Hill Grove Cemetery: a place of rich history, memories and more

Submitted by Marian Bennett
The News Standard, Friday, February 18, 2011, p B10

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When you talk about Hill Grove you have to include Meadeville. Meadeville, formerly called Good Springs from 1850 to 1857 (there was a good spring there), was a stage coach stop. The stage ran from Salt River in West Point to Hardinsburg, Ky.

There were almost parallel roads a mile or two on each side of the Meadeville road, Stith Valley Road on the east and Stringtown Road to the west. At Meadeville the cross road went west to Smith School House to Stringtown Road and east through the Board and Barnes places to the Stith Valley Road at the W. A. Stith farm.   At Meadeville, the stage coach made a stop to change horses, rest, pick up mail and pick up passengers.  There was a saloon, store blacksmith shop and several dwellings. Mr. Mason Simpson operated a hotel and stage station and was blacksmith.  The Meadeville post office name was changed to the Hill Grove post office in 1862 and was discontinued in 1906.

There was an old cemetery at Meadeville called the Hill Grove Cemetery in which many grave stones there date back to around 1833.  Another cemetery known as High Ground Hill Grove is older than the one at Meadeville.  It is located on Hill Grove Knob some distance away.  At that time a road ran over this hill. Many grave stones there date back to 1814.

The only church in the community was called New Hope. The exact location is not known but it was in the same general area as the cemetery.  The church was established June 29,1822, with 14 members. This part of the county was Hardin County at the time.  The name was changed to Hill Grove Baptist Church on Nov. 8, 1823, the year Meade County was formed.  James Monroe was the fifth president of the United States and the Commonwealth of the second oldest church in what is now the Salem Association. Wolf Creek Baptist Church is the oldest.

Hill Grove Baptist Church served the surrounding neighborhoods of Guston, Ekron, Buck Grove, Garrett, and Stith Valley.  Many people from these neighborhoods came in wagons or buggies, on horseback or walked to once-a-month to attend services which were held by preachers that served several other churches as well.

There may have been three locations of Hill Grove Baptist Church. New Hope Church probably met in homes or the school house.  The land was brought in 1827 from Jacob Hayden but no record was found of the location of the building or the land. This land was sold in 1841.  In October 1841, the church members raised money and then bought land on the Jeff Allen hill for a new church.  This was still in the same general area.

The land for the present church site, which was located one mile north of Meadeville, was purchased and a new church building was completed in 1897.  Four years later, the church was rebuilt it met at the Hill Grove school house across the road from the church site.  A new church was built on the same site and it was dedicated on the last Sunday in July 1904. Since then several additions have been made to the church.

The use of the cemetery at the church was discontinued in 1967 due to water and limestone rocks.

The old roads from the present church went east to Jacky's Grove to Stith Valley Road and west to the Stringtown Road. These roads are no longer open.

Hill Grove School was a typical one-room school with all eight grades.   The teachers boarded in nearby homes.  Mr. Abbott Ashcraft was probably the last teacher that taught there.  The School was consolidated around 1948. The building still stands as a residence. 

After the railroad cam through Ekron and Guston, Meadeville was no longer a necessity to the community.  Soon after the Louisville to Henderson railroad line was completed in 1890, Meadeville ceased to exist.

It cannot be determined when the first settlers came and where the settlement was located.  The settlers came from Pensylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.  High Ground Hill Grove probably was chosen as a settlement because it was located on high ground and it could be used as a lookout for any enemy that approached from across the Ohio River.  Also, the foot of these knobs were flowing springs which were a must in establishing a home.

The names first mentioned in any history as early settlers are: Shacklette, Ashcraft, Richardson, Allen, Shumate, Wimps, Humphrey, Simpson and Jenkins. Later names are Epperson, Frakes, Bradley, Board, Ramsey, Gwartney, Cox, Smith, Dowell, Foushee, Clements, Drake and Sipes.

Many people in their 70's and 80's today remember when Hill Grove as a close- knit community. Many families were related and were completely selfsustained on their farms.  They helped one another with work, shared joys and sorrows and respected one another and their properties.

Times changed with the 1930's. The road from Garrett was straighten and graveled thus making it an all-weather road allowing people to work away from the farms.   With World War II and better roads, there was an exodus from the farms to factory jobs.  Farming became more expensive competing, with the higher wages and the cost of modern eauipment for farming, many farms were sold to land speculators and subdivided, others were consolidated into larger farms.  So, the neighborhood changed. Now there are just a few people living in the immediate area that are related to the early families.   However, it is a thriving community now with many new homes and new families, with the same closeness and compassion that has been shown throughout the years.

Unique Event

"During the war between the states, an incident occurred at Meadeville. A detachment of Kentucky 36th Federal Calvary had a skirmish at the spring with ten rebel guerrillas. Nine of them were killed outright and the other was mortally wounded."

From a book in the Meade County Library "Meade County Towns and Other Counties Bordering Along the Ohio River from Salt River and West Point Down River. ''