Sunday, February 28, 2021

New Providence Church

Personal photo

The McAfee party came into Kentucky in May of 1773. James, George and Robert McAfee, James McCoun, Jr. and Samuel Adams made up the group. They were from Sinking Creek in Bottetourt County in the then colony of Virginia. Reports from hunters and Indians about rich land in the Ohio Valley had encouraged these frontier people to seek new fortunes in a new land. Most in the party had received grants of 400 acres from the Govenor of Virginia for their part in the French and Indian War.

The McAfee party made the first surveys ever made on the Kentucky River including surveying the bottom on which Frankfort now stands. They had traveled down the Ohio River to the Kentucky River. From the Kentucky River they crossed over to the Salt River and on July 27th, 1773, they surveyed land for James McAfee, upon which the New Providence Church would first be built. They returned to Virginia and in 1775, returned to Kentucky to clear land and plant corn.

They returned with two other men and their names were David Adams and John Higgins. They cleared two acres of ground to raise corn, but Indian trouble kept them from planting. Others worked in the fall of 1775 and in the spring of 1776. However, Indian trouble and the Revolutionary War, or "resisting the invasion of the British" as some called it, delayed until the year 1779 their final return with their families. Like most frontier settlements, their early years were difficult. In July of 1782, another event took place that is often used in telling why the church was named "New Providence" and is told as follows:

"The inhabitants of James McAfee's station often joined in their work and aided each other incultivating their respective farms. One day, a large party, male and female, went down to the farm of James McCoun to pull flax. A party of eight or nine Indians saw them, but being afraid to attack them, made a blind of bushes, behind which they concealed themselves, intending to way-lay the company on their return to the station and massacre the whole. Having finished their work at an early hour, they were returning when one of their company proposed to go up the creek to get some plums which grew in abundance on it's banks, and thus returned home in safety."

Now in it's 229th year, New Providence has had a long and valuable ministry. It is the hope of it's present congregation that it will continue to be an Arm of the Kingdom of God so that in some future day this old church will still be preaching its ancient gospel to an even more modern age.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Graham Springs Sanitarium


Advertisement from 1936

My favorite advertisement for "Graham Springs" - 1936, after Dr. Ballard took charge of the sanitarium. You can really see the footprint of Haggin Hospital in this photo.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Welcome to Harrodsburg


Photo from Michael Murphy

Who remembers this sign from HWY 127, across the road from Dairy Queen? This was taken in the early 1960s and features Joan Murphy. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Benjamin Norfleet


Photo from Images of America: Harrodsburg

Mr. Benjamin Franklin Norfleet is shown standing inside the Norfleet Hardware & Implement Company on East Office Street in 1968.  This was one of the most unique hardware stores in central Kentucky.  He carried items dating back to when he started the business in 1934, in addition to also stocking modern items.  A trip to his store was like stepping back into another time.  There was a saying among his customers, “if you can’t find it at Norfleet’s, then it’s not available anywhere.”  

Advertisements from the 1940s list these items available:  a velocipede (an early type of bicycle), scooters, sleds, scout knives, boy’s wagons, ice cream freezers, pressure cookers, vases, Libby-Owens glassware sets, electric heaters, harnesses, lawnmowers, chinaware, scythes, wire fencing, and poultry supplies.  Norfleet continued to manage the business from his home after he retired, by receiving nightly reports on the day’s activities from his daughter.  In an interview in 1975, he said he was "continually amazed at the inflationary prices he had to cope with."

Friday, February 19, 2021

Neal Bowman Captured


Photo from the Courier-Journal, January 1934

Photography headline from the capture of Neal Bowman - eventually tried, convicted, and sentenced to death - for the murder of a 17 year old Mercer County man, Comer Franklin.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sophia Hardin Grimes

Photo from Images of America: Harrodsburg

This photograph shows Sophia Hardin Grimes with the second pipe organ installed in a Harrodsburg church (ca. 1901), at the First Presbyterian Church on South Main Street and later renamed Harrodsburg United Presbyterian Church.  “Miss Sophia,” as she was called, was born and educated in Harrodsburg at Daughter’s College and she was the daughter of Ben Lee and Sue Cardwell Hardin. She was married to John Haldon Grimes in Harrodsburg on December 24, 1895. An accomplished musician, she died on October 28, 1965, at the age of 91.

She was the church pianist and then organ player, from 1890 to 1960.  In a newspaper interview shortly before her death, she is quoted as saying, 

“I know that my musical ability is a gift from God and I have been happier giving it back to Him by playing for individuals, civic clubs and most of all for my church, than if I had gone on the concert stage and used it only to make money.”  

