Kentucky Timeline

1800, Lexington was reported to have 1,795 inhabitants of whom 23 were Native Americans and 439 were slaves. Ref 1

June 1, 1800, Kentucky’s second constitution goes into operation and is unchanged for 50 years.

October 16, 1800, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky was organized in Lexington and eventually moved to Louisville. Prominent Kentucky Masons included: John C. Breckinridge, Cassius M. Clay, the Crittendens, John Hunt Morgan, Beriah Magoffin, Robert Worth Bingham, A.B. Chandler, George Rogers Clark and Henry Clay who was Grand Master from 1820-21.

November 29, 1800, the Lexington Library was incorporated as the Lexington Library Association by John Bradford, James Morrison, Samuel Postlethwait and several others. The collection as moved from the Transylvania Seminary into quarters in the rear of Andrew McCalla’s drug store on Short Street, facing Cheapside.  Ref 1

January 29, 1801, Judge John Rowan and Dr. James Chambers attended the same card game in Bardstown. The game was held at Duncan McLean’s Tavern. Drunk and rowdy, after several spirited games of 21, Rowan said something that offended Chambers and a short time later they came to blows. This was the start of one of the most famous duels fought in the Commonwealth. 

January 31, 1801, Dr. James Chambers officially challenged Judge John Rowan. Rowan was a judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals and Chambers was the son-in-law of a judge on the Kentucky Supreme Court, Judge Benjamin Sebastian. 

dueling-pistolsFebruary 3, 1801, The Rowan-Chambers Duel took place. Rowan’s second was George Bibb, later a U.S. Senator & Treasury Secretary and Chambers chose Major John Bullock. Terms were to stand 10 paces, turn and fire with dueling pistols. They were instructed to act as gentlemen, observe the code and act only as instructed. First round: both missed and it was agreed to have a second attempt. New pistols were provided and in the second round, Chambers was mortally shot. The duel captivated the commonwealth and was tried in the courts and press, after it was viewed as a murder to many locals. The case was dropped, the rumors ceased and John later expressed remorse. Fourteen years later Judge Rowan built Federal Hill, My Old Kentucky Home and in 1825 he took the U.S. Senate oath of office to represent Kentucky.   Ref: 21

August 6, 1801, Edward West, who had first exhibited his miniature steamboat on the waters of Town Branch in 1793, greatly improved his model and gave another demonstration of the boat that worked by steam, applied to oars. Ref 1 

April 7, 1802, Transylvania University awarded its first degree, the Bachelor of Arts to Robert R. Barr. It was the first such degree conferred in the West.

June 30, 1802, the hated Federal Excise tax on whiskey, making sales and transportation of distilled spirits was repealed. There was much celebration in the streets. The Lexington Light Infantry paraded and “fired 17 vollies of musquetry , the beels rang joyful peal, the bonfires blazed and shouts filled the air.” Ref 1 

December 13, 1802, the General Assembly authorized the establishment of the Big Sandy-Greenbrier Road. This was the first road to be improved with the aid of state funds after the Wilderness Road. The opening of the road was indicative of the General Assembly ‘s awareness of the need for public communication and transportation networks within the state. The legislature made sporadic efforts to improve and maintain the road during the first half of the nineteenth century. After 1850, the work was undertaken by the counties through which the road passed.

December 16, 1802, Lexington’s first bank, The Kentucky Insurance Company, was incorporated. The bank failed in the general depression of 1818. Ref 1

August 9, 1803, John Kennedy started the first regular stage coach line in Kentucky, running from Lexington to the Olympia Springs in Bath County by way of Winchester and Mt. Sterling. It was advertised to leave Lexington at 4:00 am and arrive at the springs the same day for 21 shillings. 

March 14, 1804, Thomas Reed and John Carr, both Lexingtonians, met on “the Field of honor.” Cause of the duel was unknown. Reed was wounded in the foot and Reed in the thigh, after passing three shots. Neither of their wounds were dangerous. Ref 1

September 5, 1804, Christopher Greenup, a Democratic Republican became the second Governor of Kentucky. 

The central portion of Ashland, Henry Clay’s home was completed at the end of the year. The wings were added in 1813-14. In 1852 Clay’s son demolished the original home and rebuilt it, much from the same materials. Ref 1

May 30, 1806, Andrew Jackson and Charles Dickinson, two Tennesseans, crossed the state border to settle their differences over a horse bet. They met at Harrison’s Mill on the Red River for one of Kentucky’s most important duels. The men stood eight paces apart and then turned and fired.  Dickinson was a well-known sharpshooter and Jackson felt his only chance to kill him would be to allow himself enough time to take an accurate shot. Thus he calmly allowed Dickinson to fire into his chest. The bullet lodged in his ribs, but Jackson hardly quivered, calmly leveling his pistol at Dickinson. But when the trigger was pulled the hammer of his gun only fell to the half-cocked position and did not fire. According to dueling etiquette, this should have been the end of the duel.  Jackson, however, was not finished with Dickinson. Re-cocking his pistol, he aimed and fired, striking Dickinson dead. The bullet which remained in his body, left the future President a perpetual hacking cough, caused him persistent pain, and compounded the many health problems that would beleaguer him throughout life. But Jackson never regretted the decision. “If he had shot me through the brain, sir, I should still have killed him.” Ref : 21

June 12, 1806, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, parents of the future President Abraham Lincoln wed. The ceremony took place in the small community of Beechland on the Little Beech River.

November 19, 1806, Henry Clay was elected to the U.S. Senate, Class III, for the first time as a Democratic-Republican. He was elected to finish Senator John Adair’s term, despite being younger than the constitutional age minimum of 30 years. 

March 3, 1807, Henry Clay retires his Senate seat. 

September 1, 1808, Charles Scott, a Democratic Republican, became the third Governor of Kentucky. 

October 12, 1808, Luke Usher’s New Theater opened. It was declared the most important theatrical event in the Western Country, capable of seating 500-600 people. The building formerly a brewery was remodeled. The Thespian Society performed the first act, a comedy; Richard Cumberland’s The Sailor’s Daughter. Ref 1

January 19, 1809, Henry Clay and Humphrey Marshall held their famous duel just across the Ohio River from Shippingport. On the first shot, Marshall missed and Clay lightly grazed Marshall’s stomach. On the second shot, Marshall missed again and Clay’s pistol misfired. Marshall’s third shot lightly wounded Clay in the thigh, while Clay missed Marshall entirely. Clay insisted that they should both take another shot, but Marshall declined on grounds that Clay’s injury put him on unequal footing with his adversary, and the matter was ended. Ref: 21

January 4, 1810, Henry Clay is elected to the U.S. Senate for the second time, this time as a Class II Senator. He is still a Democratic -Republican. Buckner Thurston, also a Democratic -Republican resigns to become a judge for the U.S. Circuit Court. 

August 10, 1810, Great Cherokee Children Massacre took place at Yahoo Falls in southeast Kentucky, nestled in the Big South Fork, right outside Whitley City. The women and children that had gathered under the falls were massacred by John Sevier and his Cherokee fighters, who operated under the authority of the United States War Department. Many historians have expressed doubts if the massacre actually occurred as there is no modern documentation or records that mention the massacre, and there is no record of the existence of Princess Cornblossom. Many believe the story is one of Cherokee oral history that was passed down from generation to generation.

January 7, 1812, Captain Nathaniel G.S. Hart, a brother in la of Henry Clay and Samuel E. Watson, both of Lexington, dueled in Indins, just across the river from Louisville. The duel was called off after one round and neither were injured. Ref 1

June 18, 1812, the War of 1812 begins: U.S. vs UK.  

August 24, 1812, Governor Isaac Shelby took the oath of office again to become the 5th Governor of Kentucky. Because the U.S. declared war on Great Britain in June of 1812, Shelby decided to enter the race less than a month before the election.  Shelby was mocked because of his age (he was almost 62), calling him “Old Daddy Shelby” however he won by more than 17,000 votes. Preparations for the War of 1812 dominated Shelby’s second term. On the state level, Shelby revised militia laws to make every male between the ages of 18 and 45 eligible for military service; ministers were excluded from the provision.  Seven thousand volunteers enlisted, and many more had to be turned away. Shelby’s confidence in the federal government’s war planning was shaken by the disastrous Battle of Frenchtown in which a number of Kentucky soldiers died. Upon Shelby’s leaving office in 1816, President Monroe offered him the post of Secretary of War, but he declined because of his age. In 1817, Shelby received the thanks of Congress and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service in the war.

August 27, 1812, an impressive funeral for the fallen hero, Joseph Hamilton Daviess, who died in the Battle of Tippecanoe on November 11, 1811. He moved from Virgina to Danville in 1809 and was the first attorney from the Western Country to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was Grand Master of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Kentucky when he was killed. Ref 1

January 22, 1813, a combined British and Indian force attacked an American militia who were retreating from Detroit. The “Battle of Frenchtown,” also known in the history books as the “Battle of River Raisin” was a tremendous loss of American lives, especially Kentuckians.  Only 33 men of some 700 men escaped the battle. Over 400 Kentucky frontiersmen were killed in this battle of the War of 1812. 

February 9, 1813, the Gazette announced in leaded columns the ambush and terrible butchery at the River Basin. Ref 35

November 25, 1813, Kentucky’s first permanent state capital building, burnt down. The first floor held the state auditor, treasurer and public printer. The second floor held the House of Representatives, committee rooms and courtrooms. The third floor housed the Senate and Secretary of State. The next permanent capitol was built on the same site and also burned down.

April 29, 1814, Henry Clay loans famed Kentucky artist Joseph H. Bush $50.00 and months later $150.00. Ref 33

August 13, 1814, the Star Spangled Banner was written.

January 20, 1815, Captain Matthew Harris Jouett of the Army’s Third Mounted Regiment of Kentucky Volunteers resigns. Ref 33 

February 18, 1815, the War of 1812 ends, advantage U.S. The need for a formal militia takes hold. 

September 5, 1816, George Madison became the sixth governor of Kentucky and the first one to die in office.  Madison was overwhelmingly elected in August in part due to his distinctive service in three wars. Immediately after the election, Madison traveled to Blue Lick Springs for his health but was too weak to return to Frankfort for the inauguration.  A Bourbon County justice of the peace administered the oath of office on September 5. Madison’s only official act of office was the appointment of Colonel Charles S. Todd as Secretary of State.

September 12, 1816, Kentucky artist Joseph H. Bush writes Henry Clay and apologizes for being unable to refund the money that Clay loaned to him. Ref 33

July 25, 1816, The Kentucky State Fair had its first showing. It is one of the oldest fairs celebrated in the United States when Colonel Lewis Sanders of Fayette County, (no known relation to Colonel Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame) organized the first fair in the Commonwealth just north of Lexington. Sanders asked citizens to bring along their finest cattle, sheep, hogs and horses and said that silver cups will be given as prizes., thus the tradition of giving julep cups as livestock prizes began.

The fair became official in 1902 after being mandated by the Kentucky General Assembly the previous year. It was held at the famed Churchill Downs initially, then rotated throughout various communities until finding a permanent home in Louisville’s West End at the newly created Kentucky State Fairgrounds on September 14, 1908. In 1956 the fair was moved to the Kentucky State Fairgrounds and Exposition Center where it remains today. The modern fair is an eleven day event, visited by over 600,000 fairgoers, spread over 520 acres with 1.2 million square feet of indoor exhibition space for amusements, livestock, home and field-work exhibitions. Most notable of these is the World’s Championship Horse Show where 2000 elite saddlebreds compete for more than one million dollars’ worth of premiums and awards.

