On Ancestry.com, Bottom Station, Kentucky, is frequently identified as the place of death for James Roark (1740-1792) and his son John (1769-1792), while others list the location as Harman’s Station. From what I can tell, these are one and the same place. In this case, the term Bottom is a geographical term referring to low-lying alluvial land adjacent to a river, while the word Station denotes a stopping place for travelers.
Some confusion is caused by the fact that Bottom Station is said to be in Floyd County, while Harman’s Station is in Johnson County. However, this can be explained by the fact that in 1792 when Roark died fighting the Indians at “Bottom Station,” Johnson County had not yet been formed. Thus, Floyd County would be the county of the station’s location (below left).[i]
As one source puts it, in 1750, Matthias Harman and others from the first white settlement in North Carolina “established a hunting station and built a large cabin of logs, prior to the Sandy Creek Voyage, on the identical spot which afterwards became the site of their blockhouse”[ii] Since white settlements were few and far between, Harman’s Station became a gathering place for hunters, traders, and other whites who passed through the region. An article hosted by Rootsweb, refers to the location as “Harmon Station in Historic Block House Bottom" (above right)[iii] It is easy enough to see how the terminology can become confusing.
Harman’s Station is well known for its part in the 1789 captivity narrative of Jenny Wiley. Mrs. Wiley, while her husband was away, was attacked by Indians who slaughtered her children and took her into captivity. After eleven months, Mrs. Wiley managed to escape from the Indians and is said to have clung to (or straddled) a sizable tree branch as it floated down the river. At Harman’s Station, which was on John’s Creek, she was rescued, but not without a fight between her rescuers and the Indians who were pursuing her. Four years later, the situation had not improved much, and James Roark and his son Timothy died fighting Indians at Harman’s Station.
The accompanying hand-drawn map (above right) depicts Harman’s Station on Jones Creek with a red rectangle near the bottom of the map.[iv] The handwriting says, “Block house built by Harman and Auxier.” It is east and across the river from Paintsville, Kentucky.
[ii] Connelley, William Elsey. Eastern Kentucky papers; the founding of Harman's Station, with an Account of the Indian Captivity of Mrs. Jennie Wiley and the Exploration and Settlement of the Big Sandy Valley in the Virginias and Kentucky. NY: Torch, 1910. Web. 15 Mar. 2013. <http://www.archive.org/stream/easternkentuckyp00conn/easternkentuckyp00conn_djvu.txt >
[iii]22 Nov. 2009. Web. 15 Mar. 2013. <http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyjchs/harmonstation.html> Image used with permission.
[iv] This map was drawn in 1851 by Marion Tevis Burris and titled "In Memory of Home." Burris was born August 28, 1828, on John's Creek. Apr. 2009. Web. 16 Mar. 2013. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kycarter/maps/1851_map of_Johns_Creek.htm
© Eileen Cunningham, 2013
© Eileen Cunningham, 2013