Dixie has proud heritage

Taken from a Special Edition of "The Gleaner"
printed March 27, 1988
permissive use granted by Editor
newspaper provided by Vonette Shelton-Curtis

And please don't call it 'little'

By Judy Jenkins
of  The Gleaner staff

In the first place, don't call it "Little Dixie."

It's true that Dixie, Ky., isn't a sprawling city, but it stands large in the hearts of its residents, and they'd just as soon not have the community referred to in the diminutive.

They have a proud heritage, going back to about 1841 when William Q. Dixon, whose name the town bears, and William S. Sutton became owners of a large section of land in southwestern Henderson County. A portion of that land became the self-sufficient village of Dixie.

From 1799 to around 1836, that property and additional acreage was owned by the Harrodsburg Seminary, which was granted 6,000 acres by the General Assembly in that last year of the 18th century.

In 1851, Dixon divided his land between his five sons, with the major share going to Thomas. Henderson County, particularly the southern portion, is liberally sprinkled with Dixon descendants, including State Rep. A. G. Pritchett, who also is a former county judge-executive.

The Dixie Post Office was established in 1879 with George Dixon as postmaster. That's when the town's identity officially became "Dixie" instead of Dixon, which was the postmaster's choice. The city fathers learned that since there was an earlier-founded community of Dixon in Webster County, the Henderson County village would have to alter the Dixon name or get another one entirely.

They opted to change it only slightly, a wise choice that retained the Dixon-family affiliation, but also carries the connotation of being in the South, and therefore imbued with all those charming traits characteristic of Dixieland.

In earlier times, according to county historian and Dixie-area resident Maralea Arnett, the community's site had been described merely as "on the headwaters of the Beaver Creek."

The fact that Dixie was a progressive town - as well as self-sustaining - is seen in the formation, in 1889, of a community cooperative by the aforementioned George Dixon and Dixie Subordinate Wheel No. 318. That move also was initiated by the fact that the roads surrounding the village were so horrid that frequent travel to and from larger area cities was difficult in the best of times and impossible in the worst.

Because it was so hard to get to other areas and buy the things not made in Dixie, the citizens concluded that the solution was to get a year's worth of supplies at one time and avoid those frequent and hazardous journeys.

Through a co-op, they pooled their financial resources and bought the commodities they'd all need for a 12-month period. To store those supplies, they built a large warehouse. Ms. Arnett notes that a buyer was selected to go South and purchase in quantity for the entire group.

A second indication of the town's progressive nature is the selection of the second postmaster, a female named Sophronia Galloway. Apparently Mrs. Galloway was a forward-thinking individual who saw no reason why a woman couldn't be in the forefront of things.

In addition to serving as postmaster from 1900 to 1907, she operated the town hotel, where traveling salesman called "drummers" could get a good night's sleep and hot meals and where preachers were given permanent lodging if they wished it.

Dixie at first had only a spring school, taught several months out of the year when youngsters didn't have to be involved with helping on the family farm and the weather was good enough for them to walk to school.

In 1888, the community's independent school district was formed, and its six trustees purchased one and a half acres of land from G. W. Dixon for the sum of $58.33 and constructed a three-room school. It was ready by the fall of '89.

One of the foremost educators was Professor Larkin Turner, who taught from 1891-1908 and delivered the final commencement address at the 12-grade Dixie school in 1935, calling the offspring of his former students "grandchildren."

Religion has been an integral part of Dixie's history, too. The present Dixie Methodist Church, it's noted, had its beginnings in early 1892 when a board of trustees was appointed to buy a parcel of land near Sophronia Galloway's hotel for $150.

The first church was completed that year. It was replaced in 1916, and the current church was constructed by the congregation in 1948.

transcribed by Tina Hall 8-12-2002

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