Barren Co. Historical Society 10-26-2017

For those of you who were at the monthly meeting of the Historical Society a few weeks ago, this will not be new material, but most of the following has not been published by me previously. And a couple of these I intend to cover more thoroughly at a later date. But I thought to share our main discussion that night for those of you who were unable to attend.
“Urban legends are stories we’ve grown up with about local places – hauntings, rumors, scandals, murders. These legends usually include tragic incidents you sometimes can’t elaborate on to protect the privacy of certain families.
“Among some of those stories I have not featured yet is one I’ll entitle The Truth Behind the Slash Monster, and it is datelined 1949. Stories grew up around the murder of barber Cloyed Cook in the barbershop at the Spottswood Hotel. Mr. Cook was the father of Esca Cook Wilson, aunt of the late Joel Wilson of the Glasgow Daily Times.
“Convicted of the murder was a man who stood well over 6 ft. tall. Suffering from mental problems most of his life, he didn’t take criticism or teasing very well. Cook made an offhand comment about the haircut one of the other barbers (Mr. Furlong) had given the man. The man went home to retrieve his gun and return to the Spottswood. And the rest is history.
“Later in his life, the troubled man lived in a small house out the Old Munfordville Rd- Lexington Drive, not far from the bridge there over Beaver Creek. People would catch glimpses of the wild man lurking in the trees and bushes and the tall grass, and mistake him for some kind of ‘Bigfoot’. As he went barefoot most of the time, people also found large footprints in the dried mud. And those who knew who it was steered away from him. Some of the generation preceding me worked with him there in the fields as teenagers, and said the man never really spoke to them, and was a hard worker. But the spooky stories of his lurking in the shadows was how the Slash Monster came into existence.

“There is also the story of Charlie Bybee, who was returning home with a trunk full of presents for his children and family a few days before Christmas in the 1920s. Bybee came through Westmoreland, TN and Scottsville, KY, on through to near Lucas, where he got on Hwy 1318 to have a shorter ride home. Not far down the road he saw a black man walking. As it was on toward night, and the weather was wet at best, he stopped and offered the man a ride. Charlie Bybee was never seen alive again.
“The black man was looking for a car to impress his girl, it has been said, and the rest is history. A week long frantic search for Bybee ended in locating his remains in the Skaggs Creek at the well-known Buffalo Ford. Will T. Chambers died on 7 March 1924 in Eddyville’s electric chair for the murder of Charlie Bybee. Bybee’s death adds to the spookiness of the area near Buffalo Ford, which is less than a mile from the infamous ‘Green Mansion’. But the story of Bybee and Chambers has remained untold by me until this day out of respect for Bybee’s daughter, who all of us know fondly as the sweet Eleanor Rice.
“Areas such as Buffalo Ford, which is on the Oil Well Road, are pervasive with spookiness and have always drawn the adrenaline junkies. Places labeled as haunted draw a crowd, and then they stay in the minds for many years. As the next generation comes along, they don’t necessarily know why an area is supposed to be haunted, they only have a vague knowledge of the original tale, so they make something up – sometimes right on the spot.
“Sometimes rumors of hauntings can turn out to be dangerous when curious people go seeking answers. The previously mentioned Green Mansion is a perfect example of this. The farm was abandoned in the late 1920s, after Mrs. Johnson died peacefully in her sleep. But wild tales about the place started in the late 1960s, and still persist to this day, even though the house is long gone.
“The farm sits on a spot of land in a bend of Skaggs Creek, and likened to a peninsula, the farm is kind of isolated, even today. Below the old farm is a bowl of land once known as the ‘Cathedral’. Some sort of meetings were held there at night in the ’60s and ’70s, and by torchlight, this could be seen for miles around. Several people tried to break up these parties, or crash them, and would find themselves forcibly ran off. Rumors were rife, and there is even one tale of 2 teenagers wandering into one such meeting, being told to leave, and they died later that evening in a very tragic car accident.
“There’s a small family graveyard near where the house was that has been vandalized several times. It’s a shame really, as only 3 of the graves are marked – a Confederate soldier, his teenaged brother, and their baby sister.
“And then there are handprints. Only 2 places I’ve seen this phenomena in Barren County – Green Mansion and Martha’s Divine Hole on White’s Chapel Rd. at Falling Timber Creek. It is creepy to discover small handprints on your car, about the size of a 3 or 4 year old child, especially if you don’t have any small children in your life.

