Maysville Kentucky Blog

The Maysville Kentucky Blog is your guide to the beautiful and historic small town of Maysville Kentucky, snuggled into the rolling hills along the Ohio River. Though this blog has been discontinued, you can get your Maysville Kentucky fix over at Ken Downing's Mason County Kentucky Blog @ http://masoncountyky.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Thank God I Made It Town

Returning from my second trip this year to Washington, D.C., I can only imagine the trip early settlers had to take over the Appalachian Mountains. Our route takes us from Maryland directly over the mountain range through West Virginia. There's an obvious reason why there were only thirteen colonies in the early Americas. The Appalachians presented both a physical and mental wall that few could look beyond. That's why the pioneers and explorers were such heroes in their time. They crossed the wall.

Maysville Kentucky, at the very edge of the Appalachians, before America becomes flat again through the Midwest and into the Great Plains, was a great "Thank God I made it" town. It doesn't matter if they arrived by wagon or by river. When a modern day car ride is a pain in the rear, the early settlers must have been very greatful to have arrived on this side of the mountains alive and well. I'd imagine that Daniel Boone's tavern that operated on what is today Front Street must have been a very popular place to drink to the end of a journey.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Hillbilly Savants Blog

While we don't make a habit out of linking to just any blog out there that throws us a nod, I believe I can safely say that if you like our little Maysville Kentucky Blog, then you'll thoroughly enjoy the Hillbilly Savants. Their description says it all:
This blog is about our Appalachia - the real one, not the Hollywood-stereotype nor the third-world nation-esque stereotype being sold by do-gooders, or even the neo-Romantic sylvan stereotype that Rousseau would probably buy into. It should be interesting.

Stereotypes are great in the purpose that they serve. They give us a way of packaging up all the things we know nothing about so that we can reduce them down to a single image, and then neatly dismiss them. I don't feel the need to hang out with Eskimos because I'm reasonably sure that I don't want to live in an igloo or eat frozen fish, that sort of thing. The Hillbilly Savant reminds those who take notice -- and I encourage everyone to take notice -- that people in Appalachia are not so neatly defined. We might be hillbillies in some ways, but we can still add 2 + 2. If we can't, we sure as hell know how to work a calculator : ) Anywho... there's countless reasons to proudly shout out from the Appalachian region to the rest of the world, and that's what the Hillbilly Savant reminds us. Plus they link off to a boat load of other regional blogs, so there's definitely something for everyone.

Check them out: The Hillbilly Savants

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nick Clooney's 13 Schools

According to local celebrity Nick Clooney, his early education carried him from one school to another as his family moved around the region and, for a brief period, out west. He says he attended thirteen schools altogether. Also, for no apparent reason, or rather a reason unknown to himself, he said in his column for the Cincinnati Post that he makes a habit of blurting out, "I went to 13 schools, you know," whenever there is a lull in conversation.

Earlier this month while visiting a high school he, again, mentioned that he went to thirteen schools. A young woman there asked him, "Oh, really? What schools were they?" Poor Nick was caught off guard since no one really asked him that before. He had to sit down and think about it to remember every school he had attended. The results of this trip down memory lane is included in his column. It's a remarkable aside in the history of the Clooneys, one of Maysville Kentucky's most notable families.

Nick Clooney's Column

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Pulse: No More Civil War Days in Old Washington

This week's Pulse comes from foxtoon at the LiveJournal community "uscivilwar" and the blog post is about the cancellation of the yearly Civil War Weekend in Old Washington. It appears to have originally been written by Marsha Jones of Old Washington, Inc. and confirms the rumor that we reported earlier, that this year's Civil War Days may be the last:
Hello All. It is with deep regret that I let you know that Old Washington, Inc. Board has decided to discontinue our Civil War Living History Weekend. We deliberated about it for 2 months, and I sent out an e-mail to the reenactors asking how they felt about having our event just one day. I only got 2 replies.

The low number of reenactors that came this year, the low public attendance, and the negative balance of our CWW budget year after year, made us realize that it was fun while it lasted, but was no longer an event that we could continue to lead and support.
Some have suggested that we wait a year or 2 and try again, and have it at a different time of year, so this is a possibility.

Many thanks to ALL of you for your participation over the last 7 years. We loved having you here, and still feel that it was a very entertaining and educational event. There comes a time, though, when good things have to come to an end.

Please come back to Old Washington for a visit or for one of our other special weekends. Thanks, again, to each and every one of you for the time and energy you gave to our Civil War Living History Weekend, and even if only for 7 years, we still consider it one of our most important events.

