Friday, December 30, 2022

Old Times In Crittenden County Remembered by James P. Loyd



 James Preston Loyd, was born Aug. 23, 1873 and died Dec. 8, 1953 and is buried in the Crayne Cemetery.  Mr. Loyd was a retired farmer, and an elder in the Crayne Cumberland Presbyterian Church, of which he was one of the charter members.

This article first appeared in The Crittenden Press on February 1, 1906. Mr. J. P. Loyd shares some of his memories and knowledge of the time with the readers of the Press. These old articles help us to know what was going on in our county and town many years ago.


Crittenden Press, February 1, 1906. Editor Press: As I sit thinking over past incidents, and quite a few are yet fresh in my memory, I will share with your readers some happenings in the year 1886.

I was teaching school at the time at old Cookseyville in this county, and in those days we would send in a monthly report of our schools, which Mr. Walker, being scarce of news, I suppose would publish most any article in writing sent him.

Here are some items that may be interesting to many of your readers. First I will give the names and business of some of our people who advertised in the Press in those days.


Businesses of the day

Crayne & Henry, dealers in tombstones, A. E. Clark, transferring and handling drummers.

Dr. T. H. Cossitt and J. H. Hillyard were selling drugs, Pierce & Son was in the business of selling hardware, Woods & Walker and G. C. Gray, selling dry goods, also Sam Gugenheim was selling a bankrupt stock of goods sent here by his brother for Sam to dispose of.

K. B. and R. F. Dorr and Jesse Olive were selling furniture. P. R. Finley selling groceries.

W. M. Morgan shaving his friends, R. L. Tinsley laying brick and Misses Orr & Steward were trimming the ladies hats.


Political Men I will next notice the name of the boys who were burning the county with political fire. The following were candidates:

Circuit Judge, M. C. Givens and Ben P. Cissell; Commonwealth Attorney, J. H. Powell; County Judge, Lemuel H. James, John A. Moore and John B. Kevil; County Attorney John G. Rochester and W. C. Monroe Travis; County Clerk Will Hill and Dave Woods; Circuit Clerk Harry A. Haynes and Henry A. Hodge; Sheriff Albert J. Pickens and Wm. F. Summerville; Assessor Thomas J. Yandell; School Superintendent E. E. Thurman and Geo. W. Perry; Jailer Sid Lucas, M. L. Hayes, and Al Wilborn; Surveyor George H. Crider and Wm. K. Minner; Coroner Jas. F. Flanary; Constable, Marion Prescient John Grissom.


Now while on this line of thought and in order to make it more interesting to the elder people I will give something of the men and incidents of the early history of Crittenden County.

The first circuit court of Crittenden was held at the house of Samuel Ashley, on the 28th day of May 1842. Judge Wiley P. Fowler preceding. The court appointed Harvey P. Bigham clerk of the court.


There were five lawyers present at the term. They were George W. Barter, Francis H. Dallam, Patterson C. Lander, Robert H. Marr and Sumner Marble.


There was only one civil suit on the docket and that was a chancery case. Only three indictments were found during the term, and strange as it may seem, there was a woman in two of the cases. The whole proceedings of the term, organizing the term, impaneling the juries, appointing officers, recording oaths and bonds, all only occupied a little over three pages of space in the order book.

The office of clerk, which is so desirable now, would not have furnished much roast beef and patent plows at that time.


First Grand Jury

The first grand jury impaneled in the county was as follows: Alexander Dean, Edward Ashley, William Ashley, Matthew Parmley, Martin Hammond, William Hoggard, John M. Wilson, Isaac Loyd, Jacob Gill, George Melton, John F. Wilson, Uriah Witherspoon, Andrew J. Hill, Thomas Akers, and Andrew J. Hill, and Angus McAlister. The last surveyor, Andrew J. Hill, died a few months ago.

But the descendants for the list of honored patriots constitutes a large and respectable portion of the present population of the county who can refer back, with pride to their origin. 


The next circuit term was held at the brick church near Marion, for the reason it being impracticable on account of the inclemency of the weather, to hold a court at the house of Samuel Ashley the place designated by law. (The brick church in this statement was located on the corner of the Old Marion Cemetery near were Hwy. 60/Gum St. and Moore St. meet today.)

This court was begun on the 28th day of November, 1842. The following lawyers were sworn as member of the bar; David W. McGoodwin, Willis G. Hughes, Robert A. Patterson, Livingston Lindsey, W. H. Calvert, Hiram McElroy and John W. Headley. Most of these men became 


John H. Bruff was the first jailer and he received for his services in attending on court, such as making fires, and other duties assigned by the court, for a whole term of circuit court a sum of ten dollars. The first court house our county had was not occupied until October 1843.


Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Hodge Mines.

 This Article and Picture was written in 1902.  Some Interesting Facts About the Great Wealth Producer.

I presume there is no question as to the Hodge being the most extensive bed of this mineral in the county.  With a breast of some seventeen feet average and of unknown extent, it is hard to estimate the amount of the deposit, and it seems the irony of fate that the man who first discovered this mine of wealth sold it for a mere mess of pottage, as it were.  

I noticed several large "dumps" near the main shaft, and was told it was rich gravel spar.  There were hundreds of tons of it and it had all been discarded by he old company as worthless "tailings."

When Supt. Watkins assumed charge of the works, however, he immediately saw the value of this discarded stone which had now become a chief of the corner as it were.

A number of men are now engaged in sorting it and running it through the log washer, from whence it comes forth clean, first grade spar.

Most of the work at the Hodge is being done by contract, my old friend King being one of the principal contractors.  He has just completed a new shaft some fifty yards west of the main entry.

