Monday, October 24, 2016

Crittenden County's Old Court House

Nov. 29, 1959.  By November 1961, there should be standing on the present site of the antiqued and dilapidated Crittenden County  Courthouse a modern structure, the fourth on this location since the county was established in 1842.

Voters at the November 3, 1959 election approved by the overwhelming margin of 2,437 to 624 a $175,000 bond issue for building a new courthouse. 

Construction is expected to get under way by mid-spring of 1960.  Still to be decided is whether the old building will be razed at the start or the new structure built around the old one and it torn down after the new one is completed.

Crittenden county's first two courthouses were destroyed by fire, the first set fire by Confederate renegades because the courthouse was being used as a barracks by Union soldiers during the Civil War.   (All the records were saved, although some people think that we lost those early county records, they were removed before the fire was set.)  The second

The second court house fire was accidentally set by a tinner who was repairing the roof and left his hot tar sitting on the wooden shingles. 

The third court house, the one being torn down in the pictures was built in 1871, and served the county well until it was torn down in 1961.  

The walls came tumbling down on the once beautiful historic old court house in the fall of 1960.  Wreckers from the Colonial Brick Company of Mt. Vernon, Indiana. figured it would take about two jerks by a truck to pull the front portion down.  Lines were attached to the wall and the truck and work was started.  A downpour of rain put a stop to the proceedings, (perhaps saddened to see the old building torn down) and the workers had to finish the razing the next day.

The new modern courthouse was dedicated on December 9, 1961.  It is still being used today.  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Abia "Abe" Benjamin Rankin, Crittenden County Pioneer

Abia Benjamin Rankin, familiarly known as "Uncle Abe" was born in Henderson County , the son of John and Elizabeth Clay Rankin.

Abe began working on the Ohio River when a young man, loading flatboats and piloting them down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans.  

On one such trip he traded his boat for the tract of land between Ford's Ferry and Weston, from which the Damn 50 Reservation site was sold.  He brought his family here about 1858 and he continued to run the flatboats down the river.

He conceived the idea of planting 1,000 winter apple trees and when their fruit was harvested he planned on loading them on his flatboat and taking them to New Orleans.  When the trees came into bearing they turned out to be summer apples and there was not much could be done with them, it seemed they overdid themselves in their production.

A cider mill was set-up under the trees and barrels of cider were taken south by flatboat.  People came from all around and made what cider they wanted and left without ever going to the house, it turned into a community orchard.

Uncle Abe, tho never much of a farmer, had a yen for "bidding in" any tract of land that was sold at the Court house door, if it joined his tract.  At his death, he owned twelve or fifteen hundred acres, extending from the river for many miles around, including Ford's Ferry island. Mr. Rankin died May 23, 1898 and is buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery.

Abe Rankin's first wife was Sarah Ann Smith of Illinois, the mother of Ben, Jim and Tom; after his first wife's death (Sept. 1, 1865, Mt. Zion Cem) he married Nancy Heath of Tennessee, who was the mother of Lee Rankin and Sallie Rankin Holeman.  All five of these children spent their entire lives in Crittenden County.
(2nd wife, Nancy Heath Rankin died April 20, 1910, also buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery)

(Story was shared with The Crittenden Press, Nov. 1955, by Sadie Rankin Terry.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

1951 Crittenden County High School Graduating Class - Special Memories

On Sept. 17th, 2016, the 1951 graduating class of Crittenden County High School held their last reunion.  This class holds a special place in the history of the Crittenden County Schools, as they were the first graduating class of the new High School.

All reunions are special and a much looked forward to event.  This reunion was a bitter-sweet one for these last few remaining classmates.

The Crittenden County High School was created in 1950-51.  This new High School was built for the purpose of closing the four county high schools, which were Mattoon, Shady Grove, France and Tolu.  

The county high schools had dwindled in student number until there was only 3 or 4 graduates at the schools.  Tolu School was probably the largest with the most students.  

All four of these county high schools made up the new Crittenden County High School.  What an exciting adventure and learning experience for these students.

They had a reunion every 5 years since they graduated in May of 1951.  There were several reasons they decided that this reunion would be there last.  Bad health, unable to travel long distances to the reunion and the age factor were all reasons they felt it was time to end the gatherings.

Here are the people that were able to attend their 65th reunion.
Front row/left to right.  Hazel Greenlee Guess, Jerry Hughes Beavers, Wanda Easley Ditty, Mildred Underdown Delaplane, Clara Nation Brinkley, Doris Oliver Brasher, Louis Wilson Howerton.
Back Row: Betty Linzy Young, Ray Belt, Paul Davenport, Brooks Travis, Erroll Leet, Robert Brantley, Harold Woodside, Clayton Shewcraft and Anna Walker Herzer.

A more detailed article will be in the Crittenden Press on October 20th.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Historical Highway Markers

Crittenden County is fortunate enough to have had people to care enough about their past history to get Kentucky Highway Historical Markers erected at different important location in the county.

At the junction of Highway 60 East and State Road 654 N, about 6 miles from Marion, is a important marker telling of the Flynn's Ferry road and importance of that road.

 And on the reverse side, telling a short history of Weston, a once prospering river port town.

Acquiring these Historical Markers, is an expensive and very time consuming application to fill out.  I'm afraid they aren't really noticed much now days, much less taking the time to stop and read what they say.