Beckham’s Counties, pt. 6: Beard’s Bill

A seven part essay about three efforts to name a county after Kentucky’s 35th Governor.

The old Ohio County courthouse in Hartford. Fordsville wanted a courthouse of their own. Courtesy Keith Vincent at courthousehistory.com.

Halfway across the state, on December 29th, 1905, citizens in the town of Fordsville decided not only to take the general idea of a new county from the failed experiment of Beckham but to repurpose its name, as well. 

A survey for their new county was commissioned and Ohio County Representative Charles Beard had been converted to the cause.

The Hartford Republican further stated that “Gov. Beckham is very much in favor of the scheme because he wants a county named for him and he thinks he sees three more votes for himself in his race for United States Senator two years hence.”

Much more critically, the Mayfield Monitor wrote that it was an effort to “perpetuate the memory of the first Governor of Kentucky who used his pardoning and appointing power to increase his personal influence with corrupt politicians in order that he might defeat the will of the people and gratify his own ambition.”

However, as was the case in Olive Hill, the movement for the new county clearly predated Beckham’s ascension to the Governor’s Mansion.

In November 1893, The Breckenridge News printed that a petition for the creation of a new county from parts of Ohio, Daviess, Grayson, Breckenridge and Butler counties, with Fordsville as its seat, was to be presented to the General Assembly. 

Talk of the new county picked up energy in December 1895. The next month, The Courier-Journal said “petitions have been signed by a majority of the voters in the respective areas to be formed into the new county.” Fordsville’s new county would lean Republican.

One year later, in 1897, the Owensboro Daily Inquirer printed a fairly negative article on the effort to create a new county around Fordsville. The points it made against the idea could have been quite fairly used against the effort in Olive Hill, as well.

Referring to the average citizen in the areas affected, Inquirer editor W.Q. Adams wrote that:

Most of the people there are poor, and while they are remote from their court houses they have little or no business there and hope for less. The building of a new courthouse and jail and other necessary improvements would cost them a great deal of money and many of them say the benefits would not at all compensate them for the outlay. Many of them do not go to their county seats once in five years, and great numbers of them can be found who have reached middle age and who have never been there on legal business.

Almost ten years later, on February 9th, 1906, Republican Representative Charles Beard introduced a bill into the House for the creation of another Beckham County based around Fordsville.

The sense of deja vu in regards to the name of the county appears to have confused even one newspaper.

The Breckenridge News, whose editor obviously should have known better, mistakenly reported:

A similar bill became a law last session, but on account of an error in fixing its boundaries it was declared unconstitutional. In fact, it is said that the boundary lines fixed in the bill would extend the county into the State of Indiana.

The House Committee on Kentucky Statues agreed to hold a hearing for the Beard’s Beckham County Bill on February 17th. Delegates for and against the idea rushed to Frankfort from the Fordsville area to make their case.

The pro-Beckham County faction, led by Hardinsburg attorney Claude Mercer and former Ohio County attorney W.H. Barnes, presented a survey of their ordering along with a 2,000 name strong petition for the county’s creation.

Opponents, including Senator W.W. Tabb, Senator Richard Owen, and Representative George Litsey also spoke.

Tabb, whose effigy would be burned in 1908 in Hardin County for voting for J.C.W. Beckham for United States Senate, insisted the counties this new Beckham County was to be taken from were pauper counties and that Beckham County would become one, too.

H.P. Taylor, Vice President of the Bank of Hartford was another figure against the proposal. He told the Statutes Committee that he had not known “how the county was to be formed to be formed until he came to Frankfort and saw the map.”

Tensions were so high during that committee meeting that when the opposition requested permission to take a look at the signatures on the petition, Representative Beard insisted they could only if they examined it right in front of him.

At the following meeting of the Kentucky Statutes Committee on February 20th, the anti-Beckham County faction, led by Senator Owen, H.P. Taylor, and former Butler County senator Nat T. Howard showed up with a survey of their own.

As the The Courier-Journal said, “they came loaded with maps, affidavits and remonstrance.”

Taylor and his associates tried to show that the proposed new county would cut off six miles from Daviess County, run too close to the Ohio County seat of Hartford, and be less than the constitutionally required 400 square miles in size.

They further alleged, with affidavits sworn, that half the names of the petition the pro-Beckham force had previously presented had been falsified.

W.H. Barnes, who was for the creation of Beckham County, said that H.P. Taylor was only against the bill because he was an attorney for the Illinois Central Railroad, and would lose jurisdiction over part of Ohio County if it was made.

The Courier-Journal reports a rather testy exchange between ex-County Attorney Barnes and ex-Senator Howard:

“I have no interest in this bill,” said Mr. Barnes, “because I am not a County Judge, County Attorney, or anything else. I am only plain Mr. Barnes.”

“Your interest in the bill is the hope that you will be made the County Attorney of the new county,” said Mr. Howard.

“And your interest is in keeping your district from becoming Democratic,” responded Mr. Barnes to Mr. Howard.

Meanwhile, another bill for the creation of Thorne County near the Tennessee border was proposed by Representatives Richard Rose and Mike Freeman. It was not expected to pass.

Concerning Fordsville, after arguments for and against the creation of this new Beckham County, a vote was taken on the bill by the Kentucky Statutes Committee.

It was evenly split, with Representatives Claybrooke, McKnight, Litsey and Morris against it, and Redwine, McLean, Dawson and Rose for it. The next morning, on the 21st, McLean and Redwine switched sides.

The following day, the Owensboro Daily Inquirer reported that the Kentucky Statutes Committee had decided “to postpone action upon it indefinitely.” The bill would advance no further.

It is unclear how Senator W.B. Whitt felt about the effort to repurpose the name Beckham County for the Fordsville area. What is clear is that he had not quite given up trying to get Olive Hill’s version of a Beckham County created. Perhaps the competition spurred him onwards.

On March 13th, 1906, The Courier-Journal reported that early in the session Senator Whitt had introduced yet another bill pertaining to his Beckham County.

This bill sought to circumvent the size requirement by giving enough of Carter County to Lewis County that if a new county was made from both of them all three would have enough square mileage to be considered constitutional.

A separate bill served as a potential backup plan. It would allow towns of considerable size further than ten miles from the county seat to serve on a sort of rotating courthouse circuit, forcing the original county seat to share the honors.

It seems Whitt would have settled for the second bill if he couldn’t have gotten the first, such was the desire for Olive Hill to be out from under the thumb Grayson. Apparently, they would have preferred sharing power with Vanceburg instead.

The courthouse bill was reported to have intrigued Representative Beard as a potential fix for his problem in Fordsville. However, even though Whitt’s bill passed the House of Representatives on March 12th, it seems to have gone no further.

From 1872 to 1904 there had been at least three bills introduced in the General Assembly to make Olive Hill the seat of a new county from the western portion of Carter County, not to mention countless more resolutions, petitions, and entreaties. 

However, all those decades of political maneuvering came to naught. Olive Hill is still part of Carter County. Expanding further, there is not a Beckham County in the state of Kentucky today.

But there is one in Oklahoma.

*

Sources


Fordsville citizens commission survey. Smith, C.E., ed. “A New County: Plans on Foot To Form Another Beckham County.” The Hartford Republican (Hartford, Kentucky), December 29, 1905. Page 1. Accessed May 18, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7g1j977n6c_1.

