December 25, 1798, hunters arrested the Harpe Brothers in Kentucky for the murder of a man named Langford. Langford had befriended them at a public house near Rockcastle River and was foolish enough to show off his silver coins. Jailed in Danville, the brothers managed to escape. Locals split up to pursue the brothers, but only found a posse member mutilated by the Harpes. Governor J. Garrard placed a three-hundred-dollar reward on each brother’s head four months later.
December 25, 1860, Col. W. S. Featherstone, representing the state of Mississippi, visited Frankfort and appealed to Governor B. Magoffin to call an extra session to take special steps with Mississippi and the South “in adopting efficient measures for their common defense and safety.”
December 25, 1864, Confederate General Lyon’s troops burned the Campbellsville courthouse in Taylor County; the 6th of seven courthouses he burned. Some records were saved, and the troops exited Kentucky through Burkesville.
December 25, 1905, Deputy Sheriff Mack Roberts, Leslie County Sheriff’s Office, died when gunfire erupted at a turkey shooting match at Big Fork, 20 miles from Hyden. A dispute over the match brought on a gun battle involving several men.
December 25, 1921, Chief of Police Russell Baker, Barbourville Police Department, died when shot at Elys Station. He and a Knox County deputy questioned several men who had fired a pistol. Chief Baker had just been appointed police chief in Barbourville.
December 25, 1930, Deputy Sheriff John Mosley, Owsley County Sheriff’s Office, died serving a warrant on several men wanted for robbery when they ambushed him. Deputy Mosley’s brother, who had accompanied him to serve the warrant, returned fire and killed two suspects and wounded two others.
December 25, 1931, Deputy Sheriff Owen Woodford Sizemore, Harlan County Sheriff’s Office, died by gunshot as he and another deputy attempted to question two men handing out strike literature at the Blue Diamond Coal Mine. When the deputies asked what they were carrying, one of the men pulled out pamphlets from his pocket, and then pulled out a pistol.
December 25, 1956, witnessed the deadliest Christmas holiday season on the nation’s highways and the state of Kentucky. Between December 24-26, 884 Americans died on the roads, including 15 in Kentucky.
On December 25, 1965, someone found Louis Graham, a 55-year-old Hopkinsville banker, dead in a Miami Beach hotel room with a bullet in his head after he had gone missing for several days. A note beside his body claimed he got kidnaped. He was the 2nd banker from the area to disappear around Hopkinsville. Edgar Harper, President of the Lewisburg Bank, and his wife disappeared two weeks earlier. Someone found their bodies in March 1966 eight miles north of Lewisburg.
On December 25, 1965, Spindletop Research, Inc. released its Kentucky Outdoor Recreation Plan stating Kentucky should add 44,000 more acres to the state park system by 1970. The report recommended that the state and local governments split the costs.
December 25, 1973, Chief of Police George H. King, Evarts Police Department, succumbed to an accidental gunshot wound sustained the previous night inside the Evarts police station. The assistant chief accidentally shot him in the abdomen.
December 25, 1980, a downtown Frankfort hotel where 30 older adults lived caught fire, and one resident died while another received severe injuries. Owned and operated by the Frankfort Housing Authority, The Southern Hotel was a victim of arson.
Kentucky Trivia: Mistletoe (Phoradendron serotinum) is a Kentucky native plant found growing in small bunches high up in the branches of maples, cherries, walnuts and many other native trees across the region. It is only one of the hundreds of mistletoe species found across the globe — but it is the only species native to Kentucky.
On December 25, 1987, federal officials recaptured Manson’s disciple Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme after she broke from prison for two days. Creepy Squeaky received a life sentence for President G. Ford’s assignation attempt. Meanwhile, the stork visited Lexington’s Central Baptist Hospital for a record 3,000th time. The hospital delivered 2,800 babies the year before.
December 25, 2000, Lexington native Clay Lancaster, a scholar who devoted much of his life to documenting historic architecture in Kentucky, died. Mr. Lancaster is possibly one of the more influential and unique Kentuckians of the 21st century.
December 25, 2018, the Drees Home Foundation pledged $200,000 to move the Vent Haven Museum to Fort Mitchell. The world’s only museum dedicated to ventriloquism had to find a new home after growing out of its original building.
December 25, 2019, Louisville native Al Young passed away. Mr. Young spent 52 years with Four Roses. In 2010, he wrote the book on the famed bourbon’s history, Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend. The book is now in its 3rd edition.
December 25, 2020, thousands of Eastern Kentucky residents woke up to a white Christmas and no electricity. The storm dumped four to eight inches in and around Perry, Leslie, Knott, Letcher, and Breathitt Counties. Electrical outages also occurred in Pike, Johnson, Floyd, Carter, and Lawrence Counties.