JOHN W. GRISSAM, produce merchant, was born April 11, 1832, in Christian County, Ky. His parents were J. W. and Sarah W. (Wells) Grissam. The father was a native of South Carolina; he managed the farm for many years and served the county for some years in an official capacity; he was Deputy Sheriff’, Tax Collector and Constable, all under the old Constitution. It was generally conceded that he gave good satisfaction in his official work. He departed this life December 7, 1861, at the age of sixty-four years; he with his wife were for many years worthy members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The mother was a native of North Carolina. She came to Muhlenburg County at an early age, and is still living, with powers of mind and body unimpaired. These parents had twenty children, eight of whom died in infancy. The remaining twelve were raised to advanced years. John W. began for himself at the age of twenty-two years. Owing to a large family he had no moneyed assistance. He has been engaged variously at farming, milling and merchandising; he now owns a nice home in Kirk mansville, and is numbered among its respected and responsible citizens; he was married in 1865 to-Miss Emma C. McCown, of Muhlenburg County. These parents have had six children, two of whom, John L. and Mary E., died in...Read More
Collection: Counties Of Todd And Christian Kentucky
JONAH W. HALE was born October 14, 1824, in Todd County, Ky. His parents were Thomas and Nancy (Pittman) Hale. The father was a native of North Carolina, and died in March, 1855, aged about sixty years. The mother died about the year 1826. Mr. Hale began for himself at the age of nineteen years; he rented for many years, then bought 183 acres, and since has bought 157 acres; he at present owns 340 acres, and is clever and well-to-do. He was married, February 6, 1848, to Martha E. Utley, daughter of James and Fanny (Grace) Utley. The latter died August 22, 1869, aged sixty-five years. James Utley died June 22, 1880, aged seventy-six years. They were life-long members of the Baptist Church. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Hale are: James T., born November 24, 1848; William H., born December 9, 1849 (deceased); Jonah W., born January 18, 1851; Nancy E., born November 3, 1852 (deceased); Marial, born January 9, 1855; Benjamin M., born November 1, 1856; Fannie J., born June 26, 1858 (deceased); Jessie G., born May 2, 1861; John H., born March 26, 1863 (deceased); Alice B., born January 10, 1865; Otis C., born March 6, 1867; Charles A., born January 29, 1871; Mary A. L., born June 23, 1872; Crawford II., born March 20, 1875 (deceased). The parents and five children are members of...Read More
RICHARD C. HARDISON, teacher, was born February 3, 1858, in St. Mary’s Parish, Louisiana. His parents are Richard B. and Elizabeth Hardison. The father is a native of Kentucky; he is a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church South; he preaches and teaches in the public schools; he owns a farm of 100 acres in Muhlenburg County, Ky., which is carried on by himself and his son, John C. He has been a minister for about eight years, and a teacher for nearly thirty years. The mother is a native of Virginia. She also is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. These parents have five living children, viz.: May, wife of Benjamin F. Hill, elsewhere mentioned; Richard C., John C., Nellie R. and Lafayette B. Our subject left Louisiana and went with his parents to Illinois in 1861, Hamilton County. There the family remained four years, then came to Todd County, Ky. He worked on the farm in summer, and attended school in the winter, under the supervision of Prof. McGregor. Later he taught penmanship for two years; subsequently taught public schools, in which business he is still engaged. He expects to make teaching his profession; he has given general satisfaction where he has taught; but few teachers in the county have a better reputation for advancing pupils and giving satisfaction to parents, patrons and all concerned....Read More
BENJAMIN F. HILL, merchant, was born in 1848, in Muhlenburg County, Ky. His parents were Perry and Nicey (Wells) Hill, both natives of this State. The father was a farmer. His death occurred in 1879, at the age of sixty-four years. The mother’s death took place in 1877, at the age of fifty-four years. She was a member of the Christian Church. These parents had seven children, five of whom are now living. Our subject, the fourth child, began business for himself at the age of twenty-six years. He had previously learned and worked at the black-smith business; the latter occupation he continued eight years. He then engaged in the mercantile business, and in this he has continued ever since. He keeps a general stock of groceries, dry goods, nails, etc. He owns a house and lot in Kirkmansville, including store and grounds. By his fair dealing and courteous manner he has built up a large and increasing business. He has been very successful and has an encouraging outlook. He was married in 1875, to Miss May B. Hardison, daughter of R. B. & E. Hardison (elsewhere mentioned), of Muhlenburg County, Ky. Mrs. Hill is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Mr. Hill is a member of the Masonic...Read More
