Tuesday, March 6, 2018

First U.S. Presbyterian Church

First U. S. Presbyterian Church built on the southwest corner of what are now East Belleville and South College Streets in 1881-82.

This picture was made shortly after the building's completion.

Note the kerosene street lamp and the stone  horse-mounting block for the ladies who rode side-saddle.

This building was erected by the U. S. or Southern dissidents of the Marion Presbyterian Church when that congregation remained loyal to the regular National Church Organization.

A transfer of Presbytery membership to Louisville led to the division of that Church.

The inside of this building shown is still very much as it was when it was built in 1881.  The one-of a kind stained glass windows are still vividly beautiful with all the colored glass clear and bright. 

The old gas chandeliers lights, sometime through the years, was converted over to electricity, but the original fixtures are still in use.

Today this historic old building is the home of the Crittenden County Historical Museum, and is watched over and cared for by the Crittenden County Historical Society.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Early Newspapers Experience Rapid Growth

In February 1878, the Marion Reporter was founded by J. J. Nall, R. H. Adams and James M. Clement.

It was run under this management until October, 1878, when it was turned over to C. F. Champion and R. C. Walker to see if they could increase advertisement subscriptions the lifeblood of an infant newspaper.

But unable to put the Reporter on a profitable basis by the end of the year, the paper was returned to its owners.  Murrell Adams issued number 1 in January, 1879.

R. C. Walker founded the Crittenden Press May 28, 1879 on a 5 column outside patent as a weekly.  Like the other Marion businesses it experienced an amazingly rapid growth from 1879 to 1894 and it grew to a 7 column outside patent to an 8 column all-home-print paper by 1894.

Press subscriptions grew from 200 to 500 in the first few years to 1400 in 1886 to 1800 in 1894. The Press no doubt prospered on a similar scale under Walker until it was sold to S. M. Jenkins about 1903.

On July 15, 1904, the firm of James E. Chittenden and C. H. Whitehouse founded the Crittenden Record which was greeted with almost instant success by the growing community as is shown by the subscriptions which grew from 1500 soon after it started to over 2,000 by the time of dissolution of the Crittenden-Whitehouse Firm in November, 1905.

The Concrete Building (as it was then known, now the Wheeler's antique building) on East Carlisle Street that was built just east of the mail access alley to the Post Office for the Record's office and presses.   After the 1905 fire, the building went to Whitehouse (who in 1912 sold the building to Henry & Henry Co.); while the newspaper went to Chittenden.

So the homeless Crittenden Record merged with S. M. Jenkins' Crittenden Press and Jenkins edited and published The Crittenden Record-Press through 1917.

An early Crittenden Press ad from a 1897 paper.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Marion Develops As Centralized Business Location

Most historians agree that their cities were not built with the expectation of any great number of permanent residents, but only as a center or gathering place for the people living in the territory for miles around.

Public buildings were established in these towns to house all agencies of the government of the established surrounding territory.

Markets of all types quickly sprang up around the public buildings to take advantage of the community gathering place.

So it was with the town of Marion during her first year and a half.  Crittenden was established from Livingston County in January of 1842.

The town had been established only for the purpose of a county seat or as a centralized location for the erection of public buildings to house the government and public records of the new Crittenden County. 

It's rapid growth into a mercantile and residential community was not planned or even visualized by most of the early Town Father's, many of whom were also early county officials.

There were a few log and frame cabins scattered throughout what is now downtown Marion and along the Fords Ferry Road and the Centerville Road (now Moore St. that runs behind Conrads Store).

In 1844 James M. Smith was appointed surveyor of the Fords Ferry and Belleville Roads beginning at the courthouse in Marion and extending one half mile each way. 

Smith was given privilege of calling on every able-bodied male resident along these roads to the extend of the town boundaries to assist in clearing, smoothing and cleaning all parts of those roads "so as to help confirm the plan of the town."

Despite the rumor that the town of Marion was first called "Oxford" before its incorporation as Marion, by an Act of the Kentucky Legislature, it was always referred to its official records by its proper name of Marion.

The rumor was based on the fact that early mail from Marion was postmarked "Oxford", but this was from the fact that since the new town was not yet on a main mailstage road until after its incorporation, it's mail was shuttled eastward to be mailed from the post office at Oxford Academy on the Flynns Ferry Road.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

W. C. Carnahan, Pioneer Merchant

Many of Marion's once familiar names are gone now.  The original family members passed on, and if there were children, most moved on to other parts of the county.

One of Marion's early pioneer names is that of Carnahan.  The name Carnahan doesn't appear in Marion today, but some of the older ones remember it, as it was a very prominent name at one time.

Without doubt, the man who earned the title of Marion's Godfather of his industry and farsightedness which sustained the rapid growth of Marion in its first two generations is William "Bill" Chandler Carnahan.

Bill Carnahan came to the newborn town of Marion in 1844 from Madisonville where he had been a saddler's apprentice for three years.

The Saddler profession was one of the indispensable businesses of the mid-19th century pioneer communities.

For  he was the manufacturer of all leather goods, including saddles, bridles, saddle-bags, harness and often boots and shoes.

