Stanley, Kentucky

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Stanley was located in the Oakford precinct when it first started up. The precinct began on the Green river over to the Henderson County line up to the Ohio River over to the old Roost Road, and then to a place called Big Pond, in today’s terms, approximately where Hwy 279 is today. The Big Pond area drained to the Katie Meadows slough and on to the Rhodes Creek down to the Green River. According to the 1883 history, most of the people along the Ohio River were rough and indolent. Most of their time was spent hunting and chopping cardboard to supply steamboats traveling the Ohio River. A great share of their money was spent for whiskey. The better class of men were good and prosperous farmers. One of the first preachers was Ishan Allen, who resided in Sorghotown but preached along the Ohio River. The first church erected was a union church, built in 1856, but was occupied principally by the Methodists and Presbyterians. A new church was built in 1882 and was occupied by both denominations. The Catholics were among the first religious denominations in Oakford. Two of the first little towns in Oakfoard precinct were Grissom’s Landing and Birk City. Enough people were living in that section of the county for a voting precinct to be established. It was named for Oakford, an early village about a mile southeast of where Stanley is today. As the population in Oakford precinct increased in the 1860’s, there was much work done clearing trees and draining swamps improving the land to farm. The 1883 history said” there were several fine farms” located along the Green and Ohio Rivers. In the early years there were nine Post Offices, Oakford, Looper-Stanley, Birk City, Grissoms Landing, Dunbarton, Elfrida, Gaw, Newman and Griffith serving the Oakford precinct, the northwest section of the county between the Ohio and Green Rivers. The earliest of these was Oakford itself. Established on October 22, 1858 with Gaye Holmes as Post Master, it was located 10 miles west of Owensboro. The village was at the junction of present day KY 1554 and Oakford Road. Isaiah Luce was next and John Hill was Postmaster when the Post Office discontinued in August 1871. The first church in the area was St. Peter’s Catholic Church. Two men, John Gaw and N.M. Lancaster, first proposed the idea of building a church in the area of Oakford. It was decided to build at Bernard Hills. It was constructed in 1873. The building committee consisted of Thomas J. Monarch, John Gaw, N.M. Lancaster, J. C. Grant and T.C. Hill at a cost of $4000. This was located about one mile east of present day Stanley. Oakford grew in size for about 20 years before the railroad changed the area. In 1887 the Louisville, St. Louis and Texas Railroad started to buy rights of way between Owensboro and Henderson. The railroad bridge in Spottsville was completed in 1888. Nat Stanley was one of the earlier settlers in 1887. The new town of Stanley was about 9 miles west of Owensboro on the Louisville, St. Louis and Texas Railroad began to lay off a town in December 1888. Plans were made for a train depot, storehouse, and a large barn and a Birk City blacksmith was building a shop there as well. Nat Stanley was building several tenement houses which would have been for railroad hands working on the railroad. By late December, I.W. Sutherland had finished a survey and a map of the town on the Louisville, St. Louis and Texas Railroad for Nat G. Stanley. Thirty five lots were laid off with broad streets and avenues on a flat site. The Messenger reported that it would be something more than a paper village. Mr. Stanley and Mr. Miles Hagan of Oakford, were going to put up a large two story storehouse. A number of dwellings were being built. Some of the early business owners were L.B. Birk and Bro., general merchandise; R. M. Hagan, general merchandise; Edward Havner, physician; William Moody, blacksmith; John Scherer, general merchandise; Nat Stanley, sawmill; Adam Weiles, blacksmith; J. R. Blanford, carpenter; T.J. Davis, physician; J. Pendleton, blacksmith; G.T. Vittetow, proprietor of hotel and saloon; R. Wimpatt;, Maude Brown became Postmaster in 1914 and was until 1948. Lena Wilhite was Postmaster later until 1955. In May, 1889, a fire almost wiped out the village of Oakford. The fire started at the Miles Hagan residence from a defective flue. In a few mintues the entire house and his adjoining store was in full blaze. Some neighbors helped in getting a considerable portion of the merchandise out, though in bad condition. It was a breezy day and the fire carried over to the Hagan and Stanley Mill which stood some distance off. The mill was a total loss. The blacksmith shop of Talbott and Wimsatt were attached. It burned so fast that few of the tools and little of the stock could be carried out. Next was a house belonging to Wm. Gordon, it was totally destroyed. Dr. Conway’s house was in danger but was saved by all of the neighbors helping to fight the fire. Mr. Hagan had just commenced running his stock down, preparing to move to Stanley where he was in the process of building a large store building. The move was on to get next to the railroad. A publication was put out to move the Post Office at Loopee to Stanley in February 1889. Looper had a few houses and a Post Office and was located between Oakford and Stanley. Robert Miles Hagan became Postmaster in Looper and when it closed, became the first Postmaster of Stanley in May, 1889. After the lots were laid off, people started coming to Stanley. A total of 70 lots were offered. 