1900 - 1920’s
During this time Walton is the largest town in Boone County, with the county’s largest business district and diverse manufacturing enterprises. In 1900 the local school district merged with Verona, forming one of the county’s first consolidated districts. The Walton Graded School opened in 1901 at 85 North Main Street (now converted into apartments). The building included 12 grades under one roof. Classrooms for the first eight grades were on the first floor, and a high school and a chapel occupied the second. In 1902 the Walton Independent School District was created. It was the first public secondary school in Boone County. Students from outlying areas boarded with town families during the week, returning home on the weekends. In the early 20’s basketball games were held in a tobacco warehouse on Depot Street. Walton High School graduated five students in 1926. Graduation ceremonies alternated every year between the Baptist and Christian Church.
According to the recorded minutes of the Walton Board of Trustees meeting June 4, 1902 the following were present: J. T. Booth, chairman, G. W. Ransler, Cyrus Coffman, J. M. Stamler, and J. L. Adams, and W. L. Rouse, Clerk. During this meeting the following motion was recorded: “Mr. Alford Stephens take charge of the fire engine for one year for $15.00 and $1.00 for each time he takes it out for fire provided if said Stephens does not keep said engine clean, and primed and in working order at all times he is not to have any compensation whatever. The money is to be paid at the end of the year”. A. R. Hance was the town Marshall and tax collector and John G. Tomlin was the city’s attorney.
Following are excerpts of a description of Walton that was printed in the first edition Walton Advertiser, the local newspaper, in August of 1914. The Advertiser was founded by G. B. Powers and Roy D. Stamler and was “published as often as necessary”.
Walton is not a sleepy little village hid away among the hills, with nothing to boast of but beautiful scenery, but it is a ‘regular’ town, with a miniature Broadway, electric lights, with houses showing the best of attractions in living and silent drama, a beautiful pike “The Highway to Lexington”, crosses within the city limits, two railroads, The Louisville & Nashville and the Queen and Crescent accommodating the traveling public with eleven trains daily. The accommodations of these roads are so good, and the rates so low, that we are but a step from Cincinnati, Ohio, nineteen miles away. Many men work in Ludlow, Covington and Cincinnati, leave in the morning and return in the evening securing the mileage for the month for the small sum of $5.00.
Two prosperous banks and a building and loan association lend a helping hand to those desiring financial assistance, at a very low rate. Two lumber companies of no small proportion are kept busy supplying our local contractors. Twelve mercantile establishments in the town do a prosperous business and there is room for more. Our Marshall, Police Court and jail are luxuries. In the past thirteen years only one white man has been incarcerated, and then only for a misdemeanor.
The town is local option in its fullest meaning, intoxicated men are so seldom seen they appear as curiosities to the younger generation. The day of the “blind tiger” has long ago passed away and the drunkard of a few years ago is the homebuilder of today. Our standard of culture is far beyond any town of equal population.
Our excellent schools, churches, library and Lyceum Courses are the direct causes of Walton’s high standing on the list of progressive Kentucky towns.
In 1900, C. Scott Chambers and his wife, Alta, left Petersburg, Kentucky, to move to Walton the largest city in the county. He was an ambitious young “undertaker” and father of three daughters, Mary Scott, Aleen, and Ella Mae. His daughter Mary Scott, was very interested in the funeral business. She conducted her first service, a graveside service, at the Richwood Presbyterian Church at the age of 13. She graduated from high school at 16 and went to Cincinnati College of Embalming daily by train, but had to wait until she was 21 to receive her license. She was the first lady embalmer in the state of Kentucky. Chambers & Grubbs Funeral Home, the city’s oldest business, is still in operation today at the corner of North Main Street and Alta Vista Drive and is operated by the fourth generation.
In October 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed John Grant Tomlin, a lawyer and tobacco proprietor, Postmaster. He served until July 12, 1905 when Samuel Lycurcus Edwards was appointed to his third term as Postmaster. Mr. S. L. Edwards, the son of Dr. R. A. Edwards who came to Walton from Scotland before the Civil War, also had a hardware store that housed the post office and a building and loan association. Lycurcus also served as an undertaker, although he didn’t have a funeral home. He had the first elevator and the first telephone in Walton. This building is the current A. Q. W. building at 18 North Main Street.
