William Mackoy Remembers Covington


When a few of you met on the 10th of last June, to form this association, I was pleased that such an effort was being made, and felt a desire to be with you.  Your notice, however, was only to those who were here in 1827.  That was a memorable day with me, it being the forty-seventh anniversary of my landing in Covington.  After leaving my native place in Greenup County, in search of a new home, I took passage upon a steam boat, and reached Covington June 10, 1829.  I went to the ferry at the foot of Fifth street, Cincinnati, where I boarded a skiff.  This, with the horse ferry-boat, was the mode of crossing the river at that time, steam ferry boats not having come into use.  I was landed at the foot of Garrard street, and proceeded to the Connelly House, northwest corner of Garrard and Second streets.  The Cross-roads, in Boone County, was my destination, where my brother-in-law, Mr. G. Fisher, was residing and merchandising.  I took passage on the stage owned by Major Allen Gaines, which ran from Covington to Lexington, and transported the mail.  It was driven by our dear old friend, Judge O. P. Hogan.  I remained in Boone and in Grant County, near where Crittenden now is, and before it was laid out, engaged in business with Mr. Fisher until November, 1830, when I removed to Covington.  At that time Covington was a small place, bounded on the east by the Licking River, on the north by the Ohio River, on the west by a line between Madison and Washington streets, on the south by Sixth street, with a population of five hundred.  All that section west as far as Willow Run was a forest of large timber, and the same south, to the hills, except the places owned by Major Sandford, Major Fowler and a few others.  The mercantile and manufacturing interests small. Our old and worthy friends, J. G. Arnold, had a little dry goods store in a farm house on the east side of Garrard  street, between Second and Third.  Miss Suttle, his niece, was his clerk.  Our late esteemed friend J. B. Casey, was located on the south side of Lower Market space, in a small frame building., and in after years created a substantial brick store-house, where he continued in business until his lamented death last summer.  He was also an extensive tobacco manufacturer.  Next, Fisher and Mackoy located where the Planters' Tobacco-house now stands, on Greenup street.  W. T. Pierce, the Messrs. Gedge and others came shortly afterward.  But few brick houses were in town at that time.  I will enumerate them, commencing at the Licking.  They were owned by W. W. Southgate, Second street and Licking; Alexander Drake, of theatrical renown, Third street and Licking; Mr. Gano, Garrard street, now known as Park Place; Dr. Bedinger, southeast corner Front and Garrard; the latter was a notable and conspicuous place, fronting on the Ohio River towards Cincinnati, and displaying a sign on which was painted in large letters, "Lottery Office," for which institution Kentucky has always been famous; Samuel Kennedy's dwelling (stone), east side of Garrard street, between Front and Second; Alex. Connelly's tavern, northeast corner of Garrard and Second streets; Stinson House, south side of Third street, west of Scott street, afterwards owned by the late G. W. Ball; T. D. Carneal, Second street, between Scott and Madison; Mr. Colston, of Virginia, west side of Madison between Second and Third streets; Mr. Leathers, father of our esteemed friend, Mr. W. M. Leathers, northwest corner of Greenup and Lower Market; and the Kennedy House (Isaac Cooper's), Sixth and Greenup streets.

At that date not a graded or paved street was in Covington.  Greenup street, from Front to Fourth, was the first improved, under contract with Martin Hardin, brother of the statesman.  But little improvement was made up until 1834.  At a session of the Legislature during the winter of that year a charter of the city was granted.  The first election held for Mayor was in 1834.  Mr. M. M. Benton being the successful candidate.  The council was composed of Wm. Hopkins, John T. Levis, Wm. Elliott, W. W. Southgate, John B. Casey, John A. Goodson, John Mackoy, and James G. Arnold.  Four of the members still live: Messrs: Benton, Levis, Arnold and Mackoy; the others have passed to their rest.

The Methodists at that time occupied a brick house on the west side of Garrard street, a little north of Third street, which was afterwards sold to H. M. Buckner.  The Christian Church worshipped in a little frame building on the south side of Second street, between Garrard and Greenup , and the Rev. Mr. Challen, now the pastor of the Fourth Street Christian Church, was their minister.  Baptist and Presbyterian divines occasionally visited the city and preached, but neither of those denominations had any regular organization. Upon one occasion the Rev. Alexander Campbell, the founder of the reformed church, was here and preached in an upper room of Mr. J. G. Arnold's store house, which was fitted up for public meetings.  The Catholics had a house of worship under the care of Rev. S. H. Montgomery, on the south side of Fifth street, west of Madison.  A log cabin on the public square was also  sometimes used for religious services.  The great Lorenzo Dow once preached there.

Who were the pioneers of Covington at that time?  I will mention some of them. Samuel Kennedy, one of the original owners of the land upon which the city is located, and the owner of the ferry right; Pliny Bliss, who was connected with him in the ferry across the Ohio; Alexander Connelly, Wm. Hopkins; W. W. Southgate, attorney-at-law and member of Congress under President Van Buren; John B. Casey; C. Fisher; Dr. J. W. King, Wm. Barnes, Andrew Ross, Joseph Keene, Major Jefferson Phelps, a prominent attorney-at-law; Carey Clemons, Dr. Harvey Lewis, a practicing physician for several years; Hiram Leathers, Wm. Elliott, John A. Goodson, Thomas and Edward Kennedy, sons of Samuel Kennedy; Edward Fowler, Enos Pratt, A. Ambrose, George Morrall, John Jones, Amasa Owen and Peter Owen (ferrymen), James Adams, O. R. Powell, Richard Jordan (rolling mill), T. D. Carneal, C. A. Littlefield, John Arnold, F. G. Gedge, W. H. Gedge, George B. Marshall, Jacob Hardin, John W. Clayton, Jacob Mussulman, all of whom have passed from us.  All of the above we knew intimately, daily associating with them in business and social intercourse.  We have seen them pass, one by one, through the long series of forty years.  As we look back it seems but a span - as if the two extremes had met.


from  the Cincinnati Commercial of October 15, 1876, reporting on a communication from John Mackoy, and read to the Pioneers Association.