The First 200 Years of Pendleton County


Written By: Mildred Bowen Belew

Contributed, with permission, By:Kristin Stoner



December 13, 1798 the General Assembly approved an act to create a new county out of the counties of Campbell and Bracken, stating, “that after the 10th day of May 1799, all the part of the counties of Campbell and Bracken, beginning at the Ohio River, two miles below Big Stepping Stone Creek, hence a direct line across Main Licking continuing East to Scott and Franklin County lines, hence to Harrison County line and from there to the Main Licking River, to the mouth of the North Fork, hence a direct line to the mouth of Big Stepping Stone and down the Ohio River to the beginning.  This shall be called Pendleton County.”  The county embraces about 300 squire miles and was named for Judge Edmund Pendleton of Carolina County, Virginia. It was the 28th county in the state of Kentucky.  Falmouth lying in the center of the county is the county seat.  William Covington Kenneth was the first county Clerk and James M. Wilson was elected the first Mayor.

          Some of the first settlements in Pendleton County were; Falmouth, settled by the Wallers, Cook, Montjoy, Sternes, Sinks, and others.  Grassy Creek settled by Thrasher, Belew, Mann, Morris, Hensley, Doughety, Vastine, and others.  Unity or Jag Creek settled by Lightfoot, Crain, Brown, Barton, Johns, Arnold, Conrads, and others.  Fork Lick settled by Collins, Ewing,Fogle, Henry, Conyerm Thompson, Thomas, Dance, Hand, Draper, and others.  Snake Creek settled by Hardin Edwards, Stone, and others.  Blanket Creek settled by Wallers, Monor, Watson, Clark and Forsythes.  Willow Creek settled by Vaughn, Griffin and Brownings.  Flour Creek settled by Taylor, Wheeler, Barton, Webb, Bonar, Duckers, and others.  South Licking Grove settled by Wycoff, Turner, Sanders, Bryan, Routt, Fugate, Clarkson, Griffin, McCandles, Ewings, and others.  Ash Run/Mt. Hope settled by Burlew, Ellis, Pribbles and others.  Gardnersville settled by Gardner, Caldwell, Beighlie, Linder, Irvin, Middleton, Tomlin, and Bowens.

          Some of the other areas in the county were called Wyatts, Bends, Wagners Ferry (Southeast of Falmouth), Modoc, Gum Lick, (Southwest of Falmouth), Blind, Buck, Tail Point, Elizabethsville (Turner Ridge), Worlds Mill, Double Cabins, Purdys For, Holmes Corner, Sanders Ferry, Walkers Ridge, Dutch Ridge, Clayton ( Butler), Lynn (Boston Station), Irvin Station, (Minzie Bottoms), Levingood (Hayes Station), Stowers (Morgan), Callensville ( across the river from Morgan), Caldswell Station (on the river between Demossville and Butler), Sins Crossing, Catabawaba, Schuler (Portland), Dividing Ridge (Center Ridge), Penhurst (Concord), Pea Ridge (Mt. Moriah), Demossville (Hells Half Acre).

          James Wilson, Sr. and his family established their home in Falmouth during the year of 1798.  The Wilson home at forth and Main Streets was built about 1825 by Enos Daniels.  The first large room on the lower floor was to be used as a store and the one room above as a dance hall.  Some years later the partitions were added.  Converting the building  to a residence.   Also another story was added.

          Dr. James Wilson, Jr. began his practice of medicine at Falmouth in 1839 and his son John Edwin Wilson began his practice of medicine at the same place in 1888.  With their practices the Wilson name ranked high in the medical profession for more than a century.

          Captain James M. Wilson, son of Dr. and Mrs. James Wilson, Jr. was honored by being elected the first Mayor of Falmouth.  He resigned this position to become postmaster of Falmouth and served in this compasity for 15 years.

          The first mill in Falmouth was owned by Augeastus Robbins, at the foot of Chapel Street.  It was both a saw mill and a grain mill, operated by water from a dam diagonally across the river from a point near the north abutment of the railroad bridge.  Thomas Best managed the mill for many years.  Then it fell into the hands of a Mr. Turner and still later Casper Sharpe was the owner.  After he died the mill was owned by George Goulding and then Joseph Woodhead purchased the site and built the “Woolen Mill”, which was operated by his sons, John and Joseph for many years.

