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February 16, 1838, the Kentucky General Assembly passed an act to create the state’s 1st system of free public education.  It provided for a state superintendent, a state board of education, and county boards of education.  The county school boards were then to appoint five trustees to run each school district in the county.

February 16, 1860, Kentucky created Boyd County from Carter County, Lawrence County, and Greenup County and named it for Linn Boyd, U.S. Congressman and Lt. Governor.  Catlettsburg is the county seat.  Other localities include Ashland, Cannonsburg, Ironville, Westwood, Burnaugh, Coalton, Durbin, Kavanaugh, Kilgore, Lockwood, Meads, Normal, Princess, Rockdale, Rush, Summit, Unity, and Westwood.  The 107th county created, Boyd County, covers 160 square miles.

By David Benbennick

February 16, 1864, a fire destroyed Kentucky University’s main campus building in Mercer County.  Therefore, John Bowman began searching for another location.  Transylvania in Lexington wanted to merge with another institution, which they did.

February 16, 1865, Theophilus Steel dueled James Blackburn near Moreland’s Tavern in Bourbon County.  Blackburn received a bullet to the thigh on the 1st fire, making a slight wound; the parties shook hands and returned to the city.  Both studied at Transylvania; one law, the other medicine.  Famous Kentucky Duels by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg:  145

February 16, 1879, Owensboro native Albert Smith Marks became the 21st governor of Tennessee.

February 16, 1884, heavy rain and melting snow showers caused the largest recorded flood, at the time, of the Ohio River.  On February 14, the river rose one inch every hour before it crested on February 16.  Because the river rose relatively slowly, property owners had warnings.

February 16, 1884, Louisville native Mary Millicent Miller became the 1st woman in America to acquire a steamboat master’s licenseHarper’s Weekly ran a cartoon entitled, “By All Means Commission the Ladies.”  She captained The Saline.

Political cartoon from Harper’s Weekly promoting issuing women steamboat master licenses
By Charles Green Bush

February 16, 1891, Town Marshal George F. Wells, Junction City Police Department, died while attempting to arrest nine raftsmen who had come into town and caused a disturbance at a local saloon.

February 16, 1910, State University, Lexington (UK) played Tennessee for the 1st time, winning in Buell Armory 26-5.  The high scorer was Lexington native Richard Barbee with nine points.

February 16, 1917, Billy Mabon, Belle Brezing’s confidant, friend, and better half, died, and by November, she had shut down her brothel.  Belle became a shut-in confined to her comfortable home.

1:30 p.m., February 16, 1925, rescuers broke through to a Sand Cave passage.  Floyd Collins was found dead.  Due to the condition of his body, he has been dead for over 24 hours.  Because Floyd’s legs were still trapped, they decided to leave his body in Sand Cave and abandon the rescue shaft as it had slumped at an alarming rate.  They didn’t want to risk any more lives.

February 16, 1929, City Marshal Frank Lacost Abell, Uniontown Police Department, died from a gunshot while attempting to serve a warrant on a subject.

Surprised on February 16, 1931, while operating a moonshine still, hidden in the Kentucky River cliffs, 12 miles from Lexington, two young Fayette County men died from gunshots when they opened fire on Dry Agents.  The gun battle took place at noon and lasted a half minute.  The news reached town three hours later due to the rugged landscape; none of the agents received wounds.

February 16, 1941, UK’s Department of Agriculture urged Kentucky farmers to raise more livestock, beef cattle, sheep, lambs, poultry, and dairy cattle to meet demands brought on by the war and “changing conditions.”

On February 16, 1942, Pike County reopened its largest coal mine after sitting idle for four years.  The Henry Clay mine on Marrowbone Creek employed 1,200 men and produced 40 railroad cars daily.  Officials expected both numbers to increase after the reopening.

February 16, 1948, UK’s Alex Groza, center left, and Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones battled Alabama for a loose ball in Alumni Gymnasium.  UK won the game, 63-33.  This team, coached by Adolph Rupp, finished the season as world champions (in the Olympic Games); NCAA national champions, Southeastern Conference champions and SEC tournament champions.

February 16, 1951, Army CPL Thomas E. Bolling from Floyd County died in the Korean War.

