Col. Benjamin Cleveland
Benjamin Cleveland was born on May 26, 1738 on Bull Run in Prince William or Culpepper County VA. He married Mary Graves and moved with her family to North Carolina. He learned of Kentucky from his neighbor and “hunting Buddy” Daniel Boone and moved there in 1772. However, Cherokee Indians caught him and stripped him of his possessions as he passed through the Cumberland Gap. He made it back after nearly starving in the journey.
He moved back to North Carolina and formed his own militia unit. When Wilkes County was formed from Surry County in 1777, he was made a Colonel. He was co-commander of the American forces at the Battle of King’s Mountain. After the battle, he took the British General’s horse as a souvenir.
Cleveland was a judge and almost total dictator in the Surry County area. He would have Tories and criminals tortured and hung with little or no judicial process. He had a speech impediment that kept him out of the political arena. However, Cleveland County NC and several towns were named for him.
Col. Ben weighed 300 pounds in his prime and reportedly weighed over 550 pounds later in life. He died in 1806.
-taken from the Lyman Draper Collection, University of Wisconsin Library
Click below to read a very interesting story about the life and times of Ben Cleveland.