1102 Paris Rd. Suite 2
Mayfield, KY 42066
8:00 A.M. – 4:30 P.M.
Monday – Friday
1102 Paris Rd. Suite 2
Mayfield, KY 42066
8:00 A.M. – 4:30 P.M.
Monday – Friday
This community was called “Rock” originally. In the 1920’s it’s name was Bell City. In the 1850 census Benjamin Howard was listed as a potter, so before that time the pottery was established. In the 1880 Atlas of Graves County, this community had pottery, a grocery, a sawmill and a gristmill. Benjamin Howard was the founder of them all.
Another story passed down is that Mr. David Crider was very well known and liked in the Story’s Chapel/Bell City community as a blacksmith. He did all kinds of smithy work for horses, mules, wagons, and metal work needed for farm and small town needs. Betty Robertson, a local historian, states that a very popular item that Mr. Crider made was a bell. He made small farm bells and house bells designed for personal use. Thus, the name “Bell City” was probably derived from the blacksmith shop providing the needs of the community for Kentucky and Tennessee farmers and church folks.
Back in 1938, Thelma and Leslie Murdock of Bell City started an orphanage that they eventually named “Paradise Friendly Home”. Over the years, this orphanage played a role in raising over 500 children that were abandoned, orphaned or sent there from the courts. This “Home” was supported entirely by the kindness of the Graves County community: Sunday Schools, Churches, Woodmen of the World, even inmates from the Eddyville Prison. The Murdocks never requested or used tax money to raise these kids. Murdock believed that whoever the Lord sent to him he would do his best to take care of. He had three rules: everybody went to school, everybody went to church and everybody “worked within their capacity”. He did not treat the children any different while they were there. Teresa Ray is in the process of documenting the orphanage and the impact it had on the lives of the children. Judging from her life history it is safe to say that the “Home” had a positive impact.
Boaz is located 9 miles north of Mayfield, just yards east of Mayfield Creek. Boaz is situated on the P&L Railroad in township 5 North Range 1 East Section. It was named for Joshua Boaz, a plantation owner, who in 1854, gave the New Orleans and Ohio Railroad passage through his estate. A station, which was later built, was called Boaz Station. Joshua Boaz ran a tobacco factory.
William J. Adams established a post office there on September 30, 1869, and it was named Boaz. This station became an important shipping point on the railroad and the community that developed around it was incorporated in 1888. In the past several years, the community has begun to shift to the Viola/Boaz Road, over one fourth mile to the east, where the post office relocated.
The Johnson Brothers ran a hardware store and coffin shop here for many years. At one time there was a high school. Around 1880, Hodges and Prayor Store dealt in dry goods, notions and groceries and served as the postmaster and railroad agent. Hodges and Hodges were the owners of a flour, grain and feed mill.
Today the only major business is the post office.
Cuba, a hamlet with extinct post office is now located on Kentucky Highway 303, nine and one half miles south of Mayfield.
An article appearing in the Mayfield Messenger dated May 2, 1951, mentions the following, “the first store in Cuba was established by a man by the name of Taylor more than a century ago and about this time a fellow by the name of Luther built a blacksmith shop there. These two early institutions were there for many years before a man by the name of Tibbs increased the business life of the two with a grocery store.” During the War Between the States, Cuba was an enterprising community with two grocery stores, a hotel, a saloon, a dance hall, blacksmith shop and a post office.
A post office was established on February 12, 1858, and was undoubtedly named for the Caribbean Island whose acquisition from Spain was then popular cause in the slave holding states. After an intermittent existence, the post office closed for good in 1905.
This school always had great basketball teams. In 1951, Coach Jack Story took his team to the state tournament and returned runner-up. In 1952, the Cuba Cubs, with their green and white uniforms, stormed the state tournament again and returned this time with the Kentucky State Championship trophy. Reports from the tournament had declared that the Cubs practiced to the tune of Sweet Georgia Brown, a tune well known as the theme of the Harlem Globetrotters. Legend says that each player picked out a member of the Globetrotters team that he wanted to emulate. People from Cuba and the surrounding communities met the state champions with a motorcade at the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge and traveled with them to the Mayfield courthouse for a meeting on the steps of the courthouse.
Today Cuba has two churches, a lodge hall, a building supply company and a small store.
Dublin is one of the oldest towns in Graves County, some say Dublin got its name from an Irishman by the same name, and others say it was named after Dublin, Ireland. It is situated one mile from the Hickman-Graves County line and ten miles west of Mayfield. In 1838, the State Legislature established a voting precinct there, to be called the “Dublin Precinct”. Like other infant towns scattered throughout the country, Dublin developed as a fairly prosperous trade center throughout the 1840-decade.
Early settlers of Dublin include MA Payne, who migrated from Ohio to Kentucky in 1845. Others were Thomas Jefferson Gibson, Thomas Kirby, Jones Gregory, Gordon A Hayden and Jessie D Roach. Jonathan Gregory lost his life in a battle of the War Between the States, fought three-fourths of a mile from Dublin.
One of the first places of business in Dublin was a log house used as a saloon. Here whiskey sold for ten cents a quart. Major A. Payne operated this business. Later, Major Payne added a stock of general merchandise and served as the community mail carrier, going to Paducah for mail once a month. He was a major in the Union Army in the War Between the States. The post office was established September 16, 1850, and discontinued February 15, 1943. Their mail then went to the Pryorsburg Post Office.
The Dublin Baptist Church was first conducted in a brush arbor at the crossroad on the county line. Later Mason’s Chapel was organized in 1867. It was located about one mile west of the present Dublin Baptist Church. The church was constructed of logs and the seats were split logs. In 1882 the church secured its present site at Dublin, Graves County, and moved from the its former home in Hickman County. Tragedy struck on Christmas Day 1896 when the church building including all the records burned to the ground. It was rebuilt in 1897 on its present site. Not far from Dublin is the Unity Baptist Church, established in 1974.
