1900s | Kentucky Timeline

January 1, 1900, when Governor Taylor and the Republicans took office, the first act of the Attorney General Clifton J. Pratt,  was to file suit in the name of the Commonwealth against the Democratic controlled Election Board Committee.

 

January 2, 1900, Democrats with the backing of Goebel and his Lieutenant Beckham, formally challenge Republican Governor Taylor’s election victory in the General Assembly.  The Democrats felt the election should be reversed and William Goebel named Governor.  The General Assembly also received a letter from the newly elected Governor Taylor, asking them to repeal the Goebel Election Law.  The message was received, filed and nothing was ever heard of it again. 

 

January 16, 1900, a party of prominent republicans and anti-Goebel democrats met at the Galt House for the purpose of determining whether there should be forcible resistance to the unseating of Newly elected Governor Taylor.  What was determined at this meeting was never made public. 

 

January 16, 1900, the infamous Colson-Scott Pistol Tragedy took place in the Frankfort Capitol Hotel lobby between the elder ex-Congressman Colonel David Colson and Lieutenant Ethelbert Scott, a young lawyer.  Both were devoted Republicans and served the same causes, but the two just didn’t like each other.  While serving the same regiment together, the feud started February of 1899 when Colson brought military charges against Scott for incompetency and immoral conduct.  The charges stuck, but Scott was later able to expunge them through political connections.  Several months later, the two were dining in the same restaurant when Scott shot Colson in the groin and was partially paralyzed and never recovered.  The next encounter was the Colson-Scott Pistol Tragedy at 12:30 a.m.  There were 18 bullets shot, Scott was dead having been hit seven times, two innocent dead bystanders and three injured.  This event elevated already high tensions until calm prevailed as the public learned this conflict was non-political.

 

Thursday, January 25, 1900, Frankfort woke up to an increased population of 1,000 more male citizens of voting age, many of whom carried guns.  At 11:00 a.m., when the legislators convened, the concerned citizens meet at the historic old capitol where many politicians took to the stump.

 

Friday, January 26, 1900, emotions ran strong as the Kentucky legislators continued to talk out their grievances.  With 13 elections pending in the legislature, the real fight for the Governor's Mansion was in sight.

 

Monday, January 29, 1900, newly elected Governor Taylor notified the democratic controlled assembly that he would not hand over his certificate of election, as requested earlier by the assembly.

 

Tuesday, January 30, 1900, at 11:00 a.m., Kentucky elect Governor William Goebel was shot while walking to the capital building with his guards present.

 

Tuesday, January 30, 1900, at 9:00 p.m., Governor Taylor notified the General Assembly to adjourn and meet in London on February 6 at noon.  The armed militia men would not let the Democrats meet in the capitol building.

 

Wednesday, January 31, 1900, the dying Governor Goebel took the oath of office and became the 34th Governor of Kentucky.

 

Election References: That Kentucky Campaign: Or, The Law, the Ballot and the People in the Goebel-Taylor Contest by Robert Elkin Hughes, Frederick William Schaefer, Eustace Leroy Williams

Thursday, February 1, 1900, Kentucky had two Governors.  The Democrat laid dying in the Frankfort hotel and the Republican was fortified in the executive building.

 

Friday, February 2, 1900, the democrats again held a legislative session in the Capitol Hotel and again elected Goebel Governor.  Governor Taylor was preparing for Kentucky’s General Assembly to reconvene in London in a few days. 

 

Saturday, February 3, 1900 at 6:45 p.m., despite the care of 18 physicians, William Goebel died from an assassin’s bullet.  Journalists recalled his last words as, “tell my friends to be brave, fearless, and loyal to the common people.”  Irvin S. Cobb uncovered another story from the room.  On having eaten his last meal, the governor supposedly remarked, “Doc that was a damned bad oyster.”  Goebel is the only governor of a U.S. state to have been assassinated while in office.  Video 

 

February 3, 1900, John Creep Wickliffe Beckham took the oath of office within an hour after Goebel's death and became Kentucky’s 35th Governor.

 

February 3, 1900, New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt publicly recognized Taylor as Governor of Kentucky.

 

February 6, 1900, the train with Goebel’s body left Frankfort for Covington.  5,000 people were waiting at the train depot for his arrival, many in tears. 

 

February 8, 1900, Goebel’s body was returned to Frankfort for his official funeral.  6,000 strong turned out for the event in spite of a miserable rainy day.

 

February 10, 1900, Governor Taylor issued a proclamation stating that the General Assembly would no longer meet in London but shall now report to Frankfort on February 12 at noon. 

 

Election References: That Kentucky Campaign: Or, The Law, the Ballot and the People in the Goebel-Taylor Contest by Robert Elkin Hughes, Frederick William Schaefer, Eustace Leroy Williams

January 10, 1901, the world’s largest oil well, at the time, began gushing oil out of control in Texas.  Spindletop Gusher, as it became known, ushered in the modern U.S. oil industry.  Today Spindletop Hall, a magnificent mansion built from the oil well’s proceeds, was completed in 1937 in Lexington.  In 1959 it became the residence of the University of Kentucky Faculty, Staff, and Alumni Club.  Video

 

February 3, 1901, the battleship USS Kentucky (BB-6) arrived in the Philippines after receiving its first orders to the Far East to support Western forces during the Boxer Rebellion.  The flagship of Rear Admiral Louis Kempff passed through the Mediterranean before transiting the Suez Canal en route to Manila.  Over the next three years, it promoted American interests in the region through numerous port calls in China and Japan as well as later served as the flagship of Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans’ Asiatic Fleet.

 

August 2, 1901, George W. Ranck, a Kentucky writer and historian from Shelbyville, died instantly while doing the work he loved.  He was carrying an umbrella while researching an article about Lexington’s pioneer history.  So fixated on his work, he got struck by an oncoming train.  The train was to arrive in Lexington at 10:59 a.m.   The records show George died at 11:00 a.m.  Mr. Ranck authored the History of Lexington, Kentucky: Its Early Annals and Recent Progress.  This book began Ranck’s career as a prolific writer and historian.  His other topics included the histories of Lexington, Fort Boonesborough and Kentucky poet Theodore O’Hara.  Mr. Ranck was a prominent member of the Filson Club.

