William Whitley

William Whitley

William Whitley (August 4, 1749October 5, 1813), was an early American pioneer born in what was then Augusta County, Virginia, the son of Solomon and Elizabeth Whitley. He was important to the early settlement of Kentucky and fought in both the Indian wars and the War of 1812.

In early 1775, he married Esther Fullen, and by the spring he set out on an expedition with his brother in law, George Clark, to explore what is now known as Kentucky. They chose a spot for a settlement near the Cedar Creek branch of the Dix River, and returned to Virginia to bring back settlers to establish a community. Returning in November of that year with his family and supplies, he planted 10 acres of corn and began to settle the area, but quickly moved to the newly built fort several miles away at St. Asaph's Creek, also known as Logan's Fort (now Stanford, Kentucky).

By the 1790s, as the settlement at St. Asaph's began to expand beyond a simple fortification and into the town of Stanford, William Whitley and his family built a large brick house outside town, near what would later become Crab Orchard, Kentucky. The estate was named Sportsman's Hill, it was the first brick house built in Kentucky, and still stands to this day, where it is preserved as the "William Whitley House" state historic site. The house includes a secret passage for escape and survival during raids by native americans, and originally included a horse racetrack. This racetrack set many traditions and trends for horse racing in the United States, being the first clay (instead of turf) track in the United States, as well as racing horses counterclockwise (instead of clockwise, as was the British tradition). These differences are attributed to Whitley's hatred of all things British, an attitude stemming from the American Revolutionary War.

In 1792, Isaac Shelby, the first Governor of the new Commonwealth of Kentucky, commissioned Whitley as a Major in the Kentucky Militia (6th Regiment). He was promptly promoted to Lieutenant Colonel the next year. In 1794, aggravated by continuing raids from the Chickamaugua tribe, he led 200 militiamen to destroy the village of the Chickamaugua's. Upon his return to Stanford, he threw a party to celebrate the victory, which also doubled as a celebration of the completion of his house.

In 1797 he was elected to the Kentucky General Assembly in the Kentucky House of Representatives, and served one term. He also served as a commissioner of the Kentucky River Company in 1801. In 1813, at the age of 61, he volunteered in the Kentucky Mounted Infantry as part of the War of 1812. In the Battle of the Thames, on October 5, 1813, he led the charge against Tecumseh's forces. Both Tecumseh and William Whitley were killed in the battle. He was buried near the battleground, in Chatham, Ontario.

He left behind three sons and eight daughters. In 1818, Whitley County, Kentucky was named for him. In 1838, Whitley County, Indiana was named after him.

Place Names

*Whitley County, Kentucky
*Whitley County, Indiana
*Williamsburg, Kentucky
*Whitley City, Kentucky

External links

* [http://www.williamwhitleydar.org/ William Whitley DAR Chapter]
* [http://parks.ky.gov/statehistoricsites/ww/index.htm William Whitley House Historical Site]


cite book|author=Kleber, John J. et al.|title=The Kentucky Encyclopedia|location=Lexington, KY | publisher=University of Kentucky Press|year=1992|id=ISBN 0-8131-1772-0

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