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January 17, 1818, Kentucky created Whitley County from Knox County and named it in honor of William Whitley, Kentucky pioneer.  The county seat is Williamsburg.  Other cities and towns located in the county include Corbin, (partly in Knox County)  Emlyn, Pleasant View, Rockholds, Mountain Ash, Canada Town, Carpenter, Gatliff, Goldbug, Julip, Packard, Piney Grove, Saxton, Siler, Wofford, Woodbine, and Yaden.  The 59th county created, Whitley County, covers 445 square miles.

By David Benbennick

January 17, 1824, Kentucky created McCracken County from Hickman County and named it in honor of Virgil McCracken, the military captain killed at the Battle of Frenchtown.  Paducah is the county seat.  Other localities include  Farley, (formerly Woodlawn-Oakdale) Hendron, Massac, Reidland, Camelia, Cecil, Cimota City, Freemont, Future City, Grahamville, Hardmoney, Heath, Hovekamp, Krebs, Lone Oak, Maxon, Melber, (partly in Graves County) Ragland, Rossington, Rudolph, Saint Johns, Sheehan Bridge, West Paducah, and Woodville.  The 78th county created, McCracken County, covers 268 square miles.

By David Benbennick

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Rowan County native Cora Wilson Stewart, born in 1875.  The social reformer and educator helped eliminate adult illiteracy.  In 1911, she became the 1st woman elected President of the Kentucky Education Association.  She later opened Moonlight School in Rowan County.

January 17, 1881, Tennessee swore in Bath County native Alvin Hawkins as their 22nd governor.  Hawkins was also a judge on the Tennessee Supreme Court in the late 1860s, and the U.S. consul to Havana, Cuba in 1868.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Covington native George Speri Sperti, born in 1900.  George invented Preparation H hemorrhoid medication.  He also invented the Sperti Ultraviolet Lamp, Aspercreme, and KVa Power Meter.

January 17, 1917, the largest college in Lexington played their 1st basketball game under the University of Kentucky name.  The Wildcat basketeers, coached by William Tuttle, defeated Centre College 31-21.   

January 17, 1918, Centre defeated UK 29-21 in Boyle Humphrey Gymnasium. UK’s Henry Thomas from Lexington High received high-scoring honors with 13 points.  The 2nd game and 1st win of UK’s season, they would play Centre two more times in a season that lasted till early March.

January 17, 1922, Kentucky played Louisville in St. Xavier Gymnasium winning, 38-14.  From the Louisville Courier-Journal, “The Wildcats completely outclassed the local boys and made a runaway affair of the first half, the score being 22 to 2 at its conclusion.”

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Louisville native Muhammad Ali, born in 1942.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Glasgow native Robert Dennis “Denny” Doyle, born in 1944.  Denny played 2nd baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies (1970–1973), California Angels (1974–1975), and Boston Red Sox (1975–1977).  He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.

On January 17, 1945, Blue Lick native Red Foley became the 1st country artist to record in Nashville during a WSM-AM’s Studio B session.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Madisonville native Alfred Eugene “Sonny” Collins, born in 1953.

January 17, 1959, Sheriff Elvin Patrick, Whitley County Sheriff’s Office, died while investigating a shooting at a home south of Williamsburg.  When they arrived at the scene they encountered a man leaning on a shotgun.  As Sheriff Patrick reached to take the shotgun, the man shot him.

January 17, 1964, an additional $1,000,000 became available to Eastern Kentucky by the Department of Agriculture under the Winter Relief ProgramGovernor Edward T. Breathitt stated the federal grant would allow mountain families to make winter home repairs, $1,000 per family.

January 17, 1971, Henderson native Sam Ball won a Super Bowl ring when the Colts defeated the Cowboys 16-13 in Super Bowl V.

January 17, 1984, Jefferson County Judge-Executive Mitch McConnell, an Alabama native, announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate at the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington.  McConnell defeated the incumbent Democrat Walter Dee Huddleston for the seat with some ground-breaking TV ads.

January 17, 1989, state employees in Frankfort honored the 60th anniversary of Reverend Martin Luther King Junior’s birth with speeches and a reception.  Simultaneously, about 200 people protested outside the capitol, demanding that King’s birthday be a state holiday.

