Sandford Duncan Inn

Front steps of Sandford Duncan Stagecoach Inn

I am so very sorry that this post has taken so long to complete! The school year started back up just as I was beginning to write this post and I was delayed in finishing it. Thank you for staying with me through the breaks. Today’s post is the final post about our trip to Franklin, KY. Enjoy!

Sandford Duncan

Sandford Duncan was born in Virginia, in 1786, to Coleman and Mary Lyne Duncan. Coleman was a Revolutionary War soldier who immigrated to Nelson County, KY around 1795 with his wife, Mary and son, Sandford.

Around 1806, Sandford married Nancy Hammond in Bardstown, and in 1818, he moved his growing family to Logan County, one year before the county became Simpson County. (Sandford and Nancy would go on to have twelve children together, but not all would reach adulthood.)

Around 1819, Sandford purchased several acres of land and built a log cabin home on one corner of the property along the stage coach route called Lexington to Nashville Road. This route was later known as the Louisville/Nashville Turnpike and is known today as US 31-W. His home was built just 2 miles north of the Tennessee border near Franklin, KY. (Today, the cabin is the oldest cabin in Simpson County, KY.)

The Sandford Duncan Inn

Sandford Duncan Tavern

Just after building his home, he opened it as an inn and stage coach stop for travelers to stop and rest along the route. There were 4 stops daily, two north-bound and two south-bound. By 1822, Standford had a tavern license which allowed him to sell alcohol, making it a great place to grab a drink before facing your enemy in a duel. Many famous people stopped at the inn, including President Andrew Jackson, General Sam Houston (see more below), singer Jenny Lind, and Jeroboam Beauchamp (of the Beauchamp-Sharp Tragedy).

Duncan’s property, known as Linkumpinch Farm, soon became a very popular dueling ground. By 1817, Tennessee had laws against dueling, but not so in Kentucky. Being so close to the TN/KY border AND along the stage coach route, made it the perfect place to travel to for a drink and duel.

Dueling in America

Dan Ware, Director of Tourism for Simpson County, KY states that dueling, “goes back to the middle ages and chivalry and the knights. Defending the honor of their lady and the honor of their king had to be done in mortal combat. It was something that a lot of the aristocrats were trained in that kind of code. People would challenge someone with a duel with a deadly weapon, which usually meant handguns. For honor to be established they dueled.”

The history of dueling begins in the American colonies very early on, as it was brought with colonists from European countries. In the beginning, duelists fought with swords, but later moved to pistols. It was up to the opponents and their supporters, called “seconds” to decide on the weapon of choice. It was also the seconds that were to calm the waters, get the duelers to apologize, and end the duel before it began.

Colonists, and later Americans, followed the basic European code of dueling called “Code Duello” until 1838 when South Carolina Governor, John Lyde Wilson, wrote a new Americanized version of the code. Dueling’s favorability began to decline around 1804 in the north, the time of Hamilton and Burr‘s famous duel, but had continued to be popular in the south and west.

Many of America’s duels included political figures. Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, and Thomas Hart Benton settled affairs of honor through dueling, and some more than once! In 1842, Abraham Lincoln was even called to a duel by James Shield, an Illinois state auditor. Luckily, Lincoln and Shield‘s seconds were able to settle the dispute without an actual duel. Imagine for a moment how different our country would be if they had dueled!

Dueling at Duncan’s Inn

One of the many dueling stories from Linkumpinch, “dates back to Sept. 22, 1826 when Tennessee Representative Sam Houston wounded General William A. White in a pistol duel over the political appointment of the Nashville postmaster. By that time, the dueling grounds had seen more than 40 duels, establishing its legendary place in American history.”

Historic Sanford Duncan Inn to open for guided tours
Interior of Sandford Duncan Inn / Photo Credit: Mohamed Dashti,

Our Visit

On the day we visited, the inn was not open for tours. After seeing the site, I was not terribly disappointed. I mean, I have seen a cabin or two in my travels throughout the state. I took a few pictures through the front windows, walked around the building, and took in the surroundings. As I always do, I tried to envision the road in its day. Imagining a time when the area was less developed was not too difficult to do, for in every direction I turned, there was farm land, most planted with corn. Other than the cars traveling down US 31-W, the area was quiet and reminiscent of a time gone by.

If you find yourself in the area and you wish to tour the Inn, you can contact Simpson County Tourism or the Simpson County Historical Society to schedule a tour.

A Tennessee Visit

The Inn, as I stated, was surrounded by corn fields, so as we arrived, I missed the turn into the driveway of the site. Being surrounded by farmland, we had to drive a bit before I found a place to turn around. At that point, we were able to see the “Welcome to Tennessee” state line sign just down the road. I turned to my mom and said, “Want to go to Tennessee?” Needless to say, we drove on! I mean why not!?! Our travels usually take us in the direction of eastern or western Kentucky. We had never taken a travel due south, so we had never been able to drive to Tennessee and back in a day. Usually getting to the TN line takes us 3-4 hours. I wanted to be able to say I had driven to Tennessee and back in a day. Strange right? I know, I’m weird like that! We crossed the state line, pulled into a parking lot, turned around, and crossed back into Kentucky within just a few minutes. 😅

That evening when we finally made it back home, I told my husband that we had been to Tennessee that day. With a quizzical look he asked, “How’d you do that?” Told you, it’s unusual!

