Monday, July 27, 2015

Highway 91 North, Ollie James and Davy Crockett Highway

The road running North-West  from Marion to the Ohio River was  first named the Ollie M. James Highway, in honor of Ollie M. James, Crittenden County's United States Senator. (1913-1918) 

In July 1955, Highway North 91, or the Ollie James Highway was in for a change.  The highway from Nashville, Tennessee to Chicago, including the Ollie James highway was to be designated as "The Davy Crockett Route."  

The TV show the "Legend of Davy Crockett" and the sequel, Mike Fink and the River Pirates had become so popular that someone suggested a highway be named for him. 

At the time Walt Disney movies was filming a movie about Davy Crockett and the river pirates at the Ohio River with the ferry boat and on the Cave-In-Rock side with the big cave a major part of the movie. 

Ceremonies for the formal dedication to the new Davy Crockett Route was held at the Cave-In-Rock Landing on July 10, 1955.

Fess Parker, who was the star in the TV series and in the Davy Crockett movies, would be there to christen the ferry boat, the same day the road was official dedicated.

This is the picture that appeared in the Crittenden Press on July 10, 1955.   

Fads of the time move on and things once popular fade away and no longer seem important.

In May 1956 the citizens of Crittenden County had decided that the Davy Crockett Highway should be re-named as the Ollie M. James Highway.  Ollie James was a native Crittenden Countain who was U. S. Senator and prominent in Democratic circles in Washington for many years.

The Highway Department and officials in Frankfort granted the request that the highway be renamed as the Ollie M. James Highway, that it was proper and fitting in memory of the great statesman from Crittenden County.

Oddly, after all that trouble, the Ollie M. James Highway is today simply known as Highway 91 North.  

But as we travel down this scenic road we will know it is a road with a history, once carrying the name of the great pioneer, Davy Crockett, and then back to our famous native son, Senator Ollie M. James.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Caught In The Middle

Crittenden County played no commanding role in the Civil War  and there were not any battles fought on the soil of Crittenden County, but the county was over run by the troops of both armies.  

All known military actions were confined to the northeastern corner of the county, and represented a spilling over of the military activities in Union County.

Guerrilla activity was sustained within the county and the largest military action involved an attack on a Federal troop transport at Weston in early September 1863.  There were also several scrimmages around and near the community of Bells Mines, with several being killed from both sides.

Horses were stolen and all the people's food and supplies, that could be found, were taken.  All families tried to hide their stock, food and supplies, in secret places, but many times the plundering soldiers were able to locate the hidden goods.  They soon learned the favorite place to hide food and family items by the housewives of the day. 

The sufferings of the family of Robertus Love Moore were well recorded.  Moore had a two-story homestead located on the northern ridge of Mattoon at the junction of the Marion-Morganfield and the Flynn's Ferry Roads.  He operated a dry goods store.  He became a target for Federal raiders and his store was cleaned out, as was his smokehouse, all of the metal and farm implements were taken. 

Also in this same area of the county a few politically motivated murders took place. 

 On January 13, 1863, William Brantley, an older gentleman, as at his well in his yard, when Capt. F. P. Hawkins and his men came riding through, plundering the neighborhood.

When Mr. Brantley refused to pledge his allegance to the Union side, he was shot.  He is buried in the Brantley Family Cemetery in the Cave-Spring area of the county.

Hawkins was arrested and committed to the Crittenden jail, but was gotten out by his band of robbers and not captured again.

A few years latter, not too far from the Brantley homestead, another innocent man was murdered by a band of Union men.

Dr. Green Crowell was a local country doctor.  His descendants tell the story that was handed down through the family.  One night, a band of Union soldiers stopped at their house and ask for the Dr.  they said they had a wounded man that needed his help.  Once outside, the Dr. was asked to pledge his support to the Union side, when he refused he was shot and killed. 

Dr. Green Crowell died on May 6, 1865 and is buried in the McKinley-Phillips cemetery located on a bluff above the community of Nunn Switch.

