Historical Notes of Reva
Among the early settlers was a man by the name of O. Spencer, a well educated man from Kentucky and a Methodist minister, who had a love of fine horses. He settled on a farm near Rich Hill, where he divided his time between farming and preaching. Later he became engaged in the coal business and began breeding fine race horses. Many of his horses won recognition on the great tracks of the country. He was instrumental in establishing a race track in Rich Hill which became one of the best known tracks in the country.
Mr. Spencer was a good friend of Major G. I. Lynch, who resided in Butler but owned and operated a deep pit mine in Rich Hill. His operation was known as the Bates Coal Company. There was a track running into the mine and the coal was hauled out in coal cars by a small donkey. Mr. Lynch, from Boston, was also a lover of fine horses so the two had much in common. The race track became part of the large fair ground on the east edge of the city.
So that the cultural aspect of the city would not be neglected, a library association was organized and incorporated August 12, 1882. W. T. Tygard was elected President; S. Cain, Secretary; and S. G. Morrison, Librarian. They started with one hundred books. In 1974 the library is still in operation with books and __________________________________ an adequate supply to meet the towns needs but they proved to be disappointing, so he built an artificial gas plant that made enough to light the city. A double row of gas lights with large white globes decorated Park Avenue from the entrance gate on the east park to Park Place on the west. It was a beautiful sight when lit at night and was heralded far and wide as the “Great White Way”. Later, electricity was brought in and the town was a blaze of light!
Ad to those already listed a cigar factory, an ice and refrigeration plant, two wholesale beer houses and a daily newspaper, The Rich Hill Gazzette, which was started August 5, 1880, by George P. Huckeby. It was republican and was started with the promise that a postmaster job would be granted him to assure a living.
Of course, the picture couldn’t be all this rosy. Many of the miners brought in were of foreign descent and great beer drinkers. There were man from Belgium, Austria, Italy, Wales and Ireland. At one time there were seven saloons doing a thriving business. The miners worked hard, drank hard and played a bit rough! It was a wide awake, rootin’ tootin’ western town in the evenings when the miners were in between shifts. On Saturday nights, which was pay day, there was usually a fight or two, with possibly a knifing and occasionally a shooting so a jail house became a necessity. It is still standing, and in use, when necessary. It looks as though it could do a good job of corralling the boistrous and unruly.
It looked so stout and dungeon-like that we asked to view the interior. So several of us ladies were given a personal tour by the present police officer, Lester Fenton. We found it to be swept clean, in fore ways that one. It was scrupulously clean, painted white and very bare! There were four cells with iron gates. One cell contained a stove, another was the toilet room, and two were reserved for prisoners. Each contained a bare bed made of bars and a folded blanket on each. The bull-run, or large room you enter was for any females who might be brought there, and contained two bunks spread with blankets. The small openings called windows, seen in the picture, were hidden by a lowered ceiling, so one could not see the sky, and the walls were of stone, hewed at least eighteen inches to two feet thick. About the only thing any one could do in such confinement would be to repent of ones wicked ways and vow never to get caught again!