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Old Covington, Kentucky Meehan, Eleanor Childs. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images University of Kentucky, Electronic Information Access & Management Center Lexington, Kentucky 2002 b92-163-30098325 Electronic reproduction. 2002. (Beyond the shelf, serving historic Kentuckiana through virtual access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; These pages may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Old Covington, Kentucky Meehan, Eleanor Childs. Stewart & Kidd Press], [Cincinnati : 1922.  p. ; 23 cm. + supplement (16 p.) Coleman Supplement to "Old Covington" and "Personal recollections of an octogenerian." Cover title: Old Covington, Kentucky, personal recollections of an octogenarian, Eleanor Childs Meehan. Microfilm. Atlanta, Ga. : SOLINET, 1994. 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm. (SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN04166.09 KUK) Printing Master B92-163. IMLS This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. Covington (Ky.) History. OLD COVINGTON, KENTUCKY PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF AN OCTOGENARIAN MRS. ELEANOR CHILDS MEEHAN This page in the original text is blank. OLD COVINGTON, KENTUCKY Mrs. Eleanor Childs Meehan COPYRDHT 1922 ELEANOR CHILDS MEEHAN OLD COVINGTON, KENTUCKY "Fontd ntmeory brings the light Of other days around ume." N the mad and merry rush of the present age it may be that to a few remaining kindred souls these reminiscences of mine may be of interest. Sitting among some treasured relies of the past, memories both sad and sweet return to me. They carry me back to the time when but a little child I was held in my father's arms to witness the marriage ceremony of a young lady who had made much of me, and record my first childish grief on being told that she must go away from me. A few vears later that tender father's hand would lead me to where I learned to read-the old "White Mansion" in Covington where the Reverend Doctor William Orr then conducted a school. The grounds included the space between Fifth and Sixth Streets and between Russell and Montgomery Streets. The latter was named for the Reverend Father Montgomery, pastor of the little Catholic Church on Fifth Street: he also erected the White Mansion. A little west was the old Craig Street burying ground which was later removed to make room for the railroad that now spreads its tracks over the space where the "rude forefathers of the hamlet" slept. Going south on Craig Street it joined the Bank Lick Road at the Lexington Pike near which was the Drover's Inn conducted bv Mr. Ashbrook. The cattle pens occupied the space now used by railroad tracks and the gatekeeper's outlook. As children on our way to school we timidly gauged our time in passing the gates to guard against the rush of cattle and hogs being driven to slaughter. Down the old Lexington Pike farmers brought their produce to market. The hills along the pike were covered with forest trees and many grape-vine swings were enjoyed along the creek that mean- dered along the northside now occupied by truck farmers. On the south side ran Willow Run. its pretty little cascades trickling down to the valley where, beside a great flat rock under an immense sycamore tree, there dwelt alone in his little cabin one of whom we whispered as "the hermit." One day a hunter came up into our little settlement, startling us by the announcement that he had found the old man dead, sitting in his chair, his faithful dog beside him. WVhere now are the tracks of the Kentuckv Cen- tral railroad were ponds where, with bent pins, switch poles and brave spirits, we fished for the elusive mudcat fish and gathered walnuts and but- ternuts from the many surrounding trees. On our route to and from school, we passed through two orchards: one, just above what was then 'High" Street, now Eleventh and Bank Lick Road, and the other where the railroad freight depot stands at Eighth and Washington Streets. On High Street, now Eleventh, were immense grounds extending from Madison to Russell Streets, now also, alas, invaded by railroads, where stood the Baptist Theological Seminary - later, Saint Elizabeth Hospital - and, at the western end of the grounds the house occupied by the college presi- dent. This house is still standing, but much changed. In the College grounds, as they were called, Sunday School picnics were held and the Fourth of July was duly honored by assembling for patriotic addresses and the reading of the Declara- tion of Independence. Where now is Austinburgh was the residence of Mr. Austin, near the Licking River. To visit there, the bars were let down at Madison and Fifteenth Streets and a charming woodland road led to the Austin property. In the Austin orchard I, as a little girl of ten years, was honored by coronation as Queen of the May. Mky roval speech was written bv the father of Mr. John Simpson, who is still living, an honored benefactor to chari- ties, and it is still fresh in my mind. But, alas and alack! my queenly dignity suffered on returning home from the festivities by having to discard my pretty new slippers, which Otwav Norvell, also a ten-year-old courtier, carried home in his pocket, while I was escorted to my palace, the roval chariot being the wagon which had carried the lunch baskets. In those days a little pleasure boat made trips up the Licking river to Cole's Garden, now occupied bv various industries. The old Tavlor Mill road led to Taylor's Mills, through what is now Latonia. At the Latonia Springs stood an Inn which was quite a fashionable resort and famous for Kentucky hospitality. Time's "effacing fingers" have swept awav all those beautiful and popular places. The Inn is gone and forgotten and the grand old woods opposite, that stood around the Springs, have long been leveled. As Covington had no park, the Linden Grove Cemeterv was the favorite Sundav resort. Reverent and social crowds would make a weekly parade to its quiet walks. The main avenue was bordered by statelv locust trees whose blossoms in May bur- dened the air with their sweetness and lured the droning bees. At that time a large spring was at the foot of a hill where now a lake has been formed by the filling up of Thirteenth Street, necessitating the removal of the Groesbeck family vault to higher ground. This recalls the old and beautiful, but rather gloomy, Groesbeck mansion above where now the Newport and Covington bridge crosses at the end of Fourth Street. The quiet loveliness of old Linden Grove seemed desecrated by cutting through a street in the rear and the once bare hill- sides are now densely built up. In the early days it was customary, on the burial of a member of a fraternity, such as an Odd Fellow or Free Mason, to head the funeral cortege by a brass band playing dirges or sacred music on the