Formed in 1845 from Hickman County, Fulton County is the westernmost county or Kentucky; its western boundary is the Mississippi River. The county seat is Hickman. The county is named for Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat. Because of imprecise early surveying of Kentucky&amp;#039;s southern border, Fulton County is divided into two non-contiguous parts. AAn exclave on the peninsula in the Kentucky side of the Mississippi River can be reached only by road through Tennessee.
The county was developed for agriculture. Area farmers had ties to Tennessee planters and shipped produce down the Mississippi River, which formed the county&amp;#039;s western border. The area supported the Confederacy, while Kentucky maintained official neutrality as a Border State. After the Civil War, African Americans became landowners in the county.
Fulton County is situated in the southwestern part of the Jackson Purchase. The region was added to Kentucky in 1818 when Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby negotiated a treaty with the Cherokee Indians in which they ceded their lands along the Mississippi. The town of Hickman holds an interesting history which includes devastating floods, the Civil War and a Yellow Fever epidemic that killed a third of the town’s population, including all its doctors.
The first courthouse was built in 1845, and the second one in 1901, designed by architect Frank P.Milburn of Columbia, South Carolina. The Fulton County Courthouse is most unusual among the county courthouses in Kentucky, in the nature of the county it represents, its dramatic river bluff location, and in the way its noted architect took advantage of these factors to create a unique design.
The Courthouse is made of rich red brick trimmed with stone with four octagonal towers at the corners, lavishly curved Flemish gables as additional features of the picturesque skyline, and modest square porches on three sides. It&amp;#039;s most distinctive feature is a Seth Thomas 8-Day Clock in the tower.
Milburn combined an ingenious plan for the courthouse, utilizing the apparently decorative towers for circulation and subsidiary chambers, with a dramatic exploitation of the possibilities of the site. The towers and gables sit like a crown on the forehead of the bluff, vivid against the sky and the river, yet in its domestic material harmonizing with the residential area around it. The ability of competent eclectically- oriented architects to work in different historical styles at the turn of the century is effectively demonstrated here, in an efficient, economical, yet imaginative solution to the common problem of the county courthouse.
The courthouse and the residential part of the town is situated atop the bluff with spectacular views in all directions and a share of summer&amp;#039;s precious breezes. Approached from the south or the east, the courthouse is seen across a shallow dip just between the incoming traveller and the final height of the east-west ridge that terminates above the River. It is this situation that the architect, the prolific Frank P. Milburn of Columbia, South Carolina, so effectively capitalized on.
The Meadows Hotel building has been a part of the landscape of Fulton since 1901, but the history goes back to circa 1898, when Mr. W. W. Meadows, a prominent business man of his day, began construction of the Meadows building. A half block long, it housed retail establishments on the first floor, with a fine hotel on the second floor. The hotel opened in January, 1900 with great fanfare. It was a luxury hotel for all traveling passengers on the railroad. Tragically, a fire struck the Meadows block on December 1, 1900 and it was destroyed. Undaunted, Mr. Meadows immediately began construction of the new Meadows Hotel, which was completed in record time, in September 1901. The three-story building was a full block long with 100 rooms.
Mr. Meadows died in 1914, and under new ownership, the hotel was rechristened as the Southern Hotel in 1925. Ironically, in the winter of 1933, the largest fire in Fulton’s history destroyed most of the building, leaving only what you see today.
In February 2016, Mr. Jeff Campbell, a lifelong resident, acquired the property and oversaw a complete reconstruction project to bring the Meadows Hotel back to life. It is now an historic boutique hotel with 14 guest rooms, each uniquely and individually appointed, an intimate small restaurant and a bar called Bar 101. The lobby features the Meadows Shop retail outlet with everything from souvenirs to food to sundries.
Confusion is caused by the fact that the largest town in Fulton County is called Fulton, but the county seat is Hickman, the name of the adjoining county.
The City of Hickman is located at the far southwestern tip of both the county and also of the State, on a high bluff overlooking both the Mississippi and the Bayou de Chien (its name a rare survival from the period of early French occupation of the Mississippi Valley). Historic Hickman, the largest and second oldest city in Kentucky on the Mississippi River, was founded in 1819 by James Mills and was originally named “Mills Point.” The name was changed in 1837 to Hickman.
Mark Twain called Hickman “a pretty town perched upon a handsome hill.” Today, visitors to the town can witness that claim by touring Hickman’s historic buildings and neighborhoods. The &amp;quot;downtown&amp;quot; area is literally down at the bottom of the bluff, squeezed between the steep hillside and the bayou, a location once both strategic and commercially attractive. Fulton County shares with much of the southern Mississippi a cotton culture; its rich bottom land soil grows 90 percent of Kentucky&amp;#039;s cotton crop.
Fulton/Hickman County Economic Development Partnership, Tour120 Event Committee