On the 8th day of May, 1820, the county seat of Todd County was located at Elkton. With this the history of the town properly commences, although in March, 1819, Thomas Garvin and Thomas Jameson laid out the original plat of the town. This plat was recorded in the Christian County Court, and consisted of about eighteen lots. The first addition to the town of Elkton, after it had been made the county seat, was that of John Gray, which was made and recorded on Nov. 16, 1820. This addition lay west of the original plat, and consisted of 251 lots. It contained the grounds now covered by the major portion of the town of Elkton, including the public square. John Mann, Jr., and Charles Smith made another addition to the town two days after-ward. It consisted of nine lots, and joined the original plat on the south. On the same day William Greenfield made a third addition to the town. It consisted of fifty-six lots, and lay to the east. At the last session of the Legislature a new charter was granted to the town of Elkton, in which the corporate limits were extended to a considerable extent, but as yet no survey has been made of the portion added, and no definite statement can be made as to the number of lots.
The first portion of the town originally lay near Elk Creek, hence the name ” Elk Town,” which in later days has been contracted to ” Elk-ton.” The first man, or at least one of the first, to come here was Thom-as Garvin, who, as we have mentioned above, ran a mill here as early as 1817. It stood almost directly south of the present site of the Christian Church on Elk Fork. It was only in operation a short time. He was the same man who laid out one of the additions to the town. He left here in about 1823. About the first merchant here was Charles Smith. He kept store in the building now standing on Main Street, at the forking of the Allensville road with that street. Here he remained until about 1826. William S. Logan was about the next person to engage in merchandising, probably about 1818. He ran a store here for a few years and then moved to the. Hadensville district, where he farmed for many years. Near the town William Greenfield had been running a blacksmith shop for many years before the organization, and after the town sprang up several of his sons also engaged in that business. In about. 1820 William Greenfield, Jr., began merchandising here, and did business at this point until about 1833, and then moved to Clarksville, Tenn. Some of the other members of the Greenfield family moved to Arkansas and are still living there. In 1818 Maj. John Gray, whom we have noticed above, built the Nick and Will House and hired his brother-in-law, James Kendal, to run it for him. This gentleman had charge of it until about 1827. Prior to this, however, Samuel Hadley had kept an inn on Main Street, opposite the place where the Allensville road comes into it. About the first persons to come to the new village were several hatters, among whom might be mentioned Edson Waters, Thomas Jameson and William Powers. All had their shops near the creek, and only remained here a short time. In an early day there were also several saddlers here; among them were Issachar Roberts, Thomas W. Pitt and William Gowl. The-first two gentlemen were here only a short time, but Gowl remained here some time, and in about 1832 he built a mill in connection with his brother-in-law, Mr. Grooms, but it did not run very long. Probably the oldest building now in the town is the brick, now owned by Mr. Woolard, which was built by Mr. Edwards about 1817. The building has been put to different uses, but now is used by various artisans for their shops, and as living rooms by numerous families. The second story is used by the Elkton Register as an office, composing and press rooms. As early as 1820 Henry Roberts was keeping a hotel in a building that stood near where B. T. Perkins, Jr’s., house is. John S. Wilson came here in about 1.820, sold goods here a short time and then went West. About the next arrival here was Henry F. Roberts, who came here about 1822. He first opened a grocery store, but afterward a general store, and remained in business here for some time. About the same time Isaac Ayers came here and engaged in the grocery business; he remained here only a short time and then moved away. In 1823 Benjamin Logan came here and opened a store where Dr. Miles’ drug store is now standing; he continued business here until about 1835, and was one of the most successful merchants of an early day. In the same year the widow Boone came to this town, accompanied by her family, from the Allensville District.
This pioneer lady deserves more than a passing mention in the history of the district. She came to the county with her husband, Squire Boone, in 1815. This hardy old pioneer was a native of Virginia, a nephew of the famous Daniel Boone, and accompanied his renowned relative to this State in the second journey of the latter to Kentucky. He settled in Madison County, and there, in 1790, on the banks of Kentucky River, he married the lady who survived him. This was probably one of the first marriages ever performed in that part of Kentucky. Mr. Boone was in the famous battle of Blue Licks, and was shot through the thigh, the ball shattering, the bone very badly. After his arrival in this county he settled within a mile of Allensville, where he lived only about two years before he was called to his reward. His son, Squire Boone, came to Elkton with his mother, and began merchandising the same year, continuing in business some time. Another son, H. G. Boone, began merchandising in about 1829, in the room now occupied by Hancock & Grumbley, and engaged in business there in partnership with Mr. Green-field until about 1840.
