January 30, 2014

Traces of Laurel: C.N. Scoville

By Jan Sparkman

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Before I write about C.N. Scoville, here’s a brief update on W.R. Ramsey from last week’s column, thanks to my friend and co-worker at the historical society, Renee Beets.

W.R. Ramsey (son of the elder W.R. Ramsey) was married ca. 1903 to Edwina Adams of Danville, Ky.  They lived in London for a time but later moved to Colorado and then to California, eventually moving to Seattle, Washington, where W.R. died ca. 1938.


Farmer, merchant and political figure C.N. Scoville was born in Laurel County in 1852, the son of Hector H. Scoville who served as Captain in Co. A of the 24th Kentucky Infantry (a unit organized in Laurel County) during the Civil War.

Writing about C.N. Scoville in 1895, Charles Kellogg said:  “Mr. C. N. Scoville . . . secured his education in Laurel Seminary, of which institute he is a graduate, having attended that institution when it was in its palmy days.”  (I don’t know what “palmy” means but I’m guessing it’s similar to “hey day.”)

Kellogg continues:  “In 1869 he concluded to go west, and located in Johnson County, Kansas, where he went into the general merchandise business, where he remained for a few years, when, tiring of that part of the country he concluded to return to Kentucky, and again located in Laurel County.”

In 1882 C.N. Scoville was elected sheriff of Laurel County and then re-elected two years later.  Russell Dyche in “Laurel County History” wrote that Scoville also ran a grocery and confectionery at this time. 

“After resting on his laurels for some time,” writes Kellogg, “Mr. Scoville, at the solicitation of friends, became a candidate for County Clerk, to which office he was elected by a large majority for a term of four years.  At the election in 1894 he was again elected for another term of four years, this time by a unanimous vote, the Democratic party not caring to put up a man in opposition to him.”

Scoville also ran a hack line from London to Rockcastle Springs, a popular resort on the Rockcastle River.  Kellogg describes it as being “situated . . . in among the hills, and the scenery surrounding it is of the grandest order.  The hacks Mr. Scoville runs between here and the springs are all new and are first-class in every respect, and his drivers are all courteous and gentlemanly fellows, giving their passengers every attention to make their trip a pleasant one.”

Indeed, Scoville seems to have been state and community minded throughout his life.  Thomas D. Clark in his “A History of Laurel County, Kentucky,” lauds Scoville for his “enlightened observations in an era of wanton destruction of precious natural resources” after quoting from writing by Scoville in the “10th Annual Report of the Kentucky Bureau of Agriculture, pp. 88, 1890.”  Scoville had written:  “Only about one-fourth, or twenty-five per cent, of the original forest or woodland area of the county still remains.  No effort has been made to prevent the unnecessary destruction of forests, none to check or control the indiscriminate cutting of timber, and no steps have been taken to renew forests where wholly or partially destroyed.”

Scoville was also into the Star Route mail business, as were so many Laurel County men of that day, he was active in an organization called Sons of Veterans, and he was always in the center of the political activity of the county.  There is, of course, more to be said about this Laurel County pioneer than this space permits.

C.N. Scoville was married to Maggie Pearl in 1875 and, after her death, to Minnie Brown.  He died in 1933 and is buried at A. R. Dyche Cemetery.


The Laurel County Historical Society is located at 310 W. 3rd St., London, (formerly the Laurel County Health Department).  The library is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 12 noon.    Visit the historical society’s website at