Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Church That Was Never Finished

I wrote this article in April of 2008.  Has some good history about Tolu.

The Church That Was Never Finished
This is an interesting article concerning another church that was planning to be built at Tolu in 1921 but never got any further than a corner stone built and a marker engraved. The article appeared in the July 8th, 1921 edition of The Crittenden Press.

The Cornerstone of the Tolu Methodist Church was laid Monday, July 4th in the presence of the largest crowds that ever assembled in Tolu.

The ceremony was under the auspices of Hurricane Lodge 571 F & A M with Dr. Arthur Mather acting as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky.

The program for the day was started by a concert by the Marion and Tolu orchestras, followed by the Marion Methodist Male Quarter. The concert was followed by a number of speeches by some of the most prominent men of the country. T. C. Bennett acted as Chairman. Addresses were made by Dr. A. Mather, Rev. J. W. Turner, Hon. C. S. Nunn, W. D. Cannan and Hon. J. W. Blue Jr. Miss Mary Elizabeth Bennett, daughter of T. C. Bennett recited the Declaration of Independence.

Immediate after the speeches came one of the most enjoyable features of the day, the barbecue dinner. There was an abundance of meat, which was cooked in true barbecue style. Hogs, cattle and sheep were prepared for the feast and then there were salads, pickles, breads, pie and lemonade. It was estimated that over 2000 people were fed. The feast was spread on the spacious lawn of Mrs. J. W. Guess adjoining the lot on which the new church is now being built.

Immediately after the barbecue the members of Hurricane Masonic Lodge No. 571 with members from adjoining Lodges met in their hall about the Farmers & Merchants Bank with the following officials in charge. Dr. Arthur Mather, Grand Master, W. D. Cannan, Deputy Grand Master, T. T. Guess, Grand Senior Warden, A. J. Bebout, Grand Junior Warden, C. S. Nunn, Grand Secretary, J. W. Blue, Grand Treasurer, E. R. Williams, Grand Senior Deacon, E. J. Travis, Grand Junior Deacon, R. W. Wilborn, Grand Marshal, C. E. Mayes, Grand Steward, Lem Bozeman, Grand Steward, M. V. Arnold, Grand Architect, C. W. Love, Grand Tyler.

       This was the corner stone that was talked about in the article.
The procession was then formed and the company marched to the site of the new church.
After the ceremonies of laying the cornerstone Dr. Mather read an inspiring and eloquent address. A copper receptacle containing the following articles was place beneath the stone, Bible, Discipline, Nashville Christian Advocate, Central Methodist Membership roll, names of Bishop Denny, Rev. T. L. Hulse, Rev. O. M. Capshaw, Dr. A. Mather, those of the building committee and a copy of the deed.

The new church will be one of the most magnificent for the size of the town in the state. It is to cost $22,000. and will be most modern and well built. 

Everyone present had the best time that could be possible. There was an abundance of eats, entertainment for everyone, good speeches, good music and a shady lawn to rest on.

Mrs. Myra Guess Hamilton who lives on her ancestor's home place, the J. W. Guess place, told me that she wasn't sure why the church never was built, unless the money was never raised to finish the church.

 The old corner stone still stands in the empty lot adjoining Myra's yard, and the engraved corner marker has a home in Myra's flowerbed.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Marion's 1958 Pony League


Front row L-R: Truman Croft, Jim Guess, Lynn "Lefty" Birdwell and John O. Hodge; 
Middle row: Jimmy Alderdice, Eddie Joe Burkalew, Donald "Hurtsey" Easley, Buck Travis, W. A. Franklin and asst. manager Gerald Tabor.
Back row: Carson Davidson, manager, Frankie Browning, Allen Franklin, Jesse Bennett and Asst. manager, Lonnie Burkalew     (not shown that was in the group were Jerry  Abell, Jimmy Love and bat boy Steve Davidson.)

What a team. First Little League squad was probably Marion's best ever

It was 1950. The “Korean Conflict” was on everyone's mind. The post WW II prosperity was hitting full stride. A strange new sound called rock-and-roll was eminating from radios in teenager's hands all across the country.

In Marion, 1950 was the first year for Rotary Club Little League baseball. That first team was coached by Orville Pfunder and Carson Davidson. Mr. Pfunder one of the organizers of this group and surely never in the history of the community has any one man done more towards making a success of this project. 

Davidson believes, and with good reason that that first team was probably the most successful, on or off the diamond, that Crittenden County has ever fielded. Fourteen players, a bat boy and Davidson worked their way from little league in '53, '54, '55, and '56 to Pony League in '57 and '58, American Legion ball in '59 and the Marion High School team after that.

Six of the team went on through college, three on baseball scholarships. One was named to the Murray State Hall of Fame, and one had a tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals.  

Lynn "Lefty" Bridwell was named to the Murray State Hall of Fame for his southpaw pitching.

 Donald "Hertsey" Easley was the shortstop.  Easley graduated from Marion High School, and was given the opportunity to try out for the St. Louis Cardinals. 

 Jim Guess was the man behind the plate.  He won a baseball scholarship from U. K., but went to Kentucky Wesleyan in Owensboro.

Jimmy Alderdice played second base. Alderdice played baseball at David Lipscomb College in Nashville.
Davidson said, one of the thing that always stood out to me about these boys was that they were such an intelligent and hard working group. The most rewarding things is to know that baseball helped these boys going out into everyday life, some of them got scholarships for school, and seeing how these boys turned out in everyday life.

Mr. Davidson said he was assistant coach under Orville Pfunder when the team took to the field the first time as Little Leaguers. He took over during their last Little League season and guided them through Pony League and American Legion play.

The best season was 1954. The boys were in Pony League and went 20-1 on the season.
The boys biggest opposition came after they moved into Legion ball in 1955. They came face to face with the Paducah Chiefs.

