HISTORY OF TRIGG COUNTY
I - II CHAPTER III
CHAPTER III. MATERIAL PROSPERITY OF THE COUNTY-ERECTION OF PUBLIC BUILDINGS - THE FIRST COURT HOUSE-OTHER TEMPLES OF .JUSTICE-JAILS-ATTQRNEYS PAST AND PRESENT-MATTHEW MATES-JUDGE BRADLEY-POLITICAL HISTORY-How THE COUNTY HAS VOTED FROM ITS ORGANIZATION TO THE PRESENT TIME-ASPIRANTS WHO WERE ELECTED AND DEFEATED -ROADS AND HIGHWAYS-TURNPIKES-SOME THAT HAVE BEEN BUILT AND SOME THAT WILL NOT BE-RAILROAD HISTORY, WHICH IS "SHORT AND SWEET "-SUMMARY, ETC., ETC.
The County grew in prosperity and developed rapidly under individual organization. Soon after the location of the seat of justice arrangements were entered into for the erection of public buildings. To this character of internal improvement, a brief space will now be devoted.
First Court House.-Official dignity in the early days was of a homespun kind, and required no great expense to provide appropriate surroundings. The first building in which the Board of Justices met, or, in other words, the first court house, if the term is not too dignified to be applicable, was the log structure at Warrington, occupied as a residence by Samuel Orr. This building was a rude affair, and was used by the court but a single day. The next house, as already stated, was the dwelling of Robert Baker, at Cadiz, which was used for general court and county purposes until the fall of 1821, at which time a temple of justice more in keeping with the dignity and growth of the new county was erected. The order for the first court house bears date of January 21, 1821, and the material part of it reads as follows: "It is ordered that the building of a court house for this county be let to the lowest bidder on the first day of the next term of this court, of the following dimensions, to-wit: A frame building of good sound materials, with a floor paved with bricks, the whole house to be 24x86 feet, and 12 feet pitch; two jury-rooms of 12 feet square, and the court-room to be 22x24 feet of the pitch aforesaid; to be finished in workmanlike manner, according to the plan then to be furnished." The original plan of the building was subsequently changed, 80 as to make the length 36 instead of 24 feet.
Abraham Boyd, James Daniel, Richard Dawson and Ferdinand Wadlington were appointed commissioners to let the contract and superintend the construction of the house. As they held out few inducements to architects, the bidding of contractors was not very lively. William Patterson finally made satisfactory arrangements with the board, and was awarded the undertaking, he agreeing to complete the building for the sum of $1,575, the same to be paid out of money arising from the sale of the donation of land to the town of Cadiz. The building was finished and formally received by the commissioners on the 19th day of November, 1821. Three years later an addition was made to the southwest corner costing $384, and in 1824 the entire structure was painted, and the windows crossed with heavy wooden bars. From what can be learned of the building, it appears to have been illy arranged and poorly adapted for court purposes, and a few years after its completion the propriety of erecting a more commodious edifice began to be discussed. At the October term of 1831 it was decided to put up a new brick building, and William Haden, James Garnett, Thomas McFarland, Thomas W. Hammond, Philemon Frayser, Lipscomb Norvell and William Cannon were appointed commissioners with full powers to fix upon that part of the public square which they should deem most eligible, and to adopt such plans for the building as they should mutually agree upon. The plan adopted by the board was a two-story building 40 feet square containing a court-room and two jury-rooms on the second floor, and the necessary county offices below; the entire structure to be completed according to specifications by the 20th day of May, 1833. A number of proposals for the work were made by different architects, the lowest responsible bidder being David Lotspeich, who was awarded the contract for $2,445. The house was ready for use by the time specified, and immediately thereafter the old court house was ordered sold, which was done on the 8th of July, 1833, the county realizing from its sale the sum of $70.
