Monday, January 28, 2013

The History of Ferry Operations in Ohio County

The History of Ferry Operations in Ohio County

            As everyone knows, the Green River forms the southern and southwestern borders of Ohio County. Across the beautiful Green River, from east to west, our neighbors are Butler County, Muhlenberg County, and McLean County. From the earliest pioneer days, ferries have connected Ohio County with these three neighboring counties. First, as small rafts and boats and later large enough for wagons and vehicles, these ferries carried people and freight to and from markets and towns. Some were open at both ends (called “double-ended”) to make it convenient to load and unload without turning the boat around. If the water crossing was not too deep, some were poled across and this could be difficult, with passengers having to help pole, perhaps, and taking as long as half an hour to get a fairly short distance to the opposite shore, depending on currents and weather conditions. Later, larger craft were first propelled by ropes, chains, and then by cables, usually human-powered.   

Property owners made the most of their locations, and soon capitalized by     building a ferry to save travelers as much as twenty miles, more or less, on their travel routes and charging for each trip across the river. They funneled horses and riders, horse and carriages, wagons, mules, oxen, pack animals, loose animals, and sheep and hogs. Ferries were essential to residents of Ohio County from about 1800 until approximately1950, a span of 150 years. Most of these ferry operations ceased when bridges were built, although the ferry at Rochester (connecting Butler County with Ohio County) is one of ten ferries that continue to operate in the entire state of Kentucky.

            Writing this article was a more complicated project than I had expected. First of all, as most of you know, Ohio County was much larger from 1798 to 1815 than it is now. Part of Ohio County was used in 1810 to make Butler & Grayson Counties. Then a large part was chopped off in 1815 to make Daviess County; finally smaller parts were chopped off in 1829 for Hancock County and in 1854 for McLean County. That means that the Ohio County records from the early days referred to some ferries that operated in areas that are not located within the Ohio County of today. I have tried to disregard the ferries that ended up in other counties. Also, the records are good on names but fall short on location – for example, when a record says, “Smith’s Ferry on Green River” we have no way of knowing where that is –and it could easily be in an area that is not Ohio County today. So, I did the best I could by studying maps and conferring with some smart people who know a lot about Ohio County: Helen McKeown was invaluable; Joyce Coffman and Frank Coffman helped and provided some great photographs; Don Baaso; and my good friend, Janice Brown, whose idea got me interested in this project.

            The following picture is somewhere on the Green River, but not necessarily Ohio County. I’m including it because it is such a beautiful photograph.

Our Ferries
            I will attempt to describe these various ferry operations starting with the easternmost ferry at Cromwell and ending with the ferry at Livermore in the western end of Ohio County.

1.         Cromwell to Butler County

            This was the road to Logansport and Morgantown. The original ferry was called Borah’s Ferry and was operated by the Borah family for at least three generations. It is thought that the Cromwell Ferry started operating in the early 1800’s.  James J. Borah was born Dec 18, 1847, near Borah's Ferry, Butler County. His parents were Willis and Margaret (Austin) Borah. His grandfather, George Borah, a native of Pennsylvania, was an extensive land owner in the county and established and gave his name to the ferry across the Green River, known as Borah's Ferry.  

            On October 27, 1861, Union forces in Owensboro received word of Confederate troop advancements in the Green River area. Shortly after, Union infantry and cavalry units intercepted a Confederate reconnaissance mission in Woodbury. The Union cavalry positioned itself for attack but withdrew to Cromwell's Ferry, fearing Confederate reinforcements.

            Thomas Smith and James Leach, serving in the Cromwell Home Guards, were captured there by the Confederates on New Year's Day 1862, while guarding the Ferry. Thomas Smith lived between Select and Cromwell. They were taken to Maryland and imprisoned.

            On April 2, 1872 a Bond was issued to M. E. Whalin, O. P. Johnson, and John J. Leach for the operation of this ferry.

  July 4, 1908 - Party on Ferry at Cromwell

2. Ohio County to Rochester, Butler County. About 12 miles south of Beaver Dam on Kentucky Rt. 369. This ferry was operated from the Butler County side by various residents of Rochester. On the Ohio County side of the river, the Stahl family, Jacob and later D. M. Stahl, along with various partners (William Berry, H. M. Harris, Quintus Cincinnatus Shanks, W. J. Berry, Joseph A. Hudnall, and William Preston Davenport operated this ferry from 1857 to about 1900. In 1905 a Bond was issued to Cyrus Newton Brown and Wallace M. Brown to operate this ferry, and the next bond issued was in June 1931, issued to Wallace M. Brown, R. W. Brown, and Virgil C. Hocker.

3.         Hopewell to Paradise, Muhlenberg County. The Hopewell Ferry may have been referred to as Graves’ Ferry. This ferry was originally known as Stom’s Ferry and was run by Jacob Stom for more than 40 years starting around 1800. Paradise was an eastern Muhlenberg county town on the Green River about ten miles northeast of Greenville. The town of Paradise lost its last store and post office in 1976 and the community does not exist anymore. The site of Paradise is now occupied by a Tennessee Valley Authority coal-fired electric plant.  W. H. Rock operated this ferry in 1857, followed by William G Abbott in 1858.  Bubby Short went to Paradise and operated the ferry after leaving the one at Rockport.  Later operators of this ferry were:

8-4-1857 W. H. Rock, H. A. Rock, and W. N. Wand
2-1-1858 W. G. Abbott, Isaac Brown and Shelby A. Jackson
1-1-1859 W. G. Abbott conveys Paradise Ferry to Samuel Shull
1-3-1859 Samuel Shull and Peter Shull
2-6-1860 W. G. Abbott, Levi L. Wise, and Quintus Cincinnatus Shanks
9-3-1883 J. S., W. L., W. T. Brown and Septimus Charles Taylor
9-12-1887 J. L. and Sep Taylor, James W Ford
11-7-1888 J. S., W. L., W. T. Brown, Septimus Charles Taylor
10-5-1891 J. L. and Septimus Taylor, James W Ford.

