The following article by Charles Hartley was originally published on 25 Jan 2015. It is archived here for your reading enjoyment.
While Bullitt County was named in 1796 for Alexander Scott Bullitt, the Bullitt name first appeared in these parts twenty-three years earlier when Alexander's uncle, Colonel Thomas Bullitt led a party of surveyors down the Ohio River to the future site of Louisville. While in the area, he ventured up the river later identified as the Salt Lick River at least as far as the salt lick that would forever bear his name.
Thomas' grandfather, Benjamin Bullett (as the name was then spelled), was a French Huguenot or protestant who left his homeland in 1685, when the French King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes which had earlier granted limited rights to the Huguenots in that Roman Catholic nation.
He was one of nearly a half million Huguenots who fled that persecution to such places as England, Prussia, the Netherlands, and the British Colonies in America. Benjamin settled in the Maryland Colony which ironically had been established as a place where Roman Catholics might escape the restrictions placed on them in England. It was however a place where Christians of any form could worship as they saw fit.
Benjamin was but 42 years old when he died in his Maryland home, leaving a widow and a young son, also named Benjamin. This son, as a young man, moved to Fauquier County, Virginia where he married Elizabeth Harrison and had five children: Joseph, Elizabeth, Thomas, Benjamin, and Cuthbert.
Thomas Bullitt (for that is how the name had come to be spelled) might best be described as a warrior. He was a captain in Colonel George Washington's Virginia regiment in the French and Indian War. In one particular instance, two detachments from the regiment had separated in anticipation of surprising French troops. However, in the fog each detachment took the other as the enemy and firing began. When Captain Bullitt realized the mistake he ran between the two sides, waving his hat and calling for them to stop; certainly at significant risk to himself.
Following that war, he was appointed adjutant-general for the Virginia militia. Then when the American Revolution began, he first saw action at a strategic bridge near Norfolk, Virginia held by Lord Dunmore's forces.
With the British entrenched on one side of the bridge and the Americans on the other side, the British advanced, but the Americans, commanded at the moment by Bullitt, withstood the charge, and took control of this location.
He also saw duty in South Carolina before resigning his commission and returning home where he died in 1778. He never married, and left his estate to his brother, Cuthbert Bullitt.
Cuthbert was the only brother to marry, taking as his bride Helen Scott, a member of a wealthy Prince William County family. They had six children including a son they named Alexander Scott Bullitt.
Cuthbert was a lawyer and later a judge of the Virginia Supreme Court, and his son had been destined to follow in his footsteps. However, perhaps having heard tales of Kentucky from his Uncle Thomas, Alexander chose to settle in that land, first in Shelby County, and then on a farm in Jefferson County named Oxmoor. I suspect you have heard of the place.
He married Priscilla Christian, daughter of William Christian who owned the property that included Bullitt's Lick.
Alexander had been a representative to the House of Burgesses before he set off to Kentucky in 1784. He continued to be politically involved in this state, serving as a member of the first and second Kentucky Constitutional Conventions, as one of the first State Senators, and as Kentucky's first Lieutenant Governor.
When Bullitt County was created out of parts of Jefferson and Nelson Counties, Alexander Scott Bullitt was honored by having it named for him. Both men, uncle and nephew, were remarkable in their own ways. It is fitting that the two historical markers, shown here, honor their memories.
Copyright 2015 by Charles Hartley, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.