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Ranked Search Results - A History of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky
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Douglass Little was the father of Judge Lucius P. Little, of Owensboro, who served as circuit judge from 1880 to 1893 in the Fourth District, and who has for many years been one of the prominent lawyers of Western Kentucky and who has long been regarded as one of the highest authorities on the State's history. He is the author of "Ben Hardin His Times and Contemporaries," and has in preparation "Old Stories of Green River and Its People."
John G. Gooch was one of Rumsey's most interesting characters. He was a saddler by trade, and up to 1850, when he represented the county in the Legislature, spent much of his time in his shop, working at his trade and studying good books. He was one of the best-read men in the county, and was a devout and active churchman. When occasion arose where an orator was required to represent the citizens of this section of the Green River country, they invariably chose John G. Gooch. After he became a member of the State Legislature he began the study of law, and a few years later moved to Palestine, Texas, where he became a prominent lawyer.
John Vickers, who represented Muhlenberg in the Legislature in 1848, lived three miles south of Rumsey, near Sacramento, now in McLean County. Although Sacramento was not incorporated and officially named until March 1, 1860, a store, it is said, had been opened there before 1835. One version has it that John Vickers, a "Forty-niner," returned from California about 1850, and was the first to propose the name Sacramento for the settlement at the cross-roads. In 1870 Sacramento's population was about 200, and in 1912 about 450.
John Bender, a German by birth and also a "Forty-niner," lived at Sacramento in 1850 and later died there. He was a very intelligent and substantial citizen. He was a son-in-law of John Vickers. Honorable William B. Noe, the banker, who has as a lawyer long been at the head of the Calhoun bar, married the daughter of Mr. Bender.
Among the old citizens of Rumsey in the '40s were Charles M. Baber, hotel-keeper and magistrate; William A. Eaves and Leander Mitchell, superintendents of the lock and dam; Woodford Mitchell and Henry Williams, merchants; John Robbins, wool manufacturer; John A. Murray, grocer, and Ephraim Baker, a justice.
Richard H. Collins, in his "History of Kentucky" published in 1874, and in the reprints that follow, acknowledges his indebtedness for information regarding Muhlenberg County to "Joseph Ricketts and J. H. Pearson (who made a most beautiful map), of Muhlenburg county."
In 1874 Joseph Rieketts was fifty-six years of age and had lived in Greenville for more than a quarter of a century. He was one of the bestknown lawyers in the Green River country. Collins' acknowledgment to "J. H. Pearson," and his reference to "a most beautiful map," is in all probability a mistake, and was intended to apply to some other county in Kentucky. At any rate, of the many persons I consulted in Muhlenberg--the Pearsons and others--none recall a man named J. H. Pearson, nor do any recall seeing a map that might have been made by either Pearson or Ricketts. Furthermore, in a search among the maps once owned by Collins, I failed to find one of Muhlenberg County. A map of the county, made years ago and showing some of the geographical details, even if somewhat inaccurate, would be worth preserving. As far as I have been able to ascertain, no such map, either in the form of a printed sheet or a pen-and-ink sketch, exists. 2
During the eourse of what follows in this chapter I quote all that Collins published under the head of Muhlenberg County in the edition printed in 1874, except the brief sketches of Generals Muhlenberg and Buell. To his statements I add a number of my own, and thus, in a way, extend his history down to our times.
Richard H. Collins, in 1874, on Muhlenberg County, Quoted and Extended.
Muhlenburg county--the 34th in order of formation--was established in 1798, out of parts of Logan and Christian, and named in honor of General Peter Muhlenberg. Its original territory is still intact, except the small northern portion taken in 1854 to help form MeLean county. It is situated in the southwestern middle portion of the state, and is bounded N. and N. E. by McLean and Ohio counties, from which it is separated by Green river; E. by Butler county, Big Muddy river being the dividing line; S. E. by Logan; S. by Todd and Christian; and W. by Hopkins county, the dividing line being Pond river. The surface of the county is generally rolling, part of it broken; the northern portion is good farming land, and all the county is fine grass land, and well timbered. The principal products are tobacco, corn, hay, and wool. Cattle and hogs are sold in large numbers to drovers. But the great wealth of the county is coal and iron.
