Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Around The Court House and County News from 1924


Here is some interesting and informative items from the year 1924 from the archives of The Crittenden Press, from columns titled “Around The Court House and County Court News.”

The Honorable Judge E. Jeffery Travis presiding.

  • Jan. 11, 1924 – The regular session of the Crittenden Fiscal Court convened January 1 and was in session Tuesday and Wednesday, County Judge Travis, County Attorney Edward Stone, and all the Magistrates being present.
  • L.H. Franklin qualified as magistrate in the Union district, to succeed Charles LaRue whose term of office has expired.
  • The price for plow and team on the public roads of the county was set at $2.00 a day.
  • The windows, doors, casings, etc., of all the office buildings in the court house are undergoing a coat of paint, which adds greatly to their appearance.
  • County Clerk, L. E. Guess has issued marriage licenses to Walter Cook and Mrs. Harpye Herrin; Ernest Conyer and Miss Myra Frances Mitchell; Rob Brown and Miss Effie Campbell and Roy Herron and Miss Vera Belle East.
  • The county levy for all purposes was set at 50 cents on the $ 100, divided as follows: Road fun 30 cents, salaries and miscellaneous, 13 cents, pauper fund 7 cents.
  • Squire S. F. Peek and Constable Vernon Patton, of Dycusburg brought to Marion Wednesday morning a moonshine still which they turned over to the authorities here. The still consisted of a large copper tank, and other machinery necessary to the manufacture of moonshine liquor, including a fourteen-burned oil heater. The still was estimated to be of capacity sufficient to turn out from 50 to 60 gallons of moonshine a day. The still was unloaded Monday from the Steamer Grace Devers on the streets of Dycusburg, the river being too high for the boat to land at the Dycusburg landing. The shipping tag indicated that the outfit was from the Nation Metal Works of Paducah and was addressed to Jim Ferguson, Bulls Pasture, Tenn. The Dycusburg officials report that no reason is known why it should have been put off at that place. The court will decide what to do with it.
  • Jan. 18, 1924 – There are lots of things that our good friend, Judge E. Jeff Travis, possibly might be criticized for and about but we at least must compliment him on the stand he has taken for law enforcement. There probably has never been a county judge in this county that was more conscientious in his efforts along this line.
  • The will of Mrs. Tressa Lamb was filed for probate. Her nephew, Press McConnell, is sole beneficiary under the will and was made administrator of the state.
  • January 25, 1924 – According to the records in the office of County Clerk L. E. Guess there have been issued during the past year, 87 marriage licenses, while the records in the office of Circuit Clerk J E. Sullenger show that 29 couples have filed suit for divorce. These figures show that exactly two thirds of the couples in Crittenden County who marry stick, while the other third seek for the annulment. Cupid has it by a two thirds majority.
  • Out of more than 1,200 dogs assessed in Crittenden County the owners of only 67 of them have obtained dog license for the ensuring year, according to a report of County Clerk L. E. Guess. The law, says Mr. Guess, places a penalty of 20 percent on license after January 1, and when license are not paid, the dogs are at the disposal of the sheriff.
  • Of more than 600 automobiles and trucks owned by citizens of this county only the owners of 87 have paid their 1924 licenses. Mr. Guess attributes the delay on the part of auto owners to the many machines now in disuse owing to the bad condition of the roads.
  • The County Clerk has issued a marriage license to Mr. Steve Curry and Mrs. Mary Smith.
  • March 1924 – The Marion-Princeton road which was graded and prepared for surfacing last year will in all probability, be surfaced this season. W. R. Campbell, of Madisonville, has the contract to surface the road from Marion city limits to Livingston Creek. E. Champion has the contract to haul and put the surface on one and one fourth miles. Frazer and Son will surface the first two miles out of Marion. Mr. Campbell will have his headquarters at Crayne and will surface two miles in each direction from that place.
  • Work has begun on Dam No. 50 on the Ohio River, just above Fords Ferry in this county. The work of clearing off the land on which to erect the camp buildings was begun lat week, and actual construction will begin as soon as materials can be secured, which will be in a few days. The dam is being built by the United States Government as are the three other dams located on the lower Ohio at Uniontown, Golconda, and Brookport. The purpose of the dams is to insure a nine foot boating state in the river at all season of the year. This work will give employment to hundreds of men and four of five year time will be required for its completion. Mr. R. B. Tinsley is the superintendent in charge at Fords Ferry.
  • City Council News for March 14, 1924 – H. K. Bell, water engineer, was present and presented his final plans for a water system for Marion.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Lee Cruce, 2nd Governor of Oklahoma, born in Crittenden County, KY


Lee Cruce, the second governor of the young 4-year old state of Oklahoma, was born and raised in Crittenden County, near the small town of Crayneville. He was born July 8, 1863, to James W. and Jane (Hill) Cruce.

His story is an amazing one, one of adventure and ambition.

From the archives of the Crittenden Press it tells of Lee's activities.

Lee's early years were spent on the farm. His education was obtained in the common schools, with one year at Marion Academy. Deciding to qualify himself for the practice of law, he attended the law school of Vanderbilt University, at Nashville, but remained there only one year.

His law studies were completed in the office of his brother, Andrew Cavit Cruce, in Marion. He was admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 1887, but never practice until he moved to Ardmore, Indian Territory, Oklahoma. Andrew C., his brother, had moved his law practice to Oklahoma and Lee joined the firm when he moved there.