Take care and Happy Holidays.

Sincerely,
Marsha

That sucks.

Read the full post

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

How Maysville Kentucky Gave Birth To Cincinnati

Cincinnati Ohio was founded in 1788 by John Cleves Symmes and Colonel Robert Patterson. It was formed out of land acquired in the Symmes Purchase (also known as the Miami Purchase), which included the land in Southwestern Ohio that today comprises Hamilton, Butler, and Warren Counties. The land was purchased by Judge John Cleves Symmes of New Jersey from the Continental Congress.

So how did a man from New Jersey end up founding one of the greatest cities in the Midwest? Well, that's the interesting part and where Maysville Kentucky comes in.

In the early 1780s, a man named Benjamin Stites was visiting Maysville Kentucky, which was then known as Limestone. While here, some of his horses were stolen by Indians, and he set out after them in chase. Apparently, these Indians weren't the type to give up so easily, because Stites ended up pursuing them all the way through Southwestern Ohio, as far north as Xenia.

Stites was said to be so impressed by the fertility of the countryside he encountered while trying to recover his horses, that when he returned, he informed his friend Symmes of its prospects. Symmes, on his friend's recommendation, gathered together investors to buy the land. Less than a decade later, the early village of Cincinnati was formed.

Cincinnati came about because someone in Maysville had their horses stolen by Maysville Indians. You can't make these things up!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Washington Opera House Re-Opens


Old Postcard of the Washington Opera House
Tonight at 7 pm the Washington Opera House re-opens after an extensive renovation to what I believe is a sold out show.

The Washington Opera House is the 5th oldest theater in the United States. It was built on the site of the "Old Blue Church", a Presbyterian church that was destroyed by fire in 1850. The Presbyterians relocated to Third Street and a theater was built on the Second Street location a year later. In its early days, the building served as a gathering place for school activities, patriotic rallies, and political debates.

So many buildings in those days, it seems, were prone to fire, for again in January 1898 the place went up in smoke. Later that same year, the theater was rebuilt at a cost of $24,000 (the present day renovations, by comparison, ran $2.9 million). The 1898 version exists mostly intact to this day. It was built by the Washington Fire Company, which is where the name Washington Opera House comes from.

Strangely for a location that was twice ravaged by fire, it also served as a base for the "Kinsey Mack" Fire Fighters (see postcard above).

The Washington Opera House remained a venue for the performing arts throughout its history, with a few slight changes in the early twentieth century adapting to the phenomenon of motion pictures. In 1908, the first motion picture shown in Maysville was shown here. Still, it remained largely a performance theater.

In 1962 the building came under the ownership of the thespian troupe, The Maysville Players, themselves one of the oldest acting groups in the Commonwealth. It was largely their motivating spirit that led to the renovations. As the immortal bard once wrote, "So shines a good deed in a weary world."

Learn more about the Maysville Players

Friday, November 24, 2006

Shootout: Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II

Tonight the History Channel will be featuring the World War II story of a local man, Jack Mullikin, from Burtonville, Kentucky, as a segment in their "Shootout: Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II" documentary. Here's the blurb from the History Channel's web site:
It was the last battle before the bombs -- the final stepping stone on the warpath to Japan. Equal parts bloodbath and chess match, these are the strategies and tragedies that made Okinawa the Pacific's bloodiest battlefield. Rifleman Leonard "Laz" Lazarick and mortarman Donald Dencker relive the massive Japanese assault on Nishibaru Ridge that nearly cost them their lives. Sgt. Jack Mullikin and machine-gunner Mel Heckt take us moment-by-moment through a death-defying shootout inside a ruined shack, and Private Jack Houston recalls the terrifying moments as his company of Marines is cut down on the slopes of infamous Sugar Loaf Hill. We will examine the strategy, leadership, and firepower of this battle using unique visual graphics and eyewitness testimony.

The premier is Friday the 24th at 9:00 pm. There will also be an encore showing at 1:00 am on Saturday.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Removed after the holiday)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! (This has nothing at all to do with Maysville unless you pretend that's a Kentucky turkey.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Man Who Bought His Family Out of Bondage

Among the many accomplishments of Elisha Winfield Green was that he founded Maysville's Bethel Baptist Church in 1845. Throughout his life he fought for the rights of blacks living in the bondage of slavery. His own wife and children he had to purchase from their masters. The sad tale was written in his autobiography:
In 1835 I married Miss Susan Young. In 1838 I left my wife in the neighborhood of Mayslick as a servant of Mrs. Sissen and came to Maysville. They did not get along together very well, and Mrs. Sissen sold her, as she thought, to Mr. Peck, of Washington, Ky., who was trading in colored people, or rather slaves, because in those times we were not known as colored people. She sold my wife with the expectation of sending her south, or "down the river," as the expression was. My master, John P. Dobbyns, gave the negro-trader the money and sent him out there. He bought and brought her to Maysville and, being unable to keep her, he sold her and three children to John C. Reid. I do not know how long Mr. Reid kept them, but I suppose about ten years. My master bought her back again, leaving her in the hands of Reid, with the three children. She remained with John P. Dobbyns until he failed financially. Having made a final failure, they put her and the children up at the market for sale.

