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Old Taylorsville may become a boom town

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By Tom Watson

 Many times you hear Spencer County referred to as a “bedroom community” because so many people who live here work in Louisville, Shelbyville or elsewhere. These commuters return to their bedrooms in Spencer, sack out for the night, and head to work again the next day.

A major reason for this is, of course, that Spencer County doesn’t have enough large employers.

Farming keeps people home, but the number of farms and farming acreage shrink consistently as more land is “developed” for subdivisions. Younger men don’t take up farming as they used to.

Taylorsville Lake is a wonderful recreational facility, but it has put the hurt on downtown Taylorsville until recent years. The experts say that the downtowns of communities near recreational lakes don’t die, but suffer declines, only to rise again with different personalities.

Downtown Taylorsville is already a wonderful place to shop for collectibles and antiques. The Tea Cup, a combination bakery and restaurant, is an example of the type of business that is bringing people into town. The historically established businesses like J.A. Bennett’s and McDavitt Electric have enjoyed a dedicated clientele for years. New specialty shops are springing up and antiques and collectables stores like the Red Scooter  and T. and R. Antiques offer incredible buys. The former Presbyterian church is the beautiful art gallery and shop appropriately called “Sanctuary.” The former Valley Theater produces specialty clothing items and the former site of W.T. Froman Drugs – since the business moved to the Settlers Center – is a variety shop.  In “Old Town” there’s also an Amish store; a business that sells and caters to guitars and musical needs and there’s an outdoor market in season. To remind you that Taylorsville has skilled mechanics and automotive specialists outside Louisville are the crews at Smith’s Marathon and Rick’s Auto Service.

The local newspaper, The Spencer Magnet, continues an award-winning tradition of reporting, photography and editorial excellence.

There was no intention of leaving any business out of this little narrative, so let us not forget the importance of the Family Dollar Store, Mic-Zees or Riverbend and there was no comparison of restaurants or other facilities across the creek.

“Old Taylorsville” continues to move in the direction of a vibrant village with the project that has changed the appearance of Main Street and added the old fashioned street lights.

New families in Spencer County face the challenge of making the most of their new home and they should consider what they want for their children and grandchildren.

Looking back over the letters and files that have accumulated in my (file) drawers through the years, the ones dealing with family names are always the most interesting.

Larry L. Hill, a racing steward with Spencer County roots, was always a wonderful source of information. Of course Mary Francis Brown has the gratitude of everyone who loves Spencer County for her magnanimous contributions of research and writing. The late Robert Jobson was another family researcher who contributed so much to Spencer County history. Mary Francis and Robert wrote columns for my monthly newspaper, The Salt River Arcadian. They will always be fondly remembered as excellent historians.

Larry Hill’s family arrived long before Spencer County was carved out of Nelson, Shelby and Bullitt counties in 1824. Hardy Hill and his family built a log cabin in 1784, two miles west of  present-day Taylorsville on what is popularly referred to as the E.T. Holloway place, but was historically the Abraham VanDyke farm. The Hills settled along the Boston Branch of the Salt River.

To understand how early this was, in 1782 Shawnee Indians attacked Kincheloe Station, a small fort south of present-day Bloomfield, massacred several of the occupants, took others captive and burned the stockade and cabins. The prisoners were marched to Detroit and sold as slaves. In those days, not all slaves were black.

There was still a threat from the Shawnee as the Hills cleared trees and worked the land. Many families came to the area about the same time or a little later, between the 1790s and early 1800s.

A few of the pioneer families bore the surnames: Collings, Cooper, McGrew, Stout, VanDyke, Bourne, McKinley, Wiggington, Rhodes, Kester, Carrithers, Basye, Yoder, Osburn, Taylor, Carr, Anderson, Foreman, Miller, Pound, Watson, Richey, Wells, Brewer, Prewitt, Purcell, Carlin, Shelburne, Cunningham, Beadle, Jeffries, Reasor, Edridge, Downs, Dayhoff, Redmond, Flinn, Shields, Gray, Graham, Snider, Stallard, Davis, Holloway, Simpson, Russell, Boyles, Beard, McCrocklin, Lastley, Elliott and Holt.

It is believed that the George Creviston family followed the Hills into what was a challenging, dangerous, but beautiful wilderness. A Creviston daughter married a McGrew and their offspring remained in the area for many decades.

My own family arrived in 1807, settling on what became known as Gray’s Run. I always thought the Watsons made the trek with other families with whom they intermarried. They included the Edringtons (also seen as Ethington) and Rhodes families.

I’ve traced my tree back to Tom and Mary Watson in southern Loudon County, Va. in the mid 1740s. It was their son, Joseph, his wife and three sons who came to what became southern Spencer County. Joseph was a soldier of the Revolution as were others who settled in this part of the country.

Those arriving after 1810 included: Holsclaw, Jewell, White, Stone, Crutcher, Gilbert, Yantis, Poignand, Lancaster, Marattay, Barker, Thomas, Rice, Tichenor, Bennett and Porter.

The earliest doctor in the wilderness that became Taylorsville was named Green and

Larry Hill’s research shows he was there as early as March, 1799. About 1810, Dr. John Richey arrived on the scene.

One of the first shoemakers in what became Spencer County was Francis Shields. born 1771 and who arrived here in 1799. He died in 1824.  Among the first lawyers was Col. John Allen, born Dec. 30, 1772 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He fell at the Battle of the River Raisin in the war of 1812. Hardy Hill Jr. served under him in that battle.

Allen’s family arrived in Kentucky in 1780, settling in Nelson County before the formation of Spencer.

One of the first ministers in what is now Spencer County was Rev. Archibald Cameron, born about 1770 near Fort William in the Highlands of Scotland. His parents took him to the Pittsburgh area. In April, 1786, he was in Bardstown where he studied with celebrated men such as: John Rowan, Felix Grundy, John Pope, Col. John Allen and John Simpson.

Cameron was licensed to preach by the Transylvania Presbytery, Feb. 14, 1795. He was ordained and installed over several churches in June, 1796. His churches were in Nelson, Shelby, Jefferson and areas that became Spencer in 1824.

Cameron has been described as “an intellect” with few equals. He was a witness to the will of Capt. Hardy Hill Dec. 17, 1798, so that placed him in Taylorsville as early as 1796.

Anyone who would like to add to this partial list of early settlers is welcome to do so.

As always, it’s a pleasure to offer readers information about those who claimed the same ground we now occupy. Realizing what a short time we’ve been here in comparison to the centuries of hunting and habitation by native Americans sort of brings the whole thing into proper perspective.

  You may email Historic Pathways at: twscribe@yahoo.com Write to: Tom Watson, 5225 Little Union Rd., Taylorsville, Ky., 40071 or call and leave a message at (502) 252-9991.