IN gathering the histories of the different districts, we find
that the boundaries between them are indefinite and indeterminate,
and often-times in our mention of early settlers they have been
credited to one, when they should have been given to another.
Especially in writing the history of the northern portion of the
county we are oft times at a loss where to exactly locate an early
pioneer. Consequently if in some of the chapters names of settlers
are found when they should have been given elsewhere, the errors
thus made may be assigned for the reason given above.
Geographically, Kirkmansville District occupies the northwestern
portion of the county. It is bounded on the north by Muhlenburg
County, on the east by District No. 7, Bivinsville; on the south by
District No. 3, Fairview; and on the west by Christian County. The
name of the district-Kirkmansville-was derived from a little ham-let
of the same name, and that in turn took its name from and in honor
of old Peter Kirkman, who in an early day made a settlement in this
district, near where the present town is located.
The major part of the district is quite hilly, but along the banks
of the East Fork of Pond River there is considerable flat bottom
land, and in this portion of the district the best farming land is
located. At present it is estimated that there is about one-fourth
of the surface of the district comprised in this bottom land. From a
geological point of view the soil of the district is made up of two
formations, namely, the blue and gray limestone, and the free or
sandstone. These are very equally distributed over the district,
both oft times being noticeable in the same field. The gray
limestone appears in several portions of the district, and in an
early day it was used to a considerable extent by the pioneers for
fire-places and fire-rocks, as it successfully withstands the action
of the heat. The soil of both limestone formations is the red clay,
and although it is not as dark or as rich as that found in the
southern districts, it forms the basis of the best farming land in
the district. The sandstone is of three varieties, vis., the red,
yellow and white. In the red sandstone quite a deposit of iron is
oft times noticed. The soil of this formation is mostly of yellow
clay, and it is considered very poor farming land. The soil, too, is
not adapted to retaining fertilisers when placed upon it, and the
whole is very soon washed away. Along the eastern edge of the
district the sandstone formation appears in some very large rocks,
bowlders, and a few very high, perpendicular cliffs, which afford
some truly picturesque views to the admirer of the beautiful.
Scattered through the district there are several caves in the
limestone formations. On the farm of F. M. Pepper a cave was
discovered some fifteen years ago, to which an entrance is obtained
through a small hole in the surface, from which a person must drop
some twenty feet before the bottom of the cave is reached. The
height of the cave varies from fifteen to twenty feet, and it has
been explored to the distance of half a mile. There are some very
beautiful stalactites to be found, but aside from this nothing of
interest is to be seen. On the farm of Mr. Keelin there is another
cave, and there is also one on the Joe Martin farm. Both have been
explored some considerable distance. The latter cave is at present
serving the purpose of a cellar to the people of the surrounding
At present about one-sixth of the district is in cultivation. The
rest of the area is very heavily timbered. But while the timber of
the southern portion of the county has been on the increase, that of
the north remains about the same. The most common varieties of
timber to be found are white, black and swamp oak, beech and sugar
tree. In an early day there were also considerable quantities of
poplar and black walnut, but at present both have been nearly all
cut off. In the bottom lands there is also a considerable growth of
hazel brush springing into existence, and in the eastern portion of
the district a growth of cedar has come up in the last-few years.
The leading stream of the district is the Blue Lick Fork of Pond
River, which rises in the Fairview District, flows into the district
from the south, and then passes into Christian County. It enters the
district from the west again, and flows north to the Muhlenburg
County line. The East Fork of Pond River also heads in the Fairview
District, flows generally in a northerly direction through the
district, until it reaches the county line, where it unites with the
Blue Lick Fork and forms Pond River. Cow Creek heads in the eastern
portion of the district, flows generally in a westerly direction,
and empties into East Fork on the farm of B. H. Johnson. Horse Creek
rises in the district near the Mt. Tabor Church, and empties into
East Fork near Kirkmansville.
