Claysville and Other Neighborhoods (Paris, KY)
Claysville was established by African Americans at the end of the Civil War on what was then the outskirts of Paris, KY. The community was located on land that was purchased from Samuel H. Clay, whose farm bordered the area on one side.
The following is Rev. Elisha Winfield Green's memory of how Claysville was developed.
"Samuel H. Clay had a field to sell--the spot where Claysville is now. He fenced it in and wanted to make of it a shipping pen. The city would not consent. He then ran it off in lots of seventy-five by sixty feet. At this time Elder Henry Lighter was pastor at the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Clay finding that the city objected to him making of it a shipping pen, determined to sell the lots to the colored people. He sent a proposition to Mr. Lighter and he in turn sent it back to Mr. Clay, with the expression that his business was to preach the gospel and not to attend to political matters. Mr. Clay told me this from his own mouth, and it is not hearsay. The following Sabbath being my day in Paris Mr. Clay sent for me. I went to see him according to request. When I went in and was seated he told me that he had a proposition to make to me. He said he had some lots to sell and the terms of the sale are these: That the lots were seventy-five by sixty feet and that he would build upon that a cottage, with one door and chimney, for $500 cash, or $100 down with 6 per cent. interest, and when paid for would give the deed. He said that he sent the same proposition to Mr. Lighter and he refused it. "And now," said Mr. Clay to me, "what do you think of it?" I told him that his proposition was a good one and it would suit the necessities of my people at present. And furthermore, I told him that I thought it as much my duty to look after the interests of my people as to preach the gospel, for that to some extent is a part of the gospel." Source: Life of the Rev. Elisha W. Green, p.25 (online at Documenting the American South).
Claysville was more of a separate community than other African American neighborhoods within Paris: it included churches, stores, and businesses and was considered outside the city limits. Today the main entrance is off Main Street, under a one lane railroad viaduct. On the other side of the railroad tracks is a stream. The entrance is still in use. The back entrance is off Winchester Street. The Branch School for African American children, where inventor Garrett A. Morgan, Sr. was educated, was located in Claysville. The community has been renamed Garrett Morgan's Place, and a Kentucky Historical Marker [number 1493] was rededicated in 2000, but most still refer to the area as Claysville. The community name was spelled Clayville on the Sanborn Maps of Paris, Bourbon County [available at Kentucky Digital Library]. A Colored school house can be found on sheet two of the Oct 1901 map. The school was located on Trilby Street, Lot H.
Beginning in the 1970s, Urban Renewal razed the old structures in Claysville. New homes and housing projects were constructed, and a park was added down by the stream. Many of the present residents are descendants of Claysville's earliest home owners.
Other African American areas used to exist in Paris: Cottontown, off Main Street just past the railroad overpass heading toward Millersburg, down by the creek; Newtown and Judy's Alley, off High Street heading toward Lexington (homes in both areas were replaced by housing projects); and Singles Alley, off Eighth Street heading toward Georgetown, all of its older homes have been torn down. Ruckersville or Ruckerville, bound by Lilleston Ave., Second Street, and a creek, had a large number of African American residents. The land is thought to have been part of the Grimes' farm at one time. The old homes were razed by Urban Renewal in the 1970s and 1980s and new homes and apartments were constructed and a park was added down by the creek. Little or nothing has been published about these areas, but a visit with the various community members will garner much more information.
For more on Claysville see Famous Inventor, 1877-1963, in the Kentucky Historical Marker Database; and search using the term "Claysville" in the Bourbon News, available online at Kentucky Digital Newspaper Program at the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center, and search also Chronicling America. See also The Mullin-Kille and Enterprise Paris, Ruckersville and Claysville, Kentucky, Consurvey City Directory, 1950 Master Ed.