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Greenup KY Sketches

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Location: Greenup, Kentucky, United Statesmap
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SKETCHES OF THE Early Settlers of Green County, Ky. BY JAMES KEYES.

Among the first settlers of Greenup county were three brothers and two sisters of the Lawson family. they belonged to good families in old Virginia, and brought considerable property with them. that is to say money and negroes. The money to purchase land and stock, and the slaves to clear up and cultivate the land. William Lawson preferring to live in a free State, parted with his negroes and settled about two miles above Portsmouth, on a tract of land that he purchased from Henry Massie. Thomas Lawson located a large tract of land on the bank of the Ohio, east of and adjoining the land of Captain Moses Fuqua. He was an industrious and thriving farmer.

Samuel Walker was married to a sister of the Lawsons. He located the farm east of Thomas Lawson, opposite the mouth of Munn’s run. James Walker a son, still resides on the farm. One of Mr. Walker's slaves still resides [as of 1876] in Portsmouth [OH], old Charlotte, as she is called. She lives on the charity of the people of Portsmouth. She won't go to the County Infirmary because, she says, the white people have had the benefit of 40 years of the best part of her life, and now she means to be a free woman as long as she lives, and the white people shall keep her without shutting her up in a poor house [Is this woman Charlotte, formerly enslaved by James Lawson?]

Another sister of the Lawsons was married to a man by the name of Burton. He killed himself by eating salt. He died before I came to this county. But I have heard her tell many a time how her husband became so addicted to the eating of salt that it became an incurable appetite, and finally caused his death. She had two children, Joshua and Hannah. I never knew what became of Joshua. Hannah married Hezekiah Morton, a brother of John Morton, who yet lives in Springville, a very old man.

James Lawson, another brother, settled on the Ohio river, some where opposite the French Grant. I was not much acquainted with his family. Moses Mackoy married one of [the] daughters [of James Lawson's step-brother John], and John McConnell, of Wheelersburg, married another daughter. The Lawsons, as a family, were a highly respectable people, and a true type of the old Virginia stock as it existed during the old Colonial times, and without undergoing much change, until the rebellion brought about the abolition of slavery.

I have now given an outline of some of the original pioneers of Greenup county, which may, perhaps, be of use to the future historian, if it should become necessary to write a complete history of the county. [The author concludes by 1) naming families he knew less well; 2) describing a log rolling incident, complete with this spurious conclusion: “The result of the day’s operation was that [Nathaniel] Morton, with his negroes, nearly every time came out second best, thus proving almost to a mathematical demonstration that the white race is superior to the black, even where it may be nothing more than a display of muscular strength.” and 3) giving a brief account of one of the earliest settlers in Greenup County, Captain William Dupuy.]


  • “Sketches of the Early Settlers of Greenup County, Ky,” by James Keyes, Portsmouth (OH) Daily Times, 8 Jan 1876, p. 1.

NOTE: Two other "Sketches" appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times, featuring Josiah Morton on 20 Nov 1875, and James Thompson on 1 Jan 1876.

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