I noticed a large pile of very fine, white spar, lying to itself and on inquiry I was informed that this was waiting to be "jigged."  On examination I discovered the entire mass to be heavily veined with rich galens,(lead ore) running all the way in percent from ten up to ninety.

I was told that this galena bearing spar is about twelve inches in width and runs through the entire vein.  When jigged this galena will be clear gain to the company, while the value of the spar itself will be greatly increased as grinding spar.

The mine is now putting out about fifty ton daily, but the output is to be greatly increased at once, and a larger force of hands and teams put to work.

Great is the Kentucky Fluor Spar Company and the Hodge mine is its "profit."

The mine was located in the Frances community a few miles north on S. R. 855.

Monday, December 5, 2022

J. N. Boston & Sons Mill Work - 1922

 Common Sense Business Review, appeared in The Crittenden Press, Dec. 1922

J. N. Boston & Sons

Located in Marion is a modern and up to date building material company that has aided greatly in the development of Crittenden County. Their buying power enables this concern to go into the largest markets and secure large quantities, which are offered at reasonable prices. Their millwork is un-excelled and their business is built upon years of good service.


By reason of their improved and modern facilities and the large number of employees, which they maintain, they are able to execute all classes of work and to furnish unexcelled service with promptness and dispatch.


By reason of the tremendous buying power this local concern is able to enter the worlds largest markets and secure vast quantities at prices so low that they offer the public astounding values in lumber and building supplies of every description. The tremendous power of such large buying cannot be too emphatically stated. It gives this local concern a prestige and an advantage, which accrues to the benefit of all its customers.


Shingles, doors, casings, sidings, roofing and a few of the builders materials included in the stock of this large concern, suffice to say that they have absolutely everything that there is in the lumber and building material line and that their mill work is of a class unsurpassed by any of the kind in the country. 


Throughout this part of the country it has come to be known as headquarters for all of these many things and by fair and honest dealings with the public, the company has not only increased its patronage but also held the trade of old customers for years.


Mr. John Noble Boston and his two sons are thoroughly conversant with every feature of the business and the large establishment, which they manage. These popular men have won the everlasting friendship and patronage of hundreds of customers.


Able and efficient, but at the same time genial and accommodating they have become the prominent men in their line in this section and deserve the success that they have achieved and the commendation that is being given them by the public.


The industrial end of this concern has had an unusual growth. It has handled the contracts of practically all the buildings for the West Kentucky Coal Co., the Morganfield National Bank and practically every big building and residence in that city. It is evident that complete satisfaction has been rendered by this branch.



J. N. Boston is one of the leading members of the Methodist Church and serves on the Board of Stewards. He has been a member of the board for many years. During the years he has been connected with the church here, he not only has been more than ordinarily liberal with the church in a financial way, but has given freely of his time in his efforts to help the church maintain its place in the community. Not only is he interested in the church, but in other worth while things in the community life of Marion.

Maurie N. Boston is also prominent in the activities of the town. One of the most noteworthy things he has done was the part he took in bringing water works to Marion during his administration as mayor. Not only in working for a water system but in other things for the best interests of his town has he been very active.

Ted Boston is one of the leaders in the organizations of which he is a member, especially in the Epworth League of the Methodist Church. He is a member of the community orchestra and at the church of which he is a member.

John Noble Boston died Oct 1939, at age 77. Son Maurie N. died in 1968 and son Ted died Nov. 17, 1990. All are buried in Mapleview Cemetery.

The Boston family left a legacy for generations to come by the outstanding buildings that they constructed that are still a vital part of our community today.


Monday, November 28, 2022

Marion In The Year 1913

 In the year 1913, Marion was small town but it was growing with several new business opportunities. The town was built back up and progressing nicely after the 1905 fire that wiped out all of the business district.


Jan. 5, 1913 - A Clean Town

There is no town of the size of Marion in the State that is kept cleaner and more sanitary than our town. Our streets and yards are far above the average.

Most of our citizens are doing their best to make their homes comfortable and beautiful. Quite a number of our houses have been painted and the out buildings whitewashed. Yet there are a few that have neglected some things that go to make us perfect.

Our streets have been cleaned and oiled but recently and already on many of them is to be seen paper and rubbish of all kinds.

Our post office is supplied with a receptacle for waste paper and yet some have persisted in throwing it in the gutter to be blown over town. Let us have more of these receptacles for banana peals, that great fly producer, and other things that are not sanitary.

This coming Friday will be “clean up day.” Our best citizens are behind this and they are anxious that there will be no building left without a coat of paint or whitewash. Lime will be furnished to any one who is not able to buy it and wagons will cart away all rubbish that may have accumulated around your house. Have this rubbish in a pile on the side of the street or alley so that no time may be lost in getting to it.

If there is anything that should be burned place it where there is no danger of setting anything else on fire and burn it. Let us have a clean town.


Here are some of the businesses that was contributing to Marion's progress and also profiting from the growing town.

The tobacco business was a contributing factor to this busy time in Marion's history. In March 1913, the Press tells us that about one hundred wagon loads of tobacco were received at the three houses which opened for business. At the A. B. Jarvis, Stemming District Association factory, B. L. Wilborn and T. J. Woody were busy looking after the tobacco deliveries there; at the Farmer's Union factory, A. J. McMullen was on hand to receive and D. N. Kemp to grade. At the Independent warehouse where S. T. Dupuy holds forth, everything was running as smooth as a river and an immense lot of tobacco was received, more than at both of the other factories put together.

During the month the deliveries of tobacco here in Marion have been quite heavy. Thirty, forty or fifty loads come into town every day. The greater part of the tobacco goes to the Stemming District Tobacco Association at the Jarvis factory. While the prices have not in all cases been as high as had been hoped for, the farmers as a rule seem well pleased with the situation.