September 24, 1816, William Ramey, Elkhorn City’s first settler, bought 200 acres of land affecting land in Pike County and in Letcher County on Elkhorn Creek. The city lies at the confluence of the Elkhorn Creek & Russeel Fork at the Levisa Fork in the Big Sandy River. 

October 14, 1816, Governor George Madison became the first Kentucky Governor to die in office. He died at Blue Lick Springs, at the time in Bourbon County. He was Governor for forty days. 

February 4, 1817, the Lexington and Louisville Turnpike Road Company was organized by men from Lexington, Frankfort, Middletown, Shelbyville, Louisville and Versailles. This was the first turnpike road company in the state. 

July 10, 1818, the Kentucky Gazette announced that Matthew Harris Jouett would exhibit two of Joseph H. Bush’s painting in Jouett’s art gallery. This was done to help raise funds so Bush may continue to study art. Ref 33

October 19, 1818, Kentucky gained 2,000 square miles with the Jackson Purchase. The agents were the U.S. and the Chickasaw Indian Nation. Representing the U.S. were the aging Isaac Shelby, Revolutionary War hero and twice Kentucky governor and Gen. Andrew Jackson, later the U.S. president. The Chickasaws were represented by Levi and George Colbert, Chinubby (the Boy King), and Tishomingo. It now includes eight counties. A series of massive earthquakes in 1811-12 caused drastic changes to the topography; the most spectacular resulted in the formation of Reelfoot Lake. The New Madrid Fault is still a threat.

January 21, 1819, Centre College was founded by the Kentucky State Legislator. When the state relinquished authority to the Presbyterians, Kentucky stipulated: “The college shall at all times be conducted upon liberal, free, and enlightened principles, and no student shall be excluded in consequence of his religious opinions, or those of his parents, guardians, or relatives,” and “No religious doctrine peculiar to any one sect of Christians shall be inculcated by any professor in said college.” During the presidencies of Morrill (1982-88) and Adams (1988-97), the percentage of alumni donating funds to the college exceeded any other college or university in the U.S.  Centre’s alumni include; two U.S. vice-presidents, U.S. chief justice, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as congressmen, governors, and leaders in education, business, law, journalism, and medicine.

July 2, 1819, President James Monroe, accompanied by General Andrew Jackson, arrived in Lexington while touring the country. During a four day stay he spoke at Transylvania, given a large banquet at Mrs. Keen’s Postlethwait’s Tavern and was entertained by Governor Isaac Shelby among other dignitaries.

In 1820 the first commercial coal mine, known as the “McLean drift bank” opened in Kentucky, near the Green River and Paradise in Muhlenberg County. 

March 3, 1820, Lexington’s historical Postlethwaite Traven burned for the first time.  Started by Capt. John Postlethwaite, ownership shifted to Joshua Wilson, then to Sanford Keene when the fire occurred. Capt. John Postlethwaite took over operations after the fire until his death in 1833. It burned for a second time in 1879, when it was rebuilt and named The Phoenix Hotel. 

August 29, 1820Gabriel Slaughter‘s term as Governor ended. Governor Slaughter was the first Governor of Kentucky to ascend to power upon the death of a sitting Governor. He served three years and 11 months, there was no Lt. Governor during his administration. Governor John Adair took the oath of office on this day to become Kentucky’s eighth Governor.  

September 26, 1820, Daniel Boone dies in Missouri a few months short of his 86th birthday. 

November 2, 1820, the city of Franklin was incorporated. Throughout the 1820’s, famous duels took place at Lincompinch, near Franklin which is situated on the KY/TN boarder in Simpson County. Lincompinch is an ancient dueling ground within the disputed triangle between Kentucky and Tennessee (Black Jack Corner). Today, Franklin is home to Kentucky Downs, one of five horse racing tracks in Kentucky. The population of the fourth-class city was 6,553 in 1970; 7,738 in 1980; and 7,607 in 1990.

January 9, 1822, artist Joseph H. Bush announced in the Frankfort newspaper, Commentator, that he was working in the capitol city and stated that “gentlemen who wish to have their portraits painted, can be accommodated by applying to J.H. Bush, in rooms above the Commentator Printing office.” Ref 33

December 7, 1822, the Deaf and Dumb Asylum at Danville was established and endowed. 

April 10, 1823, The Kentucky Asylum for the Tuition of the Deaf and Dumb, later called the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD), was established in Danville. It was the first state-supported school of its kind in the nation and the first school for the deaf west of the Alleghenies. The deaf were a special concern of Gen. Elias Barbee, a Kentucky state senator, whose daughter, Lucy, was deaf. In 1822 Barbee collaborated with Judge John Rowan in writing the legislation authorizing the creation of the school. It was then signed into law by Gov. John Adair (1820-24). In the first two years the school rented quarters on Main Street, then moved to its present location on South Second Street in Danville.

May 16, 1825, Marquis de Lafayette arrived in Lexington on a tour through the U.S. which he helped to independence. He arrived for a brief one day stay in the mansion of Major John Keene. 

May 17, 1825, Marquis de Lafayette sat for Mercer County native, Mathew Harris Jouett in his Short Street studio to North Upper Street in Lexington. Jouett was recognized as the best portrait painter west of the Alleghany Mountains. When Lafayette was invited to come to Kentucky, the state legislature approved the money to have Mathew Harris Jouett do a portrait of Lafayette. Jouett traveled to Washington in order to begin the portrait but missed Lafayette. Henry Clay told the General about the portrait and he (Lafayette) left a message with Clay that he was sorry to have missed Jouett and instructed Jouett to make a copy of the one in the U.S. Capitol (the painting done by Ary Scheffer) that when he arrived in Kentucky he would sit for Jouett so he could touch it up. Or has Jouett put it “corrected whatever had been superinduced by time, change of health, or other circumstances.”

250px-beauchamp_kills_sharpNovember 7, 1825, around two o’clock in the morning, Jereboam Orville Beauchamp a young southern Kentucky lawyer knocked on Colonel Solomon P. Sharp’s door in downtown Frankfort and plunged a dagger deep into Sharp’s chest. This would become known as the “Kentucky Tragedy” or “Beauchamp-Sharp Tragey.” The central figure was Anna Cooke Beauchamp.  Anna had been an admirer of Sharp until Sharp denied being the father of her still born child. Later, Anna began a relationship with Cooke, and agreed to marry him on the condition that he kill Sharp to avenge her honor. Anna and Jereboam married in June 1824 and 17 months later the tragedy occurred. Sharpe was a prominent figure in Kentucky politics as a Representative, Congressman and Attorney General. The morning of the scheduled execution Anna and Jereboam attempted suicide in his cell with a knife. Anna survived and Jereboam was loaded on a cart to be taken to the gallows and hanged before he could bled to death.

Jereboam O. BeauchampJuly 7, 1826, Orville Beauchamp was hanged to death in Frankfort after being convicted of stabbing to death Kentucky 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.

John BucklinMarch 3, 1828, John Carpenter Bucklin was sworn in as Louisville’s first mayor, one month after the state legislature passed Louisville’s city charter. Per the terms of the charter, an election was held and the top two candidates were presented to the governor, who then chose one to serve a 1-year term. Bucklin would serve six 1-year terms. The powers of the mayor were somewhat limited in the early charter, not even giving the mayor a vote on the more powerful City Council (except to break deadlocks). During his tenure, he successfully argued for the establishment of the first public school in the city (and state). He also dealt with a devastating flood of the city in February 1832, and pushed for the draining of many of Louisville’s early ponds. He was a Unitarian, his pastor called him: “so complete a skeptic that he will believe nothing he has not seen or touched. He thinks the sciences of chemistry, geology, anatomy, geology, etc., are all humbug.” John Bucklin is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.

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.

August 26, 1828, Thomas Metcalfe became the 10th Governor of Kentucky. Joseph Desha, the outgoing governor, refused to believe that his party had lost the election. He disliked Metcalfe not only due to his party affiliation, but also because of his occupation as a stonemason, which he believed was too low a calling for a governor. Metcalfe’s opponents made slights on the quality of his stone work and his views on the Old Court-New Court controversy. When told about these charges, Metcalfe remarked “They may say what they like about my views, but the first man that dares to attack my character, I will cleave his skull with my stone hammer, as I would cleave a rock.” As word of this remark spread, Metcalfe was given the nickname “Old Stone Hammer.” Despite his threats to remain in the governor’s mansion until the legislature convened, Desha respected the will of the people, and left the residence on September 2, 1828.

January 29, 1829, the Maysville and Washington Turnpike Company was formed. In the same year the road between the two cities was paved, based on the principles espoused by John McAdam.  The McAdam System, the preferred road system was adopted throughout England and the U.S. in the 1800’s. The road was the first macadamized road in the West.

October 9, 1829, a famous Lexington duel between proslavery Charles Wickliffe and Lexington Gazette editor and anti-slavery George J. Trotter occurred shortly before nine o’clock on the Scott/Fayette border. The duel has its roots in the acquittal of Charles Wickliffe for the murder of Thomas R. Benning, editor of the Kentucky Gazette. Wickliffe shot Benning during a disagreement over editorials, which criticized his father, politician Robert Wickliffe. Henry Clay acted as Wickliffe’s lawyer during his trial. Later that same year, Wickliffe challenged the new editor of the newspaper, George J. Trotter, to a duel over articles questioning the fairness of the trial. At the duel each fired: Trotter’s bullet grazed Wickliffe’s hip and Wickliffe missed. “I demand a second fire,” Wickliffe demanded sharply. “Sir, you will have it with pleasure,” replied Trotter. 15 minutes later the duelist fired again and again Wickliffe missed, while Trotter’s bullet inflicted a mortal wound. As Wickliffe lowered himself to the ground, he was asked if he was satisfied and he replied, “I am sir, I am unable to fire again.” Ref: 21

December 7, 1829, the General Assembly moved into the new state capitol. 

May 28, 1830, Indian Removal Act signed by President Andrew Jackson. The Indian Removal Act was passed calling for the relocation of all tribes to “Indian Territory” west of the Mississippi River. Under the terms of the act individuals were to be allowed to stay in their homes if they gave up all tribal claims and allegiance and agreed to become citizens of the states they lived in.

November 24, 1830, the Louisville Journal made its debut. The newspaper, was founded to promote Henry Clay ‘s candidacy for the presidency and financed and published by A.J. Buxton, with Clay’s biographer, George D. Prentice, as the editor. It was one of the most widely circulated newspapers west of the Appalachian Mountains, primarily because of Prentice’s writing. Following the Whig party’s demise with the 1860 election of Lincoln, the Journal endorsed the Native American (or Know-Nothing) party. In 1868 the Journal merged with the Courier, Louisville’s Democratic newspaper, becoming the Courier-Journal.

August 8, 1831, Shawnee Treaty was used to define and enforce who was a “real” American Indian and who was not. Unfortunately, the Shawnee Treaty of 1831 became the standard for identifying American Indians in Kentucky. 

October 21, 1831, the beginning of constructing Kentucky’s first railway, the Lexington and Ohio Railroad, was marked with a grand parade that begun in front of Transylvania and ended at Water Street near the corner of Mill Street where a corner stone of the rail was laid by Gov. Metcalf, who also drove the first spike. The train cars were driven by horses for a long time.

August 15, 1832, Governor Metcalfe rode the first stretch of the Lexington and Ohio Railroad, a mile and a half, and everyone marveled that one horse could pull 40 passengers. By the following March, six more miles had been completed going towards Frankfort.

April 4, 1833, the town of Maysville catches fire and destroys five businesses and one home. 