The Mayfield Messenger noted in May 1917 the story of the cyclone, which passed near Dublin. Eleven persons died and the Dublin school was turned into a hospital for the injured. The cyclone struck between 4:30 and 5:30 PM on a Sunday afternoon. Houses were swept from their foundations, not even a brick or a plank remained. Trees were crushed under the force of the twisting elements and stock killed and carried for some distance. When the news reached Mayfield physicians and others were on their way to help. About three days later, a tornado struck Viola, KY, wrecking everything in its wake.
The Odom family ran a store in Dublin for many years. This building was destroyed by fire in 1978. The building was more than one hundred years old and had been in continuous operation as a grocery since about the time of the Civil War.
This village lays on the Kentucky and Tennessee state line, roughly half in Kentucky on Kentucky 129. Dukedom is 15 miles south of Mayfield. The other half of Dukedom is located in Tennessee’s Weakley County. It is thought to be named for Duke A. Beadles who established a post office on the Tennessee side on July 30, 1833. Duke Beadles built the first and for awhile, the only building in the area that was a general merchandise store. The post office moved to the Kentucky side in 1846 and returned to Tennessee in 1952, where it has been ever since. Dukedom, USA, is one of the oldest communities in West Kentucky, also the only US town bearing this name.
The Mound builders were the first civilization that is documented in the area that is now Dukedom. The mounds, which they built, are scattered throughout the river valleys. Some of the artifacts that have been found here include arrowheads, spearheads and a little pottery. It is said that the “Trail of Tears” passed straight through Dukedom.
In the early days of this town there were two hotels, a flour mill, a cotton gin, a tannery, two saloons, a photographer, blacksmith shops, barbershops, shoe shops, tobacco prizing barns, three undertaking establishments, drug stores, a saw mill, a horse race track, the Dukedom Academy and a few others. There were six churches, two being located in town.
Dukedom was involved in the Civil War with Forrest stopping here to go back to finish destroying part of Paducah. Also there was the Battle of Lockridge’s Mill as well as several other skirmishes. The Kentucky Historical Marker reads “CSA General NB Forrest with main body of cavalry passed this way before and after destructive rain on Paducah, March 25, 1864, Kentucky regiments, camping near hear, given leave to seek food, horses, get recruits, visit families. Not one deserted. News item led Forrest to send men back through here again, April 14, to capture horses missed before.” – 655
Dukedom’s one and only bank was founded in 1904, under the name Dukedom Bank. It burned in the 1930’s and a new one took its place on the same location. The Dukedom Bank sold out to Reelfoot Bank in 1989. Jackson’s Funeral Home opened its doors to serve the community in 1895; it was sold to Hornbeak Funeral Home of Fulton in 1981.
One of the questions on the United States Census 2000, the long form, was “What is your ancestry or ethnic origin?” Most of the residents of Fancy Farm community would have had to hesitate before answering this question. They know their roots to be from “Colonial Maryland”, eg., Edward Willett and Francis Hayden, mid-seventeenth century Maryland. However, originally they were both from England.
In 1634, the first Catholics landed in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, “the cradle of catholicity” in the new world. In 1785, twenty-five Maryland Catholic families settled on Pottinger’s Creek, Nelson County, Virginia (later Kentucky). One of these was William and Elizabeth Thompson Hayden’s family, whose son Thomas was one of the pioneers to Fancy Farm in the 1830’s.
In 1843, the residents of this area asked for a post office. The postal inspector, a guest of John Peebles, whose farm was seen as neat and clean, suggested the name Fancy Farm. John Peebles, one of the few in the area not a Catholic, was appointed first postmaster March 15, 1843. Thus, the beginning of the unique name, Fancy Farm, to designate a particular area in northwest Graves County. The St. Jerome Church is at the intersection of Highways 80 and 339, about ten miles from Mayfield, the county seat.
Probably, because of its unique name, because it stems from Colonial Maryland and has remained mainly Catholic since its foundation in 829, because the annual picnic serves as the unofficial kickof for fall election campaigns in Kentucky, or a combination of these, Fancy Farm has been for many years the subject of many feature articles in Kentucky newspapers.
This community located in south-eastern Graves County, was founded February 1836, but was not laid out until December 24, 1841. The post office was called Cornersville, perhaps because it was at the junction of Highway 121 and 564 and later changed to Farmington, as it was known for its highly productive farmland and for the rural economy and life style of its earliest residents. Early Farmington consisted of doctors, stores, churches and the school. The doctors took care of the drug store, sick and undertaker duties. Other community services were a gristmill, water hauling and blacksmith, telephone service, garage and lumber company.
The general store played an important role. Three of the most noted were Mr. Barber Boyd, Mr. Voris Wilford and Mr. CW “Boochie” Watson. Boochie ran the store from 1949-1966, followed by John Walter Galloway 1966-1974, and is still operational. This store was noted for the famous “Boochie Burger” cooked by Mrs. Pauline Lamb.
The Farmington Institute was founded in 1879. In 1917 it became Farmington Graded High School. The first building was a one-room log structure, followed by a four-room structure with an auditorium and music room. The school proudly boasts of the many teachers and principals that have walked its hallowed halls. Other notables from the area were Nathan Stubblefield, the inventor of the radio; Adrian “Odie” Smith excelled in basketball, playing in the Olympics and professionally for the Cincinnati Royals; and Anthony “Tony” Smith, former Graves County Judge Executive.
Soon after the Jackson Purchase of 1818 the area began to fill with settlers from the Carolina’s, Virginia, Tennessee, and parts of Kentucky east of the Tennessee River, and even Ireland. An interesting point of the roads that evolved was named Feliciana, which is very near the Tennessee state line.
The roads that led into this place had their beginnings on the Mississippi River with one town being Columbus, and another the area that became known as Hickman. Another road came from Mayfield. From Feliciana, these routes moved onward toward Murray and into Dresden, Tennessee leading eventually to the Nashville area. These roads served the area with freight deliveries, stagecoaches and mail routes.
According to an article in the Mayfield Monitor in 1889, “the village of Feliciana was at one time the most important trading point in the county. There were seven large business establishments as well as smaller establishments and shops of various kinds.”
