By Martha Jacob –
Ned Lodwick, president of the Brown County Historical visited Ripley-Union-Lewis Huntington Middle School Jan. 9, to meet two students who represent the 9th generation of the Belteshazzar Dragoo family.
History books attribute Belteshazzar Dragoo as being the first permanent settler in Brown County.
Chris Smith, principal at the middle school, recently came upon a monument located on Scoffield Road in Ripley, commemorating the 1st settlement in Brown County, estimated in 1734, more than 280 years ago.
Principal Smith recently took pictures of the monument where the first settlement built by Dragoo is located.
“I was excited when I saw that monument,” Principal Smith admitted, “And it was more exciting knowing that I had two direct descendants of Belteshazzar right here in my school. Mahayla and Olivia Dragoo.
“I thought it would be nice to invite Mr. Lodwick to talk to the two girls about their rich and important history.”
Lodwick sat down with Olivia and Mahayla and told them about the importance of their great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather Belteshazzar Dragoo.
Mahayla’s father Daniel also has a son named Will (William Pete Dragoo) who is in 2nd grade at the RULH Elementary School.
Olivia and her sister Susan’s father is David William, ‘Billy’ Dragoo.
Lodwick asked the girls if they understood just how brave Belteshazzar must have been to move across the Ohio River from Maysville to Ohio?
“They moved over here before this was even Ohio,” Lodwick said. “The Eagle Creek Valley, where he settled was very important to the actual formation of Ohio.
“There is a scene in the play “Tecumseh” where you see the Indians in Ohio that have white captives, and they are going to turn them back to the whites in Maysville for the Indian captives that they had.
“That was one of the first big prisoner exchanges in history and it happened in Aberdeen. There were no permanent Indian settlements in Kentucky at that time because it was their hunting grounds,” Lodwick said.
Lodwick talked to the girls about how Simon Kenton decided that spies or scouts, were needed to travel through Ohio, along the Ohio River and watch for the formation of Indian war parties. He hired 16 men who were paid $2 a month.
He said that the scouts learned quickly that they didn’t have to track the Indians because the Indians always followed the same trails. They didn’t have to watch the rest of the grounds. And the big trail in the area was called the Elk River Trail and today, it’s called Scoffield Road.
“That trail came down from Decatur to the Ohio River and you can follow Eagle Creek and stay on the west bank all the way because of that trail made by the buffalo.”
Lodwick spoke to the girls about the perils that the Dragoo’s must have faced by being so brave as to build a cabin on bottom land on Scoffield. At that time white people were not supposed to be on the Ohio side of the river, but he bought 300 acres of land on Scoffield Road and raised his family of 12 children.
“It was actually a year after the Dragoo’s built their cabin that the Indian’s signed a treaty with the whites, Lodwick said. “They were very brave and wanted the best for their family. And the Dragoo’s have lived in or around Ripley for 9 generations.”
The girls both said that they had learned a lot about their heritage during their lifetimes from family members, and said that the proper way to pronounce their last name is (Dray-Goo), a fact they were adamant about.
The Ripley Daughters of the American Revolution placed a plaque on the stone monument which now stands at the site of the first settlement. The plaque reads….Erected by the Ripley Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, June 17, 1914 to commemorate the First permanent settlement in Brown County, Ohio made by Belteshazzar Dragoo in 1794.