Tag Archives: Harrodsburg Kentucky

Graham Springs – Famous Waters Bring Many To Mercer County

Who knew Harrodsburg had the reputation of one of the best mineral springs anywhere around?  Graham Springs and its hotel saw many of important and famous people visit both before the Civil War and after the turn of the 20th century.  It is said its guest registers hold the names of everyone who visited; and one was used in a murder trial in the 1850’s to locate the whereabouts of certain witnesses at the time of the murder.  You guessed it – they were at the Graham Springs Hotel.

Begun in 1820, a large hotel was built in 1843.  In 1853 the property was sold to the US government, and burned in 1865.  In 1911 the idea of the Graham Springs Hotel was reborn with another building, and continued through 1932 when the property was purchased by Glave Goddard.  In 1946 it was decided to build the James B. Haggin Hospital on the site of the Grahm Springs Hotel.

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Sunday, November 17, 1929

Autumn At Graham Springs

To the Editor of The Courier-Journal

Graham Springs Hotel stands upon a beautiful wooded hilltop overlooking the historic town of Harrodsburg, itself one of the oldest and most famous resort hotels in the South.

Twenty-five acres of almost virgin forestry surround it, in unusual beauty of location, its site superb, and its outlook majestic.  As the changing seasons come and go in Kentucky, they write a progressive record of the sylvan beauty upon these woods that thrill an observer with the sheer loveliness of it.  The bluegrass has a marvelous power of resurrection which no amount of scorching in summer drouths can destroy, and late rains of the fall season have laid an aftermath of tender green upon the sunlit slopes in Graham Springs woods.  Upon walnut trees of unusual size and symmetry dark clumps of mistletoe hang in profusion, their waxen berries turning to pearl in a setting of shimmering dark green leaves.  It is no wonder that the Druids worshipped the mistletoe, with its suggestion of everlasting life!  From oak and elm and walnut trees, brilliant autumn colors are flaunted in the face of on-coming winter, with a brave abandon.  As one by one, scarlet, gold and russet-brown leaves float softly to earth, in the still sunlight, a sense of peace and restfulness falls like soothing balm upon the spirit of anyone who may walk there.

In 1820, Dr. C. C. Graham erected a classic building resembling an old world castle upon these grounds, close to the famous Graham0 Springs, whose marvelous curative waters still attract people in search of health and pleasure.  It does not need a page from the United States Dispensary, which states that, ‘Graham Springs and Saratoga are the only saline waters of true worth to be found in America,’ to convince one who has tasted it.  Many have declared it equal to the waters at Baden-Baden.  Kentucky has an asset in this mineral water which she cannot afford to overlook, and progress will surely present it to the world in the fullest measure.  In 1865, that year of the War Between the States anguish, the old hotel was burned.  Its romantic memories, its charm and prestige, however, which are things of spiritual permanence, still cling about the place.

It was in Harrodsburg that George Rogers Clark planned his famous army for the conquest of the Northwest, in commemoration of which event, Old Fort Harrod has been made a State park.  It was within the hotel grounds that a beautiful pageant, representing the early history of Kentucky, was given in celebration of the centennial anniversary of the founding of Harrodsburg, several years ago.  A priceless old record book of Graham Springs Hotel shows names of men famous in the making of America.  Henry Clay was a frequent guest and left his name upon its register.  Pages might be printed of other famous signatures found there.

Old Dr. Graham himself, with his snow-white beard and princely bearing, was a conspicuous figure in the annals of Kentucky, not only leaving a record of his fame at Graham Springs, but at old Transylvania University at Lexington, where he received his education.  Dr. Ephraim McDowell at Danville, and Dr. C. C. Graham at Harrodsburg were men who measured up to the highest standards in the world’s medical records.  The wise old doctor saw to it that his guests had a full measure of exercise and pleasure as well as curative waters to tone up the human system.  A series of dances were inaugurated at Graham Springs before the War Between the States, which became famous for their brilliancy and aristocratic patronage.  The musicians were colored slaves of Dr. Graham, highly trained and gaily liveried.  The singing of ‘spirituals’ before an audience began, in the old South, upon these occasions.

The grave of the unknown girl who died of a heart attack at one of the balls given at Graham Springs.  Her grave is well-tended today.

To this day the weekly dances at Graham Springs are social events of importance in Kentucky, during the season.  Perhaps a mention of the ante-bellum balls may not be complete without reference to the beautiful ‘Unknown’ who danced so gaily and so long at one of them, that she died of a heart attack on the same summer night.  Her grave, marked first by Dr. Graham, and afterward by the City of Harrodsburg, is shown to tourists who never fail to respond to the pathetic appeal of her story.

