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A Look at the Mynhier (Manier)
Family of Menifee County
(The First Family to Settle at the Mouth of Beaver Creek)

By Charles B. Gillespie-1995
and published in The Kentucky Explorer--March 1995


This story starts with Johannes (John) Manier born February 11, 1730 in Michelfeld, Germany. He was the son of Johannes and Catharina Manier. They came to America when John was two years old. His sister, Elizabeth, was born at Lancaster, Pa., December 24, 1732. John married in 1751, I am not sure what was the name of his wife, but they had eleven children. The names of the children were: Adam, Jonathan, David, Elizabeth, Philip, John 2nd, Mary Ann, Katherine, Sarah, Samuel and another daughter, name not known.

John 2nd is where the story starts. He was born in 1756, married 1775. Do not have the name of his wife, but in the year 1784, they were living near the town of Tazewell, Virginia. Tazewell was then a frontier settlement and a place of safety, for the people living nearby.

The story is based on facts, but is impossible to know the things that happened in every day life at that time. The house where they lived was like many log buildings of that day and time, a large double log structure, with an open hallway between them, also a lean-to on the back of each building. There were also small rooms in the (loft) upstairs. A fireplace was at the end of each building. John and family lived in one large room, while across the hallway a friend and family occupied the other part of the building.

Hearing that Indians had been seen in the vicinity, John and his neighbor, decided to take their families into the settlement for safety. After leaving them there, John and his neighbor went back to their home to check on the situation. There was a yard fence around the house with a gate in front. After entering the gate and going toward the house, they saw that Indians were already inside. In the haste to leave the neighbor leaped over the fence, John stopped to open the gate, and the Indians caught him there. The other man ran into the brush along the Clinch River and escaped, going back to the settlement. He got a group of men together and returned to the Mynhier home and found John's body by the gate. He left a wife and four small boys.

The boys' names were: John 3rd, born 1779, Jonathan, 1781, David 3rd, and Joseph, who was the youngest. After the Indian raid, not much is known what took place the next fifteen years. In the spring of 1800 John, Jonathan and David decided to leave Tazewell and journey to Kentucky, in search of other land and possibly some adventure along the way. So they traveled down the Holston River, taking the same route that William Gillespie and Benjamin Logan had taken some twenty-five years before.

This route through the Cumberland Gap, had been traveled by many thousant of people since 1775, when Boone and his men hacked out the trail to what was to be Boonesborough. After crossing the Cumberland River, they followed the Wilderness Road to the "Hazel Patch." The road forked here, one branch going to Boonesborough, the other toward the falls of the Ohio River, where Jefferson County came into being in 1780, with Louisville, the county seat.

The Manier boys followed the road to Boonesborough. After passing there they went through Clark County. They came to the Iron Works Road, which came into being, after the Bourbon Furnace was built in 1792, near what was later Owingsville, county seat of Bath.

This road was built to haul the iron produced by theBourbon Furnace to Louisville and other markets throughout the country by way of the Ohio River.  The furnace was built by Jacob Myers, and owned and operated by John Coky Owings.  They followed this road to the Bourbon Furnace area, and the settlement of Owingsville, which became the county seat of Bath County when it as formed in 1811.

By the time Jonathan Mynhier and his brothers reached here, the Bourbon Furnace had been in operation for seven years.  There was quite a settlement of people at that time, as men were busy digging iron ore.  They hauled it by oxen to the furnace.  Wood was cut to be burned into charcoal, while limestone was broken up to be used in the mixture of ore limestone and charcoal.  This was used in melting the ore down.  A building was by the side of the furnace where the sand molds were made to run the liquid iron into. These molded bars of iron suitable for shipping to all parts of the country.

The Mynhier brothers stopped here a few days, as there were many people here--with a store, blacksmith shop, barber shop and many other activies.  This was the last settlement they would see before reaching their destination.  They traveled on from here, soon reaching the Licking River near a cross road.  This place would some eighty years later be called Salt Lick, Ky., when the railroad was built in 1880.

Surveyors had reached the Licking River Valley as far back as 1774, mapping the valley and its tributaries.  The Mynhier brothers started up the river in the first part of April, 1800.  They found several people settled on farms along the way.  After traveling some miles up the river from the mouth of Salt Lick Creek, they came to where two families lived very close to each other.  They had built near to each other for safety from roving Indians at the point where the two farms joined. One of the farmers was named McKenzie, the other Saylor.

Staying overnight with these families, the brothers inquired about land on up the valley, and were told that there was much land up the way not yet settled.  By the time they were ready to leave the next morning John and Jonathan had met a girl from each family.  Sarah McKenzie and Hannah Saylor occupied their minds much during the next two or three years.

