- Somerset Commonwealth Journal
Pushing for progress
By BILL MARDIS, Editor Emeritus Jul 21, 2006
"We wouldn?t be any farther from Somerset than Burnside if we had a decent road."
Verne Wright has a passion for improving Ky. 192, a narrow, unbelievably crooked, almost forgotten two-lane highway between Somerset and Mt. Victory.
Wright, a native and resident of Mt. Victory, has tried for years to straighten the curves on Ky. 192. He has had limited success; the State Department of Highways installed guardrails at the most dangerous drop-offs. However, Ky. 192 is still a shaded, crinkled ribbon of blacktop moseying uncertainly through the majestic hills of eastern Pulaski County.
"A friend of mine has a compass in his car and he says it shows all four directions on the way out here," Wright laughed.
A car's speedometer measures 16 miles between Somerset and Mt. Victory. Many places have a posted 20-mile-per-hour speed limit and often a vehicle ?meets itself coming back? as it negotiates tight curves.
A retired schoolteacher, Wright admits frustration at local politicians in the past who ignored pleas to rebuild Ky. 192. He reasons they were "in love with Ky. 80" and relegated his beloved Mt. Victory to second-class status.
According to Wright, the late senator and ambassador John Sherman Cooper, when he was county judge, used WPA labor in the early 1930s to build the road to Dykes, a small community about halfway between Ruth and Mt. Victory.
"We had to travel the creek bottom between here and Dykes when the water wasn't too high," Wright recalls.
A modern, four-lane highway is not what Wright is after. "Just correct some of those ridiculous curves," he pleads. "I've said they should charge people a fee to ride a roller coaster the way it is now."
Does Wright still believe the curves will be made straight between Somerset and Mt. Victory?
"I never give up. I'm a schoolteacher," he declared. "I think eventually it will happen, but maybe not in my lifetime."
Mt. Victory is close to Wright's heart. It's a "city" on a hill. It's beautiful. It's his home. He was born there. He lives there. He loves it.
Wright's roots are deep in Mt. Victory. His great grandmother, Ella Darr, was instrumental in naming the community. She got assistance from a Mrs. Hughes (he doesn't recall her first name) and Mrs. Marian Nunnelly.
"They were looking for a name for the new post office established about 1901," said Wright. "Mt. Victory has a religious connotation; a victory in Christian faith."
In 1889 or 1890, Mrs. Nunnelly's husband, Marian, built the first house on the Mt. Victory ridge, an elevated strip of land some 25 miles long and 6-8 miles wide. It is bordered on the west by Buck Creek and on the east by the Rockcastle River.
The second house, a log structure, was built by a Hughes family, and Timothy T. Darr, Wright's great-grandfather, built the third house. Wright was born at the Darr House, facing Dykes Road.
There were houses in the area earlier than those on the ridge. Wright said people lived in the surrounding hollows where there was water and the soil was richer. "There wasn't much water on this ridge," he explained.
"Marian Nunnelly made some effort to develop this area," said Wright. "He built Nunnelly Springs Health Resort on the south side of what is now Mt. Victory." Wright said there were two springs in the area of the resort; one with clear water and one with sulphur water.
Also, about the same time, or earlier, there were a hotel and health resort in an area known as Sublimity Springs east of Mt. Victory at Bee Rock.
Nunnelly established a school in Mt. Victory about 1895 and asked Darr, Wright's great-grandfather, to teach. Darr's daughter, Maude Roark, also taught at the school and Darr was overseer. He was a preacher and was pastor of Wesley's Chapel Church.
Edward Guerrant, an ordained Presbyterian minister, came to Mt. Victory in 1905 and built a school. It was a Presbyterian academy and had a dormitory.
The Presbyterian church started a high school in Mt. Victory about 1922 and it eventually evolved into county-supported Mt. Victory High School that operated through the 1952 school year. An elementary school operated several years after that.
Wright is convinced lack of good roads inhibited growth in an area that had a lot of economic potential.
"No roads, that's the reason it didn't grow," assessed Wright. He estimated the population of Mt. Victory is currently about 300.
"It all depends on what you consider Mt. Victory. Some people as far away as Goodwater say they live in Mt. Victory." said Wright.
Wright pointed out that limestone formations around Buck Creek to the west and sandstone outcropping at Rockcastle River on the east both support a unique type of vegetation.
To Wright, the magnificent ridge called Mt. Victory is as close to Heaven as you can get on Earth.
- James Marion Nunnelly, 1840 - 1902
James Marion Nunnelly was born on month day 1840, at birth place , Missouri, to John P Nunnelley and Susan Nunnelley (born Gibson) .
John was born on August 15 1816, in Somerset, Pulaski, Kentucky, United States.
Susan was born on February 9 1821, in Pulaski, Kentucky, United States.
James married Minerva Ann Nunnelly (born Black) on month day 1858, at age 18.
Minerva was born on May 1842, in Pulaski, Kentucky, United States.
They had one son: Walter Albert Nunnelley .
James lived on month day 1850, at address , Kentucky.
He lived on month day 1880, at address , Kentucky.
James passed away on month day 1902, at age 62 at death place , Kentucky