The First 200 Years of Pendleton County


Written By: Mildred Bowen Belew

Contributed, with permission, By: Kristin Stoner



The First National Bank was established here in 1921.  It has been used as a pool hall, saloon, speak-easy and a theater operas and high school graduations were held.

          Reddy Saloon – 235 Main Street was originally owned by Thomas Oldham.  There was a saloon in front, cards in the back and women upstairs.  Many remember it as W.J. Rules variety store in the mid 1900’s.

Next door at 237 Main Street was the Bishop Hotel in 165. A framed house, with a shop front. At one time known as the Glenn Hotel.

The Wilson house – 313 Main Street now owned by Miss Allie McClannhan was a one story brick building, built about 1827 by Willis Duncan and later acquired by the Lee family.  Fanny Lee inherited the home from her parents and later married Dr. J.E Wilson, a physician in Falmouth in 1888.  He also served as mayor of Falmouth for forty years. Conrad Hardware – 226 East Shelby, in 1860 purchased by J.T Applegate.  Applegate’s Hardware business was established about 1873.  From 1918 to 1975 it was owned and operated by R. Risk Arnold and family.  During 1918-1931, part of the building was leased for the Falmouth Post office.

          The Carton Block consist of 200-208 Shelby Street, was named for William Carton and railroad and real estate investor.  Part of the building was the home of Dr. Jeremiah Monroe, a Lemmon’s Jewelry Store, Rosie’s Beauty Shop, and Clark Houchen’s furnishings.

          The Bradford House 302 East Shelby Street in 1892 Henry
Bullock bought this property and built this Queen Ann style house of twelve rooms, a basement and a full attic.  The house had remained in the same family until Mrs. George (Mary) Bradford died and was still furnished with many of the original furnishings.

          Kellem Building – 504 Shelby Street, corner of Park and Shelby Streets was built in 1873 by George and James Watson, sons of Abdelah Watson.  A grange store was there in 1876, one of the first farmers organization in the county.  In later years it was best known as the Kellem home.

          Pendleton House - Watson Hotel -506 Shelby Street original owner was Abdelah Watson in 1857. Built to serve, train passengers.  Legend tells us that slaves were housed in the basement as one of the stops of the “underground railroad union” and Confederate Soldiers were housed upstarirs at different times. 

          Judge Lewis Preston Fryer Home – 807 Shelby Street is now owned by Mrs. Frank ( Ann) Harris.

          O.T. Gillispie House – 810 West Shelby Street was built in 1897 by James E. Blades.  He was the father of Mrs. Ida Mae Waddell and James Blades.

          Chipman House – 901 West Shelby Street was built by N.B. Chipman in 1891.  It remained in the Chipman family until 1980.

          E.F. Bradford House – 205 Maple Street was built in 1890 by Mr. Bradford, a local business man and county school superintendent.  He was also a Mayor of Falmouth.  This building has been refurbished and is being used as a law office by Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Dean, both attorneys.

          W.M. Applegate House – 410 Maple Street was built by Mr. Applegate in 1884, and attorney.  It is a Victorian Shingle style dwelling.

          Ridgeway House – 503 Maple Street was built by N.C. and Ada Ridgeway in 1899.  Noted for, it’s beaded clapboard.  It is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bill Arnold.

          Woodhead House – 407 Chapell Street was built in 1870 by John and Ella Woodhead.  He was associated with the Pendleton Woolen Mill.

          McDonald House – 210 Chappel Street was built about 1890, by the McDonald family.  It is now the dental   office of Dr. Robert Reese.

          Oldham Plantation – on Highway 159 in Shoemakertown, just across the Licking River, was once a 1,000 acre tract, purchased by Tyree Oldham and Samuel Hayden in 1816, from Henry Clay and James Hughes. In 1817 Oldham, brought his family here and built the stately house about 1825.  Tyree’s son Thomas Jefferson Oldham later owned the plantation.  He operated a ferry across the river until 1853 when the bridge was built.  There is a family cemetery on the property.  Jessie Oldham the last occupant willed the property to “Northward Christian Assembly.”

