HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN COUNTY KENTUCKY
charles m. meacham
The County Towns; LaFayette, Newstead, Crofton, Pembroke, Gracey.
The extreme southern part of Christian County is called Flat Lick. The name is derived from a fiat, pond-like place, in that section, which tradition says was formed by buffalo and deer licking the saline deposit. In the old days it was a paradise of hunters. This section of the county was settled about 1799 and 1800. The first settlers were Joel Harvey, Jesse and Micajah Fort. They were quickly followed by the Marshalls, McGees (six of them), the Moores, Stevensons, McKenzies, Sherrills, Taylors, Mosses, Joneses, Carters, Shepherds, Hesters, Roses, Boyds and Mallorys. According to Hon. Jas. A. McKenzie, who furnished information for Perrin’s History, the first child born in that part of the county was James D. Fort, in 1801. It was not long before three villages sprang up at Lafayette, Bennettstown and Garrettsburg further south. Lafayette is still quite a town, but the others were put out of business by railroads in later years. All of them had churches, which still remain. At Bennettstown was McKenzie Kirk, Presbyterian and Sharon, Cumberland Presbyterian, which built commodious houses of worship about the middle of the last century.
The early settlers around Garrettsburg were the Quarles, Hopson, Brame, Wills, Rives, Jones, Boyd and Gholson families. There were four Rives brothers. The town took its name from Garrett M. Quarles, a lawyer, who came from Virginia. Geo. C. Boyd was another lawyer, who moved to Clarksville. Major James Gholson was a soldier of 1812, as was Major John Poindexter, who came about 1830. Another Poindexter was a captain in the war of 1812. Other settlers were Col. J. D. Morris, a Mexican war soldier; Ambrose Davie, Richard G. White, Sion Hunt, Henry Galbraith, David Wootton, George Fox, Nestor Boone, George Tribble, Joseph and James Hutchinson, George N. Whitfield, M. K. White, John Wooldridge and others.
The southern part of Christian County has produced many men of national fame. Some moved to other states and rose to distinction, as judges, cabinet ministers and congressmen and one of them, Adlai E. Stevenson, was Vice-President of the United States.
During the war between the States in 1862 a skirmish took place at Garrettsburg. Four or five Confederates, Col. Thos. G. Woodward’s men, attacked about the same number of Federals, at a blacksmith shop, where they were having their horses shod. Two of the Federals were killed. Some hours later, Col. Ranson attacked Col. Woodward, who had gone into camp in the neighborhood, and killed five or six of his men. Mrs. Elizabeth Clardy, the next day, had the dead buried on Maj. Thomas’ place. The bodies were afterwards removed by their friends.
In the early settlement of the county, the Newstead neighborhood, embracing the western part of the county, was considered one of the finest sections of the “Barrens,” because Little River, being near, provided water and some timber along its course. It was quickly settled by a colony of pioneers from North Carolina and Virginia. Among these were William Means and his six sons, Robert, William, John, James, Joseph and Samuel. The last named was one of the surveyors, who laid out the future city of Hopkinsville. William Means built a school house, in 1806, where his son, William, taught and other teachers were Joseph Bozarth, Otho Graves, Addison Stevenson and John Mimms. At this old school house many boys attended school, who afterwards became distinguished men. Among them were, Judge Walter Scates, of Illinois, and Gustavus A. Henry, of Tennessee. Judge W. W. McKenzie, Young J. Means, Gano Henry and Nehemiah Cravens, who lived to old age in the county, were pupils.
Robert Cravens, John McDaniel, Samuel Alexander, Joel Nance, General William Henry, Colonel Arthur McGaughey, Colonel John W. Cocke, William Rascoe, Michael, William and Samuel Northington, Thomas Ar-buckle, Samuel Harry, William Hoxie, William Lander, Jonathan Bozarth, Joseph Sively, Davis Harrison, and Edmund Galloway were other settlers. Later comers were: John H. Tadlock, Dr. James Wallace, Albert Wallace, Gabriel Corbin, who founded Newstead; Dr. J. C. Whitlock, Dr. P. W. Dryden, Dr. James H. Usher, Rev. James Payne, Dr. J. A. Steele, John W. Offutt, John W. Cook, Ben S. Campbell, Isaac Lewis, Robert Mc-Reynolds, 0. McReynolds, Thomas Green, David Henry, Jesse McCombs, Joseph Kinkead, James Moore, Lindsay Kinkead, Dr. John D. Clardy, Gen. James S. Jackson, Hardy Boyd, Thomas Torian, Richard Caudle, Lucian Dade, and many others came and established homes in that part of the county. Newstead still has a country store, is a station on a small railroad, and has a good school near by, and a church still remains, but it is now only a small village.
