Chapter 5 – The Lower Part of the Town

The first house built in this part of the town was Jimmy Woods, the old log house, where Pete Duvall (colored) lives now; an old horse mill stood on the corner, across from where Dr. P. V. Ellis’ home now stands.  Upright pieces were driven into the ground, with two long sweeps attached, to each of which one, and sometimes two horses were hitched,  turning round and round to do the grinding; the grind stones were placed on the ground in the center.  Over it was a shed high in the comb, sloping toward the eaves. Near the mill was a cooper’s shop.  These three houses stood in the midst of a wide, waste of commons and for some years were the only buildings standing in this part of the town.

 In 1835

 Theodoric Fisher kept a general store in a building that stood where the tobacco barns stand across from Acra’s; it was a grocery, dry goods store and the first post office ever in Ghent, and for many years the only store the town afforded.  Mr. Fisher was the first merchant; a straight forward, upright man and a baptist preacher.  It was here that Mr. Vison came one day and bought $1 worth of needles; when he went home his wife, Mrs. Comfort Vinson, asked “Mr. Vinson, what made you buy so many needles?”  “Well, Comfort, needles will be needles this time next year.”

 The old Sardis’ house is the oldest in Ghent; it was standing when the stakes were driven in laying the plan of the town.

  Old Mr. Smittson, the miller, once went to the river, threw his hat and coat on the bank, got into a skiff and rowed over to the Vevay shore; when the coat was discovered of course it was supposed that he had drowned himself, and the men began dragging for the body.  Mr. Smitson say calmly in his skiff watching the work going on, until he was satisfied, then he came over home.  Smittson’s mill burned in 1843.

 Mr. Rodaham Littrell, Mrs. Nancy O’Neal’s father, used the first cross-cut saw and the first wheat cradle in this county, and of course both were considered great wonders.

 As there was church here only once a month, the people attended services at Port William, (now Carrollton); they often walked barefoot, carrying their shoes and stockings in their hands and just before they got to church, they would stop and put them on.  Some rode horse back, the women usually carrying the baby on their hips.

 Jacob’s Hill – 1835

 At this time back of Ghent was a big grassy hill without any fences; no part of it was cultivated; at it’s foot McCool’s creek rippled and sang as it hurried its way on to the Ohio, free of obstruction, for the hand of man had then placed no water-gaps for crossings in its bed; it was broad and deep with many large holes, much broader and deeper than now; in places over a man’s head, running water all the year round; and its margin shadowed with trees.  On the top of the very highest part of the hill was a log house; just one room and no chimney, no window, an opening cut for clearance, but no door hung however loosely on the rustiest of hinges, but in its place hung an old quilt.  There was no floor in the house; the fire was made on the ground in the center and the cooking was done over the coals, in pots and skillets.  They had no bedstead; in its place holes were bored into the logs of the house and rails were swung with the aid of upright pieces at the foot; on this the bed was made.  Here a family of white people lived, Lijah Jacobs and his wife, Darky Jacobs, with four or five children.  Mr. Jacobs was a low, heavy set man and of course the family were inevitably “smoked.” 

Mr. Jacobs was a fine wheat cradler and was a member of the Baptist church, joining when he was an old man; for many years his family lived here, far from all other houses, midst summer suns, and winter storms, lonely and alone, their nearest friend, Him, whose all-seeing eye guides and guards even the sparrows in their fall; from them the hill took its name, “Jacob’s hill.” 


from the Ghent Times, March 22, 1901