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Preserving the Past to Endow the Future

Jack Thomas

Jack Thomas was the first county court clerk of Grayson County. Somewhere between 1812 and 1814 he and his wife built the first brick house in Leitchfield (and also the county). It faced east on what is now Clinton Street looking out over the valley below. It had two rooms downstairs, with a loft above. The downstairs area now holds the kitchen and dining room.
Around 1825 a two-story addition was added. The main block is a two-story five-bay brick section, with its front door and window above having originally been in Palladian window format. The addition consisted of two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs, with a spacious entry hall and a beautiful walnut staircase to an upstairs hall. The entrance of the house was changed to face on East Main Street. Later another two rooms were added upstairs in the back over the lower original two rooms deleting the loft. This area of the house is now the Museum Annex and storage areas.
Jack Thomas was clerk for the county for 41 years, at which time his son, Edwin, became the county clerk. After the death of Mr. Thomas, his wife continued to live in the house until her death in 1872. The house was then sold to William Evans, who ran a general store in Leitchfield. In 1884, the property was sold to George H. "Bent" Gardner.
George Gardner, son of Abram S. and Mary E. (Showers) Gardner, is the fifth of thirteen children, and was born near Elizabethtown, Ky., October 22, 1842. George was reared in Stephensburgh, and assisted his father until twenty-one years of age, when he went to Munfordville, Ky., and entered the employ of F. A. Smith, a general merchant of that town, with whom he remained three and one-half years. In April, 1867, he went to Big Clifty and formed a partnership with his brother, Thomas S. Gardner, in the general merchandise business, under the firm name of G. H. Gardner & Bro., and continued the partnership for seven years. In 1874 he became a member of Lodge 236, AF & AM and in August of the same year he was elected Sheriff of Grayson County, and re-elected in August, 1876. After the expiration of his term he was engaged in various speculations until May, 1881, when, in partnership with his brother, he purchased a steam flouring mill. In August, 1884, he was again elected sheriff of the county. January 1st of 1897, Gardner founded and was president of the Leitchfield Deposit Bank. January 19, 1871, he was married in Hardin County, by Rev. Collier, to Cynthia, eldest daughter of John and Louisa Richards. By this union six children were born: Harvey S., John A., Wilber F., Thomas H., Frank S., and James Stanley. Mr. and Mrs. Gardner are members of the Methodist Episcopal and Christian Churches, respectively
Other owners of the property were Ralph McCoy, Lawrence Witten, Winnie Witten Jones, and Jackie Jones Barrier. The Leitchfield Deposit Bank bought the property from Mrs. Barrier. The house was scheduled to be torn down to make way for a larger parking lot.
It was at this time that the Historical Society became involved and made arrangements with the bank to buy the house. With the help of the Leitchfield Woman's Club, the City of Leitchfield, Grayson County, and many other donors, the money was raised and the house was saved. After several years of renovation, the house was opened to the public. It was placed on the National Register of Historical Record and remains today a historical tourist attraction, as well as the Grayson County Historical Society's headquarters.

Besides being the home of the Historical Society, the house is a museum and research library for Grayson County. The library contains over 150 family histories and over 500 volumes relating to Grayson county. Both are open to the public at no charge from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm cst, Tuesday through Friday.

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