There was a bank and also a saloon. There was also a jail to take care of those who enjoyed the benefits of the saloon in excess as well as lawbreakers.
Pleasant Hill Methodist Church was established in 1837, being only a little over a mail from Feliciana. Many of the families were a part of this church. We find many of these buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery. The Primitive Baptist also had a church (Old Bethel) in the general area early, as did the Cumberland Presbyterians (Bayou de Chien).
One instance was of Dr. Lochridge who was an elder in Bayou de Chien but he and Mrs. Lochridge are buried at Pleasant Hill. There were others also.
The Moss Brothers were the first businessmen of the place. We find Moss on the census records and we also find Morse. It is a well-known fact that the Morse were merchants in Feliciana.
There was a hotel in Feliciana that bore their names. EH Gordon kept a store as did Dr. Lochridge, the first doctor in the area. Other stores were Edmund Rodgers, Mr. Renfro, Dr. and William Alexander, Mr. January and WC Rodgers, George D. Weaks and George Clanton. William Patterson was one of the first mechanics. Other doctors that practiced in Feliciana were WC Stovall and John H Nichols.
Feliciana was a popular place for the troops stationed at Camp Beauregard located just to the north during the War Between the States. It was publicized later that many did have to spend the night in the village jail after too much rebel rousing.
The residents of Feliciana decided they did not want the proposed railroad to come through their peaceful town. Had this decision gone the other way we can only project what would have developed with the town of Feliciana.
In studying the landscape now of the Feliciana area, you can still detect where the once heavily traveled roads into the area were located.
This village is located about eight and one-half miles north of Mayfield. This town was named for the wife of the late Grover Cleveland, who was a Mill Folsom. The wedding took place on June 2, 1886, shortly before the town was named. A post office was established with James M. Conner as postmaster on June 25, 1886. This established the first business at this point. There was a high school there for many years. In 1939 a new highway was completed eastward connecting Folsomdale with Boaz. Today it has been bypassed by the new US Highway 45.
A post office was established on May 14, 1894, at Golo, with John W. Gallimore as postmaster. The postmaster at Vulton Creek was to supply the office with a mailbag. JF Wagoner is listed as a merchant in 1903.
Hickory got its start in 1860 when the Chesapeake, Ohio and Southwestern railroad was built from Paducah to Mayfield. The tracks rain through a grove of Hickory trees near Mayfield Creek about five miles north of Mayfield. Joe Kimble owned the land on which the grove was located.
Mr. Kimble decided to build a store and thus the town of Hickory Grove was born. The town was laid November 5, 1867, as more people moved in and other businesses had come to the area. Some businesses there in 1880 were Key and Byrd Dry Goods; EO Edwards Boarding House; JM Sawyer Saw Mill; JA Ryburn Physician and Surgeon; and TV Stevens, Medicated Baths.
The post office was established in 1858, with John Johns serving as postmaster for the few months before John Z. Linn took over that same year. The name of the post office was changed to one word, Hickorygrove, in 1896 and then to Hickory in 1914.
Hickory Baptist Church was organized in October 1878, with eleven members. The last school located in Hickory closed its doors in the early 1960’s.
Hickory is located 10 miles north of Mayfield on Kentucky 131. It is in the heart of a farming community. On April 4, 1883, this area was named Kaler after a local family. A post office was established at this time by James H. Carter, and operated until 1905. Prior to then, this area was known as Carter’s Mill. Very little can be found on a written history of Kaler. From recollections of members of the community it has been established that this area has always been served at least one grocery and at one time, there were three groceries to serve the community. Early recollections are of a feed mill that was run by Clyde Edwards, who later had a restaurant and hardware store. The restaurant was known as “The Snowball”. When the building was sold, the hardware section was eliminated and the building was remodeled to become a restaurant. The name “The Snowball” remained. “The Snowball” saw several changes in owner/operators over the years. In the mid-90’s it was renamed “Miss Kitty’s”.
Mr. Edwards relinquished the feed mill. Another mill was built and became known as “Kaler Feed Mill”. Later a small machine shop was established in conjunction with the mill to serve the area farmers.
The earliest recollections of a grocery are of one that was operated by Lee Collier, who was affectionately known as “Mr. Lee”. Mr. Lee’s sons, Avery and Neal, later operated this store. During this time Jimmy Hopwood established a gas station. He later expanded to include some grocery items. In the early 1960’s the Collier store burned. After the fire, two grocery stores were established: one by Jewell Hopwood and the other by Kenneth and Marilyn Holshouser. Both also included gas pumps and the Holshouser’s also carried hardware items. In December 1977, Jewell Hopwood sold his store to Jerry Hancock. It is not known exactly when the Jimmy Hopwood store closed, only that it was before 1978. The Holshouser store closed in 1983. Today the biggest business in the Kaler community is Goodman Lumber Company. From the later 1950’s to the early 1990’s Kaler was widely known for their annual Kaler Day, which included mule pulling and a flea market.
The first settlement within the present limits of Graves was made a few years before the county was created. Michael Eaker and William Armstrong located on Terrapin Creek in what is now Lynnville Precinct, about 1820, and are supposed to have been the first permanent settlers in the southern part of the county. They moved here from Trigg County, KY and were both members of the first justice’s court.
Lynnville, located near the Kentucky and Tennessee state line was an early settlement and among those living there in 1822 were Col JC Dodge and his son, Ulysses Dodge. Campbell Duncan came a little later; Moses Oliver, John and James Boyd were early comers to the Eaker settlement.
John and Jacob McCuan settled the land on which the village of Lynnville is situated. A post office was established in 1866, with William H. Hale as postmaster. One of the oldest buildings was the Howard Hotel, built before the Civil War. It was built by William Hale who came here from Illinois and built his home, which was later the hotel. His daughter married a Mr. Howard, which gave the hotel its name.
In 1889 the population of Lynnville was 1579, half as big as Mayfield which at that time had a population of 3598. At one time Lynnville prized more tobacco than Mayfield, with six prizing barns located there.
