Monday, July 8, 2024

'Tin lizzies' Destroy Marion's Big City Dreams


This interesting article was written by Bob Wheeler for the historical edition of The Crittenden Press in December 1972.

The death-rattle of the big-city dreams of our community developed by 1917.  The morbid rattle was the creaking of the old "tin lizzies" intensified by the drum-rolls of World War I.


 The evolution of the automobile from a carnival-like ride in 1911-12 to a common and effective means of transportation to near-by cities and shopping centers by 1917 meant the beginning of the end for Marion's economic stability for many local merchants, who were dependent upon the near-isolation of Marion and Crittenden County in keeping an almost exclusive control of local trade. 

First to fall to the auto-invasion were Marion's two large livery stables, as might be expected.  George Foster, who, under the firm name of  Foster & Son, ran the old Wallingford stable on East Bellville Street (now the Wheeler parking lot) gave up early, and joined the enemy in the new Ford agency of Gabe Abell's.  The Guess & Ordway Livery Stable on the North Main Street site of Johnson Electric  Co. had to sell out at auction and the old frame building was soon torn down.

The auto-invasion seems to bring about one advancement that had long been needed in the city of Marion - the grading, smoothing, graveling, oiling and preparation for pavement of the major streets, which by 1913 were curbed but still dirt.

On top of this local problem, the bull Moose split in the Republican Party allowed a visionary, Woodrow Wilson, to sneak into the White House.  Since he was only the second President they had elected since 1856, the National Democratic Party desperately adopted his visions.  Wilson desired the United States to become the economic "big brother" to the world.  This policy not only took away the Protective Tariff, a system under which small American cities' industries had thrived, it commenced the unnecessary U. W. involvement in the First World War.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Crittenden County In "Kentucky's Industrial Review" October 1949

Frankfort, Ky., - Kentucky's first industrial directory in three years came off the press today.  The "Kentucky Industrial Directory, 1949" has been jointly compiled, financed and published by the State Agricultural and Industrial Development Board and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

George T. Mascott, executive vice president of the State Chamber, state that "the main purpose of the 384-page directory is to promote the sale of Kentucky-made products by listing what the state has to sell and where it can be bought."  "It's the most comprehensive publication of its kind ever issued in the state, listing 289 manufactures.  Officers report they already have a large number of back orders which accumulated following an announcement some time ago that the directory would be on sale early this month.

Following are the Directory's listing for communities in Crittenden County. 

  • Marion - Population 3,000.
  • County seat of Crittenden County on U.S. 60 and Ky. 91 and 120. 
  • Business Organizations: Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club

Crittenden County Employment - Firm Name

  • C and L Fluorspar Co., Inc. Males: 14, Female- 1 Total 15   (Marion)
  • L. Conyer, Males 6, Total 6           (Marion)
  • Crider Bros. Fluorspar Co. Males 43    (Mexico)
  • Davenport Mines, Inc., Males 20     ( Marion)
  • Delhi Fluorspar Corp. Males 30, Females 2, Total 32  (Marion)
  • Frazer Mining Co. Males 19, Females 1, Total 20   (Mexico)
  • Kentucky Fluorspar Co., Males 20, Females 1, Total 2  (Marion)
  • Mahoning Mining Division of Ozark-Mahoning Co., -   (Marion)
  • U. S. Coal and Coke, -  (Mexico)


  • Railroad - Illinois Central
  • Bus
  • Truck

Utilities Electric - KU


  • Farmers Bank and Trust Co.
  • The Peoples Bank

Newspapers: The Crittenden Press, Weekly

Airport: Jaycee Airport, Owner Sid Johnson  (Class S-1)


  • L. Conyer, Employed 6 (Washing and blending fluorspar)
  • Munt and Orr Sawmill, Employed 5 (Convert logs into rough lumber)
  • Winn and Tobin Milling Co., Employed 5, (Floor meal and feed)
Mexico - Population 300.
Located in Crittenden County on Ky. 295, 7 miles southwest of Marion, the county seat.
  • Railroad - Illinois Central
  • Truck
Utilities: KU (Kentucky Utilities Co. Inc.
  •  Mott Concrete Production Co., Employed 1 (only part time)

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Mormons Visit Crittenden County in 1891

Many interesting items are to be found in the archives of The Crittenden Press. Who would have thought in the late 1800's that Mormons would have been traveling through our county wanting to share their beliefs with the people that would listen. It seems they traveled the rural areas and communities of our county and caused some controversy in their beliefs. Two visits were reported, one at the Oakland church/school house and another on Pinnacle Rock. Pinnacle Rock was located near Baker Church, on Hwy. 365, high on a hill.

