Walton Established in 1840
21, 1840 . . . AN ACT to establish the Town on Walton, and for other
purposes. Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the
Commonwealth of Kentucky, that the town called Walton, now laid off in
the county of Boone, situated on the site of the Covington and Lexington
turnpike road, shall be, and the same is hereby established, and known
by the above name, and the boundary shall include the town lots
belonging to the following persons, to wit: E. Brasher, William Pitcher,
John Arnold, Reuben Noel, Michael Snyder, William Vanhorn, Margaret
Leonard, Silas Bridges, Elizabeth Butts, Nathan Connely, Samuel McLean,
Melville Rich and A. W. Gaines.
February 25, 1854 AN ACT—Incorporating the town of Walton, in Boone County. 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, that the town of Walton, in county of Boone, be and the same is hereby established and incorporated with the several streets and alleys, and lots, as respectively laid out and numbered, or may be laid out and numbered hereafter, with the limits hereinafter designated, to wit. John Arnold, O.H.P. Ingram, Samuel Nye, James H Cary, and G. Booth are hereby appointed trustees for said town from the first day of March, 1854.
The first railroad (short line) Louisville and Nashville R. R. was built in 1869 from Covington, Kentucky to Louisville, Kentucky.
The first charter granted to build the road from Georgetown, Ky. to Cincinnati, Ohio through Walton was in 1819. Known at that time and for many years as the Lexington Pike. Since referred to as the (Dixie Highway) or Route No. 25.
The first school was located at the forks of the Stephenson Mill road and the Beaver Lick Pike in 1839 and remained at that location until a new brick building was built in 1900 in north Walton. (this building remains standing.) The first school in 1839 consisted of a three month term but in 1869 the school term was extended to five months.
As of this writing two of the first four graduates in 1902 are still living, they are Mrs. Gertrude Curley Baker who lives in Florida and Miss Mattie Hudson (Miss Mattie Hudson now deceased; house at 99 N. Main Street has been torn down) who lives at 99 N. Main Street, Walton.
The coldest day recorded in Boone County from 1818 to 1870 was 24 ½ degrees below zero on January 19, 1857. The hottest day recorded in Boone County from 1818 to 1870 was 102 degrees on September 3, 1954.
The first recorded Post Office here was established as “Gaines Ford Roads” on July 4, 1815 and later changed to “Gaines Cross Roads” February 23, 1823. The name was changed again to WALTON on October 30, 1841. James M. Gaines was the first recorded Post Master, appointed by our fourth United States President, James Madison on July 4, 1815. “Gaines Ford” was located just south of the intersection of what we know now as State Route 25 and State Route 16.
In the early days and up until about 1910 there was a toll gate south of town at the Kenton County line, one on Verona Road near where the All Saints Catholic Church is now located. Another was located north of town where the overhead Southern R.R. bridge is located. This house stands today and Miss Lib Ingram (Miss Lib Ingram, deceased June 1, 1973) who assisted her family to operate the toll gate is now living at Woodspoint Rest Home at about 91 years of age. If you were riding horseback the toll was 1 cent, if it were buggy 2 cents and for a jolt-wagon 3 cents. A pole was across the road which could be let up or down by a rope. No charge if you were walking.
The town’s first street lighting were Dietz lantern like lamps mounted on posts about eight feet high. Mr. Hedges our first “lamp lighter” would service the lamps mounted at intervals about town and he would carry a can of oil and a short ladder. He would fill the lamp with just enough oil to burn out after day break. After a few years Fred Calendar had the “lamplighter” job until the first light plant for electric lights was built in about 1913. It was erected on the site now occupied by the Frontier Body Shop across from the present city hall.
Warren Stephenson operated the plant for Mr. Harry Mayfield and he along with William Breeden and Bruce Wallace wired the Baptist Church first then other buildings and houses around town. The first Light plant burned and Mr. Mayfield rebuilt it. After about ten years a Corporation from Texas came here and installed a system for the streets and buildings of the town. Of course the first electric light in town was about 1907 when Dr. B. K. Menefee had an office about where Mr. Webster’s T.V. shop is now. Dr. Menefee installed a Delco plant in the back of his office to use for medical treatment and had a drop cord for one light in each of three rooms and a “goose neck” light outside.