Mayfield Monitor criticizes idea. “Political Serfdom.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), January 06, 1906. Page 4. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376071795/. Behind paywall. Quoting the Mayfield Monitor.

1893 petition. Babbage, John D., and V.G. Babbage, eds. “Want a New County.” The Breckenridge News (Cloverport, Kentucky), November 01, 1893. Page 1. Accessed May 18, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt705q4rkr9q_1?

1895 new county idea. Casey, A.J., and George E. Bridges, eds. “That New County.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), December 06, 1895. Page 4. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375245008/. Behind paywall.

1896 petition. “Those interested in forming the new county . . .” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), January 30, 1896. Page 4. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/32476322/. Behind paywall.

1897 Owensboro Daily Inquirer critique. Adams, W.Q., ed. “A New County: An Effort Being Made To Establish One Around Fordsville.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), November 17, 1897. Page 1. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375204567. Behind paywall.

Breckenridge News gets the details wrong. Babbage, John D., and V.G. Babbage, eds. “At Last Introduced: Bill Creating Beckham County Has Found Its Way Into The House.” The Breckenridge News (Cloverport, Kentucky), February 14, 1906. Page 1. Accessed May 18, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7r7s7hrv1d_1.

Delegates rushing to Frankfort. “Farmers in Evidence.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 16, 1906. Page 6. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119147856. Behind paywall.

Claude Mercer. “Claude Mercer Succumbs; Was Prominent Lawyer.” St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida), September 30, 1945. Page 2. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/314850550. Behind paywall.

W.H. Barnes. Matthews, Heber, ed. “Democratic Officials – Took Office Last Monday.” The Hartford Herald (Hartford, Kentucky), January 08, 1902. Page 2. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/186557229. Behind paywall.

Pro-Beckham County faction presents survey and petition. “Beckham County Bill.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 17, 1906. Page 6. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119147905/. Behind paywall.

Senator Tabb effigy burned. Frost, Stanley, ed. “Burned in Effigy.” The Citizen (Berea, Kentucky), January 23, 1908. Page 7. Accessed May 18, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7xsj19mt0h_7.

H.P. Taylor, Vice President of the Bank of Hartford. Bank of Hartford Ad. The Ohio County News (Hartford, Kentucky), April 11, 1906. Page 3. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/215002619/. Behind paywall.

Nat. T. Howard. “For State Senator: The Hon. Avlis Bennett Wants To Succeed Capt. Nat Howard.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), November 23, 1902, sec. 3. Page 1. Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/118923648/. Behind paywall.

Anti-Beckham County faction survey. “Battle Royale Between Third and Fourth Districts Over Butler.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 21, 1906. Page 2. Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119148263/. Behind paywall.

Allege the pro survey was falsified. “Six Miles of Daviess County Would Be Cut Off For Beckham County.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 21, 1906. Page 1. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376078756/. Behind paywall.

Barnes and Howard exchange / Another Thorne County bill. “Battle Royale Between Third and Fourth Districts Over Butler.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 21, 1906. Page 2. Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119148263/. Behind paywall.

Committee vote. “Knockout For Beckham County.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 22, 1906. Page 1. Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376078914/. Behind paywall.

Beckham County bill postponed. Adams, W.Q., ed. “Beckham County Put To Sleep.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 22, 1906. Page 1. Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375327793/. Behind paywall.

W.B. Whitt’s courthouse bill. Platt, Brainard. “Clears Way: House Passes Bill Making Beckham County Possible.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 13, 1906. Page 4. Accessed May 27, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119149765/. Behind paywall.

Beckham’s Counties, pt. 5: Zimmerman v. Brooks

A seven part essay about three efforts to name a county of Kentucky’s 35th Governor.

Beckham County’s boundaries. The Courier-Journal, April 3, 1904, section 1, page 4.

Greater politics aside, the citizens of the newly made county went ahead with their lives. The first marriage license in Beckham County was issued to John Plummer and Oda Phillips on March 17th, 1904. (There would be twenty three more licenses issued.)

Meanwhile, the confusion the Post Office was having with where to locate Beckham County on its maps went from comical to potentially rather serious. As the Courier-Journal explained:

. . . it was discovered that the line described in the act creating Beckham county runs entirely across Lewis county to the Ohio river, near Romeo, and extends into Adams county, Ohio, about six or seven miles . . . In area the lines as shown by the act take almost one-half of Lewis county, including Vanceburg, which is the county seat.

Initially, it was believed that a great error had been made in transferring the findings of the survey from the initial draft for the county into the official act for the legislature. Subsequent evidence showed that the draft had been flawed from the start. 

Either way, it was an absolute mess. Naturally, Republican newspapers ate it up.

The Owensboro Daily Inquirer wrote, “Lewis County Gives Up Court House to New Fake County.” The Paducah News-Democrat deadpanned, “Ohio declines to be annexed to any portion of the sovereign state of Kentucky – not even for pauper county purposes.” 

Maysville’s Public Ledger, which was close enough in location and far enough in politics to gloat, put forth, “Not much wonder that the topographer’s had trouble in locating Beckham County when several miles of it was over in Adams county, O.”

In related news, the Kentucky Court of Appeals set the date of its hearing for the lawsuit of C.V. Zimmerman against C.C. Brooks, which had now grown to include the county governments of neighboring Carter and Lewis. Arguments were set for April 14th and 15th.

With the complications facing Beckham County no doubt in mind, as well as the fact that Thorne County would lean heavily Republican in demographics, on March 24th, Governor Beckham decided to veto the bill for the county named after Lieutenant Governor Thorne. 

Beckham wrote, in perhaps some irony, “There has been no serious demand upon the part of any people affected by this bill for the creation of a new county . . . and there is certainly no public necessity to justify it.”

Two days later, The Courier-Journal considered that in the scenario where Thorne had been governor and Beckham lieutenant governor, Thorne probably would’ve vetoed Beckham County, as well.

(Coincidentally, in June of 1899, during the lead up to the governor’s race that eventually ended in William Goebel’s assassination, Beckham had won the nomination for lieutenant governor over Thorne.)

On April 2nd, in what might have been desperation, or perhaps denial, Democrats in Beckham County met to prepare a petition for Olive Hill to be chosen as seat for the next state Democratic congressional convention.

Before the Court Of Appeals hearing, William C. Halbert, who along with R.C. Burns represented Carter and Lewis Counties in Zimmerman vs. Brooks, prepared an 82-page brief, or so bragged Public Ledger‘s editor Thomas A. Davis, whose printing house printed it for him.

Included within was yet another survey that Lewis and Carter had ordered. It confirmed the initial survey had been incredibly flawed, and that it had taken more from Lewis County than had been planned, including Vanceburg.

“Armed with his facts and figures”, as the Public Ledger described it, Halbert left for Frankfort on the eve of the first hearing, “prepared to knock the so-called new county out in the first round.”

The trial that would decide whether Beckham County would be allowed to exist or not began.

On April 14th, H.C. Brown, who represented County Judge C.C. Brooks, and Grayson attorney T.D. Theobold, who represented C.V. Zimmerman, presented their arguments.

The opening day’s chief concern was whether or not the creation of Beckham County had left Carter, Elliott and Lewis Counties with less than four hundred square miles of land, as required by law. The taking of Vanceburg was reserved for the 15th.

Beckham County’s defense hinged on the notion that whether or not the county met minimal size requirements, or was even improperly surveyed, the right of the legislative branch to create it outweighed the ability of the judicial branch to rule against it.