approach to the cemetery, while the members in full regalia marched in procession. On the return from the cemetery, the music would be changed to lighter sound. Sunday was a favorite day. Now all is changed, as in many other affairs, and for the better morale of the street urchins, black and white, to whom these public funerals were a diversion. Dignity and solemnity now are more becoming. I remember once driving out with my mother and her cousin, Judge Samuel Moore, to the Kenton County seat at Independence in the settlement of my Revolutionary grandfather Gowdy's estate. Although the road led through a beautiful country, it was rough and rocky and we little dreamed then of the pleasant highway that has succeeded it. As time went on our beloved and venerated Doc- tor William Orr built the new home for a school on the Licking River banks. The grounds took in all the space between Sixth and Seventh Streets and Sanford Alley and the Licking River. At Seventh and Sanford stood D)oyle's Soap Factory, a modest affair, now the site of La Salette Academy. Back of it was a very deep hollow, now filled by Greenup Street. One evening in Winter an older companion and myself concluded to emulate Bonaparte cross- ing the Alps and plunged down into the deep snow, but to ascend the other side was a difficult question and had my companion been unable to assist me I should not be here nowv to tell the tale. We were disappointed in our ambition as was our hero. Another circumstance was particularly im- pressed on my memory. Our good preceptor always endeavored to have his pupils give their minds through the week to the construction of their essays, regularly a Friday morning occasion. It seemed that a boat, or they called it a ship, had been built and was to be launched at the foot of the school grounds, on the Licking River, for a trip to Cali- fornia. I suddenly remembered, here was Thursday afternoon and my essay due next morning. In consternation I seized upon the launching for a subject and recall my rather flowery description of gales and stormy seas with poor Jack aloft, but at last sailing in triumph into the summer land where gold awaited the Argonauts. My classmates thought it wonderful, and when I rose to read expected commendation, hut our wise Doctor, after a short silence, gravely looked at me over his spectacles and his sarcastic criticism touched the others as wvell as myself when he reminded me that the injunction to make an essay a week's careful study had been disregarded, as the launching had occurred only the day previous. To return to the topography of the city: On one corner of Pike and Scott Streets stood the Gies- bauer Brewery. It was a common affair for us to stop at the door on our way from school for the brewer's veast which made such delicious bread, the flour for which was ground at the McMurtry Mills on the Lexington Pike where now is the junction with Main Street. Opposite the brewery on Scott and Pike Streets was a large hollow, then occupied by the open vats of the Le Maire Tannery. Now, this is all filled and built over and the corner contains an oil filling station. Following Pike Street up to Madison, on the southeast corner stood the general store, a frame building with shed in front, where Uncle Billy Wasson, as many called him, held forth, conspicu- ous for his portly form and kindly ways. Here was dispensed the usual "dry goods and groceries" and the questions of the day were discussed. On the opposite corner Mr. John White had a grocery; then followed the business houses of Mr. Mackoy, James Spilman, Robert Howe, Mr. Timberlake, the saddle and harness establishment of Mr. Perkins, and other names known to old residents. On the west side of Madison Street stood a frame building, with old-fashioned porches -the Virginia House. At the foot of Garrard Street wvas a tavern conducted by the genial and rotund Berry Connolley. The city jail, a square, unassuming building, stood at the junction of two alleys between Fifth and Sixth Streets, while close by was the wagon works of Mr. John Gray, whose daughter Mary was one of Dr. Orr's pupils. On a short street between Bank Lick Road and the Pike stood a rope-walk. On Bank Lick and Ninth Street stood a pottery and we children were often attracted by the wonderful fashioning of pottery, as it grew under the turner's and molder's hands at his bench, just inside the window. Adjoin- ing this was the residence of the owner, Mr. Thomas, I think an Englishman, the famous Log house, then a comfortable and well cared for dwell- ing. This recalls that other famous building, the old Kennedy Stone House of Revolutionary days, now demolished. Opposite Covington, across the Licking River, was the Garrison, from which every night at nine o'clock the reveille music and drum could be heard to the western hills. Now, Fort Thomas has taken away the romance, and the glory has departed from the banks of the Licking at the Point where the Indian warwhoop once resounded and the "dark and bloody ground" received its baptism. But now our Chapter, the Elizabeth Kenton, Daughters of the American Revolution, is planning a memorial to the famous pioneer, Simon Kenton, and keep in mind the wonderful sacrifices of Kenton, Boone, and other kindred heroes. Old Covington also had wonderful fireworks displays from the pyro gardens on Mount Adams, near the point. On a hillside at the west end of Covington stands yet a house once occupied by the great tragedian Forrest, and on the Independence Pike a former residence of the great violinist Tosso. The old river road leading to Ludlow has been deflected and its curves remodeled to accommodate a trollev line. Old Willow Run is utilized as a sewer and soon all traces of the romantic old stream will have vanished. Wallace Place brings back Colonel Wal- lace, whose home seemed a plantation and whose military bearing was marked as he strode into church. My childish interest was always attracted bv the old and venerated Mr. John Preston as he walked into church, one hand leaning on his cane, the other seemingly helpless. I remember when the late Trimble residence was erected by Mr. Phillip Bush, there was at the southeastern corner of Madison and Tenth Streets a pond, on the edge of which grew a tulip poplar tree; the beauty and odor of its flowers remain with me. On the opposite corner stood the residence of Mr. Sage, later of Dr. Henderson. It is still stand- ing. The Alexander Greer homestead, on Lexing- ton Pike, in its large grounds was handsome and stately. The Robbins mansion stood where now is the Auditorium. The Groesbeck home has already been mentioned: the LeVassor home still is in the possession of Mr. Louis LeVassor. Where now stands the Richmond home at the west end of Eleventh Street was the Fowler farm, with ram- bling house and Indian mound, surrounded by great pine and forest trees. The Watkins home on Twelfth