“For my last tale, I must tell you I am a need to see to believe, or hear to believe in this case. I have been to the farm that once existed behind the New Salem Methodist Church. In the mid-1990s, while my last husband and I were dating, he mentioned a place in a clearing near his grandfather’s old farm, that you could hear disembodied voices mumbling on occasion, and when you walked into the circle of voices, once there, they abruptly stopped. I scoffed, but once I experienced it, several years later, I cannot to this day explain it. The house is now long gone, burned down by some arsonist on Hallowe’en night in 1994.
“I found by research, a newspaper article, with the late JT Pedigo’s help, about JT Lyons taking his own life, in those very woods. After he disappeared his family was distraught because Mr. Lyons wasn’t in the best of health. He was discovered propped against a tree 3 days later, less than 20 yds. from the front door of the house, in this creepy clearing.
“On a final note – the grandfather, who you all know from a previous article about the Dead Wagon as Crawford Davidson, came in early one afternoon from the fields to retrieve something before driving into Glasgow. When he stepped out of the bedroom into the living room, he came face to face with an unknown man dressed in women’s clothes. Mind you, this was the 1940s or early ’50s.
“The man disappeared out the door, and no one else ever saw him. It was thought he may have been an escaped felon from a neighboring county.”

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That Cave by DW Neal

Pewee Valley 2 Feb 1909
The following was a letter to the Editor of the Glasgow Times, carried on the front page on 9 February 1909.

“That cave out near the ford on Columbia road spoken of in the Times a few days ago and in the Courier Journal of 3 January, is located about a quarter-mile from the ford, on the land of the late Solomon Quisenberry. Its existence was known to neighbors years before the human bones were discovered by Jo Eubank and some other hunters who ran a fox into it, and then closed the entrance to it that night and went back the next morning to set a box trap, expecting to catch the fox. After cleaning away the debris they found an opening large enough to admit a man in a stooping position. They entered and found the bones, but anyone who knows Jo Eubank and that gang of hunters knows that it would take something more than a few bones to “freeze their blood” or cause their hair to do the porcupine act. The chamber in which the bones were was once the bottom of a sinkhole, the opening at the top having been closed with a large, flat rock by Mr. William Arnett, who had a choke trap set at the entrance of the cave, and that rock now constitutes the dome of the bone chamber. The writer, until a few years past, has lived, since 1855, within half a mile or less, of the cave, and has made numerous trips to the cave with parties who came to visit it.
“Nearly everyone had a theory as to how the bones came there. The most generally accepted theory then was that it had at one time been the burying place of Indians. One thing that confirms this was the finding of a gigantic skeleton – nearly complete – the lower jawbone of which would slip easily over the jaw of an ordinary man, and the femur, or large bone of the leg, which when placed on the ground by my foot, would extend by 2 inches above my knee, and I am 6 ft. tall. The skull was encrusted with limestone formation to the thickness of three quarters of an inch. I gave the jawbone to Dr. Forbis – something over a year after the bones had been discovered, (which I think was in the early 1870s).
“A Mr. Edwards, his daughter and son, who lived near Rock Spring church, came to my father’s and stayed about this time. They had a “fortune rock” in which the daughter, a girl of some 11 or 12 years of age, could look and see anything she wished to. With this rock she had been enabled to locate this cave and tell its contents, which she described as being a number of human bones, and five boxes of money and one of yellow.
“It was not long before a considerable crowd collected. All repaired to the cave and quite an exciting investigation was begun with pick and shovel, the daughter standing overhead, gazing into her “fortune rock” and directing those in the cave where to dig. This was kept up until night. The next day Mr. Edwards, together with Mr. Dock Love, leased the cave from Mr. Quisenberry and went to work to make a systematic search for the hidden wealth. The entire bottom of the bone chamber was dug up to the depth of from 4 to 6 ft., and flint arrow-heads, bones, and charred bits of wood were found mixed with the earth and rocks as deep as they dug.
“Out of the report made by Miss Edwards, grew the theory of the California emigrant massacre. I never heard of a Spanish or Mexican coin being found in that neighborhood after the discovery of the bones; but at various times before that there had been money of that description found on the bluff above the cave over a fishing-hole, on a path that once led from the ford to a still house that was operated some three quarters of a mile on the creek, many years ago.
“As to the theory, I will say that, the little bottoms on each side of the creek were a favorite camping-ground for them, but they rarely stayed longer than one night at the creek, and I do not think the man who wore that jawbone above referred to, could have stayed that long without it being found out. And the “Amy and Harry” episode and the cleaning out of the rest of the gang – although living within a few hundred yards of the camp, I never heard of it until it was seen in the Courier Journal a few weeks ago (15 January 1909).
“We never could ascertain whether Dock ever got much out of the cave or not. Mr. Edwards moved west soon after the search, and Dock was always very reticent in regard to it.”