In order that his children might be fed, the pioneer soon after his
arrival turned his attention to the discovery of some means by which
the corn, which was then the staple article of food, could be made
into meal. This led to the early establishment of a mill. These
mills in an early day were very crude structures. Meal was first
obtained by crushing the corn, when dry, in a kind of crude mortar
made by chiseling out a hollow in the top of an oak stump. The
pestle was an iron block made fast to a sweep, and with this simple
contrivance a coarse article of meal could be manufactured. This
form of a mill was superseded by the horse-mill; that in turn gave
way to the " over-shot " and water-mill, and the steam at last took
the place of them all. Probably the first mill patronised by the
early inhabitants of this district was a water-mill that was erected
on the East Fork of Pond River by Samuel Coleman as early as 1830.
After running it for a few years he died, and his widow took it up.
She .in turn gave way to her sons, who ran it for some years, and
then the mill finally fell into disuse. In 1853, E. L. McClaine
bought the grounds and built a new mill, which was burned down the
following year. He immediately began another one, but that too, was
washed away before it was completed by the freshet of 1855. He then
sold out to Murdock & Johnson, who began the erection of a new mill,
but before the structure was completed they in turn sold to Kirkman
& Bennett. This firm completed the mill and then ran it for about
three years, when Bennett retired. Kirkman in turn ran it until 1869
and then disposed of it to M. W. Grissam. In 1879 this gentleman
sold out to Butler & Rice, who added steam power to the mill and
otherwise improved the structure. In the spring of 1884 H. H. Butler
purchased Rice's interest, and is still running it. Joseph Allison
had a horse-mill on his farm as early as 1825. It was run for some
twenty five years, and then finally rotted away.
The pioneers were as a rule a very illiterate, unlearned class of
people. Their mode of life gave them no time to improve their minds.
Their whole time was employed in ministering to the necessities of
life. But while they were ignorant themselves their true love for
their offspring made them wish that their children might be better
able to meet the requirements of a civilized community. Thus it was
that as soon as the more immediate necessities of life were
supplied, the pioneer turned his attention to the erection of a rude
structure in which the children might be taught in a very imperfect
way the rudiments of an education. One of the first schools of this
district was one that was erected on the farm of F. M. Pepper as
early as 1825. Among the teachers there were Rev. Shelton and his
son, L. W. Dulin, Albert Drake and Matt Mason. This building finally
fell down, and in about 1845 another building was put up near the
present town of Kirkmansville. Among the teachers here were P. C.
Griffin, R. F. Bass, C. J. McGehee, M. W. Grissam, Miss Jennie
McCullouch, Volney Clark and Mrs. Adeline Drake. In 1880 a new frame
building was built at a cost of about $575. The entire community
assisted in its erection, and the school does honor to the
neighborhood. Mr. Girod is the present teacher assisted by Miss
Mattie Major. The present average attendance is about seventy. The
affairs of the school are managed by a board consisting of the
following persons, vis.: J. D. Duncan, P. B. Robinson, J. N. Rice,
J. W. Grissam and J. W. Bartlett. A school on the Howell Edwards
farm has been in operation about eight years. Some of the teachers
who have been employed there are R. F. Bass, J. C. McGehee, G. W.
Hightower and "Tobe" Hightower. In about 1870 a school was put up at
the Mt. Tabor Church. Here G. W. Hightower taught for some years.
The school on John Powell's land was built as early as 1857. Among
the teachers who taught there might be mentioned W. S. Simons (who
had formerly been Sheriff), Frank Bass, W. T. Griffin, Marion Powell
and Miss Octavia Lacey. There is also a school in the Hardison
neighbor-hood. Among the teachers who have been employed there might
be mentioned Richard Sullivan, Miss J. L. Pepper, J. H. Faughender
and R. C. F. Hardison.
Saw ye not the cloud arise, Little as the human hand,
Now it spreads along the skies; Hangs o'er all the land.
From what a small beginning have the churches of this county
sprung. At first there was but a pioneer here and there who looked
to the Father above for the blessings in this life and the life to
come. At first the early settlers lived many miles apart, and the
pioneer who wished to worship God, did so around his own fireside.
