My family has lived in Kentucky since before Kentucky was a state and was still a part of Virginia. I can't imagine living anywhere else, although I also have a love of Tennessee; I don't live far from Nashville. I am lucky to have documentation of much of my family's history.
Picture above is a photo of my great-great-great grandfather, Bibb Hardison - Bibb was his nickname. He was born in Kentucky in 1827. During the start of the War Between the States, he was living in Louisiana and owned a saw mill. Bibb allowed a preacher friend of his, who had found himself in trouble with authorities due to union sympathys, to hide out at his house. When word got out that the man was hiding there, Bibb found himself facing some problems of his own. With the help of a well-liked slave from the saw mill, Bibb loaded all his belongings onto a boat and headed north up the Mississippi River. Unfortunately, another tragedy occurred. The river boat sank with all of his belongings and there was no insurance. Bibb settled with his wife and children in Illinois until after the War, then moved back to his home in Kentucky. This was not an easy time in Kentucky either, as it was suffering through the post-war reconstruction era.
Rocky Hill, Kentucky was a once thriving town until it was abandoned by the railroad in the early part of the twentieth century. Today there is little that remains of it old glory. There are no businesses open, and the few delapidated buildings that survived a major fire many years ago remind one more of a ghost town.
Bibb Hardison's grandson, Frank Hardison, pictured above, wrote a short memoir of Rocky Hill.
In 1905, our family moved to Edmonson County, passing through Rocky Hill and settling there. At this time Rocky Hill was quite a place. Besides the churches, Rocky Hill had a post office, mill, two hotels, milliner shop (that sold ladies hats), owned by Sarah Compton. Sarah also ran the Compton Hotel. It had a factory that made saddle blankets, but was short lived due to the coming of the automobile. It also had a livery stable that burned, killing 22 horses. The town had a jail, a judge and a marshall. The marshall, Lafayette Copas, was killed trying to arrest a drunk man. W.C. Perkins was the town judge. Earl Spillman was the first principal of Rocky Hill High School, followed by Willie Hugh Allen, Wilbur Meredith, and Aubry Whittle. Mary McCombs was a teacher. At one time, there were three brothers who lived in Rocky Hill, all were bachelors, last name was Settle. One was blind, and he made an organ. One had only one arm and he was a jeweler and worked on watches. The third brother had no trade, but seemed to be well off. He was a director in the bank.
Rocky Hill, Kentucky, A once thriving town.
The original depot at Rocky Hill, Kentucky was burned by Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's men on July 4th, 1863, during Morgan's raid on Kentucky. A little more than a year later, on November 2nd, 1864, Corporal William Fox, a once Confederate soldier who had deserted the Confederate Army and joined the Union Army, was killed by Jerome Clarke (nicknamed Sue Mundy) and Henry Magruder. Corporal Fox had taken the train to Rocky Hill to pay a brief visit to his mother. Sue Mundy was a Confederate gorilla who is said to have looked so feminine that he was able to spy on the Union Army dressed as a woman. Mundy and Magruder were later captured at a tobacco barn in Meade County. Mundy was hanged three days later. Magruder was charged but not convicted of the crime. He was later hanged for other crimes. Corporal Fox is buried in Pig Kentucky. Sue Mundy is buried in Franklin Kentucky. John Hunt Morgan's home is open to the public in Lexington Kentucky.
My great grandfather, who died at age 100 a few years ago, used to fondly recall how he made a good living during the Great Depression, making and selling moonshine. The local police, he'd say, were some of his best customers.
In a cemetary in Barren County there is a tombstone of some of my ancestors inscribed Daniel Boone and Pocahontas, although they are not the pioneer and indian you may be thinking of. Daniel Boone was a local doctor. His wife pocahontas, who was indian by the way, would accompany him when there were babys to be born. During the winter, they would heat up a rock on a wood stove and place it on the floor of the buggy to provide some warmth for the trip.
A Mammie near Rocky Hill, Kentucky poses with two children.
My great-great grandfathers was raised by a Mammie. They called her Black Mammie, not to be insulting, but rather in the way one might use the word Nanny. I don't know what her real name was. It's told that she was in charge of all the discipline and child care, and over the years the children became very fond of her. My grandmother laughs when she tells of one occasion when my great-great grandfather had injured his toe. His brother, tired of hearing him complain about it and not doing any work, kicked his sore toe. This infuriated Mammie. She grabbed a switch and chase my great-great grandfather's brother all over the yard. It's told that when she died, my great-great grandfather was more upset than when his own mother died.
My great-great grandmother, Grandma Stone, they called her, was the story teller in the family. My grandmother recalls that sometimes she'd be afraid to sleep at night after Grandma Stone got through telling her tells. Nothing gave Grandma Stone a bigger thrill than to scare the grandkids to death. One of her favorite stories was Raw Head and Bloody Bones. At the completion of the tell she would jump and yell and the kids would scream, "Every time," says my aunt. I'm not sure if my version of Raw Head and Bloody Bones is the same as Grandma Stone's version, as no one can seem to remember it exactly, and I had to piece it together.
A November 14, 1965 article in the Glasgow Daily Times revealed a Skeleton in the Stone family history, as I learned from reading the Stone family tree (L.E.Calhoun). David Stone, a carpenter and stone mason who had gained some wealth through his trade and buying and selling property, was born in 1811. In 1857 he married a Mary Franks who was born in 1836. The couple lived with Mary's parents while a new house for the couple was being built. One stormy and windy night, Mr. and Mrs. Franks were awakened by a muffled scream, followed by the sound of footsteps. The door to their bedroom was pushed opened, and couple's bleeding daughter quietly fell into the room and died. The screams of the Franks woke the neighbors, and the alarm was sound. David Stone ran down the stairs, out the front door and saddled his horse. Officers of the law were on the scene quickly. When David realized he was cornered, he pulled out the same razor he had use to cut his wife's throat and cut his own throat. The reason for the double murder is a mystery. Because of an unfortunate law at the time. David Stone's children from a former marriage inherited his property as well as all of his wife's property. This was because his wife had been the first to die. It didn't matter that he had been the one who killed her. Her parents didn't inherit anything. The house where this tragedy occured has long been said to be haunted according to the article.