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
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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The Road to Ritter’s Mill

ritters mill

An excerpt from CC Simmons’ “Historical Trip Through Eastern Barren Co., KY.”

“The road leading down from Hwy 63 to Ritter’s Mill is very rough, and steep. The original mill stood some 300 or 400 feet down the stream from the present location. The mill pond was at the foot of the hill where the road came down. On a very hot day in the 1870s, Wood Boyd and a very small son – about 10 or 12 years of age – were on their way to the mill driving a team of oxen. When near the bottom of the hill, the oxen saw the water and rushed into the mill pond to quench their thirst and to cool in the refreshing water. The little boy was drowned, and Mr. Boyd came near losing his life in attempting to rescue his son. The boy was buried in the small graveyard at the top of the bluff overlooking the place where he met his tragic and untimely death.”

AN: The mentioned cemetery is located 3 miles from Temple Hill, just off of Ritter’s Mill Road. It is behind a barn on a bluff overlooking Skaggs Creek, enclosed in an iron fence. Outside the fence are quite a few graves with field stones. Nicholas Wren Jones and his wife were the earliest burials there, but they were moved to Glasgow Municipal Cemetery. This cemetery is known as the Jones #2 Cemetery, and also as the Ritter-Rowe Cemetery.
It has been many years since I have been to this cemetery, and it is possible that it is no longer easy to locate.

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Clyde Clayton Simmons (21 September 1890- 5 May 1949)

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Obituary from the Glasgow Times – dated 12 May 1949:

Clayton Simmons, 58, assistant postmaster of the Glasgow Post Office for more than 30 years and one of the city’s most highly respected citizens, died early Thursday morning (5 May 1949) at his home on West Cherry Street. He had been ill for about 3 weeks following a heart attack last month.
Funeral services were conducted on Friday afternoon at 4 o’clock at Glasgow Baptist Church, with pastor, Dr. Bradford Curry, in charge. Interment was in the Glasgow Cemetery.
A native of Barren County, Mr. Simmons was born in the 88 section on 21 September 1890. He was the son of the late Capt. JM and Sarah Hamilton Simmons.
Mr. Simmons moved to Glasgow in 1910 and started to work as a clerk in the Post Office under the late WH Jones, postmaster at that time. Within a few years, he was promoted to the position of assistant postmaster under the late Jas. M. Richardson, and served capably in that post for over 30 years. He served in the Glasgow office 39 years.
In addition to his work at the post office Mr. Simmons devoted much of his life to music, both instrumental and choir singing. He was a member of old 88 band and for a time led the 123rd Cavalry Band, Glasgow.
Mr. Simmons was also a historian and had been active in work of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Barren Co. Historical Society. He was a faithful member of the Glasgow Baptist Church.
Known for his integrity of character, Mr. Simmons was held in highest esteem by a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. His varied activities, to which he gave unstintingly of himself, earned for him an enviable reputation as a valued friend and fellow worker, in whom dependence and trust could unerringly be placed.
In the business life of Glasgow, as well as in its cultural and civic affairs, his passing leaves a gap not easily bridged. His was a busy life and one marked always by a spirit of interest and cooperation. However, his influence will continue to be felt, influence for good established by his daily dealing with his fellow man and demonstrated in his own life by honesty, helpfulness and by worthy service.
Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Mattaleen Lane Simmons, a son, John Simmons, a sister, Mrs. JH Branstetter, two brothers, Morris Simmons, all of Glasgow, and Joe Simmons, Washington State.

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On Mt. Vernon Meeting House

The following is the recording of the deed to the old Mt. Vernon Meeting House that was off of the Burkesville Highway (90 East), near the Bowles Cemetery.

Deed Book M, pg 161 Barren Co. Court

This indenture made and entered into this 22nd day of January 1831, between John Nichols, Sen. Of Barren Co. of the first part and Wm Pursley, John Pursley, John Nichols Jr., Elias Nichols, Phillip Nichols, the heirs of Richd Nichols, decd.; Thos Nichols, Robt B. Burch, John Burch, Nicodemus Burch, Wm. T. Bailey, Wm Johns, John Scott, Francis Scott, and James Woods of the second part… the said John Nichols, Sen., For and in consideration of building a certain meeting house known by the name of Mt. Vernon, on the Nichols land, which is acknowledged to be done, hath this day granted to aforesaid men, the same right and title with himself to one acre of land whereon said meeting stands, to be laid off in four square so that the meeting house will be center. And further it is to be considered that said meeting house is to be free for all Gospels, preaching of every denomination and that no Society is to interfere with the appointed days of any other, the right of said land to extend to aforesaid men and to their heirs and to my heirs… to have and to hold the same from all other claim or claims, forever.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this day and affixed my seal, the day and date above written
/s/ John Nichols

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Stephen Loveall and John Denton – Revisiting Murder at Glasgow Junction