A terrible fate for two innocent men.  William Brantley was my 4-great grandfather.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Lake George

Here is some interesting history about Lake George, Marion's reservoir, and the picnic shed that just never really made it as a popular place to go.

This is from April 1958.  Lake George, the new  City Lake Park, located a little over two mils from the city limits, will soon be open to the public.  The park was completely last year.  It is the result of a cooperative effort by the Marion Business and Professional Women's Club and the city government.

To get to it is a drive of about three miles from Marion.  You drive by the city waterworks on Chapel Hill Road.  This road goes past Earl Patmor's farm house to the earthen dam of the new lake.  A right turn here takes you to a parking lot by the park.

                      This picture made January 2014

The site is shady and restful.  Sturdy concrete picnic tables and grills are available, and a shelter house if it rains.  

The new lake has been stocked by the state Fish and Wildlife Department, as has the older lake nearby and excellent catches have been reported in its waters.

In March of 1969 a marker was erected near the entrance to what was usually just referred to locally as "the new city lake."  It was erected in tribute to the man who made the original survey for the lake back in the early 1950's.

George Strickler moved to Marion in 1951 from Auburn, Kentucky and was with the soil conversation service here until 1954.  Mr. Strickler is now deceased and the marker is a tribute to him and his dedicated service to the people of Marion and Crittenden County.  

Mr. Strickler received no remuneration for his work and the marker is a fitting tribute to the man and a job well done. 
The park/picnic area never really became a popular place to go, it was rather remote, with no conveniences (no restrooms at all) and no electrify available and the city had to keep the drive locked to keep out vandals, so you have to ask (I'm not sure who) for a key to open the lock so you can drive up to the picnic shed.

But the lake is a very popular fishing spot for folks that enjoy fishing.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Marion was Boomin' in 1900's

From the files of The Crittenden press comes some interesting facts about Marion and Crittenden County in the year 1901.  Many exciting things were happening and the future looked bright and promising.

Wonderful veins of minerals, deposits of fluor spar, zinc and lead, are many in our county.  Indeed it would be no exaggeration to state that the Iron and Steel Industry of the United States is largely indebted to our county for that indispensable aid to the production of our finest steel - which is fluor spar.  

This picture post card made in 1902 made on Main Street in downtown Marion, showed a convey of wagons with their loads of spar and zinc as it made it's way to the depot to unload.   On the left you can see Farmers Bank, and farther down the street, also on the left, our Court House can be seen.

Raising of tobacco is another feature of Marion's commercial aide.  The sorting, curing and exportation of the home raised Kentucky tobacco is a big boost to the economic growth of Marion.

Immense buildings of wood tastefully constructed three or four stores in height and occupying the greater portion of a city block are filled with the numerous grades of tobacco in the various processes of curing.  The tobacco in packages of leaves, just the right color to please the smoking devotee, is delivered at the 'stemmery' as these buildings are termed by the planter.  

The tobacco is finally pressed into large casks and shipped to Liverpool, from whence it is returned to America in tastefully enameled tins, with the English trade mark, and we cheerfully pay a dollar per pound for it.

There are two well conducted banks in Marion, The Bank of Marion, and The Farmers Bank of Marion.  Mr. Thomas Yandell is the cashier of the Bank of Marion.  The two banks pay handsome dividends to their stockholders.

The city also has many handsome well-appointed commercial houses, too many to individualize in an article.  The High School house is of the latest and most approved style of school building architecture.  The churches are numerous and well attended.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Crayne Cumberland Presbyterian Church

 The first Crayne Cumberland Presbyterian Church was destroyed by lightning during a late afternoon storm on Monday July 26, 1943.  The blot struck directly into the bell tower and the blaze burst forth immediately.
(Crittenden Press, July 30, 1943.)

All contents of the building were saved including the piano and pews but the structure was a total loss.

I have wondered many times if there was a picture of this early church building.  I have never been told by anyone about seeing a picture of it, or even how it looked.

The 2nd church was completed in Feb. of 1949.  It was built of concrete block construction. 