As the business of the county continued to increase it was found that the offices were not sufficiently large, and in 1843 a clerk's office was erected, which is still standing in the rear of the new court house. The second court house served its purpose until during the civil war, when it was burned by a detachment of Confederate troops to pr'event its falling into the hands of the Federals. Before its destruction, however, all the records and papers were removed to a place of safety, and aside from the building the county suffered no serious loss. The house was ordered rebuilt in June, 1865, and Thomas H. Grinter, R. A. Burnett and M. A. Smith were appointed Commissioners to let the contract and superintend the work. An ad valorem tax of 15 cents on each $100 worth of property was listed for the year 1866, for the purpose of securing a building fund. Messrs. Pool & Boyd were awarded the contract for $11,950, a sum which was afterward increased, and work on the building went vigorously forward until its completion in 1866. The house was 52x40 feet in size, two stories high, and surmounted by a dome 24 feet high. Al. though substantially constructed it was a very indifferent building and poorly adapted for the purposes for which it was designed. In 1881 a Committee composed of J. F. Gentry, John G. Jefferson and Fenton Simms was appointed to examine the condition of the building and report the same to the County Court. After a thorough examination they reported the house to be both dangerous and inadequate for court purposes, and recommended that steps be taken to rebuild it on a larger and more convenient plan. At the December term of 1881 the following action was taken concerning the matter: "Resolved, that our Representative and Senator in the General Assembly are hereby requested by the Trigg County Court of Claims to procure the passage of an act by the Legislature of Kentucky authorizing this Court to issue and sell the bonds of Trigg County for the purpose of building new clerk's office by remodeling the court house or otherwise. Said bonds not to bear a greater rate of interest than 6 per cent, and to be redeemable at any time after ten years from their issual-to be sold for not less than par or face value; and also authorizing the Court to levy an ad valorem tax not to exceed 10 cents on the $100 worth of taxable property in the county, to pay the interest and redeem said bonds." At the same term W. G. Blane, Fenton Simms, John G. Jefferson, J. F. Gentry and F. C. Dabriey were appointed a committee for the purpose of ascertaining the best, most practical, economical and substantial plans for the work, and to that end they were authorized to secure the services of some efficient architect and builder.
On the 11th of February, 1882, an act was passed by the General Assembly authorizing the county to issue and sell bonds to the amount of $10,000 for the purpose of securing a building fund. This sum was found to be insufficient, and a bill for an additional $2,500 was afterward passed and work on the house commenced. The design was drawn by D. A. McKinnon, an experienced architect of Paducah, and on the 5th of April, 1883, Thomas E. Morgan, also of Paducah, was awarded the contract for $10,250. Mr. Morgan failing to give the necessary bond required by the court, another contract was entered into on the 12th day of March of the same year with Messrs. Cosby & Landrum, of Mayfield, Ky., who agreed to complete the work according to plans and specificat1ons for the sum of $11,400. This sum was afterward increased by the addition of $1,000, The seating and furnishing of the court-room and offices cost the sum of $1,600, and taken all in all the house is one of the most convenient, beautiful and imposing structures of its size and cost in the State. Its extreme length, is ninety-five feet; extreme width, sixty-five feet ; size of court-room, 62x62 feet. On the second floor, aside from the court room, are two jury and one consulting rooms, all of which are furnished in the most artistic manner. On the first floor are the six county offices, three on each side of a wide ball running the entire length of the building. One of the most pleasing features of the structure is the beautiful tower, in which a magnificent clock has been placed by the citizens of Cacliz at a coat of over $600. The dials, four in number, are plainly visible from every possible approach to the town, and the music of the bell tolling the hours can be heard for many, many miles. The entire building was erected under the personal superintendency of John A. Scott, of Fulton, one of the most skillful practic'al builders in the State, and is complete in all its parts. The following notice of the building appears in the Old Guard of May 6, 1884:
The carpenters' work on the new court house at this place is now completed, and the present term of the Trigg Circuit Court is being held in the magnificent court-room above. The rooms of the county officers have not been taken possession of yet, but will be in a few days, or at least so soon as the necessary furniture can be moved into them. The building is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the State, and notwithstanding the work has been all done at less than one-fourth of the cost, it contains the same number of rooms as the court houses at Mayfield, Paducah, Hopkinsville and Owensboro, and the most inferior is quite superior to the best one of them.
The design of the house is sufficient of itself to make a character for Mr. McKinnon its architect, and the good wishes of the county will follow Mr. W. L. Landrum the contractor wherever he may go, for the faithful manner in which he has discharged his obligations.