The information below was shared by Mr. Gervas M. Russell, a newspaper reporter and writer for the Crittenden Press, he always signed his articles, simply by “Nemo.”


Oct. 6, 1891 - Mormon Missionaries

Last week the Press learned that a meeting of Morman preachers was to be held at Oakland, and a reporter was dispatched to that place to learn something of these wanderers and of their work.


 Oakland is a neat little frame church house about seven miles east of Marion. It was built by the Universalists some sixteen years ago, after a time the builders became somewhat disorganized and now the doors are open to whatsoever sect that chooses to use it properly for the the worship of God. 


This fact probably drew the Mormon preachers to friendly portals for the purpose of talking over the effect of their law in Kentucky and Tennessee. The business meeting Saturday was attended by seven of these missionaries and as they evidently preferred to be alone on that occasion, they were not intruded upon.


They were all from Utah and have been traveling and preaching over Kentucky and Tennessee. Wherever they find the people friendly enough to listen, they preach, and whenever they find that a community prefers “their room to their company” they “fold their tent like Arabs and as quietly steal away.” 


It soon became known abroad in the neighborhood that these itinerants would preach on Sunday, accordingly a large number gathered to hear them. 


Three discourses were made by as many discoursers, each more or less along the same line, and permit the writer to say, that they said some mighty good things. 


They took no text from the Bible, but their discourses were not wild nor scattering, but were confined mainly to three things, namely Faith, Repentance and Baptism.


The congregation listened to these things patiently and not with disapproval, but wanted to here about some other doctrines of the “Latter day Saints, that of a plurality of wives, for instance. 


One of the preachers, who appeared to be higher in ecclesiastical authority than the others, seemed to anticipate our wants, and he took the stand and said that they used to teach polygamy, allowing a man to have more than one wife, if he was able to support more than one, but now as the laws of the country forbid it, they no longer taught nor practiced it, as they believed in being subservient to the laws of the country in which they lived.


They thanked the congregation for its attention and, leaving a sharp sprinkle of their literature behind, they departed for other fields.


In the forgotten passages of time, many different kinds of footprints have traveled over our county.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Rolling Out the Barrel

 An interesting article from the Evansville Courier and Press, March 11, 1956

Marion Fights Off Threat of Economic Depression


Natural resources have once again been utilized to help this one-time spar mining center escape the throes of economic depression.


This time it’s the white oak tree which is bringing needed dollars to Marion and vicinity.


The white oaks are being turned into barrel staves, mostly for use of the bourbon industry, at Leslie Freeman Stave and Heading Company’s new mill near here.


Principal source of income from the oak tress is through the payroll distributed among the mill’s 28 workers. But the timber is also bringing thousand of dollars to area farmers from whose land the white oak in taken.


Operation of the mill, which was started last August, is an interesting one.  First capturing the eye is the staggering number of staves the tiny mill produces.


The major items of machinery in the mill are a double blade cutting saw, which cuts the stave bolts (timber from which staves are made) to the correct length, and the circular saw which slices the slightly curved staves from the bolts of white oak.


But these saws are kept busy almost all the every day by 28 men working two shifts. The result: Several acres literally covered by neatly stacked staves – more than three quarters of a million of them.


Mill Supt. Denver McCabe, RR3, Marion, hopes to make a million staves for the spring market.


The mill buys lumber from dealers who cut and deliver it; or standing timber is purchased by the company and send its own men to do this cutting.


All staves classified as bourbon staves are to be sold to National Distributing co., Memphis, Tenn. A few staves classified as oil staves, for storage of food, oil vinegar, etc., are sold in Cleveland.


