by Charles Baird
In 1790, while Kentucky was still a part of Virginia, the very first house was built in Mt. Zion. At that time the two towns nearest Mt. Zion were two forts, Fort Washington and Fort Campbell. These forts were built for protection against Indian attacks. Fort Campbell was later called Dry Ridge; Fort Washington is Cincinnati. A Wagon road ran from Fort Washington to Lexington. The land where Mt. Zion is located was once part of 44,000 acres owned by John W. Craig, one of the founders of Transylvania College.
The earliest settler in Mt. Zion was John Frakes, a German fur trader, born in Michigan territory. He helped his father, Jacob, build the first house here in 1790. The Smith family came from Ireland in 1801; Christian Tomlin came from Culpepper County, Virginia in 1827. Because the nearest churches were a half day's ride from the settlement, the settlers that year organized a Baptist Church with an enrollment of 19 members.
At that time paper money was worthless and not accepted as payment of debts; silver and gold were practically non-existent. But whiskey was valuable and used instead of money during those times. The pastor of the church at Mt. Zion was supposed to receive two gallons of whiskey per month for his services. However, the church members did not wish to pay all his salary in this manner, because there was a big federal tax on whiskey.
The first pastor at Mt. Zion was David Hilliard [sic, actually David Lillard - more here], a powerful leader, who lived on a beautiful farm near Napoleon where he kept a large number of Negro slaves. His circuit included Ten Mile, Mt. Zion, Poplar Grove, and Oakland. Each of these churches had services once a month. The first church stood exactly on the spot of the present church building on a two-acre plot of land purchased from John Franks for one dollar.
A few large landowners in Mt. Zion owned from one to three families of slaves. They were valuable property. During the Civil War, J. C. Tomlin freed his slaves and joined the Union Army; others joined the Southern forces. Fear of raids kept people close to their homes. When the Southerners under Kirby Smith tried to capture Cincinnati, the Northern forces camped one night at Bracht and the southern forces camped at Crittenden.
Since the Confederates got their supplies by raiding the cellars and smokehouses of the surrounding farmers, several Confederate troops came though Mt. Zion foraging for food.
From a collection of essays written in American Literature Eleven. The class was taught by Ms. Hazel Ogden of Grant County High School in the 1963-1964 school year, and was typed by the typing classes of Mrs. Mattie Cox. It is copyrighted by the Grant County Schools, and is used here with their kind permission. We found a copy in UK's King Library.