While doing some surveying for the Ohio Company of Virginia, in 1775 Captain
Hancock Lee, together with his brother Willis Lee, George Rogers Clark and some others
did a little surveying of their own and set aside a few thousand acres for themselves
at the buffalo crossing of the Kentucky River; and established Leestown. It was the
first known white settlement in Franklin Country and is the oldest in Kentucky North
of the Kentucky River.
George Rogers Clark
made his home there and in a letter to his brother he said that “a richer more
beautiful country has never been seen in America yet.”
Located on the trail travelled by thousands of buffalo, elk, and deer - the
hunters soon followed, it became quite a stopping place for travellers both by land
and by river. A main road from Lexington soon ran through it and ran westward to
Louisville. It is shown on first maps of Kentucky, made by John Filson in 1784,
on which Frankfort does not appear due to the fact that it hadn’t been founded yet.
It gave promise of becoming quite a community, but it’s open location and ease
of attack by Indians finally put a quietus on it.
In one of these attacks, in 1776, Willis Lee was shot and killed by an Indian.
Hancock Lee took his sone, Willis Jr., to raise and educate, which explains why
Hancock would later write in his will - “for the love and affection I bear my nephew,
Willis Atwell Lee, and in consideration of one shilling, I give him this land (an
acre) on which to build a home.”
Willis did build a two-story log house there and called it “Glen-Willis. According
to accounts, he soon was able to buy the neighbouring hundred acres too.
In 1815 he built the brick residence that now stands at Glen-Willis. It was
a story and a half high. It faced the river and had white pillars all the way to
the top of the house.
Willis died at the age of forty-nine in 1824. His family went on living at
Glen-Willis till 1832. When Humphrey Marshall bought the property.
Humphrey Marshall was a great political figure - a soldier in the revolution,
Kentucky legislator and a member of the United Stated Senate. He wrote one of the
first histories of Kentucky. Tracing it from its beginnings under the ocean, through
the war of 1812: injected with politic, religion, treason and interesting details
(such as that one of the chief reasons for selecting Frankfort for the capital of
Kentucky was its location on the river, navigable by steamboats, which he wrote,
“will ever be important for transportation of every kind”.
He had a stroke of luck once, when he discovered that McAfees hadn’t recorded
their survey on the land Frankfort is on, and recorded it in his own name, then sold
it in 1785 to General James Wilkinson, who founded Frankfort on it. Rest assured,
he didn’t get rich from the deal, because the sale price was only $433.00.
IN 1843, a couple of years after Marshall’s death, Henry Harrison Murray bought
Glen-Willis. He added a story and remodeled the house as it is now.
*Historic accounts as documented by Hugh Hudson Sr. As recorded in “Farmers Bank
and Capital Trust Co. 1850-2000” booklet.