May 22, 1902, the Wireless Telephone Company of America is incorporated to capitalize on Nathan Stubblefield’s invention of the radio transmitter-receiver, aka “the wireless telephone.”  Stubblefield refused large sums of money for the design opting for stocks instead.  Stubblefield then went on tour to promote and demonstrate the new invention to potential investors.  The tour was not as successful as he had hoped.  With the company in control of his creation, Nathan returns home to expose the company as a fraudulent stock promotion scheme and begins to experience a series of devastating events.  His financial backers sue him; his children sell the family farm, and his wife abandons him.  He becomes an eccentric hermit, moving from shack to shack, and subsisting on donations from friends and family.  He dies in 1928 of starvation in his hometown of Murray.

 

September 22, 1902, Louisville won the bid to host the Kentucky State Fair.  The city’s only location suitable for handling the anticipated crowds and needed exhibit space was Churchill Downs.  The racetrack proudly opened its gates for the first Fair and welcomed 75,000 fairgoers during the six-day event.  Appropriately, several horse shows were among the featured events, steam auto races and the head-on collision of two freight trains.  The Kentucky State Fair was organized in 1816 by Col. Lewis Sanders.

 

October 23, 1902, the Kentucky Confederate Home at Pewee Valley opened in the former Villa Ridge Inn.  The Kentucky legislature unanimously approved the building of a veterans home specifically for Confederate veterans at the urging of Bennett H. Young, who advocated for a facility to house comrades who could no longer care for themselves.

 

November 16, 1902, Woodford County, Kentucky native Clifford Berryman’s cartoon of President Theodore Roosevelt on a Mississippi bear hunt, was published and led to the creation of the Teddy Bear.  Roosevelt was invited to the hunt by Gov. Andrew H. Longino but after three days of hunting, the President was the only member of the hunting party who hadn’t gotten a bear.

March 21, 1906, the Kentucky General Assembly approved and Gov. J.C.W. Beckham signed into law legislation creating Eastern Kentucky State Normal School.  Today it is known as Eastern Kentucky University.

 

On June 16, 1906, the Capitol building's cornerstone was laid in a grand ceremony with an estimated 20,000 onlookers.  J.C.W. Beckham, the 35th Kentucky Governor, presided.  The cornerstone's exact location is unknown, although a plaque commemorating the event is located on the northwest rotunda pier wall.  The distinguished architect was Frank Mills Andrews, a native of Iowa who practiced throughout the Midwest.  The capital was open for business four years later.

 

June 27, 1906, The Louisa - Fort Gay Bridge officially opened at 4 p.m., connecting two rivers (Levisa and Tug), two states (Kentucky and West Virginia), two counties (Lawrence County, KY and Wayne County, WV), two towns (Louisa, KY and Fort Gay, WV).

 

November 30, 1906, 200 masked and hooded men rode silently, in a column of twos, down Princeton's main street, in the early morning. Minutes before, several of these men occupied the police station, disarmed the local police, seized the telegraph/telephone offices, captured the fire station and shut off the city water supply.  It was all done with admirable precision.  The target was the American Tobacco Company's two large warehouses.  They placed sticks of dynamite under the stored tobacco within and doused the buildings with kerosene.  They then threw torches into the structures and watched as 400,000 pounds of tobacco, worth upwards of $100,000, smoldered and burned.  Then, three long whistle blasts drew the men together and they sung "The fires shine bright on my old Kentucky home" - they slowly rode out of town.

January 3, 1908, while the soldiers were guarding Hopkinsville's tobacco and other points, the night riders raided Russellville with 55 men and destroyed two factories.  There were no raids where the soldiers were stationed.  The Black Patch War continued. 

 

March 24, 1908, the landmark education law, titled Government and Regulation of the State's Common Schools, was enacted.  It mandated an almost complete reform of the Kentucky public school system.  It is commonly known as the Sullivan Law in honor of its sponsor, Sen. Jere A. Sullivan of Madison County.  The Sullivan Law's blueprint for restructuring the school system marked a distinct end to the one-room district school era, burdened by the infamous three-trustee system.

 

Each county was made a school district, organized into sub-districts, each of which contained no fewer than fifty white children, except under extraordinary conditions, and the absolute minimum was forty children.  District lines could be changed from time to time by popular vote.  One trustee chosen from each sub-district would sit as a member of the county board of education.  One of the most critical elements of the Sullivan Law was the mandate that the counties levy a school tax at the rate of at least twenty cents, but no more than twenty-five cents, on each $100 of assessed property value the proceeds to be set aside for education.  The enactment of the Sullivan Law set the stage for two “whirlwind campaigns” to gain public support for school reform. 
The Kentucky Encyclopedia edited by John E. Kleber; pg:860

 

September 14, 1908, was opening day for the Kentucky State Fair, the first time the exhibitions will be in a permanent home at the newly created Kentucky State Fairgrounds.  The grounds were immaculate for the crowds and Governor Willson’s opening address.  The Fair’s first event was a parade through downtown by the city police officers that started at 10:30 a.m.  The opening day closed with the “Fall of Pompell” in the track’s infield and fireworks.  In 1956 the Fair was moved to the Kentucky State Fairgrounds and Exposition Center where it remains today.

June 2, 1910, Kentucky’s fourth permanent and current capitol building was dedicated in a grand ceremony led by Kentucky’s 36th Governor: Augustus Willson.  The Capitol is home to the House and Senate chambers and Kentucky’s Supreme Court.  Decorative lunettes, painted by T. Gilbert White, highlight the entrances to the House and Senate chambers both of which are frontier scenes with Daniel Boone.  The east mural portrays Boone and his party catching their first glimpse of the Bluegrass Region atop Pilot Knob in 1769.  The west mural depicts the negotiations for the 1775 Treaty of Sycamore Shoals, which lead to the purchase of Cherokee land that would eventually become Kentucky.  The final cost was $1.82 million some of which was provided by the federal government for damages due to the Civil War and 1898 Spanish American War.  No plans were made for parking, popular opinion said automobiles were a fad. 

