Skip to content

1800s | Kentucky Timeline

1801 - Steamboat Demonstration

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. 
Famous Kentucky Tragedies and Trials by Lewis Franklin Johnson


January 31, 1801, Dr. James Chambers officially challenged Judge John Rowan to a duel.  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.


February 3, 1801, The Rowan-Chambers Duel took place.  Rowan’s second was George Bibb, a U.S. Senator and Treasury Secretary, Chambers chose Major John Bullock.  Terms were to stand ten paces, turn and fire with dueling pistols.  They were instructed to act like gentlemen, observe the code and act only as instructed.  First round: both missed and it was agreed to have a second attempt with new pistols.  Chambers was mortally shot.  When the duel turned into a possible murder, the commonwealth became captivated when it went to court.  The state dropped the case 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.
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:14


August 6, 1801, Edward West, who had first exhibited his miniature steamboat on the waters of the Town Branch in 1793, showed a vastly improved model.  The next year he would receive a patent. 
The Squire’ Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:24


August 8, 1801, Cane Ridge Meeting House near Paris in Bourbon County was the scene of the largest camp meeting in the Great Revival movement.  Hosted by the congregation meeting at Cane Ridge and their minister, Barton Warren Stone, the event attracted around 10,000 people at the multi-day revival.


December 11,1801, the Kentucky Legislators create Adair County from Green County. 



1802 - Transylvania U. Awards 1st Degree

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.” 
The Squire’ Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:24


July 6, 1802, Edward West, a Lexington, Kentucky inventor and silversmith, was granted a patent for his steamboat invention.  Robert Fulton’s better known vessel on a larger scale was patented the following year in 1803.


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.
The Squire’ Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:24


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.
The Kentucky Encyclopedia edited by John E. Kleber; pg:76


December 16, 1802, Lexington’s first bank, the Kentucky Insurance Company, was incorporated.  The bank failed in the general depression of 1818. 
The Squire’ Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:24

1804 - Christopher Greenup 3rd Governor / Thomas Reed vs. John Carr Duel

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. 
The Squire’ Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:26



July 17, 1804,  the duel of William Lowery of Lexington vs. Thomas Hurd from Georgia was fought at Kaskaskia in Illinois.  Cause of the duel was a political debate at a tavern.  “Hurd bestowed on Lowery several indecent expressions.”  Lowery received a mortal wound in the side of which he died the next day.  Hurd received a flesh wound. 
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:136


September 5, 1804, Christopher Greenup was inaugurated as Kentucky’s third governor under a stately elm tree on the south lawn of the Capitol.  His inauguration was the first that included an inaugural ball which was held a Weisinger’s Tavern in Frankfort on August 28.  Greenup was the first lawyer to be elected governor.


November 9, 1804, 23-year old Richard Mentor Johnson of Georgetown was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives although he did not meet the Kentucky Constitution’s minimum age requirement of 24.  His popularity led legislators to ignore the discrepancy and allowing him to take his seat.  In 1806, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives – the first Kentucky native elected to Congress.  Once again, he didn’t meet the minimum age requirement of 25 years of age, but by the time Congress opened, he had reached the proper age.

1805 - Cherokee Chief Doublehead Signs the Final Treaties of Tellico

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.
The Squire’ Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:26


In 1805, the remaining Cherokee land in Kentucky was considered crucial to the national security of the United States.


Between October 25 and 27, 1805, Kentucky Cherokee Chief Doublehead singed the final Treaties of Tellico, ceding the land south of the Cumberland River.  

1806 - U.S. Senator Henry Clay

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, his gun’s hammer 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.”
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:17


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. 


November 14, 1806, Casey County was created from Lincoln County.


December 2, 1806, Lewis County was created from Mason County.


December 2, 1806, Clay County was created from Madison County, Floyd County and Knox County. 


December 9, 1806, Hopkins County was created from Henderson County.


1808 - Charles Scott 4th Governor / Luke Usher's New Theater / Duval vs. Lloyd Duel

January 27, 1808, Estill County was created from Clark County and Madison County.