The Chiefs weren't your standard American Legion team. Their roster boasted names like Hawk Taylor, who went on to play catcher for the Milwaukee Braves, and who was thrown out of a ball game here by umpire Jim Fred Mills. Phil Roof, who shuffled around the big leagues for a while, and Charlie Loyd, U. K. pitching ace, were also with the Paducah Chiefs.

The teams split regular season games and met in the finals of the sectional tournament after winning their respective regions. The Marion boys suffered one of their infrequent defeats, 4-3.
The boys moved into high school the next year, a few going to Crittenden County High and most to Marion High. Lefty Bridwell transferred to MHS from CCHS to play with his long-time teammates.

The MHS team took the runner-up position in the regional tournament, losing to Murray High School 1-0 on a balk. The call was one of the most controversial in the history of high school baseball in Kentucky.

Davidson said, “I still think we had a better ball team than they did. Our pitcher (Bridwell) had a no -hitter until the balk call. I believe the umpire was honest in his thinking, but it just didn't work out for us. He said later that he never would have made the call if he'd have known what it would have started.”

As with any group of young people, the boys went their separate ways after high school. In later years, Davidson said, he felt that this first little league team gave a strong start to the Little League program in Marion, a program he feels has improved over the years and been good for our youngsters.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Declamatory Contests - An Important Part Of School Activities Of Long Ago

A much looked forward to event of the schools of long ago were the Declamatory contests. The dictionary states that Declamatory is a formal speech made in public and spoken with great emotion and force. The matches must have been full of tension and emotion as to see who the best and forceful speakers were.
From the archives of The Crittenden Press lets go back visit some of these exciting events. Memorizing daily assignments were very much a part of school then, it called for much focusing and concentration on what you were trying to learn.

Feb. 23, 1923 – Oratorical and Declamatory Contest
The preliminary oratorical and declamatory contest was held at the Marion Graded School auditorium. Mr. Richard Hicklin, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Hicklin, was the winner of the gold medal in the oratorical contest.

 Richard  Hicklin - Gold Medal Winner

 Miss Thelma Travis was the winner of the medal in the declamatory contest. The subject of Mr. Hicklin's oration was The Masked American. It was a great composition and was effectively delivered. 

 Thelma Travis - Gold Metal Winner for her story telling.
 Feb. 22, 1924 – Declamatory and Oratorical Contestants Draw Crowd
Weeks of preparation had put the contestants of all the grade schools on edge and eager for the opportunity to display their talents to a large audience which was just as eager to hear them. So many young ladies had wanted to enter the contest that an elimination contest had been held in private, the five winners of which appeared last Friday.

The two winners were, Miss Elizabeth Haynes, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Haynes of Marion and Mr. Ryvers Sarlls, of near Bells Mines. Miss Lois Hicklin read "The old Nest" as the opening number, following an invocation. Miss Hicklin's portrayal of this literary gem was a very charming one. Mr. Avery Reed then appeared with "The Self Supporting Student" as his subject. "Peg O' My Heart", one of the sweetest stories in all English literature, was then read by Miss Virginia Terry.

"The Master Passion" was the subject Mr. Thomas Nelson had chosen. Misses Margaret and Blanche Guess sang a beautiful number at the close of this and were heartily encored. Miss Dorothy Haynes then appeared with "Flaming Ramparts" a reading requiring much dramatic ability to effectively render and Miss Haynes did wonderfully well. Mr. Ernest Hughes then spoke on "A Nation's Honor," Mr. Hughes has the possibilities of making an unusually good public speaker.

Miss Ada Nelle Frazer had chosen "Why the Chimes Ring," a reading which requires much natural ability and intensive training to render at all effectively. Mr. Ryvers Sarlls then appeared with the winning oration, "Character." It was well delivered and with further training Mr. Sarlls should make on the county best young speakers.

Miss Elizabeth Lee Haynes then appeared with a dramatic reading , entitled the "The Valiant," It was beautifully read and presented.
October 26, 1926 – Contest at Mt. Zion A Great Success
The declamatory contest for Division Four of the county schools was held at Mt. Zion last Friday evening. The contestants were; Gretna Woody of Seminary School; Vivian Sullivan of Prospect; Eugene Beard of Baker, Bertha Kirk of Heath, Gwendolyn Gahagan of Weston, John Fowler of Oak Hall, and Hughie Wilborn of Post Oak.

The gold medal was won by Hughie Wilborn and the silver medal by John Fowler. The Cave Spring quartette, composed of Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Drennan, Ray Brantley and Dallas Little added much to the program. They will sing at the final contest on November 20.
Nov. 19, 1926 - Contest at Frances
The declamatory contest in Educational Division Two was held last Friday at Frances. All of the contestants from the different schools had splendid readings and had been well trained.
The gold medal was won by Miss Ruth Hard, a pupil of Mrs. Bessie Oliver at Caldwell Spring. The second prize, a silver medal, was awarded to Miss Anna Belle Hunter, of the Mexico School. Miss Hunter is a pupil of Wilton Yandell.
This beautiful gold pin that was the prize for the person that won the Declamatory Contest.  

Much hard work and time went into the students practicing to be in this speaking contest.

But this pin was worth all the hard work and effort.

I wonder how many of these once prized pins are still out there somewhere, tucked away in the back of a drawer or in a dusty box or trunk in a family's attic or basement and them not knowing the history of the Declamatory Pin.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Marion Tannery

The Marion Tannery one of Marion's important early enterprises was the establishment of a modern system of tanning leather.

Organized under the direction of Billy Duke Haynes, under the title, "W. D. Haynes & Company," the participating members being Edwin, Bob Bigham, and Edward Black. The company proposed to incorporate the latest improved methods of processing animal skins, from the raw to the finished product, and to manufacture all products made from leather.

