The Mouth of Hurricane


October 2, 1913

 

JOHN WOLFE MUST HAVE BROKEN LOOSE AGAIN

 

The Courier Journal of Sept. 24th, Has Some Secrets Not Known to Many And Says The Following.

 

Down in Crittenden county, round about "the mouth o' Harricane [sic]," the Myrmidour [Myrmidons] of the law are arresting the proprietors of "whiskeyboats," who have been running their floating blind tigers since the saloons at Rosiclaire [sic], on the Illinois shore were lidded.  The fight against the rum demon in Crittenden has been a long, hard, and not always a successful one since reconstruction days.

One of the leading centers of population in Crittenden is Tolu, which set up as a rival of Hurrican[e] post office, about thirty-five years ago, with certain topographical advantages that augured success.  Not the least of these was that the home of Joel Guess which topped a knoll west-southwest of the Devil's Elbow, as a parabolic, rather than diabolic curve in Hurricane Creek was called, was above high water.  The city-to-be was composed of a sawmill, which made corn into meal when not making logs into lumber, and a department store consisting of one department in which staple groceries, stick candy, psrrafine [paraffin] chewing wax, calico, chilled plows, sardines, cove oysters, ear bobs, striped blankets, plow gear, soda crackers and other necessaries and luxuries of life huddled close together under a clapboard roof, and surrounded by a stove nearly as great in circumference as that in the cabin of the Arkansas Belle or the Will S. Hayes.  The stove was surrounded by a circle of nail kegs upon which tillers of the soil, logging men, flatboat men and other constituent elements of the sparse population of a still heavily timbered section of Western Kentucky sat to discuss such public questions as to whether there would be any probability of the re-establishment of slavery in the event of a Democratic President's election and whether mast-fed hogs would be "up" or "down" at Evansville next autumn.

The waning rival of the then unnamed settlement, sometime referred to as Guess' sawmill and sometimes as Weldon's store, known as Hurricane Landing.  The post office store stood upon stilts near the river's brink, where the waters of Hurricane Creek, called "Harricane" locally, and as often as not by the "mud" clerks of the steamers as well as the mates, although of course not by the captains, met the Ohio river under the spreading branches of gnarled sycamores.  The creeks mouth afforded a harbor for storeboats, floating shows and picture galleries as the boys called the tin type boats upon which the artist would put a set ring upon the finger of any patron without extra charge and make it look so natural that nobody who saw the picture could say that the subject never wore a ring when the picture was taken.  A. Raab kept the store at the landing and his name was a popular pun.

When the post office store yielded one dark and stormy night to the upward pressure of a heaving sea during high water and floated out over the river bank, trailing its stilts beneath it, to embark upon a voyage of uncertain termination, it was conceded even by those who had held out for the superiority of the landing as the site of a future city, that the settlement up at the Devil's Elbow had been appointed by fate to wear the laurels.  From that time forward the settlement waxed.

All of this history is told because the good citizens of Crittenden county--and the were many in proportion to the total population--were even then attempting to lay the rum deamon [sic] by the heels.  Before the settlement at Devil's Elbow had been given a name, and when it was going by the bifurcated appellation of Weldon's store and Guess' mill a singularly potent stomach bitters known as "Tolu Tonic" was upon sale there.  The label of the bottles did not violate the law against the sale of "Spirituous, vinuous [sic], or malt liquors" but there was a high-lonesome and headache in each bottle.  So popular did Tolu Tonic become among the bibulously and convivially inclined, and so thriving was the business, done in the commodity that the humorists in the neighborhood began calling the point at which it was obtainable "Tolu."  The jest finally crystallized into a name and that is now official.  The joke upon the law was lithographed forever upon the United States map.  "Tolu" got the post office and became a flourishing little city.  It has always been outwardly dry, but doubtless the oldest inhabitant will admit confidentially that there has always been a nip in sight for the worldly wise either in the form of straight liquor boot-legged or sold on a trading boat or under a winking label as bitters.  It has rarely been necessary to pull a Leavenworth skiff to Rosiclaire [sic] or Elizabethtown in order to buy a quart of tanglefoot.  Since the days when some of the backwoodsmen marveled at the manner in which the first "screw propeller boat" ran up stream without stern wheel or side wheel in sight, and when old hunters brought their long deer rifles down to the bottoms to shoot a strange "varmint" when the first syren [sic] whistle awoke the echoes between Shawneetown and Golconda, the war upon the rum deamon [sic] has been earnestly prosecuted by the sober and thoughtful and lawabiding citizens of Crittenden.  But the blind tiger still lurks in the jungle, the boot-legger still walks abroad and the whiskyboat turns her nose into the "Mouth o' Harricane [sic]" when the lid is put on at Rosiclaire [sic].

And so runs many a story of the persistent attempt of the strong and the good to prevent the weak from indulging in their weaknesses and the wicked from profiting by their wickedness.

 

Source:  Crittenden Record-Press. (Marion, Ky.) 1909-1919, October 2, 1913, Image 7 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.

 

[My comments are in brackets.]