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Frances Book Published
Former Crittenden County resident Matthew T. Patton has finished his second book on Crittenden County, this time on the small community of Frances in the southern part of the county. (Book is out of print)

Frances scene
Frances at Highway 70 circa 1951-1952. Source: "Frances Echo Yearbook," courtesy of Nancy Lynch.
 
Patton, a 1995 graduate of Crittenden County High School, is also a graduate of Frances Elementary School which closed in the mid-1990s. Many of Patton’s ancestors lived in the Frances area, which sparked his interest in publishing another historical book. His work was recognized 2 years ago when he was awarded a grant by the Braxton McDonald Foundation.

“You always hear stories about murders, bank robbers and horse thieves when you talk about history. What I find amazing is that, indeed, these things did happen. And it’s nice to see them actually documented in dusty old books,” Patton said.

In 1874, Frances was known as “Crossroads,” because the Eddyville and Salem roads and the Dycusburg and Marion roads crossed there. According to tradition, sassafras and persimmon bushes coupled with a few dilapidated log buildings made the residents look for another name for the meager village. The neighborhood was dubbed “Needmore.” In 1892, when the government decided that Needmore needed a post office, the residents submitted their name of choice, later to learn that Metcalfe County already had its own Needmore. After consultation (and after some unkind words relayed to the Postmaster General), the town was named “Frances,” in honor of Frances (Folsom) Cleveland, wife of President Grover Cleveland.

Miners
Miners waiting to descend 550’ shaft at Lafayette Fluorspar Mill (1939). Source: Ed Hina.
 
In 1872, Alvin Duvall sold a small piece of land to Dr. Charles Owen on which Frances now stands. Later would come many homes, general merchandise stores, a high school (which would become Frances Elementary School when the high school was built in Marion in 1950), the largest fluorspar operation in the world, churches, and a Masonic Lodge. Residents included prominent families such as the Pogues, Matthews, Yandells, Pierce, Travises, McKinneys, Wickers, and many others, who are documented in Patton’s book.

“One of the most notable and interesting people to come out of Frances definitely would have to be Forrest C. Pogue, Jr. His work to secure and tell the life of Gen. George C. Marshall really blazed trails for how people would conduct interviews in the future.” An alumni of the college, the library at Murray State University bears his name. “I was honored to speak with Pogue a few times when I was working on the Pogue genealogy.”

The book, entitled “Frances, Kentucky: Days Gone By,” contains nearly 200 pages of information on the town, including census records, cemetery listings for area cemeteries, historical documents, biographies of families and citizens of the area, newspaper abstracts, school church histories, mine history, several photographs, and supplemental information to Patton’s book “Dycusburg, Kentucky: A Glance at Her Past.”

Patton is now taking prepublication orders. “The number of books printed is based on the number of books sold, so it’s important to get an idea of how many people are interested,” he said. The book will be printed and mailed in early 2002.

“I was overwhelmed with how many people were interested in the Dycusburg book,” Patton said. “Approximately 225 copies were printed. And I have zero left.”