charles m. meacham



Yellow Fever Epidemic in 1879; City Bank Organized in 1880; Public
Schools Established 1881; The Great Fire in 1882; Building Boom in
1883; Perrin’s History in 1884; Negroes on the Juries 1885; Turkey
Hunting on Pond River.


In December, 1879, the city of Hopkinsville voted upon a proposition to issue bonds to secure a water works system. The proposition was beaten and the council ticket opposing the bonded debt was elected. It was not till thirteen years later that the town was supplied with water works and fire protection.

Miss Cynthia Westfall, a talented teacher in Bethel College, was a gifted elocutionist, and a call was signed by fifty-three prominent citizens, published in the local papers, asking her to accept a benefit on December 23, 1879. The reading, at the Opera House, was largely attended.

At this period James B. Beck and John S. Williams, Democrats, were Senators from Kentucky and both visited the county.

The young men of Hopkinsville had a debating society that held public debates once a week and settled all such problems as “Are the mental faculties of the sexes equal?”

Tobacco was sold by a number of warehouses in Hopkinsville on the breaks. Samples would be taken from hogsheads prized. Prices at one of these sales, in September, 1879, were: Selections, $10.00 to $12.00; good leaf, $7.00 to $9.50; common leaf, $4.50 to $6.75; low leaf, $3.60 to $4.50; common lugs, $2.50 to $4.50; trash, $1.60 to $2.00. Receipts were 9,919 hogsheads for the year and prices were a little higher than the previous season. Sales for week of August 14, 451 hogsheads.

The drug stores were E. H. Hopper & Son, Gray & Buckner, and Gish & Garner. The latter advertised a famous medicine, of its own preparation, known as Wild Goose Liniment, with the picture of a wild goose on the label.
All of the barber shops were run by colored men and were for many years afterwards.

Yellow fever was raging furiously at Memphis, Tennessee. Weekly reports showed forty to seventy deaths, with a total for August of 228. Among these were General John B. Hood and his wife. The epidemic prevailed in New Orleans and other Southern cities to a lesser extent.
The deaths during September had decreased to about forty or fifty a week, mostly of white people, as the negroes in most cases survived the attacks. Dr. Lake P. Blackburn gave up his practice in Kentucky and spent all of his time in Memphis combatting the epidemic and was subsequently elected Governor of Kentucky on the wave of popularity that followed his heroic action.

On September 30, 1879, Rev. Gideon Babcock Perry died, in the seventy-ninth year of his age. He had been rector of Grace Episcopal Church since 1866. He was a nephew of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the naval hero of the war of 1812. He was survived for some years by his widow. A son, Rev. Henry G. Perry, lived in Chicago, and another son, Willis G. Perry, lived and died in Hopkinsville, as did his only daughter, Miss Emily B. Perry. She lived to old age in the family homestead, greatly beloved by a large circle of friends, especially among the young people. She was a leader in all patriotic movements, and arranged many public entertainments to raise funds for worthy objects. She was one of the most superior women of her generation in Christian County.
In December, 1879, the first company of State Guards was organized in the city, with the following officers: H. H. Abernathy, Captain; Lee Ellis, First Lieutenant; H. A. Phelps, Second Lieutenant; R. E. Howell, First Sergeant; Albert W. Lander, Second Sergeant; Clifton D. Ellis, First Corporal; Joseph T. Owen, Second Corporal; C. E. Trice, Third Corporal; John G. Ellis, Fourth Corporal.

The company found that there would be difficulty in securing arms, unless an armory was provided by the city. All of the requirements were not met for more than two years, but eventually the company was admitted as Company D, and became the best drilled company in the State in 1882.

On March 18, 1879, notice was made in the public prints that a local confectioner had imported bananas, and had them on sale, in the city for the first time.

The need of more houses in the city was becoming pressing, and the agitation resulted in the organization of the Hopkinsville Building and Loan Association in November. This corporation is still in operation and during the last half-century has had a wonderful part in the prosperity of Hopkinsville.

The City Bank, the third in Hopkinsville, was started this year, with Lucian Jones, president; George C. Long, cashier, and E. B. Long, bookkeeper. It erected its own building on the corner of Main and Nashville (now Seventh) Streets, starting business the following spring, and at once made for itself a place in the commercial life of the growing city.