Still not Finished

That’s right, we left Sandford Duncan Inn and we were still not finished in Franklin. Our return home was still about 2 hours away. I had read that Franklin had a Mennonite Community where you could stop on the side of the road to purchase fruits, vegetables, and homemade jams. I wanted to travel the back roads of the area a little more, and I thought it would be cool to find some Mennonite jam. Why not? The website had stated that the community was around the intersection of two KY state roads. I entered the information into my Google Map and off we went.

Several minutes and many miles later, we saw those brown historic site signs giving the directions for an Amish community. I by-passed the signs since I was following the website’s directions for finding the Mennonite community instead. On down the road we drove, finally coming to an area that had the yellow “yield to buggies” signs. Just then, we spotted a family in a buggy on a side road, so I knew we had to be close. We drove on a little longer and Google announced, “You have arrived.” My mom and I glanced at each other. There was absolutely NOTHING around us! We had arrived, but there were no fresh fruit and vegetable stands, no homemade jam signs. I was confused, so I turned onto another state road, unsure of where I was or where I needed to go, but I was on a mission! I would find some homemade jam! Down the road we continued just driving, with hopes we would find these road side stands. We drove and we drove and we drove. My daughter was a little over it, and I was beginning to feel the same, so I pulled off on the side of the road, and set my car navigation to guide me home. Remember, we had not the slightest idea where we were, other than we knew we had not crossed back into Tennessee! Thank goodness for navigation apps. We literally were taking the back roads.

Finding a Way Home

I pulled back onto the state road following my navigation lady. Miles and miles passed by when my navigation directed me to turn onto another state road.

Shortly, I was directed to turn again. As I came upon the turn, I thought, “There is no way I am supposed to turn there!” So, I passed the turn only to be told to do a u-turn and head back to the “road” I had passed. I turned around as directed, and turned onto this road.

I don’t know that I would call it a road. The street sign said, “Midnight Hollow,” but the navigation lady called the road something different. I had a bad feeling about where this navigation lady was taking us. This so-called road was very narrow and basically a gravel road. It was clear that at one time or another the road had been paved, but it seemed that it had been washed out and worn out to what remained… gravel. We continued on down this road as it narrowed even more. There were branches in the road that I carefully navigated over and around. It wasn’t looking good. I came to a spot where it seemed the road went to the right, but in fact, it came to a dead end. To the left, was what looked like the bank of a creek. This navigation lady wanted me to travel down this creek-like bed of a road. There was a sharp curve in the road, so I couldn’t see what would come next. I put the car in park right in the middle of this road. We were officially in the middle of nowhere! (We had not seen another car in a really long time.) There was absolutely no way I was taking my car around the curve of this so-called road that my navigation had led me to. I couldn’t help but laugh. This was the craziest thing I had seen. I swear it was a creek bed! I mean there was no water, but I could envision on a day of heavy rain that there would be! In a laughing fit, I turned to my mom and my daughter and said, “Are you good if we turn around and go back the way we came?” We were all in agreement that we were not willing to find out where the creek-like road went.

What now?

Before I navigated my way back to where we started, we decided we couldn’t trust my car’s navigation. We turned her off, pulled out my Waze navigation and my mom’s Google navigation, hoping that one of these apps would successfully get us out of this lost mess we were in.

Obviously, we did eventually find our way back. It took so many back roads to finally get us to the interstate, but not before we drove for miles on a state road that ran parallel to I-65. We finally arrived in Bowling Green. I finally knew where we were! We made a bathroom pit stop, grabbed some Starbucks, and jumped back into the car to finish the drive home.

Such a Great Day

All the way home we laughed about the adventures of the day. We had seen ghosts, been to Tennessee, church, jail, and the middle of nowhere all in one day. I vowed to never travel down a road with Hollow in its name ever again, and at some point I exclaimed, “All I wanted was to find some jam!” We all burst into laughter again, as tears rolled down my face. We had never laughed so hard on any of our trips and all because we got lost on the back roads of Kentucky. It was another great day filled with incredible memories, fantastic stories, and a whole lot of history!

Join us next time for our adventures in Harrodsburg, KY! Until then, Happy Travels!

3 thoughts on “Sandford Duncan Inn

  1. I enjoyed your travels to Sandford Duncan Inn! I have totally lost a few times in my travels and I regularly give up on the Google Lady! Sounds like you had a great day and with the right people. Interesting history about dueling! I wonder why Jenny Lind travelled there? She is my name sake. I know she sang in Louisville, she must have performed in Nashville as well.

    1. That’s awesome that you were named after her and I’m so happy you enjoyed my post! We do have the greatest times together! 😀

      Jenny Lind’s tour took her to many places throughout the US. She sang in Nashville, TN before traveling north along the stagecoach road into Kentucky. From there she visited Mammoth Cave before traveling to Louisville, Cincinnati, and Pittsburg. You can read more about her visit to Kentucky here:

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