In the end, even though the Court decided that mistakes made in the survey should not affect whether the county was constitutional because “taking the act as a whole, there seems to be enough in it to show what was meant”, they decided against Beckham County.

The primary factor seems to have been that of size. Namely, the creation of Beckham County had left Carter, Lewis and Elliott Counties smaller than was allowable by the Kentucky Constitution.

The Court of Appeals thusly reversed the Circuit Court’s decision against Zimmerman and further held the lower court had erred in not allowing Carter County to join in on the initial lawsuit.

Judge J.P. Hobson, who, ironically, in 1900 had written the opinion approving the legality of J.C.W. Beckham’s governorship, now presented the Court’s opinion disapproving the county named after him.

Hobson outlined requirements for the county, or any new county, for that matter, to be considered constitutional:

First – No county from which any part of the territory is taken must be reduced to less than 400 square miles.

Second – The new county must be of not less than 400 square miles.

Third – The boundary line must not pass within less than ten miles of county seat of any county from which a portion of territory is taken.

Fourth – No county from which any part of territory is taken shall be reduced to less than 12,000 inhabitants.

Fifth – New county must contain 12,000 inhabitants.

Judge Hobson concluded, “If any of these conditions are wanting, the act is in violation of the constitution and void.” Specifically, in the initial establishment of Beckham County, Sections 63 and 64 of the state Constitution had been ignored.

As Thomas A. Davis, the editor of Public Ledger put it, “the new county therefore seems to be doomed.”

Technically, however, the decision did not close the matter at once. It meant a new trial in the lower courts would reconsider the issue with the condition that the constitutional requirements of the county be kept in mind.

Yet, for all intents and purposes, and even more so after the Court of Appeals decided not to rehear the case, Beckham County was dealt a terrible blow.

If the opposition to the county’s creation was joyous (“Let this be an end to this kind of nonsense.” – The Owensboro Messenger), then those who had fought so hard for Beckham’s existence were devastated. 

As the much more sympathetic Mt. Sterling Advocate put it, “Great will be the disappointment of many people in Olive Hill and other parts of the new county.”

On May 11th, the Advocate printed an item that illustrates just how small a town Olive Hill was, and just how interlocking its interests were. The Olive Hill Bank, of which W.B. Whitt had been president and C.V. Zimmerman had been assistant cashier, went national.

That same article insisted “Beckham County is a lively corpse.” Supporters believed that the facts of the county’s size and population were in line with the Constitution, and thought that the Circuit Court, upon reconsideration, would have to approve its legality.

In the meantime, the county appears to have existed in a state of limbo. Marriage licenses were issued from Beckham County over the summer but, in late May, school superintendent J.A. Porter surrendered his census of students to Carter County’s superintendent.

The next month, Circuit Court Judge Kinner ordered yet another survey of the area. In perhaps a move for neutrality, George Gibbs of Greenup County was put in charge of said survey. It was expected to take sixty days.

The Mt. Sterling Advocate reported that “the outlook for Beckham County is encouraging.” That, as it turned out, was wildly optimistic.

Once finished, George Gibb’s survey proved once and for all that Beckham County cut Carter and Lewis Counties square mileage into unconstitutional portions. In late October, Circuit Court Judge Kinner had no choice but to reverse his earlier opinion. 

Beckham County was no more.

However, as late as November 24th, 1904, there was land listed in The Courier-Journal for sale in Beckham County. On December 15th, Olive Hill attorney William Wood was apparently telling reporters in Lexington another attempt at Beckham County would be made.

The legal dissolution of Beckham County must have been a dispiriting turn of events for Senator W.B. Whitt. He had been sent to Frankfort upon that single issue and had successfully shepherded its birth only for it be undone by the courts.

Of course, Beckham County’s creation was not all that he had focused on while in the Senate: he had proposed an 8 hour work day, introduced a bill to protect labor from conspiracy laws and promoted much needed roadway restoration.

But there was also no denying that Beckham County was meant to have been his chief concern.

In 1905, the idea of somehow restoring the county that had been lost must have taken a backseat for the senator. Early that year, Whitt, along with the rest of the General Assembly, became embroiled in debate about the establishment of a new capitol building.

In June, typhoid fever took his wife.

When the idea of a Beckham County was next floated, it would be neither by Senator Whitt nor on behalf of Olive Hill.

*

Sources

Plummer and Phillips marriage license. “Beckham County Couple.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 20, 1904. Page 9. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119293693/. Behind paywall.

Beckham County marriages. Barker, Charles A. “Beckham County, Kentucky Marriages.” KYGenWeb. Accessed May 27, 2019. http://kykinfolk.com/elliott/beckmarr.htm

Beckham County survey incorrect. “Wiped Out: Seems To Be The Condition of Lewis County.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 20, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119293545/. Behind paywall.

Survey error result of transfer? Adams, W.Q., ed. “No County Seat: Lewis County Gives Up Court House To New Fake County.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), March 20, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375362992/. Behind paywall.

Survey flawed from start. “Enrolled Bill Found To Be True Copy Of Original Bill.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 22, 1904. Page 5. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119294696/. Behind paywall.

“New Fake County”  see above, Adams, W.Q., ed. “No County Seat: Lewis County Gives Up Court House To New Fake County.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), March 20, 1904.

Ohio “declines to be annexed” “The sovereign state of Ohio declines to be annexed . . .” The Daily News-Democrat (Paducah, Kentucky), March 23, 1904. Page 4. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/501602219/. Behind paywall.

Public Ledger mocks survey mix-up. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Not Much Wonder That the Topgrapher’s Had Trouble in Locating . . .” The Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), March 24, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359340/. Behind paywall.

Carter and Lewis Counties join suit. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Found It At Last! Beckham County Takes In A Part Of Ohio!” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), March 21, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359326. Behind paywall.

Court of Appeals sets date for Zimmerman case. “The April Term of Court of Appeals.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 24, 1904. Accessed May 10, 2019. Page 2. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119295134/. Behind paywall.

Thorne County would have been Republican. Burgher, J.E., ed. “County of Thorne.” The Clay City Times (Clay City, Kentucky), March 17, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 10, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7d7w674n2v_2.

Governor Beckham vetoes Thorne County. “Vetoed Are Eight More Acts By Gov. Beckham.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 25, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119295344/. Behind paywall.

If Thorne and Beckham had been switched. “It is possible that if Lieut. Gov. Thorne had been Governor . . .” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 26, 1904. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119295734/. Behind paywall.

Beckham beats Thorne for Lt. Gov. nomination. “Other Races Will Be Settled To-Day.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), June 28, 1899. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/30725941/. Behind paywall.

Beckham County Democrats petition for convention seat. “Beckham County Democrats Organize By Electing County and Precinct Chairman.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), April 03, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119298268/. Behind paywall.

Halbert’s brief. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “The Davis Printing House, an adjunct of THE LEDGER . . .” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), April 12, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 11, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/64272318/. Behind paywall.

Lewis and Carter Counties survey. Adams, W.Q., ed. “Survey Was Wrong: Beckham County Includes Vanceburg Within Its Bounds.” Owensboro Weekly Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), April 12, 1904. Page 5. Accessed May 11, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375365275/. Behind paywall.

Halbert heads to Frankfort. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Resurvey Completed: Officials of Lewis and Carter Look Up Beckham County.” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), April 13, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 11, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359412/. Behind paywall.