4.         Rockport to Muhlenberg County. The Rockport Ferry was established by Hugh Thomas Carter in 1817. The Benton family were owners before 1860.  Rockport at that time was known as Benton’s Ferry. In 1867 William and Nancy Jane Benton sold the ferry to A. M. Davis, who in 1870 sold it to John Wallace for the sum of $450.  In February 1872 John Wallace sold it for $1,000 to William Tinsley, aka Captain Tinsley. William and Catherine Tinsley sold the ferry and their residence in 1881 to William A Bell, and moved to Muhlenberg County.  In 1883 Mark Howard purchased it from Bell. On November 28, 1906, Mark Howard sold the ferry to Mr. Addie Austin, who was the owner until the completion of the highway bridge across Green River in 1940.  Mr. Austin sold the ferry and right of way to the Kentucky Department of Highways. The bridge never reached bedrock in its construction.

            Arthur “Bubby” Short, a black man operated the ferry for Mr. Austin.  Another operator was William “Pap” Hendricks.  William Henry Blackburn went on to operate the Rockport Ferry. Other operators were Sam “Punkin” Durham, Lester “Terrapin” Durham, Bert Bennett, Lacy Blackburn, Don Everly, and Mose Short, a one armed man and brother of Bubby.  Eddie Crunk was ferryman in 1939.  Chester Williams was operator of the ferry from 1932-1940 when it ceased operations.  Fare was 50 cents for a wagon and team or car, and 5 cents for a preacher’s wagon and team or car.  

5.         Ceralvo to Muhlenberg County. This was the old road to Greenville and the first ferry was operated by Richard Morton and was first licensed in 1800. In 1866 William Graves deeded it to Ezekiel Vanlandingham Kimbley, who paid extra for ferry rights, and a deed was made to Kimbley from J. F. Jones, for ferry privileges on the Muhlenberg County side of the river. The ferryman in 1880 was A. G. Rutledge.

In 1891 Wesley Dent Barnard was bonded to operate the Ceralvo Ferry. Others were John Chancellor, Clarence Morris, Harry Barnes, and in 1925, William Henry “Butch” Blackburn.  In the late 1930’s Lawrence Whobrey was the last person to operate the Ceralvo Ferry.

6.         The Kronos – Smallhaus area (Kinchloe Bluff Road) to South Carrollton, Muhlenberg County. This ferry was first operated by John Fentress starting about 1813. He and his wife, Nellie, lived in South Carrollton on the bluff right above the road that leads down to the ferry. Later, this ferry was operated by Ewell Hibbs. Also, in the minutes of the County Court there is an entry in 1801 referring to a ferry known as Col. Kincheloe’s Ferry across the Green River, and today there is a road named Kincheloe Bluff, so that ferry probably operated in this same area as early as 1801. The Kincheloes were pioneers in Muhlenberg County and it is thought that the Kincheloe Ferry was owned by Lewis Kincheloe, who lived at Kincheloe’s Bluff.  The South Carrollton Ferry was referred to as Shrewsbury’s Ferry.  The 1924 ferry license was to Charles A. Liter, J. S. Taylor, S. P. James and Henry Guy Barnard.

(Note misspelling of Muhlenberg on map)         

7. Point Pleasant/Matanzas to McLean County (Island, originally called Humphrey’s Landing). Once run by the Condit family. Court Minutes: “August 1807. On a motion by Byram Condit ordered a ferry be established across Green River nearly opposite Cornwall’s Landing on the lands of said Condit.  Whereupon the said Condit together with Uzal Condit entered into bond in the penalty of 20 L conditioned as the law directs.  Ordered that John D Coffee and Bryam Condit may receive four pence 1/2 for the ferryage of a man and horse over their ferry.”

            On August 17, 1816 Bryam Condit drowned in the Green River while operating his ferry. His wife was Mary Lindley, so the ferry was next operated by the Lindley family until about 1932 and later by Samuel James and his family, and next by Robert Hoskins. One of the last operator’s of this ferry was Oscar B. Kirtley and, of course, the ferry was then called Kirtley’s Ferry. Robert Hoskins last operated the ferry prior to the bridge being built and the charge was $1.  An oddity was a deer that periodically rode the Hoskins ferry.

This is the Kirtley Ferry headed towards Ohio County, with the Kirtley home in the background. This was probably made in the 1960’s. Photo from Frank Coffman.

The following is an article in the local newspaper about this ferry.

Hartford Herald, November 1, 1876
From Point Pleasant.  Oct. 25, 1876.
            On last Sunday a party of four, two Miss Barnards, a Mr. Linley and a Mr. Bennett, returning from the Calhoon (sic) fair, met with a serious accident in attempting to cross Green river at this place.
            They were all in a two-horse spring wagon, with two mules to it. They
all remained on their seats when driving in the ferry boat, and the chain not being made secure to the stake on the bank, when the mules got their fore feet on the boat, it pushed from the bank taking mules, wagon and people all into the river.
            When Jemmie Bennett found that all were in the water, he told the girls to sit still and he jumped from his seat.
            Taking the first girl from her seat he passed her out to Warren Lindley, who had by that time jumped from the wagon, ready to assist in rescuing the girls from their present danger. By time Jemmie had disposed of the first charge, the other was some distance in the water, but he being a good swimmer and a valiant young man rescued her and carried her safely to shore. When he had had the pleasure of seeing the girls both safe on land, he disposed of his coats and gloves, and went to the assistance of his poor mules that were likely to be drowned, and also succeeded in saving them.
            Mr. Bennett is a son of Rev. W. P. Bennett, and we think he is entitled to a great deal of credit for his presence of mind, and his good management in time of great danger. While we applaud Mr. Bennett for his valiant conduct, we will advise him and all others to walk rather than ride into Green river.

8.         Ohio County to Livermore, McLean County. This is where the Rough River connects with the Green River and I suspect there were several different ferries that operated out of Livermore going to different shores.  The town of Livermore was formally started in 1837 although early settlers lived there before that (originally called Brown’s Landing). In 1902 the operators were John Hazelip and J. C. Noble. Erskin Fulkerson bought this ferry in 1922. The Livermore Ferry was last operated by Roy and John Coffman.

(Note misspelling of McLean on map)

     Note: The little tip of land to the left of the ferryboat, sort of under the center of the bridge, is the ferry landing spot in Ohio County. This photo was shot from Livermore and was provided by Frank Coffman.

            The photograph above was shot from the bank of the Rough River looking towards the landing point in Ohio County. The handwriting says, “Livermore and Calhoun Mail Line.” Also from Frank Coffman.