DW Neal Pewee Valley 2 February 1909

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Gibson Tragedy – 23 February 1953

From the Glasgow Times Thursday 26 February 1953

“Joint funeral services were conducted 25 February 1953 for a Metcalfe Co. grandfather and 3 of his grandchildren who were fatally burned Monday when fire swept his farmhouse at Cofer, about 10 miles east of Edmonton. Rites were conducted at Mosby Ridge Cumberland Presbyterian Church for William Gibson, 81, Lonnie Edward Gibson, 4, Sharon Gibson, 3 mos. old, and Betty Sue Gibson, 2. Interment followed in Demumbrum Cemetery on Mosby Ridge.
In the Clinic Hospital here is Mrs. Maudie Gibson, mother of the 3 children, who was seriously burned along with another child, Michael, 18 months. Mrs. Gibson suffered severe burns about the face, chest, and legs. Michael was burned about the head and face.
The father, Harvey Gibson, was away at the time the fire broke out. According to reports, the fire was touched off from the kitchen stove and the home was completely destroyed by the blaze.
The grandfather, Mr. Gibson, was trapped in a closet and his body was found there. Bodies of two of the children were found in the bed where they had been asleep. The infant died at the Clinic Hospital here shortly after noon Tuesday. Mr. Gibson was born 27 June 1872, and was a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Julius Gibson. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Nora Gibson; 5 sons, Harvey and Ellis Gibson, both of Cave Ridge, Riley Gibson of Cofer, Ezra and Eulius Gibson, both of Summitville, IN; 4 daughters, Mrs. Rena Clemmons and Mrs. Maggie Firkins, both of Edmonton, Mrs. Ann Harvey of Chicago, and Mrs. Jewell Piercy.
Other than the 4 children who were either fatally burned or hospitalized, Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Gibson have another son, Tommy Gibson. Mrs. Gibson and the children were staying at the home in Cofer while Mr. Gibson was away.

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ASSASSINATED – Policeman R T Thurman Slain – Looks Like Murder Most Foul – 18 September 1914

The following information was gathered from several newspaper accounts of the era.

