Breckinridge County, Kentucky
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|*** CLOVERPORT ***|
Cloverport, formerly called Joe Ville was settled in the year 1803, by a Mr. Joe Huston. The original settlement was just east of the mouth of Clover Creek. This little town, in its early days, was one of the busy spots on the Ohio River. It was one of the major shipping points to reach the only feasible market for their produce. New Orleans lay some 1000 miles south, at the mouth of the Mississippi River. There were no roads through the mountains through which one might take his produce back to the eastern seaboard, nor any means of transportation if there had been. The only market for the farmers of Breckinridge County was New Orleans, and this meant travel on the river. Cloverport, because of its location, became an important shipping point. In 1821 the state legislature established one of the earliest roads in our state. It ran from Bowling Green to Cloverport by way of Honikers Ferry, Caneyville, Short Creek, Falls of Rough, where it struck Breckinridge County. It ran from the Falls to Rockvale, to Morton Town (now the cross roads about two miles south of McQuady) to Tick Ridge, which it followed through Ball Town and on into Cloverport. The survey was done throughout Breckinridge County for the sum of $50.00. It had a 30 foot right of way, Said road was viewed out, aided by the compass and chain, for the benefit of salt and commerce for the interior.
Tobacco was put up in hogsheads and hauled there along with the other crops; such as, corn, hemp, some beef and pork were butchered, salted down in barrels and shipped as well.
Immediately after Abraham Gesner discovered how to make coal oil by refining coal, a vein of cannel coal was discovered nine miles south of Cloverport, at Victoria. It was named after Queen Victoria of England. An English Syndicate bought the mines and surrounding land. They built a railroad track from there to Cloverport over which to haul the coal to where it could be refined. The products of this coal were used in many places in the world. A highly luminous paraffin was made from it in Louisville and used in candles, which gave a superior light.
This business boomed from 1854 until Mr. Drake discovered oil at Titusville, Pennsylvania. Then kerosene, refined from this crude oil, soon put Cloverports cannel coal oil business on the blink.
Near by Tar Springs, however, brought a steady flow of new money and faces to the little town. The hotel in Cloverport worked in conjunction with Tar Springs to accommodate the visitors and tourists. People came from all over to see the natural wonder and to drink its miracle waters.
Not long after the Civil War the old hotel gave way to a new and magnificent three-story brick hotel. There were also twenty-five cabins which furnished accommodations for four people each. The twelve springs which are very close together give forth as many different kinds of water.
A Mr. Holiday owned the new hotel and in 1903 put out this brochure.
Visit the Magic Waters of Wonder Tar Springs
A majestic cliff forms a background to the springs, and towers above the entire surroundings. It is over 100 feet high and from its base flows the water of the mineral springs, eleven in number. The white sulfur and the tar water is noted far and wide as a cure for stomach trouble, skin disease, suppressed menstruation, gout, rheumatism, and chronic catarrh.
The hotel has steam heat and water works. Rooms are fully furnished. Bring only towels and linens.
An analysis of a quart of water by Professor E. S. Wayn of Cincinnatti is as follows:
Magnesium carbonate 1.46
Calcium carbonate 4.41
Sodium sulphate .65
Magnesium chloride 1.25
Sodium sulphate .03
Magnesium sulphate 44.27
Finious sulphate .19
Aluminum sulphate .03
Silicates of Potassium 4.32
Sodium magnesium 4.32
Carbonic acid 1.41
Mineral tar in large quantities.
The railroad came into Cloverport in 1887 which put it very much on the map. A Mr. R. B. Pierce took the contract to build the grade and lay the track for this section of the road.
The railroad shops had been in Henderson but burned down. The railroad officials contracted to bring the shops to Cloverport if the town would donate $20,000, which they soon raised. These railroad shops were built in 1892. The first master mechanic was Mr. F. J. Ferry. This railroad shop employed from 150-200 men from 1892 until 1929, June 1st. At this time the shops were moved to a new location, and the loss of this business added greatly to the depression that was soon to follow. The road, up until 1929, had been the Louisville, Henderson and St. Louis, but was taken over at this time by the L&N.
A suit was brought against the railroad by the town for breach of contract and received $10,000 plus the 10 acres of ground that is still city property. A ball park is there now.
The Cloverport Brick Yard was established three years after the coming of the railroad in 1895. It soon got into financial trouble and a Mr. Murray from Massachusetts took it over and started making roofing tile. It is still in operation and employs about 100 people. At present it is the only business of any sequence with the exception of the bank, school, blacksmith shop, and several stores.
In 1910 the town rented the Railroad shop ground to the Polk Canning Factory. They hired only women. At that time women were frowned upon who did that kind of work, and it became hard to get labor so they hired several Negro women. This caused hard feelings among the employees and a walk out was staged. It resulted in the Polk Canning Co. pulling up stakes and leaving town.
Another canning factory known as the Breckinridge County Canning Co. came to Cloverport in 1938, but like the other one lasted only two years.
On March 13, 1901 at eleven oclock, with a strong west wind blowing up the river, a fire broke out just where the parallel to the lower wharf now stands. There was no fire fighting machinery in the town except a bucket brigade, which proved to be of little worth. A call was made to Owensboro for help but none was available. Another plea was sent to Evansville. They sent a fire engine as quickly as possible by railroad. The tracks were cleared, but when it reached the scene Cloverport lay in ashes from the railroad to the river all the way across town. This was a hard blow, but the spirit that brought Bill Hardin and the other pioneers to our county had been handed down to them and soon a new town stood where the old one had gone up in flames.
Cloverport has produced more than its share of great men. The Allens, Crittendens, Murrays and Hustons will be mentioned in a later chapter.
The Cloverport post office was established Oct. 16, 1828. The initial postmaster was Mr. George La Hust. He served his community well in this capacity until the Civil War, 1862. He was succeeded by: John C. La Hust, 1862-84; Fredrick Dehaven, 1884-85; Lela Henly, 1893-97; Jonas Wilson, 1897-1901; John H. Rowland, 1901-09; Robert L. Oelze, 1909-13; Marion Weatherholt, 1913-22; Robert L. Oelze, 1922-25; Eva B. Jolly, 1926-34; Ressie H. Miller, 1934-52; Louise Carter, 1952-53; Alma Hawkins, 1953-62. Douglas J. Wiles is now the postmaster and is in charge of a new building that the residents of the town may well be proud of. It was dedicated at 2:00 Dec. 5, 1965.