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


September 8, 1808, Nathaniel Duval vs. Lloyd Wilcoxen, both citizens of “Bairdstown,” dueled in the Indiana territory, nearly opposite of Louisville.  Duval “fell at the first fire, having received the ball of his antagonist in the right side.  The wound has proved mortal.”
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:136


October 12, 1808, the most important theatrical event in the Western Country occurred, the opening of Luke Usher’s New Theater in Lexington, capable of seating 500-600 people.  The building was formerly a brewery.  The first production was a comedy, Richard Cumberland’s The Sailor’s Daughter.  It was the first permanent theater in the early west. 
The Squire’ Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:27

1809 - Multiple Duels

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 both take another shot, but Marshall declined because Clay’s injury put him on unequal footing with his adversary, and the matter ended.
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:32


January 31, 1809, Caldwell County was created from Livingston County.


August 30, 1809, David Tremble and Henry Daniel, both attorneys of Mt. Sterling, were drinking in a bar and came into a dispute.  The duel’s location is unknown; however, at the first fire, Mr. Daniel was dangerously wounded.  He received the ball on the right side, about the 7th true rib, which penetrated the liver and ranged obliquely towards the spine below the diaphragm.  Mr. Trimble escaped unhurt.  Each man was represented by their own surgeon at the duel.
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:137


December 25, 1809, Dr. Ephraim McDowell removed a 22.5-pound cystic ovarian tumor from Jane Todd Crawford, the world first ovariotomy and successful abdominal surgery.

1811 - Henry Clay Speaker of the House / James Allen vs. Thomas Fuller Duel

January 15, 1811, Bath County was created from Montgomery County.


January 15, 1811, Union County was created from Henderson County.


March 4, 1811, on Henry Clay’s first day as a member of the U.S. Congress, he was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives.  


November 1, 1811, James Allen of Kentucky vs. Thomas Fuller, an Englishman dueled in Southern Illinois.  An argument over the war resulted in the challenge.  Pistols were used at 10 paces; Fuller was wounded on the first fire.  Both fired again and Fuller was shot over the heart, but did not fall.  Upon examination it was found  that “a Dutch blanket in eight folds and one quire of paper was opened and spread under his waistcoat.”  Allen who received no wounds, “exposed the boasting Englishman to eternal contempt and disgrace.” 
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:137

1812 - Governor Shelby Takes Oath for 2nd Time / Multiple Duels

January 7, 1812, Captain Nathaniel G.S. Hart, a brother in law of Henry Clay and Samuel E. Watson, both of Lexington, appeared on “the field of Honor,” in Indiana, just opposite of Louisville.  The duel was called off after one round and neither were injured. 
The Squire’ Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:28


February 19, 1812, Major Thomas Marshall of Louisville vs. Colonel Charles S. Mitchell of Kentucky dueled in Ohio across from Maysville.  On the first fire Mitchell wounded Marshall in the leg.”  Both gentlemen acted with great firmness and bravery, as well as good conduct.”
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:138


March 29, 1812, Dolley Madison’s sister Lucy Washington married Thomas Todd, an associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Thomas was a native of Frankfort.  This was the first known wedding to take place in the White House.


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


August 24, 1812, Governor Isaac Shelby retook the oath of office 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, where many 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 Congress’s thanks 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, was held, 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.  Joseph was Grand Master of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Kentucky when he was killed. 

1814 - Star Spangled Banner was Written

April 29, 1814, Henry Clay loans famed Kentucky artist Joseph H. Bush $50.00 and months later $150.00. 
Jouett-Bush-Frazer Early Kentucky Artist by William Barrow Floyd


Morning, August 14, 1814, the Star Spangled Banner was written by gazing at Old Glory with 15 Stars and Stripes. 

1815 - War of 1812 Ends / Daniel Boone Pays Off Kentucky Debts

1815, President James Monroe awards Boone 1,000-arpent tract of Missouri land.  Boone pays off his Kentucky debts and has plenty of land to live and hunt on. 