and Madison, with corner offices, has the main building still standing, though remodeled and occupied by the Cathedral clergy. The solid, com- fortable home of Governor Stevenson still stands. Covington was rich in legal talent. I vividly remember Mr. Septimus Wall, whose wife was the lovely, dainty Mary Finnell; and Mr. Aston Ma- deira, who left the practice of law for the pulpit, as did Mr. John Spilman. Deeply was I impressed with the solemnity of the occasion when, on taking charge of his pulpit the usual pledges were asked of him, and his grave response, "God helping me, I will!" Judge Samuel Moore, doubly related to me by blood and marriage, was of the old regime. Tall, erect, he seemed the embodiment of the law; Judge Pryor, grave and dignified; Judge William Arthur; Mr. Cambron, whose granddaughter is the wife of our prominent attorney, Judge Frank Tracy. There was Major Robert Richardson, pro- found student and able lawyer, whose literary abili- ties led one to think he should not have to be con- cerned with the sordid things of life, but browse among his books. His brilliant daughter, Miss Mary Cabell Richardson, resides in Covington, her facile pen still turning out eloquent periods and poetic thoughts. There was the witty Theodore Hallam, "Mister" he would be called, to distinguish him among the many Kentucky "Colonels." His name will ever be linked with that of "Marse Henry" Watterson; two wonderful typical Ken- tuckians. His cultured daughter inherits his won- derful talents and literary ability: her delightful "talks" on travel and other subjects are always eagerly anticipated by cultured audiences. Among physicians, prominent was Doctor Theo- dore Wise, whose first wife was Virginia, the daughter of Squire "Jimmy" Arnold, whose palatial residence occupied much space in the west end of the city: Doctor Richard Pretlow, whose entrance into a sick room inspired confidence and courage in the patient; Doctor Evans, the distinguished surgeon, whose death was much lamented; Doctor Blackburn, whose residence on Fourth Street was that of a Southern gentleman, with servants' quar.. ters in the rear. His daughter, Bettie, married the handsome young Doctor Dulaney, now among the departed. There was Doctor Major, whose pretty sister, Kate, was my childish ideal of beauty. His son Thomas was a Sunday School companion, and I used to look at his pale, spiritual face and men- tally prophesy, "Tom Major will, sometime, enter the ministry." Time went on - came war between the North and South; he espoused the Southern cause; was sick, wounded, brought to Cincinnati, where he shared the ministrations of two noble women who literally obeyed the Divine injunction to "visit the sick and prisoners," Mrs. Esther Cleve- land and Mrs. Peter of Cincinnati. With the zeal of converts, they interested him in spiritual affairs. He became a Catholic and a priest, by dispensation, having been a soldier, and "Father Tom," as he was affectionately called, was the idol of his fellow Confederates. Among prominent merchants were Mr. John B. Casey, in dry goods; Mr. W. D. McKean, in foot- wear; Mr. Charles Withers, in tobacco; Mr. Robert Ball, in foundry work; Mr. Isaac Martin, in lumber: the Walker Brothers, in dry goods; Mr. George McDonald, in jewelry; Bodeker and Miller, in drugs and medicines. Among real estate people were Mr. Levi Daugh- erty; Mr. John Clayton, whose uncle, Mr. Young, was once postmaster; Mr. Isaac Cooper, whose call- ing descended to his son and grandson. Prominent among Covington citizens was Mr. John Goodson, Sr., whose daughter Jane married the rising young lawyer, John Carlisle, whose talents carried him into the office of Secretary of theUnited States Treasury under President Cleveland. Among my pleasant memories is that of the pastor of our Presbyterian Church, the Reverend James Bayless. I happily recall the occasions when, sometimes at the close of his sermon, he would announce, "There will be preaching this afternoon at Casey's schoolhouse." This meant to us children a long ride out the Lexington Pike to the place, a long, white building near the Turkey Foot Road, still standing, but converted into a dwelling. Mr. Bayless' charming wife had a number of us chil- dren interested in missionary work and would assemble us at her home on Saturday afternoons to learn to sew and hear her instructions. At her request, we began for her an "album quilt." In the center of a nine patch the worker would write her name in indelible ink. Should that little quilt be in existence now, how I should love to see it! This little circle, as the members grew up, met with Mrs. William Ernst at her home, connected with the Northern Bank, and was, I suppose, the nucleus of the present "Sarah Ernst Sewing Circle." Mr. Bayless, the pastor of our Presbyterian Church, was an earnest and practical demonstrator of the doctrines he professed. Our then small congrega- tion felt the need of better housing and the Council Chamber of the Court House was placed at their disposal while a more substantial edifice was being erected. Surmounting this court house was a wooden statue of George Washington. When a better court house took the place of the old one, this statue was taken down and placed in a corner of the court yard, where it stood a long time. My sympathies were often roused at the sight of Wash- ington's effigy so neglected. Our congregation was comprised of many of the oldest families. I recall my admiration as a child, of the melodious voice of Mr. William Ernst leading the singing in both Sunday School and church service. His sons remain Covington citizens, in commerce, banking and the law, Mr. Richard Ernst representing Kentucky at the National Capi- tol. The Kennedy family, pioneers on both land and river, is largely represented still, and known to all. Doctor Louise Southgate, a worthy exponent of womanly ability, and her brother Bernard are nephew and niece of one of my loved schoolmates, Jennie Fleming, whose sisters married Dr. South- gate and Mr. Bedinger, respectively. Jennie's quaint drollery was the life of our chosen group in my last schooldays. There were Rose and Mollie Pace, whose mother was a Kennedy, and little Lucy Southgate,of another branch, full of quiet mischief, who would meet a well-earned reprimand by an innocent, enquiring gaze and a drawling "Sir" To return to our church. As our congregation increased a mission branch was sent out to the southern end of the city, at first occupying an humble little brick opposite the Mackoy residence on Ninth and Madison Streets, while a modest little building was being erected for our occupation, and standing yet, I suppose, in the rear of a more pre- tentious one erected later, which now I believe is occupied by colored people, while our congregation moved to Madison near Eleventh Street. In the first venture the Reverend Mr. Shotwell held the