“Uncle” Thomas Long was interviewed, when he came to town from his home, north of the city. He said he was born in South Carolina December 8, 1796, and was brought to the county by his parents in 1804. Hopkinsville was a village at that period. It had a tavern, kept by a man named Crow, where the City Bank now is. Where the Phoenix Hotel was later, and still stands as an office building, was a swamp, across which ran a spring branch. The spring itself was in a brick spring house, where the present Chickasaw building stands. The Courthouse was of unhewn logs, twenty by twenty feet. Continuing his reminiscences, Uncle Tommy said:

“My father, one winter, killed two hundred and seventy-two deer, by actual count, in the woods around our cabin.”

In the fall of 1879 the public schools opened. The boys were taught in a double-roomed frame building, on the north side of what is now Seventh Street, near the eastern boundary of the city. It was taught by two young men and had seventy-six pupils. The girls were taught by two lady teachers, in another part of the city. The movement for better schools was started that year, and bore fruit the following year.

A nice row of young shade trees, twenty or more, were planted on two sides of the Fhoenix Hotel, nicely boxed up, so horses could not injure them. As the years came and went, they grew, served their purpose and made way for concrete sidewalks and valleys.

The most important event of 1880 was the fight for free graded schools in the city, providing for a bond issue to erect a building and a small tax to support the schools. The campaign was exciting, vigorously waged by one part of the people, and as vigorously opposed by another part, including the wealthy class, who denounced the idea of being taxed to educate other people’s children. The new paper started the year before lined up with the bond advocates, and lost temporarily the patronage of some of the best advertisers. The contest was close and doubtful to the end, but the schools won. A lot was purchased on Clay Street, a building was erected and the schools opened in February, 1881.

Capt. Sam M. Gaines, at that time editor of the New Era, was made Supervisor of the Census of 1880, for twenty-three counties.

During this summer an intensive canvass of the county was made by lightning rod agents, and everybody who could afford them was frightened into purchasing them. They had their day, but in the end the insurance companies replaced the lightning rods.

Eld. R. C. Cave and Prof. J. W. Rust were at the head Of the South Kentucky College and Bethel Female College. Both institutions were in a prosperous condition.

Gov. John W. Stevenson spoke in Hopkinsville September 28, 1880.

It was a prosperous year with much building. The Presidential campaign was heated, with the Republican ticket, Garfield and Arthur, and the Democratic ticket, Hancock and English. Christian County was strongly
Republican, and the County so voted. Kentucky went Democratic, but the Republican ticket swept the country.
Church Hill Grange held its first stock sale June 3, with M. B. King, Secretary. These sales continued annually for forty years.

The new Public Schools started Feb. 1, 1881 with three hundred and twenty-four pupils, and the following faculty: Chas. H. Dietrich, Superintendent; Mrs. Rosa M. Bramham (died 1929) ; Mrs. J. B. McKenzie, Mrs.
L. A. Patton, Misses Sina L. Harris, Annie Kennedy, Pauline Vaughan, Pattie White, and Gertie King. Miss Maria Wardroper was added a few weeks later.

An organized effort was put forth to induce German immigrants, then coming in large numbers, to locate in Christian County. The South Kentucky Immigration Society opened an office in Hopkinsville.
Eld. Enos Campbell, of Louisville, delivered the annual address to the graduating class of South Kentucky College, June 8, at Mozart Hall. His subject was “Plus Ultra.”

Hon. Jas. F. Clay, of Henderson, delivered the closing address to the graduating class of Bethel Female College, six young ladies receiving diplomas, in June.

On June 27, Eld. J. W. McGarvey lectured at the Christian Church on the subject of Palestine.

The following school trustees, the original board, were re-elected: G. A. Champlin, Jas. A. Wallace, Geo. C. Long, R. M. Fairleigh, Wm. Skerritt. W. A. and J. J. Reed raised one hundred acres of wheat, yielding nineteen hundred bushels. Forty acres of it made thirty bushels to the acre. Forepaugh’s Circus exhibited in Hopkinsville, in September with a troupe of bicyclers on the first bicycles ever seen in the city.

Memorial services were held in September following the death of President Garfield, who was shot July 2 by Charles Guiteau, and died September 19. J. I. Landes was chairman and Chas. M. Meacham secretary of the meeting to make arrangements. Rev. T. G. Keen, of the Baptist Church, delivered the address. The meeting was held at the Christian Church.

Attendance at the Hopkinsville public schools at the fall session was four hundred and fifty-one.
The Chess Carley Co., of Louisville, submitted a proposition to light the city with gas, supplying seventy-five lights with fourteen candle power, for $90.00 a month, an increase of $600.00 a year over the oil lamps in use. The proposition was accepted. Private consumers were to get the gas at $2.00 for one thousand feet.


