Bullitt County History

Camping at Paroquet Springs in 1887

In the summer of 1887, a group of mostly young adults from Louisville decided to have a two-week holiday in the country. They chose the former site of the old Paroquet Springs spa for its location nearby. At the close of their trip, one of them wrote an report for the newspaper detailing it.

That report provides us with a picture of the condition of the spa grounds at that time, and mentions in passing some of the local folks with whom they interacted. It is transcribed below.


A Louisville Party In Camp at the Famous Old Summer Resort.

How Life Is Enjoyed and Time Made to Fly In the Cool Spots of Bullitt County.

[Correspondence of the Courier-Journal.]

CAMP HAMILTON, PAROQUET SPRINGS, July 29. - Noon, July 14, was sufficiently torrid to render more than agreeable the prospect of a flight from Louisville, and as our party organized at the L. and N. depot, each new-comer was greeted with "Whew! Aren't you glad you're going?" Two of "the boys" (camp lingo) had preceded us by a day to open the boxes and installed servants. Perhaps, for the benefit of those "similarly inclined," it may be of interest if I mention the contents of the aforesaid boxes and some of our preliminary arrangements. As to locating our camp, it was necessary - since some of our gallants could not count upon total holiday for several weeks - to choose some place accessible to Louisville. Also - some of the party objecting to outright tenting - a place where other shelter could be found if necessary. We must be near water, too, for boating and fishing, as well as necessities, and we must be in real country.

All these requirements were met by the former site of Paroquet Springs in Bullitt county. Less than a mile from the little town of Shepherdsville, four in and out trains daily, it allows the gentlemen who find business imperative to go to town twice, thrice (or six times) a week at 7:30 or 9:15 in the morning, returning at 4, 4:40, or later. When the Paroquet Hotel was destroyed by fire, some ten or twelve years since, the Bachelors' Hall remained standing; and although time and weather have wrought upon it, a number of its forty rooms are still sufficiently habitable for our purpose. Its long disuse has allowed the originally sylvan spot to become sufficiently wild for the romantically-inclined, and Salt river is literally within stonethrow of camp. The sulphur well is in order and several good springs of clear water.

The lower floor of the house, built in cruciform design [cross-shaped], was cleared and swept for our use, and several tents, one of which, with raised sides, served as dining-hall, dotted here and there in close proximity. A couple of row-boats, chained to a wharf constructed by the boys, and a stout house and Jersey wagon, promise other modes of locomotion besides those provided by nature to each individual.

So much for our foundation, so to speak.

For our furnishings the Fair was raided: Cots, to be returned at half-price; a campstool for each; several camp rockers; colored paper lanterns; tin wash-basins; cooking utensils (we rented a stove from Shepherdsville); tableware consisting of delft plates, tin cups for tea or coffee; glass butter bowls and sugar bowls, with tops to circumvent flies; kitchen knives and forks, stamped spoons (ten and fifteen cents per dozen); tumblers, blue and yellow (twenty-five cents per dozen) and several platters. These were the public furniture. Individual baggage meant one comfort or blanket, as preferred, one pillow and two slips (no sheets), two towels, comb and brush, clothes brush, portable mirror, cake of soap, plus a couple of readable books. For the girls a bit of fancy work; for the men guns, rods, etc. Clothing meant - in a valise or small trunk - underwear ad libitum, one pair of shoes, generally tennis shoes, for the ladies a flannel dress, a gingham, a wrapper or dressing-sack and one plain, thin dress. For the men two flannel shirts, stout trousers and a "biled shirt" and collar, to be worn only when enroute to Louisville. All have broad-brimmed "jimmies," and in most cases a worsted or knitted cap for evening wear, boating, etc. Bathing suits for those who intended emulating the fish.

Hammocks, croquet set, gobaug [goban?] board, various games, a couple of small music boxes, French harps and a guitar, also formed part of our accoutrements.

Our groceries, canned goods, such as sardines, etc., also came from Louisville.