Robert Cravens, who first acquired a mill site on the east or Barren fork of Little River, afterwards built a mill on the Sinking Fork, seven miles west of Hopkinsville. About 1820 Colonel John W. Cocke, of Virginia, settled on a large tract of land south of Hopkinsville and built a fine mill for that day on Little River. This mill was operated successfully for many years and the road leading out of Hopkinsville from south Main Street became known as the Cocke’s Mill Road. The Cocke family finally left the county and moved to Tennessee, it is presumed, as a family of that name afterwards lived in Robertson County, Tennessee. One Of the citizens buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in 1838 was Ephraim Cock, born in 1753. The spelling of the name is different, but he probably belonged to the same family as the Colonel. The road south of town is now called the Cox Mill Road, though for no reason other than that the name Cox is still quite common in Christian County, while the name Cocke is no longer represented.
The town of Crofton, fourteen miles north of Hopkinsville, may be justly termed the metropolis of North Christian. It is one of the newest important towns in the county, but its development has been steady since the L. & N. Railroad brought it into existence in 1871. It took its name from James E. Croft, who founded it, and whose descendants are still prominent in its business life. It has, by a gradual growth, become a center of much importance in many ways. It has a number of business houses, including general merchandise stores, groceries, drug stores, a large flouring mill, a prosperous bank, a hotel, shops, filling stations, etc. It is supplied with physicians, contractors and ministers of several denominations. The white people have four churches and the colored people one or more. The denominations represented are the Baptists, Christians, Methodists and Universalists. It has an excellent graded and high school, with a commodious school building, only recently completed. It has its own telephone exchange, a good depot, an express office, and its town government is in the hands of a board of trustees and the usual judicial and peace officers. It not only has a railroad, but it is on the Dixie Bee Line Highway, one of the thoroughfares of the county, running through the county from north to south, giving the town easy access to the great Western Kentucky coal field, only a few miles to the north.
Crofton is in some respects the most prosperous of the county’s small towns. It is surrounded by small farmers who, as a rule, work their own lands, and by miners who work in the coal mines near by. The people have occupied their homes for generations, and have become a thrifty and prosperous race.
Crofton is a town of perhaps a thousand population, including its suburbs.
The town of Pembroke dates back to about the year 1848, when the need for a post office was felt by the planters living ten miles southeast of Hopkinsville. Dr. Lunsford Lindsay took the lead in securing the establishment of a post office. He was a man of literary attainments and fond of “Thaddeus of Warsaw,” one of the popular books of the day, and greatly admired the character of Lord Pembroke. Therefore he gave the name of Pembroke to the new post office. He lived on a farm afterwards owned by James A. Payne and kept the office at his place until 1850, when it was removed to another residence on the Nashville road, where Sutton L. Hunter later kept a country store. This store was bought by R. C. Jameson in 1852 and was moved to the crossing of the Nashville and Tobacco roads. The two-story building was drawn down the road on rollers by ten yokes of oxen. The old building was burned in 1880. This was the beginning of Pembroke. The next building was a blacksmith’s shop. The town as it now exists was laid out on parts of four farms subsequently owned by R. C. Jameson, A. G. Slaughter, James Richardson and E. B. Garnett. In 1852 Faulkner and Slaughter bought the Jameson store and enlarged its business. They employed W. W. Garnett, one of a family of four boys, who eventually became leading citizens. He was then only fourteen years old. W. T. Oliver next erected a house and used it for a tinshop and grocery, and later sold it to A. Rust. There were frequent changes in the mercantile houses and finally Richardson & Williams became proprietors of the leading store which in 1858 was sold to W. H. Pendleton, W. W. Garnett and E. G. Buck. As W. H. Pendleton & Company, they were running in 1861 and closed down when all of the members of the firm entered the Confederate Army. A dry goods house and a grocery or two were kept in operation during the war, but the town was at a standstill. Josh Cowardin, a tailor, was the postmaster and kept the office in an upper room of the old storehouse. He was a little man who came from Virginia and later moved to Fairview and died of cholera about 1869. The tobacco business was started in 1854 when A. Rust, A. G. Slaughter, James Richardson and R. C. Jameson opened a stemmery. The firm was afterwards Richardson, Jameson & Company and it built up a big business in America and Europe. This firm was succeeded by W. D. Garnett & Son, then by Garnett & Lloyd and finally by Garrott, Jameson & Company. From this beginning by 1901 the town had five tobacco houses. The others were operated by L. McComb & Company, R. R. Lloyd & Son, Graham & Eddins and A. 0. Dority. Tobacco marketing has greatly changed during the last twenty-five years, but the tobacco business is still one of the town’s principal industries. In the early days of the town’s history, the physicians were Dr. Conley, S. C. Payne, N. L. Porter, L. F. Chilton and J. D. O’Brien, all fine doctors.
