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.