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John Hancock interview with W.K. Neat from Winter 2005 Adair County Review

Lila Ford, editor of the Adair County Review, wrote,"This is from the Winter Issue Adair county Review.Thought you might like to read it. You can use on the website if you like." Of course we'll use it. There is a tremendous interest in anything connected with W.K. Neat.

History of Jamestown Street

This interview was April 18, 1979

Interviewer: John Hancock

My name is W. K. Neat.

Most people know me as BIlly Neat. Presently I am the Adair County Property Valuation Administrator. I was born and raised in Columbia and I have lived on Jamestown Street most of my life.

To start with, Jamestown Street started at the Square and ran up to where Harold's Steak House is at the present time. From there on up past through the State Roadside Park that was known as Longview.

Some of the people that I remember living on Jamestown Street were the Barger family, the Conover family, the Lowe family, Cundiff family, Hazel Kilpatricks lived out on Longview. Wallace Jones, son of Dr. L. H. Jones lived on Longview. Mack Willis on Longview. Eubank's old shop sit at the bottom of the hill where Simon Springs branch crosses Jamestown Street. Across from Dr. Bolin's house and right above Harris Barber Shop and K & F Food Mart was my Uncle John Neat's grocery store. E. Campbell occupied that after Uncle John left. Of the original people that did live on Jamestown Street was Maupin, Jimmy Maupin is in the original house; Mary D. Barger is in the Ores Barger house; Susan Miller is in the Miller House; Harold Conover and sister is in the Conover House; Lenora Cundiff is in her's and the Bowe heirs own the other house that is original. Jeter Cole lives in the Charlie Cole place on Longview. Paul Jones lives on his father's old place.

Old Friends

Back in those days some of the boys that we ran around with was Alfred Loy, Garland Smith, Penny Phelps, Allen Phelps, Cotton Phelps, Jimmy Maupin, Luke Sanders, K. D. Barger, John D. Lowe, Wallace Jones and quite a few more that I can't remember.

For recreation back in those days about all we had was a cow lot football and baseball. Started out playing town ball if somebody could find a used tennis ball to use. Then we graduated into baseball if we could find a used baseball. The lucky kid who had the money to buy a baseball or his family did, would put up a argument that if he didn't like it he would take his ball and go home and he would break the game up.

Also we had, John, in my father's front lot, we had tenet shows come in a couple times a year, also had tent meetings about twice a year, the Beck Brothers, I remember those. And I remember the Garrison sisters that used to attend. They would do a lot of shouting and running around. We played out at the fairgrounds, played down in our front lot, played up at Alfred Loy's and Jimmy Maupins. That's were we would congregate and meet up to play back in those days. One time, I rember that we didn't have running water in Columbia at that time. We had a spring down over the hill there where I lived and the Page house where Ms. Emma Page lived had a cistern and my dad's cow got out on night and fell in the cistern, that caused quite a commotion.

Transportation was strictly walking or riding on a coupling pole of a wagon. If you caught a wagon going up hill you could ride on the coupling pole if the man didn't holler at you to get off. Most of us walked.

My Dad had a Model T to start with. Then he got a Model A. My brother in law had a Whippet. A few Buckplanes and Essexes were around town. The older fellows in town would coast from the top of Jamestown Hill up about where the junction of 80 and Jamestown Street is, they would coast from there to the square in the cars that preferred gas back then. My first car was a 1928 or 1929 Chevrolet Roadster and it had a vacuum carburetor. It was stout enough to pull Lindsey Wilson Hill. It had a rumble seat in it. I gave $40 for it.

I can remember the first electricity where we ran wires on the outside and underside the ceiling exposed wire and the bulbs hung down from the wire and you had a string to pull on. I remember the first icebox we had, use to carry milk to the spring, milk to keep it cool. Then we got an icebox in the summertime. Finally, graduated into a refrigerator. Then in the WPA days they concreted 2 or 3 streets in Columbia. High Street was one, Merchant Street was another and Guardian was another. Three concrete streets in Columbia at that time.

Club House

We had two club houses that I visited or belonged to. One of them was at Earl Conover's up on Jamestown Steet and the other was up on Harry Webb Hollow on Greensburg Street. When we would meet at the club house we boys would smoke life's everlasting and called it rabbit tobacco and we also chewed it. As we got older we would buy a sack of Bull Durham, Tugs, Dukes, RJR, Golden Grain or North Spade Cigarettes. They were 10 cents a pack.

