Traveler’s Rest

Historical Markers #95 and #2233 in Lincoln County remember Traveler's Rest, the home of Isaac Shelby, Kentucky's first and fifth governor.

Shelby was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1750. As a young man he moved with his family to western Virginia. Shortly thereafter, Shelby served as a surveyor with the Transylvania Company in what would become Kentucky. Shelby's surveying services were rewarded with acres of Kentucky land.

During the Revolutionary War, Shelby fought at the Battle of Kings Mountain, South Carolina, where he led a regiment of backwoods patriots and overwhelmingly defeated a British and Tory force. In 1782, Shelby married Susannah Hart, whose father, Nathaniel Hart, had been an early Kentucky settler and member in the Transylvania enterprise. The Shelbys settled on a farm in Lincoln County and built a stone house that Isaac named Traveler's Rest. Shelby became involved in politics as the region moved toward statehood. He participated in several of the statehood conventions that resulted in Kentucky's admission to the Union in 1792. In May of that year, Shelby was selected as the new state's first governor.

Traveler's Rest featured a two-story main structure with single-story wings on each end. One wing served as the master bedroom and the other housed the kitchen. The limestone home stood until 1905, when the owner, attempting to rid the attic of wasps, burned it down.

Shelby's career as a soldier and politician was not over after his first term. After several years of retirement, during the War of 1812 he was convinced to run for governor again and won. During the conflict he led Kentucky troops at the Battle of the Thames, a resounding American victory.

When Shelby completed his second term as governor in 1816, he returned to Traveler's Rest where he focused on farming. Shelby died there on July 18, 1826, and was buried in the family cemetery. While Traveler's Rest was lost to a tragic fire, today the Isaac Shelby Cemetery is a Kentucky State Historic Site.