Washington Per Collin’s History of KY
Washington, the oldest town in (then Bourbon-now) Mason county, and the county seat until 1847, was established as a town by an act of the Virginia legislature in 1786- having been laid off; the year before, on ” about 700 acres of land.” Edmund Hyne, Edward Waller, Henery Lee, Miles Withers Conway, Arthur Fox, Daniel Boone [who then lived in Limestone (Maysville)], Robert Rankin, John Gutridge, and Wm. Lamb, gentlemen, were made the first trustees; and each owner of a lot, so soon as he should build a dwelling house 16 feet square, with a brick or stone chimney, was to have the privileges and immunities of freeholders and inhabitants of other towns, not incorporated. ln7 1790, by amended act, .the boundaries of the town were described, and Alex. D. Orr, Thomas Sloo, and Richard Corwine made trustees in place of Daniel Boone and Edward Waller, who had removed from the county-the former to western Virginia and the latter to near Paris.
Simon Kenton deposed, May 11, 1821, when 66 years old – while lying in the debtor’s prison at Washington (from which he refused to go, upon bail offered by friends, or upon their offer to pay the debt, he claimed the debt was unjust and he would not pay it)-that in 1760 he undertook to locate 3,000 acres of land-warrants for Edmund Byne, his pay to be one-half. In the division, he got the 1,000 acres which he had located where the town of Washington now stands, and which he sold as part of a very large sa!e of land to Rev. Wm. Wood (a Baptist preacher)), and Arthur Fox, Sen., who laid out the town of Washington. The 700 acres were almost entirely covered with cane of luxuriant growth, from 6 to 15 feet high. As lots were sold and
cabins or tenements erected, the cane was cleared away. For several years what is now the main street was simply a wagon road through a cane break, with narrow opening or paths leading to each cabin. The town grew quite rapidly; for the official census in 1790, there were 462 inhabitants, of whom 21 were slaves, 183 white females 95 white males under 16, and 163 white males over 16. In 1800 it had increased to a total population of 570, in 1810 815; in 1860 it had fallen off to 645, and in 1870 to 240.
On the 8th of January, 1790, Washington had, 119 houses-according to the entry in the journal, at that date, of , Judge Wm. Goforth, who was then a visitor there for four days, and who noted that one of the remarkable facts in the new west. ln 1805, a Philadelphia merchant who visited the place, described it ns ii thriving town, containing about 150 dwelling houses, 10 or 12 of which were of brick or stone. In 1797 there were 17 stores in Washington; among the merchants’ names or firms: Morton & Thoms, Burgeas & Green, Dr. Geo. W. Muckey (afterwards of Augusta), David Bell (afterwards of Danville, father of Hon. Joshua F. Bell).
Washington was celebrated for its schools, at an early day. Among the male teachers -Mann Butler (the Kentucky historian of 1834), David V. Rannells
( editor of the Union, also) Rev. Lorin Andrews ( afterwards missionary
and judge, in the Sandwich Islands) , James Grimsley Arnold (still living at
the ripe age of 80, in Covington, Ky.), Reuben Case (also living;, aged 78, in
Kansas). Among the students of Mr. Arnold, were Albert Sidney Johnston
(the celebrated Confederate general) and his brothers, Richard Henry Lee
(at bis death, editor of the Cincinnati Commercial), Thoe. J. Pickett, and Dr.
John Shackleford. The most celebrated female school in the west at the time
was in Washington, 1807-12; that of Mrs. Louisa Caroline Warburton Fitzherbert Keats, sister of Sir Geo. Fitzherbert, of St. James Square, London,
and wife of Rev. Mr. Keats, a deaf and uninteresting old gentleman, relative of the great English poet George Keats.
The First Water Work, proposed in Mason county (none have ever been built) were at Washington – which place was, by act of. the Kentucky legislature, Jan. 26, 1798, authorized to raise by lottery $1,000 to introduce water into the town from the public spring; or, if impracticable, to s0pend the amount in sinking wells.
Excerpted from page 556-557 Vol 1 Collins History of Kentucky