Saturday, December 20, 2014

Films about the history of Louisville

Films about the history of Louisville.

Many people born in Ohio County either lived in Louisville part of their life, or visited there often.  I thought you might enjoy watching these two films about Louisville's history.

1. KET (Kentucky Educational Television) has an excellent historical film that is about 27 ½ minutes long.  Here is the full description of the film:

This Alfred Shands documentary takes a look at the city of Louisville during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Just when New Deal programs and a business recovery seemed to be starting to turn the economy around, the devastating Ohio River flood of 1937 plunged the city into crisis again.

Here is the link for the film:

After you start the film, increase the size to full screen by clicking on the arrows in the lower right hand corner of the film.  Use the Escape key to return to normal screen size.

2. KET has a second film about early Louisville history of about the same length. Here is the full description of the second film:

A Time Remembered

A look back at Louisville's early history, from the first settlement on Corn Island in 1778 to the end of the 19th century. By the mid-1800s, Louisville had become one of the most important cities in the country. At the end of the century, the steamboat era came to an end, and the city's economy made the transition to railroad transportation.

Here is the link for the second film:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter in Ohio County

Winter in Ohio County

Wintertime was hard in Kentucky.  Sometimes great drifts of snow piled up that had to be cleared from the paths to the well and privy.  Shoveling and clearing walkways was another job for the boys.  Looking after the livestock meant going every day, sometimes twice a day, to chop and break up the ice on the spring where the cows watered.  Cows got so thirsty they followed the boys to the spring to get a drink.  Water was heated and put out in the chicken pen so the chickens and turkeys could get a drink.  All of the farm animals had to be cared for in winter first thing, and, with the fall of nice new snows, if time was left over, it was also a time for bobsled rides and making snowmen.   Green River sometimes froze completely over, several layers, and when that happened, the young people had quite an enjoyable time skating on the ponds and rivers.

There were times in winter when the steamer boat couldn’t get down Green River because it was frozen over.  Needless to say, folks and merchants were always made happy when it made its regular trips again.  Sometimes in January and February, farmers were collecting hogs and cattle for shipment, so they were always glad to see the days start lengthening, the river start rising, the ice all out, and boats passing again so trade, commerce, and shipping could continue.

On cold winter evenings, when it was bad weather, it was a time for burning wood and coal.  While it was sleeting and snowing outside, the Cox family sat around the fireplace piled high with wood they had cut during fall.  While they ate apples, picked out hickory nuts and walnuts, and listened to the wind whistling and howling around the corners of the house, the children enjoyed all the old yesteryear stories their parents told. The family shared a closeness at these times and enjoyed talking to each other and discussing everyday happenings.  They felt blessed, even when they were reminded that while farm work was hard, it also had its rewards.

In some years, December, January and February in Kentucky brought in deep snow and ice, especially, when it rained and then froze.  When sleet and snow fell on top of this, folks might not see the ground all month, as it continued this process.  Ice might become five to seven inches thick and completely cover the ground for an entire month or more.  Weather like this caused hardships and some people suffered as a result of it.

However, the Cox family always had plenty of hog meat in the smokehouse, eggs from the henhouse, a crock or two of sauerkraut, barrels of flour and meal, and since they milked several cows, they had plenty of milk and butter.  So they got along pretty well in prolonged cold weather.  Like most everyone else, though, the biggest difficulty they experienced in cold, icy weather was looking after the cattle and livestock.  

Some other families, though, were not so fortunate and may have suffered from hunger when it was impossible to travel anywhere, even if they had the money to buy food.  People who could not get around on the ice had a hard time even getting enough firewood to keep their families warm, and according to one newspaper article, many of them cut the shade trees out of their yard for firewood.

Toward the last of November many wagon loads of tobacco were going to Fordsville, and many more passed through en route to Owensboro. As the New Year neared, farmers in Ohio County were about through delivering tobacco.  Many communities pooled their tobacco at either Fordsville or Hartford.  Some of the larger tobacco growers took their crop to Owensboro in Daviess County.

