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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Colonel Thomas Paxton

Dallas Bogan on 3 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Robert Parker, of Lebanon, donated a history of Col. Thomas Paxton to the writer, which was written by Jack T. Hutchinson in 1955. We shall now review a short history of the Colonel and his productive life.
The Paxton family immigrated from Balleymoney, County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland, in 1730. They were Scotch-Irish and steadfast Presbyterians.
Samuel Paxton, Sr., was the progenitor of the family in America, settling at Marsh Creek, near Gettysburg, in Lancaster County (now Adams County), Pennsylvania. Samuel Paxton, Jr., married twice and had twenty-two children; Col. Paxton was a child by his first marriage.
Thomas Paxton spent his early life on Marsh Creek, and it was at this location he married to Isabelle Quaite about 1765.
Thomas, sometime previous to the American Revolution, migrated to Rockbridge County, Va., where he joined several of his brothers.
The Colonel, upon hearing news of the Revolution breaking out, quickly returned to Bedford County, Pa., and raised and commanded a company of rangers. Commissioned Captain of the company on September 13, 1776, he was discharged exactly one month later.
He was again appointed Captain in December 1776 of a company of militia of the First Battalion of Bedford, which was under the command of Col. George Wood. He was later commissioned Lieutenant Colonel of the Second Batallion in December 1777, at the same location.
Lt. Col. Paxton, during this commission, was stationed at Valley Forge, and was said to have been one of 16 officers who dined with General George Washington in this camp on Christmas Day, 1777. He served until the end of the Revolution and then returned to Bedford County.
Paxton and his first wife, Isabelle, who died during the war, had one son and four daughters. Her father was English and a faithful Tory during the war, a situation that Paxton frowned upon. Just prior to leaving for Kentucky, he allowed Isabelle's father to see his grandchildren for the last time before heading out.
Paxton married again, in 1782, at Marsh Creek to Martha White. To this marriage were born two sons and four daughters, making eleven children total.
In 1789, he removed to Kentucky and settled in Bourbon County, now Nicholas County, near present day Carlisle. His eldest son, Robert, brought the family to their new home the following year.
Beers 1882 History of Warren County tells the story of the family's travels down the Ohio. It reads:
"The party was made up of sixteen flatboats which were lashed together at Pittsburgh. Many of the older children by the first wife had families of their own and all came in a group in this pioneer trek to the newly opened Kentucky country. Whether Thomas Paxton was with them or was awaiting their arrival in Kentucky on this 1790 trip is unknown.
"At the Islands of the Three Sisters they were attacked by a party of hostile Indians that rowed out in their canoes from the Ohio shore to assault them. Several in the Paxton party were wounded and a number of the Indians were killed.
"The descent of the river continued unmolested, though virgin wilderness lined both banks. They safely landed at Limestone (now Maysville, Kentucky) where they were met by friends and escorted inland to their new home near present day Carlisle, Kentucky. The family lived there in then Bourbon County until 1796."
Gen. Washington chose Anthony Wayne, after the defeats of Harmar and St. Clair by the Indians, to quell the native uprisings. Wayne's knowledge and study of the latter defeats allowed him to develop a plan and go forth into the wilderness and challenge the Indians.
Thomas Paxton, raised on the outback region of Pennsylvania, answered the General's question as to who to put in charge of the scouting expeditions.
In 1794, Paxton was chosen to lead an advance guard in the Battle of Fallen Timbers. He had fifty Indian scouts under his leadership that spearheaded the attack. (One source said he commanded a group of Kentuckians during the campaign.)
However, following the battle and ultimate defeat of the Indians, Paxton led his command back to Kentucky via the east bank of the Little Miami River. He liked what he saw, especially the locality where O'Bannon Creek flows into the Little Miami. It was then that he decided to sell his lands in Kentucky and establish a home in the newly found wilderness of Ohio.
Col. Paxton, the following spring, with several of his sons-in-law, settled over the hill from the mouth of O'Bannon Creek; the women followed in 1796.
The Colonel was said to have been the first white man to settle in the Virginia Military Tract (this tract was located between the Little Miami and Scioto rivers and contained over 4,000,000 acres), where he built the first log cabin and planted the first field of corn.
(As history states, Nathaniel Massie had, in 1791, established Manchester in Adams County on the Ohio River, this being part of the military tract. Also there were probably many stray squatters who had earlier settled this area.)
The Colonel that was enclosed by a stockade the first few years built a sturdy double log cabin; eventually, a sizable number of people settled around the cabin. It was used for the first Presbyterian preaching within the tract.
His daughter, Elizabeth, was wed to John Donnells on Thursday, September 28, 1797, which was the first wedding between the Little Miami and Scioto.
The earliest election-polling place in Miami Township in Clermont County was in the cabin of Col. Paxton. He was elected Auditor of Supervisor's Accounts for O'Bannon Township (later Miami Township) of Clermont County in 1801.
As a surveyor in the Virginia Military Lands, he easily identified the many military warrants and would purchase and sell tracts to the settlers. William Lytle was also a surveyor of these lands and intermittent communication was set up from Williamsburgh in Clermont County to the Colonel.
Indians while on a deer hunt below Milford ambushed him at one time, but he escaped with his life. He was said to have been "one of the most expert marksmen of his day, a day when good marksmen were a dime a dozen."
Col. Thomas Paxton was born in 1739 and died in March 1813. He was said to have been a powerfully built man and commanded his military with great authority and respect.
Paxton owned approximately 1000 acres near his home and close to another 1000 acres scattered in Clermont and Warren counties.
He was considered quite a wealthy man. His personal property, excluding his lands, came to a total of $1,347.92, quite a sum in those days. His inventory included a pair of silver shoe buckles, along with relics of the Revolution, which were: his rifle gun, powder horn, and bullet molds; and a gold and silver watch.
Col. Paxton was a true pioneer that definitely left his imprint on The Northwest Territory.

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