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BRECKINRIDGE COUNTY, KENTUCKY
AREA COMMUNTIES OF THE PAST AND PRESENT

 

BEWLEYVILLE

 

          The physical features of the landscape in the area from old Bewleyville to Irvington on the east side of Sinking Creek is a thing of
natural beauty.

          In traveling east on Highway 60, after going down Sinking Creek hill, one runs abruptly out of the “Dixon-Baxter” type soil which
covers much of the western coal field.  East of Sinking Creek the soil is of the “Hagerstown Fredrick” type.  This is the same type soil
that is found in the Nashville Basin and runs through the Pennyroyal Region south of the Dripping Springs Escarpment and on into the Blue Grass
region.  In this region is found some of the best farms in Kentucky and the soil is second only to that of the “Maury-Hagerstown” found in the
inner Blue Grass.

          This section of our county, from Webster to Bewleyville is a series of ridges and valleys with an occasional miniature mountain standing
off to itself for no apparent reason.  These ridges and hills are gently rolling and rarely are they too steep to cultivate.

          One such hill around which is centered some of the early history of our county is Summer Seat.  This is not the same Summer
Seat that belonged to Richard Stevens and upon which was erected the light tower for directing wayfarers between Hardin’s Fort and Hines Fort.
 
This Summer Seat lies about four miles west of Irvington, on the old Edgar Bennett farm.  In the Basin Springs area, this hill or knob rises
about one hundred fifty feet above Sinking Creek and the fields of the valley east of it.  This hill is now covered with cedar trees and is sometimes
referred to as Cedar Hill.  This hill overlooks the valley east and south, Sinking Creek to the north, and east of the valley rises Pilots Ridge.

          Some time before the Civil War, Mr. Edgar Bennett bought the farm and opened up a rock quarry on Summer Seat.  Mr. Bennett
was one of the best stone masons in Kentucky and for a number of years he shipped stone to many different places.  It was he who quarried out
the stone for the foundation of the old courthouse in Hardinsburg.  He also built the jail at Hartford and the one at Calhoun, and in 1860, he built the
old stone dam across Rough Creek at the Falls of Rough which is as sturdy today as it was the day it was built.  Many of the bridges in this part of
the state were the product of his work.

          The old Dents Bridge over Sinking Creek on the old Hardinsburg-Bewleyville Road was built by Mose Bennett in 1856.  In the early
days of the Whitemans History of Breckinridge County there were several covered bridges, but like everything else they have all fallen to the sickle of Father
Time.  Dents Bridge was the last of these to go that way.  And indeed it was a pity that it was not preserved.  At the time that it was
torn down, however, it seemed that everything and everybody was dead bent to progress, and the Korean War created so much worry in the minds of the
people of the United States that one was hardly responsible for making such a mistake.  At any rate the last of these representatives of that bygone age
was destroyed.  If this old bridge could rehearse the ales of its history it would be much more interesting reading that this compilation.  There
would be stories of joy and sadness and of the Civil War days when armed soldiers used it to cross the waters of Sinking Creek.  Many of the county’s
most noted citizens passed through this bridge.  The Moormans, Deans and Owens went over this old bridge to Bewleyville from Planters Hall and
Long Lick.  Edgar Bennett crossed it going to Rock Lick to court Miss Kate Lewis.  Dave Moorman came this way from Long Lick courting
Miss Della Hardaway.  Jess Moorman and Eli Dean must have used this old bridge going to and from Mr. John Fishers.  The Hardaways, Stiths,
Washingtons, Chicks, Jordans, Bewleys, Bandys, Footes, Hendersons, and many others traveled over it on their way to the county seat.  The stage
from Hardinsburg to Muldraugh dashed through it and John Wallace’s Circus came to old Bewleyville by way of this old bridge in the early 70’s.  Tons
of tobacco were hauled over it enroute to Stephensport or Cloversport to be shipped to market.