The mineral outputs of the county were on the rise and contributed greatly to the progress Marion was making. The mining and shipping of fluorspar, zinc, ores of both carbonate and sulphides, lead ores and barytes have, during this year, perceptibly increased in tonnage as well as values. From the Crittenden Springs property a great body of zinc and lead ore are found. The size of the crystals of zinc and the cubes of lead are greater than the ordinary ores of the district. They carry a matrix of white calc spar and with our ordinary limestone, produce an ideal concentrating and cleaning proposition. The Commodore mine is also producing large quantities of ore and zinc.

Seven hundred and fifty tons of zinc ores have been shipped during the month from this point valued at $20,000. Lead values were considerably less, amounting to $1,200. The value of fluorspar shipments as compared with other seasons will aggregate really more on account of it superior quality, much of it going into hydrofluoric acid production and for enameling use. Shipments of fluorspar during the month, from this district aggregate 1,150 tons, of a value of $10,350.


In March of 1913. Boston's new lumber emporium is nearing completion and is an immense establishment worth a visit from any citizen of the community who is interested in the growth and development of our various enterprises.

Few, if any of the enterprises in Marion, since the city was laid out almost three fourths of a century ago, have succeeded better and are on any more firm foundation than the Boston Mills and Lumber plant.

The growth of Marion and contiguous farming territory added to the great amount of material used for mining shafts and other buildings of all characters around these mines have lent valuable help to the splendid business sagacity and acumen of Mr. J. N. Boston the owner of this fine property. He has also had valuable help in the conduct of his office from his two sons, Messrs Maurie and Ted Boston.

Altogether its a strong team, and the equipment in the way of machinery and buildings is unsurpassed in this section of the state. Their new ware-rooms and offices near the I. C. Depot are not only immense but are stored with everything that goes into a house. Their machine shop and engine rooms and planing mills are now being reconstructed and enlarged and at the same time not put out of commission.

They handle lime, cement, nails and all kinds of builders hardware and have recently installed a self measuring apparatus for gasoline where motor can be filled and the gasoline measured and strained at the same time. This is a new invention and a patent will worth going a long distance to see.

In fact few people in Marion know to what extent this business has grown and would be surprised to take a trip through all its departments and see its immensity.


New Enterprise Launched - Eskew Brothers Open Branch Establishment

No one who knows the Eskew Bros., will be surprised to learn that they have bought the Stembridge wagon works and machine shops on Bellville street recently operated by A. J. Stembridge, who relinquished it only because of a lack of capital to operate it successfully.

The Eskew Bros., who are noted for their thrift, industry and enterprise will put the new branch under the charge of L. J. Randolph as foreman and Myron Frisbie as Master Mechanic, steel workman wagon builder and carriage maker. This certainly insures the patrons of this shop with work of the highest class and they can depend on finding here also a horse-shoer of national reputation.

The wagon manufacturing will be pushed. Their is room for it here. Marion above all things needs factories. Give Eskew Bros., the home support they deserve and they will surprise you in a short time with their new wagon work and machine shop.


These are some of the happenings in Marion in the year 1913. One hundred and two years ago.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Weston and Bells Mines in Military Action During the Civil War



 The largest military action in the county took place at Weston on June 21, 1864.  The steamboat Mercury, carrying the entire 7th Ohio Infantry was fired on by Confederates as it passed the north end of town, the attackers firing from behind a bluff and buildings on or near it.  The attackers apparently didn't realize the strength of the union on the board and were readily driven off by the firing of whole volleys from the boat.  There were casualties on both sides.  The boat's captain refused to land to allow the infantry to burn the town, citing orders to not land on the Kentucky shore.

Another dated incident that took place at Weston was on Sept. 4, 1864, when 14 Confederate prisoners who were being transported under guard on board the steamboat Colossus, overpowered the guards, killing several of them and forced the boat to the Kentucky shore at Weston from which point they escaped. 


The seconded documented military action in the county occurred at Bell's Mines about 3 miles east of Weston.  Lt. Thomas W. Metcalfe with 46 men of Company C, 56th Kentucky Mounted Infantry departed Cloverport, Ky., on July 5, traveling through the Green River country.  They were attacked at Bell's Mines on July 13, 1864 by a reported 300 "guerrillas" and the force was reported captured by the Evansville Daily Journal of July 19, 1864.  The company record gave its loss as 1 killed, 11 captured and 22 horses and rigging taken. 


There are a few Civil War markers at Bells Mines Cemetery.  There may have been more but are now lost to time.

John W. Jarrell, He was a member of Co. E, 48th Illinois Infantry, Union.  The Databases of Illinois Veterans, says he was 5'6, hair, light, Eyes, Blue, Complexion Light.  His occupation was a farmer, birth about 1838 Crittenden Co, KY.  

When he was discharged from the war he came back to Crittenden County and lived in the Bells Mines community and worked in a grocery store.  He married Sarah Mandeia Gray and had 4 children.  When he died about 1880, Sarah remarried and her and the children moved away from Crittenden County.

William R. Stites, from Arkansas.  Enlisted in the Iowa 3rd Light Artillery Battery on Sept. 26, 1863, and served with the state of Iowa. 

How he got to Bells Mines is a mystery and have nothing on his family or his life.  

According to his information provided for his military stone, it does say he died on March 2, 1879 but no information who ordered the stone.

On the 1870 Bells Mines Census he was working in the coal mines.


 George W. Tudor, born in 1846 to William H. and Sarah Catherine Miller Tudor.

Enlisted at Henderson, Kentucky, as Corporal and  Served with the Union, Company C, Kentucky North Cumberland Infantry Battalion.