Mrs. James Harrod, widow of the hardy old pioneer who founded Harrodsburg, lived to a very old age, and was an honored guest at Graham Springs on the first anniversary celebration held there.

Nancy Lewis Greene, Harrodsburg, Kentucky

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Thursday, January 1, 1942

Where Southern Gentry Met to Freshen, Fatten and Flirt

This article of 1942 talks about the many ‘watering places’ or mineral springs located in Kentucky, and used before the advent of the Civil War.  It is said physicians strongly recommended taking the waters and were advertised as being ‘especially beneficial to persons suffering from diseases of the stomach, live and kidneys, as well as from asthma, gout, dyspepsia, rheumatism, bilious disorders, neuralgia, autumnal fevers and general debility.’  I believe that takes in almost anyone!

In 1803 John Kennedy’s stagecoach lines helped bring patrons from the city to the country where they might take the waters.

At Olympian Springs, in Bath County it was said ‘there was much flirting, sometimes by ‘married charmers, thirsting for universal dominion.’  Disputes between the ladies often involved ‘pillows, bolsters, fingernails and the poignant sarcasm of the tongue,’ and, at time, the dueling pistols of sensitive gentlemen could be heard in a nearby woodland settling ‘affairs of honor.’

‘Dr. Christopher Columbus Graham, veteran of the War of 1812 and “for many years the champion off-hand rifle shot of the world,” purchased the Greenville Springs in 1827, and the following year bought the “Harrodsburg or Sutton Springs” from his father-in-law, Captain David Sutton, for $10,000.  Dr. Graham then combined these two watering places under the name of Harrodsburg or Graham’s Springs.

‘A guest, viewing the Springs in retrospect, said of them: “The walk to the spring before breakfast was very fashionable, a long board-walk covered with tan-bark and shaded with locust trees, their branches meeting and arching overhead the whole distance.  The belles and beaux walked up and down the long portico of the hotel in what seemed to me a fair procession.  The ladies with their beautiful elaborately dressed hair in the New Orleans fashion, as from there we got the styles, and their organdy muslins, which were not then to be bought outside of New Orleans.  The envy of all were the exquisite wide embroidered collars and cuffs worn by the Southern belles.  A score of Creole beauties, prim and particular in their lovely, fleecy, muslin dresses were always present.  The ballroom at night was a scene of enchantment; old Dr. Graham, the proprietor, was the master of ceremonies and the life of the party.”’

It was said that during the summer months of 1833, when the Asiatic cholera was rampant in Kentucky, many came to the springs for healing.  ‘Dr. Graham, at Harrodsburg, announced: “These Springs are perfectly free from the cholera and they never have been otherwise,” and “the many who visited the Springs, from the various cholera districts, with the disease upon them, have all quickly recovered.”’

‘By the middle ‘40’s the watering places of the state were in their heyday.  To keep abreast of the times, Dr. Christopher Graham of Harrodsburg Springs erected an elegant and commodious hotel during the late fall of 1842 and winter of 1843.  This splendid building, costing $30,000, was acclaimed by many to the “the finest edifice in the West.”’

And this July 19, 1851, note in The Courier-Journal gives a rousing description of the dance in the Graham Springs Hotel ball room.  ‘Returning from the ball room, brilliantly illuminated by the sparkling eyes, rivaling the stars in their dazzling brilliancy, methought, if in the cool evening zephyrs that continually fanned my brown, (such were a possibility) to collect, my thoughts scattered in the whirling waltz, to the northern extremity of my brain.  Truly the poet says there’s a “magical influence in the wafted breeze;” but I am afraid (like the charming coquette) she has her favorites, for in spite of all my efforts, my thoughts continue to revert to the ball room!  What a potent charm there is in the dance, and how delightfully sounds the music!’

This popularity of ‘taking the waters’ continued into the early 1850’s.  in 1853 Dr. Graham sold the Springs to the United States Government and it was turned into a military asylum for old and disabled soldiers.

In 1856 the main building burned.  And during the Civil War the buildings that remained were used as a hospital.  After the Battle of Perryville on October 8, 1862, in Boyle County, the ballroom was used as an operating room.

But the Springs did revive in the early days of the 20th century.