In about 1827 T. W. Gray succeeded Kendal in the management of the Nick and Will House. He ran it for only a short time, and then John M. Cobinass, who in turn was succeeded in 1832 by Archie Buckner. After Buckner retired Jared Crab obtained possession of the hotel, and ran it for many years. He had originally come to the town in 1823, and had engaged in the trade of a silversmith for some time. In about 1827 Thomas W. Greenfield began merchandising near where Hancock & Grumbley’s establishment now stands. He remained there only a short time, and then moved to Tennessee. In 1830 Squire B. Green-field began to sell goods here in connection with Mr. Roberts. The firm remained here only about five years, and then retired. About 1832 S. II. Scott opened a store here. He had come here in about 1823, but had been acting as Constable up to this time. After entering business circles here he was a successful merchant for a short time, and then moved away. William McChristian was merchandising here with Mr. Scott for a year, having bought out Mr. Greenfield, but subsequently he received the appointment of Tobacco Inspector at New Orleans, and selling out his interests here, he went South to assume his new position. In 1834 Dr. James A. McReynolds came to this point, and as he afterward followed other vocations besides his chosen profession, and was withal one of the foremost men of the place, we deem it best to insert a short sketch of this gentle-man. He was a son of Oliver and Elizabeth McReynolds, and was born in Campbell County, Va., in 1812. He was of Scotch-Irish descent, the family moving from Scotland to Ireland immediately after the con-quest of Ireland by Cromwell. The grandfather of Dr. McReynolds came from Ireland to this country with his mother and one brother, soon after the siege of Londonderry, and from this small beginning the whole family of McReynoldses are now descended. The family first settled in Pennsylvania, moving thence to Campbell County, Va., where the grand-father married, and raised a large family, and of that number the father of James A. McReynolds was the youngest. Dr. McReynolds was raised and educated in his native county, receiving only such instruction as was given by the common schools of those days. In 1832 he moved with his father to Trigg County, Ky.., settling near Cadiz, and two years after-ward he came to this point. Upon his arrival here he began the study of medicine with Drs. Grooms and Venable. In 1835-36 he attended his first course of lectures at Cincinnati, and in 1836-37 he attended the Transylvania University of Medicine, at Lexington, Ky., which was at that time the leading medical college of the West, and ranked among the first in the Union. Returning to this town he began the practice of his profession. About 1842, his health being rather poor, he quit the practice of medicine and commenced reading law. But after about three years’ attention to that profession he returned to the practice of medicine. In 1847 he was elected to the Legislature, and served one term. Returning to this point he continued the practice of medicine until 1867, when he was elected Cashier of the Bank of Elkton. This position he occupied until his death in 1869. In person Dr. McReynolds was very tall and spare, with light auburn hair, large light gray eyes, and in his address he was exceedingly awkward. His mind was strong and logical, and he investigated subjects slowly and carefully. As a practitioner of medicine he was cautious and careful. He was for a long time a prominent member of the Christian Church. and wielded a large influence, both by reason of the strength of his intellect and the force and purity of his character.
Probably no one has ever done any more for the town of Elkton than Jesse Russell, who was born in Virginia, and came to this district with his brother before the town was laid out. The latter was a brickmason, and engaged at his trade here. Under him Jesse Russell learned that trade, and afterward followed it. Coming to the county with nothing, but being possessed of remarkable energy, he succeeded far beyond the lot of ordinary men, and at the breaking out of the war he was the owner of Negroes to the value of $85,000, besides a great deal of real estate. Most of the brick houses in Elkton were built and were at different times owned by him. But the vicissitudes of the war, however, swept most of his wealth away, and left him nothing but his real estate. He died here in 1883, and to-day his name deserves to be handed down to the coming generations.