 

June 18, 1910, thousands of spectators turned out to view an air show at Churchill Downs.  The highly publicized aviation demonstration featured the world famous aviator Glenn Curtiss.  The event was the first demonstration of an airplane in Kentucky.
The Encyclopedia of Louisville edited by John E. Kleber; pg:8

 

September 12, 1910, with only 12 members remaining, the Shakers of Pleasant Hill near Harrodsburg, Kentucky, faced their colony’s demise and contracted to sell their 1,800 acres of land and buildings to Col. George Bohon.  In return, Bohon agreed to care for them and allowed them to stay on their property for the rest of their lives.

April 20, 1911, the infamous Livermore Lynching that attracted international attention occurred in McClean County.  Will Potter was the black manager of a segregated poolroom where Clarence Mitchell, a young white man, was asked to leave.  A fight ensued and Potter fired two shots at Mitchell.  The city marshal immediately arrested Potter and brought him to the theater, securing him in a dressing room behind the stage.  A mob of 50 gathered, took Potter to the center of the stage, tied him to a pole, and turned on the stage lights.  The mob sat in the orchestra pit, and on cue, fired 200 shots, nearly half entered the body of Mr. Potter. 
The Kentucky Encyclopedia edited by John E. Kleber; pg:563

 

On May 9, 1911, the Black Patch Tobacco War finally ended when the United States Supreme Court ruled in the “United States v. American Tobacco Co.”  The justices ruled that Duke Trust was indeed a monopoly and was in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890.  The Duke Trust was the only buyer of coveted black patch tobacco, which caused many issues to Western Kentuckians, including war.  The violence had long ended by the time the court had decided, but the damage was done. 

 

July 8, 1911, shortly after midnight, James Buckner, an 18-year young black man, became the first person to die by electrocution in Kentucky.  The prison doctor, Dr. R. H. Moss, nearly got electrocuted as he examined Buckner before the electricity was off.  Buckner stabbed to death police officer Robey at Lebanon in Marion County.  Robey had gone to investigate a disturbance and arrested Buckner and another lad, Jesse Smith. The two boys turned on Robey and stabbed him 16 times.  They were quickly re-arrested, taken to jail in Louisville and kept safe from a spontaneous lynching.

 

September 1, 1911, the L & N Railroad had extended a spur from Pineville to Benham and the first train car of coal was shipped directly from Benham to Chicago.

 

October 18, 1911, the equestrian statue of Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan was unveiled in a grand ceremony in downtown Lexington.  The statue’s sculptor was Pompeo Copii. Kentucky Historical Society’s United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) raised $15,000 to create the bronze memorial.  The dedication ceremony included Morgan’s brother-in-law, Confederate general Basil Duke and Governor Augustus E. Willson.

 

December 6, 1911, the cornerstone for Abraham Lincoln School was laid in Lexington.  The school was a progressive model for elementary education with facilities and programs far ahead of the times.  The modern facilities had a playground, swimming pool, carpenter shop, kitchen, sewing room, rooftop garden, neighborhood laundry, circulating library, and domestic science department.  The Lincoln School also exemplified the era of school segregation in Lexington.  Black students were not allowed to attend Lincoln throughout its fifty-five years of service as a public school.  The school was closed in 1967.
The Kentucky Encyclopedia edited by John E. Kleber; pg:118

February 8, 1915, D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, a landmark film in cinema's history, premieres at Clune's Auditorium in Los Angeles.  The silent film was America's first feature-length motion picture and a box-office smash.  During its unprecedented three hours, Griffith popularized numerous filmmaking techniques that remain central to the art today.  However, Birth of a Nation is also regarded as one of the most offensive films ever made because of its explicit racism.  Actually titled The Clansman for its first month of release, the film provides a highly subjective history of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Ku Klux Klan's rise.  Griffith was born in La Grange in 1875.  Video

 

July 7, 1915, in the evening, Northern Kentuckians experienced a natural disaster they would soon not forget.  A large tornado swept through Kenton and Campbell Counties leaving a path of destruction in its wake.  City officials in the region estimated the losses due to the storm in the millions of dollars.

 

September 12, 1915, Ford Motor Company opened their new plant in Louisville on a 2.5 acre site on South Third Street.  Initially the plant employed 53 people and produced 15 cars per day, many of which were Model T’s.
The Kentucky Encyclopedia edited by John E. Kleber; pg:309

 

December 7, 1915, Augustus O. Stanley became the 38th Governor of Kentucky.  During his term, Kentucky was the first “wet” state to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment, enshrining prohibition into the national constitution.  He resigned as governor to assume the senate seat in May 1919.

February 24, 1917, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported, ”a huge chip from one of the most historic trees in the state, a slab from a Beech Tree in Letcher County bearing the initials of Daniel Boone with the date 1781, has just been brought to Lexington and is in the care of the Bryan Station Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.  The relic will be on permanent display in the Kentucky Room of the Continental Hall, as a gift of the chapter.  The tree for generations has been a landmark, located on Boone’s Creek, 300 feet from the Kentucky River.  Within recent years it has been visited by thousands of tourist to see the initials and date cut by Daniel Boone.”

 

April 6, 1917, America entered into World War I.

 

May 27, 1917, at 4:00 p.m., a deadly Kentucky's tornado began in Tennessee's northwest corner and quickly moved into the Commonwealth.  Forty-two people lost their lives in Fulton County, half of which were in the Bondurant area along KY 1282.  The southeast side of Clinton County was also hard hit, with 17 more fatalities there. In Graves County, another five people died near Dublin.  Sixty-four lives were lost and 345 people were injured in this F4 tornado, which traveled 50 miles.

