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*** HARDINSBURG ***

          Hardinsburg is a typical little county seat town.  Like many of the others in our state, it was the first settlement in the county and is centrally located.  It is approximately 35 miles across the county either north to South or East to West.  The county seat towns were usually centrally located in order that the most remote sections would be able to travel to and from the courthouse in one day.  Those of us who are old enough remember know that thirty miles in a wagon, over mud roads, is a good day’s travel.

          The first courthouse was made of logs and erected in 1801.  In 1868, the old courthouse was replaced by a new one.  This one was built of brick which were burned on Mr. Hook’s farm.  The brick kiln was located in the schoolhouse yard between the school building and Mr. Sherman Beauchamp’s home.  Mr. Edgar Bennett of Basin Springs erected the building.  This new courthouse was a thing of pride to the people of Breckinridge County.  It was of red brick with a large dome on the top.  Many a country boy, on his first trip to the county seat, looked with amazement at this gigantic structure.  The building stood the storms of time and answered well its purpose until it went up in flames February 7, 1958.  The fire broke out in the extreme upper part of the building so all hands and the cook put forth every effort and succeeded in carrying to safety all of the early and valuable records of the county.

          Immediately, the people of the county set themselves to the task of building a new courthouse.  This structure, modern and beautiful, stands today as a symbol to the courage and progressive spirit of our people.

          The Hook family is one of the oldest families that are still connected with the business life of Hardinsburg.  Mr. Russell Hook, Mathias Hook and Howard Hook, are the sons of Mr. Jeff Hook, who in early life operated a sawmill and a flour mill in Hardinsburg.  In 1913, he went into the automobile business.  He owned and operated the Ford garage and owned the first car in the county.  Mr. Jeff Hook was a familiar figure around Hardinsburg most of his life.  He contributed much to the success of several business enterprises, holding the respect and esteem of all who knew him.

          Jeff Hook was one of twenty-one children born to George Hook.  Mr. George, in addition to being very prolific, was a well-respected citizen of the Hardinsburg district.  His home was two miles southwest of Hardinsburg, on the little Owensboro road.  George Hook was the son of John and Lucretia (Wood) Hook, and the grandson of John Hook who was a soldier in George Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War.  Mr. John Hook was a native of Pennsylvania.  In 1818, John the II moved to Breckinridge County.  Mr. Gorge Hook was born here in 1825.

          The Hook family has always been mechanically inclined.  They loved engines, saw mills, and flour mills.

          Mr. Jubal Hook, who was a brother to George Hook and father of Clint, Bud and Charley, operated a grain mill on the corner where they Gulf oil station now stands.  Mr. Hook had an old colored man who ran the steam engine, his name was Boaz Poole.  Boaz had a desire to ride the fly wheel on the engine.  One day he tied a string to the throttle of the engine, then seated himself on the hub of the fly wheel.  His head was braced against the other side of the rim.  He then pulled the string and held onto the spokes.  He pulled the string a little too hard giving the engine more steam than he had intended and his act had begun.  Fortunately, Mr. Hook came in a few minutes later and stopped the engine.  Boaz fell off on the ground pretty well shaken up, but satisfied.

          Howard, Mathias, and Russell Hook are all business men of present day Hardinsburg.

          Mathias Hook is in the road building business and operates a lot of heavy equipment.  He also has a Ready Mix concrete plant in Hardinsburg and sometimes carried as many as 100 men on his payroll.

          The Hook brothers sold their garage several years ago to a Mr. J. C. Blancett from Calhoun, Kentucky, who has carried on quite a successful business.

          Mr. Russell Hook might be best classified as a student of history.  He was one of the fortunate ones, and through good business practices he was able to retire at age 21.  Since then he has spent a portion of every day studying history.  He says he spends his time learning history.  When he was in school he had to study it; and he didn’t like it then.  He is a member of the Kentucky Historical Society, the Civil War Society of Kentucky, the Filson Club, and the McCoy Roundtable.

          The McCoy Roundtable is so called because it is held in Hershel McCoy’s restaurant, where may be had the best coffee in the nation.