January 31, 1834, the Lexington and Ohio Railroad reached Frankfort for the first time and a grand ball was held in the Phoenix Hotel in Lexington. The steam engine used, was invented by Thomas Barlow, a Lexington native. The mechanic who constructed the locomotive, Joseph Bruen was also a Lexington native.  Their strange looking contraption broke down frequently and was incapable of carrying heavy loads. Horses were used again until engines were brought from the East

November 17, 1834, William Lee Davidson Ewing, from Paris, became the 5th Governor of Illinois when Governor John Reynolds resigned from office. Ewing was president of the senate at the time. His term lasted less than a month but a year after leaving the governor’s office, Ewing was appointed to the U.S. Senate till 1837. Governor William Lee D. Ewing is buried at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois.

December 31, 1835, Newport Rifles of Kentucky, a 52-man company of volunteers, led by Captain Sidney Sherman, left for Texas via a Riverboat. Before their departure, the unit received a flag from the ladies of Newport, Kentucky who had the painting of “Liberty” done by the 22 year old artist, James Henry Beard. The charging Lady Liberty with sword drawn and “Liberty or Death” emblazoned on her sash originally had a blue background. 

March 16, 1836, the first railroad accident occurred on the Lexington & Ohio line, two miles north of Frankfort. A train leaped over an embankment killing three and wounding many.

April 8, 1836, Colonel Sidney Sherman led the Kentucky Rifles at the Battle of San Jacinto, and they are we’re generally credited as first uttering the famous warcry, “Remember the Alamo!” This was the battle that ended Mexico’s land disputes. 

James ClarkAugust 30, 1836, James Clark took the oath of office to become Kentucky’s 13th Governor. Clark served in all three branches of Kentucky’s government. As circuit court judge in the 1822 case of Williams v. Blair, he declared unconstitutional a law allowing debtors to escape bankruptcy by imposing a moratorium on their debts. He contended that the law “impaired the obligation of contracts” in violation of the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution.His decision was unpopular with the legislature, so they tried first to remove him from office but failed. Second the legislature tried to abolish the court creating Kentucky’s infamous Old Court-New Court Controversy. Clark’s most significant accomplishment as governor was securing the creation of a state board of education and the establishment of public schools in every county in the state. James Clark died in office with less than a year to serve. He was buried in a private cemetery near his home in Winchester.

March 5, 1841, John J. Crittenden began his fist of two terms as U.S. Attorney General. Upon his election as president, William Henry Harrison appointed Crittenden as Attorney General, but five months after Harrison’s death, political differences prompted him to resign rather than continue his service under Harrison’s successor, John Tyler.

May 5, 1841, Lexingtonians, Cassius Clay and Robert Wickliffe, Jr. met on the “field of honor” Locust Grove Plantation near Louisville to duel.  Pistols at 30 feet (10 paces) were used, two rounds fired, but no injuries. Ref: 21

September 22, 1842, Illinois State Legislature Abraham Lincoln met Illinois State Auditor James Shields on the field of honor to duel. The duel was fueled by published letters written by Lincoln and Mary Todd attacking Shields for his politics and his pursuit of women.  Lincoln was upset that in August of 1842, the Illinois State Bank went bankrupt and announced that it would no longer accept its own paper currency from private citizens looking to pay off debts. Lincoln set the parameters for the duel. It was to be fought with large cavalry broadswords, in a pit, divided by a board which no man could step over.  In creating such parameters, Lincoln aimed to disarm his opponent using his superior reach advantage and avoid bloodshed on either side. The day of the duel the combatants met at Bloody Island, Missouri.  As the two men faced each other, with a plank between them that neither was allowed to cross, Lincoln swung his sword high above Shields to cut through a nearby tree branch.  This act demonstrated the immensity of Lincoln’s reach and strength and was enough to show Shields that he was at a fatal disadvantage.  With the encouragement of bystanders, the two men called a truce. 

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.

November 15, 1843, the Campbell-Rice debate on the comparative religious beliefs of the Christian Church and Presbyterian denominations took place in Lexington at the city’s largest venue, Main Street Christian Church.  Henry Clay, who was between terms in the U.S. Senate and living at his Ashland estate, agreed to serve as moderator in the debate. J.M. Sandusky, a prominent Missouri lawyer formerly of Lexington, remarked, “I should have thought Clay could have made a much better judge of a horse race or good whiskey than a religious debate.”

February 19, 1845, Cassius M. Clay, who supported gradual constitutional emancipation of slaves, announced the future publication of his antislavery newspaper, the True American, in Lexington. In the heated debate over slavery, other Lexington newspapers had stopped publication of Clay’s antislavery articles. He secured a three-story red brick building on North Mill in Lexington for an office. Expecting militant opposition, he fortified the building with muskets, Mexican lances, two brass cannons, and a keg of gunpowder, and he created an escape route through trap doors. A citizens’ committee eventually formed and seized the press and forced Clay to move to Cincinnati. Clay later sued the group and received $2,500 in damages.

January 10, 1846, Lafayette Shelby, grandson of Kentucky’s first governor, shot and killed Henry M. Horine in front of the Phoenix Hotel, where both attended a drinking party. Henry Clay got Lafayette a mistrial and the citizens of Lexington were outraged. Lafayette fled to Texas, never to be heard of again.

Lewis Collins Historical Sketches of Kentucky is published. 


March 6, 1848, Lexington received their first telegraph message from Louisville. The telegraph line between the two cities was completed earlier in the same year.

Cave HillJuly 25, 1848, Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville was dedicated. The 296 acre Victorian era National Cemetery and arboretum was acquired in various tracts from adjoining land owners over a period of thirty years. Within the grounds, known in the mid 1800’s as the “city of the dead”, are sixteen miles of paved roads, five lakes, and one quarry. As of 2012 there have been over 130,000 people interred on the grounds, and there is ample room for burial of many more citizens. Cave Hill was named for the cave on the east bank of the main lake below the Administration Office. A few of the burial sites include: George Rogers Clark, Muhammad Ali and Colonel Sanders.

January 29, 1850, The Compromise of 1850 was introduced by Senator Henry Clay in a series of resolutions. 

March 5, 1850, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N) was chartered by the General Assembly. It was the first train that ran from Louisville and Nashville. The first track was laid and operated in 1855 in downtown Louisville. The first passenger station in 1858. During the Civil War the L&N was the West’s only North-South rail link, a vital part of the Union’s supply route. It was used by Generals Grant and Sherman to move men and supplies further into the south. It was the prime target for Confederate units. General John Hunt Morgan raided extensively along its tracks and bridges. Despite all its difficulties the railroad continued to operate.

July 31, 1850, Governor John Jordan Crittenden resigned to accept President Millard Fillmore’s appointment as Attorney General. This would be Crittenden’s second trm as U.S. Attorney General. John L. Helm became the 18th Governor of Kentucky. Governor Helm would go on to be the 24th Governor as well.

September 2, 1851, Lazarus Whitehead Powell became the 19th Governor of Kentucky. As governor he gave Kentucky one of the top educational systems in the South, improved Kentucky’s transportation system and vetoed legislation that he felt would have created an overabundance of banks in the Commonwealth. 

June 29, 1852, Henry Clay died of tuberculosis in Washington, DC at the age of 75, while serving as a U.S. Senator representing Kentucky.  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 in Lexington. 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.

September 27, 1853, a stampede of slaves crossed the Ohio River. Thirty-two from Mason and Bracken Counties, nine from Campbell County and fourteen from Boone County. 

August 27, 1854, one of Kentucky’s deadliest F2 tornadoes struck in Louisville at 12:12 PM. Eighteen of the 25 deaths at Louisville occurred in the destruction of the Third Presbyterian Church. Many women and children were killed in the church, the youngest victim being nine years old.  A mother and her three children were discovered grouped in death. In another spot a father lay dead with the mother mortally wounded, their young child placed beneath them unhurt, protected by the forms of its parents. This deadly storm touched down near the intersection of Jefferson and Twentieth Streets, unroofing 21 buildings at the German Protestant Orphan Asylum.  The Louisville Daily Courier described the storm as “a whirlwind revolving leftwise.” 100 people were injured during this 2 mile funnel with a path width of 800 yards.

August 6, 1855, a Kentucky election day, was known as Bloody Monday due to anti-immigrant sentiment. It was one of Louisville’s darkest days in its history. Rumors were started that foreigners and Catholics had interfered with the process of voting. The American Know-Nothing Party formed mobs, positioned themselves at various polling places and later drifted into Irish Catholic neighborhoods, where bloody rioting broke out. During the course of the day, two large riots erupted in the city. The first riot took place in the German district at 4 p.m., which was located in the First Ward on the east end of Louisville. The second riot occurred from 6 p.m. until midnight in the Irish district, in the Eight Ward in the western section of town. Although the official death toll was listed as 22, some estimates place the number much higher.

August 25, 1855, the first train to operate over the Louisville & Nashville Rail occurred when some 300 people traveled eight miles from Louisville at a speed of 15 mph! The track continued to Nashville. 

September 4, 1855, Charles Slaughter Morehead became the 20th Governor of Kentucky. Governor Morehead was the only governor from the “No Nothing Party”. This party arose in response to an influx of migrants, and promised to “purify” American politics by limiting or ending the influence of Irish Catholics and other immigrants. 

January 27, 1856, on the coldest winter in 60 years Margaret Garner, pregnant with her fifth child and her husband decided to gather their children and escape enslavement to Cincinnati from Kentucky along with several other slave families. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, the family had stolen horses and a sleigh from their owner, Mr. Marshall, and crossed the frozen river on the night of January 27. Once in Ohio, they sought refuge at a former slave’s home. The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act enabled the owners to seek a warrant for their return to Kentucky. When the U.S. Marshals enter the hideout, Mrs. Garner killed her daughter instead of returning her to slavery. She did not want any of her children to return to slavery but the Marshals refrained her from further action. Margaret Garner was born a slave in Boone County.

April 7, 1856, the first home of Louisville Male High School opened. Male is the oldest high school in Kentucky one of the 80 oldest in America. Male was known originally as “High School.” After other high schools were established in the years following, the school was named “Louisville Male High School.”  The first two graduates in 1859 were Lewis D. Kastenbine (who later became a physician in Louisville) and James S. Pirtle (later became a prominent Louisville judge). The first football game was played in 1893 (Male vs. Manual) with Male beating Manual 14-12. This marked the beginning of what is today the oldest high school rivalry in America.

March 4, 1857, Lexingtonian John C. Breckinridge began his term as Vice President of the United States of America. He was and still is the youngest person to take the oath for this office.* He served a full term.

January 15, 1858, Kentucky University was founded in Mercer County by John B. Bowman and chartered by the General Assembly. It was an institution controlled by the Christian Church (Disciples), with the declared purpose of establishing a “first-class university.” Despite a promising beginning, Kentucky University soon felt the effects of the Civil War and then a major fire in 1864 almost saw its collapse. In 1865 it was decided to merge the financial resources of Kentucky University with the physical facilities of Transylvania and the legislature approved the union under the name of Kentucky University. Kentucky University opened on Transylvania’s former campus in October 1865 with Colleges of Arts and Sciences and of Law and a College of the Bible (which would ultimately become Lexington Theological Seminary). In the same Legislative Act, Kentucky’s A&M College was established, later known as UK. In 1908, Kentucky University resumed the name of Transylvania University.


July 6, 1859, two surveyors representing Kentucky and Tennessee wandered off course from a marked Beech Tree on the bank of Drakes Creek in current Simpson County. They turned their compasses ¾’s of a mile north from a Black Jack Oak creating a 100 acre indentation. Today this error is known as Black Jack Corner or the Middleton Offset.


August 30, 1859, Beriah Magoffin became the 21st Governor of Kentucky. Magoffin served during the early part of the Civil War and adhered to a states’ rights position, including the right of a state to secede from the Union, and he sympathized with the Confederate cause. Nevertheless, when the Kentucky General Assembly adopted a position of neutrality in the war, Magoffin ardently held to it, refusing calls for aid from both the Union and Confederate governments. Unable to provide effective leadership due to a hostile legislature, Magoffin agreed to resign as governor in 1862, provided he could choose his successor.

