Clay Hill Memorial Forest
Clay Hill Farm
Title to the land that now is Clay Hill Memorial Forest was held by Thomas James Sanders, his son Henry Sanders, Sr. and their descendents from 1795 to 1996. They came to Scott County Kentucky from Loudoun County Virginia before 1795. On the 19th of September of 1795, they purchased 300 acres on what was then known as Sinking Creek and now known as Pitman Creek. This property was located in Green County Kentucky (which included Taylor County). Thomas and Henry applied for a license to operate a tavern on 19 September 1797 (read a transcript). Thomas died around 1802, leaving the land to Henry. Henry was married to Ruth Walker before 1775, probably in Virginia. They had seven children, the oldest of whom was a son named Henry. On the 15th of August of 1801, Henry, Sr. sold one-half of the farm to his son Henry, Jr. (read a transcript). This property included all the land that is now Clay Hill Memorial Forest. The Sanders' expanded their holdings to more than 4,000 acres during the early 1800's. The farm eventually become known as Clay Hill Farm.
When Henry Sanders, Sr. first settled on the Sinking Creek Farm he supplemented his farm by operating Sander's Tavern which he and his father Thomas built on the old Nashville to Louisville turnpike. Sander's Tavern had 30 rooms for overnight stays and was known throughout the region for serving a fine country cuisine using food stocks grown on Clay Hill Farm. According to Anne McNeilly White, the food was cooked by a slaves, including one named Aunt Peggy, on an open fire in a flagstone hearth. Sanders Tavern also served a whiskey that was, distilled on site by Henry. Sanders Tavern was the home of Henry Sanders, Sr. and probably his son Henry throughout their lives in Kentucky. Neither ever lived in the house now known as "Clay Hill". This house was built by Henry Sanders, Jr. for his son James in 1835. Henry, Jr. is also said to have built another house nearby (Sanders Road) for his son Durham in 1829. Henry, Jr. also donated the land where the current Pleasant Hill Baptist Church is located in 1837. The original church was said to have been burned to the ground by General John Hunt Morgan during the Civil War. According to Anne McNeilly White, the church had been used to store Federal Ammunition. When Henry Sanders died, the land was divided among his children. The land that was to become Clay Hill was inherited by James Sanders.
Sander's Tavern has a storied history that includes many notable visitors. Perhaps one of its most noteworthy of which was, Andrew Jackson who stopped at the tavern on the 27th of September, 1832 while in route to Washington where he would take the oath to become the seventh president of the United States of America. Unfortunately, Sander's Tavern burned in 1947, and much of its history will not be known. Sander's Tavern was located between Pleasant Hill Baptist Church and Clay Hill Farm on the west side of KY 289. Its location is now noted with a historic marker.
Clay Hill Farm nurtured eight generations of the Sanders family during its 200-year existence. Descendants of Henry Sanders inherited not only the land known as Clay Hill, but also a love and respect for the land that runs deep. Each generation learned from the previous one that Clay Hill Farm was more important than individuals who held its title. Clay Hill Memorial Forest exists today because it was held in stewardship by these generations of caring, loving people. Clay Hill Memorial Forest is a gift of the descendents of Henry Sanders to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
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