Roy Coffman in 1959

Roy Coffman and daughters, Dona Jean (Jinks) and Joyce

Hartford Republican, 28 February 1902.  MURDER AT LIVERMORE.  
            “Denzel Moore Murdered and Robbed on a Shanty Boat, Murderer Unknown.             The citizens of Livermore were shocked Tuesday morning by finding the dead body of Denzel Moore, on a shanty boat moored just above town, to the Ohio county bank.  The body was discovered about 9 o’clock Tuesday morning by the ferrymen, John Hazelip and J C Noble, lying upon the floor of the shanty boat in a great pool of blood, with a bullet hole through his head.
            The officers of the town of Livermore immediately took charge of the body and the Police Judge held an inquest over his body, which resulted in a verdict that Moore came to his death by a pistol shot fired from the hand of a party unknown.
            Moore was about 50 years old and had been a barber at Livermore for some years.  About 2 months ago he bought a shanty boat and engaged in the blind tiger business.  (A blind tiger establishment illegally sells alcoholic beverages.  The term originated with places that charged to see an attraction such as an animal then served a ‘complimentary’ beverage.) Moore had been a good citizen, well liked by the people of Livermore, but when he went to selling whisky, his wife so disapproved of his engaging in the business that they had not been living together since, however, he gave her an allowance of $10.00 a week for the maintenance of herself and child.
            About 3 o’clock Tuesday morning, people living in the immediate vicinity of Moore’s boat, heard the report of a pistol and as his body was stiff when found, it is supposed that he was murdered at this time.  From the circumstances in which the body was found it is believed that the murderer called on Moore for a bottle of whisky and while he was in a stooping position drawing it, shot him in the back of the head, the ball coming out near his right eye.
            The purpose of the murder was evidently robbery, as Moore’s pockets were turned wrong side out, but it is not thought that the murderer got much pay for his awful crime. There is no clue to the perpetrator of the fearful crime.”  (Other papers reported his name as Damsel Owen)


9.         Ferries within Ohio County borders.

            Note: In early Court minutes and newspaper articles Rough River was often referred to as Rough Creek and the name was officially changed to Rough River by the legislature in 1884.

            There were also ferries that operated within the borders of Ohio County. Two crossed the Rough River at the City of Hartford; one ferry was operated from the end of Market Street (now Main Street) in 1816, and a second ferry called the Thomas Moseley Ferry that operated from the end of what is now McCreary Court as early as 1819. In 1801 a Bond was issued to Charles Wallace to operate a ferry over Rough Creek, on the road from Hartford to Yellow Bank (Owensboro). Another ferry that operated in the early 1800’s across the Rough River was Hinton’s Ferry (later Carter’s Ferry), between Livermore and Hartford, near Walton’s Creek. In 1801 Stephen Cleaver was issued a Bond to operate a ferry across Rough Creek on the road from Hartford to Breckenridge County – this was probably near Dundee.

            There was also a ferry that crossed Caney Creek. In 1867 a Bond was issued to Mark H. Kuykendall, W. W. Miller and Ben Duvall to operate this ferry.

            It’s worth noting that in the northwest part of Ohio County there is a road named Harmon’s Ferry Road (County Road 2668). This is not near the Green or Rough River but there is a stream in the area called the North Fork of Barnett’s Creek.  I have not found any information about Harmon’s Ferry except it is mentioned as a reference point in the legislation enacted in 1854 that established McLean County from parts of Ohio, Muhlenberg and Daviess counties; however, keep in mind that there was a community called Barnett’s Ferry, located west of Hartford, so there had to be a ferry operation at Barnett’s Creek.

            While the ferry pictured below did not go to any port in Ohio County (it is a ferry at Morgantown and that location is several miles from the Ohio County line) it does give us a good idea what ferries on the Green River looked like in the early and mid-1900’s.

                The following information and personal story was passed along to me in the course of compiling this article on ferryboats, and I hope the young people reading this will see the value of talking to their parents and grandparents, or telling their own stories to pass along to their children. All of these events, family tales, and personal accounts are worth writing about and passing along. Sadly, I failed to have these conversations with my grandparents and I regret it very much. So much of our history is lost forever because so few people take the time to have those conversations or to write it down and share it with others.

                John Franklin Coffman, born 1798, was a second generation settler from a 4000 acre land grant near Sacramento, McLean County, Kentucky (the original name of this community was Cross Roads). Sacramento is about eleven miles southwest of Livermore. John Franklin Coffman’s sons were James Buchanan Coffman and Alfred Taylor Coffman, both of whom lived in the Livermore area.

               John Franklin's first son, James Buchanan, had eight children, including a son, Roy, the last ferry boat operator at Livermore.  Roy Coffman had two daughters, Dona and Joyce.

                John's second son, Alfred Taylor, had a son, Francis Oliver, and eleven other children.  Francis Oliver founded the community of Coffman, the post office, the general store and the school, and was a 20% owner in the Green River Mining and Manufacturing Company, which mined coal in the town.  Unfortunately, they could not compete with just discovered shallow stripped coal just east of Evansville, Indiana, and closed down around 1912.  From there the town evaporated, and most folks moved to Livermore, including Francis Oliver.  One of Francis Oliver’s children was a son, Decosta Quay Coffman, who is the father of Frank Coffman. Another child of Francis Oliver was a son, Archie Lee, who had a daughter named Helen Fay, born about 1915.
               Helen Fay Coffman (Baaso) wrote about her memories of a summer trip 
from Detroit to visit her grandfather, Francis Oliver Coffman, inLivermore, when she 
was 11 years old. 

