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100 Years Ago - Judge Baker writes of Col. Daniel Trabue

So many interesting details about Daniel Trabue, including "He was also one of the organizers of the Baptist church in Columbia as the minutes show and was commissioned by the Governor of the State and served as Sheriff of the county. He died in Green county Sept., 10th 1840. . . and of interest today to those who might want to put a religious connotation on alcholic beverages, the passages below show that "the other Dan," as Vonnie Kolbenschlag refers to this early settler and Baptist Church founder, describes below one of Daniel Trabue's transaction with a sutler for some rum and brandy.

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By Jim

From late January through early November, 1918, Judge H.C. Baker presented to readers of the Adair County News a series of 41 lengthy vignettes under the umbrella title "Sketches of Adair County."

The fourth such sketch, published in the February 13, 1918 edition of the paper, dealt with the life and times of Col. Daniel Trabue. Colonial Men and Times, mentioned in the opening paragraph, below, likely was a major source of information for Judge Baker's article. This volume, published in 1916 (Innes & Sons, Philadelphia) is viewable online as a pdf; to locate, use the title and the expression "Daniel Trabue" as the search terms.

The following is a transcription of the Col. Trabue sketch. By design, an aside within this narrative dealing with an incident in the life of Capt. (later Col.) Daniel Boone has been excluded. Capitalization (or lack thereof) and spellings are maintained as published in the newspaper.

Wrote Judge Baker:
Col. Daniel Trabue, who was one of the first Justices of the Courts and one of the founders of the town of Columbia, was born in Chesterfield county, Virginia, March 31, 1760, and was a revolutionary soldier. His declaration for a pension appears upon the record book for the year 1832, in which is a short narrative of his services. In addition he left a journal of his life as a soldier and as a pioneer to Kentucky, the original manuscript, now in possession of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. This journal comprising about one hundred and fifty pages of printed matter is given in full in "Colonial Men and Times" edited by Lillie DuPuy Vanculin Harper, of Philadelphia, Penn., one of his descendants. In it can also be found the genealogy with brief sketches of the early Trabue and Haskins families. Some of whose descendants are in this, Green and Taylor counties.

In March 1778, he with his brother James, and six others came through the wilderness of Kentucky, stopping about a week at Boonsborough, and then going on to Logan's Fort. It was about this time when Boone and others were captured by the Indians at Blue Lick.

After arriving at Logan's Fort, he and his brother cleared about one acre of land and planted it in corn "to see how it would grow and it made a fine crop."

He frequently went to the woods with hunters and killed bears, and soon got so he could eat meat without salt. His brother, James, having been appointed commissioner for the four forts, viz: Boonsborough, Logan's Fort, Harrodsfork, and the Falls of Ohio. He undertook to be Deputy Commissioner at Logan's Fort, and took possession of the public store and public houses. He says "my brother James had deputies at the different garrisons and we would go from one of them to the other when Col. Clark went on Campaigns." During the summer months the Indians were very troublesome, watching the roads, killing men and stealing horses.

He tells of a visit to the Falls of the Ohio: "Col. Clark had got back and fetched up with him a keel boat with some rum and sugar, which he got from Kaskaskian. He had a large new room just built hewed logs inside, a good plank, or puncheon floor. That same evening he made a ball, a number of ladies and gentlemen attending it, and when those Fort ladies came to be dressed up, they did not look the same. Every thing looked new, we enjoyed ourselves very much. Col. Harrod and his lady opened the ball by dancing the first jig. We had plenty of rum toddy to drink."

He tells of hunting on Green river during the cold winter of 1779-80. The winter began about the 1st of November, and broke up the last of February. "The turkeys were almost all dead, many of them fell from the trees, the buffalos had gotten poor, people's cattle mostly died; there was no corn or but little in the country. The people were in great distress, and many in the wilderness were frost bitten." Some people actually died for want of solid food. Most of the people had to go to the Falls of Ohio for corn to plant, which was brought down the Ohio. "They made socks of buffalo skins to go over their shins, putting the wool inside." The snow was three feet deep.