Brown represents Brooks, Theobold represents Zimmerman. “Arguing the Constitutionality of the County of Beckham.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), April 15, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119302362/. Behind paywall.

Beckham County’s defense. “Invalid the Court of Appeals Decides.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), May 11, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 12, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7qz60bx446_1.

Court forgives survey errors. Zimmerman v. Brooks.” The Kentucky Law Reporter. Vol. XXV – Part II. February 1, 1904 to June 15, 1904, Inclusive. Frankfort, KY: Geo. A Lewis, 1904. Pages 2284-2292.

Court rules against Beckham County. Fisher, Frank M., ed. “Beckham County Gets Black Eye.” The Paducah Sun (Paducah, Kentucky), April 30, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 12, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt75dv1ckz3w_2.

Hobson’s opinion in Beckham-Taylor Governor fight. “The Latest.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), April 07, 1900. Page 1. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/30943292/. Behind paywall.

Requirements for new counties. “Law Cited: Appellate Court Acts In Beckham County Case.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), April 30, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376080086/. Behind paywall.

Beckham County doomed. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Court of Appeals Declares That Beckham County Is Of Unconstitutional Birth.” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), April 30, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359475/. Behind paywall.

New trial in lower courts. Rosser, and McCarthy, eds. “Beckham County: The Court of Appeals Sweeps It From the Map.” The Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky), April 30, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/71207733. Behind paywall.

Court of Appeals will not re-hear case. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Case Knocked Out: Court of Appeals Declines To Rehear Beckham County Suit.” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), May 13, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359525/. Behind paywall.

“Let this be an end to this kind of nonsense.” “The governor vetoed the Thorne county bill . . .” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), May 01, 1904. Page 4. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376080263. Behind paywall.

Disappointment in Olive Hill. “Formation of Beckham County Unconstitutional.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), May 04, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 12, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7wwp9t305q_3?

Olive Hill Bank goes national. “Olive Hill.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), May 11, 1904. Page 7. Accessed May 13, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7qz60bx446_7.

Beckham County superintendent surrenders school census. “Beckham County Official Surrenders His Books.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), May 22, 1904. Page 5. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119313510/. Behind paywall.

Judge Kinner orders another survey. “Olive Hill.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), June 22, 1904. Page 6. Accessed May 13, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7m639k4w0w_6.

George Gibbs, surveyor. Adams, W.Q., ed. “Will Survey Beckham County.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), July 15, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375158919/. Behind paywall.

Mt. Sterling Advocate optimistic outlook. “Olive Hill.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), July 27, 1904. Page 6. Accessed May 13, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt74qr4nmb3h_6.

Judge Kinner decides against Beckham County. Davis, Thomas A. “Contrary To Law: Beckham County Again Declared Unconstitutional in Court.” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), October 22, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68360271. Behind paywall.

Land still listed for sale in November. “For Sale – By Columbia Finance and Trust Co.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), November 24, 1904. Page 7. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119370521/. Behind paywall.

Attorney Wood tells Lexingtonians Beckham County not yet dead.  “Still After Beckham County.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), December 17, 1904. Page 5. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376115440/. Behind paywall.

Senator Whitt, 8-hour day. “In the Senate: Three New Committees Created By Committee On Rules.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), January 15, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119273912/. Behind paywall.

Senator Whitt, pro-labor bill. “No Right of Injunction.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 07, 1904. Page 11. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119280430/. Behind paywall.

Senator Whitt, roads. “Proceedings in the Senate: Senate Whitt’s Resolution Laid Over – Other Measures.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 13, 1904. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376112848/. Behind paywall.

New State Capitol Building. Fisher, Frank M. “Legislators Want To Move Capitol.” The Paducah Sun (Paducah, Kentucky), January 18, 1905. Page 3. Accessed May 13, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt776h4cpv9x_3.

Typhoid fever kills Mrs. Whitt. Hedden, J.W., and B.W. Trimble, eds. “Deaths.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), June 21, 1905. Page 7. Accessed May 13, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt78gt5fck6m_7.

Beckham’s Counties, pt. 4: New County Fever

A seven part essay about three efforts to name a county after Kentucky’s 35th Governor.

Olive Hill Bank. The Courier-Journal, February 14, 1904, section 4, page 3.

The governor had the honor (and power) of appointing Beckham County’s first county officials, who were to hold office until the following fall’s election. As was to be expected, they were mostly Democrats.

J.W. Lusby, who had much to promote Beckham County in print, was made County Attorney. This was convenient in more than one sense for Lusby had ceased to edit The Herald after it merged with the Carter County Bugle at the turn of the year.

Many responsibilities had to be transferred between the surrounding counties that had lost parts of their domain to Beckham County, including twenty-nine post offices.

Campaign promises fulfilled, W.B. Whitt returned to Olive Hill to be greeted with a hero’s welcome. There was a brass band, a cannon salute, and several back-patting speeches.

The Courier-Journal, in an enthusiastically promotional profile, stated that Olive Hill had lost just one citizen since Beckham County was formed. Apparently, the sheriff of Carter County, George Jacobs, had moved east in order to keep his job.

Back in Frankfort, Whitt introduced a bill for the county to be assigned to the appropriate legislative and judicial districts. Another politician elected on the Beckham County ballot, V.B. King, happened to be on the House’s Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Committee.

Opposition continued to be bold, if temporarily toothless. The Louisville Evening Post called Beckham County a “political monstrosity” and the Paducah Register referred to the means of its creation as a “fool legislature bill”.

There were reservations even from some Democrats.

Congressman James N. Kehoe, future president of the Bank of Maysville, fought (and failed) to keep Beckham County out of his 9th District. This was because he knew that after the new county’s appointed officials were replaced through election, it would be by Republicans.

Meanwhile, far on the other side of the state, in Fordsville, near Owensboro, there was talk of seceding from Ohio County and taking some of Hancock, Daviess, Grayson and Breckenridge with them.

Another bill was proposed in order to create a Thorne County out of parts of Pulaski, Wayne and Whitley Counties. Olive Hill might have been spared the indignity of a name change, but the prospect naming something after William P. Thorne remained.

Senator J. Campbell Cantrill, Republican from Georgetown, introduced the Thorne bill on February 19th. It was subsequently referred to the senate committee on rules. Days later, in a near unanimous vote, the senate passed it.

But trouble was brewing for Beckham County. On March 3rd, the Courier-Journal reported that the “Typographer’s Bureau of the Post-office department” didn’t know just where to place the new county on its map.

That same day, C.V. Zimmerman, the assistant cashier at the Olive Hill Bank, sued over Beckham County’s very existence.

Zimmerman, facing a seventy-five dollar fine from the county court, did not believe the new county was constitutional or that he should be subject to its oversight. He sought an injunction to prevent Beckham County Judge C.C. Brooks from acting in that capacity.

The case was sent to the Court of Appeals after Circuit Court Judge S.G. Kinner sided with Beckham County. Carter County officials, who had attempted to become party to the suit with Zimmerman but had been denied by Kinner, likewise appealed.

It appeared the fate of the new county would be decided from the same locale in which it had been conceived.

On the 11th, the Republican State Central Committee decided not to allow Beckham County to have delegates at the state convention that year since no votes had ever technically been taken there.

Chairman C.M. Barnett, who for unrelated reasons would retire from that position in May, further stated that they held “the act creating the county unconstitutional.” Both the decision and the sentiment greatly upset Republicans in Beckham. 