The Kentucky Advocate, Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Friday, April 21, 1911

It will be pleasant news to the people of Central Kentucky to learn that the far-famed historical old Graham Springs will be opened as a select summer resort the coming season.  The Cassell mansion, one of the most elegant brick buildings in the Blue Grass has been converted into a choice hotel.  Old fashioned cooking will be provided and food in abundance will be supplied.  The water that pours from Old Graham Springs is the finest in the world and it is a wonder that somebody has not long ago erected a hotel there sufficient to accommodate five hundred guests.  The property is now owned by Mr. Ben C. Allin and Editor T. Sanders Orr has charge of the publicity department.  The water from these springs should be bottled and shipped throughout the country.  Reasonable rates will be made.  Many Danville people will doubtless take advantage of the fine accommodations and benefit themselves by drinking the pure water that made Harrodsburg famous sixty years ago.

This 1923 advertisement for the Graham Springs Hotel touts its ‘tennis, croquet and shady grounds, is located on a high eminence with splendid views and amid beautiful scenery.’  Perhaps this was the first of what today is known as farm-to-table – ‘its table is supplied with the best of foods, old-fashioned cooking, chicken dinners, including pure Jersey milk from our own herd, fresh vegetables and fruit from our own gardens.’

It is also a tourist manual, giving ideas for outings in the surrounding country – ‘beautiful and full of historic interest.  The roads are ideal for riding, driving and motoring and short excursions may be made to the site of the old fort, to Daniel Boone’s Cave, High Bridge, Shakertown, Perryville Battlefield and other points of interest.’

This photo was taken during those early days of the 20th century.

This is what the area looks like today.

Main Street in Harrodsburg – 1904 and 113 Years Later!

Let me introduce you to my town!  Harrodsburg, located in Mercer County, was laid out June 16, 1774, by Captain James Harrod and his band of men.  It was first called Harrodstown, then Oldtown, and finally Harrodsburg.  In the very early years there were Indian attacks, and many settlers were killed.  But the rich and fertile land of the Bluegrass area was too profitable to give up.  As more and more families moved to Mercer County, and the Indians gave way to Ohio and Indiana, life became more peaceful.

In the 130 years since the site was laid out, and this picture was taken, there is no comparison to the log fort and this photo from 1904.  Fort Harrod, and the cabins within, fell into disuse and decay.  This is a photo of a bustling little town!  Power lines dominate the picture, large buildings, churches, horse and buggies, men and women on the streets – with no worry of Indian attacks!  Progress was here.

And if we go an additional 113 years forward to today, we see a modern, small town, but with a few signs from the first photo.  The brick building on the right side of the street, in the middle of the photo, is still standing.  For many years it was used as the home for the County Clerk’s Office.  Directly across the street is the courthouse, which cannot be seen in either photo.  A new courthouse was built a few years ago, and the county offices were moved to a building on Lexington Avenue.

The yellow house is still there, with a bit of renovation.  In the original photo the Christian Church stands beside it.  The church, which has been rebuilt, is hidden by the tree, but can be see in the above photograph.

I wanted to show you a close up of the old photo.  You will have to imagine that the first two buildings on the right (the church and store front) are now the large Christian Church from the modern photo.  The brick building begins with what was the County Clerk’s Office.

Past the building that housed the clerk’s office is The Kentucky Fudge Company – one of our favorite places to eat!  Studio G is next, with local music and talent.  Several other businesses are located down the street.  The building at the end – blue, with a turret – is the office of Dr. Tammy Hoskins, my optometrist.  You can see this building in the original photo!

Power lines are now underground, giving a nice, neat Main Street appearance.  I love small towns – and I especially love living in one!  Come visit – I’ll show you the replica of Fort Harrod, with the huge Osage orange tree in front, that has been the center of many school photos.  We’ll visit The Kentucky Fudge Company for lunch.  The Harrodsburg Historical Society on Chiles Street is a must for genealogy research.  There are many old cemeteries to visit.  And Shaker Village is just a few miles away – they serve a lovely dinner.


Kentucky Fudge Company – Harrodsburg’s Historic and Culinary Treasure

The Kentucky Fudge Company in the early years – when it was Dedman’s Drugstore.

If you have never visited the small town of Harrodsburg, I heartily recommend you do.  Located in central Kentucky, we have so much history to offer since we are the oldest town in the state, founded in 1774 by a group of pioneers led by James Harrod, of Pennsylvania, who built Fort Harrod.  It was the only colonial city and the first permanent English settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains.  I am proud to call Harrodsburg ‘home’.

Originally Kentucky was called Fincastle County when it was part of Virginia.  In 1776, after Harrodsburg had been a town for two years, it was renamed Kentucky County, Virginia.  Four years later Kentucky County was divided into three counties – Fayette, Jefferson and Lincoln.  Harrodsburg was the county seat of Lincoln County, and remained so until 1785 when Mercer County was formed, Harrodsburg becoming the county seat for Mercer.  Kentucky became a state in 1792.

