William Hurt was born September 16, 1757 in Bedford County,
Virginia, the son of Moses Hurt and Ruth (Turner) Hurt. He is the 4th
great grandfather of Jimmy Allen Mickelberry, Sr. of Kansas City, Missouri who is member of the Harry S. Truman Chapter of
the Sons of the American Revolution.
At the age of 20 Hurt enlisted in the Revolutionary War
where he fought for Independence and freedom from the British. Hurt served
as a soldier in the 10th and 14th Regiments of Virginia Infantry.
He also served under Captain Alex Cummins, but at Valley Forge, Cummins resigned and Hurt was put in a company led
by Captain Lambert, and then Captain Cyrus Lightfoot Roberts. The colonels
were Bluford and Davis.
At Valley Forge Hurt’s feet were severely frost-bitten
and he did not entirely recover from the effects of his exposure there during his entire life. However, he continued his war
efforts and participated in the battle at Monmouth, where Gen. Charles Lee was his division general. For no apparent reason General Lee directed his portion of the army to retreat. While retreating under
enemy fire, General George Washington, the Commander in Chief, hurried to the retreating men.
When Washington met Lee, a severe altercation occurred in the presence of William Hurt. Washington directed the retreating men to face about and attack
the enemy. William Hurt was in the campaigns which followed immediately in New
Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, and was discharged at Bonbrook, New Jersey in 1779.
In Hurt’s application for a pension, which he received, Hurt said about General Washington and General Lee’s
encounter, “some words of considerable warmth ensued”. Although lurid
words were used, Hurt was too loyal to General Washington to repeat them.
In the early part of 1781 Hurt was drafted for three months as a private in the Militia in Bedford
County, Virginia and immediately entered the service of the Colonials under Captain B. Price.
He marched towards North Carolina near General Nathaniel Green’s quarters.
They played a cat and mouse game with the British troops and barely stayed ahead of them. The British could not be beaten head on as they had more troops, supplies and large cannons. Finally the Colonials marched to Guilford Courthouse where he fought in that battle from beginning to end
on March 15, 1781.
This backwoods county seat of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina was the site of a pivotal battle
in the Revolutionary War’s decisive southern campaign. The engagement set
the stage for the region’s liberation from enemy occupation and impelled British General Lord Charles Cornwallis to
take the ill-fated road that led him to final defeat at Yorktown, Virginia seven months later.
William Hurt’s declaration for Revolutionary Pension was made before the Adair County
Court in 1832 and is on record.
The government could not pay their soldiers for their long and faithful service in the war
for independence. As a partial payment, wild lands were donated to them in the
distant territories of the “far west”. Kentucky was then the frontier. These Revolutionary War grants brought many adventurous individuals and William Hurt
was one of those people. Kentucky became at once the center of attraction. The lands were wrestled from the savages with little regard for hereditary titles. The Indians sought to hold their favorite hunting grounds, and for years held in check
the tide of immigration. It was re-baptized the “Dark and Bloody Ground”.
Hurt returned to Bedford County, Virginia after his tour of
duty and soon married a war widow, Sarah White Field. Mrs. Field was the widow
of John Field, Sr., who had died in 1778 due to war injuries. He had left her
two sons, both under the age of five years. The Hurt family lived in Bedford County near her parents and Stephen and Agatha
(Bramlette) White, her parents, until about 1790 or 1791 when they migrated to the present county of Adair.
Hurt came in the autumn of
the year and brought with him his stepson, John Field, Jr., who was barely 16, and two slaves, Thomas and Rebecca. They are said to have been the first blacks in any place on the south side of Russell Creek.
He settled on a 540 acre
farm located on a long piece of land on both sides of Pettis Fork of Russell Creek, two
and one half miles south of Columbia, upon the west side of the old Columbia and Crocus Road, present highway 704, north of
Tabor Church. He lived on this farm until his death in 1842. Hurt purchased the land from Robert Anderson, who had patented it, and the deed was acknowledged by Anderson’s
agent before the Fayette County Court. Traditions say that Hurt occupied the land, cleared it and built a log cabin and out
buildings on a hill which is near Sinking Branch before he bought it or knew of its owner.
At the time he took possession of the land, there were no other persons living on the south side of Russell Creek,
except Colonel William Casey and associates, who were then residing in Casey’s Station.
In the spring following the first visit of Hurt, he returned from Bourbon County, bringing his family which
consisted of a wife and several children. In transporting them, he used his cart,
which was drawn by a yoke of oxen. This was the first wheeled vehicle ever used
or brought into the county. He came from Bourbon County to Greensburg and then
to his place of settlement. He made use of a route through the present site of the town of Columbia, or very near to it. Several men accompanied him from Bourbon County to Greensburg to protect him and his
family from the Indians and other dangers of the wilderness.
At Greensburg he was
met by Captain John Butler, Samuel White and several others from the stations in Adair, who accompanied him from Greensburg
to his destination and cut out a road for the cart where it was needed.
Hurt was one of the first men to open and live on a farm unprotected
by a stockade or blockhouse in Adair County.
About the year 1822,
Hurt erected the brick residence, which long stood on the farm. Previous to it,
he had erected a hewed-log residence at the same place. His log house was scaled
and weather-boarded with planks, which had been sawed from logs with a whipsaw and dressed by hand. The shingles were put on with pegs, and the nails used were wrought by hand. This house was regarded as a very fine house by the pioneers at the time of its erection. It was torn down and removed in 1969.
During his lifetime, Hurt maintained
upon his farm a blacksmith shop, a shoemaker’s shop, a tannery, a distillery, and a grist mill. All were carried out
as activities of a self sustaining plantation. Hurt made it a rule never to borrow
money. In fact, he spent no money except to purchase land or slaves. All other
types of property he acquired through barter. He accumulated a comparatively large number of slaves for one residing in that
part of the country and was reputed to be wealthy, but like most instances of reputed wealth in this county, the reputation
for exceeded the accumulation.
The pioneers who bore the brunt of savage warfare and made this
country an earthly paradise have long since passed to their final account, but their trials and hardships are remembered and
their names deserve to be “written in characters of living light upon the firmament, there to endure as radiant as if
every letter was traced in shining stars”. William Hurt was one of those