Friday, December 26, 2014


Paradise in Kentucky

Contributed by Dorann O'Neal Lam

Source: Ohio County News, Hartford, KY, 10 October 1974, by Agnes S. Harralson.

Much has been made of how Paradise (a misnomer) came full cycle with another failure on 17 November 1967 when the Post Office closed and the five or six remaining families sold their homes and moved elsewhere in the county. That was said to be the third failure for Paradise. The other two were authentic alright, but that is a long story.

Muhlenberg County consists of 175 square miles of mineral rich land in Western Kentucky. It is bounded on three sides by three different rivers. Pond River forms the West border, Green River is on the North, and the East boundary is Mud River. Kentucky is blessed with more navigable streams than any state in the union. One of the busiest of them at present is the Green. Lying wholly within the state, the Green and her tributaries drain the Western one-third of the state, and influences the lives of the people in the 17 or more counties she borders or crosses. From the mouth, a few miles above Evansville, to mile 103 at Rochester, there is a nine-foot channel, enabling the use of Ohio River type barges to handle the coal shipped from half a dozen of the nation's largest coal mines.

In the 1850s coal was being barged in much the same manner from a mine near Paradise, and from one on Mud River. Small barges were poled 12 miles down Mud River to Rochester where it was reloaded into Green River barges and taken by steamboat to Evansville or Memphis. The empty barge was “cordelled” back 12 miles to the mine.

It was in the late 1790s the Jacob Stom family came up the Green with Revolutionary War Land Grants in their pockets, and staked out claims in the Paradise area. They established a ferry and it was known as Stom''s Landing for more than 40 years. Lost in the annals of time is the reason for changing the name to Paradise.

Jacob Stom and his two sons developed their farms and ran the first store in the area. They took an active interest in the affairs of the county. Philip was one of the first petit jurors of the Circuit Court in 1803.

Paradise, like other little river towns of 125 years ago, struggled along between the devastating floods and grew little. But in the 1850s they came alive with the arrival, at their landing, of a band of miners and iron workers from Ayrshire in Scotland. They had come to develop the iron ore found about a mile below Paradise. There were about 35 houses in Paradise at that time, and the excitement was high as the new homes were built less than a mile away, and the handsome blocks of stone were quarried a few yards from where the furnace and engine house were being built. The titled Alexanders in Scotland had smelted the Black Band ore in Ayrshire for several generations, but with time the ore had been depleted. The owner decided to come to Kentucky and erect something monumental on Green River and give employment to any who wished to accompany him. Their fare would be underwritten and a fair wage paid until the works went into operation. It was only natural they called their new home Airdrie for their old home far away. It was a long time in building and it is a well known story that after three or four attempts the $350,000 investment was written off and Alexander left the stranded Scots to their own ingenuity. Had it not been for the Paradise-Airdrie failure in 1857, the coal industry in Western Kentucky would no doubt present a different face today. Among the Airdrians were the Duncans and the MacDougals who continued to run the McLean Mine near the furnace, giving employment to as many as possible, as they shipped the coal to the river. But it was not enough and the Duncans left the McLean Bank with MacDougal and they went up the river and opened a mine at Aberdeen. By the time the war ended they had good prospects for shipping a large amount of coal to the growing industry on the big rivers below.

Like many other Southern states after the war, Kentucky had no funds to repair their river improvements it was becoming almost impossible to navigate the stream. So, in 1868, without much ado, the Kentucky Legislature passed a bill giving a 30-year lease to the Bowling Green and Evansville Navigation Company to keep up the locks and dams and collect the tolls. In return they were to keep the locks in repair and give a $500,000 bond to return them in good shape at the end of the lease. Their collections were no greater than had been the state's, so to break even they began buying coal lands and more boats which they ran toll free, freezing out other shippers. It was the worst monopoly the state had ever known.

By 1870 railroads were coming to Western Kentucky, so the Duncans sold Aberdeen and moved to McHenry in Ohio County. There they remained until 1900 when they came back to Muhlenberg County and opened a mine, first at Luzerne, and two years later the Graham-Skibo mines at Graham.