With our county clerk’s office that has records back to the very early years, our wonderful public library that has its own genealogy room and the Harrodsburg Historical Society located on Chiles Street, it is a genealogists dream.

But today I want to talk to you about the Kentucky Fudge Company located on Main Street.  It is located in the old Smith and Dedman Drugstore building that opened in 1868 at 225 South Main Street.  C. M. Dedman bought out his partner and it was known as Dedman’s Drugstore, and continued as a pharmacy until 1983.  The James Harrod Trust eventually acquired the property through the generosity of a local citizen, and restored the first floor of the drugstore.  The Kentucky Fudge Company was opened in 2006 and is a wonderful gathering place for adults and children – to enjoy ice cream in huge waffle cones or lunch or dessert – and to spend time talking and visiting with friends.

As you come through the front door it seems as if we’ve walked back in time.  From the original soda fountain, stained glass windows and the original cherry cabinets of the pharmacy to the ceilings and floors, history is in present time.  Drugstore memorabilia, old photos and such are on display.

But let’s talk about the food – you know how much I love to eat!  The menus are written on blackboards and the list is filled with yummy sandwiches, soups, salads, ice cream, bakery items.  The Saturday after five menu can be anything from a Roast Beef Manhattan to Pot Roast and Horseradish to personal pizzas and quesadillas.  On St. Patrick’s Day weekend we enjoyed Bangers and Mash!

My personal favorite lunch is their Triple Scoop – I always choose chicken salad, potato salad and olive nut spread.  Served with crackers, this is heaven on a plate!  The chicken salad is filled with chunks of chicken, grapes and celery; the potato salad is wonderful (tastes like it is made with baked potatoes); and the olive nut is by far the best I’ve ever eaten – pecans, green olives and cream cheese!  My mouth salivates just thinking about it!

And Saturday at 6:30 the Trivia begins – tables are filled with locals enjoying food, drinks and answering those mind-boggling questions!  Such fun!

And what about the fudge?  Oh, my!  One taste and you are hooked!  It is creamy, smooth and delicious!  Last time I tried the peppermint schnapps – now a personal favorite.  They also have buckeye (chocolate and peanut butter), milk chocolate and walnuts, bourbon, and several others.

Any visitor who stops by the Kentucky Fudge Company always returns!  We have friends from Canada who can’t wait to come back to to KFC to have lunch and some pie!  My sister loves the food so much she said the tea room is unnecessary.  And for any genealogy enthusiasts who visit, I always take them to the Kentucky Fudge Company!  Come to Harrodsburg and I will take you!

Jeremiah and Martha A. Peavler Claunch Obituaries


Jeremiah Claunch, April 9, 1844 – May 28, 1914.  Martha, his wife, March 16, 1849 – February 21, 1930.  Deep Creek Baptist Cemetery, Mercer County, Kentucky

from The Harrodsburg Herald, Mercer County, Kentucky

Friday, May 29, 1914

Mr. Jerry  Claunch, one of the best known men of the Rose Hill section, died Thursday morning of apoplexy. He was about 70 years of age, and a member of the Baptist faith, having been identified with the congregation of Deep Creek church for many years. He was highly respected by everyone and was well and favorably known all over the county. His funeral will be held this (Friday) morning at 11 o’clock at Deep Creek church and the burial will be in the nearby cemetery. The officiating ministers will be Rev. W. D. Moore and Rev. Ray. Besides his wife, Mrs. Martha Claunch, he leaves five children; Rev. Calvester Claunch, who is preaching at Middleburg; Mr. Magoffin Claunch, Mrs. Mary Frances Randolph, Mrs. Lillie Patterson and Miss Louisa Claunch.

from The Harrodsburg Herald, Mercer County, Kentucky

Friday, February 28, 1930

Mrs. Martha Claunch, 81, widow of Jerome Claunch, died February 21 at her home on Perryville Street in this city. Truly a good woman was taken when she passed on. At the age of sixteen she united with the Baptist church at Deep Creek and her long life has been a fine example of her Christian faith. Her funeral was held Sunday morning at the Deep Creek church, conducted by the Rev. W. D. Moore and the Rev. W. S. Scantland. Burial was in the Deep Creek cemetery. Surviving are the fol­lowing children: Mr. Magoffin Claunch, Rev. C. T. Claunch, Harrods­burg; Mrs. Will Tyler, Mrs. Marion Patterson, Mrs. Thomas Randolph, all of Rose Hill; a sister, Mrs. Nannie Lawson, and a brother, Mr. Leonard Peavler, also of Rose Hill.

