HISTORY OF TRIGG COUNTY
I - II - III - IV - V - VI - VII - VIII - IX
CHAPTER IX CALEDONIA AND MONTGOMERY PRECINCTS-PHYSICAL FEATURES-BOUND ARIES, ETC. - EARLY SETTLERS-MILLS-EDUCATIONAL AND RELIGIOUS -CALEDONIA VILLAGE-DESCRIPTION AND TOPOGRAPHY OF MONTGOMERY PRECINCT-ITS AGRICULTURAL RESOVBCES-THE FIRST PIONEERS -EARLY INDUSTRIES AND IMPROVEMENTS-MONTGOMXRY VILLAGE- CHURCHES, SOCIETIES, ETC.
C ALEDONIA PRECINCT lies in the eastern part of the county, and is bounded as follows: Montgomery and Cadiz Precincts on the north and west, Cadiz and Roaring Springs on the south, and Christian County on the east. The principal water-course is Little River, which flows along the southern boundary. It receives a number of small tributaries which traverse the precinct in various directions, chief of which is Sinking Fork. Along the river the land is broken, but beyond the bluffs north and northeast is a fine undulating region unsurpassed in the county for its agricultural excellence, and is occupied by a class of thrifty and enterprising farmers. Corn, wheat and tobacco are chiefly produced, although the soil is well adapted to all the cereals and fruits indigenous to the climate of southern Kentucky. Many farmers, too, devote some attention to stock-raising, a business that is becoming of more importance every year. The original timber was chiefly black and white oak, hickory, poplar, gum, dogwood, sassafras, with elm and sycamore along the water-courses. Limestone abounds in immense quantities, and clear, cold springs are to be seen in many places throughout the precinct.
The settlement of Caledonia dates back almost to the beginning of the present century, and from the most reliable information accessible, Thomas Wadlington, Jr., appears to have been the first permanent settler. Mr. Wadlington came to Trigg County in company with his father, Thomas Wadlington, Sr., as early as 1792, and lived with the latter on his farm at what is known as Kent's Bridge in Cadiz Precinct, until 1803, at which time he fell heir to a tract of land in this precinct, where his son William Wadlington now lives. He moved to this land the same year, and at once began to improve it, and as early as 1804 be had a goodly number of acres cleared and in cultivation. He was an energetic man, thrifty and impulsive, arid loved the wild free exercises of pioneer life as he loved his own being. He killed the last bear and prized the first hogshead of tobacco in Trigg County, and at the time of his death had probably lived here longer than any other man since the country was first settled. His death occurred in the year 1868. He had five sons, three of whom survived him; Ferdinand, William and Thomas are still living, the first being a resident of Cadiz Precinct while the other two are citizens of Caledonia.
Jesse Wall settled where William Humphries lives about the year 1804 or 1805. Absalom Humphries came about the same time and was followed shortly afterward by his brother, Capt. Thomas Humphries, both of whom were prominently identified with the early history of the county. They were members of a very prominent Virginia family, and achieved some distinction in the war of the Revolution, Thomas having risen to the position of Captain in the army of Washington. Absalorn settled on Sinking Fork, and died on the place first owned by his father. in-law, Jesse Wall, the same farm now owned by William Humphries. Thomas settled on Little River in 1810, on what is known as the Carloss place. He was a Methodist preacher of some note and preached in various places throughout the county during the early years of its history. Another early pioneer deserving of special mention was William Armstrong, also a Revolutionary soldier, whose arrival in the precinct is fixed at the year 1808. He located on Sinking Fork and made his first improvements on the place now in possession of Burnett Wilford. David Macky settled where Thomas Wadlington lives, about the year 1810; he sold the place to John Roberts in an early day, and emigrated further West.
Other settlers came in from time to time, among whom are remembered Thomas Armstrong, son of William Armstrong, Joel and Alexander Wilson and James Coleman. "The neighborhood of Caledonia Village was not settled at so early a date as some other sections of the precinct, and consequently the traces of the more prominent families residing there do not lead us so far back into the twilight of the present century. "Judge Jouett, the name more frequently of late years erroneously written Jewett, settled the place and built the residence now owned by John A. Tuggle. Our information relating to this very worthy old citizen is not so satisfactory as we could have otherwise wished, but if it can be at all relied upon, he was at one time a prominent officer in the United States Army with the rank of Major, and was commander of the post of Chicago, Ill., when that magnificent city of the West could not boast of a population superior to Caledonia. He was a native of Virginia, a gentleman of learning and varied accomplishments, a Chesterfield in manners and a paragon of integrity and kindness; he died about the year 1830." Maj. Dabney, father of Judge J. C. Dabney, and A. S. Dabney were for a number of years residents of this neighborhood. Other prominent early families in the same locality were the Wilfords, Campbells, Ogles, Cravens, Joneses, Hardys, Sallies, Waterfields, Woodses, Faulkners, Bennetts and Carlosses, several of whom lived across the river in the edge of Roaring Springs Precinct.