Jails.-The county was supplied with a jail some time before a court house was built. At the first session of the County Court, William Husk, Samuel Orr and Abraham Boyd were appointed Commissioners to contract for and superintend the construction of a jail, and at the September term following, the contract was awarded to John Williams, who agreed to erect the building for the sum of $500. It was built of hewed logs twelve inches square, and was constructed 26x16 feet in size, ten logs high, and contained two rooms ceiled with two-inch oak plank fastened to the walls with heavy iron spikes. Its architectural plan was simply that of a tight box with one outside door, one inside door and three small windows, each of which was only nine inches square. The two apartments were known as the debtor's and criminal rooms, one leading off from the other. The doors were made of heavy timbers, the windows guarded with strong iron bars, and taken all in all it was a very secure, though quite a cramped prison pen. It stood on the northeast corner of the public square, and served its purpose until about the year 1833, when a lot was purchased where the present jail stands, and a larger and more substantial hewed-]og building erected. The second jail was a square building, and contained the prison rooms, one of which was made very secure by being lined with a heavy iron cage. As the county grew in population and the criminal classes increased in numbers the place of limbo was found inadequate to accommodate the numerous guests that applied for admission, and in 1838 we find that plans and specifications were drawn up for a new atone jail to be eighteen feet square and two stories high. These plans were abandoned at the September term of 1838, and it was decided to remodel the old building by adding extra room and weatherboarding, and otherwise improving the structure. This work was done, and the building thus rendered more secure and comfortable stood until the year 1857, at which time it was agreed to erect a brick jail, and plans for the same were accordingly drawn up and submitted. The contract was awarded to John McKintry, who for the sum of $1,600 agreed to complete the building according to specifications and have it ready for use by the second Monday in September, 1857. The structure was thirty-four feet in length, fifteen feet four inches in width, one story high and contained three rooms, one of which, the dungeon, was fitted up with the old iron cage between which and the brick walls was built a "pen" of solid post oak logs reaching to the ceiling, thus rendering the apartment doubly secure. The building, though well constructed and sufficiently secure to prevent the escape of culprits confined within its walls, was found in a short time to be inadequate for prison purposes, and ten years after its completion the necessity of having a new jail began to be discussed. At the January term of 1867 it was decided by an almost unanimous vote of the Justices to erect the building, and A. B. Dyer, R. A. Burnett and M. S. Smith were appointed Commissioners to let the contract and superintend its construction. They were authorized to sell the bonds of the county to the amount of not more than $10,000, to be redeemed in not less than one year nor more than ten years, in order to secure the necessary funds for the prosecution of the anticipated work. A contract was entered into with F. W. Merz, of Louisville, to furnish the inside iron work for the sum of $4,500, and P. S. Pool being the lowest bidder for the brick and stonework was awarded the contract for the same, he agreeing to complete it for $3,520. The plans of the building were afterward changed 80 as to include a jailor's residence, the contractor agreeing to remodel the old building for the purpose at an additional cost of $600. According to the terms of the contract the prison was to have been completed ar d ready for occupancy by the 15th day of May, 1867, hut owing to some cause unknown it was not received until two years later, the plans in the meantime undergoing several modifications. The building stands on the lot occupied by the old jail, and with the improvements added since its erection answers well the purposes for which it is intended.
Attorneys.-Among the list of prominent attorneys who have practiced at the bar of Trigg County may be mentioned:
Hon. John J. Crittenden,
Daniel S. Mayes (a brother of Matthew Mayes),
Joseph R. Underwood,
Charles S. Morehead,
Beverly S. Clark,
Joseph B. Crockett,
Robert A. Patterson,
John W. Crockett,
George W. Barbour and others.
The present bar of the county is comprised of the following lawyers:
T. C. Dabney,
John R. Grace,
W. F. Simms,
J. E. Kelly,
E. F. Dabney,
Robert A. Burnett
and H. B. Wayland.
E. C. Spiceland.
Maj. Matthew Mayes.-Prominent among the distinguished lawyers of Trigg County was Maj. Matthew Mayes, without a sketch of whom this history would be incomplete. The following sketch was prepared and kindly furnished by Mr. McKinney: Maj. Mayes was a native of Kentucky, and was born in the shadows of the past or the early dawn of the present century. His father died when he was young, and not having been designed for the legal profession his early educational advantages were somewhat neglected. He lived on his mother's plantation until be arrived at the years of maturity, when, becoming di8satisfied with the drudgery of an agriculturist, he determined to change his vocation. He taught school for a short time, and commenced the study of law in the office of his brother, Daniel Mayes of Hopkinsville. He was not long in preparing for the duties of the profession, and having received his license to practice law in the courts of this Commonwealth, removed to Cadiz on the formation of the new County of Trigg and was admitted to the bar of this court on the 23d day of August, 1820, and here his long professional career begins. It is not in the language of hyperbole, when his friends claim that he sprang at once to the very first position in the profession. Without the brilliancy of William T. Barry or the burning eloquence of Mr. Crittenden or the two Moreheads, he was the superior of them all, not only in the technicalities, but in the broad and comprehensive principles of the common law. As a special pleader, those who were familiar with both, claim that he was the superior of his brother Daniel; and when we take into consideration the fact that the former practiced law a number of years in Lexington, and held a professorship in the Law Department of Transylvania University, and afterward, having moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where we have the testimony of Senator Foote and Sargent S. Prentiss, that he was without an equal in the whole State, some conception may be had of Maj. Mayes' perfect knowledge of that intricate branch f the profession.
