Monday, July 14, 2008

Dycusburg Dedicates Veteran's Memorial

By Bobbie Foust, (Lyon Co., Ky.) Herald Ledger, July 10, 2008 (reprinted with permission)

An estimated 500 people turned out for the dedication of the Veteran's Memorial at the Fourth of July celebration, Red White and Boom!, said Michelle Henderson, president of the Dycusburg Community Group.

“That’s the biggest crowd we’ve had down here for anything,” Henderson said in a telephone interview Sunday. “Two church parking lots were full and cars were parked along the streets.“Our little town felt like a family,” Henderson said, noting that though Dycusburg is the smallest town in Kentucky, it has a heart as big as the world.

Chase Matthews, a 23-year-old Dycusburg National Guardsman who lost both legs when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Iraq, parked his car close to the memorial site and watched the ceremony from there, Henderson said.She said about 35 area veterans attended and remained throughout the ceremony despite a thundershower.

The Rev. Lonnie Knight, pastor of Seven Springs Baptist Church, dedicated the memorial. Knight has a special connection to veterans because his brother-in-law, Johnny Lindsey, a Dycusburg native, died in the Vietnam Conflict. Knight expressed gratitude for American troops and veterans, especially the wounded and those who died in action. He also recognized the families who support soldiers gone for extended periods and he mentioned the toll it takes on those families.Visitors came not only from Crittenden and surrounding counties, but also from Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Owensboro, Lexington and Louisville.Henderson said she and her husband, Dan, have built a cabin in the woods and hosted a camp out. Also there were 25 to 30 campers at the campground.

Matthew T. Patton, also a Dycusburg native, writer and editor of a medical magazine in Philadelphia, opened the ceremony with a history of the property where the monument was placed. The site is next to the Dycusburg Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.

At one time the city hall and the jail stood on the site and later it was farmland. In a 2000 overview of Dycusburg history, Patton wrote that Dycusburg “is now nothing much more than a handful of buildings at a sharp curve where (Ky.) 70 ends and (Ky.) 295 starts — but the distant sound of a whistle from a boat in the (Cumberland) river is enough to spark memories in the minds of the few remaining residents of a once booming and bustling town.”

Dycusburg, once a major commercial center on the Cumberland, boasted three grand hotels, a bank, general stores, tobacco warehouses and a distillery. It shipped tobacco and other goods from local factories, mines and distilleries to points throughout the South. However, a devastating fire in 1906 destroyed a major part of the city. The 39 remaining businesses prompted hope despite the loss, but the following year, another fire destroyed Dycusburg People’s Bank and the Yates Hotel. Then came the tobacco war in 1908 with the infamous beating of Henry Bennett by Night Riders and the torching of his tobacco warehouse and Bennett Brothers Distillery.

A spectacular, hourlong fireworks display followed the memorial dedication, which Henderson noted would not have been possible without the charitable donations from many people. Financial support for the group may still be made to the Dycusburg Community Group, P.O. Box 112, Dycusburg, KY 42037.

(Photo: Makanda Rolfe and Amanda Oliver, formerly of Eddyville, dance in the streets during the celebration. Photo by Jeannie Griffin)

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