KingsMountain, located on the crest of
one of Kentucky’s beautiful
knobs, has a history centered around the Southern
Railroad. In the late 1800s, approximately 200 men were employed to construct a
passageway for trains pulled by the old coal burning, steam locomotives. This
passage was perhaps considered a masterpiece since all of the work was done by
the muscle power of men.
The tunnel 's construction began
on December 23, 1873 and In 1876, the well-known KingsMountain tunnel, which is
nine-tenths of a mile in length with a steep upgrade leading to a high
elevation, took its place in the history of this community as well as that of
the Southern Railroad. However, the first village was located on top of the
tunnel. When the railroad tunnel was constructed, the town was moved to its
Before the tunnel was arched,
several families by the name of King lived here and being a small village, this
community was known as Kingsville.
As late as January 1908, mail was received addressed as such, although by May
1910, the address was Kingsville Post Office, Kings
Beginning with the arching of
the tunnel, KingsMountain
became a railroad “boom town” and sometimes this place was called “Kings
Mountain Tunnel” bearing out theinfluence this had on the locality. An old boarding house operated by Mr.
and Mrs. Steve Reynolds accommodated railroad personnel who worked out of the
Kings Mountain Station. This old hotel burned several years ago.
Because the tunnel could only be
equipped with single track, trains had to be watched carefully so signal and Western
Union towers were erected and manned 24 hours a day. A tower
located at South Fork (post office known as Arabia,
KY) kept a watchful eye on the north and
while the KingsMountain
signal tower watched over the south end, keeping trains side
tracked or throwing switches to let them pass. A railroad ticket and freight
depot also was erected and conducted a large volume of business.
Some of these telegraph
operators and agents were V.N. “Pete” Bastin, Bill
Leach (father of Randy Leach), T. F. Dunaway (the writer’s father), Mason
Caldwell, Earl Hughes, a Mr. Strunk and Mr. Dumes.
The railroad company constructed
a large pond located about a mile south of the old depot. A pumping station and
huge elevated reservoir furnished water for the old steam loco motives. One of
the operators of the station for many years was A. D. Martin.
In the late 1800’s Elder J.G.
Livingston recorded the following:
“KingsMountain on the Southern Railway
was decidedly the most ungodly and sin-cursed place in the country. At one time
over 200 men were engaged in arching the great tunnel at that point. On Livingston’s
way there he met a man who advised him to go back home, “You will be
mistreated. They killed a man there last Sunday and whiskey flows up and down
continued to KingsMountain
to preach. In 13 days, there were 25additions and a congregation was
organized. From time to time, he visited as county evangelist and held several
meetings. J. L. Allen came to his assistance and as a result a $1,250 house was
built and the congregation rejoiced in the regular ministry of Bro. James L.
This was the beginning of the
Kings Mountain Christian Church, completed in 1892. This historic church still
stands and has been renovated.
About a year later, in 1893, the
which had a log building located about the center of where the cemetery is now,
Replace the log church which was built around 1811 with a new wood frame church.With the assistance of John A. Singleton, pastor of
Pleasant Point and county magistrate. The log structure was removed to the Toab Jeffries farm and used as a barn. This farm was later
owned by Mr. and Mrs. Claude Singleton and Jack Blair.
Around the turn of the century,
a red-haired Methodist minister, Rev. Newsome, came to this country and built a
“brush harbor” at the site of the old Claude Hutchinson store (across the road
from the present Woodrow Watts residence). A few people split from the PleasantPointChurch, and under the leadership of Rev. Newsome established the MethodistChurch.
The old MethodistChurch built a new church at the top of Kings Mountain Hill and
the old location was used as a store. This
new building was stood on the present site of the Methodist Church and served
as a church and asa
School. This building was moved across the street and used for the school and and
a new church building constructed.
The NazareneChurch was not organized until the
early 1940s, under the lead Mrs. Jessie Puttett, wife
of Otis Puttett basement of the church was used
several years before the erection of the present building Mr. and Mrs. Virgil
McGuire are two of the charter members.