DR. AUGUSTUS LEWIS was born May. 15, 1839, in Trigg County, Ky. His parents were Leonard and Lydia (Withers) Lewis. The father was a native of Virginia; born July 4, 1796. He was a farmer and taught in public schools for thirty years. He came to Kentucky in 1818, and cast the first Republican vote over cast in Muhlenburg County. It was for Gen. Fremont, in 1856. His death occurred October 13, 1881. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South since 1848. The mother was a native of Kentucky; born December 15, 1815; she is still living with powers of mind and body well pre-served. She has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for more than forty years.. Our subject began for himself at the age of eighteen, by teaching school; this continued four years, and the latter three of these four he studied medicine at the same time. He enlisted in the United States Army in the Eleventh Kentucky Infantry in 1861; he served as Sergeant three years. He took part in battles of Perryville, Murfreesboro, in the Atlanta campaign and with Sherman in his _rand march to the sea. He was in all the engagements of the Twenty-third Army Corps, under Schofield. He was on duty every day from the commencement of the Atlanta campaign until the coast was reached at Savannah....Read More
CHARLES J. McGEHEE was born December 8, 1840, in Todd County, Ky.; is the son of Carr and Lucy (Tate) McGehee-both natives of Louisa County, Va. The father was a farmer, and soldier in the war of 1812. He first furnished a substitute and later volunteered; his death occurred in 1852, aged fifty-five. The mother died in 1852, aged fifty-one. They were both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The parents came to Todd County in 1825, and settled in the southern portion of the county, where Charles J. was born and raised; he remained there till 1861; he first owned 109 acres, which was a part of the old home-stead; this he afterward sold and located on this farm, consisting of sixty-five acres, where he now resides. His location and surroundings are among the nicest in this part of the county. He can raise on this farm almost anything that can be produced in this latitude. He was married October 12, 1865, to Mrs. Sarah J. (Edwards) Martin. She Is a daughter of H. B. and Elizabeth Edwards, of this county; both Mr. and Mrs. McGehee are members of the Christian Church; the former is a member of the Masonic order, Kirkmansville Lodge, No....Read More
R. F. BASS. Among the well-to-do farmers whose solid acquirements and cordial hospitality have done so much to make the social features of the whole South celebrated, none is more worthy of honorable mention than the subject of this sketch, R. F. Bass, who was born October 24, 1844, in this county. His parents were J. C. and Sarah Bass, both natives of Kentucky. The father was a farmer. His death occur-red November 27, 1880, aged seventy-three. The mother died May 28, 1882, aged sixty-seven years. Both parents were members of the Christian Church. These parents had three children: William H., John N., and R. F., only one of whom is now living. Wm. H. died in 1853, aged twenty-two years. John N. was a graduate of Jefferson Medical Institute, Philadelphia. He had practiced medicine for twenty years, located in Elkton. He married Miss Ellen, daughter of Dr. L. B. Hick-man, of this county. Dr. Bass died July 21, 1880, aged forty-five years. At the age of twenty-two, R. F. Bass engaged in merchandising which he continued four years. Later he took to farming and stock-raising, which business he still continues with reasonable success. He now owns 400 acres of land, and is located one-half mile southeast of Kirkmansville. His home, without being pretentious, is crowned with the graces of a cultivated taste, and is the source of a...Read More
DR. JOSEPH W. BARTLETT was born July 27, 1833, a son of Joseph S. and Amanda F. (Porter) Bartlett. His father was a native of Massachusetts. In early life he was a teacher, later a’ minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and for many years a missionary among the Cherokee Indians. He came to Kentucky after the war of the Rebellion, and died in Todd County in 1875, at the age of seventy-eight. The mother was a native of Virginia, and removed with her father to middle Tennessee, when a child. She was first married to Elisha Zachariah, who died September 9, 1826. March 12, 1828, she married Joseph S. Bartlett, and died September 21, 1866, aged fifty-seven years. She was a life-long member of the Baptist Church. Dr. Bartlett was born in Williamson County, Tenn., and on reaching man-hood he attended Medical College at Nashville and St. Louis. On leaving school he began the practice of his profession in Todd county, where he is still engaged. For the past three years he has had an interest in a mercantile business carried on by his son, Walter E., who has a flourishing trade. Young Bartlett is a gentleman of rare business qualifications, and bids fair to become one of the solid men of the county. The Doctor is the oldest practicing physician in the northern part of the...Read More