55 lots north of the railroad tracks, and 20 more south. The lots began on Grissom Landing Road (now French Island Road) then over passed Sutherland Street (now Church Street). The Louisville, St. Louis and Texas Railroad was one of the first to purchase the lots. They are where the Mulligan Feed Mill is today. Some of the first residents were: R. Miles Hagan, G.T. Vittitow, Frank Wimsatt, George Pendleton, T.E. Pate, William Vittitow, F.S. Wimsatt, E.J. Young, Ralph Wimsatt, Mattie Lambert, Ellen Eberhart, L.T. Cox, Addine Shefffer, Hiram Cambron, Birk and Washborn, John Snyder, T.C. Miles, Fidelity Vault Co., John Snyder, F.W. Cooper, William Gordon, Z. T. Robinson, J. R. Wimsatt, J.H. Bowling, Ed Wethington, W.L. Jones, J.H. Bowling, S. Rone, James Hill, and James Brown. The Stanley M.E. Church received a lot in 1905. In July 1897, on a petition of J. W. Smith and others, the town of Stanley was established as a town of the sixth class. Beginning at a point 345 feet south of the railroad and 75 feed east of the Grissom’s Landing Road, (1554 –French Island Road), then north 1200 feet, then right angle 1550 east, then south 1200 feet, then due west 1440 feet. The following named citizens of Stanley were named as officers of the town trustees: A.D. Pike, P.W. Cooper, J.W. Snyder, T.C. Miles and F.T. Washborne. Police judge, Thomas Sceffer, Marshal Joseph Moseley, Assessor, and J. P. Hughart. In March 1904, the Bank of Stanley opened up next to the railroad in a brick building. The main stockholders were E.W. Neel, A.J. Wilson, James H. Parrish, A.L. Parrish, J.T. Griffith, H.B. Eagles, Lavega Clements, James Hill, S.R. Ewing, and Dr. G.W. Dawson of Owensboro. There were also stockholders from the Stanley area. The capitol stock o the bank was $15,000. The first President was James Hill. The bank was located in a brick building in the center of the block across from the railroad tracks. The cashier, Estil Neal, lived in an apartment over the bank. At the time of the bank’s closing on September 17, 1911, John Hofendorfer was President and Mike Scherm was Vice President. The big banks as well as financial recession help put the banks out of existence. John Scherer was a well know German citizen. Born in Pittsburg, PA, then moved to Stanley and farmed. He also owned a merchandise business. Later he opened a store house on West Main in Owensboro. Another interesting fact from 1905 was that John Henry Chandler, a pioneer carpenter of Daviess County, went to Judge Tripletts’s office and asked if he could be sent to the county poor house. He said that he was 75 years old and was no longer able to work. He was a fine workman and constructed a number of houses in Owensboro. He moved to the Grissom’s Landing area and built the first house in Stanley and worked on a large percentage of houses when the town began. On December 27, 1907, the Stanley Deposit Bank went into liquidation. All depositors were paid in full by the State Bank of Kentucky, an Owensboro institution. In May 1908 a petition was filed in Daviess Circuit Court to abolish the town of Stanley as a “corporate body”. Stanley had been a sixth class town for about eleven years. The petitioners complained that all the taxes were used to pay town officials and nothing was left with which to make public improvements. Nat G. Stanley who resided near Stanley made an assignment to Z.T. Robinson for the benefit of the creditors. The property assigned consisted of 460 acres of land at Stanley and several tracts in Henderson County. In January 1909, the controversy over the incorporation of Stanley as a town was brought up again. The answer stated that there were no taxes calculated in 1905 thru 1907 and that no improvements were made since the incorporation. The townsmen believed that in the best interest of the town, it should stay incorporated. In January, 1909, the Methodist Church was dedicated in Stanley. It was moved from Birk City after the church building was struck by lightning and destroyed. Harry Purdy helped construct the church. In the fall of 1910, the Stanley Baptist Church members were razing the church and were in the process of building a new church. The church first assumed the name of Birk City where it was organized. Sometime in the year 1895, the church voted to move