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The Women of Bryan Station


Link to our original feature on Bryan Station


A Newsreel Clip from the 2007 Commemoration


Memories from Bryan Station
By Donna Dodd Terrell Jones

Original Lists of Names Connected with Bryan Station

About Bryan Station

By Kathy Cummings      Photos by Jim Cummings


Bryan Station was established in 1779 five miles northeast of Lexington, Kentucky. Like all of the early forts and stations it was continually harassed by Indian attacks. The most famous of these was in 1782. Two things set this attack apart from the others. One was the role the women played in going to the spring. And the other was that it led to the Battle of Blue Licks just a few days later.

 At Blue Licks on August 19, 1782, the Indians and their British allies that were retreating from Bryan Station were being followed by 180 Kentuckians. They had gathered from several of the surrounding forts to come to the aid of those at Bryan Station. When these militiamen arrived at Bryan Station and found the Indians were retreating they took off in pursuit. The Indians then took a stand and waited to ambush the Kentuckians. In only about 15 minutes nearly seventy Kentuckians died in what was clearly a pivotal attack that killed some of Kentucky’s early leaders. It was a devastating blow to all of the frontier stations. Barely a person in the entire area could escape without knowing a friend or family member that had lost their life at the Blue Licks.

As time when on, the story of the courageous women of Bryan Station was told and retold and came to be one of the only positive aspects of such a dark week in Kentucky’s history. In an era when men and their deeds were what made history, this story of the women captured the imagination of generations to come. 


Of all the stories and photos we have posted on this site - we continually get emails and phone calls with questions and comments about our feature on Bryan Station. Because the spring “where the women carried the water” is now on private land there are few photos and little current information. To that end we have searched through early accounts and compiled the information below. Much of this information was originally gathered by members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) as they were the ones who came together to build the monument that now stands on the site and was dedicated in 1896.

A search for photos of Bryan Station reveals mostly photos and drawings of the monument. Most of these available photos date back to the original dedication of the monument. All of our photos in our original story also centered around the monument and the DAR celebration on the site in 2007 commemorating the 225th anniversary of the famous event.

In revisiting this subject and the historical accounts surrounding it I tried to refocus - not on the monument but on the spring itself. For after all there was no monument in 1782. The women went to the spring. A second look at our original photos gave me what I was looking for. Although the monument is in many of the photos, the spring that meanders through the property is a beautiful site in itself. This is the view that “the women that carried the water” would have seen as they left the safety of the confines of their station. This was part of their daily routine - to get the day’s water supply and they would have known the land in all of the seasons - hot and dry in August, bright green in early April as shown here, and in the winter with snow falling upon it. 

Although we can look back with the hindsight of history and see what a remarkable feat it was - they were just women doing what they have always done. Taking care of themselves and their families, making sure their children were well cared for and stepping up to fill a need - the need to have water inside their station before the actual attack on their homes began.

Original Lists of Names Connected with Bryan Station


From Bryan Station Heroes and Heroines

By Virginia Webb Howard published in 1932

The Memorial Wall at Bryan Station Spring, five miles Northeast of Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, was dedicated August 18, 1896, by the Lexington Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution of Lexington, Kentucky. This monument bears the distinction of being the first monument in the world built by women to honor women. The inscription on the inside wall, directly opposite the opening reads:

    “In Honor of the Women of Bryan Station Who on the 16th of August, 1782 Faced a Savage Host in Ambush: And with a Heroic Courage and a Sublime Self-Sacrifice That Will Remain Forever Illustrious. Obtained From This Spring, The Water That Made Possible The Successful Defense of That Station.”


On the right outside wall the inscription reads:

    The Women of Ancient Sparta Pointed out the Heroic Way. The Women of Pioneer Kentucky Trod It.”

The Women Who Carried Water August 16. 1752:

Jemima Suggett Johnson
Sally Johnson
Betsy Johnson
Sally Page Craig
Betsy Craig
Sally Craig
Nancy Craig
Polly Craig
Lucy Hawkins Craig
Polly Craig
Frankney Craig
Polly Hawkins Craig
Sally Craig
Elizabeth Johnson Craig
Polly Craig


Nancy Craig
Jane Craig Saunders
Polly Saunders
Betsy Saunders
Lydia Saunders
Elizabeth Craig Cave
Hannah Cave
Polly Cave
Fanny Saunders Lea
Sara Clement Hammond
Mary Herndon Ficklin
Philadelphia Ficklin
Mildred Davis Suggett
Harriet Morgan Nelson
Sarah Boone Brooks (added in 1930)

Upon the tablets at either side of Memorial Wall entrance (tablets erected at a later date by Bryan Station Chapter and Lexington Chapter D.A.R. ).

