The First 200 Years of Pendleton County


Written By: Mildred Bowen Belew

Contributed, with permission, By: Kristin Stoner


The Falmouth Fair first established in 1879, was famous for its half mile race track and one of the biggest and best county fairs in Kentucky. Many are the memories of the fairs. The many fine horses the large midway featuring many rides and attractions, the floral hall with its many exhibits an baby shows. It was discontinued many years ago. Today it is used for Youth Fairs, 4-H Fairs, The Wool Festival which began in 1983 and many other features.

The early banking of the county was transacted through the Covington Bank until 1876, when the Pendleton Bank was originated. This bank took care of all the business until 1890 when the Farmers and Merchants Bank opened for business. The two banks consolidated in 1896. The new bank being called Pendleton Bank. The Citizens Bank was originated in 1902 and operated at the corner of Chappel and Shelby Streets until 1933. Later this building was the home of the Falmouth Deposit, Kentucky National and Northern Kentucky Bank. The Fist National Bank originated in 1821. The first President being George W. Berger. It was the only Bank to survive the depression in 1932 and 1933. The Pendleton Building Association was organized in 1911, now at the corner of Shelby and Maple Streets. In about 1980, this Kentucky Federal Enterprise Bank from Newport, Kentucky came to Falmouth and located on Highway U.S. 27. The, then, Falmouth Deposit bank built and extension on U.S. 27 and First National Bank built extension on U.S. 27 at Falmouth and Butler. The Butler Deposit at Butler was organized in 1922. It reopened as Farmers Bank in 1931.

There has been but two bank robberies in Pendleton County. Wednesday, 15 January, 1958 for the first time in the history of the Falmouth banking business, which dated back to the Civil War years, the First National Bank was held up and robbed by two masked, armed bandits. Miss Pearl Ruber was forced to look down the barrel of a gun for fifteen minutes while waiting for the time release on the lock so she could open the vault. The bandits scooped up the money after knocking her out and escaped. The bank had been receiving larger amounts of money on hand than usual. The loot therefore was large and the bandits escaped with 86,000.00

On May 6, 1991, the branch office of the First National Bank on U.S. 27 at Falmouth, was broken into and robbed during the night. This break in was discovered on Monday morning when the branch manager, Mrs. Alat Canard opened for business.

Falmouth Woolen Mill and Woodhead Funeral Home

Partly from “History of Kentucky Illustrated”, by W. Perrin Charles W. Kennett letter to The Falmouth Outlook, 1976

Joshua Woodhead and his wife Ann (Bottomely), B. 1828- D. 1904, and their three sons came to America from England in 1854. Joshua was born 1 February 1824 and died 17 September, 1886, son of Joshua Woodhead was who was killed 11 November 1849, age 59 years, from a fall. He was born at Holmfirth, England in 1791 and spent part of his life at Bridge Mill, Holmfirth, England. His wife was Mary Woodhead, daughter of Daniel Woodhead of Nether Thong, Holmfirth, Yorkshire, England. The father of the last motioned Joshua was John Woodhead and his mother Sarah (Sally) Wood. They lived at South Lane, Holmfirth, England.

When Arriving in America they stayed a short time at Lowell Massachusetts and engaged in Woolen Manufacturing for two years. In 1866 they came to Falmouth, Kentucky, where he built and started the “Falmouth Woolen Mill” on Water Street. They made the famous Pendleton blankets. He continued this business until his death in 1886. His wife Ann survived him eighteen years, dying in 1904. Then his sons Joseph and John took over the mill.
From a letter of Mr. Charles Kennett, he writes, “the last ownership of the old Falmouth Woolen Mills, to my knowledge was my uncle Joseph Woodhead, for who my tow older brothers and I all worked in the mill at various times before we left Falmouth for other fields, I being the last to leave in 1905. During two summers I operated three of the machines in the preparation of making blankets, yarn and other woolen goods. My brother, Martin Floyed Kennett, wove blankets, some of which may still be used in Pendleton County homes. Uncle Joseph ran the spinner and his son, Joshua, also worked in the mill. Uncle Joe also traded in animal hides which were shipped to Cincinnati dealers for processing. My Uncle John was a gauger for the U.S. Government and he commuted for many years between Falmouth and Covington. He later worked in the same position at the old Tub Fowler Distillery at the end of Maple Street. The younger sons being George and Joshua clerked in Col. Downards clothing store and later had a haberdashery shop on Shelby near Main Street. Elmer the youngest son, was one of the first rural mail carriers from the Falmouth Post Office and used a horse and buggy before the use of automobiles.

