The Frozen Inn- A Bloody Place

It must have been a bloody place. It was one of the several places in Breathitt County (the Bucket, the Fuzzy Navel, the Rockhouse, The Red House, and others) that mothers warned their sons and daughters to avoid. In 1939 alone, Coroner James T. Goff made ten trips to the business to work murder cases.

Not all of the vile and violent deeds are recorded in The Jackson Times, so we do not really know the extent of the debauchery that this little honkey tonk was known for not that long ago. The question for modern historians is- where was the Frozen Inn located and how bad was it?

The point where Frozen Creek flows into the North Fork of the Kentucky River.
The Frozen Inn, although nearby, was not as peaceful and serene as the spot where Frozen Creek empties into the North Fork of the Kentucky River.

Newspaper accounts stated that the business was a “road house, four miles from Jackson.” Another article indicated that the was five miles north of Jackson on Highway 15, which would place the business in the Keck area. No description of the place or what it looked like has survived. Based on other “road houses” in Breathitt County like the “Bloody Bucket” and the “Rockhouse”, drinking, womanizing, prostitution, drugs, and every other conceivable dissipation could be found at these road-side “joints.”

The loucheness seems to have reached its peak in the 1939-1940 period and then the business was never mentioned again in The Jackson Times. During that time frame, several of the murders were headline news in the paper including:

The Jackson Times, March 16, 1939, page 1

Services Are Held for Hiram Engle

Funeral services for Hiram Engle, 21 who was killed early Sunday morning were held at the residence at Elkatawa, Monday, March 13, conducted by Rev. J. M. Bemiss and Rev. Buell.  Interment followed in the family lot near the home.

Mr. Engle was the youngest son of Sam Engle of Elkatawa and besides his father is survived by his stepmother, two sisters, Mrs. Edgar Brown and Mrs. Fred Turner, one brother Clarence Engle, and several half-brothers and sisters.

Mr. Engle was fatally wounded early Sunday morning at the Frozen Inn, a road house four miles from Jackson.  According to James T. Goff, coroner of Breathitt County, Engle was shot three times in the back and twice in the right side.  Hubert Howard and Marcus Mann are charged with killing Engle.

The Jackson Times, October 19, 1939, page 1

Youth Wounded

Ancil Minnix, of the Frozen Creek section, was shot through the abdomen last Thursday night near Frozen Inn, according to reports brought to Jackson.  Merrill Taulbee surrendered to Chief of Police A. S. Sizemore following the shooting but was later released.  Minnix was brought to the Bach hospital where his condition is reported as fair.

The Jackson Times, November 9, 1939, page 2

One Man Killed Another Wounded

Raymond Victor Ashley, 26 Powell County was shot and killed and George Townsend, 25, seriously wounded Sunday afternoon near Frozen Inn, a road house, five miles north of Jackson.

Townsend was brought to the Bach Memorial Hospital here but later taken to a Lexington hospital.

Ashley, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Ashley of Lombard, is survived by a widow and three-year-old daughter and his parents.

A short article from the front page of the February 1, 1939 edition of The Lexington Herald praising the food at The Frozen Inn about five miles north of Jackson on old Kentucky Highway 15.

Not all of the news about the Frozen Inn was bad. In February 1939, a reporter from The Lexington Herald stopped in the Frozen Inn and had a positive experience. He noted that the lunch was hot and it must have made a good impression, because the business was mentioned on the front page of the February 1, 1939 newspaper.

As quickly as stories about the Frozen Inn started to appear, they were never mentioned again in The Jackson Times after June 1940. An occasional brief mention in the Lexington papers after that time usually had to do with a trial for an accused murderer.

This article from the November 19, 1940 edition of The Lexington Leader mentioned the Frozen Inn and the infamous Rock House on Highway 15 South near Haddix.

We know very little about the place and many questions remain. Who ran it? Was the place burned down or destroyed?  Was it sold to a new owner who cleaned it up or changed the name?  Where was it located? How many more murders and stabbings took place there that we do not know about? 

All these questions remain unanswered.  Maybe a reader might just know a few details that will help unravel this mystery.  There may even be a few people who stopped by the “roadhouse” to cool down a little as they passed through. If they did, they might not admit it from what we do know about the infamous Frozen Inn.

© 2022 Stephen D. Bowling


About sdbowling

Director of the Breathitt County Public Library and Heritage Center in Jackson, Kentucky.
This entry was posted in Breathitt County, Frozen Creek, Murder and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Frozen Inn- A Bloody Place

  1. Do it now says:

    Pretty sure they was just a battle and some other reason if you not from there you wouldn’t understand. The people and the court houses went at it. Then of course some others reason I won’t mention.


  2. Do it now says:

    Pretty sure they was just a battle and some other reason if you not from there you wouldn’t understand. The people and the court houses went at it. Then of course some others reason I won’t mention.


  3. Teresa Hollon says:

    My dad Hubert Hollon was born in 1932 and he knows exactly where it was. He was born and raised on frozen. However he was young but he still has childhood memories of some of the killings. He also said there was a mountain view which was a skating rink opened by Booter Howard on top of Frozen Hill. We had kin people involved in killings in both places.


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