Kentucky Places: Hampton, Livingston County, Kentucky

I’ve been lucky to travel extensively around the United States and Europe – but heart-stopping places are often the ones closest to home. A few years ago, I spent several weeks in far-western Kentucky, exploring the farms and crossroads communities of Livingston County. I fell in love with one rural hamlet in particular, which retained not only much of its historic character, but also a beguiling sense of charm. This is my love letter to Hampton, located in north-central Livingston County, Kentucky.

The office of Dr. Davenport, in Hampton, Kentucky.

Settlement around the area of Hampton began in 1816, when Davey Champion, who likely emigrated from North Carolina, purchased a farm that was later bought by Jesse Padon. In 1840, Padon and his wife built a substantial house on the property that was later utilized as a hotel.[1]

Section of the 1921 15-minute quadrangle of Golconda, showing the town of Hampton, Kentucky.

The community didn’t receive its name until after the Civil War. Confederate General Wade Hampton was stationed in Livingston County during a portion of the Civil War, and following the war, residents christened their community in his honor. The Padon land transferred to James Cameron in 1877, described as a “man of great enterprise and business tact.”[2]

The United States Post Office in Hampton, Kentucky.

A post office was established at Hampton in 1888, and despite moving several times within the community, is still operating, though constantly threatened by USPS closings. The small, frame, front gable Post Office is now only open from 12-2 pm, Monday through Saturday. Cameron is credited with securing the post office as well as ensuring the construction of “two country roads, one to Salem and one to Birdsville.”

The former Cross-Casper Store in Hampton, Kentucky.

Hampton’s streets include Main, Back, First, Bell, Pine and Tennessee Streets. Carrsville Road (State Route 135) cuts through Hampton, but historic development is oriented toward the smaller streets.

A detail of the pressed metal cornice (and cladding) on the Crass-Casper Store.

Residents of Hampton established a common school in the 1880s; the Hampton Academy was founded the next decade. The Academy, a two-story front gable frame structure, served as both elementary and high school for the community until 1936.

This June 10, 1936 photograph shows the academy at right and its replacement, built by the Works Progress Administration, on the the left. Image from the Goodman-Paxton Collection at the University of Kentucky.

A fire swept through the commercial district of Hampton on January 29, 1914. Before the fire could be contained, “almost all of the business section burned to the ground, including the telephone exchange, drug store, general merchandise stores and blacksmith.”  Though the commercial core of Hampton contains only one active building today – the post office today  –  several other historic buildings remain.

Edward Davenport House in Hampton, Kentucky – with a wonderful front porch and lovely hydrangeas.

I’m not sure exactly what the exact magic of Hampton is – only that I’ve thought often, when daydreaming about hitting it big in the lottery (if only I ever bought tickets), of how I would purchase each historic building, and restore them.

Perhaps it was the gentle spring weather that bewitched me, the first time I visited. Or the love and pride evident in the residents. Perhaps it was the very tangible stories and history I could sense when I peeked through the windows of Dr. Davenport’s office. Visions of an artists’ colony or a writer’s retreat danced through my head – surely other people would feel calm, and settled, just as I did as I strolled through town, watching chickens idly and placidly cross the road.

[1] Livingston County History, 26

[2] Ibid.

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Comments

  1. Joberta Wells says:

    I love them all but especially the doctor’s little office building. What a great little town!

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      Isn’t it adorable?

  2. Lois Lasher Middleton says:

    This is where I grew up, the Post Office building being my first home. My grandmother was a Hampton and General Wade Hampton a family relative. Hampton is a quaint, wonder little town, full of history and good people. I too have dreamed of restoring the general store where Doc Casper was an important part of my childhood. Thanks for the article and pictures! Lois Lasher Middleton

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      Oh, how wonderful! Thank you for reading! If you have any historic photos of Hampton, I would love to see them!

    2. Heather (Weaver) McDowell says:

      This little town is where I grew up. It’s the town that built me. I have nothing but wonderful fond memories of Hampton and I’m so happy that someone else can see it’s charm.

      1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

        Thank you for reading! It is a very special place and you are lucky to have grown up there!

  3. Thank you for capturing the charm of Hampton!

  4. Pamela Manka Cass says:

    I loved your article on Hampton, Kentucky. My 2x Great Grandfather, Francis Marion Nelson and my 2x Great Grandmother, Julia Ann Hosick had a farm in Hampton… they could walk to town. They married in 1864. They had 16 children there… including my Great Grandfather, John Wesley Nelson. I was lucky to visit Hampton a couple of years ago… I visited the old Nelson family farm (with help of the Livingston County Historical & Genealogical Society) and saw the grave site of my 2x Great Grandmother which is located in a plowed field in a grove of trees on the family farm. I walked through the town of Hampton and felt the wonderful charm of the few old buildings left. Your article brought back lovely memories and thoughts of my Ancestors. Thank you!

