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.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Marion Graded School Building

Evelyn Graves wrote this about the Marion Graded School building in1926.

The graded school building stands on the corner of College and Carlisle streets, its front entrance facing the post office building and the side entrance facing the Methodist church.

The main part of the building was constructed in 1894 when Charles Evans was superintendent of the Marion school system.

The building was used for the first time Jan. 19, 1895 and in it seven teachers were employed.  Both the graded and high school were housed in it.

In 1904 the school district realizing that the new graded and high school building was entirely too crowded, voted bonds for an annex.  With this new section, the present auditorium and the class rooms above the building, now used for the graded school alone, the school was completed as it now stands.

The first high school class that graduated in Marion consisted of two, Edward Gray, now of Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Perry Maxwell, also of Ardmore, who graduated in 1896.  

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Some Early Crittenden County Pioneer Citizens

Here is some history and genealogy of some of our early pioneer citizens.

Crittenden Press, Nov. 9, 1903.

James Hickman Walker. 

He was born on a farm near Tolu, Nov. 14, 1827 and spent his early life on a farm.

As a young man he became associated with the government of the county.

He was appointed deputy sheriff of the county for three years and four months, beginning in 1851.

 He was elected sheriff in 1854, and re-elected in 1856. He was deputy U.S. Marshall in 1860, and census enumerator in 1860, taking the census of half of the county.

He was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court in 186t2 and served in this office until 1874.

He was a splendid official and served in each office with credit to himself and the people who elected him.  

James Hickman died June 16, 1906 at the age of 79.  He is buried at Mapleview Cemetery with his wife, Hortense Gregory Walker.  

Crittenden Press, Sept. 19, 1895

Robert W. Foster

R. W. Foster was born in Oldham County, KY., Sept. 7, 1817, and was a son of A. G. and Lucy Duerson Foster.  His parents came to Kentucky at an early day.

 Mr. Foster came to Crittenden County in 1852, and settled on a portion of the land he owned at his death.

He was a most successful farmer and at his death owned one of the finest farms in the county.

He was postmaster at the Hurricane post office for several  years.

He was never married and for years his widowed sister, Mrs. Threlkeld, has kept house for him.

He had a lovely home overlooking the valley of the Ohio and there surrounded by all that was needed to bring comfort to him.  

He passed away on Sept. 14, 1895 and is buried in Mapleview Cemetery.  His sister, Susannah F. Threlkeld is buried next to him.

Crittenden Presss, July 1896

Phineas C. Barnett

Phineas C. Barnett was born in Warren County, Ky., Feb. 16, 1809.  His family moved from Kentucky to Missouri, where he remained until he was 17 years old when he returned to his native state, and a little later he entered Cumberland College at Princeton.

In 1835 he came to what is now Crittenden County and settled on the farm where he spent the last 60 years of his life, located a few miles outside of Tolu. 

He had a love of fine horses and had several of these on his farm.  He was an industrious man of his day and owned a large amount of land and operated a successful farm and livestock herd of cows and horses.

In 1831 he was married to Miss Jeanetta Threlkeld.

Mr. Barnett died at his home near Tolu, on Friday July 24, 1896.  He was buried in the Barnett-Miles Cemetery located outside of Tolu on his farm.

The old Barnett-Miles Cemetery is located today on land that belongs to the J. T. May family.  It has been destroyed many years ago by cattle.  All the stones are knocked down and some even missing. 

The Barnett name today is remembered  by the Barnett Chapel's Church and also the county road that is named the Barnett Chapel Rd where the church is located. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Marion's Newspapers

There is a saying that goes "The local paper is the fabric of a town, they give small towns their identity."

Here is some history on the newspaper of our town.
  • In February, 1878, the MARION REPORTER was founded by J. J. Nall, R. H. Adams and James M. Clement.  It was ran 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 subscription, 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 one number in January 1879.
  • R. C. Walker founded the CRITTENDEN PRESS, May 28, 1879, on a five-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 seven-column outside patent to an eight-column all-home- print patent by 1894.  Press subscriptions grew from two hundred (200) to five hundred (500) in the first few years to fourteen hundred (1,400) in 1886 to eighteen hundred (1,800) in 1894.  The PRESS no doubt prospered on a similar scale under Walker until it was sold to S. M. Jenkins about 1903.(The paper was first known as "Crittenden Press", when Mr. Jenkins took over the paper in 1894 the word, "The" was official added to the title.)
  • A few years later the MARION MONITOR made its appearance before the public, B. F. Copeland being the editor and publisher of the new paper.  After a short and financially unsuccessful run, Mr. Copeland sold out to S. C. Haynes and at the death of Mr. Haynes a year later, the paper passed into the hands of A. C. Moore and W. S. Adams, and finally into non existence and restful oblivion, the Press taking over the type and fixtures of the plant.
  • On July 15, 1904, the firm of  James E. Crittenden 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 fifteen hundred (1,500) soon after it started to over two thousand (2,000) by the time of dissolution of the Crittenden-Whitehouse Firm in November 1905.    In 1912 the homeless Crittenden Record merged with S. M. Jenkins' Crittenden Press and Jenkins edited and published The Crittenden Record Press through 1917.  The name was eventually changed back to just The Crittenden Press as we know it still today.
Although The Crittenden Press has changed hands several times through the past years the name has stayed the same.  And although many of the younger generation prefer to get their subscription to the paper on line, many of us still love to be able to hold our beloved Crittenden Press in our hands and leaf through the pages to read about our town and community.