January 11, 1815, Allen County was created from Barren County and Warren County.


January 14, 1815, Daviess County was created from Ohio County.


January 20, 1815, Captain Matthew Harris Jouett of the Army’s Third Mounted Regiment of Kentucky Volunteers resigns.
Jouett-Bush-Frazer Early Kentucky Artist by William Barrow Floyd 


February 14, 1815, William Henry  and Lieut. James Haydon met on the big hill in back of the State House in Frankfort.  Three rounds were fired; nobody was injured.  Having expended all their ammunition, the parties returned to town but returned hours later to finish their business.  Friends on both sides brought about “an amicable and honorable compromise.”
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:138


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

1816 - 6th Governor Madison 1st to Die in Office / Gabriel Slaughter 7th Governor

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. 
Kentucky’s Governors edited by Lowell H. Harrison; pg:20


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. 
Jouett-Bush-Frazer Early Kentucky Artist by William Barrow Floyd


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.
Original Source From The Filson Historical Society. Website has changed or article removed.


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 and Russeel Fork at the Levisa Fork in the Big Sandy River.
Kentucky Place Names by Robert M. Rennick; pg:91

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.  Gabriel Slaughter then became the 7th Governor of Kentucky.
Kentucky’s Governors edited by Lowell H. Harrison; pg:22

1818 - Jackson Purchase / Johnson Indian Academy in Scott County

In 1818, after the last tribal lands were ceded, Richard Mentor Johnson, a Kentucky born United States Vice President under Martin Van Buren, 1837-1841, acting on behalf of the state of Kentucky, opened the Johnson Indian Academy in Scott County, under the auspices of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions.  Its purpose was to hasten the civilization process of American Indians by educating the sons of Chiefs of Tribes that had ceded land in Kentucky.


January 17, 1818, Whitley County was created from Knox County.


April 18, 1818, John Boswell of Lexington and Charles Durand dueled “in the vicinity of this Lexington town.”  Cause of the duel was not known.  At the first fire Boswell was seriously wounded and died the same day.  Durand was slightly injured. 
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:139


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. 
Jouett-Bush-Frazer Early Kentucky Artist by William Barrow Floyd


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.

1819 - Centre College Founded / Boswell vs. Richardson Duel

January 21, 1819, Centre College was founded by the Kentucky State Legislator.


April 1, 1819, Harlan County, Hart CountySimpson County and Owen County all become effective. 



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.
Lost by Lexington, Kentucky by Peter Brackney


July 23, 1819, Bushrod Boswell, merchant of Lexington dueled Samuel Q. Richardson, an attorney of Cincinnati, on the Fayette-Woodford County line.  Richardson’s arm was broken and a small contusion was made in his side.  Boswell “escaped his antagonist’s fire.”  The cause of the duel was a matter of long standing.
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:139

1820 - H. Clay Resigns Speaker Chair / 8th Governor John Adair / Daniel Boone Dies

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. 
History of Fayette County, Kentucky edited by William Henry Perrin; pg:281


April 1, 1820, Todd County, Monroe CountyTrigg County and Grant County all become effective.


June 1820, artist Chester Harding paints Boone’s portrait while at Jemima’s log home in Missouri.


August 29, 1820, Gabriel 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.


November 2, 1820, Perry County was created from Clay County and Floyd County.


1822 - Joseph H. Bush

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.” 
Jouett-Bush-Frazer Early Kentucky Artist by William Barrow Floyd


November 30, 1822, Calloway County was created from Hickman County.


December 7, 1822, Morgan County was created from Floyd County and Bath County.


1825 - H. Clay 9th U.S. Secretary of State / Kentucky Tragedy / Choctaw Academy

In 1825, the Johnson Indian Academy in Scott County received federal funding through the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit and the name was changed to the Choctaw Academy. 


January 12, 1825, Edmonson County was created from Grayson County, Hart County and Warren County.