Until about 1915 the Main street through town was dust about ankle deep, only about five or six cars. Mr. Robt. Jones, druggist had the first car an old E.M.F. in the fall of the year he would remove the tires, wrap them is [in] tissue paper store them in the house until the next spring, then replace them on the wheels. There were no demountable rims then, no heaters, no windshield wipers, no electric lights (they used carbide for the front and oil lights on the rear). Side curtains to protect from the weather. License plates $2.00 and you purchased gasoline at the store for 10 Cents a gallon. Speed limit through town 15 miles per hour. When a horse would scare you were expected to stop your motor and then crank it up again by hand, being very careful not to break your arm.
Along about 1956 someone recorded the following, about WALTON. Population 1,400 an American Town in its’ true sense, U.S.A. It’s the town of the farmer, the small grocery store, the fisherman and the retired. The work horse, taking a slow fade, is part of the scene. So is the cracker-barrel philosopher, the narrow main street and the police chief you know by first name. The telephone operator (Walton had eight) knows every name in town. Even the two dentists and one doctor are home-grown. The movie you see is at the community show house (James). For teen-age recreation there’s the town skating rink. And if you break the law, you old friend, Herman Simmons, police chief, has to break the news.
You grow up in Walton and, if you remain, you fish and hunt and go to school with others who grew up and chose to live and die there. The car you drive is like others in American Town, U.S.A. You bought the gasoline from one of several service stations. Chances are you worked with the attendants and played cards with the owners. The news your neighbors failed to tell, you’ll get in the Walton Advertiser. It’s a country town, and you know your neighbors belong to the volunteer fire department, have borrowed from the town’s bank, eaten in the same restaurants, and disagreed with the town’s politicians. In 1956 WALTON’S main street had two hardware stores, two dry goods stores, six grocery stores, a bank, two hotels, a tie factory, frozen-food locker plant, an outstanding volunteer fire department and five restaurants. There are two taverns, three garages, appliance store, a show repair shop, dry cleaning establishment and a funeral home. Two motels greet tourists. There’s a lumber company, drug store, a sign shop and a school. The town has a Waterworks plant that will suffice for years to come, the water comes from two lakes (The two lakes from which Walton gets its water are rented to a fishing club. It is a private club, with yearly memberships of approximately 350; it is said that The Walton Fishing Club is the largest private fishing club in the state.) built by the town for that purpose.
The town’s residents are about one-third retired farmers and widowed ladies, a third city folk who came here for low rent and country living, and the rest business people.
Walton’s trade is limited though farmers contribute heavily to the income. The soil is productive and there’s enough rainfall for farmers to thrive and for livestock in the immediate neighborhood. Around Walton the lands produce corn, tobacco and feedstuffs. Cattle and hogs fatten yearly, and city markets absorb truck garden yields.
While Walton lacks playgrounds and recreational facilities of the big city, residents travel to Covington or Cincinnati for what it lacks. The town has bottle gas and no sewage disposal system. (Walton’s new sewage system was completed in June, 1976.) Residents hope that will be the next project. Its future is secure as the thousands of American towns without which the big city would flounder. It’s one of many legs that support the giant. Walton has the following churches: All Saints Mission, Zion Baptist, First Baptist, Christian, Church of God and Methodist.
The First Baptist Church was founded in 1866 and a brick building was erected in what is now known as the Walton Cemetery. In 1913 a new building was built in south Walton to house the church and Sunday School, Ref., D.C. Wayman was its first pastor. In 1967 a new edifice was erected beside the previous one and the present pastor is Rev. Jerry Ennis.
The Zion Baptist Church was built in 1872 on what is now know as Scott Street under the then pastor Rev. Sol Watkins. The church was rebuilt in 1920 at its present location on Church Street. The present pastor is Rev. Wilford Davis.
The Christian had its beginning in 1876 under the pastorate of Rev. J. W. Beasley. It was a frame building which stood on High Street then the end of the street but now across from where Charlie Woods lives. On May 5, 1918 a beautiful new brick edifice was dedicated at the present site on south Main Street with Rev. E.C. Lace in charge. Came November 1949 on Thanksgiving Eve and the church was destroyed by fire and had to be rebuilt under Rev. Nichols as pastor. The church at present is without a pastor.