Sometime in the year 1868 he Mr. Haynes bought a tract, some ten acres of land, at the southern border of town. The Marion-Princeton road then separated the property from the Old Presbyterian Church and Graveyard to the east and adjoining the property was dense forest, owned by the Robert Lycurgus Bigham estate. On the property was an ever-flowing spring of water, and a log house, two rooms, divided by open hallway, and kitchen detached. (located where Hometown Food Grocery's store is today)

In that day leather and leather products were not much sold in stores. Every community supported its own shoemaker, saddler and harness maker; sometimes all three in one person, handyman. 

With the bright prospects apparent the company proceeded to acquire basic supplies - white-oak bark, to be cured without exposure to moisture, and animal skins in great quantity. For the protection of the dried bark and working space for the horse-powered bark –grinding mill an enormous size shed was erected, and curing rooms for raw hides. 

Next thing, three pools, dimensions 10 x 10 ft. and 6 feet deep; one pool fresh water to soak dry hides in; another, a strong lime solution to loosen the hair, and a third emersion in fresh water to neutralize the lime. Skins thoroughly rubbed to remove all foreign matter, graded according to thickness, the larger ones split in halves; the grades are separately processed.

Tan vats, 30 in all, excavations 3 ½ x 6 feet deep, also lined with thick tongue and grooved lumber and water tight. Arranged in rows with working space between. Partly water-filled, a generous sprinkle of pulverized bark sufficient to support the first skin carefully spread, on which another sprinkle of bark – alternating the skin and bark until the vat is filled to capacity, there to remain for months in incubation, until the tanner, by test pronounces the leather matured.

During the period of leather incubation thee are processing rooms to erect and equip. Leather leaving the tan must at once be thoroughly treated in oils to restore pliability; rubbed to a firmness, shaved to uniform thickness, and when desired, colored. For this precise operation an expert currier is kept on duty. 

 Extending the buildings, there are shops for the tradesmen; harness maker, saddler and long rows of benches equipped for the many shoemakers always present.

The Marion Tannery rated of much importance to the community. The trade in tanbark and hides brought in much needed revenue to Crittenden County and adjoining territory, and people came from all around for quality goods. A large number of artisans of the trades had employment there.

Along in the year 1878 someone invented a system of Steam tanning. Using extract concentrates, and steams under high pressure. They cooked it. It was all so natural and simple. Leather could be matured in a matter of weeks. That was the blueprint to the cold water tanner's finish. He must change his system or retire.

Luckily for us there came a respite. The first steam-tanned leather offered the public proved inferior. It had been overheated and broke in places. For a long time people were prejudiced against the steam–tanned leather. By the time the error had been corrected and confidence restored, we had disposed of our stock and sold the property. On the 27th of August 1879, we vacated the place and left Marion.

A big mill and whiskey distillery soon occupied the tan yard site and buildings for a good many years and the ever-flowing spring was their source of water supply. (This area today is where Hometown Food's grocery store and parking lot are located.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Historical Homes For Sale

Some of Marion's oldest and historical homes are up for sale.  Hopefully someone that will love them will purchase them.

Picture made in Oct. 2007 while Ed and Dell Runyan lived here.  Earlier articles thought the house was built in 1834.  But after viewing the interior of the home and the beautiful features, hard wood floors, stain glass windows, transom windows, beautiful staircase, I think it was built more like the 1860's. 
This picture made Sept. 2019 as the home sets waiting to be purchased.   After the Runyans sold the home, it was covered with vinyl siding in the burnt red color.
Home located on Gum Street in Marion. 

This beautiful old home was built in 1893 by Perry S. Maxwell. 

 It was purchased by Dr. Robert L. Moore that same year. 

 The next owner was Lemuel H. James.  This home was originally a one story house, the second story was added in  1902 by Mr. James.  

After Mr. and Mrs. James died, their son, Senator Ollie M. James and his wife lived here.  It was t heir home during Ollie's rapid climb up the political ladder that was cut short by his premature death.

The last owner of the home was Robert Marshall Jenkins.  He has recently passed away and the home is now up for sale.  It is located at 204 East Depot Street.

Another beautiful old home is the William Barnett home locate on North Main St. This picture made in 1999.

 It was built in 1912 by contractor George H. Miller of Evansville.  

Mr. Barnett, a successful farmer from Tolu  wanted a nice home in Marion to live so his daughters could attend the Marion school.

In the past few years the home has been recently worked on with repairs and updates and the outside has been covered in gray vinyl siding with white trim.

I've never been inside, but ones that have say it has beautiful woodwork.

I hope these beautiful old historic home will soon find new owners that will appreciate them.  They add a lot of beauty to our local history.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

D. C. Tastes Crittenden County Syrup

This wonderful and historical information about Crittenden County was written by Dr. James O. Nall, physician and author of "Night Riders of Kentucky and Tennessee," in September 2, 1954.

Crittenden Sorghum Honored in D. C.
It is said that Senator Ollie M. James, Marion's most popular personage, introduced Crittenden County's sorghum to Washington, D.C. 

Sorghum molasses, according to the story, was a regular item on the James' table, as in most other Kentucky homes, during Ollie's childhood, and he developed a liking for it that stayed with him during his entire life. 

Not only that, he praised its delectable qualities to his congressional friends, both in the House and Senate. Many of them, accustomed to sorghum in their own states, refused to believe that Kentucky sorghum was any different than that made elsewhere, but there was one famous gentleman, who, on Ollie's word, decided that it was worth a trial – the Honorable Champ Clark, Speaker of the National House of Representatives, from Missouri. That was when the slogan, "I'm from Missouri, you'll have to show me," was in vogue, and, perhaps, that was Speaker Clark's attitude. 

So Ollie visited his good friend, Sion Hunt, known to everyone as one of the best sorghum makers in Crittenden County, and asked him for a gallon of the best molasses he had in the house.

"I've got just exactly what you want, Ollie," he said. I've never had a better crop. The weather was right, and I cut it and made it up just at the right time."

