The Cynthiana (Ky.) Democrat, Thursday, Aug. 7, 1969:
The first settlers in the Oddville community were the family of Josiah Whitaker. The Whitakers came to America from White Acre Hill, England. The name Whitaker is derived from the words White Acre. Fur traders came to their home in Baltimore County, Maryland, with stories of the beautiful Bluegrass country. Mr. Whitaker came to Oddville in 1799 and built the first house.
By law of Virginia, every person who made an improvement, built a cabin and raised a crop of corn was entitled to 400 acres of land. During his lifetime, Whitaker acquired over 1000 acres of land in the Oddville area. He raised ten children of his own. When each one married, he received a horse and 100 acres of land. He adopted 13 children. Being a circuit riding minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, he was asked by needy families to care for their children.
Mr. Whitaker drew up a contract of adoption for the children he was to keep until they were of age. He wrote the birthdays of each child on the outside of the contract and filed it away for safe keeping. Mrs. Manville Judy has many of his records.
Mr. Whitaker was ordained to preach in 1813. There is a statement in his handwriting that he was never sick and never took a dose of medicine. In 24 years of circuit riding, he never missed an appointment. His wife and children lived at Oddville while he rode horseback 1[,]400 miles in four years. He said that his family never once complained about his frequent and lengthy absences. His wife assured him that the Lord would provide for them while he was away.
Mr. Whitaker received $10 a year for his first four years in the ministry. His salary was raised to $50 a year. He was required to hold eight camp meetings within the sight of his house per year. His lectures were from four to five hours in length. At one time he preached nine sermons straight, each averaging five hours in length. He wrote that his voice was strong and his singing clear. He added 5,000 members to the Methodist Episcopal Church.
This is a contract between Josiah Whitaker and tenant William Sutton, dated February, 1826-A bargain between Josiah Whitaker and William Sutton-to work 12 months excepting one week when he can be best spared from the crop. Sutton to receive 1/2 tobacco crop and 1/4 the corn. Sutton must clear ground and tap sugar trees.
Whitaker to give Sutton free board for himself and his horse. Clothes will be washed and mended. Sutton will be furnished with two linen shirts and two pair pantiloons [sic]. Whitaker to furnish half of the help during tobacco cutting and stripping and to furnish wagons to haul tobacco to warehouse. Whitaker’s two small boys to help Sutton in crop.
He gave land for the first church at Oddville which was built without windows. He contributed land for the school that was built near the church in 1807. A new school was built in the church yard in 1879. In 1892, H. Mac Whitaker gave land for the present Oddville Methodist Church, the cemetery and a school house across the road where Orrin McCarty now lives.
The first school house had an open fireplace in each end. The seats were split logs with four pegs driven in the rounded part for legs. There was a long table across the side of the building that served as a writing desk. One lady wrote in her memoirs that reading, writing and a little arithmetic was taught.
H. Mac Whitaker built the first store in Oddville in 1849. Thomas Hayes was a shoemaker. Rev. J.C. Crow named the village Mt. Washington when a post office was established. The Postmaster General replied that there were too many Mt. Washingtons, to name the village something odd. Mr. Crow sent back the name Oddville and it was accepted without comment.
Mrs. Martha Taylor gave birth to a child at the time of the Morgan Raid on Cynthiana. At that time it was believed that a new mother should not get out of bed for at least two weeks after the birth of a child.
Mrs. Taylor told the girl that she was caring for her that she wanted to see the Raiders as they passed by Oddville to go to the Ohio River. She said, “If I die from getting out of bed too soon you don’t have to tell what happened if you are questioned. If I live, we won’t tell anybody either.”
The Raiders returned to the Taylor home because they knew that there was a brother of the family serving on both the Union and Confederate sides of the war. The men searched the house thoroughly for letters from the Union brother. The letters were hid in the orchard under a rock and were undiscovered. When the family was asked why the letters weren’t destroyed, the answer was that they wanted all members of the family to have news of the man.
The Raiders stuck their bayonets in the ash hopper and found several country hams. The mother of the new baby and the rest of the household were commanded to feed the whole regiment. The ash hopper was a large box filled with layers of salted hams and wood ashes. Mrs. Manville Judy remembers seeing the hopper that remained near the house after it was in disuse.
The first nails were brought to the community by George Pope. He and his father, Peter Pope, came to Beaver Creek to build a house and stake out a claim. George rode horseback to Philadelphia to get nails to put a roof on the house.
Mrs. Maggie Leslie wrote many interesting notes about her family and the Oddville community at night after her children were in bed asleep. She had a lapboard made with a curve in it that fit snuggly against her. She would sit in the kitchen and write of the happening of the day by kerosene lamp light.
One of her stories goes like this: “There was no experience of pioneer life that proved more fun and pleasure than ‘Sugar Making.’ Those were grand opportunities for sweethearting among the older boys and girls. Many a happy love match was sealed on the road to and from the sugar camps.”
“Many weeks of the winter spent in making ‘Spiles’ or spigots from elders or sugar cane. Small troughs, 3 ft. x 1 ft. in diameter were made from tree limbs. Barrels and large troughs were made from giant trees. Sugaring lasted four weeks, beginning about the first of February. The clarifying agent used in processing sugar and syrup was slippery elm bark. The slippery inside of the bark adherred [sic] to the sediment to make the syrup clear.”
Salt came from Blue Licks and was stored in salt vats at Oddville for sale, Salaratus, a substitute for soda was white corn cobs burned to ashes on a stone. Light other than from the fireplace was meat rinds wrapped to a splinter and stuck in a candle holder. When there was time tallow candles were molded.
Mrs. S.T. Rudder said that people had a good time. They had to think up their entertainment. All ages worked and played together. The Epworth League was a young people’s group of the Methodist church that was very active. Young and old attended the meetings.
She can recall being late to one meeting and finding that she had to reach very high to put her coat on top of the pile that was on a bed in the host’s home. Coats were on all the chair and tables of the room, too. There were candy pullings, singing schools, traveling musicals and parties for any occasion.
Halloween was always celebrated to the fullest extent. One time they went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Adams. There were no lights. The girls were led to the front hall where they were greeted by a wet, ice cold gloved hand. Lucy Kate Ross supplied the sound effects by screaming hysterically. They were approached by scarry [sic] objects until they reached a room lit by candles. The boys were taken through a long grape arbor to the basement and then into the candle lighted room where games were played.
The first accredited high school in Harrison County was completed in 1915 at Oddville. There was one graduate, Harry Leslie. The class of 1929 was the only one to produce an annual. The members of the class solicited advertisement[s] to pay $100 cost of publishing.
The graduates were Manville McCauley, Elizabeth Stump Anderson, Elizabeth Muntz McCauley, Lucille Prather Padgett, Dr. N.C. Marsh, Mildred Hill McCauley, Ruth Anna Leslie Judy, Kate Kearns, Hedgie Fryman, Mary Van Hook, Freda Anderson Cropper, Anita Ross[,] and Clay Estill Whitaker.
NOTE: A photograph accompanies this article on page __, cols. _ & __. The caption reads as follows: “Mrs. Manville Judy is shown with the black ball box that belonged to the Oddville Odd Fellows Lodge. It was carved from a tree trunk in such a manner as to have three secret openings. Votes were placed in the box and the Grand Master opened the box to count the votes. (Photo by Thelma Taylor).”