This week, I cover the Cobb’s and Basin ferries.
Cobb’s Ferry was anywhere between 1 1⁄2 to three miles above Calhoun on the Green River — depending on which article you read — along the “Island and Rumsey road.” A ferry was established in 1906 on land owned by R.L. Yewell, who maintained the ferry until 1908, when he sold his property and the ferry franchise to Sam Glenn and Walker Glenn. Sam bought out Walker Glenn, and in 1913 Sam Glenn sold the land and the ferry franchise to W.H. Cobb, and the ferry was thereafter known as Cobb’s Ferry. In Jan. 1925 it was reported that Mr. T.J. Lynn, “a prosperous farmer of the Rumsey vicinity,” had purchased Cobb’s Ferry, which had been operated by Shorty Riggs, from the heirs of W.H. Cobb. A July 16, 1926, article had this to say about the ferry, “Cobb’s ferry, which is a small ferry located about two miles above the Calhoun-Rumsey ferry, operates at one-half cost (of) the Calhoun ferry. This traffic would also largely go to the bridge contemplated for Green river at Calhoun.”
A tragedy occurred on July 13, 1923, when Mrs. G.C. (Nealie) King, 25, and her 8-year-old daughter, Vivian, drowned by Cobb’s Ferry. “Vivian attempted to wade out in the river, when suddenly she went beyond her depth.” Mrs. King tried to rescue her little girl, but both lost their lives. Mr. King, the ferryman at Cobb’s Ferry, was engaged in his work only a short distance away, and by the time someone ran for Mr. King and they both returned it was too late. Surviving, besides Mr. King, was a 6-year-old daughter, Marie. In the Nov. 4, 1930, Owensboro Messenger, a tragedy was averted: Two Owensboro youths “had a narrow escape from drowning … when their automobile went into Green river at Cobb’s ferry, three miles east of Calhoun. The youths were able to swim to shore. Their car was pulled from the water.”
Hwy 138 was and is still known, also, as the Basin Road. In the Basin News of Sept. 14, 1905, Mr. and Mrs. J.O. Reynolds of Basin entertained with a dinner that Sunday, and that evening they and their guests “attended interesting services, conducted by the Rev. E.B. Farrar, at his tent situated near the Basin ferry.”
Malcolm Watkins, who worked on the Green River 37 years, said, in 1985, that one of the deepest parts of the Green River he knew of was near the Old Basin Ferry, located at mile 68, five miles east of Calhoun. (Mile markers are determined by their distance from the Ohio River). Per museum volunteer Jennie Seymour, the Basin Ferry was located just west of where the Stroud-Levy Road intersects with Hwy 138.
The Basin Ferry also had a tragedy reported. In July 1973, Donald Ray Nall, 33, an Island native, was at a company picnic with his family and other employees of an Owensboro business. The outing was held at the Old Basin Ferry on the south bank of Green River on the Delmas Carter farm. Nall attempted to swim across the river and was within 20 feet of the north bank when he went under. He left a wife and two children.
Per Don Bryant, a McLean County native now living in Daviess County, it is his understanding that some of his kin ran the ferry at the Basin. He also said that his family used to have some chains that were used to cross the river at the Basin. As he put it, “They were essentially worthless because all the links were stretched. Little to none flexibility. We used them for light farm work, and I did not like them. All gone now.”
Those are the memories and reminiscences I like to hear about. It’s McLean County history, after all. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any information on the actual running of the ferries. If anyone has info on who else might have owned or run the Cobb’s and Basin ferries, please let me know.
From an earlier article about the Eastwood Ferry, museum volunteer Kathy Jones said that when the Eastwood Ferry was sold, it was bought by the Zimmerman family of Evansville and was in use for many years. The Zimmermans used it to travel back and forth to Slim Island, KY. They moved their equipment to farm the Island, and as far as Kathy knows, the family still owns Slim Island.
Several people have come into the museum for tours and/or to do research on their family trees. We received a lovely email from Micki McLaughlin, one of a group of four McLaughlins that came in recently from Texas and Utah to research family history. Per Micki, “You were so helpful to pull out all family files, books, census records and anything else you could think of while we were there. There’s nothing like ‘boots on the ground’ research with locals like yourselves who are so familiar with local history and types of sources that we wouldn’t know about and certainly couldn’t find online. We enjoyed the tour of the museum, and are very impressed with what you’re accomplishing there in terms of preservation and research. You were even gracious to provide us with snacks!”
Anita Austill and Jennie Seymour were helping the McLaughlins that day, and I can’t say enough about these two ladies. They definitely know a lot about McLean County families and history, and when they get together, what one doesn’t know, the other one does. They are true assets to the museum, as are all of the volunteers!
Thanks to everyone that continues to donate items to the museum. We have had several donations recently, and we certainly appreciate it! We now have access to deeds and the like at the museum. If you want to research where your family might have had property in McLean County, you can come to the museum and do so. The only cost will be if you want to print or copy anything.
The Treasure House is currently looking for volunteers. If you’re able to volunteer one day a week or one day every couple of weeks, please come in and see Edwina. The Treasure House is located at 530 Main St., Calhoun — right beside the museum. The Museum and Treasure House are open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — the Museum from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the Treasure House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is located at 540 Main St., Calhoun, and our number is (270) 499-5033.
I wish everyone a safe week!