Many early pioneers had been attracted to the Allen County area for a number of reasons - the many streams which flowed across the county, the fertile soil, abundant timber, wild game, water supplies from many springs, and the favorable location. It is believed that the first settlements were made north and east of Scottsville about 1797.
A Kentucky legislative enactment, dated January 11, 1815, provided the necessary legal action for the establishment of Allen County, Kentucky's 57th county. Earlier some of the more influential citizens of southern Warren and Barren counties had petitioned their representatives in the legislature for the formation of a new county. The new county was named in honor of Lt. Col. John Allen who had been killed in the battle at Raisin Hill during the War of 1812.
Two locations were considered for establishing a county seat. One was on the land of Willis Mitchell where the first court met and the approximate center of the county. The other, and the one chosen, was located about four miles southeast and near a large spring (later called Public Spring). At its next meeting the court authorized the purchase of 100 acres of land from John Brown of Bays Fork for the price of two dollars per acre. The 100 acres were laid off in "lotts" and sold for the purpose of raising money with which to build a courthouse.
The new county seat was laid out in 1816 and named "Scottville" after Governor Charles Scott, fourth governor of Kentucky. This was the name used by the Kentucky Legislature and in the early records until the Post Office Department in Washington erroneously recorded the new post office as "Scottsville." Gradually, this replaced the original name.
As people moved into a new area and established homes there they felt the need for the church and God in their lives. At first circuit riders went from place to place preaching to the people in their homes and in shady groves.
Probably the oldest constituted church in Allen County was of the Baptist faith and known as Difficult Church (later changed to Bethlehem Church). It was located three miles from Scottsville on the old road to Glasgow near the headwaters of the Big Difficult Creek. The log church was built in 1792, and formally constituted January 27, 1801. According to church records meetings have been held regularly there since 1801 on the second Sunday and the Saturday preceding with one exception. In 1862 the clerk wrote, "There was no meeting at Bethlehem on the second Sunday in November owing to the army passing down the pike and the house having sick soldiers in it."
The oldest Methodist churches in Allen County for which we have records are Old Buck Creek (1806) and Stony Point (1807) churches. In 1805 a Methodist Circuit Rider, Rev. Lorenzo Dowell, passed through the Buck Creek Community and expressed a desire to hold a revival there the next year. In 1806 a brush arbor, a pulpit, and crude seats were built and on the day the revival was to start people came from miles around. Rev. Dowell arrived five minutes late, walked to the pulpit, took his knife out, stuck it into a tree, hung his hat on the knife and started to preach. They had a great revival and as a result the Buck Creek Methodist Church was organized.
During the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s there was a great religious awakening in America. Many revivals were held and religious fervor ran high. One of these meetings was held in a grove of trees on the Holland Road just outside the city limits of Scottsville. Services were held three times a day for a period of three weeks. It is estimated that around one thousand people attended the night sessions and around five hundred people were converted. After the closing of the revival the land on which the tent had been erected was purchased by the city and a large building, known as the Tabernacle, was constructed there to be used for public worship. Many revivals have been held there by various denominations, but none of them have equaled the one of 1900.
The first store built in Scottsville was the Lockhart Kenadary Store located on the south corner of East Main and Public Square.
As Scottsville grew, so did the retail business. One of the first businesses located in the city was Jennie Mulligan’s Millinery and Notion Shop on the north side of the square. Miss Jennie, who came from Ireland, was considered an authority on ladies’ fashion. Other business located on this side of the square included O. S. Bryant General Store, the law office of Bishop Huntsman, the Settle and Welch Building, Rice Hendrix Drug Store, and the Gilbert Mulligan Law Firm & Picture Gallery which was operated by Alfred Settle.
Scottsville’s first drug store was opened in 1875 by T. and T. J. Carpenter and was known as Carpenter Drug Company. In 1910 another drug store, S. J. Lovelace Company, was opened on the south side of the Square. It contained the city’s first soda fountain and the first “soda jerker” was Thomas W. Crow, Sr.
IIn 1886 the first railroad, connecting Scottsville with Gallatin, Tennessee, was built. It was used for shipping out lumber, spokes, staves, cross ties and other timber products.
In 1939, a business began in Scottsville with two investors each contributing $5,000. These investors were J.L. Turner and Cal Turner, Sr.
This investment converted Turner Bargain Stores into J.L. Turner and Son Wholesale Company. More stores were opened in the region and in 1955, one of the stores was converted into the first Dollar General Store in Springfield, Illinois, with no item in the store being over $1.
Today, the Dollar General Corporation owns over 12,500 stores across the country, selling hundreds of name brand products, as well as their own brands. Though the company’s headquarters is not located in Allen County, it is amazing to think that this nationwide corporation was founded in Scottsville, Kentucky, in the heart of Allen County.
The first house built in Scottsville was occupied by James Scott.
Scottsville’s first postmaster was Mr. Jackson Richey.
The first telephone switch board was in the home of E. Scott Brown. His wife was the operator. The first telephone was in the Settle & Welch Jewelry Store.
Mr. J. W. Boyd drove the first car into Scottsville.
The first, and for a while the only, beauty operator in Scottsville was Mrs. Bob Briley. She took her services to the customer’s home.
The first electricity in Scottsville was generated with steam from a sawmill owned by J. D. Read.
The Meredith Infirmary was Scottsville’s first hospital. It was opened in 1908 by Dr. W. E. and Dr. H. M. Meredith.