Fork Ridge

Submitted by Phyllis Slater.

Fork Ridge is the watershed dividing the waters of Middle and Big Grave Creek. The first settlers found is clothed with a mighty forest of hardwood timber, well watered and fertile soil. In aboriginal times, it was a favored hunting ground for the red man. We have no knowledge of any Indians making this section their home in any way but that this section was used for their temporary hunting expeditions is evident. Land now owned by John Ritchea was a favorite camping place. On the knoll south of the famous Howe Spring even yet when the ground is cultivated, are to be found numerous arrow heads and at one place at least a bushel of flint chips marked the spot where some arrow maker had plied his trade.

Whether the name given to this section is on account of the forks of the streams or from the several roads meeting the main traveled trail is unknown. The community has long received the name and its origin forgotton.

The timber being less dense on the crest of the ridge, naturally the original trail followed, first a simple game and hunter trail, cow path, tote road, which was widened to accomodate the sled, then the wheeled vehicle.

The best and most reliable springs in this section are to be found near the crest of the ridge, so the early settlers built their first cabins near their water supply and later the cabin homes gave place to a more permanent house nearby. In these cabin homes, were reared large families of sturdy men and healthy women who helped carve from the virgin forest, the farms of today.

Our foreparents were not an educated people in a book sense, but read much from the book of nature. At an early time, they felt that their children should have more than nature's lore, sought to supply the need by some sort of a school. The idea of a free school had not yet entered their minds, so the first school known to us was the subscription school established at the John McGary farm and taught by a Mr. Manning. The old Universalist Church was used for a school for several years prior to the establishment of the free school. Part of the term of free school at least was taught in the old church building before the new one was completed. The old church was a hewn log structure, lined inside with yellow poplar lumber, and a section was painted with ordinary black paint making their blackboard. A huge pine board, fastened by strap hinges when the writing class was called, was raised on temporary legs fitted in auger holes and thus was a writing desk was made upon which our ancestors with quill pens and ink of home manufacture, mastered the art of penmanship.

The benches or seats were poplar and linn logs cut in half, pegs for legs formed their comfortable or uncomfortable seats, truly bearing out the old adage, "There is no royal road to knowledge." The advent of the free school system was the opening of a new era and the Upper Bane, Terrel, Lower Bane, Martin, and the Pierce Schools were built by carpenters, W.D. Logsdon and J.P. Stewart.

The community was peculiarly noted for their kindness to one another when sickness or death invaded their ranks, ever ready to aid and assist in caring for the crops of the stricken. Taking their turns, acting as nurse at the bedside of the afflicted.

Reprinted by Miss Eva Terrill.

From the History of Marshall County, 1984.

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