Bits and Pieces


Bits and Pieces


In 1873, a "peace" ball was given in Richmond. Invitations went out to attend a masquerade ball to be held by the young men of Richmond at Green's Opera House on Friday evening, February 14, 1873.

The purpose of the ball was to restore the people of Madison County to former friendliness and good neighborliness after the bitterly divisive Civil War. The Opera House stood where the Glyndon Hotel now is located (South Third and West Main). The hall was entered via an incline. It was used, in addition to a music hall, for a skating rink and a lecture hall. Hundreds of Madison countians appeared and danced and sang and ate til the early hours of Saturday morning. The ball was a success in that many who had not spoken since the Rebellion broke the ice and friendliness prevailed again.

Valentine Stone operated the first ferry at Clay's Ferry in 1792 the crossing having been earlier used by Indians and buffalo. The ferry was later operated by Green Clay and his son, Cassius Clay, hence the name. Later it was turned over to the Richmond and Lexington Turnpike Company which built a macadam road between the two Bluegrass towns. In 1869 the company replaced the ferry with a steel and wooden bridge which still spans the Kentucky River at the old ferry point. The railroad's entrance into the county diverted traffic from the toll road and bridge and in 1906 the bridge was sold at public auction to W.S. Moberly and James Erskine. The latter was bought out by Thomas J. Smith and Warfield C. Bennett (Clay's grandson). The purchase price was $4,700. In 1924 the toll netted $30,000 as the motor car came into its own. In 1929 the State of Kentucky forced a sale and paid the owners $200,000. About ten years later the bridge had paid for itself and was declared free. In 1946 the high bridge was built many hundred feet above the old ferry point. And with the coming of 1-75 a second bridge was constructed. But if you are looking for a glimpse of the past, take the winding road down to the river and cross where the Indians, buffalo and ferries of a bygone day crossed.

The old ferry still operating out of Madison County is at Valley View, but up until around 1950, ferries plied the river at Doylesville and College Hill.

The Madison County Horse Show is quite an affair with the familiar cry "let 'um rack" ringing in the summer air. The first horse show in our county was held in 1866 by the Madison County Joint Stock, Agricultural and Mechanical Association. Early officers of the Association were Clifton Bergom, Newland Jones, C.C. Chrisman, William Miller, Ab Shearer, George E. Phelps, David W. Irvine, John B. Walker, Joel W. Embry, William L. Crutcher, J.P. Herndon, Overton H. Chenault, William B. Letcher and John Burton. To keep our perspective on the horse population we must remember that it was in 1908 that the latest thing in horse troughs was presented to the County by Richmond native David R. Francis, former governor of Missouri and later ambassador to Russia. The trough still stands in the courthouse square, but the water no longer flows for man nor beast. The same corner (Main and First) still housed the fire cistern, but the trough and many homes had running water from the recently installed city water works. The first horses did get the first drink from the equine fountain. One other group of horses that used the trough for a few years were the teams that pulled the Richmond to Irvine Stage Coach, still in operation in 1908. Ben Banks, local merchant, is supposed to have brought the first automobile into Richmond in 1906-the beginning of the end for the horse.

I would like to clarify the location of the shootout on Second Street, written up recently in this column. It took place on North Second Street (not South, a misprint) between the Begley Drug corner and Best-Lovell Hardware. The hardware building then, housed the Garnett House Hotel. Bullets were dug from the buildings, most from the side of the Begley building.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “Bits and Pieces,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed August 19, 2018,