pulpit for awhile. Our choir was led by Mr.James Allen, the father of the late Doctor John Allen, and here Kate Menzies, lately deceased, sat beside me and we joined our voices in the hymns from the little old "Mason's Sacred Harp," still held bv me. Mr. Charles Mooar's fine tenor aided and the little melodeon was our accompaniment. I can vet see the various members in our little congregation. Judge Pryor's family sat near the pulpit; his daugh- ters, then unmarried, have become the heads of interesting families here. Mr. Robert Athey, then a handsome young gentleman, was an interested attendant and later married sweet little Lizzie Wallace. Our Wednesday evening prayer meetings were well attended, and dear, saintly old Mr. Men- zies, when asked to lead in prayer, would stand with upraised eyes and folded hands, imploring Divine blessings and protection, until one fairly imagined he saw the personal Presence he invoked. I had the pleasure lately of looking at his picture at the residence of his granddaughter, Mrs. Leslie Apple- gate, and my mind was carried back many years. But War's grim visage reared its head and all our quiet, simple lives were changed. The long delayed 'irrepressible conflict" predicted by Secre- tary Seward was at hand. Kentucky's attempted neutrality was overcome. Our geographical position denied us the right of choice. Then, as now, our ground was the 'gateway to Dixie." Kentucky's "sacred soil" was invaded, property rights trampled on, families disrupted, neighbors looked askance at each other, where perfect harmony once existed. The dauntless John Morgan and Kirby Smith kept the Northern occupants guessing, but at the turn of the Independence Pike a camp was placed and non-combatants were obliged to work on the fortifi- cations erected near the river. One day an alarm was sounded. One of our citizens. a gentleman of heavy weight, came flying into town on horseback. "To arms! To arms! the rebels are advancing!" "Every man to his post !" Early citizens will recall the portly form of 1Ir. Alexander Greer as not con- ducive to expediting the breathless horse he was urging frantically. In all our fright we could dis- tinguish a comical side, and the query arose, "Is this a Paul Revere or a John Gilpin ride" This was but a scare: but the alarm spread. To protect Cincinnati, Governor Todd of Ohio summoned his "squirrel hunters" to the rescue. A wire came to me from a sister in Ohio: "All of you come to me! The alarm bells are ringing and all is confusion!" Put I held my post. God was with us here as well as there. Our streets were filled with passing troops, although we did not suffer from actual conflict as did some other parts of the state. The slightest approach to seeming disloyalty was to risk impris- onment. Sad to say, some, "clothed with a little brief authority," presumed and persecuted unneces- sarily. The ferry boats were closely guarded. Sol- diers stationed at the wharves inspected bundles for contraband goods and sometimes with rather em- barrassing results. Once as some ladies were stand- ing with me to watch the troops pass our place to entrain, there was a whispered wish that the Southern troops were as wNell equipped. But a few days later a message weas received that John Mlor- gan's men had fallen on this regiment at Cumber- land Gap and captured wagons, men, stores, guns and much that contributed to the comfort of the hungry Southern soldiers cut off by blockades. The pretty burgh of Fort Mlitchell occupies the spot where earthworks were thrown up and the lovely old Kentucky hills echoed the rattle of musketry and drum. A pontoon bridge across the river was a novel sight. Many of our people noN living can remember these sad occurrences. Although the "conquered Banner" fell, indeed, and the glorious Stars and Stripes float again over a united people. that "Banner" is enshrined in the lavender of faith- ful hearts. The music of "Dixie" brings out the old "rebel yell," while all unite in singing "The Star Spangled Banner." The unstained "Sword of Robert Lee" and the name of prayerful "Stonewall" Jackson stand in the honor light with Grant and Sherman. In trav- eling over the scenes of heart-breaking memories, the sight of a monument to "Stonewall" Jackson recalled an anecdote of war time. A sudden yell from the Southern lines at a time of cessation of hostilities brought a question from a visitor. The reply was, "It is either Stonewall Jackson or a rabbit," as the sight of their beloved leader always evoked cheers and the little "cotton tails" some- times captured proved a welcome change in their poor diet. Again, while traveling in Virginia soon after the erection of General Lee's equestrian statue, an ex-soldier with but one arm was selling souvenirs in the shape of bits of the rope on which even women and children had helped to draw the statue to its place. My husband made comment on the poor gentleman's loss of an arm. "Yessuh, yessuh, I was hit pretty hard, but I thank God I lived to see the 'unveiling.'" However, many of our people remember these Civil War experiences, and so, before I close these reminiscences, I turn back once more to the days of childhood and girlhood. The old schoolroom! The beloved teacher in his usual chair; each face in its familiar place-all are photographed on my memory. Particularly do I note the darling girl who was so long my deskmate, Amelia Ernst, who became Mrs. Robert Semple. There was dear little Laurena Greer-later Mrs. William Simrall-can- tering in to school on her pony, accompanied by her pet dog: pretty little Bina Finnell, who always loved to converse on religious matters and the eternity to which she was early called; Amelia Fahnestock, the niece of our beloved Mrs. Ellen Ernst Orr, with her gentle influence over others less regardful of dis- cipline; Susan Roberts, whose children, Mr. Harry and Mrs. Olive Percival reside in Covington. There was Miss Mary Abell, an Ohio girl, whom we re- garded with a certain awe on account of a remark- ably able essay on political subjects which Doctor Orr gave to a newspaper for publication. Quite a flutter was created one day by the announcement that little Aseneth Rose had eloped with the rosy- cheeked bachelor, Mr. John Todd, who became an influential and wealthv citizen. There were Addie and Julia Hamilton, whose lovely mother was a frequent visitor to the school and to whom we were all attracted. There was pretty Hattie Fish, with her curly hair and red cheeks, later the mother of Mr. Leonard Smith. There were Sue and Fannie Murnan, mother and aunt of the Misses Sarah and Laura Creag- head, and aunts of our distinguished surgeon, Doctor John Murnan; Sallie Dell Perry, later 'Mrs. Pope Sanford and lately taken by death from the side of her beloved life companion, who, from the grand, typical Kentuckian of years ago, now lingers in patient suffering for the time when he