What is here referred to as Big Muddy River has for many years been known as Mud River. Although Muhlenberg is no longer "well timbered," much timber is still standing. Very large trees are now rare, and the few giants that still survive will in all probability soon be cut down and worked into lumber. However, much uncleared "cut-over" land, with its secondary timber and "second growth," is still to be found in the county. Reforestation and forest planting have not yet been attempted.
The table of statisties of Kentucky, compiled by Collins from official reports, shows that during the year 1870 Muhlenberg produced 2,594,930 pounds of tobacco, 2,095 tons of hay, 484,580 bushels of corn, and 32,676 bushels of wheat. In 1870 there were 8,254 hogs (over six months old), 3,162 horses, 1,041 mules, and 5,166 cattle in the county. The valuation of taxable property was then $2,462,757; in 1846 it was $1,298,019, and in 1912 it was $4,365,446. The number of acres of land in 1870 is given by Collins as 253,543.
Practically every farmer in the county raises tobacco. The annual yield since 1870 has always exceeded two and a half million pounds. Farmers now pay more attention to the raising of hay than heretofore. The corn crop is usually sufficient for the local demand. Muhlenberg has never produced enough wheat to supply the local demand for flour. Hogs and cattle are still extensively raised, but the number has not increased in proportion to the number of farms.
The Elizabethtown & Paducah Railroad, now known as the Illinois Central Railroad, was finished in 1871, and therefore had been in operation only a few years when Collins published his sketch. A time-table, published in 1873, shows the following stations along this line in the county: Green River, Nelson Creek, Owensboro Junction, Greenville, and Gordon Station (Depoy). The Owensboro & Russellville Railroad, now a branch of the Louisville & Nashville, was built from Owensboro to Central City in 1872, and ten years later was extended to Russellville. The Madisonville, Hartford & Eastern Railroad was finished in 1910. The Kentucky Midland was begun in 1910. It is built as far as the new town of Midland, and will, it is said, soon connect Central City with Madisonville.
Collins publishes data relative to seven of the towns that were in the county in 1874--Greenville, South Carrollton, Skilesville, Stroud City, Bremen, Paradise, and Airdrie:
Greenville, the county seat, on the Elizabethtown and Paducah railroad, 135 miles from Louisville, 120 from Frankfort, and 35 from Hopkinsville, contains, besides the usual public buildings, 5 churches (Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian (Southern), Cumberland Presbyterian, and African), and 6 ministers, 12 lawyers, 4 physicians, 3 academies, 13 stores, 13 mechanics' shops, 3 hotels, 1 mill, 4 tobacco factories, 1 tannery; population in 1870, 557, and in 1873 estimated at 1,000; established in 1812, and named after Gen. Nathanael Greene.
Greenville, although started in the spring of 1799 and serving from its beginning as the county seat, was through an oversight not officially "established" by the Legislature until thirteen years later, when it and seven other towns in the State, that had existed for a number of years, were "established" by an act passed January 6, 1812. Collins gives 120 miles as the distance from Frankfort to Greenville. This is doubtless a typographical error, and was intended to read 210 miles.
Two opinions are now held regarding the origin of the name Greenville. On the one hand is the story that Mrs. Tabitha A. R. Campbell was so impressed with the expanse of green treetops, then extending in every direction from the hill selected for the location of the county seat, that she proposed the name Greenville, which was accepted. This version was supported by Mrs. Lucy Wing Yost, Judge Charles Eaves, and a few others who were well versed in the early traditions of the town. On the other hand there are oral and printed statements that the place was so called in honor of General Nathaniel Greene. After General Muhlenberg's name had been adopted for the county, the admirers of General Greene (so the story is told) endorsed the name of General Muhlenberg's friend and co-worker for the name of the county seat. At any rate, it is generally conceded that Greenville was so called in honor of General Greene. 3
Greenville is the oldest town in Muhlenberg. It has always been regarded as the main meeting and trading place for the people "out in the county." After the adoption of the State Constitution of 1891, Greenville, in November, 1892, elected its first mayor. The following have served as mayors of Greenville: William A. Wickliffe, 1893-1896; Doctor J. G. Bohannon, two terms, 1897-1904; and J. W. Lam, who began his first term on January 1, 1905, and is now serving his second term.