Green, already a free man, wished to purchase his own wife and children out of slavery, but could not afford the $850 to do so. Thankfully, thirteen men came to his assistance and loaned him the money, or rather gave it to him saying, "If you never pay it, we will never trouble your family." Some of these men are recognizable as the early influencers in Maysville. They included: H. Ray, Samuel S. Miner, John McDaniel, John Hunt, A. M. January, Thomas A. Ross, Robert A. Cochran, John Shackleford, Samuel C. Pearce, Michael Ryan, Samuel W. Wood, James A. Johnson, and Lewis Collins.

The full story of Elisha W. Green is in his autobiography that you can read online here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Maysville's Newspaper

The history of newspapers anywhere in the United States is one of mergers and acquisitions and Maysville Kentucky's Ledger Independent follows the same genetic code. The Ledger Independent was first published on October 1, 1968, after a consolidation of two daily newspapers, The Public Ledger and The Daily Independent. The Public Ledger was first published in 1892, bringing the time line of our local paper to just under 115 years. Both newspapers were family owned until the purchase in 1968, after which they were published under a newly formed Maysville Publishing Corporation.

A merger here and and a merger there and in 2002, the Ledger Independent came under the wing of Lee Enterprises, Inc., based out of Davenport, Iowa. Lee Enterprises is a media company that publishes 58 daily newspapers in 23 states, and 300 or so speciality publications. They are currently the fourth largest newspaper group in the United States.

Tied closely into their operations is the online version of their newspapers. Lee Enterprises is the majority (close to 83%) stakeholder in TownNews.com, an Internet company that runs the back-end of more than 1,500 newspaper web sites. The Ledger Independent's web site is, of course, www.maysville-online.com

If you want to own a copy of the Ledger Independent, you can get a subscription or drop 50 cents in a vending machine. If you want to own a part of the company behind them, it's LEE on the NYSE, currently trading at 28.97 a share

Bob Hendrickson is the current publisher of the Ledger Independent and holds offices in the newly built $2 million Ledger Independent building downtown (completed in 2004). He began his career at the Ledger as a reporter in 1978.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Pulse: Photographs of Maysville

This week's Pulse comes from Tex69 at Tex's Luavull Cycling and his blog post is about a recent trip day trip he took to Maysville Kentucky from Louisville:
actually, i have a few pics from the day trip to Maysville, the wife's hometown. she hosted her mom's 60th bday party. her mom has always been supernice to me, so i'm very supportive. Maysville is town steeped in early American history as an early town on the Ohio, and one that contributed to westward expansion. it's also known as an important stop on the Underground Railroad. i took some pics of the older buildings in town.

One of the pictures is of the courtyard being remodeled behind the private residence / former restaurant The Bishop's Table. It's owned by Bruce Carlson of Carlson Software and his family. Part of the remodeling involved the relief carvings that you see in the photograph. That isn't poured concrete there. That was handcarved by a stone mason. I saw him working on it over the summer.

Read the full post

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Maysville & The God**** Hippies - Part IV

In 1968, Ed McClanahan returned to his hometown of Maysville Kentucky, two years after the great convergence at La Honda, California, and over a decade since he had left to begin with. He was still living in Palo Alto, and by then had become the quintessential hippy, more Californian than Kentuckian -- he had even lost his accent. But Kentucky was still in his blood. In his book, Famous People I have Known (1985), he wrote:
This stretch of Highway 52 winds along the north bank of the of the Ohio River for about twenty miles, from Ripley through Aberdeen to Manchester, and there was a time in my life when I knew it as well as I know the way to my own bathroom. At Aberdeen, there's a toll-free bridge across the Ohio to Maysville, Kentucky, the hometown of my high school and college years... and since Ohio permitted the sale of 3.2 beer to eighteen-year-olds, whereas in Maysville you couldn't darken a tavern door until you were twenty-one -- and then only until ten o'clock at night -- that bridge loomed as large as the Golden Gate in the landscape of my adolescence.