In this period there was a general movement throughout Kentucky to organize Granges among the farmers, and Christian County farmers became leaders in the movement. Several Granges were organized, and at least one of them flourished for fifty years. It was located at Church Hill, and its members became prominent in State organizations, one or more becoming Grand Master, as the highest officer was called.

Another strong Grange was organized at Casky, and still another at Longview. These, however, did not become permanent institutions like the one at Church Hill, but flourished awhile and like most of the granges in other counties ceased to exist.

Beginning the year before, the Church Hill Grange began holding annual stock sales in spring, when a hundred or more head of cattle would be brought together and sold to the highest bidders, the sales sometimes going as high as $10,000.00. Stock pens were constructed in a grove near the Grange Hall, and buyers were attracted from far and near. The Grangers, with open-handed hospitality, spread bountiful dinners for all who attended. These sales became holiday occasions, but the changing conditions in stock-raising and marketing gradually reduced the volume of business, and the sales were finally abandoned. The Granges at Casky and Longview also held a number of sales.

The old covered bridge, on West Seventh Street, was torn down in 1882, and replaced with a stone bridge, costing about $6,500.00. The county appropriated $2,000.00, and the city of Hopkinsville paid the rest.
The great fire that destroyed most of the frame business houses on the principal street occurred on the evening of October 25, 1882. It originated in a livery stable on Virginia Street, and spread rapidly to Main Street, and burned northward until several squares were in ashes, excepting the new fireproof brick building of the City Bank, on the corner of Main and Seventh Streets, which was saved. The losses aggregated about $250,000.00. and the insurance was small, not more than $40,000.00. It was a severe blow, but in the end the city was greatly benefited. The old frame buildings were replaced by substantial brick stores, and the fire proved to be a blessing in disguise.

The Hopkinsville Public Schools were developing so rapidly that the attendance of three hundred and twenty-four at the start two years before was six hundred and fifteen in 1883.

The fire the year before, had created a great building boom, and the country at large was prosperous. The county was in a highly prosperous condition and continued so for several years
The big sewer on Ninth Street, putting under ground the open drainage valley across Main Street, was built this year.

In November a vote on a waterworks proposition was taken, and carried overwhelmingly. The proposition came from a man named F. M. Loweree, but he failed to enter into a contract. The people were anxious for water, but they had to wait several years more.

A merchant named John T. Wright created much interest all over the State by eating “Thirty birds in thirty days.” It had been claimed that a man could not eat a quail every day for a month without becoming sick and nauseated from the same diet every day. Wright demonstrated that it could be done. He finished with a robust appetite.
Maj. S. R. Crumbaugh elected President of South Kentucky College to take charge January, 1884.

The Western Kentucky Lunatic Asylum at this period was controlled by a local board of nine commissioners and executive officers appointed by the Governor. The personnel in 1884 was: Superintendent, Dr. James Rodman; First assistant physician, Dr. B. W. Stone; Second Assistant Physician, Dr. B. F. Eager; Steward, F. L. Waller; Clerk, George Poindexter; Treasurer, John B. Trice; Board of Commissioners, S. E. Trice, Geo. 0. Thompson, S. G. Buckner, R. T. Petree, John N. Mills, John Feland, James E. Jesup, Chas. M. Meacham and Rev. J. C. Tate.
The Newstead Turnpike Company organized in April, 1884, and built a turnpike to Newstead.


W. H. Perrin, assisted by a corps of assistants named Battle, Knowles, Tydings, Berry and Ford, made Hopkinsville headquarters while writing histories of Christian, Todd and Trigg Counties. The history was issued in three editions, the matter pertaining to Christian County being in all of them, excepting the biographical sketches. A few of these books are still in existence.

Hopkinsville at this time boasted a silver Cornet Band, that accompanied Company D on its trips. The Company held a competitive drill June 2 and awarded a silver cup to James F. Garity as the best drilled soldier. After the drill, a skating contest on roller skates was won by Miss Mate Trice (afterwards Mrs. Joseph C. Buckner).
The Pembroke Baptist Church organized with eighty members who took letters from Bethel Church, a few miles from Pembroke.

J. E. McPherson elected cashier of the Bank of Hopkinsville, succeeding John W. Faxon, July 1st.
Progress being made in grading for the Indiana, Alabama & Texas Railroad through South Christian.
Thomas W. Keene on October 17 played Richard III at the Hopkinsville Opera House.