An engineer named Dan J. O'Conor had an idea that was pretty straightforward: take fabric, coat it with resin while it winds on a spindle into the shape of a tube, split the tube lenghtwise, unroll it, press it flat and then cure it. The result was a laminated plastic material that was tough, light, and an excellent electrical insulator. It was easy to see the commercial potential of this new material. O'Conor was just 31 years old, and he worked for Westinghouse in Pittsburgh as head of the process section of the research engineering department. One of O'Conor's friends at Westinghouse was Herbert A. Faber, 30, the manager of insulating-material sales. Faber's engineering training at the University of Cincinnati gave him a technical appreciation of O'Conor's new insulating material. O'Conor filed for a patent in February of 1913 and within weeks, O'Conor and Faber quit Westinghouse to start their own insulator business. O'Conor sought investors. They found what they needed in Walton KY., where a lawyer-banker named John G. Tomlin agreed to put up $7,500. He became a silent partner. O'Conor and Faber ran they business and named it Formica.
In 1926 the franchise for the sale of Chevrolet cars in Boone and Gallatin Counties was taken over by John L. Vest of Walton, with whom is associated Denver Bassett acting in the capacity of manager of the Boone County Chevrolet Co. The organization is housed in an especially constructed building on Main St. with a 60-foot frontage and a depth about the same. The business was one of the most successful in this territory, and was the only Chevrolet dealer in Boone and Gallatin Counties. They handled altogether about 500 cars each year, new and used. They kept a complete line of Chevrolets on display at all times including roadsters, phaetons, coupes, coaches, sedans, and trucks. This Chevrolet Dealership was located across the street from Walton City Hall.
The old Walton Equitable Bank came to be in February 1927 when The Walton Bank and Trust Company merged. The capital stock totaled $50,000 and they had a $50,000 surplus with $30,000 in undivided profits and combined resources of $750,000.00. At the time of the merger the following respected and representative men were chose directors: R.C. Greene, President; J.D. Mayhugh, Vice President; D.B. Wallace, E.K. Stevens, Oliver Brown, G.N. Powers, A.M. Edwards, D.E. Dudley, J.C. Bedinger and R.E. Ryle. R.B. Brown and Chas. W. Ransler were also vice presidents with Alan H. Gaines secretary and E. Sleet West, cashier; J. Ben Doan and H.E. Metcalf as assistant cashiers. J.D. Mayhugh was later elected president, and upon his death in March 1930, Wilford Rice was selected to fill that high place making him the youngest bank president in the state. After the merger had been effected a beautiful new home for the bank was erected at a cost of $52,000.00. The two-story limestone building with one hundred foot frontage on the main street of Walton (currently US BANK).
Around 1908, Dr. Menefee, Mr. Jones and Ralph Edwards owned the first cars in Walton. These cars were Buicks.
Main Street was the first street in Walton to be paved with concrete. It was paved for one mile from one end of Walton to the other. It was told that Clifton Mayhugh, proprietor of the J. D. Mayhugh Lumber Company, drove his family back and forth on this concrete street every Sunday.
In the early 1900’s Morphine was sold off grocery store shelves.
Roy Stamler owned an open-air theater on Main Street called the Air Dome. Movies were shown there and people sat on bleacher-type seats to watch them.
Mr. Moxley used to light the town lights every night. He also had a cow and sold milk to people. During this time, even people who lived on town had chickens. Some even had pigs and cows. Mr. Moxley lived where 11 South Main Street is now.
In 1914 the city’s lights went out at midnight because that’s when the plant shut down for the night. Warren Stephenson operated the plant for Harry Mayfield of Mayfield Electric Company which was located across from today’s City Hall.
Walton has the distinction of having the first Laundromat, in 1921. Mr. Theodore Burdsall built a building on the east side of Main Street north of the railroad tracks (across from Walton Food Mart). The building housed Bendix washing machines and the dryers were metal housing that was heated with oil. There was a large cistern below getting water from the roof.
Many of the homes along Main Street were built during this period.
The Walton Canning Co. was owned by Mr. Metcalfe and located on Nicholson Avenue.
The Community Public Service Company was a utility company, which started serving electricity to several locations in Kentucky in the early 1920’s including Walton.
The present day Zion Baptist Church on Church Street was build in 1922
The basketball team from Walton won it's way to participate in the State Tournament in March 1928.