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. 
Along the Maysville RoadThe Early American Republic in the Trans-Appalachian West by Craig Thompson Friend; pg:157


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.”


November 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 Tragedy.”  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 bleed to death.


December 12, 1825, Luarel County was created from Whitley County, Clay County, Knox County and Rockcastle County.


December 14, 1825, Russell County was created from Cumberland County, Adair County and Wayne County.


1928 - Governor Desha Won't Leave Governor's Mansion

March 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, one-year terms.  The mayor’s powers 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 establishing the first public school in the city (and state).  He also dealt with a devastating flood in the town in February 1832.  He pushed for the draining of many of Louisville’s old 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 55.  Between 1813 and 1817, Trimble served as a district attorney and developed a dogged legal research and vigorous prosecution.  In 1817, when President James Madison commissioned Trimble to serve alongside his friend, Thomas Todd, as judge of Kentucky’s federal district court, 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 his stone work’s quality 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 people’s will and left the residence on September 2, 1828.
The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 2 By Kentucky Historical Society; pg:15

1829 - H. Clay's Sec. of State Term Ends / Wickliffe vs. Trotter Duel

January 3, 1829, Hancock County was created from Daviess County, Ohio County and Breckinridge County.



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.
The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky edited by Paul A. Tenkotte, James C. Claypool; pg:598


October 9, 1829, a famous Lexington duel between pro-slavery 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 trial’s fairness.  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.  Fifteen 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.”
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:72


December 7, 1829, the General Assembly moved into the new state capitol. 
Kentucky Eloquence, Past and PresentLibrary of Orations, After-dinner Speeches, Popular and Classic Lectures, Addresses and Poetry by Bennett Henderson Young, Henry Watterson; pg:235

1836 - James Clark 13th Governor / 1st Kentucky Railroad Fatality

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. 


August 30, 1836, Governor 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 bill “impaired the obligation of contracts” to violate the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  His decision was unpopular with the legislature, so they tried to remove him from office but failed.  Second, the legislature attempted 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 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.


November 11, 1836, Bacon College in Georgetown opened its doors.  By 1837, it had 203 students.  The college would change cities and names over the years, while merging with existing higher learning institutions throughout Kentucky.   

1841 - Cassius Clay vs. Robert Wickliffe Duel

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. However, Harrison died in office five months later and Crittenden resigned 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. 
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:142  

1842 - Henry Clay Private Citizen / Abraham Lincoln Duels and Weds

January 26, 1842, Crittenden County was created from Livingston County


February 12, 1842, Marshall County was created from Calloway County.


February 15, 1842, Ballard County was created from Hickman County and McCracken County.


February 15, 1842, Boyle County was created from Lincoln County and Mercer County


March 3, 1842, Letcher County was created from Perry County and Harlan County.


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 women’s pursuit.  In August of ’42, Lincoln got upset that the Illinois State Bank went bankrupt and announced that it would no longer accept its own paper currency from private citizens.  Lincoln set the parameters for the duel.  It was to be fought with large cavalry broadswords, in a pit, divided by a board that 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.  On 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.  It was enough to show Shields that he was at a fatal disadvantage.  With the encouragement of bystanders, the two men called a truce. 


November 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 conducted by Episcopal minister Rev. Charles Dresser.  James Matheny, 24, was asked by Lincoln to be the best man on the wedding day!  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, November 4, 1842.  Love is Eternal.”  The couple honeymooned at Globe Tavern, a very ordinary two-story Springfield boardinghouse made of wood.  The couple was married for 23 years.

1860 - Lincoln Becomes President

February 1, 1860, Metcalfe County was created from Barren County, Monroe County, Adair County, Cumberland County and Green County


February 16, 1860, Boyd County was created from Carter County, Lawrence County and Greenup County.


February 22, 1860, Magoffin County was created from Floyd County, Johnson County and Morgan County.


February 29, 1860, Webster County was created from Hopkins County, Union County and Henderson County.


