From The Citizen-Times, Scottsville, Ky. Thursday , October 12, 1972 page 7
(Editor's Note: The following article was written by NANCY CARTER and GAYLA McCLARY who were students at Allen County High School last year. Section 2 of the article was taken from a tape-recorded interview with the late Mrs. EDNA COOK COLE of Scottsville, prior to her death.)
In Kentucky there is a large region called the Pennyrile and within the southernmost part of it is located Allen County. It is a friendly, warm land of rolling hills, miles of sparkling streams with flat lush bottomlands on one side and steep bluffs on the other, and dense, green woodlands filled with many varieties of plants and wildlife.
The land of Allen County wasn't always like this, but in prehistoric times was covered with a shallow sea. Evidences of this remote time are found today in small, round fossils of ancient marine life.
The county's underlying rock formations consist mainly of cavernous limestone, a part of the rock layer that extends from Monroe County to Missouri. This type of limestone is conducive to the formation of the many caves within this area of Kentucky, including Mammoth Cave. Allen County has numerous caves, as well as sink holes, sinking springs and underground streams, but the caves have not been explored to a great extent.
The cavernous limestone produces a soil, not as rich as that of blue limestone, but of medium to good quality. From this soil grow such trees as maple, walnut, elm, ash, locust, hickory, mulberry, buckeye, pawpaw, cherry, tulip poplar. dogwood, sycamore and beech, along with thick canebrakes along the creeks, many species of wildflowers and other types of vegetation. With this type soil, hilliness of the land, and underlying limestone, Allen County is particularly well suited for grazing lands and many farmers take advantage of this.
No one knows who the first man was that set foot inside Allen County, but in nineteenth century records, there is mention of several mounds found within the horseshoe bend of Drake's Creek. In COLLIN 's History of Kentucky, it is reported that several of the mounds were dug up and within them were coffins with large human bones, but whether this is fact is unknown, since the mounds are long gone.
Indians, probably of the Cherokee Nation, did venture into the county on hunting trips. It is doubtful that any tribe lived here for any length of time, for battles were fought in the county for the right to hunt, as witnessed by the many arrow-heads found in the creek bottomlands.
Who the first white man was that first saw Allen County is left to conjecture. Old history books note that the only records of this are found on beech trees with such inscriptions as "JAMES M'CALL dined here on his way to Natchez, June the 10th, 1770," which was found on Bays Fork near the mouth of the Big Barren and another one found on the Big Barren was "ICABOD CLARK, mill site, 1790" with the inscription on the other side of the tree "Too sick to get over". There are reports of several trees at the mouths of Walnut Creek and Big Difficult that had DANIEL BOONE 's name on them and it is quite possible that he did come through Allen County. It is known that he came down the Big Barren River as far as McFadden's Station and he might have come up some of the creeks that empty into the Barren. One old story relates that he and some other men, two named TRAMMEL and DRAKE, were hunting in Allen County and the two aforesaid men were killed in a fight with Indians, at the place where Trammel Creek runs into Drakes Creek. It is said those two creeks were named after the men.
A little known fact is that DANIEL BOONE went on to the little settlement of Bowling Green and was the first man to be indicted there. He was arrested for fighting with another man.
Another interesting story related to DANIEL BOONE occurred in 1840, in Allen County. A large poplar tree was cut and sawed and rafted to Bowling Green, to be sawed into lumber at JOSEPH R. SKILES Mill. When they had sawed about half way through the log, they struck something much harder than wood. On splitting it open, an old-fashioned skillet was found near the center. Since the beech trees nearby where this tree once stood were carved with DANIEL BOONES 's name, it was supposed he stuck the handle of the skillet in the tree and left it, so that the tree grew around it. Of course, this is something of a wild guess and if any of the story is true is questionable, yet it is a delightful story of earlier days.
Another story of the pioneers tells how Bays Fork Creek got its name. Early in the history of the county, men were sent to survey the military lands. They worked until cold weather and decided to go back home and come in the spring to finish the work. With them was one old sick, poor bay horse. They thought it could not live too long, so they turned him out to die. But when they came back in the spring, they found the old horse was still living and also in much better condition, having lived on the canebrakes along the creek all winter. Thus, they named the creek Bays Fork.
After new land is opened up by explorers, it isn't long before more or less permanent settlers push through, eager for new homes and new soil to till. So it was with Allen County. The first settlers on record in Allen County, came in 1797 and were JOSEPH FICLKIN, TOLIVAR CRAIG, HENRY COLLINS, DANIEL MONROE and ABRAHAM WOOD. Of course then Allen County did not exist, but was a part of Warren and Barren counties. More settlers followed including the families of JOHN RAGLAND, HUGH BROWN, ELIAS PRITCHFORD or PITCHFORD, DAVID HARRIS, THOMAS COOK and WILLIAM R. JACKSON.
