Walking in the Footsteps of Pioneers
“Patrick Henry Esq., Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, to all whom these presents shall come greeting. Know ye that by virtue and in consideration of a land office treasury…there is granted by the said Commonwealth unto Francis Taylor a certain tract or parcel of land containing one thousand acres..lying and being in the county of Jefferson [Kentucky] bounded as followeth, to-wit: Beginning at John Taylor’s N. E. corner on the waters of Floyd’s Fork running with said John Taylor’s line south 70 degrees.” – 27th of January, 1785
It was on this same land, 227 years later, that I found myself on two beautiful spring mornings this April. I have been blessed this year with permission to hunt the old Taylor farm. I’ve been chasing turkeys and having a blast, glad to be back in the field after a two-month layoff. The spot I have been hunting is a back field on the property, bordered by the same Floyd’s Fork mentioned in the original land grant. The field has been worked by the landowners for over 200 years. It’s really kind of amazing the soil still produces but I can testify that it is healthy and rich. The property is also teaming with wildlife. This spring I have sen wood ducks, mallards, teal, blue herons, otter, squirrels, doves, geese, deer, owls and turkeys.
Francis Taylor received this land in Virginia, now present-day Kentucky as payment for his services in the Revolutionary War. Francis never saw his grant and his nephew took ownership in 1796. When Major William Taylor arrived Kentucky had only been a state for four years. He settled into a rough log cabin in relative proximity to other family members, including cousin Richard Taylor, father of future president Zachary Taylor. In 1800 he would build a fine brick home for his family, which still stands today.
The Taylors were one of the first-families of Kentucky and their story is a long one. When I received permission to hunt on the farm I had no idea about its history. After seeing the original home and the family cemetery I started doing some research. The stories were fascinating. My favorite was about a family friend, Abraham Hapstonstall, who is buried on the property and was an associate of one of my heroes, Daniel Boone.
As much as I love hunting, the joy of having access to his place has been walking in the footsteps of pioneers. I find myself wondering how much the first Taylors would recognize the land today. I feel a real responsibility while I am there to honor their legacy. Access to quality private land for hunting is a rare commodity these days. Adding the historic nature of this farm has made me feel extraordinarily lucky. It is said of Kentuckians that our greatest birthright is the land. Spending time out among the more wild places has certainly made me feel a sense of kinship just as strong as the blood ties to my family. Those are the kind of deep roots that have kept me in my home state all of these years and exactly why I never plan to leave.