The “Richmond Climax” was a predecessor of the “Richmond Register.” Jasper Castle provided me with a copy of the Climax from Jan. 11, 1899. Of special interest from this issue is a column by Gov. Ed Brown about several Madison County communities.

I do not know where or when Brown was a governor, but he was never Governor of Kentucky. We had only two Browns as governors — both named John Young Brown.

I have taken the liberty to insert some notes of explanation that may be useful to modern readers. Given his questionable political authority, here is what Brown said in 1899:

As I gave an extrusion of the “Slashes” in a letter to the Climax some time since, and I perceived it was relished and appreciated by the reading public.

I will now proceed to give an account of the section called Sour Woods.

This section with its environments is in the eastern section of this county. Commencing with the “Slashes.” (It) extends to the Estill County line some five or six miles in width and ten or twelve in length from North to South. It contains the villages of Doylesville, Union, Brookstown, College Hill, Bybeetown, Waco, Elliston and Moberly.

I do not know why this (area) is dubbed by this name, unless it is the sourness of the flowers, grass, fruit and trees. The people appear to be as pleasant as any in the county, so it is not on account of the people. I suppose some of the people are as sweet as sugar or (mo)’lasses, especially the girls.

One of the principal creeks of the county is in this section, Muddy Creek. I do not know why it is called by this epithet, unless it was on account of its muddy waters.


It is in the extreme northern part, near the Kentucky River. It is not as well known as the other towns named, as it does not lie on the route of general public travel. The counrty surrounding it is somewhat broken. It has a store and a school house. William Rice is the merchant.

This section is very prolific for cedar trees. We get our telephone and telegraph poles from here. This is the former home of the well known Noland boys.

Union City:

Is a nice little village. It has a Christian church and a Baptist church. George Noland, Genie Bruce and the McKinney Bros. are the merchants. The county infirmary is located near this place.

Some of our best citizens are from this section. For instance, ex-County Judge John Chenault, attorney Dan Chenault, Thomas Chenault, Professor Jessie Harris, Dr. John W. Harris, ex-Postmaster William Powell. Frank Golden, better known as “Bruiser,” who use to be quite a politician of that section.


Is a very small village. It has a Christian church, also a good school. This section was the former home of several of our citizens: French Tipton, Jerry Powell, Charley Powell and Caley Shearer. The latter was one of the boys who wore blue and went to help put the Spaniards through — that is, with bullets. (This is a reference to the Spanish American War.)

Sam Todd and Rufus McCord are the principal farmers. Mr. McCord is one of the landed proprietors of the county. He is the largest freeholder of that section. The McCord family is one of the oldest families in the county.

College Hill:

Is called that name on account of it being located on high ground, and being a favorite seat of learning. It has two Methodist churches, one north and one south. (The northern Methodist and southern Methodist had split decades earlier over the issue of slavery.) It also has a good school.

William Miller and Alexander Miller are the merchants. Pate Adams owns one of the largest nurseries in the county. Some of our good citizens from this section are ex-Sheriff Nath Deatherage and the Adams brothers.

Near this place is located the Cane Springs meeting house. It has been a favorite place for years for the Baptist to hold their associations.

Near this place are sand banks from which our contractors draw their supplies. Ally Adams, a noted personage of that section, has been one of the principal factors in supply and demand (of this commodity). Though the people have no monied banks, they have that which answers nearly as well — large sand banks!


Is in the extreme southern end, not far from the Estill line. It has a good school, church, store and a pottery.


Is located on the Richmond and Irvine turnpike. It has a fine steam grist mill. The merchants are Charles Searcy, Roe Lackey and Dennis Taylor. Mr. Searcy is one of the prominent men of the county, having served a term in the legislature.

Some of our best citizens are from this section. The large Douglas family, ex-Mayor Thomas Covington, Kit Covington, ex-County Clerk Thomas Thorpe, Stanton Thorpe, our present circuit clerk; James Lackey, our jailor; ex-jailor John Wagers.

One of the oldest industries in the county is located here, the Waco Pottery Works. If the people have no money in banks, they have large banks of pottery clay, and if it was developed it would be a source of great revenue to those people.

Flatwoods meeting house is near this place. It is a great place for revivals.

Bybee Pottery continues today, making “Governor” Brown’s last phrase somewhat prophetic. More on Brown’s views of areas of the county circa 1899 in the next article.

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