By Trish Turner
After Gerry Fischer and I breezed through the downtown section of Bloomfield we turned onto Bloomfield Road, U.S 62. About 3 miles out of town we came upon a historical marker for Camp Charity. This camp was a place where recruits for the Confederate Army would rendezvous, train, and then travel to Bowling Green to form into companies. One of the early recruits was Henry Clay "Billy" Magruder. Billy enlisted at age 17 and trained at Camp Charity under Major Jack Allen. Magruder later became a guerrilla and was captured in Meade County along with Sue Mundy. I will be devoting my next article to Billy Magruder and the history of his life, and will share details about his final resting place.
In Lexington, Kentucky in 1857, the company of Volunteer Militia called the "Lexington Rifles" was organized, with John H. Morgan as captain. In September1861, John Hunt Morgan arrived at Camp Charity. The residents of Bloomfield's sympathies lay with the South and they could be counted upon for support and recruits. A branch of nearby Simpson's Creek (presently known as Camp Charity Creek) provided fresh water and the Bloomfield area residents supplied food and other items without accepting payment. The charitable acts of the Bloomfield citizens earned the camp the name Camp Charity.
Approximately 2 miles down the road from Camp Charity is a historical marker for the site of Kincheloe's Station. The marker reads: "Near here is site of Kincheloe's Station. Named for Capt. William Kincheloe, one of the leaders who established station in early 1780's. Later called Polke's Station for Chas. Polke, who claimed the land. Indians made a surprise attack in Sept. 1872, and massacred many men, women, and children. Known as 'Burnt Station' after Indians captured and burned it." The details of this attack is too terrible to relate. About 15 pioneer men, women, and children were brutally murdered. The Indians dragged several women and children from their homes and took them to Detroit to be sold. Along the way they killed some of the children who were crying, and their mother who tried to protect them. The English governor of Detroit purchased the women and children and were able to reunite them with their families who had been searching for them.
When we reached the outskirts of Bardstown we headed down John Rowan Boulevard/New Shepherdsville Road towards the town of Samuels. Nearby in an area called Cox's Creek is a white brick 2 story mansion that is undergoing renovation. It was built in 1798 and is known locally as the James Safe House. During the Civil War it was the home of Mrs. Fenetta Sayers and her family. Frank and Jesse James' parents, Robert and Zerelda, were from Kentucky before they moved to Missouri. A little known fact is that Robert James was educated at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky and became a well respected Baptist minister and revivalist in Missouri. He traveled to California in April 1850 with the intention of preaching to the gold miners there, but he died of cholera in August 1850. His boys and their sister were still quite young and Zerelda later married Dr. Reuben Samuel, who had family in the Nelson County, Kentucky area. While Frank & Jesse were part of William Clarke Quantrill's guerilla raiders, and following the Civil War during their outlaw years, they often visited their relatives and friends in the Samuels area.
Gerry told me a story about how Frank James hid at that mansion, known at the time as the Sayers' house. Two men that had ridden as guerrillas from time to time with "One Arm" Sam Berry, Texas and Brothers, raped a well respected woman, Mrs. Clark, who was from the area of Bardstown and New Haven. In that Victorian era such a crime as this was unacceptable and was not to go unpunished. Brothers and Texas, to cast blame on others, spread the word that it was Quantrill's men who had committed the crime. Kentucky's military governor, General John McCauley Palmer, was incensed by this crime. After Quantrill was wounded and taken captive in Louisville, he had placed Captain Henry Porter in command of his band of guerillas. Porter arranged a meeting in Louisville with General Palmer to discuss surrender terms for the guerrillas. Palmer, angry over the rape of Mrs. Clark, issued special order No. 64 which stated that no guerrilla could surrender until Texas and Brothers were brought in "Dead or Alive." Porter met with his men, numbering around 18 to 20, and Frank James and William Hulse were assigned the job of capturing or killing Texas and Brothers. They began tracking them from when they left the area between Deatsville and Bardstown. The next day at noon, they caught Brothers at the dinner table with two other men. Looking through the window, Hulse quietly said, "There are three." James replied, "Yes, and if there were six it would not matter." They burst in the door and James commanded, "Keep your seats, and do not move your hands." Brothers let his hand drop to his revolver, and Frank James gunned him down.
"One Armed" Sam Berry liked Texas and Brothers, and went looking for Frank James to exact vengeance. The Sayers family hid guerrillas from time to time in their mansion near Samuels. At this time they had welcomed Frank James into their home. Frank was watching from a second story window when Sam Berry, Dick Mitchell, and probably Bill Marraman rode up demanding Frank James. Mrs. Sayers, who was about 8 months pregnant, convinced Sam that James was not there. The whole time James was standing with a revolver aimed at Berry. If he had made a move to dismount he would have been dead before he hit the ground. As I was taking pictures of the James Safe House I could see in my mind's eye Frank James looking out the window. Didn't I see the curtains move a bit?
Not long after that incident at the Sayer mansion, Sam Berry saw that in order to be pardoned and resume a "normal" life after the war he would have to bring Texas to justice. It took a while to capture Texas, and when he was captured it was by others than James and Hulse. He was turned loose by mistake. Sometime in June of 1865 Texas was recaptured by James, Hulse, Allen Parmer (who later married Frank and Jesse's sister Susan), Dick Mitchell, and Sam Berry. General Palmer was satisfied, and Quantrill's men took the oath and left the war
A short ways down Deatsville Road from the James Safe House mansion is the Samuels Station depot where about 17 of Quantrill's Raiders surrendered on July 12th, 1865, to Union Captain Young. Several of those surrendering remained in Nelson, Spencer, and Bullitt County. Among those were Edward "Bud" and his brother Doniphan "Donnie" Pence who decided to put down roots in the area. Donnie served as Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff of Nelson County for nearly three decades. Bud was elected Town Marshall of Taylorsville in Spencer County. After the war both of these men allowed Frank and Jesse James to stay with them and afforded them protection. This was while the Pence's were officers of the law. Apparently the bonds of brotherhood that they experienced while riding as Quantrill's Raiders remained strong.
A set of dilapidated buildings stand on the other side of the tracks from the Samuel's Station depot. These are the remains of the T.W. Samuels Distillery. It was founded by Taylor Williams "T.W." Samuels and his son W.I. in 1844. After they both died in 1898, another of T.W.s sons, Leslie, took over the company. The ownership of the distillery was passed down a couple of generations, but eventually the Samuels family sold their interest to other major distilling companies in Cincinnati and ultimately it was sold to a company in New York. The quality of the whiskey went down and the Samuels family dissociated themselves from the brand. In 1954 Bill Samuels, the great grandson of T.W. Samuels, purchased a defunct distillery in Loretto, Kentucky and founded the Maker's Mark distillery, which is still in operation today.
From Deatsville we got on Highway 245/Clermont Road, and just past the Bernheim Forest entrance, we got onto I-65 and continued southbound until we got off at the Lebanon Junction exit. In my next article about my road trip with Gerry Fischer, I will cover the sites we visited in Lebanon Junction and the obscure graveyard we visited where former Confederate guerrilla Henry Clay "Billy" Magruder is buried.
As previously stated, my next article will mainly be about Billy Magruder and his life story.