HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN COUNTY KENTUCKY
charles m. meacham
The Big Snow of 1886; The County Goes Dry; Jefferson Davis’ Visit to
Fairview; Gas Company Starts, 1887; The Confederate Monument;
Latham Light Guards in 1888; County Goes Wet Again, 1889; The
First Race Horses, 1890.
Census of Colored Schools of Hopkinsville taken in January, 1886 showed three hundred and eighty-eight pupils.
Young Men’s Christian Association opens a reading room in Hopkinsville.
THE BIG SNOW
On February 2, 1886, there was the heaviest snowfall ever recorded in this part of Kentucky. It continued for many hours, and was twenty-one inches on a level on the morning after. The sidewalks of Hopkinsville, when cleared, made great banks of snow in the streets. A picture showing the “big snow” will be seen on another page. The previous record snow in this part of the country was in the 60’s, when the snow was eighteen inches deep. Following close on the snowfall of February 2, there was a bitter cold wave, and on February 6 the mercury fell to twenty degrees below zero.
A city census taken in April, 1886, in Hopkinsville, showed ninety persons in the city more than seventy years of age.
J. B. McKenzie appointed Postmaster of Hopkinsville June 15, 1886.
John C. Latham, Jr., donates $1,500.00 to improve the new cemetery opened this year. R. Roake, an Englishman, employed as sexton.
The Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company buys the Indiana, Alabama and Texas Railroad across the southern part of the county.
The great earthquake in September that destroyed property and lives at Charleston, S. C., was distinctly felt in Hopkinsville in a series of slight shocks.
A special train carrying three hundred and eighty-three Chiricahua Indians from San Carlos, Arizona, passed through the county in charge of a company of eighty-two soldiers, en route to Fort Marion, Florida. Taking them to this remote prison was a part of the system to quiet the troublesome tribes. In the company were sixty-three bucks, one hundred and seventy-five squaws and a hundred and forty-seven children. They attracted much interest.
Dr. John C. Whitlock, a leading physician at Newstead, died November 6, 1886.
In a special election, held for “local option,” the county went “dry” by seventy-four votes, in a hard-fought contest. It remained dry for a little more than two years.
CHRISTIAN COUNTY HUNTING CLUB
Capt. S. R. White’s hunting party to Clarendon, Arkansas, returned in November from a hunt of eighteen days. They killed eleven deer and other game. In the party were J. R. Caudle, George M. Hart, Posey J. Glass, Lyman McCombs, Austin Peay, Ed Drane, Henry Drape, J. S. Parrish, H. H. Bryant and T. P. Burke. The party carried five negroes, thirty-two hounds, sixteen head of stock, two wagons, five tents and twenty gallons of snake-bite antidotes. These trips were taken annually for many years.
In November, Curtis D. Wood, a son of Bartholomew T. Wood, who lived in the county, was in the city, and said he was born April 3, 1797, in a cabin near the Rock Spring, his father’s cabin being at the time the only house on the site of Hopkinsville. The act creating Christian County became effective March 1, 1797, and Mr. Wood was probably the first child born in the new county. He said during his childhood he had often seen his mother take down his father’s rifle and shoot deer while standing in their cabin door.
JEFFERSON DAVIS VISITS THE COUNTY
Jefferson Davis, who had been President of the Confederacy, came to Fairview November 19, 1886, and presented to the Bethel Baptist Church the plat of ground upon which had stood the house in which he was born in 1808 while it was in Christian County. The Bethel Church was moved from some miles west on the road to Pembroke. Mr. Davis was very feeble. He came to Clarksville Friday, and was taken to Fairview Sunday. Dr. C. H. Strickland, of Nashville, preached the dedicatory sermon, and Rev. E. N. Dicken made some remarks, after which Mr. Davis made the following brief address:
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the congregation: My heart is always filled with gratitude to you, who extend to me so many kindnesses. I am thankful that I can give you this lot upon which to worship the triune God. It has been asked why I, who am not a Baptist, give this lot to the Baptist Church. I am not a Baptist, but my father, who was a better man than I, was a Baptist.
