County Named, 1822

Historical Marker #825 in Murray honors early Kentucky explorer and settler Richard Callaway. Calloway County (spelled differently), which was established in 1822, is named for this pioneer adventurer.

The exact year of Richard Callaway's birth is disputed among sources, but he was likely born between 1717 and 1722. Where he was born is also unclear, but was probably in either Essex County or Caroline County, Virginia. As a young man Callaway worked as a constable. He was also a planter who owned a significant amount of land. During the French and Indian War, Callaway served with his brother William, eventually becoming an officer. The military experience Callaway gained in that conflict served him well in later adventures. After the war, Callaway moved to the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina but moved back to Virginia shortly thereafter.

In 1775, Calloway was invited by Transylvania Company proprietor Colonel Richard Henderson to accompany Daniel Boone into what would eventually become Kentucky. Callaway, Boone, and a party of twenty-eight other pioneers braved hazards on a route that took them through the Cumberland Gap. The party blazed a trail northward through the mountains and into the Bluegrass Region.

Callaway and Boone were the key founders of Boonesborough, a fort that the pioneers established for protection along the Kentucky River in present day Madison County for protection against Native American incursions. In 1777, Callaway was appointed a colonel in the Virginia militia, a justice of the peace, and elected as a representative of Kentucky County. The following year at Fort Boonesborough Callaway fought against the Shawnees, who besieged the location in 1778. Callaway's relationship with Boone deteriorated somewhat when Callaway disapproved of Boone's raids on Native American settlements on the north side of the Ohio River. After Boone parleyed with the Indians during the Boonesborough siege, Callaway had Boone court-martialed for treason and conspiracy. Boone, however, was later acquitted.

While at Boonesborough, Callaway operated a ferry across the Kentucky River. In 1780, while constructing a boat, Callaway, Pemberton Rawlings, and two slaves were ambushed by a party of Native Americans. Callaway and Rawlings were killed and scalped, and the slaves were taken as captives. Callaway's body was recovered and buried at Boonesborough.