Have I mentioned that I love Paris? That I love the history here? That I love the people here? That I love having Lil’s and meeting all the native Parisians, and the wonderful way that stories have of revealing themselves???
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We’ve met and become good friends with Chilly Cox, who used to own our farm and called it Duncan Farm when he raised Thoroughbreds on these acres. We asked “Why Duncan Farm?” He said, “I inheirited it, and that’s what my mother always called it. I never really thought about why!”
We’ve asked many people since then if they know the story about the name “Duncan Farm”, to no avail.
Thursday night, we hosted a 64th Bourbon County high school reunion dinner at Lil’s after-hours. It was great fun to see the folks reconnect, enjoy their stories and more than a few had memories of very different dining at the old J.J. Newberry’s. Fun.
As we were locking the doors, classmates were loathe to leave so out on the sidewalk still visiting and Earl Sosby, who grew up on Claiborne, asked me about Lil’s and how we came to own “the old Duncan Farm”.
Soooooo, I asked once again, “Do you know why it was called the Duncan Farm?” And he DID!!!
It was, he said, named for the Revolutionary War officer who originally owned it. Captain somebody Duncan. …Eureka!!!!
He said to find a copy of the early history of Paris and Bourbon County by a Mr. Everman and that had all the information. Sooooo, a day later I trotted across the street to see my friends at Loch Lea Antiques, who have all those Kentucky history books for sale and… voila!
We soon learned the early settler was Captain James Duncan – who was here as early as 1779.
That was before the American Revolution was over, which amazed me. Duncan traveled here with his father-in-law, John Strode. The two of them, with their party, followed Boone’s Trace into Kentucky to reach the cabin John Strode had built three years earlier.
Duncan helped build a stockade around the cabin, which made that Strode’s Station. For Bourbon Countians, that was along a tributary to the south fork of the Licking River near Winchester. Can you say, “Strodes Creek”?
We haven’t learned the particulars of James Duncan’s Revolutionary War service, but we do know he returned to Kentucky with his family in 1784 and settled in Bourbon County. (Actually, Bourbon County wasn’t established until 1785 and so our little slice of heaven was then still part of Fayette County.) For that matter, Kentucky wasn’t a state until eight years later.
James Duncan settled on Kennedy Creek along Winchester Road in 1784 and staked his claim to 1,500 acres that were his due for his service in the American Revolution. Kennedy Creek runs alongside Rosecrest and Wilshire Farms, so our land goes back to before there was a Bourbon County. Soooo exciting.
The neat thing is that the earliest settlers picked out what they thought was the very best producing, most lush land for agriculture. It was the ultimate of first come / first served. And ours was selected by one of the very, very first settlers of Bourbon County.
All this excites me because it confirms this special feeling I get at peaceful times when I look out on our land. I love knowing that 235 years ago, someone (named James Duncan) had that same feeling.
And it was NOT an easy trip for Duncan to get here. See the picture at right of Boone’s Trace and click here to read more about the path they traveled. I get a better idea of why our neighborhood looked so good to them! https://boonetrace1775.com/History/Historical-Significance/historical-significance.html
For those of you who know Paris and Bourbon County history, you’re probably wondering, “Is there a connection to Duncan Tavern?” Duncan Tavern was built four years later – in 1788 – by James’ younger brother named Joseph. Young whippersnapper. Lol.
“Our James”, the elder, was one of the nine original trustees (founders) of Hopewell (later Paris) in 1789. He served as Sheriff of Bourbon County, presided over the first Court of Quarter Sessions, and was a member of the convention that framed the second constitution of Kentucky. He died in 1817.
Now that we know the story, Chuck and I have decided on a name for our Foaling Barn. It will now be known as the Duncan Barn. It just seems fitting, since James Duncan was responsible for the birth of our farm in 1784!