They journeyed on up the valley to where Beaver Creek empties into the Licking River, also near the mouth of Buck Creek.  They decided to explore Beaver Creek, going about six miles up the valley, past the mouth of Leatherwood and Murder Branch to Cold Cave Creek. (I might mention here that Murder Branch got its name, after the raid on "Morgans Station" near Mt. Sterling on April 1, 1793.  A band of Indians, most of them Wyandotte, attacked the fort while the men were in their fields working their crops.  They captured nineteen women and children, taking them toward the hills of what was later Menifee County.  The men of the fort got together and followed them, catching up with them on Beaver Creek.  At the mouth of this branch the Indians murdered some of the captives, and escaped with the rest.)

The two Mynhier brothers found the valley very fertile, and to them a beautiful place to live.  No doubt Daniel Boone had explored this valley, the two years he had spent in Kentucky in 1769-1771. (In 1926, my brother- in-law, W. B. Rose, and I were in the cave at the head of Murder Branch.  We found D. Boone carved in the wall of the cave, along with many other names, dated from the early eighteen hundreds. Boone's name was later chipped away.)

Up until now, no one had settled in the valley from Cold Cave to the mouth of Beaver.  No doubt trappers had been here catching the beaver which had numerous dams along the creek.  Virgin timber was everywhere. Oak, poplar, pine, ash, hickory and many other species abounded.

After seeing all of this, they decided they had found the place they had been looking for.  So they proceeded to see about acquiring the land around this part of Beaver Creek and up the Licking River a little way.

About this time David, one of the brothers, decided he wanted to go back to Virginia, leaving Jonathan and John here.

After some time had lapsed, and several trips back to Mt Sterling and other procedures, they finally received a patent or (grant) from the government on several thousand acres of land.

Beginning where Buck Creek and Beaver Creek empties into the Licking River, the line was up Beaver to Leatherwood, thence up Leatherwood to Joe's Branch, thence up this branch and over the hills to Cold Cave on Beaver Creek.  The line then extended over the head of Murder Branch, through the Sassafras Gap to the the mouth of Fugate on the Licking River, then down the river to the starting point.

As it was now fall and with winter drawing near, the brothers went about finishing their cabin, building a lean-to by the side of it for the horses they had ridden from Virginia.  This cabin was built at the Cave Hollow, about a mile up Beaver from the river near Leatherwood Creek.

As deer and bear were plentiful, they had no trouble keeping meat for the table.  Of course, other necessities had to come from Owingsville or Mt. Sterling.  They had to get corn and fodder for the horses from the McKenzies and Saylors for the winter.  Of course, they would get to see the girls each time they went down the river.

They hunted and trapped through the winter, catching mink, beaver, and muskrat.  They came out in the spring with many valuable furs.  They also kept clearing ground through the winter months, so they could start planting their crops in the spring.  They took their furs to market and bought harnesses for the horses, plows, and other much needed supplies with money they were paid.

They worked very hard for a couple of years clearing land and raising corn for their animals.  Starting with two cows and a few sheep, as the years went by their stock began to accumulate.

It was a very lonesome life for the boys.  So as has been mentioned, they kept in touch with the two families down the river and the girls that they had met when they first came up the river.  Now Sarah McKenzie and Hannah Saylor had grown into beautiful young ladies by this time.  So along about 1803 John decided to get married to Sarah McKenzie. Jonathan and Hannah Saylor seemed to have the same notion.

After their marriage John decided to go down river to where Sarah's people lived, so he sold his interest in the Beaver Creek land and bought land down there.  In the years following, John and Sarah had six children; two boys, Jonathan and Bill, and four girls: Sibbie, Libbie, Martha and Nannie. (Martha will be in the story later.)

Now after Jonathan and Hannah were married, he went about building a new home, as the cabin was too small to start a family in.  So cutting poplar trees and hewing them on both sides, with the help of neighbors down the river, they soon had a new double log house with lean-tos on the back and an open hallway between.  This was the customary way to build in that day.  As has been mentioned before, sheep was a necessary animal in those days.  They were sheared and the wool was taken down the river to be carded and prepared to be spun into yarn.  Most everyone had a spinning wheel.  The yarn was woven into blankets, also knitted into socks and stockings for the family.

Flax was raised and spun into light cloth for summer wear.  Shoes and moccasins were made from animal skins, so there was not much left to buy at the store.  Lye was made from wood ashes.  Thin soap was made with the lye and animal fat obtained from hog entrails and other parts of the animal.

Mt. Sterling and Hillsboro were the nearest stores.  I was told that Hillsboro was their post office at that time. The frontier family had to work very hard to exist in those days; the wife sharing the hardships with her husband. She had to do the spinning, knitting and other work around the house.  She also helped in the garden and with other crops.