In a 2005 interview with the Kentucky Kernel, Ed McClanahan gave this account of his return to Maysville:

I had made a trip home to Kentucky ... and went in my hippie garb.

I was wearing my bellbottoms and a shirt with great big sleeves, and I had long hair and granny glasses and had grown a mustache. People would stare at you on the street if you turned up in Maysville in clothes like that, and people did. But I thought, 'Aww, I can handle this, you know. It's no big problem.'

I went to this place called Penington Club. And I was there drinking beer, and three big guys, young guys - much younger than I - immediately wanted to take me out, you know.

They said, 'God damn hippie from Cali ... Wella, wella, what are you anyway, you know? Are you some kind of freak, you know? What is this?'

I said, 'Well, let's talk about this a little bit.' I said, 'I bet I'm nearly twice as old as you are.'

They said, 'Aww, the hell you are.'

I said, 'Yeah, I am. I went to Maysville High School and graduated in '51.'

And one of these guys said, 'You're full of shit because you never went to Maysville High School in 1951 because my brother was in the class of 1951 at Maysville High School.'

And I said, 'Who ... what's your name?'

And he told me, and I said, 'Your brother was one of my best friends, you know.' And so it turned out we ended up drinking beer together for a couple of hours and having a good time.

And that was that. This little excursion to Maysville Kentucky had impressed McClanahan so much that when he returned to Palo Alto, he furiously scribbled the story A Misdemeanor Against Nature, based on this experience. That story was included in Famous People I Have Known, where he chronicled his humorous brushes with the who's-who of the famous. "Sigourney Weaver baby-sat my children," and so on.

A fitting end to the story of Maysville and the God**** Hippies is Ed McClanahan's own words wrapping up his journey from a small Kentucky town to the middle of the '60s counterculture revolution and back again... 

And not until years and years later, when I too had become a Kentuckian again, did it come to me that in the Penington Club that night, in my own small and, I trust, ineffectual way, I had aided and abetted a ravishing of innocence: the Californication of Kentucky.

This series was pieced together with much thanks to this article in the Kentucky Kernel, Wikipedia, and Google.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Maysville & The God**** Hippies - Part III

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
contemplating jazz

Excerpt from Howl (1955), Allen Ginsberg

When Ken Kesey moved to the little town of La Honda, California, the 250 people living there hardly knew what they were in for. Maysville Kentucky native Ed McClanahan followed as did many others from the bohemian scene at Palo Alto. Before long, all manner of beatniks and hippies had gathered there. According to McClanahan, the residents of La Honda "just didn't know what in the world they had coming down on themselves. They were scared to death."

Among the group were The Grateful Dead (still known as the Warlocks), fellow Kentuckian and Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Neal Cassady, and even the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang converged in La Honda. Within the larger group, a small clique of hippies known as the Band of Merry Pranksters formed, headed by Kesey. The Pranksters would head off periodically in a 1939 International Harvester bus, Day-Glo painted and named "Furthur", to "acid tests" around the country, preaching the hippy gospel and gathering followers.

McClanahan, however, stayed behind and didn't ride the bus into these forays. Later he expressed a little regret in not going, but at the time he had a wife and two children to think of. He said he knew that at some point the Band of Merry Pranksters was bound to get busted.

And busted they were.

Kesey had already been arrested twice before for marijuana possession, so his arrest in January 1966 carried an automatic three-year jail term. He ended up fleeing to Mexico with many of the other group members following. McClanahan, who wasn't arrested along with the others, stayed in La Honda before eventually returning to Palo Alto. "By that time Ken was in Mexico hiding out," McClanahan said. "And life in La Honda was not all that entertaining without him around."

Eventually, Ed McClanahan returned to Maysville Kentucky.

The story concludes in Part IV...

See also: Part II

Friday, November 17, 2006

Maysville & The God**** Hippies - Part II

After graduating from Maysville High School and attending several universities, Maysville Kentucky raised Ed McClanahan found himself in 1962 at a creative writing program at Stanford University. This is where the west coast half of the Beat Generation congregated. The counterculture literary movement, the Beat Generation, began with a close group of writers in New York City. Fueled by Jack Kerouac's On the Road, it eventually migrated to the campuses of California. By the time McClanahan reached Palo Alto, it was already in the midst of a revolution, and his home became ground zero.