Fire destroyed most of the buildings in Lynnville in 1900. Rebuilding began in 1902. At that time the grocery, which stands in the center of “downtown” Lynnville was built and operated by Mark Wilson. Alie Melton bought the grocery in 1930, and in 1947, his daughter Maxine and her husband Pete Mason took over the operation, which was continued
The history of Mayfield really began in October 1818, when two agents of the federal government, General Andrew Jackson and former Kentucky Governor Isaac Shelby, bought for $300,000 the claim of the Chickasaw Indians to land west of the Tennessee River – the “Jackson Purchase”. The very next year a pioneer couple, John and Nancy Anderson, arrived in the vicinity of the former General Tire plant, after a three-day trek from the Tennessee. Here he built his cabin and cleared land. Here also was born the first white child in the county, Ervin Anderson, in 1821.
From the purchase area eventually came eight counties, Graves being the third in 1823. The General Assembly that year created the new county’s government and made Mayfield it’s “seat of justice”. Meanwhile, Anderson had moved from his first residence to the tiny settlement named for a nearby creek. This stream memorialized a Virginia militiaman, George Mayfield who had drowned in its current as he soldiered at Fort Jefferson in 1780. Other explanations concerning the origin of the name seem less authentic.
After the Andersons came to Mayfield, and built the first house here on North Fifth Street (between North and Ann Streets), John opened the first store and deeded the county the courthouse tract. Soon, a one-room log building was completed at a cost of $139, from which Anderson did business as the first county clerk. In 1832, he was a founder of the first church in town, the Presbyterian. The following year, Graves’ second courthouse was erected – a two story brick building on the same site. John and Nancy Anderson probably sent Ervin to the town’s first school, which had been instituted by William McDonald in 1828 on the present location of the First Baptist Ministries building, which until 1999, was the JC Penney building.
By the close of the 1820’s Mayfield’s population numbered 44 persons. Besides the “public buildings” – courthouse and jail – several log houses had appeared plus William Edwards’ tavern, a store or two and McDonald’s subscription school. The town’s original plat (1824) carried today’s names for a few streets: North, South, Water and Walnut. However, today’s 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th streets had early names of East, Main, Prairie, West and Cherry streets, respectively. They were all 66 feet in width. As more settlers arrived, a voting precinct was created in time for the Presidential election in 1824, in which Graves’ voters favored Democrat Andrew Jackson by a 23-16 majority. Kentucky’s last frontier had become a fairly well settled region by the 1830’s. The Federal Census taken in that year (1830) revealed a countywide population of 2,504 white persons and 279 slaves.
The growth of Mayfield during the thirty years preceding the Civil War was steady. Its major economic activity centered upon agriculture, especially the cultivation and sale of tobacco – although the important textile industry started here in 1860 with the establishment of the Woolen Mills, forerunner of latter-day Curlee Clothing Company. A major advancement occurred in 1858, when the first locomotive lumbered into Mayfield from Paducah. This railroad, begun almost four years earlier, was the New Orleans and Ohio and its arrival on July 3 triggered a celebration that overshadowed the town’s Independence Day festivities. The tracks followed almost the exact route, as did the much later Illinois Central Gulf.
A brief description of Mayfield in 1859, as given in Hawes Business Directory presented an optimistic profile of the town on the eve of the Civil War: “Mayfield – a thriving post village and capital of Graves County . . . the village contains the public buildings of the county, one Methodist and one new Missionary Baptist Church, one select school . . .one Masonic Lodge and one Royal Arch Chapter; one steam flouring and saw mill, one cording machine and one baker, one confectioner and two hotels, eight general stores and family groceries . . . one tobacco manufactory and two large tobacco stemmaries, one toy manufactory, one brickyard and one silversmith, one shingle maker, four masons and builders, one surveyor, about 25 mechanical trades and a large number of resident planters. Population is 700.” But the decades of progress soon gave way to years of destruction. With the coming of the Civil War in 1861, most local residents’ sympathy lay with the South, and many rushed to enlist in the Confederate service, although Kentucky did not secede. A young visitor from Feliciana wrote home from Mayfield that “a secession flag was raised yesterday in the city of Mayfield”. That observation from Laura Lochridge came on April 18, 1861, less than a week after the war’s beginning. Within another month, a district-wide convention met at the local courthouse to urge secession from the Union and the state. No battles were fought here, but Mayfield was the target of numerous raiding and reconnaissance expeditions from both armies on occasion. In mid-1864 severe military policies of Union General EA Paine (a “reign of terror” according to state investigators of Paine’s command) caused great suffering among citizens throughout western Kentucky. During this time, the courthouse was occupied by Paine’s Union troops and heavily damaged – so much so that a claim was filed in 1908 by the county against the federal government to collect damage payments. This effort was just partially successful, as only 10% of the full amount sought was awarded.
With wars end came re-building and renewal. The final quarter of the century witnessed improved structures, streets and roads. A second textile mill, the Mayfield Pants Company (later the Merit Clothing Company) was started in 1899, the same year that saw the beginning of the Exchange Bank. The First National Bank had been doing business since 1875. In 1891, the tobacco-based economy was somewhat supplemented by the discovery of ball clay, which gave rise to such profitable ceramic enterprises as Kentucky-Tennessee and Old Hickory Clay companies. The first newspaper in the county had appeared in July 1860; its name, The Southern yeoman, suggested its advocacy of the Southern cause in the approaching conflict. Its editor was CC Coulter, and it became a casualty of the war. In the post-war period, local subscribers chose either the Monitor or the Democrat (both weekly publications) to learn about local happenings. In addition, there were several short-lived newspapers that covered events between 1870 and 1900.
The 1880 decade brought a fourth courthouse (the present building) to replace one that had burned in 1887, as well as a new and highly accredited educational institution, the West Kentucky College. It was opened in 1886 on the campus of the present Mayfield Middle School. This Christian Church related boarding school operated until 1908, when its property was purchased by the Mayfield Board of Education to become the new campus of Mayfield High School. Previously, high school classes had met on Walnut Street. Mayfield High School’s present campus on Douthitt Street was occupied in 1973.
