HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN COUNTY KENTUCKY
charles m. meacham
THE CITY OF HOPKINSVILLE FROM 1797 TO 1930
City Government of Hopkinsville; The Village of Elizabeth; New Name in 1804; Changes Under Constitution of 1851; Incorporated as a City in 1870; Its Officers Since 1870; Commission Government in 1916; The Cemeteries.
In the beginning Hopkinsville had the ordinary village government with a board of trustees and a chief of police. No permanent records were kept and it is impossible to record what was done officially, except such matters as went through the county records. The village became a town and the town grew in importance until in 1870 it was granted a charter as the city of Hopkinsville and was ruled for twenty years by a board of seven councilmen, who elected one of their number chairman and who appointed all other officers excepting the city attorney and city judge, who were elected by the people. In 1891 when the new constitution was adopted and cities were divided into classes, Hopkinsville was made a city of the Fourth class, retaining a board of seven councilmen elected from seven wards, and a mayor was authorized to be elected who was not a member of the council. This law went into effect in September 1893, and W. J. Withers, one of the city councilmen who was chairman of the Board, announced himself for Mayor and did not run for re-election as a councilman. When the Board organized and went into the election of a Mayor, Mr. Withers was taken completely by surprise when the secret ballot was disclosed and F. W. Dabney, a councilman, had received four of the seven votes cast. Mr. Withers was not opposed openly and no political issues were involved. He had prepared an elaborate spread to invite the councilmen to after the election, but the dinner was not served. Mr. Withers was a prominent and highly respected business man, but he
was so chagrined by the unlooked-for disappointment in his aspirations that he soon afterwards removed to California and died in that State. Mayor Dabney served with distinction four years and was re-elected for another term of four years, retiring in 1902.
In 1901 Col. Jouett Henry was elected Mayor for four years and served until 1906.
In 1905 Chas. M. Meacham was elected and in 1909 re-elected, serving from January, 1906 to 1914.
In 1913 Frank K. Yost was elected for the term beginning in 1914, but after serving a part of the term resigned about the time the city went into the Third class, requiring the mayor to be elected by a vote of the people, instead of by the council. Mayor Yost would have served to the end of his term in 1918 but his resignation created a vacancy that was filled by the election of Robert T. Stowe, who had been chosen a commissioner, when commission government was adopted. He served two years and in 1918 was succeeded by Dr. Frank H. Bassett, for four years.
In 1922 John J. Metcalfe was elected for a term of four years, but in 1924 resigned and removed to Coral Gables, Florida. This created another vacancy and the two commissioners elected J. T. Wall, a prominent merchant who was not a commissioner, and he qualified and entered upon the duties of Mayor. The question, however, was raised that under the law one of the commissioners should become acting mayor until an election could be held. Mr. Wall thereupon resigned, or gave up the office, and the vacancy was not filled until the following November, when John W. Richards was elected for the unexpired term and was re-elected in 1925, for a full term, serving for six years.
The personnel of the various Boards of Councilmen and Commissioners will be given elsewhere. The city judge has also been an elective office in the third class. All other officers are appointed.
THE CITY GOVERNMENT OF HOPKINSVILLE
In the formative period from 1797 to 1804, the village of Elizabeth was governed by trustees who kept no permanent records. From old deeds the names of some of them can be ascertained, but it is impossible to even attempt a list of them. In 1804 the village was incorporated as a town and its name changed to Hopkinsville. Its Board of Trustees continued to be its only elective officers. They chose one of their number chairman and the board appointed such other officers as were needed.
In 1851 a new constitution was adopted and conditions continued about as before. The charter of the town was amended from time to time by the General Assembly and the city attorney and city marshal were added to the elective officers, who were chosen in August of each year. In 1870 the Legislature granted the town a charter as a city and from that time forward it is possible to record a complete list of the governing bodies and some other officers.
The Board of Trustees consisted of seven members, elected annually as before, serving from December to December. The other officers, so far as they are known, will be named in lists to follow: Beginning with the board in office when the change took place, the lists are here given:
1869 H. A. Phelps, chairman; Dr. R. M. Fairleigh, John B. Gowen, John P. Ritter, George W. Lander, James Wallace.
1870 E. H. Hopper, chairman; W. C. Graves, A. Palmer, John T. Edmunds, Sam A. Means, Dr. R. M. Fairleigh, Jas. E. Jesup. John C. Latham filled the offices of clerk, auditor and treasurer and these offices were merged until 1893.
1871 John T. Edmunds, chairman; Jno. P. Ritter, John P. Gowen, R. C. Slaughter, B. 0. Welch, H. W. Killen, R. M. Fairleigh, John C. Latham, clerk.
1872 Jno. P. Ritter, chairman; R. C. Slaughter, B. 0. Welch, H. W. Killen, Dr. R. M. Fairleigh, D. R. Beard, Geo. W. Means. John C. Latham, clerk.