W.G. Duncan gained his experience at his father's mines at Paradise, Aberdeen and McHenry, and he headed the company at Luzerne and Graham until his death in 1929. The Graham Mine was the largest in West Kentucky with shipments on the Illinois Central Railroad. They occupied a prominent position in coal circles everywhere. They were recognized in “Coal Age” magazine in 1914 as the largest producing mine in the field. In November 1957, the stockholders gave a formal approval to the sale of the company to Peabody Coal Company and the underground mine was closed.

It was shortly after the Civil War that Paradise had another shot in the arm when General Don Carlos Buell, a Union general, who had soldiered through Kentucky, got a 40-year lease on the Alexander lands with a thought of developing the coal and the oil. But he too failed, and later at his death in 1898 the place again reverted to nature.

In 1959, a few remaining inhabitants were left at Paradise and that summer and fall most of the land had been bought by some unknown party at a good price, but no one knew who nor why. It had always been said that Muhlenberg County exported her most important product, her young people, who were forced to leave the county to find gainful employment. The people in Paradise hoped, as they read the news, that Paradise would get a new lease on life, but, of course, the young people who found work wanted to live near larger towns, near schools, country clubs, shopping and medical centers, and Paradise was bypassed and you could count the families on your two hands and fingers to spare.

After the plant was in operation there were days when a south wind showered them with an unpleasant cinder fallout from the tall stacks a mile away. So when TVA offered to buy the remaining properties there was a ready acceptance of the offer. 

In November 1967, Postmaster Buchanan dispatched his last bag of mail and the office closed. His unique store, with its huge open fireplace, built to accommodate his tobacco chewing customers who could never seem to hit the door of the stove, also was soon closed, and the last of the residents found homes in more prosperous and cleaner parts of the county. It is doubtful that any would return to Paradise if given the opportunity today.

Paradise then:

Paradise today:

And, enjoy this:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ohio County Fair Time

Ohio County Fair Time

            Fairs bring out the best in everybody.  In the fall of each year, the annual Ohio County, Kentucky County Fair, always held in Hartford, was a respite from hard, hot work of summer, when everyone gathered for a few days of fun and to show their prized projects and animals...even coon dogs.  Those who took part in the friendly competitions proudly brought handpicked, polished produce…their tastiest jams and jellies…their creative crafts…and well-groomed animals.

            I wish I had asked my grandmother whether or not they ever entered animals or food in the fair competitions, but I didn’t.  Those folks who came just to look around at the local fair were rewarded with sights, sounds and scents that couldn’t be found anywhere else…while enjoying some great outdoor eating, and meeting and seeing relatives and friends from all over.   Everyone loved the horse races there.  Men had fox hounds and all kinds of homemade inventions for sale.

            Rural folks gathered from all nearby counties to celebrate the end of summer at the Ohio County fair. 

            Here is a portion of one advertisement I read about in an old newspaper:

August 30, 1904 – Select, KY:

Advertisement – Ohio County Fair

“Ohio County Fair begins Wednesday, September 21 – 4 days.  Ajax, famous high-diver performs thrilling feats.  Will be the largest of all fairs this year, etc….”

I once interviewed my grandmother, Eva (Smith) Cox 1889-1988 about attending the annual Ohio County Fair.  She told me the following:

Grandmother:  Oh, that was when I was about sixteen years old.  Or seventeen, at that time.  And my daddy wanted to go to the fair, and he wanted me to go with him.  And I didn’t much want to, because I could have gone with my boyfriend in his buggy.  My sisters, Della went, and  Ella went.  But he wanted me to go to the fair and he wanted me to go with him.  Well, I couldn’t hardly say what I wanted to do.  I hated to refuse him, and I did finally tell him I would go. 

And I thought, well, he will just drive along real slow, but I was mistaken.  I thought all the other buggies…you know in that day and time, roads were dusty and I thought everybody would get ahead of us and we would just eat that dust all the way.  But he got started…and I’m telling you, he made that horse just get up and go, and we got ahead of all of them.  (Laughing)  And I was so glad, oh goodness.  And we got there ahead of the whole bunch.

Grandmother:  Oh, yes, we never missed the fair.  (Laughing)  Get up before daylight to get to go. To Hartford.  But that was a treat.  And it taken a long time to go.
What did you do at the fair?