They called together a mini-convention of their own and wound up sending C.B. Waring and W.J. Rice to Louisville to beseech the State Central Committee for representation. The request was denied. The committee elected to wait until Zimmerman v. Brooks was settled.

As for Thorne County, the House did not take the bill for its establishment as smoothly as had the senate. In early March, they adopted a resolution to advance no bills within four days of the session’s end. Lt. Gov. Thorne reportedly took this as an attempt to stall the bill indefinitely.

But that particular paranoia was unfounded. On March 14th, the Kentucky House of Representatives passed two bills indicative of the times. One was to erect a monument to the memory of William Goebel and the other was to create the new county of Thorne.

*

Sources

Governor appoints county officials. “Officers Appointed For Beckham County.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 12, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119281947/. Behind paywall.

Lusby quits The Herald. Lusby, J.W., ed. “Three Years Ago the 13 of Last October the First Issue of the Herald.” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), December 25, 1903. On microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

29 Post Offices in Beckham County. Rennick, Robert M. “The Post Offices of Beckham County, Kentucky.” La Posta: A Journal of American Postal History, July 1988, 33-42. Available at Special Collections Research Center in Margaret I. King Library (University of Kentucky). Great, expansive article focused on post offices but also one of the better Beckham County histories.

Sheriff George Jacobs. Lowe, Sherry. “Carter County Elected Officials.” Carter County, Kentucky Genealogy & History Research Website. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://kycarter.com/main_links/officials.html. Jacobs’ identity, although not his address, further confirmed through newspaper reports.

Sheriff Jacobs moves East. Johnson, Lewis Y. “Beckham County, The New Baby of Kentucky’s Family of Counties.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 14, 1904, sec. 4. Page 3. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119283002/. Behind paywall.

Bill for Beckham’s districts. Menefee, S.W., ed. “”Race Segregation”.” Kentucky Advocate (Danville, Kentucky), February 19, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/237417193/. Behind paywall.

V.B. King on House Legislative Committee. “Chairman of the House Committee Are Tipped.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), January 11, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119273054/. Behind paywall.

Louisville Evening Post calls Beckham Co. “a political monstrosity”. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Political Pickings.” The Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), February 25, 1904. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359230/. Behind paywall.

Paducah Register calls Beckham Co.’s creation “a fool legislature bill”. Adams, W.Q., ed. “Two New Counties Needed.” Owensboro Weekly Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 02, 1904. Page 4. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375358247. Behind paywall.

James Kehoe, as Maysville Bank President. Briney, Russell, ed. “James N. Kehoe of Maysville Dies of Illness at 84.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), June 14, 1945. Page 10. Accessed May 12, 2019. http://www.newspapers.com/image/107131545/. Behind paywall.

Beckham ultimately in Kehoe’s district. “Beckham County: More Facts and Observations About Its Public Servants, Etc.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), February 24, 1904. Page 6. Accessed May 7, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7wdb7vnw7n_6.

Kehoe attempts to keep Beckham Co. out of his district. “Making Plans.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 10, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376112405. Behind paywall.

Fordsville interested in new county. Menefee, S.W., ed. “Another New County Scheme.” Kentucky Advocate (Danville, Kentucky), February 19, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/237417193. Behind paywall.

Thorne County bill. Rosser, and McCarthy, eds. “A Bill to Create Another County Out of Three Big Ones Proposed.” Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky), February 06, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/71200766/. Behind paywall.

Senator Cantrill introduces Thorne County bill. Meachum, Charles M., ed. “Senator Cantrill has introduced a bill creating Thorne county . . .” Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Kentucky), February 19, 1904. Page 4. Accessed May 9, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt744j09wz7c_4.

Thorne County bill referred to committee. Menefee, S.W., ed. “”Race Segregation”.” Kentucky Advocate (Danville, Kentucky), February 19, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/237417193/. Behind paywall.

Senate passes Thorne County bill. “Ripper Bill Passed In Senate By Strict Party Vote.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 26, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119286236/. Behind paywall.

Typographer’s Bureau troubles. “Can’t Locate Beckham County.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 03, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119288214/. Behind paywall.

Zimmerman sues Beckham County. “Will Be Tested: Constitutionality Of Act Creating Beckham County.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 04, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119288449/. Behind paywall.

Zimmerman’s $75 dollar fine. Wolfford, George. “Beckham County.” In The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by John E. Kleber. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1992. Pages 65-66.

County Judge C.C. Brooks. “Beckham County: Some Facts and Observations About the Men Who Will Preside Over Its Interests.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), February 17, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 9, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt731z41sm89_3.

Judge Kinner. Conley, M.F., ed. “Judge Kinner: Death of Prominent Jurist at Catlettsburg.” Big Sandy News (Louisa, Kentucky), July 11, 1913. Page 1. Accessed May 12, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt71ns0kts1g_1.

Kinner rules for Beckham County. “Demurrer Sustained To Zimmerman’s Plea.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 05, 1904. Page 7. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119288819/. Behind paywall.

No Beckham County Republican delegates. “Call Issued: Republican State Central Committee To Meet.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 11, 1904. Page 6. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119290784/. Behind paywall.

Republican Committee Chairman Barnett retires. Rosser, and McCarthy, eds. “Ernst Elected Chairman.” The Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky), May 05, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/71208058. Behind paywall.

Beckham County Republicans’ mini-convention. “Beckham County Republicans Are Hot.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 13, 1904. Page 15. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119291480/. Behind paywall.

Waring and Rice sent to Louisville. “To Demand Representation: Committee From Beckham County to Attend Committee Meeting.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 16, 1904. Page 5. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119292545/. Behind paywall.

State Central Committee denies request. “Convention Will Be Held In Louisville May 3.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 17, 1904. Page 8. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119292885/. Behind paywall.

House Resolution to take up no bills within four days of end. Fisher, Frank M., ed. “Still Wasting Time.” The Paducah Sun (Paducah, Kentucky), March 07, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 9, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7x959c6z54_1?

House passes Goebel Monument and Thorne County bills. “Monument Assured.” The Twice-A-Week Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), March 15, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375563697/. Behind paywall.

Beckham’s Counties, pt. 3: Two Bills From Olive Hill

A seven part essay about three efforts to name a county after Kentucky’s 35th Governor.

William B. Whitt’s portrait. The (Grayson) Tribune, January 4, 1904. Page 2. Available on microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

William B. Whitt had been influential in Carter County even before he became state senator. In private business, Whitt had been president of Olive Hill Bank and owned a stone quarry that employed many in that same town.

In 1899, he had been a delegate to the Democratic state convention and that same year he had campaigned enthusiastically for William Goebel in Carter County.

Along with Lewis Gearheart and W.J. Rice, who happened to be cashier for the Olive Hill Bank, Whitt had been one of the proponents sent to petition the General Assembly for what became L.C. Prichard’s bill in 1902.

The following year, entering politics himself, the election for the 35th District senate seat came down between Whitt, a Democrat, and Nathan Barrett, a Republican. The primary issue was the creation of a Beckham County, which Whitt was for and Barrett was against.

Although, as previously established, it was a partisan issue at heart, for some Olive Hill’s independence from Grayson was apparently more important than obeying the typical rules of party line politics.

“Do you favor the new county?” asked Herald editor J.W. Lusby, “If so, vote for Whitt and King.” The King was V.B. King, like minded in regards to the Beckham County question, fellow Democrat, and candidate for representative.

That same issue, The Herald printed a letter from an anonymous Republican who wrote that he was voting for Whitt despite his party, in favor of the new county. “We are tired of having them fellows there at Grayson tell us how to vote,” he said.

The Herald received letters of support from stone quarry workers and foremen, assuring readers that Whitt hadn’t made political support a condition of continued employment and further defending him from allegations of bad behavior during a strike the prior year.

It would be Beckham County that carried the day. W.B. Whitt won his Senate race by over 500 votes and V.B. King was likewise sent to the House of Representatives. Another attempt at creating a new county out of the western half of Carter was all but guaranteed.

But it would be a mistake to assume everyone in Carter County wished to lose its western half. In April 1903, the county Fiscal Court had ordered another survey. The Herald theorized it was an effort to get ahead of another attempt to splinter off Olive Hill.

Still, when William B. Whitt went to the state capital it was with a clear mandate, and a draft of a bill in his pocket. Eight days into the legislative session, on January 13th, 1904, he introduced Senate Bill №55.

The bill would not only create Beckham County but also established Olive Hill as its county seat, divide the county into five magisterial districts, and also create a three-member board of commissioners to set up “necessary public buildings”.

Further, the governor would appoint the initial county government, whose members were to serve until the following election.

The bill met with immediate criticism. The Louisville Herald attacked the Beckham County bill with most of the same objections that would eventually lead to the county’s dissolution. On January 20th, on the senate floor, Whitt defended his bill from Senator Cox.

William H. Cox, an influential Republican from Maysville who would later serve as Lieutenant Governor under Augustus E. Willson, alleged the new county would be less than 400 square miles in size, which would make it smaller than required by the state constitution.

In words Republican newspapers across the state would soon echo, Cox also opposed the bill because Beckham County, he believed, would soon become “just another pauper county.”

However, it was Whitt’s argument that won. The bill passed the senate by either 29 to 5 or 26 to 6. On January 29th, the House of Representatives also went for the bill.

In what was perhaps the same spirit as naming Beckham County after the governor, Mason County Representative Virgil McKnight proposed renaming Beckham’s county seat from Olive Hill to Thorne Hill, in honor of lieutenant governor William P. Thorne.

McKnight was getting carried away. Whatever the merits of naming a county after Beckham, he had been governor since 1900, and Thorne had been lieutenant governor for a little less than two months.

McKnight’s proposal was defeated but the bill for the creation of Beckham County was sent to the governor’s desk. His sense of modesty was apparently undisturbed. With the stroke of a pen, J.C.W. Beckham let the county that had been named after him into law.

*

Sources

Whitt as bank owner. “News Banks: So Far This Month Forty-Four Have Been Established In The South.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), April 24, 1901. Page 5. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/118776140/. Behind paywall.

Whitt’s stone quarry. Fisher, Ira P. “To Whom It May Concern:.” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), October 09, 1903. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky). Letter to the editor. Ira P. Fisher, the letter writer, is my great-great-great-great uncle.

Whitt at 1899 Democratic state convention. “Big Crowds: Politicians Throng the Hotel Lobbies.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), June 21, 1899. Pages 1, 4. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/30725761/. Behind paywall. Whitt listed under Willard section on page 4.

Whitt for Goebel. Whitt, W.B. “An Open Letter.” The Democrat (Grayson, Kentucky), October 27, 1899. Page 3. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky). Letter to the editor.

Whitt’s influence in Prichard’s bill. “The citizens in and about Olive Hill are very enthusiastic over the proposed new county.” Carter County Bugle (Grayson, Kentucky), January 17, 1902. Page 4. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Whitt vs. Barret. “Success to Him.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), September 16, 1903. Page 1. Accessed May 2, 2019. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt776h4cpr6h_1.

Whitt for new county, Barret against. “William B. Whitt, of Olive Hill, Nominated for Senator by Democrats.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), August 19, 1903. Page 5. Accessed May 2, 2019. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7m901zf32n_5.

“Do you favor the new county?” Lusby, J.W., ed. “Do You Favor the New County?” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), October 23, 1903. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

V.B. King. Lusby, J.W., ed. “We Have Here Heretofore Remarked . . .” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), October 16, 1903. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Letter from Republican. Republican. “Dear Sir.” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), October 23, 1903. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky). Letter to the editor.

Quarry workers defend Whitt. 58 Quarry Workers. “To whom it may concern:.” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), October 16, 1903. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky). Letter to the editor.

Foremen defend Whitt. Kiser, U.S.G., and G.W. Sammons. “For the benefit of those concerned.” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), October 16, 1903. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky). Letter to the editor.

Union workers defend Whitt. Wingfield, Claude, Lewis White, and B.H. Rutledge. “Dear Sir:.” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), September 25, 1903. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky). Letter to the editor.

Whitt wins Senate race. “Whitt Elected Senator.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), November 06, 1903. Page 2. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119030042/. Behind paywall.

King wins House race. Lusby, J.W., ed. “A bill to establish the New County.” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), December 04, 1903. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Carter County Fiscal Court survey. Lusby, J.W., ed. “Fortifying To defeat the New County move.” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), April 17, 1903. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Whitt with draft of bill in pocket. Johnson, Lewis Y. “Beckham County, The New Baby of Kentucky’s Family of Counties.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 14, 1904, sec. 4. Page 3. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119283002/. Behind paywall.

Whitt introduces bill. “In Vast Volumes: Bills Pouring down in Steady Streams on Both Houses.” The Paducah News-Democrat (Paducah, Kentucky), January 13, 1904. Page 6. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/501601362/. Behind paywall.

Senate Bill number. “Work of the Kentucky General Assembly.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 19, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119293241/. Behind paywall.

Details of Whitt’s bill. Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky Passed at the Regular Session of the General Assembly Which Was Begun and Held in the City of Frankfort on Tuesday, the Fifth Day of January, One Thousand Nine Hundred and Four. Louisville, KY: Geo. G. Fetter Company, 1904. pgs. 27–30. Available as Ebook on Hathi Trust Digital Library.

Louisville Herald criticizes bill. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “The Louisville Herald makes such an exhaustive exposition of the illegality of the act . . .” The Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), January 26, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359117/. The Public Ledger quotes The Louisville Herald. Behind paywall.

Whitt debates Cox. Meachum, Charles M., ed. “Passes House. New Capital Bill Appropriating a Million Dollars.” Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Kentucky), January 22, 1904. Page 5. Accessed May 2, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7bvq2s5r21_5.

Cox, future Lt. Governor. Bidwell, William E., and Ella Hutchinson Ellwanger, eds. Legislative History and Capitol Souvenir. Vol. 1. Frankfort, KY, 1910. Page 29. Accessed May 2, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7j3t9d5d9d_29?

“Pauper county” “The governor vetoed the Thorne county bill . . .” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), May 01, 1904. Page 4. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376080263. Behind paywall.

Bill passes by. “Cantrill Bill Adopted.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), January 27, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 2, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7gb56d3d0v_3.

Houses passes bill. McIntyre. “Legislative Happenings.” Kentucky Advocate (Danville, Kentucky), January 29, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/237417081/. Behind paywall.

Virgil McKnight of Mason. “Mason County.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), November 04, 1903. Page 3. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119029620/. Behind paywall.

Thorne, lt. governor for less than two months. Burgher, J.E., ed. “Beckham’s Inauguration.” The Clay City Times (Clay City, Kentucky), December 10, 1903. Accessed May 9, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7gf18scd8c_1.