The first industry of any note in the precinct was a distillery put in operation by William Armstrong about the year 1825. He did a good business until his death, at which time the building was allowed to fall into decay. About the year 1826, Jesse Ogle built a small water-mill near the mouth of Potts Creek on Little River. It was in operation until about the year 1836, at which time the greater part of the building was washed away by a freshet. About the year 1855 or 1856 S. P. Sharp built a flouring-mill on Sinking Fork not far from Caledonia Village. It passed through various hands and underwent many improvements and is at present known as the Peal Mill. A very extensive distillery was started in the same neighborhood some time prior to 1860, by Messrs. Wilford and Lindon, who did a flourishing business for a period of three or four years. At the end of that time they discontinued the business and moved to Cadiz.
The first school in the precinct was taught by W. A. Wadlington in a little cabin on the farm where William Wadlington lives.
The earliest preachers who visited this section of the county were Dudley Williams, of the Baptist Church ; John Barnett, a Presbyterian; Jesse Cox and a man by name of Spraggins, both Baptists.
The first house erected for public worship stood on the farm of Thomas Wadlington. Mr. Wadlington built the house himself and opened the door to all denominations. The building was a log structure and has been torn away forty-five years.
The Cherry Hill Methodist Episcopal Church was organized near the village of Caledonia, some time during the fifties.
A neat house of worship was erected and services were regularly held until about the year 1859, at which time the society disbanded. The building was sold to the Baptists, who organized the Locust Grove Church about one year later. This society is an offshoot of the old Antioch Baptist Church in Roaring Springs Precinct, and its organization was brought about chiefly through the efforts of Rev. Mr. Morehead. The original membership numbered something like twenty or thirty persons. The present membership is about sixty. Rev. Morehead was the first pastor. After him came Rev. Mr. Meacham, who preached for several years and was succeeded by Rev. C. H. Gregeton. After Gregston's pastorate expired Meacham was again called, and is pastor in charge at the present time. The present officers are Lewis Averitt, Clerk; Mark Jones and John A. Tuggle, Deacons.
The Mount Tabor Church building was erected under the auspices of the Christian Church in the year 1868, and stands on ground donated by Thomas Averitt. The size of the house is 30x40 feet and the original cost was $1,500. The Christians, contrary to their expectations, failed to effect an organization, and the house was generously placed at the disposal of such denominations as saw fit to use it. The various sects have in turn used the building, and the neighbors have had ample opportunities of hearing the Gospel "each in his own tongue." An organization known as the "Christian Union" sprang into existence in 1882, and is now using the house. They have a fair congregation and are accomplishing much good in the community.
Cherryville.-This little hamlet, known also as Caledonia, is situated in the eastern part of the precinct and is the, youngest village in the county. The first store was started by James B. Carloss and J. H. Hammond. They commenced business under the firm name of Carloss & Hammond, and soon acquired a large and lucrative trade. Mr. Carloss remained only a few years as active partner, closing out to Mr. Hammond about 1878, who continued the business up to the close of 1881.
In the meantime a second store was started by Joe Wooten, who sold his building soon after to Carloss & Hammond. The present merchants are Messrs. Wall and Hammond.
Montgomery Precinct.-Montgomery Precinct, named in honor of Thomas Montgomery, one of the earliest prominent settlers, lies in the northeast part of Trigg and embraces one of the finest and most productive agricultural regions in southern Kentucky. Indeed it would be difficult to find within the limits of the entire State an area of similar proportions, possessing as rich a soil and combining as many advantages for the agriculturist as does this banner division of Trigg. The surface of the country is sufficiently undulating to make an easy natural drainage and every acre is susceptible of almost unlimited Cultivation. The only broken part of the precinct is along the southern border, the rest being comparatively level and known as "barrens" land. Cultivation has wrought marked changes in the topography of Montgomery during the sixty-five or seventy years which the white man has possessed the land. What appeared to the early settlers an expanse of worthless boggy land is now a pleasant rolling area of thrifty farms. This transformation has been brought about not by physical changes but by the natural effects of the farmer's occupation. The open land was originally covered with a rank growth of tall grass; on the high lands the grass did not reach its normal height, while on the lower lands its growth was of astonishing proportions, frequently reaching a height which would almost hide a man on horseback, and this would tend to create the illusion of a nearly level plain. Groves of scraggy oaks were to be seen at intervals, but the greater part of the timber now growing in the precinct has made its appearance within the memory of old settlers now living. In the woodlands the change has been very marked also. The dense forests of young growth, underbrush and saplings did not exist fifty years ago. Then the timber, save along the streams, was characterized only by scattered oaks and hickories, which favoring localities preserved from the annual fires that swept over the country. Unlike the experience in a timbered country, here the wooded area has increased. The young growth and saplings which the fires of those times kept in check have developed into large trees, and the timber has encroached upon the open lands so that the area of woods is now much larger than fifty years ago.
The barren lands were not understood by the early settlers who passed by rich black soil and secured homes among the hills and along the streams of those parts of the county which to-day are of less value then when first opened for cultivation.