Mustered out on Aug. 28, 1865 at Henderson.

He was back home and living at Bells Mines in the 1870 Census and was working in the Bells Coal Mine.

His death date on his military headstone request is Aug. 3, 1873. His papers for request of his military headstone doesn't say who it was requested by.  

J. P.  Gore (John P. Gore).

Enlisted in Company K, Kentucky 17th Cavalry Regiment on Aug. 16, 1864 at Owensboro, KY.

Lived in Union County.  No family information other than his Union County Death information said he died Dec. 28, 1875 of pneumonia.  His occupation was listed as a miner.

He must have worked in the Bells Coal Mines.

Elias Cissell.

Company D, 120th Regt. Illinois Infantry.

Family lived in Union County, KY

Monday, October 31, 2022

Crittenden County High School, Shamrock, And Rockets


The Crittenden County High School was built in 1949 and the first school year for this building was 1950-51.

For a couple of years, the new high school was just known as Crittenden County High, and they had to choose their own colors and a new name for their annual. The students chose for their New Colors - Green and White and the Shamrock would be their emblem. This is their first annual after become Crittenden County High.

In the school year 1954, the students created a school Newspaper and it was named "The Rocket." The name was a big success and that same year the Crittenden County emblem of the Rockets was born for their new Mascot, and they were then known as the Rockets,  although their yearly Annual still remained as the Shamrock until a few years later.  
                    Here is where the "Rocket" name was born.


In 1956, the enrollment at the Marion high school had dropped to only 138 students. The state department recommended the two high schools consolidating to form one High School. The County and City boards met in joint session to take the legal steps necessary to merge the two schools. 

After many meetings and much discussion, the two high schools did merge, and in the fall of 1957, Since the Crittenden Co. High School building was the newest and more modern building the city district students were merged into this building. (First year for the consolidated students was 1958.)


Much debating and arguing went on between the students of the two schools; with the rivalry that had been so intense during the years, both schools wanted to keep their school colors and their name. Marion wanted to continue being the Blue Terrors and have their colors of Blue and White and Crittenden wanted their Rocket and colors of Green and White.

They finally compromised with the County name of Rockets, and the City colors of Marion, which were blue and white. Their annual that year became the Rockette. 


The Rocket in front of the school was placed there in April of 1971. 


The Crittenden County High School INTERACT Club (sponsored by the Rotary Club of Marion) gave students ages 12-18 the chance to make a real difference while having fun. Every INTERACT club carried out two service projects a year: The students chose one that would help install their school spirit. They though a real rocket at their school would be a great project as everyone was proud of their Rocket name. The project started with each member having to write letters to the Air Force to request the “surplus” rocket and telling their reason why. Their letters must have been very persuasive for they got their rocket - with the condition that if it was ever needed again it would be returned to the Air Force.

This Rocket was a symbol of pride for the school and students. 

(This information is from a program I have given several times to the 8th Grade Middle School students, it's called "A History of our Schools.")

Monday, October 17, 2022

Night Riders of Crittenden County


 A lawless element that roamed our county during the early 1900's was the Night Riders.  Operating at their peak in 1906 and 1907, the Night Riders burned tobacco barns and factories, beat the owner if he could be found, and often rode off into the night singing "The Fire Shines Bright in My Old Kentucky Home," to the tune of "My Old Kentucky Home."

The riders were not part of the Klu Klux Klan, but operated in a similar fashion.  Their biggest enemy was the American Tobacco Company.


The Night Riders also took other matters into their own hands and did some punishment of their own to some folks they thought weren't living right. 

One night the Night Riders, consisting of fifty-two local men, went to J. Sliger's looking for his two sons.  The boys, it seems, had been stealing chickens and jelly.

When the Night Riders arrived the mother of the boys stuck the stolen jelly into a churn of buttermilk.  

Only one boy was there and he crawled up the chimney to hide.  While the night Riders thoroughly searched the house, the boy stood on the cross-piece of the chimney, happily escaping the punishment.


A family man was known to be very lazy and his wife had to make all the living.  The Night Riders decided to change this so they when to his house and found him, and whipped him so hard that he began working and almost worked himself to death.


There was a young girl, who had too many men on the string and was simply living the wrong kind of life, and was in dire need of chastisement.  Finding her one night, the Night Riders gave her a good sound whipping.  

From then on she "straightened up and flew right."


Always fun and interesting to read are these colorful stories from long ago. These are from an unknown writer, written many years ago, but thoughtfully saved for us to read today.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Wallace Ferry aka E-town Ferry Road


The E-town ferry road and landing have a long history attached to it.  The ferry's beginning actually began in the early 1830's and it was known for many years as the Wallace Ferry and Wallace Ferry Road. 

William Wallace, one of the Wallace family that came to the Tolu area in the 1830's and built the plantation homes of Ridgeway, Westwood, and William's home of Richland. 


                 Today the area where Richland stood is farm land.  

William's home was built on the northwest corner of the intersection of now Hwy. 135 and the E-town ferry landing Road.  William also owned and ran a country store.   Having the Ohio River on his property and not too far a distance from his home and farm, he hired a man to purchase and bring a ferry boat from Louisville to his location ab 1834.   At the time the river was the only means of transporting supplies and goods to the North and South and also being able to receive goods.  At this time the Wallace Ferry was established.

 William Wallace sold his home and land to George Croft and I don't know any history of the area for many years.   This house and land was later owned by J. T. May.  In the late 1990's J. T. sold the Richland house to a couple from Texas, they took the house down log by log and moved it to Texas where they rebuilt it and made it into a bed and breakfast, but it's original look was changed when it was rebuilt.


