HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN COUNTY KENTUCKY
charles m. meacham
The Constitutional Convention; Hopkinsville Divided into Wards, 1891;
Ohio Valley Railroad, 1892; Electric Lights; The Sam Jones Revival, 1893;
The First Mayor, 1894;
Organized Baseball; Water Works in
The Harrison administration had come into power the year before, and there was a spirited contest for postmaster of Hopkinsville in 1891. In April, Mrs. May H. Wright was nominated, but the nomination was held up until September, when her name was withdrawn and Major John W. Breathitt was appointed.
In the August election, Dr. John D. Clardy, a Democrat, was elected as the Christian County delegate to the Constitutional Convention, the Grange movement contributing largely to his success, as he was a Democrat and the county was normally Republican.
Joshua S. Summers, the county’s largest tobacco grower, at this time sold his crop of 103 hogsheads for $11,000.00. The lugs brought $4.50 and the leaf $7.80.
Excitement was created by a report that oil had been struck in a well bored seven miles west of Crofton, near McKnight’s mill, at a depth of 430 feet. The well was bored by the Sand Lick Oil Company, of which J. B. Atkinson was President. C. M. Brown recalled that his father, E. A. Brown, a pioneer settler who had died a dozen years before, had told him that when he was a young man there was a “greasy salt lick” near the place. The oil struck in the well was mixed with water and nothing came of the discovery.
Miss Cora Petree was chosen to represent Hopkinsville in the Satellites of Mercury pageant, in Louisville, in October.
Steps were taken to collect a bequest of $2,000.00 left to the city by Mrs. Margaret N. Roach in 1888. A condition was that if the money was not used to erect a public fountain within two years, it would be forfeited to other persons under her will. The money was never received by the city.
The convention to formulate a new State Constitution to take the place of the old, adopted in 1851, was in session in 1891 for many months. Dr. John D. Clardy represented Christian County.
In April of this year Lucian Jones, the city’s leading banker, President of the City Bank, died of the epidemic called la grippe, and was succeeded as President by E. B. Long.
RABBIT HUNT IN 1892
A rabbit hunt was participated in, near Pembroke, by W. T. Radford, J. A. Radford, P. B. Pendleton, W. A. Radford, W. D. Garnett, Ben Garnett, C. E. Barker, P. M. Barker and W. B. Belote. It lasted two days and 396 rabbits were killed by the nine hunters.
OHIo VALLEY RAILROAD
The Ohio Valley Railroad began running trains August 1, 1892. This was a Presidential year, and the Democratic nominees were Grover Cleveland and Adlai E. Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson was a native of this county, and a great Democratic rally was held on his birthplace, near Herndon, on the new road, September 2, attended by the distinguished candidate, who made a speech to a great crowd. He was introduced by W. R. Howell. Councilman F. W. Dabney officially represented Hopkinsville. In the election, in November, the Democrats won.
ELECTRIC LIGHT PLANT
This year marked another great forward step. J. P. Martin & Company, of Xenia, Ohio, installed an electric light plant, and the lights were turned on October 28, 1892. The city was lighted by thirty-eight arc lights, of two thousand candle power, replacing seventy-five gas lamps. Miss Jimmie Ellis started the engines, and Miss Mamie Clark, the dynamo, in the presence of a big crowd. Two stores put in the new lights, Bassett & Company and Cox Brothers. Others soon followed. A. D. Rodgers was made Superintendent.
Governor John Young Brown spoke at a big rally, at Pembroke, October 21.
J. F. Pickett, first Agent of the 0. V. Railroad, was succeeded by B. M. Flippen in November.
THE JONES REVIVAL
The year 1893 opened with a revival meeting held in Cooper & Ragsdale’s warehouse by Rev. Sam Jones and Rev. George Stuart, with E. 0. Excell as choir leader. A great religious upheaval resulted and more than three hundred converts joined the various city churches during the month of January. Mr. Jones preached twenty sermons and Mr. Stuart twelve, and the city churches received additions as follows: Methodists, 91; Baptists, 75; Christian, 58; Westminster Presbyterian, 28; Cumberland Presbyterian, 17; Episcopal, 14; First Presbyterian, 14; total, 303.
