Jewell City

Jewell of a city in Hopkins County

For many years the village had no name. It was simply a place for people to go for picnics and to while the day away fishing or watching boats drift up and down Green River.

Maggie Spainhoward's country store was one of the few businesses in the town and life moved at a relatively slow pace -- until 1905.

About that time Joseph Clark, his wife, Nellie, and their two children made their home in the village. Clark, having learned the trade of tile making from his father, decided to open a tile factory in the village. The area had an ample clay supply for the manufacturing of building blocks or drainage tiles. Because the drainage conditions in the area were poor, Clark's drainage tiles were an instant success with the farmers.

As more people moved into the area, it was decided that the tiny village must have a name. The initial plan was to name it Maryville, after one of Clark's daughters. Upon closer consideration Clark came to the conclusion that, since Maggie Spainhoward had been a resident of the village longer, the town should be the namesake of her daughter, Addie Jewel. So, the little village with no name became Jewell City, a booming river town.

'Jewel City's distinction comes from the fact that it was given life by the steam boat era. For many years the sound of showboats' calliopes filled the air at Jewel City and excursions on the vessels with their elegant dining rooms and performers became a popular past time for many. Steamers also transported goods such as Clark's tile, livestock and produce from the rich, surrounding farm land.

Unfortunately for the citizens of Jewel City, when the steamboat era ended, so did the fame of their little town. When the steamboats left they took with them the thriving general stores and other businesses that had come about. The last business closed nearly 10 years ago and what was once a haven for steam boating is now just a tiny spot on a road map.

Today Jewel City has very few permanent residents. However, many people come to the area, set up temporary camps and take advantage of the fishing.

This feature story originally appeared in the The Messenger in the small towns section of their "Changing Face of Hopkins County" on September 6, 1996 and was written by Slone Hutchison, a summer intern from Murray State University working with The Messenger to gain practical news papering skills during her summer vacation.

My thanks to The Messenger for granting permission to publish on the Hopkins County, Kentucky KyGenWeb page.

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Nancy Trice
Hopkins County, Ky

© 1997