by F. Marie Foley
When I talk
about place, people often think I mean a particular area or region. Though
region is implicit in what I am saying, the word doesn't convey the way a
place lives inside the body. Place, in my mind, is a deep current that
continuously weaves through memory. Eudora Welty speaks of place as "the
heart's field,” reminding us of the claim it has on our existence. Place is
where story happens.
I was raised in
Auburn, being born there in 1940, about four miles out of town on the
Cemetery Road. I am not certain of the exact location as the house was torn
down a few years after my birth. At any rate, I was born there and truly
this cannot be stated concerning any other house, whether that fact be
praise or blame.
Very early in my
childhood I came to love another town about eight to ten miles from my home
in Auburn. When my children hear me speak of this Edenic place of my youth,
it is very difficult for them to comprehend my account in the context of
their knowledge of the place today.
have made it my business to speak to a number of young people around Logan
County concerning this community and have most often received a blank stare,
followed by, "Where is this place, I've never heard of it".
The place I am
referring to is Richelieu, one of the three oldest communities in Logan
County. Richelieu is located in the extreme northeastern corner of Logan
County, near the Butler and Warren County lines.
In many ways
this is a very personal account of Richelieu, but also an accurate
historical record. I made a promise to a number of the older citizens of
Logan and Butler Counties who where once residents of Richelieu in its
heyday to write this article.
In the Logan
County Pictorial History book, published in 1996, which in my opinion is a
superb work, only nine lines were given to Richelieu. I don't consider this
a slight in any way, on the part of anyone. The simple fact is that there
has been very little research carried out on the Richelieu community.
Margaret Stratton visited Richelieu and spoke to my Uncle Sam Sams who was
at 87 years the oldest citizen. That same year she published her book
"Place-Names of Logan County and Oft-Told Tales".
Mrs. J. Wells
Vick did a considerable amount of work documenting and compiling in legible
form Cemetery and Census records in Logan County.
I dare not try
to mention the names of so many others who have contributed so much to Logan
County genealogy and historical endeavors, because I would invariably leave
out many. We owe these people a debt of gratitude that can only be repaid by
giving our best efforts to do the same in our time, and encouraging by
example our own children and grandchildren of the importance of these
My love and
gratitude go to a lady who I have known since I was a young child, Josephine
Ragland Chyle. Not only has she helped with information about her home
community, but also with her enthusiastic encouragement.
Glenn and Sybil
Tinsley, along with Sybil’s mother were the second family of my childhood.
Glenn is so knowledgeable about the history of Logan County and is always
ready to answer my questions.
My love for the
Richelieu of my childhood and the good, decent people who lived there, has
inspired me over many years to research the history of the first settlers of
that area. In the past two years my husband has caught my infectious passion
for the place and has been a great help in reading dozens of deeds, wills,
marriage and death records and storing all of this information in the
I hope this
article will bring back good memories to those who recognize the people
spoken of and the area. I also hope to introduce the young people in the
Logan County area to a remarkable place and people. Every name, date and
place mentioned in this article is documented and we would be glad to share
this information with anyone who believe themselves related to any of these
people and are working on family histories.
Logan, Butler and Warren County lines I will relate the following-be it fact
or fiction I was always told that at the home of my uncle Ray Sams in
Richelieu, the sitting room and kitchen were in Butler County and two of the
bedrooms and sun room in Logan County. The cemetery just above the house is
very close to the Warren County line.
county" house was great fun for a small child. My imagination the only limit
as I traveled from toys and paper dolls in Butler County to afternoon naps
and bedtime stories in Logan County. Then when given permission, walking up
the hill pass the cemetery a ways and firmly planting both feet in Warren
County. Old Shep, my uncle's collie dog made the trip with me, but never
became as excited about the county line as I thought he should. As an adult
I have never checked out the exact location of the three county lines. But,
if I did and found they were not located where I was brought up to believe,
I'd stick with the old boundaries.
summer months from the time I was about four years old my grandmother and I
made numerous trips to Richelieu. If no one in the family happens to be
going in that direction, we would get a ride with Mr. Marvin Hutcheson the
mail carrier at that time.
The road to
Richelieu was dusty or muddy in the summer and worse in the winter. I can
remember the stretch of road just past the old Rockhouse Covered Bridge,
going up Pugh Hill, having deep gullies to be negotiated. The actual travel
was enjoyed by me much more so than by my grandmother.
I had a person
to ask me once if there was anything I did not like about Richelieu. My
reply was prompt and unequivocal. “I did not like not having electricity and
I hate chickens”. The proverbial "out house" was reached by passing through
the chicken yard. Enough said! The good outweighed the bad.
history started around 1786. In the Richelieu Cemetery you will find two
marble slabs with descriptions as follows:
"In memory of
Thomas Neel who was born in Ireland ....... 10th, 1760 and died ...... 8th,
1843, aged 83 years. He lived a consistent life and died the death of a
"In memory of
Mary Neel, Consort (wife) of Thomas Neel, who was born in Ireland December
22, 1762 and died February 14, 1846, aged eighty-three years, 1 months and
22 days. She lived a consistent life and died the death of a Christian".
These are the
two oldest people buried in Richelieu Cemetery. The Neel family were the
first land owners in the Richelieu area according to deeds in Logan and
Thomas and Mary
Neel came to America about 1780, to Virginia. Thomas Neel purchased a
Virginia land warrant, found the site to his satisfaction, surveyed the
land, and obtained title under his soldier's land warrant. This land was on
the Gasper River in Logan County. Butler County was formed out of Logan in
1810, and some of the Neel land was then in Butler County.
Huguenot ancestors had been driven from France by Religious persecution to
Northern Ireland and thence to America. In a virgin land they erected their
log cabin and began clearing the land. On this land they reared a family of
three boys and seven girls. The history of these ten children shows them to
have been a credit to their parents and the various States and communities
where they made their homes.
Neel's will, dated October 26, 1843, one can see a man of letters, who
loved to read and bequest his many books to family and friends. He provided
well for his family. He was a man before his time, who was careful to make
sure that his girls had control over what he left them. I like his idea
concerning wills: "I do not expect to please all parties, I will therefore
I am the fourth
great-granddaughter of William Hutcheson, and Margaret Clendennon from
Ireland, who were early settlers of the Richelieu area in 1796. My
great-grandmother America Jane Hutcheson married W. H. Pugh Sr. in 1856. The
Pugh family was from Wales.
William and Margaret Hutcheson, along with son Robert, age 18 years,
daughters Mary, aged 9 and Sarah age 7, son Samuel barely one year old,
arrived in Port Royal, Charleston, South Carolina. They moved on to Virginia
in 1792. They were in Louisville, Kentucky in 1794 and purchased a
brownstone house there. In 1796 William Hutcheson received a land grant of
189 acres on Gasper River in Logan County.
In 1808 William
conveyed to his son Samuel 80 acres, on which Samuel built a rock house in
1823. The House has been leveled for many years now. Mrs. Virgil Hightower
has a picture of the House before it was unfortunately pushed-in. Mr.
Maurice Heard owns the land at the present time.
cemetery behind the old rock home has the stone markers of Samuel and his
wife, Mary Neel. Mary Neel was the daughter of the aforementioned Thomas
Neel. After Mary Neel's death Samuel married Mary Ely. There are a number of
markers that are illegible in the small cemetery. We are in the process of
having this burying ground and the Pugh burying ground nearby, designated as
a public trust.
We have no
record of Margaret Clendennon Hutcheson's death. Only, that in 1808 William
Hutcheson married Isabell [Ibby] Porter, sister of Benjamin Porter, who was
a son of Hugh Porter, another early Logan County Pioneer, who settled in the
region of Caney Fork about 1799.
be written concerning the descendants of William and Margaret Hutcheson.
Among these descendants were attorneys, a State Senator, a State
Representative, newspaper editor and many hard working, prosperous farmers.
Many still live or own property in Kentucky today. Tom Linton is a
descendant of William Hutcheson. We have documented nine generations of this
family in America and four generations in Ireland.
families from 1796-1803 in the Richelieu community were: Snodgrass, Porter,
Hill and Ely. All of these families along with the Hutchesons and Neels were
in time intermarried.
we find Samuel and B. S. McGinnis, the Proctor, Dial, Waddle, Tigert, Pugh,
Mobley, Vass, Hightower, Shannon, Sublett, and Ragland families.
early settlers mentioned in Hutcheson papers and elsewhere are Elijah
Mansfield, John Grinter and others. David and Benjamin Sawyers, built a rock
house in 1814 of the same design as the Hutcheson Rockhouse built in 1823.
Both were fashioned after the rock houses in Ireland. A Mr. Hamilton, a
Scotsman helped to build the Sawyers home. The source of Rockhouse Creek
originates in the yard at the back of this house.
Every town must
have commercial and social infrastructure. A General Store, Post Office,
Church, School and hopefully a full time doctor. A very important person in
the community in those days was the blacksmith. Richelieu had all of these,
even a dentist close by, as early as 1879. His name was Dr. Sam F. McGowan.
The mystery of
who built the Richelieu Store and when, was almost impossible to solve. None
of the older generation still living could remember any farther back than
when Mr. John Martin owned the store. After years of speculation the mystery
was solved last week. The papers had been in our possession for some time
and overlooked. The following is a record of how the store came to be. Many
will recognize the names of those involved.
In 1869, Sarah
J. Porter, the widow of William M. Porter bought a parcel of land in
Richelieu, known as Lot No. 7, at a Commissioners sale for the price of
In 1871, Sarah
J. Porter, married B. S. McGinnis.
In 1873, Sarah
Porter McGinnis sold Lot number 7 in Richelieu to Levi Moore for $100.00
In 1880, Levi
Moore became bankrupt, thus another Commissioners Sale. Lot number 7 was
bought by G. W. Davidson and wife Jo for $1100.00. Something had taken place
on Lot number 7 between 1873 and 1880 that increased the value of the
property. A store house had been built; The Richelieu Store.
1885, G. W. Davidson sold lot No. 7 and the new store to J. W. Martin of
Simpson County, Kentucky. Mr. John Martin was a name I heard a lot as a
child, though I can't remember him. He married Tempie Comer and Tempie's
father Tom Comer built the house across the road from the store for them.
The property the house was built on was bought in February 1892. Tom Comer
was my Aunt Rhoda Sams maternal grandfather. I have many pieces of the
antique oak furniture Mr. Martin sold to my uncle when he and his son left
Richelieu after his wife's death.
Just a note
about the above mentioned G. W. Davidson who sold the property to Mr.
Martin. Mr. Davidson built a bank in Auburn in 1879 and a home there on Main
Street a few years later. This bank served as the first bank of the
community until 1929 when it merged with the Bank of Auburn. Many years
later the Davidson home and old bank building was owned by the parents of my
friend Betty Forgy Whitton. Tom Linton owns the property today.
In 1899, John
Martin bought a piece of land across the road from the store in Richelieu,
from John L. Norris, on which a Blacksmith Shop stood. We have no definite
information as to who the blacksmith was in that shop at that time.
However, we do
have many names of blacksmiths in the area at the time. Francis Hightower,
John Moss, John B. Paine and William Williams. Mr. Patrick Gasteen was a
Wagon Maker in this same period. Many years later in the 1920's Genie McCoun
was the blacksmith at Richelieu. Later there was a Griss Mill operated by
Vernon Chyle with Dennis Hester as blacksmith.
When I think of
blacksmiths, I recall a very kind man sitting in our yard in Auburn,
reminiscing about the old days with my grandfather Elias Sams. Mr. Tom
Tinsley never seemed to mind my bringing out a chair, joining them and
asking umpteen questions. Mr. Tom was the father of Christine Rowe Holland.
had a Mill on Gasper River about three miles from Richelieu. This was a
large concern and his home was near the Mill. Glenn Tinsley knows the
history of the Mill well. He told me about the Proctor home and how it was
referred to as “The Proctor Mansion”. Space will not allow me to relate more
concerning Proctor’s Mill at this time, but hope to do so later.
Post Office was located at the Richelieu Store, 1913 to 1955. Later Ernest
Tyree built another store in Richelieu and the Post Office was located there
1955 to 1980 with Josephine Ragland Chyle as Postmistress. Vernon Chyle and
daughter Gladys Chyle Manning kept that store in operation for many years.
There was a Post Office in Richelieu from 1852 to 1869. The gap from 1869 to
1913 I cannot account for, or the location of the 1852-1869 Post Office.
Store was the "Wal-Mart" of its day. Tempie Martin made hats and had a shop
on the upper floor of the store. Adah Ellis and my uncle Henry Sams were
clerks at the store. Alice Hayes worked there also.
needed by a small local community could be had. Food for man, animal or
bird, shovels, spades, forks, implements and tools of all kinds, needles,
thread, buttons, thimbles, dress material, pocket knives and cases
overflowing with sweets of every persuasion.
1924, John Martin sold all of his property which amounted to eight tracks of
land in Richelieu, including the store to Mr. E. C. [Carlie] McKinney and
wife. This was after the death of his wife Tempie. He and his son moved to
either Missouri or Mississippi.
Over time there
had been a number of doctors in the Richelieu area. In 1879 there was a Dr.
W. H. Williams and a Dr. Proctor. I'm sure there were others.
In 1912 Dr. J.
C. Dodson graduated from medical school and some time later came to
Richelieu and took over the practice of Dr. A. M. Belcher. Dr. Dodson
purchased the Belcher home there. It is my understanding that Dr. Belcher
moved to Auburn at that time. My grandfather Elias Sams purchased the
remainder of Dr. Belcher's land at approximately the same time according to
deeds registered in Logan and Butler Counties.
The home Dr.
Dodson purchased from Dr. Belcher was the "three county" home I spoke of
earlier, that was later owned by my uncle Ray Sams.
Dr. Dodson met
and married Miss Brownie Mobley from Richelieu, who was teaching school at
the time. Their two sons Carlisle (Dr. C. V. Dodson) and Gates were both
born in this house at Richelieu, 1921 and 1931 respectively. Dr. Dodson died
there in 1937.
Elias and Pearl Sams lived next door to the Dodsons. Both Carlisle and Gates
as grown men admitted to being "spoiled rotten" by the Sams family as well
as by their own family.
We do not have
the exact date when the Richelieu school was started. We have a deed dated
March 12, 1907, where my grandfather Elias Sams had bought, "56 acres more
or less-there is exempt from this deed one acre in the South West corner
deeded to School Trustees". Three other deeds on this same piece of property
have the same exemption. I feel we can safely say the school was in
operation by 1907 and possibly years before.
Chyle gave me a list of some of the early teachers. Ed Tinsley, Virginia
Hutcheson, Kathryn Thacker (Josephine's first teacher), Lucille Taylor,
Flora Turner Moore, Lucille Price (Prather Price's sister), Harold Haden,
Ruby Chaney and Miss Sula McKinney. The school was closed in 1936.
close proximity to Richelieu were New Gasper Baptist Church, located in
Warren County, Cave Spring Baptist, Gasper River Presbyterian, Pleasant Hill
Baptist at Bucksville and others. The Ragland, McKinney and Dodson families
attended New Gasper Church. There was a Church a short way from the
Richelieu Store towards Morgantown. Glenn Tinsley, Josephine Chyle and I
have discussed this and believe it to have been Stoney Point Presbyterian
Church. Someone reading this might have more information on that Church.
Richelieu get its name?. I don't know! In 1950 when Mrs. Stratton was
gathering material for her book, she asked this question of my Uncle Sam
Sams. He said that he had always heard that it was named by a Frenchman from
Canada, and that he was a soldier.
speculated about Cardinal Richelieu of France. Just maybe there is some
connection here. Cardinal Richelieu instigated the persecution of the
Huguenots in France and drove them from their country in great numbers. This
was the case of the ancestors of Thomas Neel. But, then why name a place
after your enemy?
The source of
the name will probably remain a mystery. Suffice to say the first settlers
recognized a gentle beauty about the place. The green sinuousness of spring,
the radiant and rich colors of summer, the gold and russet brown of autumn
and the gray loveliness of winter, much like the homeland they had left
behind. So far as I know nobody famous ever came from Richelieu. None of its
inhabitants ever achieved great public acclaim. Richelieu has had no meteors
flaming across the sky of life. But it has had gently tumbling stars that
together have made for a thing of rare beauty to many.
when my personal memory kicks-in, Willie Mae and Richard Fisher were
operating the store for Mr. Carlie McKinney. These were two very special
people to me. They were there from 1943-1953, at which time they bought the
store at Chandlers Chapel.
still at that time a busy, bustling place. Cars, trucks, and teams of horses
were around the store and spilled out onto the roadway. Any need or want
could still be supplied by the Richelieu Store. It was a modern-day
In the back
yards of the houses in the community the freshly washed clothes were hanging
on the clothes lines blowing in the breeze. Carl Lawson was sitting on the
side porch of the McKinney home. My uncle Ray and Gates were coming in from
the field for their noon meal.
Does this all
sound too good to be true, too ideal?. I can assure you it is true! Those
were summers a child's mind thought would go on forever. Time spent with
people who you never expected to grow old, or go away. No one ever thought
of a time when blacktop roadways would entice shoppers to larger towns and
to a different way of life.
Years later I
still go back, because of the stories there, and the people who where once
there, and because the land speaks to me. I see through the eyes of my
childhood, and memory creates my "hearts field". I recall a spring bubbling
up and flowing over smooth rocks in the field not far from the home of my
uncle Sam Sams. That was the coldest best tasting water I've ever drank or
helped carry to the house. When I think of those days and that spring of
water, part of a poem I often quote by Robert Penn Warren comes to my mind-
"It was only a bird
call at evening,
As I came from the
spring with water,
Across the rocky
But I stood so still
sky above was
not stiller than sky
Years past, all
places and faces
fade, some people
And I stand in a far
land, the evening
still, and am at last
That I miss more that
birdcall than some
were to fail later".
Note: I hope to
write a sequel to this article in the near future. That article will cover
many of the social mores of the time and give a personal glimpse into the
life of the people not only in Richelieu, but Pauline, Sugar Grove and other
The main thrust
will be the life of a Riverboat/Showboat gambler on the Green River.
Ventriloquist, traveling photographers, dumb suppers and accounts of
happenings during the Civil War.