Utica, Kentucky

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1886 Directory Listing for Utica

In 1795 Capt. Benjamin Field,who fought in the Revolutionary War, and his wife settled about twelve miles from what is now Owensboro. They chose the site because of abundant timber, rich soil, and plenty of wild game. By 1805, there were 4 houses in the settlement when Robert McFarland bought 200 acres in the area and supposedly made the first whiskey and brandy ever made in Daviess County. The area became a village with the arrival of R.M. Lewis who bought a large farm and began raising thoroughbred horses. He gave the ground for the first railroad and station in Daviess County in 1869 and the name was changed to Lewis Station. In 1871 the Owensboro & Russellville Railroad was opened from Owensboro through Lewis Station. Passenger service on the line was discontinued in 1941, and freight service ended in 1984.

The name was changed to Utica in honor of the post master Uriah “Ute” McKay when the post office was established shortly after the railroad was built. By the 1880’s, the town had a blacksmith shop, undertaking establishment, millinery shop, barber shop, feather renovator, flour and grist mill, livery stable, canning factory, wagon maker, drug store, bank, hotel and shoe shop and aspirations to be a metropolitan area. Two millers, Henry Wilhite and Aaron Leet merged their businesses in 1882 to create the largest mill in the area. People came from miles away and spent the night to have their grain milled. Mill Street is the only remembrance of that thriving business today.

The earliest doctors were H.O. Ayer and E.A. Lackland, by the late 1880’s Drs. Hardwick, C.T. Thomas, and W.E. Holmes were practicing in Utica.

In 1900 Bert Haley drove his “Utica Stagecoach” all around to pick up and deliver items on trips to Owensboro. Homer O’Flynn ran a similar business, carrying everything from passengers to chickens.

Not until 1927 was a new graveled road, following the present U.S. 431, built between Utica and Owensboro. An interesting business was the “Feather Renovator”. Wagons would gather up soiled feather beds and pillows and take them to the “renovator” to be cleaned, then they would be delivered back to the owners.

In 1912, Nestor Howard operated a canning factory briefly. Oil and coal were important resources. Many abandoned coal mines can still be seen around Utica. The oil boom of the ‘20’s and ‘30’s brought prosperity to the village and surrounding areas.

The first church building in Utica was opened in 1857. There were many slaves attending the church, ranging from 11 in 1861 to 28 in 1864. After the Civil War, a new church was established for the black members. Bethlehem Church was organized about 1867. There was a one-room school located two miles southwest of Utica; another one room school was built in the village, later enlarged, it became the Utica Normal School in 1899. Later a new school would be built from 1939 to 1941, as a W.P.A. Project. The school closed in 2008 and was replaced with a new school, Southern Oaks at Sutherland.

In 2015, Utica has two grocery stores, two churches, a fire department, a Dollar General Store and post office.

Reference to an article by Shirley Trunnell and Alice Hicks