               “In the summer of 1926 I was put on a train with
 my name around my neck, and sent to spend the summer in
  Kentucky. I had to transfer in Louisville. A traveler’s
  aid met me and saw that I got on the right train. My 
grandfather’s house was next to the depot, in Livermore.
 One day, I was riding an old horse, and when the train
   whistle blew, he flew. I can still recall the old 
  outhouse and its Sears catalog when I hear flies
 buzzing on a still hot day. I learned to cane chairs
 that summer.That’s what most of the people did for a
 living. One time, I wanted something from the store. 
My granddad gave me some eggs, and sent me to the store
 to trade. He kept milk and eggs in a well to keep them
 cool. The sidewalks were made of wood. Later, I was taken
 by horse and buggy to Jimtown where I was born. To get
 there we had to cross a river. My grandfather had to 
haul, via cable, a ferry from the other bank. I was left
 in the country for a time. I swung across big ravines
 on grapevines, and rode mules around. One aunt sent me
 out to pick blackberries  and made a delicious cobbler. 
Her son, Maxwell, was mean and bad. (I could say more - but)
 He was always trying to embarrass me. When it was time for
 me to go back to Livermore, they just put me on a horse, 
with my suitcase over the saddle horn, told me to follow 
the road to the  river, ring the bell and the ferryman 
would take me across into Livermore. (This was a different
 route than  we had taken to go to Jimtown.) When it came
 time to return to Detroit, I took two baby chicks in a
 shredded wheat box back with me.”

               NOTE: Helen visited the James Buchanan Coffman home in Jimtown, which was two 
miles up the Green River from the Livermore Ferry. Some researchers spell James Buchanan as 
James Buchanon.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Rough River Lock at Hartford 1896

Source: The Falls City Engineers: A history of the Louisville District, Corps of Engineers United States Army Page 146. Written by Leland R. Johnson, 1974. Published by United States Army Engineer District, Louisville, Kentucky.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Hartford Herald, 2/6/1889 - Beaver Dam

The Hartford Herald, February 06, 1889


February 4, 1889. Clark Ferguson, son of Mrs. Rachel Ferguson, of this place, came to his death under circumstances peculiarly sad, on Friday evening last. He was in usual health, but had imbibed too freely of whisky, which he and others procured from Jno. Hall, and perhaps some unknown party. Young Ferguson was found in the rear of Jesse Shevan's livery stable in a lifeless condition, and all efforts made to resuscitate him by Drs. Taylor, Mitchell and McKinney failed to restore him.

Squire R. T. Render held an inquest over the body, and the jury, after hearing the testimony of the physicians and others, returned a verdict of death occasioned by an epileptic fit superinduced by alcoholic intoxication. Young Ferguson was just 21 years of age, and was regarded as a very quiet young man, but alas led astray in an unsuspecting moment. Two other young men, who drank it is supposed of the same liquor --were in a dying condition the same evening, and but for the timely aid of friends and physicians, who were watching them, would, it is thought, have scarcely recovered. The impression is with some, that the "gray mule," who was in jail some months ago for peddling whisky, was in the woods, and that his whisky was badly "doctored." It would be well for the proper authorities to look after these walking dispensers of liquid poison before more serious consequences follow.


Awtry. Win. Awtry, Jr., son of Esq. W. M. Awtry, died at his father’s residence near Rosine, Monday, the 4th inst., of inflammation of the brain. He was 14 years old.

Wilson. At his home near Rosine, Saturday, Feb. 2, James Wilson, of paralysis, in the 85th year of his life. Mr. Wilson was one of the first settlers in the eastern part of Ohio county, and has been a leading citizen in this country for a number of years. One by one the old land-marks pass away.

Butler. Miss Mollie Butler, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Butler, of Shreve, died near Aetnaville last Saturday morning at eight o'clock. Miss Butler had been teaching school near Aetnaville and contracted a bad case of measles. She was nearly recovered when she took a relapse, from the effects of which she soon died. Miss Butler was at one time a pupil in Hartford College, and is well known in this county. She was respected and loved by all who knew her. The remains were buried at Shreve Monday, and many were the friends who attended this last sad ceremony.

Marriage licenses since our last report: J. E. Keown to L. S. Simpson; H. H. Mabrey to Sallie A. Tichenor; H. B. Burdett  (probably Henry Bennett) to Almeda Leach; Alex King to Resenia Daugherty; Wm. J. Baize to Susan Rice.


V. R. Morton, a noted timber dealer, has cut a White Oak log 36 feet long, 6 feet in diameter at the large end and 4 feet at small end. This log was cut on the Rowan land above Livermore, Ky., and will be rafted with other logs and taken to Evansville and delivered to Herman & Son, who will send it to Paris to be exhibited at the exposition there. The log was hauled by John Greenwood's team. So, you see Ohio county is to be represented at the great exposition to be held at Paris.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hartford Herald - January 13, 1886 - Distances From Hartford

Hartford Herald - January 13, 1886
Distances from Hartford to Other Places
John J. McHenry, who assisted in the survey recently made by the Kentucky Geological Survey corps, has furnished us the distances from Hartford to other points, as follows:
To Centertown, seven and one-tenth miles.
To South Carrollton, seventeen and nine-tenth miles.
To Ceralvo, ten miles.
To Rockport, eleven and three-twentieth miles.
To Paradise, fourteen and three-fifth miles.
To Rochester, nineteen and one-fifth miles.
To Beaver Dam, five and one-eighth miles.
To Cromwell, thirteen miles.
To Borah's Ferry, fourteen and eleven-twenty-fifth miles
To Select, via Cromwell, seventeen miles.
To Rosine, via Leitchfield road, eleven and seven-twentieth miles.
To Horlon, seven and three-fourth miles.
To Hines' Mills, twelve and three-fourth miles.
To Fordsville, twenty miles.
To Bell's Run church, eleven and seven-twentieth miles.
To Pleasant Ridge, twelve miles.
To Buford, nine and one-fifth miles.
To Beda, four and three-fifth miles.
To Sutton, eleven and thirty-seven-hundreth  miles.
- - - - - - - - - - -
The weather began to turn cold Thursday night and Friday morning early it began snowing rapidly, and we had a fearful snow storm all day. Friday night it turned very cold, the thermometer registered below zero, and it has varied from that point to 12 degrees below up to this writing, Monday.

The five days receding this has been genuine winter weather. The thermometer, Tuesday morning early, touched 22 degrees below zero, which was as cold as ever known here in the recollection of the oldest citizens.
-          - - - - - - - - - - -
Mr. Warren Barrett was up in the Fordsville country when the snow storm came on, and in coming home Saturday, he encountered snow breast deep to his horse.  A man that could face the music and ride such a day as last Saturday has the right grit for a good assessor.


