereon ever since; that Pottenger’s Station was made thereon in 1781.” The commodious brick dwelling erected by Captain Samuel Pottenger in 1788. (which is likely the old-est brick residence in Kentucky, then in the District of Kentucky) was located upon the “pre-emption boundary” and not upon the “settlement survey.” The first court order mentioning the name of Captain Samuel Pottenger is as follow: “June 3, 1783.” Ordered that the clerk be directed to certify the validity of Captain (Samuel) Pot-tenger’s pay roll for the Campaign of 1782.
In running the dividing lines, in 1784, between Nelson and Lincoln, displeasure of both counties existed over Hilary Thompson’s survey said controversy existed until October 4, 1792, when George James was sent to “re-survey.” Captain Samuel Pottenger was chosen “agent” for the welfare of his county; and under his foresight Nelson gained considerable territory. At this same date (1792) the lines of Green and Nelson were run, and by reason of the wide experience that Captain Pottenger had by previously laying “land patents” in that region of “Greene River” aided materially in the work.
In 1781, Captain Samuel Pottenger and Andrew Beall (an old bachelor of Maryland) had a partnership wherein Beall was to furnish the price per acre for 12,500 acres along Greene River,” and Pottenger was to locate, sur-vey and patent said lands; and receive 3,800 acres as his portion. Said contract was faithfully carried out as be-tween themselves. It appears, however, that one Captain Samuel Willett brought suit against Captain Pottenger making the charge, among other things, that Captain Pottenger had not paid him for assisting said Pottenger in surveying, laying out the lands, etc. This suit was a myth. Captain Pottenger had “conveyed” to him “1,100 acres” in full “payment.” In the present day such a suit would be classed as a “brain storm.”