Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pleasant Paris, Civil War Veteran

The Paris reunion was held Sat. October 14th, 2017.  Descendants of James Paris of Smith County, Tenn., and friends attended.

As a special event for the day, Ralph Paris and kin, portrayed Union soldiers Pleasant Paris and his son, William J. Paris, at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery, on Pleasant Hill Cemetery Rd. a short distance from Marion.   Pictured above is Rodney portraying Pleasant Paris, and tells of his military history and his journey to Crittenden County.

Pleasant Paris' Civil War stone had been relocated from it's original site, which was a short distance from the Pleasant Hill Cemetery (used to be the Floyd Turley Farm), and placed here, as it would be more accessible to be cared for and preserved. 

The old abandoned cemetery were it was originally located was in terrible shape, as it hadn't been cared for in many years.  What few stones were there had been removed from their original location and placed by a tree.

Pleasant was the son of James Paris and Sarah Elizabeth Pendleton Paris.  He was born about 1813 in  Smith Co. Tennessee, was in Company B, 48th KY Inf.  He died Nov. 23, 1864 according to the application for his military marker.  

Robert Ward, from Caldwell County was on hand to give the dedication of Pleasant Paris's new stone location a Civil War gun salute.

It is always wonderful to see and learn the history of our Civil War veterans in such an authentic setting and location.  Thanks to Rodney (or Ralph) Paris for preserving this history.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Gay Party of Picnicers - 1894

Until the era of artificial pastimes, people enjoyed going to places of natural beauty or curiosity together with others for picnics, relaxation and fellowship.  A favorite destination was the beautiful Piney Bluffs.

Here's one story of such an event.  The C. P. Sunday School went on a picnic last Thursday to Iron Hill and the beautiful bluffs of Piney.  

It was a jolly crowd. The forenoon was spent in chatting, fishing, gathering wild flowers and strolling over the hills and bluffs and native forests of Piney.

The noontide hour was spent in enjoying the delicacies prepared for such an occasion.  

In the late afternoon we winded our way back to Marion over the hills and dells of our beautiful countryside.

All said they enjoyed the day. 

There are several of these wonderful old pictures that have been saved during the years, but none of them have all the people identified. 

 In the picture above only one person was identified, and that was of Ollie M. James, in the center of the picture standing and leaning against the bluff with his white hat in his hand.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Marion Free Will Baptist Church

One of Marion's old landmark churches is in the process of being torn down.  It is the Marion Free Will Baptist church that is located on South Main Street. It was one of two churches for the Black citizens in our community.  The other was a Methodist Church located on Maple Street, it was torn down many years ago.

                     (This is a picture of the church made in 1955.)

This church of Baptist denomination was active until approximately 10 years or so ago, according to Bob Hill, one of it's member's.  Maybe closed before 2007.

(From the little booklet titled: Churches In Our County, 1974).  The Free Will Baptist movement had been a continuous one, although at times the outlook was dark.  Hence, about June 21, 1887, Rev. Lank Grissom, Brother Jiles Hamilton, and others organized the Free Will Baptist church in Marion on old Salem Street. 

This church was torn down and our little group worshiped in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church while the present church was being erected on South Main Street under the leadership of Rev. E. S. Moody.

In 1974, the pastor was Rev. T. R. Hamilton, and Levi Jackson and Robert Qualls were deacons.

The church was remodeled sometime after 1974 when the booklet was printed and covered in wood siding and the bell tower was taken off.

The old landmark church is in the process of being taken down in October of 2017.  A few items of memorabilia has been saved and will be placed in the Crittenden County Historical Museum.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Kentucky Theatre

In 1926, W. W. Runyan  opened a new theatre on Main street in the building now housing the Botanicals Florists and Gifts, (before that the Marion Cafe).   He named his new theatre "The Kentucky Theatre."

The Kentucky Theatre will be quite an addition to the business section of Marion.  Everyone is looking forward to it's opening with one of Harold Bell Wright's pictures as the feature attraction.  The title of the picture is "A Son of His Father."   from the Crittenden Press.

