Creek News

Creek Hisotry – The Legacy of the William “Billy” Kellar (1768-1817)

The Legacy of the William “Billy” Kellar (1768-1817), Pioneer Baptist Minister

William “Billy” Kellar sought the challenges of the new frontier of westward expansion in the United States. A native of Virginia, Kellar, known as wild and adventurous, was converted to a call of ministry as a young man, soon after his marriage to Ann Netherton, daughter of Col. John Netherton of Shenandoah County, VA.. He moved his family to Kentucky where he settled near Harrods Creek in Oldham County. There were few ministers in the area and Kellar began preaching to both a small community of Methodists and Baptists. The small congregation wrote letters of intent to form a church and selected Kellar to be their leader and teacher. During this time, Kellar became a good friend of a well-known Baptist minister, John Taylor, and was soon ordained into the Baptist ministry.

Kellar organized four Baptist churches, Eighteen Mile, Harrods Creek [in the Harrods Creek watershed] and Lick Branch which were in Oldham County and Beargrass in Jefferson. These churches were part of the Long Run Association which comprised churches in a ten county area. The Harrods Creek church was closest to Kellar’s family and farm and that is the one where his family attended.

always carrying his gun and knife, and on one occasion he killed a very large bear while on his way to preach at Eighteen Mile one Sunday morning.

Kellar was a member of the volunteer company, the Mounted Rifleman, during the Revolutionary War. He recruited one hundred local men that lived in the vicinity, to join him at the Wabash River to fight the Illinois Indians in the last war with Britain. The following excerpt is an early church history from the archives of the Oldham County History Center that was written by Elmo Anderson on September 20, 1900 about circuit riding preacher William Kellar:

One hundred years ago, when civilization had barely made its entrance in the forests of Kentucky, and when she had been only eight years a State, when nature in dominance reigned in its fullest glory, when nothing but a little log cabin here and there was suggestive of human existence, and during this period Eighteen-Mile had its origin.
 The church was first gathered by the famous pioneer of this region, William Kellar, and was constituted by William Kellar, Ambrose Dudley and William Payne, September 12, 1800, the constituent members being nine in number, viz.. John Coons, Rheuben Pemberton, Garvin Adams, Joel Camper, Zelick W. Quinn, Elizabeth Coons, Elizabeth Pemberton, Ann Camper and Sarah, a black woman.
 The lot upon which it was first built was purchased from John Coons, near Brother Pembeton’s spring…William Kellar was chosen as first pastor and served in that capacity until his death, November 6, 1817.

William Kellar had many difficulties with which to contend, owing to the newness of the settlements, having had to walk from the Harrods Creek settlement to this place, a distance of about 12 miles, through a pathless forest, always carrying his gun and knife, and on one occasion he killed a very large bear while on his way to preach at Eighteen Mile one Sunday morning. Few men have been better fitted for pioneer preachers than William Kellar. He possessed great physical strength and courage, and unflagging industry, and it added much to his popularity that he was a skillful hunter, a boss mechanic (cabinet maker), and the best hand in the settlement at a log rolling or a house raising. He was of a cheerful temperament. His doctrine was built on sovereign grace, and he was eminently practical in applying it. Of him John Taylor says: ‘Everything that was calculated to recommend a man to his fellow men was summed up in Mr. Kellar. Generosity, good will and liberality, as well as justice and truth, were predominant in him. Of the value of this man a tenth part has not been told.

Historic records provided by:
Nancy Stearns Theiss, PhD
Oldham County Historical Society

Creek History – Commodore Richard Taylor

Other large tracts archived at the history center in the Harrods Creek watershed were given to Phillip Barbour, Gabriel Madison, Nicholas Buckner, and Francis Slaughter. One of the most famous Revolutionary War soldiers from the area, Commodore Richard Taylor, acquired 5,333 1/3 acres in the Harrods Creek watershed for his service. The family settled on 5,333 1/3 acres of land in the Goshen area that had been granted to him in 1783 for Revolutionary services. Taylor built a two-story log house with huge stone chimneys a mile from the Ohio River. The home came to be known as Woodlawn.