73715-004-7d96ff15November 6, 1860, Kentuckian and Republican Abraham Lincoln defeated Kentuckian and Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, and Constitutional Union candidate John Bell for the U.S. Presidency. The split between Northern and Southern Democrats over slavery secured the election for Lincoln. Months following Lincoln’s election and before his inauguration in March 1861, seven Southern states, led by South Carolina succeeded. Lincoln’s election did not entirely cause the Civil War but the election was one of the primary reasons the war broke out the following year. Lincoln captured slightly less than 40 percent of the national vote, but he won a majority in the Electoral College, with 180 electoral votes.  Bell won Kentucky’s 12 electoral college votes by winning 66,058 (45.2%) of the popular vote: Breckinridge 53,143 (36.3%), Douglas 25,651 (17.5%) and Lincoln 1,364 (.9%). Video

December 9, 1860, Governor Beriah Magoffin, sent a circular letter to other slave-state governors to persuade them not to leave the Union. Ref 34

December 27, 1860, Democratic Governor Magoffin called a special session to consider succession. Ref 34 

January 16, 1861, the Crittenden Compromise, the last chance to keep North and South united, dies in the U.S. Senate. Proposed by Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, the compromise was a series of constitutional amendments to alleviate all concerns of the Southern states. Four states had already left the Union when it was proposed, but Crittenden hoped the compromise would lure them back. The major problem with the plan was that it called for a complete compromise by the Republicans with virtually no concessions on the part of the South. The vote was 25 against the compromise and 23 in favor of it. All 25 votes against it were cast by Republicans, and six senators from states that were in the process of seceding abstained.

jefferson davis ignagurationFebruary 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis is inaugurated provisional President of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery AL. In his inaugural speech he addresses the reasons he believes to be the causes of succession and his hopes for peace and prosperity between the CSA and the USA. The New York Times responds: “his bragadocia and threats are the subject of ridicule, and excite no fear here. It is only tending to strengthen the anti-compromise feeling. His inaugural address, or that part of it which is received here to-night, but not yet made public, takes strong ground against reconstruction and compromise, and partakes more of the air of a military dictator than the head of a peaceful Republic. The Border-State men denounce Davis and his bombast without stint.” Immediately after his inauguration, Davis sent a peace commission to Washington. Lincoln, committed to preserving the Union at any cost, refused to see the emissaries of the Confederacy. In early April, Lincoln dispatched armed ships to resupply the federal garrison at Ft. Sumter. In response, Davis ordered the April 12 bombardment of the fort. The Civil War had begun.

March 4, 1861, John C. Breckinridge began his term as Kentucky’s Senator in Washington D.C.
March 4, 1861, John J. Crittenden, served his last day as Kentucky’s U.S. Senator. Crittenden was one of Kentucky’s most distinguished politicians, having served as: U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, Kentucky Governor, Kentucky Secretary of State and U.S. Attorney General. 

April 12, 1861, The Civil War Began.

April 17, 1861, Kentucky Senator John J. Crittenden declared that Kentucky’s proper role was that of a mediator. Ref 34

April 30, 1861, Senator Crittenden wrote his son: “Kentucky has not seceded, and I believe never will. She loves the Union and will cling to it as long as possible. And so, I hope, will you….God knows what is it to be the end.” Ref 34

May 16, 1861, Kentucky Declaration of Neutrality was a resolution passed by the Kentucky Legislature (69-29) declaring Kentucky officially neutral in the Civil War, the only state to do soConsidering the deplorable condition of the country and for which the State of Kentucky is in no way responsible, and looking to the best means of preserving the internal peace and securing the lives, liberty, and property of the citizens of the State; therefore, Resolved, by the House of Representatives, that this State and the citizens thereof should take no part in the civil war now being waged, except as mediators and friends to the belligerent parties; and that Kentucky should, during the contest, occupy the position of strict neutrality. Resolved, that the act of the governor in refusing to furnish troops or military force upon the call of the executive authority of the United States under existing circumstances is approved.  There was the North, there was the South and then there was Kentucky.

May 20, 1861, the governor proclaimed the state’s neutrality. Ref 34

May 28, 1861, under direction from President Lincoln and after Kentucky’s declaration of neutrality, the Federal government set up the Military Department of Kentucky, encompassing the area within 100 miles of the Ohio River. A native Kentuckian, Major Robert Anderson, of Fort Sumter fame, was given command. Placing native Kentuckians in various commands obscured the Federal government’s purpose – control of Kentucky’s strategic areas. Federal officers soon began recruiting Kentuckians, across the Ohio from Louisville, at Camp Jo Holt. Encouraged by victory in the August state elections, Major General Bull Nelson set up Camp Dick Robinson, in Garrard County, close to the Kentucky Central Railroad, and began to raise an army. This resulted in widespread panic; rumors circulated that Lincoln would send mobs of armed blacks into the state. Governor Magoffin regarded Camp Dick Robinson a flagrant breach of neutrality; sending a letter of protest to Washington. Lincoln brushed aside Magoffin’s objections; refusing to remove the troops; justifying his lack of action by stating that he couldn’t find, in Magoffin’s “not very short letter,” any indication that he entertained “…any desire for the preservation of the Federal Union.”

August 5, 1861, the Unionist won another decisive political battle when state legislatures were elected. Ref 34

September 3, 1861, Confederate Major General Leonidas Polk ordered a Confederate invasion of Columbus, a port town on the Mississippi River. Its high bluffs and railroad terminal made it a valuable military post. Two days later, Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant responded by occupying Paducah and then Smithland. Because the Confederates invaded first, they were branded the aggressor. Although Governor Magoffin called for both sides to leave Kentucky, the Unionist legislature only asked the Southerners to withdraw. Historians call Polk’s decision a major blunder because there was no reason to invade, all pretenses of neutrality were now gone, Kentucky’s allegiance was with the North, at least officially.

September 4, 1861, General Grant moves into Paducah. 

September 7, 1861, the Kentucky State Legislature, angered by the Confederate invasion four days earlier, ordered the Union flag to be raised over the state capitol in Frankfort, declaring its allegiance with the Union.

September 18, 1861, Kentucky calls for the removal of CSA troops from its soil and gave the command of the state volunteers to General Robert Anderson.  The demand falls on deaf ears. Ref 34

September 10, 1861, Kentuckian, General  Albert Sidney Johnson, from Washington, was placed in command of Confederate Department No. 2, a military monstrosity that stretched all the way from the Appalachian Mountains to the Indian Territory in the West.  Ref 34

September 20, 1861, John Hunt Morgan, one of many confederates, sneaks out of Lexington in the middle of the night. Ref 34

October 21, 1861, the Battle of Camp Wildcat, aka, Wildcat Mountain took place in northern Laurel County, what is now the Daniel Boone National Forest. It was one of the earliest battles in America’s Civil War and the second one fought in Kentucky. The Confederates occupied Cumberland Gap and the Union Army established a camp at Wildcat Mountain, to obstruct the Wilderness Road passing. Total causalities were 78 total (US 25; CS 53).  The Battle of Camp Wildcat is recognized as the first Union victory of the Civil War when the Confederates retreated back to Tennessee.  Video

November 2, 1861, John C. Breckinridge was commissioned as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army.  

November 6, 1861, John C. Breckinridge was indicted for treason in U.S. federal district court in Frankfort, having officially enlisted in the Confederate army days earlier.

November 8, 1861, the Battle of Ivy Mountain began in Floyd County. General William “Bull” Nelson, Union commander in northeastern Kentucky, was ordered to break up a large Confederate recruiting camp in Prestonsburg. In what would be the first major clash in eastern Kentucky, the Confederates took up positions at this site, where they waited in ambush. It was considered a win for the Union but the Rebels retreated. There were an estimated 293 total casualties (US 30; CS 263). Video

Kentucky Confederate FlagNovember 18, 1861, eight months after civil war broke out, confederate delegates from 68 of Kentucky’s 110 counties met at the Clark House in Russellville . Dubbed the “Sovereignty Convention” they passed an ordinance of secession, adopted a new state seal, and elected the first Kentucky Confederate Governor. Bowling Green was occupied by General Johnston’s army, was thus designated as the state capital. President Davis admitted Kentucky into the Confederate States a month later. Due to ongoing military situations, the provisional government was exiled and traveled with the Army of Tennessee for most of its existence. 

November 20, 1861, George W. Johnson became the first Kentucky Governor for the Confederate States of America. Johnson served less than a year, when he died at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. The rebel government had two governors and disbanded shortly after the war.

November 20, 1861, Kentucky legislatures adjourn. Ref 34

December 2, 1861, John C. Breckinridge was declared a traitor by the United States Senate. A resolution stating “Whereas John C. Breckinridge, a member of this body from the State of Kentucky, has joined the enemies of his country, and is now in arms against the government he had sworn to support: Therefore—Resolved, that said John C. Breckinridge, the traitor, be, and he hereby is, expelled from the Senate,” was adopted by a vote of 36–0 on December 4.

December 10, 1861, Confederate Kentucky was admitted into the Confederate States of America. After 1863 the Confederate government existed only on paper, and it was disbanded when the Civil War ended in 1865. 
December 10, 1861, Union General Albin Shoepf’s forces are run out of Somerset by a Confederate force led by General Felix Zollicoffer. 

December 17, 1861, the Battle of Rowlett’s Station, took place in Hart County. Fighting occurred at a railroad stop in Rowlett and the objective was an iron railroad bridge, hailed as an engineering marvel, over the Green River. With no clear winner in the battle, the Union did stay in control of the bridge but the Confederates were able to destroy a large section. The casualties were estimated around 131 total (US 40; CS 91). Two more Civil War battles were fought over the control of this vital supply link. The significance of the “Battle for the Bridge” is celebrated each September during the Hart County Civil War Days. Video

December 23, 1861, the Confederate Government authorized the act of raising 20 companies of troops in Kentucky. Ref 34

December 28, 1861, The Battle of Sacramento takes place in McLean County. 500 CSA troops square off against 200-300 Union troops. The battle ends with a Confederate victory. 

January 10, 1862, Battle of Middle Creek took place in Floyd County. The Union trrops with 2,100 men lost 27. The CSA with 2,500 men lost 65. The Union now had control of Eastern Kentucky. 

January 11, 1862, Battle of Lucas Bend in Carlisle County took place. 

January 19, 1862, the Battle of Mill Springs took place in Wayne and Pulaski counties, near current Nancy. Mill Springs was a rare January battle and the first significant Union victory of the war, much celebrated in the popular press. The winning Union General George H. Thomas, still under a cloud of suspicion because of his southern birth did not receive as much credit as he should have after the battle, however he later had Fort Thomas in Northern Kentucky named for him. Confederate Brig. General Zollicoffer was killed. Second in command, Confederate Major General George Bibb Crittenden’s brother was a Union General and his father was a prominent U.S. Senator and twice U.S. Attorney.  Union and Confederate forces were about of equal strength. Union losses were 39 killed and 207 wounded, Confederate 125 killed and 404 wounded or missing. Video

February 3, 1862, Confederate Secretary Benjamin informed the Confederate Governor Johnson that Kentucky raised 46,000 men. Ref 34

February 14, 1862, Confederate forces leave Bowling Green and the next day Union forces enter. 

March 1, 1862, Camp Beauregard was closed when over 1,000 men died due to severe weather and poor diet. The Confederate training camp was established in September 1861, in Graves County, 12 miles east of Columbus. The camp at its height housed 5,000 troops from seven states. A large boulder monument erected in 1920, by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, memorializes the men buried in the mass graves.

March 31, 1862, Major General George Bibb Crittenden was arrested for drunkenness and relieved of his duties as commander of the 2nd Division of the Army of Central Kentucky. He was restored little more than two weeks later, but a court of inquiry was ordered by General Braxton Bragg that summer and Crittenden resigned in October, serving out the remainder of the war quietly. After the war, Crittenden served as the state librarian of Kentucky until 1871. George was born in Russellville, his father John J. Crittenden, was a prominent politician and son of a Revolutionary War veteran. George’s brother Thomas Leonidas Crittenden, joined the Union cause. What possibly led to the arrest was that on January 18, 1862 his forces were defeated at the Battle of Mill Springs by Union General George H. Thomas, greatly weakening the Confederate hold on eastern Kentucky.  It was the first battlefield setback for Confederate war effort.

Richard-HawesApril 9, 1862, Richard Hawes, from Paris, became the second Confederate Governor of Kentucky. Hawes replaced George W. Johnson who died in the Battle of Shiloh on April 8. Hawes and the Confederate government traveled with Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee, and when Bragg invaded Kentucky in October 1862, he captured Frankfort and held an inauguration ceremony for Hawes. The ceremony was interrupted, however, by forces under Union General Don Carlos Buell, and the Confederates were driven from the Commonwealth following the Battle of Perryville. Hawes relocated to Virginia, where he continued to lobby President Davis to attempt another invasion of Kentucky. At the end of the war, the Confederate Government of Kentucky in exile ceased to exist, and Hawes returned to his home in Paris. He swore an oath of allegiance to the Union, and was allowed to return to his law practice. He was elected county judge of Bourbon County, a post he held until his death in 1877.

May 11, 1862, a small military affair took place in Cave City. 

May 27, 1862, Brigadier General Jeremiah Tilford Boyle, a native of Mercer County, was assigned command of what was later called the Disrict of Kentucky. One of his goals was to halt guerrilla activity and to suppress Confederate support. Ref 34 

July 4, 1862, Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan, with 876 men, begins his raids in Kentucky held Union lands.

July 9, 1862, Morgan’s Raiders take Tompkinsville. Ref 34

July 11, 1862,  Morgan’s Raiders take Lebanon, capturing 200 of the enemy  and a large depot of supplies. 

July 17, 1862, Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan defeats Union Lt. Colonel John J. Landrum at the Battle of Cynthiana, the largest action of Morgan’s Summer Raid.

July 28, 1862, Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan completes his raids in Kentucky. 

August 13, 1862, the Confederate Calvary claim to have taken London. 

August 18, 1862, James Fisher Robertson became the 22nd Governor of Kentucky, chosen by Governor Beriah Magoffin when he resigned the office. Governor Robertson carried out the remainder of Magoffin’s original term. As governor, he drew criticism from the administration of President Abraham Lincoln for opposing the Emancipation Proclamation. 

August 18, 1862, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith took Barbourville and took 50 wagons carrying provisions to the Cumberland Gap. Ref 34

August 29, 1862, the Battle of Richmond began. It was the most decisive and complete Confederate victories in the entire war and second largest Civil War battle in Kentucky. It was part of the Confederacy’s most concerted effort to capture Kentucky, its men and much needed material, for the Southern cause, as well as forcing the Union to retreat out of middle Tennessee and other key Confederate states. The battle took place on and around what is now the grounds of the Blue Grass Army Depot. Gen. William “Bull” Nelson lead the Union with 206 killed, 844 wounded, and 4,303 captured or missing. Gen. Edmund Smith lead the Confederates with 78 killed, 372 wounded, and one missing. The way north towards Lexington and Frankfort was open. Video

September 5, 1862, Confederate forces under the command of General Braxton Bragg enter Kentucky. 

September 14, 1862, the Battle and Siege of Munfordville or Battle for the Bridge began in Hart County when Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of the Mississippi met Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell’s Union Army of the Ohio. They clashed at Munfordville’s Louisville & Nashville Railroad station and bridge, crossing the Green River. The battle lasted 3 days when the union forces surrendered. Victory allowed the Confederates to temporarily strengthen their hold on Kentucky and impair Union supply lines, however, despite the capture of over 4,000 Union soldiers and stores of supplies, the victory did little for the Confederates other than slow them down. The incident is a good example of how Gen. Bragg had little overall vision for the campaign and instead simply reacted from event to event.

September 22, 1862, Emancipation Proclamation Issued for First Time.

September 25, 1862, a Civil War skirmish in Boone County, at Snow’s Pond, took place, one of two times the North and South fought in the county. The Confederate forces, led by General Kirby-Smith and Colonel Basil Duke, were ordered to slow the Federal forces while moving south. The Confederate forces used Morgan’s Men for support. Less than 600 Confederates were able to invade the troops camped near the pond. The Confederates captured about 65 Union prisoners and left with only two Union soldiers wounded.

September 29, 1862, Major General William “Bull” Nelson from Maysville was murdered by Brigadier General Jefferson C. Davis both of the Union Army, in the lobby of the Galt House in downtown Louisville. Nelson was dissatisfied with Davis’s performance in the losing effort at the Battle of Richmond and insulted him in front of witnesses on September 22. Seven days later, in the lobby, Davis demanded an apology and Nelson refused. Davis then flipped a wadded calling card into Nelson’s face and Nelson responded by slapping Davis in the face and called him a coward. Davis then shot Nelson in the heart. Davis was arrested but avoided conviction, due to the shortage of experienced commanders in the Union Army, however the incident ruined his chances for promotion to Major General which he coveted.

On October 3, Confederate general Braxton Bragg wrote that, “Tomorrow we inaugurate the civil Governor here, and transfer to him all [in] that department.” Bragg hoped that the inauguration would show Kentuckians that a stable Confederate government had returned from exile, thereby leading to recruits.

October 4, 1862, Confederate artillery fired a salute as Southern troops escorted Confederate Governor Richard Hawes through Frankfort. Upon reaching what is now the Old State Capitol, Hawes’s inauguration began in the chamber of the House of Representatives. Bragg, Hawes, and others gave speeches, but the ceremony was quickly interrupted. Confederate colonel David Urquhart wrote that “the inaugural was being read when the booming of cannon . . . announced the near presence of the enemy.” With Union troops approaching, Hawes “cut short his inaugural address” and the ball planned for that evening was cancelled. The Confederate invasion of Kentucky ended after the Battle of Perryville.

Battle of PerryvilleOctober 8, 1862, the Battle of Perryville was fought in Boyle County.  It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War and the largest battle fought in the state of Kentucky. Union Major General Don Carlos Buell led the Army of the Ohio where 845 men were killed, 2,851 wounded and 515 captured or missing (4,241). Confederate General Braxton Bragg led the Army of the Mississippi where 510 were killed, 2,635 wounded and 251 captured or missing (3,396).  Even though the Union lost more men it was considered a strategic Union victory because they retained control of the critical border state of Kentucky for the remainder of the war. The battle is also referred to as Battle of Chaplin Hills and or the Battle for Kentucky. Video

December 17, 1862, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant issued an order expelling Jews from Kentucky, “as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury.” Cesar Kaskel, a haberdasher from Paducah, was among those who personally protested to President Lincoln who revoked the order in January 1863. Jewish families have lived in many Kentucky towns since the early nineteenth century. Between 1834 and 1850 the first significant numbers of Jewish families settled in Kentucky, especially in Louisville, Owensboro , Henderson, Madisonville, and the smaller towns of Hartford , Marion, Hickman, and Eddyville.

December 23, 1862, John Hunt Morgan’s Raiders began The Christmas Raid. Nearly 4,000 men crossed into Kentucky near Tompkinsville and captured Glasgow Christmas Eve before the first real Union resistance took place, Christmas Day at Bear Wallow near Cave City. Then it was on to Elizabethtown. Morgan and his Raiders came into Kentucky on numerous occasions; three of the most significant were First Kentucky Raid, The Christmas Raid and the Great Raid of 1863.

John Hunt MorganDecember 27, 1862, Elizabethtown was captured by General John Hunt Morgan. Morgan drove 4,000 of his confederate soldiers up the Louisville & Nashville Turnpike (now US Hwy 31W) and arrived at Union controlled Elizabethtown. Their goal was to disrupt the Union supply line via the L & N Railroad, which were wide open. After an exchange of messages with the Union commander were each side demanded the surrender of the other, Morgan made his move. After a little more than an hour, white flags appeared at various windows as the Union troops surrendered without the knowledge of their commander. Each side wrote their own account of the day; one pro-Union account reported widespread looting, some even by Morgan himself. Other accounts give details of Morgan establishing a headquarters and receiving calls not only from old friends, but also from those who had heard of him and wanted to see the “Rebel Raider.” He had just been promoted to Brigadier General on December 11th and was married on the 14th. Picture  

January 1, 1863, 
Emancipation Proclamation Issued for Final Time.

March 2, 1863, the Kentucky Legislatures adopted a resolution that condemned their native son’s Emancipation Proclamation. 

April 22, 1863, the Tomkinsville Courthouse and other buildings were burnt to the ground in Monroe County. All of the records were lost. CSA forces were retaliating for the USA burning Celina, TN’s courthouse. 

July 2, 1863, CSA Morgan’s Raiders entered into Kentucky and battled with the Union forces in Burkesville. 

July 3, 1863, Oliver P. Rood from Frankfort, captured the Confederate States of America flag from the 21st North Carolina Infantry on the 3rd day of the Battle of Gettysburg. For this he received the Congressional Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism. Mr. Rood, serving in the Union Army, was a Private in Company B, 20th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. On July 2, 1863 Private Rood’s regiment was engaged with Confederate forces in the Rose Woods, and the following morning moved to Cemetery Ridge where they defended the “High Water Mark” during Pickett’s Charge. During that charge, as Union forces fought fiercely to turn back the rebel onslaught, Private Rood captured the flag of Hoke’s Brigade. Rood was one of 63 men who was awarded the CMOH for heroism in the battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1 – 3, 1863.

July 4, 1863, Morgan’s Raiders again met up with Union troops in Tebb’s Bend near the Green River in Taylor’s County. 

July 5, 1863, Lebanon’s clerk’s office was burned by Morgan’s Raiders. Morgan wanted to burn treason indictments against some of his men. All the county records were destroyed. 

September 1, 1863, Thomas Elliott Bramlette became the 23rd Governor of Kentucky. Among his accomplishments not related to the war and its aftermath were the reduction of the state’s debt and the establishment of the Kentucky Agricultural and Mechanical College (now the University of Kentucky). 

November 19, 1863, Gettysburg Address is Given. 

December 2, 1863, the Confederate States of America burned down the Mt. Sterling Courthouse. The Union Army was using it as a garrison. Clerk records located in the rear were saved, circuit records were destroyed. Twenty-two courthouses were burned during the war, 19 in the last 15 months. Twelve of the courthouses were burned by Confederates, eight by guerrillas and two by the Union by mistake.

Camp NelsonMarch 10, 1864, Camp Nelson in Jessamine County, high on the Kentucky River Palisades, began to draft blacks for the Civil War. What unfolded over the next ten months was one of the most extraordinary events in the entire Civil War. 57% of all age military black men in Kentucky joined the Army, no other slave state witnessed such a staggering enlistment rate (next were TN & MO 39%).  In no other state was black enlistment tied to emancipation than in Kentucky. Even as other slave states moved to eliminate slavery in the war’s final months, Kentucky’s Unionist leaders stood firm in their support of the institution. As a result, joining the Army was the only path to freedom for black men. Although the camp was not a legal refuge, 10,000 African Americans were emancipated from slavery in exchange for service in the Union army. These soldiers sometimes brought their families to Camp Nelson; such refugees totaled 3,060 and were cared for by missionaries. In November 1864, the Union soldiers forced out 400 women and children to leave the camp; the refugees suffered 102 deaths due to severe weather until allowed to return to camp. The illness and death which resulted led directly to the passage of a Congressional Act which freed the family members of the U.S. Colored Troops. Some 1,300 refugees died at Camp Nelson, reflecting the high rate of infectious disease at camps.  

March 21, 1864, Rowan County Courthouse was burned by Confederate guerrillas while terrorizing the Commonwealth. 

March 25, 1864, the small Battle of Paducah occurred. The Confederates under Maj. Gen. Forrest came from Columbus, Mississippi, with a force of less than 3,000 men on a multipurpose expedition (recruit, reoutfit, disperse Yankees, etc.) They arrived in Paducah and quickly occupied the town. The Union garrison of 650 men under the command of Col. Stephen G. Hicks retired to Fort Anderson, in the town’s west end. Hicks had support from two gunboats on the Ohio River and refused to surrender. The confederates destroyed unwanted supplies, loaded what they wanted, and rounded up horses and mules. A small segment of Forrest’s command assaulted Fort Anderson and was repulsed, suffering heavy casualties. Soon afterwards, Forrest’s men withdrew. In reporting the raid on the town, many newspapers stated that Forrest had not found more than a hundred fine horses hidden during the raid. As a result, one of Forrest’s subordinate officers led a force back into Paducah in mid-April and seized the infamous horses. Although this was a Confederate victory, other than the destruction of supplies and capture of animals, no lasting results occurred. It did, however, warn the Federals that Forrest, or someone like him, could strike anywhere at any time. The battle incurred 140 total causalities: US 90; CS 50.

April 14, 1864, The Battle of Salyersville is fought in Magoffin County, resulting in a Federal victory in this largest skirmish fought in the county.
April 14, 1864, Brig. Gen. Abraham Buford revisits Paducah to capture “140 fine horses” reported by a Dover, Tennessee newspaper to have escaped Forrest’s earlier raid.

June 11, 1864, The Battle of Cynthiana, part of Morgan’s Last Raid, is fought over two days, resulting in a Federal victory on June 12th, and a total rout of Morgan’s forces.

October 28, 1864, the great hog scandal was put into affect when federal commander Stephen G. Burbridge issued a proclamation asking Kentuckians to sell any surplus hogs to the U.S. government. Army agents signed contracts with favored packers, prohibited interstate hog shipments, required permits for citizens to drive swine to market, and then offered a lower price than existing civilian outlets. Farmers, who had to sell to the designated contractors, sustained losses estimated at $300,000 during the month the program was in effect. President Abraham Lincoln soon ordered Burbridge to revoke the order, and the scandal ended. 

October 30, 1864, Confederates capture the U.S.S. Undine

December 12, 1864, General Hylan P. Lyon, with 800 CSA men invaded Kentucky and burned the Hopkinsville Courthouse in Christian County. In 23 days he burned seven Kentucky courthouses that were used by Union forces. This was the first one. The invasion was to enforce CSA draft laws and divert the Union troops from Nashville. 

December 13, 1864, Cadiz Courthouse in Trigg County was burned to the ground. The Union troops left in a hurry, leaving a fellow solider with smallpox behind. The county records were saved. 

December 15, 1864, Princeton Courthouse was burned in Caldwell County by the CSA Army. 

December 17, 1864, the raid continued to the Madisonville Courthouse in Hopkins County where CSA forces burned it to the ground. All county records were saved. 

December 20, 1864, the Hartford Courthouse in Ohio County was next to burn. CSA General Lyon also captured the city’s garrison. Records in other buildings were saved due to the pleas of Dr. Samuel O, Peyton.

December 24, 1864, a rebel group of rebels branched off from General Lyon and burned the courthouse at Leitchfield. They were ordered to harass and delay the Union Army.  

December 25, 1864, the courthouse at Campbellsville was burned in Taylor County. Some records were saved. General Lyon’s troops were down to 250 because of desertions. He decided to exit Kentucky through Burkesville. This was the sixth of seven courthouses he burned.  

December 28, 1864, 125 miles north of Burkesville, the Hardinsburg Courthouse burns in Breckinridge County. Rebels tried to burn it to the ground but the Localtonians save it from a total loss and saved the county records as well.

January 3, 1865, Confederate General Lyon, burns his last of seven Kentucky courthouses, in Burkesville, Cumberland County. The raid had ended. For an encore he robbed different stores along with the town’s horses in Burkesville.  

January 4, 1865, the courthouse at Owensboro in Daviess County, occupied by Union troops was burned by guerrillas. All county records were saved.  

January 25, 1865, a horrible massacre occurred in Simpsonville, the last recorded “battle” of the Civil War in Kentucky. The 5th United States Colored Cavalry was transporting a herd of 900 cattle to Louisville. These troops, based at Camp Nelson and had previously fought at the Battle of Saltville, VA. Nearly all of the soldiers were former slaves. When the troopers neared Simpsonville, they were attacked by Confederate guerrillas from behind. During the fight, which the Louisville Journal called “a horrible butchery,” twenty-two of the USCC were killed and eight were severely wounded. At least four of the injured later died from their wounds. The 5th USCC troopers killed were buried in a mass grave by local residents. 

February 7, 1865, Kentuckian, John C. Breckinridge (Ex-U.S. V.P.) was appointed Confederate Secretary of War. With the end of the conflict in sight, it was a thankless position, but he was perhaps the most effective of those who held that office. Breckinridge fled southward following Appomattox. Fearing arrest, he and a few others made a heroic escape through Florida and across the waters to Cuba.

February 21, 1865, Hodgenville Courthouse was burned to the ground by guerrillas. It had been used as barracks for Union soldiers. All courthouse records were saved. 

February 22, 1865, the Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) College of Kentucky University, was established by the Kentucky State legislature. The name was changed in 1878 to Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky. In 1908 the name was changed to State University, Lexington and in 1960 the name was changed to its present name, the University of Kentucky. 

March 4, 1865, President Lincoln gave his second inaugural address to a cold, wet crowd on the capitol grounds, also on this day the Lincolns hosted a levee, their last major social occasion as first couple. At a time when victory over the secessionists in the American Civil War was within days and slavery was near an end, Lincoln did not speak of happiness, but of sadness. As he stood on the East Portico to take the executive oath, the newly completed Capitol dome over the President’s head was a physical reminder of the resolve of his Administration throughout the years of civil war. Chief Justice Chase administered the oath of office. Later that Saturday evening, Mrs. Lincoln’s assistant recalled the occasion when the President came in while attending Mrs. Lincoln. “It was the first time I had seen him since inauguration, and I went up to him, proffering my hand with words of congratulation. He grasped my outstretched hand warmly, and held it while he spoke: “Thank you. We do not know what we destined to pass through. But God will be with us all. I put my trust in God.” He dropped my hand, and with solemn face walked across the room and took his seat on the sofa. I finished dressing Mrs. Lincoln, and she took the President arms and they went below. It was one of the largest receptions ever held in Washington. Thousands crowded the halls and rooms of the White House, eager to shake Mr. Lincoln by his hand, and receive a gracious smile from his wife. The jam was terrible, and the enthusiasm great. The President’s hand was well shaken, and the next day, on visiting Mrs. Lincoln, I received the soiled glove that Mr. Lincoln had worn on his right hand that night.” In little more than a month, the President would be assassinated.

April 9, 1865, 1: 00 PM, General Robert E. Lee Surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant.

April 14, 1865, 10: 15 PM, President Abraham Lincoln Was Shot In Ford’s Theater.

April 15, 1865, 7:22 AM, President Abraham Lincoln Passes Away.  

April 18, 1865, one of the very last Kentucky Civil War skirmishes took place in Taylorsville. 

April 20, 1865, one of the very last Kentucky Civil War skirmishes took place in Lyon County. 

June 2, 1865, Civil War Officially Ended.

Worrill Grays FlagJune 17, 1865, the President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, awarded Private John Davis, United States Army, the Medal of Honor, for extraordinary heroism on April 19, 1865, while serving with Company F, 17th Indiana Mounted Infantry, in action at the Battle of Culloden, GA., for capture of flag. Pvt. Davis was born and raised in Carroll, Kentucky and is buried in Canon City, Colorado, at the Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery. The picture of the captured flag is provided by Greg Biggs.

December 20, 1865, Kentuckian David Shelby Walker, born in Russellville, was inaugurated as Florida’s 8th Governor. During his tenure, he had the difficult task of trying to reestablish civil government to the state after the Civil War. He is remembered for his successes in establishing Florida’s public school system.

Desha Kimbrough Duel
March 26, 1866, with the formal duel well into decline and strict Kentucky laws forbidding the practice, Joseph Desha (32) and Alexander Kimbrough (27), meet at the familiar dueling grounds on the Fayette/Scott border a little before 6:00 AM, to settle their differences. Both men were childhood classmates in Harrison County who never cared for each other, both came from respected families and both men were wounded Civil War Veterans, Desha a Confederate and Kimbrough Union. An early February meeting at Cynthiana’s most popular hostelry, where they fist fought, led directly to the duel seven weeks later. One of the pistols used once belonged to Henry Clay. The first round both men missed, the second round Kimbrough fell to the ground bleeding from the hip, Desha narrowly missed a bullet, as it went through his coat. This was the last important affair of honor fought in Kentucky under the strict code of the duello. Desha  and his second, traveled to Canada for several years until granted a pardon by a ex-Confederate, then current Kentucky Governor James B. McCreary. Kimbrough recovered at his parents Harrison county farm and eventually moved west, he walked with a severe limp his entire life. Ref: 21

October 1, 1866, Kentucky University President, John B. Bowman, purchased Henry Clay’s former estate, Ashland, and the adjacent Woodlands Farm, (Woodland Park) to establish the A&M College. The A&M College was by law a secular state school and opened with 190 students. Courses were offered in the sciences and in liberal arts. Bowman believed that students needed a liberal and practical education, so he required students to take courses and to work on the college’s experimental farm or at the mechanical works, built in 1868, where carpentry and blacksmithing were practiced. The A&M College grew quickly at first and soon became the largest department of Kentucky University. In 1878, severed its connection with Kentucky University. The A&M College was renamed State College and remained on the Ashland and Woodlands land until 1882, when it moved to South Limestone Street. In 1908 it was renamed State University and in 1916 became known as the University of Kentucky.

December 1, 1866, the first pedestrians crossed the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge connecting Cincinnati and Covington. 166,000 people crossed it in the first two days. It took ten years for John Roebling, chief engineer, to build the longest suspension bridge in the world at 1,057’ main span. Brooklyn Bridge 5,989’, built by his son, Washington, broke the record when completed in 1883. Electric lighting was installed on the bridge in 1901. Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan currently holds the record at 12,831’.

January 8, 1867, Kentucky rejected the 14th amendment. The U.S. Congress passed it in 1868. Governor Bramlette opposed it on the grounds that the post-war treatment of the Confederate states was unfair, and the ratification process therefore corrupted. Both the Kentucky House and Senate agreed. Kentucky didn’t ratify the Fourteenth Amendment until over one hundred years later, in 1976. Kentucky was the last of the original thirty-seven states to do so.  The 14th Amendment, guaranteed African Americans citizenship and all its privileges. However it was more complicated than just that one issue. The 14th Amendment is one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) regarding racial segregation, Roe v. Wade (1973) regarding abortion, Bush v. Gore (2000). 

September 3, 1867, Governor Helm became the 24th Governor of Kentucky, this was his second nonconsecutive term. Helm died on September 8, 1867, just five days after his inauguration. 

September 8, 1867, John W. Stevenson became the 25th Governor of Kentucky. Governor Stevenson resigned from office at the end of his term to become the U.S. Senator from Kentucky. 

March 20, 1868, the Jesse James gang was credited with getting away with approximately $14,000, when the gang hit the Nimrod Long Banking Co. of Russellville. One person was wounded but there were no fatalities.

January 26, 1869, Morehead, the county seat of Rowan County was incorporated. The workers who migrated to Morehead as a result of the boom-town economy had a disrupting effect on local politics. A shooting during the 1884 election sparked a feud that came to be known as the Rowan County War . The feud ended in a gun battle in front of the Gault House and focused national attention on the town. William T. Withers, a former Confederate soldier from Lexington, felt that education was the only answer to the problem and contributed $500 to found the Morehead Normal School and Teacher’s College, the predecessor of Morehead State University.

Gen._John._C._Breckenridge,_Ky._C.S.AMarch 9, 1869, John C. Breckinridge returned home to Lexington from eight years of exile. Upon hearing that President Davis was captured, Confederate Secretary of War Breckinridge, knew he was highest-ranking former Confederate official still at large. While avoiding capture he journeyed to: Florida, Bahamas, Cuba, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Greece, Syria, Egypt, the Holy Land and met with Pope Pius IX in Rome. From Rome, he waited in Canada for assurance President Johnson would issue him a true pardon. Although he resided in Lexington for the rest of his life, he never bought a home there after the war, living first in hotels and then renting a home on West Second Street. John C. Breckinridge, at 36, was America’s youngest Vice President in 1857, a record which still holds today. He later served in the U.S. Senate during the outbreak of the American Civil War and was expelled after joining the Confederate Army. He remains the only Senator convicted of treason against the United States of America by the Senate.

August 7, 1869, Kentucky was a focal point for a total eclipse of the sun. In Kentucky, the central line of the eclipse ran through Manchester, Mount Vernon, Harrodsburg, and Louisville. Shelbyville was a hub for astronomers. Shelby College, owned the third-best telescope in the nation (bought for $4,000) resulting in the campus being packed with visitors and out-of-state scientists.

October 18, 1869, a dog named Old Drum was killed by a neighbor. Old Drum’s owner sued the neighbor for damages and hired lawyer George Graham Vest from Frankfort to represent him. Vest’s closing arguments known as “a man’s best friend” is one of the most enduring passages of purple prose in American courtroom history. Vest won the case and the jury awarded $50 to the Old Drum’s owner. George Vest graduated from Centre College and from the law department of Transylvania University. The statue shown stands outside the courthouse in Missouri, where the case was heard.

February 18, 1870, the first train crossed the bridge from Clarksville, Indiana to Louisville. It was to become the longest iron bridge in the United States, 27 spans covering a mile.The Fourteenth Street Bridge (known today) also known as The Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge marks the eastern boundary of The Falls of the Ohio State Park. It is at the head of the canal that leads to the McAlpine Locks and Dam. 

March 15, 1870, Bellevue, situated in the northernmost portion of the Commonwealth in Campbell County, was incorporated. Bellevue was originally land granted to General James Taylor, who was a general in the War of 1812, as well as a pioneer, banker, and statesman. Taylor was one of the wealthiest men in the state of Kentucky. In 1848, his estate was valued at more than $4 million. His mansion remains on East Third Street in Newport. Bellevue, translates from French as “beautiful view,” but it refers—not to the spectacular view of the Cincinnati skyline but—to General Taylor’s family plantation in Virginia, which had derived its name from a nearby creek.

October 30, 1870Robert Fox, an elderly mortician, his brothers Samuel and Horace Pearce, created the first rebellious civil right act in Kentucky that was later to be heard in court. They entered into a near empty trolley car at Tenth and Walnut on the Central Passenger line outside the Quinn Chapel in Louisville. For black city dwellers, riding a trolley was no ordinary act. It was a challenge to the entire social order. Before long, a cluster of white drivers surrounded the three black men and began kicking them and shouting racial slurs. Then they dragged them off the trolley into the street. A crowd seemed ready to erupt in violence just as three police officers arrived on the scene. The officers quickly arrested the three men for disorderly conduct and hauled them off to jail. They eventually won in a federal court but the civil rights battle had just begun. 

February 3, 1871, Preston H. Leslie became the 26th Governor of Kentucky. He took over from Governor John W. Stevenson and then later that year won the general election for governorship. 

March 28, 1871, Thomas Smith (colored) was hanged just outside south of Louisville in a commons area where 7,000 people attended. He had murdered a Thomas Braden (white) during a robbery. He prayed incoherently and begged for a little more time. The murderer’s neck was dislocated after dropping 30 inches. He did not struggle much and ceased convulsions in about four minutes. The body was cut down after 20 minutes. It was the first execution in Louisville in three years.

May 11, 1871, Robert Fox won a lawsuit in the U.S. district court in Louisville against the Central Passenger Railroad Company for denying him access to its streetcars. It was filed in federal court because the state courts did not allow black testimony. The monetary award was small—$15—but it represented a huge symbolic victory for Louisville’s black community. The day of the ruling and the next day, Louisville witnessed intense and violent demonstrations on their street cars, clogging the streets and wreaking havoc on the city’s public transportation system, culminating with the beating of a black youth, Carey Duncan, who refused to leave a street car. On May 13, a meeting with the mayor and railway officials, blacks refused to accept the offer of segregated cars, and facing economic and political issues, the companies agreed to integrate.

January 30, 1872, Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia, son of reining Czar of Russia, is received with distinguished upon his arrival to Louisville. The following day he visited Mammoth Cave with a party of Louisville people. His arrived in the U.S on November 21, 1871 landing in New York, escorted by the Russian Navy. Two days later he was welcomed by President Grant at the White House. The highlight of his trip was his big buffalo hunt in Nebraska on his 22nd birthday, 14 January 1872. He would set sail from Florida on February 22 for the Far East. It was said that Alexei was more interested in “pretty girls and music” than the country he was passing through, but he did spend most of his time trying to get an understanding of the country.

April 29, 1872, the James-Younger Gang, including 5 riders, robbed the Bank of Columbia in Columbia, killing cashier R.A.C. Martin in the process. The gang made off with $6,000. 

September 3, 4 & 5, 1872, Louisville hosted a splinter Democratic National Convention. It consisted of a group of conservative Democrats, calling themselves the Straight-Out Democrats. They were unhappy with the nomination of Greeley, at the officially recognized National Convention in Maryland. The Straight-Out Democrats nominated for President Charles O’Conor, who told them by telegram that he would not accept their nomination, and for Vice President John Quincy Adams II. The candidates received 23,054 votes (0.35%) in the election, and no Electoral College electors.

October 7, 1873, Central Colored School in Louisville was dedicated. The school is better known as Central High School was the first school in Kentucky built with public funds solely for educating African-American children. Although public schools existed in 1829 blacks were not privileged to a free education until after the Civil War. The First Baptist Church sang and opened the program with appropriately titled “I waited patiently.” The first day included 27 students, one teacher and one principal. Within three years 1,000 children were attending. Until 1956, Louisville Central High School was the only public high school in the city for African Americans.

Richard Collins’ and Lewis Collins’ 1874 History of Kentucky is published. 

January 25, 1875, in the night, Zerelda James, a slaveholder and mother of Jesse and James, lost part of an arm and a young son in a raid on her home in Kentucky by Pinkerton operatives. Throughout her life she never surrendered the belief that James and Jessee, were Confederate heroes, not ruthless murderers.  

September 4, 1876, Centennial Park was dedicated in Lexington. Two years later the park was incorporated and the name changed to Benjamin Gratz Park; it was surrounded by a high iron fence and elaborate arched gates. Benjamin Gratz came from one of Philadelphia’s most distinguished mercantile families.

February 20, 1877, High Bridge, connecting Jessamine and Mercer counties at the Kentucky River Palisades is completed. The Railroad Bridge was the first cantilever bridge in the U.S. and is designated a National Civil Engineering Landmark. High Bridge is the tallest bridge above a navigable waterway in North America and the tallest railroad bridge in the world until the early 20th century. President Hayes & Gen. Tecumseh Sherman attended the 1879 dedication.  The current bridge was built around the existing structure in 1911 and expanded to two tracks in 1929. In 2005 the state and county jointly reopened a park near the bridge (closed since the mid 1960s) at the top of the palisades above the river. It included a restored open air dance pavilion, playground, picnic area, and viewing platform that overlooks the bridge and river’s edge from the top of the palisades.

September 2, 1879, Luke P. Blackburn became the 28th Governor of Kentucky.  Dr. Blackburn was the first physician to serve as a Kentucky Governor. 

December 24, 1879, Belle Brezing began her profession at the “bawdy house” of Jenny Hill on Main Street in Lexington. This house was formerly Robert S. Todd’s house, where Mary Todd Lincoln grew up. Belle was so successful at this enterprise that she started her own house two years later.

March 5, 1880, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N) was chartered by the General Assembly. It was the first train that ran from Louisville and Nashville. The first track was laid and operated in 1855 in downtown Louisville. The first passenger station in 1858. During the Civil War the L&N was the west’s only North South rail link, a vital part of the Union’s supply route. Used by Generals Grant and Sherman to move men further into the south. It was the prime target for Confederate units. General John Hunt Morgan raided extensively along its tracks and bridges. Despite all its difficulties the railroad continued to operate.

August 5, 1880, the first Fancy Farm Picnic occurred in Fancy Farm. The men pitched horseshoes or played baseball with stout sticks and a rag ball, while the girls and women visited with each other and caught up on the news. There were many games played for prizes. Former Gov. Chandler believes he played an important role in making the Fancy Farm Picnic the important statewide political event it is today. “I guess I was one of the first candidates for statewide office to ever go to Fancy Farm.” Chandler said in a recent telephone interview. “I ended my 1931 campaign for lieutenant governor down there. I won that election and thought Fancy Farm was good luck, so I kept going back.”

September 3, 1880, the James Brothers made off with $1,800 from a stagecoach in Mammoth Cave. No one was injured. It was the last stage coach robbery made by Jesse. Video

The Woodland Park Association purchased 110 acres of the former home of James Erwin, son-in-law of Henry Clay. About 480 lots were cut off for sale and 15 acres devoted to Woodland Park in Lexington. A large frame auditorium with twin towers was erected by the entrance and Lake Chenosa provided swimming and boating. This was the principal resort of Lexington. The lake was drained in 1906. Ref: 1

March 7, 1882, the Howard –Turner Feud began in Harlan County. Bob Turner, son of Democratic county chairman George B. Turner, was killed by Wix Howard a day or so after a dispute over a card game. When Howard was acquitted of murder charges, Turner’s brother Will made an unsuccessful attempt on Howard’s life. Forced to leave the state, Will returned in 1885 and surrendered to authorities, only to be shot down on the courthouse square. The suspected killer, Wils Howard, was a friend of Wix Howard. While out on bond, Wils and his uncle, Will Jennings, tried twice to ambush the Turners; two innocent bystanders, Alexander and John Bailey, were killed. Wils Howard and Jennings went west, and the Wix Howard faction dropped out of the feud.

December 14, 1882, Belle Brezing of Lexington was pardoned by Governor Luke P. Blackburn for keeping a bawdy House.

August 1, 1883, The Southern Exposition in Louisville opened. This was a major cultural event in the history of nineteenth century Kentucky and one of the nation’s most significant regional fairs. Illuminated that evening by 4,600 “Edison lights,” the first such fair to be so electrified. President Chester A. Arthur spoke at the opening ceremonies, he praised “the splendid triumph of American genius, activity, and skill which are arranged within these walls.” The Southern Exposition was one of the most successful elaborate regional fairs in national history. After 80 days, the exposition finished its first year with a total attendance of 770,048, one of the most proudly hailed cultural events in the history of Kentucky. It ended in 1887.