Under the social influence described in these pages it will be easily understood that popular education must be attended by many difficulties. Its value and importance were certainly under-rated by all classes, and it gained a foothold in Kentucky only through the strenuous exertions of a far-sighted few. Education was at first entirely in the hands of the church, which established seminaries at various points, primarily for the preparation of the clergy for ministerial work, but which were at once accepted by the wealthy portion of the church membership as a convenient means to give their children such accomplishments as their social position demanded. It was to these institutions that the State first extended its fostering aid, an act of the Legislature in 1798 granting 6,000 acres of the public lands of the Commonwealth to each of five educational institutions then in existence. In 1805 and 1808 similar acts were passed making like provision for seminaries to be established in each of the forty-six counties then formed. In 1821 an act was passed providing that one-half the net profits of the Bank of the Commonwealth should be set apart as the ” Literary Fund,” to be distributed in just proportions to the counties of the State for the support of a general system of education, under legislative direction; and that one-half of the net profits of the branch banks...Read More
The people who laid the foundations of society in Todd County were a religious people. The great revival movement which originated in Logan County in 1800, spread over the new settlements of the State like a prairie fire, and set the whole land in a flame of religious ardor. It was a time when pious ardor broke through the restraining forms of the church, and expressed itself in the wildest ecstasy and most extravagant manifestations. There were but few church buildings of any character in this region, and the people came together in large camp-meetings, where the Spirit of the Lord seemed to manifest His presence with almost the miraculous power of apostolic times. These manifestations, often bordering upon the ridiculous, baffle philosophical speculation. Men of rugged mind and physique, and women and children alike, succumbed to the “jerks, the falling or running exercises.” In describing these scenes, the Hon. Urban E. Kennedy relates: ” Many times I have seen them unexpectedly jerked flat on their backs, and the next instant jerked full length upon their faces. Ladies while sitting intently observant of the exercises, were jerked so violently that their bon-nets, capes, handkerchiefs and loose apparel would be thrown clear away, and their long, beautiful hair, unrestrained by combs, fillets, etc., flowing down to their waists, would crack like an ox-whip with the violent vibrations of their heads...Read More
THE early society of Todd County was derived from Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. The natives of the latter State largely preponderated in the northern part of the county, while the Virginians and North Carolinians were found in about equal proportions in the southern part. The greater part of those who came here early were in limited financial circumstances, though the cheapness of the land and the opportunity of profitable speculation attracted a few who. were remarkably well-to-do for that period. There were few, if any, of outward marks of difference, and neighbors were too highly prized in the sparsely settled community for society to exact too much in the way of credentials. There was now and then a little disposition on the part of Virginians to assume some superiority because of their possible connection with the “F. F. V.,” but then was so little opportunity to display this innocent vanity that an aristocracy never gained a reasonably sure foothold. Society here was very democratic, and those who persisted in asserting any other pretension, found eventually that they had danced to an expensive piper, and left the country poorer if not wiser. As a rule, there was little ” book learning among the people, and schools were very slowly established. Public offices were filled for the period of ” good behavior ” by the Governor, and once supplied there...Read More