March 5, 1860, Wolfe County was created from Owsley County, Breathitt County, Powell County and Morgan County.



November 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.  Still, 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.  Still, 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.
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


December 27, 1860, Democratic Governor Magoffin called a special session to consider succession. 
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison

April 12, 1861 - The Civil War Began

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.
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


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.”
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


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 so.


May 20, 1861, the Governor Magoffin proclaimed the state’s neutrality.
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


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. 


August 5, 1861, the Unionist won another decisive political battle when state legislatures were elected. 
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


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 significant 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.
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


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.
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


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.
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


September 20, 1861, John Hunt Morgan, one of many confederates, sneaks out of Lexington in the middle of the night.
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


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


November 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.
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


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. 1961.


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.
The Civil War in Kentucky by  Lowell H. Harrison


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. 

1862 - Civil War Battles in Kentucky / 22nd Governor Robinson

January 10, 1862, Battle of Middle Creek took place in Floyd County.  The Union troops 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.  His father was a prominent U.S. Senator and twice U.S. Attorney.  Union and Confederate forces were about equal strength.  Union losses were 39 killed and 207 wounded, Confederate 125 dead and 404 wounded or missing.  Video


February 3, 1862, Confederate Secretary Benjamin informed the Confederate Governor Johnson that Kentucky raised 46,000 men. 
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


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 a little more than two weeks later.  Still, 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.  The latter 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, significantly weakening the Confederate hold on eastern Kentucky.  It was the first battlefield setback for the Confederate war effort.


April 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.  When Bragg invaded Kentucky in October 1862, he captured Frankfort and held an inauguration ceremony for Hawes.  However, the ceremony was interrupted by forces under Union General Don Carlos Buell.


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 District of Kentucky.  One of his goals was to halt guerrilla activity and to suppress Confederate support.
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison 


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


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


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. 
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison


August 29, 1862, the Battle of Richmond began.  It was the most decisive and complete Confederate victories in the entire war and the 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.  It forced 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 three days when the union forces surrendered.  The 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 an excellent example of how Gen. Bragg had little overall vision for the campaign and instead 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.  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, 1862, 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.
The Civil War in Kentucky By Lowell Harrison


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 House of Representatives’ chamber.  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 canceled.  The Confederate invasion of Kentucky ended after the Battle of Perryville.


October 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.  They 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.


December 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, wide open.  After an exchange of messages with the Union commander were each side demanded the other’s surrender, Morgan made his move.  After a little more than an hour, white flags appeared at various windows as the Union troops surrendered without their commander’s knowledge.  Each side wrote their own account of the day; one pro-Union account reported widespread looting, some even by Morgan himself.  Other accounts give Morgan the details of establishing a headquarters and receiving calls from old friends and those who had heard of him and wanted to see the “Rebel Raider.”  He had just been promoted to Brigadier General on December 11 and was married on the 14th.

1863 - 23rd Governor Bramlette / Civil War / John J. Crittenden Retires

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. 


March 4, 1863, 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 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.
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:29


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


July 3, 1863, Mrs. Lincoln was thrown from her carriage near Mount Pleasant Hospital, hit her head and was seriously injured.  Doctors from the hospital responded and returned her to the White House, where she recovered from a serious gash to her head. 


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 Medal of Honor 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.  It did not go good for the Raiders.


July 5, 1863, Morgan’s Raiders battled Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Hanson’s small Union force for nearly six hours in Lebanon.  During the fight, the Confederates pushed the federals through the town.  The Union troops used the L & N Railroad Depot as a defensive position and Morgan tried to burn them out by setting fire to nearby buildings.  The strategy worked and the Union troops surrendered.  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.  
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:30


July 5, 1863, General John Hunt Morgan’s brother, Thomas was killed during the raid in Lebanon.  Thomas was born in Lexington as was his siblings.


