Early Settlers by Edmund Lyne Starling

Prior to the formation of Henderson as the thirty-eighth county in 1798, there were but few settlers south of Green River. The first permanent settlement, of which any knowledge is had, was made above the Red Banks now Henderson on Richard Henderson & Co.’s land in the year 1791. These settlers, or a majority of them, were Germans, therefore to that people may be accorded the credit of the beginning of Henderson. During the fall of 1791 two or three families located above the now City of Henderson, on the ground which has borne for years the historic name of Hughes’ Field. Finding this ground to be low and marshy, they packed up and removed here as a better site for building a village. Immediately after landing they commenced, with what tools were then at their command, chopping from the immediate forests surrounding the river bank, logs suitable for building such huts as would protect them from weather and make them comfortable. When a sufficient number of logs had been gotten together, they commenced the building of a row of block-houses, or cabins, after the primitive style, on the river bank, extending from the present site of Clore’s Mill, at the foot of Sixth Street, down to the residence of Dr. A. Dixon, at the foot of Powell Street. At that time there was a strip of territory one hundred and fifty feet in width lying beyond the present northwestern boundary of Water Street, and on this ground is where the first buildings in Henderson were located. From the gradual washing of the river most of that territory has disappeared. That part of it between Second and Third Streets was removed in building the present wharf.

1885 Sanborn Map

The First Settlers

There were no Indians at that time to be seen on this side of the Ohio, but on the Indiana side were to be found several tribes, among the number were the Shawnees, from whom Shawneetown derived its name. They were very troublesome at times, and as heartless as troublesome. A party of young boys, of whom were Michael and Jake Sprinkle and John Upp, armed for the purpose of hunting, crossed the river in canoes, never once suspecting that Indians were in that vicinity, and upon landing were surprised by a party in ambush, two of them captured, one shot down, the fourth being an expert swimmer, and under providential favors, made his escape back to Kentucky. The two captives were tortured in many ways?they were made to walk forced marches, then beaten with many stripes, and finally, after having undergone a terrible journey, bare-footed and almost naked, marched into Sandusky, on Lake Erie, from whence, after having lived a most frightful life, they escaped, and some time afterward arrived at the Red Banks, to the joy of their kin and comrades.

No 42 Map of Ohio River


History of Henderson County, Kentucky by Edmund Lyne Starling, Published 1887, Pages 26-27