surroundings. The city is currently in the planning stages for
a revitalization of downtown including a streetscape. Manchester has
become a model for
surrounding communities of what can happen when everyone does a
little; the effect is big change. Our city has a new vision, one of
hope. Manchester is aggressively tackling new challenges and solving
issues that have plagued mountain communities. Our plans are
grasping and bringing together the right mix for a family friendly
community of business, education, and tourism.
Manchester, the seat of Clay county, was established along Goose Creek in 1807 as Greenville, named for Green Clay, for whom the county was also named. It was renamed Manchester later that year since there was already a Greenville, Kentucky (in Muhlenberg county). The name Manchester may come from the city in England, reflecting local hopes for a future in industry. The post office opened in 1813 as Clay County Court House.
|City of Hope|
|Manchester is being constantly referred to as the "City of Hope". People throughout the country have seen and heard about Manchester and Clay County. It hasn't always been good either. About four years ago It all started with a small prayer group made up of different area churches who prayed for an end to illegal drug sales, illegal drug use, and for real transformation to come to the city and county. Since this humble beginning Manchester has been featured on the CBN 700 Club twice as well as other national media outlets. Certain local Christian leaders involved have been contacted from 43 states and several foreign countries stating how they have been inspired by the story of Manchester. Stating that the Story of Manchester has restored hope for them in their cities. This recurring theme of hope has been stated over and over and so much so that a resolution was entered and passed by a unanimous vote before the city council that Manchester be tagged as the "City of Hope". This tag will be in the form of a small placard attached under the city limits sign at each entrance into the city. The prayer group still meets and prays each Saturday morning for our city.|
1807 - 2007 The 200th Anniversary of a unique place
The year 2007 marks the 200-year anniversary of the founding of Manchester and Clay
County. The county came first, the result of an act of the legislature in Dec. 1806, which
became official April 1, 1807. There was no town for a seat of government, much less a
courthouse, when the new court met on April 13th. They met in a private home at Tan
Yard, a small scattering of cabins that had grown up around the Langford Salt Works at
what is now the mouth of the Y Hollow. This tiny community was the closest thing the
county had to a community but not suitable for a county seat.
The next term, in May, the court ordered that a permanent seat of justice be established
on land donated by a group of salt men on a ten-acre knob of land that became known as
Court House Hill. Curiously, the first building authorized for the new town was a jail.
It wasn't until the June term that a name of the town was chosen. Later, it was determined
that there was already a Greenville, Kentucky. During the Dec. 1807 term, the court
ordered that the name be changed to Manchester, in honor of the great British industrial
center. The court authorized $100 for the building of a temporary court house, which was
less than a fourth that authorized for the jail. The first mention of holding court in the
courthouse in the new town of Manchester was the April, 1808 term during which John
Murphy was indicted for selling three half pints of whiskey.
It is clear that Manchester was unconventional from the start, having come into being as
an act of government, not as the result of congregation or commerce the way most
communities begin. The new county was no less so. It seems to have been established as
a way to have closer government scrutiny of the new salt industry, which by 1806 was
becoming one of the most important industries in the state. Kentucky's second governor,
James Garrard, had already acquired large holdings here and sent his son, Daniel, to Clay
County to establish a salt works. Other wealthy salt men were already here.
The arrival of the salt men coincided almost exactly with the arrival of their opposites,
land-hungry immigrants who were discovering that all the land in the Blue Grass had
already been taken by 1800. It is this mix of the ambitious salt families - wealthy,
powerful and educated - with the powerless, largely Scotch/Irish settlers, who wanted
nothing so much as to just be left alone, that scholars account for the roots of the unique
character of Manchester and Clay County.
This character has resulted in widely publicized unruliness at times - the notorious feuds
were largely the result of the powerful using surrogates to fight their battles; the slave-
owning salt families were at odds with the largely pro-Union populace before and during
the Civil War - but has produced a populace that includes people of uncommon purpose,
valor, and achievement. One small, poor community alone on the edge of Manchester
boasts several Ph.Ds, physicians, educators and a governor/federal judge. It is awareness
of this unique history that can help shape Manchester and Clay County in the coming
decades as a community of people who take a back seat to no one in the Commonwealth.
Written by Charles House, Manchester, KY.
Charles has just released his new book about rediscovering his family members who helped to settle Clay County. The first 150 years of our history was intregal to the settling of the West as hundres of thousands passed throught the Cumberland Gap. The toils and perils of early settler life in and around Clay County. "Blame It on Salt" reminds of us of what brought most of our people to Manchester, salt. In the late 1700's and up through the Civil War Manchester was a leading producer of salt in the U.S. To read and excerpt from the book and order a copy visit www.pubthis.com
|Sites of Interest|