South Carrollton, on W. bank of Green river, and on the Owenshoro and Russellville railroad, 10 miles from Greenville; has 8 stores, 3 churches, 4 physicians, 2 mills, 3 tobacco factories, 3 taverns, 7 mechanics' shops; population in 1870, 240, and increasing steadily; incorporated in 1846.
South Carrollton was incorporated by an act approved February 23, 1849, and not in the year 1846, as stated by Collins. The town, however, was begun about the year 1838, and laid out by John Fentress on what was known as the "Randolph old farm," on which a tanyard had been operated for many years, near what is now known as the "Public Spring." Among the early citizens of South Carrollton were Bryant Bennett, Edmund M. Blacklock, James Carbon, Doctor Bryant Davis, John Fentress, Edmund Finch, N. B. Howard, S. Howell, Doctor A. M. Jackson, John Kittinger, Henderson Lovelace, Lewis McCown. Charles Morehead. sr., John Randolph, J. Edmunds Reno, and H. D. Rothrock. 4Doctor J. T. Woodburn, 1912
South Carrollton's first hotel was "White Hall" and its second "Our House" or "The Lovelace Tavern," both of which were in their day among the best-known places in the county. General Crittenden's army, as stated elsewhere in this history, was encamped in and near the town during the last half of January, 1862. It had a college for many years. Notwithstanding the fact that South Carrollton has the transportation facilities offered by a river and a railroad, the town has slowly decreased in business and population during the past twenty-five years.
Skilesville, on S. bank of Green river, at lock and dam No. 3, 16 miles E. of Greenville, has 2 stores and a mill; population about 100; named after Jas. R. Skiles, who introduced the first steamboat upon Green river, and spent a fortune in promoting the navigation of the river.
Skilesville was not incorporated until March 8, 1876, although the town had existed for more than forty years previous to that time. Methodist Episcopal Church, Central City By an act approved December 21, 1837, an election precinct was "established at the house of Richard Simons in the town of Skilesville in Muhlenberg county." A map of the town drawn by Jacob Luce was recorded in 1844 (Record Book No. 11, page 650). The Skilesville post-office was established, abandoned, and re‰stablished a number of times. Since 1907 the people of this neighborhood have received their mail at Rochester or Knightsburg. James Rumsey Skiles was a citizen of Warren County. Judge Lucius P. Little, in his forthcoming history of the Green River country, will publish a sketch of the career of this early promoter of Green River navigation. Lock and Dam No. 3, or the Rochester Skilesville lock and dam, was opened in 1838.St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Central City, erected 1912
Stroud City, at the crossing of the O. & R. and E. & P. railroads, 35 miles from Owensboro, is growing fast.Central City's first post-office (about 1871), as it appears to-day
Stroud City, or Owensboro Junction, later became Central City. Before the days of the railroad the well-known Morehead's Horse Mili stood on the site laid out for the new town. "An act to establish and incorporate the town of Stroud City" was approved April 19, 1873. Legislative acts regarding the regulation of the town were passed March 17, 1876, and April 24, 1880. By an act approved February 11, 1882, the name was changed to Central City. The building used as the town's first post-office is still standing. On August 7, 1871, George G. Shaver was appointed the first postmaster of what was then known as Owensboro Junction. He was succeeded on August 21, 1872, by Willis Kittinger, who served for a few years. In March, 1913, Congress appropriated $7,500 for the purchase of a site for a Federal building in Central City, which the Government contemplates erecting within a few years. The Sandusky House, opened about 1878 and run by Captain William H. H. Sandusky, was for more than twenty-five years one of the best-known hotels in Kentucky along the line of the Illinois Central Railroad. Among other churches in Central City is St. Joseph's Church, which was erected in 1912 and is the only Roman Catholic church in the county. This congregation's first building was built in 1886, when Reverend M. F. Melody, then stationed at Leitchfield, was the priest-in-charge. Central City's first mayor was elected in November, 1892. The following have served as mayor of Central City: Doctor J. L. McDowell, 1893-1896; Doctor M. P. Creel, 1897-1900; Doctor W. R. McDowell, 1901-1904; W. D. McElhinny, 1905-1909; and Doctor J. T. Woodburn, who has served since January 1, 1910. 5Broad Street, Central City
Central City is the largest town in Muhlenberg. Since 1903 it has been the only place in the county where the sale of intoxicants is permitted. Relative to the early history of Central City the Muhlenberg Argus, on September 20, 1906, said:
Central City was begun about 1870, when what is now the Illinois Central Railroad was being built. Coal mining followed shortly after. The farm owned by John Stroud, including the one adjoining, it which he bought from Charles S. Morehead and the farm owned by Joseph Settle, compose the principal part of the present (1906) site of Central City. Morehead ran a horse-mill for many years, and although it disappeared nearly forty years ago a few of the old citizens occasionally refer to the town as "Morehead's Horse Mill." In 1876 there were a few houses along the Greenville and South Carrollton dirt road, and in fact until about 1888 the principal business part of town was along that road, then and now known as Water Street. The old house where the first post-office was kept is still standing on the Greenville Road. Jonathan and Willis Kittinger kept a post-office and store in this building in the early '70s. One night, robbers broke in and hauled the entire stock away, but who they were has not been learned to this day.
