Bullitt County History

Eulalia Flaget Wathen's Letter About Her Shepherd Ancestors

In 1897, Eulalia Flaget (Chapeze) Wathen, then in her seventieth year, responded to an article in The Salt River Tiger, Bullitt County's local newspaper, that she felt contained some errors.

Mrs. Wathen, daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Shepherd) Chapeze, and granddaughter of Adam and Rachel (Drake) Shepherd, shared from her personal knowledge and from family history.

We have transcribed her letter to the editor below.

"Mr. Editor: In your issue of March 19, the article upon the formation of Bullitt County and its capital Shepherdsville, permit me to say that the information concerning Peter Shepherd and his descendants of this county is incorrect. The true descendants of Peter Shepherd, of this county, are the heirs of my brother, Adam Shepherd Chapeze, Richard Wathen, and children, and Richard Hays. This Peter Shepherd, at a very early period emigrated from Holland to this country, settled in Maryland, and in time sent his son Adam Shepherd here to purchase lands, all of which he took up in his father's name, and then many grants he took up in his own name, Adam Shepherd, and many of those old grants yet remain in the families. None of the descendants of Peter Shepherd are so fortunate as to have a portrait of Peter Shepherd; if so I would certainly give you the opportunity of copying from it, and I think the style of dress of that day would show some differences from the one that appeared in your paper.

"Shepherdsville was laid off and built up by my grandfather, Adam Shepherd, and in his honor it was named. It was not the 'rippling waters of Salt River' that so allured my grandfather. It was the great prospects for salt, with which the soil seemed so fully impregnated, and to show his infatuation at the prospects he was known to have bartered away a tract of land in Shelby County for a salt kettle, which now seems incredible. It would seem at that day that 'Salts was the staff of Life,' when they would come from Tennessee and the upper part of this State to carry it away by the sack full. My grandfather was a man of great enterprise for his day and time. He erected at or near Shepherdsville a mill; also a store, and entered largely in the manufacture of salt; in Tennessee an iron works, in New Orleans a commission house and I have an old letter, written in the latter part of 1700 where he speaks of taking there by flat boat a cargo, and of its being a long, tedious and perilous voyage. He was also a good judge of land, and being a fine surveyor, surveyed himself the lands he took up. He owned at one time the greater part of this valley, thousands of acres in the counties of Jefferson and Hardin and in the blue grass region. It was said that he was the first man to live out of a fort in this valley. The first house erected by him was of stone, and the walls injured by an earthquake, and the remains of a very large stone barn built by him are yet to be seen on the farm now owned by Mr. Tom Hays. My grandfather's wife and David Crockett's second wife were sisters, Miss Drakes by name, and the lineal descendants of Sir Francis Drake. They were perhaps the largest land owners of that day. To have obtained their scalps would have been for the Indians the greatest trophy.

"I have given these few reminiscences of my revered grandfather, Adam Shepherd, thinking it may be of some interest to others as well as myself, as he was one of Bullitt's early settlers, and it is due to the memory of these early pioneers that the younger generation should know who opened the way for them, who braved the dangers, toils and privations of the forest.

"Very respectfully, E. F. W."

This was originally published in The Salt River Tiger on 23 Apr 1897. We discovered it in a box of Shepherd family papers collected by Billye Jackson, and donated to the History Museum.

Her comment about David Crockett's second wife being a Miss Drake appears to be incorrect as his second wife was Elizabeth Patton.

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The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday appointments are available by calling 502-921-0161 during our regular weekday hours. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 12 Jan 2024 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/efwletter.html