The town of Magnolia on the Jackson Highway was on the same road map of the L & N Pike in the days of the stagecoach, and hence, has an older history than the other towns of its size less favorably located. In 1840 before the war of the 60’s, the town was known as Center Point, and was located one mile south of the present site, near the Ed Lee Ford place, just north of the Dave Lewis home. All of what is now Magnolia was in timber. Some different reasons may have been responsible for the name “Center Point” as it was the midway point between sections of the stagecoach line. Another reason for naming it Center Point is that the section around the town is the driving point between the two rivers, Nolin and Green, and it is the highest point on the L & N Pike between these two rivers. Some of the water fall of the community goes into Green River by the way of Lynn Camp Creek and some into the Nolin River by the way of Bacon Creek and South Fork Creek.
The name was changed from Center Point to Magnolia in about 1850 and the community gathered and centered around the present site of town. Several reasons are given for the naming of the town “Magnolia.” One reason was that it was named for the wife of a citizen in the place at that time, and another for the name of the evergreen, magnolia. Quite a number of magnolia trees were native in the forest that covered the present site of the town.
The first house in what is now Magnolia was built by A.F. Smith, where Mrs. Carrie Warren Puckett’s residence now stands. This was a log house and was torn down in 1880 by J.C. Abney. A frame house was built in its place, which burned in 1894. Soon after the first house was built, Dr. M.B. Peterson, B.G. Beavers, R.L. Miller, J.B. Abney, J.M. Mouser, James Maupin, Bush Vaughn, and Teddy Waggoner built houses also.
The merchants of the early days were Aaron Smith, B.G. Beavers, J.C. Abney, Rod Warfield, William Vaughn, George Wimmell, James Lee, and A.B. Donahue. Later came Greaver, Hargan, Ed Maupin, William Middleton, L.S. Lamkin, J.W. Bomar, C.R. Seymour, and T.I. Smith.
The post office was established in 1857 and the first postmaster was Willaim Wilson. Then came Aaron Smith, Will Skaggs, B.G. Beavers, John Mathis, Henry Gardner, William Bush, J.M. Greaver, James Noe, E.T. Warren, Dora Mae Seymour, and others. Frances Salt is the present postmaster.
McCalthus, the old stagecoach station, was located 1 1/2 miles south of Magnolia on the old Tate place, now the home of W.H. Jaggers. This old historic stage station was torn down and a dwelling house was erected on the site in 1927.
From an early date, Magnolia has had excellent mail service, considering its distance from the railroad. The old mail hack daily from Magnolia via Buffalo to Hodgenville was well known for many miles around before it gave way to the automobile.
The well-known carriers, Ben Shipp, Henry Sims Wooldridge, Mike Jones, and E.B. Jaggers increased their small salaries by delivering mail along the way and transporting passengers. The previously named early carriers were followed by Dave Druen, Lee Dixon, Jesse Edwards, Wilburn Dye, Harvey Loyall, Will Bloyd, Irvin Sprowels, Alex Walker, Joe L. Pepper, and others. Gene Sidebottom is the present carrier.
The first church in magnolia was the Cumberland Presbyterian Providence, which still holds a strong membership. The early ministers were James Vinson, Wortham, Bosark, Bradshaw, Henderson, Cundiff, Cave, Hagen, Puckett, Shanks, and others.
The first doctor in Magnolia was Dr. M.B. Peterson, who began his practice in 1870 and continued until 1892. He was followed by Dr. C.L. Williams, Dr. Homer Abney and in 1897, Dr. Leigh Maupin. He continued his practice here for a number of years before moving to Hodgenville. Dr. J.W. Wells (formerly of nelson County) followed Dr. Maupin.
The Regulators of the Ku Klux Klan was founded here in 1884 and worked terror in the hearts of the evil-doers of the community, as well as others. This organizations soon went upon the rocks, and well that it did, for a democratic country has no place for self-appointed administrators of the law.
Magnolia has a number of good business houses managed by real businessmen and has a thriving bank.
The farmland around here is level and productive. Grain, corn, tobacco, and cattle are the principle products of the farm.
During the years of the Normal School, Z.E. Despain taught music (especially piano) for all the adjoining communities and no doubt there still lingers in the memories of some old citizens his piano music at the school commencement programs. At this time, great outdoor commencements were held and in attendance they surpassed any in this part of the state.
During the school days, the young lads of the early teen age used to pass the time annoying neighbors by ringing bells at odd hours of the night, putting firecrackers under some man’s mule, tying tin cans to dog’s tails and papering some man’s house with old newspapers.
Since John Geever left, it can now be called to memory that some large brass farm bells were left sitting on his front store porch at night. It was the custom of the boys about once a week to ring these bells at a late hour of the night.
The first house in Magnolia was built in 1847 on the Bob Ragland farm. The second one was on the William Tharp farm and the third one on the G.H. Hazlewood farm. The fourth schoolhouse was the large and beautiful brick building built on the present school site. This schoolhouse was completed in December 1879. Professor C.W. Mathis was the first principal in the new building. He remained here for several years and had a large body of students from all over the surrounding counties. The school at this time was known as Magnolia College. Professor Mathis was succeeded by his wife. Professor Cabel was succeeded by Professor Mitchell. He, and Mrs. Soloman remained here until 1889. These were followed by Professor McClure and shortly after his coming, the brick building was destroyed by fire.