January 17, 1994, snow, ice, and cold paralyzed Kentucky in the worst snowstorm in the last 16 years.  Forty-six counties declared an emergency.  Snow depths ranged from three inches in Southwestern Kentucky to 25 inches in Robertson County.  Lexington had 10 inches.  Louisville had 15.9 inches, breaking a record of 15.7 inches in the 1978 blizzard.  The state’s weather forecasters did not give much of a warning.

January 17, 1999, Keeneland board member Arthur Hancock stated his opposition to the track’s partnership with two casinos to buy Turfway Park, claiming it would harm the industry.  Hancock also disputed Ted Bassett’s comment that the track’s board unanimously approved the deal, claiming instead the board never discussed the deal.

January 17, 2000, at the Eclipse Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, Charismatic won the 1999 Horse of the Year with the fewest votes ever, becoming the 1st champion with a sub .500 record since 1987.

January 17, 2003, River native Frank Brown, a Grand Ole Opry member nicknamed Hylo because of his vocal range, died at 80.  River is located in Johnson County.

January 17, 2005, Kentucky honored the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.  Police jailed King 30 times, including once in 1956 when they arrested, fingerprinted, and booked him for driving 30 mph in a 25 mph zone.  During one of his stints behind bars, he penned his now famous 1963 Letter From a Birmingham Jail.

January 17, 2010, Zenyatta became the 2010 Horse of the Year (HOY) as well as the Champion Older Female at the 40th annual Eclipse Awards in Miami Beach, Florida.  She was only the 5th female HOY, the others being Rachel Alexandra in 2009, Azeri in 2002, Lady’s Secret in 1986, and All Along in 1983.

January 17, 2011, Kentucky honored the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.  In 1974, Dr. King’s mother also died from a gunshot while playing the organ at church.

January 17, 2014, President B. Obama finally addressed his mass surveillance campaign, revealed by Eric Snowden months earlier.  The president ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to study possible reforms of the program.  He then defended the surveillance and assured Americans they are “not abusing (their) authorities to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails.”  He then prosecuted Eric to the fullest extent of the law. 

January 17, 2015, the Eclipse Awards named California Chrome 2014 HOY as well as the Champion 3-Year-Old Male.  American Pharoah won the Two-Year-Old Male division.  Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida hosted the 44th ceremony.

January 15, 2017, a Keeneland graduate exacta won Santa Anita’s GII $200,000 La Canada Stakes for four-year-old fillies.

January 17, 2020, citing the increased costs of housing the state’s growing prison population and the deterioration of existing correctional facilities, Governor A. Beshear touted the idea of buying Kentucky’s two private prisons while stating private prisons were “immoral.”

January 17, 2021, Michael Beckley from Louisville spent his 1st full day in the Grayson County Detention Center in Leitchfield.  The F.B.I. arrested him with disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and unlawful entry of a restricted building.  Michael participated in the January 6 Capitol riots.

January 17, 2022, Kentucky celebrated Martin Luther King Jr Day.  He would have been 93 in 2022 if a gunman had not killed him at age 39 in 1968 while helping sanitation workers strike for better pay and working conditions in Memphis.

January 17, 2023, the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame named the 2023 inductees:

Marsha Norman:  A Louisville native, Norman is a playwright, screenwriter and novelist, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and numerous Tony Awards.
Suzan-Lori Parks: A Fort Knox native is a playwright, musician, novelist, essayist and performer, who is the 1st Black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama (2002).
Richard Taylor:  A sixth-generation Kentuckian who lives near Frankfort, Taylor is the author of 12 books of poetry, two novels and four books of nonfiction.
Madison Julius Cawein (1865-1914): The nationally popular romantic from Louisville around the turn of the 20th century wrote most of his poetry about nature, and the natural beauty of Kentucky.
Blanche Taylor Dickinson (1896-1972):  The Franklin native was a poet, short story writer, journalist, and poet from the 1920s who influenced the Harlem Renaissance.

On January 17, 2023, Chevrolet revealed the Corvette E-Ray.  It only took 70 years for the Corvette to find a little space for an electric motor.  The new E-Ray is the 1st hybrid version of the eighth-generation sports car and the 1st to feature all-wheel drive.  Corvette debuted at GM’s Motorama in New York City in 1953.