Under the Constitution of 1799, there were three inferior courts, the Circuit Court, the County Court and the single Magistrate. The first was the same as at present, though in the scarcity of lawyers, the fashion was to travel the circuit, the Judge leading and the bar following as escort. Hopkinsville, Elkton, Russellville and Greenville were the principal points to which the practice of the time led the leading lawyers of the Todd County bar. The County Court was the great local arbiter of county interests, and was composed of a “competent number” of justices appointed from the county at large, and commissioned by the Governor of the State for good behavior. It was provided by law, however, that the Justice of the Peace longest in commission became ex ipso facto the Sheriff at the first vacancy. The official term of this officer was two years, so that at the expiration of this period the Justice of the Peace was once more relegated to the position of a sovereign.” The membership of the court was maintained by further appointments, which, while it was not actually for the term of good behavior, would in the natural order of things continue, after the first appointees were exhausted, some twenty-five years. As a matter of fact very few of the magistrates served as Sheriff; preferring to ” farm out the office,” as...Read More
The general description of the first court house is contained in the order of the County Court quoted on a preceding page. Maj.. Gray undertook his part promptly, pushing it forward with great vigor. He made the brick on the public square, and completed it early in 1821. The finishing of the inside was delayed some time for lack of funds, and was not finally completed until September, 1822. The first story was devoted to the court, and the upper story to a large room which served the various purposes of jury room, Masonic lodge room, etc. The county officers kept their records where it was most convenient, the Clerk of the Court being allowed to ” keep his office anywhere in the bounds of Elkton.” In the latter part of 1822 it was ordered by the court that the building of a “brick clerk’s office,” on or near the south-west corner of the square, be let to the lowest bidder. The specifications required a building one story high, 20×40 feet in dimensions, with two chimneys, two doors, two windows in front and two in the back, a plank floor, and a door in the partition which divided the long room into two apartments. This building was accordingly erected on the site of E. Girth’s store, and held all the county offices. With sundry repairs these buildings sufficed for...Read More
THE final act of State authority in forming and organizing Todd County was the location of the seat of justice. Several points, New-burg, Old Elkton and the present site were in competition for the location. The competition was not very active, and there was but little difference in the advantages offered. At Newburg, James Kendall had established a hotel, the ” half way house ” between Russellville and Hopkinsville, and proposed this location as the most central point eligible for the county seat. Old Elkton had the merit of a good start on the banks of the river, but the new site satisfactorily combined the advantages of the others and added the donation of John Gray. The result was inevitable, and on the second day of the first session of the County Court, the State Commissioners appointed for the purpose made the following report : To THE HONORABLE THE COUNTY COURT OF TODD COUNTY: We the undersigned Commissioners, appointed by an act of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, entitled ” An Act for the formation of the County of Todd, out of the Counties of Logan and Christian,” approved 30th of December, 1819, beg leave to submit the following report: Having in pursuance of the aforesaid act met at the house of James Kendall, on the second Monday in May, 1820, and proceeded to the discharge...Read More
Attending church had other merits to the young gallants of long ago than vigorous preaching. It was quite the thing if a young man had the means to escort his lady to church on horse back. The less fortunate walked and then ” went home ” with his girl after services. On such occasions it was no uncommon thing after getting out of sight of the church for the young lady to remove her morocco slippers and fine stockings and walk home with her escort barefooted. If Kennedy is to be trusted ” the general custom was to see your sweet-heart at night, take your seat by her and embrace her in your arms, with many kisses, sometimes reciprocated; take her on your lap, with your arms wound around each other in all innocence and virtue.” In describing an instance, when with a friend he put this theory in practice, Kennedy relates the story as follows: ” Well, Henry took his girl to one corner and I the other one in the remote opposite corner. We sat down as close as we could, and Henry laid off his fine beaver (which cost $12) carefully in the corner near the wall, and happened to set it very plumb in the skillet in which they had fried meat for supper. It was quite dark in the house, the little fire had...Read More
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