Bremen, 14 miles from Greenville, has 2 stores and 2 tobacco factories; population about 75; incorporated in 1869.H. D. Rothrock, 1870
Bremen post-office was originally established about 1825, in a residence on the Greenville and Rumsey Road near the McLean County line. About 1860 it was moved to Andrew Bennett's store and blacksmith shop, where the town of Bremen now stands; what was sometimes called Bennettsville became known as Bremen.
It was pioneer Peter Shaver who, in honor of his father's birthplace, Bremen, Germany, and in honor of the German-American pioneers of Muhlenberg, secured this appropriate name for a place in the county. As stated elsewhere, although the German-American pioneers of Muhlenberg are to-day represented by many descendants, all traces of the German language, manners, and customs disappeared a few generations ago, not only from the Bremen country--which was for many years called the "Dutch Settlement"--but also from other sections in which pioneers of German descent had settled.
The Black Lake country lies east and northeast of Bremen. The soil of the so-called Black Lake swamps is regarded by many as the richest in the county, and its reclamation by drainage is now being considered by the citizens of Bremen and the Black Lake country. When this has been accomplished and the cypress and other swampland trees have been cleared away, then, as Harry M. Dean, of Greenville (who spent his boyhood in the Black Lake country), expresses it in his beautiful poem, "The Cypress Trees," this soil "that's black and deep" will be in condition "that men may sow and reap." The poem referred to was first printed in the Greenville Record on December 7, 1911, and has since been reprinted in many papers.
The Cypress Trees.
We sentinel the lone waste places Of swamps that are low and dim; Line on line for the conflict, Tall and silent and grim. In the dawn of that far-off morning We stood in serried lines-- The trees all clustered together, And next to us stood the pines. But great was the Master's cunning-- A wisdom no man may know; So He sends the pines to the uplands, While we to the swamps must go.
Mystic and brooding and silent, Huddled together we stand; Pickets in reedy marshes, Guards of this lone, low land. Dark are the aisles of our forests, Tangled with briars and vines; Few there be who can know us, Few who can read our signs. The lone owl broods in our branches, The brown snakes come and go, And still we whisper a secret No man shall ever know.
Tall and mystic and brooding, Waiting the long years through; Men drive us away from the swampland, But we come to the swampland anew. For here we're master builders, Lifting the soil from the slime; Holding the drifts in decaying, Bringing the earth to its prime. Turning the low waste spaces To soil that's black and deep, Until we are cleared from our places That men may sow and reap.
Harry M. Dean.
Paradise, on Green river, 10 miles above (S. E. of) South Carrollton, in N. E. part of county; population about 300; has 4 stores and 2 tobacco factories; incorporated in 1856.
Paradise was not incorporated until March 10, 1856, which was more than half a century after the town had been settled. For a few years after the Mexican War it was sometimes referred to as Monterey. A deed recorded in 1854 incidentally states that Paradise then had an area of thirteen acres. A plat drawn in 1871 shows an increase to twenty-six and one fourth acres. Although a few acres have been added to its limits, the population has slowly decreased since 1875. Its location and age make Paradise one of the most undisturbed and interesting villages along Green River.Black Lake and Cypress Trees, Near Bremen
Airdrie, on Green river, 17 miles from Greenville; population about 200, largely engaged in mining coal; incorporated in 1858.