All of the literary greats of the period passed through Stanford in the early 1960s, and many of them ended up at Perry Lane, the bohemian center of Palo Alto. McClanahan himself lived in a cottage on Perry Lane, and one of his neighbors was Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. McClanahan and Kesey spent much of their time hanging out in McClanahan's living room with other writers, swapping ideas of how to change the country. It was a quickly changing political climate in America at the time, and these changes were largely based on the writings of those who gathered regularly in McClanahan's bungalow.

"The whole area had a communal feel to it", McClanahan later said.

McClanahan wrote that at one of these gatherings, Kesey was passing around a book he had been working on, when all of the sudden Neal Cassady burst through his door. Those literary inclined will recognize the name. Cassady was the fast-talking, energetic icon of the Beat Movement that Jack Kerouac based his main character, Dean Moriarty, on in the novel On the Road.

According to McClanahan, Cassady came into the bungalow and pushed his way through the twenty-five or so people gathered, all the while saying, "... just passin' through, folks, don't mind me, my shed-yool just happened to coincide with Mr. Kesey's, here, just by coincidence you understand, always had the greatest respect for, yes, and all that redundancy as well, not to mention the works of, ah, Alfred Lord Tennyson, you see, and the worst of the poems of Schiller, huntin' and peckin' away there as they did, so I'll just say how-d'ya-do to my friend Mr. Kesey and then we'll be on our way, have to get there in plenty of time, you understand ..." If you've ever read On the Road, this is definitively Dean Moriarty.

A lot of strange notions hatched on Perry Lane with the group of literaries that gathered in Ed McClanahan's living room. These ideas changed the course of America in the coming years. McClanahan himself was a central figure in the group, another writer recalled. "So many lives have passed through him."

The story continues in Part III...

See also: Part I

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Maysville & The God**** Hippies - Part I

What does Maysville Kentucky have to do with One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest's author Ken Kesey, Beat writer Jack Kerouac and his book On the Road, Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, and the literary movement that sparked the counterculture explosion of the 1960s, giving rise to such terms as beatniks and hippies? In this four-part series, we'll show the role our little town had in the greatest literary revolution in American history -- the Beat Generation that changed the course of a nation. It all begins with one man... Edward McClanahan.

Ed McClanahan is an American novelist, essayist, and professor. He was born in Brooksville Kentucky in 1932 but moved to nearby Maysville Kentucky with his family in 1948 where he graduated from Maysville High School. Later, he attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and the University of Kentucky where he received his Masters in English (1958).

McClanahan spent time at several universities out west before returning to Kentucky to serve as professor at the University of Kentucky and Northern Kentucky University. On a sort of sabbatical from NKU (they were gracious enough to fire him for a brief period), McClanahan completed his most recognized novel The Natural Man. The Natual Man had its inception in 1961 and was finally published in 1983 to great acclaim. McClanahan has frequently thanked Northern Kentucky University for firing him as it allowed him the opportunity to finish the novel, which was completely rewritten from first to third person.

McClanahan has been a writer since the mid 1950s with short stories, essays, and reviews in such magazines as Esquire, Playboy, and Rolling Stone. In 1972 and 1974, he received Playboy's award for nonfiction.

McClanahan currently resides in Lexington, Kentucky.

The story continues in Part II...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Video File: Geography's Impact in Slavery Escapes


As part of KET's Underground Railroad - Passage to Freedom Documentary, filmakers examined the impact of Kentucky's geography and the Ohio River as "natural corridors" used by escaping slaves. This clip also covers the importance of Cincinnati as destination for escaping slaves.

Requires the free RealPlayer plugin available here. (If you don't see the video player above, download and install the plugin, then refresh this page.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Man Clubbed to Death in 1877

Clipping from the Cleveland Leader, April 16, 1877. Reads: "Louisville, KY., April 14 - A Maysville special to the Courier Journal states that Charles Ramsey, Thomas Harris and one Barkley have been arrested at Ripley Ohio, for murdering Chris. Howard, a Kentucky farmer, some time ago. The proof of their guilt is said to be very strong. Howard was clubbed to death."

Ouch.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Pulse: Scoot Right On Over Here

Like any rural town on a stretch of highway, Maysville Kentucky gets its share of motorcycle mobs, but did you know about the small groups of scooter enthusiasts that come through here as well? This week's Pulse comes from Scooter Dave at ScooterDave.com and his blog post is about a recent convoy of scooters, scootin' it here from Cincinnati [I just love saying scooter]:
It was in the 70’s today and many scooterists played hooky from work, I was able to stop by and snap a picture of them getting ready to take off on their 160+ mile ride to Maysville, KY. I met up with a few of them at a bar in Cincinnati. Damn working for da man, I missed one hellova ride. Ben will be posting pictures HERE. Even though I was not there, the Vulcans were represented thanks to Damien.

