County Named, 1819

Historical Marker #912 in Franklin notes Simpson County’s namesake, War of 1812 veteran, Captain John Simpson.

Simpson, a native of Virginia, came to Kentucky as child with his family. The Simpsons settled in Lincoln County and John attended a school in Danville, and later, one in Bardstown. Simpson studied law and entered the profession in Shelby County.

When trouble arose between Native Americans and settlers in what would become Indiana and Ohio, Simpson joined with other Kentuckian militiamen under the command of former Revolutionary War officer Gen. Anthony Wayne. Simpson participated in the Battle of Fallen Timbers, which occurred on August 20, 1794. The battle was a success for the US forces and largely quelled Indian threats until the War of 1812.

Simpson, like many men of his day, was able to transition professionally from attorney to politician. In 1806, he was elected to the Kentucky House as a representative of Shelby County, for four consecutive terms. Simpson was well respected as a legislator as witnessed by his selection as Speaker of the House in 1810 and 1811. He was set to continue his political rise in 1812, when he was chosen as a representative to the US House, however, service in the War of 1812 intervened.

During the conflict, Simpson’s political notoriety and leadership in the state’s militia help land him the captaincy in the First Rifle Regiment, which was commanded by Col. John Allen. Simpson was killed during a British counterattack on January 22, 1813, at the Battle of River Raisin.

When Simpson County was created in 1819 as the state’s sixty-second county, Simpson was chosen as its namesake. Eventually nine counties were named for Kentuckians killed at the Battle of River Raisin. Simpsonville in Shelby County is also named for the War of 1812 soldier.