As a judge of law it was conceded that he had no equal in southwestern Kentucky, and but very few in the State. As a practitioner he was a model of professional decorum, and we have often heard Judge Hise, Mr. Sharp and James F. Buckner remark that they had never sprung a point on him that seemed at all to disconcert him or take him by surprise. As a speaker he was calm, clear and concise, and never at a loss for a word to express himself, but was never ornate nor eloquent. His speeches never were tedious and generally lasted from forty minutes to an hour, and every sentence was a legal maxim. His faithfulness and devotion to his clients amounted almost to stubbornness, so much so that when they found a gentleman who was immovable in his convictions, the members of the profession frequently taunted him with the charge that he adhered to his opinions as tenaciously as Mayes would cling to a client.
He was a constant reader, but, having very little taste for poetry, history or the essays of great literary celebrities, confined himself almost exclusively to the Bible, his law books and novels ; the latter he would devour by the armful. He was very decided in his political opinions, despised the very name of Democrat, but it is thought it was more from prejudice than an enlightened conviction, for he frequently confessed that he had no taste and very little knowledge of political questions. He never attempted to make a political speech, except a few in the campaigns of 1844, and never recovered from the mortification excited by the result of the contest.
In personal appearance and intellectual vigor we know of no one who reminds us so much of him as the present Speaker of the House of Federal Representatives. He had the size, carriage, complexion and every makeup of speaker Carlisle, and we can recall, at this day, but one difference in the two men. Mr. Carlisle is very calm and deliberate in social disputation, but warms up into a perfect furor of excitement the very moment he mounts the stand; while Maj. Mayes was fully as excitable in the social circle as Mr. Carlisle is upon the hustings; he was calm and as gentle when he arose to address the court or jury as if the court-room were a parlor filled with ladies.
Judge C. D. Bradley. --- The name of but few men living or dead will excite in the people of Trigg County a more pleasant remembrance than that of Judge Bradley. He settled in Cadiz soon after the formation of the county, and up to the breaking out of the war, except when he was on the bench, was the great law rival of Maj. Mayes. They were on one side or the other of all important suits, and all important cases of other courts, and if one chanced to be retained it almost insured a fee for .the other on the opposite side, for notwithstanding there were better speakers, for profound, comprehensive knowledge of the law it was very generally conceded that they ranked all other lawyers in this end of the State. Mr. Bradley was a great favorite in Cadiz; everybody loved and respected him, and though many differed with him very positively on questions of public policy, there was not a citizen of the town identified with the opposition who would not have risked his own life in his defense. Yet he conceived the idea that there were persons here who were devising means to have him assassinated, and the belief took such possession of his mind that he actually moved away from the town, and was never back here but once afterward. As a matter of course his apprehension was all imaginary, but no one who was at all familiar with him doubted for a moment that he honestly believed that people plotted his death. He was eccentric in all things, but withal the most delightful companion for young men in the world. One would suppose that half the object of his life was devoted to devising plans for improving the morals, the intelligence, and contributing to the pleasure of the young men of the town. He organized reading clubs, debating societies, moot courts and social games for young people, and would enter into them with all the enthusiasm a-nd spirit of a boy of eighteen. If an old attorney was leading a young man into a snare in the trial of a case in court, you would find Bradley flying to the assistance of the young attorney, if the old one was representing the cause of one of the most intimate friends he had on earth. He would listen to the story of a school boy who had gotten into trouble with his teacher, and with too much prudence to let the boy know it, he would never lose sight of it until he arrived at the true facts of the case, then if he found the boy in error, he told him of it, and if the fault was the teacher's he was just as sure to hear it as the boy. His excitement was so intense that he took part in every dog fight that occurred upon the street, and if a social game of "seven up" was going on between the boys, he was sure to be one of the party, and would become as much interested and excited as if he had £1,000 at stake. He was very systematic and thought himself the most methodical man in the world. lie had a theory for everything and arrived at all conclusions purely upon theoretical principle. He had a theory for loading a gun, the scent of a staghound, or the speed of a race-horse, and whenever one of them failed to exemplify itself in practice, he accounted for the failure by its being an exception to the general rule. He had him a rifle made especially for target-shooting, and paid a certain man $150 for a scrub colt, because by every principle and theory of locomotion he was compelled to make the fastest running horse in the world. Yet he was always beaten at the shooting matches, and Dr. D. Maxwell, now of Paclucah, upon one occasion made a bet with him to run himself a foot-race against the horse, which he did do and actually beat him. Judge Bradley took an active part in political matters, and was a stanch Union man during the war. He served a term on the bench of this district, and no man living or dead ever had a doubt of his splendid capacity and his integrity as an upright and impartial Judge.
Political History.-Much of what appears in the following pages is tak en from Maj. McKinney's excellent historical sketches, and his accounts of the early elections are appropriated entire. The first recorded vote in the county was for members of Congress and for members of the Legislature at the August election of 1822. The candidates for Congress were Robert P. Henry and Dixon Given. The former received in the county 271 votes, and the latter 107. The candidates for the Legislature were Benjamin Patten, Nathan 0. Haden, Thomas Raleigh and Thomas Barnett.
