December 25, 1798, after several known atrocities, the Harpe Brothers were first arrested in the state of Kentucky. The arrest was for the murder of a man named Langford. Langford had befriended them at a public house near Rockcastle River and was foolish enough to show off his silver coin too many times. Jailed in Danville, the brothers managed to escape. When the local posse chased after them, the young son of a man who assisted the authorities was found dead and mutilated in retaliation by the Harpes. Four months later, Governor James Garrard placed a three-hundred dollar reward on each of the Harpes’ heads. The Harpe brothers were one of the first known recorded serial killers.
December 25, 1864, the Campbellsville courthouse was burned in Taylor County. Some records were saved. Confederate General Lyon’s troops were down to 250 because of desertions. He decided to exit Kentucky through Burkesville. This was the sixth of seven courthouses he burned.
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg: 10
December 25, 1905, Deputy Sheriff Mack Roberts, Leslie County Sheriff’s Office, was shot and killed when gunfire erupted at a turkey shooting match at Big Fork, 20 miles from Hyden. A dispute over the match brought on a gun battle involving several men. A man involved in the dispute was also killed.
December 25, 1921, Chief of Police Russell Baker, Barbourville Police Department, was shot and killed at Elys Station on Christmas Day as he and a Knox County deputy questioned several men who had fired a pistol. Chief Baker had just been appointed police chief in Barbourville and was traveling there with his wife, the deputy, and the deputy’s sister. After passing a group of men, one of the subjects fired a pistol. Chief Baker and the deputy turned back to search the men. The chief had just disarmed one of the men when another one began to stab Chief Baker in the back. Chief Baker turned shot the man three times, killing him. In the ensuing shootout, Chief Baker and two other men from the group were fatally shot.
December 25, 1930, Deputy Sheriff John Mosley, Owsley County Sheriff’s Office, was killed while attempting to serve a warrant on several men wanted for robbery. He was fatally shot from ambush when he entered the home of the brothers to make the arrest. Deputy Mosley’s brother, who had accompanied him to serve the warrant, returned fire and killed two suspects and wounded two others.
December 25, 1931, Deputy Sheriff Owen Woodford Sizemore, Harlan County Sheriff’s Office, was shot and killed as he and another deputy attempted to question two men who were handing out strike literature at the Blue Diamond Coal Mine. When the deputies asked the two what they were carrying one of the men pulled out pamphlets from his pocket, and then pulled out a pistol. A struggle ensued in which Deputy Sizemore was shot in the head and killed. The suspect was taken into custody later in the day. Deputy Sizemore had served as a deputy for one year. He was survived by his wife and six children.
December 25, 1951, Deputy Sheriff Bill Miller, Magoffin County Sheriff’s Office, was shot and killed as he attempted to arrest a murder suspect. Deputy Miller had received information that the suspect was hiding at a residence. He was shot by the suspect as he opened the door. Deputy Miller was able to return fire and kill the suspect despite being mortally wounded. Deputy Miller had served with the Magoffin County Sheriff’s Office for 13 years. He is survived by his wife and five children.
December 25, 1973, Chief of Police George H. King, Evarts Police Department, succumbed to an accidental gunshot wound sustained the previous night inside the Evarts police station. He was accidentally shot in the abdomen by the assistant chief.
December 25, 1980, a downtown Frankfort hotel where 30 elderly people lived caught fire and one resident died while another was seriously hurt. The Southern Hotel was owned and operated by the Frankfort Housing Authority. It was later determined to be arson.
Kentucky Trivia: Mistletoe (Phoradendron serotinum) is a Kentucky native plant found growing in small bunches high up in the branches of maples, cherries, walnuts and many other native trees across the region. It is only one of the hundreds of mistletoe species found across the globe — but it is the only species native to Kentucky.
December 25, 2000, Lexington native Clay Lancaster, a scholar who devoted much of his life to documenting historic architecture in Kentucky died. Mr. Lancaster is possibly one of the more influential and unique Kentuckians of the 21st century.
2016 Christmas Tree in State Capitol Building.
December 25, 2019, Louisville native Al Young passed away. Mr. Young spent 52 years with Four Roses. After 17 years of management, he became the Senior Brand Ambassador while also serving as the official historian and archivist for the distillery. In 2010, he wrote the book on the famed bourbon’s history, Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend. The book is now in its third edition.