Cities of
Pendleton County


'And just for the record, I think you should know, even if Bernice were crazy, that doesn't necessarily mean she should be put away.'
'What are you saying?'
'I'm saying this is the South. And we're proud of our crazy people. We don't hide them up in the attic. We bring 'em right down to the living room and show 'em off.
That exchange from the TV show Designing Women kinda reflects the modern-day view of folks with ties to the 'old' Callensville. But trying to hide or downplay Callensville's history isn't the norm. More likely, you'll get a 'Heck yeah!' from descendants.

For sure, Callensville wasn't the only wild place in Pendleton County; it became one the most historically recorded spots and so one of the best-known. The idea that a city so busy could seemingly disappear with almost no trace has only added to Callensville's mystique and legacy. Other towns had cards, liquor and dancing girls but Callensville had a racetrack too. And you know how Kentuckians love their horses. You look across the empty field today--there was the dance hall; there was the saloon; there was the store; there was the racetrack.... They're all gone now.

If you were to drive past it now, you'd see a big field—a pretty one but a field all the same—with a big barn on one end. But a little over a century ago, Callensville was the place 'to see and (not necessarily) be seen'.

Callensville is located in the southwest part of Pendleton County across the Licking River from Morgan , between Morgan and Roanoke. 2

Callensville originally had been called Littell's Station around 1820 after William Littell, a representative of Pendleton County in the United States House of Representatives. In the early/mid-1800s, Littell's Station was renamed Callensville after John Callin, one of its founders. Is it 'Callensville' or 'Callinsville'? You've probably seen it spelled both ways, actually, most with an 'e' but it was named after John Callin. Originally, it was probably 'Callinsville' but over the years that first 'I' morphed into an 'E' so now it's 'Callensville' OR In 1847, on September 12, the Callensville Post Office opened with Jonathan Callen as postmaster. So the Callensville Post Office was in Callinsville. John Callin, one of its founders was replaced by Jonathan Callen the postmaster. In the 1800s, it was common for a city to be named or renamed incorporating the postmaster's name, like Motier becoming Carntown once Jacob Carnes became postmaster in 1891. You decide.

Actually, the name change makes sense. In those days, a 'Station' generally meant you were a stop along the railroad or river or the stagecoach rested there like Boston Station or Uma Station. Callensville is not alongside the Kentucky Central Railroad (Morgan is). It's not on the banks of the Licking River (Morgan is). The overland stagecoach route goes south of Falmouth then east through Bachelor's Rest and on to Milford. So 'Station' was confusing.

'In 1907 there were six houses, two barns, one large building that housed a saloon, dance-hall, post office, and a general store (being run by a Mr. Makemson), a mill where they ground corn, a race track and a slave cemetery. At one time the land was owned by the Hand brothers, Harry Hand… and James Hand… who owned at least three slaves.' 3 "The village was located at the foot of the hill, near the mouth of the Fork Lick Creek and continued to the land fill, that supports Route 330 as it turns up the South Licking River, At one time there were at least sixteen buildings, a large store building, a race track, and a toll gate. The toll gate was located at the land fill and was kept by Mrs. Nee Bryone Fugate, a widow with two daughters. The village was named after John Callin, one of its founders. James Hand owned the race track, described as a long track, round in shape and about a mile in length. The race track attracted many people to the village. Dr. Minturn, a well known doctor in his days, was raised in Callinsville where he later practiced. The doctor died of cancer and his son, Fred was raised by his grandfather. Fred also grew up in Callinsville and later worked in the store and post office at Morgan run by the late Roger Ewing…Pierce Hand lived in a big house on the right side as you come down the hill and his home was used as a voting place for many years. Other residents of Callinsville were: Hayne and John Newman, Fred Day and Charlie Weaver." 4

Callensville was a place that, during the US Civil War, supplied numerous volunteers for the Confederacy. 5

At the end of the 1920s, only six houses remained. By the end of the 1930s it was reduced to two and the last one made it through February, 1952 when it burned.

February, 1877, "On Sunday, about 2 o’clock P.M., Wm. Moore shot and killed Jas. Durkin, at or near Kennedy’s bar-room in Callinsville. So far as we can ascertain, the murder was without provocation. The parties met at Kennedy’s Sunday morning and quarreled about something Moore had said about the Irish, Durkin being an Irishman. They separated, however, and the difference between them was thought settled. In the evening, Durkin and some friends came back, found Moore and the quarrel was renewed, terminating in the killing. Durkin was shot in the stomach, and lived till 3 o’clock Monday morning. Both parties were drinking. Moore, after the shooting, remained in Callinsville about three hours. No effort was made to arrest him. He was seen on Monday and it is supposed has not left that locality. Durkin’s remains were buried at the Catholic cemetery at this place on Tuesday." 6

Callensville had its 'day in the sun'. Callensville is still around, at least in name but the Callensville of a century or so ago? 'Heck yeah!'

1 ] Designing Women 'Bernice's Sanity Hearing'

2] Callensville (historical), Kentucky

3] oral history of C. M. Hardin, a former Callensville resident; A Reach Into the Past "Callensville", recorded by Peggy Beckner

4] oral history of C. M. Hardin, a former Callensville resident; A Reach Into the Past "Callensville", recorded by Peggy Beckner

5] E. E. Barton, "Railroad History"

6] The Ticket --Callinsville Murder, 1877

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