Occasionally some circuit rider or itinerant would come, and
gathering a few together, unfold to them the mysteries of the plan
of human salvation. In the summer time this little handful of
believers assembled under the shade of some spreading oak, for the
groves through all ages have been God's first temples, and in the
winter they gathered in some cabin. As the country became settled up
the necessity of some common place of worship became apparent, and
thus churches were established in the different neighborhoods.
Probably the first church in this district was the Mount Carmel
Baptist Church. It stood on the East Fork of Pond River, near where
the Highland Lick road crosses it. It was built as early as 1825,
and among the first members might be mentioned, Thomas Pepper and
wife, John Christian, Maj. Dodd and wife, Daniel Morgan and wife,
Bennie Pannell and William Pannell. This church continued in
existence until about 1865. Among the ministers who were stationed
here were Revs. J. Christian, Williams, Rutherford, Meacham,
Nicholas Lacey, James Lamb and William Pannell. At one time the
church had about fifty members. Mount Moriah Baptist Church was
built in about 1868; it is a frame, and cost originally about $400.
Among the first members might be mentioned, N. D. Butler, J. W. Hale
and family, Mrs. Polly Ann Utley, E. F. Pepper and wife, Isaac
Walker, James F. Barrar and J. W. Kenley. The present pastor is Rev.
Whitson. The present membership is about thirty. The present Deacons
are, Isaac Walker, J. W. Hale and Ben F. Hale. Enberry Chapel, North
Methodist Episcopal Church, was built in about 1877, at a cost of
about $400. Among the members might be mentioned, Bradley Davis, Mr.
Hardison and family, Dr. A. Lewis, Mrs. Rowe. The present membership
is about thirty. Rev. Enberry was the first pastor. Among the
ministers who have been here since might be mentioned Revs. Davis,
Powis, Gardner and Ford.
Town of Kirkmansville. The first store in what is now the town of
Kirkmansville was built in 1853 by E. L. McClaine, who ran it in
connection with the mill. In about 1855 he sold the store to
Lafayette Ben-nett. This gentleman took Peter Kirkman into
partnership with him-self and subsequently sold out the entire store
to the latter. Mr. Kirk-man continued the business until 1862. After
the breaking out of the war, M. W. and J. W. Grissam started up.
They engaged in business for some years, and then disposed of the
store to Butler & Rice. The latter firm retired from business in
1878, and Dr. J. W. Guffey succeeded them. He only remained in
business a short time and disposed of the store to E. Cannon. This
gentleman also soon retired, and sold out to J. A. Elkins, who
finally failed. In about 1867 R. F. Bass put up a store here and
continued in business about three years, and then retired. About
1871 J. D. Griffin opened a store and was in business about four
years. Ed-wards & Fritz also opened a store at this point in 1871.
They remained in partnership a short time. Frits soon sold out, but
Edwards continued in business until his death in 1875. In 1876 S. E.
Cash opened a store and continued in business a short time. In 1878
P. B. Robinson came there and is still in business. D. B. Yates
opened a store there in 1883 and is still there. In about 1880 W. W.
McCorpin began merchandising, and remained there two years. He sold
out to B. F. Hill, who is still there. In 1882 Dr. J. W. Bartlett
opened a drug store and subsequently added a grocery store, and is
still in business. In about 1879 John McGowan opened a saddler's
shop and soon after went into partnership with L. W. Rice. The
latter bought the entire store in the spring of 1884 and is still in
business. In 1882 M. W. Horton opened a cabinet shop and is still
there. In about 1869 M. W. Grissam built a tobacco factory. Soon
after Brennaugh & Merritt rented the house and ran it for some
years. Grissam again assumed control of it, and took in F. M. West
as a partner. In the spring of 1884 J. D. Duncan purchased it and is
now running it. West & Sullivan have lately put up another factory
and are also engaged in the business. In 1880 G. M. Babbitt put up a
blacksmith and wagon shop, and is still engaged here.