Mr. Hunt took his pocketknife and pried the lid off a gallon bucketful. The bouquet was delightful. The molasses looked like liquid gold, and it tasted like heavenly honey. "You're right, Sion," Ollie agreed. "If Champ doesn't like that, he's lost his sense of taste."

So, taking a fresh, unopened bucketful, Ollie carried it home and set it in the corner of his room where it could not be bothered by anyone. Then, when he returned to Washington, he carried it in one hand, his bag in the other. It is said that he never let the bucket out of his sight unless it was under lock and key.

In changing trains, he let the porter carry his bag, but not the bucket. In going to the diner, he carried the bucket with him, not to eat from it, but to be sure it would not be stolen and the contents eaten by someone else.

At the Washington railroad station, he let the redcap carry his bag, but not the bucket. And he treated the taxicab driver the same way. He would not trust his gift to the hands of anyone but the recipient. And, finally, his friendly chore ended, he delivered it to Speaker Clark at his Washington home.

Ollie admonished him that sorghum should be eaten only with hot-buttered biscuits, that it was sacrilege to eat it any other way. And so Mrs. James came into the picture, for she was a biscuit maker of excellence. Her biscuits, so I am told, were of silver dollar size, just big enough to split in half and make four good bites. And, covered with sorghum molasses, what bites!
Let us suffice to say that Speaker Clark loved Crittenden County sorghum, that Mrs. James taught Mrs. Clark how to make Kentucky biscuits, and that the Speaker laid in an annual supply of Hunt-made molasses from then on. But he never told his and Ollie's dubious congressional friends. He insisted on reserving that delectable secret – and shall we say dish, jug or bucket, for himself and family.
"Ollie," Champ said one Sunday morning, after they had eaten breakfast together. "I'm sure the gods never had such ambrosia on Mount Olympus."

"You're right, Champ," Ollie replied. "By Jove! You're right, by Jove!"

Now, that they are both residing on Olympus, let's hope they still agree.

So, Trigg County many have its ham, McCracken may have it's strawberries, and Graves County may have it's cream but there was a time when Crittenden County had sorghum molasses
the best in all Kentucky.

 I think it should be revived. Yes, and hot biscuits, too!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Court House Corner Stone - June 1961

In June of 1961, as the new Crittenden County Court House was being constructed, a history cornerstone was being prepared to be placed in one of the corner stones of the new court house.  Following is the list of items that were placed in the box.  Time flies by swiftly and now this year of 2019 that was 58 years ago.

May 11, 1961 – Courthouse Ground Broke
County Judge Earl McChesney broke ground Wednesday, May 3, 1961 for the new Crittenden County Courthouse. Other county officials attending the ceremonies were County Clerk R. P. Davidson, County Attorney B. M. Westberry and Magistrates comprising the Fiscal Court, consisting of Watson Flanary, Clemens Crawford, Ernest Nelson, G. B. Kirk, Cruce McDonald, Truman Highfil, Frank H. Hill and Joe Robertson.
June 23, 1961 -Courthouse Cornerstone Contained Many Articles

County Judge Earl McChesney announced this week a list of the articles place in the box to be sealed in the cornerstone of the new Crittenden County Courthouse.
Following is the list of things placed in the box:
* Copy of Crittenden Press of April 27, May 11, and June 15, 1961
* Copy of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, June 15, 1961
* Financial statement of the Peoples Bank, as of December 31, 1960.
* Financial Statement of Farmers Bank & Trust Co, as of December 31, 1960.
* The Holy Bible presented by Nelda Phelps.
* Box of Plastic Products, presented by Mi-Marker Company, Marion
* History & Roster of Co. D., Med. Tank Bn., 123D Armor, Marion and the Ellis B. Ordway Post No. 111.
* Histories of Crittenden County Hospital, Crittenden County Library, Marion Kiwanis Club, Marion Woman's Club, Rotary Club, ASC Office, Fidelity Finance, and Moore Business Form and Ben Franklin Store.
* Official roster of Henderson-Union REA & Rural Kentuckian, June, 1961
* Personnel roster and other items, Kentucky Utilities Company, Marion, 1961
* Sealed envelopes from Marion Baptist Church, First Baptist Church, Union Baptist Church, Levias, and Crayne Cumberland Presbyterian Church
* Histories of Mexico Baptist Church, Second Baptist Church, Marion, Crooked Creek Missionary Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Piney Fork Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Sugar Grove Presbyterian Church, Blackburn Church
* Notes on Quarterly Conference Tolu Methodist Church, Tolu
* Bulletin, Marion Methodist Church, June 4, 1961
* Sealed envelope of Crittenden County Schools
* Earth Science, March-April 1955, presented by Ben E. Clement
* Leaflets from the American Legion, Welfare Department,
* Pamphlet: 10th anniversary of Price-Thomson LP Presbyterian Church USA
* Postcard, B. E. Clement collection
* Brochure on Fluorspar, by B. E. Clement
* Two Fluorspar samples, B. E. Clement
* Photograph of groundbreaking of New Courthouse, May 1961
* Gem & Mineral products, Maurice N. Boston, Marion
* Summary of Operation of Patmor's Seed Plant
* Letterhead of Crittenden County Soil Conservation District
* Thumbnail sketch of Farmers Home Administration
* Billings of the Kentucky Theater
* Menus from Marion Cafe, Sunrise Cafeteria and Rohrer's Drive In
* Letterheads of various business houses in Marion
* List showing City Police Force
* Dam 50 personnel
* Boy Scouts and Charter of America, Scout Master Denver E. Tabor
* GA Girls and Leaders
* Letter, Tourist & Travel Div., Dept. of Public Information, Frankfort, dated June 15, 1961
* Highway Magazine, June 1961
Completing the list of articles put into the cornerstone for the new Crittenden County Courthouse will be a seventy-four year old newspaper printed and published in Dycusburg, Ky., on April 30, 1867. George T. Harris was the Editor and Publisher of the four page tabloid that hit the streets every week. The paper was named The Crittenden Courier. The subscription rate was 50 cents per year and contributions were solicited from the public.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Remembering Some Of Our Civil War Veterans

Crittenden press, March 2, 1928.
Robert C. Brown who will be 85 years old July 18, is still very active and hauls spar on every working day.  His father, the late James Brown, lived to be 98 years old.

