Expectant parents spend months contemplating the names they might give their baby upon its birth. In consideration of this fact, we might guess that the founders of nations, states and counties engage in a similar process as they search for “the right name” for a newly developed area.
In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, as in many families, the names given to our counties, cities and towns usually carry historical significance. That being said, how did “Trigg” become the name of Kentucky’s 66th county? The answer to this question was formerly displayed on a Kentucky highway historical marker that stood on the courthouse lawn. The sign, and another one that detailed the burning of the courthouse during the Civil War, was removed when our previous courthouse was demolished in 2007.
Of the 120 counties in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, only seven were not named in honor of a person or family. These seven; Barren, Bath, Jessamine, Laurel, Ohio, Rockcastle and Union were named for various reasons ranging from an apparent lack of vegetation in Barren County to an abundance of specific vegetation (jasmine and mountain laurel) in Jessamine and Laurel Counties. Like 112 of her sister counties, Trigg carries the surname of a man or family significant to the United States or the Commonwealth. Colonel Stephen Trigg (1742-1782), was a Revolutionary, a Kentucky pioneer, and a representative of Kentucky County in the Virginia legislature, and although it is unlikely that he ever actually stepped foot onto Trigg County soil, the county carries his name in honor of his great service to the country and state.
Stephen Trigg was born in Virginia to William and Mary (Johns) Trigg. He was one of five brothers, all of whom would become American Revolutionaries. Colonel Trigg’s accomplishments are too numerous to mention in this space, but among his greatest achievements is his sharing in the drafting of The Fincastle Resolutions in January, 1775. This document was a precursor to The Declaration of Independence, which was issued by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.
Trigg would likely have gone on to even greater heights in his military and political career had his life not been cut short at the Battle of Blue Licks on August 19, 1782. During the American Revolution, the British, and their Native American allies, invaded Kentucky and attacked Bryan Station, near present-day Lexington.
Upon receiving word of the attack, Trigg, who was in command of the fort at Harrodsburg, gathered 135 militiamen and joined forces with Colonel Daniel Boone and Major Levi Todd. Trigg fell in an ambush along the Licking River, and when troops returned to recover the dead, they found that Trigg’s body had been quartered. He and the other casualties of the battle were buried in a mass grave in what is today Nicholas County, Kentucky.
Because of his service and sacrifice in the Revolutionary War, Colonel Stephen Trigg shares the honor with George Washington, James Madison, the Marquis de Lafayette and many others in having their names bestowed upon the counties of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Have you ever wondered about the history of Trigg County? Drop me a line at email@example.com with your questions or suggestions for future columns. In the words of the great Kentuckian, Abraham Lincoln, “History is not history unless it is the truth.”