Grandmother:  Oh, I don’t know…ride the ferris wheel and everything that they do now.  And cold drinks and eats.  We just all had a good time.  Meet up with everybody we knew.

Another time, after I married, Newton and I went to the fair.  Went in a road wagon, too.  Just a regular wagon, with seats.  You have seen them.  Just a wagon.  And boy that was a trip.  We really got the dust!

Another ad dated August 28, 1908, from The Hartford Republican said:

The above courtesy of Janice Brown.


One of my cousins told me that her grandmother, Finis Swain Leach, had a brother called Uncle Sip who raised trotting horses.  My cousin, Marguerite Leach, remembered watching them race at the Ohio County Fair.  The horses pulled a sulky while racing.

“Uncle Sip” was Perciful Aurthine Swain (1853 – 1951), and my guess is that horse racing, and sulky racing, at the Ohio County fair was most probably seen from the early 1870’s till the early 1920’s or 1930's.  This type of horse racing is commonly called “Harness Racing.”

Harness racing was also a significant part of Louisville's early racing history with a number of tracks in existence. One of the most prominent was Greeneland, a racecourse for trotters that was built just east of Churchill Downs in 1868.

Here are two images of harness racing (not from Ohio County):

Apparently, looking at the image below, pneumatic tires were first used in harness racing as early as 1893.

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.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


IGNATIUS P. BARNARD is the son of Joshua Barnard and the grandson of Ignatius P. Barnard, who settled in Ohio County about 1820, having come to that place from Maryland. The great-grandfather was a Revolutionary soldier and served in the patriot army during that war. Our subject was born in Ohio County in 1846. He received a common school education, and at the age of fifteen years enlisted in Company C, Ninth Kentucky Regiment, Confederate army, Col. Thomas H. Hunt, Breckinridge's Old Brigade. He was brave and fearless as a soldier and met with many narrow escapes from death. He was twice a prisoner. While confined in the prison at Louisville, Gen. Burbridge, the Federal commander of the post, selected him with others as hostages, and as reprisal for the Federal soldiers killed by guerrillas, a certain number were drafted to be shot. Mr. Barnard escaped this draft three times, and was finally exchanged. After his first capture he was placed in a prison, which stood on the square where the Stamford Hotel now is, in Louisville, Ky., from which he succeeded in making his escape and finally surrendered at Washington, Ga. At the close of the war he commenced business at Buford. After teaching school and filling the office of constable, he bought and sold tobacco fourteen years, and subsequently became one of the owners and superintendent of the Taylor Coal Mine near Beaver Dam. He is now a resident of Beaver Dam and controller of an extensive business in general merchandise, tobacco and coal, and enjoys a high reputation in both commercial and social circles. January 23, 1868, Mr. Barnard was married to Bettie Bell, eldest daughter of Mrs. Mary Bell, and grand-daughter of Dr. A. R. Rowen, of Ohio County, Ky. This union has been blessed with three children. Mr. Barnard's mother was Rhoda Brown, daughter of James Brown (who was widely known as "Faith Dr. Brown," an old time practitioner, and a lady of many estimable qualities of mind and heart.

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014



By Harry D. Tinsley

NOTE: Although this story starts in Ohio County, these churches are now located in the northeastern section of McLean County. McLean County was formed by act of the Kentucky legislature on February 6, 1854 from portions of surrounding Daviess, Ohio, and Muhlenberg Counties.

The New Providence Church occupied the Tanner's Meeting House since the Buck Creek Church was moving into a new log meeting house one mile west Nuckols. Built in 1840-1841, this church was located on a hill since known as Buck Creek Hill. (The Tanner's Meeting House, also built of logs, was located three miles west of Livia on the Glennville Road).

In 1856-1857 a neat frame house was erected on the same site. In 1892 the members decided to build a new meeting place. There was a great difference of opinion on where the new house should be built. Finally, in February 1894, the church ordered the new house built on the Owensboro - Livermore Road, about midway between Livia and Nuckols. The building was completed and occupied in July 1894 but dissatisfaction remained among some members over whether or not the plans had been carried out in a legitimate manner. The church became completely divided, resulting in a number of the members continuing to meet in the building completed in 1857.