JOHN J. STEWART was for many years an outstanding Deacon in the Green River Church. Information concerning him has been difficult to obtain and is far from being as complete as one would wish. What has been found is now given. According to the Ohio County Census of 1900 Brother Stewart was born in Ohio County, Kentucky, in April, 1854. His death occurred not far from the year 1932, but we have no record of when it occurred or where he is buried. He was the first son and second child born to Granville T. Stewart (b. c. 1825 - d.c. 1895) and Margaret A. G. Cope (b.c. 1827 in Tennessee), who were married on an Ohio County license on August 15, 1894. Their daughter, Sarah A. Stewart (b.c. 1850), married George L. O'Bannon on January 11, 1867; while daughter, Louellan J. Stewart (b.c. 1857), married William M. Flener (b.c. 1852) on December 21, 1876. He was the older brother of Mary Wilson (Flener) Stewart, who was married to John J. Stewart on an Ohio County license on January 30th, 1879. Both of them were the children of William Anderson Flener (1814-1881) and Mary Ann (Snodgrass) Flener (1816-1894), who were married in Butler County about 1833. Brother Stewart had one other sister listed in the 1870 Ohio County Census - Martha Stewart (b.c. 1865). 

John J. Stewart (1854-1932) and Mary Wilson (Flener) Stewart (b. January 31, 1858 - d. January 16, 1929) became the parents of at least four children. They were: Zoda Stewart (b. 1879); Avery Stewart (b. June, 1886); Delmer Stewart (b. January 4, 1890 - d. October 4, 1918); and Lorene (Stewart) Reid (b. August 17, 1898 - d. March 30, 1961), who married Clarence O. Reid (b. July 30, 1894 - d. February 1, 1967), both of whom are buried in the Green River Cemetery, as is her brother, Delmer Stewart. Mrs. Stewart (nee Mary Wilson Flener) united with the Green River Church by Christian Experience and Baptism in April, 1871, being baptized by Pastor William Carey Taylor, Sr. At the time of her death, in 1929, she had been a member of the Church for nearly fifty-eight years. Brother Granville Stewart (d. June 25, 1892), the father of John J. Stewart, united with the Green River Church by letter in August, 1849, at the same time he contracted marriage, as noted above. His wife, Margaret A. G. (Cope) Stewart united with the Church by Christian Experience and Baptism in January, 1850, and was baptized by pastor Alfred Taylor. Brother Stewart became of member of the Green River Church by letter, in 1888, and continued therein until his death. He served on two occasions as the Church Clerk - from August, 1888 through December, 1894; and again from September, 1909 through December, 1915. On September 29, 1889, he, together with W. P. Austin, were elected as Deacons of the Church and were ordained on October 27, 1889, by Pastors A. B. Smith and J. N. Jarnagin and H. V. Royal who acted as the Presbytery. He served about forty years in the office. In February, 1909, he became a Trustee by Church action, but the length of his service is difficult to determine. He served as a Messenger to the Association in 1902, 1907, 1912-1915, 1919, 1921-1923, and 1925. He served as the Sunday School Superintendent, in 1912. 

From: A Sesquicentennial History of the Green River Missionary Baptist Church 1836 - 1986, Written and Compiled by Wendell Holmes Rone, Sr., For the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Founding of the Church, 1987.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Hartford Herald - February 4,1903


Young Ernest Embry, of Butler County, Gave Hartford Folks a Merry Run-Around.

A desperate battle with pistols between officers and a tough young fellow from Butler county occurred on the streets of Hartford late Monday evening. Young Ernest Embry, son of Tine Embry, came to town, got fighting drunk, when Town Marshal Paris attempted to arrest him. Embry was on a fine big horse and rode through the street at a furious gait, firing at everything in sight.

Several officers and citizens joined in the chase, some afoot and some on horseback. Deputy Sheriff Bob Boyd headed Embry off in the southern part of town, at the corner of Dr. Ford's residence, and the two exchanged several shots apiece. Marshal Paris came up about this time and a fusillade of shots followed. Several of these shots penetrated private residences, two going into Mr. John Bean's residence near by and three into the residence of Judge J. P. Miller, nearly a quarter of a mile away. The occupants narrowly escaped being hit.

Embry had the best horse and taking a side street, struck for the main road out of town, firing at his pursuers and being fired at in return. He rode rapidly, reloading his pistol as he went. Capt. John Keown, living in East Hartford, hearing the shots and seeing Embry coming, ran out his front gate and grabbed the bridle of the flying horse. Embry had not yet finished reloading his pistol, and he struck Keown on the head with his empty firearm, cutting a long gash and staggering Keown. He continued on out the Beaver Dam road and the officers gave up on the chase for the time, as darkness was coming on. Strange to say, nobody was hit or hurt by the flying bullets.

Nothing has been heard of Embry since he left town and we hear of no effort being made to apprehend him.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

FEBRUARY 26, 1892


        The subject of this sketch was born April 15, 1865, near Select, this county. His parents were Thomas M. and Diana Baize Keown. He was a very industrious, hard-working boy, and remained with his father on the farm till he reached his majority. By close application he obtained a fair education in the common schools.

        He won the affections of Miss Nancy E. Duvall, daughter of John and Sarah E. Duvall, and their happy union took place September 4, 1884.  They have one child, Arthur Hampton, a bright boy of six summers.  Mr. Keown has a neat little farm on which he lived till November, 1889, when he embarked in the drug business at Select and was appointed Postmaster.  After fourteen months of good business he sold out and returned to his farm, where he now resides.

        Mr. Keown is an Elder in the Christian Church and is a Republican.  He has paid some attention to local politics and was elected Justice of the Peace for the Cromwell Magisterial District in August, 1892, to fill the unexpired term of J. E. Jackson, Esq., deceased, and is the youngest member of our Court and one of the youngest Magistrates the county ever had.

        His upright, honorable walk, together with his efficiency as an officer, make him very popular.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Sad and Strange Fate of a Kentucky Fisherman

I have not been able to confirm that this actually happened in Ohio County, although it was published in the Hartford Herald. Regardless, it is too good of a story to not include on this web site.

HARTFORD HERALD, January 6, 1892


The Sad and Strange Fate of a Kentucky Fisherman

            A correspondent from Culhoon, Ky.(that’s the way they spelled it back then), writing to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, tells the following story:

            There is a lonely deserted graveyard in the hills above Green River, fifteen miles south of here. It was once well kept, but that was long, long ago, before the little white church was built a few miles further on. There is a graveyard now near the little white church. It is well kept and has a more modern appearance than the old burying-place in the hills above the river. There is a sunken grave near the center of the old grave yard, above which there is a plain limestone slab upon which is rudely written the quaint inscription:

William Henry Larkin, 36 years old, He was killed by a catfish.