“Robert T. Thurman, policeman of Glasgow, was murdered between 12 and 1 o’clock Friday morning (18 September 1914) on West Main street, about a half block from the Courthouse Square. The killing occurred near the House store. Thurman received a telephone message to go to North Glasgow and make an arrest, as parties were drunk and disorderly. He was then returning with two prisoners when he was shot. He fell unconscious and the prisoners made their escape. It is said that the groans of the dying man could be heard on the square, and that two men were seen to kick him and curse him after he had been shot and was lying on the ground. He was shot just below the heart. The shots aroused citizens, who found the officer and carried him to the Murrell Hotel, where he breathed his last a few minutes later.
“Attempts were made to assassinate the officer several months ago, since which time all kinds of rumors have been afloat and many of his friends have predicted he would meet a violent end. Nothing in the history of Glasgow has so aroused the people as the murder of this young officer.
“Robert Thurman was 35 years old, and was formerly marshall of Burkesville and Edmonton, Ky. He was a member of the Methodist church. He had killed two or three men, but was always acquitted on the grounds of self-defense. Two or three years ago, he shot and killed Bud McCandless in Edmonton, while marshall of that place. McCandless had previously killed Judge George H. Pierce, one of the prominent men of Metcalfe county, in a desperate shooting affray.
“More than one year ago, ‘bootlegging’ became so open in Glasgow that something drastic had to be done. Accordingly, the City Council of Glasgow, headed by Mayor J.S. Leech, met and employed Mr. Thurman, with the understanding that he would try to arrest every violator of the law. He was a stranger here, and therefore could have no “favorites”, and within a few weeks he had arrested and convicted 25 persons. This of course, made him many enemies, and the threats were frequently heard that they would kill him. Interested persons offered him large sums of money to leave, but these he refused and stayed at the post of duty.
“A court of inquiry was held Saturday to investigate the murder of Policeman Thurman, and sufficient evidence was brought out to cause the arrest of Milton Mansfield and Louie Pace, two well-known young men of Glasgow. Pace is a printer in the Times office, and Mansfield is a young man well-known around town. Their examining trial was called Saturday afternoon, but continued until Monday, and was again postponed until Thursday.
“Mr. Thurman was to have been married Sunday to an estimable young woman of this city. He is survived by a brother, of New York, who wired to hold the body until he arrived. He was a widower and was the father of two children – one a daughter of sixteen and the other a son of eleven years.
“Thurman was a man absolutely without fear, and had made a splendid officer here. It has been believed for some time that he was marked for assassination by the lawless element, who feared and hated him greatly. The prediction was frequently made that he would be killed, and he was warned of his danger often, but paid no attention to these warnings. A few months ago, an attempt was made to assassinate him, but failed on account of his not walking into the trap set. The dead man was friendly, polite, genial and rather a handsome man, showing little of the fighting man that he really was.
“Two thousand people viewed the remains in Jewell’s undertaking establishment Saturday, and the crowd finally became so great that it was necessary to close the doors. Yesterday, there was equally as large a crowd in town. The most tragic affair ever occurring in Glasgow, the community is profoundly moved, and it is everywhere predicted that the end is not yet.
“The remains were taken to Clinton county, Sunday afternoon, and will be interred in the family burial ground in that place.”

According to funeral home records from Jewell Undertaking and Furniture Dealers, now maintained by Hatcher and Saddler Funeral Home, Robert T Thurman was buried the 22nd of September 1914 near Albany, in the Thurman family cemetery on Malone Ridge, in Clinton County. He was shown in the records as 37 years old, a policeman, widower, born Kentucky, resided Glasgow, and was a son of Turner Thurman and Betsy Riddle (they both born Kentucky). Dr J W Acton was the presiding physician and noted that he died of gunshot wounds. He was assisted by Dr J S Leech. The city paid all the costs of the burial.