Read the full post / And lots of photos

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Simon Kenton's Corn Crop

In 1936, Edna Hunter Best, wrote an article titled Sketches of Washington for the 150th Anniversary of the Founding of the Town of Washington. In the article, she describes the circumstances leading up to the founding of Washington and what a prominent role it played in the history of Kentucky and the settlement of the Northwest.

From the article:

One of the prophets of old hath said, “Without vision the people perish.” Our early Kentucky pioneers were all men of vision, for without vision they could not have endured. Simon Kenton, dauntless pioneer that he was, had his imagination fired by tales of wonderful cane lands in Kentucky. The vision haunted him, but for long months he searched for it without success. In 1775, in the month of May, descending the Ohio river for the fifth time, he and his companion, Thomas Williams, landed at the mouth of Limestone Creek, now Maysville, pushed into the interior and found the most luxuriant cane brakes, far beyond Kenton’s expectation; the can was from 6 to 15 feet high, Simon Kenton and Thomas Williams cleared an acre of land in the center of the cane brake. The clearing was located on Lawrence Creek near a fine large spring, just 3 ½ miles from the site of Washington and a camp was erected here. Kenton planted corn, which he had brought with him, and raised the first crop of corn cultivated by white man north of the Kentucky River. Simon Kenton had taken “planting possession” of what was to be Mason County.

Planting possession was how early settlers claimed land. It wasn't enough to just plant a flag and call it yours. In order to earn a title on the land, you had to proved that you lived there. One of the ways people showed that they had settled a plot of land was to raise a crop of corn on it. The first corn crop could be used in a court as proof of residence. That's why Simon Kenton was eager to get started right away with his crop and carried corn with him on his expeditions.

Full Story

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Life As A River

I got a few compliments on the photo I posted of John Beatty's Navy yesterday. Some expressed their surprise as it didn't look like what they expected. Thanks for the compliments. To be honest I was a bit surprised too. When I do get a chance to go boating it's usually around Ripley, so I never saw it before going to take a picture of it. Going down there I expected to see just a bit of a pilot house (the tallest part) sticking out of the water, farther off shore.

I can completely understand why some people may want it removed. It's old and rusty and doesn't look like it belongs there -- your typical junkyard. That's all true. But I also believe that if you look at it in a certain way, it really is quite beautiful. Even without dressing up the photo, it looks like a forgotton grave marker, a symbol of finality, especially with the city behind it that may represent life and the continuation of things. The story itself is a story of the power of the Ohio River. We build dams to regulate the height of it. We build bridges over it. We build walls to change the shape of it. But sometimes the river just doesn't want to let go of some things.

Hmm... in fact, the picture coupled with the story represent Life as a River. I'm not the first to draw the metaphor that life is a river, but you can see it here very easily. You know countless little things are going on in the city in the distance, but the river brings it to a final point. Life is a process until death. It's been pointed before that you never actually see the same river twice. The water you saw a moment ago has already moved on. Likewise, life is continually unfolding. The product of life, like the river, is that at some point, it will draw you in to a final resting place. There's nothing you can do to avoid it, and all of mankind's inventions (engines and cranes, science and medicine) do little to prevent it. Sometimes the end is just a little spot off to the side of life where you're watching life go on in the distance.

OK, so I made all of that up. But it sure sounds good.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Exploring Maysville's Bermuda Triangle

 
The Ohio River has bested the Hercules, a once mighty barge with a crane that could lift sunken vessels.

Sapped of its strength, the Hercules rests at the bottom of the river, only its crane and two steel beams jutting above water near the shoreline.

Next to it, a towboat lies partially submerged, its pilothouse listing like a drunken sailor. And next to that, the rusting hull of an old Navy minesweeper breaks the river's surface like the belly of a dead whale.

Cincinnati Enquirer, 1998

The story of Maysville's Bermuda Triangle began around 1992 when a barge sank near the Kentucky shoreline in West Maysville Kentucky. A subsequent salvage operation in 1994 tried to raise the sunken barge with two Navy minesweepers. The minesweepers were the next victim as they became stuck in the mud. A towboat trying to free the minesweepers also fell victim when damage to its engines rendered it crippled.