shall meet her in eternity. A number of years ago I gathered together as many of the old schoolmates as I could locate for a late reunion. I drove around the school grounds in the hope of obtaining some water from the remem- bered well which we once regarded as a panacea for any ailment, in which to toast the past, but progress had cut a street through. I had a number of photo- graphs struck of the school and grounds from an old catalogue and at the plate of each "girl" placed a copy, with a touch of forget-me-nots. Tears and laughter greeted the remembered scene. WVe toasted the absent and loved widow of Doctor Orr, then living in Denver with her daughter, Mrs. Peters. We discussed from A to Z the names in an old catalogue brought by Laurena Greer Simrall. We sang old songs and had long-ago music, learned from the school instructors, Professor Kunkel and Madame Sofge. Dell Perry Sanford found she could remember the steps of the fancy dances in which she once excelled. "Marse Henry" WVatterson uttered a truism when he said, "Once a Kentuckian, alftays a Kentuckian." He related the following anecdote in illustration: "General Grant once said to me, 'You Kentuckians are a clannish set. While I was in the White House, if a Kentuckian happened to get in harm's way, or wanted an office, the Kentucky con- tingent began pouring in. In case he was a Repub- lican, the Democrats said he was a 'perfect gentle- man;' in case he was a Democrat, the Republicans said the same thing. Can it be that you are all perfect gentlemen' With unblushing candor, I told him we were; that we fought our battles as we washed our linen - at home; but when trouble came, it was Kentucky against the Universe." After several years' absence I am returning to my old Kentucky hills, and so these memories come back to me. On the sunset slope of life I turn in retrospect. I see my father, grand and erect, the "noblest work of God, an honest man !" Undaunted by early financial reverses when irresponsible banks and other schemes undermined the home supports of unsuspecting men, he turned to face the world again, possessing the indomitable spirit of his Vir- ginian forefathers. With his own hands he helped to fashion a home for his family and with large grounds renew the life, after hours, of his early home. Straight in the eve was his glance; plain his speech; he would owe no man a dollar. I see my gentle mother, happy among her flow- ers, fostering the Maryland traditions of herbs and roots, besides. I have vet a faded and broken remnant of a fragrant lily she placed in my1\' hand one day on leaving for school with her usual kiss at the gate and her precious benediction. Inorn in the year of Washington's death, her accomplishments were rare for the home training in those days. I have some bits of her exquisite brush work, the coloring bright. Her manuscript poetry is treasured by me as the breathings of a pure and holy soul. I see the happy, carefree life of pioneer days when children were children and not the growe n-up wvise- acres of the present. "Oh Time and Change !' I have had experiences of joy and sorrow, as falls to everv human lot, but I can turn to my happy, innocent, fostered childhood, and to each succeed- ing memory, in gratitude for Divine aid and pro- tection and the comforting assurance that the loved ones who have preceded me into the "Silent Land' will greet me when I too am called. Now I am returning to miv old Kentucky home, Kentucky, where "the sun shines ever brightest, life's burdens are the lightest, the blue grass is the bluest." I believe there are some among our people who will recall the "Covington Female Seminary" as it appeared years ago before it was sold to Ir. Bruce, the brother of Mr. Henrv Bruce, and among the students there, remember their old classmate, NELLIE CIIII.DS. Mav 3, 1922. MTEWARf KIDD PRE.' ,11eN.rNATI. 0. SUPPLEMENT TO OLD COVINGTON, KENTUCKY AND PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF AN OCTOGENARIAN To which is appended Sketches of Old Covington's share in the festivities attending the visit of General Lafayette and son to Cincinnati, selected from an ancient newspaper, dated May 25th, 1825, once owned by the father of MRS. ELEANOR CHILDS MEEHAN This page in the original text is blank. COPYRIQHT 122 ELEANOR CHILDS MEEHAN SUPPLEMENT TO "OLD COVINGTON" and "Personal Recollections of an Octogenarian" HE kindly reception given this little booklet by many old friends, acquaint- ances and lovers of the old Home Town, added to the regret of its brevity ex- pressed by some, have sent my mind gypsying over spaces and names that may be pleas- antly recalled. It proves what a poet tells us: "Old books, old friends are best, Old things are loveliest, Old houses and the glamor of old days, The olden peace, the olden, quiet ways, Old Gospels and old dreams, With new delight life teems When these are read." Old trees are fascinating in every season of the year, and we recall in kindly feeling the pioneers who planted them for future generations to enjoy. Old photograph albums, amusing and sadden- ing; old cemeteries, with their quaint, sad or hope- ful epitaphs, sending the mind in sympathy back to the probable lives and loves, heartaches and hopes of those that "lie under the stone." Then there are old manuscripts, as in the old South Church in Boston, where one wonders over the almost microscopic writing in old sermons and letters; or, in some old papers of our own dear ones the often quaint and always sincere wording reflect- ing the honest thoughts of hearts unspoiled by life's vanities, the writers' once busy fingers folded over the pulseless breasts these many, many years. Old houses were mentioned in my former paper, but there was one, beside the Old Log, and Old Stone House, that stood, beautiful and homelike on the northwest corner of Sixth and Greenup Streets: the old Kennedy Farm House, the space now occu- pied by the apartment building erected by the son of Judge William Arthur, who occupied it for some years, after having been for a long time the resi- dence of Mr. Isaac Cooper. Opposite, stands a dwelling I remember as the residence of Mr. Tar- vin, whose daughters, Anne, Mary and Sallie, attended Dr. Orr's School. Lower down, a long frame house, remodeled now, the home of Mr. Clay- ton and the Bullocks. Just below here resided Jesse, the father of General Grant, while acting as post- master, just after the Civil War. Then came the pretty home of Mr. Boude, whose daughters were my schoolmates; one of them, Mrs. Peter Thornton, residing in Newport, Ky., is still active in patriotic and social circles. This lovely home long since demolished and built over. "Sic transit." Then came the substantial, comfortable home of Dr. Richard Pretlow, still a pleasure to the eye. Farther down was the business house and residence of Mr. Sparrow, whom we regarded as a severely English