In Sept. of 1926, the owner of the building the theatre was located in, Mr. J. H. Orme, was returning to Marion and wanted to re-open his Drug Store in it, so the theatre had to be moved across the street into a building owned by Mary Carmeron.

In 1936, W. E. Horsefiled of Morganfield purchased the Kentucky theatre from Mrs. W. W. Runayn.

In May of 1940, C. W. Grady saw the need of a new building to house this popular attraction and he started making plans to begin construction of a new theatre building.  It was to be located on the lot adjacent to the present building housing the theatre.

In December of 1940 the new Kentucky Theatre had its grand opening.  Modern in all respects, the building was the outstanding structure in the western portion of the state.  

This newly constructed theatre didn't get to stay  new for long as in December 1943 this beautiful new facility was struck by another of Marion's disastrous fires.  The theatre was totally destroyed by a fire of unknown origin.  (as far as I know there isn't any picture of this building from 1940).

The Kentucky Theater was built back within a year and was again showing movies in Oct. of 1944.  The large neon sign that hung above the entrance was the largest sign of its kind in Marion.  The seating capacity was 484 and on Saturday nights it would be standing room only.  Mr. Harry Gass now was owner and operator of the theater.

There were two showings of the movie and both showings the theater would be packed.  The line to purchase a ticket would reach the end of the block in front of Farmers Bank.  The ushers would have a hard time holding the second group of people back until the theater could be emptied of its first group of views.  

TV's, movies on videotape and the allure of going to a bigger town to see a move, all probably hurt our hometown theater and by the late 1970's it wasn't being used as it once was.  

It had to close it's swinging glass doors in 1978 due to lack, of businesses.  Two of the big attractions shows that last year were "Star Wars" and "Grease."

The theater building went on sale in Dec. 1980, and Larry Orr purchased the building in May of 1982.  The building was renovated and redesigned and it's unrecognizable as we remember it.

When the Kentucky Theater closed its doors Marion lost a great piece of its hometown history and we lost an old childhood friend.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Weston, Flood of 1913

Living in the river-port towns of our county, was a great place to live, as they were busy with river traffic and had more commercial commodities available for those that lived here.  But there were hazards and the worse was the floods.  The flooding usually happened in the spring when the ice and snow from the harsh winters up north would start to thaw and overflow the Ohio, Cumberland and Tradewater rivers that border our county.

The town of Weston on the Ohio River was always hard hit when the floods came.  

The Weston Grocery Store and Pharmacy that belonged to Mr. Ewell Travis was flooded during the flood of April 1913.  Dink Sturgeon, the owner of the houseboat, is helping Mr. Travis move his supplies from his flooded store.

Here is some history from the Crittenden Press.
April 3, 1913 – Weston
We are having more rain in this section. It is the belief of everybody that the water will be higher than it has been for years. The river is rising fast. Our mail carrier, J. R. Collins, did not carry the mail Tuesday, the waters of the creeks being up so high he couldn't cross. 

There was a large crowd gathered on the bank of the river at Weston, Saturday, looking at the great body of water, something that none of us have even seen in Weston before. Our postmistress, Mrs. Jerrie Rankin, was compelled to move the post office to Mrs. Jane Hensell's on account of the high water.

The largest crowd that has been in Weston for years was here Sunday. About 500 people from different places were here viewing the water that has covered our little town. Business in this place is closed down. 

All of the business houses have water in them, and most of the dwelling houses. It is about two feet higher than it was in the 1884 rise.

April 10, 1913 – Also during this flood of the Ohio the entire town of Caseyville, in Union County is afloat or ruined, the inhabitants of the place say it will never be rebuilt. They were encamped last night on the hills back of the town site. The town hall, a frame building, floated off, after the records had been saved in rowboats. The colored Baptist Church and the courthouse are slowly floating away. The only livery stable left in town started away but was caught and tied to a tree. Not a house will be left standing. 

All that is left of the town of Shawneetown are a few substantial brick and stone buildings behind the main levee, and they are considered unsafe.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cool Spring Water Runs Deep In County's History

Crittenden County seems to be honeycombed with mineral springs.  Of course Crittenden Springs was at the head of the list, and there are others that were once known for their medicinal virtues.