“Wherever I go, when I come here, I feel ‘that this is my own, my native land.’ When I see this beautiful church it refills my heart with thanks. It shows your capacity for building for your God. The pioneers of this country, as I have learned from history, were men of plain, simple habits, full of energy and inbred with religious principles. They lived in a day before the dawn of sectarian disturbances and sectional strifes. In their rude surroundings and teachings, it is no wonder that they learned that God was love. I did not come here to speak. I would not mar with speech of mine, the effect of the beautiful sermon to which you have listened. I simply tender to you, through the trustees of Bethel, the site upon which this church stands. May the God of heaven bless this community forever, and may the Savior of the world preserve this church to his worship for all time to come.”
When he concluded, Rev. E. N. Dicken made some remarks and the meeting adjourned, and a dinner was served to the very large crowd present. Mr. Davis and his party ate at a private table, in the pastor’s study. Mr. Davis departed for Clarksville on the train at Pembroke at five o’clock the same day.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Hopkinsville erected a new hohse of worship on Seventh Street in 1887.
A Teachers’ Institute was held on July 27th, and these meetings of the teachers thereafter became annual affairs.
Hopkinsville held an election to take the will of the people on giving $100,000.00 to the Ohio Valley Railroad, to enter the city from Gracey, and the bond proposition received the substantial majority of six hundred and fifty-seven votes.
W. T. Radford, of Pembroke, who had introduced a herd of Holstein cattle in the year before, showed them at the Tennessee Fair in Nashville, and was awarded several premiums.
Rev. Thomas G. Keen, D.D., long a prominent divine, pastor of the Baptist Church for many years, living at the time in Evansville, died August 21, 1887, and his body was brought to Hopkinsville for interment.
A company to manufacture gas was organized with fifty-four stockholders and $50,000.00 capital stock. Up to this time the streets had been lighted by coal oil lamps on the street corners, although steps had been taken several years before to have gas. There was some delay this time in making the change, but the gas lamps were installed and were the next step leading up to the White Way of forty years later.
An old negro woman named Hannah Scott was found living in Hopkinsville, who claimed to have been ten years old when “Gen. Washington marched through Virginia.” It was assumed that she meant 1781, which made her one hundred and sixteen years of age if her claim was true.
Mrs. Martha Davidge, widow of Judge Rezin Davidge, died September 27, 1887, at the home of her son-in-law, Thos. F. Brown, aged ninety-one years.
John W. Richards drew $5,000.00 in the October drawing of the Louisiana State Lottery, holding one-tenth of the winning ticket, getting $50,000.00.
The large flouring mill of F. L. Ellis & Co. was destroyed by fire in October. The mill was not rebuilt, but an ice factory took its place, a notable step in the progress of the city. In the old days, ice houses filled with ice in winter and packed in straw, were general throughout the country. Then came the shipment of ice from factories in other cities. A year
or two before this an attempt had been made to make ice at a small plant on Seventh Street, but it was soon abandoned for the lack of an adequate water supply. The Ellis Company had a never-failing well on its property and the new enterprise was a pronounced success from the start, and has been one of the city’s leading manufactories for more than forty years.
Judge Hiram A. Phelps died July 18, and in November Judge G. A. Champlin died. They were leading members of the local bar.
The Christian County Driving Park, successor to the County Fair, was organized this year, with H. H. Abernathy, President; R. P. Owsley, vice-president; A. D. Rodgers, secretary, and W. T. Cooper, treasurer. It held horse shows and races several years.
THE CONFEDERATE MONUMENT
The monument, in Riverside Cemetery, erected by John C. Latham, Jr. in honor of Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery, was unveiled May 19, 1887, with imposing ceremonies, with a great crowd present, estimated at ten thousand. The cord lowering the covering was pulled by Minor Latham, five-year-old daughter of C. M. Latham. Her little maids of honor were Bessie Campbell, Jessie Howe and Lalla Dennis. The opening prayer was by Dr. C. H. Strickland, of Nashville. James Breathitt, son of a Union soldier, made the opening address. The formal presentation was made by John C. Latham, responded to by Councilman Geo. 0. Thompson. A great oration was next delivered by Congressman W. C. P. Breckinridge, followed by one by Rev. Dr. Chas. F. Deems, of New York. The benediction was pronounced by Rev. A. D. Sears, of Clarksville, Tenn. M. H. Nelson was marshal of the day, assisted by Capt. Ned Campbell, C. A. Brasher, Polk Cansler, John Boyd, W. H. Jesup, R. A. Baker, H. C. Herndon, F. M. Quarles, H. H. Bryant and Wm. Cowan. Several of the marshals were Union soldiers.
