founded in 1815
On January 11, 1815, Allen County was officially formed using land from Warren and Barren Counties. It was named for Lt.Colonel John Allen, who raised one of the first regiments in the state. He was killed by Indians in route to Detroit during the Battle of the River Raisin. By 1820, the Federal Census estimated the population at 5,327 in the county.
Upon its formation, the county’s first officials, appointed by Governor Isaac Shelby, met on April 10, 1815 in the home of Willis Mitchell. These officials were Walter Thomas, Edward Martin, David Harris, Will Jackson, John Ragland,Hugh Brown, and Elias Pitchford. These men were the overseers of the county for quite sometime. They established Scottsville as the county seat and even had ‘patrollers’ who served as a small militia for the county.
scottsville: the county seat
Scottsville became the location of the county seat after debate in the court by the county officials. Some wanted this important city to be located on the land of Willis Mitchell,where the first meeting was held. However, the deciding factor of the location was ultimately the spring found in what is now Scottsville.
This ‘Public Spring’, as it became known, is an important landmark for that city and the county as a whole were chartered because of the abundance of water here. R.R. Pitchford is quoted saying, “There is a spring called the ‘Public Spring’ bubbling from under the hill a few hundred yards south of the courthouse, which issues the most sparkling, rippling fluid of Nature’s gift.” This spring was used for early industry, as well as for watering livestock, and even at times of drought within the county.
The first schools in Allen County were located in homes and churches. Eventually private schools furnished some of the educational needs in the county. One of the earliest schools in the county was the Old Dry School located on Big Difficult Creek, near Port Oliver. By 1900, there were 65 schools in the county.
On August 25, 1906, the residents of Scottsville voted and approved a tax that permitted Scottsville Independent School to operate. The county’s high schools consolidated in 1942.
Allen County and Scottsville high schools merged later. Today Allen County-Scottsville High School and James E. Bazzell Middle School remain the only secondary schools in the county.
industry & transportation
In addition to agriculture, some industry and business existed in Allen County, mostly centering around Scottsville. Steamboats on the Barren River allowed for transportation of timber and other related products to external markets. Port Oliver became a hub for this activity, due to its proximity and access to water.
In addition to the revenue incurred by timber products, a small salt industry also began to emerge around Port Oliver. Some early industries included the W.W. Thompson Spoke Mill and Flour Mill, Scottsville Woolen Mill, and Scottsville Electric Light and Power Company.
In 1886, a railroad was built, allowing for more commerce and faster transportation of goods. The railroad also was used for the continued production of timber and timber products. The thriving industrial center drew on Monroe county and Macon County, Tennessee. Oil was discovered in the county, and the first oil rig was brought in 1913 by Harry and Albert Greer. These men drilled wells for a company known as White Plains Oil Company.
the dollar store
In 1939, a business began in Scottsville with two investors each contributing $5,000. These investors were J.L. Turner and Cal Turner, Sr.
This investment converted Turner Bargain Stores into J.L. Turner and Son Wholesale Company. More stores were opened in the region and in 1955, one of the stores was converted into the first Dollar General Store in Springfield, Illinois, with no item in the store being over $1.
Today, the Dollar General Corporation owns over 12,500 stores across the country, selling hundreds of name brand products, as well as their own brands. Though the company’s headquarters is not located inAllen County, it is amazing to think that this nationwide corporation was founded in Scottsville, Kentucky, in the heart of Allen County.
Another important aspect of Allen County’s history is the presence of churches, even before the formation of the county. The oldest church in the county is Bethlehem Church, originally known as United Baptist church. It was formed by James Atwood in 1801. First Baptist Church of Scottsville was established in 1842. In 1897, a structure was erected by J.M.Guthrie, then called Scottsville Holiness Campground, that became known as ‘TheTabernacle’.
It came into being as an outgrowth of religious revival on the site where the structure was built. Many religious meetings revivals, and singing conventions have been held here since it was built. At one time, the Allen County Singing Convention began to be held regularly at the Tabernacle twice a year. Over the years, the building has had many improvements, but remains a standing symbol of religion in the community, as well as of the tradition of southern gospel music in the area.
Subscribe to get notified about our new projects!