to Stanley. The building was estimated to cost about $1800 and was completed in 1911. It had taken several months to complete and was told to be one of the most convenient and handsomely appointed of any church in the entire Green River territory. The church’s final cost was put at $4000. The pastor was M.J. Cox at the first service of the church. The south addition of Stanley was laid off in 1912. One of the first lots there was the new St. Peter’s Catholic Church. It contained 4 acres. Also Ida Harney, John Brown, Lewis O’Stites, J.N. Thompson, Frank Strobel, Marion Coleman, Beverly Hatfield and Don Culley. In 1925 the right of way for Hwy 60 was sold and in 1930, the Daviess County Board of Education purchased 6 acres to for the school that would soon be built. Passenger service was still going on in the 1910’s, 20’s and 30’s. There had been several different accidents with the train close by. A “Texas” freight train ran off the open drawbridge and plunged into the river taking the engine and 8 cars. One car was left hanging over the edge. The engineer, Walter Riedel and full stoker, Carl Lishen were killed along with an undetermined number of hobos who were riding in the freight cars. In October 1911, St. Peter’s Catholic School was dedicated in a new building that was used as a grade and high school. The Rev. Joseph Odendahl, Pastor of the congregation, whose effort had the building constructed and completed. It was to be used as the church until such a time as the congregation felt able to build a permanent church. The new building was a frame and was conveniently arranged for the students. The enrollment the first year was nearly 100. It was located in Stanley on four acre tract while the old church was a little distance from Stanley. The Ursuline Sisters were in charge of teaching the students. In May 1913, the Methodist Episcopal Church of Stanley was dedicated under the Masonic rites, with Col. Thomas Pettit of Owensboro was in charge of the program. He was acting Grand Master of the State. They celebrated with a big old fashioned Stanly barbeque. In the early 1920’s, the Henderson Morning Gleaner shows that four eastbound and four westbound passenger trains passed from Owensboro and Henderson. When the train came thru and had no passengers, the train would throw off the mail in a heavy trough mailbag while outgoing mail was picked up from a mail crane located near the track. The mail crane was a post with a swinging arm about mid door height of the mail car. The mail bag was put on the crane and a short time before the train passed thru, the mail clerk put a large hook across the train door and as the train passed, it would catch the bag. Keller was the one who would retrieve the mail bag that was thrown out. It is uncertain when the train depot was removed but the 1937 flood pictures shows it was still there. Most of the time Stanley had at least two or three groceries at one time. After Berry’s Grocery, located on French Island closed there was Fogle’s, Hensley, Nantz and Millay’s along with John Mitchell and had stores one time or another. Dr. Early owned a drug store next to the Post Office. He also practiced there. John Towery owned the pool hall. Ollie Miles was the telephone operator. She knew everything and everybody and she was a great help in locating people. Everybody had a party line. The old school at French Island and Laketown was a two room school instead of the usual one room. Two of the teachers were the Ward sisters. Alberta taught the first four grades and Hallie taught the upper four grades. Willie Harney was a trustee and represented the school board in Stanley. St. Peter’s Church would have a big picnic every summer and the Methodist and Baptist churches would cooperate with each other in activities. They would have socials such as pie suppers, fish fry’s and ice cream socials. In the early years the circus made a couple of stops in Stanley. The small shows would come in on horse and wagons and the large shows would use the railroad. Stanley had a good baseball team that would play the other towns for years called the “Kentucky Cardinals”. Some of the players were M.E. Coleman, Jake and Bill Smith, Buz and Dolby McKay, K.O. Towery and a pitcher named Ruben Miles. Sam Seaton worked for the county and kept all the roads graded. He would also build the wooden bridges for the roads. Stanley had a railroad repair crew. Johnny Bushcutter, Delbert Saalwaecther, Rod Fogle and Mr. Tackett. Guy Shelton was the agent at the depot listening to the telegraph and give train information. The town Marshal was W.W. Hensley, later a grocery man. When Maude Brown was Postmaster in Stanley all the mail was delivered and carried out by train in the early years. The three mail carriers would gather at the Post Office and sort mail, and then deliver it during the day. They were paid $80 per month. They used horses and enclosed mail buggies until the 1930 are when they