Many of the country churches also received numerous additions as a result of the meeting. This was the first of four revivals the noted revivalist held in the city during a period of ten years.
Stock Company formed and the Canton Road Pike extended to New-stead, a branch of four miles.
T. G. Yates, a jeweler, had a guessing contest on the number of perfectly formed seeds in a big pumpkin. The prize, a $150.00 watch, was won by W. G. Fox, who guessed 965, the exact number. Other close guessers, who got minor prizes, were Miss Effie McCullough, 966; E. L. Camp, T. L. Metcalfe, Miss Gertrude McElwain, each 964; T. L. Yonts, William Collins, Miss Bettie Boulware, Miss Lillian Richards, each 963; J. F. Pyle, 967; F. D. Caffee, 968; Harry Lipstine, 962; E. M. Flack, J. H. Anderson, G. M. Bell, Mrs. J. D. Ware, each 961; Claude Russell, 960.
John C. Latham heads a movement to build a new hotel, subscribing $5,000.00.
Judge John R. Grace, on April 7, upholds the validity of a contract to establish water works in Hopkinsville.
George V. Green sells four Jersey cows to a man at Buffalo, N. Y., for $1,000.00.
The magnificent new hotel, to be known as Hotel Latham, was erected in the spring. The Kentuckian, commenting on the name, said:
“Nothing is more fitting than that the name of John C. Latham, Jr., should be indissolubly connected with this great enterprise. The hotel, that is to bear his honored name, will be the pride of Western Kentucky. May its white walls stand for ages to commemorate the generosity, the public spirit and the devotion to his native city, that are the crowning characteristics of the most successful business man Hopkinsville has ever turned out.”
Judge H. R. Littell died suddenly at Hot Springs, Arkansas. He came to Hopkinsville in 1859 and in 1862 was elected County Judge for four years, and subsequently served four years as County Attorney. He was Clerk and Treasurer of the city for many years and served a short while as President of the City Bank in 1891. He was a member of the law firm of Petree and Littell.
FIRST BALL PARK
A baseball team was organized in Hopkinsville in the summer of 1894. “Athletic Park” was fenced in on a lot on West Seventh Street, and games were played with Clarksville, Bowling Green and other towns. A big interest was aroused in baseball and for many years afterwards there were teams, leading up to regular League ball.
Dr. J. D. Clardy, of Christian County, nominated for Congressman from the Second District and elected in November.
W. H. Martin appointed Postmaster at Crofton.
W. A. Wilgus appointed Postmaster of Hopkinsville, to succeed John W. Breathitt.
The new stone church building of the First Baptist Church, corner of Main and Fourteenth Streets, erected at a cost of $28,000.00. The Rev. Charles H. Nash was pastor and the dedication sermon was preached by Dr. H. M. Wharton, of Baltimore, Sunday, December 16, 1894. Rev. A. W. Meacham, aged seventy-six, was the oldest minister present.
The first Council under the new Constitution, elected in November, 1893, was organized. W. J. Withers, retiring Councilman from the Seventh Ward, had been Chairman, and expected to be elected the first Mayor. So certain was Mr. Withers that he would be elected, that he had arranged for a dinner to the Council after adjournment. The Council, voting by secret ballot, sprang a surprise; four of the seven members voted for F. W. Dabney, Councilman from the Fourth Ward. A roll call, to conform to the constitutional provision that voting be open, resulted in Mr. Dabney’s receiving the votes of A. H. Anderson, E. M. Flack, R. H. Holland and George M. Steele; W. J. Withers received the votes of M. C. Forbes, F. W. Dabney and W. A. P’Pool. Mr. Dabney was declared elected and George D. Dalton was later elected Councilman in his place. He served eight years as Mayor, being re-elected in 1898. Mr. Withers shortly afterwards removed to California.
