Historical marker #2544 commemorates one of the first-established and longest-running farms in Bourbon County and the whole of the Commonwealth, Townsend Springs Farm.
In 1775, John Townsend traveled with Captain John Hinkston down the Ohio River from western Pennsylvania to explore Shawnee territory south of the river. The group of 15 explorers left the Ohio and followed the Licking River into the interior of the "dark and bloody ground," as Kentucky came to be known. The party followed a buffalo trace, or path beaten into existence by the hooves of the bison, to the fertile land that eventually became Bourbon and Harrison Counties.
The men of the party were in search of high quality land that they could "improve" and establish a preemption for legal ownership. The "improvements" were often rudimentary, espeically in the earliest years of white settlement in the area, and sometimes consisted of no more than a few logs stacked to waist-high in the shape of a cabin and a halfhearted corn crop. Several of the men with the party were killed in clashes with Native American hunters and several others fled back east, never to return. John Townsend, however, was made of sterner stuff than those who remained east of the Appalachian Mountain range. When he returned to his "improvements" in 1776, he brought his wife and established in family on Townsend Creek, which still bears his name.
Much of the early corn that Townsend raised was traded to other newly-arriving white settlers who used it as seed to establish their own agricultural operations. In this way, Townsend Springs Farm functioned as a seed for the wider agricultural system that grew up around it, in both a literal and figurative sense. John Townsend also sold corn to his neighbor Jacob Spears, who is famous as one of the earliest bourbon distillers.
By 1803, Townsend had finished construction of the main house on the farm. This substantial brick structure was built primarily with locally-sourced materials, from the limestone in the foundation to the lumber of the ceiling. Remarkably, the home had only four sets of owners before the present occupant purchased the property in 2008. Subseqent restoration efforts have brought the house back to its former glory and implicitly highlight the continuities between the early nineteenth century and the twenty-first.
The marker was dedicated on March 22, 2018. A nice crowd of locals attended and were treated to a tour of the restored farmhouse.
The marker reads:
TOWNSEND SPRINGS FARM
Originally a 1,400 acre land
warrant, Townsend Springs was
settled by John Townsend in 1775-
1776. With Capt. John Hinkston,
Townsend traveled Ohio River
exploring Shawnee territory.
Named Townsend Creek in 1776.
Townsend raised corn, sold to
settlers, including Jacob Spears,
early bourbon distiller. Main
house completed in 1803.