In the 1930's Charles L. Brazell owned and ran a good ferry business between the Kentucky side landing across the river to Elizabethtown (E'town, Ill).  Mr. Brazell knew the people on the KY side needed a way to get to the spar mines in Southern Ill., many went this route to get married, and still some used the ferry regularly to purchase liquor from E'town.

He hung a bell on the Kentucky side of the river, and when the ferry was needed, if he was on the Illinois side, they would ring the bell and Mr. Brazell would come across and pick the people up, or perhaps bring them some alcoholic beverages, for which this was a well used place for this purpose.  I believe this is the time period that the ferry became known as the E-town ferry.


After Mr. Brazell owned the ferry, Mr. Russell Hardesty owned and ran the ferry from 1944 until April 1964.  Mr. Hardesty announced that his ferry service between Crittenden County and Elizabethown, Ill., would be closed. Mr. Hardesty said that he had sold both the tow boat and the barge.  Business had fallen off since the fluorspar mining had declined in Illinois and truck traffic was subsequently less. 


In 1987 a new modern boat ramp was being built at the old ferry landing.  The ramp and new parking lot for boats and trailers was completed sometime later after Nov. 1987.

The E-town Ferry landing as it looks today, Oct. 2022.

View of Elizabethtown or E'town, Ill. from the Kentucky E'town Ferry Landing site .

The very historic old Wallace Ferry Road, today known at E'town Landing Rd.  Notice the high banks on each side where the old road bed had worn down the land being used for nearly 200  years.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Ruby Laffoon Trail through Crittenden County

 The history of roads through Crittenden County can be very interesting.  I don't remember ever seeing this stretch of road from Dycusburg to Shady Grove being named the Ruby Lafoon Trail on any old Crittenden maps, so I don't know when the name was dropped and just the State Highway numbers were used.  Maybe when the later updated road maps were redone.

 Crittenden Press, March 25, 1932. 

Senator Marion F. Pogue (from Frances, KY), introduced the following bill to the last General Assembly.

"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:  That the road leading from Smithland, Livingston County, KY, via, Tiline, Dybusburg Ferry on Cumberland River; Thence via Frances, and Mexico over State Project No. 70, to State Highway No. 91, at Cliffie McClure's; thence over Highway 91, to Marion; thence over State Project No. 120, to Shady Grove, thence across Tradewater River to Providence, Webster County, connecting with Federal Highway No. 41; thence with Federal Highway to Madisonville, Hopkins County, Kentucky."

The road to be known hereafter, as the Ruby Laffoon Trail, has the support of the Governor and he has urged the completion as soon as possible.  

Governor Ruby Laffoon has signed the bill establishing a road project running from Smithland, thru Marion and Princeton to Madisonville, to be known as the "Ruby Laffoon Trail."

This will cover the route traveled by Governor Laffoon while he was Circuit Judge of this district.

Here is Gov. Laffoon's Historical Highway Marker located in Madisonville, KY.

Gov. Ruby Laffoon Marker image. Click for full size.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Cemetery Stories

I love our old cemeteries.  They all have so many stories to tell and so much of our past history lies buried with these people.   Let's visit the beautiful hillside cemetery of Dycusburg and meet some of their long ago businessmen  that are buried here. 

James H. Clifton, postmaster and notary public, was born in Montgomery, Tenn., April 4, 1835 to Miles W. and Mary J. Walker Clifton.   His career was a long, successful and honorable one.
  He learned the blacksmith trade and followed it for 18 years at Dycusburg.  It was while working at the forge that he formed a large acquaintance and established a reputation for business integrity.
 When he began merchandising at Dycusburg, his business grew as the years went by, and he was one of the leading business houses in the county.  He handled dry goods, groceries, notions, clothing, hardware, and in fact "Everything" except whiskey and coffins.
 Mr. Clifton's fair dealing, his honesty, and his enterprising spirit as a merchant made him an important figure in the community.
Samuel H. Cassidy, was born to Howard and Mary Cassidy August 30, 1835 in Princeton, Ky.      At the age of twenty-one years Samuel began engineering on steamboats plying the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers.  This he followed until 1861, when he partnership with his brother-in-law, W. E. Dycus, and they began merchandising at Dycusburg.  They dealt extensively in tobacco for export and had two large stemmeries in Kuttawa, and four at Dycusburg.  
  Politically Mr. Cassidy was a Democrat, had been deputy county clerk for about 20 years, and for many years treasurer, and one of the town trustees of Dycusburg.  He was instrumental in introducing the telephone line over  this section  of the county. 
    Mr. Cassidy is a typical example of what untiring energy, backed by good common sense will accomplish.  All in all, Dycusburg owes much to Mr. Cassidy

William Micelberry Hill, located in Dycusburg in 1855 to take a position with Cobb, Gellatly & Co., one of the largest business houses in Dycusburg.  He remained with the firm for 15 years. 

He served the town as police judge several years, making a good reputation as a fair and impartial officers.  

  He later owned and ran is own hardware and grocery business.  He carried a select stock of good, keeps the store in splendid shape.  His affable disposition, good humor, and social qualities make him a popular man, and then in a business way he is honorable and trustworthy.


James M. Graves, M. D., was born in Jefferson County, Ky., November 20, 1848.  He was the son of Dr. John M. and L. A. Graves.

At the age of 25 years James began the study of medicine with Dr. W. S. Graves, at Dycusburg.  He graduated at the Medical University of Louisville, in 1877, and has since had a very successful practice at Dycusburg.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Mineral Springs of the Past


Crittenden County was once honeycombed with mineral springs.  The Crittenden Springs and the Crittenden Springs Hotel was by far the most well-known and the most history has been written about this spring.  