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Neddie’s Caves and Hollow

In the years prior to the Civil War, Metcalfe County was then part of Barren County, and was a rural area, consisting mostly of small farms usually worked by family members. Metcalfe, which became a county in its own right in 1860, did not have as many slaves as other surrounding areas. The names of most of the slaves have been forgotten with time, but one freed slave in the Randolph-Hickory College community of southwest Metcalfe County left his mark. He did not do anything historic, but he was remembered by the residents of the area in the generations following him for a tract of land that into the 1970s and early 1980s, still bore his name.
Ned was born into slavery in Virginia in 1801, and received his freedom at the age of 22. On 2 December 1823, Henry Crutcher of Barren County, KY, freed Ned by stating, “… in consideration of the former fidelity of my servant Ned, and for and in the further consideration to me in hand paid… hereby in most ample manner… and emancipating said slave forever…”
Little is known of “Free Ned” until he came to the Randolph-Hickory College community. On 1 December 1849, he bought 27 acres of land from Steven Glass for $30, and in the deed, he is referred to simply as “Ned.”
On 15 March 1853, he sold the 27 acres he had purchased from Steven Glass to William Glass for $260. In the deed written for this sale he is known as “Free Ned.” At that time, his closest neighbors were the Hundley family and the family of John S. Gill.
By 1 October 1857, he is called “Ned Clark, a free man of color.” He bought 25 acres of land on the waters of Fallen Timber Creek from William Defries. Clark lived in a cabin on a hillside near a tributary of Fallen Timber Creek. This became known as “Neddie Hill.” It is believed he got his name from a Clark family who lived on Clay Lick Creek, in the same general area of Metcalfe County. The bluff and hillside are located on a farm formerly owned by Emmitt and Pernie Harbison.
In the 1870 Metcalfe Co. KY Census, Clark’s wife, Hannah, was listed as being 60 years old. Clark himself was not listed and was probably deceased by this time. Two other Clarks, Tilda, age 90, and Toodle, age 3, were also listed as living with Hannah at this time.
According to oral sources, Ned Clark, his wife Hannah, son John and John’s wife Frances, were all buried in a cemetery on the farm formerly owned by Emmitt and Pernie Harbison. In the 1980s, it was owned by Greg Jaggers, and when I asked someone local, they believed it is now owned by an Edwards. The property in question is 6.5 miles north of Summer Shade, on the right side of Hwy 640. The cemetery was near the cabin on the farm he owned.
Included in the tract of land he owned, there was a hollow with a series of caves that became known as the “Ned Caves” and the whole known as “Neddie Hollow.” These were named after John Ned Clark, Ned’s son. John Ned Clark would trade in horses and cattle, but either he did not have the feed to give them, or was not educated in how to provide for his animals. As a result, several of the animals died. When this happened, he dragged the dead animal to the bluff of the hollow and threw it over the bluff. Local people started calling this particular place “John Ned’s boneyard.”
On the land formerly owned by Ned Clark, in “Neddie Hollow” near the “Ned Caves,” is a prehistoric Indian site. To protect the site from plundering or destruction, the exact location has been withheld. In the 1980s, the caves and rock shelters appeared to be less than 25% disturbed. One rock shelter and cave was located on either side of a large waterfall about 18 feet high. The creek bed is about 40 feet wide at this point. About 150 feet north of the large waterfall is a smaller waterfall with rock ledges running along either side of the falls. The stream is about 8 feet wide at this point.
At the base of another small waterfall was a rock used by the Indians to grind nuts and grains. The streams and waterfall at this point were abut 25 feet wide. There are approximately 11 holes of different sizes and depths. The largest hole was 28 cm deep and 27.5 cm in diameter. The smallest hole was 8 cm deep and 9 cm diameter. The holes have been cut into the limestone rock. At this point there are no rock ledges on the banks.
Bits of charcoal and a soil change to a darker brown were noticed about 8 cm from the surface under the west ledge near the base of the large waterfall. On the east side of the stream a second spot was examined about 86 feet from the large waterfall and 24 feet from the center of the stream. One chert flake and some bits of bone were found at this location. The primary kinds of artifacts which were found were hammer and grinding stones.

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The Author’s Views

I have recently had a rush of these stories to pour out of me in a miraculous
waterfall of light that helped to stave off the darkness of an often crass and
unfeeling world we find ourselves in occasionally. I read a recent post by a
long-time acquaintance who was venting on the very subject I am about to touch on…
This blog site is entitled Urban Legends for a reason. I am writing of things in
the past of this area of South Central Kentucky known as the “Barrens”. They are
factual accounts of some events, and some are only rumor and hearsay, different
items that have evolved into urban legend in some parts of the local area.
This definition of urban legend is taken from the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
urban legend noun
Definition of URBAN LEGEND
: an often lurid story or anecdote that is based on hearsay and widely circulated as
true —called also urban myth

Nowhere does this state that urban only means city. When we write articles, post
pictures, make anecdotes, follow local festivals, parades, and county fairs and
such, we come across the people who are not from the local area, and they like to
make sly and rude comments to us to show their “superiority” over our obvious
“rustication.” All I can say to those people is, “If you don’t like our so-called
rustication, why are you here? If you want all that stuff you left, then why did
you leave? If you are not satisfied with what is here, go back where you came
from…” Honestly, that will take care of your dissatisfaction. Because most people
come here to stay because they Like it. Don’t ruin it for everybody else just
because you are unhappy.
Seriously, our area had debate teams, reading clubs, some very serious and educated
individuals who traveled back and forth to so-called civilization. But they came
here where they could be free of inner-city slums, workhouses, and other oppression.
They had a desire to experience a quieter place, filled with a special peace that
most people today still search for, and when they find it, that’s where they stay.
My life had to stop this last week to allow a part of life to move along, as it
inevitably does, and we must mourn the passing of a loved one. I will be back with
my next installments shortly. Until then, I will tell you that you won’t know what
you’re getting here until it’s off the press. But it will hopefully be worth your
wait! Next stop is Neddie’s Caves.