          There was a tannery at the corner of Fourth and Maple Streets.  Harman Deglow was the proprietor.  Animal hides and tree bark was tanned there and leather sold or traded to the residents.

          There were no paved streets and no sidewalksm wxcept in spots where they were made of planks.  Many times wagons stuck in the muddy streets up to their hubs.  Livestock roamed the country and the city streets.  The road from the ferry across the Main Licking River ran up the branch to Main Cross Streets, now Shelby Street.  This was before the little iron bridge was built going to Little Egypt.

          There were two practicing physicians in town, Dr. Daniel Barbour and Dr. James Wilson.  There had been a Dr. Jeremiah Monroe here many years before.  He came in 1792 and was the first physician.  He had two brothers, one a lawyer and the other a Baptist Minister, Alexander Monroe.

          Henry Gordon was the only shoemaker in town.  He came as a tramp and remained until the outbreak of the Civil War.

          There was two lawyers, S.F. Swoope and Samuel T. Hauser.  Both came from North Carolina, as did one of our later attorneys, Hoyt B. Best.  Also a few years later came J.E. Record, from New Jersey and Mr. Fitzpatrick cam and practiced at the Pendleton County Bar.  Now we have Edwin A. Monroe, Robert Bathalter, Charles Wells, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffery Dean (nee Deneise Best), Nancy B. Yelton, David Doan, and Mr. and Mrs. Douglas R. Wright, at Butler there is Robert McGinnes and Ben Harter.

          Ansel Johnson wa the village blacksmith and conducted his shop at the corner of Forth and Maple Street. The Shoeing of the oxen was done on the street corner in full view of all who cared to watch.

          Major Wheeler conducted a carding factory on Chappel Street.  The machinery was propelled by horse power.  There was but one taylor in town.  His shop was located next door to the Kennett Tavern.  There was a stave and barrel mill at the mouth of Licking Branch owned by Semor Frieburg, Robert Lee and James Murphy made all the coffins.  When a person died, his measurements were taken by neighbors and turned over to the coffin makers, who made the box to order.

          There were no electric street lights.  They used greasy rags in a muscle shell, for a tailor dip, for lights inside and a lantern was used outside.  Next came the coal oil lights and the precious fuel cost 50 cents a gallon.

J.I. Hudnoll conducted a hattery in a two story long building at the rear of a building facing public square.  The hatter continued business until 1850 when he was elected county Judge.

          The nearest bank was the Northern Bank of Covington.  That wasn’t of too much concern as money was scarce and most people carried their money in their pockets.  Loans were made freely among neighbors.

          There were seven dwellings in the central part of town, including the Kennett Tavern, owned and operated by James and Sarah Mullins Kennett in 1845, and the Lightfoot Hotel on the East side of Main Street, from Shelby Street to the river and five houses on the West side.  On the North side of Shelby Street to the depot there were three buildings and three on the South side.

          The first Covington and Lexington Railroad Agent was Ralph Tomlinson and he lived in a one room house on Main Street next door to Enos Daniels.  Next was the Lightfoot Hotel, then a theater built of logs, and called “The Falmouth Playhouse” or “The Thespain”, inspired by John Hensley.  Next was Jake Shilock’s Tavern, then the Clark house, later known as the “Phoenix Hotel”, the Harmon house and the last on that side of the street was the home of Ansel Johnson.

          On the West side of Main Street going North was the S.F. Swoope home, Dr. J.E. Wilson’s home and S.T. Hauser’s home.  Then across the alley was the home of Reuben McCarty, former county clerk.  There was one last house on that side of the street and the railroad.  There was the
McMurckey house, the rule house and the brick house owned by Mrs. Frances Mullins Childers, now the Christian Church parking lot.  On the other side of Shelby Street coming East, there were but two other houses in 1854.  The house where Rule and Boggess had their stores,once the home of Dr. Monroe and two story log structure which stood back from the street and was used for a hattery.



Artwork: Sweet Solitude
by Edmund Blair  Leighton