There have also been several
medical doctors in the history of Kings Mountain Dr.O’Bannon in the late 1800s lived and practice medicine
at the Laswell place and later to Stanford to continue
Dr. C. M. Thompson moved here
Dr. Acton practiced for many years where Edna Thompson lived, before moving to Glasgow;Dr. Smith was
located where the residence of Mr. Nelson Bastin is
Dr. W. D. Laswell
came from RockcastleCounty
around 1916.His office was on the
second floor of his residence, later owned by Lee
Roger and now owned by Lee’s daughter and her husband..
Frank Miller, as the first
Editor of the Kings Mountain Gazette and Mrs. Annie Leach, the typesetter
Due to the length of the tunnel, the of coal burning locomotives and
a lack of ventilation shafts many people suffocated to death while riding
through the tunnel.. Many
trainmen and hobos were victims of suffocation, sometimes the local doctors could
revive them but often it was fatal. Once a circus train became stalled in the
tunnel. Some of the animals suffocated, while others were released temporarily
to avoid suffocation.
Finally three ventilation shafts were
installed in the tunnel, which helped, but usually with passing of a
train, coal smoke was so dense miles around, one could scarcely see a few feet
Two hotels were
built to accommodate the traveling salemen and others who needed a place to stay
over night. One was the Pennebaker Hotel, located on the west side of the railroad
at the location of the present day home of Stanley Falconberry. This
building, owned by John Hart, father of the late Claude Hart, burned
several years ago. Later a house was built there and was the
home of the Ashford Dishon family for many years .
Dan Hester built and operated
the other hotel below the present Pilcher Store,
formerly the Gabe Walters store. The structure had 16 rooms and a lobby.
Through the years, it has housed stores, cream purchasing stations, apartments.
Barber shops and at one time, the post office. This building burned on Feb.
The McCarty family was quite
prominent in this era. They donated land for the Kings Mountain Christian
Church, owned property of a local canning factory, built and operated a store
on the northwest corner in KingsMountain.
This building was later sold to Dr. C. M. Thompson, who l sold it to Ira
Patterson and C. M. built on the opposite side of the street. Noble Padgett owned the
Patterson building at the time it burned on Feb. 2, 1967.
Other interesting history behind
the small community of KingsMountain
includes a short line from KingsMountain
to Duncan and Yosemite.
This railroad was short and did not operate many years.
For years, there were at least two
wood mills located in KingsMountain.
Various blacksmith shops have
been operated here one by the late Bill Dye. Ab Greer also had a
blacksmith shop on the farm of the late Harvey Jenkins.
The “Kings Mountain Echo”, a
newspaper was published here around 1913. In one edition, there was a
“Temperance Page,” which included a poem entitled “The Hell Bound Train”,
informing the people about the problems of alcohol. “Rouse them, Freemen, Come
from hill and valley: Fathers, brothers, earnest, brave and strong! Onward,
forward, all united rally.” “Death to Alcohol your battle song,” was writ ten
across the top of a page.
The newspaper also included
advertisements and news from Waynesburg and Pleasant Point.
The Bob Puttett
family operated a variety of businesses a short distance from the overhead
bridge. This consisted of a grocery, barber shop, garage and feed mill. Noble
Padgett later owned this business until the railroad purchased it.
In the early 1960s, the railroad
company bought all the land on the northwest side of the county road for the
purpose of making a new cut to eliminate the tunnel. This was made necessary by
the more modern “piggy back” service used by the trains. The new cut runs
parallel and a bit east of the old tunnel, now closed.
At one time, KingsMountain was an incorporated town,
holding town meetings and court on the second floor of the PattersonBuilding when Major Smith was the
judge. Around the late 1930s and early 1940s, Patterson completely remodeled
this building and made new additions, bricking the structure. In the late 1920s
and early 1930s the upper side of the Patterson warehouse was the office of Dr.
Davidson, a dentist, who later moved to Stanford.
Creating a booming business for
the lumbermen of this area was a demand for wood ties to be used under the
rails. This opened the way for a tie yard, located just south of the depot,
which did a huge quantity of business for many years.