Mercer County Clerk

IMG_0272I want to share with you today one of my favorite places – the Mercer County Clerk’s Office in Harrodsburg (about ten minutes away from my home – a little more if you are caught by the train)!  I could spend hours and hours in here – there is just that much history!  The picture above shows the older records in one section of the very large room.

A few years ago our old courthouse was torn down to build a new one – and most of the offices (circuit clerk, sheriff, judicial, etc.) were transferred to what used to be the old Gateway building, a former grocery store.   The County Clerk was housed in what was known as the Court House Annex, across the street from the original court house.  Once the new building was completed the Judicial Courts and the Circuit Clerk moved into the new court house, and the County Clerk was moved to the Gateway building.

IMG_0273This room is filled with old records!

IMG_0274Marriage bonds, court orders, wills, deeds, guardianship bonds, minutes – numerous records from about the 1780’s!

IMG_0276This drawer holds the oldest marriage bonds and parental consents.

IMG_0277Inside it looks like a jumble of old papers – but what information those papers hold.  I would like to organize this one day – perhaps the clerk will allow me!  These precious pieces of paper must be handled very carefully!

IMG_0278This is the marriage license for Don C. Dixon and Mary J. Allin – Mary Jouett Allin, who is the daughter of the man issuing the license – Thomas Allin, County Clerk – first clerk of Mercer County – and who continued until June of 1833 due to his death during the cholera epidemic.

IMG_0285This is a marriage return by Jesse Head, minister.  Some were excellent about turning in their marriages, some not so good!

IMG_0287This is a little later marriage license and certificate – 1866.  It was printed on very thin paper, almost like tissue paper.

IMG_0289One of my goals for this day was to copy of the will of Lewis Rose.  If you remember he was included in a blog I wrote about Memorial Acre at Fort Harrod.

IMG_0290As you can imagine this will be a future blog!

Always remember that the county clerk’s office is a valuable source for genealogy research.  In almost every county the clerk has been very helpful to me – and will be to you!  They realize that some of us have been at this a long time – and some are brand new to genealogy research!  Which County Clerk’s offices have you visited?



Dr. Alex A. Farris Obituary

from The Harrodsburg Herald, Mercer County, Kentucky

Thursday, May 18, 1905

Was At Perryville

The death of Dr. Alex A. Farris at Hickman, Kentucky, Monday, was received here with much regret.  When quite a young man he entered the Confederate service and was severely wounded at the Battle of Perryville.  He was brought to Harrodsburg and then taken to the home of Mr. and Mrs. T. C. Coleman on the Lexington Pike, where his arm was amputated and where he hovered between life and death for many weeks.  He finally recovered, went to Missouri, graduated in medicine and became one of the foremost physicians of that commonwealth.  About six years ago he wrote here asking about his former friends who had cared for him in his hour of need.  Learning that both were then alive he paid them a pleasant visit of several days.  In the terrible yellow fever epidemic that visited Hickman in 1878 the courage and devotion to duty, which made so good a soldier, prompted him to remain with and serve his people.  Of the six home physicians all died except Dr. Farris, who seemed to bear a charmed life through the scourge.

W. A. Jackson Obituary

from The Sayings, Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky

Wednesday, March 31, 1897

Mr. W. A. Jackson, who lived 3 1/2 miles southwest of Harrodsburg, departed his life, Friday, at 11:20 o’clock of pneumonia and rheumatism.  He was born December 8, 1822, in Cumberland County, but spent nearly all his life in this county with the exception of a few years in Kansas.  On July 2, 1846, he married Nancy Jane Tewmey, who, in her 71st year, survives to mourn the departure of a kind and affectionate husband.  Six children blessed their union, to wit:  John Jackson, who died in infancy in Johnson County, Kansas; W. E. Jackson, a successful merchant of this city; O. F. Jackson of Lexington; James Jackson, of this county; Mrs. Ellie Prewitt, of Nevada, this county; and Mrs. Charles Wigham, who resided with her father.  The deceased was an industrious citizen, a farmer and merchant, and overcome many reverses in the struggle of life.  He was for many years a member of the Christian Church, later joining the Soulsleepers whose house of worship is at Laurel Hill in this county.  The only member of the immediate family of deceased now living, is a brother, Mr. D. J. Jackson who resides at Nevada.  The funeral services, at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, at Bethel Church, where conducted by Rev. W. T. Corn and interment took place in the adjacent cemetery.