delivered with cars. In 1922, under Fr. John Higgins, the third and present church was built. The basement was divided into classrooms, which was used until a four room school and sister quarters were built in 1952. In the early 1960’s, four more rooms were added to the school. For many years St. Peter’s had both elementary and a high school. The new church cost $100,000. In 1922-1923, Hwy 60 was constructed. The old road usually followed farmer’s boundries and had lots of turns. The road to Stanley was straightened out from the Oakford Road to Stanley and along the railroad tracks after it passed thru Stanley. Before the travel would be down Oakford Road to French Island Road then Stanley to Laketown Road or from Sauer’s Lane west. All were dirt roads at that time. By 1925, the road from Owensboro was gravel but from Stanley west it was still dirt. In the winter they were mud filled. By the time the Spottsville bridge was built, all of the hwy was gravel. In the early 1930’s the levee on Hwy 60 was raised. Most of the work was done by area farmers such as the Pendletons, Adkissons, Raleys and several more using teams and slip scrappers. The concrete slab on Hwy 60 was finished by August, 1933. In the 1930’s farming was staring to change as the use of mules were being put to rest by tractors and binders. There were several steam engines helping to thresh the wheat. Henry Elder as well as Tom and Robert Pendleton, had steam engines and did custom work, such as steam plant beds. They also owned a threshing machine. Drub Thompson helped the Pendletons after he closed his flour mill. Most neighbors joined together because no one had a crew big enough to keep the thresher going. In September, 1934, plans were being made for a new consolidated school to be built in Stanley. Plans were for six classrooms and other smaller rooms for other activities at the school. It was to be a one story building of brick and masonry construction and would cost $15,000. In 1935, the Stanley Consolidated School opened. The bus routes were opened up and the surrounding one room schools closed. Carrico, Stanley Station, Griffith, Grant, Newman, Sauer, and Lake Town were all closed. The black school at Grissom went to Carver in Owensboro at Seventh and Sycamore replacing seven black schools in the county. In 1936, a big fire destroyed a store and a warehouse in Stanley. It started in the T.B. Tapp General Store. The store closed at 7 PM. Mr. Tapp left and went to Tell City during the day and when he returned, it was totally destroyed. The store and big warehouse, a barn, and a coal house on the Wm. Wimsatt property were all destroyed. A bucket brigade was formed as the alarm was turned in and kept the flames from spreading to the Tapp homes as well as the Emmett Towery home. Furniture from both homes was saved by the good neighbors . The Owensboro fire department was called but had no pumper truck to send in the vicinity. During the blaze the explosion of a keg of black powder caused some excitement and concern. Shot gun shells and cans of food exploded sending sparks high into the sky. Two gasoline pumps remained after the building was destroyed. In January, 1937, the flood of all floods came. The residents of Stanley witnessed something that had never happened before or since. Most of the farmers were used to flood waters almost every year. The 1937 flood began with over 21 inches of rain. The highest water ever experienced by most people was the 1913 flood. It rose to 48.4 feet on the Ohio River at Evansville. Several new houses that were built since 1913 were raised 30 inches above the crest level because the government stated that the flood waters in this part of the county would never reach that high again. The Ohio River crested at 53.75 feet. This was 5.4 feet above the 1913 flood. The last passenger train passed thru Stanley on January 21 before the water cut the service. People began moving out to higher ground. Before electricity was in the county most people didn’t have radios or newspaper so they really didn’t know what to expect. Some were getting trapped from their neighbors and started putting livestock in their homes because it was too late to haul them out. W.P.A. workers helped to build barges to help with the rescue around the county. The rescue ship Kuttawa with a barge owned by the Illinois Pipe Line Company was manned by six of its employees, had picked up 145 people from the Stanley, Newman and Reed areas. The Wilson Ferry boat also arrived with refugees aboard. Rescue crews were instructed to get stock to high safe land, preferably where there was shelter, but if no shelter, get to the nearest high point. In the Stanley area they were moved to Sand Hill, Bellwood Hill, near Sorgho, and to Beverly Gregory’s in Stanley. At Stanley there were about 200 head that had to be kept on very slim rations; most of it boated in from flooded barns. Refugee cattle were sent to Owensboro to the Field