I first read the story of the Battle of Blue Licks as a kid growing up in nearby southern Ohio. It struck me then, and it strikes me now, as one of the sadder stories of its kind from the frontier period. The salt springs at the site had attracted animals for millennia and formed a center of Indian life. Early settler frequented the place to obtain badly needed salt supplies. Indians captured Daniel Boone here while he was making salt for his settlement. (He later made a daring and famous escape.) But the sad part of the story came in 1782. Blue Licks is most renowned as the site of the last battle of the Revolutionary War in Kentucky. In 1782, Kentucky militia pursued a raiding party of Indians and British soldiers to the vicinity of Blue Licks. Ignoring the warnings of Daniel Boone and others, the militia commander ordered an attack right into a perfect ambush spot. The merits of the location had not escaped the Indians and British, and the Kentuckians suffered great losses, including Boone’s son, Israel. During the nineteenth century, the mineral springs made Blue Licks a popular health resort. Today the park has recreational facilities, a lodge, nature trails, and a museum of frontier and Native American life.
White Hall State Historic Site preserves the home of Cassius Marcellus Clay, antislavery activist, politician, publisher, minister to Russia, and friend of Abraham Lincoln. The surviving home is really a “house within a house.” The “old building,” the Georgian-style Clermont, was built by Cassius Clay’s father in 1798-1799. Cassius Clay himself built the “new building,” White Hall, above and around Clermont in the 1860s. Clay was a very common type of antislavery man in the pre-Civil War period: as much anti-black as antislavery, he sought not only gradual emancipation of slaves in Kentucky but the removal of slaves and former slaves to make Kentucky a pure white man’s democracy.