The dissatisfied members continued to transact business as the Buck Creek Church and both churches sent statistical letters and messengers to the meeting of the Daviess County Association, which convened at the Oak Grove (Utica) Church in August 1894.

After it was discovered that two opposing groups of messengers, both claiming to represent the Buck Creek Church, were in attendance, a committee was chosen to look into the situation. This committee was composed of seven visiting brethren who were chosen from among those who ire unprejudiced by local conditions or past or present relationships, one being Elder J. T. Casebier, of Rockport, Ky.

After a careful examination of all records, the committee reported, unanimously, that the decision to move to a new location as a legal and binding act of the church. Therefore, the group meeting on the Owensboro-Livermore Road was rightfully the Buck Creek Baptist Church. The members who had not approved the move were given letters so they could constitute a new church if they wished.

Sixty-nine members withdrew from the Buck Creek Church and in September 1894 the Old Buck Creek Church was organized and constituted. (These names also given in Rone’s book). Two other persons submitted their names to the clerk, making a total of 71.  In August 1895 this church became a member of the Daviess-McLean County Association.

Over the years, Buck Creek Church has been a prolific mother of churches.  Out of her membership she has given members to constitute Green Brier, in 1820; Mt. Liberty, in 1840; Oak Grove (Utica), in 1854; Glenville, in 1865; Woodward’s Valley, in 1879; and Old Buck Creek, in 1894.  She is also the grandmother of younger churches that have come from the churches mentioned above.

Today both the Buck Creek Baptist Church and Old Buck Creek Baptist Church continue to carry on their work.  Their foundations are strong, being based on almost 163 years of faith.

Buck Creek Cemetery

After settling the claim as to the legality of the move to the Owensboro and Livermore Road site, the Association volunteered to make the following suggestions relative to the Buck Creek Cemetery.

“In the event they preferred to constitute a new church at the old location they be permitted to use the old building until they could provide thernse1ve with one that suited them better, January 1, 1895, being the date fixed by agreement and that the old house should be sold and the proceeds divided equally among them, and that the old church lot should be added to the adjacent cemetery grounds, and that the mother church should then deed to the new organization a one-half interest in the cemetery lot, to be held and controlled permanently by the two jointly, for the use of both."

Two lots were donated, to the Church by Dr. A. W. Crow for the purpose of erecting a new house of worship. These lots were located about 500 yards to the north of the old site of the church and the cemetery. The new building was completed and the dedicatory sermon was preached by Dr. J. S. Coleman on Thanksgiving Day, 1894. Both churches continue to use the buildings erected in 1894.

Ref. "A History of the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association in Kentucky” , 1943 by Wendell H. Rone.

Published in The Ohio County News, April 10, 1975.

Thanks to Janice Brown

Old Buck Creek Church:

 Buck Creek Church:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lindsey D. Bennett and wife, Matilda J. Owen

Benton – Bennett Family

Lindsey Dow Bennett (2nd cousin of Geo. P. and Lydia Benton Bennett), born October 14, 1829, at No Creek, married Matilda J. Owen, born July 1, 1826, Ohio County, daughter of Edward and Ann Boswell Owen.  They owned and resided on a 100 acre farm North of Beda, just off Miller’s Mill Road (the back portion of the Ray Hoover farm).  In 1886 they purchased a house and lot in Buckhorn (Beda) in the forks of the Beda-Sullenger’s Mill and Hartford-Owensboro Roads where they resided until their deaths.

Mr. Bennett served from October 25, 1861 until March 3, 1863 in Company F, 17th Kentucky Infantry, Union Army.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Bennett united with Beulah Cumberland Presbyterian Church on September 15, 1889. Mr. Bennett served as an Elder from October 18, 1893 until his death.

The children of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Owen, besides Mrs. Bennett, were Eleanor (wife of Hezekiah Ward), Elizabeth (wife of Richard Stevens), Sarah Ann (wife of William J. Bennett), Polly (wife of Jesse G. Benton), Charlotte (wife of Thomas York), Lottie (wife of Archibald Stewart), Admiral (who married ____), and Henry (who married 1st ___ and 2nd Ellen Stewart); From Deed dated 1859, Book R, page 635, Ohio County Clerk Office. The tract conveyed was located on Hall’s Creek.