Jonathan and Hannah, raised a very large family. There were four boys and eight girls in the brood.  They named the boys from the Bible: David, Thomas Shelton, (King) Solomon and Jonathan. The girls were: Elizabeth (Betty), Polly, Ann, Sarah, Loucinda (Lou), Cynthia, Kate and Julia. Betty was the oldest of the girls, being born in 1806.  Kate died in her teens. She was said to have been a very beautiful and talented young girl.  David, I believe, was born in 1804.

There was a David, John and Jonathan, in every branch of the family.  It seems they were the most-liked names.

As was mentioned, there were deer, bear and other wild animals in the valley, along with the wild turkey.  I will relate here how they went about catching the turkey.

It seems that wild turkeys traveled up and down the hollows from the valley into the hills.  A pole pen was built at the mouth of the hollow.  A little trench was dug from the outside, under the pin and sloped upward inside.  Corn was dropped along the trench.  The turkey went along eating the corn.  When the turkey got inside, it never looked down to see how it had come in. Thus, turkeys were easily trapped.

When Elizabeth was about eighteen she was married to Thomas Lewis, who lived on the Licking River, opposite from the mouth of Salt Lick Creek.  I do not know how many children they had. Dr. Lewis, a son, was a very prominent physician in the town of  Salt Lick in the latter part of the last century.  The farm along the Licking River valley, I believe, is still occupied by a descendent.

Polly married James Link from the upper north fork section of Licking River.  I do not know much about their family.  My grandmother, who was her niece, always called her Aunt Pop Link.  This marriage took place about 1828 or 1830.  People had been coming into the valley for the last twenty-five years, settling on land near the Mynhier grant.  Also, when one of Jonathan and Hannah's children married, they deeded a parcel of land to each one.

By this time the Beaver Valley Iron Works had been built, about seven miles up the Beaver valley, at the mouth of Miers Fork.  This was built in 1819, by J.T. Mason.  It started operation with Robert Crockett as ironmaster.  In 1828 Jonathan Kring came here from Pennsylvania to operate the furnace. His son William was eighteen-years-old at the time.

There was quite a settlement of people here now, ore had to be dug, limestone broken up, charcoal burned, and all of it haulded in to the furnace to melt the ore down.  The wagon road had been built on up the valley to connect with the old state road, at the little settlement, which was later called Frenchburg.

William Kring, like all other young men, went looking for a girl friend.  The biggest supply (of young girls) around at that time were the Mynhiers.  He soon got acquainted with Ann, and it was not long until they decided to get married.  The farm Jonathan and Hannah allotted to them extended from the mouth of Beaver up the river to the mouth of Fugate, a boundary of several hundred acres.  This land was now in Bath County, which was establised in 1811. Later, in 1869 it became Menifee County.

It was not much of a problem getting things done in those days.  People would help each other.  If a barn or house was to be built, the neighbors would come.  The wives cooked while the men worked.  They would have a big dinner and all had a joyful time. (Dinner is called lunch now)

There were many ways of entertainment then, bean hulling, apple peelings, and corn husking, to name a few.

William (Billie) and Ann had two boys that I know of. There might have been more.  Jess inherited the home place on the river. Later his daughter Myrtle, who married Jack Utterback, obtained the old Kring farm, I suppose by buying out the other heirs, and also by inheritance.  This property stayed in the family until the Cave Run Dam was built.

Jonathan Kring, 11, was allotted the farm on Skidmore Branch, which took in many acres on Beaver Creek and extended all the way up Skidmore.  Jonathan and his wife Elizabeth, who about everyone called "Uncle John and Aunt Liz" had two boys and one girl that I know of.  The boys were William (Dill) and Milton and their sister, Ann, named after her grandmother. Ann married Robert (Bob) Cockran, and was allotted the acreage on Beaver.  Bill and his wife Joanne were given the farm on Skidmore which joined the home place.  They operated a store there for many years.

The next in the Mynhier family is Jonathan, Jr.  When it became time for him to marry, he went down the river and married the daughter of John and Sarah Mynhier, his first cousin Martha.  After his father, Jonathan Sr., died Sept. 1, 1842 he inherited the home place.  His mother Hannah lived with his family the rest of her life.

Jonathan and his wife had several children, namely Wesley, Leslie, David Henry ("Little Dave"), and James Winslow, who was four years old at the time of his father's death.

As we all know Kentucky was a very divided state during the Civil War.  No one knew who to trust.  There were roving bands or patrols, some Rebels, some Union, passing through the country side.

A group of men in Menifee County banded together, calling themselves Home Guards, they said to protect the people of the valley.  They turned out to be more outlaw, than law, doing a lot of things they were not supposed to do.

