Historical Marker #1577 in Madison County commemorates the home of early Kentucky settler Captain Nathaniel Hart.
Hart, a Revolutionary War soldier, was a member of the Transylvania Land Company. As chief negotiator and a leading advocate for the organization, he was one of many who purchased about 20 million acres of land in Kentucky and Tennessee, a sale negotiated by Richard Henderson from the Cherokee Indians in 1775. The agreement, however, was ultimately deemed null and void by the newly formed Continental Congress. Hart was one of the original settlers of Boonesborough and helped with the construction of the fort.
The Nathanial Hart House is believed to be the first home constructed outside the confines of Fort Boonesborough. It was finally occupied once the threat of Native American attacks was thought to have subsided. Hart was killed by Native Americans in 1782. Unfortunately, the Hart home was burned by vandals in 1989. All that now remains is the foundation. However, the site's location along Boone Trace makes it of particular historical significance.
Hart chose a spot for settlement about a half a mile from the fort. He and his brother David devoted most of their time constructing the cabin in 1775. The building was composed of two square log pens separated by a frame dogtrot with an ell at the rear. V-notches at the corners connect the logs beneath the weatherboards.
Hart had acquired 640 acres on the creek known as Hart's Fork in present Madison County. He spent much of his time on the land that had been allocated to him, planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops. He traveled frequently from this location back and forth to Virginia where his family lived. Every year, until his death in 1782, he raised a crop of corn.
Owing to the difficulties of cultivating soil while exposed to the dangers of attacks, it became necessary to organize a company or corporation at Fort Boonesborough. The company was formed in the spring of 1779 to protect the crops, and Hart was one of the trustees. Given specific responsibilities, eighteen armed men banded together and patrolled the crops. Apparently the efforts paid off, because during the dreadful winter of 1779 to 1780, known as the "Hard Winter," corn became extremely scarce and Hart was able to sell it at $200 a bushel.
In addition, on Richard Henderson's design for Fort Boonesborough, cabin #14 was labeled "Cabins for Hart and Williams." This provides strong evidence that Hart sometimes occupied this cabin in the southeast corner of the stockaded fort.
While the Hart House historical marker has been relocated from its original site to the Fort Boonesborough park grounds for safety concerns, the actual site of the remains can still be found by traveling south on Highway 388 (Redhouse Road) for about 0.2 miles from the marker. The foundation ruins are located just off the road on the left, a short distance past the Lisle Cemetery, which is easily identifiable on the right. Captain Hart and other pioneers are buried in the Lisle Cemetery.