Airdrie sprang into existence in 1854, and was on the point of being abandoned by many of the original citizens when, on February 17, 1858, the town was incorporated. Except during a few years, the people of Airdrie received their mail at Paradise. The old furnace, built in 1855, long ago became a picturesque ruin, and the house occupied for many years by General Buell was burned to the ground in 1907. A history of Airdrie is given in the chapter on "Paradise Country and Old Airdrie."
now the third largest town in the county, was not in ex?? 1874, Collins published the above-quoted data on the towns. About 1882, or about the time the Owensboro & Russell?? ??is buit, Frank M. Rice began a store near what is now the ??formed the nucleus of a village which for a few years was ??le. On February 21, 1888, the place was incorporated by legislature and its name changed to Drakesboro, in honor ??e, who lived in that neighborhood for many years and died ??se still standing near the town known as the Bill Drake ??ong other first-comers in this region was Bryant Cundiff. ??town had a population of about two hundred. During the years it has increased to about twelve hundred. Much of progress is due to the work and influence of such men as ??, who in 1888 opened the Black Diamond Mine in the new since been at the head of its affairs; William W. Bridges, connected with the Black Diamond Mining Company since ??s organization; Doctor Jefferson D. Cundiff, who has lost ??to contribute to the town's medical, educational, and com?? and B. Frank Green, who as cashier of the Citizens Bank financial interests of the citizens of the town and the Drakes??
?? towns commented on by Collins, all had post-offices in 1874 ??le and Airdrie. There were eleven post-offices in the county The other six were: Earles, which was maintained in the residence until about 1860, when the office was moved two ??the store of Thomas C. Summers, where it was continued ??name of Earles until 1910, when, after rural free delivery was established, the post-office was abandoned; Laurel Bluff, ??ted on the Greenville Road about two miles from Dunmor ??post-office was abolished when Home Valley was established, ??ley was later changed to Albritton and is now known as ??er and Nelson Station post-offices, which were then where ??Painstown, which was about two miles east of Nelson Staton, which was a small mining town on Green River about five ??radise.
??well to add that about the middle of the last century there ??e in the Harpe's Hill country known as Unity, one at the ??ary place called Ellwood or McNary's, one at Clark's Ferry River Mills, and one on Clifty Creek east of Cisney, near the ??ent, called Sulphur Springs. During 1884, and a few years ??er, a post-office was maintained in the Bethel Church neigh?? Greenville and Rumsey Road, called Bertram, and one near ??called Paceton.
??County now has thirty-four post-offices, eight star mail ??r rural free delivery routes. The star routes run: from Weir ??eight miles; from Haley's Mill, Christian County, via Bancroft ??eighteen miles; from Cisney to Yost. seven miles; from ??tler County, via Knightsburg and Ennis to Yost, nine and a half miles; from Wells to Yost, six and a fourth miles; from Penrod, via Gus, to Huntsville, Butler County, ten miles; from Beech Creek to Browder, two miles; and from Rochester, via boat to Paradise and Rockport, fifteen miles. There are three star routes from Dunmor into Butler and Todd counties. The rural free delivery routes run: No. 1, Greenville, Greenville to Earles, returning via Harpe's Hill, established in 1910, was the first in the county; No. 1, Central City, Central City to Gishton and Bethel Church, returning via Cherry Hill Church; No. 1, Bremen, extending from Bremen northeast into McLean County, returning via Millport; No. 2, Bremen, Bremen to Gishton and Earles, returning via Isaac's Creek and Briar Creek.
Most of the first-comers received their mail at Greenville, Worthington, or Lewisburg, or at "Hunt Settlement" or some of the other settlements.
Post-Offices in Muhlenberg County. In 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1874, 1884, and 1912.
1830. Bremen. Greenville. Lewisburgh. McNarys. Mill Port. Worthington.
1840. Bremen. Greenville. Lewisburgh. McNarys. Rumsey. Skilesville. Worthington.
1850. Bremen. Ellwood. Greenville. Rumsey. South Carrollton. Unity. Worthington.
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Refine your search of the A History of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky

Source Information: A History of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2001. Original data: Rothert, Otto A. A History of Muhlenberg County. Louisville, KY, USA: 1913.

Compiled by Otto A. Rothert, this book details some general information about the county, including information on the local facilities. Family historians will find the wealth of information on the first settlers of the county, and their decendents, most...
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