Shiloh

The Shiloh community lies along a two and a half mile long ridge that joins the Keefer Road halfway between Keefer and U.S. 25. Although no business of any kind was ever established along the ridge, the area is recognized as a distinct community. The present road, blacktopped and maintained by Grant County, began as a path along the ridge. The path grew into a wagon lane but remained a mud road until the late 1800s. After the ridge road was "piked" by men with sledge hammers and knapping hammers, a toll gate was set up to help with the cost. The road had no permanent name until after the Shiloh Church was built in 1875. Before that time, the names of families at the west end were used to identify the mud road. The names Mason, Holbrook and Fortner can be found on late 1800 deeds in the courthouse. The Shiloh Baptist Church was the first of the two public buildings established in the community. According to tradition, the acre of land for the church was donated or sold for a token sum by Jacob Musselman of Keefer. The original church was a two story log building.The first trustees were John H. Roland, Louis, True, and John Estes [as shown in book]. The first minister were circuit-riding preachers and ministers from other congregations. At least two well-known ministers, Clarence Walker of Lexington and O. J. Steger of northern Kentucky preached their first sermons at Shiloh. The late Ed Cook stated that "Shiloh Baptist Church had started out out more young ministers than any other Baptist Church".

In 1885, the small church hosted the meeting of the Owen Association of Baptist Churches in Grant and Owen County. The Shiloh Baptist Church later became a member of the Crittenden Association in Grant County. The upper story of the log building was used for Junior Lodge meetings and community recreation until the floor became weak and unsafe. The building was then torn down and replaced with the present white frame church. A small cemetery that grew up around the church building contains the markers and names of former members and neighbors.

The second public building was the Oakland one-room school. Organized June 22, 1881 and listed as District 8, the log school was built on one-half acre of land donated by Francis Simon, the son-in-law of Jacob Musselman. The building was erected at the site where a branch of Simon's Passway coming from the west turned southward toward Corinth. The first trustees of Oakland School were Charlie Wilson, C. W. Glenn, and W. L. Gouge. Two of the teachers were Will Osborne and his former pupil, Mary Eliza Lawrence (Huff) of Keefer. When the school was abolished in 1903, Oakland pupils walked across the hills to the Keefer School. When Mason Consolidated School opened in 1919, all Shiloh Road children were transported to Mason, including those who had previously attended the Long-Ridge School. Although the Oakland School was closed in 1903, the school building was enclosed with additional rooms to form a dwelling that has been continuously occupied. Thus, the Oakland one-room school has survived for nearly one hundred and ten years. By 1975, the Shiloh Church building was again in danger of collapsing. During the 1980s extensive repairs and improvements were accomplished.

Simon's Passway

A diagram of Simon's Passway shows a network of paths that criss-crossed the thousands of acres of Simon wilderness land. The path that came from Owen County was part of the Shiloh Road from the west to the Oakland one-room school. At Oakland, the path turned southward down the hill to Simon's Creek (now listed on Grant County maps as Three Forks) then ran parallel with the creek to Ragtown Hill. From the top of the hill, the passway followed the ridge to the old Lexington Pike at Bridgeport, north to Corinth. At the foot of Ragtown Hill, Francis Simon built a "manor house" with balconies and railings. The family and family slave cemeteries were on the hillside above the house.

Although Jacob and Mary A. Musselman had lived in the Keefer vicinity, they were buried in a small family cemetery near the home that Francis Simon built for himself and Eliza Musselman Simon on Ragtown Road. Their monument inside the wrought iron fence carries the following information.

Jacob Musselman
Died March 27, 1867
Age 75 years

Mary A. Wife
Died June 17, 1892
Age 79 years

The tall monument is inscribed as follows:

Francis Simon
1806-1892

Eliza A. His wife
1822-no date


Two of their number of slaves, Tom and Jerry, are also buried in the family cemetery. Somewhere in the vicinity a slave graveyard also exists with limestone markers. The number of slaves is unknown.

When the manor house burned, four slave cabins were joined to form a dwelling. All possessions were lost in the fire including the deed etched in wood.

The six Simon children were born at the home on Simon's Passway. The oldest child, Jacob Theopholus was evidently named for his grandfather Jacob Musselman. Alfonso, the youngest son, was killed in the Civil War battle of Perryville; Thomas Ferdinand, the second son, also a Confederate soldier, nearly lost his life when he was taken prisoner and confined in a Louisville prison. Francis Simon sent a wagon lined with featherbeds to Louisville and rescued the young man from almost certain death. Years later, "Ferd" built a large two-story house two miles west of Corinth. When I-75 was constructed, the landmark house was demolished to make way for the I-75 interchange. Ferdinand was the father of Tom Simon, a well-known Corinth resident. The three Simon daughters were Louisa Childers, Cecilia Truitt, and Molly Billiter. Louisa lived on Simon's Creek about half-way between her parents' home and the Oakland School.

The Childers' house had four large rooms, a hall, three fireplaces, and one ghost. The ghost was an angry slave girl who had hanged herself on the eave of the smokehouse near the north kitchen window. At dusk, she persisted in peeing through the window at her former mistress. In the third room, a secret panel was part of the wall to the right of the fireplace. The "secret" had been passed down through various owners. With the palm of the hand laid flat against the wall, the panel could be pushed upward to reveal cubbyholes for hiding gold, jewelry, and other valuables. Above the back of the house, a small slave cemetery with limestone markers was enclosed with a low rock wall. In the springtime, the little cemetery was blanketed with pink wild roses. From the cemetery, another branch of Simon's Passway led eastward to the Keefer Road near the house of Billy Filson, who married a Simon descendant.

The last family to own the Childers's home from 1919 to 1927 was the Frank Lawrence family, who sold the small farm to John William Morgan after the house had burned.

Simon's Passway is listed on Grant County maps as Ragtown Road (named for a rag buyer). The section of the passway from near the foot of Ragtown hill to the Shiloh Road is totally impassable and marked accordingly on Grant County maps. The account that the entire passway was once traveled by horses, buggies, carriages, and wagons resembles a fairy tale instead of part of early Grant County history.

History of Grant County, John B. Conrad, Editor
Published by the Grant County Historical Society,

Williamstown, Kentucky
Article by H. L. Ogden, 1992.

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