Mr. Bennett dies December 24, 1908 and his wife predeceased August 21, 1899. They rest in the Beulah Churchyard.

Children: Five.

Henry Burge, born July 17, 1852; Robert Plummer, born January 28, 1854; Lydia Ann, born March 20, 1856; William Clayton, born May 12, 1861; and Mattie, born circa 1865.

Source:  Lineage Lines, by Harry D. Tinsley; The Ohio County News, April 24, 1975.

Note:  It appears they married 27 Feb. 1876 in Grant County, IN. She listed her name as Martha J. Owen. Spouse listed as John Bennett.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Deeds prior to 1798


Abstract of Deeds – Nelson County, KY – 1785 to 1808

Compiled by Nelson County Historical Society

Note:  Nelson County was formed in 1784; Hardin County formed in 1792 from part of Nelson County; and Ohio County formed from part of Hardin County in 1798. So deeds recorded prior to 1798 can be found in Nelson County and Hardin County.

A few deeds of interest that are recorded in Nelson County:

P. 76 (Book Two) - 23 Oct. 1788 - Joseph Barnett, wife Abigail to Thomas Meason, 15 pounds, 300 acres on Rough Creek waters of Green River adjacent Peter Tardiveas and Bartholomew Tardiveas .

P. 81 (Book Two)  - 9 Dec. 1788 - George Scot, County of Culpepper, to Andrew Hynes, 50 pounds, 500 acres waters of Beaver Dam fork of Big Clifty, waters of Green River.

P. 82 (Book Two) - 9 Dec. 1788 - John Ninian Webb to Andrew Hynes. 100 pounds, 1,000 acres on Beaver Dam fork of Big Clifty.

P. 113 (Book 4) - 23 Mar. 1791 - Joseph Barnett to John Howell. 1,868 pounds, 7,472 acres near the mouth of Noe Creek, branch of Rough, Creek, adjacent Josepb Lewis and George May.

P. 222 (Book 4) - 27 July 1791 - Gabriel Maddison to John Atherton, Jr., Hartford town lot #63, as actual settler, also 3 acres outlot #54, adjacent John Slover, Aaron Atherton and Dudley Mills.

P. 223 (Book 4) - 27 July 1791 - Gabriel Maddison to John Atherton, Sr., 3 pounds, two half acre lots, #56 & 57 in Hartford as actual settler and two 3 acre outlots #47 & 48, adjacent Joseph Baird and John Powars.

P. 225 (Book 4) - 20 July 1791 - Gabriel Maddison to Peter Springston, lot #107 in Hartford, conveyed to Springston by Andrew Rowan, an actual settler, also outlot #22, bounded by Michael Riley, assignee of William Rown and James Tinsley, assignee of Samuel McGrady.

I have not done a through examination of Nelson County Deeds or Hardin County Deeds. The above is just a sample and the above might not (all) be located within the current borders of Ohio County.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


A Brief Story
James William Cox of Ohio County, Kentucky
Father of Jasper Newton Cox and
Grandfather of Gilbert Owen Cox

Pupils received much more attention from the teacher than is given today, even with all the modern methods and equipment. 

Although times were hard, there was a closeness, as a rule, between teacher and pupils that we do not have today.   They felt like a family and they learned to work together and they helped each other learn.   Sometimes parents sent under age children to school with older brothers and sisters because they had to work in the field that day.  Otherwise, the older children would have had to stay home to take care of the little ones.  The older kids helped teach the younger kids if they needed help when the teacher was busy on the other side of the room.   In this day and time, all of the teaching is left to the teacher.  Not to be forgotten is the fact that some of the scholars might often be older and larger than the teacher in charge.

When James William Cox taught school they had a tradition at the end of school whereby the teacher took all the boys to the Green River not far from Cromwell to swim in a favorite swimming hole and have a picnic.  The area had a high bank overlooking the river and a few of the older kids who were brave enough enjoyed jumping or diving off the high embankment into the water. 