Next came a salvage barge named "The Hercules". The Maysville Bermuda Triangle made short work of it as well. While hoisting the original barge, the crane aboard the Hercules broke as the barge reached the surface, and down it sank again. Then the Hercules itself sank, coming to rest on top of the barge it was supposed to save. Eventually the minesweepers and the towboat sank as well. The entire salvage operation nick-named John Beatty's Navy, after its owner, fell victim to what an Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson would later call, "'The Bermuda Triangle of the Ohio River". Full Story

Today, you can still see remnants of the wreckage peaking out of the Ohio River (see photo above). Some local residents have called it a junkyard and feel that it blights the shoreline. I completely disagree. It's actually quite a remarkable addition to Maysville, especially when coupled with the story behind the wreckage.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Happy Birthday To Us!

Hey, we almost forgot! Happy Birthday to the Maysville Kentucky Blog! We've been so busy developing new features behind the scenes (see: maysvillexplorer.com) that we forgot to wish ourselves Happy Birthday. It was actually November 6th, 2005, that we made our first post, but better late than never.

Since that first post, we've made great strides to bring the story of Maysville Kentucky to both Maysvillians and those elsewhere in the world. Just this week for example, we received this email from Sgt. Travis Welsh, a soldier stationed in Iraq:

I'm over here in Iraq and I had some down time so I was looking up Maysville on the net. I was just trying to get a taste of back home and stumbled onto your site. This is a great site, I had no idea anything like this even existed. I haven't got to look at the whole sight yet but, I've got nothing but time over here.

We've had many readers come through, some dropping comments on the blog, and other sending in emails, saying that they once lived in Maysville but live somewhere else now. For them, the Maysville Kentucky Blog brings back memories. Others who have never lived in Maysville but are planning a trip here comment that they now have a list of sights to see and things to do.

It helps that we're out there on the web actively shedding a spotlight on Maysville. In the past year we've been syndicated to some of the other sites in town (by the way, if you're a site owner and want to display a list of our articles, send me an email). We've also been syndicated to national news aggregation sites like Topix.net among others. We're everywhere! : ) Well, not really, but we are making the effort and you get the idea.

Now, here's the best part... it's all for you dear Reader! That's right, without readers like yourself, a blog is pretty pointless. So tell your friends, tell your neighbors, and let's have a party! We're one year old and it's time to celebrate... Whoo Hoo!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Results: David Cartmell - Mayor

Throughout the election, the Maysville Kentucky Blog has been very unbloglike in staying out of the political crossfire. Small town politics, you know how it is. But since all the votes are tallied, we can now report that David Cartmell will be returning as the mayor of Maysville. There's some other people who won in local elections as well, but the face of a city is always its Mayor.

Mayor Cartmell is a third generation mayor. His mother, Harriett Hord Cartmell, and grandmother, Rebekah Hord were also mayors of Maysville. "All through my younger years, I was always riding a fire truck, with my grandmother being mayor (and) my mother was always involved in public service projects," said Mr. Cartmell in an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1999 after his election the previous fall. According to Cartmell, his grandmother was instrumental in the efforts to build the floodwall. She served as mayor from 1950 to 1962.

So welcome back Cartmell! Here's the full article that tells the rather cool story of a family of Maysvillians for Maysville: Cincinnati Enquirer

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Floating Entertainment On The Waterfront

When the topic of riverboats on the Ohio River comes up, the discussion invariably comes around to riverboat gambling. Some people want it, some people hate it, but it always comes up. Still, even if the legislation were in place to allow riverboat gambling in Maysville Kentucky, I doubt we'd see a floating casino here anytime soon. More likely, we could get some floating restaurants, but there's headaches there as well.

You'd be surprised what a proper sternwheeler costs these days. Ever since I read Huckleberry Finn in high school, I've been in love with tall stacks. So every now and then I Google it up to see what they cost. On the low end, you can get a "cheap" knock-off for around a couple of hundred thousand dollars that might work well for a restaurant. But for the proper authentic sternwheeler straight out of a Mark Twain novel, appropriate for a high-class gambling establishment, it's going to cost you at least one million (and that's used). A casino could pay for itself quickly, but a restaurant might struggle to pay off the boat it's housed in.

Before you even get a boat and deck it out, I've learned, you have to check with the Army Corps of Engineers to see if Maysville's waterfront can support a permanent floating restaurant or casino. They're the guys in charge of making sure the Ohio River runs smoothly, maintaining the water locks and regulating river heights, and so on. It may seem as easy as just docking the boat, but when it's a permanent fixture, all manner of problems can arise. In 1999, for example, Caesars Indiana needed the Feds to dredge the Ohio River and free its stranded riverboat casino, after water levels on the Ohio River dropped from 11 feet to 9 feet. It's an amazing testament to the power of the Ohio River when an otherwise unnoticeable two feet drop caused the casino operation to close for several weeks, losing $500,000 a day while it was closed. Because of the complexity of keeping the river flowing, the Army Corps of Engineers only approves certain areas for permanent fixtures.

