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Local Adair Co., KY history: Neatsville remembered

By "Jim"

The following reminiscence appeared in the March 1, 1916 Adair County News in the form of a letter which was signed only "N."

Eunice, Ky., Feb. 28

Editor News.--

Will you give space in the columns of your interesting paper for a concise history of a once thriving village, but now nearly obliterated?

A short distance from where I now reside can be seen the remains of Neatsville, which for many years was a flourishing and important village. About 1809 my grandfather, Rudolph Neat, erected a mill on Green river, with which he ground wheat and corn, and had a saw attached that supplied the people with lumber--all done by water power.

Soon thereafter, a few houses were built and a dry goods store established. Population began to increase to such an extent that in a short time other business enterprises were started. The town at one time had three dry goods stores, a saloon, cabinet shop, carding machine, saddlery shop and a hotel. Besides all these, [there was] a boat yard, where flat bottom boats were made and loaded with tobacco, [and] shipped to New Orleans. One of the first merchants of Neatsville was Fautley R. Kinnaird, a relative of the late Wm. L. Walker, of Leatherwood.

Surrounded by rich land and cultivated by intelligent farmers, Neatsville had a phenomenal growth for many years. But the turbulent waters of Green river have made such inroads on the town that only a few houses remain, to mark the place, where man years ago, a prosperous small town existed.

It was the invariable custom of those days to have a barbecue every year at Neatsville. At one of those barbecues a very amusing incident took place. An immense number of people had assembled, many of whom came from Lincoln and Boyle counties. When dinner was announced many of those from a distance rushed up to the table in front of the ladies, when old Uncle John Damron, an eccentric and brave old gentleman, ironically proclaimed in a loud voice, "Stand back, ladies, and let the gentlemen from the Blue Grass eat their dinners. The effect was magical. The men immediately surrendered their places to the ladies.

But although old Neatsville is in ruins, another village is being built on the South side of the river, which will rival the one destroyed. There is one store being run by Mr. Elmer Rubarts and some good business houses erected, and ere long new Neatsville will be an important town.

In his Sketches of Adair County (1918), Judge H.C. Baker fondly mentioned the above-named Mr. John Damron in a piece about Neatsville:

"'Uncle John Damron' also lived at Neatsville. He was for a long time a magistrate from that district, and was ninety-two years old when he died. Green river has cut away the site of his residence and runs where he sat when dispensing justice.

When he discovered that the river was making inroads on him, he applied to Judge Durham, who was then in Congress, to secure an appropriation from the Government to arrest the depredations of the streams The judge promised to do all in his power in that direction, but, 'Uncle John' died without securing the needed appropriation, nevertheless; the promise made him a warm friend to Durham."

("Uncle John" was born around 1788 in Virginia; he was serving as magistrate as late as 1860.) -JIM

This story was posted on 2010-10-18 09:01:23
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