One o'clock saw us off; as gay a party as ever left First and Water. Past familiar landmarks, on through the part, and on until we run into rain. Even this does not damp our spirits; and the fact that we reach Shepherdsville during a brisk pour but added to our hilarity. The wagon is there to meet us, and several trips transfer the entire party to the camp, and then for several hours a hubbub reigns, while each cot, stool and trunk (or rather each pair) finds its destined room and owners. A strip of cambric across the lower part of the windows, and several feet of the doors; a board, resting with one edge on the window-sill, to serve as a wash-stand; a row of nails in the wall, on which to hang clothing; a rough shelf at one side of the room, put up by the young men, is intended to hold toilet articles, candles, etc. You may imagine it does not take long to "furnish" the rooms. One apartment has been dubbed "the drawing-room" - for use on expected rainy days. Here a drugget [a coarse fabric used for floor coverings] spreads the center of the floor; a roughly-made table, covered with pink cambric, is loaded with books, games, writing materials, pipes, tobacco, etc., while green boughs deck the walls, and between hand guns, guitar, game-bags, saw, water-proof boots, hatchets, a huge picture calendar; and in one corner stands the tripod and camera. Mixy? Well, yes; but very comfortable. For once in their lives I'm sure the men find the arrangement of their belongings to their liking, for has not Kentucky many a time and oft requested me just to "leave his things where he'd had 'em," even though that would mean, ere long, a pile of boots, letters, cravats, clothes and pipes in the middle of our chamber floor?

I must mention that upon the doors of our rooms was festively scrawled the cognomen by which each is known in camp life. One door bears "The Dragon" (chaperone), and "Grand Mogul." Another - late Jack Tar, and one of the jolliest fellows among the lot is "First Lord of the Admirality." Mrs. G. and her school-girl daughter have "The Two Extremes," and there are "Brownie" and "The Fairy," and "L.D.," etc.

What do we do? What don't we? Hunt, fish, boat, drive, walk, spoon, sing; and so on and on. Several times a nice mess of fish has graced our table, but for a few minutes only. Wallace McDowell brought in a very pretty four-and-a-half pound perch, and eels induce various expressions of delight or repugnance. Much of the scenery along Salt river and Floyd's Fork just above us is very picturesque; and the drives in this vicinity are beautiful. Soon after our arrival a wagon-load of campers set out, and ere long discovered a most beautiful road which wound up hill and down, through forest, over stream, and so pleased were they that from a native passer-by they begged the name. As understood it excited their wonder and struck their sense of humor, so that references to the "Bully slick road" were constant. Judge of the peals of laughter, when, a few days since, a resident of the vicinity corrected their pronunciation to "Bullitt's Lick." The error had been an honest one, however, and to us, doubtless, it will always be the "Bully slick road."

There are many strolls to the sulphur spring, though some of the visitors do not like the water; even for them it makes an objective point. A favorite walk is to the "Lone Grave," which is doubtless remembered by many frequenters of old Paroquet Springs. It is but a few hundred yards from the house, and the route - across a brook and up a gently rising hill, all dusky shade and murmuring leaves - is very pretty. The story goes that half a century since (when Paroquet was a great resort for Southern people) the owner of this place had a lovely daughter, who here met and loved a young Kentuckian. Under a certain tree on the neighboring knoll they whispered love and dreamed of happy days to come. In the autumn came separation, and, with the falling leaves their bright hopes were forever shattered. The young girl was taken to her far Southern home, and ere the summer came again, yielding to the solicitations and prayers of her parents, she wedded a man to whom her heart could never pay allegiance. A year or so found her upon the verge of another world, and her last wish was, that in a nameless grave, shaded by the tree that had tenderly sheltered the lovers in bygone days, she might lie upon the hillside at Paroquette. And so they brought her back. No stone marks the spot. Only a tiny plot, six feet by two, inclosed by an iron railing, the ground a mass of myrtle, serves as a rendezvous for tender hearts; and numberless times has the story been told, and many times I doubt not has troth been plighted here. Not many days since we met here Capt. Heady, who, in '46, helped lay the broken heart in the lone grave.