            A native of the hills was found who had known William Henry Larkin in life, who also knew well the circumstances that caused his death. The aforesaid native's re-collection of the dates is very faulty, but as nearly as he could make it out, it was directly after the war between the States that William Henry Larkin, his esteemed friend and neighbor, met a tragic death. Bill Larkin, as he was known in the country around, kept the ferry over the Green River known as Larkin's Ferry. Besides the business of ferryman, he followed the humble avocation of fisherman, and supplied the country folks with choice fresh fish. There was a big Baptist association in session a few miles away from the ferry, and Bill’s fish trade was unusually large. He put out every trotline he had, and was doing a flourishing business. Business on the ferry was also good, and Bill was, to use the native’s language, “making money hand over fist.” One evening he left home “run” his trotline, and he was not until again his body was found cold in death. Bill’s spirit had joined the great majority on the other shore. His body was found by a searching party the on the following day, hanging to one his trotlines.

            A large fish-hook was firmly fastened in the unfortunate man's clothing, and a few feet from him on the same trotline there was a large catfish. The supposition was that Bill was running the trotline when the big fish jerked the line, catching a hook in Bill’s clothing and pulling him out of the boat into the water. The fish weighed thirty-six pounds and Bill was thirty-six years of age. Those single facts were looked upon by the simple country people thereabouts as positive evidence that Bill's taking off was the Divine will of Providence. Bill's funeral was the largest ever held in that community and his remains were laid to rest in the old churchyard beside his ancestors, with the simple ceremony of the primitive church, which he belonged in life. The grass and briars have grown over Bill's grave for a quarter a century or more, his widow still lives in the old-fashioned house near the river, and she carries on the business just the same as before Bill was drowned by the fish.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Hartford Weekly Herald, October 22, 1890


The Wind Blowing a Very Gale Carries the Destroying Flames Through Houses in a
few Minutes.

The Depot and Other Railroad Property a Total 1oss, With no Insurance on Any of the Property.


All the buildings on the South side of the rail road at Rosine, consisting of the N. N. & M. V. depot, Judge C. G. Crowder's residence, J. W. Ragland & Son's large drug store, the elegant frame hotel occupied by L. C. Leach and owned by Hon. H. D. McHenry, were consumed by fire last Saturday at noon. The fire originated in the cookroom of Judge C. G. Crowder's residence and soon spread to all the buildings mentioned above. The wind was so high it was utterly impossible to control the fire from the beginning. The estimated losses are as follows: The depot of the N. N. & M. V. railroad, valued at $1,500; Judge C. G. Crowder's residence and contents, $750; J. W. Ragland & Son's drug store and stock, $2,000; hotel, $1,800 - furniture in same about $300. All of the above is a total loss, as there was not a cent of insurance carried. J. W. Ragland & Son saved a small portion of their stock but it was so badly damaged it is almost worthless. Judge Crowder saved only a few of his household goods, L. C. Leach succeeded in getting out only a small portion of his furniture. It was thought for awhile that the whole town was destined  to be consumed by the raging flames. A keg of powder was placed on a small building between Ragland's drug store and the hotel, with the hope of tearing out the building, thereby stopping the spread of the fire, but all was done to no effect. The hotel was so tall it was feared that the fire would ignite other large buildings only about 75 yards away. So when it was seen that it was impossible to save the hotel, a small dynamite cartridge was placed under it, with the view of making quick and short work with the destruction of the hotel. But the cartridge was too small to have the desired effect, and the flames had to be allowed to take their course. Fortunately nothing more caught on fire except two cars that were on the side track, and about $85 worth of staves belonging to M. S. Ragland, and about $15 worth of staves belonging to Jonathan Raley, all of which was burned. The people turned out en masse, worked faithfully but to no avail. A house about 300 yards up the railroad was ignited from sparks but was soon discovered and the fire put out. All the time during the fire there was a heavy wind from the North-west.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Col. John P. Barrett

The Hartford Republican, June 8, 1894 

Death of Col. John P. Barrett
           The people of our quiet little town were made sad Sunday evening last, by the announcement of the sudden death of Col. John P. Barrett at his home on Clay Street. He had been somewhat indisposed for several days, but heart failure ended all very suddenly on the beautiful Sabbath day, at 2 o'clock.

            Col. Barrett was a remarkable man, possessing talents of a very high order, had a lofty sense of honor and in business tact was seldom excelled. He was born May 7, 1841, on a farm near Barrett's Ferry, where he lived until his majority, when he came to Hartford and accepted a position in the store of his uncle, Mr. William Barrett. He was engaged in business at Calhoon for a time, but in the early years of the sixties he came back to Hartford, where he continued to reside until his death. By his many good qualities he soon endeared himself to a large circle of friends and early in life he entered upon one of the most brilliant political careers in the history of local politics. In 1867-8 he was Deputy Sheriff under Sheriff John A. Taylor and was elected to the position of High Sheriff in 1868 and re-elected in 1870. His majorities were very large, showing his great popularity.

            In 1875 Col. Barrett bought an outfit and began the publication of The Hartford Herald, soon making it one of the foremost county papers in the State. He continued in the newspaper business until 1886, when he sold the Herald to Messrs. Rhoads & Felix. He has been a very successful Fire and Life insurance man and at the time of his death had paid up policies amounting to $7,000.

            During the twelve years of Judge L. P. Little's service on the bench in this District, Col. Barrett filled the office of Master Commissioner with marked ability.

            On May 15, 1866 he was married to Miss Mattie Bonner, of Calhoon. This proved a happy union, for both the contracting parties were of superior intelligence and refinement, the wife entering with great zeal and effect into the lifework of her husband. To them were born two exceedingly bright children, but death called them away in early childhood.

            The funeral exercises were conducted at the home by Rev. E. E. Pate Monday evening and at 3 o'clock. The remains were laid to rest in the South Hartford Cemetery beside the departed little ones. Death may take the body away, but good works endure forever.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Richard C. Taylor and wife, Susan Leach

Hartford Herald, December 1882. Richard C. Taylor. Died Nov 27 in Ohio County near Elm Lick.  Age 80-5-3.  Born in Frederick County, VA.  Came to this county as a boy with his father, William Taylor.  A Cumberland Presbyterian minister, licensed to preach in 1849.  Married on 8 April 1824 to Susannah Leach, she is now 78.  Four sons & six daughters born, six survive.  