          Walter Moore Log House – U.S. 27 and Woodson Road, was built in 1876 in a hollow in Pendleton County, off Hickory Grove Road.  It had no road leading to it.  The occupants could get out only on horseback or in a wagon, up the hill and out the ridge to the pike.  With the coming of the automobile it sat deserted till shortly before World War II, when Walter Moore and Alexander Caldwell purchased it for fifteen dollars and moved in to its present site.  The original house, consist of two rooms.  The space was too small for what they wanted so they split it in the center and spliced the two ends together with birch logs, from the old barn and chinked it with a mixture of rock and plaster.  At the ends is two rock chimneys built from field stone collected by Mr. Moore and Mr. Caldwell from road construction in 1941.  After the war, Mr. and Mrs. Moore purchased the half interest of Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell and made it their home.  It is furnished with antiques and braided rugs to enhance the beauty of the log walls.

          Woodhead Funeral Home – Corner of Shelby and Mount Joy Streets.  The property where the Woodhead and Son Funeral Home is now located was a pasture land bought by Reuben McCarty in 1848.  It consist of fourteen rooms, three halls, three porches, and two bathrooms.  In 1890 he sold the property to Matthew Mullins who lived there a little over fourteen years.  In 1904, his daughter Olive Mullins, sold the property to N.C. Ridgeway.  Who died in 1922.  Another of Mr. Mullins daughters, Frances M. Childers bought the house at auction in 1923 and sold it the same year and sold it to John A. Woodhead.  In 1937 he bought the corner lot of Mount Joy Street from Frank and Frances Stith.  It was on this lot that the old horses stables and ice house were located.

          Another historic house of Pendleton County that has been restored by Mr. and Mrs. Dean Maxden or Butler, Kentucky, is located about a mile off Highway 10, at Wesley Chapel.  This house was known as the Peach Gove Inn, situated 120 years ago just off the old Washington Trace Road, which ran between Falmouth, Grants Lick and on to points north into Campbell County.  This home was owned by Arvil (Lum) Columbus Dicken and where the terrible tragedy of Corbin and Mcgraw of the Civil War fame began.  Because in this house is where the two men were arrested under Gen. Burnside’s orders for recruiting soldiers into the Confederate Army in 1863, when President Lincoln refused to step in and stop the shooting of Corbin and McGraw, after being found guilty by a military jury in Cincinnati.  Members of the Union Army got off a train in DeMossville, looking for the recruits, searched the Portland neighborhood, then traveled  by river to Butler and then over to Peach Grove, having gotten wind they were there recruiting.

          Until the railroad was built, supplies were brought on barges, down the Ohio River to Foster Landing, then hauled by carts and wagons, over mud roads to their respective places.  It was known as the “Dinkey”.

          Falmouth, Butler and DeMossville were the only three chartered towns in Pendleton County.

          The land rose quite rapidly in value after the completion of the Kentucky Central Railroad in 1852, from Covington to Lexington.  It passed up the Main Licking River to Falmouth and then up the valley of the South Licking River some twenty five miles in all through Pendleton County.

          Prior to that, this was considered backwoods country.  The only roads were wagon roads through the forest.  The principle, road in the county lead from Falmouth, to Foster Landing on the Ohio River.  Stage couches ran between these points and people went there to take boats to Cincinnati and Louisville and other points.


In 1817, Joseph Wingate was ordered to provide and lay on the ground timber necessary for building the draft which was to cross Main Street.  It was replaced in later years by the “Little Iron Bridge”, which today has been replaced by a culvert and just a continuation of Shelby Street. It was replaced in later years by the “Little Iron Bridge:, which today has been replaced by a culvert and just a continuation of Shelby Street.

The first suspension bridge spanned the Main Licking River was completed in 1854 and collapsed in the river in 1868.  Prior to this people forded the river when it was low and crossed on a ferry operated by Jefferson Oldham when it was high. 1854 was the year of the great flood which threatened the new bridge. Row boats passed through the Oldham house in Shoemakertown.  Its owner T. J. Oldham refused to leave his home and occupied the upper story of the house until the waters receded. 

A covered bridge was built to replace the suspension bridge and it burned in 1926.  It was replaced by steel and concrete bridge there today.

In 1869 the county court began the task of building bridges across the Main Licking and South Licking Rivers and continued this work until four were built, two in Falmouth one at Butler, the longest covered bridge in the world and one at Morgan.

The wooden bridge at Butler was built in 1871, being 580 feed long.  It was doubled truss burr bridge, with a single tract 18 feet wide.  The wooden structures rested on two large stone pillars in the river and one on each bank.  It was built beside the old lock in the river.  This bridge carried the traffic from Falmouth to Alexander and Cincinnati, Ohio for many years.  It was closed to all except pedestrian traffic in 1937, after being severely damaged by high water and wind during the 1937 flood.  It           was torn down in September 1937 and a new concrete and steel bridge built which still stands today.

