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JIM: Middleburg and the Farmers Deposit Bank, 1904-05

By "Jim"

A Sketch of Middleburg (from the Adair County News, June 29, 1904; spellings as found)

A small village of about 400 inhabitants is situated near the source of Green river, on the break between the bluegrass and mountain region of Kentucky. This location has a special geological, psychological and historical value. It has a beautiful and healthful location. It is near the region where the first pioneers immerged into the forest to wrestle their homes from the wild animals and savage indians. Here the inhabitants can breathe the pure and refreshing air from the mountains, drink the health giving draughts of her beautiful springs and receive the inspiration of wild supernatural and historical sceneries, diffusive in all its grand panoramic beauty.

No higher or better testimony the conspicuous character of the people can be given than the fact that all the saloons have been expurgated. The people of Middlesburg are moral and religious and belong to the yeomanry of "the corn cracker State." ["Corn-cracker" was a sobriquet for Kentucky.]

Three large churches, able ministers in each, and well-organized Sunday-schools.

The town is easily approachable from many of the counties having railroad facilities and has daily intercourses by hack with McKinney [in Lincoln Co.], its nearest railroad station.

The cemetery is one of the most convenient and beautiful ones in the state.

Middleburg Normal College, is an elegant brick building, two stories high, situated on an elevation overlooking the town, and is one of the most beautiful and commodious school buildings in the State. Prof. J.S. Lawhorn, the great educator of Paris, is principal of the college.

(The above sketch may have been in response to a somewhat tongue-in-cheek snippet which had appeared in the community newsletter from Yosemite, a neighboring community, in the News a few weeks earlier:

Middleburg is more blest with professional men than any town its size in the state. It has three preachers, two doctors and two lawyers. It has a dozen or more school teachers, besides several professional loafers.)News of the Middleburg bank-to-be broke in the Yosemite newsletter of October 19, 1904:

It is said that a bank at Middleburg is an assured fact. A $15,000 stock is proposed, and most of it has been subscribed. Messrs. Smith & Thomas, of Henry County, are here working on it, and are receiving all the encouragement they are looking for. Middleburg has been under the weather, from a business point of view, for some time, and we are glad to see her coming to the front.

Verification and additional information came the next week when the Middleburg correspondent wrote

A Farmers Deposit Bank was organized here Friday the 14th, with J.C. Coulter, president and D.A. Thomas, of New Castle, cashier. R.H. Casey, of New Castle, has the contract to erect the building. It will be rushed to completion so that they will be ready for business by Christmas.

No other news of the Middleburg money palace appeared until the latter part of November when the correspondent noted that "Work on the Farmers Deposit Bank has begun in earnest. The building will be ready for business the first of the year."

The bank wasn't the only new kid on the Middlesburg block, as the correspondent farther stated that "Preparations are being made for the construction of a large commercial building; also for a roller mill and brick yard," and that "Mr. Wm. Miller has completed his undertaking building on Liberty street."

Meanwhile, one business man was having little luck selling his commercial property, as his long-running ad appeared yet again in this edition of the News:FOR SALE:--An improved town lot in Middleburg, Ky., one new store and a $3000 stock of General Merchandise. All new and convenient out buildings, an extra good well--never goes dry. Will sell reasonable. Call or address C.L. Pruett, Middleburg, Casey Co., Ky.

In mid-December came the announcement that the "Walls of the new bank were completed Friday last [probably Dec. 2nd]. The building will be ready for business January 1." However, the January 18, 1905 edition of the News reported, compliments of the Yosemite correspondent, that it would "soon" be ready for business. The Middlesburg newsletter the following week announced simply, "Farmers Deposit Bank had begun business," and mentioned in passing that Mr. E.J. Godbey was the president thereof. The Yosemite correspondent stated it "began business Monday week [almost certainly Monday, January 16th] and added that "...we are told that a fairly good business is being done."

(At one point, not too many weeks before the Middleburg bank opened, the scribe for that town commented that R.H. Casey, the contractor for the bank building, had recently agreed to put up similar structures in Eubank, Science Hill and Somerset, then wryly observed "Banks are surely becoming the latest fashion.")Come early March, the Middleburg letter reported that "the bank is progressing nicely, with several thousand [dollars in] deposits and loans." -"Jim.">

This story was posted on 2010-11-30 11:04:37
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Scenic Casey Co., KY: Middleburg, KY

2010-11-28 - Photo by Linda Waggener. 2959 Shorttown RD, Middleburg, Casey Co., KY
A stately structure on Shorttown RD in Middleburg, Casey Co., KY. We went to see the millpond at the old Riffe Mill; it's still a beautiful place, but on the late fall day in November 2010, when we visited, the most memorable sight was the old Farmers Deposit Bank building. For some reason, we thought of it as giving a more midwestern look than Kentucky one. The bank itself is over 100 years old, chartered in 1904. The Wikipedia entry on Middleburg, KY notes that the first landowner there was Abraham Lincoln I, the great grandfather of President LIncoln, whose connection to Adair County is that he got but one vote here (A profile in courage: The single Adair Countian who voted for Lincoln in 1860, by Jim), but another significant Adair County connection may be the Riffe one. The Wikipedia entry says that A. Lincoln I sold the land to Christopher Riffe. The great Columbia Mayor, W.R. Murphy, was, in fact William Riffe Murphy, and he never let anyone forget it. I don't remember the exact kinship, but there most certainly has to be a blood relationship between the two great men. Middleburg is located midway - and hence it's name - between Liberty and Hustonville. But we like to think of it as part of Casey County's Twin Cities of Yosemite, with its own bank and restaurant and Middleburg - that's our view, a tourist's view. The towns are just less than a mile apart, and while they are nowhere near the megopolis of Royville-Russell Springs-Jamestown in Russell Co., KY, they are a magnificent pair of rural municipalities. Oh -if you go, there are many routes and wonderful day trip circuits on Google maps. The shortest distance is a little under 40 miles. -Ed Waggener

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