Daniel Rector Sr. of Lancaster Township
Reminiscences of a Jefferson County Pioneer
published in the Madison Weekly Courier – March 11, 1874
As I am a constant reader of your excellent paper and interested in its success, and seeing that you invite correspondence. If you think the following, in regard to the early settlement of our part of Jefferson County, would be of interest to your readers you are at liberty to publish it.
Lancaster Township is one of the sub-divisions of Jefferson County, and, like other townships, was settled early in the present century. The first man that we hear spoken of as settling, or rather living in this township, was a man by the name of Glascow. He was a hunter by profession and had no habitation, but roamed up and down between Big Creek and Middle Fork, subsisting entirely on game, and camped wherever night overtook him. He was found here when the first settlers came. There was also a man by the name of Joe Hensley, who lived with the Indians, and who settled on the creek that bears his name, on the farm now occupied and owned by John Rector. Glascow and Hensley both disappeared on the approach of the permanent settlers; Hensley went off with the Indians and Glascow was reported to have been killed on Haw Creek in Decatur or Bartholomew County, by the Indians. Among the very earliest permanent settlers was James Hays, who came from Columbia County, Ohio. Hays came to Lancaster Township and settled on the present site of the Lancaster mills, (now owned by F. M. Landon), in the year 1813, and soon after built the mill that bore his name till a few years ago. He afterwards moved high up Big Creek, to what he thought a healthier location, where his son, William Hays, now lives and still owns the land his father bought of the Government. William Hays is the oldest early settler in the township.
In the same year, or 1814, Thomas Hughes came to the township. He and family came from North Carolina and settled on the Dugan farm, near Kent. In 1809, fearing the Indians, they moved to Madison and soon afterward settled near Clifty on Col. Paul’s land where they lived till 1814, the time they settled on the Clashman farm, which he had entered. His house was always the home of the Methodist preacher and often has the writer, in his younger days, heard Hurlbut and the eloquent Strange preach.
In the same year Hartsock settled on the present farm of Andrew Fisher, then Col. Paul’s land; also Moses Allen settled adjoining Hays. Old Jack Goldsborough established the first blacksmith shop in this township, on what is now the Rowlison farm. Willis Sullivan settled on the farm now owned by Westgate Abbott, about a mile above the Lancaster Mills. In the same year, James Stott settled on the farm now occupied by C.K. Lard, Esq. Stott was a Baptist, and, I think, came from Kentucky; he is said to have been a very good man; he afterwards removed to Vernon, Jennings County. Mr. Henry Sweet was also an early settler on the old Fewell farm; he was from North Carolina. Perry Magness also came from North Carolina, and was, I believe, the first Justice of the Peace in the township.
About this time, emigrants began to settle quite fast. James Bland Sr. settled some miles up from the settlement about Hays’ Mill. In 1816 Daniel Rector came from Montgomery co. Ky., and settled on Hensley’s Creek; he lived on the place where he settled about fifty years ago, and died there. His grandson still owns the old homestead.
Most of the foregoing rather condensed early history I have got from many of the old settlers themselves. They were a hardy set of men generally, who were well fitted in open and clear up a new country. Perhaps the first regular school in the township was taught by a man named John Foster, on the side of the present residence of the widow Hoyt in Lancaster.
About this time William Hughes taught a school about a mile northeast of Lancaster. At noon the teacher and all the big boys went out and cut and carried in wood enough to last until the next day at noon. The next school was taught by John Patton.
I might name many other old settlers and recount their hardships but these have been told so often that they will be well understood by all the readers of the Courier; and I might say much about other matters, but my article is now much longer, perhaps, than interest. I some future time I may have something more to say on the same subject.
Daniel Rector Sr.