In 1838 a grove south of the Gilman Prairie filled with early settlers and armed men. The unsettled period was from Sept. 15 to Nov. 8, 1838. Daviess County records, written in January 1838, called this place Awbrey Grove. Displaced families and defenders from neighboring counties were camped here to defend Daviess County from the Mormon Caldwell County Military units formed March 10, 1838, and people at Adam-Ondi-Ahman were collecting the necessary comforts to make it through the coming winter.
The collecting increased when the 250 peope at Adam-Ondi-Ahman were joined by 250 people of the Mormon poor train, which arrived on Oct. 4th. Needs increased again after the cold and big snow storm of Oct. 16-17. Many of the fearful non-Mormons moved east to Awbrey Grove when the collecting continued. As Gallatin and Millport were burned on Oct. 18-19 as well as cabins elsewhere, even more families moved east into Awbrey Grove to camp and build shelters for the winter. Supplies from Livingston, Carroll, Ray, Clay and Saline counties and also from elsewhere came with forces prepared for defense.
After Oct. 6, Col. W.W. Austin was commanding the volunteers. Dr. Austin was from Carroll County. Col. Thompson was in charge of state forces at Millport after Oct. 2, but reported that his men were going over in large numbers to join Dr. Austin.
Dr. Austin and his forces were ordered to disperse from Millport on Sept. 12 by the governor’s aide, James M. Hughes, and also by Gen. Doniphan’s aide, Benjamin Holliday. The Millport-Awbrey Grove force of non-Mormon volunteers were not under state orders. On Sept. 15, this group was estimated at 200 to 300 men.
Minnie McClung Peniston writes a report in 1937, identifying a fort which was constructed during this period of time on her father’s farm located about a mile west-southwest of Awbrey Grove. It was on the west bank of a part of East Brushy Creek in Jamesport Township. It was near the south part of the section line, between Section 29 and Section 30, at a spring called Redwine Spring. Near this place, she said, her father later constructed a fishing pond. The fort was intended to defend the displaced families and the volunteer forces in the area.
When the Mormons were removed from the region during early November, the fort served no useful purpose. Many of the temporary residents left for their homes or to rebuild their homes. The exact location of the fort has been lost.
Prepared by David Stark