Metcalfe County Genealogy

Sulphur Well

Taken from the Homemakers booklet of about 1940-41.

The following history of Sulphur Well, Metcalfe County, Kentucky is based upon information secured from sources which are believed to be authentic.

A few years before the Civil War a man named Ezekeal Neal owning about 300 acres of land lying along either side of South Fork of Little Barren river decided to drill for salt on the river bank. Instead of salt, he tapped a wonderful stream of water of great medicinal value - a combination of sulphur, magnesium, salt and iron, so proportioned that it is vsery pleasant to the taste. Naturally artesian, unaffected bycold, heat, rain or drought, it has been flowing incessantly for nearly a century. From this well the village received its name.

Mr. Neal's home was situated about 75 yards north of the present home of my father, J. B. Smith. Aftr striking the well, he enlarged his home and used it as a hotel. Not only were visitors attracted by the water, but many came to build homes. Among the early settlers at or near Sulphur Well were the Morriss, Scotts, Overfelts, Browns, Burtons, Williams, Mitchells, Pendletons, Smiths, Thompsons, Marcums, Beauchamps, Bostons and Hardings. Mr. Neal and many of the older settlers have since passed into the mystic beyond, yet numbers of their descendants help to make up the present population of Sulphur Well.

After Mr. Neal's death, his hotel was used as a combined dwelling and school house. The first school of which there is record was taught in 1878 to 1880 by Mr. and Mrs. Leonard. Soon after the building burned, but it was replaced by the community and referred to as a "college". The official personnel of this school consisted of Professor John Grove, principal; Professor Fitzer, Professor Ellison and a Mrs. Smith, assistants. Sometime later, Mr. Joe Ray and daughter, Annie, of Edmonton taught school in the building. To the college came students not only from this county, but adjoining counties, living in boarding houses or in various homes. About 1885 this school house was destroyed by fire, and a ten pin alley near the Sulphur Well becamet he pedagogue's domain. Here Miss Lula Hutcherson, sister of the late J. C. Hutcherson of Glasgow, was one of the teachers. The main room of the present school house was built about 1887.

Priior to the construction in 1903 of the Buela Villa Hotel by C. W. Thompson, the building now owned by H. P. Porter was the main hotel at Sulphur Well, and the rates were usually $5.00 per week. One of the first proprietors of this hotel was Captain J. B. Morris, who with his family moved here from Hart County in 1879. This property changed hand several times, but was used as a hotel by each occupant until the present owner. There were sevseral others hotels or boarding houses as they were generally called. The rates of these ranged from $1.50 to $3.50 per week.

Mrs. Luvenia Estes, great aunt of Mrs. Mary Ball, owned and operated a boarding house located at the top of the hill east of Mrs. Lena Asbury's residence. Many of the teaches and students boarded with her.

Down through the years countless strangers have come to our village, but none a mysterious as Mr. McLeod of Scotland, who boarded with Mrs. Estes around 1884. He possessed a pleasing personality, was well educated, and a splendid artist, but so faithfully did he guard his past that no one knew anything of his life prior to his coming to Sulphur Well. Unfortunately, he was an alcoholic. One night while intoxicated he wandeed down the hill, fell from a foot bridge crossing the ravine and broke his neck. Penniless, and leaving no record of his past or relatives, he was buried by the people of Sulphur Well in the Neal graveyard. N A Neal and Sidney Smith purchased his burial clothes.

The first store building in Sulphur Well was erected where Mrs. Hurt's store now stands. Around 1880 this store burned. A new building was soon under way and upon its completion occupied by Dr. Hamilton. This changed ownership several times. Other merchants were Dr. Smith, Dr. Lashley, T D Hayes and Brother, conveyors and settlers. In 1904 J S Smith purchased the property and replaced it in 1912 with a larger building, which was later sold to Mrs. Mary Hurt.

The first post office was established July 30, 1879, with Thomas M. Quesenberry postmaster. Mail was delivered from Greensburg sem-weekly.

Prior to 1911, crossing Little Barren river was a great handicap. The fist means were small canoes and foot bridges, replaced by foot bridges suspended by cables, the last being built by C W Thompson. In 1911 an all purpose steel bridge was constructed by Metcalfe County, to be replaced by a concrete structure opened to transportation late in 1949.

The most used spot of ground in the village is probably what is referred to as "The Grove." It has been used as a gathering place by people far and near for many years. The lands on both sides of the river were evidently used by the Indians as camping and hunting grounds, since many flint spikes have been found in this vicinity. Later the "Grove" was used by General Morgan of Civil War fame as a training place for his soldiers.

Home-coming day, the third Sunday in August, has been the day of days at Sulphur Well since the late '80's. Few people know of the origin of this gala fete. At that time the common means of transportation was horse and mule back, as buggies were not numerouss and telephones, non-existent. Many people from Hart, Green and Barren Counties came horse back on Saturday and stayed until Sunday afternoon, or got an early start Sunday morning and spent Sunday at Sulphur Well. The tragedy was no one knew who of their neighbors would be present, so the young people of Hart County greed to set the third Sunday in August as the day for the reunion. Some who were responsible for this agreement were the Carpenters, Kings, Smiths, Larimores, Bumgardners, Houks, Mosses and Russells.

Thus was born the incentive for all who could to come and renew acquaintances with their Hart County friends. Soon home coming day was an actuality for people from many places. The automobile has made it possible for them to come from great distances, but few of the originaators of home coming day are now to be seen. Many are dead, others physically unable to join the happy throng milling through "The Grove", or dining at Buela Villa, or lounging on its spacious veranda, as young and old relive their past and prognosticate their tomorrows.

For many years Sulphur Well was without a church. In time missionaries came into the community and the need for a place of worship was felt. In 1914 the Methodist Church was completed and dedicated; in 1930 the Mormon church was built.

Since its inception many changes have come to the village of Sulphur Well. The advent of the automobile, good roads, electricity and other modern conveniences have made life more comfortable and pleasant for its inhabitants. Yet through the years the one attraction that brings people from many state to this little Kentucky village is the never changing, clear, cold sulphur water, gushing from the earth with its own natural force. To its waters we own our nativity - Sulphur Well.

From: Sandi Gorin <>
Date: Mon, 09 Mar 1998 08:22:53 -0600
From: Sandi Gorin <>
Date: Wed, 18 Mar 1998 09:06:26 -0600
U.S. GenWeb
Kentucky GenWeb

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