So far only five carloads of bourbon staves and six carloads of oil staves have been shipped from the new mill.


The company also has plats in Evansville, In., and St. Louis Missouri


(This stave mill was located near the railroad tracks, beside one of the old fluorspar mills. There the staves could be loaded onto the railroad cars.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

James Terry's Nostalgic Fashions - 1976

 Some of our past history, so interesting to recall.

Crittenden Press, August 8, 1976

Everyone’s knows that if you keep your old clothing long enough, it’ll come back in style.

 Well the nostalgia craze sweeping the country has created a new market for the hundreds of pre-World War II fashions James Terry still has in stock at his antique store on West Bellville which was formerly a clothing store.

Terry, who has been wholesaling the older garments to an outlet in Nashville, credits movies such as the Treat Gatsby and The Sting with creating a new market for the old clothes. He says, too, that organizations such as antique car clubs buy the period pieces to go with their antique autos.


He estimates that he has 1,200 to 1,500 coats and dresses left from the flapper and Depression eras.


These are still in new condition, still on the racks and shelves as they were when the New Look came in after WWII and made them obsolete. 


The New Look, which took the fashion market by storm in 1947 dropped dress and skirt hemlines, making the older, shorter dresses virtually unsalable.


The New Look completely changed women’s fashions in about five months, sticking clothing stores all across the country with their old stock.


Terry said it caught them with their racks full of obsolete dresses in a town of this size.


Since in those days, a lot of the actual sewing was done in the shop, some of the older clothes were worked over to give them the New Look. Hems were dropped and laces and trimmings added to the bottoms to make them longer. But most of them stayed in the store.

… Stayed in the store until Terry heard of Debbie Stoup at Nashville.


Terry explains nostalgia clothes are really big in large Southern cities and on the west coast. He says he has received inquiries about the clothes from as far away as Texas and west coast cities, but distance makes it unprofitable for people there to come here and examine the clothes.


Mrs. Stoup did come here and did take many of Terry’s flapper clothes back to her store, where Nashville’s big name music stars often shop.


Some of the old clothes are remade to make newer looking pieces. She said, in a telephone interview, that halter tops made from Terry’s clothes have been shown in articles about nostalgic clothing and her shop by the New York Times and Seventeen magazine.


Stars dressed in Terry fashions, according to Mrs. Stoup, include Karen Black and the Pointer Sisters.


Surprisingly … or maybe not so surprisingly … the old clothes are still structurally sound. Made from natural fibers of cotton, wool or silk, they have not deteriorated over the years.


Terry explains that only wear and dry-cleaning will destroy them.


But what’s a 1920 or 1930 dress worth today? That all depends on where you are, Terry says.


These dresses wholesaled for $3-7 dollars when they were new and retailed for from $8-12 usually. "They got pretty cheap during the Depression," he said.


Now they still sell for about what they cost in 1940, Mrs. Stoup said. A new dress of comparable style will cost $25-35. 


Mrs. Stoup, who describes Terry as one of the most interesting people she’s ever met, says it’s a rare find to locate clothing such as his today.


But even more interesting to her is his collection of trimmings. "He has the most amazing collection of buttons and antique laces I’ve ever seen," she said. "And cards of jet beading you just don’t find anymore."


"I just enjoy going up sitting around and talking to Mr. Terry about the good old day," Mrs. Stoup said.



This wonderful old building and all it's many, many memories was torn down in 1985.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Old WPA High School Building Final Days

The Marion High School building, which is located on College Street, was completed in the year 1940 to stand as an example of progress being made in Marion, Kentucky.  It is a brick structure designed by Harry E. Boyle & Co. Architects and Engineers, Evansville, Indiana.  It is equipped with Chemistry and Home Economics, laboratories, a library and eight additional class rooms.  The Gym, which makes up the east side of the build, is very modern and will accommodate a large group of people.

The pupils, teachers and entire community are proud of their new building and they intend to keep it tat way.  (From 1941 Marion High School Annual)


 I've written many posts about the WPA built High School building and the history of the clock and bell tower that was on top of it.  This still beautiful building, despite major deterioration of the wooden structure parts, is now in it's final days.  The demolition of it is suppose to start this week.  

