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Cash Family History, Chapter 2

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Surnames/tags: Cash Washington County, Kentucky; Hickman County, Kentucky
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The American Revolution (1775-1783) brought great changes to Maryland. Men were called to serve and sometimes die on distant battlefields. The British Navy burned plantations and took away slaves. But when the war ended, the British no longer stood in the way of migration west.

Other factors pushing settlers west include the exhaustion of the fertility of the land from the cultivation of tobacco. Those Catholics who felt discriminated against in Maryland welcomed a chance to move to new territory where religious differences mattered less.

Kentucky was first settled by white Americans in 1774 at the start of the Revolution. The earliest settlements withstood raids and large scale attacks by Indians who fought fiercely with British help to hold their traditional hunting grounds. The raids became less frequent toward the end of the war and thousands of settlers rushed into Kentucky by the time the British signed the peace treaty in 1783. Shawnee and other tribes continued raiding until the Treaty of Greeneville in 1795.

The first pioneers choose the Bluegrass region of north central Kentucky, then part of Virginia, where the land was nearly flat and the soil fertile. Today it is the area of elegant thoroughbred horse farms. Word spread east that Kentucky was a paradise despite the dangers and hardships.

In 1785, 60 Catholic Maryland families formed a league pledging themselves to immigrate to Kentucky within a certain period of time. They were mostly from St. Mary’s County, Charles County, and Prince George’s County. The families wanted to immigrate together to provide mutual aid and protection, to be with their families and friends, and to create a large enough Catholic community to warrant forming a congregation with a priest. Most sacraments and ceremonies in the Roman Catholic religion require an ordained priest. They hoped to form the first English speaking Catholic parish west of the Appalachian Mountains.

Led by Basil Hayden and Phillip Lee, a group of 25 families bought land from Baltimore speculators. The migrants sold their property in Maryland, traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania early in 1785, then floated down the Ohio River, according to The Centenary of Catholicity in Kentucky, by the Hon. Ben J. Webb.

They landed at what is today Maysville, Kentucky and trekked overland to their newly purchased land on Pottenger’s Creek in Washington County, about 50 miles south of Louisville, Kentucky. They avoided the Ohio near Louisville because of the danger of Indian attack.

Lee had been keeping a diary from the year 1735. Family names most often mentioned were: Lancaster, Coomes, Brown, Thompson, Smith, Rapier, Cash, Bullock, Hayden, and Howard, according to Ben Webb’s book.

The Catholic families were told that it was some of the best land in Kentucky. Actually, “the selection of Pottenger’s Creek as the location of the new Catholic colony was unfortunate. The land was poor and the situation uninviting”, according to Dr. Spalding. But the migrants had made partial payment and given bond for the remainder. They were also disappointed that no priest accompanied them, though one arrived in 1787.

The Caleb Cash family migrated to Cartwright Creek, a nearby settlement of Catholics near the Washington County seat of Springfield about 1787, an area better suited for agriculture. By that time, it is very likely that the family was associated with the Catholic faith since the children married Catholics.

Caleb was old to be relocating his family to such a rough and dangerous frontier, about 64 years, though his wife, Elizabeth was likely much younger. However, Caleb was well and hardy enough to survive another 22 years, 1808 or 1809. Elizabeth likely died between 1822 and 1830.

In any event, tax records list Caleb starting about 1788 though some of them list no more than a name and county. In the 1792 list, he is shown as owning two horses, seven cattle, but no slaves or land. All US census records for Kentucky before 1810 were lost in 1814 when the British army burned government buildings in Washington.

The newly written United States constitution went into effect in 1788, and in 1792, Kentucky became the 15th state, separating from Virginia. Kentucky had a population of 73,677 in 1790.

The Catholic Community continued to grow through migration and natural increase, centering on what is today Washington, Nelson, and Marion Counties.

Washington County deed book (Deed Book A, pp. 140-141) records that on September 4, 1794 Caleb Cash purchased 63 acres of land from Thomas Wright of Culpepper County, Virginia for 15 pounds, Kentucky money. The tract was located on Cartwright’s Creek.

As mentioned earlier, James Cash was born about 1800 in Washington County, Kentucky. His date of birth can be inferred from his age at various censuses. Since Caleb Cash, born 1723, would have been about 77 years of year, and because of the large gap between the birth of the older children and James, it is easy to speculate that Caleb was too old to have been the father. However, this is the best information available. Regardless, James was surely a close relative, such as grandson.

Meanwhile, the children of Caleb and Elizabeth Cash matured and began their own families.

Margaret “Peggy” married James Mattingly, recorded December 20, 1802. She later married Charles Browning June 28, 1809 and lastly married Roswell Boarman on October 15, 1827. It was not unusual to outlive several spouses.

Priscilla married Barnard Mattingly, April 25, 1808. John married Dorothy O’Bryan, October 30, 1813. Bonds for all these marriages were made in Washington County and involved Catholic spouses. John and Dorothy were married at St. Rose Catholic Church, witnessed by Rev. Robert Angier. Another child, Mary Cash, is listed as a ward of Elizabeth Cash in the guardian records of Washington County in 1811 and again in 1822.

Caleb Cash died in 1808, leaving no will.












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