Joseph, B. 1845 - D. 1924 married 7 November 1871 Elizabeth M. Kennett, B. 7 February 1845- D. 10 April 1929, daughter of James n. and Sarah Mullins Kennett. They had five sons; James Kennett, John W., Joshua, George B. and Elmer E., all of who worked in the mill at one time or another. Joseph and Elizabeth lived in a large house on South Main Street in Falmouth. He was a man who gave much of his time to civic welfare of the city and served on the city council. He was the member of the fire department and served for more than forty years. He was the founder of the Falmouth Water Department. Joseph and Elizabeth’s children: James Kennett, B. 1872- d. 1904, John W. b. 1875-d. 1912, Elmer E. b. 1878-d. 1936.

John Woodhead b. 1847-d. 1920 married Ella Kennett, b. 1847-d. 1921, daughter of James N. and Sarah Mullins Kennett. They had no children.

William Walker Woodhead b. 1848, married Elizabeth Pettit, b. 1847. Their children were Horace, b. 1873, John A. b. 1881, Emma, b. 1883, Eulalie, b. 1892 and Nelson, b. 1886.

John A. Woodhead, b. 28 June 1881-d. 24 June 1964, married 29 April 1902, Bessie Maude Beckett, b. 30 August 1879 -d. 28 October 1958, daughter of Silas N. and Sarah C. Beckett, who owned one of the first funeral homes in Falmouth about 1892. H was succeeded by his son-in-law John A. Woodhead. John A. and Bessie had five children; William Paul, Joseph Woodford, Eula Katherine and twins born in 1910.

William P. and Joseph W. were engaged in the undertaking business with their father. John A. got his licenses about 1964. He was also a city clerk for Falmouth and an insurance agent. When he died Joseph W. took over the business. Joseph W., b. 1914-d. 1966 married Edith Amelia Roberts and they had four children; John Daniel, Julia Kay, Joseph Martin, and James Timothy. Joseph and Time died early in life. Joseph, Edith, Julia Kay, Danny and his wife Juliet and Time were all licensed to work in the business.

The property, which is the present location of the Woodhead Funeral Home, Shelby and Montjoy Streets, was purchased on 3 January 1848 by Reuben McCarty. It was pasture land then and Mr. McCarty built the house about 1904 his heir Olive Mullins sold the property to N.C. Ridgeway. He died in 1922 and the Childers, another of Matthew Mullins daughters bought the house at auction. March 23, 1932 she sold it to F.N. and Fannie Shoemaker and they in turn sold it to John A. Woodhead, 12 April 1932.

He remodeled the house as it was in bad shape from standing empty for so many years. The original house had fourteen rooms, three halls, three porches and two baths. In 1937, Frank and Frances Stith sold lot #4 on the east side of Montjoy Street to the Woodheads. This was a lot used for a stable and icehouse of the old McCarty homestead. He glassed in a front porch and in 1957 added a new chapel to the left side of the building. In 1968 bought the building next door and connected the two houses.

Woodhead Funeral Home also owned a runs a branch office in Berry, Harrison County, Kentucky.

John Daniel Woodhead was a licensed embalmer and funeral director in 1960, later his wife Juliet R. Woodhead earned her funeral director’s licenses.

John D. Woodhead and his wife, Juliet Reynolds Woodhead purchased the Woodhead Funeral Home, Inc. in 1988. John was already half owner and bought out his mother and former partner Edith Woodhead.

John Daniel and Juliet R. Woodhead have tow daughters, Emily Carol Woodhead, and Mary Edith Woodhead Hillenmeyer, wife of Paul Hillenmeyer.

Woodhead Funeral Home, Falmouth will celebrate it’s 100th Birthday in 1992. This is the same year the Commonwealth of Kentucky celebrates it’s Bicentennial (200th) Birthday.

Peoples Funeral Home

Peoples Funeral Home began in 1881 with Charles Francis Peoples operating a general store in Butler on Matilda Street a building which burned May 22, 1981. In addition to all the normal wares found in a general store, he also carried a complete line of caskets and undertaking goods. One of his sons, John William Peoples joined in business with him in 1905. When C.F. and his son John decided to move to Oklahoma City in 1909, another son, Charles B. (Chug) Peoples, took over the business and established a funeral home in Butler. Charles B. remained very active in the business until his death July 9, 1966. During his life time, his son Charles W. Peoples, who joined with him in 1946, kept the Peoples Butler Funeral Home and went on to open a funeral home in Falmouth in 1984, which was originally located on Maple Street. Then in 1953, C.B. and Charles opened the Peoples Grand Licks Funeral Home to better serve southern Campbell County. Also in 1953, Charles’ wife Stella (Pribble) became a licensed funeral director, which made her the first woman to become a funeral director in Pendleton County. In 1957, C.B. and Charles moved the Falmouth Peoples Funeral Home to its present location at Park and Shelby Streets.

