The First 200
Years of Pendleton County
By: Mildred Bowen Belew
Contributed, with permission, By:Kristin
December 13, 1798 the General Assembly approved an act
to create a new county out of the counties of Campbell
and Bracken, stating, “that after the 10th
day of May 1799, all the part of the counties of
Campbell and Bracken, beginning at the Ohio River, two
miles below Big Stepping Stone Creek, hence a direct
line across Main Licking continuing East to Scott and
Franklin County lines, hence to Harrison County line and
from there to the Main Licking River, to the mouth of
the North Fork, hence a direct line to the mouth of Big
Stepping Stone and down the Ohio River to the
beginning. This shall be called Pendleton County.” The
county embraces about 300 squire miles and was named for
Judge Edmund Pendleton of Carolina County, Virginia. It
was the 28th county in the state of
Kentucky. Falmouth lying in the center of the county is
the county seat. William Covington Kenneth was the
first county Clerk and James M. Wilson was elected the
Some of the first settlements in Pendleton
County were; Falmouth, settled by the Wallers, Cook,
Montjoy, Sternes, Sinks, and others. Grassy Creek
settled by Thrasher, Belew, Mann, Morris, Hensley,
Doughety, Vastine, and others. Unity or Jag Creek
settled by Lightfoot, Crain, Brown, Barton, Johns,
Arnold, Conrads, and others. Fork Lick settled by
Collins, Ewing,Fogle, Henry, Conyerm Thompson, Thomas,
Dance, Hand, Draper, and others. Snake Creek settled by
Hardin Edwards, Stone, and others. Blanket Creek
settled by Wallers, Monor, Watson, Clark and Forsythes.
Willow Creek settled by Vaughn, Griffin and Brownings.
Flour Creek settled by Taylor, Wheeler, Barton, Webb,
Bonar, Duckers, and others. South Licking Grove settled
by Wycoff, Turner, Sanders, Bryan, Routt, Fugate,
Clarkson, Griffin, McCandles, Ewings, and others. Ash
Run/Mt. Hope settled by Burlew, Ellis, Pribbles and
others. Gardnersville settled by Gardner, Caldwell,
Beighlie, Linder, Irvin, Middleton, Tomlin, and Bowens.
Some of the other areas in the county were
called Wyatts, Bends, Wagners Ferry (Southeast of
Falmouth), Modoc, Gum Lick, (Southwest of Falmouth),
Blind, Buck, Tail Point, Elizabethsville (Turner Ridge),
Worlds Mill, Double Cabins, Purdys For, Holmes Corner,
Sanders Ferry, Walkers Ridge, Dutch Ridge, Clayton (
Butler), Lynn (Boston Station), Irvin Station, (Minzie
Bottoms), Levingood (Hayes Station), Stowers (Morgan),
Callensville ( across the river from Morgan), Caldswell
Station (on the river between Demossville and Butler),
Sins Crossing, Catabawaba, Schuler (Portland), Dividing
Ridge (Center Ridge), Penhurst (Concord), Pea Ridge (Mt.
Moriah), Demossville (Hells Half Acre).
James Wilson, Sr. and his family established
their home in Falmouth during the year of 1798. The
Wilson home at forth and Main Streets was built about
1825 by Enos Daniels. The first large room on the lower
floor was to be used as a store and the one room above
as a dance hall. Some years later the partitions were
added. Converting the building to a residence. Also
another story was added.
Dr. James Wilson, Jr. began his practice of
medicine at Falmouth in 1839 and his son John Edwin
Wilson began his practice of medicine at the same place
in 1888. With their practices the Wilson name ranked
high in the medical profession for more than a century.
Captain James M. Wilson, son of Dr. and Mrs.
James Wilson, Jr. was honored by being elected the first
Mayor of Falmouth. He resigned this position to become
postmaster of Falmouth and served in this compasity for
The first mill in Falmouth was owned by
Augeastus Robbins, at the foot of Chapel Street. It was
both a saw mill and a grain mill, operated by water from
a dam diagonally across the river from a point near the
north abutment of the railroad bridge. Thomas Best
managed the mill for many years. Then it fell into the
hands of a Mr. Turner and still later Casper Sharpe was
the owner. After he died the mill was owned by George
Goulding and then Joseph Woodhead purchased the site and
built the “Woolen Mill”, which was operated by his sons,
John and Joseph for many years.