Another well-known spring in the early 1900's was the Hill Spring or Mineral Springs that was located from Marion about six miles on Hwy. 506 until you reach the Y and then take Hwy. 1107 until you get to  the church house on the right, the old road ran by the church house, (road not there anymore), and the Hill spring was located on the old road.

In those early days, it was a summer resort for many of Marion's prominent families.  They would pack up a week or more of supplies and head for the the little woodland paradise

Drink the water, and, unless you prove an exception to the rule, these results will follow: Your appetite will improve from the first day, it will wax vigorous and strong, and the pure enjoyment of eating will be revealed to you; sleep will become sweet and sound; the whole system will become invigorated and life will put on new attractions.

These waters tone up the stomach and stimulate the liver and kidneys, and are what the physicians call a diuretic and alternative.

You can boil eggs in this water, cook tomatoes, beets, onions or anything else that can be cooked in ordinary water. If boiled with a liberal supply of "red cow coffee" makes a splendid beverage for the morning meal. By adding two pounds of bacon cured and two gallons of this famous water and boiling for two hours you can have as fine beans as can be had in Boston or as delicious cabbage as you can get in Detroit. This water will freeze at a temperature of about ten above and make first class ice.

 The spring was surrounded by a 30 foot square of concrete with a shed built over the spring. It had a pump so that the water could be pumped out and taken by bucket to the camp sites for use or you could sit under the shed and drink the water. 

Business men of Marion had even built cabins around the spring site, so their families would have a summer home to enjoy the area and partake of the health-giving waters.

Crittenden County has had many of these springs, many of them now have dried up, either by acts of nature, or by acts of man, and the names of many of them have been lost over the years as the families die out and the lands are sold and the wonderful mineral waters dry up by not being taken care of.

But these natural springs are definitely a part of the history of our past and many of the springs continue to serve the farmers today as water for their stock. 

But the tin cup or gourd that used to hang on a tree near many of the springs for the passers-by to use for a cool drink, are absent now, as we are afraid to drink of these waters, as they aren't as pure as they once were.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fords Ferry Road, August 1925

Here's is an interesting article found in the August 21, 1925 Crittenden Press.


Courier Journal of Sunday, August 16, Devotes Page to New Project and to Historical Legends of Early Days.

In the feature section of the Courier Journal of last Sunday a whole page was devoted to our new Ford Ferry and Cave in Rock.  It said in part:

On a decision of the Illinois Highway Department, expected next month, hangs the hope of a large section of Western Kentucky for the early construction of an inter state highway which, in Kentucky and in Southern Illinois, will traverse a section as filled with history of dark deeds, romances, crimes, and unmentionable tales as the landscapes of the section are filled with midsummer haze. 

The road, which will connect the section through which it is to be built with concrete roads Illinois is building, now financed partly by bond issues totalling $160,100,000 and give to Southern Illinois a inlet to the Louisville-Paducah road, now under construction, will run from Hopkinsville to Princeton, Marion, Fords Ferry and Cave in Rock.

Mystery surrounds Fords Ferry.  The man whose name is attached to that Ohio river point remains a man of mystery after a century.

Historians are as yet unable to unravel his secret.  Legends ascribed to him the leadership of bandit in the section during the early years of the Nineteenth Century, but his character and life will ever remain in doubt - whether it was the whole truth or not.

Cave in Rock, which is on the Illinois shore near the ferry, is a most interesting point. About it centered crimes of which many early voyageurs of the Ohio river were victims.

The pirogue, the batteau and the flat boat of the early trader often found Cave in Rock thier last port of call, and the brave crews saw their last glimpse of earth near it's portals.

The bandits and pirates of Cave in Rock would have shamed Blackbeard and Jean Lafitte by their misdeeds.

The status of the road, is Kentucky's treasury will have no funds available for roads until July 1926.  The possibility of its construction before that time is to have it designated a federal highway and let the surrounding counties aid in the construction.  Mack Gailbraith, federal engineer in Kentucky, has recommended it as a federal highway on condition that it be so designated by Illinois.