The agricultural resources of Montgomery are unsurpassed; the principal crops being wheat, corn, oats and the usual varieties of fruits and vegetables found in this range of climate. All classes of stock are found also, but horses and cattle predominate, as the wide ranges of grazing are best adapted to raise them with profit. As a stock country this division is without an equal in the county and cannot be easily surpassed. Grass grows in rich abundance, and truly, cattle are made to "lie down in green pastures." Some of the finest stock that goes from grass to market goes from this precinct. Among those who have made stock-raising a profitable business is Henry Bryant, on whose beautiful and well-cultivated farm can be seen some of the finest and most valuable improved herds ever brought to this part of the State. The other leading farmers and stock-raisers of the precinct are the following gentlemen, to wit:
Robert Roach, James H. Gaines, Robert Hill, J. J. Gaines, Clarence Blakemore, James Beasley, James Rasco, John Rasco, Tandy Wadlington, Jefferson Moore, Wilson Stewart and W. J. Stewart.
Early Settlers.-Montgomery was not settled as early as many other portions of the county, owing to the fact that the pioneers did not understand the nature of the land, and looked upon it as wholly unfit for agricultural purposes.
From the most reliable information obtainable, Thomas Montgomery appears to have been one among the first if not the first permanent settler, as he was living within the limits of the present precinct as long ago as the year 1816. He located near the village which bears his name, and secured a large area of grass lands at very moderate figures, and was one of the first stock-raisers in Trigg County. But little is known of this stanch old pioneer, save that be was considered a very estimable citizen and did much towards shaping the character of the community in which he lived. The farm on which he settled was always considered and is perhaps the best place of its size in the county, and a simple mention of the fact will be sufficient to show how much even in as small a territory as a precinct the estimated value of a tract of land is governed by its location. In 1839 or 1840 the place was offered for $3.25. At that time land in the neighborhood of Wallonia was valued at double the estimate that 'was placed on similar lands in Montgomery.
Joshua Cates settled near Montgomery Village in a very early day, as did also J. J. Morrison and Dr. Wooldridge. Henry Shelton was an early corner and located not far from the Rocky Ridge Baptist Church. John Stephens and "Ki" Edwards secured homes in the same locality.
Another early resident was John Roberson, who made a farm not far from the village. Adam Stinebaugh originally settled in the Cerulean Springs Precinct, but came to this part of the county as soon as the value of the land was ascertained.
Jonathan, James and Harrison Stewart were among the pioneers of this section. They purchased land in the vicinity of Montgomery Village and made good farms. Other settlers came in from time to time, and by the year 1845 the precinct was populated by an industrious and thrifty class of citizens.
Village of Montgomery.-This most beautiful little village of Trigg County is situated in the eastern part of the precinct and dates its history proper from the year 1866, at which time Gen. John W. Gaines, of Virginia, purchased the land on 'which the town is situated, and erected a store building and engaged in merchandising.
Prior to that date, however, a man by name of Ashford had kept a small stock of general goods in a little house which stood near the central part of the present village p1st, but all traces of his building had disappeared before the place achieved any prominence as a trading point.
Mr. Gaines laid the village off into lots on which he erected a number of residences, shops and other buildings for the purpose of attracting people to the place. He conducted a very successful business for about eighteen years, accumulating in the meantime a handsome fortune. He is remembered as one of the most active and enterprising citizens of Trigg County, and died a few years ago, respected and honored by all who knew him.
His son J. J. Gaines began business in the village in 1872, and is one of the leading merchants of the county at the present time. In 1880 the McGehee brothers brought a miscellaneous stock of merchandise to the place, and are still in business with a large and constantly increasing The first mechanics of the town were John Stewart and J. A. Powell. The present mechanic is J. W. Wooten, who runs a wood-working establishment and blacks
The medical profession has been represented in the village by the following gentlemen, to wit Drs. Withers, Smoot, Allen and CulIom. The present physician is Dr. Henry Blame, who has a large and lucrative practice.
J. C. Whitlock Lodge, No. 487, A. F. & A. M., was organized at the village of Cherry Hill or Caledonia, and moved to Montgomery several years ago. It has a good membership at the present time, and is reported in a fair condition. The officers last elected are the following, viz.:
Andrew J. Pilkinton, W. M.; Taylor Tompkins, S. W.; Jasper J. Roach, J. W.; R. H. Wilson, Sec.; A. J. Humphries, Treas.
Montgomery Methodist Church South was. organized by Rev. J. W. Shelton in the fall of 1879 with a membership of about twelve persons. A beautiful frame house of worship was built in the year 1883 at a cost of $1,100. The second pastor was Rev. T. C. Peters, after whom came Rev. J. M. Crow. Pastor in charge at the present time is Rev. E. E. Pate. The society is not in a very flourishing condition, there being the names of only seven active members on the church record at the present time.*- County of Trigg Kentucky , HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL - EDITED BY WILLIAM HENRY PERRIN - ILLUSTRATED. - F.A. BATTEY PUBLISHING CO. 1884.
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