type of gentleman. Across the street was the residence of Mr. Charles Withers, once so pretty and homelike, the yard and well so beautiful, but now the grounds are built over and with the added stories seems to look down over its neighbors, as if to say, "Time has not touched me, I have taken new lease on life!" The little park in front was once occupied by the "lower market," and this brings us to the Court House, with its memories of stormv days when Judge James Pryor Tarvin was on the bench. Aware of the insecurity of the building, which was Covington's second Court House, he argued the necessity of safeguarding the records, but some of the members of Council were dilatory and refractory, and the determined Judge promptly sent them to the Independence jail, where they re- mained until they came to terms. Judge Tarvin was a grandson of Judge Pryor of noble memory. Down below the Northern Bank on Third and Scott Streets stood "Factory Row," a long frame building, occupied, perhaps, by many of the em- ployes of "Ball's Foundry," on West Third Street, now substituted by handsome dwellings. In those days, a trip from the suburbs to Cin- cinnati and return occupied a whole day, walking all the distance, crossing the ferry, and some delays. Then when we would reach the flowter market in Cincinnati, at the east end of what is nowv Fountain Square, once the Fifth Street Market, mv gentle mother would be lost among the flowers. Going up Scott Street, just above Fourth, was seen the time- honored book store of Andrew Laird. Other places already mentioned. On the east side of Scott Street, between Fourth and Fifth, was the hand- some home, long demolished, of 'Mr. James Gedge, whose wife's prettv sisters, Laura and Emma Howell were once schoolmates. Just north of Eighth Street, on an elevation above Scott, was an academy conducted bv IMr. Snowden, a popular school for girls. Near by, on Eighth Street wvas the humble Cathedral that had faced many vicissitudes. The wooden tower had to come down and the cracked bell stand on the ground until better davs. I have latelv read a touching a'ostrophe to the "Old Church Bell," written long ago by a prominent Covingtonian and rescued from an old newspaper. Continuing south, at the northwest corner of Eleventh and Scott Streets, stands nowv a dwelling that as late as 1857 was the Covington High School. The adjoining square, beautified by a little park, bears no evidence of the unsightly Eleventh.Street Market, so long obnoxious to lovers of civic prog- ress. South of what is now the city and west of the old Bank Lick Road, once bordered with trees, stood the Howell homestead, "Howell Lane" run- ning back among the hills. The grand "Park Woods," surmounting one of them, were familiar to all lovers of nature. On the Buena Vista hill was the large vineyard, with buildings occupied by the Benedictine monks, where sacramental and other wine was made with Old World skill. Nearly opposite, where now is Wallace Avenue, was a pond, dignified by the name of "lake," where once there was a night exhibition of the "Pinafore" opera, with some Cincinnati talent taking part. From Wallace Avenue, down Madison Avenue, are comparatively modern buildings. The large place formerly belonging to Mr. James Walsh, is still imposing. Down to Twelfth Street, where stands the present Cathedral, owing much to the generosity of the late James Walsh and his sons, Nicholas and Dennis, and enriched internally by artists abroad, as well as our own Duvenick and Barnhorn. At the northeast corner of Eleventh and Madison, for many years, was the modest grocery stand of "Uncle Jimmy Ellis," a familiar figure and of numerous connections. Following Madison Avenue, past places already mentioned, down to the Old Trinity Church, brings back memories of former prominent citizens and of dear little Mary Hall, so devoted to its wants and pleasures. Farther down, on the opposite side, once stood the handsome home of Mr. Frederick Cedge, whose daughters, Jane and Marv, were con- temporaries of mv own sisters, all pupils of Dr. Orr's Seminary. Mv recollections of Jane are par- ticularly bright; gifted with a rich voice, as a reader she was wonderful! Although but a youngster myself, I was included in the reading class, and I would sit absorbed in admiration of her dramatic renditions, especially as she would fairly intone Nat Willis' "King David's lament over Absalom !" Should the lesson be humorous, she would, without a smile, read with fierce emphasis -to the great amusement of her hearers, and taxing the dignity of the teacher in charge of the class. She married Mr. Jacob Sellers, and was the mother of a promi- nent citizen, Mr. Frederick Sellers. Where now stands Odd Fellows Hall was, with- in my recollection, a tobacco factory. I have, in another paper, mentioned Virginia, the eldest daughter of Squire Arnold, who was the first wife of Dr. Theodore Wise. The second daughter, Louisiana Arnold, who married Mr. Phelps, I re- member well as a merry singer of the popular songs of that day. I thought her "O. Susanna," the "Burman Lover," "Oh, come with me in my little canoe" the iie plhs ultra of musical execution. Among the contemporaries of my sisters and the fellow-pupils of Dr. Orr's School were Rachel Cleveland, the Bakewell girls, whose pretty home in the west end gave name to Bakewell Street. There were Sue and Elizabeth Ashbrook, and these recall an incident which approached a tragedy in our school lives. At the lower or river side of the school grounds stood a number of large beech trees, and all enjoyed swinging on the long, pliable branches. One day we were summoned to the superior exhibition of Sue Ashbrook swinging out over the high bank. Her sister and another girl prepared the scene; when ready, the word "go" was heard, and we prepared for the wonderful act, but not for the slipping hands, the rushing body down among the weeds, the swoon and consternation and final restriction placed on our favorite amusement. There were the McMurtry girls, whose father owned the flouring mills before mentioned. The younger, Mary, a very amiable, pious girl, was greatly mourned by all who knew her, by her early death. Although in love with life, her resignation to the will of God was edifying and beautiful. The favorite teacher in the older classes in the ear1v davs was an assistant, Miss Robb, whose dis- missal of the girls in the evening was one by one, and exacted a very correct and Victorian curtsy at the door; outspread skirts, low obeisance, not the silly 'bob" of today. Covington had several visitations of cholera, in my recollection, the one of 1849 verv severe. In an essav, as a little girl, I attempted a sort of review of that year, the climax being, 'And the heart will shudder when the summer of 1849 is brought to the memorv." There were then no professional nurses. In an emergency, sometimes a Sister