Some say that New Roe was the first settlement in Allen County. Three Virginia families from the town of Roe, whose names were the ANTHONY, HARRELL and CHANEY, were the supposedly first settlers.
Many more families came, some of whose descendents still live here, others whose names are long forgotten. FRED CARPENTER, TED CHAMBERS and TOM OLIVER built mill in Allen County in 1804, which is the first building on record.
The BROWN family were early pioneers from North Carolina; STOUT BRUNSON and his family came here in 1796, and a South Carolina family, headed by CUTHBERT BURTON, came in 1805.
One large family, whose descendents still live in Allen, was the CALVERTs. The father was named JOHN O. and married JANE RUSSELL. He was born in 1782 and emigrated from Virginia to Allen in a two-wheeled cart in the year 1804. They settled near Long Creek, had twelve children, born mainly in the county and JOHN, the father, fought at the Battle of New Orleans. He died in 1856.
Another family was the CARPENTERs, who came in 1800. The father's name is not known, but his son was SAMUEL E. CARPENTER, who was six at that time. He married SARAH G. DOWNING and until his death in 1877, followed many vocations. He served as magistrate, sheriff, clerk, State Senator and Representative, and owned a farm of 1000 acres and 40 slaves. His grandson was TIBBIS CARPENTER, who started the first drug store in ScottsviUe.
JAMES McELROY,Sr. and his family emmigrated from North Carolina about 1799. He was born in 1750 and fought in the Revolutionary War under Gen. FRANCIS MARION, better known as the "Swamp Fox". Two of his sons, that were natives of Allen, were JAMES, Jr. and WILLIAM B., born 1802, and constable, land commissioner and deputy clerk of Allen.
Others that came were DANIEL CORNWELL, of North Carolina in 1801; WILLIAM and WINEA DALTON; WILLIAM and SARAH CLARK of Virginia; FLETCHER GATEWOOD of Virginia, in 1801 who married MARY CALVERT of Allen; WILLIAM AUSTIN, who came between 1795 and 1800;WILLIAM GUY; WILLIAM and JENIE HAM of South Carolina in 1806 and located on Trammel; MATTHEW and ELIZA TRAMMEL; MATTHEW and ELIZABETH JOHNSON in 1807; Col. ELI PITCHFORD of North Carolina; the PULLIAM family; THOMAS SPANN who was a Revolutionary War soldier; JOHN SPENCER in 1797; and the STARK family, an influential family in Allen County.
Life was hard in those early days. Few of the comforts of life were available in pioneer homes, for most had brought all their worldly possessions on two-wheeled carts and pack horses. There were no roads for a while and those comprised the main forms of transportation, along with walking.
The years passed, more people came, perhaps some log cabins were exchanged for frame homes, and paths through the great wilderness became wider dirt roads with some fields and croplands along side. Life went on until war beckoned many of the men of the county, and wives and mothers said tearful goodbyes to husbands and sons, eager with the excitement of battle. Many marched off with other Kentuckians to fight under Gen. Jackson at New Orleans and most marched back, flushed with victory, to loving arms and home.
This section continued to grow and it was decided that the people would be better served if a separate county were created. In January of 1815, Allen County was formed from parts of Warren and Barren counties. It was named after Col. JOHN ALLEN, who was killed at the River Raison. Col. ALLEN was born in Virginia in 1772 and came with his family to Kentucky at an early age. He received his education at Bardstown and was a lawyer in Shelbyville, until he went Northwest with Gen. HARRISON.
A county seat was needed now. On April 10, 1815, several men met at the house of WILLIS MITCHELL near the Old Bald Field, four miles northwest of present day Scottsville on the Bowling Green Road. Several sites were suggested as possible locations, among them being the present location, New Roe, the White Plains area and Old Bald Field. Scottsville's present location received the largest number of votes, because of the spring there.