The vote stood as follows: Patten, 233; Haden, 202; Raleigh, 161 and Barnett, 108. Henry was elected to Congress, and Patten and Barnett were elected to represent Christian and Trigg Counties in the Legislature. In the winter of 1823 the Legislature granted to Trigg County a separate representative in the lower house. The contest at the August electi9n for that year was hotly contested. The candidates for the Legislature were Charles Caldwell and Thomas Raleigh. Caldwell received 250 votes, and Raleigh 248; majority for Caidwell two. There were three candidates for Governor that year, and the vote in this county swod as follows : Joseph Desha, 328 votes; Christopher Thom pkins, 136, and William Russell, 4. For Congress, Robert P. Henry received 477 votes.
In the year 1825 Maj. George Street, father of John L. Street, defeated Col. Caldwell for the Legislature. There were three voting precincts then, and the vote stood as follows:
Street. Caldwell. Cadiz 289 30 Canton 60 84 Burnett's Precinct 6 188 355 302
Maj. Street receiving a majority of 53 votes he was re-elected the following year over Thomas Raleigh, by a majority of 34 votes.
This last election seemed to have stirred up something of a sectional hostility in the county that has continued more or less to the present day. Maj. Street lived in the eastern portion of the county, and Col. Caidwell, near the elbow, on the opposite side of the Cumberland River. Street was therefore a Cadiz man and Caldwell a Canton man. Street had defeated Caidwell for the Legislature, and the following year defeated his friend Raleigh for the same office. This, as was very natural, created animosity between the two sections, and hence arose the question of the removal of the county seat from Cadiz to Canton. Matters were pretty warm next year, and as both parties were marshaling for a vigorous struggle, they concluded to select from each section new men, against whom no prejudice had been aroused by previous conflicts. The Cadiz people selected George Daniel and the Canton party selected as their champion Abraham Boyd, the father of the county, and ancestor of Hon. Linn Boyd. The result was not withstanding the great personal strength of Mr. Daniel that the Canton men were victorious. Boyd was elected by the scant majority of 46 votes.
In 1828 the contest between the two contending factions culminated in the re-election of Abraham Boyd over James Coleman, by a majority of 35 votes. But things began to show a change in 1829. The contest that year was between Dr. George Venable and Abraham Boyd. Dr. o\Tenable was elected by only 13 votes. This ended the serious agitation of the removal of the county seat from Cadiz to Canton. The next year Lipscomb Norvell was elected over A. Samuel, by a majority of 82 votes out of the 100 cast. The next year Linn Boyd and Joseph Wad dill were candidates for the Legislature, and a full vote of the county was polled, Boyd receiving 543 and Waddill 348. None of the county officers except the members of the Legislature were elected by the people. The magistrates were commissioned by the Governor, and the oldest in commission succeeded to the Sheriffalty, retaining the office for two years. William Scott by virtue of being the oldest magistrate succeeded to the office twice, the first time in 1826 and again in 1840. Dick Dawson was the Presiding Justice of the County Court up to the year 1831.
The year 1832 was the Presidential year of the great contest between Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay. It was the first year, too, that the parties were distinctly arrayed under the old familiar appellation ofWhig and Democrat. No conventions were held those days, but a universal popular applause for great party leaders pointed out the candidates in the place of a convention. Still in that year, to secure a more perfect organization a congressional caucus had nominated each. Martin Van Buren was on the ticket with Gen. Jackson, as a candidate for Vice President, and John Sargent for the same place, on the ticket with Mr. Clay. The politicians of the State seemed to have selected their subordinates with a view of meeting the exigencies of the great struggle that was approaching. Among the distinguished men that appear on the electoral ticket with Mr. Clay, were E. M. Ewing, John J. Marshall, William Ousley, Ben Hardin, Theodore Chilton and M. V. Thompson. On that of Gen. Jackson were found the names of William 0. Butler, John Speed, Smith-James Guthrie, T. S. Slaughter and Matthew Lyon. The vote in Trigg County stood at the close of the polls, November 7, 1832, as follows:
Jackson. Clay. Cadiz 177 301 Canton 104 20 Roaring Springs 98 53 Totals 439 374
Majority in the county for Jackson, 65 votes. The candidates for the Legislature that year were Judge James E. Thompson and Dr. Isaac Burnett. It was a strictly a political canvass with just enough personal matters thrown in to enable Judge Thompson's great personal popularity to bear him triumphantly through. He was elected by a majority of 52 votes. The next year Burnett was elected by a majority of 159 votes, over two competitors, Robert Baker and Col. T. W. Hammond.
