Before it was Middle Bridge – The Legend Continues

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This is an excerpt from an article that ran in the December 4, 1955 edition of the Park City Daily News – now in Bowling Green. The author of this article is not stated, but it is noted by myself that the section was rewritten in a county bicentennial article in April 1997, almost verbatim. This author also plainly states that the info gathered on David Chapman and his station was taken from his 1884 obituary in the Louisville Courier Journal. Enjoy –

“In 1778, Andrew McFadden became the first recorded settler in Warren County, and built a home 4 miles east of today’s Bowling Green near the mouth of Drakes Creek. With the increasing influx of pioneers on the Cumberland Trace, he established McFadden Station, which became the resting stop of many marketers heading South and pioneers pushing West.
“By the early 1790s McFadden Station visitor Robert Moore stopped for a few days, scouting for a settlement site for his family. He built a cabin where the Mariah Moore building stands on State Street and 8th Avenue, close to Big Spring. The spring once ran through Spring Alley, located behind the Main Street businesses.
“About 2 miles east of Bowling Green on top of a bluff overlooking Drakes Creek at Chapman’s Bridge (now known as Middle Bridge) is a smaller cemetery where lies the remains of the first child born in Southern Kentucky. The cemetery is bordered by a waist-high stone wall and woven wire fence. Inside the crumbling stone wall are some 8 or 10 weather-beaten monuments shaded by several cedar trees (and so much more today! GL) On one of the stones is engraved the following:
David Chapman
Born Oct. 25, 1791
Died Oct. 28, 1884
He was the first white child born in KY south of the Green River.
“Besides Chapman, the old cemetery contains both his wives and several of his descendants.
According to an article in an 1884 edition of Louisville Courier Journal at KY Library at WKU, David Chapman was born at McFadden Station nearly opposite the mouth of Drakes Creek, one of its principal tributaries, 3 miles east of Bowling Green.
“His father, Thomas Chapman, sometime during the year 1790, moved from Virginia with several other families to Southern Kentucky, and for protection against the Indians, joined a few pioneers who had established themselves at this point. The Chapmans remained about a year at the station, then moved to a stockaded dwelling they had prepared some 4 or 5 miles up Drakes Creek from the station.
“Here every morning and evening, with beat of drum and shouldered musket, Chapman marched around his stockade at the head of his family – 6 boys, his wife and daughter, and a Negro woman – all with guns, hats, coats, and small arms to scare the Indians and therefore discourage attacks.
“Indians always lurked just beyond the clearing waiting and watching for one of the Chapmans to show himself alone outside the stockade. David’s brother Abner was almost ambushed one day on the creek when he rode out horseback to look for some stray livestock.
“On another occasion in David Chapman’s life, a man named Drake (Isaac) was hunting a mile or so up the creek, when Indians by answering his turkey call, lured him ‘nigh to death.’ Catching a glimpse of them concealed in the cane brakes, he turned and ran some distance up a steep bluff. They fired as he ran, but he did not know he was wounded until he saw the bushes sprinkled with blood. Wounded critically, he finally made his way to Chapman’s stockade where he received care and was nursed back to health. The creek was named after him.
“Amid such hardships, David Chapman was reared. Like his father, David was strong-willed and with a purpose. Chapman lived on the farm his father first settled upon. Chapman had prominent traits of character and resolute daring.
“During the Civil War, the winter of 1861-62, while the Confederates took control of Bowling Green, two companies of Scott’s Louisiana cavalry took possession of Chapman’s barns and pitched their tents nearby.
“Chapman was married early in his life to Miss Anna Percival of Hardin County, by whom he had 9 children. His second wife was the widow of Phillip Edward McElroy of Marion County. She bore him 6 children.”

From E. Polk Johnson’s “A History of KY, Vol. 2”:
“This Chapman family is an old and prominent one, figuring in the early history of KY, the Chapman settlement in southern Kentucky being well known in the annals of the state as one of the first settlements, founded by Thomas Chapman.
“Thomas Chapman, whose ancestors had come to Virginia from England early in the 18th century, moved to a point on Barren River 3 miles east of the present city of Bowling Green, about the close of the Revolutionary Was.”

On a final note, near Chapman’s station, besides the incident with Drake, a man named Fleenor was killed by Indians, and a comrade was mortally wounded.

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About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
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2 Responses to Before it was Middle Bridge – The Legend Continues

  1. One of my ancestors was born in Southern Kentucky in 1783, South of the Green River. Is that a clue that she was a Cherokee Indian?

    • Gclee says:

      I wouldn’t hold alot of store in Chapman being the first white child born south of the Green River… They have made the same claim about John Gorin over here in Glasgow, and it’s never been disproven. But it is possible there is Cherokee or other ancestry involved in lines that early. And even if you don’t find any Cherokee blood it would be worth the proof she was born before these two mentioned men! 🙂

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