Kentucky Timeline
Birthdays. Marriages. Deaths.

January 25, 1715, Thomas Walker was born in Queen and King County, VA. As a member of the Loyal Land Company , Walker engaged in land speculation and led the first organized English expedition on record through Cumberland Gap into Kentucky on April 13, 1750, naming the gap and the Cumberland River. His party erected a crude cabin near Barbourville. After wandering in the mountains for several weeks, they returned to Walker’s Virginia plantation, Castle Hill in Albemarle County, on July 13.

June 14, 1717
Richard Callaway was born in Virginia. Colonel Callaway, after the French & Indian War, moved to the Yadkin region of N.C. where he met Daniel Boone. Eventually these two and others set out for Boonesborough. Experiences in wars, constructing and defending outpost’s forts, clearance and cultivation of frontier lands and in the settlement and founding of New London, VA. The 72nd county, Callaway County, was named in his honor.


Callaway was perhaps the best prepared man in the Transylvania Company for the work at hand. “Probably no single man accomplished more than Callaway in laying the foundation that culminated in the admission of KY into the Union.” A quote by R. Alexander Bate A.B., M.D. in an article published in The Filson Club History Quarterly.

daniel-booneNovember 2, 1734, Daniel Boone was born in in Berks County, (Reading) Pennsylvania. He was the sixth of eleven children born to Squire and Sarah (Morgan) Boone, who were Quakers. Daniel married Rebecca Bryan and had a total of ten children. Standing 5’8”, Boone was not as tall as history often implies but his brilliant blue eyes and light blond hair made him stand out. His general mode of dress was in homespun clothing or hunting buckskins. Rather than the coonskin cap he is generally depicted in, he often wore a stylish beaver felt hat. A Quaker, Boone was of a calm and even nature, often cheerful, and preferred negotiation to fighting another man. Nevertheless, he was renowned for his courage, hunting prowess and blazing the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap to Central Kentucky.

April 20, 1735, Richard Henderson was born in Hanover County, VA. In August 1774, Henderson organized the Louisa Company for the purpose of purchasing a “large territory or tract of land on the western waters from the Indian tribes.” This is present-day western and central Kentucky and north-central Tennessee. Within the next seven months; Henderson added more members to his board, changed the name of the company, hired Boone to negotiate with the Cherokee Nation, signed “The Treaty of Shoals,” and opened the first general assembly of the Transylvania Government at Boonesborough. In his first address to the assembly he called upon the delegates to create a set of laws that would favor the general masses and create incentives for obedience in the new colony. The new government failed to receive independence, however Richard was favorably compensated by NC and VA for improvements made to the lands.

Dr._Thomas_HindeJuly 10, 1737
, Doctor Thomas Hinde was born in Oxfordshire, England. Dr. Hinde was Northern Kentucky’s first physician. Earlier in his life, he was the personal physician and later surgeon-in-chief, to Patrick Henry of Virginia. Dr. Hinde had also had been with General James Wolfe in his expedition against Quebec, and with the general at the moment of his fall, as depicted in the picture. For his service in the American Revolutionary War, he was given 10,000 acres in Clark County and moved there in 1797. In 1799 he relocated to Newport, curing diseases aboard ships and in the armies, a much needed service in the Newport Barracks.

October 5, 1744, Squire Maugridge Boone Jr., Squire Boone Jr., or Squire Boone was born. An American frontiersman, longhunter, soldier, city planner, politician, land locator, judge, politician, gunsmith, miller, and brother of Daniel Boone. Although overshadowed by his famous brother, Squire Boone was well known in his day. Squire Boone accompanied his brother and 30 others, in 1775, assisting in the settlement of Boone’s Station (present-day Boonesborough). In Spring 1779, after the siege of Boonesborough, where Squire had a rifle ball cut out of his shoulder, he moved his family to the settlement at the Falls of the Ohio that would become Louisville. In 1780, he brought 13 families to “Painted Stone”, a tract of land in Shelby County, and established Squire Boone’s Station there, the first permanent settlement in the county. He was wounded in April 1781 when Indians attacked the fort; complications of the gunshot injury would result in his right arm being an inch and a half shorter than his left.

John_Edwards_of_KentuckyJohn Edwards was born in Stafford County, VA. After service in the Revolutionary War, he moved to Lincoln County in 1780 and accumulated about 23,000 acres. In 1792, Edwards participated in the drafting of Kentucky’s first state constitution. In 1794 he married Mary Garrard, daughter of Gov. James Garrard, they had 12 children. Edwards served as U.S. Senator until 1795, when he returned to Kentucky and served in the state legislature. Around 1803 Edwards left Kentucky for Missouri Territory after he accumulated significant debt. In 1821 he married a second time and produced 12 more children. The consensus is Edwards died in 1833 or 1834 in Missouri. His will stated that all slaves he might own would be free from bondage: “I do hereby emancipate them fully and freely and forever and their children after them.”

January 14, 1749
, James Garrard was born in Stafford County, VA. James was the second Governor of Kentucky and the first elected by the popular vote. During Garrard’s two terms he signed legislation creating 26 Kentucky counties, including his namesake county of Garrard. James Garrard was the only person prior to Paul Patton to serve two consecutive four-year terms as governor. Governor Garrard was so popular that the drafters of the second constitution made a provision which allowed him to serve a second term.

December 11, 1750, Isaac Shelby was born in Frederick, MD. He was the first and fifth Governor of KY and served in the state legislatures of Virginia and North Carolina. In 1783 he moved to Kentucky and was soon appointed a trustee of Transylvania Seminary. 

george-rogers-clarkNovember 19, 1752, George Rogers Clark was born in Albemarle County, VA. His younger brother William, was of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. At 20, George made his first trip into Kentucky via the Ohio River at Pittsburgh, and spent the next two years surveying land and learning about the area’s natural history and customs of Native Americans. At 22, Clark’s military career began when he served as a captain in the Virginia militia and went onto become the highest ranking American Military Officer on the Northwestern Frontier during the American Revolutionary War. Clark’s biggest impact in the war was the Illinois Campaign which started in present day Louisville. In 1778 Clark traveled down the Ohio River and stopped at the Falls of the Ohio. He brought with him many soldiers and families that were seeking protection from the Indian attacks. He named the place they stopped “Corn Island.” Clark set up camp there, and this officially marked the beginning of the settlement of Louisville earning one of his many nicknames “Father of Louisville.”

December 10, 1753, according to family tradition, John Filson, historian, surveyor, and cartographer, was born in Pennsylvania. In the fall of 1783 Filson arrived in Kentucky. He acquired land, surveyed, taught school, interviewed early pioneers, and soon began writing a book about and drawing a map of Kentucky. The book was published in Delaware, in 1784 as The Discovery, Settlement, And Present State Of Kentucke. Filson’s excellent map, the first to focus strictly on Kentucky, was engraved and printed in Philadelphia the same year. Filson disappeared and is believed to have been killed by Indians in 1788.

May 25, 1757
, Dr. Frederick Ridgely was born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland and became one of the most celebrated of the early physicians of the West. At 19 he was appointed surgeon to a corps of rifleman and continued to serve as surgeon in different positions throughout the Revolutionary War. He moved to Lexington in 1790 and opened up a drug store in 1792. In 1794 war called again and his services as a surgeon was needed in battles against Indians.  In 1799 he moved back to Lexington to become the 2nd faculty member of the Medical Department of Transylvania University as professor of materia medica, midwifery, and practice of physic, delivering the first medical lectures in the West. In 1794 he built the Ridgely House, the oldest house in Gratz Park.

Senator_John_Brown_KentuckySeptember 12, 1757John Brown, born in Augusta, VA., was one of the founding fathers of Kentucky. In 1783 Brown moved west and established a law office in Danville, the seat of government at that time. In 1787, Brown was nominated to represent the County of KY for the state of VA in the Confederation Congress, a post he held for one year. He was in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention where he wrote many impassioned letters urging the ratification of the Constitution, critical to establishing the new state of Kentucky. He was the youngest member of the Confederation Congress and its last surviving member.  As the VA Representative in Congress, he introduced the bill granting Statehood to KY.  As the Kentucky Senator, he served in the 2nd – 8th Congress and served twice as president pro tempore. In this position, he was the second highest ranking official in the Senate, following the V.P. 

December 12, 1767
, Gabriel Slaughter was born in Culpepper County, Virginia. A farmer by trade he migrated to Kentucky in 1799/1800 and became our seventh Governor and the first to ascend to office upon the death of the sitting governor. Slaughter because of several appointments made as governor, was never able to shed the title of “acting governor” given to him by his enemies. He was also on the first board of trustees of Georgetown College. 

December 9, 1768, Joseph Desha was born in Monroe Count, PA. Joseph Desha was the ninth Governor of Kentucky (1824-28) and a controversial figure. 1:) In a wild legislative session on Christmas Eve in 1824, with the governor illegally lobbying on the House floor, they passed a court reorganization bill that abolished the “Old Court” and created the “New Court.” 2:) Transy’s president (Holley) was thought too liberal by many Kentuckians, and he was attacked as an infidel with wicked personal habits. When Desha joined in the attack in his 1826, Holley was forced to leave the next year. 3:) After two juries convicted his son Isaac of murdering a visiting Mississippian named Francis Baker in 1824, his father saved him from hanging with a pardon that drew extensive criticism.

John RowanJuly 12, 1773, John Rowan was born in York, Pennsylvania. The Honorable John Rowan is one of KY’s most distinguished historical figures. His roles include: Representative in KY’s Constitutional Convention, Member of KY House of Representatives, KY Court of Appeals, KY Secretary of State, Member U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Senator from KY., first President of Louisville Medical School, first President of KY Historical Society, chosen to eulogize George Rogers Clark, official host for Presidents Monroe & Jackson, argued with H. Clay in the U.S. Supreme Court, committee member to host a visit by the Marquis de Lafayette, KY’s most important guest. Rowan was known throughout his life as an avid gamester which led to his famous duel with Dr. Chambers. Rowan was able to escape prosecution upon Chambers death.  In 1795, Rowan began construction of Federal Hill, his family estate, on land that his father-in-law gave him as a wedding present also known as “My Old KY Home”.

December 8, 1776, William Logan was born in in the fort at what is now Harrodsburg. He was one of the first white children born in the state. His father was General Ben Logan, one of the earliest settlers to Logan County and to which he gave his name. In 1818, William was elected to the U.S. Senate, defeating Richard M. Johnson by a vote of 67 to 55. He served one year and then resigned to make a bid for governor. He ran second to John Adair in a four-way race, 20,493 to 19,947.  Logan was an adherent of the old court in the battle for authority between the court and the legislature. In private and public life, he was over courteous in manner, inflexible in his integrity and of great moral worth.  His death at an early age was viewed, to many, a great loss to the state. 

April 12, 1777, Henry Clay, Sr. was born in the Slashes section of Hanover County, VA. He was the seventh child of nine brothers and sisters. His father a Baptist Minister and Farmer died when Clay was four.  When he was fifteen, Clay’s mother and stepfather moved to Versailles, leaving him in Virginia. His step father had secured a place for him as deputy clerk in Virginia’s High Court of Chancery, where Clay attracted the attention of the chancellor, George Wythe, a classical scholar and law professor. In 1796 Clay entered the law office of Robert Brooke, former Virginia governor, and after a year of study was licensed to practice law. In November 1797, Clay moved to Lexington where he soon became a successful lawyer.

March 8, 1780, Colonel Richard Callaway and several companions were working on his ferry boat about a mile above the settlement at Boonesborough, when they were fired upon by a party of Shawnee Indians. Callaway was killed, scalped and burned. When his body was recovered, it was noted that the Indians had rolled the body in the mud. Pemberton Rawlings was mortally wounded in the attack and also died. The two comrades were buried in a single grave within the old fort or stockade at Boonesborough.

February 5, 1781, Elisha Warfield, Jr. was born in Maryland and when Elisha was nine years old his family moved to Lexington. Warfield became a successful medical practitioner in Lexington after graduating from Transylvania Medical School and was later selected as the first Professor of Surgery and Obstetrics at his alma mater. Warfield was essential in Lexington’s development and became a prominent politician and abolitionist in Kentucky. In 1809 he was one of the founding members of the Lexington Jockey Club and in 1821 Warfield decided to devote his energies to breeding, training and racing Thoroughbreds full-time. In 1826, he was one of the founders of the Kentucky Association, (today is the east end of 5th Street at Race Street) which built a horse racetrack on land adjacent to his stud farm, Meadow Lane.  This was where he bred Lexington. As a breeding stallion, Lexington is considered one of the greatest in U.S. history. Between 1861 and 1878, Lexington was ranked as the leading sire in North America a record sixteen times, of which fourteen were consecutive years. As of 2008, Lexington’s record remains intact.

John FloydApril 10, 1783, John Floyd passed away. While riding to the salt works from Floyd Station on Beargrass, Col. Floyd was fired upon by Indians and received a mortal wound. In company with him was a brother, whose horse was shot from under him, and a third person, who was killed outright. Col. Floyd was carried by his brother to the salt works, where he died two days later. 14 days later a son was born in Floyd’s Station, to Mrs. Floyd, named for his father. This John Floyd went back to Virginia to become Governor of the State. The Floyd family was one of the first families of Louisville. When John arrived in the area in 1774, sectioning land tracts, Floyd bought 2,000 acres in what is now present day St. Matthews, KY. John Floyd built Floyd’s Station, which stood on lands about a mile from St. Matthews. Floyd County is named for him.

April 19, 1783, Isaac Shelby married Susanna Hart in Fort Boonesborough.

Constantine Samuel RafinesqueOctober 22, 1783, Constantine Samuel Rafinesque was born in Galata, a suburb of Constantinople. He was self-taught who excelled in various fields of knowledge such as zoology, botany, polyglot and the study of prehistoric earthworks in North America. Today, scholars agree that he was far ahead of his time in many areas. Among his theories was that ancestors of Native Americans had migrated by the Bering Sea from Asia to North America. Rafinesque was one of the first to use the term “evolution” in the context of biological speciation and proposed a theory of evolution before Darwin. Rafinesque was Transylvania professor of botany and natural science from 1819-26. He died and was buried in Philadelphia. Friends of Transylvania excavated the grave site and re-interred, at Transylvania, the bones thought to be his. (The stone at Transylvania that today bears the name Rafinesque in fact covers the remains of a woman named Mary Passimore.)

November 24, 1784, President Zachary Taylor was born in Virginia. In 1785 his family moved to a plantation in Louisville called Springfield. Taylor maintained Kentucky as his official residence during most of his adult life. He owned stock in two Kentucky banks and purchased warehouses and town lots in Louisville. In 1849, during his last visit to Kentucky on the way to his inauguration in Washington, Taylor visited Frankfort and was honored there by the local population.

April 22, 1788, Matthew Harris Jouett was born in Mercer County, considered the greatest portrait painter that Kentucky has produced. Matthew graduated from Transylvania University and went on to study law but spent a majority of his time painting. Before he traveled to Boston to study art, his pieces that made it to Virginia and Philadelphia where trained artists there could not believe that they had been painted by a frontier painter. His nickname by famed instructor Gilbert Stuart of Boston was “KY” and Mr. Stuart said that Jouett was the only student that he ever had who was worthy of his instruction. Some notable portraits painted by Jouett are those of Henry Clay, Governor Letcher, John J. Crittenden, Isaac Shelby, and a full length portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette. 

Benjamin GratzSeptember 4, 1792, Benjamin Gratz, was born in Philadelphia, PA. His father owned land in Lexington which may have influenced Gratz’s move there in 1819. Shortly after his arrival, he became a trustee of Transylvania University , a position that he held for sixty-three years. His resume is impressive: owner of a prominent hemp manufacturing business, developed the Lexington & Ohio Railroad and was their 2nd president, on the council that formed Lexington’s 1st library, established the Orphan Asylum of Lexington, served on the first board of directors of the Bank of Kentucky and the Northern Bank of Kentucky, first president of the Kentucky Agricultural and Mechanical Association, organized Henry Clay’s funeral and served on the Clay Monument Association. Gratz Park in Lexington is named for him.  

January 28, 1794, James Harrod’s will was recorded. James Harrod died mysteriously during one of his hunting trips in the winter of 1792. His body was never found and because of his prominence in the state, his death intrigued the public. The story captivated the young commonwealth. The only documentation on the disappearance was Mrs. Harrod’s testimony to receive her Revolutionary War Wife’s Pension which she never received. Ann believed he was murdered by “Bridges.” James was an important witness against “Bridges” in a pending lawsuit. James Harrod divided his plantation between his wife and daughter. The daughter’s second inheritance from her half-brother increased her acreage to 2,800 and when Margaret married in 1802 she was one of Central Kentucky’s richest heiresses. 

July 24, 1794, John Edwards married Mary Garrard. John was the one of the first two U.S. Senators to represent Kentucky and Mary was the daughter of James Garrard, Kentucky’s second Governor. They were married in Bourbon County, shortly after being the 5th county created and while it consisted of being the entire eastern part of the state. They produced 12 children, many of whom died at an early age.

The ClaysApril 11, 1799, Henry Clay (22) married Lucretia Hart (18) in Lexington at 193 North Mill Street, Lucretia’s father’s house. They had 11 children, 5 sons and 6 daughters, 7 of whom reached adulthood. Lucretia tolerated her husband’s periodic gambling and drinking bouts. In fact, she was once asked if she minded her husband’s habitual gambling. “Doesn’t it distress you,” sniffed a Boston matron, “to have Mr. Clay gamble?”  Lucretia looked surprised at the question. “Oh! dear, no” she replied very innocently, “he most always wins.” 

April 19, 1800, Thomas Scudder Page was born. He was Kentucky’s first elected auditor of public accounts (1851-59) and the first elected state executive officer tried for corruption, At 17, Page came to Kentucky and obtained a position as clerk in the Land Office and in 1839 was appointed auditor of the state by Gov. James Clark (1836-39). When the auditor became an elected office under the third state constitution, Page was elected to two terms in 1851 and 1855, on the Whig and Know-Nothing tickets, respectively. During these terms he embezzled $88,927 by directing local officials to deposit their revenue collections with him rather than with the state treasurer as required by law. When Page’s defalcation was discovered, the state began proceedings to sue for embezzlement (not a criminal offense at that time), and Page filed for bankruptcy in 1863. The case was settled in 1867 by a special act of the legislature that ordered Page to pay half the judgment ($88,000), interest, and court costs. Page lived his later years in destitution in Frankfort. He died at age 77, and was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.

old_Kentucky state capital buildingNovember 15, 1802Gideon Shryock was born into Lexington’s “best known surname in Kentucky architecture.” At 25, Gideon’s first design was the Old State Capitol in Frankfort (shown), built from 1827-30 and is now a National Historic Landmark (NHL).  A few of his other designs included: The Old State House in Little Rock built from 1833-42, a NHL. Old Morrison on the Transylvania Campus built from 1831-34, also a NHL. Frankfort County Courthouse built from 1832-35.  The Orlando Bloom House in Frankfort, is the only known residence Gideon designed in 1835. Jefferson County Courthouse in Louisville 1837-60. In 1832, Gideon’s father, Matthias designed the family home of Mary Todd Lincoln.

February 4, 1808, famed Kentucky artist Oliver Frazer was born in Fayette County. He was the most extensively trained and traveled of all the ante-bellum Bluegrass painters. Ref 33

Elijah_CraigMay 18, 1808, Elijah Craig passed away in Georgetown. This former Baptist preacher was jailed in Virginia for preaching without a licenses in 1768. Seeking religious freedom and economic opportunity, Craig migrated to Kentucky County in 1782 and bought 1,000 acres in what is now Georgetown. Here he became one of Kentucky’s first educators and capitalist entrepreneurs forming the first classical school in KY in 1787, Kentucky’s first fulling mill (for cloth manufacturing), its first paper mill, its first ropewalk (for manufacturing rope from hemp), and the first lumber and gristmill. In 1789 Craig founded a distillery for which he is best known. Craig continued to prosper, eventually owning more than 4,000 acres and the slaves to manage it.  Elijah Craig donated the land for the founding of Georgetown College, the first Baptist College founded west of the Allegheny Mountains.

jefferson-davisJune 3, 1808, Jefferson Finis Davis was born in Christian County, now Todd County. From 1821-24 he returned to Kentucky from Mississippi, where he studied at Transylvania University in Lexington. In 1835 his first marriage took place in Louisville, however his wife died 3 months later in Louisiana.  Davis was a U.S. Representative and Senator from Mississippi and the 23rd U.S. Secretary of War. He was also President of the Confederate States of America from February 18, 1861 to May 10, 1865 upon his capture by the Union Army. 

Abe LincolnFebruary 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born near Hodgenville on the south fork of the Nolin River, Larue County.  He was the second child of Thomas and Nancy Lincoln. At the age of 21, he left home and canoed to New Salem, Illinois, where he signed on to a local riverboat firm.  At 37 he was granted U.S. Patent No. 6469 which details the invention of an inflatable bellows system meant to improve the navigation of boats in shallow waters. At 52 he became our 16th President.

Kit CarsonDecember 24, 1809, Kit Carson was born in Richmond. He spent his childhood in Missouri and when he left home, to travel west, to become a fur trapper, he was unable to write his name. Kit became known as a White Indian. He learned the universal sign language used by western tribes and spoke 6 different Indian tongues. At 25 he took an Indian wife for 5 blankets, 3 mules and a gun. The first 30 seconds of the video provides a fine synopsis of his legend. Picture

October 19, 1810
, Cassius Marcellus Clay was born in Madison County to Green Clay one of the wealthiest planters and slaveholders in Kentucky. Cassius was a graduate of Transylvania and Yale Universities and later he devoted his life to end slavery, which earned him violent enemies. During a political debate he was shot in the chest but defended himself by stabbing the shooter with his Bowie knife and threw him over an embankment. In another debate he was attacked by the six brothers, who beat, stabbed and tried to shoot him. In the ensuing fight, Clay fought off all six and using his Bowie knife, killed one brother. He started the Republican Party in Kentucky and began publishing an anti-slavery newspaper, True American, in Lexington. Within a month he received death threats, had to arm himself, and regularly barricaded the armored doors of his newspaper office for protection. A mob of about 60 men eventually broke into his office and seized his printing equipment. He then set up a publication center in Cincinnati, but continued to reside in Kentucky.

May 25, 1812, Matthew Harris Jouett married Margaret (Peggy) Henderson Allen in Fayette County. They met when he was a student at Transylvania and he accidentally came upon each other as she was riding a spirited Indian pony bareback and sideways. He was looking for turkey nests. Ref 33

Montgomery BlairMay 10, 1813, Montgomery Blair was born in Franklin County, KY, his father was the KY Attorney General. Montgomery Blair was co-counsel for Dred Scott who sued for his freedom and lost in 1857. In 1861, Lincoln appointed Blair to his cabinet as the 20th Post Master General, Blair wanted Secretary of War. The two shared a very close relationship, which other cabinet members resented. Blair was described as: “restless mischief-maker, never so happy as when he was in hot water or making it hot for others.” Lincoln was forced to discharge Blair from his cabinet in 1864 after being the lone dissenter one to many times. Despite his sacrificial dismissal, Blair campaigned hard for the President’s re-election. Blair instituted a uniform rate of postage, free delivery in cities and the sale of money orders in order to reduce the mailing of currency, reducing post office robberies. In memory of Blair, the United States Post Office closed on July 30, 1883, three days after his passing.

October 22, 1813, Charles Scott, Kentucky’s 4th Governor passed away. Charles was the epitome of a war hero in his day. He saw extensive military service during the French and Indian War. During the Revolutionary War he became a brigadier general in 1777, serving as Washington’s chief of intelligence toward the end of the war. Scott visited Kentucky in 1785 and two years later moved to present-day Versailles, 9 miles from the KY River. Scott’s military reputation was enhanced by participation in several Indian expeditions, including the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. Two of his sons were killed in Indian warfare. As a military hero and a sound Jeffersonian Republican, he was overwhelmingly elected governor in 1808. Injured in a fall during his first year in office, he never really recovered physically and was considered handicapped.  Most Kentuckians did not seem overly concerned with the rumors of the governor’s heavy drinking and profanity; on the contrary, he was well-liked for his modesty and sense of public duty.  He was buried at Canewood, and his remains were later removed to the Frankfort Cemetery.

November 14, 1814, Joshua Fry Speed, businessman and confidant of Abraham Lincoln, was born in Louisville. He was educated first at a private school and then at St. Joseph’s Academy in Bardstown (1832-33). Speed left Louisville in 1835 for Springfield, Illinois. In Springfield Speed befriended Lincoln and became his confidant. During the Civil War, Speed served as President Lincoln ‘s adviser on western affairs. Lincoln on several occasions offered Speed the position of secretary of the treasury, but each time he declined. In 1842 Speed returned to Louisville to marry Fannie Henning.

April 18, 1815
, Beriah Magoffin was born in Harrodsburg. A graduate of Centre College and Transylvania University, Beriah went on to become KY’s 21st Governor (1859-62) who was pushed out of office due to Civil War politics. Magoffin accepted slavery and states’ rights but rejected both Union and Confederates request for troops after KY officially voted for neutrality. 

May 10, 1815, Henry Walton Bibb was born on a plantation in Shelby County. Bibb was born to an enslaved woman, Milldred Jackson, his father was James Bibb, a Kentucky state senator, but Henry never knew him. As he was growing up, Bibb saw each of his six younger siblings, all boys, sold away to other slaveholders.  In 1833, Bibb married another mulatto slave, Malinda, they had a daughter, Mary Frances.  In 1842, he managed to flee to Detroit, from where he hoped to gain the freedom of his wife and daughter. After finding out that Malinda had been sold as a mistress to a white planter, Bibb focused on his career as an abolitionist. He traveled and lectured throughout the United States.  In 1849-50 he published his autobiography Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, Written by Himself which became one of the best known slave narratives of the antebellum years. The passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 increased the danger to Bibb and his second wife Mary E. Miles, of Boston. It required Northerners to cooperate in the capture of escaped slaves. To ensure their safety, the Bibbs migrated to Canada and settled in Windsor, Ontario.  In 1851, he set up the first black newspaper in Canada, The Voice of the Fugitive. The paper helped develop a more sympathetic climate for blacks in Canada as well as helped new arrivals to adjust. Due to his fame as an author, Bibb was reunited with three of his brothers, who separately had also escaped from slavery to Canada. In 1852 he published their accounts in his newspaper. He died young, at the age of 39.

April 5, 1816, Samuel Freeman Miller, a Supreme Court Justice was born in Richmond. Dr. Miller received his medical degree from Transylvania University in 1838 and then went on to study law on his own, passing the bar in 1847. In 1862, President Lincoln nominated him to the Supreme Court where he served until his death in 1890. Judge Miller was a strong abolitionist. 

October 14, 1816, George Madison became the first Kentucky Governor to die in office. In ill health, Madison was overwhelmingly george_madisonelected in August in part due to his distinctive service in three wars. Madison traveled to Blue Lick Springs, at the time in Bourbon County, for his health soon after the election, but was too weak to return to Frankfort for the inauguration or his duties as Governor. The oath of office was administered on September 5, 1816, at the springs, where he also passed, 40 days later.

Thomas Elliott BramletteJanuary 3, 1817, Thomas Elliott Bramlette was born in Cumberland (now Clinton) County. He was the last of three KY Governors to hold office during the Civil War, his term was from 1863-1867. A keen politician, Bramlette provided strong leadership during one of the most traumatic periods in Kentucky’s history. While devoted to preservation of the Union and the Constitution, he defended the state against what he saw as invasions of its rights. He responded angrily when the Union army began to enlist blacks and when President Lincoln in 1864, suspended the writ of habeas corpus in the state, but took strong action against the guerrilla activities of Confederate sympathizers. Bramlette took pride in the reduction of the state’s debt, an apparent decline in crime, and the establishment of the Agricultural and Mechanical College, now the University of Kentucky

February 13, 1818, George Rogers Clark passed away in Louisville. Clark became the highest ranking American military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). He served as leader of the militia in Kentucky (then part of Virginia) throughout much of the war. Because the British ceded the entire Northwest Territory to the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Clark has often been hailed as the “Conqueror of the Old Northwest”. Clark’s major military achievements occurred before his thirtieth birthday. Afterwards, he was accused of being drunk on duty in the opening engagements of the Northwest Indian War, and despite his demand for a formal investigation, into the accusations, he was disgraced and forced to resign. Clark left Kentucky to live on the Indiana frontier and spent the final decades of his life evading creditors and living in increasing poverty and obscurity. After suffering a stroke and the amputation of his right leg, Clark became an invalid. He was aided in his final years by family members, including his younger brother William, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Mary Lincoln as a young girlDecember 13, 1818, Mary Todd Lincoln was born in Lexington as the fourth of seven children of Robert Smith Todd, a banker, and Elizabeth (Parker) Todd. Her family were slaveholders, and Mary was raised in comfort and refinement. When Mary was six, her mother died. Two years later, her father married Elizabeth “Betsy” Humphreys and they had nine children together. Mary had a difficult relationship with her stepmother. At an early age Mary was sent to Madame Mantelle’s finishing school, where the curriculum concentrated on French and literature. She learned to speak French fluently and studied dance, drama, music, and social graces. By age 20, she was regarded as witty and gregarious, with a grasp of politics. Like her family, she was a Whig.  Mary moved to Springfield, Illinois to stay with her sisters in 1840. She was popular among the gentry of Springfield, and though she was courted by the rising young lawyer and Democratic Party politician Stephen A. Douglas and others, she chose Abraham Lincoln, a fellow Whig.

Robert Charles Wickliffe
January 6, 1819, Robert Charles Wickliffe was born in Bardstown. His father Charles A. Wickliffe was Kentucky’s 14th Governor and 11th Postmaster General. After graduating from Centre College and studying law in D.C. while was his father was Postmaster, he returned to KY to pass the bar. In 1846, the Wickliffes moved to Louisiana so Robert could recover from pneumonia at his wife’s family’s plantation, Wyoming. In 1853, he became President Pro Tempore of the Louisiana Senate and when the Lt. Governor died in office in 1854, Wickliffe, as President Pro Temp, became Louisiana’s 4th Lieutenant Governor. In 1855, Wickliffe as the Democratic candidate became the 15th Governor of Louisiana. In his inaugural address he advocated a united Democratic South to protect state’s rights and he championed the expansion of American power to the Caribbean, Mexico, Cuba and Central America in order to protect slavery in the United States. After the Civil War, Louisiana elected him to the U.S. Congress but he was denied admission when he refused to take an oath indicating he had never borne arms against the Union and/or supported the Confederacy.

January 16, 1821, 
John Cabell Breckinridge was born in Lexington. In 1856, he was elected the 14th Vice President of the United States alongside President James Buchanan. Only 36 at the time, Breckinridge was and still remains the youngest Vice President in American history. In 1860, he ran for President. In 1861 he began his term as U.S. Senator from Kentucky, was commissioned as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army, indicted for treason in U.S. federal district court in Frankfort and declared a traitor by the United States Senate. In 1865 John was appointed Confederate Secretary of War and fled America after the war. He returned to Kentucky in 1869. 

August 8, 1822, William Logan passed away in his home in Shelby County. In 1818 he was elected to the U.S. Senate from 1819 to 1820, when he resigned to make a bid for governor. He ran second in a four-way governor’s race, finishing second to John Adair: 20,493 to Logan’s 19,947. William was one of the first white children born in Kentucky in Fort Harrod. He was buried in the family plot near Shelbyville.

December 9, 1822, James Ben Ali Haggin, was born in Harrodsburg. A graduated of Centre, he studied law at his father’s law office, passed the bar, moved to Mississippi, where he married and then moved to New Orleans. From there he went west, investing in mines. He was a major investor of San Francisco’s first infrastructure, his mansion was the anchor of Knob Hill and he accumulated almost 500,000 acres in CA, with another 980,000 acres in AZ, NM and Mexico.  He later moved to New York where he purchased large amounts of prime NYC real estate.  Haggin was a member of the Metropolitan Club one of the most elite private social clubs in New York City, formed by J. Pierpont Morgan, William K. Vanderbilt and James Roosevelt. He started his Kentucky Farm, the 8,900 acre Elmendorf Thoroughbred Farm, at the age of 76. His visits were always a top Kentucky headline.  At 85 he was said to be the third wealthiest Americans behind John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. James B.A. Haggin, one of Kentucky’s great success stories.

Jereboam O. BeauchampJuly 7, 1826, Jereboam Orville Beauchamp was hanged to death in Frankfort after being convicted of stabbing to death KY legislator Solomon P. Sharp; the crime is known as the Beauchamp–Sharp Tragedy. The morning of the execution, he and his wife, Anna, attempted a double suicide by stabbing themselves with a knife she had smuggled into prison. She was successful; he was not. Beauchamp was rushed to the gallows before he could bleed to death. Two men supported Beauchamp as the noose was put around his neck. He asked for a drink of water, and the band to play “Bonaparte’s Retreat from Moscow”. At his signal, the cart moved out from under him, and he died after a brief struggle.  Following Beauchamp’s earlier instructions, the bodies of Jereboam and Anna were arranged in an embrace and buried in the same coffin. A poem written by Anna was etched on their double tombstone.

James JohnsonAugust 13, 1826, James Johnson passed away while representing Kentucky in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1817-18 he promoted the stagecoach industry in the Bluegrass and organized several stagecoach companies, including Johnson, Weisiger and Company, a line that ran from Frankfort to Louisville. Johnson became a provision contractor with the U.S. Army and, although a contract to supply the Yellowstone Expedition (1818-19) hurt him financially, he was reputed to be one of the wealthiest men in Kentucky, with a plantation near Great Crossing in Scott County. His father arrived in Kentucky in 1779, helped build Bryan’s Station on the North Elkhorn Creek in Fayette County , and moved the family there in 1781. In the winter of 1783-84, his father built his own station, known as Great Crossing or Johnson’s Station. He was buried in the family cemetery at Great Crossing.