Officials of the county and town were also named. The sheriff was THOMAS COOKE; magistrates, WALTER THOMAS, EDWARD MARTIN, DAVID HARRIS, WM. JACKSON, JOHN RAGLAND; county clerk, DAVID WALKER Jr.; surveyors, ALFRED PAYNE and HUGH BROWN; coroner, THOMAS GATTON; Jailer, JOHNSON J. COCKRIL; and constables, THADUES B. LEWIS, THOMAS BLACKWELL, THOMAS SUTTON, JOSEPH BROWN, and JOHNSON J. COCKRILL. The land for the county seat was bought from JOHN and CATHERIN BROWN. One hundred acres were bought for $2.00 an acre, then it was laid off in lots which sold for $8,270.50. This money was to go for a new courthouse, but until 1818, a hewed log courthouse served the county. In 1818, a brick octagon structure with a cupola was built, all the materials used being manufactured here. Many outstanding lawyers of the state, HENDERSON LEWIS, DANIEL LEWIS, DAVID ROBERTSON, JOHN GAINES, ROBERT BEAU-CHAMP and JOSEPH UNDERWOOD orated eloquently here.
The new town was named after Gen. CHARLES SCOTT, fourth governor of the commonwealth. In 1816, it was christened Scottsberg, but the legal name became Scottville. The post office evidently found it difficult to pronounce and write and erroneously changed it to Scottsville, and that's the way it has been ever since.
From uncleared woodlands, the town began to grow. Not very rapidly, but steadily. The first house built in Scottsville, was built at a site just below where the First Baptist Church is now. Other houses followed, some of them still standing, like the house on West Main, where Dr. KEFFER lives now. Most have been torn down though, much of Scottsville's charm and heritage long gone, which is a sad reflection on our values.
The first church in Scottsville was built where the Kentucky State Bank is now. All the denominations, Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists, worshipped there, until the Baptists and Methodists erected their own churches and it became known as the Presbyterian Church.
Some stores were built, but the first one, with a name mentioned, was the LOCKHART KENEDARY store, built in 1840, and located where Gibson's is. In 1847, a blacksmith shop, a very necessary part of every town in those days, was built and run by GROVER MILTON, near the Public Spring.
Sometime before the Civil War, at least, the old Scottsville Hotel was built on the site where the Jacksonian is now.
Also before that time, there were one room schools, and an academy of sorts known as the Scottsville University of Scottsville Seminary or Scottsville Academy, it being called by all three names.
The county was also growing. A number of small communities had sprung up, like Gainsville, Port Oliver, Motley, Butlersville, Allen Springs, New Roe and Mount Aerial, about as large as Scottsville, for none of them were very big. Just about everyone was a farmer, unless one was a proprietor of a store or a blacksmith or miller.
No one went anywhere much, and most never ventured out of the county. But Allen County did have one of the main forms of transportation of that day. Highway 31-E follows the old stage coach route from Louisville to Nashville, and Scottsville became an important stage coach stop. How many farmboys, stopping for a moment from their chores, gazed with wistful eyes at the state-coach as it rolled by and wanted to see those faraway, unreal places it was destined for?
On this stagecoach route was built a two-story brick hotel so that weary passengers could get some rest for the night. Located 13 miles out from Scottsville on the Glasgow Road, one of its frequent guests was ANDREW JACKSON on his way from the Hermitage to Washington, D. C.
Amusements and leisure time were infrequent in those early days, but when there was time for recreation, the people threw themselves into it wholeheartedly.
Most of the types of recreation really involved work and something useful was done. But it didn't seem like work when all your neighbors and friends were gathered around, helping and making it seem like a game. Barn-raising, with a big dinner at noon; corn-shucking, with the boy finding a red ear of corn getting to kiss any girl he chose, and quilting bees, where the quilting was second to the gossip. There was fun at dances, if one's religion didn't forbid it, and "shivarees" where the community got together and welcomed a newly-wed couple to their new home, by riding him on a rail and her in a tub, around and around the house. Church was another place where the people of the county met and talked and were inspired by God. The first church in the county was the Mount Union Baptist Church on the Bowling Green road, and the first Methodist Church was the Old Buck Creek Church.
One of the most beloved pastors of Allen County was the Rev. MORDECAI F. HAM, a Baptist, who was born here in 1816. His father and mother, who a distant relative of ROGER WILLIAMS, came here from South Carolina in 1806 and located on Trammel Creek. Rev. HAM was a fervant lover of books and studied on his own the English classics and Greek. In 1836 he married ELIZABETH DEARING. He professed in 1837 and was ordained to preach in 1843. Rev. HAM was the ancestor of the Rev. MORDECAI F. HAM, who was a well-known evangelist in the early 1900's throughout the United States and Canada.(note: Mordecai F. Ham, Jr. was the preacher who delivered the tent revival sermon when Rev. Dr. Billy Graham professed faith)
Throughout the 1850's, Allen County was also caught up in the controversial slavery issue. Some argued heatedly for one side, others for the opposite side. When war was declared, many Allen County boys and men marched proudly off to the side they believed in, with the confidence and bravado of those never in a war. Some would never return.