So that's what might be involved in bringing some floating entertainment to the Maysville Kentucky waterfront. One thing I haven't completely figured out is how to make my dream come true of turning an old unused barge into a floating apartment. Now that would definitely provide entertainment for anyone watching.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Pulse: Maysville Police Training

This week's Pulse comes from Misty at MySpace and her blog post is about a recent police training event at the Maysville Police Department:
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to cover this police training event. Basically, it's this program which simulates different scenarios where the officers have to respond, giving verbal commands to the person on this large screen, and an officer behind him controls the person on the screen by computer, making them respond according to how well he thinks the first guy is doing.

The weapons are the exact weapons officers use, only have lasers instead of bullets. (They also have the options of tasers and pepper spray during the training).

Leo McKay, of the Maysville Police Department, decided I should go first during the training thing to see what they would have to deal with. I think I may have impressed them with my shooting ability (I'm a pretty accurate shot). But I wasn't necessarily fast when it came to the moving targets. I had to take my time to line up the shot.

Read the full post

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sometimes

Old buildings hush me,
hold me still without time,
watching until I take them
back to wood and brick,
their limestone and clay
flying free in wind.

Sometimes I stand
like an empty room,
heavy in thought, hidden
as seeds of a core,
and I know the ache of mortar
holding brick together.

Sometimes - (cc) JF Gregoire

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Looking For Military Personnel From Maysville Area

The Ledger Independent has added a "Meet Our Armed Forces" section to its web site at www.maysville-online.com. Soldiers or their families can submit information for publication by clicking on the icon on the home page (top left hand corner). Presumably your submission will appear on their web site. But you never know, compelling stories may end up in print as well.

Since our stats show that quite a few of you arrive here from other countries, we figure you might be military and interested in getting your props

Friday, November 03, 2006

A First Hand Account of Maysville's Development

Yesterday we talked about the amazing transformation Maysville Kentucky went through between the years of 1821 and 1861, expanding in both population and development. One of our readers, Ken Downing, reminded us that we have a first person account of this time period from Caleb Atwater (See: The Writings of Caleb Atwater from our May 2006 Issue). Atwater wrote that in 1833 the population of Maysville was around 3,000 inhabitants. By 1847 Mason County as a whole had a population of over 15,000 people. That's a huge jump in fourteen years!

Caleb Atwater, by the way was born December 25, 1778 in North Adams, Massachusetts. He was an author and a politician and kept extensive notes during his travels. The Writings of Caleb Atwater, published in 1833, was his account of his travels through the State of Ohio. The full text of the book is available at this link.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Difference 40 Years Makes

Want to see the difference 40 years makes in the history of a town that happened to be in the right place, at the right time in history? Maysville Kentucky was once a boom town. That's right, Maysville used to be where it's at, the place to be if you wanted to be somebody, and it grew accordingly. Between the the years of 1821 and 1861 everyone flocked to the little town of Maysville Kentucky and had Rip Van Winkle fallen asleep here, he wouldn't have recognized the place when he woke up. Check out the two sketches below, dated 1821 and 1861.

The sketch above, dated 1821, shows a small town with dozens of small buildings packed into a carpet of trees. Notice that there are only a few roads, no houses creeping up the hill, and no tall buildings. Most noticeable is that there aren't any of the church steeples Maysville is famous for.

Flash forward forty years to this sketch, dated 1861. If you squint closely, you'll notice Maysville has at least tripled in size. Along the waterfront there's an almost floodwall of buildings, obviously taller than the short stacked buildings in the first sketch. The town has also filled out to the very edge of the crescent hillsides. And there, in the middle of the town, are two tall steeples, anchoring the burgeoning progress that surrounds them.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Original Hayswood Hospital

The site of the Hayswood Hospital has a rich history. Originally built in the 1800s as Hayswood Seminary, it was later taken over by May Peale Wilson who operated the Wilson Infirmary (see postcard above) there until her death in 1908. Construction began on the current building in 1915. The new hospital was re-named after the old Seminary. Additions were added in 1925 and 1971 and though some sources claim that the original structure was incorporated into the new building, others say it was demolished completely. Hayswood eventually closed in 1983 with the opening of Meadowview Regional Medical Center. The building has been abandoned ever since. In recent years, however, there has been talks of either tearing the place down or refurbishing it.