Hearing of the establishment of the new town, and realizing the marvelous business opportunity of the first saddle shop, Carnahan came to  Marion in 1844, bringing with him, all that he possessed in a two-horse wagon.

A 35 year old father of two young children and soon to be a widower, W. C. Carnahan bought a double log-cabin which sat near the center of Marion (the now parking lot of Marion Commons.)  and there he sat up his saddlery shop.  

He continued at his saddle, harness, etc. making with David Bourland as his apprentice until 1854 when he sold his shop and entered politics.

Some of the offices he held during the years were: Constable; a Marion trustee in 1855; Crittenden County Sheriff in 1866.

The early Carnahan family has a lot in the Old Marion Cemetery, located next to Hwy. 60 East.  Here W. C. "Bill" is buried.  He died April 2, 1892. 

I've often said that this old cemetery should be honored and cared for, it definitely is the resting place of Marion's Founding Fathers.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Rise and Fall Of An Industry

 Pictured above are two subjects of Crittenden County's past - the fluorspar industry and the railroad which was removed from the county in 1999 after 113 years of history.   The picture shows a man on the left shoveling spar into an empty train car.  Spar was hauled in to Marion from the county mines, unloaded in bins and then loaded into the train cars for shipment to places all over the US.

Perhaps the most significant event to occur in Crittenden County during the last 100 years is the rise, and subsequent fall, of the fluorspar industry within the county.

The earliest attempts to mine fluorspar were made by a company headed by Andrew Jackson in 1835 at the Columbia Mines near present-day Marion.

However, it was not until 1873 that the first shipment of fluorspar was shipped out of Crittenden County.

The industry then grew and grew until 1896 when Crittenden County became the largest producer of fluorspar in the world.

The growth of the fluorspar industry also prompted the installation of a railroad in the county in 1886.  Fluorspar could now be easily shipped by the ton.

In fact, at one time, Crittenden County spar miners had a payroll of $2 million per year and employed over 1,500 workers at more than 100 mines.

Many fluorspar magnates became millionaires, many men fed and provided for their families on spar mine paychecks and a strong economic base began to attract countless retailers.

Fluorspar helped Crittenden County's population grow to over 15,000 people in the early 1900s.

As unions strengthened in the United States, it became increasing difficult for fluorspar giants to maintain the high profit margins of the turn of the century. 

Another blow to the once-great industry was the onset of the Great Depression in late 1929.  Profits began to shrink even more which required more and more layoffs to offset losses.

The last blow was when fluorspar finally became cheaper to import than produce in rural area, the mine shafts of Crittenden County closed and the hopes and dreams of hundreds of families faced serious peril.

Dozens of hometown families left the county for jobs in the steel mills in Indiana, also the car factories in Missouri and Detroit.

Today the legend of the fluorspar industry in our community continues to live through the efforts of remembering and sharing stories of those past days, and the Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum on North Walker Street that is a living history of those wonderful fluorspar days.  Anything concerning the fluorspar industry you will be able to find here at the Clement Mineral Museum.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Marion Receives Electricity in 1901

In 1901 Marion became electrified with the avaiability of electricity to light homes and businesses in the evenings.

Use of this new electricity was at first limited to after dark hours when light bulbs attached to a cord hanging from the ceiling provided dim light for nighttime activities.

In Feb. 1902 a severe ice storm, shown below, disabled much of the city's power when weighted lines snapped from the additional weight of collapsing limbs and trees.

A group of Marion business men of the day standing between The Marion Bank, on the left, (now The People's Bank), and Yandall & Gugenheim Dry Goods Store on the right, (now Frazer & Massey Law Offices.)

All these stores would be burnt during the March 1905 fire that destroyed Marion's business district. 

They were beautiful buildings of their time.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Moore & Orme Drug House - 1894

From the special edition of The Crittenden Press in 1894.  One of Marion's main street businesses.

The drug house of Moore & Orme is a leading establishment of the city and the proprietors have shown from its incipiency that no pains were to be spared in placing it in the front rank.

The store-room is beautifully finished in oak and the prescription case is one of the most complete in appointment of any we have ever seen.

The business is as solid as oak, but the growth of the business has been exactly the opposite of that slow growth timer, Mr. Moore is largely engaged in other business, as he was a practicing physician for fifteen years, is an ex-president of the Marion bank and is now a candidate for railroad commissioner.

J. H. Orme is a registered pharmacist, of five years experience, a graduate of the Vanderbilt University, and has been in business here for the past three years, and to him is left the entire charge of the establishment.

The druggists profession, while among the most attractive, is at the same time one of the most responsible callings; a druggist must, of necessity, possess much knowledge of the service be painstaking, careful and reliable.

The confidence reposed in the skill and knowledge of a druggist, in constantly entrusting our lives in his hand, speaks louder than an encomiums.  Among these in Marion none enjoys more implicitly the full confidence of the people, and justly, too, than Mr. Orme, whose business premises are the next door north of the Marion Bank.

The stock of drugs is large and complete, so one ever calls for anything in the world of medicine that is not to be found and of a good quality, kept fresh and pure.

This house of business burnt in the great fire of 1905, but Mr. Orme rebuilt his drug store in the same location.  The location was the former home of the Marion Cafe and now the home of Botanical Flowers and Gifts.