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Fountain Run, Yesterday and Today

Taken from “Fountain Run, Yesterday and Today, on the 100th anniversaary
1855 to 1955, Lucy Goad Albright.

“FOUNTAIN RUN, a small town of some 400 souls, is located in the
southwestern end of Monroe County, Kentucky. According to the
National Archives and Records, it is located three miles north of Barren
River and three miles west of Indian Creek. We have no available proof to
show when the first early settlers came to this territory but landmarks,
old grave stones, and tradition reveal to us that around 1800 there was a
slow migration of people from Virginia and North Carolina, who, filled with
the hope of establishing homes in a land to the west, came in groups and
settled near the waters of Barren River which abounded in fish, and as
surrounded by a wilderness in a natural state heavily timbered and teeming
with wild game, a truly great land of natural beauty and potentialities
where they could live and raise their families. Tradition does not claim
these early settlers were saints but they were generally characterized by a
sobriety of habit and judgment that counted that ‘man does not live by
bread alone,’ and we have every reason to believe that they were God
loving, God-fearing people, for one of the first buildings on record was
the Meeting House for the United Missionary Baptist Church which was
organized in 1829. These early pioneer settlers were mostly of English and
Scotch descent with a sprinkling of Irish, and it has been said, which
statement we neither confirm nor contradict, that the purest strains of
Anglo-Saxon blood in the United States flows in the veins of the people
from Barren River through the territory to the north of Lexington, Kentucky.

“Jim-Town, or Jamestown, was the first name given to the community which
began coming to life about 1820, which name was later changed to Fountain
Run. Tradition tells us that a trading center was set up conveniently
located for the settlers and JIM DENTON began buying and selling so people
would go to Jim’s town to trade a little, to visit with each other and
sometimes to get something to drink, so thus it wore its name of Jim Town.
The Kentucky History lists it more than once as Jamestown and although
there was no post office there, mail addressed to Jim Town came through at
irregular intervals from Glasgow. By 1847 Jim Town had grown to a thriving
little village with its tobacco center, its general stores, harness shop,
blacksmith shop, country doctors, its church, coffin making establishment,
grist mill, subscription school, and a dozen or more homes so application
was made for the establishment of a post office here. There was already a
Jamestown, Kentucky, so another name must be proposed. Nothing tends to
more describe the personalities of the people who have lived in and around
the town for six or seven generations than the poetic lilting words of
Fountain Run. They did not seem to wish to perpetuate the name of a great
statesman or hero, but rather to present a picture of a fountain of water,
running sweet and fresh from nature’s pure folds to refresh the traveler,
and sustain its people and from which would always flow waters of kindness,
hospitality, and friendliness that have tended to immortalize the words of
its public spring that “Whoever drinks of these waters will always return.”
Here is the hospitality that forever indicates heroes.”

“Although it is not authentic, the credit of naming the town Fountain Run
points to Dr. James R. DUNCAN who became its first postmaster.

“Although early pioneer life was crude, many who came from Virginia and
North Carolina brought a certain amount of cultural background with them,
and heirlooms of fine pieces of china and other treasured things have been
handed down from generation to generation. Ambrose BARLOW is the only known veteran of the Revolutionary War who lived and died and was buried at Fountain Run, but many of the early settlers were only one step from the
Revolutionary War, and at least two of them were veterans of the War of
1812. They were John AUSTIN and Thomas CARUTH who engaged in the Battle of
New Orleans. Tradition tells us that the early settlers underwent many
harrowing experiences in making the trip westward to Kentucky and were at
times attacked by the Indians. In one of these skirmishes the wife of
Thomas CARUTH was scalped, and in the words of the old timers, “They melted
silver and put her head back together and she lived for many years

“These early settlers were a practical farming people seeking virgin fertile
lands, still their life was peppered generously with adventure. The
migration of the Virginians and North Carolinians was soon followed by
people from East Tennessee, and as they gradually moved into the center of
Fountain Run it became a melting pot of strait-laced, puritanical blood,
joke-loving Irish with a sentimental vagabond and gambler now and then, and
when brewed all together produced a people with individualistic traits all
their own that make them enjoy sparkling conversation, a story well told, a
hearty laugh, a sermon with depth, good food, a good book, any type of
gathering, independence, a little leisure time, music, a well-earned
dollar, and over and above all these an almost reverent love of home. As
many as eight generations have been nurtured from this land which was first
seen by the pioneer settlers almost a century and a half ago.