Hartford Herald, Sept. 5, 1883.  Mrs. Susan Taylor, widow of the Rev. R. C. Taylor of Cromwell precinct died on the 29th of old age and infirmity.   She was a native of the county and had lived here all her life.  Her maiden name was Leach.  She was an excellent Christian lady, a kind mother, a good neighbor and was loved and honored by all who knew her.

Hartford Herald, Sept 12, 1883. Died near Elm Lick, Ohio County, Mrs. Susannah Taylor in the morning of the 29th of August.  She was born in Ohio County on the 22nd of Jan. 1803, and married Rev. Richard C. Taylor in 1824, with who she lived happily for 58 years, more than half a century.  Few couples are spared to each other for such a long period.  Her father and mother came to this state from Maryland.  Her name before marriage was Leach, daughter of Leonard Leach.  In her youth, long distances intervened between settlements, immense canebrakes and tangled meshes of undergrowth characterized the forest and landscapes. In her youth those forest stretched away for miles and miles, undeterred by a single house or clearing;  In her old age numerous farms, towns, churches and school houses occupy their stead. What wonderful changes have occurred in the long period of years over which her memory could wander.  She professed religion before marriage and was probably a member of the church for 60 years, her life was pure and noble.  She was ever kind and affectionate to all, exemplifying her Christian profession by a steadfast obedience to all the commands of God.  She labored faithfully in the Master's vineyard, and has been called to her reward.  Of a truth, it might be said, a mother in Israel has gone to the sunny banks of eternal deliverance, there to greet the master, whom she loved to serve, and the friends, children and husband who preceded her.  She was laid in the graveyard on the old farm called the Brickhouse Place, this place was her home for a long period of years.  She was followed to her tomb by a large concourse of people, all sad and sorrowing that this was the last opportunity they would have of gazing upon the features of one they all loved so well, she was the mother of eight children, six of whom are living, and to whom would say, mourn not for her, for she has laid off the mortal body that frail with old age, and clothed herself in the immortal vigor of her Redeemer's Kingdom.

Hartford Herald, May 7, 1884.  The Rev. R. A. Read, of Butler Co., will preach the funerals of Rev. R. C. Taylor and his wife at Hickory Church this county on Tuesday, May the 20th at 10 o'clock a.m. Uncle Dick Taylor as he was familiarly called by almost everybody was extensively known and universally liked. He and his wife had trod the pathway of life together for perhaps a half century or more and but a few weeks intervened between their deaths. They are remembered kindly and affectionately by scores of friends all over this section of the county.

Friday, January 11, 2013


WILLIAM H. STEWART (1801-1883) served the Church long and well in the office of Deacon. He was married first to Sarah A. S. Malin (b.c. 1801-d. 1872), on September 17, 1822, in Ohio County, Kentucky. Both of them were natives of Virginia. In the 1850 Ohio County Census they are both listed as being 49 years of age, with the following children: John Stewart (b.c. 1830), Mary Stewart (b.c. 1832), William Stewart (b.c. 1834), Basil Stewart (b.c. 1837), Margaret Stewart (b.c. 1839), Sarah Stewart (b.c. 1841), and Jacob Stewart (b.c. 1843). About 1848, both of them united with the Church by letter. 

He was chosen to be a Deacon by the Church on July 9, 1853, together with Sanford Preston. They were duly ordained on July 11th following by Baptist Ministers Alfred Taylor and James F. Austin; but, within less than two years Brother Stewart requested that his name be removed from the Church's membership roll. This was done in April, 1855. The probable reason was that a relative (probably a brother), W. D. Stewart, was excluded on March 10, 1855, from the Church's fellowship for "keeping a store and retailing ardient [sic] spirits". On January 25, 1864, Brother Stewart, at his request, was restored to the Church's fellowship. On September 11, 1864, he was reelected as an active Deacon. This action was repeated in 1866. He continued in the office until his death, in 1883. 

His beloved first wife died in April, 1872; and, on July 14, 1873, he became the third husband to a widow, Mrs. Louisa Cook, on an Ohio County license. In two terms he served the Church over twenty years as a Deacon. He died in 1883. 

A Sesquicentennial History of the Green River Missionary Baptist Church 1836 - 1986, Written and Compiled by Wendell Holmes Rone, Sr., For the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Founding of the Church, 1987.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pardon Tabor

Pardon Tabor was born near Horse Branch, Ohio Co., Ky, December 13, 1823, and has all his life been a resident of this county. His father, Pardon Tabor, Sr., removed from Meade to Ohio County in a very early day, and settled on the Medkill place. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and died in 1831 at an advanced age; his father's family consisted of himself, Ambrose, John, Philip, Jesse, David, Enoch and Nelley (Penery). 

Pardon, Sr., was twice married; first to Rachel White, and their union was blessed with the birth of Rebecca (Hayden), Ambrose (born on "Cold Friday"), Polly (Johnson) and Eleanor (Buchanan). He was next married to Deborah, daughter of William and Hannah May, of Mercer County, Ky.; she was born in Ireland, came to Kentucky at the age of three years, and died September 15, 1840, aged about sixty years. Their marriage resulted in the birth of Deborah (married to James Johnson), Matilda (Powers), Elizabeth A. (married to Cyrus Johnson), Pardon (subject), Artemissa (Chambers) and Clarissa (married to John Johnson). 

December 13, 1855, Pardon Tabor was married to Mrs. Sallie A., widow of Franklin Hocker and daughter of David L. and Mary E. (Boswell) Miller of Ohio County, born October 10, 1831, and to them have been born John W., Enoch (deceased), Pardon W., Mary E. (Bean), Artemissa (deceased) Sallie A., Martha E., Ulysses S., Dorcas C. and Henry F. 

David M. Hocker is a son of Mrs. Tabor by her first husband. 

Mr. Tabor is a successful farmer and stock-raiser, owning 332 acres of good and productive land, well improved and in a fine state of cultivation. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church; was formerly an old line-Whig, and is now a republican.