Packing Company on Dublin Lane. Will Demplewolf sent up 250 head and W. J. Foster sent 92 head. On January 27, 250 people arrived from Stanley on rescue barges with just the clothes on their backs. Miss Elsa Odman, National Red Cross nurse, was sent to Stanley was sent to Stanley where about 150 people remained on 25 or 30 acres of dry ground. A hospital had been established at the Sister’s home where there were six patients. Refugees were quartered at St. Peter’s Church, parsonage, school and the Stanley Consolidated School. The tower of the church had been fitted up as a light station and a light was kept burning every night as a guide for men patrolling the water in that section. About 200 head of work stock and cattle, 150 hogs and about 50 dogs were on that little island. Coast Guard boats and also outboard motor boats were on disposal for the refugees who remained in Stanley. After the water receded, more than 1000 men aided the united States Public Health Service in the city and county. Many were sent to the Stanley area to help clean roads of all debris, purified water wells and help dispose of many dead livestock and help people to return to their homes. The 1937 flood was a real set back, much worse than the depression. Going home after the flood in freezing weather with all windows broken and drift in the house with mud inside and out. Buildings were knocked off of their foundations. Dead animals lying around and corn rotting in the cribs. Everything had to be removed from the houses to clean and air out. All machinery and vehicles had been covered with water. In the 1937-1939 years. Stanley had a pretty good ball team with players like Junius Jones, E.B. Wilson, Herman Russell, Junior Fogle, B.J. Foster, Ragsdale, Sammy Saver and Wilbur Jones. Rolla Hardesty was pitcher. Most of them played on the Daviess County High School team from 1937-1939. About a mile and a half from Stanley was an intersection called Pendleton’s Corner. There was a two story general store, mill, livery stable and blacksmith shop. The store was torn down in the early 1940’s. A few years later the Pendleton’s built a restaurant and a motel. Jim and Alice Hill Funeral Home was located at French Island and Church Street in the 1930’s up to the 1940’s. Dr. Kinchlow lived across the street and had his office across from the funeral home. On Short Street, the Hill grocery store was located. It had a little mill that ground wheat for flour and corn for area farmers, but was too small for many livestock. He had the first electric light in Stanley with his own generator. Leo Bryne was a local mail carrier. He had the first radio in Stanley. Neighbors would go to his house to listen to the world news or boxing matches. He had a shop behind his house and fixed anything in Stanley for neighbors. He built one of the best croquet courts in Daviess County which was heavily used, especially on weekends. Neighbors and friends like Max Keller, Gus Millay, Lansing Adkisson, Tom Nantz and his son T.A. would have big games on Sundays. Don Culley was a mail carrier as well. Don loved sports. Don and Lansing Adkisson developed a tennis team for Stanley, playing other teams in the area. Their tennis court was located where the Stanley Crop Service office is today. Dutch Culley played the piano, any kind of music you put in front of her. She and Don played for all the activities in Stanley and dances. They would lay a big floor out at the intersection of Griffith Station Road and Church Street and have a big dance on Saturday night a few times during the summer. Stanley was the kind of community where people had to entertain themselves and most enjoyed doing it. William J. Mullican built a feed mill for livestock on the east side of Stanley. It went across the railroad tracks on Griffith Station Road. He moved two small framed houses and disassembled the old jail. Part of the jail was moved about two miles south on French Island Road on the John Gregory farm. William Mullican had to put a stationary motor in because at the time there was no electric in Stanley. The big caterpillar engine runs to pull the hammer mill and the elevators too. When the REA ran electric current to Stanley in 1938, the feed mill was one of the first to hook up and had to pay extra to run the three phase current. Most of the homes would put in one light in the center of the room and one receptacle. William J. Foster had an Angus cattle farm where he built a herd of registered Angus cattle that became one of the largest in Kentucky. The auctions occurred every year from 1960 to 1975 in a sales barn on French Island Road next to Scherer Cemetery. He was President of Western Kentucky Angus Association for about 15 years, later becoming a Director in the American Angus Association. In 1945, while the inundation of farm land around Stanley by the current of the Ohio River flood produced scenes reminiscent of the record flood of 1937, the damage