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Two events in 1794 secured Green County, Kentucky as a great place to settle. First, a successful campaign against the Cherokee Nickajack towns on the Tennessee River made Green County almost immune from Indian raids from the south. Second, Anthony Wayne's campaign at Fallen Timbers on the Maumee River virtually ended Indian threats from the north. A flood of settlers migrated to Green County. By 1800, the taxpayer list numbered 1,545. In 1796, Green County was the mother of Cumberland County, right along the border with Tennessee. Just north of Cumberland County, many settlers were filling up the fertile bottomlands of Russell and Big Creeks. In late 1801, Green County legislators cut off this part of Green, forming Adair County. Our Beard family were among the first wave of settlers in Green and then in Adair Counties, and they were heavily involved in the founding of the town of Columbia as the new Adair County seat. They had found a peaceful and safe place to raise their families.
In the years from 1796 to 1800, many settlers began buying land on and near the Green River in central Kentucky, our Beards among them. The following list is of all found Kentucky Land Grants issued to Beards, beginning in 1796 with an Andrew Beard, an entry that we feel is not of our family. Descendants of this Andrew are still searching for his origins. There is also a Joseph Beard, and we are not certain that he belongs to our family. Remember that Adair County was formed from Green County in 1801.
Kentucky Land Grants:
1796 21 September: Andrew Beard/Baird Green Co 200 acres at Harrod's Fork
1798 11 March James Beard Green Co 200 acres, no waterway listed
1798 1 November Hugh Beard Green Co 200 acres, Sulphur Fork of Russell Creek
1798 16 December Joseph Beard Green Co 200 acres, Elk Spring Creek
1799 30 June Jno Beard Green Co 200 acres, Spring Creek
1806 21 October Jno Beard Adair Co 100 acres, Green River
Samuel Beard owned lands along the Green River. It is probable that he is not included in this land grant list because he purchased his land from General George Rogers Clark, so it was not a grant to him.
When the first Adair County Tax List was made for the new county in the year 1802, several Beard families were present on the list, along with several families who had "married up" with Beard daughters. A study of the list provides a probable order to it, that is, the men listed after a Beard man generally seem to be his sons. We find these heads of families listed on the 1802 Tax List:
- James Beard with one male over 21 (himself)
- James Beard, Jr with one male over 21 (himself)
- Samuel Beard, with one male over 21 (himself) and one male over 16; also the notation that he owns 400 acres on the Green River and that this land was originally owned by George Clark.
- John Beard, Sr with two males over 21 (himself and another), three slaves
- Hugh Beard, Sr with one male over 21 (himself), six slaves, and the notation that he owns 200 acres on Sulphur Fork and 200 acres on Green River. (Sulphur Fork is a tributary of Russell Creek) Descendants report that this family actually lived on the Sulphur Fork property.
- Hugh Beard, Jr, reported with no males of any age, obviously a mistake in recording
- John Beard, with one male over 21 (himself)
Note that Samuel does not have any sons listed as tax payers. This reinforces the belief that he was the youngest brother, married in the pre Revolutionary time frame, and began having children in the mid to late 1770s.
Of interest are some other families on this list, who were allied by marriage and had come up from Tennessee, as well: David Doke/Doak on Green River, land purchased from "S. Beard"; James Millican Sr on Green River with Isaac and James Jr; and James Clendennon on Green River, land from "J. Clendennon", probably his father John. All these families, Millicans, Doaks, and Clendennons, were friends and no doubt relatives back in the Cowpasture Valley in Virginia and then in Eastern Tennessee. Beard brides married into all three of these families in early Tennessee and Kentucky and no doubt in early Virginia as well.
This list also provides the information that Samuel Beard's Green River property was originally owned by George Clark. This man was referred to in an 1850 description of Samuel's deed as General Clark. This is no doubt General George Rogers Clark, who owned many fine acres of land in Kentucky at one time. It is also interesting that the date of enrollment on the tax list for all of them was June 1, 1802, except for Hugh Beard and his probable sons Hugh Jr and John, who were enrolled on June 28. Descendants who still live in the area have reported that Hugh and his family lived on the lands around Sulphur Fork, which was not in the same area as the rest of the extended family, although not very far away, and this could explain the difference in date. Hugh did own a parcel of land on Green River, as well. John Beard, Sr, we will find in this history, lived on a lot in the new town of Columbia.
From this list, we see that there were at least three brothers with sons: Samuel, John, and Hugh. There was also James, and we believe that he could quite possibly be their father, a man of at least seventy, but there is a possibility that he is an elder brother. Several of these brothers' lines have been united by modern DNA testing and an attempt has been made at unraveling the family connections. Where did they come from and how did they settle on the beautiful rolling hills around the Green River? They had lived in the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia, where they were a part of the massive settlements of Scots-Irish people in old Orange, Frederick, and eventually Augusta Counties. These old Scots lowland clans had come down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania, where they had passed some years after arriving in the Colonies from Northern Ireland, Ulster and Antrim. Contrary to previous reports and at least one old history, our Beard groups did not come directly from the Valley of Virginia to Green and Adair Counties in Kentucky. Right after the Revolution, they moved down into the Southwest Territory, which is today known as Eastern Tennessee. At the time, they considered this area a part of Virginia, and then it became a part of North Carolina prior to Tennessee statehood in 1796. At one point, it was considered a part of North Carolina, as well, and the settlers there also established the State of Franklin for a short time. Some years were passed here in the fertile foothills along the Nolichuckey River near the village of Greeneville, Tennessee and also in an area further southwest, near Knoxville, before the mass family move was made into south central Kentucky. Marriages were made in Tennessee, usually with the same families that were neighbors in Virginia and would be again in Kentucky. Land was bought and sold there, and Tennessee footprints of the families are found in old Washington County, in Greene County which was made from Washington, and in Knox County, formed from Greene. Many Beard children were born there, and in future years their birthplaces on the censuses might be recorded as "Virginia" or as "North Carolina" or as "Tennessee", owing to the turbulent history of the area first called Southwest Territory. Many of the families on the 1802 Adair Tax List were neighbors in the Valley of Virginia and then also in Eastern Tennessee. It is this migration pattern that has been traced in an attempt to solve some of the early family genealogy puzzles.