Home of Statesman

Historical Marker #714 indicates the house (added to the original log cabin from 1798) in which several congressmen and other important gentleman were said to have lived. Those men included Governor William Owsley, Robert P. Letcher, George Robertson, Samuel McKee, Simon Anderson, and James H. Letcher. The original log cabin was built by John Boyle, after whom Boyle County was named.

John Boyle moved to Garrard County and began practicing law in 1797. A lawyer, a representative in the United States House, and a chief justice in the Kentucky Court of Appeals from 1810 – 1826, Boyle was respected and popular amongst Kentucky inhabitants. However, in 1823, his opinion in the case of Blair v. Williams was decidedly unpopular as it declared Kentucky’s debt relief unconstitutional. It was this decision that prompted the General Assembly to abolish Boyle’s court and establish a “New Court” of appeals. On December 24, 1824, the General Assembly passed a statue to “Repeal the Law Organizing the Court of Appeals, and to Reorganize the Court of Appeals.” For two years, the Old Court and New Court operated against each other. In 1826, general elections confirmed the Old Court’s majority in both the Kentucky House and Senate. A restoration act was passed and this struggle finally ended as the New Court was abolished and Old Court was fully reinstated. Boyle resigned in 1826 soon after this. He accepted an appointment as a U.S. district judge by President John Quincy Adams that he held for the rest of his life. In 1833, Boyle taught a year in law at Transylvania University but died the following January. He is buried in Bellevue Cemetery in Danville.

Samuel McKee lived in the house after Boyle. McKee was a circuit judge, a member of the Kentucky Legislature, and an office in the War of 1812. After McKee relocated, George Robertson moved into the cabin in 1810. Like the two men before him, Robertson practiced law and a noted congressman. He was a jurist, a circuit judge, a professor of law at Transylvania University, and chief justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Next, Robert Letcher lived in the cabin. The Governor of Kentucky from 1840-1844, Letcher began as a lawyer and was a veteran of the War of 1812; he was a member of the Kentucky Legislature and in Congress. While he was Governor, Letcher County was formed and named after him, and in 1849, President Zachary Taylor appointed him as an ambassador to Mexico. Letcher was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery after he died in 1861.

Images

Boyle-Robertson-Letcher House

Boyle-Robertson-Letcher House

John Boyle's home in Lancaster, Kentucky. This home was at different times owned by Robert Letcher, U.S.Congressman and Kentucky Governor, and George Robertson, U.S.Congressman, and a judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Photo in the public domain View File Details Page

Robert P.Letcher

Robert P.Letcher

As a young man, Robert P. Letcher worked closely with his father in the masonry trade. Although he attended to common schools in Garrard County, he was dismissed for behavioral issues. He enrolled in the Joshua Fry™s private academy near Danville, where he fared much better and gained his education. Courtesy of Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

George Robertson

George Robertson

George Robertson was born in Mercer County in 1790. As an adult he was friends with Abraham Lincoln until their policies on slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation strained their relationship. Robertson™s sister, Charlotte, was Robert Letcher™s second wife. Courtesy of Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

John Boyle

John Boyle

U.S. Congressman, Judge. A native of Virginia, he moved with his family to Kentucky when he was a child. Photo in the public domain View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Ashlee Chilton, “Home of Statesman,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed July 22, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/757.

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