Early Businesses


The Sanitarium

 You probably did not know that at one time Sparta had what was called a Sanitarium, run by J. B. Grant, who called himself a doctor.  I could not say. He was the one who started the store where we are today.  In 1881 he bought the land from a Mr. Hamilton.  He turned the store over toe J. C., his son, and he started the Sanitarium.  He had one patient is all I can remember.  He came here to be cured of hay fever from [blank].  He was here a short time when he and Etha Ballard got married, and they left for Cincinnati.  They had one boy. Then they separated, and Etha married a man in Chicago, who was later killed by a train.  Etha got quite a bit of money from his estate.  She went on to New York, found her another man with lots of money, married him, and got another big stake of money.  But her time was running out, and she had to pay the price we all have to pay: she died.  But while she was living she was good to her mother and sister.  Her sister still lives in Carrolton, or was the last time I heard from her.  She had one brother, who died a few years back.  Her father was section foreman here at Sparta.

 Where was this building? It sits down on Railroad Street, just below where Alex Alexander’s whiskey place is.  Mr. Stanley Brock bought the building when Dr. Grant died.  He stayed there for several years.  Then he sold it to “Old Ell,” Ella Morgan, Chambers Morgan’s wife.  They lived there for years, when they died, so it is for sale, by Rubbie Steward, who is Norman’s sister.  Someone said she was asking $7,000 for it.  The next house below was the old Joe Green Home.  Joe Armstrong owns it now.  He also owns two homes below, known as Marry Grant houses.  Ed Russel McCarmack’s grandmother lived there back in 1915 and until she died.

The Hardware Store

 The hardware store sat on the corner and was a three-story building, with the third floor used for Lodge, Mason’s, Red Man, and Woodman.  There may have been others.  They also had suppers – the American Legion had several oyster soups.  Mrs. Lend Hudson would do the cooking.  Lots of fun.  The second floor was used to store surplus hardware.  One time they bought a carload of sewing machines, and put them up the stairs, and sold them all.  This was in 1925.  They had hired J. r. Sanders to run the place.  Rafe Carpenter had quit and J. R. was to take over the first of the year 1925.  They gave one of the machines way as advertising.  Who do you think won it?  I did.  First and last thing I ever won.  Free.  At one time the K.K.K. ran the hardware store in Sparta.  Then Mr. Wilson and Byran Coates bought it, and started a general store.  They had groceries, meat, dry goods, hardware and whatnot.  They were doing good until 1942, when the hardware caught fire about midnight and burned up.  Mr. Wilson had bought out Mr. Coates, so the land was sold to O. T. Wilson and he built a tavern, with living quarters up stairs.  The first to open was J. M. Crume and wife.  He sold to R. H. Proctor, who died upstairs after owning it a short time.  He sold to O. T. Wilson and wife, who sold it to Elmer Dunavent, who sold it to Mr. Bird, who sold it to a Mr. Deatz, who sold it to a Mr. Red Olds, who bought the building in the summer of 1974.

 Ben Wilson’s general store was where the restaurant is now.  It was a fairly good size, and the early 1900’s he had the post office in the store.  E. T. Wilson helped him take care of the store and the post office.  He married a girl from Indiana, Miss Amielia Myers.  They had one boy, born in 1910 and died August 21, 1966.

Sparta Garage

 This is our garage, picture show, and electric lights.  I suppose that our garage would come first, as Bro Clark took over Mr. Winn’s estate when he passed away.  Mr. Winn had two children, a girl Katie and a boy, Harry.  SO he built what is called the Sparta Garage.  It was built about 1918.  He also put a building on the side about so big to have a moving picture show.  It also had a stage in it where you could have plays, speakings and whatnot.  It had about 200 individual seats in it, and it was a very nice building, for summertime use.   When the garage was finished and first opened by Gilmer Brock and Harry Winn in 1918, it did not last long.  Howard Smith bought out Brock and Winn.  Howard was here for a long time. He lived where Harry Breisscher now owns.  Howard was a hard working boy, and made money in this place, but he and his wife lost their health and had to be sent away.  They had two children, a girl and a boy.  Martin smith, Howard’s brother, raised the children.  Elmer Riddle took over then.  The best I can remember, he didn’t stay too long, until Evert McDanell got a hold of the business, and he made good money.  I don’t know just how long he was there, but when he sold out to Tony Coffee, he went down to Carroll County and bought him a good farm, which he is still living on.  Tony stayed a little while; long enough to get in debt to several people, and left.  Dug and George Malcolm took over during World War II, but they didn’t last too long.  They sold to Charley Hall and Frank McDanell.  This was a short-lived experience.  They sold to Dick Ennis and Paul Wilson from Carrollton.  Dick Ennis was a son-in-law of Henry Plum.  This lasted about 10 months, of fly by night.  Evert McDanell cam back but was short lived as he soon went back to the farm.  Then we had a man by the name of Cobb.  I don’t remember much about him.  Then we had Pete Calvert, who took over.  He had a big business and everything was going fine, until he bought out the Haymond store.  The garage fell apart.  Jannie’s husband tried to run it for a while, but soon closed up.  Then came along a Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Burgin.  April 17, 1974.

