Wanderings – and Wonderings

In case you were wondering, I have decided to go over places I wandered about as a youngster, many years ago now. Some of the places and things I remember are only in my memories now, but oh, those were the good old days. I found myself with alot of time for introspection last month, while my mother was in ICU fighting off pneumonia and pulmonary hypertension. One night, I got to remembering places we used to wander, right here in town, on foot, sometimes in the dark of night.
I wonder if you still feel like you’re being followed if you walk along May Street after you leave East Main Street, in that block that goes alongside the Nazarene Church?
I also found myself wondering if there’s still a shadow with your own on the ground as you walk down Wade Street, after leaving the church parking lot at the corner of Mill Street and Franklin Street heading toward South Morgan, late at night?
Is there still the eerie feeling you’re being watched from the upstairs window at the empty Bryan house on the corner of Washington and Jefferson Streets, while you are standing in the street in front of it?
There were some recollections about the apartment that used to be over the old theater on the Square. I can’t remember now if it was the Trigg or the Plaza, but an older gentleman lived there for quite some time in the late 80s and early 90s.
I remember hearing the story that a car with people in it was buried in the small field near the old Post Office on Columbia Avenue. I have been doing interviews and research on the stories that surround that area. The original story I have heard is that they turned on that short lane beside the Monument place, off of Front Street, and didn’t realize it was a dead-end…. It was a fiery crash, and rather than trying to retrieve the remains, they opted to bury the whole car. I have found no proof of this, as I cannot pinpoint an actual date, but it would have been somewhere between the 1920s and 40s.
On the other side of the Post Office was the well-known “Relic House” that belonged to “Pa” Nelson. Mr. Nelson did alot of cave exploring in his day, and brought relics home from his adventures. All the rocks and artifacts were on display for all to see. Everyone who knew him remembers Mr. Nelson with fondness. Alot of area caves got on the map because of him.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you knew or have heard my grandmother had a brother that died at the age of 12 in the 1918 Flu Epidemic. Well, Uncle Jim was also a notorious sleepwalker. One night when the family lived at the corner of Front Street and Ford Drive, Uncle Jim left the house in the dead of night – asleep – and went up the hill to Mitchell Street. When Pappy (John Miller Dugard of the New Salem legends) found him, with one leg slung over the fence at the top of the cliff behind the present street department, Uncle Jim was chanting, “One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready – …” Pappy calmly took him by the arm and led him back home. It was less than a year later the flu took his life.
My granddaddy was about 12 years old when Bob Brown hung in the jail yard for murdering his father-in-law. They wouldn’t let children inside the enclosure, so my granddaddy and several other precocious young men got down on their bellies beside the fence to watch the hanging from under the bottom. This was the last sanctioned public hanging in Barren County and took place in April 1899.
Every city park has some type of urban legend attached to it. From all my research, none of the existing stories have a bit of truth to them. Only Gorin and Twyman Parks have anything close to resembling what actually happened and both incidents occurred outside the actual park areas.
There was a man shot outside the VFW, when it was in the park where Weldon now is. As far as I know he never died. Many tales surround that centrally located gem that is Weldon Park. Gypsies used to set up in the park area every summer, in the field where the baseball field is today. They also held several tent revivals there back in the 1940s and 50s.
There was a Civil War camp across the creek from where Twyman Park is, and a man died from exposure there one night during the occupation of this area by the Confederates. They buried him where he died. His name was Newton Green.
Robert Shaw was found dead in a corn field in the Park Avenue area near Gorin Park in the 1970s.
The open field that lies between Ford Drive and West Cherry Street has some really deep holes in it. In the not so distant past, one of the persistent urban legends has been stoutly disproven – there was a bottom in the Brickyard Pond off of Samson and Joy Streets. It was drained several years ago while searching for a murder weapon, and it was never refilled with water. That whole area sits over a cave. In the 1920s a body of a female was found inside one of the entrances to it. Local author William Montell revealed that she was a refugee from the Coe Ridge Colony in Cumberland County. Outcast from that society, she had taken shelter in the cave, and died there.
The jail on Ford Drive – part of it was supposedly built over a slave graveyard. The legend is still persistent in the Hillcrest Street neighborhood, off of Front Street and Ford Drive, where Hillcrest comes out on Ford Drive, behind said jail. This section was once owned after the Civil War by Burwell Lawless. There used to be a large brick mansion there where the jail building is. Of course, there was a new jail built a few years ago on Samson Street.
Beside it is the end of Water Street, and where Devasher Court intersects with it, there is a small graveyard in the corner lot. It’s never had headstones, at least back into the 1950s. Ervin and Poke Shaw lived in the house across Water Street from it. In their back yard was a chimney from an older house, long gone when the Shaws lived there. It is my belief this small graveyard, that has about 8 graves, is the lost Tolle graveyard. I have been researching this graveyard for a couple of decades, and in the last few years found in Samuel Tolle’s memoirs a story about his 1898 return to Glasgow and his visit to the old home place. The mention of the chimney remaining of his old house reminded me of the old chimney behind the Shaw’s. It was still standing when the new jail was built. I went to investigate myself.
The story was also persistent that several Civil War soldiers were buried in the field on the small slope behind it. This would be behind the Car Wash on West Main Street, curving around behind the old barn beside the Animal Clinic, off of Rogers Drive. I’ve not encountered any documents to confirm that, but then, nothing else has been written about the small cemetery there on Water Street.
There are so many other places I want to go, and I am working on several pieces. Coming across a 1976 article by Jimmy Lowe on the closing of the Dutch Mills on South Green Street has made my week recently, with priceless pictures of a place long gone. Perhaps there is more history out there, waiting for us….

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mitchell 4


About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
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One Response to Wanderings – and Wonderings

  1. ron devore. says:

    A great read, really enjoyed it.

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