When Mr. Brown's parents came to this county from Tennessee in 1851 they settled on the Watson Rice farm near Marion.  Since that time Mr. Brown has made his home in this county and now lives in the Freedom community on his father's old place.

Mr. Brown is a veteran of the Civil War having served 10 months in the Union Army.  

(Robert C. Brown died August 2, 1934, at the age of 91 and is buried in the Freedom Cemetery.)

Crittenden Press, April 6, 1928
Jesse M. McCaslin, a Civil War Veteran, was born near Princeton August 31, 1841 and has lived in Crittenden and Caldwell County all of his life.  

Mr. McCaslin moved to Marion 10 years ago from Crayne and still makes his home here.

For 14 months, Mr. McCaslin served in the 15th Kentucky Regiment and rode in the cavalry for eight months without missing a day.  He served under Capt. Edd Maxwell, Lieut. John Akerstrong and Al Gates.

One of the battles that Mr. McCaslin fought was the battle of Spring Creek, Tenn.  He remembers going for 24 hours without eating.

(Jesse M. McCaslin died October 1, 1929, at the age of 88, and is buried in the Crayne Cemetery.)

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Fords Ferry Road was a dangerous route

From the History of Crittenden County Series comes another interesting story about the Fords Ferry area. First printed in August 1954. Written by Mr. Hollis C. Franklin, one of Crittenden County's best writers.

The Road Led Out From Fords Ferry.

If I had possessed wits enough, in the days of the long ago, while my grandmother Larue still lived, to have jotted down at least the outline of some of the old Fords Ferry-Jim Ford stories which she knew so well and which she so delightfully told, time after time, upon the joyous insistence of her grandchildren, I would have had ample resources from which I might draw to put down in word still other all but forgotten incidents in the life of Crittenden County and Kentucky when they were in their infant days.
Such is life; we think of things when it is too late.

 Fords Ferry as it looks in the early 1900's.

There was a time when Fords Ferry was one of the many thriving and prosperous towns along the Ohio. It had a good wharf with good wharf facilities, a good hotel, a drug store, a post office, two or three good stores which sold everything from talcum powder to plow points, a blacksmith shop, a fish market and a school. It even, at least for those days, had a good road to it, but, like many other small river towns, the time eventually came when the road led out of town and not into it; and when such conditions came about, the inevitable happens- the town vanishes- to where, we have never been able to find out. 

Fords Ferry, Kentucky, now is only a name and a memory, but what a name it had one hundred years ago and what memories cluster, even now, around that name!

The one who writes these 800 or so words, was born and raised in that section of the county which, some fifty years before his birth, had been the home of the most notorious river pirate who ever infested an American commonwealth and who lived at Fords Ferry. It wasn't exactly by chance that this notorious character was also, according to the legends handed down by my forefathers and by other of old Fords neighbors, a good neighbor, a gracious host and often a friend in time of trouble.

In those days, the little river town Fords Ferry, Kentucky, happened to be on the wagon trail from Tennessee to Illinois along which during the late summer and early fall seasons and even in the winter time and in spring time, too, covered wagons by the hundreds rolled along the rough and rugged road.

Some of the owners of these covered wagons crossed the river. Others did not. Some of them, the stories relate, crossed the river, returning from Illinois en route to Tennessee and to other points South, but many, many times the owners of these covered wagons, together with their possessions, were never heard of again after they were miles South of Fords Ferry. 

As to what happened to them – well, that has been through the years, left largely to surmise and conjecture. The writer of these few paragraphs recalls how that when he was a boy he and other boys of the community and, often, boys who were visiting in home of that community, never tired of going to the old bluff which is located on the farm owned by Miss Atrel Vaughan (now owned by the Flanary family) and by the Jerry Belt heirs, where, underneath the cave in the sand, the depth of which we were never able to determine, we often amused ourselves by digging out human bones, including human skulls, which we took to be Indian skulls, and trying to piece them together as we would a skeleton in Physiology class. Today such a practice might appear gruesome. Possibly it was gruesome then but it never occurred to us boys who tried to fit "toe-bones, ankle-bones, knee-bones, thigh-bones" as the song says together was anything out of the ordinary. 

I recall how Clyde and Walter Green, playmates in the days of the long ago, on one occasion brought a human skull to Marion and that same skull, for many, many years reposed in a Marion physician's office.

As to whether there was any connection between those bones and the river pirate whose home was at Fords Ferry – Oh, well, that's just another one of the riddles of the past which has never been and likely never will be solved.

In the old days there was a story which went the rounds, even into distant states that wherever old Ford buried a body, within fifty feet of said body he always buried sums of money which was left there until the body had been in repose in that particular resting place for a certain period of years. As to the authenticity of that statement, we do not know. That is just one of the many, many legends which cluster around the Fords Ferry that was and is no more.

(Mr. Hollis Charles Franklin's obituary, Dec. 4, 1958.  Hollis C. Franklin was born Ooct 15, 1899.  His parents were Elijah T. Franklin and Mattie Love.  He was married to the former Nina Jane Paris.  Two daughters, Miss Martha Elizabeth Franklin and Mrs. Helen James.  He was widely known as a speaker, often filling pulpits in churches, at banquets and meetings.  His dry, humorous style of delivery was a distinguishing feature of his talks. He also wrote poems and stories about Crittenden County.  He was born and raised in the Fords Ferry community on the Ohio River.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Early Presbyterian and Baptist Church History

The Presbyterians and Baptists were the first denominations of Christians to occupy the present territory of Crittenden County. 