          This organization has no dues, no by-laws, no fees and no particular purpose but it is the breeding ground for political movements, Civic advancement, Historical research and the uncovering of forgotten Folklore.

          This Roundtable is composed of some ten or twelve members who meet regularly every day and discuss such subjects as might come into the minds of the first members present.  These gentlemen are all very scholarly; and with very few exceptions their discussions are quite enlightening.  Occasionally these discussions become accelerated to the point of being categorized as arguments.

          This McCoy Roundtable consists of Russell Hook, Jim Ames, Hughes Goodman, Paul Fuqua, Ed Robbins, Sam Fuqua, Wade Glasscock and others.  This group meets every day with a very high percentage of attendance.

          The discussions at this McCoy Roundtable have much in common with the type of arguments that took place in the ancient Athenian court yards some two to four hundred years before Christ.

          This type gathering, where each person present divulges his personal philosophic view of current problems, is a thing common to most all rural county seat towns; but seemingly has escaped the credit for which it is due.  Mr. Samuel Johnson, the Medieval English author, once said that the great majority of the progress of civilization has its origin in a tavern.

          Mr. Russell Hook who is generally the leading spokesman for the Roundtable is financially able to travel extensively but he finds Hardinsburg to be the most fascinating place on the globe.  On one occasion he went to Florida to spend a month vacation; but after a few days there he could stand it no longer so he hurried home to get his books and learn about the places he had been and seen.  Mr. Russell and his books are as interwoven as Socrates and his circles.

          In 1840, a route was established from Hardinsburg to Leitchfield.

          The first Rural Route established out of the Hardinsburg office was in 1908.  It ran a distance of 24.75 miles and served thirty-seven families.  Since that time, with the improvement of roads and transportation, mail is delivered to practically every door in the county every day.

          Soon after 1908, these rural routes were established and mail was delivered all over the county.  These early rural carriers deserve a place of praise in American history.  Their faithfulness and the sense of duty and responsibility under the worst sort of environmental circumstances put them in the category with the country doctors of that same seemingly impossible age.

          Mr. Jim Noblett, the father of Colman Noblett, who lives at Harned, was one of these rural carriers.  In the winter of 1917 and 1918, when the big snow fell and stayed on the ground all winter, Mr. Noblett was carrying the mail from Harned to Roff.  He usually rode a horse, but the snow was so deep and covered with a deep layer of ice that he was forced to abandon his horse and travel on foot.  One morning he wobbled into Mr. Frankie Mattingly’s store and post office at Roff carrying his bulging mail pouch and the temperature was ten below zero.  He delivered his burden to the postmaster, then went behind the old pot-bellied stove and thawed out.  Finally he made ready for his return trek to Harned, but as he went to the door he said, “Gentlemen, you may hear of wars and rumors of wars but you will never hear of Jim Noblett bidding on another mail route.”

          The old city hall was owned by Mr. Green Beard and stood across the street from Dr. Sills’ Medical Center.

          From the Civil War until World War I this old city hall was a place for business and political meetings as well as a place of amusement.  There were many medicine shows held there.

          These medicine shows often stayed as long as a week at a time.  They had their comedians and other type entertainers that could draw a crowd, then acted as salesmen between acts.

          One such show was, Dr. Emmerson’s Health Giver.  It was probably stump-water but it cured many an ailment.

          In 1910, Mr. Bud sills put a picture show in the old city hall.  It was powered by a gasoline engine that pulled a generator.  This was Dr. Sills’ grandfather.  These were silent pictures but Mr. Sills supplied his own music.  His brother, Jonas sills, played a piano and beat a drum, or furnished about any other type music necessary for the occasion.  Most of these old silent pictures were serials, and you just had to go back week after week to see how the show turned out.

          About 1920, The Knights of Columbus put up the building where the Leanheart’s Variety and Storms’ appliance store is.

          The McGary brothers rented the building and put in a real picture show that talked.  This furnished amusement and recreation for a number of years until drive-in theaters and television put them on the blink.

 

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