Except from "A Song of Carroll"


James Tandy Ellis, Esq.

There's a county dear that is full of cheer

As the sunlight of the morn,

Where the latch string's long-Oh, I'll sing a song

Of the place where I was born,

Up in dear old Carroll.


 Carroll County Clerks

1838 - 1984

Richard P. Butler 1838-1851
H. Crittenden 1851-1858
John P. Vance 1858-1862
Allen Hanks 1862-1866
R. F. Harrison 1866-1894
S. L. Scott 1984-1897
J. G. Ginn 1897 (10 mths)
A. J. Bruce 1898-1900
William Deatherage 1900-1920
Luther Fothergill 1921-1927
C. S. Griffith 1928-1945
Carey Riley 1946-1949
Elmo Stark 1950-1977
John Tilley 1977-

Photos Compliments of James Lee Cobb & Bernie Spencer

Riverboats of the Ohio

During the years 1880 to the 1940's, riverboats plied the Ohio River. Many boats played an important part in the history of Carrollton.
The Hattie Brown: Built in 1884 to carry freight and passengers from Warsaw, KY to Madison, IN. She stopped twice daily at Ghent and Carrollton's docks. In 1915, this boat was damaged in a storm near Carrollton but was refitted and continued service until 1918 when ice in the Ohio caused her to sink.

The Carrollton: The first Carrollton was in service before 1890. The second steamer with this name was a slightly larger packet built in 1891. It belonged to the White Collar Line of Cincinnati, OH. In August 1895, boys set fire to bales of hay at the dock in Cincinnati and destroyed the Carrollton and three others in port.

The Idlewild: Built in 1914, she was a three deck stern wheeler. Traveling the Ohio for nine months each year. In 1947, she was renovated and renamed the Avalon. The Avalon was used mostly for warm weather excursions until the 1960"s

The Island Queen: Built in 1910, she served many ports and traveled the entire Ohio river. The first Queen was a side-wheeler with double stacks. She often sought winter refuge at the mouth of the Kentucky because it was so deep and rarely froze over. However, the winter of 1918 damaged this steamer. In 1925, a new Island Queen was built and continued the runs until 1947 when she was destroyed by fire at port in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Kentucky: This large stern-wheeler was built in 1907 at Madison, IN and carried cargo and passengers from Louisville to Cincinnati. It belonged to the Green Line and was taken out of service in 1932.

The Belle of Louisville: In 1962, Jefferson county, KY purchased the Avalon, refitted and renamed her;  This, almost century old boat, still steams up and down the Ohio giving people a small taste of history and once a year, challenges other steamers to a Great Boat Race during Derby festivities.



One of the earliest Ohio ferryboat franchises was allowed in the early 1800s to George Ash of Lamb, Ind. Ash had been kidnapped by Indians in 1775 and lived with them for 17 years. Later, he left the tribe and settled across the Ohio from Port William. This family owned franchise lasted 125 years, through three generations.
Little Minnie: Operated by the Ash family between Lamb and Carrollton. It ran from 1884 to about 1895, when it was replaced by the gas powered Leon.

The Leon: Capt. J. B. Ashe ran this gasoline powered boat from 1895 to 1906. It ran from Carrollton to Indiana. The fare to cross the Ohio was: Large wagon; $.75 round trip, Single Rig; $.40 r/t and Foot Passenger; $.15 r/t. The round trip crossing took about 20 minutes. It was destroyed in 1918 by the ice.

Heath Ferry: Used on the Kentucky river by farmers bringing their crops to market. The ferry was located about a mile from the confluence of the Kentucky and Ohio. Even after 1900 when a toll bridge was built across the Kentucky, many farmers continued to use Heath Ferry for convenience to get from Prestonville (originally known as Wide Awake, KY) to Carrollton. One of the first ferry boats to operate on the Kentucky river was owned by James Coghill.

The Mary Jo: Also run by Capt. Ashe, maneuvered the Ohio river from Lamb, IN to Carrollton until about 1920.

The Ohio: The last ferry making daily trips from the Point in Carrollton to Lamb, IN. This boat was run by the McKay family and ceased operation in 1947, when the bridge at Milton no longer was a toll bridge.

Martha A. Graham: The last ferry to serve  Ghent, Ky., and Vevay, IN. She ran from 1943 until 1978 when the Markland Dam Bridge was completed.



Historic Carroll County

Eagle Station was first settled in 1846 centering around the Johnson's Grist Mill. Other businesses included; a general store run by the Duvall family and later sold to Blant Ribelin, a butcher shop owned by Stanley Adams, a hotel owned by Tilden Rowell and a drugstore and grocery owned by John McDarment. Doctors Elkins and Darbro served the health of the citizens.

Sanders: The last area to become part of Carroll county, was this portion taken from Gallatin county in 1872. It was done in order to complete a bridge over Eagle Creek, near Rislerville. In 1867, a railroad station was built and called Liberty Station but was renamed "Sanders" for George Washington Sanders, a few years later. In 1904, the Sparta-Sanders Bank was opened and in 1907, the first Tri-County Fair was held on the new fairgrounds west of town.

Coonskin / Worthville: An area settled about the same time pioneers moved into the Ohio river lands. Because of it's position on the Ohio river, trading and businesses were established in the early 1800's. The village was called "Coonskin" because merchants would take animal skins in trade for goods. In 1867, the town was renamed Worthville for war hero General Wm. Jenkins Worth. Early family names in this community were; Barker, Dean, Bowie, Wilson, Schenck, McDowell, McDanell, McClure, Boyd and Nash. In 1937, there were many businesses in Worthville, because of the railroad; Gentry's Grocery, Kemper's Restaurant, and Goodwin's Hotel to name a few. Three doctors; Drs. Golden, Masink and Driskell practiced there. In 1941 a fire destroyed a whole block of businesses and in 1960, the last stop for passengers was made at the Worthville station. The 1980 population was 275.

