Special to the Tribune-Courier
Shortly after the Civil War, James Harvey Ivey opened a general store in southwestern Marshall County, between Brewers and Benton. A post office soon followed and a community grew up around them.
The community took Ivey’s middle name for its own: Harvey.
According to “The History of Marshall County, Kentucky,” published in 1984, the Ivey store was very successful and merchandise was hauled from Paducah on a two-horse wagon two times a week. It generally took two days to make the trip to Paducah and back.
Following the death of Mr. Ivey in 1909, the store closed, but the community continued to flourish. The old store building was eventually torn down and the bricks were re-used in the construction of many of the buildings along the court square in Benton. Many of these same buildings still stand and are in use today.
Wiley Waller was another prominent figure in the early days of Harvey and served the area as magistrate for many years.
Waller was a veteran of the War of 1812 and settled near the community of Harvey in a section known as Flatwoods around 1837. Waller was elected state representative of Marshall and Lyon counties in 1857 on the Whig ticket.
When the War Between the States began in 1861, Waller became a vocal supporter of the Union cause and was instrumental in keeping the Harvey community firmly behind the Union. After Democratic State Rep. Jesse Gilbert was expelled in 1862 for his ties with the Confederacy, Waller was chosen to take his place and served until the end of the war.
After the war, Waller became one of the primary organizers of the Republican Party in Marshall County and was a delegate to the 1872 Republican National Convention. Waller passed away in 1885.
Dr. Edmund Thomas, a rural country doctor, settled in Harvey in the 1870s and was well respected throughout Marshall County.
Thomas recalled in his memoirs written in the 1920s: “I was aiming to stay there [Harvey] for a year to rub off some of the green and then go somewhere else. But I am still rubbing off the green and have never lived anywhere else and don’t want to.”
It has been said that Dr. Thomas delivered a majority of the babies born in southwestern Marshall County in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dr. Thomas died in 1933.
Harvey is the home of two of the oldest churches in the county. New Bethel Baptist Church held its first meeting in 1844 and many prominent preachers preached here through the years, including Bro. J.J. Gough and Bro. L.V. Henson.
Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church was organized in the summer of 1856 when 12 members built a log structure near the Waller Cemetery.
By 1879, the church moved to its present location on Wadesboro Road South, and in 1900, a semi-gothic style building was constructed with masonry blocks which were handmade at nearby Solder Creek. On Sunday, Nov. 11, 1911, a tornado took the roof and upper structure of the building. The present building was constructed in 1948 and is still in use.
Barnes Grocery opened after World War II when John Ed Barnes left the Standard Oil station in Benton and purchased a building from Howard Lee Rose.
Carl Darnall grew up in the Harvey community on Houser Road and remembers Barnes’ Grocery being the center of life in the Harvey community.
“John Ed Barnes was one of the biggest sellers of case knives in this area,” Darnall remembered. “People would come from miles around to buy Case knives there and one time one of the top people in the Case Knife Company came down to Barnes Grocery just to see where so many of their knives were being sold.”
It wasn’t only knives that were being purchased.
“Barnes Grocery sold everything,” Darnall said. “From cattle feed to nails and all kinds of groceries. He also had a garage where he serviced cars and when he wasn’t using the garage he would let anyone in the community use it. Many times Daddy and I would go in there and change a flat tire on the farm equipment.”
Those simple times had some drawbacks.
“There wasn’t electricity down our road until the late 1940s,” Darnall recalled. “I also remember any time Mama wanted to make a long distance phone call to relatives in Detroit, we went to Linn Funeral Home in Benton to do it.”
As in other rural areas in the county, roads were poor in Harvey with only gravel surfacing the main thoroughfares. In 1963, Barnes and Fields McGregor spearheaded a movement in the community to get the main roads blacktopped.
They enlisted the support of State Rep. Shelby McCallum and made a trip to Frankfort to talk to Edward “Ned” Breathitt who was running for governor that year. Breathitt committed himself to paving Wadesboro Road and Jackson School Road in Harvey if he was elected. “We promised to support him for governor and he was later elected and the roads got paved,” Barnes said in a 1977 oral history interview with Dr. Ray Mofield.
The intersection of Wadesboro Road (Ky. 1949) and Mayfield Highway (Ky. 58) is much less busy nowadays. The Barnes’ Grocery building still stands, but is vacant. A satellite refuse station is behind the former general store with rows of green painted steel dumpsters.
But the Methodist church is still active on the opposite corner, and just down the road the Harvey-Brewers Volunteer Fire Dept. is ready to respond to emergencies.
People and establishments have come and gone, but the memories of Harvey live on.