The Presbyterians preceded the Baptists by a few years.  The first Baptist church organized in Crittenden County was Old Union, organized about 1805.    (was the location of the Union Baptist church today at Levias/Midway community about 5 miles south of Marion)

They were soon followed by the Methodists.

In the closing  years of the eighteenth century and the early part of the nineteenth century, the Presbyterians made a great crusade again sin throughout Western Kentucky.

Revivals were held, resulting in many conversions.  In 1797 the Rev. Terah Templin, the first Presbyterian preacher in Western Kentucky, organized a church on Livingston Creek at a place known to the old settlers as Old Centerville.  It was at that time the county seat of Livingston County.  This doubtless was the first Presbyterian Church in Western Kentucky.  

In 1803, Bethany church, Presbyterian, commonly called the "Old Log Church," was organized on Crooked Creek, one and one-half miles North of Marion.  This church seems to have been organized by the Rev. Wm. Dickey.   (Location of the Crooked Creek Baptist church of today).

In 1807, John Travis, an elder in the Bethany Church, was censured for attending services among the "dissenting Cumberland Brethren," the mater terminating in his withdrawal from the church.   The new organizations, that of the Cumberland  Presbyterian Church, was not completed until 1810, but for some time previously camp-meetings were held by the "Cumberlands" throughout this section.  One of their preaching places was at the residence of John Wheeler, the great grand-father of James A. Wheeler, who for years was an elder in the Piney Fork church.  

John Wheeler seems to have become identified with the revival from the very first and his house was a regular preaching place for the early revival ministers.

The old log home of John Wheeler, where the early revival Cumberland Presbyterian preachers used to meet.  Was located about 5 miles from Marion on Hwy 506 on the Ralph Paris farm. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Re-Building Of Marion After Fire

After the great fire of March 28, 1905, hardly before the smoke had died down, the Marion business men were already planning on rebuilding the town business section.

In July, only 4 months later a report was given on the progress.

There are 21 buildings under way and completed in the burned district.  There are two warehouses, one bakery, and one machine shop completed.  

The balance are all business houses and when completed, Marion will put on quite a different appearance, as they are all very modern buildings.

The Masonic Temple is a three story with unfinished stone trimming and front of cream pressed brick.

The Marion Bank building will be a beauty.  It has finished stone trimmings and is all cream pressed brick.

The post office is also cream pressed brick.  Nearly all the balance of the buildings are red pressed brick.

September 1, 1905 - Big Dinner and Fireworks
The citizens have set on foot a movement to have a general reopening, day of business houses destroyed by the first of March 28, and September 28 has been suggested as the day for such a reopening of New Marion.

The date is very appropriate, marking as it does, an epoch of just six months after the fire.

It is expected to have a big barbecue dinner and ice cream and lemonade feast to be served free during the afternoon and to have a display of fire works at night.

All building now under course of construction will be completed and occupied by the time set for opening day, and most, if not all firms now occupying tents or other temporary quarters, will have found permanent locations and be ready to receive their friends and customers, and make the day one of great rejoicing.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Devastating Fire of March 28, 1905 left Marion in Ruins

Fire wiped out the business section of Marion on March 28, 1905.  Not a business house of any importance is left in the town.  The loss is estimated at $200,000.  

The fire broke out shortly after 5  o'clock in the stable in the rear of the business of J. H. Orme.  Owing to the high wind prevailing, the fire caught and spread rapidly.  It is believed the fire was started by a smoker dropping a match in the stable. 

The east side of the public square where most of the stores were located was first to go and every building beginning at the old brick hotel and extending to Koltinsky's grocery two blocks away was destroyed. 

The section burned covered about four blocks and included a number of residences as well as business building.

All the dry goods, grocery, drug, hardware and other stores of the town, the saloons, the postoffice, the Crittenden Press plant and the Marion bank were reduced to smouldering ruins.

It was soon seen the blaze was beyond the control of the local fire fighters and aid was requested from Evansville, but the apparatus sent on a special rain over the I. C. railway did not reach Marion until 7:30 that afternoon, after the fire had burned itself out.

The loss is the most severe the town has ever suffered and some of those who were burned out have not yet recovered from the blow sufficiently to decide upon what steps they will take for the future.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Restaurants and Eating Places Of The Past

Some places we remember for the atmosphere, other places it was for the food, and perhaps a good memory of sitting around the table eating and enjoying good company with friends, such as one of mine. It was at the Coffee Shop on Main Street, when Bill and Kory Wheeler were owners. Two regulars at our table were Orman Hunt and Ozella Bailey, they are both gone now, but the good times around the Coffee Shop round table remain with me always. 

The 88 Dip is the only eating place that is still operating today under the same name it started with back in 1952, most locations are even gone, but they are still part of our past collective culinary memory.

The Sunrise Cafe' was located on N. Main Street behind where the Western Auto Store was and now the Marion Fire Department is there.

This restaurant had several owners and from what people have told me each had their own eating place personality. Guy and Edith Drennan owned it and their blue plate specials were very popular with the community. Mr. Drennan like to hire local girls to work in the restaurant so they would have a job. 

Another owner of the cafe' was the Baker family, I was told they turned the eating place into cafeteria style. Still remembered and talked about today as a popular place to eat and gather. 
Lots of people have memories of the tiny eating place known all these years as the "Hole In The Wall." It was located in a small room behind the Farmers Bank, close to where the steps are on W. Carlisle St..  The area now is part of the expanded Farmers Bank. It had only one small booth and a few stools at a counter, but was big on its reputation for good hamburgers and short orders. Owned by Dewey and Sylvia McDowell. Mr. McDowell ran a taxi cab that was located across the street from the restaurant. Besides her regular customers, Sylvia would fix box lunches for some of the local miners. 
Another place around the court house square that is talked about was Gene Beard's grocery store located in the area of the former Alan Stout office. His lunch counter food is still talked about today. A lot of county people that came to town on Saturday's to do their weekly shopping always loved to eat there. When Gene moved his store to the later location on 641 South where state offices are located now, his lunch counter was still a popular place to eat. It seems two of his lady cooks couldn't get along so he just stopped that by closing the eating area and turned it into the produce department. The good food in the small area was missed daily by faithful patrons. 