Port William / Carrollton: Port William was organized in 1792 but was not established as a town until 1794 when the Kentucky General Assembly voted to do so. The first Trustees were: Cave Johnson, Thomas Montague, Jeremiah Craig, John Van Pelt, Simon Adams and Richard Masterson. Others who also served were; Benjamin Waller, Zedekia South, Reuben Gaunt, Robert Plummer, David Owen, Stephen Bailey, James Lowe, Joseph Hardy, John Conover and Brook Bennett. In 1805, the Point House replaced Scott's blockhouse, built in 1784, and Carrollton's inhabitants began to grow. In 1838, Port William became Carrollton. The 1840 Minute Book included the city tax list with the following land owners; (partial list) William O. Butler, R. P. Butler, Norvin Green, Wm. H. Harrison and Richard Minish. By 1860 over 1,500 people lived there. Following the Civil War and the emancipation, the population had grown to over 6,000.

Locust lies on the southwest end of the county and was settled in the 1850's. Family names included Conway, Holmes, Bradley, Shelton, Fallis, Kagle, Adams, Brunton, Pulliam, Gross, Carlisle, Chatham, Banks, Cribbins and Westrick. The area is mostly farm land with ownership through three or four generations.

English is a small town six miles southeast of Carrollton. Named for Capt. James Wharton English who owned most of the land when the town was established in the 1850's. The earliest business was Green Brothers General Store.

McCool's Creek / Ghent began as a settlement in the 1780's, by emigrants from Virginia. In 1792, 613 acres were purchased by Benjamin Craig and James Hawkins. McCool's Creek was laid out in 1814 by Samuel Sanders, son of Jane Craig and John Sanders. It was surveyed by John Scott. Some early families included; Lindsay, Beldsoe, Gatewood, Keene, McCann and Smith. In 1814 Henry Clay stopped overnight at the tavern in McCool's Creek and was asked what he thought a suitable name for the town would be. He had just returned from signing a peace treaty in Ghent, Belgium and the name Ghent was adopted. Ghent was incorporated in 1824. Smithson and Cookson began a mill in 1828 that corded wool and produced flour. In 1837, Charles Cox operated a woolen mill. The most well known "son" of Ghent is James Tandy Ellis, son of Dr. Peter Ellis and Drucilla Tandy Ellis. In 1868 Ghent College was built. It was later used as the Ghent Independent graded and high school and was destroyed by fire in 1940.

Wide Awake / Prestonville: Colonel Wm. Preston received a grant of several thousand acres for his service in the American Revolution. Located on the west side of the Kentucky river, it was an ideal location for a settlement. One of the first roads built in this area went to New Castle in Henry Co. In 1795, Elijah Craig, Jr. built a warehouse and a fleet of flatboats to carry goods up the Kentucky river. Businesses soon grew; Darling Distillery, Wise's General Store, two hotels, a cooperage and a grist mill. For many years, traffic along the river was booming. In 1854 the Kentucky Central Railroad was completed and movement on the Kentucky river declined. The distillery flourished through the 1900's but following the 1937 flood, Prestonville's population subsided to about 200 residents.

Hunter's Bottom located west of the Kentucky river and runs nine miles along the Ohio. Pioneer families in this area include; Cornelius Hoagland, Deweese, Fern, Giltner, Conway, Snyder and White. St. Peter's Lutheran church was founded in 1878 and German was spoken until 1919.

Carroll County "Firsts"

First Town Clerk: Percival Butler, father of Wm. Orlando Butler - May 17, 1799 First Marriage Recorded: Nicholas Lantz and Mary Pickett, married by Henry Ogburn, the first resident minister, on July 18, 1799.
First Stocks and Jail - A pair of stocks for the punishment of gossip and slander were erected July 9, 1799 on Water St., opposite the site of the present day Courthouse. The first jail was constructed of logs in 1800, and stood on the same site.

First Sheriff: John Van Pelt - 1799

First Sheriff after formation of the County: Levi Abbott - 1838

First Church: Built of logs and located on land owned by Henry Ogburn, in 1810.

First Census: 1810 showed Port William with a population of 120 residents.

First County Clerk - Richard Butler - 1838

First County Judge: Garland Bullock - 1838

First County Attorney: William Winslow - 1838

First Newspaper: The Carrollton Eagle, with G. W. Hopkins as editor and owner, began publication, May 17, 1848.


Historic Homes of Carroll County

Grass Hill, built in 1823 by Lewis Sanders

Craig House

Masterson House, built in 1790 by Richard Masterson.

Masterson House is now home to the Port William Historical Society

House on Seminary Street

Blair House, built by Nicholas Blair in 1810

Home of William Orlando Butler, built in 1825

DeMint House, built during the 1840's

Built in 1838 by Mr. Brooking, as a wedding gift to his daughter.

Hampton House, built in 1838 by Moses Hoagland

Home of W. N. Tandy. Built on a burial mound.

Riverview, built by Benjamin Craig II in 1805. This side of the house faces the Ohio river.

Rebel Landing, built in 1830 by Mr. Fitchen.

Fern Hill, Hunters Bottom

Quinn Acres, built between 1795-1800 by Henry Ogburn

Butler-Turpin House in General Butler State Park. Built by Phillip Turpin in 1859.

Some sources include:

"A History of Carroll County Kentucky" compiled by Mary Ann Gentry and printed by Coleman Printing Co., Madison, IN 1984.

"Historic Carroll County" compiled by Mary Masterson; published by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce with text from files of the Port William Historical Society.