January 29, 1903
Who Lived In Livingston County Long Years Ago.
MEMORIES OF OLD SMITHLAND.
In the early history of Smithland O. T. Williams removed here. He was a mechanic and an inventor. At that date there were not those floating palaces now used in raising sunken vessels, and many palatial steamers became a total loss. Williams invented and patented a machine that would with a small expense raise the largest sunken vessel. It consisted of metallic tubes in shape of a cigar. The tubes were fastened together with a chain, and when in operation were sunk on each side of the sunken vessel, connected by a chain under the boan [boat]. Air was then pumped into the tubes which caused them to rise to the surface drawing the sunken vessel up with them. Williams did not realize much from his valuable invention before the civil war came up and his patent was adopted by the government without remuneration to the inventor.
Later, Williams invented the shingle machine and secured a patent. Shingles were at that time by hand.
The machine was soon in general use and the inventor realized considerable money out of it; Williams lived to a ripe old age.
James Bryant was another character who figured conspicuously in the early history of Smithland. He was a noted turfman. When he came hear [sic] he bought a large tract of land adjoining the town, and built one of the best race tracks in the country. It was a mile track. Large stables were erected, and all the buildings for the accommodation of the thousands of people who attended. Bryant was known all over the country and his race course was patronized by the leading horsemen from every section of the United States. All the noted race horses of that day were brought to his stables every season, and thousands of dollars changed hands on every race. Bryant sold out and went to California, where he engaged in the same business and made a fortune.
On one occasion while here he was challenged for a duel. He selected Bowie knives as the weapons and to fight in a pen 10 feet square. The day was set and Bryant was there on time, but his adversary failed to put in his appearance.
Bryant is remembered by all the octogenarians of our county.--Smithland Courier.
Source: Crittenden Press. (Marion, Ky.) 1879-1907, January 29, 1903, Image 2 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.
[My comments are in brackets.]