A Brief Revised History of Southgate
Outside of considerable activity during the 1860’s, when what is now the western part of Southgate, became the site of several fortifications built in anticipation of the raids from the confederate bands of Kirby Smith, there is little to show that the site of our present peaceful surrounding was ever disturbed by an undue amount of publicity.
On the Alexandria Pike there stood a number of slaughter houses, several taverns and an ice house. That highway had always been the main artery between Newport and Leitch’s Station (Cold Spring) which was one of the original settlements of the county, boasting a block house and reported Indian raids.
The slaughter house of Michael Winstel, Sr., stood near the intersection of Willow Street and the Alexandria Pike. Hundinger and Weidner also owned one near this location. That of Brittain & Morlidge stood on the east side of the highway at 21st Street. The old Two Mile Inn, owned by Mr. Lenhardt, stood at the present site of St. Therese School. It was subsequently owned by Mr. Hunter and several others and finally was replaced by Heidelberg Inn, famous for its cuisine, bowling alley and rustic surroundings by Mr. Wm. Kettenacker.
Adam Sprau’s Inn, originally a frame building, stood on the west side of the highway, north of what was then known as the New Heidelberg and which was originally the Wright homestead and which we now know as El Greco. The Wright homestead was known far and wide as a haunted house. It suffered long intervals of vacancy because of this. Old-timers tell a story of several patrons of Sprau’s Tavern, who attempted to solve the mystery of the haunt, encamped for the night in one of its vacant rooms and left in a hurry after sounds of clanging chains and eerie noises.
The old Immegart homestead, built before the Civil War, stood on a gently sloping area west of the Pike between Evergreen Cemetery and the present location of Moock Road, and was the site of Immegart Nurseries. Adjacent to this property, but fronting on Moock Road, resided Mr. George B. Moock and family, who owned and operated the Hiland Dairy in Newport, and raised hogs in Southgate. The property was later purchased by Mr. Samuel Schraeder, who also purchased the Immegart property and then proceeded to do considerable grading, and when I-471 is constructed and a part of Moock Road is re-located, it will occupy this area.
Much of the land in western Southgate was owned by the Shaler family and Dr. Shaler built the stone house that stood in the northwest part of Evergreen Cemetery in 1853, but has since been torn down and has been graded to sell as burial lots. The land west of the highway in the vicinity of Walnut Street was occupied by Phil Yung’s Dairy. Mr. Yung afterward moved to the site of Carter’s Ice House at 21stStreet, and was succeeded by George Moock Sr.
A road led through Southgate to Ft. Shaler which is marked by the band stand in Evergreen Cemetery. Here were placed several of the big Civil War cannons and a powder magazine. Fort Beech, at the intersection of Grandview and County Road was similarly constructed. Both sites commanded a view of the approaches from the South—Licking Pike and Lexington Pike (Dixie Highway) where it enters Covington.
In 1907, about twenty-five families had taken advantage of the natural, beautiful surroundings and built homes here. Billy Specks green houses on the east side of the highway were approached by a swinging bridge leading across Willow Street. The street car line had been brought to Southgate in 1894. Houses were located on what is now Evergreen Ave., Linden Ave., and Walnut St. (Moock Road). At that time, these streets were merely dirt roads.
Mr. Henry Immegart, now deceased, had built a home on Retreat Street in 1895, and much of the information in this article was furnished by him. This home can be identified for it is, at present, the home of Mr. Howard E. Braun, a member of our present City Council.
The only water supply came from the Covington main in the cemetery and terminated in a fountain at Temple Place and Evergreen. The growing need for the advantages of an incorporated community culminated in a meeting of property owners and on the 9th day of April, 1907, the City of Southgate was established by an order of the Campbell County Circuit Court. The name Southgate had been suggested by Congressman Albert Berry who owned much of the land in the vicinity. The name was chosen because of its significance as the southern entrance to Newport and in honor of the Southgate family, pioneers of Northern Kentucky.
It is interesting to note here that the Southgate family derived their family name because their forbears were “keepers of the south gate at London.” So that the name of our city is appropriate in more ways than one.
A celebration was held in Mike Horn’s pasture across from Heidelberg Tavern and the good folk were off to an era of municipal development.
The first Trustees, appointed by the Circuit Court, consisted of Messrs. T.B. Moore, T.H. Collings, J.C. Buckley, W.J. Baker, and W.W. White. Mr. Collings was chosen chairman. Other officers were Police Judge H. Van Agthoven, Marshall Ed. Troendle, Assessor Fred W. Knarr, Clerk G. Wolking, and Treasurer Dan Ziegler. It is fitting that we pay homage, too, to the memory of the late Shaler Berry for his constant efforts to develop Southgate into a high class residential development.
Southgate, then, thirty years after its incorporation was probably three times as large as the original plat. The routine of city government has changed much since first incorporated. Many men have served on the various Boards of Trustees. Through their combined efforts, Southgate had reached an enviable position among the cities of Northern Kentucky. Streets had been paved, sewers constructed, fire and police protection established and street lighting, transportation, waste collection and other city services perfected. They had the advantage of the experience of pioneers to guide them and we would be unworthy if we did not consider their plans or spoiled the results of their efforts.
On January 6, 1938 a new Board of Trustees was inducted into office, consisting of Messrs. William F. Blatt, Otto M. Hering, William P. Klicke, Roy Lang and Jacob Niemeyer. This group then elected Mr. Blatt, by unanimous vote, chairman of the Board. Through the efforts of these men, and by an act of the Kentucky General Assembly, Southgate was elevated to a City of the Fifth Class. These same five men served as the governing body of the city, with Mr. Blatt becoming Mayor. Then, in compliance with the Kentucky Revised Statutes, January 1, 1940, a new form of government was established with Mr. William F. Blatt elected Mayor and Messrs. Michael Furio, Otto Hering, William Klicke, Roy Lang, Charles Droege and Jacob Niemeyer elected Councilmen. It is interesting to note that Mr. Blatt then became the first officially elected Mayor, an office which he successfully held until his retirement, December 31, 1969.
After another thirty years (30), the population having grown to over 3,000, by another act of the Kentucky General Assembly of March 11, 1968, the city was elevated to a city of the Fourth Class, a status it now enjoys at this date. After the retirement of Mr. Blatt, Mr. William R. Daley became Mayor.
A review of the records of the City would reveal a history similar to thousands of other small cities. It is the history of the efforts of its citizens to band together, legally, for the common protection and the promotion of the health and welfare of all. It is impossible to list herein the names of all the persons who, over the years, have contributed unstintingly of their time and labor to achieve the common goal. The exception to this is the first Board of Trustees and other officials at the time. It is evident that their contribution is outstanding because upon them fell the task of laying the foundation for good public service.
As the present City Building represents the fulfillment of a dream of many years and many workers, it stands as a practical monument to all who have given their time and efforts to achieve progress. So it is with the present Council, consisting of Messrs. Donald Berkemeyer, Howard Bittner, Ronald Blanchet, Howard Braun, Lawrence Hanneken and William Kreutzer, and the leadership of Mayor Kenneth Paul, who are involved in a number of plans for projects to continue going forward. They are now involved in negotiations for securing land for development of a park and improving other recreational facilities, as well as the repair and reconditioning of our street system.
Credit must be given to Mr. Cliff Specht who wrote the original article in 1939, and most of the material herein has been copied from that article. Mr. Specht served as City Clerk from July 8, 1930 to February 28, 1946. Some changing of words and some additions are made in an effort to update this chronicle to the present day and is the work of the present City Clerk, Marmaduke Holdsworth.
Various Authors, see the last paragraph