1873 Jno. P. Ritter, chairman; R. C. Slaughter, B. 0. Welch, Geo. W. Means, D. R. Beard, A. H. Clark, Dr. R. M. Fairleigh. Jno. C. Latham, clerk.
1874 E. P. Campbell, chairman; Dr. R. M. Fairleigh, A. C. Overshiner, Geo. V. Campbell, A. H. Clark, Joseph McCarroll, William Mills.
1875 and 1876 H. A. Phelps, chairman; Dr. R. M. Fairleigh, Geo. W. Means, A. H. Clark, Joseph McCarroll, Wm. Mills, A. C. Over-shiner.
1877 Dr. R. M. Fairleigh, chairman; H. A. Phelps, Geo. W. Means, A.
C. Overshiner, Wm. Mills, E. P. Campbell, E. B. Long. Jno. C.
1878 E. P. Campbell, chairman; D. R. Beard, F. J. Brownell, M. Lipstine, H. F. McCamy, William Ellis, Jno. C. Latham. James 0. Ellis, clerk.
1879 to 1884 E. P. Campbell, chairman; Dr. R. Beard, F. J. Brownell, M. Lipstine, H. F. McCamy, Jno C. Latham, Wm. Mills, reelected annually. Jas. 0. Ellis, clerk.
1885 R. T. Petree, chairman; Geo. 0. Thompson, Dr. W. M. Hill, F. J. Brownell, Wm. Ellis, J. M. Starling, E. B. Long, H. R. Littell, clerk.
1886-1887 E. P. Campbell, chairman; Geo. 0. Thompson, D. R. Beard,
J. M. Starling, S. E. Trice, Alex Gilliland, 0. S. Brown. H. B.
Littell, clerk, re-elected without change.
1888 E. P. Campbell, chairman; M. C. Forbes, Dr. W. M. Hill, W. T. Radford, F. W. Dabney, 0. S. Brown, Alex Gilliland. H. R. Littell, clerk. Bi-partisan boards to 1889.
1889 E. P. Campbell, chairman; 0. S. Brown, Alex Gilliland, A. H. Anderson, C. G. McDaniel, E. B. Long, J. P. Prowse. H. R. Littell, clerk. All Republicans. City divided into seven wards by the General Assembly to favor the Democrats. Next election by wards in order named.
1890 Dr. Andrew Sargent, D.; M. C. Forbes, D.; R. T. Petree, D.; (elected chairman). F. W. Dabney, D.; A. H. Anderson, R.; E. M. Flack, D.; W. J. Withers, D. W. P. Winfree, D.; clerk.
1891 Dr. Andrew Sargent, D.; M. C. Forbes, D.; R. T. Petree, P.; F. W. Dabney, Dr.; A. H. Anderson, R.; E. M. Flack, D. W. J. Withers, P., elected chairman. W. P. Winfree, clerk.
1892 J. B. West, D.; M. C. Forbes, D.; F. W. Dabney, D.; A. H. Anderson, R.; E. M. Flack, D. W. J. Withers, D., chairman. W. P. Winfree, clerk. New constitution went into effect in 1893, changing trustees to councilmen with terms of two years. Hopkinsville placed in fourth class cities with boards to be elected from wards as before. Mayor to be elected by the council.
BOARDS OF COUNCIL UNDER NEW CONSTITUTION
1893 H. W. Tibbs, D.; R. H. Holland, D.; J. K. Twyman, P.; F. W.
Dabney, D.; E. W. Glass, col., R.; Dr. J. B. Jackson, D.; W. J.
Withers, D. Council elected F. W. Dabney Mayor for four years
and the vacancy as councilman was filled by the election of Geo. D.
Dalton, D., by the council. L. H. Davis, clerk.
1895 R. H. Holland, D.; J. D. Ware, D.; D. R. Perry, D.; Geo. D. Dalton, D.; E. W. Glass, R.; E. M. Flack, D.; W. A. P’Pool, D. L. H. Davis, clerk.
1897 R. H. Holland, D).; J. D. Ware, D.; D. R. Perry, D.; Geo. D. Dalton, D.; E. W. Glass, R.; J. T. Wall, D.; L. T. Brasher, D. L. H. Davis, clerk.
1899 H. W. Tibbs, D.; J. S. Fritz, R.; James West, D.; Geo. D. Dalton, D.; E. W. Glass, R.; E. M. Flack, Ind.; J. N. Fowright, P.; W. S. Elgin, clerk.
1901 L. W. Whitlow, D.; Jno. B. Gaibreath, P.; James West, D.; L. H. Davis, D.; E. W. Glass, R.; Dr. J. B. Jackson, D. J. Guy Duncan, D., Colonel Jouett Henry elected mayor for four years. H. W. Tibbs, clerk.
1903 L. W. Whitlow, D.; J. B. Galbreath, D.; J. K. Twyman, D.; L. H. Davis, P.; E. W. Glass, D.; Pr. J. B. Jackson, D.; E. H. Armstrong, D. H. W. Tibbs, clerk.