Jesse Stamper, of Lafayette, in an interview said he voted for Andrew Jackson in 1832, and had continued to vote the Democratic ticket, voting for Cleveland in November. Robert Rives, also of LaFayette, who had voted for Jackson in 1832, was sick and failed to get to the polls in 1884.

Charles White, a pensioner of the War of 1812, was living in Christian County in 1885, one of the five hundred and eighty-two survivors of the war.


The first Company D, organized June 20, 1882, was mustered out at the end of three years’ enlistment, June, 1885. On July 18, 1885, a new Company D was organized and mustered into service with forty-three members, as follows: Ed. R. Cook, Jr., captain; John Feland, Jr., first lieutenant; Jouett Henry, second lieutenantL Roster: J. F. Garity, J. L. Samuels, E. G. Lewis, S. S. Buckner, W. C. Bell, H. Long, Sol Fritz, H. Templeton, H. R. Roper, Wm. Salter, C. Lindsay, W. C. Williams, E. Roper, Ike Lipstine, Alex Ducker, John Wright, Dick Trainum, Fred Driscol, Wm. Donaldson, J. D. Higgins, D. Enoch, J. Roper, T. Hanbery, C. Western, Jas. Haergerty, Thos. Brown, Logan Feland, Dick Scales, Matt Mitchell, Walter Campbell, B. U. Campbell, Jas. Tandy, M. Long, Rufus Crabtree, R. Pollard, D. L. Johnson, J. L. Myers, J. Lindsay and J. E. Campbell. Term of enlistment, three years. John G. Ellis, quartermaster, and H. H. Abernathy, sergeant major, K. S. G., Dr. F. H. Clarke, regimental surgeon.
Dr. John D. Clardy was elected Worthy Overseer of the Kentucky State Grange.


On January 2, 1885, Dick Gary killed a fine large buck, a few miles south of Hopkinsville. It was supposed that it swam the Cumberland River in Trigg County, as there were deer between the rivers at that time. So far as known, it was the last deer killed in Christian County.

The Christian County Creamery was established near Casky with R. F. Rives, president.


The Grand Jury empaneled in March had seven white men and five colored men on it, the first time colored men had served on a Grand Jury in Western Kentucky. The Hopkinsville & Cadiz Railroad Company was incorporated. Fred A. Wallis, a boy employed in the mill of Rabbeth & Brownell, was accidentally shot March 20 and painfully wounded by the discharge of a pistol in his pocket. The boy who “toted the gun” is now Hon. Frederick A. Wallis, late Commissioner of Immigration in New York City, now a capitalist of Paris, Ky., prominently mentioned for Governor of Kentucky.


Many wild turkeys reported in the woods near Macedonia. One gobbler killed by John Nave weighed twenty-four pounds.  The City Council orders the removal of all hitching posts, wooden awnings and projecting signs, from the principal streets in Hopkinsville. The city was accused of “putting on airs.”
A proposition to allow a vote on a $60,000.00 bond issue in Hopkinsville to build a railroad to Cadiz, was passed by four to three. Councilmen Brownell, Long, Ellis and Starling voted aye and Councilmen Petree, Thompson and Hill, no. Judge R. T. Petree explained his negative vote by saying he doubted the legality of the action taken.

The lobby of the Hopkinsville Postoffice was left open to box-holders day and night for the first time.
Wilson & Galbreath start a bread wagon, and will deliver bread anywhere in the city of Hopkinsville.
Col. Milton D. Brown was in town with his famous moustache, measuring twenty-eight inches from “tip to tip.” Col. Brown was afterwards City Judge of Hopkinsville.

Dr. James Rodman reappointed superintendent of the Western Asylum for another term of four years. It had five hundred and sixty-three patients at that time.

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant died July 23, 1885, and general sorrow prevailed.

John C. Latham, president of the Bank of Hopkinsville, died August 30, 1885, and was succeeded by E. P. Campbell.

An ordinance passed by the Hopkinsville City Council prohibiting the riding of bicycles on the streets two years before was repealed at the request of the ten owners of bicycles--Dr. B. W. Stone, Alex Overshiner, Alex Crabbe, Stanton Armistead, Bud Steele, James Cooper, Dick Tyler, Tom Overshiner and Frank Gorman. The council, also at the same meeting, voted to give numbers to the cross streets that up to that time had names.

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