Went to school you walked and took your lunch or walked back home for it if you lived close enough. If you lived out in the county and come in to high school you either had to walk a couple -three miles, or board in with someone all week long.

Saturday's was pretty good for business, rest of the times were slow. Christmas and day or two before Christmas was big orders.

There wasn't much money around at that time. Nearly everybody in town, milked cows and raised chickens and had a fattening hog, had a garden. We had wood burning stoves for cooking and heating. My job was to split the wood and keep the box filled everyday. In the wintertime had to keep enough wood cut for two or three stoves. I also milked the cow when I got old enough, we tended to a garden. I can remember listening to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights. The first radio we had was a battery radio. We had an aerial strung up on a pole running down into the radio. There was a lot of static back then.

There use to be a bottling plant on Jamestown Street where Pruitt Auto Store is now. Eubanks shop shoed horses and a machinery shop was at the bottom of Jamestown Street. Part of the old building is still standing.

I remember the first trip to Campbellsville. We had about 6 or 7 flat tires going and coming. The road was gravel, creek gravel. I remember one toll gate being in Columbia, going from Knifley to Neatsville it was above Tate's Creek. But there was a couple more but that is the only one I can remember going to.

Famous people coming to Columbia

I remember Barkley coming through Columbia, it wasn't too many years before he died. I had an uncle to was a state senator. He drank quite a bit, I heard Dad say. There was this one session in the senate up in Frankfort at that time and one of the men from the mountain jumped up and pulled a gun and said he was giving everybody two minutes to clear the floor and my uncle ran up to him and said, "I'll just take one minute, give that crippled man a minute of my time to get up." I saw that written in the paper. Herchel Taylor gave me a copy when he was clerk but I've lost it some place.

Dad was a salesman. I remember Watkins agents coming to town with the best smelling spices and the best smelling liniments you have ever smelled. I remember Watson and Raleigh. Watson liniment would burn you up if you got it in a sore spot.

There was a couple of tent shows that came to town. The Hag Brothers circus would bring their elephants and have a parade up there around the courthouse with their horse drawn wagons. Wagons with whips for tigers, lions and the elephants walking.

I remember one time they had trucks that time and they were going around the courthouse with the big cave at the corner of the courthouse across from Russell & Company now and they got an elephant to push that truck out of there, I remember him blooding his head by pushing that truck out of there.

Another time I remember a guy came into town and laid down on the square and he had a rock placed on his chest and another rock on top of that one then another fellow would take a sledge hammer and bust the rocks on his chest. The one time theyhad a human fly come to town. He would climb the courthouse on the outside. They would have people pulling trucks with their teeth.

I can remember when we had a croquet yard on the square. Allen Caffree, he played alot and so did Lawrence Roy. He also ran the pool room. Welby Holmes was another player. They put up lights and would play at night. It used to be on the corner where Loy's Department Store is now.


I can remember two banks in Columbia, one is the First National Bank where it is now, and the other is the Bank of Columbia where it is. There use to be a barber shop between Bank of Columbia and Kentucky Auto Store but the bank bought it and added on to the bank.

Ford Garage has been here a long time. I had a brother that worked there before he went to Flordia. It use to be on Campbellsville Street.

I remember the Green County Welfare Services. They distributed free food. I remember getting free grapefruit. But I know they gave away a lot of other stuff besides grapefruit. You pick up, you make a nickel or two in order to pick up tin foil or anywhere else, a cigarette pack pick it up and take the foil off and save it and keep wrapping it up and send it to Mr. Sam Lewis. He owned a place on Merchant Street. If you could find copper wire and empty whiskey bottles you could sell them to the bootleggers and get a nickel for candy.

I remember mom would go to the grocery on Saturday and if she had any pennies left over she would give them to us.


I did some traveling. I hitchhiked a little bck when I was younger. I hitchhiked through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nebraska, Illinois and Michigan. I was in the Marines. I can remember still the boot camp.Times were different back then.

John Hancock thanked him for doing the interview at this time.
Editor's note: You get wonderful articles like this one four times a year in The Adair County Review Subscribe by contacting Lila Ford, the editor, at:, or in the Genealogical Section at the Adair County Public Library. It's a must have for anyone interested in Adair County History and Genealogy.

This story was posted on 2006-01-16 09:13:08
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