Hinkston Creek History

Mt. Sterling Advocate Articles

In the summer and fall of 2010, a series of articles detailing the history of the Hinkston Creek Watershed ran in the Mt. Sterling Advocate. The articles run under the title "Hinkston Creek: A Living Legacy and Link to the Past – and the Future."

Pre-European History

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, what is known today as the “Hinkston Watershed” and the surrounding areas were hunting grounds for several Indian tribes including the Iroquois, Shawnee, Delaware, Cherokee and Chickasaw. There were frequent disputes amongst the tribes regarding who controlled the hunting lands and as a result, this region did not have a large, permanent Indian presence. The French census in 1736 noted 200 Shawnee men in a one-acre settlement called Eskippathiki. Eskippathiki, or Eskippakithiki, is Shawnee for “blue licks place” and is located in eastern Clark County in the Bluegrass region. Eskippathiki was occupied from 1718 to 1754.


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European Explorers Arrive in the Hinkston Watershed

Colonel John Hinkson

Hinkston Timeline

1718 Shawnee Indians establish a relatively permanent settlement in the vicinity of present-day Clark County
1775 Colonel John Hinkson and Hinkson’s Company travel to the present-day Kentucky region
1776 Virginia General Assembly annexes Kentucky as a county
1776 Indian raids of European settlements begin
1780 Estill’s Station is founded
1782 Estill’s Defeat, aka Battle of Little Mountain
1782 Battle of Blue Licks, American Revolutionary War battle and last major Indian raid in KY
1786 Bourbon County forms
1792 The state of Kentucky forms, becoming the fifteenth state and first state west of the Appalachians
1793 Clark County forms
1794 Harrison County forms
1797 Montgomery County forms
1800 Nicholas County forms
1811 Bath County forms
1813 Indian raids end

Born in the vicinity of Belfast, Ireland, Colonel John Hinkson came to America and settled in Westmoreland County, PA. In the spring of 1775, Hinkson led a group of 15 men, called Hinkson’s Company, down the Ohio River and up the Licking River into present-day Kentucky by canoe. They established a camp near the Lower Blue Licks. Another company of men called Miller’s Company arrived a few days later. The two companies combined forces and began exploring the surrounding areas, often following the buffalo traces.

Following these initial explorations, Hinkson’s Company separated from Miller’s Company. They followed the main buffalo trace toward present-day Lexington and continued west to the south fork of the Licking River, just south of Lair. Hinkson’s Company set up a camp at this location and continued to explore the surrounding areas, naming the streams after members of the company as they went. A “t” was added to Colonel John Hinkson’s name and so Hinkston Creek was named. Colonel Hinkson built a log cabin in 1775 on Townsend Creek (which was named after fellow company member John Townsend). In the fall of 1775, both the Miller and Hinkson Companies returned to Pennsylvania for the winter.

In the spring of 1776, nearly all of the men from the Miller and Hinkson Companies returned. In the summer of 1776 shortly after the companies returned, the Indians returned to their traditional hunting grounds in the area. Disputes between the settlers and Indians soon began. At one point the Hinkson Company fled to McClelland’s Fort at Georgetown, but eventually they returned to their camp.

Future Generations of the Hinkson Family

The Hinkson family continued to live near Colonel Hinkson’s original settlement for generations. Thomas Hinkson was born in Harrison County and was the grandson of Colonel John Hinkson. Early in life Thomas rented a farm and used his profits to purchase a farm south of Lair. In 1879 he moved to Cynthiana and began doing business in wholesale liquor and distilling and became associated with the Redmond Distilling Company. By the end of his life, Thomas owned 1,200 acres south of Lair, 500 acres north of Cynthiana, a large tract of land in Kansas, a residence in Cynthiana and was a stockholder in the Cynthiana National Park. Thomas had 5 children.


  • Johnson, E.P. 1912. A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians: The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities. Vol 3. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. Pp 1445-1447.

Indian Raids: Estill’s Defeat

Monument in honor of and to the memory of Captain James Estill. The memorial lists the men who fought against the Wyandot Indians in the battle known as Estill's Defeat.

Captain James and Samuel Estill founded Estill’s Station in 1780. A “station” was a cluster of cabins that were built close together to protect the settlers from Indian raids. Southeast of Richmond, Kentucky, Estill’s Station was one of the early population centers in present day Madison County. On March 19, 1782, Captain James Estill gathered 40 men from his and nearby stations to search for Wyandot Indians that had been reported in the vicinity.

The day following their departure, Wyandot Indians killed fourteen year-old Jennie Gass and captured Captain James Estill’s slave, Monk Estill. Monk Estill was interrogated by the Wyandots. He successfully bluffed the Wyandots into believing that the garrison was stronger than it really was, resulting in the Wyandots delaying their attack of the station. Monk is credited with saving the settlement from complete destruction.

On March 21, 1782, Captain Estill was informed of the Wyandot attack and sent five men back to the station to defend it against future attacks. The remaining men set up camp near present-day Mt. Sterling. On March 22, 10 of Estill’s group were unable to continue, decreasing his force to 25 men. They continued their search for the Wyandots and found them across Hinkston Creek. Shots were exchanged across Hinkston Creek, each force with roughly 25 men. Six of Estill’s men were ordered to flank the Indians on the left, but this group disappeared and was rumored to have fled the fight. When the Wyandots charged Hinkston Creek, Estill’s force had shrunk to 4 or 5 men. The Wyandots are considered the battle victors, but both forces suffered heavy causalities. Fourteen of Estill’s men were killed or gravely wounded including Captain Estill who was stabbed to death during the fight. The battle became known as Estill’s Defeat or the Battle of Little Mountain.

Monk Estill was also present at Estill’s Defeat and is credited for carrying one of the wounded nearly 25 miles back to Estill’s Station for help. Monk Estill was granted his freedom by James Estill’s son in recognition for his services to the station and is considered the first freed slave in Kentucky history. Monk went on to be a Baptist minister and had three wives and thirty children during the course of his life.


  • Kleber, J.E. ed. 1992. The Kentucky Encyclopedia. The University Press of Kentucky. Pp 298-299, ISBN: 0-8131-1772-0

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