Monday, October 24, 2016

Crittenden County's Old Court House

Nov. 29, 1959.  By November 1961, there should be standing on the present site of the antiqued and dilapidated Crittenden County  Courthouse a modern structure, the fourth on this location since the county was established in 1842.

Voters at the November 3, 1959 election approved by the overwhelming margin of 2,437 to 624 a $175,000 bond issue for building a new courthouse. 

Construction is expected to get under way by mid-spring of 1960.  Still to be decided is whether the old building will be razed at the start or the new structure built around the old one and it torn down after the new one is completed.

Crittenden county's first two courthouses were destroyed by fire, the first set fire by Confederate renegades because the courthouse was being used as a barracks by Union soldiers during the Civil War.   (All the records were saved, although some people think that we lost those early county records, they were removed before the fire was set.)  The second

The second court house fire was accidentally set by a tinner who was repairing the roof and left his hot tar sitting on the wooden shingles. 

The third court house, the one being torn down in the pictures was built in 1871, and served the county well until it was torn down in 1961.  

The walls came tumbling down on the once beautiful historic old court house in the fall of 1960.  Wreckers from the Colonial Brick Company of Mt. Vernon, Indiana. figured it would take about two jerks by a truck to pull the front portion down.  Lines were attached to the wall and the truck and work was started.  A downpour of rain put a stop to the proceedings, (perhaps saddened to see the old building torn down) and the workers had to finish the razing the next day.

The new modern courthouse was dedicated on December 9, 1961.  It is still being used today.  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Abia "Abe" Benjamin Rankin, Crittenden County Pioneer

Abia Benjamin Rankin, familiarly known as "Uncle Abe" was born in Henderson County , the son of John and Elizabeth Clay Rankin.

Abe began working on the Ohio River when a young man, loading flatboats and piloting them down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans.  

On one such trip he traded his boat for the tract of land between Ford's Ferry and Weston, from which the Damn 50 Reservation site was sold.  He brought his family here about 1858 and he continued to run the flatboats down the river.

He conceived the idea of planting 1,000 winter apple trees and when their fruit was harvested he planned on loading them on his flatboat and taking them to New Orleans.  When the trees came into bearing they turned out to be summer apples and there was not much could be done with them, it seemed they overdid themselves in their production.

A cider mill was set-up under the trees and barrels of cider were taken south by flatboat.  People came from all around and made what cider they wanted and left without ever going to the house, it turned into a community orchard.

Uncle Abe, tho never much of a farmer, had a yen for "bidding in" any tract of land that was sold at the Court house door, if it joined his tract.  At his death, he owned twelve or fifteen hundred acres, extending from the river for many miles around, including Ford's Ferry island. Mr. Rankin died May 23, 1898 and is buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery.

Abe Rankin's first wife was Sarah Ann Smith of Illinois, the mother of Ben, Jim and Tom; after his first wife's death (Sept. 1, 1865, Mt. Zion Cem) he married Nancy Heath of Tennessee, who was the mother of Lee Rankin and Sallie Rankin Holeman.  All five of these children spent their entire lives in Crittenden County.
(2nd wife, Nancy Heath Rankin died April 20, 1910, also buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery)

(Story was shared with The Crittenden Press, Nov. 1955, by Sadie Rankin Terry.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

1951 Crittenden County High School Graduating Class - Special Memories

On Sept. 17th, 2016, the 1951 graduating class of Crittenden County High School held their last reunion.  This class holds a special place in the history of the Crittenden County Schools, as they were the first graduating class of the new High School.

All reunions are special and a much looked forward to event.  This reunion was a bitter-sweet one for these last few remaining classmates.

The Crittenden County High School was created in 1950-51.  This new High School was built for the purpose of closing the four county high schools, which were Mattoon, Shady Grove, France and Tolu.  

The county high schools had dwindled in student number until there was only 3 or 4 graduates at the schools.  Tolu School was probably the largest with the most students.  

All four of these county high schools made up the new Crittenden County High School.  What an exciting adventure and learning experience for these students.

They had a reunion every 5 years since they graduated in May of 1951.  There were several reasons they decided that this reunion would be there last.  Bad health, unable to travel long distances to the reunion and the age factor were all reasons they felt it was time to end the gatherings.

Here are the people that were able to attend their 65th reunion.
Front row/left to right.  Hazel Greenlee Guess, Jerry Hughes Beavers, Wanda Easley Ditty, Mildred Underdown Delaplane, Clara Nation Brinkley, Doris Oliver Brasher, Louis Wilson Howerton.
Back Row: Betty Linzy Young, Ray Belt, Paul Davenport, Brooks Travis, Erroll Leet, Robert Brantley, Harold Woodside, Clayton Shewcraft and Anna Walker Herzer.

A more detailed article will be in the Crittenden Press on October 20th.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Historical Highway Markers

Crittenden County is fortunate enough to have had people to care enough about their past history to get Kentucky Highway Historical Markers erected at different important location in the county.

At the junction of Highway 60 East and State Road 654 N, about 6 miles from Marion, is a important marker telling of the Flynn's Ferry road and importance of that road.

 And on the reverse side, telling a short history of Weston, a once prospering river port town.

Acquiring these Historical Markers, is an expensive and very time consuming application to fill out.  I'm afraid they aren't really noticed much now days, much less taking the time to stop and read what they say. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Electricity In Crittenden County

This interesting history article appeared in The Crittenden Press in 1959.

