Updated: Jan 20, 2019
Hemp was brought to the bluegrass region when “Kentucke” was just a territory within the Commonwealth of Virginia. While there was a native hemp to the land, this was not the kind that the pioneers were accustomed to using for fiber in European countries similar to flax.
As early pioneers and their families began to settle in the area, there was a growing need for hemp fiber to make household cloth, cordage and canvas. An early settler by the name of Archibald McNeill brought the first hemp seeds to Kentucky. According to Historical Marker #1279 he planted the first crop at Clarks Run Creek near Danville in 1775.
As settlements sprang up in Central Kentucky, pioneers planted hemp crops wherever enough of the rich Bluegrass land could be cleared (The Advocate-Messenger, 1965). Early settlers had little access to seed, and most of what could be acquired was grown for fiber to make basic needs such as rope, twine, and chord for ship rigging and textiles for clothing, blankets, wagon covering, sail cloth, etc.
Fiber Wars, Chapter 2; by David P. West, Ph.D.
Hopkins, J. (1951). A history of the hemp industry in Kentucky. University of Kentucky Press.
Kentucky Records. (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2015, from http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/kentucky/
United States. National Park Service. (n.d.). Athens of the West, essay on the History of Lexington, Kentucky. Retrieved December 7, 2015, from http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/lexington/athens.htm