In 1868 the L. & N. Railroad was completed and Pembroke was incorporated and became a real town, that grew rapidly and prospered greatly. A. G. Slaughter, D. S. lord, James Richardson, R. C. Jameson and J. D. O’Brien were the first trustees, John P. Billingsly, police judge, and Major A. Rust, marshal. G. L. Slaughter was elected City Attorney.
At this period W. W. and J. P. Garnett and Massie & Company were the merchants. O’Brien & Walker ran a drug store and there were groceries and workshops, livery stables and other business houses. The town was soon well provided with churches, schools and fraternal societies and was a hustling little town with improved streets and nice residences. Pembroke had made for itself a place on the map of Kentucky.
PEMBROKE’S WAR HISTORY
During the war the people with hardly an exception were loyal to the South. Nearly all of the men of military age and many boys were in the army. Pembroke furnished a whole company commanded by Captain Henry C. Leavell. The names of his soldiers are given in a military chapter. They were mustered in at Hopkinsville October 8, 1861, and at once reported to General Simon Bolivar Buckner at Bowling Green. The following facts about this company and some of the incidents of the war are taken from a well-written narrative by the late John P. Garnett, one of the company:
“It became Company H in the First Kentucky Cavalry, commanded by the famous Ben Hardin Helm, and gave a fine account of themselves during the war. Captain Leavell was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel but died of typhoid fever during the first year of the war. Bob Barnett, a member of the company, was killed in Gen. Forrest’s attack on Winchester, Tenn. W. P. Winfree (afterwards county judge) was wounded in the arm and Jas. H. Lander had a narrow escape, having the bottom shot out of a tin cup hanging around his neck. Virgil A. Garnett also had a close call. The company had halted in front of the court house, held by the enemy, and he sat down on the pavement to rest. A minnie ball struck a brick under his foot but did him no harm. He saw the fellow who shot from an upper window and immediately fired his double-barrel gun, heavily loaded with buckshot, directly at him. When the fight was over and the Federals had retreated, he went to the upper room of the court house and found the window sash cut away and a pool of blood on the floor. He never knew and did not wish to know whether he killed the man. Most of the young men returned from the war and became prominent men in the affairs of the community.
“In the fall of 1863, Col. Thos. G. Woodward and Col. Adam Johnson were camped with their regiments at the bridge over West Fork, which was called Camp Coleman, and many of the citizens who sympathized with the Confederates visited the camp and carried liberal supplies of provisions. It was also a recruiting station and there were many enlistments. Col. Johnson’s regiment was composed of raw, undisciplined troops, poorly armed and unmounted, many of them on mules and having no guns. The Federal forces stationed at Russeliville under Gen. McCook attacked the camp, and there was the wildest of confusion. Col. Woodward, with his regiment, withdrew in good order, following the creek and attempted to draw the Federals into ambush, but they were afraid and did not pursue him. Capt. W. A. Elliott, with his fine company covered the retreat, and there was some lively skirmishing for an hour and several men were killed. Col. Johnson’s regiment made no resistanee, but fled in confusion down the Nashville road, through Pembroke and down the Tobacco road towards Tennessee. Consternation reigned in the little town, the people not knowing what to expect. One man, a simple kind of a fellow, named Joe Rush, seemed greatly excited. He got one of his little boy’s shirts, no whiter than it might
have been, and tied it to a fence stake in his yard as a sign of surrender, and then came over where the crowd had collected and said: “If I only knew what to do, I would do it.”