          Wedding parties and honeymooners crossed here in the moonlight, and funeral processions wound their way up the hill to the old Dowell
Cemetery.  These were sad journeys and the old bridge could tell of many such ones.  Perhaps in the stillness of the night the tired country doctors
rode through here on their missions of mercy.  The old Circuit riders used this bridge to keep a preaching appointment and often times to say some
comforting words over the grave of one who died and was necessarily buried before a minister could be had.  These old bridges made a place for picnics
on Sunday afternoons and a refuge for travelers when caught in a thundershower or where one could elude the heat of the noon-day sun.  It seems a shame
that just one could not have been preserved, but old bridges, like old men, must go.

          In later years Mr. Edgar Bennett went into business in Bewleyville.  He and his brother, Alonzo, bought and dried annually about 300,000 lbs.
of burley tobacco.  This was a lot of tobacco considering the fact that there were no railroads or trucks to haul it to market.  It had to be transported to
Stephensport and loaded on boats to be shipped to market.  Mr. Bennett married Miss Kate Lewis of Glen Dean.  Before his death, Mr. Bennett hewed
his tomb out of stone in his quarry on Summer Seat and requested that he be buried there.  At death he was put to rest in his own tomb, the spot that he loved best
.  In recent years, however, his descendants removed him to the Irvington Cemetery.

          Garard Foote, at the present time, owns the Basin Springs farm just north of Summer Seat.  Garard is the grandson of Ludwell Foote, who was
known as the Sage of Pilots Ridge, for many years.  Ludwell Foote, was the cousin of Governor Foote of Mississippi, who defeated Jefferson Davis for
governor of that state just before the Civil War.  The Foote Family has played a leading part in the religious and civic affairs of the Bewleyville community since
its beginning.  Bewleyville is a beautiful little community lying in the eastern end of our county.  It is about seven miles south east of Irvington, near the
Meade County line. 

          Sinking Creek runs through the edge of this community and it is about three miles from the post office that the old Dents Bridge stood.

          The soil is all fertile and rolling.  To those of the flat level plains or those who are accustomed to the river bottoms might refer to certain
places as being hilly.  There are no swampy places even in the swags, and the soil yields it’s fertility readily.

          The first settlers to come to the Bewleyville community a little before the turn of the 19th century were the Stiths, Bewleys, Sanders, Jordans,
Hardaways, Blanfords, Jollys, Chicks, Bandys, and Washingtons.

          Like all other frontier communities, Bewleyville’s early industry was strictly agriculture.  Being completely isolated, all of life’s necessities
had to be derived from the soil or gathered from the forest.  A few old spinning wheels and hand looms may still be found as mute evidence to the way
these pioneer women provided for their families.

          Like all the rest of the settlements on the frontier, they saw the necessity of a church in which they could worship God as they chose and about
which they could centralize the spirit and needs of the community.

          In 1804, Mr. Thomas and Rhoda Stith, William and Nancy Stith, Richard and Betty Stith, Matthew Sanders, Mrs. Jordan and her two daughters,
Lucy and Katy, Little Dick Stith and his wife and Betsy Hardaway met at the home of Thomas and Rhoda Stith and laid the plans for the first Methodist Church
ever to be built on Breckinridge County soil.  The Rev. Jesse Walker, a Methodist Circuit Rider from the Hartford Circuit met with them and helped them to
establish the church.  This first old church was built of logs and stood about four miles south of the present one.  By 1835, this old church had become
inadequate and a new and larger one had been built.  This was a frame building and was moved to within about a quarter of a mile of the present one.
  The name was also changed to the “Old Liberty Church” and it lived up to it’s name, as any other denomination was permitted to worship there too.

          The pastor of this church from 1834 to 1850, Rev. James Taylor, was truly a great man.  He pastured this church, administered to the
spiritual the sixteen years there, he married eight hundred and twenty four (824) couples.  In the minutes of the church kept by G. A. Foote it is said of him,
“He followed the Lord through the forests of Breckinridge County like Moses followed the pillars of faire through the wilderness.”

          Mr. James Stith and G. A. Foote kept an accurate record of the happenings in this church since it was first formed in 1804, until after the turn
of the century.  A Mr. A. H. Payne now is continuing the records.  I don’t suppose the church door has ever been opened but what an entry was made
in the records.

