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
thereafter.

“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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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 Fountain Run, Yesterday and Today

  1. Don Kelderman says:

    I am looking for information on a Naysa Simmons,1774-1859, died in Monroe Co., KY., and was one of the founders of the Baptist Church in the Fountain Run Community. His wife was Sally Stephens and they also had a son Naysa Jr., that provided this information about the church. I have also read that Naysa was buried in the Simmons Cemetery near there, and I did find a Simmons Road in the area, but not the cemetery. Any help would be appreciated, thank you in advance.
    Don Kelderman email; don843@comcast.net

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