In her 70 years of playing, she missed fewer than a dozen Sundays of the 3,640 that she played.  Upon her retirement in 1960, stories of her unique record of service appeared in both the Presbyterian Survey and Presbyterian Life, official magazines of the area Presbytery. She also played the piano for the local Rotary Club for 34 years and taught music to succeeding generations of students for 50 years. Never selfish with her time and talents, she provided music on countless occasions for community affairs.

Mrs. Grimes was the mother of two daughters, Carolyn and Haldon, who have contributed to the community.  Carolyn succeeded her father and served for 25 years as Postmaster of Harrodsburg, as well as becoming an Elder and serving as President of the Women of the Presbyterian Church, President of the Harrodsburg Historical Society, and a leader in innumerable community-related projects. Haldon married Marine Col. George M. Chinn and saw her husband, after his retirement from active service, become Director of the Kentucky Historical Society, Director of the Kentucky Military Museum, and become an acknowledged author.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Two long searches over

SS James Harrod, 1943-1945

Photo from the SS John W. Brown Memorial

When I began researching James Harrod and Old Fort Harrod almost five years ago, in addition to finally being able to tell Harrodsburg's early history, I had two artifacts I was desperately looking for. As of yesterday, both have finally been found!

The first item I was searching for was a photo of the SS James Harrod, a World War II Liberty Ship built-in 1943. The SS James Harrod was 441 feet long and 56 feet wide and on January 16, 1945, collided with the SS Raymond B. Stevens and burned in the North Sea. According to a memorial in New Deal:

"It was in the early hours of the 16th of January 1945, that the SS James Harrod anchored up for an overnight stop in the waters of the English Channel. There was a very strong tide and the anchor could not hold the bottom, setting it on a collision course with the liberty ship SS Raymond B. Stevens. Both were carrying dangerous cargo for the war effort. The Harrod was carrying thousands of containers of fuel which ignited on impact killing four navy armed guards. The ship burned for a few days before it ran aground off Deal in Kent."

I finally was provided with the above photo of the SS James Harrod, courtesy of the SS John W. Brown Memorial, this summer.

Photo of Harrodsburg Herald article, January 30, 1968

The second item I was searching for was the James Harrod gavel, given to then Kentucky Speaker of the House Julian Carroll from then Kentucky Representative I. C. James. After a two year search, the gavel was returned to Harrodsburg yesterday, just in time for the Sestercentennial.
Photo by Donna Robinson Holiday

Senate Citation for the James Harrod gavel


Photo by Bobbi Dawn Rightmyer

On Tuesday, February 9, 2021, the above citation was entered into the Kentucky Senate Journals, returning the historic James Harrod gavel to Harrodsburg.  After 53 years of absence, the gavel is finally back in its hometown.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

James Harrod's Gavel

Photo by Donna Robinson Holiday

The original gavel used by frontiersman James Harrod at Old Fort Harrod in Harrodsburg, the oldest English settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains.

Photo by Donna Robinson Holiday

Photo by Donna Robinson Holiday

 Photo by Donna Robinson Holiday

Photo by Donna Robinson Holiday

Photo by Donna Robinson Holiday

Monday, February 8, 2021

James Harrod Gavel

Article from The Harrodsburg Herald
January 30, 1968

The original gavel, used by James Harrod at Old Fort Harrod, has been located and is being returned to Harrodsburg. This is just in time for Harrodsburg's Sestercentennial in 2024.

The gavel was used in the James Harrod blockhouse for deciding/issuing land warrants for militia members, ruling court cases (before courthouse moved to Danville), and selling things at auction.

At this time, a finally destination and display site for the gavel ha s not been decided. I will keep you updated and I will have photographs of the gavel to post on Wednesday morning.

Maria Thompson Daviess

Maria Thompson Daviess
Photo from the Kentucky Historical Society

Born in 1820, Maria Thompson Daviess grew up in a socially prominent family with all the advantages of her generation. In 1839, she married W. H. Daviess. Her formal education was slight but she read avidly and early displayed a talent for writing. In the 1880s she undertook a series of "Recollections" for the local paper. These were later published as The History of Mercer and Boyle Counties, a very thorough and complete work.

Personal photo

Harrodsburg Opera House

  This is a photo we had never seen and Belinda S Kurtz shared this from another group. “Wasn’t Bob Martin that used to run the radio statio...