Sparta Lumber

 Mr. Joe Wilson, was raised in Boone County, near Rabbit Hash, on the Ohio River. He took for his wife and the mother of his children Miss Lizzie Carver, whose birthday was on the same day as his.  Both were born on January 6, although Mr. Wilson was 5 years older.  Mr. Wilson’s father and all of his brothers were carpenters, and they were the best in the country.  There were four boys: Jeff, Joe, Sam and Billie, all good, some better than the other.  I suppose you would have to put Sam on top.  Mr. Joe Wilson had some sisters; I think it was Rose, Lucy, [blank].

 I think Mr. Wilson’s first job, which lives as a memorial to his work as a carpenter, is the Methodist Church at Warsaw.  He and I have been told, by his brother Billie, that they were the main carpenters. My wife Fanny was about two years old at the time, and she said that her father had told her that her name was in the cornerstone.  This building was started in 1900, and was dedicated in 1901.  In the meantime, Mr. Wilson had built him a home out on the Sparta Pike, just across from where the poor farm was, and he lived there until about 1908, when he had already got started selling lumber for building.  He bought a house and about 7 acres of land on the hill just above the old water tank, where the trains stopped to take on water.   It was a lovely old mansion.  In 1937 it caught fire and burnt completely.  Mr. Wilson re-built him a brick home.  Today it is a red brick, wood painted white with a black roof.  Now in 1908 there were 4 people, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Winn, Mr. Gullion and Mr. Brock, who started what was called the Sparta Lumber and Manufacturing Company.  He had a fine lumberyard, and built about half of the homes in this part of the country: several in Owenton, Wheatley, New Liberty, Jonesville, Glencoe, Warsaw, and Sanders.  He furnished the Long Ridge Baptist church in about 1922.  He had a real business, and worked lots of men.  Some of the regulars were: Alva Connelly, John L. Morgan, Ira Wilhout, Sam Wilson, Tom McCardwell, C. N. Varble, JacJ Calvert, Go[?]. T. Wilson, J. B. Wilsin, Fanny Wilson, Louise Stallard, Sue Graham, and Little Joe Wilson.

 [blank] from Cincinnati to Warsaw to Edward’s delivery to Owen, Gallatin and part of Carroll Counties.  It was about this time that Tom McCardell started contracting building in Owenton, and Mr. Wilson furnished the material.  He had bought 2 trucks: one Armleder and one Reo. One had chain drive and solid tires, a cab with curtains instead of doors; it was fine in the summer but bad in the winter.  Later on, the Armleder played out, and he got another Reo.  We hauled tobacco and coal ion the winter, lumber in the summer, and were always busy.  Beckham was a good worker, and took a great interest in his work.  Oliver, it was hard to get him to work.  Robert never got in the business very much.  Fanny kept books for a long, long time.  So did Velma until she got married.  Sue Graham, a half-sister to Mr. Will Graham, who ran the Ford garage for years.  He started it.  Louise Stallard worked some.  Sam quit about 1924 and went to Florida, where he stayed for several years in the big boon years of Florida building.  Sam fit and put in all of the windows in the Brown Hotel in Louisville. The lumberyard went good until 1930 to 1933, then everything went dead.  No building.  Bank’s closed.  No work, no money.  By this time Mr. Wilson had bought up all the stock and he owned it all.