Thorne Hill defeated. “County of Beckham.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), January 30, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376111026/. Behind paywall.

Beckham’s Counties, pt. 2: Prichard’s Proposal

A seven part essay about three efforts to name a county after Kentucky’s 35th Governor.

Carter County, Kentucky. Map created by David Benbennick via Wikimedia Commons.

Olive Hill was the second most substantial town in Carter County, which had been formed in 1838 as Kentucky’s 88th county. The relatively early date of its creation plus its amount of siblings at birth should show how prone to balkanization the state has been.

Carter County herself lost two significant portions in her first thirty-one years of existence. In 1860, she gave up some of her northeast to help create Boyd County. Nine years later her southwestern corner became part of Elliott County.

Finally, on February, 10, 1902, state Senator Leander C. Prichard introduced a bill to establish a new county out of the western half of Carter County, along with parts of Lewis and Elliott Counties. Citizens had petitioned the legislature for the formation of the new county.

There had long been a divide in Carter County between east, where political power was concentrated in the county seat Grayson, and west, where the booming fire brick industry expanded Olive Hill’s population from almost 300 in 1900 to over 2,000 in 1904.

Naturally, Olive Hill would have become the county’s seat.

The idea was not new. As early as October 1872, the Interior Journal reported plans to create a new county out of the same counties that Prichard later proposed and with the same seat.

Fourteen years after that, in 1886, a request for a new county went up before the General Assembly.

In July 1897, plans for what would eventually become Beckham County were in the air again. At that time, its supporters were in favor of naming it Olive County.

By the end of that same year, a surveying party set out from the Carter County Courthouse to outline the borders of the proposed county. It may have been the first survey done for these purposes, but it was far from the last.

On January 15th, 1898, The Spout Spring Times reported a bill for the formation of the new county would be introduced that winter. However, a month later, the Public Ledger stated the new county faction would wait until the next session.

Enthusiasm for the idea kicked in again by the end of 1901. On December 27th of that year, a meeting was held in Olive Hill to discuss the matter. This time it was the Courier-Journal that reported that a bill would be introduced the next legislative session.

That bill was L.C. Prichard’s.

By then, the new county was to be named for Beckham. There had apparently been some debate about whether to name the county after the martyred Goebel, but they decided to go with the living governor instead.

Support for and against the idea fell primarily along political lines. Generally, Democrats were for it and Republicans were against it. While the new county would apparently lean Republican, the tradeoff was that what was left of Carter County would become Democrat.

Senate Bill 201, Prichard’s bill for the creation of Beckham County, was referred to the Committee on Revenue and Taxation on February 15th.

During a subsequent survey of Carter County, The [Grayson] Herald editor J.W. Lusby wrote, “parties going around a field like this in opposite directions will likely arrive at the same station unless there be a missing link in a chain and then a mile is quite a distance to vary.”

By early March, the Maysville Evening Bulletin thought Prichard’s bill likely to pass, and even went so far as to criticize competing (and Republican) newspaper Public Ledger over their early proclamations of its defeat.

However, the Ledger would have the last laugh, for although that bill was to be “favorably reported to the Senate”, it would not pass.

Another politician would soon take up the cause.

*

Sources

Carter County formed. Lewis, Jack. “Origin of the County.” Carter County History 1838–1976. pgs. 3–4. Carter County Bicentennial Committee. Book available the Rowan County Public Library (Morehead, Kentucky).

Boyd County formed. “Chapter 288: An Act To Establish The County of Boyd.” In Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Passed at the Session Which Was Begun and Held in the City of Frankfort, On Monday, The Fifth Day of December, 1859, and Ended On Monday, the Fifth Day of March, 1860, 30–35. Vol. 1. Frankfort, KY: J.B. Major, State Printer, 1860. Available as Ebook from Google Books.

Elliott County formed. “Elliott County, Kentucky.” Welcome to Elliott County, KY History and Genealogy. Accessed July 3, 2019. http://genealogytrails.com/ken/elliott/county_events.html.

Prichard’s bill. Fisher, Frank M., ed. “Beckham County: A New One Created with the Governor’s Name.” The Paducah Sun (Paducah, Kentucky), February 10, 1902. Page 1. Accessed May 2, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt780g3gzk6j_1.

Citizens petitioned for new county. Lusby, J.W., ed. “Petition For New County.” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), January 24, 1902. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Olive Hill’s population boom. Johnson, Lewis Y. “Beckham County, The New Baby of Kentucky’s Family of Counties.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 14, 1904, sec. 4. Page 3. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119283002/. Behind paywall.

Olive Hill as county seat. Rosser, and McCarthy, eds. “Beckham: Name Selected for a New County to Be Carved Out of Lewis, Carter and Elliott.” Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky), February 03, 1902. Page 2. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/71063102/. Behind paywall.

1872 report. Hilton, and Campbell, eds. “An Effort Is Being Made to Establish a New County . . .” Interior Journal (Stanford, Kentucky), October 04, 1872. Page 2. Accessed May 11, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/186560710. Behind paywall.

1886 request. Marrs, James R., and Samuel G. Boyle, eds. “The Application for the Formation of Two New Counties . . .” Kentucky Advocate (Danville, Kentucky), February 12, 1886. Page 2. Accessed May 11, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/237470936. Behind paywall.

1897 plans. Chenault, J.C., and A.D. Miller, eds. “Want A New County.” The Richmond Climax (Richmond, Kentucky), July 14, 1897. Page 4. Accessed May 11, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7sf7665v7b_4.

1897 survey. Conley, M.F., ed. “A Surveying Party Began Work Monday at Grayson Court-house . . .” Big Sandy News (Louisa, Kentucky), December 31, 1897. Page 3. Accessed May 11, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7vmc8rdb2m_3.

1898 bill speculation. Burgher, J.E., ed. “A bill will be introduced in the legislature . . .” The Spout Spring Times (Spout Springs, Kentucky), January 15, 1898. Page 3. Accessed May 11, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7s1r6n1t0j_3.

1898 bill postponed. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “The faction in Carter county which has been pushing the scheme . . .” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), February 24, 1898. Page 1. Accessed May 11, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7gxd0qt683_1.

1901 meeting for new county. “Want to Create a New County.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), December 29, 1901. Page 9. Accessed May 11, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/118842823/. Behind paywall.

Goebel County. Crowe, Robert S., ed. “The citizens of Carter, Rowan and Elliott have petitioned . . .” The Richmond Climax (Richmond, Kentucky), January 29, 1902. Page 2. Accessed May 11, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7s4m919j6x_2.

Democrats for, Republicans against. Lusby, J.W., ed. “New County of Beckham.” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), February 07, 1902. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Carter County would become Democratic. Lusby, J.W., ed. “The bill to establish the new county . . .” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), February 14, 1902. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Prichard’s bill referred to committee. “Faint Hope Have Opponents of Local Option Bill.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 16, 1902, sec. 4. Page 25. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/118856547/. Behind paywall.

Lusby’s witticism. Lusby, J.W., ed. “The surveyors, who were set to work some few days ago . . .” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), February 21, 1902. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Evening Bulletin chides Public Ledger. Rosser, and McCarthy, eds. “The movement to slice a chunk off Carter . . .” Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky), March 06, 1902. Page 2. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/71065840/. Behind paywall.

Prichard’s bill reported to Senate. “Revenue Bill Has Been Made a Special Order.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 05, 1902. Page 1. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/118860164/. Behind paywall.

