Col. William Whitley was born on 14 Aug 1749 in Rockbridge (then Augusta) Co., VA. He died on 5 Oct 1813 in Battle of The Thames, Canada. The cause of death was Killed while exchanging gunfire with Tecumseh. He married Esther Gill Fuller.
Col. William Whitley (1749 - 1813) built the first brick house west of the Alleghanies and it still stands today. It is owned and preserved by the State of KY (since 1938) as a historical site and can be viewed by the public. It is just a few miles from where Louisa Bell and her family grew up and where she and Edmund Wilson lived when in KY.
The son of Irish immigrants, William Whitley made his first trip to Kentucky in 1775 accompanied by his brother-in-law, George Clark. They established a station on land near St. Asaph, now known as Stanford. Whitley returned to Virginia for his wife Esther, and two daughters (eventually their offspring would number eleven). Often the terrain was so rough that they had to take their goods off the pack animals and carry them by hand. The Whitleys built their homestead away from a walled fort because attacks by the native Americans were few. They planted 10 acres of corn, thus staking their claim to the land.
He also built the first racetrack in Kentucky but insisted that the horses race in the opposite direction that they did in England. This tradition is still carried on today.
However, attacks from the natives increased and the Whitleys fled, first to Logan's Fort, then to Fort Harrod. After a year, the family returned to their station. Its position on the Wilderness Road led to persons gathering there to increase their numbers before crossing the wilderness back to Virginia. Whitley advised the travelers and sold them supplies. He became well-known as an "Indian fighter" because his station was often the first stop for travelers who had been attacked on the way to Kentucky. He or his wife Esther would raise the Kentucky Militia to pursue the attackers. Whitley was recommended to the rank of captain in the Militia.
Whitley's fame as a defender of the frontier caused his acceptance as a volunteer at the age of 64 in the War of 1812. He was killed in the Battle of the Thames it is reputed while being among the small group of men that had cornered Chief Tecumseh, and in the exchange of gunfire, both Whitley and Tecumseh were killed.