was little compared to the flood just eight years earlier. The experience of the 37 flood got people out in time and guarded against destruction of property. In more than one instance, refugees were standing on tables, beds, and chairs when rescuers arrived, water having come up so rapidly that it entered homes before occupants could get away. According to the Messenger, more than one case where buildings were wacked from their foundations shortly after persons were removed and in one case, as husband and wife were entering a boat, they saw their barn collapse and heard the stock drowning that were trapped. Workers on the 1945 Red Cross Committee included some who had experienced the 37 disaster. They were relieved not to have to user their experience but were ready. The losses were comparatively light because farmers remembering 1937 reacted in time. The worst thing in Stanley was that Hwy 60 had a serious wash out on the levee causing concrete to cave in. In April, 1948, the concrete bridge and part of the road on Hwy 60, undermined by flood waters fell through. The road was closed for several months due to repairs. This was the same place where a Greyhound, a year earlier, had a collision with 14 passengers aboard with a car and the bus balanced perilously on the crest of the 14 foot levee. No one was hurt. A heavy duty wrecker proved to be too light to remove the bus so one from Lexington was called to remove the bus the next day. A roller skating rink was built in a quanson hut. At one time it was operated by Jess Settles and Mrs. Oldham Wimsatt. The skating rinks after many years became what were called the “Funny Book Factory”. It bought and sold old books of many kinds as well as old comic books. Later it became a car repair shop and used car dealer. Del’s Restaurant is a family inn that was operated by Jimmy Coomes and later Del Gilmore. Stanley had three groceries. One was in the old bank building later after the bank folded up. Over the years it was operated by Earnest Payne, Martin Barr and Roscoe Young. At the corner of Griffith Station and Church Street was another store. It first started by Frank Fogle and later by Richard Millay. Edwin “Boss” Millay was the last one to run it before it became an automotive parts store by Jerry Carter. On the corner of Hwy 60 and Church Street was a grocery store that was run by Martin Barr, later by George Clary and then Mike Ballard. The saloon on Hwy 60 was operated by John Lindauer and later was called the “Green Door”. After it closed it became Stanley Hardware Store. In the main business part of Stanley were two different garages. One owned by Buck Pruden and one by Bud Millay. Between the garages was the telephone exchange and Masonic Lodge. In 1961, Ben and Thomas A. Medley Jr. started and built a new distillery in Stanley. They originally called it Old Stanley Distillery, Inc. but later changed it to Kentucky Distillers. It had a bottling house and a warehouse. The people of Stanley would vote at Ed Froelich’s home many years until the Stanley Fire Department Station was build in 1974. Stanley was one of the first towns to get a new truck. The fire truck was kept in Danny Lively’s farm shop until the fire station was finished. Mike Elliott was the first fire chief. In 1961 a new and bigger feed mill was built on Church Street in front of the old mill by Bill and Marty Mullican. The mill had a hardware store, ground horse and cattle feed and would buy grain from area farmers. Charlie and brother Mike ran the mill for several years before it sold. A fertilizer plant opened in early 1960 by Dick Cecil and had chemicals for weed control. Dick retired from the store and went to Owensboro and opened up the “Smokehouse” Barbeque Restaurant. That is what Dick was best at. He had cooked every different kind of animal that has lived. He sold the plant to Kenny Saalwaechter and it became Stanly Crop Service. When Kenny retired, Marty Mitchell owned and operated it until sold to Monty Parrish. After Lena Wilhite became Post Master in 1957, she retired in 1984 and Mary Lou Hundley became Post Master. She remained in that position until it closed in October, 1997. Jerry Carter had a Contract Mail Station in the auto parts store for 15 years and was closed. St. Peter’s Catholic School closed in 1989 and was consolidated with Holy Angel’s school along with five other local elementary schools. Stanley Consolidated School closed in 1992 with Billy Blaine as Principal. The students were divided between Audubon Elementary School and West Louisville Elementary School depending on the location of the family. Today Stanley sits about four miles from the Kimberly Clark Paper Mill. It has a lot of traffic to and from the plant going thru the town. A big part of the traffic from Owensboro to Henderson no longer runs thru the town because of the Audubon Parkway which runs near Sorgho. Stanley has approximately 350 people who live in or near this town.