During the time of the arching
of the tunnel being not many years past the Civil War era, the Ku Klux Klan was
still an organization and several lynchings were held
on top of the tunnel. Switches and crosses were burned at many doorsteps. Also,
at this time was credited with having five saloons, giving the town a rough
A new paper article of 1886 reported:“Murder at
yesterday morning.Deputy J.S. Johnston and
Henry Hester, delivered to jailer Newland, David Green a Negro accused of being
an accomplice in the murder of Josiah singleton, killed in KingsMtn.
Sunday afternoon.Mr. Hester described
the killing as follows:He and another
man were attracted to a number of negros, some 6-8,
running after singleton and throwing rocks at him.He started to his assistance, but before he
got to him, a Negro had taken singleton’s Pistol from him and shot him in the
Mr. Hester succeeded in
capturing the Negro Glenn after the shooting him in the back as he ran
off.Glenn said he is from Alabama
and that he is working for the contractor Squire who is arching the tunnel.
Singleton, the man killed, is the same man who cut out the intestines of a Mr. Vaugh from which he died.Glenn said Cary Inman, a Negro form Knoxville, was the man who did the
killing and that his brother Dan and another man was with him.Singleton was a
wild drinking man and it is supposed that he and the Negro were on a big drunk”
Josiah Singleton was the son
civil war veteran Rev. David Singleton and the brother to Rev John A.
KingsMountain had two medical doctors
whom together gave 93 years of medical services here and to surrounding
counties. They traveled by walking, horse back, buggy and car, their working
hours were whenever needed —it was never too hot or too cold; too early or too
late. Dr. C. M. Thompson and Dr. W. D. Laswell, both will be long remembered here.
Born in the Bee Lick section of PulaskiCounty, Dec.
19, 1866, Dr. Thompson grew up there and taught school
for a few years. Then he graduated from a MedicalCollege inCincinnati
in June 1891. On Nov.25 that same year, he married Emma Thompson, also of PulaskiCounty.
After a short term of practice
near Somerset, he moved to KingsMountain on Aug. 1, 1892,
where he practiced continually for 64 years.He also was a doctor for the Southern Railroad.
Dr. Thompson traveled throughout
Lincoln, Casey, Pulaski, and RockcastleCounties and has been credited for
around 3,800 obstetrical de liveries, including two sets of triplets and
several sets of twins. The last delivery was a child from Ottenheim when he was
89 years old.
Dr. and Mrs. Thompson had three
children, Mrs. Bertha Dunaway, Mrs. Grace Hill and Russell Thompson, all
deceased. They were the grandparents of nine grandchildren, all of whom are
Mrs. Thompson died in March 1953
and Dr. Thompson died in October 1957. Both are bur ied
at BuffaloSpringsCemetery in Stanford.
Dr. Thompson, grandfather of
Mrs. Marcella Wall, spent his last three years with her,
spend ing many hours telling about his life as a doc tor.
DR. LAS WELL’S
born in Orlando, in RockcastleCounty on Oct. 7,
1875, came to KingsMountain in 1916. He attended high
school and college at Berea
and was a graduate of Louisville School of Medicine.
The doctor began his medical
career in Willdee and Mt.Vernon in 1904. After coming to KingsMountain, he practiced medicine in
the former location of Dr. O’Bannon’s office after he moved to Stanford.
continued his career in KingsMountain
for 29 years until he became ill around 1944. He died July 14,
1945 and was laid to rest at PleasantPointCemetery.
He had a large family. He was
married to Miss Cumile Reams and their children were
Edith, Leita, who died very young, Orville, Harrison,
David and George.
After Mrs. CumileLaswell died on Sept. 13, 1913,
he later married Eunice Ball of Honaker, VA
and their children were Mary Elizabeth, Margaret, Haskew,
Cynthia, Shirley and Cleia, a twin to Shirley, who
died in infancy.
Mrs. Eunice Laswell
died Oct. 28, 1928. The doctor then
married Lucille Young of Highland. a daughter of Cyrus Young. Their children were June, Billy
and Roberta Sue.
Both Dr. Thompson and Dr. Laswell owned farms here and were leaders in the civic
affairs of the community.