Walton: The Beginning, Mid-1790
The town now known as Walton, in the southeastern corner of Boone County, may have been founded in the mid 1790s. On December 1, 1801 Levi and Jane Todd of Fayette County sold 300 acres on the "main road from George Town to Cincinnati" to Archibald and Lucy Reid. Archibald Reid was licensed to run a tavern in "his house" as recorded by Boone County about 1803, just north of what is now the City of Walton. He is credited with founding the county’s first distillery five years later as well as becoming one of Boone County’s first justices in 1799.
On February 22, 1806, the Reids' sold 200 acres of the land for $1,500 to Caleb Summers. On that same day or next, Summers took out two mortgages with Thomas Kennady. Payment on these mortgages included both money and 'merchantable whiskey'. Summers was apparently a distiller of commercial whiskey. It is possible that he had taken over Reid's distillery mentioned above.
By the summer of 1808, Summers had defaulted on his mortgages and Reid took him to court. The 200 acres was sold at auction on June 27, 1808 when Thomas Kennady (the mortgage holder) bought the property for $414.12 (Deed Book B, p 153)
On January 1, 1809 Summers sold Abner Gaines 192 acres for the greatly increased price of $1,666.66 (Deed Book C,p 149). However, this deed was not filed until December 22, 1813. This is probably due to the fact that Gaines bought the same 200 acres on November 24, 1813 from Thomas Kennady and his wife Dinah for $1,810 (Deed Book C, p 148). Gaines then sold 11 acres of the 200 back to Summers; the location of this property is not known. Gaines continued to acquire a tavern license at his house through December 1818.
In 1818, an ad in the Western Monitor, a Lexington newspaper, advertises the Gaines Stagecoach Line carrying mail and passengers between Cincinnati and Lexington: a 34-hour trip over the Covington-Lexington Turnpike. It is supposed the house continued to be a tavern and inn for the stagecoach line until the death of Abner Gaines in 1839. In the book "Western Life in the Stirrups", the diary of Virtulon Rich in 1832, states "At 5 o'clock PM of the 8th of June I packed off my horse again & crossed the Ohio River into Covington Ky upon the south bank. This is a small Town, having a Cotton factory & Iron works in it-It is separated from another small Town called Newport containing a population of 500, by a small River called Licking. During this pm I rode 18 miles to a very good public House-large & splendid - plenty of Slaves attached to the premises". (Geographically, it is believed this is the Gaines Tavern since he traveled on to Georgetown).
The settlement that grew up around the tavern came to be called Gaines’ Fork Roads. The first recorded post office for Gaines’ Fork Roads (later called Gaines’ Cross Roads) was established on July 4, 1815. Our fourth United States President, James Madison, appointed James Matthews Gaines, Abner Gaines oldest son, Postmaster.
Col. Abner Gaines, as he was later called, served as a Boone County Justice from 1805 to 1817, at which time he was appointed sheriff. (This appointment is probably why he no longer acquired his tavern license). John Pendleton Gaines, son of Col. Gaines, served in Congress in the 1840’s and was governor of the Oregon Territory from 1850 to 1853.
On January 21, 1840, the town that grew just south of Gaines Cross Roads was named Walton by an act of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The boundary included the town lots belonging to the following persons: E. Brasher, William Pitcher, John Arnold, Reuben Noel, Michael Snyder, William Vanhorn, Margaret Leonard, Silas Bridges, Elizabeth Butts, Nathan Connelly, Samuel McLean, Melville Rich and W. W. Gaines.
In 1847, records show that Walton had 538 residents. That was 35 more residents than Petersburg and almost 100 more than Florence.
In the early 1800’s, during the town’s infancy, there was a county public grade school in the corner of Beaver Grade (Old Beaver Road) and Stephenson Mill Road (Old Stephenson Mill Road). A Mrs. Clara Myers started the first school to offer high school subjects.