Hazard Kentucky and Perry County: A Photo History
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Excerpts from...
The 1913 Publication of
 

The Story of Hazard, KY.
Pearl of the Mountains 

 
by Louis Pilcher
On arriving in Hazard, the most noticeable is the new fifty-thousand dollar court house, a model of architecture, with electric lights, water works, fire-proof vaults, and modern fixtures: clock and water tower for sewerage; toilets and fire protection. Delegations and committees are visiting it with a view of replacing their old court houses with similar buildings, for it appears to be a building without a "job" in it; and it is a credit to the intelligence of the County Judge and the Justices.

The Johnson Building, The Wootton & Morgan Building, the First National Bank Building, all with fine offices, with conveniences, toilets, closets, etc., and the new Hotel Beaumont three stories, with barber shop and baths in basement, are next to attract the eye of visitors. More pretentious buildings are contemplated. R. O. Davis, the merchant, is to replace the burnt district with stone and brick building, and Carr Davis, has a new pressed brick two-story store room, recently built; and excavation is in progress for another big business house, opposite the Hotel Beaumont.

There are many attractive residents in and around Hazard, some of which are shown in the half-tone engravings.

The schools and colleges and churches are shown in pictures.

The new L & N depot, and the new iron and steel bridge are first seen by travelers, and we show them in pictures to best advantage, and all of which means that Jackson will have to look to her laurels in the rivalry for supremacy.

Hazard is already in the wholesale trade with the Hazard Grocery Company already doing a good county trade, and shipping orders both ways on the railway, and other lines will doubtless prosper by this pioneer example.


Coal mining here at Hazard is now in the infancy of its evolution, three mines just opening up in a small way as a beginning of what will soon prove to be the leading feature.

The drug fixtures in the two drug stores, in new buildings are a credit to the enterprise of the companies and their soda fountains, cost each, over one thousand dollars.

The Hazard Herald and job printing office was established nearly two years ago and the paper is a credit to Kentucky newspapers, the manager having spent several years in Chicago and is a member of International Typographical Union No. 16.

Hazard is well supplied with restaurants, and all kinds of mercantile establishments, and the spirit of trading at home is commendable, the clothing, shoes, dry goods, and millinery being well and tastefully selected, and I hear that goods are sold at retail here as cheap as in Lexington, and since the railroad groceries and other supplies are greatly reduced in prices.

The increased volume of business and banking is surprising, one grocery, retail merchant having told me his cash sales had increased over $500 the past month. The merchants and bankers are all live wide-awake advertisers, in the local paper, and in other mediums to reach prospectors and investors. The Courier-Journal recently contained a page write-up, with illustrations, the cost if being paid by one man.

The spirit of thrift is manifested on all sides. Contractors and builders and mechanics are on the rush and sign painters who know how to spell and punctuate are needed; many new stores being without attractive signs.

Now mind — too, I can address you thus because I may be away when my words are printed before your Vigilance Committee is organized to diagnose my case.

You had better, however, organize a permanent Committee of Safety before the town is baptized in mud – buried beyond resurrection.

The streets of Hazard during wet spells remind one of Venice – by indirection – they are so different. Mud most impassible to a "gondola" drawn by four yoke of meek-eyed oxen, with necks bent and bowed, symbolical of slavery – slaves all; and we will be till good streets put us in the modern push.

I’m preaching the gospel of thrift; using "plain language" – I’m Truthful Jeems Jr. My words may be hard but they are true. I address you City Dads, bankers, merchants, progressive citizens, as if I were your Dutch Uncle. Go down into the subterranean cavern of you "jeans" and fish out the price, first of all, for a good street, and receive usury from the beginning on your investment.

No town that is stuck-in-the-mud can make permanent progress. Mud is a retarding demon, when found a foot deep on public thoroughfares. Abolish it altogether, as Hamlet remarked to the bad mouthings of the players.