Matthew_Harris_JouettAugust 10, 1827, Matthew Harris Jouett passed away in his home in Lexington. He was one of the most significant antebellum portraitists of the South. Jouett was unable to make a living in Kentucky, however, and from 1817 until his death, he spent winters in New Orleans, Natchez, and other southern cities along the Mississippi River, painting portraits of notable citizens. A total of 334 portraits and miniatures are attributed to Jouett between the years 1816 and his death. One of the most celebrated is that of General Lafayette. He painted several portraits of Henry Clay , one of which hangs in Ashland, the Clay estate. Other subjects included Gen. George Rogers Clark, Gov. Isaac Shelby (1792-96, 1812-16), Sen. Isham Talbot , Dr. W.C. Galt, Asa Blanchard , Robert Crittenden, and Dr. Horace Holley . In 1826 Jouett maintained a studio in Louisville as well as Lexington.

August 25, 1828, Robert Trimble’s term on the United States Supreme Court came to an abrupt end when he passed away at the age 55. Between 1813 and 1817, Trimble served as a district attorney, and developed a reputation for dogged legal research and energetic prosecution. In 1817, when President James Madison commissioned Trimble to serve alongside his friend, Thomas Todd, as judge of the federal district court of Kentucky, he quit his law practice. In 1826 President John Quincy Adams elevated Trimble to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Todd. He was buried in the Paris Cemetery. Trimble County is named in his honor.

Ephraim McDowellJune 25, 1830, Ephraim McDowell, physician and surgeon who introduced pioneering techniques in abdominal surgery passed away in Danville. Recognition of the significance of his work came slowly and only decades after he performed the first successful ovariotomy, on Christmas Day 1809. Jane Crawford, 47, thought to be pregnant with twins, was in fact suffering from a large cystic ovarian tumor that weighed more than twenty pounds. In a letter describing the surgical procedure that would subsequently bring him international fame, McDowell said he had warned Crawford that “surgeons in England and Scotland had uniformly declared that such was the danger of opening the abdomen to extract the tumor was inevitable death. But notwithstanding this, if she thought herself prepared to die, I would take the lump from her if she could come to Danville.” The surgery went well and Crawford was “perfectly well in twenty-five days.” McDowell performed the operation well before the discovery of the importance of aseptic techniques or the introduction of anaesthetics. McDowell performed the procedure at least eleven additional times, with but one death. Ref: 16

January 2, 1831, John William Tate was born in Franklin. “Honest Dick” Tate served as Kentucky’s State treasurer for two decades, comfortably winning re-election every two years. John J. McAfee, writing in 1886, described Tate as honest and amiable, a “trusted and honored treasurer” with an “unblemished record for probity and principle.” During his 21 years of service, Tate’s bookkeeping had never been seriously scrutinized. As the state government moved to do so in 1887 and 1888, Tate managed to delay the process by saying he needed more time to get his records in order. In March of 1888, Tate boarded a train in Frankfort with two large bags of silver and gold coins, the value of which was later estimated at $100,000, a 4-inch roll of bills, whose value was never determined, and he was never seen again. The incident led the state to create the office of the state examiner and inspector to oversee the treasurer and auditor. The state also imposed term limits on elected officials.

William Preston JohnstonJanuary 5, 1831, William Preston Johnston was born in Louisville. His mother died when he was four and his father soon took off to Texas. William stayed behind to be raised by Kentucky family. He graduated from Yale in 1852 and studied law at the University of Louisville. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Johnston joined the Confederate Army and rapidly advanced to lieutenant colonel. After being stricken with pneumonia, Johnston served as aide-de-camp to President Jefferson Davis, with the rank of colonel, starting in May 1862. In May 1965, Johnston was captured and held captive with President Davis for several months. In 1867 he became chairman of the department of history and English at Washington University in Lexington, VA, a position offered by the university’s president Gen. Robert E. Lee. Later, he was made president of Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge in 1880. Two years later, he began to organize the University of Louisiana in New Orleans. It was renamed Tulane University in 1884, and Johnston was its president until his death.

Mary Jane Warfiled ClayCassius_ClayFebruary 26, 1833, Cassius Marcellus Clay wed Mary Jane Warfield. They had seven children of their own: Elisha Warfield, son Green, Mary Barr, Sally, Laura, Brutus J., II, and Anne, and adopted Henry Launey Clay. While abolitionist Clay was Ambassador to Russia, Mary Jane managed the Clay estate, White Hall, raised a large family, and improved his financial standing. When he returned to Richmond in 1878, bringing with him an illegitimate son, the 45 year marriage ended in divorce. In 1878 Mary Jane’s divorce meant that she was not legally entitled to any compensation for the profitability of the farm, nor did she have any legal right to the custody of her own children. The lack of women’s rights, which led to her loss of all financial and personal assets, including children, was the driving force behind the nationally known suffrage work of her daughters Laura and Mary Barr Clay.

Governor John_BreathittFebruary 21, 1834, John Breathitt, Kentucky’s 11th Governor, passed away of tuberculosis in the governor’s mansion at 47 years old. John was the second Kentucky Governor to die in office, serving only 18 months. The first Democrat to hold the office, he won the election by 1,242 votes from the 80,188 cast. It was this election that Oldham County voters may have set Kentucky’s all- time record for election fraud: 162.9 percent of those eligible participated in the election. The Governor did not fare well in his short term, facing opposition from the Whig Party. Most Kentuckians were more concerned about the upcoming presidential election, hoping Whig and native son Henry Clay would defeat Democrat Andrew Jackson. Because of this, most of the other state offices went to Whig candidates. Originally buried in the Breathitt family cemetery, he was later re-interred at Maple Grove Cemetery, both in Russellville. In 1872, the Kentucky General Assembly resolved to erect a monument over Breathitt’s grave and shortly after his death, Breathitt County (1839) was created and was named in his honor.

June 4, 1834, Margaret Garner was born a slave in Boone County. In January 1856, she fled with her husband and four children (some sources say that she had six children) from her owner in Kentucky. The Garners successfully crossed the Ohio River near Cincinnati, but a group of slave owners found the family shortly thereafter. Before the slaveholders captured the fugitive slaves, Margaret Garner used a butcher knife to kill her young daughter. Garner also tried to kill her other children, but she was unsuccessful in her attempt. Garner did not want her children returned to a life of slavery. Margaret Garner’s story of her willingness to kill her own child to prevent her from being returned to a life in bondage received national attention. A growing number of people, began to view slavery as an inhumane institution by the late 1850s. The story of Margaret Garner was the basis of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Beloved.

May 29, 1835, Thomas Satterwhite Noble was born in Lexington. Noble was an American painter and teacher. He served in the Confederate army and later became the first head of the McMicken School of Design.

adlai_stevensonOctober 23, 1835, Adlai Ewing Stevenson was born in Christian County, where he attended public school in Blue Water. He was a graduate of Centre College.  Adlai was the 23rd Vice President of the United States under President Cleveland. Stevenson never realized how close he came to being president: A habitual cigar-smoker, Cleveland developed cancer of the mouth that required immediate surgery in the summer of 1893. The president insisted that the surgery be kept secret to avoid another panic on Wall Street. While on a yacht in New York harbor that summer, Cleveland had his entire upper jaw removed and replaced with an artificial device, an operation that left no outward scar. The cancer surgery remained secret for another quarter century.

June 9, 1840, Jennie Casseday was born in Louisville. Ms. Casseday was one of Kentucky’s greatest humanitarians. At the age of 21, Jennie was involved in a carriage accident that left her paralyzed and from that point on, she dedicated her life to helping others. She created the Jennie Casseday Flower Mission, which distributed flowers, text of scriptures, clothing, fruits, fuel and more to the destitute and sick.  Four years after its inception, the mission became a department of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Casseday also helped organize the Louisville Order of the King’s Daughters, which also served the sick and the poor. She was the chief supporter and founder of the School for Training Nurses. She then started the Jennie Casseday Rest Cottage for Working Women in Pewee Valley. She died in 1893 and is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.

Lincoln wedding parlorNovember 4, 1842, on a Friday evening, Abraham Lincoln (33) wed Mary Todd Lincoln (23) in the front parlor of Mary Todd’s sister Elizabeth home, in Springfield, IL.  About 30 relatives and friends, all hastily invited, attended the ceremony which was conducted by Episcopal minister Rev. Charles Dresser. James Matheny, 24, was asked by Lincoln to be best man on the day of the wedding! Neither Mary’s nor Abraham’s parents attended. Mary wore a muslin wedding dress that belonged to her sister Frances with a pearl necklace but no veil. The wedding ring’s inscription read “A.L. to Mary, Nov. 4, 1842. Love is Eternal.” The couple honeymooned at Globe Tavern, a very ordinary two story Springfield boardinghouse made of wood. The couple were married for 23 years.

william_p-_black-_medal_of_honor_recipient_civil_warNovember 11, 1842, William Perkins Black, Civil War Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Woodford County. Captain Black earned the Honor in the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, 1862. His citation reading: “Single handedly confronted the enemy, firing a rifle at them, and thus checked their advance within 100 yards of the lines.” His heroics delayed the rebels long enough for the artillerymen to save four of the six guns from capture. He recovered from his wounds, and would go on to lead his company the next two years. After the war, he studied law and started a successful firm that defended the clients who were accused of inciting the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago. He received his Medal at age 51.  His brother, John C. Black, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, was also a Medal of Honor recipient. The Black brothers are one of only five pairs of brothers to have received the Medal of Honor.


November 7, 1844, Julia Ann Marcum was born. Julia was the only female civilian to receive a Civil War soldier’s pension by special Act of Congress in 1885. Her soldier’s pension was granted on her actions, as a sixteen year old, in 1862 of mortally wounding a confederate soldier with an ax in self-defense. She lost sight in one eye and had a finger shot off as a result of the soldier’s attack. The Marcums’ successfully staved off the Confederate force on that occasion, but later attacks drove the family to Casey County. After retiring from teaching school, she moved to Williamsburg where she passed.


November 9, 1845, Martin Van Buren Bates, known as the “Giant of Letcher County,” was born in Whitesburg. Martin was normal size at birth but grew into a man 7’11”, and at times 525 pounds. Although of peace loving nature, he was a courageous and fearless officer in the Confederate Army, earning rank of Captain. After the war, Martin did not return to Kentucky because of violent feuding between the Union and Confederate supporters. He said, “I’ve seen enough bloodshed; I didn’t want it anymore.” Captain Bates toured much of the U.S., Canada, England, and Europe, meeting Presidents Garfield and McKinley and was received by Queen Victoria on multiple occasions.

Laura Clay & Gov. LaffoonFebruary 9, 1849, Laura Clay, was born near Richmond on her family’s estate, White Hall. A self-described “practical farmer” she managed her 300 acres to finance her long public career. Founder and longtime president of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association (KERA), Clay unselfishly and unstintingly devoted more than fifty years of her life to the cause of women’s equality in America. KERA formed in 1888 and by the turn of the century they had lobbied successfully to protect married women’s property and wages, a requirement that there be women physicians in state female insane asylums, and the admission of women to a number of all-male colleges. After 1900 she secured legislation that provided for a women’s dormitory at U.K., established juvenile courts and raised the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16. In 1920 at the Democratic National Convention, she was the first woman to have her name placed into nomination for the presidency at the convention of a major political party. The picture shows Governor Laffoon handing gavel to Laura Clay as Temporary Chairman of the Kentucky Convention to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution.

Hunt Morgan HouseAugust 21, 1849, John Wesley Hunt passed away in Lexington. In 1795 he opened a dry goods store in Lexington with his brother Abijah. From 1802 to 1810 he improved the bloodlines of thoroughbreds by transferring English stallions from the East. In 1803 he began making hemp packaging for cotton bales. One of the first in the upriver trade, he began shipping hemp yarn up the Ohio River in 1810. He was president of the Farmers and Mechanics Bank of Lexington, one of the few institutions still solvent after the panic of 1819 struck — it even paid dividends. He also led in the establishment of Eastern State Hospital for the mentally ill and was a member of the board of trustees of Transylvania University. His estate was valued in excess of $800,000 at his death and was the first millionaire west of the Allegany Mountains. His grandson was Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his great grandson was famed scientist Thomas Hunt Morgan. His Federal style, red brick, two story mansion, which he called Hopemont, today is called the Hunt-Morgan House.

June 29, 1852, Henry Clay died of tuberculosis in Washington, DC at the age of 75, while serving as a U.S. Senator representing KY.  Befitting Clay’s status as one of the most respected and influential political figures of his time, his body was placed in the Capitol rotunda, making him the first person in American history to lie in state, in the United States Capitol. Impressive ceremonies were held in Washington, New York, and other cities as Clay’s body traveled for the last time back to Ashland. Upon arriving home, Clay’s body remained overnight while Lucretia kept watch. The next morning, after a memorial service on the front lawn, the funeral cortege left Ashland. Storefronts along the way were elaborately draped in black, all businesses in Lexington closed, all traffic was halted, and silence was ordered as the procession passed. Clay’s body was then interred in Lexington Cemetery. Today, one of Lexington’s most recognized landmarks is the towering figure of Henry Clay standing high above the Cemetery looking over the city, toward Ashland. 

Thomas MetcalfAugust 18, 1855, Governor Thomas “Stone Hammer” Metcalfe passed away of cholera at his home in Nicholas County. The only stone mason to serve as Governor, his extensive work included the stone foundation for the Governor’s Mansion which is now known as the Lt. Governor’s Mansion. Not till several days after Metcalfe became the 10th Gov. of KY was he able to move into the Governor’s Mansion. Outgoing Governor Desha would not vacate the mansion, he disliked turning it over to the stonemason who had helped build it. Metcalfe was the first KY gubernatorial candidate nominated by party convention rather than the caucus system. He drove the first spike in the first railroad west of the Appalachian Mountains, from Lexington to Frankfort. Gov. Metcalfe was buried at his home “Forest Retreat” in Nicholas Co., KY. The estate was named by Henry Clay, when he first visited the newly-built house, he was known to have said “Tom, you have here a veritable Forest Retreat.” Metcalfe County, Kentucky was named in his honor.

January 4, 1856, William Justus Goebel was born in Carbondale, PA. He spoke only German until he was six years old. After his father returned from a stint in the Union army, the family moved to Covington, the second largest city in the commonwealth. As a lawyer, he took on large corporations, specifically the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, the largest rail network in Kentucky. He became known as the “the railroad lawyer,” the “poor man’s lawyer,” the “champion of the common man.” Over fifteen years, Goebel tried many cases against L&N and lost none. Settlements in most cases were large. By the time he was thirty, Goebel was rich and respected, but not without enemies. He went on to become Kentucky’s 34th Governor and the only state Governor of the United States to be assassinated while in office. The election results were validated the same day he was shot while walking to the Capitol on January 30, 1900. He was sworn in the next day and died February 3. The assassin was never identified. Picture

Louis-BrandeisNovember 13, 1856, Louis Dembitz Brandeis was born in Louisville. Brandeis was the first Jewish man to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court and was appointed by President Wilson. He graduated from high school at the age of 14, attended college first in Kentucky and then graduated Valedictorian from Harvard Law School at the age of 20. He fought monopolies, large corporations and developed a new life insurance system, after an exposé of insurance fraud in 1906. In 1907, he launched a six-year fight to prevent banker J. P. Morgan from monopolizing New England’s railroads. Brandeis was hostile to the new consumerism and hated advertising which he said “manipulated” average buyers. He realized that newspapers and magazines were dependent on advertising for their revenues, and that fact caused them to be “less free” than they should be. He was known as the “People’s Lawyer.”

John Clarke YoungJune 23, 1857, John Clarke Young passed away in Danville. Mr. Young, was raised in Pennsylvania and educated in PA, NY, and NJ. In 1828 he was announced as the pastor of McChord Presbyterian Church in Lexington. In 1830 he was named President of Centre College and during his twenty-seven-year presidency, enrollment increased from thirty-three to 225, the endowment grew to more than $100,000, and the college’s reputation for excellence spread. A slave owner, Young preached gradual emancipation rather than abolition – he twice freed families of his own slaves – and authored a report to the KY Synod on the subject. Mr. Young died while President of Centre and is buried in Danville.

November 22, 1860, Nathan Beverly Stubblefield was born. A life time residence of Murray, Nathan was one of America’s most unrecognized and forgotten inventors. Some of his patents include::
Acoustic Telephone: wire to carry sound vibrations directly between two sound boxes. Most installations were around Murray.
Earth Battery: drew power from the earth, did successfully serve as both a power source and ground terminal for wireless telephony.
Wireless Telephony: he successfully transmitted voice ¼ mile (400 meters).
He lost his inventions to Wall Street and died of starvation as an eccentric hermit.

General John ThompsonDecember 31, 1860, General John T. Thompson was born in Newport.  During the Spanish-American War, Thompson dedicated himself to correct the sorry state of American military small arms. He would later be credited with being the first Army Ordnance Dept. officer to recognize the merits of automatic pistols and rifles. In WW1 Thompson studied several designs and was impressed with a delayed-blowback breech system designed by John Blish. With Blish as a partner, Thompson obtained the necessary venture capital to form the Auto-Ordnance Company, and set to work fine-tuning what would eventually become the Thompson submachine gun. When the United States finally entered the war in 1917, Thompson was promoted to the rank of brigadier general.  For this service he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He retired after the war and went back to work perfecting the “Tommy Gun,” a machine gun, that would be unlike anything the world had ever seen

January 13, 1864, Stephen Foster dies at the age of 37 in New York.  At 26 Mr. Foster wrote My Old Kentucky Home and in 1928 it was chosen to be KY’s state song.  It is also the official song of the Kentucky Derby. 

April 7, 1864, Lucretia (Hart) Clay passed away in Lexington. Lucretia Hart was born March 18, 1781 in Hagerstown, Maryland into a wealthy and socially prominent family. She moved to KY with her parents in 1784 and later met and married Henry Clay. Mrs. Clay bore five sons and six daughters and preferred to manage her Ashland Estate and her children than to be in Washington, DC playing a politician’s wife.  Lucretia lived to be 84. 

April 9, 1864, Kentucky artist Oliver Frazer passes away at Eothen, his country home, after an illness of several months. Widely lamented throughout the state, his funeral took place at Christ Episcopal Church in Lexington. He was laid to rest in the Lexington Cemetery. Ref 33 

January 11, 1865, Kentucky artist Joseph H. Bush dies, eight months after he finished his last self portrait, dies at his brother’s house in Lexington. He was buried in the Lexington Cemetery. Ref 33

November 8, 1865, Henry Stephenson Hale and Virginia Adelaide Gregory married. Henry was a confederate officer, state senator and state treasurer. As treasurer, he instituted a requirement, later made law, that banks pay interest on state deposits! Henry and Virginia had seven children, Happy Anniversary.

thomas_hunt_morganSeptember 25, 1866, Thomas Hunt Morgan, born in Lexington. He was an American zoologist and geneticist, famous for his experimental research with the fruit fly (Drosophila) by which he established the chromosome theory of heredity. He showed that genes are linked in a series on chromosomes and are responsible for identifiable, hereditary traits. Morgan’s work played a key role in establishing the field of genetics. He received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1933.

April 27, 1867, Mary Elliott Flanery was born in Elliott County. Ms. Flanery was a school teacher, coal executive, lawyer for Coke and writer. After women gained suffrage in KY, in 1921, she won the democratic seat in the House representing Boyd County. She was the first female state legislator elected in KY and the first female legislator elected south of the Mason–Dixon line. She worked to improve the lives of women through reform of suffrage, marriage, and divorce laws.

Caleb PowersFebruary 1, 1869, Caleb Powers was born in Whitley County. Caleb was the first Secretary of State of Kentucky convicted as an accessory to murder. As a young lawyer and Knox County’s Superintendent, his educational reforms helped bring him his party’s nomination and subsequent victory in the 1899 Kentucky Secretary of State election, at age 30. Governor Goebel’s assassin shot, was said to have been fired from Powers’s office. Powers, who had been in another county at the time of the shooting, was arrested and indicted as an accessory to the murder. In a series of trials marked by partisan judicial rulings, packed juries, and some perjured testimony, he was convicted three times. In each case, however, the state’s highest court reversed the decision. A fourth trial, which concluded in January 1908, ended in a deadlocked jury; six months later the Republican governor, Augustus Wilson, pardoned Powers. After spending eight years in jail, Powers then spent as many years in the U.S. Congress, representing Kentucky from March 1911 to 1919.

November 6, 1869, John Crepps Wickliffe Beckham, Kentucky’s 35th governor during 1900-1907 was born in Bardstown into a politically connected family. Beckham was the 35th Governor of Kentucky and a United States Senator from Kentucky. He was the state’s first popularly elected senator following passage of the Seventeenth Amendment. Democrat William Goebel reluctantly chose Beckham as  his running mate in the gubernatorial election of 1899 despite the fact that that Beckham just turned 30, the minimum age for running. Beckham became Governor three months after the election.

Samuel-smith-nicholasNovember 27, 1869, Samuel Smith Nicholas, the first President of the University of Louisville passed away. Before leading the new institution, Nicholas was a member of the court of appeals (1831-36), chancellor of the Louisville Chancery Court (1844-50). President from 1846-47, the new university consisted of the recently merged Louisville College and the Louisville Medical Institute. A law department was established and classes meet in the basement of the Jefferson County Courthouse, Nicholas granted degrees to the first graduating class. In 1849 he became a member of the Kentucky constitutional convention. Nicholas, a slave-owner argued for gradual emancipation. As the Civil War grew inevitable, he authored several books on constitutional law and later turned down a nomination the U.S. Supreme Court. He is buried at Cave Hill Cemetery.

April 23, 1873, Linda Neville was born in Lexington. Ms. Neville was responsible for eradicating trachoma which, untreated, results in blindness. The disease affected 33,000 residents of the remote areas of Eastern KY and the treatment was straight forward. Through her efforts eleven permanent clinics and several traveling medical units were established; the culmination of Neville’s efforts came in 1952, when the disease was eradicated.  She then went on to establish the KY Society to Prevent Blindness. Ms. Neville an unsung KY hero. Ref: 16

March 21, 1876, Richard Charles Stoll was born. Stoll was a judge and prominent alumnus of the University of KY (then known as KY State College). He is the namesake of Stoll Field, the original football stadium for the University of KY Football team and he was the origin for the school’s color scheme.


garrett-morganMarch 4, 1877, Garrett Morgan was born in Paris, KY. He blazed a trail for African-American inventors with his patents. In 1914 he received a patent for the first gas mask, but it wasn’t until two years later that the idea took off. When a group of workers got stuck in a tunnel below Lake Erie after an explosion, Morgan and a team of men donned the masks to help get them out. After the rescue was a success, requests for the masks began pouring in. Similarly, Garrett Morgan’s other famous invention – the traffic signal – was also invented to help save lives. After witnessing an accident on a roadway, Morgan decided a device was needed to keep cars, buggies and pedestrians from colliding. His traffic signal was designed to stand on a street corner and notify vehicles and walkers whether they should stop or go. After receiving a patent in 1923, the rights to the invention were eventually purchased by General Electric.

March 28, 1878, Mary LeGrand Didlake was born, the daughter of George Ware Didlake and Ann (Nannie) Bain of Lexington, KY. During the Civil War, George Didlake served as a Confederate soldier and was incarcerated at Johnson’s Island, Ohio. Mary Didlake worked in the Department of Entomology at the University of KY from 1891 until her retirement in 1957. She started as a student assistant in 1891, served as interim department chair in 1929, and retired as an associate of the department. Additionally, she was the University of KY’s first female valedictorian in 1895.

Hal Price McGrathJuly 5, 1881, Hal Price McGrath passed away, six years after winning the first KY Derby with Aristides. McGrath was born in the tiny KY hamlet of Keene, near Lexington, and grew up poor in nearby Versailles. By his teenage years he was floating with crooked dice artists and extracting protection fees from touring gamblers. By his 20s, McGrath was riding the riverboats as a gambler. He took off in the California Gold Rush of 1849, where he worked the mining camps as a gambler and sharpie. Next, he opened a gambling house in New Orleans, and fancied the Southern cause in the Civil War, even widows of Confederate soldiers were not off limits for McGrath swindles. McGrath moved on to New York and made a fortune running a gambling house, then cashed in and moved back home in style. McGrath then started McGrathiana Farm where he bred Aristides and held extravagant dinner parties, inviting politicians, horsemen, and everyone who was anyone in KY society. Today it is known as Coldstream Farm.

April 18, 1882, John W. Cannon passed away in Frankfort and was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. In 1870 Cannon captained the steamboat Robert E. Lee in the most famous steamboat race that ever took place, newspapers called it the race of the century. Cannon guided his boat to a win over the steamboat Natchez in a race that went from New Orleans to St. Louis, a distance of 1,154 miles, in a winning time of in 3 days, 18 hours and 14 minutes. Citizens on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean placed bets on the race at unprecedented levels.  Some speculated that $2 to $3 million dollars will be bet on this race (using relative share of Gross Domestic Product that is $3.7 billion today). Part of this gambling frenzy, no doubt, had to do with the well-known rivalry and intense personal animosity between each of the boat’s captains. John W. Cannon was born in Skillman Bottoms in Hancock County near the Ohio River.

Mary Todd LincolnJuly 16, 1882, Mary Todd Lincoln passed away in Springfield, Illinois. Mary Todd Lincoln sat next to her husband at when he was assassinated 4/14/65 and did not move out of the White House till 5/23/65.  As a widow Mary Lincoln struggled financially. In 68’ she moved with her son Tad to Germany and from there commenced her battle with Congress for award of a presidential widow’s pension. In 1871, a year after receiving the annual pension of $3,000, she moved to the U.S. where her youngest son, Tad, died of pleurisy.  In 1875 her only surviving son, Robert, committed her to a private asylum for the insane, but she struggled for freedom and after four months and two trails she was released. Fearing that Robert would continue to threaten her for behavior that was bizarre but not deranged, Mary Lincoln lived in Pau, France, from 1878 to 1881. Only when her health made it necessary did she return to her sister’s home in Springfield, Illinois. There she died of a stroke and was buried in the Lincoln Tomb at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield.

November 16, 1886, Arthur Krock was born in Glasgow. His coverage of the New Deal won a Pulitzer Prize in 1935. Three years later he received a second Pulitzer for an interview with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and an interview with President Harry Truman produced a third Pulitzer in 1950. Arthur was considered the outstanding conservative political commentator of his era for his column “In the Nation,” which ran in the New York Times for 33 years. Krock attended Lewis Princeton University and received honorary degrees from the University of Louisville in 1939, Centre College in 1940, and the University of Kentucky in 1956.

September 14, 1887, Luke Pryor Blackburn, Kentucky’s first Physician Governor (1879-83) passed away away and was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. Born in Woodford County, he received his medical degree from Transylvania University in 1835, and began his practice in Versailles. He served in the House of the General Assembly in 1843-44 as a Whig. After moving to Natchez, Mississippi, in 1846, Blackburn earned acclaim in 1848 and again in 1854 for establishing effective quarantines in the Mississippi River valley against yellow fever. He served the Confederacy in several ways, including an unsuccessful attempt to infect Northern cities with yellow fever. Charged with conspiracy to commit murder, Blackburn did not return to Kentucky until 1872. His efforts to combat yellow fever in Memphis, Tennessee (1873), in Florida (1877), and in Hickman, Kentucky (1878) enhanced his reputation. In 1879 he won the Democratic nomination for governor and easily defeated Republican Walter Evans, 125,790 to 81,882. In 1883 he returned to his medical practice.

December 6, 1889, Jefferson Finis Davis, from Christian County, now Todd County, died in New Orleans, LA. After the Civil War, Jefferson Davis was imprisoned at Fort Monroe, VA for two years. He was never tried for treason, but was released on bond in May 1867. After being released, Davis and his family traveled for some time in Europe before returning to the American South. They first took up residence in Tennessee then relocated to the Mississippi gulf coast where Davis lived out his retirement years at an estate called Beauvoir near Biloxi. Mississippi tried to return him to the U.S. Senate, but he was not legally qualified to serve since he refused to request an official pardon from the United States for his role in the Civil War. Like many of his contemporaries, Davis wrote about his wartime experiences, entitled The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, published in 1881.

January 22, 1890, Frederick Vinson, who later became the 13th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, began life in a Louisa County, KY jailhouse.

February 18, 1890, Ellison Mounts was hanged in Pikeville, ending the Hatfield-McCoy Feud. Thousands of onlookers turned out to witness the hanging, but laws stated that executions could no longer be public. Workers constructed a fence around the scaffold to hide the sight from prying eyes. The hanging took place on the site of the present day University of Pikeville classroom building. Ellison, the supposed illegitimate son of Ellison Hatfield, was said to be the scapegoat and did not fire the shot that killed Alifair McCoy who was running from her burning house with her children. Ellison Mounts last words pointed the blame to the actual shooter, Calvin Hatfield. No one had been sent to the gallows in Pike County for forty years, and after Ellison, no one ever would be again. Calvin and Ellison Hatfield received life sentences for their role.

colonel_sandersSeptember 9, 1890, Harland David Sanders was born. At 40 years young Sanders moved to Corbin, KY., where he opened a service station. Behind the station, he operated a lunchroom that seated six around the single table and served fried chicken. It grew to a café with 142 seats, then expanded to a motel/restaurant. Sanders sold the motel and began selling franchises for fried chicken when he was 66. Within 3 years he had 200 KFC outlets. At 74 he sold the franchising business to Gov. John Y. Brown for 2 million. When he was 85 and after the company had been sold many times for a final cost of 840 million, a libel suit was brought against Sanders. He had publicly referred to KFC gravy as “sludge” and claimed it had a “wallpaper taste.” The case was thrown out. At the age of 87, he testified against mandatory retirement before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on Aging.

Jennie-CassedayFebruary 8, 1893“Miss Jennie Casseday, died in Louisville. Jennie was a remarkable illustration of the power of spirit over matter and of thought over things. For thirty years she had lain on her little white bed, drawn up before the front windows of the old home, in a beautiful street of the beautiful southern city where she was born. Her sufferings were great, and weeks at a time continuous; but the worn face had a smile quite beatific; the little, thin hand had clasped the hands of scores of America’s.” Written after Jennie Casseday’s passing in an article by Lady Henry Somerset in The Woman’s Herald, March 1893, an English magazine.

July 6, 1893, Henry Whitestone passed away in Louisville. Mr. Whitestone, an Ireland immigrant, was one of Kentucky’s most famous architects and introduced the Italianate style to the city. Whitestone is best known for his 1869 design of the second Galt House and the 1877 offices of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (now CSX Transportation) . He also designed James C. Ford’s residence (1858-59) and the Ronald-Brennan house. (1870) The Ronald-Brennan house is one of his many works listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was also voted one of the top ten favorite buildings in Louisville.

Wiley RutledgeJuly 20, 1894, Wiley Blount Rutledge Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice, was born in Tar Springs. Rutledge was the son of a fundamentalist Baptist minister who rode the backwaters of Kentucky preaching hellfire and brimstone, often with Wiley in tow. Rutledge was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s eighth and last appointment to the Supreme Court. He demonstrated strong liberal credentials throughout his career and consistently upheld the rights of the individual, including the rights to a jury trial, to practice religion freely, to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and not to suffer cruel and unusual punishment. Rutledge sat on the bench from 1943 until his death in 1949.

Lewis_Garrard_ClarkeDecember 16, 1897, Lewis Garrard Clarke died a free man in Louisville. His body lay in state at the Kentucky State Capitol on order of Governor Bradley, and he was subsequently buried in Westwood Cemetery in Oberlin, Ohio. Born into slavery he chronicled his 20 years of slavery and escape in “Narratives of the Sufferings of Lewis and Milton Clarke, Sons of a Soldier of the Revolution, During a Captivity of More than Twenty Years Among the Slaveholders of Kentucky, One of the So-Called Christian States of North America” The character George Harris in Uncle Tom’s Cabin was based on Mr. Clarke. 
“When I stepped ashore here, I said, sure enough I am free. Good heaven! what a sensation, when it first visits the bosom of a full grown man – one, born to bondage – one, who had been taught from early infancy, that this was his inevitable lot for life.” 
Lewis Clarke arriving in Canada a free man.

Keen JohnsonJanuary 12, 1898, Keen Johnson, Kentucky’s 45th Governor from 1939-43 was born in a two room cabin at Brandon’s Chapel in Lyon County in an area that is now part of “The Land Between the Lakes.” He was the only journalist to hold the office. He bought and revived the struggling Elizabethtown Mirror newspaper. He later sold it and used the profits to obtain his journalism degree from the University of Kentucky in 1922. After graduation he became a half-owner of “The Anderson News” in Lawrenceburg.  In 1925, he became a partner in the purchase of the Richmond Daily Register and became the paper’s editor and publisher.  He continued to publish the Register until he ran for Governor in 1939. When U.S. Senator M.M. Logan died in early October, Governor Chandler resigned, and Johnson became Governor; he appointed Chandler to the vacant Senate seat. In the November general election, Johnson won easily. In his inaugural address, he promised to be “a saving, thrifty, frugal Governor”. He eliminated the state’s debt of $7 million and left the treasury with a surplus of $10 million by the end of his term; where funds were directed to education and the mental and penal systems. It was the first time the state had a surplus since the administration of J. C. W. Beckham in 1903. Johnson achieved the surplus without enacting any tax increases. His administration was also responsible for banning the sale of marijuana.

November 5, 1898, John Winston (“Squire”) Coleman, Jr., author and historian was born in Fayette County. Coleman began researching, collecting, and writing Kentucky history in 1932 and became renowned for his work in state and local history, especially on the Bluegrass region. He wrote more than twenty books; the first, Masonry in the Bluegrass, was published in 1933. His better known works are Stage-coach Days in the Bluegrass (1935), Slavery Times in Kentucky (1940), A Bibliography of Kentucky History (1949), The Springs of Kentucky (1955), Historic Kentucky (1967), and Kentucky: A Pictorial History (1972). Coleman’s private collection on Kentucky history included approximately 3,500 books, pamphlets, manuscripts, maps, atlases, and more than two thousand photographs and negatives. Coleman donated most of his large collection of Kentuckiana to Transylvania University.

usawbreckinridge desha-breckinridgeNovember 17, 1898, Desha Breckinridge married Madeline McDowell in a small and private wedding at the Ashland Estate in Lexington. Desha was a lawyer and editor of the Lexington Herald, which was owned by his father at the time. A Democrat, Breckinridge was frequently at odds with both parties in championing such causes as regulation of business, child labor laws, education, prison reform, and women’s suffrage. Madeline was Henry Clay’s Great-Granddaughter and leader of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and one of Kentucky’s leading progressive reformers.  She was a founding member of the Associated Charities, Lexington Civic League, KY Assoc. for the Prevention and Relief of Tuberculosis and KY Equal Rights Assoc. Her work also helped established KY’s Juvenile Court System. The two met while Madeline wrote book reviews for the Lexington Herald and largely through the pages of the newspaper, they became successful leaders of the Progressive Movement in Kentucky.

sarah-gibson-blandingNovember 22, 1898, Sarah Gibson Blanding was born on a tobacco farm in Fayette County. She received her B.A. from the University of Kentucky and while there she coached then played under Coach “Happy” Chandler on the women’s basketball team. Upon graduation, Blanding was appointed UK’s acting dean of women, becoming the youngest dean in the country, at 24. Blanding obtained her master’s degree in P.S. at Columbia University in 1926. In 1941 she was selected as the first female dean for Cornell University. In 1946 she became the first President of Vassar College where she increased faculty salaries by 116% and raised $25 million in nine years, tripling its endowment. She was appointed by NY’s Governor Dewey as Director of Human Nutrition for NY. She enjoyed the distinction of becoming one of the first women to serve in important U.S. government administrative posts during World War II and was decorated by the U. S. War Department for exceptional civilian service. President Roosevelt appointed her to the Committee on Welfare and Recreation and to the Board of Economic Cooperation Commission. President Truman picked her for the Commission on Higher Education. She sat on the First Board of Foreign Scholarships administering Fulbright Scholarships, and the National Committee that chose the first Marshall Fellowships. She has been the recipient of 18 honorary degrees from various colleges and universities. Blanding Tower on UK’s campus is named in her honor.

Lee-Hagan Nelson DeputyDecember 20, 1898, Felix Holt, Author was born in Murray. His first novel, The Gabriel Horn (1951), which critics credited as one of the significant works of the year, depicts Kentucky frontier life in the Jackson Purchase area during the Nineteenth century westward migration. It eventually sold over 1 million copies and in 1954 became a major motion picture, The Kentuckian, starring Burt Lancaster. Picture 


William Goebel DeathbedFebruary 3, 1900, despite the care of 18 physicians, William Goebel died from an assassin’s bullet and is the only state governor in the United States to be assassinated while in office. Goebel was mortally wounded by a rifle shot on January 30 as he approached the capitol after a close and heated election. The dying Goebel was sworn in as governor the next day. Both the democrats and republicans had claimed victory after conducting their own investigations into the election and for a brief period the state had two governments and a civil war seemed possible. Journalists recalled his last words as “Tell my friends to be brave, fearless, and loyal to the common people.” Irvin S. Cobb uncovered another story from the room. On having eaten his last meal, the governor supposedly remarked “Doc that was a damned bad oyster.” After a lengthy series of trials and court decisions, three men were convicted of murder or conspiracy to commit murder in Goebel’s death. The three were later pardoned, and the identity of the assassin is still disputed.

August 2, 1901, George W. Ranck, Kentucky writer and historian died tragically while doing the work he loved. While conducting research for an article about Lexington’s pioneer history, Ranck walked “on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad tracks just below Tarr’s Distillery in front of the old Ater place, in the west end of the city of Lexington.” According to one obituary, the author was “examining a spot of ground associated with the first settlement of Lexington, and, evidently bent on fixing definitely a certain locality, had his attention wholly centered on the problem . . .” Absorbed with his research, Ranck failed to see an approaching train. He was struck and instantly killed.  Mr. Ranck authored the History of Lexington, Kentucky: Its Early Annals and Recent Progress. This book began Ranck’s career as a prolific writer and historian. His topics included the histories of Lexington, Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky poet Theodore O’Hara, and Kentucky’s pioneer period.

January 11, 1904, John Young Brown, Kentucky’s 31st Governor (1891-1895) passed away in Henderson and was buried at the Fernwood Cemetery. The most significant bill that Brown’s administration passed and the one that generated the most debate, was a law giving married women individual property rights for the first time in state history. Also during Brown’s tenure as governor, mob violence was prevalent in Kentucky where from 1892 to 1895, there were fifty-six lynchings in the state. John Young Brown, the 55th Governor, was no relation.

bill-monoreSeptember 13, 1911, William Smith (“Bill”) Monroe, known as “the father of Bluegrass music,” was born near Rosine. Monroe has recorded for over fifty years and sold more than 25 million records. He is known for his high-pitched, fast-moving renditions of “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” “Molly and Tenbrook,” “My Rose of Old Kentucky,” and “Muleskinner Blues.”  He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970.

Garvice Delmar KincaidAugust 9, 1912, Garvice Delmar Kincaid was born in Lee County. He graduated from Madison High School and attended EKU supporting himself by delivering the local newspaper. He graduated from UK and UK Law School. In 1940 he purchased the KY Finance Company. In 1945 he was part of a group that purchased Central Bank. Kincaid became its president at age thirty-two, the youngest bank president in KY at that time. In 1959 he bought controlling interest in Kentucky Central Life Insurance Company. He owned radio stations WVLK-AM/FM, WKYT-TV, the Campbell House, Phoenix and Lafayette hotels, and Joyland Park, all in Lexington. He also owned Cardinal Life Insurance Company, the Fincastle Building and WINN-AM in Louisville, WFKY-AM in Frankfort, the Bank of Richmond, People’s Bank in Berea, and the First National Bank of Georgetown. Kincaid was one of the central figures in the economic transformation of Lexington through the urban renewal programs of the late 1960s and early 1970s. He won the Horatio Alger Award of the American Association of Schools and Colleges in 1960.

granpa-jonesOctober 20, 1913, country music singer and banjo player Louis Marshall (“Grandpa”) Jones was born in Henderson County, Niagara, KY to sharecropper parents. He may be best known for his role on Hee Haw. Grandpa was elected to the elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1978.

Martin Van Buren BatesJanuary 14, 1919, Martin Van Buren Bates, known as the “Giant of Letcher County,” passed away. Martin was normal size at birth but grew into a man 7’11”, and for years his weight was 525 pounds. Although of peace loving nature, he was a courageous and fearless officer in the Confederate Army, earning rank of Captain. In 1865 Bates began to use his size for monetary gain by touring in exhibition but never toured with Barnum and rarely traveled with tent circuses, preferring instead to hold receptions where he and his wife could meet with guests. Captain Bates toured much of the U.S., Canada, England, and Europe, meeting President Garfield, was a personal friend of President McKinley and was received by Queen Victoria on multiple occasions. Martin married Anna Hanen Swan, the “Giantess of Novia Scotia,” one inch taller than he. They had two children, both of whom died at birth, the son was thirty inches long, and weighed 23 3/4 pounds; it was claimed to be the largest human baby born up to that time. Martin wrote an autobiography, The Kentucky River Giant (probably published posthumously), which described the couple’s fascinating life.

July 2, 1922, Attorney and NFL referee Thomas Pearce Bell was born in Lexington. Bell played football under John Heber at Henry Clay High School and A.D. Kirwan at UK. Coach Bear Bryant encouraged Bell to officiate SEC games in 1952. After ten years in the SEC, Bell moved to the NFL where he became one of the most celebrated and respected of NFL referees. He led the referee crews in five NFC championship games, two AFC championship games, and two Super Bowls III and VII. Bell also officiated at two NCAA basketball final games. In 1966, Bell was awarded the Henry T. Duncan Memorial Award as the outstanding attorney in Fayette County and was a member of the UK Board of Trustees 1970-74.

Henry Lawrence FaulknerHenry FaulknerJanuary 9, 1924, Henry Lawrence Faulkner was born. A Kentucky artist and poet known as an eccentric rebel and bohemian. He claims to have been born in Eqypt, KY., but records indicate he was a native of Holland, KY.  He was orphaned along with ten brothers and sisters upon his mother’s death in 1926 and his early childhood was spent in a Louisville children’s home and a series of foster homes. He studied art at the Los Angeles Art Institute and later perfected his unique painting style in Taormina, Sicily, in Italy. He exhibited at galleries in New York, Ohio and Florida where his work was well received. Loved by his fellow Kentuckians for delightful abstracts of familiar locales like the John Hunt Morgan House and various scenes from Clay County, Lexington, Midway, and Georgetown. Henry made Lexington his permanent summer home and the Florida Keys his winter home. His family included an odd collection of cats and a goat named Alice that accompanied him constantly and appears in many of his paintings.

November 26, 1924, Edward “Ned” Thompson Breathitt, Jr was born in Hopkinsville. Ned was our 51st governor who handily beat Happy Chandler in the Democratic primary and won a close race from Louie Nunn in the General election. In 1966 Breathitt secured a major civil rights bill to prohibit discrimination in employment and public accommodations, a tough strip mining act, a compulsory automobile inspection act, an agency to regulate the use of natural resources, a redistricting of congressional districts, and greater regulation of political contributions and expenditures. 

David Monroe SmithNovember 10, 1926, David Monroe Smith was born in Livingston. During the Korean War, he served as a Pfc Mortar Gunner, in the U. S. Army and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. His citation reads in part “Bitter fighting ensued and the enemy overran forward elements, infiltrated the perimeter, and rendered friendly positions untenable. The mortar section was ordered to withdraw, but the enemy had encircled and closed in on the position. Observing a grenade lobbed at his emplacement, Pfc. Smith shouted a warning to his comrades and, fully aware of the odds against him, flung himself upon it and smothered the explosion with his body. Although mortally wounded in this display of valor, his intrepid act saved five men from death or serious injury.” For this action he was also awarded: the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal. 

