Samuel Pottinger Names New Haven (published in the Ky Standard newpaper, 1985)
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Pottenger's Creek Country (New Haven is at the top of the map)

Sam Pottinger Names New Haven
Written by David Hall and published in the Kentucky Standard 1985

Later generations have often confused the works of the father and son – Capt. Samuel Pottenger and Sam Pottenger Jr. Mistakes are encouraged by early records leading the unwary astray. Whereas Sam Pottenger Jr. always signed his name in that manner when affixing a signature, others often dropped the “Junior” which set him apart from his famous father. Both men were out of the ordinary and what the father commenced in southern Nelson County the son continued.

Capt. Sam’l Pottenger was among the leaders in developing flatboat trade down the river system to Natchez and New Orleans. Thus, his “big meat cabin” developed into “Pottenger’s Repository,” with loading facilities for flatboats from the expanded storage building. The general area became “Pottenger’s Landing.” Capt. Pottenger had built a grist mill and companion distillery near his “Station” before 1790. Flour and whiskey were staple trade items and cured meats also made up the flatboat cargos.

We may presume a certain amount of tobacco was produced on Pottenger’s Creek in the early years of virgin soil and carry-over of the Virginia colonial trade system which had existed before the Revolution. (Tobacco, as well as whiskey, was used to pay debts and legal fines in lieu of money during Nelson’s early years). The great flatboats were prepared twice a year, spring and fall, to take advantage of the high water conditions.

Deeper flow over the “riffles” made passage of the Beech and Rolling Fork possible for the shallow draft boats. Capt. Sam’l Pottenger not only sold his own produce but traded with friends and neighbors over the region, buying their excess or taking it on consignment, for a share, to be conveyed to the Southern markets along with his own cargo.

Sam Pottenger Jr. took over his father’s flatboating trade and obviously expanded it. He became the leading land-holder in the present day New Haven-New Hope area by the period 1810-1815.

To again quote the Pottenger Clan biographer, Forrest Pottinger … “In 1818 the younger Pottinger (Sam Jr.) went to New Orleans with an unusually large shipment. Finding a dull market, he exchanged his entire cargo for cotton. This he shipped and accompanied coast-wise (around Florida) to New Haven, Connecticut.

“After selling the cotton he returned home by way of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Louisville early in the year 1819. Much pleased with the New England City (reportedly, the stately elms were a great part of that pleasure), he replaced the sign on the old “Meat Cabin” with one reading, ‘New Haven’. “And on March 20, he had Isaac Harrel, the Co. Surveyor lay off a town there into squares and lots…The founder of the place (Sam Pottenger Jr.) reserved for himself lot 1 and on it built a comfortable double-log house that spring…It was situated on Main Street about 300 feet east of the present railroad bridge (circa 1920)…He moved to lot 1 in the Spring of 1819.

“Thus, New Haven, Kentucky was born…or more accurately, evolved over 40 years of time from the buffalo cross-roads on the Rolling Fork and a pioneer communal ‘meat cabin’ to a planned village inspired by far away Connecticut avenues.”