from an institution might be obtained, but neighbors were kind and would take turns in "sitting up" wvith an invalid, to watch the medicines and wants. In 1867 cholera visited us again. Sometimes it wt ould sweep one place, take one or two in another, and be unknown in another. In the last epidemic Mkr. John Condell, prominent citizen and church deacon, was stricken. It seemed, over the country, to he most prevalent where limestone water was used for drinking, as around Nashville. Tennessee. In the winter of 1853 and '54 the Ohio River was frozen over (some thought to the bottom) for a long period. Booths were erected on the ice, where hot refreshments were served to skaters and visitors, and heavily loaded wagons crossed con- stantly. The ice was a playground between the two cities. To suffer from floods in the spring was common, necessitating much inconvenience and suf- fering among the lowland residents and the shifting of the ferry landings, but the flood of 1884 exceeded the recollections of the oldest inhabitants. I vividly recall one day when our little settle- ment was terror-stricken by the sight of Federal officers and many other men rushing up the old Bank Lick Road to where the retreat of the no- torious counterfeiter, John Mount, had been dis- covered in our little quiet hamlet. There may be yet among our older residents some who remember this startling event. At the close of his school life Dr. Orr retired with his family to the pleasant Ludlow Cottage in the old Carneal district. Here another ex-pupil and I paid a short visit as probable farewell to their further removal. I can see the placid river, the green hillside above, long before railroad invasion was dreamed of. That evening will long be remem- bered, full of happy anecdotes and recollections. It was, indeed, our last meeting until we saw the body of a venerated instructor and friend committed to mother earth in old Linden Grove. The pretty "Ludlow Cottage," since destroyed by fire and re- built, wvas a quiet, restful place for him who had spent a busy life in education. Returning home the next day, he drove us in his carriage up over the hill, through the little hamlet of "Economy" (now West Covington), the poor little spire of St. Anne's Church pointing to the sky. Old Covington had spasmodic attempts to mod- erate the indulgence in intoxicating drinks, but, like most such movements, the enthusiasm would sub- side. I recall being allowed to accompany my father to hear the famous Irish Apostle of temperance, Father Matthew, then visiting this country many years ago, lecturing in the open and on the grounds of the Old White Mansion. My father was a rigid abstainer from alcohol and his example was ad- mired by all who knew him. Moral suasion seemed more effectual than the forced prohibition of today. When a little girl, there was a small patch of dense woods in the rear of our place, and sometimes in summer we had open-air preaching in "God's first temple." Beyond the trees, I could see a house on top of "Light's Hill" and would wonder what was beyond and beg to be taken up to see. At last, one day an opportunity offered. A woman who had been in my mother's service, died and I was per- mitted to attend the funeral. Arriving on the bleak hillside, we came to a little, desolate burying ground where once were laid to rest the early pioneer Catholics, the graves now removed to St. Mary's Cemetery on the Lexington Pike. Returning over the steep, rocky road, we found that a carriage pre- ceding ours had been wrecked by runaway horses, the poor driver lying besides the roadside, badly injured. My romance of "beyond the hill" was shattered, as has been that of many in life, whose curiosity to "see beyond" has equally come to grief. In my childhood, a finely made rag carpet was a work of art. On the ground now occupied by the late cold storage building, on Scott near Fifth Street, was once a frame building housing an artistic weaver of carpets. Some of his work was beautiful, fit to adorn any home. Then the quiet, simple lives of housewives were often brightened by an invitation to a "quilting," when someone, having finished the piecing of a quilt, often containing treasured scraps of gowns of long-lost dear ones, the neighboring ladies would be invited, the quilt tacked in its frames, the desired pattern defined by chalk lines: the best quilters, among whom was always a friendly rivalry, would take their places at opposite sides. When the "reach" would be finished, the quilt would be rolled and another line begun. With such busy hands, the work was not long in the frames. Congratulations were ex- changed and all ready for the much-enjoyed supper of hot biscuits, country ham, fried chicken, home preserves and pickles -all being the housewife's pride. Then the chatter-neighborhood news-lin- gering farewells until the "next time" when this pleasantly anticipated reunion would be repeated. Now we occasionally hear of an exhibition of old- time quilts, and the young generation may form an idea of the industries of their grandmothers. To lovers of the past, such scenes appeal; the sound of a long-forgotten strain of music, the perfume of a flower, will awaken memories. Like the rose jar of Tom Moore-"you may break, you may shatter the vase if you will, but the scent of the roses will hang 'round it still." Old Linden Grove was noticed in a former paper, but I and many others regretted when the inscription was removed from above the gate and the plain little two-story houses on each side de- molished. The inscription was laid on the ground by the vault-"I am the resurrection and the life"- As late as 1858, on returning from church one Sunday, I saw the old fire engine standing on the street where it had been dragged the night before to extinguish a fire and left after the excitement was over. Boys and men would drag merrily the antiquated extinguisher to the fire, and it was no- bodv's business to return it. There was great re- joicing on the occasion of the completion of the Atlantic Cable, illuminations and fireworks from the pyro gardens on Mt. Adams-bell ringing and general approbation of the first message, "What hath God wrought !" My father was an enthusiastic lover of his native State, Virginia. At home in evenings, gath- ered around the open wood fire, he would regale us with his boyhood reminiscences. His "figure-four" traps for birds and sometimes larger game, of coons and rabbits; of the capture of some prowlers from a neighboring plantation who had discovered and were chopping down their old "bee tree" on his father's land; of the stories of the negroes who attributed the wild galloping of the horses during the night to the riding of the witches. Old Virginians would appreciate these simple annals. He would repeat to us his father's stories of the Revolutionary War, in which he served. Of his brother's return home, "riding