Mayfield enjoyed technological progress in the 1890’s when the first water and light company began service – water pumping started in 1892 and electrical service the next year. It was not until 1915, however, that the downtown “whiteway” of seventy light posts on Broadway and around the square was finished. Like the arrival of the first train, this burst of illumination brought forth a mass community celebration. A major improvement in communications came in 1895 with the installation of the county’s first telephone service. Heading the city government at this time was the first mayor elected, CJ Whittemore, who had won that office in 1894.
Along with educational and economic progress, Mayfield experienced church growth during the first sixty years. In addition to the town’s first church body, the Presbyterian 91832), the Methodist South (1843), the Missionary Baptist (1844) and the Christian (1853) played influential community roles during ante-bellum years. Churches serving black congregations in town – St. James AME (1868); Fairview Baptist (1871) and Smith Temple Presbyterian (1891) were also functioning in 1900.
With a population of over 4,000 persons in 1900, Mayfield was becoming more urbanized and industrialized. New residential neighborhoods were developed, more business firms appeared downtown, and early automobiles (such as Rio’s) sputtered down newly paved streets. Both professional and scholastic athletics – particularly baseball (Class “D” Kitty League Competition) and football (MHS “Wonder Teams” of the 1920’s) intensely interested many Mayfieldians. Continued growth of textile industries – Merit, Curlee and later, Andover – gave employment to many and helped make Mayfield a “depression-proof” town, according to some Federal officials in the 1930’s. The establishment of the Pet Milk Condensary in the late 1920’s stimulated the dairy industry. In 1960, the giant General Tire Company began operations north of Mayfield, near pioneer John Anderson’s cabin. Ten years later, another important industry arrived – the Ingersoll-Rand firm, and air compressor manufacturer. While factories and churches have met economic and spiritual needs of local residents, excellent hospital facilities have done likewise for their physical problems, the Mayfield Hospital, opened in 1921, on North Sixth Street, was the town’s first hospital. It was followed in 1928 by the Fuller-Gilliam Hospital one block west on North Seventh Street. In the 1950-51 period, a third hospital, the Fuller-Morgan Hospital opened on South Seventh and Water Streets. It was purchased in 1969, and became the Community Hospital, which it was to remain until 1993, when a new facility was constructed on the northwest side of the city just off Highway 121 North. The new hospital was named Pine Lake Medical Center and then in 1999, it became the Jackson Purchase Medical Center.
It should be noted that hundreds of young men and women of this community have become members of the Armed Forces and have served their country well. Many failed to return but the veterans have been remembered in various memorials in the city.
One of the surviving communities in the Northwest part of Graves County is the burg of Melber. Until recent years, it was often referred to as “The Burg” after its original name of Lewisburg, named after its founder, Lewis Helfer, about 1876.
It is located about a mile west of the intersection of the former Median Road with the McCracken and Graves county line. In 1854, there was a skirmish nearby and an encampment near the Old Mayfield Creek and Clinton Road. Another small skirmish was at the north side of Allcock Cemetery where the original Allcock School (and possibly a church) stood. In 1868, Johnny Flood cleared a portion of the woods on the southwest side of the intersection of the Graves county line and Clinton Road. All of this area was heavily wooded lasting into the 1940’s. He built a cooper shop there and it was the first building in Melber.
In 1876 the land across the road in McCracken County was purchased by Lewis Helfer from the Allcock heirs and divided into lots on the west side of Clinton Road. Helfer had decided to build a mill on Mayfield Creek, but it was felt there was not enough year long water flow and a steam mill was built near where the newer mill and grocery was built. As lots were sold, homes were built and a community started. As their mail delivery was at Kansas, a post office was sought. There was already a Lewisburg so the name of this town was changed to Melber, after a family of that name who lived near St. John’s. Lewis Helfer was appointed postmaster in 1882.
The nearest school was the Allcock School located just over a mile southwest of the Melber Baptist Church. The Melber Baptist Church was established about 1895 and the Church of Christ about 1916. There was a Methodist Church established in 1898, but it was disbanded in the 1920’s.
Driving through Melber today you have to pay attention to where Graves County ends and McCracken County begins. Most of the people who live down there don’t really pay much attention to that anyway. Local genealogist, Don Simmons will be glad to take you back in time to follow your family’s roots or the roots of the community.
Pilot Oak is a small community in south Graves County approximately 17 miles from Mayfield. In the late 1800’s a number of businesses in this community thrived.
At one time land in this part of the county was all prairies but at least one large oak tree stood amidst the grasses. The tree was used as a guidepost, also a meeting place for the Indians and the exploring white man. According to a story in the Mayfield Messenger in 1926, Pilot Oak was founded about one hundred years before and was named after the tree.
In 1896 the Kentucky Gazetteer and Business Directory lists Pilot Oak as having a population of 80. In 1913 the Mayfield Messenger writes that Pilot Oak is a thriving little town with three dry goods stores and groceries combined; one blacksmith shop, one corn mill, two doctors, two churches and a school. Pilot Oak also had another distinction. It was nationally known as the precinct that gave William Jennings Bryan his largest majority on one of his presidential campaigns, according to the Mayfield Messenger in 1926.
The school ha been located at three different sites in Pilot Oak with the last being a high school built by Tom Jones in 1916. In 1937, the Pilot Oak “Warhorses” basketball team went to the Kentucky State Tournament, winning their first game, but losing the second. As the years have passed by, most of the old families are gone and new people have moved in.
Pottsville is located 12 miles north west of Mayfield. This community was established in north Graves County in the mid-nineteenth century. The Mayfield Monitor mentions in an 1889 issue, the business interest of Pottsville consists of two stores, one physician, tobacco rehandling house and a good school, Pottsville. Pottsville at one time had a post office. The 1880’s Atlas of Graves County lists DR Meritt, Physician and Surgeon with an office one mile south of Pottsville. Sources say the community was probably named after the Potts family.