 The dedication service would be held Sunday, February 27, 1949, with Rev. Eugene Lindsey in charges of the services.  Talk by Harry Haynes on the Church and Rededicating of lives.  Rev. James Houston Jones gave the opening and closing prayers.
This vintage photo of the new block church building shortly after it was completed in 1949, was shared with me by long time friend and Crayne neighbor, Harold Cannon.
 My early child hood memories are from attending this new church.  Attended until it closed in the 1970's.
Today, in 2015, this little white block building in not recognizable.  It has been totally redone with several new rooms and lots of footage added on, plus a whole new look as it is now covered in tan/brown bicks.   It is now the home of the Unity Baptist Church.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cassidy Enterprise At Dycusburg Was Quite Large

Dycusburg information gathered from the Crittenden Press, dated 1894.

S. H. Cassidy, the senior member of the firm of S. H. Cassidy & Co., was born in Princeton, August 30, 1835.  

When he was quite young his parents moved to Eddyville and form there to Dycusburg when Mr. Cassidy was 18 years old.  He has continued to reside in Dycusburg, making that his home ever since.

At the age of 21, he engaged in steam boating, serving a regular apprenticeship as engineer, and filling successively various positions in a boat from engineer to captain on boats plying the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers.

Then in 1861 he engaged in the mercantile business with W. E. Dycus at Dycusburg, under the firm name of  Dycus and Cassidy.  In addition to being a large general store, the largest in the county, it also had a large commission and business that dealt in grain, tobacco and general produce.   

Mr. Cassidy continued the business under the firm name for several years when he gave up all the branches except that of grain and tobacco.  The members of the tobacco firm were W. S. Dycus and F. B. Dycus, and in tobacco alone, these men are perhaps the largest dealers in the county.  They operate two large plants.

      Pictures of Mr. Cassidy's tobacco operation in Dycusburg in 1894.

Mr. Cassidy stands high as a Mason, having joined the order when 21 years of age.  He is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and in politics he is a firm believer in the doctrines of the Democracy.

Samuel H. Cassidy died May 31, 1907 and is buried in the Dycusburg cemetery.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Old Kentucky Sassafras Tea

This story appeared in The Marion Reporter in February 1955. 

 Tea is Good For Business.
Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Whitt of the Frances community have turned an idea into an industry. There has been much talk and quite a bit of effort of late to attract industry into Marion in order to relieve the economic slump created by the withdrawal of the fluorspar operations, and the Whitts have come up with a novel means by which they, and the town, hope to ease the situation somewhat.

Rather than sit around and wait for something to break, the Whitts capitalized on an idea that they inherited from a past member of the family. It concerns a process for refining sassafras into tea. How did the idea get going?

 Well according to Mrs. Clara Lee Whitt, her husband, Oliver, was sleeping about eight hours, working about eight hours and eating about four out of every day. What with the slack season on in the sweet potato field, Oliver decided that he had about four extra hours there that were going to waste. 

 This is a picture of the Whitt's Old Kentucky Sassafras Tea.

Starting the Sassafras idea more as a hobby than anything else, Oliver dug the roots and used the family refining process (which he has since applied for a patent on), and started distributing the new product himself.The product is called "Old Kentucky One Minute Sassafras Tea," and has been received with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in this area. 

Most everybody is acquainted with sassafras; many of the older readers will remember it well from their childhood, for not too many years ago it was considered to have therapeutic value. Even though that kind of thinking has changed through the years, the fact remains that was sassafras in a very delightful and refreshing beverage, easily prepared and inexpensive to serve.

Old Kentucky One-Minute Sassafras Tea is an example of the kind of ingenuity that can put Marion back into a position of economic stability. With the promotion of the people of the community it can grow into a substantial supplement to the commerce of the city and county. 

 Local stores and merchants now have old Kentucky on their shelves.
This is a picture made in front of the Kroger Store in Marion in 1955, when the first load shipment of the Whitt's Sassafras Tea arrive for sale.

According to Mrs. Whitt, their tea business didn't last too long, it was a lot of work  getting it ready for sale, and someone from Tennessee had copied their tea making business and packing, so they just decided to end it.