1905 J. Miller Clark, D.; J. P. Ware, D.; J. K. Twyman, P.; L. H. Davis, D.; E. W. Glass, R.; Dr. J. B. Jackson, D.; E. H. Armstrong, D. Chas. M. Meacham elected mayor for four years. Herbert McMath, clerk.
1907 E. H. Higgins, P.; J. B. Galbreath, P.; M. H. Carroll, P.; L. H. Davis, D.; E. W. Glass, R.; Geo. E. Randle, D.; E. H. Armstrong, D. H. W. Tibbs, clerk.
1909 E. H. Higgins, P.; J. B. Galbreath, D.; N. A. Barnett, D.; A. W. Wood, P.; E. W. Glass, R.; Ceo. E. Randle, P.; H. L. Lebkeucher, R. Chas. M. Meacham re-elected mayor for four years. H. W. Tibbs re-elected clerk.
1911 John J. Metcalfe, D.; W. S. Harned, P.; H. L. ilaydon, D.; F. W. Pabney, P.; Wm. Leverett, col., R.; W. H. Praper, P.; W. A. P’Pool, D. H. W. Tibbs, clerk.
1913 Chas. J. Gee, P.; S. G. Buckner, P.; Dr. J. A. Southall, D.; G. W. Carloss, D.; Hiram S. Smith, col., R.; R. M. Wooldridge, P.; Bailey Russell, D. Frank K. Yost elected mayor for four years, but resigned July 1, 1916. Commission form of Government adopted in 1915 to take effect Jan. 1, 1916. The city to be governed by a mayor elected for a four-year term and two commissioners elected for two-year terms. Election of 1915 was under the new law, non-partisan.
1915 Frank H. Bassett and Wm. R. Wicks elected commissioners for two years. Frank K. Yost holding over as mayor. He resigned in July, 1916, and the office remained vacant until November when
Robert T. Stowe was elected by popular vote for two years and two months—the city having passed into the Third Class requiring the mayor to be elected by popular vote.
1917 Pr. F. H. Bassett elected mayor for four years from Jan. 1, 1918,
and W. R. Wicks and R. T. Stowe elected commissioners.
1919 John W. Richards and H. H. Golay, commissioners.
1921 John J. Metcalfe elected mayor for four years and John W. Rich
ards and Charles H. Layne, commissioners. Mayor Metcalfe re
signed in July, 1924, and a vacancy existed till November, 1924,
when John W. Richards was elected to serve until January 1, 1926.
1923 E. H. Armstrong and Charles Vaughan, commissioners.
1925 John W. Richards re-elected mayor for four years to Jan., 1930.
E. H. Armstrong and Charles Vaughan, commissioners.
1927 J. Sol Fritz and Charles Vaughan, commissioners.
1929 Lucian M. Cayce, elected mayor for ensuing four years. Charles Vaughan and Shelby L. Peace elected commissioners for two years.
When Hopkinsville was first laid out, it was just a congested lot of country-sides. It was the custom on large plantations in the older states for each family to maintain its own private graveyard. This custom was brought to Kentucky by the settlers and private graveyards were provided on many plantations. When the town, was laid out, the custom was continued in the town itself. Fifty years ago several of the old family burial plats were still in existence. One on the Sharp place, near where the High School now stands, was not entirely obliterated until after the war. One known as the Hawkins graveyard is still preserved in one corner of the garden of the Phelps place on Main Street. About 1812 a central cemetery of two acres was provided on a plat of ground donated by Bartholomew T. Wood. This plat, now known as the Pioneer Graveyard, was used until about 1850 when a new City Cemetery was purchased in the north end of the growing city and lots were sold therein. Many bodies buried in the old cemetery were removed to the new one. As time passed this cemetery also began to be crowded with graves and in 1887 the city council purchased a tract adjoining of 86 acres and a landscape artist was employed who platted the whole tract, laying out driveways, burial lots and reservations in a most artistic and beautiful
manner. Trees and shrubbery were planted and the lot-owners were encouraged to beautify their private lots with flowers and grass plats. The cemetery was at first called “Hopewell Cemetery,” but a later City Council changed the name to Riverside Cemetery. This newest and largest of the cemeteries now contains nearly 9,000 graves. Many of the country people own lots in it, and the time is not far distant when further enlargement will be found necessary. In fact there have already been some unwise encroachments upon the ornamental reservations not intended for burial plats.
What is now known as the “Old Cemetery,” between 1850 and 1887 had two sextons recalled by old citizens. One was James Kennedy, who served a long time and was succeeded by Matt Dunnavan. When the new cemetery was opened, it was about the time immigrants were being encouraged to come from foreign countries and the council brought in, direct from England, a professional care-taker named Roboam Roake, who took charge of the cemetery as landscape gardener and sexton, and held the position for 17 years. His eyesight became impaired and he was unable to continue as the duties became more difficult. In 1904 John T. Johnson became sexton and served continuously until 1914. In that year he was succeeded by Robert D. Reeder, who has held the position for 16 years, with a competent corps of assistants.
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