Usually, in February, Ohio County farmers were making use of any fair weather that came their way and were starting to farm again.  They were busy plowing for corn, sowing oats, buying their seeds, and getting ready for another year of farming with big preparations for a large crop.  Farmers who grew tobacco were hard at work burning plant beds and getting the burn beds ready for the new tobacco seeds.
            Excerpt from the book written by Janice Cox Brown:  "The Life and Times of James William Cox 1838 – 1931 and Mary Elizabeth Mitchell 1844 – 1903 of Ohio County, Kentucky".

Sunday, December 14, 2014

History of Louisville Department Stores

This might not interest all of you, but I found a web page that has an excellent history of the department stores in Louisville.  Click this link:

Saturday, December 13, 2014


JOSEPH C. BARNETT was born September 4, 1818, in Ohio County Ky., and is a son of Robert and Elizabeth (Conditt) Barnett. Robert Barnett came with his father's (Alexander Barnett's) family to Ohio County from Virginia in 1788. He was the only son in a family of seven children that lived to be grown. He was a successful farmer, was a captain in Hopkins' campaign against the Indians in the war of 1812, and afterward county surveyor for Ohio County for twenty years, in connection with farming; he died in August, 1865. Joseph C. was reared on the farm and was educated by his mother chiefly: a thorough scholar educated in the East. At twenty-two years of age he engaged in farming for himself, which has beea his principal occupation since. He now owns 350 acres of land, one-half improved. He holds various positions in the Methodist Church. His wife, who was a Miss Frances D. Bennett, was a member of the same denomination. He was elected magistrate, and served four years. He was formerly a Democrat, and now a stanch Republican. He has five children living: Matilda E., wife of W. Tinsley; George W., a Methodist minister; William B., also a Methodist minister; Fannie M., now Mrs. J. W. Taylor, and Cicero M. attending De Paw University, Green Castle, Ind. His present wife was the widow of Capt. Henry M. Bennett, who was an officer in the Twelfth Kentucky Cavalry — her maiden name was Tinsley.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hartford Herald - November 23, 1921


Note:  This article was written in 1921, so “fifty years ago” referred to 1871.

          Green River is the boundary line of Ohio County on the west and south for about eighty miles. This river was improved and opened to navigation about the year 1835 or 1836. Point Pleasant, Ceralvo and Cromwell were trading posts in Ohio County. South Carrolton, Paradise and Rochester were located in Muhlenburg and Butler Counties on Green River and did a flourishing business, much of what was drawn from Ohio County.

          Oliver Cromwell Porter founded Cromwell and gave it part of his name. Abe Kahn, Archie Montague and others were traders and ran general stores there. Q. C. Shanks put up a large lumber mill and Cooper put up a good flour mill (both were run by steam). Shanks was the first man to use what was known as the “Muley Saws.” Up to this time in Ohio County all lumber was hews or sawed by hand with Whip Saws or by old-fashion Sash Saws. My grandfather – Mosby James – owned a mill on Indian Creek that was run by water power. I can remember when he would set the saw for a line in a twelve-foot log, start the saw, go and have his lunch before the saw cut through the log. While Shank’s mill in Cromwell using “Muley Saws” would run such a line in five to six minutes. The flour mill did a flourishing business.

          Rochester was one of the best and largest trading points on Green Riper and had several stores. The Kinnimoths, Evans, and Pools were the leading business men. Skillesvllle at the mouth of Mud River was another flourishing town with stores and Marble Works conducted by Craig Bros.  Brewer and Cowan built large carding machines, a flour mill and saw mill, that drew an enormous trade from Ohio and Muhlenburg counties. Prior to the building of the mills at Cromwell and Skilesville, the southern and western parts of the county had had to patronize the Hartford mills.  Jacob Stom founded the town of Paradise and he also gave it its name. Captain William Wand was doing a good business there before the year ‘61.