Allen County was about equally represented on both sides of the conflict. That was the tragedy. Brother fought against brother, friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor.
The slave owner wasn't always for the Confederates. Many were staunch Union men, like SAMUEL SEARS, who even though his large estate was wrecked and he lost 47 slaves, still stood strongly by the Union. Others, who hadn't anything to lose but their lives, eagerly donned the Confederate grey.
Allen County didn't see much action as far as battles are concerned. Troops might have passed through. It is a fact that the romantic Civil War figure, JOHN HUNT MORGAN and his daring cavalry did stop for a while in Scottsville. One of his men. Dr. GEORGE W. SAMUEL , later came back to Allen County and practiced medicine at Butlersville. A log garrison used during the war was located in Scottsville and also a Civil War hospital. It stood on the north side of Market, now Maple Street, where the Church of Christ is.
In April of '65 at Appomattox, the war ended and many Allen County boys turned their steps toward home, but some were never to return, left on Battle-field cemeteries.
Life goes on and since Allen County was not harmed much, the period of the 1880's, 1890's and early 20th Century took on a hue of prosperity.
One harbinger of prosperity was the completion of the L. & N. Railroad to Scottsville in 1886.
Schools sprang up all over the county in small communities, so by 1915, there were about 60 in all. They were mainly rough, one-room schoolhouses with terms lasting about three months. Some though were larger and for older pupils to go to and known as academies. There was the Scottsville Academy and another one, built in the late 1800's was the Douglas Academy, started by Mr. H. E. DOUGLAS. It included a music room, with music taught by LULA STEVENS. ANDREW J. DIXON, a teacher, established the Mt. Zion Academy, and Prof. JOHN E. PACE conducted an academy at Gainsville.
A public library was opened at the first part of this century, in the house of Miss SALLY EDMUNDS, who was the librarian.
Hotels were also built somewhere in this period. The Carver Hotel was where Mrs. EMMA JOHNSON's boarding house is. The old Goad Hotel was located where the children's playground is and in 1920 the Jacksonian was built to replace the historic old Scottsville Hotel. At that time it had a long winding stairway and was considered one of the finest hotels in the South.
At the end of the 19th Century, a town band used to play in front of the old Scottsville Hotel on special occasions. At the turn of the century, there was also a health resort, called Forrest Springs. The sick went there to try to find a cure in the eight different mineral springs and the well went to enjoy themselves. The grounds were beautifully landscaped with a 25-room hotel, cottages, a pavillion and a country store. Square dances were held there every Saturday night and all kinds of recreation were provided. People went there to enjoy themselves on a Sunday afternoon. Some of the comforts of modem life were coming to Scottsville. The first car in the county was owned by J. W. BOYD. When it ran out of gas, he didn't go to a gas station, but to the drug store. The first telephone was owned by Mr. and Mrs. SCOTT BROWN and the first telephone switchboard, operated by their daughter, WINNIE. The BROWNs also owned the first bakery.
The first drugstore was opened by TIBBIS CARPENTER. He was born in Allen in 1853. Along with a drugstore there must be doctors. The first doctor that there is record of is Dr. WILLIAM L. HOLLIS, who located about ten miles east of Scottsville. -Another old doctor was Dr. WILLIAM B. DAVIDSON. Rev. JOHN W. DIXON was not only a Missionary Baptist preacher, but a doctor as well. Dr. J. H. FRANCIS established his practice in Allen in 1876.
Dr. LAWRENCE A. GLAZE went to Ewing and Jefferson College, Tusculum College and graduated from Vanderbilt and the University of Tennessee. He first located in Gainsville in the 1870's and then moved to Scottsville. Other early doctors were Dr. SAMUEL HOUSTON BELL, Dr. JAMES D. KELLEY who located in New Roe, then Scottsville, Dr. JOHN H. PAGE who practiced at Gainsville, Dr. GEORGE W. SAMUEL, Dr. MARCELLUS WHITNEY, and Dr. FITZPATRICK. They were all practicing medicine in the 1880's.
The first hospital was the Meredith Infirmary opened in 1908 by Dr. W. E. and Dr. H. M. MEREDITH. It was on Maple Street.By 1915 in Scottsville, there were two national banks, three hotels, three livery stables, auto garage, flouring mills, spoke factory, woolen mills, axe handle factory, bottling works, two weekly newspapers, a tobacco factory, 25 retail businesses and 150 houses.
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