Charles and Stella’s second son John Wilson Peoples, decided to continue in the family business. He became a licenses director and embalmer in 1977. Their first son Charles Franklin Peoples had decided to operate the family farm at Boston Station and is the operator of the Peoples Milk Transport, Inc. John’s wife Donna began serving her apprenticeship in 1980. Now in 1991 a grandson Craig Peoples, son of Charles F. and his wife Teress has joined the origination.

H. Frank Ammerman joined the firm in 1961, while serving his apprenticeship and became a licensed funeral director and embalmer in 1963. He serves the Peoples Butler Funeral Home. Another associate, Woodrow Bannister serves the Peoples Grants Lick Funeral Home, on U.S. 27 at Grants Lick, Kentucky.

Through these one hundred and ten years, four generation of the Peoples family have worked hard to serve the people of Pendleton County in all phases of the funeral business which now includes the Peoples Monument Company.

The Licking Valley Distillery established about 1890, composed of a company of John Fryer, John Humes and Samuel Ravenscraft. They operated it for a number of years when Fryer bought the plant. He operated it until a short time before prohibition, when he sold to a man in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hayes Valley Bourbon Distillery was established at Levingood in 1903. The plant was owned by Timothy Hayes and operated by his sons John and Arthur Hayes. Mr. Hayes was born in Ireland and had been connected with the liquor business for forty years, prior to coming to Pendleton County.

T.M. Shoemaker and Company Sawmill was established at Falmouth in 1883. This was one of the largest mills in the county with a capacity of 25,000 feet of lumber a day. Aside from local market, lumber was shipped to Chicago, Cincinnati, within a week and the mill was sold to another man. Shortly afterwards it burned and was never rebuilt.

O.W. Cowels operated Cowels Distillery off Highway 609 at Greenwood on the road to Butler. This too was closed just before probation.

One of the earliest drug stores in the county was operated by Mr. Fabra. He also had the first soda fountain (ice cream parlor) in the county. The present day drug store is owned and operated by Thomas and Ronald Moreland and O.T. Gillespie. The only drug store in the county.

The Ideal Roller Mill was originated in Falmouth about 1893 by R.B. McDonald, who was succeeded by J.W. and R.L. Galloway until the later died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. After Mr. Galloway died the mill was sold to B.F. Arnold. The mill had a capacity of one hundred twenty five barrels of flour per day and one hundred bushels of corn meal. This old mill owned in 1985 by Donald Moore was dismantled and moved into a new building on the site at Second and Chapel Streets.

The Centennial Mill was owned and operated by Bill Hamilton. It was sold about 1890 to J.L. Rogers of Mt. Sterling who used the name of Construction Mills for a number of years and finally sold out to the Falmouth Lumber and Coal Company.

Hagermeyers Saw Mill was located at Butler in the early 1870’s. Mr. Hagermeyer would go to the headwaters of the Licking River, buy logs and float them down the river to the mill. These logs would be caught in a boom, which was constructed by chaining logs together across the river. This saw mill was one of the largest in the state of Kentucky.

The large Saw Mill of the Falmouth Planning Mill and Lumber Company across the river in Shoemakertown was completely destroyed by fire in 1909. The mill, office and $2,000.00 worth of lumber and staves were burned. Kenzie Held returning home discovered the fire. The fire company ran a line of hose across the river from a plug at the pumping station, and with the aid of boats soon had the blaze under control, saving other buildings and lumber. The 30,000.00 plant suffered a great loss.

There was an infirmary in the county on Hayes Station Road around the turn of the 1900th century. One keeper of the infirmary in 1909 was Charley Ruber of German descent who came here from Ohio. They had their own burial plot which was also used as a potters burial field for the county. Only filed stones were used as markers with a stone wall around it. In 1990 nothing can be found of the cemetery.

In 1914 there were fifteen hukster wagons(rolling stores) that went from house to house in the county selling or trading their supplies. Chickens, eggs, or rabbit could be traded for groceries, dry goods, hardware, kerosene or any other items they might have packed into the vehicle. Lawrence Palmer, who also had a grocery store in Falmouth, had one of the last rolling stores. He closed it out in 1959. Others during the 1940’s were Poore’s from Flingsville, Grant County; Beighle from Gardnersville and Chipmans. Beighle would come to your house take your order and deliver the groceries back to you. In those days there were few phones that you could call in your order as they did in the city.


Artwork: Sweet Solitude
by Edmund Blair  Leighton