          The first steamer I ever saw was in 1849 -72 years ago - it was the General Breathitt. Later on the General Warren, General Logan, Sofia, Evansville, Bell Quigley, Falls City, Fulton, Bridges, Bowling Green, Lyon, James White and several tow boats all navigated Green River. I was at Paradise on the occasion when three steamers with passengers and freight landed, all within an hour. Scarcely a day passed that we did not see one or more steamers blow in for landing along Green River. It is said that Green River is the deepest river in the world considering its width and length. So far as I know, that statement has never been disputed for it is never unnavigable and seldom freezes up.

          Spinning wheels, winding blades and handlooms were almost all laid aside fifty years ago. People were wearing store clothes and custom made shoes and the girls began to decorate themselves with ribbons and frills. When I was a small boy the farmers cut much of their wheat with sickles but cradles soon took the place of sickles. Grass was cut with scythes and wheat was tread out on the ground by driving oxen or horses over it or threshed out with flails. The first thresher in this end of the county was operated in 1860. It was only a cylinder with teeth in it. The wheat chaff and straw all came out together and had to be separated by hand. In 1861 Joshua Benton operated a separator in this community. It separated straw and wheat, but left the chaff mixed with the grain. Fifty-four years ago there was a combined reaper and mower in the Hopewell neighborhood and a year later there were two or three single mowers run in the community. J. R. Shull and L. T. Reid ran the first reaper and mower in this end of the county. The first combined thresher and separator was run by Columbus Reid.

          The first Sorghum in this community was raised on the Reid farm in about 1856 or 1857. The seed was brought from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by Rev. W. T. Reid and was known as “Chinese Sugar Cane.” R. G. Reid made the first cane mill in the neighborhood to grind this crop of cane. It was made of wood, the rollers or drums were turned by hand and operated by horse power. This crop of cane turned out considerably more than one hundred gallons of the blackest syrup that was ever made but it was surely sweet.

          Fifty years ago nearly every farmer in this part of the county owned a two horse wagon, many of them owned buggies, and a few had surreys. Many heavy log wagons and ox teams were employed in hauling logs and lumber, many portable saw mills were running. Framed dwellings gradually replaced log houses all over the south part of the county. Barns and shelter for live stock were numerous. In or about 1848 Joshua Benton, John Hunsaker, Robert Sharrod, James Reid, William Taylor and J. W. D. Coleman built each a two story dwelling in the Hopewell neighborhood. Many improvements were made on almost every farm south of Hartford. There were three brick buildings built, one, I believe, by Richard Taylor on the old Hartford and Morgantown Road, and one in what was known as the Stevens neighborhood, north of Cromwell, and one by Tobias Taylor near Rochester. There were frame churches at Goshen, Green River, Philadelphia, Beaver Dam, Pond Run, Hopewell and Bethel.

          In my boyhood days, I have seen my father strike fire with flint and steel, and I have on several occasions gone a mile early of morning for a live coal to kindle a fire to get breakfast with, but that was about 70 years ago. In 1858 R. G. Reid and Warner Smith ran a store boat on Green River, and I remember well that they kept a stock of friction matches. The matches came in wooden boxes containing about 100 matches, and retailed at 25c each.

          There were public roads from Hartford to Cromwell, Rochester, Paradise, Ceralvo, Hogs Falls, Dixon Ferry, Williams Ferry, Vans Riffle, Point Pleasant and others from Ceralvo to Cromwell, from Paradise to Pincheco, from Cromwell to Leitchfield, and from Cromwell to Wilsons and Borah Ferry. All important streams were bridged. There were seven or eight voting precincts in the southern end of Ohio county, Baizetown, Cromwell, Beaver Dam, Cool Springs, Brown's Tan Yard, Rockport, Centertown, Ceralvo and Point Pleasant.

          In 1866 there were three lines surveyed for Railroads through Ohio county. One survey crossed Green River at Paradise, one at Rockport (then known as Benton’s Ferry) and one at Ceralvo. The road was known on the Elizabethtown and Paducah line. The piers for the bridge were quarried in Rockport and a locomotive was brought to Rockport on a Barge, unloaded and placed on the track in 1869 or 1870, mail, freight and passenger train were running on regular time-tables in 1871.