One cannot think of eating places in Marion without the Marion Cafe and Cap and Edith Cline being at the top of the list. The Clines first entered the business in September of 1945 as partners with Boyce Belt. At that time, the menu consisted mainly of ice cream and sandwiches.

Through the years they worked with several partners in the business, not taking sole ownership until 1957. As the years pasted the menu was expanded and the business grew until it became known throughout western Kentucky as one of the area’s outstanding eating establishments.
The day’s work for Cap began about 4 a.m. each morning as he prepared a portion of the food for the day along with donuts for the hungry breakfast group which began arriving at the 5:45 opening hours.

At about 11 a.m. Mrs. Cline would arrive to assist with the plate lunches for the noon crowd. She would remain until around 9 p.m. that evening, serving everything from charbroiled steaks to deep fried oysters. So many memories surround the name of the Marion Cafe' and have carried down through several generations. The Botanical Flower and Gift Shop is located in this building today.

Rohrer and Johnson's Drive-In on Gum Street was another well remembered and popular place to eat. The menu was well-rounded with plate orders and short orders and fountain service. Rohrer & Johnson first opened the Drive-In restaurant in 1950. 

Later this was a favorite place for the high school crowd to gather in the 1960's and find out who was dating who. 

 They had car hop service, where several local high school girls would find work. Lots of good memories here. 

 The popular place was last a coin operated laundry and a few weeks ago (June 2019) this old building was torn down.  Nothing there now to remind us of those good times spent there all those years ago.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Local Travel Has Certainly Changed

In the early 1900's the automobile age was beginning to appear in Marion. The first sighting of one of these new contraptions made it's appearance in Marion in August of 1904. 

August 11, 1904, a party of tourists, four in number, passed through the city in an automobile, en route from Nashville to the World's Fair at St. Louis. This was the first horseless carriage ever seen in Marion and the sudden appearance of the horseless carriage coming up Main Street created a stir among our population. 

Several years later in May of 1911, the Press tells us that motoring in Crittenden is getting more popular each day, and all that stands in the way of universal use of automobiles is the desperate roads, and not the cost as many would think, for compared with horseflesh and the expense of keeping same, automobiles are not high and are certainly a most delightful mode of transportation. With the advent of better roads the use of the automobile will grow into popular favor all over Crittenden County.

With the appearance of more and more automobiles in Marion and around the country side, made cause for some laws and rules of courtesy. 

July 14, 1921 Gist of Some Laws Governing Motor Vehicles
It is a great wonder to us when we think of how few accidents to individuals have occurred in this county and especially in the town of Marion since the automobiles had come into use. Our county court show very few damage suits while the police courts show not a great many prosecutions for cut outs, tail lights, speeding, etc.

Since this record is commendable and speaks well as to the law abiding spirit and general good fellowship that the citizens of Crittenden County bear toward each other and to the rest of the world. Yet, there are some who will grow careless of the other fellows welfare and drive recklessly around a short turn in the road, and dash without warning upon a team of horses and buggy or a horseback rider and frighten said horse or team beyond control of its rider or driver.
 If it does not end in accident or injury it leaves a “bad taste” in the mouth of the rider or driver and maybe a bad feeling that he cannot overcome for an hour or two.

Now, the laws governing the operation of automobiles an other motor vehicles are many and varied, far too much so for this article, but I want to give the gist of the most common passages.
* Thous shalt not run with the cutout open.
* Thou shalt not run without a tail light and two head lights.
*On coming up behind a pedestrian or horseback rider or occupant of a slower vehicle thou shalt sound the horn or other warning device.
*Thou shalt not drive rapidly a round the corners of these Crittenden County crooked roads without sounding your horn and staying close to the right hand side of the road. (This may sound corny, but I remember when people actually did honk their horns when they came upon a curve on the rural gravel roads of years ago, many years ago. Now they are driven on as if they were on a freeway.)
* Thou shalt always keep thy brake in good repair.

To The Drivers Of Buggies, Wagons, Etc.
* When a faster driven vehicle overtakes you and gives a signal to be allowed to pass thou shalt pull to the right side of the road immediately and permit it to pass. Don't stay in the middle of the road too long.
* Treat your neighbor as you would have him treat you and we will all love another better. There have been complaints recently of the automobile drivers having not given fair warning on short turns in the roads or driving up behind a buggy and attempting to pass without giving a warning and being too careless and reckless in passing, skittish horses.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Henry & Henry Monument, Second Oldest Business In Marion

The family business of Henry and Henry Monuments started their business here in Marion in 1881 (according to Diana Newcom in a 1999 article).   The picture above is where the business is located today on Hwy. 60 East (Sturgis Road) just outside of town.

The Henry brothers, Rev. John Henry and his brother Sam, started carving stones in the backyard of a home on West Bellville Street in Marion 1881. 

 An advertisement that was in The Crittenden Press soon after they moved to their new location on East Carlisle Street.  (1906)

In 1906 they moved to a commercial site on Carlisle Street where today Barbara Wheeler's antique shop is located.  It was called the concrete building as then there were no street numbers.

This vintage picture was made in the Concrete Building on Carlisle Street.  Monument work used to be done entirely by hand.  Marble was used for the stones then because it was easier to carve, and most of the lettering and art work was done freehand.  Stones carried more wording with family histories and epitaphs.  Much of the lettering was raised, with the stone around the letters being chipped away to give that effect.

Here is an interesting article that appeared in The Crittenden Press in June 12, 1931.
Possibly few people in Crittenden County know that one of the oldest business establishments in Marion is the Henry and Henry  Monument Works now owned by Howard and A. M. Henry.  According to all available records this establishment is, with the exception of the Crittenden Press the oldest business here.

