Archiver > SOUTH-CENTRAL-KENTUCKY > 1999-12 > 0946309021

From: "The Pierce's" <>
Subject: [SCKY] Powder Mills, and SHELTON, LEWIS, PHILLIPS
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 1999 10:37:01 -0500

Powder Mills is on Lynn Camp Creek and is southeast of Hodgenville, KY. ,
located in Hart Co. near the Green Co. line. It has been quite awhile since
I have been there but it seems like it was 10 to 15 miles from Hodgenville
(I could be wrong about the distance).

The _Hart County News_ on February 3, 1972 had an article about Powder Mills
and the Hart County Historical Society has a painting replicating the area.
The painting was commissioned and donated by Roberta Shannon Stimpson.
Powder Mills is also mentioned in Collins' _History of Kentucky_, _Perrin,
Battle and Niffin's History of Kentucky_ and _History of Barren County_ by
Franklin Gorin.

Using the sources mentioned above, someone gave me the following info:

Even before Hart County was formed out of parts of Hardin and Barren conties
in 1819, an important industry, the manufacture of gun powder, had for some
time been in operation at what was to be known as Powder Mills, Kentucky (or
Fountain Powder Mills as it was sometimes called). Tradition has it that
powder was shipped by flatboat down the Green, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers
and was used by Andrew Jackson during the battle of New Orleans.

The gun powder was made in large, 100-gallon kettles. Charcoal was prepared
by building cone-shaped ricks of leatherwood and redwood. These were
covered with earth except at the bottom, a hole was left to act as a flue.
When the entire mass of wood was well ignited, the holes were sealed, and
the wood was allowed to burn for several days, the intensive heat of which,
with all oxygen excluded, would cause the wood to be thoroughly charred.
These heaps had to be watched night and day to prevent any hole breaking
through and allowing the air to enter. Should air be permitted to enter the
mass of wood, it would burn to ashes and thus be lost. After the heap
burned a sufficient length of time, it was torn down and the fire
extinguished with water, leaving a heap of charcoal. The charcoal was then
beaten or ground into fine powder by using a 30" poplar log into which 10 to
12 inch holes several inches deep were made. Above these was a long shaft
on which cams were made. Pestles were attached to these and were operated
up and down in the holes in the log, beating the charcoal into proper
fineness to be used in making various sizes of powder. Blasting powder was
made from courser and gun powder from the finer.

At this point the powder was saturated with salt peter and sulphur (gathered
from the hills of the community) and used as a carrying agent for the
explosives, then it was glazed with the whites of eggs. The powder was then
placed on the floor of a drying room and watched very carefully to prevent

Once, one of the drying sheds blew up at the upper mill, and the
superintendent, William Terry Shelton, was saved when he landed in a pool of
water behind the dam used for a grist mill farther up the creek. Due to the
force of the explosion, the only clothing remaining on his body was his
shirt collar!

William Terry SHELTON was my gggrandfather. He was born 4/22/1840 KY died
1/16/1912 Buffalo, KY. Married Mary Margaret LEWIS 6/15/1861. Mary was
born 3/7/1845 in Sulpher Wells, KY and died 1/12/1890 at Powder Mills.

Mary's parents were J.W. LEWIS and S. LEWIS.

William Terry's parents were William Wesley SHELTON b. 4/10/1810 VA d.
5/15/1888 Powder Mills and Parthenia E. PHILLIPS b. 10/01/1811 VA d.
2/17/1883 Powder Mills.

If anyone has info on any of these families, I would love to hear from you.
I am completely in the dark about the LEWIS, and PHILLIPS families.

Sorry for the long post, but one last question.....can someone tell me
whether Sulpher Wells was Edmonton or Barren Co. in 1845 and where records
might be located.

Betty Cruse Pierce

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