In my excitement at finding the three land grants noted in my earlier message I made an
unfortunate leap on two important facts and omitted a fourth land grant — I have updated
the web page to reflect all four land grants.
Now for my errors:
1. Reading the records with an eye toward transcriptions it became obvious that the land
grants referenced Christian County and the Ohio River. Both are a long way from Jessamine
County where the Bethel Academy was located — adjacent to the Kentucky River near Wilmore,
Kentucky today. Moreover, a quick review of the history of Bethel Academy easily
documents that it was already in operation by 1798, so these grants, at best, might have
been for adjacent lands. But obviously that is not correct.
Some of Bethel’s history was posted to the website:
There is no place where the modern boundaries of Christian County align with the Ohio
River. But in the 1790s the county boundaries were still fluid. In 1796 it appears that
Christian County was quite large and did have a northwestern border along the Ohio.
By 1798, however, (assuming the dates on this source linked above is accurate), the county
had been split so that Livingston and Hardin counties were sharing the lands that bordered
the Ohio River, not Christian. The fact that the land grants to the Bethel Academy
trustees were made after these new boundaries were drawn needs study.
The more fundamental questions, aside from county lines still taking shape in these
frontier regions, is why did Rev. Francis Poythress and his fellow trustees from Bethel
Academy receive these land grants in the first place? Bethel Academy in Jessamine County
was still a fledgling school, so the notion that they’d be awarded land grants somewhere
along the Ohio River is difficult to understand — at least right now.
I’d appreciate any insights those of you more familiar with land grants might be able to
offer. I’m going to dig deeper into the early history of Bethel Academy.
2. My hypothesis about Susanna(h) Pryor, the sister of Rev. Poythress who located to
Jessamine County from Botetourt County, Viriginia roughly during the timefrane of these
land grants, is undoubtedly incorrect, for obvious reasons.
I’ll continue to search, but so far all we have proven is that she lived in Jessamine
County and became her brother’s caretaker.