In the Presidential campaign of 1836 Harrison and Granger were the candidates of the Whig party, and Martin Van Buren and Richard M. Johnson were candidates of the Democratic party. Van Buren carried the county by a majority of eighty-eight votes.
The year 1840 was one of the most notable epochs in the history of Kentucky, or perhaps in American annals. The political canvasses were vigorous, impressive, and very aggressive. Public meetings were held in various portions of the county, and clubs were formed, and more than one canoe or log-cabin was placed upon wheels and hauled around, and more than one barrel of hard cider was tapped to elevate the spirits of the enthusiastic Whigs. John L. Murray and Robert Patterson were the Democratic and Whig electors for the First District that year. Mr. Murray, whose health had already begun to fail, did not participate very actively in the canvass, but Patterson was everywhere, addressing the large audiences, giving free rein to acrimonious invective, the effect of which was said to have been wonderful. The result was, at the November election the county showed only a majority of nineteen votes for Van Buren and Johnson over Harrison and Tyler. The latter carried the State by a large majority, and were overwhelmingly elected to the Presidency and Vice-Presidency of the United States. This was the first Whig ticket that had ever been elected since the formation of the party, and unless we claim Gen. Taylor, who was voted for by the Whigs as a "no party inon," it was destined to be the last.
But few persons living then will fail to recollect the exciting political events of 1844. It was about this time that the question of an increase of slave territory began to warmly interest the citizens of the country, and a limited abolition sentiment began manifesting itself in many of the Northern States. Early in 1844 it was well known that the efforts of the Democracy would be directed in the coming campaign toward the election of a President who favored the admission of Texas into the Union, and thereby an increase of slave territory ; while the Whigs on the contrary took an opposite stand, opposing the admission of Texas, in order to limit the domain of slavery, and they accordingly nominated Henry Clay, while the Democrats selected James K. Polk. These were the principal tickets, though not the only ones. The Liberty party placed in the field Birney and Morris, the platform differing somewhat from that of the Whigs, but resembling it in opposing an increase of slave territory. The vote stood in Trigg County as follows:
Polk. Clay. Cadiz - 265 397 Canton 212 Roaring Springs 174 64 Totals 651 507
A majority for Polk of 94 votes.
In the Presidential campaign of 1848 the first extensive Free-Soil movement was made. The violent debates in Congress on questions growing out of slavery attracted universal attention and interest. In 1846 David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, had introduced in Congress what became known as the Wilmot Proviso, which prohibited slavery in any territory which might be acquired from Mexico or elsewhere. Though the measure was defeated finally, some of the most eloquent and passionate speeches in American history were delivered in Congress while it was pending. The interest in Trigg County led to the partial organization of a Free-Soil party, many citizens who had formerly figured prominently in both old parties joining its ranks. The Whig candidates were Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore. The Democrats nominated Lewis Cass and William 0. Butler, while the Free-Soilers put in nomination Martin Van Buren. Unfortunately no record of the vote of Trigg County for that year was obtained, the poll book having by some means become misplaced.
In the year 1850 the present Constitution of Kentucky was adopted, and on Monday the 12th of May, an election was appointed for the purpose of selecting persons to fill all the civil offices of the State. Previous to this time there had been no election of such officers by the popular voice of the people. The Judges of the Court of Appeals, Circuit Judges, Commonwealth Attorneys, Justices, etc., were all appointed by the Governor; the Clerk of the Court of Appeals by the Judges of that court; the Circuit Clerks by the Circuit Judges; the County Clerk by the Justices comprising that court, and the Jailor, Assessor, Constables, etc., by the same.
No elections were held by the people except for President, Vice-President, Governor, Lieutenant-Governor,Members of Congress, and of the Senate and Legislature. The following candidates were before the people at the first election under the new Constitution:
Thomas Towles, Fay Henry and J. W. Waddill, for Commonwealth's Attorney; Towles was elected.
Thomas C. Dabney, Mark M. Tyler and T. W. Hammond, candidates for County Judge; Dabney elected.
The candidates for Circuit Clerk were Henry C. Burnett and James E. Thompson. Burnett was elected, and before the expiration of his term of office resigned the position, and was elected to Congress from this district.
A. S. Dabney and E. Vinson, Jr., were opposing candidates for County Clerk; Dabney elected.
B. Candidates for Sheriff were Stanley Thomas, B. J. Wall, John Humphries, Thomas Ingram and Ira Ellis; Thomas elected. Otley Grace, John J. Dyer, Thomas Rogers, - Adams and - Layton were candidates for Assessor; Grace elected. James Richardson, A. Thomas, B. B. Mart and Kinchen Battoe for Surveyor; Richardson elected. Daniel Landes was elected to the Legislature, and George W. Barbour to the Senate.
