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Col. Daniel Trabue, Columbia co-founder, speaks at ACPL


Mr. Richard Phelps brought program at Adair County Public Library with tremendous emotion with a talk which held the audience for approximately 45 minutes.
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By Mike Watson, Adair County Historian

The co-founder of the town of Columbia made a rare appearance at the Adair Public Library on Monday night, April 2nd. The Adair Genealogical Society in partnership with the Adair Public Library, hosted an unprecedented visit from the late, great Colonel Daniel Trabue at the regular meeting of the ACGS. Our own Richard Phelps brought the program with tremendous emotion.

Daniel Trabue was a true Kentucky frontiersman, Revolutionary War soldier, and early settler, who resided first in Fayette County, on Grier's Creek which was later encompassed by Woodford County, then migrated to the wilds of Green County.



As an influential member of the growing community, Trabue was instrumental in the formation of the new county of Adair, created in 1801 by the Kentucky General Assembly, and constituted as a governing body in 1802. He helped to mark the original county lines between Adair and the surrounding counties. The new county, named for General John Adair, of Mercer County, was sparsely settled, but would soon be settled from one end to the other.

Columbia was co-founded by Col. Trabue at the crossing of two major buffalo trails on a plot that was well watered by good springs. The community quickly flourished. Col. Trabue was Justice of the Peace in early Adair, was appointed Sheriff, and in served in several other capacities during his active lifetime. Noted as a public official, Col. Trabue was also a merchant, miller, tavern keeper, farmer, and much more.

His young son fell victim to the horrible Harpe Brothers who terrorized the Kentucky and Tennessee region during the 1790s and early 1800s. The youth was brutally murdered by what has become known as the first serial killers in America. More on this topic will be revealed in a later program.

Perhaps one of the most important works of this storied pioneer was his journal. He 'wrote his story down on paper' for later generations to read. In 1827 Col. Trabue spent countless hours putting pen to paper and recording the story of his life from boyhood to the time of the narrative for his grand- children. This invaluable document, known generally as the Narrative of Daniel Trabue, is housed with the Lymon C. Draper Manuscripts at the Wisconsin Historical Society. It has been used by countless scholars and historians for more than a century to document life on the frontier and much more.

Mr. Phelps, as Col. Trabue, spoke for approximately three-quarters of an hour to a most attentive audience of more than forty persons, including several young historians of less than ten years of age, all of whom were mesmerized by the presenter and his story.

Westward into Kentucky: The Narrative of Daniel Trabue, was edited by Adair County native Chester Raymond Young, professor of history at the former Cumberland College, and published in 1981 through University Press of Kentucky. With 218 pages, this hard cover version of the Journal of Col. Trabue was the first thorough and accurate version of the story of early Kentucky by one who saw it unfold. Since Mr. Young's version, the book has been reprinted, and an updated version was brought out in 2004 with a new foreword by Daniel Blake Smith, University Press of Kentucky.

- Mike Watson (c), 2018


This story was posted on 2018-04-07 11:39:15
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Mr. Richard Phelps as Daniel Trabue: ACPL - 2 Apr 2018



2018-04-07 - ACPL - Adair County Public Library, 307 Greensburg Street, Columbia, KY - Photo by Mike Watson, Adair County Historian.
The co-founder of the town of Columbia made a rare appearance at the Adair Public Library on Monday night, April 2nd. The Adair Genealogical Society in partnership with the Adair Public Library, hosted an unprecedented visit from the late, great Colonel Daniel Trabue at the regular meeting of the ACGS. Our own Richard Phelps brought the program with tremendous emotion. - MIKE WATSON

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