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Reminiscences Of Claysville, Oddville and Other Communities, Part 2

REMINISCENCES
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Of Claysville, Oddville and Other Communities.
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Had not the building of the Ky. Central changed the map of Harrison county, Claysville would undoubtedly have continued the second ranking town and business point in the county. Perhaps she might have even equaled, of not scored ahead of Cynthiana, But the Maiden City had the advantage of the county seat location and the coming of the railroad further aided her and handicapped the one time enterprising village down at the mouth of Beaver. Claysville, when I first knew the village, had as fine a set of business men and as good a class of citizenship as any small town in Kentucky. Nimrod R. Whitehead, Stephen B. Curran and the Jackson Brothers, Ed and Lon, were the merchants. Whitehead went to Cincinnati, established a paying wholesale grocery business, and after a successful business career, retired, located and died in Illinois. Lon Jackson became a lieutenant and died in the Federal service. Ed Jackson was the victim of a shot fired by Am Morrison on election day soon after the war. The Currans, S.B. and his son, James J., continued in business until the death of the former.

The Claysville brand of chewing plug manufactured by the Currans and Jacksons for a number of years and had quite a demand at one time, even reaching the New Orleans market prior to the war. After engaging rather unexpectedly in “store keeping in Oddville in ‘62, we kept it in stock as long as it was manufactured. Away back in the ‘50’s Ben Summers prized a similar brand on a small scale at Oddville. The leaf[,] a dark Burley and Twist Bud type, was grown mainly in north Harrison and Bracken.

 It was said that Perry Wherritt, long time County Clerk and leading citizen, perpetrated the name of Oddville upon what had previously known as Whiteker’s neighborhood.

Recurring to Claysville, one glaring lack of the community for many years was a church. Thanks to the enterprise and liberality of Jas. W. Snodgrass and a few others, that great need was supplied. Newell’s Run, referred to in a previous article, doubtless derived its name from Capt. Hugh Newell, in his day prominent and a leader in political and legislative affairs in Harrison county as did Curry’s Run from Judge James R. Curry, for so many years connected with the Court and legal affairs of this county. It was said that Perry Wherritt, long time County Clerk and leading citizen, perpetrated the name of Oddville upon what had previously known as Whiteker’s neighborhood. Here for many years had been the home of Rev. Josiah Whiteker, the somewhat famous Methodist “Circuit Rider,” a man of brawn and brain and according to tradition, a little eccentric but withal a useful and successful worker in the Master’s vineyard. By thrift and prudential economy he accumulated quite an estate. After his death, H. Mc. Whiteker, his son, prior to his coming to town as jailer, occupied the old home place, and since then his grandson, J.J. Whiteker. It has been something like the hereditary hat-peg that figured in the literature of the long ago. One morning in 1862 the village merchant, J.M. Hodson, placed the key to his store in the hand of Rev. R. Lancaster, with the request to dispose of the small stock remaining unboxed, for shipment as soon as opportunity would permit, to best advantage and thus we unexpectedly got into “store keeping,” which continued for nearly 15 years. Mr. Hodson joined the hegira of citizens and “skedaddlers” bound for the north bank of the Ohio, caused by the coming into Kentucky of Kirby Smith’s rather small force of Confederates. The demonstration, rather than intended attack, upon Cincinnati and the big scare and massing of forces for defense became historic. Churchill’s brigade of butternut garbed and footsore Arkansas veterans came via Cynthiana, camping and resting upon the Joe Desha farm just across the river. It would take a chapter to tell of the home-coming of the Harrison county boys and other intersecting events of that brief period of Confederate occupancy. Our first war experience of merchandising was the raid upon the stock by a squad from a Company of Scott’s Texas Cavalry, serving with Morgan’s command. It seemed inspired more by a spirit of fun and deviltry than looting and they soon emptied the boxed goods. An officer coming along soon stopped the work, and away they galloped with strips of red flannel, calico, etc., enswathing their bodies, fancy colored baby shoes and similar small articles suspended from belts and guns. As they passed down the Curry road it was said nearly every yard received some of their useless plunder.

Along about 1864 came a splendid young woman from Millersburg to teach the Garnett school. To her coming may be attributed the breaking up of that fine bunch of bachelors in the Union neighborhood: Tandy and John Wiglesworth, Alfred and John VanDeren and Billie Turner, hitherto considered invulnerable and uncatchable. Succumbing to her charms and successful in his suit, the popular young school marm became the bride of John VanDeren. It was a heaven blessed union, crowned with many useful and happy years of wedded life. No more popular and more beloved teacher than Miss Mattie Sanders ever taught that school. Tandy Wiglesworth wisely followed next and led Miss Ella Martin to the altar, but John and Billie remained single to the end. At a party at Mrs. Susan Clough’s near Oddville, a fine looking young fellow of modest demeanor in cavalry uniform was introduced as Oliver Wallingford, then of Bracken county. A good soldier, a splendid citizen, a successful and useful minister, O.P. Wallingford is now one of Cynthiana’s best known and most highly esteemed citizens. At a largely attended social at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Taylor, on Two Lick, a handsome and well dressed young stranger kept in the background, taking no part in the pastimes of the evening. Not long thereafter he was the victim of a Burbridge Military Execution at Midway. His name was given as Burgess, but it transpired that his real name was Ferguson and he was or had been a Confederate soldier. Still living of those at that party are Milt Craigmyle, now of Calif.; John Craigmyle, H.N. and Lark T. Garnett; Mrs. Ada Lancaster Garnett, Ben Devers, W.A. Lancaster and Mrs. Sallie Garnett King. The attractive appearance, amiable and affable manner of Miss Sallie Garnett easily made her a prime favorite with the beau gallants that night. And come to think of it, J.J. Whiteker joined the gay and happy throng upstairs, making the play, “Jake’s a Grinning” a reality. An event that made the people sit up and take notice was a fine singing school conducted by Prof. Dimmitt, a near relative of our Squire Dick Dimmitt. This accounts for the squire’s rare musical talent–vocal and fiddling. All day singings soon became the vogue and served to bring the people together on Sundays between the regular monthly appointments at Salem, Beaver, Republican and other nearby churches. At these singing fests Uncle Dud Fryman and Uncle George Whiteker tool their first lessons in the art do, ro, me fa-ing, which soon culminated in their recognized leadership in song. Organs and choirs were an innovation then unknown to rural churches. In fact some of them opposed Sunday Schools, Missionary Societies and other present day activities which are now considered indispensable for the successful prosecution of church work and the propagation of the Gospel.
E.B.L.
The Cynthiana Democrat, Thursday, July 24, 1919, Page 4, Cols. 3-6:

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