The village of Kirkmansville shows considerable prosperity. The
people are clever and hospitable in the treatment of strangers, and
are ready to extend a hearty welcome to those coming into their
midst. No community in the county has a class of more moral and
law-abiding citizens, and those searching for a pleasant place to
settle in will find the people ready to receive them with open arms.
The town was incorporated in March, 1882, and the following officers
were appointed under their new charter: Trustees, J. W. Grissam, D.
C. McGregor and P. C. Griffin; Marshal, E. E. Rice; and Police
Judge, G. M. Babbitt (who has held the office continuously ever
since). At the first annual election in 1883 the following officers
were elected: J. M. Rice, W. H. Horton and B. F. Hill; Marshal,
Thad. E. Williams; 1884, J. D. Duncan, D. D. Gates and W. W. Lacey;
Marshal, L. W. Rice.
The village now contains about 150 inhabitants. P. B. Robinson is
the present Postmaster.
Kirkmansville Lodge, No. 615, A. F. & A. M., was organized under
dispensation in the summer of 1882, and a charter was granted to it
in the fall of same year. The charter members were: J. M. Wilson, A.
Lewis, W. W. McCorpin, J. W. Bartlett, P. B. Robinson, B. F. Hill,
William Lacey and S. D. Pepper. The first officers were: J. M.
Wilson, M.; A. Lewis, S. W.; W. W. McCorpin, J. W.; J. M. Bartlett,
Treas.; P. B. Robinson, Sec.; B. F. Hill, S. D.; William Lacey, J.
D.; J. K. West, Steward and Tyler. The lodge furnished up a hall in
the second story of the school building and continued to hold their
meetings there. The present membership is about twenty. The present
officers are: J. M. Wilson, M.; R. F. Bass, S. W.; P. B. Robinson,
J. W.; J. W. Bartlett, Treas.; C. J. McGehee, Sec.; H. Duvall, S.
D.; G. W. Hightower, J. D.; J.. W. Grissam, Steward and Tyler.
Bethlehem Christian Church was built in about 1857, on the Murdock
farm. Among the early members of the church might be mentioned
Daniel Gates, J. C. Bass and wife, W. P. Murdock, William McKinley
and wife, Howell Edwards and family, A. J. Edwards and wife, and J.
J. Griffin. The congregation continued to meet at this place until
about 1870, when the place of meeting was changed to Kirkmansville,
and the services are now held in the schoolhouse. The present
membership is about sixty-eight. Among the ministers who have been
here are: J. W. Price, W. E. Mobley, Thomas Weathers, Robert Dulin
and J. H. Keith. The Elders of the church are: S. D. Pepper and P.
B. Robinson; Deacons, P. C. Griffin and F. M. Weathers; Clerk, P. B.
Kirkmansville Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in May, 1876,
by Rev. Thomas M. Penick. There were twenty-nine constituent
members, among whom might be mentioned John W. Grissam, Emma Grissam,
Sarah M. Grissam, R. F. Bass, Mary Bass, J. W. Bartlett, Moody
Bartlett, Eusebia A. Bartlett, E. H. Petree, Paulina J. Petree,
Bettie Lacey, Mary Pepper, Mary B. Hill, W. W. Lacey, M. Spurlin, W.
C. Spurlin and Moses Pace. Among the ministers who have been
stationed here might be mentioned William Alexander, J. W. Griffin,
J. W. Bunton, Hubs Morrison, W. I. Birchett; and Rev. Edwards is the
present pastor. The society now has about twenty members. The
present officers are: Steward, W. W. Lacey; Assistant Stewards, J.
W. Grissam and John M. Rice; Class-leader, J. W. Grissam.
A Union Sunday-school is held every Sunday during the summer in the
schoolhouse at Kirkmansville. At the last session the average
attendance was about fifty, and the officers were as follows: John
M. Rice, Superintendent; Assistant Superintendent, J. D. Duncan
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