In 1851 George B. Lewis came to this county, located at this point, and here he has since been engaged in merchandising. In 1844 James M. Thompson came to this point, and until his death, in 1873, he followed the trade of blacksmith and wood-workman. George W. Millen began the undertaking and cabinet business at this point in 1860, and is still engaged in the business. In 1859 John W. Lewis opened a general store here, which he now carries on. In 1862 E. Garth opened a grocery store here, but only engaged in that business until 1865, when he retired. In 1870 he opened a general store, and is still engaged in it. In 1873 Street, McReynolds & Co. opened a general store, but remained in business only a short time. In 1872 Russell & Bell began a general grocery business here; this firm continued in operation two years, when Russell retired, and Bell ran the store until 1881, when he sold out and engaged with Mr. Boone, under the firm name of Boone & Bell, in the dry goods business. In 1877 Felix G. Miles came to Elkton and formed a partnership with Dr. C. D. Lewis, in the drug business. In 1880 the latter retired, but Mr. Miles is still engaged here. In that year Edward M. Weathers also opened a drug store, which had been operated here by Jefferson & Perkins, and is still in general business at this point. In 1878 Douglas M. Miller began selling agricultural implements here, and is still conducting his business at this point; and about the same time Joe C. Russell opened his grocery store, at the same stand at which he is still to be found. In 1879 Isaac Spillman opened a fine livery stable here, and is still doing an extensive business; and in the same year S. H. Perkins opened an extensive general store, and continued in business by himself until 1881, when he took in G. P. Street as partner, and subsequently associated S. H. Wells in the same business, and the firm is now doing a very large trade under the title of S. H. Perkins & Co. In 1880 John L. Mauzy & Bro. came here, and opening a tin shop, are still following that trade at this point.
Bank of Elkton was organized on March 5, 1866, with a capital stock of $50,000. At the first meeting of the stockholders the following Di-rectors were elected: James T. Clark, John 0. McReynolds, H. G. Petrie, G. B. Lewis and John W. Lewis. The Board chose James T. Clark as President. This gentleman was at that time one of the leading merchants of the place, and one of the finest business men in southern Kentucky. Milton Gant was also made the first Cashier; he was in turn succeeded by Dr. J. A. McReynolds. A few years after its organization the bank lowered the capital to about $23,000, but it has since been raised to the original amount. At present the Directors of the bank are H. G. Petrie, President; Dr. J. O. McReynolds, and John O. Street Cashier. The institution is at present in a flourishing condition and is doing a good business.
The following is a list of the gentlemen now engaged in business at this point:
Bank- Bank of Elkton.
Drugs- E. M. Weathers, William Terry and F. G. Miles. General Stores-S. H. Perkins & Co., John Lewis, E. Garth. Groceries-G. W. Lewis, Russell & Edwards, Joe Russell, Russell & Wilkins.
Dry Goods- Boone & Bell and L. J. Hancock.
Millinery- Miss Mary L. Russell, Mrs. Mary Hays, and Mrs. Elizabeth Hooser.
Harness Shops- William Tolbert, John A. Goodman.
Furniture Store- Millen & Millen.
Tinware- Mauzy & Bro.
Tailor- Caleb W. Bell.
Hotels- Kennedy House, Misses Kennedy; Nick and Will House, Mrs. Hunter.
At present the town contains about 900 inhabitants, and it is claimed that the size of it has not increased any for the past thirty years. It is to be hoped that with the advent of the new railroad the town will spring into new life, and that other citizens may be induced to locate here.
The newspapers of the town of Elkton have had a very precarious existence. Several different sheets have been started, but one by one most of them have died the death of the righteous. About the first paper issued for the gratification and divertissement of the people of this county as well as for the purpose of ministering to the finances of the editor was the Green River Whig. This paper, or at least its outfit, was brought here from Hopkinsville by James R. Abernathy, in about 1851. In the course of a year or two the paper changed hands, Mr. A. B. Stark purchasing the office. He also changed its name to the Elkton Banner, and made V. B. Morris the editor and publisher. This sheet continued in operation here until about 1857. From this time until about 1872 there was a dearth of newspapers, when the Elkton Witness was started by Dr. Cox. This gentleman ran the paper about three years, when he sold out to Bradley & Reeves, and under this administration the paper finally became extinct. In September, 1878, Maj. F. H. Bristow and H. F. Willoughby began the publication of the Elkton Register. These gentlemen were the proprietors of the paper until the summer of 1882, when S. D. Reese began the publication of it, and still issues the paper.