Sam Jones and George Stuart returned February 28, 1894, for the second of the three revivals they held in the city. His first revival, in January, 1893, had resulted in the erection of the Union Tabernacle, and the second meeting was held in it. The meeting lasted only eight days. There were about a hundred conversions, and on the last night fifty-two persons indicated their intention to join some church.
Gilmer M. Bell, City Attorney, died in March, 1894. He was a brilliant and very promising young lawyer. He left a widow and one son.
Lafayette reported the organization of a Silver Cornet Band of sixteen pieces.
Judge William W. McKenzie died near Bennettstown, March 20, 1894. He was born in Iredell County, North Carolina, June 8, 1803, and came to this county in 1814.
Opie Read and Ben King, humorists, gave an entertainment in Hopkinsville early in April, and the following night recited their poems and gave readings in Bowling Green, Kentucky. King, among other numbers, recited the poem, “If I Should Die Tonight.” The next morning he was found dead in bed at his hotel.
Hotel Latham opened for business, January 3, 1895, with a banquet and a ball the next night. It was owned by a stock company, with H. C. Gant, President, and E. M. Flack, A. H. Anderson, F. L. Ellis, E. P. Campbell and Hunter Wood, Directors. The cost was $100,000.00, including a bonded debt of $45,000.00. George D. Hodge was Manager and Hugh Phelps Chief Clerk.
Hopkinsville Gas and Electric Company buys the old Gas Company, January 10th, and enlarges the plant. The directors were E. P. Campbell, R. T. Petree, W. T. Tandy, C. A. Thompson and Walter Kelly.
Governor Brown appointed Lilburn C. Linn, of Murray, Circuit Judge, to succeed Judge John R. Grace, who resigned January 1st to become a Judge of the Court of Appeals.
S. C. Mercer opens a Bicycle Park on Glass property, April, 1895, with track and grandstand. Named it Mercer Park and provided a great bald eagle to be kept in a cage with a wing spread of eight feet eight inches.
The G.A.R. Encampment of Kentucky met in Hopkinsville, April 15, 1895. Those present were General Thomas G. Lawler, Commander-in-Chief, with his staff: Adjutant General C. C. Jones; Quartermaster W. H. Burst; State Commander D. 0. Riley; Captain Mike Minton; Colonel R. M. Kelly; Captain J. W. Hammonds and E. H. Hobson. There was a parade of thirty-six veterans on horseback and seventy-seven men and one woman on foot, of the visitors.
Ned Merriwether Bivouac, C.S.A., had M. H. Nelson and C. F. Jarrett on horseback and thirty-four veterans on foot.
The John V. Boyd G.A.R. Post had seventy-five on foot. A colored contingent of 124 was led by James Allensworth and Frank Price. There were 168 people in carriages, all making an imposing parade, of 596, with four bands. A night meeting was held at the Tabernacle, with an address by Mayor F. W. Dabney and a response by General Lawler. A number of other speeches were made. There was special music by girls from Bethel Female College.
Hopkinsville was given long distance telephone connection for the first time in April, 1895. The first crude telephone exchange was installed in 1887 by S. H. Turner, who started with thirty-one subscribers, giving a day service. After a struggle for existence, he sold the outfit to a forerunner of the Cumberland Telephone Company, and the people were gradually becoming accustomed to the use of telephones. The lines were extended to Nashville and Henderson, and the real growth of the present great system began.
Hopkinsville organized a baseball team, and the first start was made in League ball. The 1895 season was an exchange of games with similar Ihome teams from Clarksville, Henderson and other nearby towns.
A contract was let to build an iron bridge across Tradewater River, two miles south of Dawson Springs, to the Champion Bridge Company for $2,281.00, the bridge to be 104 feet long, Christian County to pay $1,300.00 and Hopkins County the balance.
The Post Office Building was remodeled by W. A. Wilgus, the new Postmaster. Personnel of the office announced, John G. Ellis, Chief Deputy; Alexander C. Overshiner, Jr., Mailing Clerk; William E. Campbell, General Delivery Clerk; Miss Eva Royalty, Stamp Clerk.
A contract was let for an iron bridge over Red River, near Kennedy, for $2,495.00. It was 150 feet long, the longest bridge in the county at that time.