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      I am so glad you enjoyed it – thank you for reading!

  5. Annie Jaech says:

    My lands! All this reminds me of the Rabbit Hash Store on the Ohio in Boone county! You’re not a bona fide member of the Stephens clan until you’ve made your pilgrimage. We’ve been through flood and fire, yet still welcome folks.
    One of the delights of this very fine blog is that, no matter what the subject, a readers heart will warm to a special love or ache or memory.

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      Oh, thank you so much for your lovely words!

  6. Anthony Lasher says:

    Thanks for the great article about Hampton! Your research regarding the history corresponds with the stories I have been told all of my life. Those are my chickens in the photograph of Main Street and the post office!

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      Seeing those chickens made my day! I had to take my husband to Hampton on one of our road trips – we were last there in spring 2015.

  7. Thank you so much for this sweet write up of my little town. We live on Campground Rd on the property that my grandmother lived on and as well as my grandmothers’ grandmother. We agree with you, Hampton has charm and a community that takes care of each other. We are blessed to call Hampton our hometown.

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      Thank you so much for reading!

  8. Susie Robinson Malone says:

    I also have the best of memories of Hampton. This is where my family lived and lived there until their deaths. We are Robinson family.

  9. Judy Hurley Alvey says:

    My grandpa lived in Hampton. We would visit him and attack his grape vines. Love those memories. Thank you very much.

  10. Charlotte jones says:

    I love playing softball behind the school with Lola team,Hampton,joy,tolu,Salem,what a great time kids now still need these fields to use not to let them grown up .thats why kids set in house all the time .as a mom I would love o watch them again .

  11. Eugenia McCandless Dorn says:

    I so enjoyed the photos and writing about Hampton, Kentucky. My grandparents (McCandless) are buried there along with many other relatives. My step father graduated from the Hampton High School. I have lived in the state of Washington for 49 years, but my “real” home is Livingston County. Thank you. Will you have more places in KY for all to enjoy?

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      You can check out my other “Kentucky Places” posts at this link: http://www.gardenstogables.com/category/kentucky-places/ and you can also search through a map of Kentucky http://www.gardenstogables.com/kentucky/ and click on the county name you are interested in to see if I have any posts from there!

  12. Joe Ed Smith says:

    My people are from Hampton and surrounding little “spots” in the road. When I was a youngster I would ride my bicycle from my grandmother’s house on Campground Road to my great Uncle Dewey Walker’s house over on First. The cycle trip would also take me to a Great Aunt’s house on the “outskirts” of town with a loop to the school to swing on the monkey bars awhile. My adventure always took me past Doc Caspers General Store and if I had some chnge or a crumpled up dollar bill I would stop for a Nehi and catch up with what the elder people were concerned with. I live a county over now but still have to go home sometimes just to remember. Thank you for your article.

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      Thank you for reading!

      1. Debbie Hosick says:

        I remember our bus would stop and let us off before school so we could walk to Doc Casper’s Store and buy candy,. Then we would walk to school.

    2. Mr. Joe Ed Smith, can you possibly tell me anything about Doc Casper his family father, mother, siblings etc. I would love to see an talk to you if possible. I would love to hear about them or any other Casper’s you know of. Thanks so much.

      1. Susie Malone says:

        If you would like to talk to their niece I have her phone no.

  13. Kendal Ramage says:

    I grew up in Hampton I can remember having 3 stores in the town .And as a boy with we got together at doc store and it was a great place to be a kid then.

  14. James Middleton says:

    Questions about your sources for the Civil War General Wade Hampton. I married a Hampton girl, Lois Faye Lasher. She says she has a great great grandmother who was a Hampton. How good are you with all these family tree questions? Haha, good luck with that one.

    1. Janie-Rice Brother says:

      It’s all I can do to keep up with my own family tree! 🙂

  15. Margaret Moore Grimmett says:

    I grew up in Carrsville which is about 8 0r10 miles from Hammpton, but I remember the school bus going through Hampton every day I really liked the little town but was never there just passed through but I have a great love and respect for all those small towns, Joy, Salem, Lola, and the quality of life that made me the person that I am today. The people were the best so thoughtful and caring . I have been in WV. for about 50 years but My thoughts continually turn to our roots. they really make an impression on our lives.

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