Marion Code Enforcement says the building has been deemed unsafe and needs to be torn down or renovated.  The city formally condemned the build and gave the owner until April 21 to remove the clock cupola and flashing that appear to be coming unattached to the building. (I had a post and pictures about the cupola just a few weeks ago).  Chris Evans, The Crittenden Press editor had a very informative article about the final chapter for this building in the March 28, 2024 edition of the Press, titled "Destiny Sealed".  

Just a couple weeks ago, I made some pictures of the owner, Tommy Wright, and James Ray Smith, tearing down the cupola structure that had been close to falling off.


Needless to say, the loss of the historic old building literally makes me sick. 😢

Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Ancient People of Crittenden County.


Most of us that have lived in Crittenden County and love the history of our early days, have heard about the Indian tribe and their burial ground that was located at Tolu, Kentucky. Even today people still find evidence of their sites by finding arrow heads, bits of pottery, or other pieces of their culture in the fields around the Tolu area. The following article was written by Marion Clement Van Pelt, March 27, 1931.



Grim white skeletons, rows of them, gleaming in the moonlight.

Suppose you had entered such a spectacle, on an evening stroll. First a walk through a meadow, fragrant with blossoming alfalfa; then a trudge up a sloping hillside; and there before my eyes lay row upon row of these stark reminders of a people long gone. They seem to gaze at me knowingly, as the moonlight did weird tricks with the empty sockets, from which once looked out eyes of a fearless people. Were they wondering, as they lay there, what manner of man had come to view them, these people who once roamed our country, members indeed of our first families.

For this was all that was left of the lordly band of Indians, who hundreds of years ago, roamed the hillsides of Crittenden County, now happily winging an arrow into the plentiful game of the times; now engaging in a scene of grim cruelty; now defending their domain from an invading tribe. Yes, all these stories, and many more besides, lay revealed before us, as we stood, in almost complete silence, beside the burial places of these people of an ancient day.

These skeletons, some 700 or 800 hundred years old, lying in special array in the moonlight of a Kentucky summer's evening, were my introduction to our states ancient history, as it is read by archaeologists of the day. Even the novice could feel the romance of it all, and begin to weave tales, many of them no doubt true, from these relics of a pre-historic race.


There is scarcely a farm boy in western Kentucky, who has not picked up in the fields from time to time, a flint arrow head, or a bit of broken pottery, and perhaps many have paused a moment at the thoughts, thus carelessly aroused, by these reminders of the red-skinned men and women who once made Kentucky their home. However, there are doubtless but few persons who have realized that in the fields they have tilled each spring, or in the hillsides they have trudged over each autumn, lie hidden sources of material, invaluable to that real writer of their state's ancient history, the archaeologists.

Thus it was last summer, on the farm of W. E. Dowell, near Tolu, that a chapter in this fascination record of the past was unraveled. Under the direction of Dr. William D. Funkhouser of the Department of Anthropology of the University of Kentucky, a series of excavations was conducted which resulted in the disclosures of much important data.

Dr. Funkhouser's party uncovered a ceremonial mound, and nearby the burial ground of the culture, or tribe of Indians known as Pre-Algonquins, who, six or eight hundred years ago lived their primitive lives in this section of the Mississippi Valley. The ceremonial mound, one of the largest yet unearthed in Kentucky and covering almost an acre of ground, was found just at the rear of the Tolu school building. One half of the mound was excavated by Dr. Funkhouser's group, and proved to be on the Council-House type, rectangular in shape. Four hundred post molds were uncovered, showing that the council house had been surrounded by a double row of heavy posts. Charred stumps of the posts were found in some of the molds. Between the posts, these ancient people had woven walls of twigs and branches, and had filled the spaces with wattle work, or coarse swamp grasses. Charred wattle work was found in a remarkable state of preservation.

