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ENOCH: Clark County’s most historic places — Caveland

This continues a series on the most historic places in Clark County.

Erected in 1797, Gen. Richard Hickman’s Federal-style brick house is one of the earliest homes still standing in Clark County. That and the fact that he served as Kentucky’s fifth lieutenant governor, 1812-1816, make Caveland one of our county’s most historic landmarks.

Richard Hickman (1757-1832) was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, the sixth child of James and Hannah (Lewis) Hickman.

Standard biographies say he removed to Kentucky in 1784, but he came out a number of times before that. One deposition in a land case stated, “In the year 1775 in April or May I saw Richard Hickman and he told me he saw Colonel Boone at Limestone [now Maysville].”

Hickman himself testified that he was present at the Kentucky Land Office near Harrodsburg with John Floyd in May 1780.

Richard and his brother James Jr. settled on their father’s tract on Boone Creek in what is now Clark County. James Hickman Sr. had claimed the land on a military warrant for service in the French and Indian War by his deceased brother.

Several pioneers mentioned Richard’s coming out. One stated, “In spring of 1785 when Richard Hickman and James Hickman Jr. first came to this country….” Another reported that Richard and James Jr. “came out to Kentucky and…settled on their father’s land.”

Beginning as a captain in the Fayette County militia, Richard rose through the ranks.

In 1799, the governor appointed him commander of the Clark County militia following the death of Col. John Holder.

Finally, in 1810, he was promoted to brigadier general of the 5th Kentucky Brigade.

With the formation of Clark County, Hickman began a long career of public service. In 1793, he was appointed one of the first trustees of the town of Winchester. That same year he was elected the county’s first representative to the Kentucky General Assembly. Hickman served six years in the House before being elected to the Senate where he served for another 16 years.

In 1799, he represented the county at the 2nd Constitutional Convention held in Frankfort and was elected lieutenant governor of Kentucky in 1812.

When war broke out with Great Britain that year, Hickman expected to take command in the field. That plan was revised when Gov. Isaac Shelby decided that he himself would lead Kentucky troops to war against the British and Northwest Indians. Hickman remained in Frankfort serving as acting governor during Shelby’s absence.

After completing his fourth term as senator in 1823, Hickman retired to Caveland, where his agricultural interests had always focused on raising horses.

In 1789, Richard Hickman married Lydia, the widow of Christopher Irvine who was killed by Indians as had been her father, Richard Callaway. She had three children by Irvine: Francis “Fanny,” Mary and David. Richard raised them along with five of his own children with Lydia: Llewellen, Elizabeth “Betsy,” Matilda, Caroline and Catherine. Matilda became the wife of Samuel Hanson, one of Winchester’s most noted attorneys.

Richard died in 1832, and Lydia in 1835. Both are buried in a handsome graveyard at Caveland.

The original block at Caveland is a five-bay, two-story house. The brick walls are said to be three-feet thick. Several additions were made over the years — a brick ell on the back, a brick wing on the right side and a Victorian-style front porch. The latter two have since been removed.

Caveland was occupied for many years by members of the Jones family (related by marriage to the Hickmans), beginning with Joseph F. Jones in 1856. It was Joseph who gave the farm the name Caveland for the large limestone cavern located about 200 yards from the house. Caveland remained in the Jones family until 1971, when William “Wick” Jones sold the farm to Dr. James B. Holloway.

Holloway found the house in disrepair and undertook a major restoration effort. The next owner was John McCann, who subsequently sold the house to John and Martie Mayer in 2000.

Today, the Mayers have a thoroughbred operation, Nursery Place, on the same farm where Gen. Richard Hickman raised horses in the early 1800s.

It has been reported that Richard Hickman was the seventh great-uncle of President Barack Obama. Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, was a direct descendant of James Hickman and Hannah Lewis.

Harry Enoch, retired biochemist and history enthusiast, has been writing for the Sun since 2005.  He can be reached at henoch1945@gmail.com.