Soldier Today Is Thriving Community With Brick Plant, Mines
J. W. Richards, While Plowing, Discovered Fire-Clay at Soldier
Sandy Valley Enquirer
Thursday, December 10, 1942
Soldier, long a prosperous community, not only because of the fertile
fields which provide splendid farming, the abundant growth of timber
which designated Soldier as a lumbering center, but the vast store of
fire-clay which has made it one of the foremost clay mining towns of the
Soldier's substantial history reflects the character and foresight of its
early settlers and their descendants who have in a traditional American
manner made "their share of the earth" mean so much to the nation.
The first settlers of Soldier were Harrison Garvin, father of Rebecca
Patton (widow of the late J. D. Patton) and Jeremiah Powers Richards
(father of the late John William Richards), and the Underwoods on Dry
Branch Road, ancestors of Velva Underwood, Mrs. Ina Vincent and W. A.
Gilbert. These pioneers were substantial farmers and livestock dealers.
Still standing as a monument to the achievements of these early settlers
is the old Garvin homestead in which Mrs. Nora Shay, granddaughter of
Harrison Garvin, now lives. Only recently, the old Richards homestead
was razed by Jason Bradley, who now owns the part of the farm on which
the house stood. The old Underwood home still stands and is now owned
by Charles Pelfrey, Sr.
HISTORY OF SCHOOLS
A modest little log cabin, located where the J. B. Richard's home now is,
served Soldier as their first schoolhouse, and William Underwood taught
the first school. Several years later, Carter County established a school
here, a box-house which was built on a lot donated by J. P. Richards.
Mr. Richards also donated the lumber and the citizens provided the labor
to build it. Miss Eva Bays, daughter of Logan Bays, of Grayson, was the
first teacher. On this same lot about forty years ago a two-story
building was erected in which two teachers were supplied because of the
growing population. At this time an additional lot was purchased from L.
S. Vincent to extend the school grounds. As the population continued to
grow extra rooms were provided. Finally five acres of land were purchased
from John F. Gilbert on the North side of the railroad. Here a modern 6-room
concrete block school was constructed, which the state inspector approved with
the statement that it was the finest building in a district of its size in
Eastern Kentucky. At this time Soldier was an independent school district
with one year of high school. Later the school board with the aid of the
loyal citizens (who donated money, material, and labor) built a gymnasium.
One of the best basketball teams in Kentucky was fostered here, and was widely
acclaimed when they defeated the Ashland Tomcats in the tournament.
In 1935 the Soldier School District was taken into the Carter County School
District. Since then, the faculty has been increased and two rooms have been
added to the building. Soldier has a very active P. T. A. and the excellent
cooperation between the parents and faculty contributes much to the success of
HISTORY OF INDUSTRY AND BUSINESS
Today, Soldier boasts of a full four-year high school, with the finest of
instructors and equipment, a Glee Club, and many other activities which make
Soldier schools equal to any institution of its size in the State.
With the building of the railroad in 1880 the industries of Soldier, other
than farming, began. Soon sawmills and shingle machines were found up every
hollow and much tank bark, staves, hoops and later ties were brought here for
shipment. One of the pioneer lumbermen was John Z. Clark.
The first merchant of the community was L. S. Vincent, who operated a store in
a small building where Jesse hall now lives. Later he built a large store
near the depot and finally he built the large store building where William
Durham now has his business. Among the older merchants of Soldier were
Leffingwell and Jackson, who established their business in a frame building
which was located in what is now Mrs. Martha Livingston's front lawn. They
sold this store to Crump and Field (who later became very successful wholesale
merchants in Ashland, Kentucky).
After several years of successful business, Crump and Field sold out to
William Livingston and Isaac Conley. Later, Livingston purchased Conley's
share and carried on a thriving business until his death.
While plowing one day. J. W. Richards discovered fire-clay on his farm. Soon
mines sprang up and much clay was shipped from here. Outside businessmen
became interest and about 1886 the Ironton Firebrick Company built the Hayward
Brickyard. The yard is now owned and operated by the North American
Refractories. The Charles Taylor Company, Kiser Brothers, Vincent Mining
Company and the Ironton Firebrick Company operate mines and ship clay from
here. As the industry grew, other businesses flourished until Solider now has
many busy stores, owned by the following merchants:
Samuel Hamm, W. D. Eden, William Durham, W. A. Gilbert, Jason Kiser, e. F.
Rivers, Cecil Wells, and A. C. Zimmerman.
Harshel Clark owns and operates an up-to-date electric shop and Mrs. W. A.
Gilbert is the owner of a very modern Beauty Shop.
THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME SOLDIER
The first postmaster of Soldier was J. W. Richards. He received his
commission in 1881. The railroad station was at that time Triplett.
This caused much confusion as there was a post office elsewhere known as
Triplett. Mr. Richards named the post office Soldier. Later the
station was changed to Soldier. The present postmaster of Soldier is
Mrs. Mable Barker Day.
HISTORY OF THE CHURCHES
In pioneer days a mill shed which stood where the Clifford Ownes
residence now stands, provided shelter for religious services. In later
years a church was built at Hayward by the citizens and the Ashland
Firebrick Company in which any denomination was welcome to hold its
services. At this time there are two organized churches here. The Pilgrim
Holiness Church, which has a nice building. The present pastor is Rev. Glass,
and The Church of God, whose pastor is Rev. Ott Furnish, who hold their
meetings in the Masonic Hall.
On August 10, 1935, Soldier was stricken by the worst catastrophe in its
history--the flood in which one dwelling and store-building belonging to
Frank Rivers were destroyed and much damage to their property was done.
However, Soldier's march of progress continued and the citizens cleaned
and repaired their property. Mr. Rivers moved to another building and
the dame which was wrought is now just a memory.
Men of Soldier have achieved honor. Among the men of Soldier who have
become prominent is J. D. Patton, who was elected to the Kentucky
legislature and his son who operated one of the biggest and best lumber
businesses in Eastern Kentucky. Dr. Rigdon Ratcliff, who was several
years ago principal of Soldier School, is now quite a prominent
physician at the University Hospital, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Soldier has
produced many fine school teachers, who have contributed much to the
field of education.
A history of Soldier would not be complete without mentioning our many
fine boys who represent our community today in the battlefield and in
the service of our country. Soldier has earned full well her name for
we feel that we have today more boys per capita in the service than any
other town in the nation. Our boys are serving our country as soldiers,
sailors and marines in all parts of the world.
We pay homage to our first casualty of the war, Louis Harlan Delong, who
was killed in action on the Boise while fighting the Japanese in the
Pacific. Louis Delong had been in the service for two years prior to
his death. We extend to his heroic mother our heartfelt sympathy and
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