After the Presidential election of 1848, there was no abatement of interest throughout the country until the passage of the celebrated "Omnibus Bill" in 1850. The question of the admission of California into the Union had come up, and had stirred to intense bitterness the sentiments of both parties in Congress, and in all portions of the country. And when Henry Clay came forward with his celebrated compromise, which provided among other things for the admission of California as a free State, and for the return of fugitive slaves to their masters, both Clay and his compromise were hailed by all except the Abolitionists with universal joy. The Free-Soil party was determined, and kept the South violently nettled. The Whigs nominated Gen. Winfield Scott, and the Democratic standard-bearer was Franklin Pierce. The vote in this county was as follows: Pierce and King, 629 votes; Scott and Graham, 560; Pierce's majority, 69 votes. This was the last political struggle of the old Whig party. The agitation of the great principles for which Mr. Clay had so aggressively contended tranquilly subsided, its organization was broken up, and the record of its achievements glided peacefully away into history.
The year 1856 was the first year the Abolitionists had ever attempted Seriously to extend their views touching slavery into anything like national proportions. The fugitive slave law was intensely odious to all the North except a few who were in sentiment favorably disposed toward Slavery. The Republican party sprang into life and conducted one of the most exciting campaigns in the history of the nation. They called a national convention, which had a full representation from the Northern and Western States, and nominated Fremont and Dayton for President and Vice-President.
Buchanan and Breckinridge were the names presented by the Democratic, and Fillmore and Donaldson by the American party. "The most prominent candidate for the office of Vice-President this year was a distinguished citizen of Trigg County, and its old Representative in Congress, the Hon. Linn Boyd. Mr. Boyd would surely have been the nominee but for a successful ruse upon the part of the delegation from Virginia. It was pretty well conceded that Mr. Boyd was the strongest man whose name had been mentioned in connection with the office, and unless something was done to arrest the tide in his favor, would most likely receive the nomination on the second or third ballot. Just then the name of John C. Breckinridge was proposed; and after a number of ineffectual attempts to have his name withdrawn, with the purest motives, the gentleman himself, who was present, was called upon the stand for the purpose of withdrawing his name in person, which he did, but the fine appearance of the man, the dignity and elegance of his style and the pure disinterestedness of his patriotism and devotion to his party electrified the whole body, and each individual member appearing to rise at once to his feet, lie was nominated by acclamation. This was the last election in which all the conflicting elements of the Democratic party have been thoroughly united." The vote of Trigg County was as follows:
Votes Buchanan and Breckinridge 859
Fillmore and Donaldson 581
Frenont aed Dayton 0
The Presidential canvass of 1860 was contemplated from the beginning by all men of reflection with the most profound solicitude. For a few years preceding 1860 the sentiment on both sides had become so bitter, and the North, and especially the Republican party, had been so outspoken against slavery that the South instinctively felt that the election of the Republican candidate, Mr. Lincoln, meant serious interference with that institution. The November election was scarcely over ere ordinances of secession were passed, and preparations for war began on both sides. The war came, and the Republic was preserved in a modified form.
The vote of the county is given as follows by districts:
Breckinridge. Douglas Boll. Lincoln Cadiz 182 3 213 0 Canton 65 39 82 0 Roaring Springs 120 95 78 1 Ferguson Springs 51 23 58 0 Wallonia 104 1 75 0 Betheoda 90 0 61 0 Futrell's 66 16 31 0
It will thus be perceived that Breckinridge received 675 votes; Bell, 600; Douglas, 175; and Lincoln but 1.
In 1864 the contest was really upon the question of continuing the war. As the Confederate States were out of the contest, the question was decided wholly by the Northern States. Lincoln's re-election developed the fact that the North was in favor of continuing the war, and the struggle for supremacy was vigorously renewed. The vote of this county, if any at that election, is not accessible.
The Presidential election of 1868 placed Gen. Grant at the head of the nation. The election returns for Trigg show the following vote:
Seymour and Blair, 1,199; Grant and Colfax, 108. In 1872, Grant came up for re-election. The Republicans who opposed him united with the mass of the Democracy and placed Horace Greeley in the field. The straight-out Democrats nominated Charles O'Conor. Trigg County voted as follows : Greeley and Blair, 977; Grant and Wilson, 928; O'Conor, 71. In 1876 Tilden and Hendricks were the nominees of the Democratic party, and Hayes and Wheeler were selected as standard-bearers by the Republicans. The events of that celebrated campaign have gone into history and need not be repeated here. The following result shows how Trigg County's vote was divided between the two tickets: Tilden and Hendricks, 1,508 votes; Hayes and Wheeler, 994 votes. In 1880 three national tickets were put in the field-Hancock and English by the Democrats, Garfield and Arthur by the Republicans, and Weaver and Chambers by the Greenback party. The election in Trigg County gave the following return: Hancock, 1,262 ; Garfield, 873 Vireaver, 48. Thus it will be seen that the county has been from the first Democratic, and that, too, by a majority which numerous disasters have been unable to overcome.
Roads a-nd Trails.-The early lines of travel through this part of Kentucky were along the Indian trails. These were clearly defined paths about eighteen inches wide and worn into the ground, sometimes to the depth of eight or ten inches. They traversed the country in almost every direction, but no traces of them are to be found at the present time. An early trail known as the Buffalo trace, so called from its having been used by buffaloes as well as by the Indians, led from the Cumberland River to Cerulean Springs, passing through the intervening section of country in a northwesterly and southeasterly direction. This trace was well defined as early as 1790, and was used as a road by the first settlers in traveling to and from the points connected. As the country became more thickly populated and roads a necessity, it was legally established, and was one of the earliest prominent thoroughfares in Trigg County. Only portions of the original route are used at the present time, the greater part having been abandoned many years ago. Another early road, and one that was quite extensively traveled, led from Hopkinsville to the Saline Salt works in Illinois. It passed in a northwesterly course through the northern part of Trigg County, and for many years was one of the principal highways of this section of the State.
The most important highway in Trigg County is the Columbus & Bowling Green State road, better known in this part of the country as the Canton & Hopkinsville road, established by an act of the State Legislature about the year 1319 or 1820. It leads from Bowling Green to the Mississippi River, passing through this county in a northwesterly direction, and was for many years the principal stage and mail route for Trigg and Christian Counties. The most important section of the road is the part lying between the towns of Canton and Hopkinsville, over which all the merchandise for the two counties was freighted until the construedon of the railroad to the latter place.
Prior to 1860 Canton was the distributing point for a large area of territory, and on this road could be seen, almost any day, lines of freight wagons, extending a mile or more in length. In the year 1858-59 a stock company, composed of the leading business men of Cadiz and a few from Christian County was organized, for the purpose of constructing a turnpike from the landing to Hopkinsville, and a charter for the road was accordingly obtained. The stock was placed upon the market in shares of $100 each, and work on the road went briskly forward until a section fourteen miles in length was completed. The part- finished extends from the landing to within a few miles of Montgomery Village, and cost the sum of $60,000. The road proved a paying investment, and returned a handsome profit until the completion of the railway to Uopkinsville, when, owing to the serious interference with the freighting interests, the stock began rapidly to decline. The present board of managers consists of the following gentlemen, to wit: J. S. Wharton, President and Collector; Thomas H. Grinter, Secretary and Treasurer; John L. Street, M. S. Thompson, W. J. Fuqua and R. Wilford.
"The same year the charter was obtained of the Kentucky Legislature to build the Hopkinsville, Cadiz & Canton Turnpike; one was also obtained to build a pike from a point on the Cumberland River, from what was then known as the Old Kelley Furnace Landing to Hopkinsville. and a town was chartered at the latter point. It being near Lineport, Tenn., a village through which the line dividing the States of Kentucky and Tennessee ran, the new town being near the old one, and also near the line of the two States, was consequently called Linetown on Linton. Subacription books for stock began to be circulated, not until some time after the Cadiz & Canton pike had been put under contract, but was proseouted with so much more energy that the two pikes were built and completed to the Christian County line about the same time; Hopkinsville and Christian County refusing to give any assistance to continue the road through that county, the work was discontinued at the line between the two counties, nor has it ever been resumed. Dr. John C. Whitlock was the President, and it may be said of a truth that he built and established both the pike and the town." The road never proved a paying venture, and has not been kept up for several years.
Railroad.-Hopes of securing a railroad have been entertained by the citizens of Trigg County for a number of years, and several projected lines have been run through the country at different times. The Indiana, Tennessee & Alabama road was surveyed in 1879, and is likely to b. completed within the next year. The projected route passes through the northeast corner of the county, and crosses the boundary at the Hopkinsyule road, near Henry Bryant's farm in Montgomery Precinct. This road, when completed, will be of great benefit to the country through which it passes, by affording markets within the easy reach of the citizens of eastern Trigg. It will also enhance the value of the lands lying contiguous.
To sum up, Trigg County needs railroads to properly develop its rich mines of wealth. With the requisite railroad facilities added to the water highways, Trigg would be fortunate above most of her neighbors. With all her tobacco, grain, stock, timber, rich ores, etc., railroads would soon make Trigg one of the richest counties in southwestern Kentucky.*- County of Trigg Kentucky , HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL - EDITED BY WILLIAM HENRY PERRIN - ILLUSTRATED. - F.A. BATTEY PUBLISHING CO. 1884.
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