Owensboro’s “First Things”

Adam Paris History Leave a Comment

Here’s a partial list of some of the “first things” that took place in Owensboro.

First Home
A log cabin built by Bill Smothers somewhere between 1797-1798.

First Organ Used in Church
The first organ used in church was at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church on May 22, 1849.
Note: An article from Aug 14, 1927 says Cumberland Presbyterian at St Ann between 3rd & 4th, but no date given.

First Locomotive
The “Joe Daviess” came through Owensboro on December 8, 1870.

First Tobacco Factory
The first tobacco factory in Owensboro is thought to be the first west of the Appalachian Mountains, built by Major John H. Smith. He died in 1883.

First Circuit Judge and Clerk
Circuit Judge Henry P. Broadnax, and Clerk George Handley

First Bar Association
Organized here in 1879

First Newspaper
The Bulletin, Oct 7, 1842

First War Draft
The first war draft of men for the Federal Army was made of 58 men, May 13, 1863.

First Census
The first census taken in Daviess County was done in 1820 and showed a population of 3,876.

First Fair
The first county fair was held in 1850.

First Toll Gate
The first toll gate roads started in 1882.

First Improved Road
The first “improved” road was a wooden plank road from downtown 5 miles down what is now Frederica St. It has been exposed several times in recent history.

First Telegraph Line
The first telegraph line was built to Louisville in 1867.

First Railway
The first rails in the county were built from Bon Harbor to the river in 1826, which was one of the first coal mines in KY, starting in 1825.

First School
According to tradition, the first “school” in Owensboro was taught by Mrs. Susan Tarleton in the early 1810’s. The story says she was on a boat going west, and around Cloverport, sank. She managed to float on a plank and was rescued from the river here. She had lost everything so a citizen gave her the use of a log cabin on W 2nd near the ravine where she taught small children.

First “Modern” Movie Theater
The community’s first “modern” movie theater was the Empress, which opened at 418 Frederica St in 1917. It features a pipe organ that set the mood during silent movies. The Empress later became the Malco.

First Commercial Coal Mine
The first commercial coal mine in Daviess County was begun by Robert Triplett. A Virginian who arrived about 1820, Triplett was a surveyor, who discovered a 4 ½ feet thick vein of coal at Bon Harbor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *