TODAY IN KENTUCKY HISTORY

A Kentucky Merry Christmas to our Faithful Readers

December 25, 1776, McClelland’s Fort at Royal Springs; a party of settlers led by John Todd engaged in battle with a party of Mingo.  Todd lost four men killed or captured.

December 25, 1798, the Harpe Brothers were arrested 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.  When the local posse chased after them, a posse member was found mutilated in retaliation by the Harpes.  Governor James Garrard placed a three-hundred dollar reward on each brother’s head four months later.  The Harpe brothers were one of the first known recorded serial killers.

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

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

December 25, 1890, Louisville enjoyed one of their whitest Christmases ever when 4.5 inches of snow fell for Santa’s sleigh.

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, was killed while attempting to serve a warrant on several men wanted for robbery.  He was fatally shot from ambush when he entered the home of the brothers to make the arrest.  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, 1935, Bowling Green received 4.5 “, Louisville received a 45-mile-an-hour snow-laden blizzard, Lexington received 5.5”, and a majority of Kentucky enjoyed a white Christmas.

December 25, 1948, snow began to fall at 12:30 a.m, on Christmas Eve morning and piled up 2.6 inches to give many Kentuckians a White Christmas, including Frankfort which received 3.5”. 

December 25, 1950, Army SGT Jewell Brooks from Webster County died in the Korean War.

December 25, 1951, Deputy Sheriff Bill Miller, Magoffin County Sheriff’s Office, was shot and killed as he attempted to arrest a murder suspect.  Deputy Miller had received information that the suspect was hiding at a residence.  He was shot by the suspect as he opened the door.

December 25, 1955, Kentucky was hoping for a white Christmas instead we had another sunny day.  A majority of Kentucky had only seen two white Christmases in the past 20 years.

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 had died on the roads, including 15 for Kentucky.

On December 25, 1965, Louis Graham, a 55-year-old Hopkinsville banker, was found dead in a Miami Beach hotel room with a bullet in his head.  He had been reported missing for several days.  A note beside his body claimed he was a victim of a kidnapping.  He was the second banker from the area to disappear.  Edgar Harper, President of the Lewisburg Bank, and his wife disappeared two weeks earlier.  Their bodies were discovered in March 1966 eight miles north of Lewisburg.

On December 25, 1965, Spindletop Research, Inc. released their 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, 1966, Army SGT Larry Reed from Hopkinsville in Christian County died in the Vietnam War.

December 25, 1968, Army SGT Kenneth M. Bryant from Cold Spring in Campbell County died fighting in the Vietnam War.

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.  He was accidentally shot in the abdomen by the assistant chief.

December 25, 1980, a downtown Frankfort hotel where 30 elderly people lived caught fire and one resident died while another was seriously hurt.  The Southern Hotel was owned and operated by the Frankfort Housing Authority.  It was later determined to be 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.

December 25, 1996, The Lexington Herald-Leader printed Jesse Stuart’s short story Santa’s Visit.

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 ever.

December 25, 2010, many Kentuckians in the Louisville area enjoyed their last white Christmas with officially one inch of snow on the ground.

December 25, 2017, Covington received a white Christmas with one inch of snow on the ground. According to Google, the definition of a white Christmas is one inch of snow on the ground at 7 a.m. on Christmas morning.

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 third 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.