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.
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:30

1864 - Civil War / Courthouses Burning Everywhere

March 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.  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 received emancipation 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 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 fewer 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 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 afterward, Forrest’s men withdrew. In reporting the town’s raid, 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 animals’ capture, no lasting results occurred.  However, it did 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 effect 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. 
The Kentucky Encyclopedia edited by John E. Kleber; pg:386


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. 
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:29


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. 
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:10


December 15, 1864, Princeton Courthouse was burned in Caldwell County by the CSA Army. 
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:10


December 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. 
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:11


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.
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:10


December 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.  
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:10


December 25, 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.  
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:10


December 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.
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:10

1865 - Civil War / President Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address

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.
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:10


January 4, 1865, the courthouse at Owensboro in Daviess County, occupied by Union troops was burned by guerrillas.  All county records were saved.  
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:11


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 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. 
Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers edited by Melba Porter Hay, Dianne Wells, Thomas H. Appleton, Jr., Thomas H. Appleton; pg:11


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.  On this day, the Lincolns hosted a levee, their last significant social occasion as the 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 his Administration’s resolve 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 a 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 are destined to pass through.  But God will be with us all. I put my trust in God.”  He dropped my hand, and with a solemn face, walked across the room and took his seat on the sofa. I finished dressing Mrs. Lincoln, and she took the President’s arms and they went below.  It was one of the largest receptions ever held in Washington.  Thousands crowded the White House’s halls and rooms, 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 14, 1865 - President Lincoln Was Shot In Ford’s Theater
April 15, 1865 - President Lincoln Passes Away
1866 - Desha vs. 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 a.m., 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 an 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.
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:123


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.  He also required students to take these courses and 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.  However, in 1878, it 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.  

1867 - 14th Amendment Rejected / 24th Governor Helm Dies / 25th Governor Stevenson

On January 8, 1867, Kentucky rejected the 14th Amendment.  The U.S. Congress passed it in 1868. Governor Bramlette opposed it because the Confederate states’ post-war treatment 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 and Bush v. Gore (2000).


January 26, 1867, Henrietta County was proposed by an Act of the Kentucky General Assembly.  However, the actual establishment of the county was submitted to the qualified voters in the area for final approval, the majority voted against the establishment of Henrietta County.


February 11, 1867, Robertson County was created from Bracken County, Nicholas County, Harrison County and Mason County.


February 28, 1867, Bell County was created from Knox County and Harlan County


July 22, 1867, Littleton Wells, 22, deputy postmaster dueled Saford P. Roberts, 24, clerk, both courted the same girl.  Littleton had proposed to the girl but Roberts is who she wanted to marry.  A fight had ensued at a picnic.  The duel was fought with Colt revolvers at the Welby Post Office. (Historians assume it was the Shelby County) After 10 paces, Wells was killed with a ball through his brain; Roberts was mortally wounded with a bullet in his heart. 
Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:146


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. 

1869 - John C. Breckinridge Returns From Eight Years of Exile

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.
The Squire’ Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:692


January 26, 1869, Elliott County was created from Carter County, Lawrence County and Morgan County.


March 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 the highest-ranking former Confederate official still at large.  While avoiding capture, Breckinridge journeyed to Florida, Bahamas, Cuba, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Greece, Syria, Egypt and the Holy Land to meet with Pope Pius IX in Rome.  From Rome, he waited in Canada for assurance President Johnson would issue him an actual 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 house on West Second Street.  John C. Breckinridge, at 36, was America’s youngest Vice President in 1857, a record that still holds today.  He later served in the U.S. Senate during the outbreak of the American Civil War.  He was expelled after joining the Confederate Army.  He remains the only Senator convicted of treason against the United States of America by the Senate.


March 10, 1869, Menifee County was created from Powell County, Wolfe County, Bath County, Morgan County and Montgomery County.


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 purple prose passages 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 Transylvania University Law.

1870 - 1st Rebellious Civil Right Act in Kentucky

January 29, 1870, Lee County was created from Owsley County, Breathitt County, Wolfe County and Estill County.