“The first available census records the population of Fountain Run as 188 in
1910. As of the year of 1955, the slogan is, ‘Home of 400 friendly
people,’ which is a comparatively small gain.

“There are many factors involved in the slow growth of the town. It is an
inland center 15 miles from a railroad, and 14 miles from Kentucky’s main highways. It depends almost altogether on the land around it for its sustenance with practically no public enterprise. It is not a county seat and in sparsely settled counties it is rare for any town other than a county seat to make wide gains in population. We are of the opinion that no resident ever visualized Fountain Run a metropolis, but rather preferred it to be a first-rate, thriving little country village.

“Fountain Run’s growth and prosperity has been greatly thwarted by financial
failures and fires that set it back many years. An early major catastrophe
was the failure of the Jim-Town Tobacco Company around 1885. The principal
stockholders in this company were Clay FRANKLIN, John SEAY, George STONE,
Dr. Marion STONE, M J (Babe) GOAD, and James NEAL. This company furnished
the principal market for all the tobacco raised in Monroe County and
adjoining Kentucky counties and two or three counties in Tennessee. We
understand that this company handled more tobacco than any other market in
southern Kentucky. Over $200,000 was involved in the collapse of the
business. The second major financial catastrophe the town suffered was the
failure of the Bank of Fountain Run in 1923. This bank, which was
established around the turn of the century, served the surrounding
territory around Fountain Run for a quarter of a century. It was the second
bank to be located in Monroe County. The universal depression followed fast
on its heels in the thirties. Just when the town was rising slowly from its
throes, on September 21, 1838, around six P.M. a thirsty, ravaging fire
starting of undetermined origin in the basement of B. W. DOWNING Drug
Store, tore its way madly with whirlwind velocity through the main section
of town and completely destroyed thirteen places of business before it
could be checked by a bucket brigade. Only 1,000 dollars of insurance covered these damages due to the exceptionally high rate based on casualty risk of frame buildings with no public water system. Adding to these catastrophes the destruction by fire of three hotels, a church, school building, SHORT Bros. store and T. V. DOSSEY Produce, it is amazing that it has continued to increase in both population and dollars. This fact reveals that thrift, ingenuity, ambition and love of community exists in Fountain Run, coupled with the heritage of the good land which through misfortune and calamities stands ready to give to her people from the abundance of her bowels. Home ownership is one of the key words of the community. The heart of everyman is in harmony with Walt Whitman when he said, ‘A man is now whole and complete unless he owns a house and the
ground it stands on. Men are created owners of the earth. Each was intended
to possess his piece of it.’ Of Fountain Run’s 110 homes ninety per cent of
them are self owned.

“Fountain Run is laid out in a most attractive manner surrounded by acres
and acres of rich, rolling, fertile land. Its main street where ninety-nine
percent of its present places of business, its bank, funeral home, post
office, five of its six churches, and its cemetery are located, runs almost
north and south with five highways leading into it. Three highways from
Glasgow, Scotsville and Tompkinsville are blacktopped and good gravelled
roads extend from Akersville and Browns Ford, and all the streets in town
are blacktopped. The homes located in more or less of a circle around main
street are attractive and well kept and are in keeping with the financial
status of the community. The Funeral Home is outstanding for a town the
size of Fountain Run, the six churches are also above the average in
appearance, and the well kept, lovely ground of the cemetery is most
complimentary to the living. The business section offers the public good
merchandise at reasonable prices, and with the hopes of a modern new graded
school building in the near future, we feel as of this year that the
community presents a very pleasing picture.

“For many years Fountain Run was incorporated with a municipal form of
government with a town judge, a town board, a town marshal (the most
celebrated of whom was Granger CONKIN who served in that capacity for many
years), and a calaboose to confine the lawbreakers. This form of government
was maintained by the levying of a town tax (collector for which for many
years was Will LANE). Due to financial adversities the town voted to do
away with the incorporation and it has since been governed by the officers
of the county. During the years of incorporation concrete sidewalks were
built along all the main streets.”

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