“A great many citizens from the surrounding country had collected to see the fight or hear the news, and when Johnson’s men came dashing through, and the head of the Federal column appeared, they also joined in the rout and made still greater confusion. The Federals followed as far as the country and then gave up the chase. Many citizens were captured and taken to Hopkinsville for trial. Among them were Jas. A. Radford, then an old man, and E. W. Pendleton. They were dismounted— Mr. Radlord was forced to get on a mule and Mr. Pendleton to mount behind him and ride to Hopkinsville.
“This was the nearest Pembroke ever came to having a battle. A tragic incident occurred in connection with this attack. George Massie, an old man and a cripple, father of John H., L. W. and F. B. Massie, was brutally murdered by the Federals. He had at his home a sick Confederate soldier and was attempting to take him to a place of safety when he was overtaken by the soldiers. The sick man jumped out of the buggy and made his escape in the woods, but the old man stood his ground. A soldier snapped a pistol at him but it failed to fire. At this juncture Col. Sam Johnson, a Methodist preacher, and at one time Massie’s pastor, rode up and handed the soldier his pistol, saying, ‘This never misses fire.’ The soldier took it and shot Massie to death. Johnson never showed himself at Pembroke after the war.”
Pembroke was from the beginning a town of churches. The Christian Church was built first in 1851, and in 1901 it was replaced by a new and larger house. The Baptist Church was built in 1884, upon the division of Bethel Church, between Pembroke and Fairview. The Cumberland Presbyterians built their house in 1890, moving from Salubria. The Methodists also moved from Salubria when that village was absorbed by the growing town.
The colored people also have a Baptist and a Methodist Church.
The Baptist Church was the offspring of one of the oldest churches in the county, the old Bethel church. In 1814 it became a sort of union church of the West Fork Church, and in 1816 became an independent body at Salubria Springs. It had no pastor at first. William Tandy was made a deacon and the following year was licensed to preach. John Pendleton served as clerk until his death in 1858.
In 1823, two acres of land were bought on the road leading to Fairview, and the celebrated old brick house was erected and stood for more than sixty years. Rev. William Tandy served as pastor until his death in 1838. Other pastors were Jack Wilson, William Warfield, J. M. Pendleton, Reuben Ross and J. M. Bennett. R. W. Morehead was pastor from:
1859 to 1861, when he became Chaplain of Captain Leavell’s company. The church then had more than three hundred members. He was pastor again in 1863, the first called for his whole time. He was succeeded by George Hunt, Dr. T. G. Keen, E. A. Dicken, and he in 1881 by J. M. Peay. The church was divided and moved to Pembroke in 1884, while Dr. Peay was pastor. Pastors since that time have been J. G. Bow, T. S. Tiller,
.1. N. Prestridge, J. M. Phillips, A. R. Bond, W. E. Mitchell, C. R. Scott 0. C. Payton, B. 0. Herring and A. R. Willett.
The first deacons of the Pembroke Church were James Richardson, John P. Garnett and S. F. Williams, Sr. D. A. Bronaugh was Clerk. The present deacons are R. Y. Pendleton, S. B. Jones, S. F. Williams, C. E.
Mann, S. A. Powell, Eugene Kelly, Dr. W. S. Sandbach and W. J. Garnett. S. S. Jameson is Church Clerk and S. A. Powell Superintendent of the Sunday school.
The town has an excellent graded school, well-improved streets, a telephone system, and is surrounded by one of the finest agricultural sections in Kentucky. It is ten miles from Hopkinsville.
