Faye Jones has a unique moniker to place on her native south Graves County community of Lynnville. She affectionately calls it "The Little Town That Won't Die."
Lynnville, Jones explained, had been part of the Black Patch Wars in the early 1900s, and the town -- located around the intersection of Ky. 94 and 381 -- was burned down twice in 1903 and 1911.
But all those tragic occurrences couldn't keep the community down. Its residents were able to regroup and rebuild.
While the Lynnville of 2020 is far different than those days of Canter's Mercantile, Howard's Dry Goods and Hale House hotel and stagecoach stop, Jones, who is 68, and several fellow residents are passionate about keeping the town's history alive and celebrating its past.
That's why she and a group meet the third Monday of each month in the fellowship area of the House of Worship on Ky. 94 to discuss and plan a 200-year celebration for Lynnville this year.
Jones said through her research, Lynnville's earliest residents settled what was called Eaker's Settlement prior to Graves County's actual formation and its naming in 1823.
"I'm like, 'Come on people! Lynnville's going to be 200 years old!'," she said. "What's not to be excited about? I'm excited!"
Her work began in August to gather information to secure a historic marker for Lynnville through the Kentucky Historical Society. Jones said the society's committee determined she had more information than needed and requested her focus be on two fires that destroyed the town of around 200 residents and re-submit her information by March.
That's what prompted her to think of Lynnville as being "The Little Town That Won't Die."
"It wiped Lynnville out," Jones said. "It burned every building in the community and they rebuilt."
An account from a July 25, 1903, Louisville Courier Journal article with a headline of "SWEPT" estimated the loss of the "business part of town" to be approximately $12,000. The article states the fire originated in a store and that James Longmire's dry goods business, Newhouse and Company groceries, M.L. Wilson's general store, Top Easley's blacksmith shop, and two houses W.H. Howard owned were all destroyed in the blaze.
"W.H. Newhouse is the postmaster and everything pertaining to the office was destroyed, and nothing remains but the postmaster himself," the article declared.
It added that the disaster appeared to be arson and residents were searching for the culprit.
"The people are very much incensed over the fire," the article concluded. "'The country is being thoroughly scoured for the guilty person and it is feared trouble will take place in that part of the country before daylight tomorrow morning.' "
If the Kentucky Historical Society approves Lynnville as a historic site, Jones and the 200th birthday group would have a couple of months to raise the approximate $2,000 for an actual marker.
Jones' roots run deep in Lynnville. Her mother, she said, can remember a pool hall and tavern there, as well as the boarding house where a stagecoach stopped. Jones also operates the Once Ours, Now Yours Community Resale and Looking Back Museum across from the Dollar General store along Ky. 94, and hopes to transform some of the rooms into replicas of a late 1800s or early 1900s doctor's office, schoolroom or jail.
The east side of her store features a mural of Lynnville and lists neighboring communities like Boyd's Crossing, Cuba, Dukedom, Bell City, Boydsville, Tri City, Sedalia, Pilot Oak and Fairbanks. She would like to eventually do a similar mural of faces of community founders on the west side of her store.
As for now, she is trying to drum more interest and information for the marker project and also for a 200th celebration "Founder's Day" this year, especially from local and surrounding church congregations to locate some prior Lynnville residents who have moved.
One Lynnville descendant who lives in New Mexico, Bruce Wilson, had returned to Graves County, according to an article in the Aug. 18, 2016, Mayfield Messenger, and wrote a fictional historic novel, "Death in the Black Patch," about a farmer caught up in the tobacco war.
"Wouldn't it be cool to have them come from Texas or California and say we're celebrating our community because your family was the first family who came here," Jones said. "I'd like to make this a really big wing-ding."
But Jones' hope isn't just to recognize Lynnville but be a spark to ignite interest among Graves County's other communities and their own unique histories.
"That's my goal is for Symsonia, Sedalia, Wingo, Lowes and all of them ... our grandparents and great-grandparents are buried here. We have old cemetery days and talk about the old times and what families struggled through," she said.
"Our children and grandchildren don't know what struggle is," Jones added. "My deal is to celebrate the struggles they went through and that they persevered."
Eric Walker is news editor of The Mayfield Messenger. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-804-4607.