The following article is from THE ADAIR COUNTY NEWS, Wednesday 17 Apr 1901

“Killing of John DENTON— Occurred at Glasgow Junction Barren County, Twenty Years Ago—.
“Some time ago, we published an account of the suicide in this city (Bowling Green) of Stephen LOVEALL, who was said to be inconsolable, worrying over the act of his having killed a man years ago at Glasgow Junction. –Hon. Lewis McQUOWN, of this city, is conversant with the facts of the killing, having been one of the attorneys who defended LOVEALL. The circumstances of the killing were about as follows:
“An election for constable was on at Glasgow Junction about twenty years ago and there was a large crowd of people in town, among them LOVEALL and a man named DENTON. Living in the town at the time was an old shoemaker, who conducted a blind tiger in his shop and dealt out whisky on the sly to all thirsty ones. On the day of the election LOVEALL had made several visits to the shop, as had DENTON, and it happened that the former was standing in front of the shop when DENTON, who was a perfect stranger to him, the men never having seen each other before that day, LOVEALL having only a short time before moved to the vicinity of Wayne county, came along, and stopping at the shop, tried to open the door, but found it locked. LOVEALL, in a spirit of fun, said to him, ‘Scratch under’. It angered DENTON in an instant to be thus addressed by a stranger, and he turned quickly around and asked LOVEALL if he wanted to fight. The latter replied to the effect that he would just as soon have a round with him as not, and the two men doffed their coats and were getting ready to go at it hammer and tongs, when bystanders interfered and stopped the fight. They stopped it but a few minutes, however, for DENTON went into the street, which had only a short while before been macadamized and was covered with loose stones, and picking up his hands full commenced to fire them at LOVEALL, who stood dodging like a ‘di-dapper’. But when DENTON picked up a new supply of the stones and commenced to hurl them again, LOVEALL thought it about time for him to ‘return the fire’ and he did so, his first stone striking DENTON on the side of the head, knocking him down. The onlookers by this time interfered and DENTON was able to get up and go home, and LOVEALL was arrested, charged with malicious striking and wounding, and taken before Judge W. GOSSOM, who was the police judge at the Junction. The trial resulted in LOVEALL being dismissed, but about ten days later, DENTON died and LOVEALL was afterwards indicted for murder. There was a large connection of DENTON’s in Barren county, and they bitterly prosecuted LOVEALL. The late Colonel Jas. J. BATES, at that time one of the leading lawyers of Southern Kentucky, was retained to assist in the prosecution. Col. BATES was a close personal friend of the DENTON’s and is said to have prosecuted the case with all the vigor he could command.
“The case was in court at Glasgow before Judge GARNETT for a long time, and was tried seven different times. LOVEALL was represented by Mr. McQUOWN, Major BOTTS and Judge BOLES, and Mr. McQUOWN made six different speeches in the case. Owing to a certain instruction given by Judge GARNETT, and which has since been reversed by the Court of Appeals, it was difficult to acquit LOVEALL, though on every trial a very considerable majority of the jury were for acquittal and it was not until the seventh trial that he was finally acquitted. Col. BATES made his last speech in the case sitting in a chair and it is said to have been one of the best and most powerful he ever delivered. —Bowling Green Times.”

On a parting note, I believe the Adair County newspaper errroneously called the Bowling Green paper, which is the Daily News, the “Bowling Green Times.” I have nowhere found reference to a paper called The Times ever being at Bowling Green.

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Rockland Mills

the cutthe cut 2

This article came from “History Speaks” – Quarterlies of the Metcalfe Co. Historical Society – Fall 1980 –

“A cut in the rock bluff on the waters of the south fork of Little Barren River, about 4 miles east of Knob Lick and 2 miles north of Beechville, was part of a water power project. It was made sometime before the Civil War (in the 1850s), and the Cut was made by slave labor. It was made to divert the excess water from the river in time of heavy rain. There was already at that time a waterpower mill on the south side of the river opposite the cut.
“This was part of the trading center known as Rockland Mills and was owned by William (Bill) Newman. Newman owned a considerable amount of land. The farm known as the Kelly farm now owned by Mr. Wade Cassady, the Cassady farm now owned by Mrs. Eugene Cassady and Wade Cassady, the Luther Gaddie farm, and the Henry Hubbard farm. The trading center was located on the Cassady farm with the exception of a distillery, which was on the Gaddie farm. The trading center consisted of a general store, blacksmith shop, whiskey and drug store combined, and was a mail station as this was on the Edmonton and Horse Cave mail route.
“Prior to the Civil War there was a covered wagon bridge across the river here and was said to have been burned by some of Morgan’s Raiders. The trading center also included a slave market where slaves were put on the auction block and sold or bartered. It also had a large vineyard with a winery and a very large apple orchard. The fruit was used mainly for making brandy.
“Newman was said to have owned many slaves, and on the top of a hill at the northeast corner of the Cassady farm is a cemetery where slaves are buried.”
The things that are related in this history of places and occurrences are from the memory of the original author of this article (who is not named), told to them by their grandfather, James Marion Oakes, who was born in 1851.
On another note, it states what was known as the Cassady farm was purchased by Harry Jewell and Randell Lambirth in 1974. Eugene Cassady was Lambirth’s grandfather.

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