 

Perry County was formed in 1820 and I hear that Hazard was surveyed a year later. The local Old Mortality is historian and deliver in tradition Historian Baker, and hence, the Centennial, is soon to arrive, and it is the prediction that Hazard will make more progress in the interim, than it has during all these years, and I believe it too, without doing violence to my credulity.

Now I see ox teams pulling shack buildings away to make room for stone and brick buildings, and then fires will not be built under kettles in the streets to b’ile clothes, and "three contagious diseases" will not be neglected, as they are alleged to be by the local newspaper, the Hazard Herald to quote from one of Editor Trosper’s vigorous editorials on "Cleanliness". Then kodak pictures, now made by students from a distance, will be prized as curiosities, and then The Ten Thousand Club will have realized its present predictions. At a recent school commencement the little organ and the player piano were thrown into the ash heap, for we have real musicians and talented pianists, and all of which, and more, shows the trend of city building as exemplified in many other developments in town and county, since the completion of the railroad Extension from Jackson to McRoberts.


The population is now over double what it was a year ago when the railroad arrived, and of course it is so shifting and unstable that it is hard to estimate.
The population is now over double what it was a year ago when the railroad arrived, and of course it is so shifting and unstable that it is hard to estimate, except approximately, at say one thousand, at the lowest, in ebb tide. The street scenes after the arrival of trains are more animated then elsewhere, as Hazard is about midway between Jackson and Jenkins. I might call it the human division point and possibly the mountain nucleus around which the chief town will be built.

The Combs family and the Campbell were the first owners of the land here and hereabout, and they are still in evidence and prominent, the present county Judge being Hon. J. G. Campbell, and D. Y. Combs, being the owner of real estate, a merchant, landlord, and coal mining owner.

Excavations are constantly in progress for new buildings, and in consequence, it seems impossible to keep Main Street clean, and as water mains are being laid for a water works and sewerage, concrete side walk building is of necessity being delayed. These little matters for criticism will seen be a thing of the past, and they are met with in every town that is not "done" to a turn, and on the retrograde.

Removal of mean and goods from place to place with ease means progress, and I think the one-cent bridge fare for pedestrians will seen be obviated, as it is now at Whitesburg and Jackson, where counties freed them. At times I have noticed men and women on horseback fording the river to avoid the toll, a mere pittance, but not always at hand, and it seems a hardship.

Speaking of sign painters reminds me that soon there will be dazzling electrical signs to make Hazard attractive and its streets inviting at night, there being some bad places in the few surviving wooden sidewalks.

 

The mountains are now being set out in all of the Spring beauty too gorgeous and overwhelming in grandeur to indulge in descriptive powers, for they seem so poor and inadequate. The beholder is simply stunned. They must be seen, by lovers of the grand and magnificent, to enjoy their beauty and grandeur, and besides, my space will admit of fine writing, which is often tedious reading, when not done with the touch of literary experts, like Chas. Egbert Craddock (Miss Murfree) or to be found in the poems of Theodore O’Hara, George W. Ranck, and John Fox.

 

Since the Express companies refuse to deliver shipments of liquor and everybody is duly sober, the leading topic, when business is over, and on Sundays, the drinkers regale each other with "dry" stories, the subject seeming endless. It is now said that the moonshiners are working overtime, and a white and vile decoction, it is said, is sometimes obtainable with a potash basis to make it "strong" and killing. No bottled in bond, wet goods are obtainable nearer than Winchester. Malt mead and other substitutes, the officials say, are no longer to be had, as was the case here in February. We will drop the subject as too dry for publication.

 

Hazard is an inviting field for prospectors and investors. Capital is needed to push the development, the local capitalists having gone their limit, and thus showing their confidence in the town and its future growth. Many inviting fields are here awaiting the touch of Midas. The town needs houses to rent from $8 to 12$ per month, and better ones to supply the demand of new comers, there being no vacancies, and rent for mere shacks is too high, and other rents are considered too steep: but business property rental is reasonable, and new buildings are leased in advance of erection.

