My family roots are in the little farming community of Yeaman, Kentucky located about 100 miles southwest of Louisville in Grayson County. Since my great-great-great grandfather settled there from Germany in 1806, all of my family lived in and around Yeaman until my father moved to Louisville, Kentucky around 1940. My family held land in Yeaman until around 1990. I still have relatives living in the area.
The earliest written records of Yeaman area that I know of indicate that Patrick Henry, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, signed a land grant of three thousand acres to Alexander Skinner in 1781. At that time, this land was part of Jefferson County Virginia and in 1792 became part of the new state Kentucky. Several large land tracts in the area, called surveys, were sold by Virginia from five to forty cents per acre. Included was a 5,000 acre survey that George Washington got in 1798 from Henry Lee, father of Robert E. Lee. Washington traded a stallion, valued at about $3,000, for the land. I am told that Washington died without ever seeing the land.
Grayson County was formed in 1810 taking it's land from part of Ohio County. The town now know as Yeaman had been known for a hundred years as Crossroads because it sat at the crossroads of the old Leitchfield-Hartford Road and the Hite's Falls-Spring Lick Road. The name Yeaman was given to the post office established there around 1891. The Post Office Department asked Frank Patterson, the first Postmaster, to suggest a name for the post office. Since Crossroads was being used for several other communities, he suggested the name of his youngest son, Yeaman.
The area was not not settled until around 1794 after Anthony Wayne's military forces defeated the Indians in the area and made it safe for settlers.
The earliest settlers were Isaac Vanmeter, James Landrum, Elias Porter, and Bill Young.
Isaac Vanmeter was a Revolutionary War soldier who came down the ohio River by flatboat and helped settle Elizabethtown, Kentucky in 1780. Around 1800, he moved and settled about 1/2 mile south of Yeaman.
In 1806, Bill Young, my 3rd great-grandfather and sire of all of the Youngs in the county, settled near Yeaman. Bill was born in Germany in 1773 and died in Yeaman in 1847. Around 1890, Bill's grandson, Daniel Boone Young built a steam-powered corn mill at Yeaman (then Crossroads) and operated it for about 20 years.
After 140 years the first highway through Yeaman (Hwy 736) was built in 1938 connecting Yeaman with US 62.
Telephone service was introduced around 1910 using a party line system and a local switchboard located in my grandfather's house in Yeaman. Customers were charged $2.00 per year to cover the operator's salary and maintenance.
Schools in the area began in one-room log buildings around 1850. By 1890, there were 6 one-room schools around Yeaman. My aunt, Ida Carter, was the teacher in one of those one-room schools.
In 1905, a non-denominational church was built in Yeaman and remains today. Many of my ancestors are buried in the cemetery beside the church which is located next to the farm owned by grandfather and later my father. My father donated part of the land for the cemetery to the church. In 1965 the community built a community center behind the church.
Warren Smith moved his family to Yeaman in 1916. Besides farming, Warren operated a general store, a grist mill, a flour mill, and a saw mill. Warren's son, Walter, and Walter's wife Imogene operated the general store until Walters death around 1980.
In it's heyday, Yeaman had about a dozen families living and farming in the community. Yeaman once had 3 stores, a blacksmith shop, flour and grist mills, a barber, and a resident doctor. Today, the stores and most of the farmers are all gone. The church remains, looking over the graves of my ancestors, including my father and my brother.
Interesting Places around Yeaman
Hites Falls: This lazy little river crosses highway 54 near Yeaman. Near the bridge, there is a deep pool that used to be a favorite "swimmin hole". It also had what used to be called a "bottomless hole" where several people reportedly drowned. On the bank, there is a natural gas vent. I can remember in my childhood, when I visited Hites Falls, there would always be a small flame burning where someone had lit the escaping gas.
Falls of Rough: The Greene Mill and general store at Falls of Rough used to be a focal point of surrounding communities. The is an old one-lane bridge crossing the river. The old mill and stores are still there although closed. The bridge has been closed to traffic because of the rotting wooden planks that made up it's driving surface. The old mansion of the Greene family adjoins the property where the now defunct store and post office are located. This area is incredibly beautiful in the fall.
Rough River: Now a state park, Rough River boasts a very active lake, a resort, and even a airstrip.
Pine Knob: This little community has long been a favorite spot for family reunions. A little creek runs between the general store and steep bluffs known as Pine Knob. Walking the paths up and around the knob, you will find fairly large limestone caves and caverns. Legend has it that some rather famous outlaws once took refuge and hid out in the caves. The general store is still in operation and they have added a restaurant and an outdoor amphitheater where popular plays recounting the areas history are performed during the summer months.
Dew Stop and Spring Lick: This area is located on the Salt River and is near the railroad where a small depot once stood. There was once a general store and a one-room school house here. The winding highway 736 follows the river. I remember a story about a family whose house sat in the valley by the river. Once during a big flood, the house, along with it's occupants, floated down the river and now sits where it came to rest after the flood.