Breckinridge County, Kentucky
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|BRECKINRIDGE COUNTY, KENTUCKY|
|AREA COMMUNTIES OF THE PAST AND PRESENT|
The Kirk settlement is one of the older settlements in the
county. It lies some four miles southwest of Hardinsburg,
between Planters Hall and the county seat. The Kirk community is situated on a ridge east of Clover Creek and west of Tuels Creek,
which separates it from the Kingswood community.
Some of the earlier settlers of this community and indeed the
county, were the Withers, DeHavens, Jarboes, Sheerans,
Mattinglys, Millers, Tauls, Coomes, McGarys, and Rhodes.
Soon after the trouble with the Indians subsided and the people
began to move out away from the fort, this fertile, well-timbered
ridge between Tuels and Clover Creeks became inhabited. Being isolated or without any communication with the rest of the world, it
did not gain its identity as a separate community until the railroad ran through the community in 1890.
The main line of the Louisville, Henderson, and St. Louis
Railroad was completed from Irvington to Fordsville. The
track was completed from Irvington to Cloverport in 1887. Immediately afterward, the five McCracken brothers from New York
began work on the spur line, as it was called, that ran from Irvington to Fordsville. The track was completed as far as Kirk and the
first train ran through the community in the spring of 1888. It was in this year that Mr. W. K. Withers saw the need and opportunity
for a business at this point and built a store.
Soon after this first store was built, other families moved
nearby and it was not long before a post office was needed and
the Kirk community was on the map.
The town was called Kirk at the suggestion of Mr. Harvey
McCracken, who was president of the railroad at that time.
Why he called it Kirk, I do not know.
Pete Sheeran was the second businessman in town. He built a
small store in the south end of town and later bought
out Mr. Withers store and moved the two stores together.
In 1890, Pete Sheeran and Mr. Lon Jarboe built a large tobacco
warehouse where they bought and priced tobacco to be
shipped to market on the new railroad. It is hard for s to realize what this railroad meant to these isolated communities in 1890. Prior
to this date any tobacco or other farm produce, or incoming merchandise had to be hauled overland in a wagon from Cloverport.
These two men, Pete Sheeran and Lon Jarboe, also operated a stave
mill for the Cincinnati Cooperage Company, and dealt
in Lumber. Between 1890, and the end of World War I most of the remaining good in this community found its way to market over
the old Branch Line Railroad.
During the 1890s, Dock Farrow built his home in town and sold groceries and goods in one room of his home.
The town was not without medical aid. Dr. Cosby was there
at that time and a short time later Dr. Milton Board
moved into the community and put up his office building.
In 1898, Cyrus Miller built a large store in town which was run
by Marcus Mattingly. He sold general merchandise
and all kinds of farm machinery.
During this time, when business was booming, Sheeran and Jarboe
had enlarged their store. They were handling dry
goods, groceries, hardware, furniture, machinery, buggies, and wagons; also mens suits and a millinery department. Their wrapping
paper advertised that they handled anything a person needed from the cradle to the grave. And truly they did. One could go to
Kirk and buy a bundle of diapers and safety pins or a coffin and shroud.
By 1900, Kirk had a livery stable and two blacksmith shops, one
of which was run by Hiram Winchell who later sold to
Robert Scroggins. The other one was owned by Mr. George Mattingly, who had a combination blacksmith and woodworking
shop. Sometime later the Scroggins shop was operated by Raymond Mattingly.
Kirk was no different than all the rest of the communities in the
county in respect to their religious life. In 1896,
the patrons of the Oakland School built a Methodist Church which was dedicated in August of that year. The pastor was Brother
Crowe who served both the New Oakland Church and Hardinsburg. This church lasted for thirty-two years. Then in 1928,
with better roads and better means of transportation, the Methodist Conference sold the building to J. W. Withers and Son, and the
congregation moved their membership to Hardinsburg. Later, the Corinth Baptist Church at McQuady bought the benches, which
are still in use in that church. The old church building is still standing but is used for a tobacco barn.
It was not until 1935, that the inter-county seat road leading
from Hardinsburg to Fordsville was graveled, connecting Kirk
with the rest of the world by a means other than the railroad. Mr. Hugh Johnson of Davies County was the contractor and the
crushed limestone was quarried on Mrs. Monarchs farm near Kirk. This and other rock roads in the county soon spelled doom
for the railroad which brought life into the county some fifty years earlier.
There was a rather large one-room county school in town where all
eight grades were taught. This was consolidated
with Hardinsburg and the school was discontinued in 1927.
For a few years Kirk had a gristmill but it did not last long and later Alvin Miller opened a store in the building.
Pete Sheeran sold his interest in his store to Marcus Mattingly
and moved to Meade County and bought a farm. The
store was then continued under the name of Mattingly and Jarboe. By this time most of the industry was gone. The warehouse
was discontinued by 1911, and the stave mill disappeared in 1915.
In the Cyrus Miller building, Alvin Miller and Will DeHaven had a
store which lasted about two years; thus, leaving Mattingly
and Jarboe the only store in town.
In 1929, a new type of business opened up in Kirk that looked
like it would have been a permanent fixture. Mrs.
A. H. Withers and Mrs. Agnes Dodd started a studio of handiwork. This occupied two cottages and employed from twenty to a
hundred workers. During the winter months they usually had over one hundred women working with a monthly pay roll of
$3,000. This studio turned out all kinds of quilted and handmade articles such as baby clothes, negligees, draperies, quilts, and
the like. They employed 14 sales women in 14 different states and one in Honolulu, one on Cape Cod, and a booth in the Drake
Hotel in Chicago, and a shop in the Brown Hotel in Louisville.
This business brought a lot of badly needed money into the Kirk
community these four years, but in March of 1930, it
burned down with about a sixty thousand dollar loss to the owners. In 1929, the sales had amounted to over $75,000.
At this same time the store of Mattingly and Jarboe was sold to
J. R. Mattingly and Son. Later Gus Mattingly
bought the store and it burned down.
Paul Mattingly later built a store on the highway but sold it to
J. M. Hinton. The store opened by Alvin Miller
was sold to Mr. A. H. Withers who sold out four months later to Mason Embry. In 1952, Mr. Embry sold to Lonnie Lucas
who sold to Jess Carwile who still owns it.
The post office has stayed with the town since the start. The
first postmaster was W. K. Withers. Since
then the office has been held by Pete Sheeran, Marcus Mattingly, J. E. Monarch, Mrs. Alvin Miller, J. R. Mattingly, Ruth M. Withers,
Shellie Embry, who died while holding office, and Katherine Hinton who held the office until it was discontinued in 1965.
The Kirk community on its ridge between Clover and Tuels Creeks,
indeed all the county between old Morton Town
and Hardinsburg, is unsurpassed for beauty anywhere this side of the Bluegrass region.