Jessamine County Historical Society
Here’s a cool thing. Roaming around on the net today, I ended up on the web site of the Jessamine County Historical Society. It’s been redesigned and is much easier to navigate than before. But the cool thing is under Blog List on the Nav Bar on the left. Go ahead and click. The first thing that comes up is “I Must Be Full”. I gotta tell you I was thrilled until I read they think I’m a she. I guess Durry could be a girl’s name.
I was going to post a couple of the maps I copied when I visited there a few years back because it shows where our guys lived but now I can just point you here for a map from 1861. Find the town of Sulphur Well, just south of Nicholasville. Now find Fitchport. It’s on the Kentucky River near the mouth of Hickman Creek. Follow the creek back up about half way to Sulphur Well and look at the names on the north side of that ox bow…Watts, Sageser, Carter. Yep, that’s where our ancestors lived before, during and after the Civil War. If you go straight out to the Danville Pike from there you’ll find the Roberts Chapel where Thomas H and Nettie Bell get married in about thirty years.
OK…one more. This one’s from 1877. Position your cursor just above Little Hickman and zoom in on the Watts Mill. Those of you who know me know I’m a sucker for maps. I could spend the day justing browsing…in fact I do. But this sort of stuff fascinates me. Here we can see land owners with our ancestors names…we can feel a kinship to the area. It can be spooky to visit an area you know your forepeople came from. Especially visiting a cemetery where every other name is one related to you.
One last map. This one’s not much to look at but it’s another few years down the road…this is a railroad map from 1885. Notice the train left Nicholasville and headed off to the west…it didn’t follow the road south to Camp Nelson. This also gives you a good overview for the relationship between Madison, Garrard and Jessamine counties.
One last thing before we’re done here…these years are when our guys started branching out. As with 95% of the population, up until about 1850 and 60, our forebears were farmers. By the Civil War, we began doing other things. Most notably, it appears Fred Sagaser and some of the older Watts boys started milling on Hickman Creek. There were several mills on the creek, but you’ll notice by 1877 there were two major named mills…Jessamine Mills and Watts Mills…along with several distilleries. Wouldn’t be surprised if we were in that business as well. Then around the turn of the century or earlier, one of the brothers starts making carriages in Nicholasville. He has a son-in-law who takes over the business. And then of course, there’s Andy the cigar manufacturer in Florida.
And we get a lawyer and politician eventually. There’s a second cousin twice removed of ours (if you’re of my generation) whose name was John Clarence Watts and from 1951 until he died in office in 1971, he was Jessamine and Fayette counties’ representative in Congress. Not a president, but it’ll have to do.