The Men Who Defended Bryan Station August 16, 1782


John Craig
John H. Craig
Elijah Craig
Benjamin Craig
Lewis Craig
Edward Nelson
Aaron Reynolds
Thomas Bell
Jacob Stucker
Nicholas Tomlinson
Philip Craig
Frank Craig
Jeremiah Craig
Elijah Craig
Hawkins Craig
Toliver Craig Sr.
Toliver Craig Jr.
John Craig
William Craig

Nathaniel Craig
Toliver Craig
Elijah Craig
Whitfield Craig
Nathaniel Saunders
John Saunders
Richard Cave
Reuben Cave
Thomas Ficklin
Joseph Ficklin
John Suggett
Wm. Suggett
Wainright Lea
John Hammond
John Ficklin (Name added in 1933)
William Tomlinson
Richard Mitchell
David Mitchell
William Mitchell

Dudley Mitchell
Thomas Herndon
Samuel Herndon
Edward Herndon
Zachariah Herndon
Robert Adkinson
James Graham
 Daniel Wilcoxen
Martin Hammond
Ezekiel Field
Wm. Field
Elison Williams
John Saunders
Jesse Yocum
Wm. Ledgerwood
James Ledgerwood
James Mitchum
John Mitchum
James McBride

Upon tablets inside and outside of the Memorial Wall the following names are found:


Levi Todd
Richard Johnson
Sarah Bryan Chinn
William Johnson
William Ellis

William Grant
Mary Boone Bryan
Aaron Reynolds
Betsey Johnson Payne
Joseph Rogers

Bernard Rogers
Jemima Suggett Johnson
Rebecca Grant Lamond
William Bryan
Joseph Bryan


Elizabeth Boone Grant (on same tablet is the name ”Aunt Fifine” )

(Many of the above were not present during the Siege – August 15-17, 1782, but were founders or otherwise prominently connected with the history of Bryan Station.)

Bryan Station Defenders Listed by Joseph Ficklin. Draper mss. 13 C 7W – Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin.

Joseph Ficklin states “there were 44 men in the fort, two of whom Nicholas Tomlinson and Thomas Bell were set off to Lexington for help – – – of the remaining 42 who had guns and rated as fighting men the names of all can not now be given by me. I name them as their houses stood, beginning with the lowest near the big spring –”

1 John Williams
2 Mr. Beasley Sen
3 Charles
4 John, his 3 sons
5 James
6 Mr. Lay – sick
7 John Craig Sr., his son
8 John Craig Jr.
9 Jerermiah Craig
10 Philip Doak
1 David Williams
12 D. Suggett, very old
13 John Suggett
l4 Mr. Childress

15 Mr. Arnold
16 Mather Gayle, his son
17 Isaiah Gayle
18 Jacob Stucker
19 David Stucker
20 Michael Stucker
21 David Mitchell and his son
22 David Mitchell
23 John Adkins
24 Wm. Tomlinson
25 Nicholas, his son
26 Wm. T., another son


27 Thomas Ficklin
28 John Ficklin
29 David Herndon
30 Henry Herndon
31 Mr. Gatewood
32 Mr. Campbell at Col. Johnsons
33 William Campbell
34 John Guill
35 Lewis Vanlendingham
36 Mr. Bradley
37 Aaron Reynolds
38 Wm. Rogers
39 Thomas Bell

 (Joseph Ficklin further states ”in going over the names I may have omitted some half a dozen.” He states that “all the females, boys and girls went to the little spring” for water. His list evidently names only the heads of families. Sixteen mounted men and thirty foot soldiers (militia) went to the aid of Bryan Station on August 16. 1782. Their names are not listed. )


It’s All In A Name

Looking at the lists of names from Bryan Station - your first thought may have been - typos or someone repeated names. To clarify, it’s important to look at the naming conventions of the 18th century. 

The naming convention that appears most prevalent in the lists from Bryan Station is the convention of naming the first male children after their grandfather (father’s father first, mother’s father for the second son.) Often the third son received the father’s name - unlike today when the oldest son might receive the father’s name with the added designation of Jr. Less common today is the same naming convention for girls. The first two after grandmothers, the third after a mother. In early families numerous children - sometimes fourteen or more - were not unusual. Birth control practices were not common, more children provided labor for family farms and it was commonly accepted that not all children would survive to adulthood.

What makes for so many repetitive names from Bryan Station is that so many relatives settled together. In an era when you literally trusted your neighbor to watch your back, it must have been comforting to know your neighbors were also your family. But if you had named your son after your father, and your brothers had also named their sons after your father, and likewise daughters were named after grandmothers then the number of cousins with the same name would have multiplied extensively.

Not only was it very common to have children named after a parent, it was also common to name children after a sibling that had died (usually in infancy.) The second child of the same name was usually born after the death of the first. Deceased grandparents, deceased spouses, and deceased siblings of the parents names were often also used. Sometimes after the recent death of a grandparent, the next child born would be named after that person regardless of gender. Such as Harriet, for Harry or Frances (female) for Francis (male).