 

August 1, 1917, Lynch, Kentucky, described as the largest coal camp in the world, began construction after U.S. Coal and Coke Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel, purchased nearly 19,000 acres of land just upstream from Benham.

 

November 5, 1917, Buchanan vs. Warley, 245 U.S. 60 (1917), is a case in which the Supreme Court addressed civil government-instituted racial segregation in residential areas.  The Court held unanimously that a Louisville city ordinance, prohibiting real property sale to blacks in white-majority neighborhoods, violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections for freedom of contract.  The ruling of the Kentucky Court of Appeals was thus reversed.

February 13, 1922, the Louisville Courier-Journal announced on the front page that Governor Edwin Porch Morrow had publicly invited David Warth Griffith back to his home state for the first showing of his new film, Orphans of the Storm.  “On behalf of the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Governor Morrow wrote to the producer, “I urge you to be present in your old Kentucky home when you’re great motion picture of the French Revolution is produced in your native state.  You are part of the Commonwealth, we are proud of you and feel we have the right to ask your presence and to give you a welcome as a man who Kentucky is well pleased.  It will give me pleasure to greet you here in Louisville and renew your acquaintance.”  The producer arrived the next Saturday and stayed at the Seelbach.  He also made time to visit his home town of Lagrange.

 

July 18, 1922, Kentucky took the great leap into radio broadcasting, when Credo Fitch Harris announced to all, who might have been able to hear, “This is WHAS, the radiotelephone broadcasting station of the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times in Louisville, Ky.”  It was initially assigned a frequency of 350 kHz. WHAS is an acronym for: We Have A Signal.  Today it is a 50,000 Watt clear channel radio station assigned to frequency 840kHz.  With clear channel status, its nighttime signal can be heard in most of the continental U.S. and much of Canada, and even in other countries.

 

October 4, 1922, the Kentucky Theatre opened in downtown Lexington to Governor Morrow leading the signing of “My Old Kentucky Home.”  The downtown theater used a 4,000 bulb marquis and a $25,000 Wurlitzer organ for 1,276 patrons.  The name was chosen through a contest supported by the builder, Lafayette Amusement Company.  

October 29, 1929, the Great Depression starts.

It was not until 1937 that formal preservation efforts began for the Cumberland Gap.  In that year, a group of local citizens founded the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Association.  The Association began an intensive lobbying campaign to support legislation to create a National Park at Cumberland Gap.

 

January 24, 1937, early morning, was perhaps the darkest moment during the "Great Louisville Flood," as every part of the Ohio River was above flood stage four.  The river did not crest at Louisville until the 27th and measured 57.1' on Louisville's upper gage while farther down the river, in Paducah, the river crested at 60.6' on February 2.  Damages from what could easily be considered one of the most powerful floods of the century were extensive.  Louisville was the hardest hit city along the Ohio River, where light and water services failed.  Almost 70 percent of the city was underwater, and 175,000 people left their homes.  The entire city of Paducah evacuated as well.  The Weather Bureau reported that total flood damage for Kentucky's whole state was 250 million dollars, an incredible sum in 1937.  Another flood of this magnitude would not occur in the Ohio River Valley until 60 years later.  January 1937 also recorded 22.7" of rain in Covington, a Kentucky monthly precipitation record. 

 

February 23, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a proclamation to officially establish a national forest in Kentucky. The forest was originally named the Cumberland National Forest. As early as 1933, the federal government began acquiring land for what would become the Cumberland National Forest. When first established, the forest consisted of nearly 350,000 acres in 16 Kentucky counties. In 1966, after years of debate, Kentucky legislatures passed a resolution to change the name to Daniel Boone National Forest. Today there are nearly 709,000 acres in 21 counties.

 

May 10, 1937, Matt Winn makes the Time Magazine cover surrounded by four of the 1937 Kentucky Derby favorites.

February 25, 1938, William Whitley State Historic Site in Stanford, Lincoln County, was designated a Kentucky State Park.  William and Esther Whitley, who moved to the Kentucky frontier in 1775, constructed a brick house between 1787 and 1794.  It was the first brick home that marked the transition from the era of log cabins to that of more formal homes.  Dubbed the “Guardian of Wilderness Road,” the house was a gathering spot for early Kentuckians and was used as a fortress against Indian attacks.  Visitors included George Rogers Clark and Daniel Boone.  The estate, named Sportsman’s Hill, was also home to the first circular racetrack to run counter-clockwise in the United States.

 

July 1, 1938, the enormous job of building the Kentucky Dam began.  It took six years to complete when on August 30, 1944, the reservoir began to fill.  At the peak of construction, TVA had nearly 5,000 people at work building the dam and preparing the reservoir area.  Kentucky Dam creates the largest human-made lake in the eastern U.S., covering 160,300 acres and features 2,300 miles of shoreline.

 

July 8, 1938, President F. D. Roosevelt visits Covington’s Latonia Race Track for the senate primary.  It was part of the cross country speaking tour where had spoken in Ohio earlier that day.  He specifically came to throw his support behind Senator Alben W. Barkley, who was battling against Happy Chandler, in the primary.  Chandler showed up at the airport to greet the President and somehow managed to arrive at the track with the President and the Barkley?  Happy lost but was appointed Senator the next year.

March 16, 1942, three Kentucky tornadoes swept through the state killing 24 people.  The first, an F4 tornado, struck at 12:15 a.m. in Grayson and Hardin counties, killing nine people in seven different homes and sweeping away 20 other homes in Caneyville, Millwood, Leitchfield, Clarkson, and Summit.  The next one, an F3, struck an hour and fifteen minutes later in Nelson County, killing four persons.  The last twister, another F3, occurred in Muhlenberg County at 11:40 p.m. and devastated the mining community of Browder, sweeping away 12 small homes and causing ten deaths, another death occurred on a farm near Drakesboro.  The March 1942 tornado outbreak was a deadly late-winter tornado outbreak that struck a large area of the Central and Southern United States on March 16–17, 1942.  The tornado outbreak killed 153 people and injured at least 1,284.