On February 16, 1951, Jenkins native, Darwin K. Kyle, a 2nd Lt. in the Korean War, earned the Congressional Medal of Honor through his courageous leadership.

February 16, 1966, Policeman Arthur G. Dotson, Russellville Police Department, suffered a fatal heart attack while handling a prisoner.

February 16, 1967, Army SP4 George E. Dickerson from Grayson in Carter County, Army SP4 Chester W. Eden from Carter County, Army SP4 Charles R. Lewis from Owensboro in Daviess County died in the Vietnam War.

February 16, 1968, Marine Corps SSGT Jimmy E. Tolliver from Cromona in Letcher County died in the Vietnam War.

February 16, 1969, Army SGT Gerald Q. Hancock from Louisville, Army SGT Edwin H. Hardesty, Jr. from Shelby County, died in the Vietnam War.

On February 16, 1970, Louisville native Jimmy Ellis fought Joe Frazier to unify the World Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden.  The undefeated Frazier, a big favorite, proved to be too powerful.  Ellis got knocked down twice in the 4th round, and Angelo Dundee stopped the fight before the 5th.  It was the 1st knockout loss for Ellis.

February 16, 1971, Army SP4 James M. Simon from Daviess County died in the Vietnam War.

February 16, 1973, the U.S. National Register of Historic Places added Bardstown’s Wickland Mansion to their list.  The Georgian mansion, built ca. 1815 by Charles A. Wickliffe, is known as the home of three governors:  Charles Wickliffe-Kentucky’s 14th, Charles’s son Robert Wickliffe-Louisiana’s 15th governor, and Charles’s grandson J.C.W. Beckham-Kentucky’s 35th governor.

By C. Bedford Crenshaw, Attribution,

February 16, 1976, the Kentucky tree debate began when Frankfort made the coffee tree the state’s 1st official state tree.  An Arbor Day celebration took place on the Capitol’s grounds when Governor Julian Carroll planted one donated by Joe Creason, a columnist for The Louisville Courier-Journal just before his death.

February 16, 1978, actor Leonard Nimoy spoke at Eastern Kentucky University.

February 16, 1986, Chief of Police Robert Taylor Walker, Irvine Police Department, died from a gunshot while responding to a call.  It was later determined that the call had been placed to lure him to the scene with the purpose of ambushing him.  The suspect was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

February 16, 1990, Franklin Circuit Judge William Graham accused State Agriculture Commissioner Ward “Butch” Burnette of “brazen arrogance” and contempt for the people who elected him and then sentenced him to a year in prison and a $1,500 fine.

February 16, 1996, twenty-nine Manitoban Elk received a new home in a 750-acre Nature Preserve in Western Trigg County’s Golden Pond.  The town also headquarters for Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

February 16, 2003, Owensboro native Michael Waltrip won the 45th Daytona 500.

February 16, 2011, Kentucky lawmakers failed to limit the high cost of payday loans when a House Committee killed a bill to cut fees for the short-term loan predators.

February 16, 2015, Lexington received 10.2 inches of snow, their 4th largest one day accumulation.

February 16, 2019, the road to the Derby went through the $400,000 GII Risen Star Stakes at the Fairgrounds.  A Keeneland graduate crossed the finish line 1st in a field of 14.

February 16, 2020, the #18 Women Wildcats’ basketball toppled #6 Mississippi State 73-62, in their 1st win against a top-10 team since 2017.

February 16, 2021, as Kentucky cleaned up after a snow and ice storm, coronavirus continued to decline in deaths and cases.  While Zuckerberg told his 50,000 employees they didn’t need a vaccine to return to work, President Joe Biden extended a federal ban on foreclosures.  The vultures circled, as many people couldn’t or didn’t pay their bills.

By February 16, 2022, inflation made Governor A. Beshear sign an Executive Order to freeze the taxable value of motor vehicles at their 2020 price and refund those who had already paid extra.  Car prices had increased by over 40% within a year.  Beshear also wanted to cut the state sales tax.  The legislators disregarded a campaign finance reform idea to stop out-of-state money.

On February 16, 2023, reproductive rights took the front pages when the Kentucky Supreme Court decided to confirm a lower court ruling on banning abortions.  In the Capitol, lawmakers found money for Louisville’s troubled youth and funded a new state juvenile detention center.  They also created new laws to adapt to our troubled youth’s changing needs.