The monument works were first established by the late Rev. J. S. Henry, a Baptist minister, and the father of the present owners.  After the retirement of Rev. Henry the business was conducted for a time by his two brothers, the late A. M. Henry and Sam Henry.  Next came the present proprietors, A. M. and Howard Henry.  Three generations have worked at this trade in the same establishment.  They are Rev. Henry, his sons and grandsons, Searcy Henry, son of Howard Henry, is now employed by the firm.

The monument Works was established before the coming of the railroad to Crittenden County and the rough material for use by the firm was hauled overland from Weston. (shipped down on the Ohio River).  For all these years road signs throughout Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois have kept the public reminded of this long established monument works.

Most of the shipments of rough stone received by the Henry brothers came from the famous granite and marble quarries in the New England states, while other shipments come from Italy, Finland, Scotland and Canada.

At the present time this firm is working on some beautiful memorials which will soon be delivered to customers in Kuttawa, Clay, Livingston County, Webster County, and Southern Illinois towns.
Today in 2019, the firm is being run by 5th generation of Henry descendants, Billy Fox and his sister, Diana  Newcom.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Steamers or Paddle-Wheeler River Boats of Yesteyear

Much of our early county history was focused on the little communities that were located along the Ohio River, as this was where the most travel, trading and commerce ports were located.

The beautiful Ohio river was heavily traveled night and day by the many flatboats, steamers, paddlewheelers and even a river taxi or two that water taxied people to the nearby towns in Union County, Southern Illinois as well as Tolu, Clementsburg and Fords Ferry.  

A river taxi that used to run on the Ohio River.  It carried folks to different locations along the Kentucky and Illinois sides of the river.
Here are some interesting community items that were taken from the files of The Crittenden Press telling about this river traffic.

May 12, 1880
The steamer Gaff secured at Clementsburg, while here she picked up 375 barrels of potatoes and 8000 feet of lumber to take up North.
The Memphis and Ohio River Packet company will carry passengers from now until after the Democratic convention to Cincinnati and return for $10.

May 1881 
Lamb & Cook steamers shipped for G. R. Jenkins & Co. last week, 4 thousand feet of walnut lumber to Evansville.

George A. Lamb is in Cincinnati and W. E. Lambeth is in St. Louis.

The Shady Grove boys are frequently seen hauling tobacco from that place to Weston for shipment on the river. 

Mar 2, 1881
The John V. Throop steamer secured several sacks of freight from Lamb & Co., yesterday, after which she dropped down to Lou Cooks corn pen for number of sacks of corn.

    The beautiful Steamer Idlewide that use to travel up and down the Ohio River.

The good Steamer Idlewide has been sold by the Evansville packet Com., to John D. Adams and others for $20,000 cash. She will run no more on our river.

The John K. Speed landed last night to put off some Thoroughbred stock for A. D. McFee. Messrs Sliger Underdown and L. E. Cook shipped stock to Cincinnati last week on the Buckeye State.

 The Gertie Pool was loading its barge with ties at this place on Saturday.

A party composed of Misses Nellie and Mary Wilson, Mattie and Fannie Blue, Cora Pierce, and Mr. J. W. Blue and Mr. G. . Crider will start to New Orleans in a few days. They will take a steamer and will be gone three weeks.

Our young physician W. H . Nunn returned from Nashville, yesterday where he had been studying. He will be one our leading physicians soon.

Monday, May 27, 2019

First Sunday School Convention in Crittenden County

First Sunday School Convention
Our churches have always been an important part of our past history. From the archives of the Crittenden Press we learn of the first Sunday School convention held in Crittenden County.
Rev. James F. Price was there and shared this history with the Press.

June 7, 1888 - History of the Kentucky Sunday School Union In Crittenden County. By James F. Price.

One of the first Sunday school mass meetings in Crittenden County was a denominational mass meeting held at Piney Fork Church about 1875 or 1876. The schools were represented as classes, and each class sang by itself.

 The next meeting of this kind was held at Bethel Church in 1879. It was called a Sunday School Celebration, and was non denominational.

The next one was held at Union church in the summer of 1880, and was very successful. These meetings were prior to any organization of the Kentucky Sunday School Union in this county.

The next meeting of this kind was held at Piney Fork church in the fall on 1880.  At this meeting at Piney Fork which was a very enthusiastic and full meeting, Rev. Crumbaugh stated the relation in which he stood to the county as the representative of the Kentucky Sunday School Union, and the name of the bi-annual meetings were changed from Celebration to Convention.This was the origin of the organization of the Ky. Sunday School Union in Crittenden County.

The next convention was held at Chapel Hill in the spring of 1881. Both of these meetings were largely attended and full of interest.

At the Hurricane Convention the county was divided into four districts and a district superintendent appointed for each. This districting the county is due to the efforts of Uncle Wesley Minner.

The next convention was appointed for Marion, but for a want of cooperation the convention was not held.

The county convention having failed to meet in Marion, Oak Grove gave an invitation for the Convention to meet there; this was in the fall of 1882. This was a good meeting. At this convention it was decided to have only one convention a year.

The next convention was held at Crooked Creek church in the fall of 1883. The county was now reported in the minutes of the State Convention as a banner county; this is, completely organized. This organization had been perfected at Hurricane, two years before. 

The next convention was held at Lily Dale in the fall of 1884, and was one of the fullest conventions we have ever held, about 1500 persons present.

The next convention was held at Post Oak in the fall of 1885. It was a very unfavorable day, but the State visitor, S. F. Wishard, who was present, pronounced it a success.

In the fall of 1886 the Convention was held at the Lead Mines, and was marked for its earnest work and enthusiasm.

The last convention was held at Chapel Hill, in the summer of 1887. It was well attended and productive of much good.