 

On July 11, 1942, the first aircraft to land at Bluegrass Field was a B-25 Mitchell bomber.  The bomber was commanded by Lt. Col. Charles J. Jones, who lived in Versailles.  The bomber made a “causionary” landing at the field.  While the plane was being inspected, Jones visited his family.  In August 1944, the field was officially named Blue Grass Field.  This was a compromise between factions that wanted the field named Lexington Field, Havely Field (after Mayor Havely), Chandler Field (after Governor A. B. “Happy” Chandler) and Umstead Field (after Lt. Col. Stanley M. Umstead, a Lexington native and test pilot).

August 20, 1952, Colonel William Earl Barber from Dehart was presented the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in a White House ceremony.  As a U.S. Marine, Barber (then captain) of his 220 men held off more than 1,400 People's Republic of China soldiers during six days of fighting in North Korea.  Despite the extremely cold weather conditions and a bullet wound to the leg, Barber refused an evacuation order to withdraw the men from their mountain defensive position, which was surrounded by the enemy.  Barber, aware that leaving would cause 8,000 Marines of his division to be trapped in North Korea, held on, killing over 1,000 enemy troops.  The citation reads: "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Company F in action against enemy aggressor forces."

 

September 12, 1952, the U.S. Government announced they would acquire 36,000 acres in Bullitt and Hardin Counties to expand Ft. Knox.  The acreage of Ft. Knox before the acquisition is 117,000.  The new total for the Army base will be 153,000 acres.

 

October 12, 1952, Ernest Edison “Ernie” West ran through heavy fire to rescue his wounded commander, Capt. Gividen, after they had fallen into an ambush. As he was pulling the Captain to safety, three hostile soldiers attacked.  West shielded the commander with his body and killed the attackers with his rifle, suffering a wound that resulted in losing his eye in the process.  Despite this injury, he remained on the field and assisted in the evacuation of other wounded men, at one point killing three more hostile soldiers.  For these actions, the U.S. military’s presented him with the highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Ernest Edison “Ernie” West, born in Russell and raised in an orphanage in Nicholasville.

 

Sunday night, October 26, 1952, The Hilltoppers appeared on Ed Sullivan’s nationally syndicated CBS television show, Toast of the Town.  Watch the performance. 

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

 

August 1, 1956, the Kentucky Turnpike, stretching 39 miles from Louisville to Elizabethtown, opened as the first section of a future interstate highway connecting the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.  Under construction for just under two years, the modern roadway cost $33.2 million.

 

September 10, 1956, the Louisville public schools were officially integrated.  With a student population of 45,000, the city had the highest percentage of black students (27%) to desegregate of any sizeable city.  Many wondered if the Louisville would experience the same outbreak of violence other cities experienced.  However Louisville integration went smoothly its success gained national attention.
Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South: Louisville, Kentucky, 1945-1980 By Tracy E. K'Meyer

 

October 1, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower shook hands with Lexington police Chief E.C. Hale on, while in Lexington as part of his re-election campaign.  After being met at the airport by Kentucky Governor Chandler, the president’s car rode through downtown in a parade.  He later gave a speech at Memorial Coliseum at the University of Kentucky.  During Hale’s time as police chief from 1953 to 1972, he was credited with helping to keep racial tensions in the city from turning violent.

September 9, 1960, 19-year-old Cassius Clay, Jr. was praised and cheered as he returned home to Kentucky after winning Olympic gold in Rome's light heavyweight division.   The day started when hundreds of cheering fans showed up at Standiford Field to greet the local hero.  Louisville Mayor Hoblitzell greeted him, stating, "I want to thank you for you have brought to America and Louisville.  You are a credit to your city."  Clay then rode in a convertible to Central High School located downtown with a police escort and a parade of 25 cars, waving to fans and admirers along the way.  Hundreds of more fans rushed him at the entrance to the school.  Inside he was praised by local dignitaries and officials.  Throughout it all, Clay smiled, and when it was all over, he humbly declared, I want you all to know how much I appreciate this, thank you very much."  After a day of rest, he traveled to Frankfort to be greeted by Governor Combs, who showed his appreciation.

 

October 8, 1960, John F. Kennedy visited Lexington.  Kennedy was a 43-year-old senator from Massachusetts, the Democratic nominee a month away from defeating Richard Nixon in the closest presidential election in 44 years.  He was on a campaign swing through Kentucky and was picked up at Blue Grass Airport by Harry B. Miller Jr., a Lexington lawyer.  Kennedy waved to people as he rode down Main Street in an open-top convertible, seated beside Gov. Bert Combs.  The car took them to the University of Kentucky campus, where they joined other prominent Democrats on an impromptu stage, a flatbed truck parked by the Administration Building.  Kennedy got applause by praising the tobacco support program and Lexington’s favorite son, Henry Clay. (He mistakenly referred to Clay as a Transylvania College graduate.  Clay was a trustee and law professor there, but not a student.)

February 13, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy visited Hazard.  It was part of his tour of Appalachia.  He came one week before he announced his candidacy for President.  Kennedy would hold two field hearings soliciting the views of area residents.  A one-room schoolhouse in Vortex hosted one, and the other in a school gymnasium at Fleming-Neon.  In Vortex, Kennedy listened to residents from Wolfe, Breathitt and Madison counties.  Some who spoke noted how hard it was to make ends meet while others offered suggestions on what the government should be doing.  In the town of Barwick in Breathitt County, Kennedy visited a one-room schoolhouse that was in session.  He spoke with each student individually, asking them what they’d had to eat that day.  Kennedy’s tour of the region was not a unique event: Johnson came in 1964.  In later years, Nixon, Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson all conducted “poverty tours.”  Of these, the locals remember RFK’s as the most meaningful, his person the most understanding and best listener.  RFK was assassinated some three months after his trip.

 

April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King is assassinated. 

 

June 6, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated. 