In the years 1888-1889 Lee was a member of the firm of Cruce Bros., and was selling goods at their family store in Crayneville. Lee could measure off a couple of yards of bleached domestic, wrap it up and make the change with lightning rapidity.

He always said if he could make enough money he would go west, therefore he practiced close economy and attended strictly to business.

By a master stroke of good fortune Cruce Bros., of Crayneville sold out. Lee gathered his hard earning together and counted it. He had $38.49. In the year 1891, he boarded a train and went west to Ardmore, where his brother was already located.

After settling in his new home, Lee practiced law for ten years and then entered the financial world as the first cashier of the Ardmore National Bank, of which he would later serve as the bank's president. In 1901 Cruce was elected as a municipal legislative member in the local government of Ardmore.

When the movement towards statehood in late 1906, with Cruce's combined positions of power in the Bank and the local government, his local Democratic party submitted his name on the primary for the 1st Governor of the newly created state of Oklahoma.

Unfortunately, his powerful and popular opponent, Charles N. Haskell defeated Cruce for the nomination. The opinion of the paper was that the over-confidence of Cruce's friends might have cost him the nomination. The vote was very light in the Chickasaw nation and Carter County, the people of Ardmore just knew he would be elected, so they didn't turn out to vote.


Lee Cruce died on July 5, 1933 at his daughter's home in Los Angeles, California. He is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in his adopted state of Ardmore, Oklahoma.

His parents and other members of the Cruce family are buried in their little Cruce family cemetery just a short distant from their home near Crayne.  It is completely overgrown with brambles and small trees. Once it was cared for but has been in this shape now for many years.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Alexander Tanning Yard




William Patton Alexander moved from Dawson Spring, Ky. About 1844 and brought farm land from Jacob Crider, located east of the Piney Fork cemetery. William Patton married Polly Moore and they had one child. After her death he married Lucinda O'Neal, they had eight children.


William Patton operated a Tanyard on his farm, located on the east side of the Alexander Creek near the spring that runs from the Cave. The pits were on flat land south of the spring, probably six pits were used. They were about four to five feet deep and shaped like a grave.  (These were filled in later)


In the spring of the year when the sap was up, they would strip bark off of black oaks, white oaks and red oaks and haul it to the pits. The bark could be used dried or green but had to be hacked into tiny pieces or beat with a hammer before being placed in the pits. Water from the near by spring was added to make an ooze. The hides were then added to this ooze and allowed to soak until tanned into desired color.


The Tanning yard located on the Alexander farm was used by people in a wide area around the Piney Fork community. Most people would bring their hides to the tanyard in the spring to have the hides tanned during the summer, they would then use hides for shoes and other articles.


Cowhide was used for harnesses, horse gear, sack strings, lines, bridles, shoe strings and shoes. This was the best hide to turn water. The thick part of the hide was used for soles and the think for vamps.


A Mr. Wilson from Fredonia would come to the Piney Fork community in the fall and stay with each family and make shoes for each member of the family out of the hides.  He would have different sizes lasts with him to get the proper fit. Pins for the Pin Oak Tree were used for shoe pegs before tacks were used.

Other hides such as groundhog, wildcat, squirrel, deer, raccoon and horsehide were used for various items. Sheep skin was usually tanned with hair on and used for rugs, saddle blankets and saddle cushions. 

(Sidesaddle leather made from the Alexander Tanning Yard.  Located in the Crittenden County Historical Museum)


The Black Oak would make the leather dark and it was used on heavy hides. These were used for making saddles bags, men's shoes, harnesses, etc. The White Oak made a lighter color leather and was used for women's shoes. When the leather was tanned it was picked up or some people would bring their hides and thrade them for tanned leather, making only one trip. An example of the quality of leather is a side saddle given to Flora Alexander by her father, James Calhoun, in 1901. It is now in the Bob Wheeler Museum.


Information indicates the Tanyard was closed at the death of William Patton Alexander in 1916. In 1930 Orlin Woodside operted a sawmill near the pits and they were filled in with sawdust for safety.


By: Sarah Alexander Ford from information shared with her by her Aunt Flora Alexander Guess, her mother Annabel Alexander and Braxton McDonald.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Cookseville - Sulpher Spring Baptist Church


Sulphur Spring also once called Cooksyville Baptist Church

This church is located off of Hwy. 70 about one mile on the Mexico Road. The church was organized in 1851. The first building was made of logs and was located in the woods behind the present building, close to a sulphur spring. They were a member of the Little River Association until 1883. In 1883, a committee was appointed and they met with Union Church to consider forming another association of churches of Crittenden and Livingston Counties.

The church requested a letter of dismissal so they could form another. The Ohio River Association was formed and had its first meeting in 1884.

In 1889 the log structure was torn down and a new building was completed that year. During the period of building, they met at Cooksyville School and some people called the church "Old Cooksyville." The congregation also met at the school when the church burned in 1908. A Sunday School was organized in 1890.

The present building was a colored church at Fredonia, and was torn down, moved by wagon and reassembled at Sulphur Springs. Some of the window glass is still original and has bubbles in it. In recent years a handicapped ramp has been added to the front entrance.


 The church has experienced some great revivals, with many additions to the church.

(Some of this information is from the Crittenden County History Book, Vol. II, published 1999.)