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.
First, for reference, here’s a map showing Rosecrest and Wilshire Farms along Winchester Road / US 627.
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!
Great story, Lyra! Loved it! And 200 years from now let us hope that others will still be enjoying this land and enriching its history just as you and Chuck are doing now. Thank you for sharing!
Great stuff. So much history on Bourbon County land.
I love finding stories like these! Wonderful, and very interesting, history. I love how the old names stick even though many have long forgotten the reason they were called that.
Absolutely LOVE this!
What rich history in the land. And my Mother was a DAVID who is an eighth generation David and Kentuckian. They settled in Shawhan when coming down Licking River. KY was a part of Virginia then. Our history is in the Bourbon County genealogy section. Original stone house still standing. Dr Perry Wornall owns that farm now. Our roots are deep in Bourbon County.
What fun and fascinating information on this gorgeous property!
I can tell how thrilled you are to have this history.
Perfect name for your foaling barn and I wish you many beautiful, healthy foals to come!
Thank You Lyra…for this interesting information about our old Franklin Farm
I loved reading this, Lyra. Great history and obviously you enjoy it. Thank for the info. KT
So interesting, Lyra. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to visit the Duncan foaling barn next year!
Really love the story!
Great read, Lyra! My Revolutionary War ancestors came through Fayette County after the Revolution. Moved on to the Virginia Military District of Ohio (which included Anderson Township and Clermont County) because they got land grants there for their service. Many stayed in Kentucky into the 1790’s until after some other ancestors fought at the Battle Of Fallen Timbers and were present at the Treaty of Greenville, which pushed out most of the Indians. I have to wonder if they met your Duncan! He may not have been your blood ancestor, but he is your family now, bonded by the love of the same land!
Interesting story about your farm Lyra ! Like the choice for the foaling barn name…… it seems very appropriate to associate the beginning of the farm with the new beginnings that will happen each foaling season in that barn. Look forward to hearing more about the history when we return for our next visit !
Great history lesson and a fabulous read. Thanks for sharing.
So very interesting, Lyra!
This is so exciting for everyone. Great stories for breakfast time at Rosecrest. Can’t wait to share this with Chris. He is big on history. So glad we stayed there.
Thank you. That was a great story. I always look forward to your posts.
Check the list of Patriots who were marched north to Ft. Detroit from Ruddles Mill area as well. My husband’s ancestors were granted land for service as POW survivors. McDaniels was there last name and their grant included Evans Orchard and surrounding areas.
Captain James Duncan was my great, great, great, great, great grandfather 🙂 My mom’s name is Marcia Duncan and her father was John Duncan of Mayesville, Missouri. We live in Oregon, but our Duncan family has lived in Missouri for quite a while. I have just started researching that side of our family’s history and came across your post on the Duncan Farm…how cool! If you have any pictures you would be willing to share of the farm, that would be really meaningful to us! Thank you again for sharing this. Happy New Year from Oregon! Meagan
I also am a descendant of Captain James Duncan (Sr.) through two of his sons. Just ran across your article and was delighted to find out that the whereabouts of the “old Duncan Farm” were still known over 200 years later. My mom and I passed through your area almost a dozen years ago and went to Ft. Boonesborough, found the Strode’s Station marker. toured the Duncan Tavern and saw Captain James’ name on a plaque at the courthouse. We traveled up to Paris on the Winchester Road not really knowing that we were passing near what was once his land. He would have probably enjoyed knowing that horses were still raised on his land, I’m almost certain there’s a tidbit in the family research in reference to a purchase of horses he made.
So neat to come across this today! Capt. James Duncan was my 4th great-grandfather. The huge majority of my ancestors farmed, and it is just so wonderful to see when one of their places is still farmland. Thank you so much for posting this! (my line is through his son James who married Nancy Musick. Their daughter Elizabeth married Peter Holtzclaw and moved to Missouri — and then some of their descendents moved to Colorado, which is where I grew up).
Just came across this while doing research. I am a descendant of the Duncans’, Strodes’ and Breckenridges’. Capt. John Strode is my 7th great grandfather; Matthew Duncan is my 7th great grandfather; Alexander Breckenridge is my 6th great grandfather. It appears that all of these families knew each other and many of their children married children from the other families. I live in Central Illinois and would love to plan a trip to Bourbon, Clark County area to see this area that plays so prominently in our family’s lineage.