"James Harrod"

by Kathryn Harrod Mason (1948)



"Friends of Fort Harrod" is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt, non-profit, charitable and educational organization dedicated to preserving the memory and legacy of James Harrod and Old Fort Harrod. This book is posted here strictly for historical and educational purposes in furtherance of that goal. This book in PDF format is intended for your personal use only. Please do not make copies or distribute these materials to anyone else for any reason! If you would like a copy, you may purchase one at Amazon.com or AbeBooks.com for $100-$150.00.



"James Harrod" by Kathryn Harrod Mason is one of my favorite books. It reads like "The Frontiersmen" by Allan Eckert. Once you start, it's hard to put down. I hope you will like it too!

It was written by Kathryn Harrod Mason, the great great granddaughter of Levi Harrod, youngest brother of James Harrod and one of the 32 men who accompanied him in 1774. It was written in 1948 and published in 1951.

Very little has been written about James Harrod. In fact, much about James Harrod is unknown and widely disputed such as the dates of his birth and death. His disappearance in 1792 at age 48 remains one of history's most notable unsolved mysteries. Mrs. Mason tells her version of the story in Chapter 20 - Tragedy and Mystery.

Harrod is often mentioned in books written about other famous frontiersmen like Daniel Boone or Simon Kenton. But, to my knowledge, this is the only book ever written which was dedicated to James Harrod. However, it also spends much time on his brothers, especially William Harrod who made many contributions in his own right. Also, there is much detail about the construction and history of Old Fort Harrod and some of the characters who inhabited it.

This is the best collection of stories and information about James Harrod that can be found anywhere! It is my hope that its pages will give the reader an understanding of the courage and sacrifice of James Harrod and the important contribution he made to the founding of Harrodsburg and the state of Kentucky.

There is one thing about James Harrod that stands out in history. If you look at any group or party that included James Harrod, he was always chosen as their "leader". This is important because in Harrod's time, one would not follow anyone into the wilderness unless they respected him as leader. This quality no doubt contributed to the founding of Harrodsburg!

The book is broken down into its natural 20 chapters to make it easier to read. Each chapter averages about 12 pages. The links under the "Table of Contents" to your right will take you to the corresponding chapter in PDF format. You can only read one chapter at a time on the website. You will notice that each chapter is dated.

The three maps are from the book. The passages of the book often refer to the maps so they are provided in a handy format for reference. The map pictures are links which will take you to larger versions of the maps.

There has been much debate about the accuracy of the facts in James Harrod. Here are two examples which were typical at the time:


As you can see, the reviewers were not kind to Mrs. Mason. However, the critics do seem to agree that the book is substantially accurate, with some minor errors here and there, but none of which detract from the real historical value of the book.

We hope you enjoy this excellent story of James Harrod!


Table of Contents

Preface                                                                                vii
Introduction                                                                      xv
Chapter 1:   For King and Country (1754-1755)            1
Chapter 2:   The Road Builders (1756-1767)                17
Chapter 3:   The Western Fever (1767-1773)               30
Chapter 4:   The First Kentucky Settlement (1774)   42
Chapter 5:   Virginia's Private War (1774)                   53
Chapter 6:   A Last Farewell (1775)                               68
Chapter 7:   Transylvania (1775)                                    80
Chapter 8:   Virginia Creates A County (1776)            91
Chapter 9:   Two Rescues (1776-1777)                         101
Chapter 10: The Siege of Fort Harrod (1777)             110
Chapter 11: A Clouded Sky (1777)                                 121
Chapter 12: A Secret Well Kept (1778)                        130
Chapter 13: Captain Jim Takes A Wife (1778)           143
Chapter 14: The Monongahelans (1778-1779)           156
Chapter 15: The Hard Winter (1779-1780)                 170
Chapter 16: The 1780 Campaign                                   181
Chapter 17: Crossroads (1781-1782)                            194
Chapter 18: Col Jim-Kentucky Citizen (1773-84)    204
Chapter 19: Family Business (1785-1786)                  213
Chapter 20: Tragedy and Mystery (1786-1792)        225
Epilogue                                                                            237
Appendix                                                                           243
Critical Essay on Authorities                                        245
Index                                                                                  255

Index of Illustrations


Crossing the Alleghenies

Westward to the Mississippi

John Filson's Map of Kentucky

Harrod's Men by Kathryn Harrod Mason - Filson Historical Society

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