          Brother Taylor must have found a great deal of satisfaction in just doing a good job.  Other than this inner-self satisfaction, he received for
his services for performing these 824 weddings, anything from a ham, bushel of sweet potatoes, a frying chicken, to, on one occasion, a red bandana hankerschief
wrapped full of pretty red apples.  These early circuit riders and preachers played more than one role in the community in which they served.
  Many times they performed medical service in the absence of the doctor.  They were also a constant source of information, and carried messages
from one community to the other-indeed it would be difficult to try and describe the faithfulness and service of these circuit riders and early frontier pastors.

          The fissure that was dividing the North and the South and eventually led to the Civil War was ever widening.  In the election of 1844, the
piercing influence of politics and the arguments over slavery and states rights penetrated even the Bewleyville Methodist Church.  The congregation was
split into two factions.  There was a Mr. Duncan who moved into the community and joined the church.  He was a zealous church worker and an
ardent Yankee.  By 1850, he had succeeded in splitting the church a little less than half in two and, with the smaller segment of the congregation, started a
church of his own and affiliated with the Baptist.  For many years following the Baptist in that community were referred to as Duncanites.

          The old parent Methodist Church affiliated with the Methodist Church South.  Soon after the Civil War was over and before the bitterness
had completely subsided, the church burned down, but the general opinion among the members was that it was no accident.  This was in 1870.

          Again the members rose to meet the occasion and in 1871, a new church was erected.  It stands today as a symbol of the devotion of its
present and past members, from 1804, until, and including the present.

          The Bewleyville Masonic Lodge was chartered in 1851.  The lodge hall was upstairs over the Baptist Church.

          The first Master of the lodge was a Brother John Gaston.  Since that time the lodge has been served by the following Masters.

Past Masters of the Bewleyville Lodge

  1. John Gaston, 1851                             30. Finis L. Claycomb, 1924

  2. James Odiome, 1852                           31. Everett W. Foote, 1925

  3. Peyton J. Henderson, 1853                  32. Guy R. Bandy, 1926-27

  4. James Odiorne, 1854                          33. Hugh Clarkson, 1928-29

  5. James A. Chick, 1855                         34. Guy R. Bandy, 1930

  6. Peyton J. Henderson, 1856                  35. George Compton, 1931

  7. John H. W. Frank, 1857-58-59            36. George E. Drury, 1932-33

  8. Thomas Jolly, 1860                             37. Gilbert Kasey, 1934-35

  9. Wm. H. Pennington, 1871                    38. James G. LeGrand, 1936-37

  10. Thomas Jolly, 1870                             39. Guy R. Bandy, 1938-41

  11.  Wm. H. Pennington, 1871                   40. Hugh Clarkson, 1942-46

  12.  E. Rice Pennington, 1872-73              41. Guy R. Bandy, 1947-48

  13.  John D. Jordon, 1874                        42. Elihu A. Adkisson, 1949

  14.  Frank W. Peyton, 1875-76                  43. Ernest H. Dowell, 1950

  15.  E. Rice Pennington, 1877-78              44. Alfred H. Payne, Jr., 1951

  16.  Wm. H. Pennington, 1879                   45. Ray Bell, 1952-53

  17.  Frank W. Peyton, 1880                       46. James A. Lockard, 1954

  18.  E. Rice Pennington, 1881-83              47. Carl M. Compton, 1955

  19.  Frank W. Peyton, 1884-85                  48. Wm. Lloyd Triplett, 1956

  20.  Ch. Blanford, 1886-94                        49. David Ross, 1957

  21.  Walter J. Piggott, 1895-1900              50. Harold I. Triplett, 1958

  22.  David C. Heron, 1911-15                    51. David Ross, 1959

  23.  George O. Blanford, 1907-09              52. E. Leroy Adkisson, 1960

  24.  Zachery Stith, 1910                           53. E. Leonard Kasey, 1961

  25.  David Heron, 1911-15                        54. Lillard Priest, 1962

  26.  Gilbert Kasey, 1916                           55. Ollie Priest, Jr., 1963

  27.  Edgar E. Hardaway, 1917-1919          56. George Blanford, 1964

  28.  Owen Kasey, 1920-1921                     57. Robert Tripplett, 1965

  29. T. Fred Triplett, 1922-23

 

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