Another mineral spring located not too far from the Crittenden Springs Hotel was the "Alum Spring."  From an old Crittenden Press article dated August 13, 1896,  the newsy item tells us that several of our young society ladies concluded to have a quiet picnic one day last week.

Procuring the necessary vehicle and loading it with all kinds of goodies, including their saucy and fascinating selves, they hasten themselves to the cool and umbrageous shades of Alum Springs.

Those composing the party were: Misses Nar Nunn, Fannie Cooper, Cal Cossett, Mary Dorr, Dixie Givens, Laura Miles, and Mrs. Fannie Cook as chaperone.

The only history we have of this Spring is this post card with the name on it and the little news article about the picnic.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Cargo Carrier Named the USS Fluor Spar



The USS FLUOR SPAR - Hog Island, Pa. June 7, 1919

Marion and Crittenden County, Kentucky received high honors at Hog Island, Pa., the world's largest shipyard, this morning, when the Fluor Spar, a 7,8000 ton cargo carrier, was successfully launched. The vessel was christened by Miss Frances Marshall Gray, of Marion. The vessel was named and the sponsor chosen by the Crittenden County Loan Committee as a reward for the excellent work done by citizens of Crittenden County Liberty Loan drives.


The launching of the Fluor Spar made a total of twenty-one ships launched at Hog Island since February 21 last. The vessel was launched with her hull one hundred per cent complete and her outfittings in excess of sixty-five percent.


The vessel was named and the sponsor chosen by the Crittenden County Kentucky Liberty Loan Committee. Crittenden County received the honor for the excellent response of its citizens to the call of the Government for subscriptions to the Liberty Loans.


Marion, the home of the sponsor was the home of the late United States Senator Ollie James. Mrs. James was to have attended the launching but was delayed in Washington.


Fluor Spar the name chosen for the vessel by the Liberty Loan Committee, is a mineral mined in the vicinity of Marion and is used in the manufacture of high grade steel. It was an appropriate name for a steel cargo carrier, as it is used by the steel mills in the manufacture of the plated used in the construction of ships. 


The sponsor was accompanied by her brother, E. D. Gray also of Marion. Frances and E. D. Gray were the son and daughter of George Curtis Gray and Mildred Jenkins Gray of Marion. 


Frances and her parents are buried at Mapleview Cemetery.

(Hog Islanders is the slang for ships built to Emergency Fleet Corporation designs number 1022 and 1024. These vessels were cargo and transport ships, respectively, built under government direct and subsidy to address a shortage of ships in the Untied States Merchant Marine during World War I.)

Monday, August 29, 2022

Interesting Facts About Some Early County Post Offices


Through the years interesting facts about the early post offices have been published. I find these interesting and informative to read. Here are some of these interesting tidbits.

* Lambs, Lambsville or Willow Grove was a small pioneer town located on the Flynn’s Ferry road in the 1830s, and was started by Joel Lamb, who first built a blacksmith shop and a tanyard. It was located near the Fishtrap Road and Wilson Farm Road.

* January 17, 1895 – A new post office will shortly be established at J. H. Robinson’s on the Marion and Fords Ferry route. The name of the office is “Mounds,” and J. H. Robinson will be the official to stand upon it.

* Jan. 17, 1895 - Mounds Post Office was housed in a country store building. The store was the property of Mr. Harloe Robinson. Both the store and the office were operated by Mr. Robinson.

* August 17, 1899 – A new post office has been established in Rodney. It is at James Hickland’s and Mr. Hickland is the postmaster. The office is supplied Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays from Weston.

* Mar. 29, 1900 – Starr is a new post office, situated at Piney Camp grounds, near Stonewall. We have two mails a week, Tuesday and Friday. Carl T. Boucher is the postmaster and is already to hand out your mail or sell you goods.

* The Pony post office established July 19, 1880, by Richard Vanhook who remained postmaster until John T. Cochran took over January 12, 1881. Pony was discontinued Dec. 14, 1884, and its mail service assumed by Levias. Going by the usual procedure of post offices in the county, the post office was conducted in a corner of Richard Vanhook’s general store somewhere near Midway.

* Kirksville-Hurricane-Tolu – The post office department reveals that the post office in Tolu was first established as Hurricane Aug. 23, 1857. It was changed to Tolu Feb. 3, 1890. The post office of Hurricane was in a boat at the river, when the town was named Tolu the office was moved from the river to town.

* The Weston Post Office was originally established as Westonburg on February 22, 1859. The post office named was changed to Weston on October 24, 1877. Rose E. Sturgeon was appointed as the last postmaster on February 11, 1916 and served until the post office was discontinued on July 31, 1916.

* Frances Post Office. Mr. Marion F. Pogue of Frances furnished this information on the little village of Frances, that it was named, probably by a romantic post office clerk, for Miss Frances Folsom, who became the wife of President Grover Cleveland. Frances was the first post office named after the marriage and was so christened on the day the wedding was announced. At different periods before the coming of the post office this community was variously known as “Cross Roads,” Liberty,” and “Needmore,” but as each of these names was already in use by other post offices in the state, a new one was necessary. As the people of the community made no suggestion the privilege fell to employees of the post office department, as that is the custom in such instances.


All of the rural post offices, but two, Crayne and Dycusburg, have long since been discontinued with Tolu being the last to be discontinued in 2011. But most all the old communities in the territory in which they were located still go by the old names.