One of the most famous Revolutionary War soldiers from the area, Commodore Richard Taylor, acquired 5,333 1/3 acres in the Harrods Creek watershed for his service.

Born in Orange County, VA., The Commodore married twice and had six sons and five daughters. Taylor was commissioned as a Captain in the Navy during the Revolutionary War in 1776. He was wounded twice, in the knee and thigh and retired from active duty in 1781. His vessel, “The Tartar” was engaged in battle with an English schooner when he received his first wound, which was in the thigh. In November of 1781 he was Commodore of “The Patriot” in another battle with an English cruiser, just

Taylor was friends with General Marquis de LaFayette, and when LaFayette made his visit in America, as a guest of the nation in 1824, he visited the Commodore and his family in Westport. Taylor’s grand-daughter, who lived at Woodlawn until she was 14 years old at the time of Taylor’s death, recalled LaFayette sitting her on his lap and giving her a kiss, which caused her to be the envy of all her playmates. A few years before LaFayette’s visit to Woodland, the little girl’s mother, Matilda Taylor, had a beautiful family wedding at Woodlawn in May, 1799 which was known as the event of the year. Matilda married her childhood sweetheart, Isaac Robertson. They met in Virginia before the Taylor family moved to Oldham County.

In 1817 Congress approved and passed a measure for the relief of Commodore Taylor with an annual pension as long as he lived. His great-grandson and namesake, Col. Richard Taylor Jacob, was born at Woodlawn on March 14, 1825. Col. Jacob had a beautiful monument of red granite erected over the graves of the Commodore and his wife. The base of the granite slab contains the stones from the chimneys of Woodlawn. In 1959 the Peter Foree Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution officially marked the grave which is located on private property on an Oldham County farm.

Historic records provided by:
Nancy Stearns Theiss, PhD
Oldham County Historical Society

Creek History – Early Land Grants, Thomas Jefferson

Underground springs from the rich limestone soils bubble into the tributaries that run into Harrods Creek. The creek begins in Henry County making most of its 33 mile course through the northern section of Oldham County before it empties into the Ohio River. The creek meanders down in some sections with overhanging cliffs in narrow gorges while in other places it passes through meadows of farms with historic beginnings created from Revolutionary War land grants.

Attested copies of these grants are archived at the Oldham County History Center and demonstrate the desirable acquisition of the properties in the Harrods Creek watershed.

An example is as follows:

Thomas Jefferson, Esq: Governour of the Commonwealth of Virginia, to all to whom these presents shall come greeting: Know ye that in consideration of military service performed by George Weedon as Captain Lieutenant in the second Virginia Regiment in the late war between Great Britain and France according to the terms of the King of Great Britain’s proclamation of 1763 there is granted by the said Commonwealth unto the heirs of Hugh Mercer deceased who was assignee of the said George Weedon a certain tract or parcel of Land containing three thousand acres by survey bearing date the fourth day of June, one thousand seven hundred and seventy four, lying and being in the County of Kentucky formerly Fincastle and bounded as followeth to wit,

Beginning at three beeches and a sugar tree on the bank of the Ohio river about sixteen or seventeen miles above the falls of the Ohio; thence down the meanders of the river and binding on the same three hundred and fifty poles to two beeches and some sugar tree saplins, thence south thirty eight degrees, east one thousand four hundred and forth eight poles to a sugar tree, buckeye and lyn, thence north fifty two degrees, east three hundred and forty poles to a white oak on the edge of a hill near Harwoods [Harrods] creek; thence north forty nine degrees west seven hundred and fifty poles, the thence north forty eight degrees west five hundred and forty poles to the beginning, with its appurtenances to have and to ho9led the said tract or parcel of Land with its appurtenances to the said heirs of the said Hugh Mercer deceased and their heirs for ever. In witness whereof the said Thomas Jefferson Governour of the Commonwealth of Virginia hath hereunto set his hand and caused the lesser seal of the said Commonwealth to be affixed at Richmond on the first day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty and of the fifth year of the Commonwealth.

Thomas Jefferson
Copy from Record
Chas Blagrove 20th April 1812

Historic records provided by:
Nancy Stearns Theiss, PhD
Oldham County Historical Society