There was a tannery at the corner of Fourth
and Maple Streets. Harman Deglow was the proprietor.
Animal hides and tree bark was tanned there and leather
sold or traded to the residents.
There were no paved streets and no sidewalksm
wxcept in spots where they were made of planks. Many
times wagons stuck in the muddy streets up to their
hubs. Livestock roamed the country and the city
streets. The road from the ferry across the Main
Licking River ran up the branch to Main Cross Streets,
now Shelby Street. This was before the little iron
bridge was built going to Little Egypt.
There were two practicing physicians in town, Dr.
Daniel Barbour and Dr. James Wilson. There had been a
Dr. Jeremiah Monroe here many years before. He came in
1792 and was the first physician. He had two brothers,
one a lawyer and the other a Baptist Minister, Alexander
Henry Gordon was the only shoemaker in town.
He came as a tramp and remained until the outbreak of
the Civil War.
There was two lawyers, S.F. Swoope and Samuel
T. Hauser. Both came from North Carolina, as did one of
our later attorneys, Hoyt B. Best. Also a few years
later came J.E. Record, from New Jersey and Mr.
Fitzpatrick cam and practiced at the Pendleton County
Bar. Now we have Edwin A. Monroe, Robert Bathalter,
Charles Wells, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffery Dean (nee Deneise
Best), Nancy B. Yelton, David Doan, and Mr. and Mrs.
Douglas R. Wright, at Butler there is Robert McGinnes
and Ben Harter.
Ansel Johnson wa the village blacksmith and
conducted his shop at the corner of Forth and Maple
Street. The Shoeing of the oxen was done on the street
corner in full view of all who cared to watch.
Major Wheeler conducted a carding factory on
Chappel Street. The machinery was propelled by horse
power. There was but one taylor in town. His shop was
located next door to the Kennett Tavern. There was a
stave and barrel mill at the mouth of Licking Branch
owned by Semor Frieburg, Robert Lee and James Murphy
made all the coffins. When a person died, his
measurements were taken by neighbors and turned over to
the coffin makers, who made the box to order.
There were no electric street lights. They
used greasy rags in a muscle shell, for a tailor dip,
for lights inside and a lantern was used outside. Next
came the coal oil lights and the precious fuel cost 50
cents a gallon.
Hudnoll conducted a hattery in a two story long building
at the rear of a building facing public square. The
hatter continued business until 1850 when he was elected
The nearest bank was the Northern Bank of
Covington. That wasn’t of too much concern as money was
scarce and most people carried their money in their
pockets. Loans were made freely among neighbors.
There were seven dwellings in the central part
of town, including the Kennett Tavern, owned and
operated by James and Sarah Mullins Kennett in 1845, and
the Lightfoot Hotel on the East side of Main Street,
from Shelby Street to the river and five houses on the
West side. On the North side of Shelby Street to the
depot there were three buildings and three on the South
The first Covington and Lexington Railroad
Agent was Ralph Tomlinson and he lived in a one room
house on Main Street next door to Enos Daniels. Next
was the Lightfoot Hotel, then a theater built of logs,
and called “The Falmouth Playhouse” or “The Thespain”,
inspired by John Hensley. Next was Jake Shilock’s
Tavern, then the Clark house, later known as the
“Phoenix Hotel”, the Harmon house and the last on that
side of the street was the home of Ansel Johnson.
On the West side of Main Street going North
was the S.F. Swoope home, Dr. J.E. Wilson’s home and
S.T. Hauser’s home. Then across the alley was the home
of Reuben McCarty, former county clerk. There was one
last house on that side of the street and the railroad.
There was the
McMurckey house, the rule house and the brick house
owned by Mrs. Frances Mullins Childers, now the
Christian Church parking lot. On the other side of
Shelby Street coming East, there were but two other
houses in 1854. The house where Rule and Boggess had
their stores,once the home of Dr. Monroe and two story
log structure which stood back from the street and was
used for a hattery.
Artwork: Sweet Solitude
by Edmund Blair Leighton