Nicknames then were often used to distinguish between family members. Polly was a common nickname for Mary as was Molly. Often these names were devised by changing a single letter. Changing an r into l or ll, changes, Sarah into Sally; Dorothy becomes Dolly; Harry becomes Hal. Margarets became Peg or Meg or Maggies.

Martha Washington’s nickname, used mostly by her husband George, was Patsy.

To further confuse the issue, the naming conventions were different for different nationalities. The Irish and Scotch-Irish differed from each other and from the English. The Germans too had naming orders of their own.

There was also a rash of patriotic names and place names given in the years following the revolution, like Liberty, Philadelphia and Washington as a first name. Biblical names like Jacob, Rebecca and Sarah have never gone out of style nor have names of flowers like Lilly or Rose. Names from virtues like Patience, Grace or Charity were more fashionable in the 17th century although some did carry over into the early 18th century.

So when parents today try for different and unusual names for their children, be glad that there aren’t 5 Polly Craigs in your family or child’s school!

Sources for

 Elizabeth Johnson Payne’s Letter to Dr. Draper mss. 13 C 116-Misc. Hist, Society. Madison, Wisconsin.

“There were 43 fighting men and five too old to do service, about 32 women and 64 children constituted the population of Bryan Station.” (August 16. 1782. )

There are many other names which should be added to the list of Heroes and Heroines connected with some phase of the founding or defense of Bryan Station. Among them are: Henry Wilson (Ref. Sur. File No. 30795 – Pension Cert, No. 19290) . He married Frances Faulkner, daughter of John Faulkner and Joyce Craig, at Bryan Station. Family tradition claims she was one of the women who carried water.

Manoah Singleton (Ref. Va. St. Archives I. P. D. 35).

*Sarah (Sally) Craig Singleton (dau. Toliver Sr. & Polly H. Craig ) .

Eight of their 13 children (Bryan Station Heroes & Heroines, p 92).
Thomas Brooks – Indian Scout, Boonesborough and Bryan Station.
William Turner (Bryan Station Heroes
& Heroines, p 129).

Martha Ricords Turner (Bryan Station Heroes & Heroines, p 129).

Lieut. James Suggett (Bryan Station Heroes & Heroines, p 102-103).

Jemima Spence Suggett (Bryan Station Heroes & Heroines, p 102-103).

John Arnold (Draper mss. 11 CC 245 – Bryan Station Heroes & Heroines. Draper mss. 11 CC 241, p 139-139) .

Elizabeth Hitt Arnold, his wife (same Ref.).

Lewis Arnold (son of John and Eliz.) Draper mss. 11 CC 245.

James Morgan (Ranck’s History of Lexington (Ky.), p 94-95).

Mrs. Morgan (his wife). Same Ref.

Jacob Stucker Sr. (Ref. Va. St. Archives I.P.D. 35 and 36 and 95, 8th Report Va. St. Librarian p 423-Draper mss. 13 C 74.) Killed by Indians 1779-80.

Eve Stucker (wife of Jacob Sr.) same references.

David Stucker (son of J. and E. Stucker, b 176 – killed Harmar’s Defeat, 1790).

Jacob Stucker (Jr.) ”Indian Jake” b 1764 – m Betsy Rogers – resided Scott Co. Ky. His name is on Memorial Wall.

Philip Stucker, son J. & E. Stucker, b 1773 N. C. m Mary McClusky.

Polly Stucker, dau. J. & E. Stucker, m Daniel White.

Margaret Stucker, widow of George Stucker (Ref. 8th Report Va. St. Lib., page 422.
 Va. St. Archives I.P.D. 36-166) m 2nd John Miles and 3rd Nathan Breeden.

Margaret had children with her at Bryan Station August 16, 1782.

Michael Stucker, son Geo. and Margaret Stucker, born 1759 (Ref. 8th Va. St. Lib. Report – Va. St. Archives I.P.D. 36-166) M. Nancy Vaughn, resided Woodford Co. Ky., 12 in family, was pensioned. Died Madison, Indiana.

Rosanna Stucker m Stoner.

Betty or Caty Stucker m George Graves.

Polly Stucker m Young.

John Stucker m Rebecca Castle,

Henry Stucker m Jane Cantwell.

Jacob Stucker born 1768 m Sarah Gottshall,

James Stucker (killed at Harmer’s Defeat in 1790).

*On Memorial Wall as Sally Craig.
Va. State Archives I.P.D. 35.

A Pay Roll of Kentucky Militia under William Hogan in active Defense of Bryan’s Station in the year of 1780.

Officers: William Hogan, Captain; James Bryan, Lieutenant; Thomas Herndon, Ensign; Peter Williams, Sergeant; George Forbis, Sergant.
38 Privates.

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