 

September 23, 1968, was the first day Kentucky Educational Television (KET) aired on television.  In the beginning, KET aired only on weekdays during school hours.  Within a year, broadcasting lasted into the evening and by 1975, it showed programming seven days a week.  KET was founded by O. Leonard Press and funded by Paul G. Blazer.  KET is the largest PBS state network in the United States; the broadcast signals of its sixteen stations cover almost all of the state and all of the seven bordering states.

 

October 7, 1968, the “Wild Rivers” Commission was established by Governor Louis B. Nunn.  It was a five member commission to recommend legislation to preserve “wild rivers” in Kentucky.

April 3, 1974, 3:25 p.m., the only F5 Tornado to hit Kentucky touched down in Brandenburg.  Beginning five miles southwest of Hardinsburg, the Tornado passed along the northern edge of that town, with F3 damage to homes.  Thirteen people were injured and 35 homes were destroyed.  The funnel moved to the northeast across Breckinridge County and into Meade County.  The Tornado gradually enlarged and intensified as it approached Brandenburg.  One hundred twenty-eight homes were destroyed, many of them leveled and swept away.  Thirty businesses were destroyed and damage totaled over ten million dollars.  There were 28 deaths in the Brandenburg area.  The funnel devastated that town and crossed the Ohio River.  As the day continued, ten more tornadoes hit Kentucky.  Some of the most violent included: 6:40 p.m., a tornado killed eight people in five rural Clinton County communities.  Fifty homes were torn apart, 7:20 p.m. seven people died and 27 injured when thirty homes were destroyed near Richmond.  Sixty-three lives were lost in Kentucky from these tornadoes.  The 1974 Super Outbreak was the second-largest tornado outbreak on record for a single 24-hour period, just behind the 2011 Super Outbreak.  It was also the most violent tornado outbreak ever recorded, with 30 F4/F5 tornadoes confirmed.

 

December 2, 1974, Lincoln Hall, located on Berea College, was designated a National Historic Landmark.  Built in 1885-87, “Recitation Hall,” as it was known on campus, was the focus of civil rights activities for nearly three-quarters of a century.  Lincoln Hall has been Berea’s administration building since 1914 and underwent a $5.5 million “green” renovation as a result of a collapse of its central interior in 2001.  In 2004, Lincoln Hall became the first building in Kentucky to be awarded the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. 

 

December 28, 1974, Governor Julian Carroll becomes the 54th Governor of Kentucky.  The lieutenant governor served with Thelma Stovall, the first woman to be elected Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky.

March 18, 1976, Kentucky finally ratified the 14th Amendment, 107 years after the U.S. Government ratified it and eight years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  It granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.”  The Amendment officially freed the former slaves after the Civil War.  The three Reconstruction Amendments: 13th, 14th and 15th were added to the U.S. Constitution in the immediate wake of the Civil War to reflect the new America.  When initially presented, Governor Thomas Bramlette (former Union Colonel) opposed it because the Confederate states' post-war treatment was unfair, and the ratification process therefore corrupted.  Both the Kentucky House and Senate agreed not to pass the Amendment.  It was Rep. Mae Street Kidd (D-Louisville), one of three blacks, then in the Kentucky legislature, who filed the resolution in 1976 and finally got it passed.

 

October 17, 1976, Lawrence Welk was the first act to perform at Rupp Area.  He attracted a jaw-dropping 20,000 patrons on Sunday, for a 3:00 p.m. concert—easily surpassing Welk’s previous tour record of 18,000.  Tickets sold for $7.50, $6.50, and $5.  Adolph Rupp was in attendance, seated in the first row, and would join Welk on stage during the show.  With so many patrons attending the first-ever event, a popcorn shortage occurred during the arena’s inaugural show.

 

December 10, 1976, William Lipscomb, (1919-2011) who grew up in Lexington and graduated from the University of Kentucky, was the second Kentuckian to win a Nobel Prize.  Lipscomb was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research in nuclear magnetic resonance, theoretical chemistry, boron chemistry, and biochemistry.

January 20, 1978, La Grange in Oldham County, measured 31 inches of snow, the Kentucky record for snow depth.  Three days earlier, 18 inches of fresh snow fell on top of seven inches.  Another five-plus arrived on January 20, setting the record.  The winter of 1977-1978 was very different from previous winters in Kentucky.  There have been colder temperatures and snowfall in other years.  Nevertheless, this one featured incessantly cold temperatures and a memorably persistent snow cover.  It was the last time the Ohio River froze over this far south. 
Kentucky Weather By Jerry Hill; pg:63

 

September 7, 1978, the Commonwealth of Kentucky opened the $35 million Kentucky Horse Park.  The 1,032-acre complex was conceived by noted Lexington horseman John R. Gaines, and championed in Frankfort by Rep. William R. Kenton, Jr.  Designed as an equestrian theme park and located at the junction of I-75 and Iron Works Pike in northern Fayette County, the park immediately became a major tourism magnet.

 

October 25, 1978, 30-year old John Howard Carpenter released his original independent film, “Halloween.”  Growing up in Bowling Green, Kentucky, he began making 8mm films by the time he was in high school.  Carpenter has described the movie as “True Crass" exploitation.  I decided to make a film I would love to have seen as a kid, full of cheap tricks like a haunted house at a fair where you walk down the corridor and things jump out at you.  The film became a hit and the first of the slasher film genre.  Carpenter’s budget for the movie was $320,000; the film initially grossed $65 million, making it one of the most successful independent films.