The Hopkinsville ball team, known as the Athletics, John B. Gal-breath, Manager, arranged a game with a local team from Nashville and defeated the visitors, baseball enthusiasm running high.
On July 12, 1895, four Baptist preachers, who had preached more than fifty years each, met at the little Pleasant Hill Church in North Christian that had ordained all of them between 1838 and 1844, and held a reunion. They were Revs. Nicholas Lacy, aged eighty, of Elkton; Rev. A. W. Meacham, aged seventy-six; James U. Spurlin, aged seventy-three, and Calvin Meacham, aged seventy-one.
P. P. Huffman bought the mill known as Wood’s Mill and equipped it with new machinery to make seventy-five to a hundred barrels of flour daily in July, 1895.
C. H. Dietrich, Superintendent of the Hopkinsville Public Schools since the opening, February, 1881, resigned to take effect June 14, 1895, to accept employment with the American Book Company; succeeded by Livingston McCartney.
WATER WORKS AT LAST
After many propositions, discussed without results over a period of years, the City Council of Hopkinsville in August, 1895, made a contract with Samuel R. Bullock, of New York, and Wilkerson & Smallhouse, of Bowling Green, Kentucky, to begin work by August 10th, and put in the plant in six months, or forfeit $5,000.00, the city to get a hundred hydrants and nine and a half miles of pipes, from six to twelve inches, for $4,000.00, payable semi-annually, the franchise to run twenty years. The plant was estimated to cost $60,000.00 to $75,000.00, water to be obtained by damming Little River, north of town.
Hopkinsville Gun Club organized in August with thirty-six members.
The first league ball game played in Hopkinsville September 4, 1895. A team from the “Nashville Southern League” played a home nine. Two games were played. The locals won the first, seven to six, and the visitors the second, eight to five.
Senator J. C. S. Blackburn spoke to a big crowd, September 5, 1895.
Kentucky Press Association met in Hopkinsville, September 25th, with 150 in attendance. Welcomed by Mayor F. W. Dabney; response by President I. B. Nail. The entertainment included a visit to the Asylum and to Bethel Female College, where refreshments were served by President and Mrs. T. S. McCall. Following a banquet at Hotel Latham the second night, the Association left on a visit to the Atlanta Exposition, a special train carrying 150 members and ladies.
A CLUB OF TWENTY-FIVERS
Ira F. Ellis celebrated his seventieth birthday, October 1, 1895, by giving a dinner to the “Twenty-flyers,” friends born in 1825. There were present: W. W. Ware, born December 31, 1821; Dr. E. R. Cook, April 11, 1824, and the following born in 1825: John W. Breathitt, January 9; Ira F. Ellis, October 1; B. E. Randolph, July 28; W. E. Warfield, September 18; John W. Pritchett, January 19; Mrs. E. E. Ellis, March 16, and Mrs. Harriet F. Clark, July 18.
REV. SAM JONES’ THIRD VISIT
Sam Jones held his third revival from October 6 to 11, 1895. He was preceded four days by Rev. George Stuart and Rev. Culpeper. There were but few converts, but the evangelist cleared the Tabernacle of a $3,000.00 construction debt, raising $2,160.00 Sunday morning.
Two distinct and violent earthquake shocks were felt at 5:15 A.M. the thirty-first of October, 1895. Tall buildings moved perceptibly and windows rattled, and in A. H. Anderson’s house some plastering fell. At Casky, Dr. P. S. Anderson’s chimney was cracked. No harm was done in consequence.
A spring, near Gus Robinson’s place, in the Pond River section, known as Bluff Spring, ceased to run as a result of the earthquake.
Tobacco prices on the Hopkinsville market in November, 1895, ranged from $10.00 for the best leaf down to $1.00 for trash lugs.
E. P. Campbell, President of the Bank of Hopkinsville, died July 2, 1896, aged 64 years; succeeded by J. E. McPherson, July 23rd, who had been Cashier for twelve years. R. H. DeTreville became Cashier.
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