The council-house faced the northeast, and thus protected from the prevailing winds of the region, all public rituals were held on its northeastern side, Dr. Funkhouser surmised; for, on that side was found the dome-shaped altar, where centuries ago, Crittenden County's people assembled for the ceremonies of their tribe. The altar was four and a half feet in diameter and four feet in height, and was plastered with hard-baked clay. There it stands, as it was when the women of that pre-historic tribe gathered before it, to hearken to the weird incantations of the tribal medicine men, their priests.

For within the ceremonial house proper, squaws were not permitted to pass. Not for them the privilege of watching the burning of sacrifices offered there. That no prying feminine eye limpse these scared rites, possibly accounts for the careful manner in which the wattle work filled each minute opening in the branch walls of the ceremonial mound.

The council house found by Dr. Funkhouser at Tolu had been destroyed by fire. This was in keeping with the custom attributed to many ancient people of burning their ceremonial quarters as a sign of grief or penance, or as a propitiatory offering to some god whom circumstances had led to believe was offended. Covered with a light layer of earth, the mound was found, much asit was left centuries ago, when it's pre-historic builders fired it.

A single skeleton was found by Dr. Funkhouser near the mound. This he identified as that of a young girl, of possibly 18 years of age; and by means of a very definite type of pottery taken from the grave, and belonging to the Gordon culture, a tribe from Tennessee, of a much later date than the pre-Algonquins whose mound it had been buried by. Dr. Funkhouser surmised that, while roving with her people through this section of the country, this maiden of centuries ago sickened and died, and her people, finding the soft made earth of the ceremonial mound, laid her in a shallow grave, with her face toward the rising sun. Leaving her to sleep undisturbed till the present time, her kinsmen returned to their native hunting grounds. Very significant artifacts, two bone needles, were found still clutched in the right hand of this Tennessee girl, indicating, Dr. Funkhouser said, that she was one of the master craftswomen of her tribe.

Near the ceremonial mound, much as the rural cemetery adjoins the rural church of today, is the burial ground of these ancient people. Taking advantage of a natural rise, the burial mound covers four acres and contains innumerable graves; only a small number being opened under the direction of Dr. Funkhouser, who located and described twenty graves during his month's stay in Tolu.

Two of the graves held a double burial, a male and a female, buried facing each other, with bodies touching. Another held the skeleton of an infant. Apparently tossed in without care, one on top of another to the depth of four bodies, seven skeletons lay in a common grave. This burial was probably the result of a massacre or a pestilence that had swept the tribe.

The mighty warrior of the tribe lay in another grave, a personage of importance, he; for his people had buried him with three flint knives, 18, 12, and 8 inches in length; a polished beaver tooth; two mortuary pots, and two pieces of mica, evidently carried here from North Carolina, for none has been found in a nearer locality. The skeletons were in a remarkable state of preservation, due to the natural drainage of the mound. Buried near the surface many had been crushed by the continual cultivation of the land.

The shallowness of the graves is explained by the facts that these primitive people had no implements with which to dig; and with only a stick or a sharp stone, it was possible to fashion only the simplest grave.

After a body was placed in the grave and covered over, the women of the tribe for days carried

earth in buffalo skins to add to the mound. In memory of their departed tribesmen, warriors and braves no doubt dropped a handful of soil or a rock or two on the newly made grave, and thus the burial mound was formed.

Like all ancient people, the pre-Algonquins honored their dead. Traces of this reverence is shown by the various articles taken from many of the graves in the Tolu mound. The article each individual would need in the Happy Hunting Ground was placed beside the body. To the chief was given his spears, to the women, a flint hoe. Pottery was buried with both men and women.

The Indians who once lived along the Ohio River were a sturdy race; of short stature. None measured over 5 ½ feet in height. They had, however, bad teeth, and it is interesting to note that in that long ago time pyorrhea was prevalent.

Several of the skeletons uncovered by Dr. Funkhouser's party were taken to the University of Kentucky museums. The State of Kentucky is rich in Archaeological material, and has furnished many of the most valued specimens now on display in the great European museums, as well as those in the United States.


It is tragic that practically all this valuable Tolu Indian history has been taken from Kentucky, and that having shared it generously to the world, there is not a museum in Kentucky designed to this history of the Ancient People of Tolu.