the grumpy genealogist

In September 1880, my wife's soon-to-be-married great-grandfather, Frank X. Bezold, opened a general store in the rural farmlands of southern Campbell County, Kentucky. He sold spices, fabric, shoes, hardware, phonograph records, and gunpowder to the local farmers, who often paid with butter, eggs, or other crops. Then once a week, this produce was hauled to the big city by horse and wagon (a 12-hour journey) for sale to city grocers.

My wife's grandfather, Clem, was born in the house behind the store, and he and his brothers grew up farming, keeping shop, and hauling produce to market. "Old Dobbin" was retired in 1914, when they got their first truck. Dobbin, the family horse, was named after a lead character (the son of a grocer) in the 1848 novel Vanity Fair.

Eventually, the store passed down to Frank's youngest son, Frank Jr., and was family-run for over 100 years, when it was finally closed down in 1981 by my father-in-law's cousin, Arnold Bezold.

My father-in-law (Gene) and I visited the store ten years later in 1991. The storefront was weathered and shuttered shut, while the interior was doubling as barn storage. But the antique counters and displays were still present, reminiscent of a bygone era.

The store sat dormant for many many years, until 2009 when a local farmers group created an annual event called the Campbell County Backroads Farm Tour. It's purpose is "to educate the public about the importance of farming by showcasing the rich heritage that our farmers have nurtured for many generations." Sixteen Campbell County farms opened their gates to the general public to spend one day (rain or shine) in the country.

The old Bezold store got a good cleaning and a new coat of paint, and opened one day a year to the public. Mostly, the store served as a museum background, while Arnold sold honey from his beekeeping business that he started in 1985. The old farm which was once 12 hours from town by horse, then 2 hours by truck, was now a 30 minute jaunt by car, thanks to the modern highway system. The following year in 2010, over 2500 people took part in the free self-guided car tour of Campbell County farms, and Arnold received over 1000 visitors that day.

My niece and father-in-law took the tour in 2011, bringing back lots of pictures to share with the family. I had hoped to go on the 2012 tour, but Arnold's advanced age and failing health caused him to drop out that year.

But I'm not here to talk about any of that. What I really wanted to talk about are some genealogical treasures I recently discovered.....


Addie Hoyt Fargo 1901 Murder Mystery

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"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance." - George Bernard Shaw