November 5, 2013

Letter to the Editor about Reputation of Somerset, Pulaski, 1881



This is an 1881 Letter to the Editor of the Cincinnati Daily Gazette regarding the tendency of the press to publish only negative stories about Somerset, KY.  (Since I focus on murder cases I know I'm guilty of this too.) The author goes on to highlight positive aspects of Somerset and Pulaski County, and I think it provides a nice early profile of the town and its industry.


[January 28, 1881] -


Why Not the Good as Well as the Bad?--Resources of Southern Kentucky--Paints and Ochers--Good Farms and Timber--Coal and Ores--Freight for the Southern Railway.

To the Editor of the Cincinnati Gazette.

SOMERSET, Ky., Jan. 26.--You have certainly an enterprising correspondent at this point, who has a talent for collecting items of sensational and disgraceful transactions with which your readers are daily regaled.  Every incident of such character, within a radius of fifty miles, is faithfully reported as from this city, and thus the sobriquet of "dark and bloody ground," which somebody in the distant past gave to our grand old State, would seem to have been in accordance with the fitness of things.  And yet those who know us well are constrained to say that there is as much brightness and peace, as true a regard for the amenities of life to the square mile in Kentucky as can be found in any other Southwestern State of this Union.  If disorderly persons conduct themselves badly, of course they should be held to the consequences, but they ought not to be suffered to taint the character of good citizens, who bear toward them the proportion of at least ten to one.  If the character for decency and order of Cincinnati were judged by the tenor of the police reports your city would enjoy but an indifferent reputation; and if the safety of railroad travelling were estimated by the fatal casualties reported prudent people would not venture into the cars.

Now, the fact is, since the great Southern Railway was opened to this city and the Cumberland River, the material improvement of this old town and the ancient County of Pulaski has been so marked and rapid as to excite the admiration of all judicious observers.  Those of our Northern friends who visited us about the time of the battles of Mill Springs and Dutton's Heights who might again be set down here, as it were, "in the night," would scarcely recognize the locality, so important are the changes.  "South Somerset," around the depot, is growing rapidly, and bids fair to become a populous neighborhood, with flourishing manufactures.  Two new hotels, and some stores and shops, with other buildings, are there seen.  In the old town on the hill, the improvements are no less marked.  Many of the old tumble down wooden blocks have been removed, to make way for new structures of both brick and frame.  The city has become the intrepot for a large trade from all quarters, and banking, as well as other commercial concomitants, are in a thriving condition.

On the Cumberland River, but ten miles south of this town, are the well known coal mines from which Nashville and other towns below have been supplied for years, and from these ten barges of the black diamonds started last week for the State Capital of Tennessee, and since the Southern Railway was opened very large coal works have been built up at Greenwood, twelve miles south of this city, whence from 7,000 to 10,000 bushels are shipped daily for different stations on the railroad.  The southern part of Pulaski County abounds in excellent mineral coal, the trade in which is increasing with great rapidity.  The coal for Somerset is mined three and one-half miles east of this city, and is offered here at twelve and one-half cents per bushel.

Other valuable minerals abound in the county, and both copper and lead ores of workable excellence are among them.  Last summer Judge Pattus, an old citizen of Somerset, discovered a thick stratum of excellent ocher, immediately on the line of the Southern Railway, some two miles from this town, specimens of which were submitted to Prof. Wayne, of your city, and pronounced by him quite equal to the best French.  At the request of those interested, a competent and well known geologist of your city visited the locality, and determined that the mineral was there in exhaustless quantities.  I may add that a company has been formed to develop and work the mine.  Sidetracks will be constructed form the main line of railroad, mills and settling tanks constructed, and early arrangements made to put this valuable material on the market.  In this work, I understand, the company will enjoy the valuable agency of one of the oldest mineral paint houses in Philadelphia.

Much of our large county is a good agricultural district, especially in the portion southwest of Somerset.  Within the last eighteen months, under the efficient guidance of Mr. J. N. Brown, acting Immigration Agent for the Southern Railway, many families from Ohio, Indiana, and other Northwestern States have found homes among us, and "the cry is, 'Still they come!'" The timber resources of the county are also very great.  As this has always been a strong Union county, with a present Republican majority of from 300 to 700, strangers from the Northwest meet with no prejudice on account of politics, but are welcomed with true Kentucky hospitality.  We are glad to have new elements and new ideas introduced among us, and there will be no detriment offered to the free exersise of opinion, whether on religion or politics.  Old Pulaski County, named for a revolutionary hero, was contemporary with Clay, Crittenden, Robertson, and the best of early Kentuckians, and her citizens are proud of her history and jealous of her status.  Her leading men think she is entitled to a fair show in the time honored Republican organ of our sister State--a journal which is extensively read here, and which, we are persuaded, needs no urging to grant us a fair show before the reading world.

Yours truly,
J. P. R.


[1] "From Southern Kentucky." Cincinnati Daily Gazette, Cincinnati, OH. January 28, 1881. Page 5.


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