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KSR County Spotlight: Let’s Go To Monroe!


Hello ladies and gents. Did you enjoy Pikeville? Me too. Let’s grab a Diet Dew and hit the road, as we have about 4 hours ahead of us on the Hal Rogers Parkway. Monroe County, here we come!


Photo via Wiki


Founded in 1820, Monroe County is named after the 5th president of these United States, James Monroe.  Monroe was the last president of the original Founding Fathers, and the third of them to die on Independence Day.  Monroe and his Vice President Daniel Tompkins were in office from 1817 to 1825.  Tompkins is the namesake for Tompkinsville,  Monroe County’s seat.  This makes Monroe County the only county of America’s 2,957 to have the county named after a President and the county seat named after his VP.  One more quick fact, Tompkins died only 99 days after his vice presidency, the shortest duration of any VP.  You can thank me when you nail one of these questions in Final Jeopardy one day.


Apparently it was illegal to smile back then, as Daniel Tompkins shows us here.

Apparently it was illegal to smile back then, as Daniel Tompkins shows us here.


Speaking of, let’s take a look at Tompkinsville. Tompkinsville is one of our smaller county seats, with only around 2,500 people living in its 3.8 square miles.  Settled around 1790, Tompkinsville was the site of John Hunt Morgan’s first raid in 1862.  As they would eventually be known as Morgan’s Raiders, J.H. Morgan and his posse rolled into Tompkinsville and attacked Major Thomas Jordan’s 9th Calvary, defeating them and capturing 30 prisoners in the process.  They also took wagons, horses, mules and supplies before burning down the original courthouse and moving on.  They eventually moved north where they fought in Lebanon KY before riding through Springfield, Bardstown and Garnettsville before heading into Indiana.  You’re learning so much today!


See .. no one was happy.

See .. no one was happy.


So let’s talk about today.  When people talk about Monroe County and Tompkinsville, the word I keep hearing is barbecue.  Monroe County is home to no less than 7 separate but delicious barbecue joints, all of which feature their traditional vinegar based barbecue sauce.  You can pop over to the small town of Gamaliel and grab some food from JayDee’s BBQ or Collins BBQ.  Or you could hang in Tompkinsville and hit one of their four BBQ restaurants.  Word on the street (aka my friend Dustin who’s from there) is that if you’re looking for the Tompkinsville staple barbecue joint, you need to hit up France’s on Fourth Street.  Make sure you get that shoulder plate, which is pork shoulder either dipped or sprinkled in their delicious vinegar based sauce complete with baked beans and coleslaw.  If you’re not in the mood for barbecue, which is weird, then you should try Dovie’s.  Dovie’s was founded just before World War II, and has been serving their famous burgers ever since. They even won Kentucky Living Magazine’s  Best Hamburger in the State back in ’05.  If you’re a calorie counter, you may want to keep driving as the Dovie’s burger comes deep-fried with their special sauce.  You can also get deep-fried hot dogs, bologna and egg, ham and cheese or ham and egg sandwiches as well.


Save me a parking spot, I'm getting in the car now.  Photo courtesy of

Save me a parking spot, I’m getting in the car now. Photo courtesy of


I went looking for some activities and events to help us work off some of this food, and I don’t see that happening.  Although, they easily have some of the more interesting events I’ve found thus far.  We missed May’s Fountain Run BBQ Festival but we can still catch August’s Watermelon Festival on Main Street.  This includes a beauty pageant, car show, parade with floats and of course, food.  The watermelon seed distance spitting contest is my personal favorite for obvious reasons. But, if that’s not your thing, let’s play marbles.  Yes, those marbles.  Tompkinsville is home to the Monroe County Marble Super Dome.  Here you can play the game of Rolley Hole.  In its simplest terms, Rolley Hole is a combination of golf, pool and croquet.  Two person teams compete against one another with the intention of moving marbles around a 40’x20′ marble yard and hitting your marbles into three holes in succession.  I’ll let my boy, 2012 National Champion Marble Player Paul Davis tell you more about it via this KET video.  Start it at the 9:40 mark and enjoy.  Seriously, it’s definitely worth the watch!


