Martin’s Station

Historical Marker #150 in Bourbon County commemorates Martin's Station, an important frontier Kentucky settlement that was captured by British Captain Henry Byrd in 1780.

John Martin, an early Kentucky pioneer who had spent time at Fort Boonesborough and John Hinkston's settlement (later Ruddle’s Fort), established a station on Stoner Creek in Bourbon County in the spring of 1779. Martin had earlier constructed a cabin on the property in 1775-76 with the help of William Whitsett.

Martin's Station was located along a well-used Native American path, the Alantowamiowee Trail, which originated from a buffalo trace. Martin, who was of Irish descent, brought his family from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, down the Ohio River to Limestone (now Maysville), and then overland to central Kentucky. By the end of 1779 Martin's Station provided homes for a number of families, many of them Pennsylvania German settlers.

In the spring of 1780, British officer Captain Henry Byrd of the Eighth Regiment marched his command from Detroit to central Kentucky—a trip of over 600 miles—to eliminate the frontier stations/forts and drive the settlers back east across the Appalachian Mountains. Along the way several native tribes (Delawares, Shawnees, Hurons, Ottawas, Taways, Chippewas, and others) were added to his command, bringing the number of the combined force to between 1000 and 1200. After the successful capture of Ruddles Fort/Station, Byrd's force secured Martin's Station. In addition to small arms, Byrd had on hand six pieces of artillery, the first cannon used against the log forts of the Kentucky wilderness.

Although the station was partially stockaded, the presence of the field artillery and the absence of John Martin, who was away on a hunting trip, persuaded the inhabitants to surrender without a fight. The British and Indian soldiers divided the spoils and Byrd took charge of the prisoners.

Most of the pioneers of Martin's Station were captured and marched through the dense forests to British-held Detroit, a six week journey. Some of the captives were taken on to Fort Niagara, Ontario, and Montreal in Canada.

In 1795, a treaty was signed at Greenville, Ohio, which allowed a general exchange of American prisoners long held by the British and the Indians. Wives and husbands who had been separated for years were united, and Kentucky parents welcomed back children who had grown up among the Indians. Some of those who were captured at Martin's Station had lived in Detroit for years before being able to return to Kentucky.

The stone wall surrounding the graveyard at the former fort is believed to be on the exact site of Martin's Station. A marker was erected by the Jemima Johnson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1921. The marker is dedicated to the memory of the Kentucky pioneers who settled at the fort and those who were captured by Captain Byrd in 1780.