To turn to more live matters; we were quite roused last week by the announcement that Mr. Carlisle was to speak on our grounds, and all Bullitt county was on the qui vive. We, too, were much interested, for many of us who had read of the great statesman, but not heard him, considered this our great opportunity. Then, too, we hoped to have him take a camp supper with us, and, beside, the occasion would, of course, bring to the grounds people from miles around, many of whom were old friends of Kentucky's and mine. Great was our disappointment when we received the announcement of Mr. Carlisle's indisposition. [John G. Carlisle was Speaker of the United States House of Representatives at that time.]

The questions of the day were descanted upon by others, however, at the court-house in Shepherdsville. One of the "questions of the day" was impressed upon us a day or so since. Bullitt, you are aware, is a strictly Prohibition country. This we knew. But when one of the young ladies who curls her hair upon a heated metallic comb found that the alcohol with which she feeds her curler-lamp was exhausted, we of course sent the bottle to the Shepherdsville drug-store. Would it be credited that the druggist declined to sell alcohol for the lamp, upon the plea of prohibition? Greatly chagrined, the messengers wondered "what -- would do," but soon consoled themselves by making the failure serve for one of the countless jokes that fly about the camp. The bottle wsa filled with clear water (fortunately the label was still on and enough alcohol lingered about the cork to assist the illusion). The young lady's money was duly accepted, and at dressing time in the afternoon the hall served as a gathering-place for listeners. They were rewarded. Scratch, scratch, followed by sounds of surprise as the lamp (filled with water) declined to light. Soon came calls for some one to bring more matches; and so it went on, till the discovery was made, and then it was a bit surprising to see (in the prohibition county) how many offered "Nelson County" as a substitute for alcohol. The girls got curled, though.

Almost every day some of the gentlemen have to run in to town, and, of course, the girls must then go to the Shepherdsville depot to welcome them back in the evening. Saturday always brings all, and extras. Mr. Phil. Allison rides down on his bicycle, while his father (of the Second National Bank) comes in more dignified style, but apparently enjoys it no less. Mr. Campbell is a great addition to our musicales, singing very sweetly in German as well as United States. Mr. Coats has taken a number of fine photos, which are in great demand. On Saturday last came by mail the inclosed. We prepared. The "neighbors" have been most hospitable. Mr. and Mrs. John Sneed, and Mrs. Henry Hamilton, who are just across the river, have been delightfully sociable. Mr. Simmons and family (the owners) are kindness itself, and those who know the county, the name of Brooks, Summers, Wilson and others are synonymous with hospitality and good cheer. For next Saturday night we have en tapis a hayride to Brooks' Station, where moonlight, merriment and watermelons promise a gay time.

[John L. Sneed married Sophronia Lee on 18 Oct 1882. She was a daughter of Charles and Letitia (Simmons) Lee. John Sneed, who died in 1918 at his Bullitt County home, had been county chairman of the Bullitt County Democratic Campaign Committee, and a deputy internal revenue collector. Sophronia died on 30 May 1892. Mrs. Henry Hamilton was Malvina (Lee) Hamilton, widow of Henry Crist Hamilton, and sister of Sophronia (Lee) Sneed.]

On Monday, alas! alas! we break camp, and I doubt not that for the rest of the summer at least in our thoughts and longings will often return here. Though many of the days have, of course, been heated, we've had almost a constant breeze, and every night is so cool we have to cover with a blanket for comfort. Indeed, as one of "the boys" remarks, "We find every morning there's ice on top of the water" (in the glasses).

Our roll-call numbers Mrs. and Miss Unadilla Gazlay, the Misses Mary Watts Brown of Frankfort; Jean Wright and Annie Temple; Mr. and Mrs. W. Gazlay Hamilton, Messrs. Theo. Burnett, Dan Summers, Pepice Forwood, Reginald Gazlay, Monroe and Philip Allison, Archie Robinson, Tom Donnigan, Charlie Campbell, Chas. Coats, Wallace McDowell, Charles Shields and Mr. George S. Allison.

