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February 16, 1860, Boyd County was created from Carter County, Lawrence County and Greenup County and was named in honor of Linn Boyd, United States Congressman and Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky. Catlettsburg is the county seat. Other localities include: Ashland, Cannonsburg, Ironville, Westwood, Burnaugh, Coalton, Durbin, Kavanaugh, Kilgore, Lockwood, Meads, Normal, Princess, Rockdale, Rush, Summit, Unity and Westwood. Boyd County was the 107th county created in Kentucky and covers 160 square miles.
February 16, 1884, Mary Millicent Miller, from Louisville, took the required oath to become the first American woman to acquire a steamboat master’s license. Harper’s Weekly ran a cartoon entitled, “By All Means Commission the Ladies.” From then on, she was the captain of their ship, The Saline. Respected steamboat masters publicly proclaimed her great skill in the New Orleans newspapers. At the same time, her accomplishment allowed for other females to become steamboat pilots and masters. The rivers she sailed include the Mississippi River, Ohio River, Ouachita River and Red River.
February 16, 1884, heavy rain and melting snow showers caused significant problems along the Ohio River. On February 14, the river was rising one inch every hour before it crested on February 16. This was the largest Ohio River flood on record at the time. Because the river rose relatively slowly, property owners had a warning of the surge.
Kentucky Trivia: In 1942, Russellville native Alice Dunnigan moved to Washington, D.C., and began working for the U.S. Department of Labor. She also became a reporter for the Associated Negro Press. Dunnigan became the first African American female to have a Capitol press pass and the first African American elected to the Women’s National Press Club.
February 16, 1967, Army SP4 George E. Dickerson from Grayson in Carter County, Army SP4 Chester W. Eden from Carter County, Army SP4 Charles R. Lewis from Owensboro in Daviess County died in the Vietnam War.
On February 16, 1970, Louisville native Jimmy Ellis fought Joe Frazier to unify the World Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden. The undefeated Frazier, a big favorite, proved to be too strong and powerful. Ellis was knocked down twice in the fourth round by a relentless Frazier, and Angelo Dundee stopped the fight before the start of the fifth round. It was the first knockout loss for Ellis.
February 16, 1973, the U.S. National Register of Historic Places added Bardstown’s Wickland Mansion to their list. The Georgian mansion, built ca. 1815 by Charles A. Wickliffe, is known as the home of three governors: the builder, his son, Robert C. Wickliffe, Governor of Louisiana, 1856-60; and his grandson, J. C. W. Beckham, Governor of Kentucky 1900-07.
February 16, 1976, the Kentucky coffee tree became the first official state tree of Kentucky. A celebration took place on Arbor Day with the planting of a Kentucky coffee tree on the Capitol’s grounds by Governor Julian Carroll. The tree was a gift by Joe Creason, a columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal before his death. The great Kentucky tree debate had begun.
February 16, 1986, Chief of Police Robert Taylor Walker, Irvine Police Department, was shot and killed while responding to a call. It was later determined that the call had been placed to lure him to the scene with the purpose of ambushing him. The suspect was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He was denied parole in March of 2011.
February 16, 1990, Franklin Circuit Judge William Graham accused State Agriculture Commissioner Ward “Butch” Burnette of “brazen arrogance” and contempt for the people who elected him and then sentenced him to a year in prison and a $1,500 fine.