Beckham’s Counties, pt. 1: The Running Mate

A seven part essay about three efforts to name a county after Kentucky’s 35th Governor.

William Goebel’s monument at Frankfort Cemetery.

There were three attempts to name a county after Kentucky Governor J.C.W. Beckham between the years 1902 and 1906. The first in Northeastern Kentucky, the second in western Kentucky, and the third, and only successful effort, in the new state of Oklahoma.

These efforts would seem to suggest that John Crepps Wickliffe Beckham was a particularly popular politician. However, in the case of the two Kentucky areas, at least, he just happened to governor when longstanding movements for self-determination gathered up steam.

It also must be noted that Beckham was only governor in the first place because he had been the running mate of William Goebel, and Goebel had only been sworn in as governor after he was mortally wounded by an assassin.

Kentucky had been dominated by the Democratic Party, of which Beckham and Goebel were members, throughout the decades that followed the Civil War. In fact, the state didn’t elect its first Republican Governor until 1895.

In 1899, the man who gained the Democratic party’s nomination for governor was William Goebel, a German-American attorney from Kenton County who had built up a smooth, if controversial, political machine fighting for reform against the railroad monopolies.

Goebel had made preparations, perhaps even unethical ones, for his governor run.

In 1898, while president of the state senate, Goebel had pushed through a bill establishing a statewide election board consisting of three members chosen by the legislature who would in turn choose election officials throughout the rest of the commonwealth.

The legislature was then controlled by Democrats and, critics argued, so would be the election board. This effectively meant that any contested election, whether local or statewide, would become prejudiced towards the Democratic candidate.

In 1899, after winning the Democratic party’s nomination through a rather cutthroat act of political acumen, and with Beckham likewise selected as nominee for lieutenant governor, Goebel was set to face Republican candidate William S. Taylor in the General Election.

It was close.

The results were so contested that on a county-by-county basis the decisions of Goebel’s pet State Board of Election Commissioners was to have the final say. However, as James C. Klotter notes in William Goebel: The Politics of Wrath, Goebel had not prepared for the “possibility that the commissioners might be honest.”

They chose Taylor instead.

However, the same election bill that had created the Board of Election Commissioners in the first place had also given the General Assembly the power to contest election results. A committee mostly made up of Democrats would decide the matter.

Fearing a stolen election, a swarm of armed Republican “mountaineers” descended on Frankfort in mass protest. Perhaps, as many alleged in the aftermath of the shooting, it was one of these partisans who shot William Goebel on January 30th, 1900.

The candidate from Kenton County was mortally wounded. Republican William S. Taylor, who was sitting governor at least in theory, called in the militia and attempted to move the legislature to London for reasons of both political and physical safety.

However, with the spirit of martyrdom and further violence in the air, the Democrats in the General Assembly managed to swear in the slowly dying Goebel. This action seized the governorship right out from beneath Taylor’s coattails.

The ensuing constitutional crisis would outlast William Goebel, who finally perished on February 3rd. It was only after a series of appeals that went all the way up to the Supreme Court that his running mate J.C.W. Beckham truly became governor.

As for William S. Taylor, who had been governor of Kentucky for mere weeks, he fled the state. He feared prosecution for a rumored role in William Goebel’s killing, which he always denied.

Beckham, at thirty-one was the youngest governor in Kentucky history, was an attorney from a prominent Bardstown family. He was the grandson of a former governor: Charles A. Wickliffe. Before becoming Goebel’s running mate, he had been speaker of the state House.

Beckham was a more moderate governor than Goebel would likely have been. The late Kenton Countian had campaign upon being vividly against the powerful railroad lobby, but, once in office, Beckham was fairly conciliatory towards them.

In another move that eased tensions, Beckham turned against Goebel’s controversial election law, which critics, both Republican and Democrat, saw as unethical. It was repealed in 1900, two years after its passage.

William Goebel’s assassin would never be definitively proven but the shadow of his death hung over Beckham’s subsequent administration, and the repeated attempts to name a county after him.

The first effort to create a Beckham County would come from Olive Hill, and like most things in Kentucky politics, in the end it came down to a matter of Democrats versus Republicans.

*

Sources

Kentucky dominated by Democrats after Civil War. Klotter, James C. William Goebel: The Politics of Wrath. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1977. Pages 12–13.

First Republican Governor. Walton, W.P., ed. “Bradley, Elected Governor of Kentucky by Nearly 20,000.” Semi-Weekly Interior Journal (Stanford, Kentucky), November 08, 1895. Page 2. Accessed May 23, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7d513tvz6s_2.

Goebel against railroad monopoly. “Goebel on the Issues: Opening Speech at Mayfield of the Democratic Nominee for Governor.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), August 13, 1899. Page 16. Accessed May 23, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/30196524. Behind paywall. Illustrative speech.

Goebel election board. “Goebel Election Law.” In The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by John E. Kleber. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1992. Page 378.

Goebel secures Democratic nomination. Klotter. 56–63.

Beckham secures Lieutenant Governor nomination. “Other Races Will Be Settled To-Day.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), June 28, 1899. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/30725941/. Behind paywall.

Election board choses Taylor. Klotter, 86–92.

Legislative committee to decide election. Klotter, 92–96.

“Mountaineers” in Frankfort. “Marched Up The Hill And Down: Taylor’s Army of Intimidation Started Back To Their Homes.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), January 26, 1900. Page 1. Accessed May 23, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375580682/. Behind paywall.

William Goebel is shot. Moore, Paul M., ed. “Deplorable: Attempted Assassination of Senator Goebel Before the Capitol.” The Bee (Earlington, Kentucky), February 01, 1900. Page 1. Accessed May 23, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7xwd3px11r_1.

Taylor calls in militia. Harrison, Lowell H. “Goebel, William.” In The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by John E. Kleber. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1992. Pages 377–378.

Democrats swear in Goebel as governor. Klotter, 102–104.

William Goebel dies. “Complete Is The Work of the Assassin: Gov. Goebel Is Dead.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 04, 1900. Accessed May 23, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/30729139. Behind paywall.

Supreme Court confirms Beckham. Klotter, 112–114.

Taylor flees. Harrison, Lowell H. Kentucky’s Governors. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1985. Updated Edition. “William Sylvester Taylor”. Pages 131–133.

Beckham’s grandfather, Charles A. Wickliffe. Morton, Jennie C. “Mrs. Julia Wickliffe Beckham.” Register of Kentucky State Historical Society 11, no. 33 (September 1913): 51–55. Accessed May 27, 2019. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23367247. Obituary of Beckham’s mother.

Beckham as Speaker of the House. Powell, Robert A. Kentucky Governors 1792–2000: Portraits of Kentucky’s Chief Executive from 1792 up to and including the Election of 1999. Tampa, FL: Silverhawke Publications, 2001. Page 69.

Beckham and railroad lobby. Burckel, Nicholas C. “From Beckham to McCreary: The Progressive Record of Kentucky Governors.” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 76, no. 4 (October 1978). Accessed July 4, 2019. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23378562. Pages 292–293.

Beckham turns against election law. Burckel. 290.

Repeal of Goebel election law. “Goebel Election Law.” In The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by John E. Kleber. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1992. Page 378.

Goebel’s killer unknown. Harrison, Lowell H. Kentucky’s Governors. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1985. Updated Edition. “William Goebel”. Pages 135–136.