The Butcher Shop, by Cerry Carpenter, 1910

 You don’t remember when Sparta had a butcher shop, but we did, and it was a good one.  Where was it? There was a building between the garage and where Pete Calvert’s store is now.  It was where Pete had his dress shop. After the meat shop closed, there was a restaurant put in this building by Norvin and Lela Records.  They had a good one, and it was about 1920 when Bob Landrum came here from Warsaw to work in the depot, as assistant agent.  He did not stay long, for he and Francis Samuel fell in love, but there was one thing that kept them from getting married. Frances wanted the restaurant the Norvin and Lela had.  Norvin had been talking about selling it, and had priced it to someone for $1,700.  When he learned that Bob and Frances wanted it, he just added $1,000 to the price, take it or leave it.  What do you think Bob did?  They ran the restaurant for along time, and if I remember it right, Glenn Farrar was working them, or it was just about this time that Bob Lafferty was looking at Glena, through the window, as he had just bought a new car, “case” and he had to watch it to keep the boys from putting mud on the car.  End the end, Frances got Bob, Norvin got his extra $1,000, and Glena got Robert Lafferty, but as I sit here thinking of days gone by, Bob Landrum, Francis, and Robert Lafferty have gone and only Glena is left to tell the tale.  Robert Dunavent and his wife have run this place for a long time.  Finally, Pete Calvert got hold of the building and tore the whole thing out.  He filled up the cistern that Brother Clark had built under the floor, then, when he quit the garage and bought out Haymon’s store, he built back a building between the two buildings, about as it was before, only there was no front door.   

Stock Buyers of Sparta and Community, 1940 to 1974

 Mr. Henry Gullion, great grandfather of Howard Gullion, and Mr. Bates were stock buyers in the 1840’s.  Then a little later came Harry Carver and Walter Kennedy.  I can remember when they would drive the cattle, hogs, sheep and even turkey to Sparta, to load [on railroad cars].  It was not until the late 1920’s that there were trucks to haul livestock, and Mr. Wilson was the only one then.  Later came Howard Wilson with a truck, who did nothing but haul cattle, hogs and sheep.  I can remember having watched them load one car load of chickens, to be shipped east, and as you may know, there was a man who rode in the railroad car with them, to keep them fed and watered.  In the early days of shipping livestock, all meat animals had to be shipped live to the place where they were to be killed and sold for food.  In the early days we had no refrigerator cars on the railroad, and trucks had not yet been made, or if they were, there were o good roads to drive them on..  It was Swift & Co who invented the box car to haul fresh meat from the west to the east.  These cars had four bunkers in them, one in each corner, and they were full of ice. This was in 1875.  Now all the meat we get, especially beef, is killed out west and trucked or shipped by rail to one of our northern towns.  Louisville for instance gets all their beef shipped in already dressed.  Back I the 1940’s we tried to sell some poultry, they called it New York Dress, which still had the head and feet on it. We could not sell them, could not even give them away.

 One of our best stock buyers was an orphan boy, who started out buying chickens: hens and roosters.  He went around all over the country in a no-top buggy, and smoked a pipe, but never had a match.  He always had some of the boys around Sparta to drive for him, and as they would drive along the road, he would say “Pull over under that shade, and run over the hill and get me some matches.”  There would be no house in sight, but as you went over the hill, there was a house with the wood smoke curling up from the kitchen stove, and the smell of old ham frying with redeye gravy and hot biscuits and sassafras tea. (If you ever went to Mr. and Mrs. Sam Agee’s, you had to eat, regardless of the time of day, and if nothing else but a watermelon, apples, or maybe a sandwich.)  This man was Walter Kennedy, Harry C. Kennedy’s father.

 Mr. Harry Carver and Mr. Walter Kennedy bought cattle in Owen, Carroll, and Gallatin counties for many years, but in 1928, there were a few men who got together and built a stockyard, across in front of the depot.  Sales were every Thursday, and on each Thursday of the spring of the year when lambs started to sell, the L&N would end from Louisville a train crew with about 10-15 double deck cattle cars to ship lambs in.  You see at this time, Owen County was the largest sheep county in the state.  The stock yard did good for a while, but it changed hands several times and in 1969 when the new road was planning to come through Sparta, the people who owned it at this time closed it up, and in December of 1969 it burned.  Mr. Wilson furnished the lumber, and I made all of the gates, about 128 of them.  For about 28 years it was a real boom, but as better roads and more trucks developed, farmers started to haul their stock to the bigger cities.

 Today, out stock buyers have gone to their reward, and the stock yard has burned up.  There was no one to take their place, so if you have cattle, hogs, or sheep, you take them to the bigger city: Louisville, Cincinnati, Lexington, or Walton.  You know they closed Madison about 3 years ago, about 1972.

 You see, Madison had this packing house that had been in business for about 100 years, and that was a good outlet for our cattle, hogs, and sheep, and a special outlet for veal calves.  They had a good market for veal in the east.  They shipped regular truck loads two and three loads weekly.  All that is gone. The people who owned it died, and there was no one to take their place.