March 28, 1979, the Dinsmore Homestead was placed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places.  In 1839, James Dinsmore purchased approximately 700 acres in Boone County, growing grapes, raising sheep and growing willows for a basket-making business.  Construction ended in 1842.  Located in Burlington, near the Ohio River, the historic Homestead offers a wealth of treasures accumulated by five generations of the Dinsmore family.  Julia Dinsmore, one of three daughters, inherited the farm and operated it successfully for 54 years until her death at age 93.  A published poet, she kept a detailed journal of her life on the farm.  The Homestead’s education coordinator said it is a rare glimpse of life in Boone County in the 19th and early 20th century because the family did not throw anything away.  What separates Dinsmore from many other historical sites is not just the documents, but how the Homestead is preserved.  In addition to the home’s contents, nearly all of its buildings, carriage house with carriages, log cabin, smokehouse and horse barn remain on the property.  Harry Roseberry, an African-American who came to work at the Dinsmore farm in 1894, lived there until 1968, is credited with preserving the buildings and artifacts.  The Dinsmore family’s connections reach people like George Washington, James Bowie, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, Benjamin F. Goodrich, Henry Cabot Lodge, John Jacob Astor IV, Theodore Roosevelt and Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

 

On June 24, 1979, the dedication of Six Mile Island occurred.  It is one of eighteen state nature preserves that encompass 5,812 acres in Kentucky.  Six Mile Island State Nature Preserve is an 81-acre island in the Ohio River, only accessible by boat.  The island is known for a variety of water birds.  Protection of this island will allow it to return to its natural state, a unique opportunity to study riverine island systems' ecology.  During the Kentucky Derby Festival, the Great Steamboat Race turns around at Six Mile Island as the halfway marker during the race.

 

December 7, 1979, Kentucky dedicated the Jesse Stuart State Nature Preserve in Greenup County.  Jesse Stuart donated the land around his home in W Hollow.  The 714 acres allows for passive recreation and environmental education.  The Jesse Stuart Foundation supports the natural, cultural, and historical research on the preserve.  This public foundation oversees Stuart’s literary estate.

 

December 11, 1979, Governor John Young Brown, Jr. was sworn in as Kentucky's 55th Governor.  He appointed a woman and an African-American to his cabinet, as he promised.  The most controversial appointment was Secretary of Transportation, Frank Metts, who broke with political tradition, announcing that contracts would be awarded based on competitive bids.  Metts doubled the miles of roads resurfaced.  In challenging economic times, Brown stuck to his campaign promise not to raise taxes.  Instead, he reduced the state budget by 22% and cut the number of state employees by 6,400, mostly through transfer and attrition.  Simultaneously, his merit pay policies increased salaries for the remaining employees by an average of 34 percent.  He cut the executive office staff from ninety-seven to thirty and sold seven of the state's eight government airplanes.  He also required competitive bids from banks, generating $50 million in revenue.  He created communications and contacts with Japan, setting the stage for future economic relations.  Brown was absent for more than five hundred days during his four-year term.  As noted by Kentucky historian Lowell H. Harrison, Brown's hands-off approach allowed the legislature to gain power relative to the Governor for the first time in Kentucky history, a trend that continued into his successors' terms. 

April 27, 1984, the Whitney M. Young birthplace and boyhood home in Simpsonville became a U.S. National Historic Landmark.  Young was an American civil rights leader.  He spent his career working to end employment discrimination and turning the National Urban League from a relatively passive civil rights organization into one that aggressively worked for equitable economic access to the historically disenfranchised.  

 

October 7, 1984, Louisville hosted the first Presidential election debate between Reagan and Mondale at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, Barbara Walters moderator. The debate focused on domestic policy.  Reagan was said to have appeared tired and sometimes confused.  He referred to having started going to church “here in Washington.”  He referred to military uniforms as “wardrobe,” and even admitted to being “confused.”  The question of whether Reagan’s age was affecting his performance as president was the lead story the following day.  When asked if his age had become a legitimate issue in the campaign (at 73), Reagan said, “I’ll challenge him to an arm wrestle any time.”  In Kentucky, Reagan received 822,782 Kentucky votes to Mondale’s 539,589. 75 to 100 million people were said to have watched the debate.



 

October 7, 1984, 58-year-old Queen Elizabeth II arrived at the Lexington Airport for her first visit to Kentucky, to begin a six-day visit. Her Royal Air Force Jet touched down at 4:31 p.m. Governor Collins was the first to greet her with other local dignitaries. Hundreds were waiting in the rain to get a glimpse of HRH before leaving for Lane’s End Farm. She would be making a public appearance at Keeneland later on her trip.

March 2, 1988, former Governor A.B. “Happy” Chandler sings “My Old Kentucky Home” on Senior Night at Rupp Arena.  Tom Hammond described the scene as “one of the most emotional moments in sport.”  Wildcat seniors included: Ed Davender, Winston Bennett, Rob Lock, Cedric Jenkins, and Richard Madison.  It was also Rex Chapman’s final game in Lexington; he entered the NBA draft after the 1987-1988 seasonVideo

 

On May 14, 1988, the Carrollton bus collision occurred on I-71 in Carroll County.   A former school bus, in use by a church youth group, and a pickup truck driven by an impaired driver going the wrong way, collided head-on.  It was the deadliest drunk driving incident, and one of the most fatal bus crashes in United States history.  Of the 67 people on the bus (counting the driver), there were 27 fatalities, the same number as the 1958 Prestonsburg bus disaster.  In the aftermath of the disaster, several family members of victims became active leaders of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and one (Karolyn Nunnallee) became the national president of the organization.

 

June 17, 1988, the largest prison escape in Kentucky happened at Eddyville State Penitentiary, when eight prisoners fled, three doing life.  The escape was well organized and assisted by other inmates who set fires to distract the guards.  The inmates sawed through their cell bars and climbed approximately thirty feet to another window using an electrical extension cord.  The fire gave inmates 15 minutes to escape the violent offenders unit in the century-old portion of the prison and off the grounds.

 

August 8, 1988, the eyes of the world were focused on tiny Barren County, in the community of Eighty-Eight.  More than 4,000 people from around the country made the trek to Eighty-Eight for a celebration of the once-in-a-lifetime occurrence of the numeral 8 dominating a date on the calendar.