On July 4, 1863, Jonathan's brother-in-law rode up to the house and told him a group of Home Guards were camped a couple of miles up the road, and some of the men were getting together to go up there and scatter them out.  He joined them, but when they drew near the camp, one of the men in the group asked for permission to go into the camp and get his brother, who was with the Home Guards, out.  When he went in, he warned them of the coming attack, so they all took off up Beaver Creek. The men returned to their homes.

Later that night just before bed time, Jonathan was playing with his children when a band of men rode up in front of his house. As anyone riding at night at that time, could be an enemy, he slipped up the stairs and out on the roof to see who they were.  It is surmised that someone hiding above the road in the bushes shot him.  He rolled off the roof to the ground.  He was buried the next morning in the family plot near the house.

Martha, being left with small children, after awhile married Joseph Wells, whose wife had died earlier, leaving him with small children.  They enjoyed many years together.

In later years Winslow, the youngest son of Martha, inherited the home farm.  He married Louise Ann Ginter.  They raised a very large family.

The boys were: John, Farmer, Edward, Joseph, Bill, Levi and Ted.  The girls were: Julia, Sally and Leona.  Sally married W. H. Hunt and, I believe, died at child birth before she was twenty.  Leona, Levi and Bill, all died young.  "Uncle Winn" and "Aunt Louis Ann," as everyone called them in later years, were very well loved people, and were missed very much when they passed on.

The next that is mentioned in Jonathan and Hannah's family is my great-grandmother Loucina (Cindy), who was born about 1822. She was near 85 when she died in 1907, when I was four years old.

My mother said I called her my grandma and my grandmother Hannah, my pretty grandma.  When she was growing up on the farm, she had to help work at everything that was done in the field or in the home.

They made their soap by saving hickory and oak ashes through the winter, then filling a wooden barrel with them, then make a little duck's nest in the top to pour the water in.  By the time the water reached the bottom of the barrel, it ran out through holes in the edge of the barrel as the best lye that could be found.  They mixed it with hog fat and boiling down to a solid making really fine soap.  This custom was still used when I was a yound lad.  In fact, we used this system in making soap during the Great Depression of the 1930's.  It has a very great cleansing power.

Loucinda said they made their own alcoholic beverages in those days, for to treat their many ailments, and other things.  They made the whiskey red, by using soot from the fireplace to mix in it.  At about eighteen years, Loucinda married Perry Walton, who lived across the hill on Clear Creek.  Their marriage was around 1840.  Jonathan allotted her the farm on upper Leatherwood.

They proceeded to build their house at the mouth of a hollow, which now is called the old house hollow.  Perry Walton died in 1856 leaving Loucinda with several young children, whose names were: Lynn, Sarah, Loucinda (Aunt Lou) who married William Patrick, and Hannah, who was eight-years-old at the time.  The boys were George and Jonathan (Jock).

My grandmother Hannah was born Sept. 17, 1848.  Sarah and Lynn were older than her.  Aunt Lynn married a man named McCarty over in the Salt Lick Creek area.  I don't have any information about their family other than to know the McCartys were my distant relatives.  Sarah married John Donothan, who lived on Glady Branch of Leatherwood Creek.  This marriage was in 1858.  The Donothans were not the first settlers there, as a family by the name of Mullins obtained that land about 1815.  They built a house, cleared this land and raised their crops there for about thirty years. The place was very beautiful with much level and lying at the head of the valley, walled in on three sides by sandstone cliffs.  This place looks much the same now as it did then.  Ruth and I were there  about twenty years ago.  The springs were still putting forth beautiful clear water, no doubt as they were when the Mullins family settled here.

When some of the Mullins family died, the Donothan family bought the farm.  At the time John and Sarah married he owned the farm.  They raised a large family as most everyone did in those days.  Guess they thought there was safety in numbers.  The boys were: Henry, Elijah, Alfred, Harvey and Newton.  They also had two or three girls.

Two of Jonathan and Hannah's sons, when they were married, were allotted land a little way down Beaver from the home place. David, on one side of the creek, owned to the mouth of the creek.  Shelton's land on the other side extended to the mouth of Buck Creek.

David was the father of Robert (Lob) Mynhier.  His farm later was the site of the first post office in the Beaver Valley. James W. (Jim) Swim carried the mail over the Leatherwood Hill from the White Sulphur Springs Resort by mule to establish the Lonesome Post Office on November 6th, 1885. (On November 1, 1890 George F. Mynhier was post master and by May 15, 1897 George H. Harmon had become the post master.) The Lonesome Post Office was changed on September 14, 1907 with its mail then sent to Yale, Kentucky.  This farm was in the family until the Cave Run Dam was built.  It was owned by his granddaughter Elizabeth and her husband, Newt Montgomery, and family at the time.

There was much more to be said about things that happened during the century, but I guess that is all for this time.

Charles B. Gillespie,  Frenchburg, KY , a retired farmer and miner, writes about his native Menifee County from time to time in The Explorer.

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