Most of these long ago post offices where located in a corner of the local grocery store, or in some instances, the house of the postmaster. These old post offices were a welcome addition to the small communities and besides being convenient for the local residents to use, it was a daily place to meet and visit with your friends and neighbors, a great place to catch up on the happenings in your community. What great memories to have of those old post offices, grocery stores and communities of yesteryear.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Cave-In-Rock Ferry Became a Free Service in 1994


 The owner of the Cave-In-Rock Ferry closed his ferry service in the June of 1994.  There was no ferry service for the Illinois and Kentucky sides to cross.  At the time the charge for crossing the river on the ferry was $5.00.  It was nearly 5 months before the ferry service got started back up.  

As a result of efforts from the Ferry Authority, elected officers, business owners and county magistrates from both states, the Cave-In-Rock Ferry reopened for business on November 10, 1997, as a free service.   What an exciting day it was for both Kentucky and Illinois.  

Kentucky and Illinois both sharing the cost of the ferry.  It was the first time in the history of the Cave-in-Rock ferry that a state subsidy had funded the service. 

Without the Cave-In-Rock Ferry, motorists leaving Cave in Rock, Ill, for Kentucky would have to drive dozens of miles out of the way to either the Ky. 56 Shawneetown Bridge or U.S. 45 Brookport Bridge.  Using the Ferry and Ky. 91 North, there are only 11 miles between Marion and Cave-in Rock and Southern Illinois.

          John May, standing on left, was our current Judge Executive at the time.  

More than 100 people attended the ceremony on both sides of the river.  The free ferry service began about 1:30 that day and began on a regular 16-hour schedule Friday morning. 

 Lonnie Lewis, now owner of the ferry service, said they had been extremely busy the first six days and merchants here are lauding the increased sales they are realizing from southern Illinois shoppers. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Ollie M. James Birthplace


This is a post card of the birthplace of Ollie M. James.  He was born here July 27, 1871 to Lemuel and Elizabeth James.  I do not have a date for the publication of the postcard.

This log cabin, typical of the homes of that era, contained a center hall which separated the living room-bedroom from the kitchen.  The room near the chimney was added some years later.

The remains of this log cabin stood for many years near the community of Sheridan, on the now named, Coy Watson road.  At one time the mailbox was still visible. I've been told now there isn't anything that remains of the old historic home.  

In the 1933's when work was being done on State Highway 297, then called the Wallace-Ferry Road, which ran close by the cabin, it had been proposed that the cabin be acquired and preserved as a memorial to the memory of Senator Ollie M. James.  This was never done and is now just a part of our forgotten passages of time, with nothing to show the location. 

The James family didn't live here too long after Ollie was born.  Mr. James was a well-known lawyer, and when son Ollie got school age, they moved to Marion so he could get his education from the city schools and Mr. James could be near his business.

This is the James home on East Depot Street.  Ollie lived here during his years in politics.

It's still beautiful today.  A Marion treasure.

Marion and Crittenden County have always been proud of our own Ollie M. James who was elected to the United States House of Representative to serve in the 58th Congress, and was re-elected to the same position in the 59th, 60th, and 61st and 62nd Congresses. He won the nomination for United States Senator in the 1911 Democratic Primary, and was elected to the Senate by the Kentucky Legislature for a six-year term beginning March 4, 1913.

Ollie James was elected Permanent Chairman of the 1914 Democratic National Convention. He was considered the Party's outstanding orator, and many thought him to be the favorite for the Democrat's 1920 Presidential Nomination.

His death in 1918 at John-Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he was taken after collapsing at his post in the United States Senate, cut short a most brilliant career. His death was from an incurable kidney disease.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Freedom School


The land for the new one room Freedom school was obtained August 11, 1917.  The school was a large modern building for those days.

When State Highway 91 was built it split the school ground and left the schoolhouse within 15 feet of the highway.  The  nearness of the highway was always a disadvantage to the school.

In the late 1940's the school became a target for vandalism.  It appeared to be a nightly sport of a group of youngsters from Marion to borrow the family car for a drive through town.  Instead they would rush two and one-half miles out the highway to Freedom school and overturn the boys' toilet, which sat within five feet of the highway, or would knock out a few window panes, then head home as innocent as youngsters could be.  Thus Freedom school building became a total wreck.

In 1951, County School Superintendent, and trustee of Freedom School, Ivo Hughes, knowing the poor condition the school had become,  asked the help of Mrs. Edna Fritts Easley to help get the school back on its feet.  With the help of the Freedom community parents they patched up the broken school with many repairs and made it usable again.

 Some of the teachers who taught at Freedom were Emma Terry, Homer David , David Postlethweighte, Gladys Graves, Lady Roe Ruyan, Mable Ryan, Mary Todd, Lela McMican, and Edna Fritts.   

Some of the prominent family names of the Freedom area were McEuen, Nesbit, Conger, Fritts, Brown, Roberts, Hughes, Gipson, Crider, Millikan and Perryman.

In 1958 the school was consolidated with Marion.  The building was sold and used for a fish market and grocery store for several years.  After that the Crittenden County Gun Club purchased the building, along with 15 acres. 

 The old school building was demolished, thus the history and happenings of Freedom School passed into history.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

History of Lake George

 This article appeared in the Crittenden Press, May 5, 2022, my history column, Forgotten Passages.

Louisville Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY, Oct. 11, 1954

Soil Conservation Helps Town Get Needed Water - 1954

Lots of folks talk out the need for cooperation between farm and city. Here in Crittenden county they are doing something about it. For years water has been a serious problem in Crittenden County. Recent droughts have forced farmers to haul their stock water from the Ohio river all during the year. During the worst of the drought during the last two summers, Marion had to ration its water supply to City users. But the drought only served to point up a problem that had been growing for almost 20 years.

Crittenden hardly is what would be called a rich county. Few farmers have tobacco bases. Most of them must work hard at dairy, beef and poultry projects to make a living.