This is an inviting field for a steam bakery, and a steam laundry, and an opera house for the drama, vaudeville, and other amusements. Two picture shows, in mere shack buildings, are well patronized, but the buildings are unsuited for the purpose.

 

Coal Mining

Coal mining here at Hazard is now in the infancy of its evolution three mines just opening up in a small way as a beginning of what will soon prove to be the leading feature. A few miners may now be seen going to and returning from the nearby mines and the local trade is now supplied at home. The raccoon Coal Company of which much is expected may be seen from the railroad, commissary tipples, etc. The commissary and hotel is managed by Alvis Combs, brother of Monroe Combs of Jessamine County, Ky. Another is the Jewel Coal Company and there is the D. Y. Combs mines. The Slemp interests in mineral and timber lands are extensive. The local secretary is J. B. Hodge who is also interested in other local enterprises. These interests and others are expected to make Hazard the Commercial Center of the Mountains.

Barbers and Bathrooms

There are four barber shops here with about ten chairs and here the barber is some pumpkins. One of them is the landlord also if the new Hotel Beaumont and the elevation doesn’t embarrass him in the least as between times he takes a hand at the shop and he is said to be a good one. Another barber is a combined blacksmith and preacher and lawyer and with him it is not an affection and egotism as it was charged against Count Leo Tolstoi who would peg shoes a while and write novels and dramas of a revolutionary character to show his contempt for royalty and emphasize his philosophy of democracy. One doesn’t have to wait for hours for a "scrape" here as he does at Whitesburg where sometimes the sole barber goes fishing.

Hazard Telephone Company

The Hazard Telephone Company is owned by Mr. Wm. Strong who bought the plant from Mr. R. O. Davis of Hazard seven years ago as a small plant, and today he is operating over three hundred telephones in Perry County. The office is now in Mr. Strong’s residence situated near the court house, and as the business has outgrown the present quarters he will build a large office on Main Street and put in improved equipment and add a night service. The telephone system is now operated in connection with the long-distance and telegraph systems; with the Cumberland telephone System at Jackson, and the Bell Telephone Company at Prestonsburg. He will put in an improved drop board and cable and latest equipment. The system now connects with Cornettsville, Hyden, Whitesburg, Buckhorn, and points west. Miss Bertha Greer is the proficient telephone operator here, and she is assisted by Mrs. Strong. Buck Akeman is one of the linemen at Chavis and W. R. Adams is another at Viper Postoffice.

 

Hazard Water Company

The Hazard Water Company is capitalized at $10,000 and is now completed and in operation. The plant is located across the river east of the L & N depot with a reservoir cut out of solid stone up high on the cliff which will hold sufficient water for fire protection and domestic and drinking purposed. The pressure will be ample to force water over the highest buildings and the water will be pure and wholesome as a filtering plant will be built at once.

The capacity is 150,000 gallons and the reservoir is 300 feet above the street level. In connection with this, a sewerage system and macadam streets and concrete sidewalks, are being built.

Hazard Light and Power Company

An enterprise that will add greatly to the general progress of Hazard and Perry Count is the Hazard Light and Power Company, incorporated for $10,000. The plant is located at ehe mouth of Laurel Branch on the North Fork of the Kentucky River near Hazard. There are installed two 150 H-P boilers, one unit for light and two units for heating, and to supply power for machinery, etc.; and other units will be added as needed to furnish motor power for mining purposes and other requirements. Mr. Hemphill will add to the plant and ice plant of large capacity, in order t ship ice in carloads lots, and in smaller lots along the railroad, and for supplying local dealers in Hazard or anywhere convenient for shipments. Mr. Hemphill has been in the electrical business, having had much practical experience. The Company is now supplying customers with all sorts of electrical fixtures of the latest patterns.

To be continued.

 

Thanks to Eva McCleland