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 10, 1870, Martin County was created from Lawrence County, Floyd County, Pike County and Johnson County.

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, a general in the War of 1812, and 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.”  Still, 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.


On October 30, 1870, Robert Fox, an elderly mortician, his brother Samuel and a business partner, Horace Pearce, created the first rebellious civil right act in Kentucky, which was later 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. 

1871 - 26th Governor Leslie / 7,000 People Attend Hanging

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 the south of Louisville in a commons area where 7,000 people attended.  He had murdered 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 streetcars, clogging the streets and wreaking havoc on the city’s public transportation system.  It all culminated with the beating of a black youth, Carey Duncan, who refused to leave a streetcar.


May 13, 1871, to try to calm down a city in turmoil, a meeting with the mayor and railway officials over Robert Fox’s lawsuit takes place.  Robert Fox and other African Americans refused to accept the offer of segregated cars, and facing economic and political issues, the companies agreed to integrate. 

1872 - Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Visits

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.  He 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, January 14, 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.  Still, he did spend most of his time trying to get an understanding of the country.


April 29, 1872, the James-Younger Gang, including five 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.
Who’s who in Louisville edited by Alwin Seekamp, Roger Burlingame; pg:30

1882 - Howard vs. Turner Feud

1882, Woodland Park in Lexington was built on 15 acres of 110 acres owned by James Erwin, son-in-law of Henry Clay.  The land was bought by Woodland Park Association and over 480 new lots and homes were developed.  The park had a large frame auditorium and Lake Chenosa provided swimming and boating.  This was the principal resort of Lexington.  The lake was drained in 1906. 
Lexington, Kentucky: Changes in the Early Twentieth Century By Wynelle Deese


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 card game dispute.  When Wix Howard was acquitted of murder charges, Bob 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 dead on the courthouse square.  The suspected killer was Wils Howard 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.
They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History By Alessandro Portelli; pg:59


August 12, 1882, the first mule-drawn street cars made their debut on the streets of Lexington.  Nine miles of track were laid, 30 mules and 15 small wooden cars were purchased.  An extra mule was hitched in tandem to the street cars ascending the South Broadway hill. 
The Squire’ Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:61


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

1884 - Rowan County War Starts

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


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.  The last recorded lynchings took place in Todd County in 1926 for an alleged assault.  Historian George C. Wright documented over 200 Kentucky lynchings.


May 5, 1884, Knott County was created from Perry County, Breathitt County, Floyd County and Letcher County.



July, 1884, Ben Rayburn was killed and Craig Tolliver, Jeff Bowling, John Trumbo, Boone Day, Robert Messer, James Oxley, and H. M. Keeton were arrested for his murder.  One of the magistrates was a Tolliver supporter and he declared that there was no cause for trial.  They were all released.  This was a spark for the Rowan County War that started in  soon to be 1884 elections. 


August 1884, the feud and lawlessness in Rowan County began following the election of Sheriff Wesley Cook Humphrey.  On election day, a fight started between William Trumbo and H. G. Price and soon others joined in.  John Martin said that acting sheriff, John C. Day and Floyd Tolliver attacked him.  Guns were drawn and in the battle that followed, Solomon Bradley was shot and killed.  The Martins claimed that Day killed him and the Tollivers claimed that Martin did it.  The Rowan County War began.

1889 - Dark Kentucky Tragedy

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.”


November 9, 1889, one of Kentucky’s most infamous “duels” occurred between two Republican rivals.  Colonel Swope and William Cassius Goodloe were 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. 

1890 - Mary Breckinridge Desha

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. 


March 27, 1890, Louisville was hit by one of the most violent and damaging storms recorded.  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.  The next morning, they were informed 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 took 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 building’s rocking, 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 horror at the Falls City Hall. 


August 9, 1890, Lexingtonian, Mary Breckinridge Desha and two companions organized 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.  After that, the strong-willed, energetic, and eloquent Desha focused her attention 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, 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.


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.

1893 - John Griffin Carlisle

March 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