A PIONEER SKETCH
In the year 1795 Robert Coleman, a young man, left Old Virginia to make his home in the West, which was then Kentucky. He had studied law in Virginia and got his license to practice in Nashville, Tenn., and settled in Christian County, Kentucky, in 1798. He built a large brick house on the waters of the West Fork of Red River, and represented Christian County in the Legislatures of 1822 and 1824. He patented a large body of land, a tract of probably six or seven thousand acres, from the State of Kentucky. This land is on both sides of Old Nashville Road, between Trenton and Pembroke. He also had the first water mill, possibly, in Christian County. He raised a family of nine children, three boys and six girls. It is said that when Alexander Campbell, the founder of the Christian Church, came through the country preaching, “Squire Coleman,” as he was called by his neighbors, went to hear him preach. Later, he was asked how he liked the preacher, and he said that Campbell “made heaven a thousand miles nearer and all the way by water.”
Coleman’s first wife, Nellie Strother, was of English descent, and her sister, Mrs. Nancy Campbell, the grandmother of the Rawlings, lived to be ninety-seven years old. Her husband, Mr. Campbell, a soldier of the War of 1812, died in New Orleans of the “cold plague,” as it was called then, and which we now know as the “flu.” She told me that her family lived near Louisville when she was a small child and that she went to school with her cousin, Zachary Taylor, who was afterwards President of the United States. Taylor’s daughter married Jefferson Davis, the only President of the Southern Confederacy. Aunt Nancy Campbell, as she was known by her friends and neighbors, told me that young Taylor frequently brought grapes to school in baskets made of willow bark.
Coleman’s Bridge, near the former site of the old Coleman homestead, is still standing, and Robert Coleman’s tombstone, hewn out of limestone rock, bears the fellowing inscription: ROBERT COLEMAN DIED FEB. 8. 1846. AGED 74 YEARS.
Robert Coleman said, when he first came to Kentucky, there were only a few Indiana in Christian County, the rest having gone farther west. This Indian story was related to me by my mother, Mrs. Emily Oliver, the youngest daughter of Robert Coleman. His brother, James Coleman, in coming from Virginia, in a very early day, stopped over on Duck River, in Middle Tennessee, for a few years, and then went on to Texas. He had a family of four or five children. The father was drowned some time later in a river in Texas, and the mother and children lived in a log house on the “edge of the cross timbers.” Late one evening, a band of hostile Indians came up and attacked them. The oldest son and the mother were killed, and one child was captured by the Indians. The two smallest, eight and nine years of age, made their escape in the darkness, and were brought back to Tennessee by some friendly neighbors. These two stayed all night at my mother’s home, and from them she learned this story. We lost sight of them, but possibly some of their descendants are now living in Tennessee.—L. S. Oliver.
In the early days, one of the principal highways of the county was called the Eddyville Road, running westward to Eddyville, on the Cumberland River. Near the Trigg County line was a village known as Belleview. In its prosperous days it had two or three stores, a blacksmith’s shop, two doctors, a Baptist church, a school house, etc. A new railroad line was built across South Christian from Clarksville in a northeastern direction that was making slow progress in 1887. It was called the Indiana, Alabama & Texas Road, just why was never known, as it did not touch either of those States. It was supposed to go to Evansville, Indiana, with lines leading to Texas. This road finally reached the Belleview neighborhood, ten miles west of Hopkinsville, leaving that village a mile east and located a station on the farm of H. H. Bryant, at the crossing of the Cadiz Road. This depot was first called Bryant’s Station, but a few years later the road passed into the control of the Louisville & Nashville Company, and the station was named Gracey. This marked the beginning of the new town of Gracey and the end of Belleview that has long since been obliterated and forgotten. As the years came and went, the town became the junction of roads from Hopkinsville to Cadiz, and from Clarksville to Princeton controlled by the two great systems, the Louisville & Nashville and the Illinois Central.
Gracey thus became an important town and shipping point in four directions. At the present time it contains several business houses, two depots, a consolidated school for white children, a school for colored children, two or three churches and the usual shops, warehouses and filling stations, pertaining to a small town. It has a board of trustees, a peace officer and other municipal machinery. It is on the State highway, known as the Jefferson Davis Highway No. 68, and its importance is increasing as a shipping point. In the old days, it was one of the last places in the county to have saloons, and it was turbulent at times, but it is now a quiet and orderly little town, with many modern improvements, and a fine class of citizenship, making it a desirable place to live. Gracey, at one time, had a bank of its own, but it suffered from a destructive fire, about that time, that greatly retarded its growth for awhile and the bank went out of business.
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