About Knottsville

This blog will be about things, people, events, and stuff of interest going on in Knottsville, KY.    Here is a photograph of Knottsville in earlier times.  I’m not sure of the exact date.  I will post another picture with a similar angle to compare to as it is today.  Notice St. William Catholic Church in the distance.  Following the picture is a synopsis from the St. William and St. Lawrence parish office concerning its history.

Main Street in Knottsville now known as Hwy 144

Main Street in Knottsville now known as Hwy 144

Knottsville, Kentucky

Knottsville was laid out in 1836 by William R. Griffith and James Millay.  The first house was built by Leonard Knott in the fall of 1827, for which the town was named.  The town was so named ‘Knottsville’ by Hon. Wm. R. Griffith while he was in the legislature.  James Millay opened the first store.  The first school-house was built in 1854.  It was a log cabin but was replaced by a neat little frame building in 1857.  The first School was taught by Powhattan Ellis.  Two general stores, one drug store, one shoe shop, a blacksmith and wagon shop, two undertakers, one flouring mill, one saw and grist mill, and three tobacco factories were present in the town at the end of the 19th century.

Leonard Knott was born in Nelson Co., Ky., and was the son of James Knott.  He first lived (one year) in a small cabin on the Whitesville Road, and built in Knottsville in 1827.  He married Mary M. Drury, by whom he had four children, James I., Mary E., Margaret A., and Mary E. became Mrs. John Haynes and lived in this precinct.  Margaret was married twice, first to John Melton, and the next time to J.M. Hayden.  Mr. Knott was a life-long Catholic and died in 1854.  (Some of the descendants of these pioneers are still living in the area.)

St. William’s of Knottsville had the first public circulating library in Daviess County.

The 1847 the Kentucky State Register placed two physicians in Knottsville.  The first resident physician was Dr. Richard Lockhart.

The Early Catholic missionaries to the area were Fathers’ Charles Nerinx, Elisha J. Durbin, and Robert Abel.  The First Resident Pastor was Fr. John Wathen in 1833.   The residents of Knottsville were a part of St. Lawrence Church until 1887.  By that time the Knottsville area had grown to over 1000 people and a meeting was held with Rev. Msgr. Thomas F. Gambon, Vicar General of the Diocese of Louisville, and Father John Sheridan, Dr. Drury, J.B. and H.T. Aud and W.S. Hazel, to discuss the growing Catholic Presence and the overcrowding at St. Lawrence Church.  At this meeting the Parish was divided and the area around St. Lawrence was incorporated into that parish and the New St. William came into existence on May 2, 1887.

The First Pastor of the ‘new’ St. William was Father James P. Cronin. He rented an old bar room located on the site where the present brick church office stands next to St. William Church, and this is where the first Mass in St. William parish was celebrated.  Fr. Cronin lived in a house which adjoined the temporary church.

Adjoining lots were purchased and the foundation of the present brick church was laid in the fall of 1887.  On May 27th 1888 the corner stone was laid by Right Reverend Bishop McCloskey for our present St. William Church building.

As the parish grew, the Women’s Altar Society, Women’s Guild and Total Abstinence Society were organized.  The Church was consecrated on May 30th, 1898 by Bishop George Montgomery, a native of St. Lawrence, who became the Bishop of Los Angeles, California.

In 1912 St. William Elementary School was opened.  Ursuline Sisters of Mount St. Joseph were the first teachers there. They were housed in the old parsonage from 1912 to 1915.  The building was destroyed by fire in that year and from September 1915 they lived in the homestead of Dr. Drury owned at that time by Mrs. Anna Lanham and Anna Spalding.  The residing pastor, Rev. Francis J. Timony rented the home from them for the Sisters to reside in.

During Fr. Timony’s time here, an addition to the standing School and Library of St. William was made into a comfortable home for the sisters.

In April of 1926 flames engulfed the school and the library that was attached there along with the sister’s residence which was housed in part of that building.  It was a total loss.  Several valuable volumes and papers were destroyed along with the building.   In 1927 a new brick building was built to house the grade school.  During the following years, St. William elementary was staffed by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and the Sister of Mount St. Joseph.  In 1927 St. William High was established in 1937.   The high school was consolidated with St. Mary of the Woods High School in the fall of 1967 to form the current Trinity High School which consists of the students from St. Lawrence, St. William and St. Mary of the Woods.

The ‘new’ Mary Carrico Memorial School was dedicated on May 5, 1963.

The building was paid  for by the then Governor Gore of the Virgin Islands in memory of his mother “Mary Carrico” who was a former teacher at St. William elementary school.

A brick convent was built to house the sisters in 1958 under the leadership of Fr. Robert Whelan.  The Sister’s residence housed the Sisters of Charity, Ursuline Sisters, and the Sisters of the Lamb of God.  In 2004 the building was razed due to new safety and fire code restrictions and the expense to renovate was considered financially unfeasible.  The Ursulines had left the area by that time and the Lamb of God sisters moved back into Owensboro where other members of their Order were stationed.

Presently Mary Carrico Memorial School which serves both St. William and St. Lawrence Parishes has 84 registered students fifty-five from St. William community and 29 from the St. Lawrence Community.   The faculty and staff consists of a part time principal, 6 full time teachers, a technology teacher, a part time music teacher, janitor, full time secretary and two aides.

As of date in the year 2007, St. William Parish has 395 registered families, consisting of 1,098 men, women and children.

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