In the fall of 1780 he returned to Virginia, and was in the battle of Petersburg, and was at the surrender of Cornwallis in October 1781. Prior to this time he had been the bearer of dispatches from Col. Goode, of the Virginia Militia to Gen. LaFayette. He says "I delivered the dispatches to Gen. LaFayette, and he read the contents, and asked me many questions. I applied to him for a permit to be a suttler to the army. He had one written for me immediately, and signed it and gave it to me."

I infer from the narrative that chief traffic of a suttler at that time was in the sale of brandy and rum, for he says he went immediately and made a trade with a Dutchman who had just come into camp with a fine team and a good load of brandy and whisky, also two large sacks of sweet bread, and who had not been able to get a permit to sell it, by which they would go halves. They "had a great run of custom, and were soon sold out, and made a handsome profit." They made a bargain to get another load, and started to the country, but when they got out of camp the Dutchman said he was afraid to take his team in again, so the partnership was dissolved. He, Trabue, then went home, bought a good team and wagon, and procured plenty of brandy and rum.

He says "General LaFayette marched our army through the town, (Williamsburg), and encamped in the old field below Williamsburg. The French Infantry joined us, and, I was glad as they brought silver and gold crowns, and I many of them. They also brought gold and we got a good share of that too. We would sell out our spirits in a few days. We could not get any nearer than Petersburg, which was fifty miles away, but it was a good level road, and we had the empty wagon we could go upwards of 50 miles a day. We had good horses, and took good care of them, and negro driver who was a good hostler. General LaFayette allowed me a guard of a sergeant and twelve men, and I got the adjutant that ordered out to let me choose them. The adjutant was my particular friend, and I had good rum to treat him with: the men too, were all very glad to come to guard us, as they all got something to drink free of cost, and they were of assistance to us many times in selling and fixing our camp."

From this time until after the surrender his time seems to have been occupied in keeping up the spirits of the army in the way indicated. He give a very graphic description of the cannonading before the surrender, and of the scene at the time of the surrender, and says, "It was the most tremendous and admirable sight that I ever saw:" A little further down he adds: "We sold our spirits very fast. The British and French had plenty of hard money."

When he reached home he found that he had gained that summer and part of the fall $1000 in specie, 163,000 pounds in paper money [sic; Col. Trabue may have been referring to Continental currency], one wagon, one cart, several watches and seven valuable horses. He valued the paper money at $560; the horses wagon and cart, at about $600. He says:

"We would have made more, had not the paper money depreciated so fast that summer and fall. In June it was 600 for one but in October, 1000 for one."

The siege of Yorktown lasted from Sept. 28th, to Oct., 19th, 1781.

He was married to Mary Haskins, daughter of Col. Robert Haskins, of Chesterfield county Virginia, July 4th, 1782, and in the year 1785, he removed with his family to Woodford, (then Fayette) county, Kentucky. About 1797 he removed from Woodford to Green county, Adair then being part of the same.

He gave a very interesting account of his conversion and connection with the Baptist church, which occurred a short time before his removal to Kentucky, and of the early persecutions in Virginia of the Baptist preachers. The records in Green County Clerk's office show that on the 24th of March, 1804, Stephen Trabue deeded to Daniel Trabue and Robert Haskins as trustees for the Baptist church of Mt. Gilead meeting house, one and one quarter acres of land, it being the ground on which the church now stands.

He was also one of the organizers of the Baptist church in Columbia as the minutes show and was commissioned by the Governor of the State and served as Sheriff of the county.

He died in Green county Sept., 10th 1840.
Compiled by long-gone JIM, a product of the Sacred Triangle of Sano-Ono-Esto, where the sale of spirits is once again legal, whose literary skills are a challenge to Mark Twain, and who is the embodiment of a living library of Alexandrian proportions on all matters Russell County, Adair and Warren Counties and Ohio. - EW

This story was posted on 2016-12-09 09:10:11
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