February 16, 1884, Mary Millicent Miller from Louisville, took the required oath to become the first American woman to acquire a steamboat master’s license.  Harper’s Weekly ran a cartoon entitled, “By All Means Commission The Ladies.” From then on she was the captain of their ship, the Saline. Respected steamboat masters publicly proclaimed her great skill in the New Orleans newspapers, while her accomplishment allowed for other females to become steamboat pilots and masters. The rivers she sailed include the Mississippi River, Ohio River, Ouachita River and Red River.

April 9, 1884, William Strong and Henry Kilburn, two African Americans, were lynched in Eastern Kentucky, possibly Breathitt County. Both men were accused of murdering a white male. The first recorded lynching in Kentucky was two years earlier. Historian George C. Wright documented over 200 Kentucky lynchings. One of the last recorded lynchings took place in Todd County in 1926 for an alleged assault.

January 15, 1886, Daniel Noble of Breathitt County was presented the Medal of Honor for his action in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War.  He served as a landsman (naval recuit) on the USS Metacomet during the battle and on August 5, 1864, he was among the crew of a small boat sent from Metacomet to rescue survivors of the USS Tecumseh, which had been sunk by a naval mine (then known as a “torpedo”). Despite intense fire, the boat crew was able to pull ten Tecumseh men from the water. The exact dates of his birth (1838) and death (1903) are unknown.

John MartinFloyd TolliverJune 22, 1887, the end of the Rowan County War between the Martin and Tolliver families came to an end, in downtown Morehead, after a violent shoot out. The shootout began in the early morning as a posse, directed by the Martin Family, hunted down and chased the Tolliver family through the streets of Morehead.  One member of the posse died first, then three Tollivers were shot as they fled the city.  The war began in 1884 after a hotly contested sheriff election was decided by 12 votes and the murder of an innocent bystander later that day. John Martin (left) and Floyd Tolliver (right) were indicted for that murder. In December of 1884, Martin shot and killed Tolliver while arguing over the court case and the feud was set. Many lives would be lost and or changed over the next three years.

October 3, 1887, Morehead (Christian) Normal School (MNS), the noble forerunner of Morehead State University began classes in a rented house. It was on this property that Phebe Button and her son, Frank, with help from the Christian Church of Kentucky. The School started with one student, Annie Page. By day’s end, Ethel Bertie Hamm also had enrolled and the Buttons had created what would be known as “a light to the mountains.” MNS was among 25 private normal schools opened in the state between 1870 and 1905. The school became a public institution in 1922. 

March 14, 1888, Kentucky’s longtime state treasurer, James William “Honest Dick” 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 a secret plan. Whatever the plan was, it worked, and neither he nor the money was ever seen again.  Tate had left a note behind at the treasurer’s office saying that he would return from Louisville in two days. Tate’s thievery was frequently cited during Kentucky’s fourth constitutional convention as a reason to impose term limits on Kentucky’s elected officials. Tate was born in Franklin County and his place of death is unknown.

January 13, 1889, The Lexington Daily Press carried a “Petition of Citizens” on the front page which urged the closing of “houses of ill fame conducted by Belle Breezing at 194 North Upper Street; Lettie Powell, 196 N Upper Street; and Molly Parker, 154 N Upper Street.”

spanish-19th-century-daggerNovember 9, 1889, one of Kentucky’s most infamous “duels” occurred between two Republican rivals. Colonel Swope and William Cassius Goodloe, two prominent Kentuckians, who had many political disparities over the years. On one particular day, while gathering their mail in the Lexington’s post office, in a chance encounter, the tragedy occurred. As it happened their mailboxes were next to each other. Goodloe accused his rival of obstructing his way. Swope responded with the charge that Goodloe had insulted him by the very act of speaking. In a flash Swope drew his 38 caliber and Goodloe his large dirk. Swope fired twice but Goodloe stabbed him 13 times, killing him on the spot. Goodloe was taken to the Phoenix Hotel where he died two days later from a bullet wound to the abdomen. This made national news. The Chicago Tribune asked what kind of town would drive two well educated men of exemplary character to carry weapons and “rush at each other like savages.” The Courier-Journal retaliated, arguing that certain times arose when it was necessary to face one’s critics and that there is scarcely evidence of greater morality in the North, where material wealth was apparently a measure of success. Ref: 21

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. Photo Courtesy of the Pikeville Public Library, the Paul B. Mays Collection.

March 27, 1890, Louisville was hit by one of the most violent and damaging storms recorded in its history. The storm hit at 8:30 p.m. and lasted only about five minutes, long enough to sweep over the downtown area. Ultimately over 100 lives were lost, and many more people were seriously injured. So localized was the path of the storm that thousands of Louisvillians went to bed that night totally unaware that disaster had struck the city. They were informed the next morning by The Courier-Journal headlines, “Louisville Visited by the Storm Demon.” One of the most tragic sites of the storm’s wrath was the Falls City Hall on West Market Street where 50-75 children and their mothers, were taking dancing lessons. The building collapsed, burying about 200 people, many of whom perished. A first-hand account of a survivor at the Falls City Hall said that the first sign of danger was the rocking of the building, then the tornado hit. Thousands worked through the long and terrible night, retrieving the dead and administering to the injured. The next day The Courier-Journal reported the most vivid imagination could not adequately depict the scene of horror at the Falls City Hall. 

August 9, 1890, Lexingtonian, Mary Breckinridge Desha and two companions organized what became the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She served as one of the original vice- presidents general and as a member of the executive committee, suggested the DAR’s seal, and signed the group’s incorporation papers in 1891. The DAR congress of 1898 officially recognized her as one of the organization’s founders. A controversy with another DAR vice-president general, who attacked Desha’s suffragist sympathies, ended in the resignation of that official, and thereafter the strong-willed, energetic, and eloquent Desha focused her attentions on United Daughters of the Confederacy and DAR work.

September 15, 1890, the Kentucky Post was founded as a daily newspaper in Covington. Edward Willis Scripps, founded the paper, he ranked with Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst among the leading turn-of-the-century American newspaper publishers. The paper was small and inexpensive: four pages for two cents a copy. It found a ready niche and grew, pursuing Scripps’s policy of fighting for the working classes. Scripps founded forty-five such “penny papers” from coast to coast. In 1899 and 1900, the Kentucky Post published many extra editions in covering the turbulent campaign, election, and assassination of Gov. William Goebel (1900) of Covington. It waged successful campaigns for the charter and city-manager forms of government in Covington and nearby Newport in the early 1920s; was responsible for passage of a uniform small-loan law; unearthed facts in the 1938 WPA scandal; and helped establish the Greater Cincinnati- Northern Kentucky Airport in Boone County , as well as Northern Kentucky University.

October 5, 1890, Eckstein Norton University at Cane Springs, Bullitt County, opened with an enrollment of twenty-four students and sixteen teachers. The University was a turn-of-the-century educational institution for African-Americans. The university was named for Eckstein Norton, president of the Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railroad, who helped raise $3,100 from the railroad and its officials as a grant. The campus, including one brick building and six frame structures, was situated on seventy-five acres of land next to the L&N tracks at Cane Springs. Endorsed by the General Education Board of New York, the university offered academic and vocational training, with an option to pursue either a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree. By 1911 it had provided aid to 1,794 students and had graduated 189. One of the graduates, Juliet Carson Alvis of Henderson, was appointed by Governor Augustus E. Willson (1907-11) to represent the state at the Negro Educational Conference. In 1912 the university merged with the newly established Lincoln Institute at Simpsonville.

john-g-carlisleMarch 7, 1893, John Griffin Carlisle from Kenton County became the 41st United States Secretary of the Treasury. Carlisle spent most of the 1860s in the Kentucky General Assembly, serving in the House and Senate and was elected Lt. Governor in 1871.  He then went on to become a U.S. House Member serving Kentucky’s 6th District and later was chosen House Speaker in 1883. In 1890, Carlisle was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill the unexpired term of James B. Beck. When Cleveland was again elected to the Presidency in 1892, he chose Carlisle as his Secretary of the Treasury. Carlisle’s tenure as Secretary was marred by the Panic of 1893, a financial and economic disaster so severe that it ended Carlisle’s political career. By 1896, the once remarkably popular Carlisle was so disliked due to his stewardship of the currency that he was forced to leave the stage in the middle of a speech in his home town of Covington due to a barrage of rotten eggs. He moved to New York City, where he practiced law, and died in 1910, at age 75. John Carlisle is buried in Linden Grove Cemetery in Covington.

“After we have calmly stood by and watched monopolies to grow fat, we should not be asked to make them bloated.”  John Griffin Carlisle

May 20, 1894, Springfield, Kentucky received 5” of snow. This is a state record snowfall for the month of May. Kentucky has never recorded snowfall for the months of June through September. 

James_Alexander_WilliamsonJanuary 17, 1895, James Alexander Williamson, of Adair County, received the Medal of Honor for his action in the Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs. The Brevet Major General served in the Army from 1861-65 and fought in the following battles: Pea Ridge, Arkansas Post, Vicksburg Campaign, Siege of Vicksburg, Lookout Mountain, Atlanta Campaign and Jonesborough. Post-war he resumed his law practice, headed the Public Land Commission created by Congress and then became President of Atlantic & Pacific Railroad. He is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

December 10, 1895, William O’Connell Bradley, was sworn in as Kentucky’s first Republican Governor. In his first legislative session he wanted to ban the manufacture of cigarettes, outlaw concealed weapons and ban gambling at racetracks and church fairs. Bradley did advance the cause of blacks with his power of pardon and signing an anti-lynching bill. The Republican/Democrat relationship, or lack thereof, was born during his administration. Their pettiness reached to new heights when the Governor’s mansion burned, while waiting for funds to be allocated to make needed repairs. One legislative session ended when the militia rode into Frankfort after the senate failed to elect a U.S. Senator. The father of the Republican Party in Kentucky died while serving as a U.S. Senator in Washington DC.

May 18, 1896, the Plessy vs Ferguson decision was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices ruled that the “separate but equal” provision of private services mandated by state government is constitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. One Justice dissented: John M. Harlan: “The Great Dissenter”, a native of Kentucky and a graduate of Centre College. 

Campbell County Last public hanging

March 21, 1897, two men went to the gallows, behind the courthouse in Newport, for the last public hanging in Campbell County. They were guilty of murdering Ms. Pearl Bryan. Pearl was 22 years old, pregnant and was found decapitated. This was one of the most spectacular murder trials ever held in Kentucky. It was so large that tickets were sold to the hearing and more than 5,000 people stood outside the Newport courthouse for information about what was taking place inside. The trial, and the murder that spawned it, has become an integral part of Bobby Mackey’s haunted history in Wilder, a night club and tavern that may be one of the most haunted locations in America! Read more about the botched home surgery by well to do participants and occult activities.


November 7, 1899, the most hotly contested gubernatorial election, possibly in the United States, was held: William S. Taylor (R) vs. William Goebel (D). Current governor William O. Bradley (R) was unable to run again due to term limits. 

December 12, 1899, William S. Taylor (R) was inaugurated as the 33rd Governor of Kentucky.  

December 14, 1899, the first hint of dissension from democrats took place at the Capitol Hotel. Goebel, who traveled out of town on inauguration, returned to Frankfort having stating he was not eager to contest and would leave that up to his party.    

December 22, 1899, a meeting of the election board, to canvass the votes of the 7th congressional election, put into motion the deadly fight for the governor’s mansion. The Kentucky General Assembly was dominated by the Democrats.  

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