This village is located on US Highway 45 South just east of the Purchase Parkway and six miles southwest of Mayfield. The first post office was established as “Depot” on April 3, 1855, with Melbourne Saxon, postmaster probably in anticipation of the arrival of New Orleans and Ohio Railroad two years later. On April 3, 1857, the first train passed over the track from Paducah to Fulton. Pryorsburg is situated on the Obion Creek and was the first railway station after leaving Mayfield. Before this time the only transportation was by foot, horseback, oxen wagon and buggy. In the early years, the community may also have been known as “Boggy” or “Bogey” for wheeled vehicles would often bog down in the poorly drained roadbeds. The post office was renamed Pryorsburg, after the Pryor family, on May 14, 1860. It operated intermittently until it closed in 1960. Pryorsburg was incorporated in 1874 and had a population of 129 in 1880 census.
In the earlier days, Pryorsburg had several grocery stores, two blacksmith shops, a depot, a saloon and dance hall, a flourmill, a hotel, brick keel, and coal yard. It had a school for the white and a school for the colored.
In the Kentucky Gazettee and Business Directory 1895-96 Pryorsburg is listed with the population of 300.
In 1894, the clay mines opened and gave many people in this community a good job. The first church was the Methodist Church. The second church was the Baptist, followed by the Church of Christ and later the Methodist Church.
Old Pryorsburg on the railroad has since been largely replaced by a new settlement on Highway 45.
Jonathan Pryor was born in the state of Virginia. When he was a young child his parents started tract across North Carolina, Tennessee and into Kentucky. Jonathan was with his family of 10 children migrated into Graves County and spent some time on Clark’s River in 1818-1819 and later he and his family purchased lots in Wadesboro (Calloway County, KY). Jonathon was not content to remain on the eastern side of the county so he soon moved to the section of the county known as Rozzell District Precinct, Section 36 Township 2, and North Range.
The Pryor family was accompanied across the state of Tennessee and into Kentucky by a young Attorney and friend, Andrew Jackson, later to be chosen the seventh President of the United States and the instrument through which the “Jackson Purchase” was made in 1819 for $300,000.
Jonathan Pryor’s daughter, Stacy, was married April 15, 1824 to Burrell William and this was the first marriage in the county. Some of their descendents remain in this area. He chose to have his remains deposited for all times in his private farm cemetery at the rear of their Old Homestead, which is located on a slight hillside facing the Dublin Road.
The town of Sedalia is located about five miles south of Mayfield on Highway 97. The post office was established at Sedalia on March 5, 1879, with John Morris as the first postmaster. Judge Fisher built the first residence and Charles and Robert Morris owned the first store.
An interesting story is told of how Sedalia got its name. Based on folklore there was a beautiful young lady who lived in the area by the name of Dalia. When the local boys were asked where they were going they would reply that they were going to “see Dalia”.
By 1880, several businesses had located there including Ford Brothers’ Store and a part time barbershop and dentist’s office. Other early businesses were Lawrence Brothers General Store; DS McNeely Dry Goods; Wyatt and Usher General Store; Gallemore and Conner Drugs; JM Dockery Blacksmith; and Ray Brothers Mill which was established in 1901. Lebanon Baptist Church was founded in 1894, with WD Dunn as pastor and the Sedalia Baptist Church in 1898, with JJ Kesterson as pastor.
Symsonia is north of Mayfield in the northeast area of Graves County. It is located on Kentucky 131. When the Jackson Purchase was in its infancy Wadesboro Road ran from north central Calloway County toward Paducah and the river port on the Ohio River. It was this trail (Wadesboro Road) that was a factor in the development of Symsonia. In the mid-1800’s, it was a small settlement made up of farmers and lumbermen. Legend says it was originally known as Slab Town because the sawmills in the area produced an over abundance of slabs and they were cross-laid in the roadways to cut down on the mud. It is said that the oldest home in Symsonia was built in 1840 by slave labor that made the brick and constructed the house. On December 23, 1847, the first post office was established with James K. Wilson being the first postmaster. The community was given a list of names for the new post office, and not wanting to be known as Slab Town, they chose the name Symsonia. The Methodist Church was established sometime between 1837 and 1854. Clarks River Baptist Church was organized on December 14, 1867.
This village with extinct post office now occupies two sites: the original, on the Illinois Central Gulf railroad, which consists only of John W. Whitmore’s and what is now called West Viola, about a mile west, at the junction of US Highway 45 and KY 408, about 7 miles west of Mayfield. The community and station may have been named for the wife of an early Whittemore who is said to have given the right-of-way and station site to the New Orleans and Ohio Railroad in the 1850’s. The town was originally called Whittemore. A post office was operated there from 1884 to 1910. It is thought that an early Whittemore named the place after his wife, Viola. The old – the Deserted Old Viola – was located about three fourth miles down the railroad North of Viola.
Viola was what they used to call a sawmill town. It began to prosper after the Civil War. The creek bottoms were full of big timber, so they had sawmills set up not far from town. They sold and shipped all kinds of lumber for the building business, bridge timbers, barrel staves, furniture factories and cross ties for the railroad.
One of the tales they used to tell was about a man in Old Viola that was run over by a train and cut both of his legs off, no doctor was available, so he was wrapped up as best they could and sat him down by the saloon wall, poured whiskey down him. The jug of whiskey was left beside him and he died a little later.
Every summer Viola had a horse show and trade day. Viola would be full of wagons, buggies, horses and people. That brought other people, scam artists, stunt performances, and bootleggers. One outfit came one trade day with an old flat bed truck. He had a stove, table, some pots and pans. He would get a crowd around to make up three or four dollars. He would dress a chicken, cook and eat it in five minutes. This was frying size. He really did it; he put the chicken through a pot of boiling water.