 

November 12, 1988, the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial was officially dedicated.  Overlooking the capitol, the memorial honors the 125,000 Kentuckians who served during the Vietnam era (1962-1975).  More than 58,000 Americans gave their lives during the conflict.  Among that number 1,105 were Kentuckians.  Each name is precisely located, so the shadow of the sundial pointer, or gnomon (pronounced ‘noman’), touches each veteran’s name on the anniversary of his death.  Thus, each individual is honored with a personal tribute.  Accordingly, every day is Memorial Day for a Kentucky Vietnam veteran.  Helm Roberts (1931-2011) a Veteran from Lexington, designed the unique memorial.  Video

February 2, 1991, the 1st Persian Gulf War also known as the First Iraq War or Operation Desert Storm ended.  Six Kentuckians gave their life for this military operation. 

 

May 23, 1991, Queen Elizabeth II arrived in Kentucky for her fourth visit since 1984.  The British monarch wrapped up her visit to the United States by spending some private time in Kentucky touring horse farms to negotiate breeding arrangements for her several broodmares living in Kentucky. 

 

May 28, 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in favor of Illinois, regarding a dispute between Kentucky and Illinois over their Ohio River boundary, by reaffirming the original boundary set in 1792.  The initial boundary line is “the low watermark on the northern shore of the Ohio River.  Historically, Kentucky has asserted ownership of the entire river up to the Illinois bank.  Illinois argued the low watermark differs by as much as 100 feet because of river damming and shoreline erosion.  Illinois is now in control of the river's 100 feet, significant for riverboat gambling, emergency services taxes on buildings that jut into the river from the Illinois side.  Illinois fishermen started the dispute by refusing to buy Kentucky fishing licenses.

 

December 4, 1991, Pine Mountain Settlement School became a National Historic Landmark.  Established in 1913 and located in Harlan County, Pine Mountain served as a boarding school for mountain children in elementary and middle School to 1930.  In 1930, the School evolved into a boarding school for high school students and back to an elementary school in 1949.  In 1972 Pine Mountain began to focus its educational mission toward environmental education.  For more than 30 years, Pine Mountain Settlement School has provided instruction in environmental education and traditional arts and culture to thousands of students.  More than 3,000 students visit the campus each year to participate in day programs or weeklong programs.  Students study the wonders and complexities of the natural environment through outdoor classes on the School’s 800 acres.

 

December 10, 1991, Governor Brereton Chandler Jones becomes the 58th Governor of Kentucky. 

February 11, 1993, the James M. Lloyd House was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.  It is located in Mt. Washington, Bullitt County, on Old Bardstown Road (U.S. 31EX) and Dooley Drive.  In 1880 James Lloyd, a talented carpenter, began to rebuild his home destroyed by fire.  The original two-story, three-bay structure with a central hall and stairwell rests on a limestone foundation.  The frame and weatherboard siding were hewn from yellow poplar by the Collier mill of Mt. WashingtonThe home remained in the Lloyd family until 1989 when it was donated to the Mt. Washington Historical Society by Mr. Kenneth Lutes in memory of his wife, Anita Ann Dooley Lutes great-granddaughter of James M. Lloyd.

 

April 30, 1993, a nearly three-year federal investigation of public corruption in Kentucky reached a climax with the extortion and racketeering convictions of former Kentucky House Speaker Don Blandford.  During the 1992 legislative session, the FBI conducted an inquiry and sting operations involving members of the Kentucky House of Representatives and the Kentucky Senate, known as Operation Boptrot.  The FBI indicted approximately 10% of the state’s sitting legislators, many for accepting bribes of as low as $100.  The probe snared members of both political parties.  Blandford was the highest-ranking legislator indicted (the Republican minority leader in the Senate was also indicted and convicted, as were other House members of both parties).  Blandford accepted $500 in cash from former state representative Bill McBee, a lobbyist then representing a Kentucky racetrack.  “Bless your heart,” Blandford said when presented with the bribe.  The exchange was videotaped and audiotaped by the FBI.  Blandford was charged with bribery, and convicted and sent to prison.  The FBI investigation resulted in 21 convictions overall; most or all of those convicted were sitting legislators, former legislators or lobbyists.

January 22, 1998, Space Shuttle Endeavor Flight STS-89, commanded by Terrence Wade Wilcutt, from Russellville, launched from Kennedy Space Center.  It was the eighth Shuttle-Mir docking mission during which the crew transferred more than 9,000 pounds of scientific equipment and water.  The flight duration was eight days, 19 hours and 47 seconds, traveling 3.6 million miles in 138 orbits of the Earth.  Wilcutt graduated from Southern High School, Louisville, in 1967 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in math from Western Kentucky University in 1974.  A veteran of four space flights, Wilcutt has logged over 1,007 hours in space.  Wilcutt currently serves as Director, Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate, Johnson Space Center.  Video.

 

March 19, 1998, south of Long Island, New York, USS Kentucky (SSBN-737) collided with the attack submarine USS San Juan (SSN-751) while the two submarines were conducting a joint training drill before deployment.  One of the USS Kentucky‘s stern planes was slightly damaged; San Juan‘s forward ballast tank was breached but was able to surface and return to port.  No personnel suffered any injuries. Kentucky returned to patrol the next day.

 

April 3, 1998, University of Kentucky’s W.T. Young Library opened its doors.  Mr. Young initiated the project with a $5 million donation.  The final cost exceeded $58 million from nearly 15,000 donors representing all 120 counties.  The 365,000 square-feet building is centered on a 30-acre park-like setting, anchoring the University’s 16 libraries.  Each of the six floors is approximately the size of a football field and the whole library houses 1.2 million volumes consisting of 37 miles of compact shelving.  The chandelier located in the 5th-floor rotunda reading room weighs over 3,000 pounds.

 

April 7, 1998, Governor Paul Edward Patton signed House Bill 801, to acknowledge all American Indian people, tribes, and organizations in Kentucky.  It also designates November as Native American Indian Month.  House Bill 801 not only recognizes that American Indians are essential to the state's history, but it also reflects the Commonwealth's commitment to American Indians as an integral part of the social, political, and economic fabric of the state of Kentucky.