TODAY IN KENTUCKY HISTORY

Kentucky Trivia

December 17, 1794, Campbell County was created from: Harrison, Mason and Scott.  Campbell County was named in honor of John Campbell, Revolutionary War Colonel.  The two county seats are Alexandria and Newport.  Other localities include: Bellevue, California, Camp Springs, Cold Spring, Crestview, Dayton, Fort Thomas, Highland Heights, Melbourne, Mentor, Silver Grove, Southgate, Wilder and Woodlawn.  Campbell County covers 159 square miles and was the 19th county created.

December 17, 1796, Garrard County was created from Madison County, Lincoln County and Mercer County.  It was named in honor of James Garrard, second Governor of Kentucky.  Lancaster is the county seat.  Other localities include: Bryantsville, Buckeye, Cartersville, Davis Town, Hyattsville and Paint Lick.  Garrard County was the 25th county created and covers 234 square miles.

December 17, 1798, Ohio County was created from Hardin County and was named for the Ohio River, which formed the county’s northern border.  Hartford is the county seat.  Other cities and towns located in the county include: Beaver Dam, Centertown, Fordsville, McHenry, Rockport, Rosine, Adaburg, Beda, Buford, Haynesville, Heflin, Herbert, Magan, Narrows, Pleasant Ridge, Reynolds Station, Shreve, Silver Beach, Taffy, Baizetown, Ceralvo, Cool Springs, Cromwell, Dundee, Echols, Equality, Horse Branch, Matanzas, Nineteen, Olaton, Prentiss, Select and Shultztown.  Ohio County covers 596 square miles and was the 38th county created.

December 17, 1821, led by the efforts of Senator Richard Johnson, imprisonment for debt was abolished in Kentucky, becoming the first state to do so.

December 17, 1823, Graves County was created from Hickman County and was named in honor of Benjamin F. Graves, army major killed at the Battle of Frenchtown.  Mayfield is the county seat.  Other  communities include: Water Valley, Wingo, Fancy Farm, Farmington, Hickory, Lowes, Pryorsburg, Sedalia, Symsonia, Bell City, Boaz, Clear Springs, Cuba, Dogwood, Dublin, Dukedom (partial), Fairbanks, Feliciana, Folsomdale, Golo, Kaler, Kansas, Lynnville, Melber (partial), Natchez Trace, Pilot Oak, Pottsville, South Highland, Stubblefield, Tri City, Viola, West Viola, Westplains and Wheel.  Graves County was the 74th county created and covers 557 square miles.

December 17, 1823, Meade County was created from Hardin County and Breckinridge County and was named in honor of James Meade, military captain killed at the Battle of Frenchtown.  Brandenburg is the county seat.  Other localities include: Ekron, Muldraugh, Guston, Flaherty, Doe Valley, Fort Knox, a military base (partly in Hardin County) Battletown, Big Spring, (partly in Breckinridge County and Hardin County) Concordia, Flaherty, Garrett, Guston, Lickskillet, Meade, Payneville, Rhodelia, Rock Haven, Wolf Creek, Garnettsville and Buck Grove.  Meade County was the 77th county created and covers 305 square miles.

December 17, 1851, the 15th Class III U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Henry Clay, a Whig, resigned his seat to be effective September 6, 1852, but he died June 24, 1852. 

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; (US 40; CS 91).  They fought two more times over this vital supply link.  The significance of the “Battle for the Bridge” is celebrated each September during the Hart County Civil War days.

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.  Nevertheless, 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 17, 1864, the Madisonville Courthouse in Hopkins County burned to the ground by Confederate forces.  All county records were saved.

December 17, 1925, exactly 22 years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight, Pikeville native John P. Riddle and T. Higbee Embry formed the Embry-Riddle Company at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio.  They met two years prior when Riddle landed at a polo field and offered Embry a ride in his plane.

December 17, 1940, Chief Deputy George Thomas Fisher, Bell County Sheriff’s Department, was shot and killed as he and three other officers attempted to serve a warrant on a man wanted for robbery in Alexandria, Virginia.  The officers located the suspect who was eating breakfast in a trailer near Cumberland Gap and arrested him.  The man denied he was the man named in the warrant and requested that he be able to finish eating, which the officers let him do.  The suspect suddenly produced a gun and began shooting, striking Chief Deputy Fisher six times, killing him.

December 17, 1945, Deputy Warden L. R. Gumm, Kentucky Department of Corrections, was shot and killed by an inmate who had obtained a gun that had been smuggled into the prison.

December 17, 1951, Army PFC Ralph L. Leitner from Jefferson County died in the Korean War.

December 17, 1966, Army 1LT Chester G. Cox from Lawrenceburg in Anderson County and Army PFC Harry T. Poland from Tompkinsville in Monroe County, both died in the Vietnam War.

December 17, 1968, Army SP4 George W. Morton from Lexington died in the Vietnam War.

December 17, 1969, Army CPL Willard E. Spivey from Franklin in Simpson County died in the Vietnam War.

December 17, 1985, Governor M.L. Collins appeared on NBC’s Today Show to boast about her major accomplishment in securing the $800 million Toyota plant.  The governor talked from Lexington’s affiliate conversing with Jane Pauley in New York.

December 17, 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating the Trail Of Tears as a National Historic Trail; the bill singled out Hopkinsville.  In April 1996, the National Park Service designated the Hopkinsville Park as a certified site on the National Historic Trail Of Tears.  The park is the first non-federal property to receive such designation.

December 17, 1993, a seven-alarm fire completely destroys the Fair Ground’s grandstand.  With a round-the-clock effort for 19 days, Fair Grounds erected temporary facilities and conducted racing for the remaining 60 days of their meet.

December 17, 2004, four friends borrowed a van and robbed valuable first edition books from the Transylvania Library, tying up and terrorizing a librarian in the process.

December 17, 2005, Tubby’s #23 Cats played Pitino’s #4 Cardinals in Rupp Area and won 73-61.

December 17, 2010, Jefferson Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman told the murderer of a four-year-old boy that the death penalty was not a harsh enough sentence.  Hence, she sentenced him to life in prison to be surrounded by “bigger, meaner men who have nothing to lose.”  She then told the victim’s family, “he will fear for his life the rest of days.”  The statement attracted national attention.

December 17, 2012, UofL officials struck a deal to pay $15 million for 15 acres where 11 iconic 94-year-old silos stood.  The lot now holds classrooms and other academic facilities.

On December 17, 2018, Governor M. Bevin called a special session hours before addressing pension reform.  In minutes, teachers called for a rally in Frankfort at the start of the session, and educators from across the state drove hours to make the last-minute meeting in Frankfort.

December 17, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Kentucky can force parochial as well as public schools to close temporarily because of the coronavirus pandemic, but only because those restrictions are set to expire early next year.  Governor A. Beshear ordered all public and private K-12 schools closed for in-person instruction beginning Nov. 23, limiting them to virtual learning.  The order allowed elementary schools that are not in hard-hit areas to reopen Dec. 7 but kept middle and high schools closed until Jan. 4.