In the 1920’s and 1930’s people would come to Viola and put up a big tent. They put on magic, music and silent movies. The movies cost 10 cents for children and 15 or 20 cents for adults. It was a black and white silent movie. During the depression a lot of hobos got off the train at Viola to hunt something to eat. The families would feed them at the back door. They would give them a plate of whatever they were having that day. They would sit on the edge of the back porch and eat. They were polite and thankful for anything you gave them. They came usually in the late afternoon, while the local train switched boxcars, picking up loaded cars and leaving empty cars.
The hobos would leave marks down the railroad tracks on trees where they stayed until the next train; where the next hobo could get food. If several came in a day the message was left where to go. They would ask if they could work for the food. If you gave them something to do, then for a few days there would not be as many to come for food.
Water Valley, which was first called Moss Crossing or Moss Station came into veing sometime after the completion of the Illinois Central railroad in 1854. With people living in the area that became Water Valley, the opportunities existed for a town to prosper, while Feliciana, an important trade center to the east, a short distance, began to dwindle. This was the result of the property owners declining to give right of way to the railroad. Many of those businesses in Feliciana moved to Water Valley. Not only was the railroad good for the commerce of the little village, but also provided passenger service into the nearby metropolises. Trains made several stops daily delivering and receiving freight and mail. It was not uncommon for a train to be a combination of freight and passenger cars. People could board the train in the morning and travel to neighboring towns, spend the day, and return in the afternoon or evening.
On the federal census of 1870 the area was enumerated in the Feliciana district. In 1880 when the federal census was taken Water Valley was listed as a village. There were a total of 20 families living there, with population of about 100 people. Several were listed as merchants of various kinds. There was a livestock dealer, hotel, gristmill, sawmill, three blacksmith shops, two doctors, and perhaps a cotton gin. Dr. George F. Weaks established a pottery on the West Side of the tracks. His pottery produced many churns among other items. Mr. Pirtle operated a brickyard, firing his own brick, using these to build the new hotel. The railroad also provided employment for a depot agent, section foreman and hands and a telegraph operator. The area was growing with each progressing year both in business and new homes being built. Sometime after 1880, a fire destroyed most of the business establishments, which were located on the East Side of the tracks. New buildings were erected, but were moved the West Side of the tracks. The store building best known as the Ben P. Bennett General Merchandise was built around 1891 or 1892. The row of buildings just to the north of this building were built about a year later. The stores were fine and of brick and were fronted by a brick sidewalk topped by a substantial overhang. Many businesses operated from this row of buildings down through the years. The longest surviving of these businesses was that of Ben P. Bennett and Wayne T. Edwards handling, groceries, hardware, house wares, and coal oil. Mr. Edwards also operated the local undertaking establishment.
A Baptist Church had been organized in the area, and also the Methodist Church had been organized several years before the turn of the 20th century. Both these congregations are active today. The Presbyterians also had a church and congregation. The new Methodist Church was built shortly after 1900 and still stands today. Later the Church of Christ bought the Presbyterian building.
Wayne Thompson had a saw mill and flourmill on the East Side of the tracks. It was here that self-rising flour was formulated and milled first in Water Valley.
The Citizens Bank was opened in 1901, surviving almost seventy years.
Business expanded to include a lumberyard, barbershop, drug store, coal yard, and poultry buying station. With the automobile becoming more popular, a mechanic had an establishment. The new Water Valley High School graduated its first class in about 1914. Another doctor came into the area and for a time there may have been four practicing physicians within the confines of Water Valley. Also with progress came the telephone.
By the 1930’s, Water Valley had begun to decline. The building of Highway 45 gave better access to the area of Fulton and Mayfield. The car gaining more and more popularity had cut the travel time measurably. Little by little businesses closed or moved elsewhere. Jobs available in Detroit created an exodus of people out of the area wanting better paying jobs. In a sense, progress was responsible for the rise, and many years later, the fall of Water Valley.
Wingo is located nine miles south of Mayfield, in Graves County; next to Mayfield it is the largest place in the county. Jerman Juduthen Wingo settled it in 1825, when he was 18 years of age. The site where Mr. and Mrs. Wingo settled became known as Point Curve. Mr. Wingo was born August 17, 1807, and died December 28, 1873. Local lore says that he came from the Carolinas and was married January 17, 1826 to Ann “Amy” Yancey Beadles born March 19, 1904, and died December 10, 1879. Jerman and Ann are buried in the Greer Cemetery, which is located by the parkway in Wingo. They had eleven children; several of the descendants are still living in this area.
As Kentucky came into the Union as a slaveholding state, Mr. and Mrs. Wingo could own slaves, and had several. Many of them took his name and were willed land when he died. Even after they were freed, many of them refused to leave Mr. Wingo.
Wingo is an outgrowth of the railroad, and dates its history from the year 1854, at which time Jerman Wingo laid off several lots of his land, and brought a stock of goods to the place. A station was established and other businessmen came in and opened stores, among whom were Wesley Stimson, Bird Gregory, James Frost and John Frost.
Back in 1854, a big black locomotive of the Chesapeake, OH and Southwestern Railroad screamed to a halt in front of the new station at Points Curve. A small crowd had gathered for this unusual sight, because most had never seen a train before.
One man, Jerman Wingo, in the small crowd was more than mildly interested in that black monster. When plans were made for the first railroad to come through Wingo, Jerman gave the right-of-way for the tracks to run through his land with the agreement that he would be allowed to ride the train free anytime he wished. Mr. Wingo only tried once to ride the train. When he boarded the train, the conductor asked for his ticket. Mr. Wingo said, “Why, I’m Jerman Wingo!” Apparently not knowing the significance of this remark, the conductor replied, “I don’t care if you are Santa Clause! If you ride this train, you will have to buy a ticket.” Mr. Wingo bought the ticket as requested but was so angry that he vowed never to ride a train. He got off the train at Mayfield and made the trip back to Wingo behind a team of oxen. Despite Mr. Wingo’s vows against trains, he lived to see the day the railroad was a real help to the community. At one time five passenger trains stopped in Wingo, two in the morning, one at noon, and two in the afternoon.