The Dome, Home of the 201 National Champs!

The Dome, Home of the 2012 National Champs!


And with that, another county is in the books.  I’ll see you on the marble field and remember, if you have questions about the Annual River Race, give Donnie a call.  We’ve been on the road for a while and I need to swing by my place and let my dog out.  So next on the list, let’s check out Fayette County!


Remember, if you want your county’s favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, or cool town event featured, hit me up at [email protected] and we’ll get it on here!


Article written by Corey James

16 responses to “KSR County Spotlight: Let’s Go To Monroe!”

  1. Ed

    Went to college with some guys from tompkinsville, and they said the guy that runs a liquor store there goes by Busch, so naturally is son is known as Busch light. True story.

    1. Brandon

      Considering Monroe County is a dry county, I find that hard to believe, unless he worked at in Celina Tennessee the closet place to get liquor from Tompkinsville.

    2. River Rat

      The authorities might like to know about that liquor store. “Roe” County is supposed to be dry.

  2. Reality check

    It wasn’t illegal to smile. There just wasn’t any reasons to smile. Life was incredibly hard. Especially compared to our cushy current lives.

    1. Dee W.

      That’s pretty far fetched. Showing teeth back then was not as photogenic as it was today – dental care and daily teeth cleanings did not occur. Moreover they did not have photographs – their pictures had to be painted which means they had to pose – difficult to hold a smile for a long period of time even if you don’t show your teeth.

  3. HuntsVegas

    I’m too lazy to look it up….and won’t win Jeopardy any time soon……….. I guess this Tompkins was so good they let him serve after he died. Or what?

    Yeah I’m lazy. ((the shortest duration of any VP. ))

    “Monroe and his Vice President Daniel Tompkins were in office from 1817 to 1825. ”

    “One more quick fact, Tompkins died only 99 days after his vice presidency, the shortest duration of any VP. You can thank me when you nail one of these questions in Final Jeopardy one day.”

    1. Corey

      He died 99 days after his Vice Presidency ended, living the shortest amount of time after his office. Sorry. Should’ve clarified that.

  4. Bart Edwards

    It’s “cavalry”, not “calvary.” You can thank me when you get that right on Jeopardy some day.
    (Oh, and it’s “fewer than 7,” not “less than 7” bbq joints.) Just saying’…Jeopardy.

  5. River Rat

    Can anyone name a Tompkinsville High School football player who went to UK on a football scholarship? (there are at least 4,maybe 5 or 6) Another who played several years for the New Orleans Saints, and another who is in the Canadian Football Hall of fame?

    1. Dee W.

      Do tell.

    2. River Rat

      Canadian Football H.O.F. – Eagle “Buddy” Keys
      N.O. Saints- Elois Grooms
      Wildcats- Bill Bushong, Paul Bushong, Joe Bryant, Joe Fred Butler, Paul “Bull”Smith (about 1953, never played because of health problem) and possibly Frank Petitt about 1950 before transferring to Western Ky.
      Don’t bet the farm on this.Sometimes memories play tricks on us.

    3. Diana Gearlds

      Eloise Grooms played for the New Orleans Saints

  6. Falcon 2004

    Billy Joe Murphy. Class of 2007. University of Kentucky OL 2007-2011
    Elois Grooms

    1. River Rat

      How did I forget Murphy ? He played after consolidation into Monroe Co H.S. Keys played college ball at Western Ky, Grooms I believe played at Tenn. Tech.

  7. GrumpyOldDude

    Dude, you better pick up the pace on these articles… this rate, you’ll finish all of the counties just before you retire.

  8. Double D

    There was also Barry Rich (Phil Simms’ cousin) who played OL in the early 90s.