The first electricity was put in Marion, Kentucky in 1900 by R. W. Wilson.  This small plant consisted of a 100 horsepower steam engine which would produce 1150 volts, single phase.

This was the best thing that ever happened to Crittenden County in an improvement toward its future business production.

This power plant was located on Depot Street near the railroad.  It was a very small plant that only ran at night.  There was a special time for people with electric washers to wash their clothes, which was on Tuesday morning.

The plant ran on Thursday morning until dinner so people with electric irons could iron their clothes.

The plant had a moonlight schedule, which meant they didn't burn the street light on a moonlight night.

In 1921 Mr. Marshall Jenkins, who had taken over the plant in 1915, put in two diesel engines.  One hundred horsepower and one fifty horsepower, 1150 volts three phase.  They ran steam in the day and diesel at night.

The only line going out South Main in 1900-1920 was one line going to Travis Street.

The Curry Nichols place (where the Crittenden Health Nursing Home is now) was the only one to have electricity in that neighborhood.  Nobody had electricity on Cherry Street.

In 1926 the Kentucky Utilities Company bought out Mr. Jenkins.  They ran lines to Mexico, Dycusburg, Frances, and Crayne.  

This helped the natural resources very much, thus enabling  the mines of that area to operate much better and they could get out more ore and ship out more.
In 1942 the R. E. A. came into the county.  The line ran down the Ohio River bottoms to Weston, to Dam 50, and to Tolu.  From Tolu the lines of the R. E. A. went all over the county.

Thus electricity again helped the county for this enable farmers to have electricity on the farm. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hills Dale Methodist Church

One of our old churches that has faded into the past, without much history recorded or any known pictures of it for us to see, is New Salem or Hills Chapel Methodist church. 

It was one of the first churches established in the county with it's beginnings starting in the 1830's.

The first structure sat on the little knoll on the left side of Copperas Spring Road (Flynn's Ferry Rd.) a short distance before you reach Piney Fork Cheek, just across the road from the James Conger Rd.

This building burned, as so many of the log structures did in those early days, and then the congregation was moved to a location near Tribune. 

They remained there for several years and then moved to where the Copperas Springs School house used to be, in front of where Paul Edward and Ruby Crowell live today.  (The old school has been torn down)

From this location it was moved back to Tribune in a new wooden frame structure and the named changed to Hill's Chapel, named for the person who donated the land for the new church.

Uncle Billy Joel Hill, as he was known to everyone, donated the ground for the new church house.  It sat on the left side of the road in the corner from Hwy. 120 and Hwy. 654 south.

The building burnt in the 1950's and the congregation formed the Union Grove Church that was located close to the Repton bridge on Hy 60 East.

In 1918 in honor of the Crittenden County boys serving in WW I.  Felta Virginia Hill designed and made the service flag in this picture.  A star for each young man in service.  It was dedicated to the Church.
Left to right:  John Marshall Hill, Ettie Maydew Hill, Felta Virginia Hill, Mary Adelia Hill and Henry Clay Hill.  This was the "Hill Family" of Tribune.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Towns of 1890

In a special Illustrated Edition of The Crittenden Press in August 1894, it tells about "Towns" in Crittenden County.
  • Tolu is located on the Ohio River, and is situated in the midst of a fine farming district giving it prominence, to say nothing of its importance as a shipping point.  There are dry good stores, groceries, a hard-war store, a gristmill, a sawmill, repair shops and other industries that go to make a thriving village.  The town was founded by J. W. Guess, some years ago, and has grown right a long.
  • Fords Ferry is one of the busiest towns of the county.  Early in the century it was a great crossing place and it is associated with the name of Ford.  The town has lost much of its ancient glory, but there is still considerable shipping don from that point, and there is one large general merchandise store and other smaller business affairs.
  • Weston is also on the Ohio River and is still a good business point.  The stores have good stocks of goods, and the cheap river freight rates gives it some advantages.  A good schoolhouse and church are among the institutions of the town.
  • Shady Grove is on the line that divides Crittenden and Caldwell counties and is not for from Webster and neighbors with Hopkins Co.  There are several stores in Shady Grove and the merchants enjoy a good patronage.  In the village are merchants, doctors, and ministers, and all the industries that make a complete community.
  • Iron Hill is a post office and country store, on the Marion and Shady Grove Road and a good deal of business is done there.
  • Repton is a new town new the Ohio Valley Railroad.  The railroad is a shipping point for a large scope of the surrounding country. There is a good store and the town promises to grow.
  • Crayneville is one of the most prosperous towns on the Ohio Valley Railroad.  There are two splendid business men here that run grocery stores and they keep goods stocked.  They have a small depot and a large tobacco factory.
  • Frances between Crayneville and Dycusburg, is a post office.  It has three stores and some good citizens.  Here is also located Liberty Lodge F. & A. M. and they have a nice hall.
  • View, another post office, is near A. H. Cardin's farm.  A well-filled country store, handled by a thrifty, stirring business man, and a splendid blacksmith shop constitute the business portion of the town.
  • Levias gets daily mail from Marion, has three stores and other enterprises.  There are some good business men here.
  • Sheridan has three stores, a blacksmith shop, a Masonic Hall and plenty of good citizens.  A daily mail runs out to Sheridan from Marion, and by Irma, another post office, and a good business point to Tolu.