The first post office was established in Point Curve, January 22, 1861, with Mr. Jerman Wingo’s son, Theophilus, as the first Postmaster. In 1862, the name of the post office and railroad station was changed to Wingo Station; and another of Mr. Wingo’s sons, Jerman J. Jr., was appointed Postmaster. On November 29, 1882, Wingo Station name changed to Wingo.
The first town marshal was WW Charlton, the first jail in Wingo was a brick building that had six bunks and plenty of floor space located in a corner of the public square.
The Frost family owned a flour mill. It was a large two-story building with a millpond. A ginning bed, which covered one acre, was owned by WM Andrew and was located where the school is now standing. This is a plant much in demand for use in medicine. He shipped his ginning all over the United States.
Dr. Wesson, who had a chair factory behind the stores, ran a snuff factory and shipping point.
There was a livery stable with horse and buggies to hire; this establishment included a blacksmith shop.
Mr. Jim Blaclock and Mr. WR Byrns owned a tobacco-prizing barn.
In May of 1869, St. Paul Methodist Church was established land for the church and cemetery was donated by Mr. “Wes” Stimson. Three different church building have been erected on the same site; first was a small frame building. In 1886 the old building was replaced by a beautiful brick structure; on March 3, 1919, the church building burned. The third building was completed in 1920.
The population of Wingo in 1895/96 was 600; WUJH Fauntleroy was postmaster; JH Copland, justice; Robert Covington, barber; AF Crew, grocer; H Robertson, railroad agent; Thomas Clark, blacksmith; and Mr. Pembroke was the owner of the Tartt Hotel. Plumblee, and Brother Madison and Daniel S. were listed as carpenters and undertakers.
In 1898 the Bank of Wingo was established. Their first home was destroyed by fire in the 1914 blaze that wiped out most of the downtown district. The first president of the bank was Dr. PW McKeel and Isaac M. Brann was the first cashier. With the advent of the depression that closed many banks across the nation, the Wingo bank remained open. One of the most revered names in the history of this bank is that of Pumlee. Mr. BT Plumlee worked for the bank from 1910 until the time of his death in 1952. His brother, Auley, was president of the bank in 1910, until he retired in 1940. Noah Caldwell was president from 1940-1945, then Mr. BT Plumlee took over until 1952, from 1952 until – Mr. Neville B. Mays was president.
An article in the Mayfield Messenger dated July 8, 1901 states “that there were three dry goods stores: MJ McNeely, DH Slaughter and JR Winston. Five grocers: JR Weaks, WT Moore, McNeely and Ice, CN New and DH Slaughter. MJ Andrew and Company and JR Winston are the two drug houses. WT Baker is the postmaster.”
Wingo has had several newspapers over the years. Honorable Henry George started The Purchase in 1886, but suspended it the following year. In 187 WT Winn established The Labor Journal and published it in the interest of the Wheelers, a farmers’ organization. Not finding enough patronage, he removed the newspaper to Fulton. On November 8, 1901, Wingo Outlook, a weekly newspaper published every Friday was time-honored by Matt McNeeley and existed for about 5 years. JW Lloyd founded the Tribune newspaper in 1913 and it was discontinued in 1918.
In 1914, a fire destroyed a drug store and doctor’s office of Dr. Winston, a grocery belonging to J. Horace Robertson, the Dry Goods Store occupying two buildings belonging to Dr. Dan Slaughter, an Mr. Burn’s hardware store, the bank of Wingo, Mr. Bullock’s shoe shop, the barber shop, the Hat and Dress shop belonging to Mrs. Winston, Dr. McKeel’s office and Dr. Mullins office over the stores were burned. The citizens of Wingo rebuilt the town.
In 1918, the Wingo Cumberland Presbyterian Church burned to the ground, as the new church was being built; they attended the Wingo Baptist Church. Within the week, as people were going to the Methodist Church, it caught fire and was destroyed. Its people also attended the Baptist Church until their church was rebuilt.
The Opera House was a large two story building located where the ladies clubhouse was for many years. Road shows were here for most of the summer season and it was used for a skating rink all winter. In 1922, the Opera House (Masonic Lodge) caught fire. Tremendous winds fanned the 2-story building, spreading the fire. This fire consumed the Opera House, Mr. Blaylock’s Tobacco Barn; Dr. Bowlen’s office, the Coffin Shop, Wingo Baptist Church and the Tartt Hotel. The Tartt Hotel was a full block, and was located near the railroad. It was noted for the best food any place between Louisville and Fulton.
In 1902 a new Masonic Hall was completed at Wingo at a cost of $2500.
In 1933, a fire swept the Furniture Store, AB Burnes Grocery, the Post Office, Lumberyard, Water and Electricity Office, and Mr. Weak’s grocery.
The buildings surviving three fires are the Train Depot, Saloon in Mr. Dunn’s basement, Dr. McNeely’s office, restaurant, Scale pen, Jail, and Dr. Wesson’s Civil-War era house.
The first school building, a frame structure, was located on the north side of West Lebanon Street in front of the Wingo cemetery street. In 1882 a two-room brick school building was erected, just a few yards from where the present school now stands. In 1910, this was torn down; then a brick building was built on Hwy 45, on a lot owned by Dr. Mullins. The next school building was built in 1937. An addition, class rooms and a gym, were added in 1956. The school that was built in 1937; was demolished in 2000.
In 1920 the Wingo Alumni Association was formed.
November 18, 1941, hard surfacing of streets began in Wingo.
Over the years, Wingo has had many doctors. Some were Drs. JG Puryear, William T. Bowling, WP McKeel, JW Gholson, John McNeely, Dr. Flint, Mont McNeely and the last, Stanley Mullins.
Trade Day, Mule Day or Swap Day, as it is known, was started in 1930 and has been an annual affair ever since, which is the first Saturday in April.
In 1909 Mr. JH Humphreys is listed as having an undertaker business in this area. Later J. Luther was an undertaker and owner of the funeral home, later it was sold to Hopkins and Brown, and is presently being run by the Brown family.
In March of 1956, Wingo’s antiquated telephone system went out of existence, replaced by the West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative.