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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Where did the Bunnells live in Mercer County, Kentucky?

Here is the answer to the second question George Faris attempted to answer in his December 2017 report.

Where did the Bunnells live in Mercer County, Kentucky?

Now that the Mercer tax lists and some other records are available on-line I've spent some time in analyzing the tax lists to see if any further information might be discerned from them.  One of my questions has been where the Bunnells actually lived and who they might have worked for - since they didn't own any land of their own.   

The early 1800 s tax lists included the date on which each individual was listed. (Later tax lists combine all of the districts in alphabetical order and do not include a date.) It becomes fairly clear where the Bunnells were located when looking at the dates when they were listed each year from 1799 through 1805 and searching for others listed on the same dates in those years in the same district. 

Except for Jonathan, who appears to have lived apart from the others in a different commissioners district, all of the Bunnells as well as John Farris and Joseph Lyon were always listed on the same day, e.g., June 14, 1799; June 27, 1800; July 22, 1801, etc.   There were only a few others in the same district who were always listed on the same day and what stands out is that the primary landowner who was always listed on the same day as the Bunnells was David Williams.  David owned one of the largest plantations in Mercer County - 1190 acres on Shawnee Run. (He also owned additional  property totaling about 500 acres in Gallatin and Henderson Counties.)  It seems clear that the Bunnell families lived and worked on David Williams' plantation from 1799 - 1805.  

Jonathan Bonnell was married in 1799 to Rebecca Dean and apparently lived with the Thomas Dean family which was listed in a different district even though the Dean property was only about 2 miles north of the Williams plantation. 

However, Samuel Bunnell, who was also married in 1799, apparently lived and worked on the Williams plantation with the others until after the others moved on after 1805. Samuel later relocated to property on Rocky Run about 4 miles farther north and near the Kentucky River. 

Joseph Lyon was also with the Bunnells through the 1801 tax list. He then apparently moved to Barren County and later to Green and finally to Hardin County. 

John Farris was always listed along with the William Bunnell family through the 1805 tax list. 
John Bunnell appears only on the 1800 and 1801 tax lists and there seems to be no further information regarding him. 

William Bunnell, Jr. first shows up on the 1801 tax list. 

Jeremiah Bunnell shows up only on the 1804 list in Mercer County. 

After 1805 the only Bunnells remaining in Mercer County were Jonathan, Samuel who, after 1815, remained on the same 75 acre property on the waters of Rocky Run for the rest of his life, and Joseph who lived across the Kentucky River in Jessamine County where he was married to Martha “Patsy” McGrath, a daughter of Bryan McGrath, on July 3, 1813. Joseph may have worked on the large Mason Singleton farm near Keene – since he named one son Mason Singleton Bonnell. Joseph also lived for a short time in adjoining Madison County, where he is listed in the 1830 census and in the 1830 tax list, before ultimately moving to Howard County, Missouri, before 1835. 

After Thomas Dean died, Jonathan Bonnell is listed with 47-1/2 acres on Shawnee Run until 1821 before moving to Indiana. 

The Bunnell descendants who still remain in Mercer County appear to be descendants of Samuel. In some of the later tax years Samuel's apparent sons, William, Benjamin, Samuel, Jr., James S., and Archibald were listed and were probably still living in the same area. 

The Samuel Bunnell property was apparently on the north side of the Rocky Run drainage near Cummins Ferry Road. Numerous Samuel Bunnell descendants are buried in the cemetery at Ebenezer Church of Christ at the intersection of Cummins Ferry and Oregon Roads. The earliest Bunnells listed with marked graves there were born in the 1840s and were grandchildren of Samuel. The church was established in the 1830s and it's likely that Samuel and some of his children are buried there but there are no surviving markers for them.

Who was David Williams and where was his plantation in Mercer County?

Since the Bunnells were associated with David Williams and his plantation it's of interest to know who he was and where it was located. David was born and raised in Frederick/Hampshire County VA.  He was born in 1750 in what is now Grant County, WV and his father was killed there in 1756 during the French & Indian War and his mother remarried to Peter Casey.  David later migrated to the Lost River area of what is now Hardy County near it's eastern edge where he became acquainted with the Robert Denton family and married Sarah Denton, daughter of Robert, in 1768.  That same year, Robert divided his land and sold 160 acres each to two of his sons and to David, his son-in-law, and the rest to another person.  He then migrated to the Watauga settlement in what is now Tennessee along with another son.  David and Sarah sold their 160 acres in 1771 

In 1774 David was with Capt. James Harrods group that traveled down the Ohio to the Kentucky River and up it to the area that is now Mercer Co. and started to establish a settlement there.  They were interrupted by Lord Dunmore's War and abandoned the settlement to join in that endeavor.  But they arrived at Point Pleasant a few hours after the battle there had ended.  Early the next year they returned to Kentucky and built the fort at Harrodsburg as well as numerous cabins throughout the area.  David remained there until 1776 when he returned to Hardy County - where he then enlisted and was a in much of the action and the hard winters of 1776 and 1777 with Washington's troops in NJ and PA. He was discharged in 1781 as a 1st Lieutenant in the 8th Virginia Continental Line.  

When David and his family returned to Kentucky in about 1785 they established the plantation there on land that had been originally claimed by David's stepfather Peter Casey adjacent to the land owned by Sarah's brother Thomas Denton. There were several "stations" along Shawnee Run - one belonging to Thomas Denton and an adjacent one owned by David Williams that show up on the lists and maps of pioneer stations in that area.  From these we can pinpoint the location.  Hugh McGary's Station was described as being within 100 yards of Shawnee Springs; David Williams' Station was 0.9 miles north of McGary's and Thomas Denton's Station was east of Williams' Station.  There is a historical marker for Denton's Station located at 986 Curry Pike.  So David Williams' property was the area north of Shawnee Run between two branches of the stream about a mile north of Shawnee Springs which is easy to locate via Google Maps.

David Williams and Sarah Denton had at least 6 children before her death sometime before1790.  David married Jane Jones in 1790 in Mercer County and they apparently had 2 children.  He married Eleanor Higgins in 1799 and they apparently didn't have children.  In one of the Dean court cases in 1801 David acknowledged that he had fathered 2 children with Elizabeth Dean, daughter of Leven Dean, and agreed to pay Elizabeth for their support.  David died in 1831 in Mercer County.

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