There was a covered bridge across the South Licking River at the end of Pike Street in Falmouth.  It was demolished when the new concrete bridge on U.S. 27 was constructed down the river in the early 1940’s.

The Hayes Station bridge over the Main Licking Rover in the southern part of Pendleton County was built about 1912 and paid for by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company. There used to be an old road, that lead from Falmouth, originating near the home of Paul Wilson Sr., now, on South Main Street and going directly to Riverside Cemetery and the railroad. The old road followed the single track rails to Blind Buck and Hayes Station communities.  It was the only route in this part of the county in those days.  The railroad decided that business was good and they needed a double track.  They needed the old  road, so they made a deal with the Fiscal Court to pay for and build a new bridge over the river where the Hayes Station bridge is today, in exchange for the road right-a-way.  The bridge wasn’t built as strong as it should have been and has required extensive repairs.  It was built about 240 feet long and had a wooden floor.  Under the floor were long steel slabs supporting the structure.  The slabs weren’t bolted together causing the bridge to collapse and fall into the river, under the weight of a dump truck in 1959.  The bridge was rebuilt and still in operation today.  Probably the first official cemetery in Falmouth was located on Montjoy Street and ran through 250 feet to Park Street.  It contained the remains of many pioneers who defended this settlement from many Indian raids.  Many Revolutionary soldiers and veterans of the War of 1812 also sleep there.  It was used as a general burial ground for all, black and white, slave and Indian.  All who fell in battle were laid to rest here.  An article published din the Falmouth Overlook in 1923 reads; “The old graveyard at the foot of Mountjoy Street in this city is fast losing its identity.  What few monuments tombstones that were placed at the graves have fallen down disappeared.  This graveyard contains the dust of most if the pioneer citizens of Falmouth of 150 years ago.  The bodies of many, pioneer who were killed in defending the settlement against the Indians are buried in this graveyard.  If we understand it right it was used as a public graveyard until about 1840.”

In 1924 the city of Falmouth lodged a deed for a record, in the County Clerks office for the plot of ground, which they purchased from the heirs of Alvin Montjoy for the price of $1.00 and other considerations.  In 1930 during the depression the headstones were used for crushed stones to build roads.  Today there is no trace if the old cemetery.

There are no two other cemeteries in Falmouth, the Saint Xavior Catholic Cemetery on Woodson Road and RiverSide Cemetery located in the southern end of Maple Street across U.S 27.  This site served in 1780 as a stockade in preparation for the arrival of Cpl. Byrds military forces.


                                      Pendleton Academy


The Pendleton Academy was built in 1814, a one story building, size 20x30 feet.  The brick being had been fired on the grounds.  It was built on a site purchased FROM Reuben Turner for $30.00, located at the corner of Broad of Fourth Streets.  It was a private school called “The Siminary.”

In 1848 a new building, one story high, size 20x56 feet, were erected where the present Falmouth Middle School now stands.  It was opened for school purposes by Professor R.C. Robinson of Moscoe, Ohio.  The following gentlemen succeeded him; Professors Afriend, Hopewood, McKenzie, Marvin, Deplo, Holt, Thompson, Potter, Norris, Arnold, Pulliam, Grossow and perhaps others.  It was later known as the “Pendleton Academy.”

In 1876 there were sixty eight schools in the county for whites and three for blacks (of which some were very inferior houses.) for the accommodations of the schools were taught reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic.

The first Butler School house was built about 1856.  It was a one room structure and was used as a community church, there being no churches in the town at the time.  School term was short and one teacher taught all grades.  The older generation recalled the two day vacation enjoyed during the Civil War, when Morgans men camped in the school hall. Among the first teachers at the school were; T.M. Barton, J.O. Norris, Eben Adams and George Lilly.

The first settlers had a great difficulty in giving their children even a common education.  The first school taught in the county was at Bunker Hill.  Scholars attended this school from several miles around.  The following school trustees were elected at the regular election throughout Pendleton County in 1908.