Below is a bit more information about the members of this social gathering.

Mrs. and Miss Unadilla Gazlay: Mrs. Gazlay was Sallie (Wheeler) Gazlay, wife of Addison Mandel Gazlay. Unadilla was their youngest daughter, born 11 May 1872. Addison Mandel Gazlay was a prominent Louisville lawyer.

Miss Mary Watts Brown: A daughter of Orlando and Elizabeth (Hord) Brown, Mary was born 7 Nov 1868 and died 25 Oct 1946. She never married. Orlando Brown was a Frankfort lawyer.

Miss Jean Wright: A daughter of Major J. Montgomery and Nellie Butler (Ewing) Wright; she was born in January 1867, married Frank Swope in 1899, and died in 1916. Major Wright, a lawyer, was named Marshal of the United States Supreme Court in 1888.

Miss Annie Temple: A daughter of John B. and Blandina (Brodhead) Temple, was born in August 1864 and died in California in June 1952. She never married. Her father, John Temple was the president of a life insurance company in 1880.

William Gazlay Hamilton, a real estate agent, was born 10 May 1845 and died 7 Sep 1912. He was married to Sallie Gazlay, daughter of Addison and Sallie (Wheeler) Gazlay. She was born 14 Mar 1858 and died 7 Mar 1928.

Theodore L. Burnett, Jr. was a son of Theodore LeGrand Burnett, Sr. and Elizabeth Shelby (Gilbert) Burnett. He was born in 1862 and died in 1895. Theodore Jr. would become a doctor; his father was a lawyer, and a judge.

Dan Summers was likely the son of Edwin Harrison Summers, and grandson of Noah C. Summers, a long-time Bullitt County Court Clerk. Dan's mother was Sophronia (Brannin) Summers. By 1900, Dan was an accountant and bookkeeper in a Louisville bank. He died of drowning in September 1909.

Pepice Forwood was possibility a son of William Harlan Forwood by his first wife, Elizabeth (Kelly) Forwood. I suspect that "Pepice" was a nickname, and could possibility be one of the following: Griffin, William, Clinton, or Lee Forwood.

Reginald Gazlay was a brother of Unadilla Gazlay, mentioned earlier. He had moved to New York, and was boating off Massachusetts when he drowned in 1893.

George Monroe Allison and Philip E. Allison were sons of George S. and Mary Ann "Mimmie" (Pinckard) Allison. Monroe spent much of his life selling and repairing bicycles at his business. A founding member of the Louisville Cycling Club, Monroe died of consumption in 1897. His brother Philip continued the business and later went into real estate. He died in Dade County, Florida in 1936.

Their father, George Samuel Allison was born in 1830, a son of John and Mary Monroe (Edwards) Allison. He was in the banking business most of his life. He died in 1912.

Archibald Magill "Archie" Robinson was born in 1857 to Richard and Liza (Pettet) Robinson. His father was a wholesale drug dealer in Louisville. Archie died in 1931.

Thomas Coleman Donnigan, son of Peter and Margaret Donnigan, was a cashier for the Louisville City Railway. He died in 1893 of an appendicitis.

I am uncertain of the identity of Charlie Campbell.

Charles Coats is likely Charles Robert Coats, an Englishman born in 1856, who became an architect in Louisville who died in 1920.

William Wallace McDowell was born in 1868 to William Preston and Kate Goldsboro McDowell. He died in 1946 after a life working in insurance.

The Charles Shields listed is likely Charles Hansford Shield who was born in 1857 in Virginia to the Rev. Charles Hansford and Jane (Barton) Shield. After graduating from the University of Virginia, he came to Louisville and associated himself with Thomas Bullitt's law firm. He died in 1915.

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The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday appointments are available by calling 502-921-0161 during our regular weekday hours. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 12 Jan 2024 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/paroquet-1887.html