up the lane" at the close of the War of 1812, having served his country and returning to rural life. The famous Indian Chief, Black Hawk, had passed through the country, and my father would relate to us his his- tory and amuse us imitating his dialect. He would sing to us old campaign songs-one of the Harrison candidacy: "Come out from among the log cabins And vote for old Tippecanoe," Another, of the services of the Kentuckians at the battle of New Orleans, when Pakenham boasted of what he would do, in spite of the cotton bales and the vaunted Kentuckians. "Oh, Kentucky! the hunters of Kentucky !" Old Kentuckv y howv far and wide her fame has gone! The land of fair women and brave men! There needs but the name "Kentucky-bred" to in- sure the excellence of a racing horse. Long ago, in Switzerland, the name of Kentuckv on some of our baggage on a lake boat had caught the eye of a fellow-passenger, and I heard an old Kentucky song not far from us-and so, those far-off mountains and lakes caught the name of our proud old State. The silvery-tongued Watterson, "Marse Henry," was at his best when this was his theme. At the "homecoming," some years ago, while lauding Ken- tucky, he said: "It was Crittenden, a Kentuckian, smiling before a file of Spanish bayonets, refusing to be blindfolded or bend the knee for the fatal volley, uttered the keynote of his race, 'A Ken- tuckian always faces his enemy and kneels only to his God.'" Up to the present time my rambling "recollec- tions" have been strictly personal, but on an inter- esting occasion old Covington and her sister, New- port, had the honor of being "interested spectators" of a wonderful pageant, and the little Newport gar- rison privileged to add a few salvos to the honors paid a nation's guest. Come back with me to Lafayette's visit to the United States, as detailed in an old newspaper of May 25th, 1825, belonging to and treasured by my father. Cincinnati was chiefly honored, but our little burgs might shine by reflected lustre. Several years ago a gentleman who edited a column in a morning paper, "Notes and Comments," asked for information concerning the correct date of Lafay- ette's visit to this country. I wrote him of my father's old paper. I will merely quote his notes, although abbreviated much, and he failed to speak of the General's son, George Washington Lafayette, who accompanied his father. The friendship be- tween the gallant Frenchman and our own Wash- ington, sealed by patriotism, war experiences and gratitude. Visitors to Mt. Vernon have, of course, noted the key of the Bastile presented to Washing- ton by Lafayette. I will quote the newspaper clippings in my pos- session: "NoWrs AND COMMSNTS "Some time ago I made mention of the fact that I had engaged in a hunt to locate the exact date of General Lafayette's visit to Cincinnati. That the information has been found through the kindness of Mrs. Eleanor Childs Meehan, who has in her possession an old newspaper, The Advertiser, May 25th, 1825, which contains a full account of the arrival of General Lafayette. 'But,' she continues, 'that the precious old paper is so worn, I would send it to you for extracts.' She quotes, however, and I beg to present this most interesting historical date, as it will interest many who know of that great event through traditions of fathers who have gone to their rest." "May 25th, 1825, fell on Wednesday," The Advertiser says. "On Thursday, which was May 19th, he appeared on the opposite shore, attended by his suite and a respectable convoy of gentlemen from Kentucky, among whom was Governor Desha of that State. The new troop of cavalry under Colonel Morsell turned out to receive them, and an elegant six-oared barge under command of Mid- shipman Rowan of the United States Navy rowed them across the river, where they were received by the new company of artillery, Captain Brinkerhaff; the Light Infantry, Captain Avery; the Lafayette Grays, Captain Harrison, and the Cincinnati Guards, Captain Emerson. The banks were covered with our happy citizens, and Governor Morrow wel- comed him and his son and handed them into an elegant barouche and escorted them to Broadway. On a stand at the foot of Broadwav there was an address by General Harrison. Of course, there were all sorts of decorations and a display of fire- works at Vauxhall Gardens. There were arches, one at Front and Vine and one 'on the hill near the Presbyterian Church'-the First. On Friday morning about fifteen hundred children marched to Broadway. "On the Common, west of the Court House, then on the north side of the square bounded by Main and Walnut, Fourth and Fifth, there was a pavilion for the honored guest and others for the city authorities, etc., and benches for the citizens. At ten o'clock they had a grand procession of mili- tary companies and other organiations. The quaint part says 'they marched down to the hotel,' but gave no name, there being evidently hut one hotel at that time. At the hotel the General joined the proces- sion. As he took his seat, the band played 'Hail, Columbia,' and Mr. Samuel Lee sang an ode, accom- panied by the music. Then Mr. Benham made an address; the procession again formed and escorted General Lafayette to the house of Mr. Fernberger on Vine Street, where he remained for the evening. The Thespian Society invited him to visit the theatre (no name given), where he listened to the address of Mr. Reilley, which was received with 'thunders of applause.' "Of course, there had to be a ball. That was an inevitable part of every entertainment in those days. This was a great affair, with about five hundred of the beauty and fashion of the city being present. Full credit is given Colonel Mack for the beautiful decorations of the hall and supper room. "It was the most splendid affair of the kind ever occurring in the Western country. The company present en- ioyed the most perfect felicity for the time that human creatures are capable of enjoying. At twelve, midnight, the General and suite, the Gov- ernor of Ohio and his aides, embarked on the steam- boat Herald for Wheeling. He sailed with the loud and repeated huzzahs of a large concourse of people who covered the bank at that late hour. The re- ception which the nation's guest has received at Cincinnati, we understood, has been highly gratify- ing to him and we are sure that the people them- selves are highly satisfied. No accident happened and the weather was extremely favorable, although for weeks before it had been very inclement." Thus far "Notes and Comments." The rather stilted style of reporters of nearly a hundred years ago differs much from the flowing style of today. And so I leave my readers with the kind wishes of one who loves the past, enjoys the present and hopes and prays for the future. ELEANOR CHILDS MXEHAN. October, 1922. This page in the original text is blank. STEWART KIDD PRESS CINCINNATI. 0.