This week we continue to follow William Miller Boling’s column from 1946 in the Messenger offering a unique view of Meade County history from 75 years ago.
WILLIAM MILLER BOLING
Wolf Creek on the Ohio River at the narrowest point on that stream within the county is built on the alluvial plain of the river and was for many years an important river port. The land adjacent to Wolf Creek is of particular fertility and grows all crops in abundance. It has a post office, good stores, two churches and a good elementary school. The town is connected with Highway 84 by a good road. During the old river days, Wolf Creek built and sent many flat boats south to New Orleans. Lime and cooperage stocks being the principal commodities of “export.” Also, many rafts of logs were assembled there to float down the river to market, making the place the loading town of the country in this respect.
The folk of Wolf Creek and vicinity occupy a very exclusive place in my affections for a very personal perhaps highly selfish, reason.
I have made ten races for public office in Meade County, and Wolf Creek is the only precinct which I have “carried” each time.
Not one time has any of my opponents (and they were good, capable men) received more votes at Wolf Creek than I, a fact of which I am extremely and lastingly proud.
Battletown ten miles northwest of Brandenburg and near the Ohio River is a place of importance in that section of the county. It has several stores, a post office and three churches and two schools near by. Battletown is connected with Brandenburg by a state owned and maintained road.
Meade County like other counties of the state has provincial names for particular localities.
Some of these are – Lapland, Paradise, Dead Horse Hollow, Turkey Heaven, Hog Back, Hill Grove, Louse Corner, Hog Wallow, Lick Skillet, Stiths Valley, Jupin Town, Big Bend, Little Bend, Woodland, Need More, Bald Knob, Liberty, Cedar Flat, Stony Point.
Looking at Otter Creek
Of all the sections of Meade County, the Otter Creek region is perhaps, the richest in historical value. The earliest trustworthy accounts of the coming of the white man fix this section as the first to be visited and explored. Here the buffalo trace crossed the creek and led westward through the hills. The sparkling waters, the wooded, undulation hills and the numerous caves formed an inviting paradise for the hunter, both white and red and also a potential eureka for the commercially minded pioneer of one hundred fifty years ago.
In the long ago these hills and dales felt the tread of the firm, exploring feet of Boone, Harrod, Hardin, Cripps and other stalwart pioneers and the soft moccasins of Piomingo, Girty and Tecumsch stole stealthily through the shadowy wood and grassy highland and the hiss of the speeding arrow intruded upon the silence of the somber forest and waving, upland lea.
During the 1770’s, two, great, planned American cities were conceived. One of them was to be methodically and grandly carved upon the terrain bordering the Potomac River. It was named, planned and built in honor of the Father of his Country and designated as the capital city of the United States. It has grown into one of the beautiful cities of the world.
The other city, prenatally named, and planned to be of equal and portentiousness was to be set down in the forest primeval on the south bank of the Ohio River at Piomingo Bend thirty miles below Louisville. It was named Ohiopiomingo in honor of the beautiful river and Piomingo, the great Mingo chief.
It was never built. But the aborted plans eventuated in the birth of the bustling, little river port of the early 1800’s – Rock Haven.
Throughout the first quarter of the nineteenth century, after the introduction of the steamboat to western waters, this pioneer town vied with Louisville for industrial supremacy.
This was the era of primitive water transportation when natural harbors were necessary to safe travel and Piomingo Bend possessed a safe natural harbor. Also, at this point nature had wielded an axe to cut a deep notch in the steep river hill, permitting easy approach to and from the Ohio, the great artery of pioneer trade and travel. Great warehouses, furnaces, kilns, and mills were erected in the ghost towns of Ohiopiomingo, the remains of some of which may yet be seen – crumbling, moulding monuments to the hopeful yesterdays of early thrift and pioneering dreams. (Often does the debris along our paths summon into retrospective view the splendor of the days long dead.)
A few miles to the south and east of Rock Haven on historic Otter Creek reposes the somnolent village of Garnettsville. The town is but a shrunken image of its former robust self as it sprawls deserted and drowsy by the glinting waters, a picture of an old, humbled and dejected greatness in languid communion with the spirit of its departed youth and glory.
But it was not always thus with Garnettsville.
From early historic time up to and shortly after the War between the States this town and immediate environs occupied a bright spot in the sun. It is doubtful whether any other Kentucky community of similar isolation has contributed so much to the store of usefulness as this hilly section of Meade County.
During pre-Civil War days when many privately conducted colleges were being established through the South, Garnettsville ranked at the top by being the site of one of these great educational institutions.
Lee and Gwin, authors of the great text book on Grammar, taught in the Garnettsville Collegiate Institute. Many graduates of this school went out into the world to attain greatness.
The early importance of Garnettsville was of such character as to make it a rival of Brandenburg for location of the county seat of Meade County.
This neighborhood, now forlorn, wrinkled and old, produced in its youth and virility some of the greatest names in the professions.
Here were cradled the Puseys, a family of physicians some of whom attained fame of national scope, while others of the family were content to become dear, old Country Doctors, during the old, difficult rural days.
Dr. Henry K. Pusey was for years Superintendent of the Kentucky State Hospital at Lakeland.
Dr. David C. Pusey practiced his profession at Brandenburg for fifty years. Dr. Robert Pusey practiced his profession at Elizabethtown for many years and was the father of Dr. W.A. Pusey and Dr. Brown Pusey, donors of the Brown-Pusey House at Elizabethtown.
Dr. E.L. Henderson, one of the outstanding surgeons of the United States and now Chief Consultant to the Surgeon General of the United States Army, is a product of this community.
L.A. Faurest one of central Kentucky’s ablest lawyears and a member by appointment of the Appellate Court of Kentucky and the late Harry Robinson a member of the same court are sons of the Garnettsville section.
Bill Douglas who Grantland Rice and Robert Edgren called “the greatest sports writer of all time” began his earthly sojourn among the Otter Creek hills. Of more than passing interest is the fact that the Garnettsville community produced three Presiding Elders of the Methodist Church – “Buck” Overton, Marion Lawson and Sam Allen. Emma Reese, mother of Harold (Pewee) Reese the great short stop of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was reared near the waters of Otter Creek.
These are but some of the many who have gone out of this unsung, but prolific region to noble life and enduring greatness.
(Continued next week)