The Methodist church was first founded by a family by the name of Walls who built a frame building in the north end of town which stood for many years until a fine new building was erected in the south end of Walton in 1930 with Rev. Lewis as pastor. Rev. Robt. Yates is the present pastor.
The Catholic church now known as All Saints Church was dedicated in Walton May 6, 1951 by Bishop Mulloy with Rev. Henry A. Busemeyer as pastor. Rev. Harry Tenhundfeld is the present pastor. However the church was moved from Verona where it was established as a mission in 1854.
The Church of God was begun in Walton and dedicated on September 12, 1958 by Rev. Dee Gadd the present pastor.
Many of the Senior citizens recall the following: when there were three blacksmith shops in town which hand made wagons used when horses and mules were prevalent and where the farmers had their horses shod. The blacksmith would make the shoes by heating the iron in a fire place propelled by a hand billows and then beat the iron into shoes on the anvil. Mr. R. M. Callender, Waite Cross and Burgess Ford worked all their life at the trade, all three have passed on. They remember the livery stables where you could hire a horse and buggy by the day. Drummers (salesmen) would come out from the city by train and put up at one of the two hotels for a week, driving to a neighboring town each day to sell their wares. Mr. A. M. Edwards managed one livery stable and Mr. Scott Chambers managed the other. The Atlas Hotel at the corner of High and Main Street was managed by Mr. Henry Dears and the Phoenix Hotel (where a parking lot now exists) was managed by Mr. Floyd Underhill. The hotels served three meals per day and rang the bell in a tower over the hotel just before each meal.
Walton has the distinction of having the first do-it-yourself laundry. About 1921 Mr. Theodore Burdsall erected a building across from the present I.G.A. store (I.G.A. Store now located where James Theatre used to be; Western Auto Store is going in the old I.G.A. location.) with a large cistern below it, getting water from the roof of the J.D. Mayhugh Lumber Co. next door. He installed the Bendix washing machines where you could come in and wash your own clothes and dry them in a metal housing heated with an oil heater.
The oldtimers tell us about when the Nite-Riders about 1908 burned the large tobacco barn (where the Frontier Body shop is located). At that time tobacco sold for about 2 Cents per pound. If the tobacco was sold to others than the “Combine” the Nite-Riders would burn the tobacco and the barns. This large barn that was burned was the place used to ‘prize’ or pack the tobacco into hogsheads for shipment to Louisville. The Nite-Riders road horseback with sheets covering them to hide their identity.
Following the Nite-Riders in about 1920 the Ku-Kluks-Klan came into being. They burned crosses to harass some people and for two or three years they flourished in large numbers, both men and women. An initiation ceremony was held one night in the south end of Walton across the Holder pond and about four or five thousand people were in town to see the goings-on.
The first buses we had through this community was from Gardnersville to Covington in something that resembled a miniature school bus, six passengers, three on each side facing each other. The next were seven passenger Studebakers running from Williamstown to Pike and Madison in Covington. Two busses each day north and two south. You must remember we only had pikes, not paved roads, and when we had tire trouble all the men in the bus would lend a hand. If you were late in getting out in the morning the driver would wait for you. The seven passenger bus developed into a thirteen passenger bush with three doors on the side. Next we had Dixie Traction Co. busses much like they are today, then Greyhound Bus Co. started running from Lexington to Cincinnati about 1930.
Mr. John Gault owns the oldest house in Walton. He purchased it about 1937. It is a twenty room house, brick, located at the extreme north-end of town. The house has established a heritage through the years, with the curved staircase and secret rooms. It was built about 1791 by Col. Albert Gaines. Legend has it that the first governor of Kentucky would stop over night there in his travel to Cincinnati, of course there are tales about murders having been committed there along with other atrocities when it was a wayside inn in the early years. The Inn was known far and wide and when the early cattle drivers would drive their stock to Cincinnati for Market this was a stop-over to feed the cattle and remain over night.
by Wilford M. Rice, Boone County Recorder, August 1978