ALL BIG MEN
In 1887 the Circuit Court and its officers were all men weighing more than two hundred and twenty pounds. Their weights, as given in a local paper, were: John R. Grace, Circuit Judge, 260 pounds; James B. Garnett, Commonwealth’s Attorney, 240 pounds; Cyrus M. Brown, Circuit Clerk, 250 pounds; George W. Long, County Jailer, 230 pounds; John Boyd, County Sheriff, 220 pounds.
OFFICERS CHURCH HILL GRANGE
John W. McGaughey, Worthy Master; John A. Browning, Corresponding Secretary; A. H. Wallace, Overseer; F. M. Pierce, Lecturer; J. B. Walker, Steward; J. W. Lander, Assistant Steward; M. V. Owen, Chaplain;
W. A. Glass, Secretary; J. M. Adams, Treasurer; Geo. B. Pierce, Gatekeeper; Mrs. A. M. Henry, Pomona; Miss Rosa Dade, Flora; Miss Lulu Pierce, Ceres; Miss Lizzie Owen, L. A. Secretary, Miss Fannie Clardy,
For the Casky Grange, the officers of 1887 were:
OFFICERS OF CASKY GRANGE
J. F. Garnett, W. M.; T. L. Graham, W. 0.; V. A. Garnett, W. L.; E. J.Murphy, W. L., J. J. Stuart, W. S.; D. M. Whittaker, W. A. S.; R. F. Rives, W. T.; J. T. Garnett, W. G. K.; Walter Warfield, Secretary; Mrs. J. J.
Stuart, Ceres; Mrs. T. L. Graham, Pomona; Mrs. Winston Henry, Flora; Mrs. E. C. Bronaugh, L. S.; John C. Boxley, Business Agent.
ROSTER OF LATHAM LIGHT GUARDS, 1888
Captain, E. Grey Lewis; First Lieutenant, Jouett Henry; Second Lieutenant, E. B. Bassett; First Sergeant, Logan Feland; Second Sergeant, Walter Campbell; twenty-eight privates.
The Hopkinsville Company of State Guards organized several years before as Company D had been supplied with equipment by John C. Lath-am, Jr., and at this time was known as the Latham Light Guards, officers as above.
The First National Bank was organized April, 1888, with $64,000.00 capital stock. S. R. Crumbaugh was President; Geo. W. Graves, Vice-President; Palmer Graves, Cashier, and Bailey Russell, Bookkeeper. The Directors were S. R. Crumbaugh, W. A. Lowry, C. F. Jarrett, J. P. Prowse, M. Frankel, R. F. Rives, W. L. Thompson and Nat Gaither.
The following year, July, 1889, 5. R. Crumbaugh and Palmer Graves resigned and Geo. C. Long became President and Thos. W. Long Cashier.
John Skinner, a negro, accused of a murderous attack on a white man named Ballard Fourqueran, was taken from the county jail on the night of March 13, 1888, by a mob and hanged to a tree on the Cadiz road.
The Hopkinsville Commercial Club was organized in April, with E. B. Bassett as President, S. Walton Forgy, Secretary, and thirty charter members.
At Little River Baptist Church, near Newstead, the fiftieth anniversary of the ordination of its pastor, Rev. A. W. Meacham, as a minister, was celebrated. He had been pastor of the Little River Church twenty-six years.
To relieve the overcrowded condition of the Circuit Court docket, a special Common Pleas Court was created for a term of two years. John W. McPherson was appointed the Judge until the election in August, when he was elected in a spirited campaign.
Three prominent citizens of Hopkinsville died this year. M. Frankel, July 6; E. H. Hopper, September 21; and Dr. R. M. Fairleigh October 20.
The Ellis Ice Company opened business with a new factory on its former mill site, with a capacity of ten tons a day.
The school building erected in Hopkinsville in 1882 was found to be too small, and it was enlarged to accommodate five hundred pupils.
In the election held to issue bonds to aid the Ohio Valley Railroad Company, the proposition received four hundred and twenty-five majority.