One summer when school had ended James Cox took a group of his boy students, who ranged in age from eight to fourteen or so, to the river near Cromwell.  The boys had made it up in advance to gang up and throw or push their teacher in the river.  So when they got near enough, they all crowded around him and began pushing him closer toward the edge of the bank.  Realizing they would be strong enough to push him over - just as they got to the brink’s edge - he spread his arms wide and hugged them all close into him.  When he went over the bank into the water, he took all the boys with him.  The news spread far and wide because these boys told this story for years, even to their grandchildren.  They considered it a big joke because their teacher turned the tables on them and they all got wet together.  For a number of years afterwards, this became a “teacher/student” tradition of the school every year when school was out.

One of the duties and responsibilities for Jim Cox was to fill out the absentee report and make out academic reports on each student for the school trustees to go over.  Teachers were the key to the success of the schools.

Dec. 2, 2002                                                                ~~ by Janice Cox Brown,

                                                                                               Oldest Great-Granddaughter

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Joseph Blackston Leach

Joseph Blackston Leach (1856-1925)

by Shelby Leach (1894-1981)

I would like to begin the story of my father's life with the Pre-Civil War days.

Joseph Blackston (Note: sometimes spelled Blackstone) Leach was born February 2, 1856, the son of John and Susan Leach, who were married in Beaver Dam, Kentucky. Soon after their marriage they came to Missouri and settled near Harrisonville, about twenty miles south of Kansas City; their four sons were born there. Soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, Grandfather enlisted in the Confederate Army from Missouri.

As their farm was located on the main-traveled road between Fort Scott, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, and also near the invisible line between the North and South, troubled and dangerous times came to the mother and her small sons. Grandmother's father became so concerned about them that he went after them and brought them back to Kentucky with him. After the war ended, Grandfather joined them in Kentucky and never returned to Missouri.

Father came to Texas in the early part of 1878 with an uncle, from his home near Beaver Dam, Kentucky. Nine years later he came to Hale County. He and his brother, Dee, owned a farm in Denton County, and also had a herd of cattle, which they brought with them. Father heard of a large pumpkin that was raised in Swisher County, and so started to move to Swisher County. Their younger brother, John, had come to Texas from Kentucky and made the move with them; a cousin also went with them, Byron Taylor, who was about fourteen. He was an orphan, and Father was his guardian.

One day while they were traveling, some Indians came by their camp and asked for some meat; Uncle John said, "Give them salty meat and they won't bother us anymore." He said he learned that while working on a railroad grade.

My Father told me that they came up on the Cap Rock on the fourth or fifth of July, and camped a few miles east of what is now South Plains. From there they went northwest to a large, deep lake, near the corner of Swisher County, where they made a permanent camp. As other lakes dried up, other cattle men came and camped at this lake. This lake was known as the "55" lake for a number of years, as that was the brand that the Leach brothers used. The cattle they brought from Denton County is the foundation stock of the Hereford cattle now owned by me and my sons, Joe and Paul, and we still use the "55" brand.

Father filed on a 160 acre homestead about six miles north of Plainview In the fall of 1887, he had a well drilled on the homestead, they struck water forty-seven feet and drilled the well to sixty. The Star windmill they put up at the well was the third windmill in Hale County.

There was a saying among the early settlers that the wind pumped the water and the cows cut the wood. When the well was finished, they moved their tent and stock to the homestead and began to build their sod house. They dug about two feet in the ground, and made a wall of sod about five feet high. The house was fourteen by twenty-eight feet, and had a sod chimney in the north end; a makeshift door was made by putting salt sacks on a frame made of poles.

They moved into the sod house in January 1888. Uncle Dee went to see about the cattle that afternoon. He came back and said, "We are going to have the worst storm of the season, I need some help to get the cattle in." They put the cattle in a trap, that had been made by building a fence on the south and west sides of the pasture. At that time the herd consisted of about sixty head.

My father said that was the worst storm that he had ever seen on the Plains; there was thunder, lightning, rain, sleet, snow, and a hard wind. Almost all of the cattle in this part of the country drifted with the storm and went south, below the Texas Pacific Railroad. The Leach Brothers only had one cow to drift away in the storm. The next spring, ranchers rounded up the cattle that had drifted away, someone saw a cow with the Leach brand and put her in the herd, and brought her back.