Marion offers little opportunity for jobs for the children who grow up on the farms. A silica plant and a printing company are about the only industries in town. Once the fluorspar mines offered jobs, but foreign completion has shut down that industry here.


Industries Lost

In the last few years some industries have been interested in setting up plants here. One company wanted to set up a clothing plant that would have hired 75 workers. Another considered building a plant that would have hired 250 workers. A glass company thought of setting up a factor to process the silica mined here.

None of these plants were built. the reason? Not enough water.

The city's water supply came from a man-made lake on Crooked Creek. In 1940, that lake had silted up to a depth of four feet. The City then spent about $5,000 to raise the spill. By 1952, all that added capacity had been wiped out by further silting.

At that time George Strickler arrived. He is the work-unit conservationist of the United States Soil Conservation Service. In working with the Crittenden Soil Conservation District Board of Supervisors, of who Harvey Lowry is chairman, Strickler came to realize that what was needed here was a co-operative project between the farmers in the Soil Conservation District and the city folks of Marion. Strickler and the supervisors met with the City Council and Mayor Sylvan Clark. The farmers, he explained, needed soil-conservation work on their farms to cut down the silting of the City water supply. The City needed more water. By cop-operative agreement they both could get what they needed.


Three lakes planned

When the City Council was convinced, Strickler and the Board of Supervisors went to work on a watershed plan for Crooked Creek. Farmers were organized into a watershed association. Marion merchants agreed to support the plan. Strickler worked long hours, ofter late into the night, plotting the needs of the watershed. He came up with a plan for three lakes. Lake No. 1 would hold 25,000,000 gallons. Lake No.2 would impound 150,000,000 gallons. Lake No. 3 about 500 feet above the old City lake, would hold 200,000,000 gallons. The old lake has a capacity of only about 7,000,000 gallons.

It was decided that Lake 3 should be built first. The City agreed to put up $50,000 that remained from an old bond issue.

Thirteen farmers contributing to the 750 acres that form the runoff for this lake. The lake itself will cover about 65 acres. Part of the $50,000. was used to buy this flooded area.

Work on the 30 foot high dam was begun July 30 and now is nearing completion. Water already is collecting in the new lake and feeding through a sluice to the old reservoir. Farmers are working out plans for conservation measures and cropping practices on the watershed land to protect the soil against erosion.


Crittenden Academy, Oct. 30th, 1849


Yes, Marion had an Academy in the early years of 1849.  Only 7 years after we became a county in 1842.  This paper was located in some of the files of the County's Clerk's office at the Crittenden County Court House.  

The School was arranged in two departments, Male and Female, each teacher taking charge of their respective department. 

Teachers were from New York, attended the New York  State Normal School.  Mr. James W. Primmer, Principal of the Male Department and Miss Harriet M. Cary, Principal of the Female Department.

Subjects to be taught: For Common English Branches, including Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Grammar, History, Geography, philosophy, & C.

For Higher English Branches, including Botany, Rhetoric, Chemistry, Algebra, Geometry, Astronomy, &c, Latin, French, German, Greek

For lessons on the Piano, Forte, use of the Piano and Music Books, 

Lessons on the Melodian, with use of instrument,

For Drawing, Painting, and Embroidery.

(My note:  I have no information on where this very early teaching institution was located, other than in the down town area of Marion.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Blooming Rose School

Some history about one of our long ago one-room schools.  Blooming Rose was located on Hwy. 838 at the end of Lewis Croft Road.


Blooming Rose. One of these little schools that very little written history has been found through the years is Blooming Rose School. It's location was about one mile from the Livingston County line and about three miles from Lola in Livingston County. 


In April of 1894, in Deed Book 4, page 79, we find that Robert A. Hearell and his wife, Nancy, sold land to the Crittenden County trustees of District 20 for the purpose of a site for a new school house. It would be a one room building and the name of the school would be Blooming Rose. It is thought that this colorful name was because there were many of the little wild pink rose bushes that grew in the fence rows where the school would be built. This was confirmed by two of the past students. 


The school had the usual pot-bellied wood or coal stove. The boys cut wood for the wood stove or brought in coals when the county started furnishing the coal.


Twenty pupils were the average enrollment for all eight grades. Some of the teachers used punishment such as standing with face to the wall, standing at the blackboard with nose is a ring; some children had to stand on top toes with nose in a ring and there was always the dreaded paddle.


The school closed in 1949 and students were sent to Tolu elementary school.


This picture was taken from the Crittenden County History Book, Vol. II.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Marion Bottling Company

 Once Marion was the home of a real bottling company.  Not much history is known about it, such as when it officially opened or closed.  There may have been more than one such business, but this is the only one there has been any information.

In an Oct. 1926 edition of The Crittenden Press, there was a long listing of businesses in Marion, a very impressive list to be sure, one of the businesses was the "Marion Bottling Works".  It stated W. C. Byarley is manager of the Marion Bottling Works, a business which he carries on in his establishment on South Marin Street.  Mr. Byarley manufactures and bottles the "Hip-Hy" drinks.

From the late Crittenden County historian, Thomas Tucker, came the information that this place was located where the Marion Machine Works building was, now Riley's Tool Company.  And that the drink Hip-Hy was a fruit-like drink, such as the old orange and lemon sodas.

Other establishments located in this area in previous years were the old tanyard, and then the Marion Distillery.  All places needing a plentiful source of water.  There was a ever-flowing spring that ran through this property that supplied the water for these businesses in those year.

These priceless bottles from the old Marion Bottling Works are on display in the Crittenden County Historical Museum at 124 East Bellville St.  A picture of Mr. and Mrs. Byarley or Byarly was donated also.