On December 4, 1888, Rev. E. Williams, a colored minister, pastor of a Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, closed a revival and baptized a hundred and thirty-five converts in the “mill pond” at the bend of Little River, near Second Street. Another preacher baptized four at the same time. During the baptizing, a negro boy, who had climbed a tree extending over the river, fell into the water, creating a good deal of merriment.
COUNTY GOES WET AGAIN
In January, 1889, a special election was taken on a continuation of local option, after a trial of two and a half years, and prohibition was defeated by one thousand thirteen majority.
The newly elected City Council of Hopkinsville organized by the election of Dr. W. M. Hill, Chairman of the Board.
Dr. Barton W. Stone succeeded Dr. James Rodman as Superintendent of the Western Kentucky Lunatic Asylum, as it was then called. Dr. Rod-. man had served for twenty-eight years. Dr. Stone had been assistant for many years.
In the southern part of the county a son of W. E. Adcock plowed up on his father’s farm a Spanish coin, dated 1789.
A Presbyterian Church in the new town of Gracey was completed and dedicated in the summer.
Charles White, born in 1793, died in August, aged ninety-six years, a soldier of 1812. His father, James White, was a soldier of the Revolutionary War.
J. W. Lillard, a negro doctor and a newcomer, was elected County Coroner on the Republican ticket by twenty votes, but was found to be ineligible, by reason of the fact that he had not been in the State two years. His Democratic opponent, Dr. J. L. Dulin, was declared elected.
THE FIRST STEAM PLOW
C. T. Mason in September bought the first steam plow owned in the county for $2,500.00. It was claimed for it that it plowed a furrow nine feet wide and did the work of six two-horse plows.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Pembroke completed a new house of worship, and it was dedicated by Dr. Wm. Darby in the fall.
Near the end of the year a local paper compiled a list of ten persons and firms owning typewriters. R. W. Henry had introduced the first one
a year or two before, and the following persons had acquired them by’ November 1, 1889: Landes & Clark; Long, Winfree & Kelly; Joe McCarroll; Abernathy & Long; Wood & Bell; A. D. Rodgers; C. H. Dietrich (two), and Willie Bramham, who was experimenting with a small one.
T. L. Metcalfe opened the first public bath-room in Hopkinsville on April 29th, supplying a “long-felt want.” It was in charge of Ernest Penn, a colored attendant, and there were six tubs.
The first annual stock sale of Douglas Grange, at Longview, was held in May, and sixty-seven head of stock sold.
The city tax assessment of Hopkinsville for 1889 was $1,467,220.00, the taxes thereon $27,435.00 and the tithes 1,217.
A GHOST SCARE
In January, 1890, there was great excitement at the home of Rev.W. L. G. Quaite, three miles east of Hopkinsville, over mysterious manifestations, such as lumps of coal falling from the ceiling and striking persons in the house. Great crowds went to the place, and some were rewarded by seeing some of the mysterious happenings. R. L. Moseley and W. R. Elliott, two neighbors, who attempted to investigate, were unable to find the cause, and after several weeks the excitement died down and the mystery remained unsolved. The coal when placed on the fire burned quite naturally.
STORM CAUSES THREE DEATHS
A destructive storm visited the western part of the county on the evening of March 30th. The frame store building of McGehee Brothers, seven miles west of Hopkinsville, was blown down. The stove was overturned and set fire to the building. Of’ two white men and two colored men in the store, only one escaped. John Q. McGehee and Chester Gray, colored, and Marshal Blakeley, colored, were burned to death. R. F. Warren, who was near the door, was rescued by Miss Sudie Meacham, who raised the timbers that held him fast.
Rev. S. N. Vail was called to the pastorate of the First Presbyterian Church of Hopkinsville in May, and filled the position several years.
THE FIRST RACE HORSES
Major S. R. Crumbaugh engaged in the breeding of race horses and his stud, headed by Elkwood, at this time had twelve mares and ten colts and fillies. This was the real beginning of thoroughbred breeding.
The new Tobacco Exchange, upstairs in the Moayon Building, Ninth and Virginia Streets, was opened, December 16, 1890. The buyers present were C. M. Garth, Louisville; W. A. Lowry, William Campbell, M. D. Boales, J. D. Ware, M. H. Tandy, E. M. Flack, C. F. Jarrett & Company, G. V. Thompson, D. G. Wiley, J. S. Ragsdale, Rice & Company, R. W. Ware and Nelson & Dabney.
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