          The farmers of southern Ohio county were well posted In agriculture. Farming papers were found on almost all center tables. The Louisville Farm and Home predominated. Religious literature was liberally distributed among all church members, the Western Re- corder and the Christian Advocate in the lead. Political Journals were plentiful. The Courier-Journal, Cincinnati Times and Commercial, the New York Times and other papers were common with us. As to social features, there was the old stand-by, Godey’s Lady Book, and Peterson’s Magazine. The Holy Bible was in every home, and our girls modestly followed the fashions, perhaps with cheaper materials and less trimmings, but the cutting and fitting was very close to the fashions of the day, especially in regard to the exaggerated hoop skirts of that period. When at a church basket dinner, Sunday school picnic or at a social dance our girls looked like a flower garden and their beauty and behavior would compare favorably with any bevy of girls in the state or elsewhere.

          Schools usually were taught in three months terms. Spelling, reading, arithmetic and writing were all the branches taught in this neighborhood up to about 1860. At that time Michael Nourse from the east came to the neighborhood and started a private school, teaching the higher grades. Many of this community took advantage of the school to prepare themselves for college. Mr. Nourse taught up to the year 1870. He was a noted character, a good teacher, and honest man, but he was certainly a “rough ashler,” a very strict disciplinarian, and administered condign punishment without fear or favor. He certainly ruled with an iron rod, but he seldom failed to advance his pupils. Mr. Frank Griffin, one of the most noted professors in the state at that time, conducted the Hartford Seminary. He taught Greek and Latin and educated some of our most distinguished men and women in Kentucky.

          Fifty years ago farms were abundant in the Rockport, Cromwell and beaver dam districts. Many farms joined each other. You could travel miles and miles on the pubic roads and be in sight of a farm. Especially was this a fact about Beaver Dam, Cromwell, Paradise, Ceralvo and Point Pleasant. Many good substantial dwellings and commodious barns dotted the map of southern Ohio County. I reasonably believe that this was a fact throughout the whole county fifty years ago. The writer who contributed an article to the Hartford Republican recently surely made a mistake in dates or else he was sadly misinformed as to the history of the county. His statements would have corresponded very well with conditions seventy-five or one hundred years ago.

Lycurgus T. Reid
Rockport, Ky.

Published in the Hartford Herald November 23, 1921

Special Thanks to Helen McKeown

Monday, December 8, 2014

Ohio County Public Libray

Last week I visited Ohio County and had the great pleasure of seeing the Ohio County Library's new Annex, which is across the street from the main library. The Annex is in a building that was once home to a bank.  The Annex is now home to all of the genealogy materials, books, and documents owned by the library, and I was quite surprised to see what they have, and how neatly the items are arranged. There are tables for reviewing files and documents, and staff to help.  If you have not visited this wonderful facility, I urge you to check it out.  The Annex is not open every day, although you might be able to make special arrangements if you are from out of town.  The regular hours are Tuesday 9:00 am to 7 pm; Friday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm; and Saturday 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.

I have added a link to the Library's web page on my list of links shown on the right.  Click on it to go to the Library home page, then click on the Genealogy tab, and explore what they have.  They told me that they will be adding new items in the future.  They hope to scan and digitize some of their records, so we will be able to see some of their holdings on the Library web site. That will be exciting.  I notice they have already added four years of the Ohio County Times. I'm sure the cost of adding material to their web site will be high, so encourage the County Judge Executive and your elected officials to fund this project.

If you have a Library card, you can log on to through the Library web site; also, the LDS web site, Rootsweb, and other sites are available for your use by clicking on the various links shown on the Genealogy section of the Library web site.

Bottom line is that this facility is first class and you are lucky to have a Librarian, staff,  and a Board of Trustees that has made this happen.

Here is a photo of the Annex building:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ohio County Cemetery Committee

With all the bad news we hear and see everyday, I found a bit of good news and it involves Ohio County. Some very nice people have decided to take on the big project of restoring cemeteries in the County. This is a noble and wonderful thing to do and I applaud those involved. Please click on this link and read what they have done.  If you live in Ohio County, maybe you can volunteer to help.  Be sure and thank these people if you see them.

On the site you will see this photo of some of the people involved:

A big thanks to all of you.