Kentucky: A History of the State, Battle, Perrin, & Kniffin, 3rd ed.,1886 pg 192 

Friday, January 4, 2013


JOSEPH THOMAS TAYLOR: Elder Joe Tom Taylor, as he was affectionately known, was born near Bell's Run Church, Ohio County, Kentucky, on April 27, 1854. In his youth he attended the common schools of the county and in later life attended the old Hartford College. He was converted at an early age and was baptized into the fellowship of Bell's Run Church by Elder J. P. Ellis. This same church licensed him to preach in 1893 and on December 24, 1894, he was set apart to the work of the Gospel ministry by Elders R. T. Bruner, C. C. Sapp, B. F. Jenkins, E. H. Maddox, and J. S. Coleman. From his ordination until he retired from the ministry because of throat trouble Brother Taylor served the following churches as pastor: Concord, Adaburg, Barnett's Creek, New Panther Creek, Campbell, Pleasant Grove, Woodward's Valley, Olaton, all in Ohio County; New Hope in Muhlenberg County; and Hopewell in Daviess County. 

Brother Taylor was married to Miss Miriam Roach of Ohio County in December, 1873. To this union was born two children, both of whom are still living at this time (1943). Mrs. Lulie E. Sirles of Owensboro and Mr. O. D. Taylor of Calhoun. Mrs. Taylor died in May, 1922. Elder Taylor preached up until about the age of seventy. He died at the home of his daughter, in Owensboro, on June 13, 1937, at the advanced age of eighty-three. His funeral was preached at the Third Baptist Church by Bro. W. Earl Robinson and his remains were interred in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Owensboro. Brother Taylor possessed but small gifts in his work but he used them extensively for the glory of God. He was a nephew of Elder J. S. Taylor, whose sketch appears before this one.

"A HISTORY OF THE DAVIESS-McLEAN BAPTIST ASSOCIATION IN KENTUCKY, 1844-1943" by Wendell H. Rone. Probably published in 1944 by Messenger Job Printing Co., Inc., Owensboro, Kentucky, pp. 352-353. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


JUDSON SLADE TAYLOR, the second child and son born to Pastor-Evangelist Alfred Taylor (1808-1865) and Mary Ann (Mahon) Taylor (1812-1852), was born in Ohio County, Kentucky, on July 24, 1838 and died at Eureka Springs, Carroll County, Arkansas, on February 10, 1889. He is buried in the I. O. O. F. Cemetery, located 3 miles east of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, on Route #62. 

Judson S. Taylor was converted to Christ under the ministry of his father, as was his younger sister, Alice Taylor, and both were baptized by their father, the Pastor, into the fellowship of the Beaver Dam Baptist Church, in February, 1854. A full account of his real and abiding Christian experience is related by him in a twelve page, single spaced, account of his life for fifty years, owned by the writer. He had attended the schools at hand near his home; and, in the Fall of 1856, he entered Bethel Baptist College for men, at Russellville, in Logan County. Graduating in three and one-half years, he responded to the call of the Lord immediately to enter the ministry. In fact, his heart had been inclined in that direction ever since his conversion, but had intensified while in the process of securing a college education. 

Having wooed and won the heart and hand of Sophiah Brown, the daughter of John Gratton Brown, Junior, and Susan Ann (Dixon) Brown, they were married on June 22, 1860, on an Ohio County license and in the County. She was born in Ohio County, Kentucky, on April 20, 1838, and died at Keifer, Creek County, Oklahoma, on April 17, 1909, more than twenty years after his death, at nearly seventy-one years of age. They became the parents of 10 children, all of whom reached adulthood except a little boy, Jeddie Taylor (b. September 16, 1863-d. October 20, 1865), who is buried in the Slaty Creek (Taylor) Cemetery, Ohio County, Kentucky. She was buried alongside her husband in the I. O. O. F. Cemetery, near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. 

Having been previously licensed to preach, he was ordained to the Baptist Ministry by pastors H. B. Wiggin, J. G. Brown and his father, Alfred Taylor, at the Rochester Baptist Church, Butler County, Kentucky, in the year 1861, where he held his membership from 1861 through 1863. He served as a Messenger from Rochester Church to the Gasper River Association in 1862-1863. He and his wife were members at Green River Church in 1864-1869, and he appeared as a Messenger to the Association during that entire time. His pastorates included: Mt. Carmel (1861-1863) and Nelson Creek (1862-1864), in Muhlenberg County; Providence (1862-1865), in Warren County; Walton's Creek (1863-1869) and Pond Run (1864-1865; 1867-1868), in Ohio County, exclusive of Green River Church. He became Pastor of the Green River Church in January, 1864, succeeding his father, Alfred Taylor, who had resigned. He served through December, 1865, and declined receiving another annual call. He was called to succeed pastor John F. James and accepted in March, 1867, and served one year, through February, 1868, declining to accept another call. His second pastorate was followed by the third pastorate of Pastor James F. Austin. 

In October, 1869, Brother Taylor and wife were lettered out from Green River Church. They moved to Cowley County, Kansas, to live near his brother, Wilson Kelley Taylor. He served Churches in Crawford County, Kansas, in 1871-1875; and, in Bourbon County, Kansas, in 1876-1879. Returning to Kentucky, he served the Auburn Church, Logan County, in 1879-1882; the First Baptist Church, Clinton, Hickman County, Kentucky (now Carlisle County), in 1882-1884. While living in Clinton, he pastored also the First Baptist Church of Murray, in Calloway County, Kentucky, in 1883-1884. In 1886 and 1887 he served the First Baptist Church of Fulton, in Fulton County, Kentucky. Shattered health led him to move to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in 1887 to recover it, if possible. He began serving the First Baptist Church at that place. After showing some improvement, he died there on February 10, 1889, in his fiftieth year. 

Judson Slade Taylor was a man of great brilliance of intellect, an author of several books and pamphlets, a writer of many articles for religious papers, a co-editor of Baptist papers, and in his early years a school teacher. He never lacked for places to preach for the glory of the Lord who had called him into the Gospel Ministry. He was noted, especially, for his evangelistic and doctrinal zeal and integrity.

A Sesquicentennial History of the Green River Missionary Baptist Church 1836 - 1986, Written and Compiled by Wendell Holmes Rone, Sr., For the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Founding of the Church, 1987.