November 12, 1926, George W. Ratterman was born. George played in the NFL for 10 years and was elected Sheriff of Campbell County after one of the most intriguing tabloid scandals Kentucky has known. Sheriff candidate Ratterman was the central figure in running organized crime out of his county. Dirty cops drugged, kidnapped and then set him up for an arrest of prostitution, all in an effort to discredit him. The plot was discovered and the U.S. Department of Justice later brought six people to trial for violating the civil rights of Ratterman. Video

November 23, 1927, Guy Mattison Davenport, Jr was born. “He was one of the great faculty members in this institution’s 
history,” University of Kentucky Provost Michael T. Nietzel said in a statement.  “To my mind,” Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda wrote in 1996, “Guy Davenport is the best literary essayist since Randall Jarrell and Cyril Connolly; like them, he possesses an original critical intelligence, a sensibility appealingly out of step with our debased times and, most important of all, a distinctive and congenial voice, a unique sound.” In 1990, he received a MacArthur Foundation grant of $365,000, commonly called a genius grant while a professor at UK where he was free to teach whatever he wanted and where his classes were eagerly sought out. Because he never learned to drive, Mr. Davenport lived near the campus in Lexington and walked to his office.

robert-ball-andersonDecember 3, 1931, Robert Ball Anderson died in an automobile accident. Mr. Anderson was a farmer and Civil War volunteer, who was born a slave on March 1, 1843, in Greensburg, Kentucky . He was a field hand when the Civil War began and then fled behind Union lines and enlisted in the U.S. Army. His unit, the 125th Colored Infantry, was training for combat when the war ended; he spent the remainder of his three- year enlistment at military posts in the Southwest. Following his discharge at Louisville, he moved to the panhandle of western Nebraska, for the 1873 Timber Culture Act. In 1922, at the age of seventy-nine, he married twenty- one-year-old Daisy Graham. She encouraged him to write his memoirs, which were published in 1927. At the time of his death, his 2,080 acres made him the largest landowner among blacks in Nebraska. 

December 4, 1931, Roy Kidd was born in Corbin. All told, Kidd led the Colonels to 16 Ohio Valley Conference titles and a national record 17 NCAA Division I-AA playoff appearances. He won the OVC Coach of the Year honor ten times and was twice honored as the NCAA Division I-AA national coach of the year. Over the course of his career, Kidd had a record of 314–124–8, a .713 winning percentage.

Wendell BerryAugust 5, 1934, Wendell Berry was born in Henry County, Kentucky. An American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. He was the first living writer to be ushered into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. He currently resides, farms and writes on his farm, Lane’s Landing, in Henry County, Kentucky near where the Kentucky River flows into the Ohio River.  He is a prolific author of at least 25 books of poems, 16 volumes of essays and 11 novels and short story collections, many of which depict the fictional small Kentucky town of Port William. Berry’s influential writing is grounded in the notion that one’s work ought to be rooted in and responsive to one’s place.  Wendell Berry is one of Kentucky’s greatest iconic treasures. Happy Birthday to a Kentucky Iconic Treasure!

“Be joyful because it is humanly possible.”
“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.”
“Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.” 


December 7, 1936, Martha Layne Collins was born in Bagdad, Shelby County. One of her major accomplishments came when the Japanese company Toyota decided to establish a large automobile plant near Georgetown. A record number of new job opportunities were brought to Kentucky under Collins’s national and international economic development program.


April 6, 1938, Mr. Peter Bruner, passed away. In 1845, he was born into slavery in Winchester, Kentucky and at the age of 19 successfully escaped from his master/father after many attempts. He traveled 41 miles to join the Union Army at Camp Nelson making him a free man.  His escape to freedom, his life as a slave and soldier, are detailed in his memoirs written with the assistance of his daughter, “A Slave’s Adventures Toward Freedom; Not Fiction, but the True Story of a Struggle.”  Read it here.

September 11, 1938, William Goodell Frost, educator and President of Berea College, passed away. During his tenure as president (1892-1920), Frost was credited with coping with the Day Law litigation and the significant expansion of Berea College as both a regional and a national institution. Changing the original course of Berea’s mission from that of the coeducation of blacks and whites to the education of Appalachian Americans, Frost considered himself, and was viewed by his contemporaries as, the discoverer of the southern Appalachian regional culture. In 1911 the college’s constitution was amended to make Appalachia Berea’s special field. The period 1912-20 saw a significant rise in endowment, from $100,000 to over $2 million, and in enrollment from 350 to 2,400. Plagued by illness for much of his career, Frost retired in 1920. In 1937 Frost wrote For The Mountains.

June 6, 1944, Phillip Allen Sharp was born in Falmouth, Kentucky. He is an American geneticist and molecular biologist who co-discovered RNA splicing. He shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Richard J. Roberts. 

October 6, 1949, Matt Winn passed away in his hometown of Louisville. Mr. Winn is credited for making the Kentucky Derby America’s number one turf event. In 1902, Churchill Downs was in danger of closing, Winn formed a syndicate of local investors to take over the operation. His renovations to the clubhouse and many promotions saw the business make its first-ever annual profit. Winn changed the wagering from bookmaker betting to a Pari-mutuel betting system and in 1911 increased business substantially when he reduced the wager ticket from $5 to $2. In 1915, he convinced Harry Payne Whitney to ship his highly rated filly Regret from New Jersey to Louisville to compete in the Derby. Whitney agreed, and Winn’s effort paid off with nationwide publicity surrounding the first filly to ever win the Derby.  In 1943, the U.S. Government ask Winn to suspend the derby because of WWII and he declined, that year Count Fleet won the Roses and the Triple Crown. Arthur Daley columnist of the NY Times said in 1949, “the Kentucky Derby is a monument to Winn, it is his baby and his alone.”

STS-106October 31, 1949, Terrence Wade Wilcutt was born in Russellville, but raised in Louisville. Wilcutt graduated from Southern High School in 1967 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics in from Western Kentucky University. Terrence is a United States Marine Corps officer and a NASA astronaut who is a veteran of four space shuttle missions. He piloted missions STS-68 (1994) and STS-79 (1996). He also commanded mission STS-89 (1998) to the Mir space station and STS-106 (2000) to the International Space Station. The crew poses for a photograph after a successful mission and landing, Commander Terrence W. Wilcutt is far right.

November 18, 1949, Alben William Barkley wed Jane Rucker Hadley. He became the only vice-president to wed in office. Barkley also was the first working vice-president in U.S. history. Because of his legislative expertise, Truman insisted on Barkley’s inclusion in all cabinet-level meetings and on the National Security Council. His extraordinary speaking abilities made him the administration’s principal spokesman, and Truman commissioned a vice-presidential seal and flag from the army’s heraldic branch.

August 31, 1955, Dr. Lucius Ernest Smith from Sacramento, McLean County, passed away. Smith was a UK graduate and in 1915 received an M.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He then served for more than a decade in Africa as a physician before returning to Breathitt County where he battled tuberculosis, the state’s No. 1 killer among preventable diseases. In 1930 Smith moved to Louisville and accepted a position with the Kentucky Tuberculosis Association where he dedicated the remainder of his career to eradicating the disease. Knowing that the malady could be prevented and treated in its early stages, he launched a statewide educational crusade. Smith encouraged Kentuckians to have physical checkups and chest X-rays, and urged schools to teach courses on personal and public hygiene. He raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the Christmas Seal program and he lobbied the legislature for money to build and staff sanitariums. His efforts paid off. When he commenced his work in 1930, Kentucky’s death rate from the “white plague” dropped from 94 to 33 per 100,000 in 20 years. He is buried in Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery.

Alben BarkleyApril 30, 1956, Alben Barkley’s sudden death remains a legendary moment in American Politics. Barkley was telling 1,000 students at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA: “I’m glad to be a junior [senator], I’m glad to sit on the back row; for I would rather be a servant in the House of the Lord than to sit in the seats of the mighty.” Barkley then had a heart attack and tumbled into a microphone stand, collapsing in front of his shocked audience. To add to the drama, Mrs. Barkley was in the audience and watched helplessly as her husband died.  Barkley was returned by a special 10-car train home to Paducah, near his hometown, where he was born in a log cabin. 

September 18, 1967, Brent Spence passed away in Fort Thomas. A native of Newport, he was a longtime Congressman, attorney, and banker for whom one of Kentucky’s most traveled bridge is named after. He was very active in local and state politics, serving first in the Kentucky Senate, then as city solicitor of Newport, and then in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 6th District; he held this position from 1931 until 1963 when redistricting led to his retirement. Spence, was at the time of his retirement, one of the oldest members to serve in the House. The Brent Spence Bridge of I-75/I-71 which crosses the Ohio River at Covington, KY is named for him.

johnny-cash-june-carter-wedding-photosMarch 1, 1968, Johnny Cash (36) and June Carter (38) were married in Franklin at the First Methodist Church. Cash and Carter, whose legal name was June Carter Nix, arrived in town and immediately went to the courthouse to get a marriage license. The night before, the two had received a Grammy for their recording of “Jackson.” It was the second marriage for Cash, and the third for Miss Carter. Cash’s best man was fellow Opry star Kilgore, who co-authored “I Walk The Line.” Carter’s good friend Micki Dale Brooks was maid of honor. June wore a light blue short lacy dress and carried a bouquet with red roses, Johnny dressed in his trademark black. Cash and Carter each had three children before they got married; together, they had one son, John Carter Cash, who was born in 1970. Their love story was well known, lasting 35 years until June Carter Cash’s death in May of 2003.

March 17, 1979, John Y. Brown (45) and Phyllis George (29) were married in the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan. The ceremony was performed by Norman Vincent Peale. Guests included Paul Hornung, Milton Berle, Bert Parks, Walter Cronkite, Eunice Shriver and Andy Williams who sung “Just the Way You Are.” Willie Nelson’s gift was a Bible. The wedding was a carefully orchestrated media event. The night before, the couple wound up their rehearsal dinner at Studio 54. The honeymoon in St. Martin was interrupted when Brown announced his candidacy for Governor. It was a surprise to many due to his prior political apathy and he had spent considerable time out of the state. Funding his campaign with his own personal fortune, Brown launched a massive media campaign promoting his candidacy to help him overcome his late start in the race. He promised to run the state government like a business and to be a salesman for the state as governor. They had two children, Lincoln Tyler George Brown and Pamela Ashley Brown. The couple separated in August 1995 and their divorce became final in 1998.

August 15, 1988
, George Barry Bingham, Sr., the patriarch of a family that dominated local media in Louisville for several decades passed away. George’s father bought The Courier-Journal and The Louisville Times newspapers from his second wife’s family money. George’s older brother, Robert Worth Bingham Jr, was considered incapable of taking control of the family business because of his alcoholism, so George took control. George went on to buy WHAS-TV, two radio stations and Standard Gravure. George had three sons: Worth, Barry, Jr and Jonathan, the oldest and youngest died in different accidents. Like George, the second son, Barry Jr. took over the empire. George’s remaining children; Barry Jr., Sallie and Eleanor were unable to work together and George reluctantly decided to sell the empire he had created. George Barry Bingham, Sr is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.

A. B. "Happy" ChandlerJune 15, 1991, Governor Albert Benjamin (“Happy”) Chandler passed away at his home in Versailles, KY. The “Boy Governor” was elected twice to KY’s highest office (35-39, 55-59). Chandler’s 1st administration was one of the most productive in the state’s history. Through his reorganization, reform, frugality and higher taxes, he financed improvements in schools, roads, health/welfare programs and prisons, Chandler dominated the legislature. Chandler resigned as governor in 1939 when Lt. Gov. Johnson succeeded him, Johnson appointed Chandler to the U.S. Senate seat. In 1945 he resigned from the senate to become commissioner of baseball. Governor Chandler was buried in the churchyard of Pisgah Presbyterian Church near Versailles.