Back in the days of Colonel Andrew Hynes, who lived from Feb. 28, 1750, to September of 1800, establishing a town was not always as simple as staking a plot of uncharted wilderness, tacking up a few shanties and growing from there.
It wasn’t that simple because it wasn’t that safe.
Violent clashes between settlers and the Indian tribes cohabiting the area often resulted in casualties on both sides. So before Hynes founded Elizabethtown, Ky., population 29,948 and named after his wife, he built a fort.
Hynes’ fort was one of three, configured in a triangle with sides one mile long. The area between them now constitutes the northwest section of the current town, which serves as the county seat of Hardin County.
The final major skirmish between the settlers and Indians occurred in 1792. Severn’s Valley, as the settlement was then known, was attacked by 15 Indians who killed two women and five children. An equal-sized contingent of men was dispatched to track down the attackers. They did so, killing 14 of them.
With that warfare finished and a permanent peace forged between the factions, the 17 families of settlers emerged from the fortified sanctuary and took their places on the open land Kentucky had to offer. Elizabethtown was founded on 30 plotted acres in 1793.
The town has rubbed shoulders with an impressive array of historical notables. George Washington tried unsuccessfully to purchase a nearby 300-acre plot. Squire Boone, the brother of Daniel Boone, explored the area before it was permanently settled. Abraham Lincoln was born not far from where the town is situated today. And our nation’s 15th president, James Buchanan, practiced law in the Hardin County courts.
Hynes compiled a staggering resume of military and civic service and commercial success in his half-century of life. He was an officer during the Revolutionary War and an Indian fighter thereafter. Accomplished at surveying, he was appointed as one of the trustees to lay out the towns of Louisville and Bardstown.
He served as a court judge, chief militia officer and sheriff of Nelson County, Va. He was a two-term member of Virginia’s general assembly and served as a delegate to draft Kentucky’s constitution. According to the inventory in his will, draft ed two months before his death, Hynes owned a large general store and held more than 10,000 acres of land. He and Elizabeth had eight children.
Hynes is buried in an unmarked grave near his former two-story plantation home in Bardstown