The Leach Brothers made occasional trips to the Tule Canyon where they would cut some cedars for posts and firewood. When Father got to the creek on his first trip to the canyon, he saw what looked like bear tracks, and in a short time he looked down the canyon and saw a black bear; but the bear disappeared in the cedars and that was the only bear that he ever saw in the canyon.

On one of Father's trips to the canyon to get wood, he bad cut short and loaded the wood and started home when a blizzard hit. In a short time, he met some men from Plainview with three or four wagons, who were coming after wood; they stopped and discussed what they should do. Father told them that he had wood and was going back to the canyon and stay until the storm was over, and invited them to go with him. They all went and found a place on the north side of the canyon where a rock extended a few feet from the wall of the canyon and high enough for them to go under the rock. They built a fire in front of the rock and stayed until the storm was over. One of the men had a Negro with him. The Negro's feet were so large that he couldn't get shoes for him, so his feet were wrapped in sacks, but they still got cold.

Father helped build the Amarillo Hotel in Amarillo, and also worked on the Hale County Court House in 1890; he worked on other buildings in Amarillo and built some homes in this area. Uncle John worked on ranches, including the Circle and X. I. T. Uncle Dee stayed at home and looked after things.

On March 30, 1892, Father married Pyrena Parks, she came with her parents to Hale County from Crawford, Texas, in July 1888. They settled on the Running Water Draw, about five miles west of Plainview. They were married in her parents home, and Father took his bride to the sod house, but by that time they had windows, a real door, a floor, and a partition. We are living at the same place now, but in quite a different house.

There was a salt lick near where Grandfather Parks lived. Antelopes would come there for salt, and Grandfather could go there early most any morning and kill an antelope for fresh meat.

When Father or his brothers went to Amarillo for supplies, they would also bring freight for merchants in Plainview. They would take two wagons trailed together and pulled by six horses or mules. The team next to the wagon was known as the wheel team, next was the swing team, and the team in front was called the leaders.

On November 16, 1893, Father and Byron Taylor started to Amarillo. A little north of Happy Hollow, a stage station about two miles northeast of Happy, at about sunset, Father had an accident which almost cost him his life. He stepped on the tongue of the moving wagon to mount the wheel mule. The mule began to pitch, and he fell and was pushed forward by the wheel axle. After the wagons passed over him, he could only move his left arm and hand, but by morning he could not do that. Two other men helped Byron put him in the wagon, and Byron brought him back to Tulia where they spent the rest of the night at Mr. Conner's. The next morning Byron brought the wagons and teams home and went back with a spring wagon and mattress to bring Father home.

Father sent word to Mother to ask Dr. Dye to come and see him at nine o'clock that night. Neighbor men came (two each night) to sit up with Father all winter, and were still coming when I was born, in the sod house, on March 29. My first remembrance of my Father was seeing him walk on crutches; he always dragged his right foot, and as his right hand was paralyzed, he learned to write with his left hand.

In 1898, Father was elected to the office of tax assessor of Hale County, and served two terms. By that time, he was able to travel in a buggy with a gentle horse. Father never kept an office in the courthouse, but went to Plainview and sat in his buggy, on what is now Broadway, and people would come to him there, so his buggy was really his office. It was necessary to make some trips over the County to complete his assessments. He would hire a boy to go with him to open the gates.

The tax rolls were completed here at home with some hired help and Mother's help. At that time, all the work was done without typewriters and adding machines.

Father would drive out quite often in his buggy to look after the cattle. He was a good judge of cattle and knew many of them individually. We also raised horses and mules, some were used for farm work and others were sold. At one time, before we used tractors, we had twenty-two head of work stock. Father knew the mules and their mothers, and the week that he died, he wanted me to work a certain young mule for the first time. We hitched the mule to a wagon, where he could see it from his bedroom window. He passed away on September 20, 1925, almost thirty-two years after his accident, which indirectly may have caused his death.

Source: Hale County History, Plainview, TX; Aug 1976, Vol 6, Issue 3.