KING, George Wasson

Date of birth:  5 Jan 1782 – Wythe County, Virginia
Date of death: 26 Jun 1868 – Franklin, Johnson County, Indiana

Johnson County Free Press, Thursday, July 2, 1868



Died at his residence in Franklin, on Friday evening, the 26th ult. at 6 P.M. George King, in the 86th year of his age.

George King, the Founder of Franklin.

In another column may be read the announcement of the death of George King. Owing to his close connection with the early history of Johnson county and the town of Franklin, the occasion demands something more than a mere obituary notice, and we will from such records and memoranda as we have in out possession attempt such a sketch of his life and times as may be of interest to our readers.

George King was born on the 5th day of January, 1782, in Wythe county, Virginia, and was consequently in his 86th year when he died, five years old­er than the Constitution of his country. In 1792, his father having died, he was one of the company of 473 persons that emigrated from Virginia to the “dark and Bloody ground.” He settled at or near Harrod’s station, now Harrodsburg, in Mercer county, Kentucky, where he remained until 1798, when he removed to Shelby county, where he served an apprenticeship to a wheelwright. In 1801 he returned to Mercer county, and two years after married Eleanor Voris. In 1811 removed to Henry county [Kentucky] where he remained until the fall of 1823, when he removed his fa­mily to Franklin.

Up to 1818 the Deleware [sic] In­dians held possession of all the territory in this state, watered by the White River and its numerous branches. In that year Gov. Jennings, General Cass and Benjamin Park, Commissioners ap­pointed by President Monroe, purchased the Deleware’s [sic] title, and soon after a land office was opened at Brookville and these lands thrown into the market.

Early in the spring of 1820 the first settlements were made in this country. Joseph Bishop and John Campbell came into the Blue river bottom, by way of the Indiana trails from the south, and Abraham Sells and Thomas Lowe came from the White Water country along the Whetzell’s Trace. In the fall of 1822, George King accompanied by Simon Covert and Garrett C. Bergen, both of whom are still living, came to the present site of Franklin. They found that Daniel Pritchard had entered the eighty acre tract located within the “forks” of Hurricane and Youngs creek. King entered the eighty west of Prit­chard’s and on which west Franklin is built, and bought Pritchard’s tract at an advance of two hundred dollars on the original cost. Bergen bought on the north and Covert on the east. At that time Levi Moore was living in a cabin near the crossing of the Hopewell gravel road and Young’s creek, he having come from the settlements to the south by way of the Indian path which led from Blue river across to were Hopewell Church now stands. At this time there were perhaps thirty or forty voters living within the territory now known as Johnson county, and one hun­dred and fifty to two hundred souls, certainly no more. The citizens being anxious for a county government, Mr. King took it upon himself the duty of procuring an act of the Legislature or­ganizing a county. He accordingly at­tended the legislative session held at Corydon that winter, and after exper­iencing all the trails and hardships pe­culiar to the business he was engaged in, an act was passed and received Gov­ernor Hendricks’s signature on the 31 of December, 1822 organizing John­son county. A full narrative of the mat­ter would occupy too much of our space and we accordingly pass it over without further narration.

Returning to his family in Kentucky, George King made immediate prepar­ation for moving to his new purchase and in the month of March, 1823, with Simon Covert and David W. McCaslin, these two last with their families and Isaac Voris, a young unmarried man, they came to this place, cutting a road for their teams from the house of Elisha Adams near Amity, to the lands they had bought. King’s cabin was first built near where the brewery is, in West Franklin, Covert’s next near the Hur­ricane. The next fall Mr. King’s family came out. On the first Monday in May of that year the Commissioners appointed for the “purpose of fixing the permanent seat of Justice” met at the house of John Smiley and two localities were submitted to them as proper pla­ces for locating the town, one near the mouth of Sugar Creek on the lands of Amos Durbin and the other on the lands of Mr. King, who donated to the county fifty one acres for County pur­poses. He continued for sometime to reside in the cabin first built and erec­ted a shop in the place where he wor­ked at his trade.

The second and third courts held in the county were held in his shop. For a time he engaged in the Mercantile busi­ness and was for fourteen years post­master. He was always however, more or less engaged in Agricultural pursuits and by close attention to business and through the rise of property, he ac­cumulated a handsome fortune.

He was a member of the Presbyterian church sixty-three years, and ruling elder from 1824 to 1857, when at his own request, on account of his age, and political intolerance of some of his eclesiastical brethern [sic], he was ex­cused from further duty on the session.

His first wife having died, he was married the second time in 1832 to Mrs. Elizabeth Shallady [sic] who sur­vives him.

On last Sunday afternoon a large congregation of our citizens met at the Presbyterian Church where the Rev. A. B. Morey preached his funeral from Genesis 2, 8. After which his remains were escorted to their last resting place, “Earth to earth and dust to dust.” Let his errors, for what mortal hath them not, be written in the sands of the sea beneath the ebbing tides, and his virtues engraved in brass. And let the young men of this fair and lovely county of Johnson treasure the memory of those hardy men who came in the “olden time” and who spent their days of prime in conquering the wilderness that it might bloom for the good of those now living.


Link to George Wasson King’s grave

Submitted by Lois Johnson