By L. S. Pence
The Lebanon Enterprise June 4, 1920
Captain Samuel Pottenger never acquired any more land on Pottenger’s Creek than the 1400 acres heretofore discussed. His original “settlement 400 acres,” and his adjoining “preemption 1000 acres” constituted his holdings in this vicinity.
However, the fact will be remembered that he obtained in 1781 on “Greene River” a tract of 2200 acres as the result of a partnership with a Mr. Beall of Maryland. At that date the “Greene River” tract was in Jefferson County. Evidently the law suit, before mentioned, so bitterly waged against Captain Pottenger, caused him to sell the “Greene River” tract to “speculators” in order to obtain money to defray expenses incident to this law suit. It appears that Mr. “Wm. Ashbrook” and “Jacob Myers” were the buyers of said “Greene River” tract. In 1799 Captain Pottenger “bargained” from Nathen Bell, on the waters of Salt Lick Run, and the Rolling Fork of Salt River, a large tract of land. It appears that before the final closing of this bargain the sale which was some years in consummation, that Nathan Beall died, and in the Court of Quarter Sessions of Washington County, Captain Pottenger obtained legal title through a commissioner’s deed executed to him by one John Hughes. However, it further appears that a few years later, Mrs. Margaret Beall, widow of Nathan Beall, and Jesse Beall, William Beall and Washington Beall, heirs at law of Nathan Beall, deceased, bought back all of said boundary of land from Captain Pottenger.
Somewhere, I have noted the fact that John Withrow, in Maryland, married a sister of Captain Pottenger, and later came to Kentucky. A conveyance by our noble Captain Pottenger attests the fact where “five acres, more or less, on the waters of Pottenger’s Creek, adjoining my home plantation,” were conveyed to Mrs. Withrow. It is probable that this sister lived near or eminent brother and kept his bachelor home in perfect neatness until the Captain obtained a wife in the year 1782. At this ancient date families located together, or near to each other, from mutual protection from wild animals and Indians. On September 9, 1788, one Leonard Johnson (grandfather of the lamented Sylvester Johnson, banker at New Haven) obtained a court order to “erect a grist mill upon Withrow’s run,” near “Robert Will plantation.” But for some reason, unexplained, the mill was never built. I suspect that Captain Pottenger did not desire opposition so close to him, especially when the Captain had opened roads and established patronage over a wide scope of community to enable the mill already erected by Captain Pottenger to flourish.
In the “spring of 1788” Captain Samuel Pottenger erected upon his “preemption tract,” which was east from his “settlement,” a commodious brick residence. Like all pioneers of that day he built near the big spring. At this point, I am moved to quote a few words, found not long ago, in the will of John Floyd, a Virginian, killed by Indians, near Louisville, in 1788, who said: “Each child is given a farm containing a spring upon it.” This spirit possessed the early settlers.
Many of the descendants of Captain Pottenger contend for the probable fact that this brick dwelling is the oldest “brick” in the State. Collins does not make any definite statement as to who erected the first brick residence in the commonwealth. Smith’s history makes mention of the “Whitley brick house” located on Boone’s trace in Lincoln County, but omits to mention the year when the same was erected. By recent information, obtained from a granddaughter of Colonel Whitley (from authentic family tradition) this old Whitley brick was built in 1783. Even if this charming old “Pottenger home,” near to Pottenger’s Creek, and situated upon the “old road,” does not obtain as the oldest in Kentucky (then in the District of Kentucky), still one fact pertaining thereto is remarkable in America, that is that the sixth generation from the builder now lives in it, as I am informed, and that title to said land has never changed from the same family since the original patent was granted unto Captain Samuel Pottenger by the Commonwealth of Virginia. This delightful old home in the balmy atmosphere of June, with its many beds of roses, and other variety of flowers, is in the harmony with the visible aspects of nature. Excepting the matter of paper and paint, your eye rests on the same cornices, windows, mantelpiece’s, fireplaces and hearthstones that were there when Captain Samuel Pottenger dwelt there. Hospitality has ever been the chief delight, measured in true Kentucky style, of those living in this home for almost a century and a half.
The descendants of Captain Pottenger in every State may well repeat these lines:
“Home of my birth and of my after years,
Dear Walnut Hill I loved thee like some star,
Is loved by mariners in seas afar,
Each year to me thy loveliness endears.”
Looking back through the life record of Captain Samuel Pottenger for a space of 145 years or more, I am able to make a rough inventory of the courage of the man. He never faltered in the pursuit of truth. He displayed courage of steel in behalf of his own beloved pioneers, although scarcely 21 years of age, when he attached his signature to a “petition” (with 84 others) addressed to the “Honorable Convention of Virginia” bitterly protesting against the lordly conduct of Colonel Henderson. No doubt the signature of Captain Pottenger to that protest enraged the Henderson gang of land Pirates and caused them to endeavor to filch the land title of Captain Pottenger. He came into an heroic epoch in the settlement days of Kentucky, and mentally and physically was cast into an heroic mold. He lived an earnest life to the grave.
Although the Kentucky historian omitted his name and neglected to mention his noble works in aiding the early settlements of our State, yet, in the words of that Presidential hero who was brought up within sight of “Pottenger’s Settlement,” and was a school child on “Knob Creek,” the name of Captain Samuel Pottenger “Shall not perish from the earth.”