?         Antoich                              Fossett

?         Aspen Grove                       Fredericksburg

?         Bonar                                Galloway

?         Boston                               German

?         Brann                                Greenwood

?         Bunker Hill                         Hightower

?         Caldwell                             Hog Ridge

?         Carntown                           Irving

?         Catawaba                           Knoxville

?         Cliff                                   Lightfoot Fork

?         Concord                             Locus Grove

?         Cram                                 Lovelace

?         DeMossville                        McKinneysburg

?         Doel                                  McMahon

?         Double Beach                     McMillian

?         Elizabethville                      Morgan  

?         Fisher                                Mt. Auburn

?         Flour Creek                        Mt. Hope

?         George Harry                     Mt. Moriah  

?         G.F Harry                          Mt. Olive

?         Edward Dillon                    Mt. Pleasant

?         Arthur Taylor                     Oak Grove

?         Charles Robinson               Oak Hill

?         J.B Applegate                    Oakland

?         J.B Elliott                          Orange Grove

?         John Shanks                      Pleasant Hill

?         B.M. Mullins                       Pleasant Ridge

?         R.P. Mckinney                    Portland

?         Charles Rush                     Red Brush 

?         Marion Arnold                   Richland

?         Matthew Mullins                 Roanoke

?         F.A. Houchen                     Short Creek 

?         Patrick Lanter                     Simpson

?         Samuel Rosenstiel              Vernon  

?         Thomas J. Moore               H.M. Mason  

?         Joseph Schuetz                  W.R. Aulick

?         C.D. Wagner                      T.J. Kelley

?         Willis Jones                       Charles Hanson

?         G.W. Downing                   Mr. Thomas

?         Homer Ashcraft                 G.P. Wells

?         E.A. Arnold                       Mr. Thomas

?         Frank Scott                       J.H. Bowen

?         J.M. Ewing                       George Sharron

?         Edward F. Yelton              T. Simpson

?         D.H. Leslie                       W.F. McCandlass

?         W.H. Ramsey                   Thomas Kells

?         Jerry Pribble                    A.J. Stevens

?         Dr. Joseph F. Dougherty   A.C. Knight

?         George King                    O.E. Jones

?         J.M. Ballinger                  Milo S. Miles

?         G.W. Wright

          In 1909 the board of education established high school in Falmouth, Butler and Morgan.

          The Butler school was later moved to Matilda Street, where a two story frame structure was erected and served for many years, when in 1927 a new brick building took the place of it.  In 1940 it had become inadequate to hold the large number of students enrolled and a twelve room addition was added.  Both grade and high school was held there until all high schools were consolidated at Northern and Southern Schools, and Falmouth High School became the Falmouth Middle School.

          Today the Butler and Mt. Auburn school buildings have been converted into apartment buildings.  Morgan and Goforth converted into Community Centers and the Portland School building burned June 1, 1963.

          The first newspaper in Pendleton County was the “Falmouth Independent” published by J.K. Wandehlor in 1870.  It was sold to Dr. George Henry who changed the name to “The Falmouth Guide” and was published for about nine-teen years.  About the same time H.A. Fabra started “The Falmouth Republic” which lasted for one year.  A.O. Robinson was editor of “The Pendleton Democrat” which didn’t last long.  Frank Billings established the “Pendleton Reformer” at Butler, a weekly newspaper and published it for twenty five years.  The “Pendletonian” was published in 1903 by J.R. Williams with a circulation of 7,800. At $.10 per copy.  It was published for about eight years, but was discontinued soon after one of its employees, Warren J. Shornet, Sr.  established “The Falmouth Outlook” in June of 1906.  The outlook began with a six column issue and had nine subscribers.  The press was operated with a gasoline engine.  It was passed down to his son, Warren J. Shornet, Jr. who edited it until 1986 when it was sold to Delpha Herald Inc. of Delpha, Ohio.

          One of the earliest accounts of postmaster of Falmouth is that of Captain W.A. McGinety, who was appointed under President Arthur and again under President Harrison.  Succeeding postmasters were; James M. Wilson, Frank W. Smith, James N. Rule, Alvin Courtney, Henry W. Bishop, Howard L. Cummins, James M. Mason, Kenneth T. Marquette, Wilbur Ritter, Eldon Souder, and Kevin Wolfe.

 There were several depots in Pendleton County.  The one at Falmouth being built in 1912.  It originally had a baggage room, express room, three waiting rooms and an office for the agent.  In 1968 the Louisville and Nashville (L&N) was the last passenger train to come through Falmouth.  It was made a historical landmark by Rebecca Bryan Boone Chapter of the D.A.R. in 1973.  Falmouth’s sixty eight year old depot burned to the ground April 17,1980.



Artwork: Sweet Solitude
by Edmund Blair  Leighton