TODAY IN KENTUCKY HISTORY

Kentucky Trivia ● Kentucky Tweets

On February 13, 1818, Virginian George Rogers Clark passed away in Louisville.  Clark became the highest-ranking American military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War (1775-83).  He served as leader of the militia in Kentucky (then part of Virginia) throughout much of the war.  Because the British ceded the entire Northwest Territory to the U.S. in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Clark became the “Conqueror of the Old Northwest.”

His significant military achievements occurred before his 30th birthday.  Afterward, due to a drinking problem, the military forced him to resign.  Clark left Kentucky to live on the Indiana frontier, evading creditors and living in poverty and obscurity.  After suffering a stroke and the amputation of his right leg, his family cared for him, including his younger brother William, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

February 13, 1865, Mason County native Gabriel Young enlisted in the 5th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery in Ripley, Ohio, a noted Underground Railroad hotbed during the antebellum years.  Gabriel’s son Charles Young, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, was the first black colonel in the U.S. Army.  The Defense Department posthumously promoted Charles to Brigadier General in February 2022.

February 13, 1871, Preston H. Leslie became Kentucky’s 26th governor.  Governor John W. Stevenson resigned his post to accept a seat in the U.S. Senate.  Stevenson had ascended to the governorship on the death of John L. Helm, and had no lieutenant governor.  As president of the Senate, Leslie was the ex-officio lieutenant governor, and next in line to succeed Stevenson.

February 13, 1908, Kentucky State College Cadets (UK) defeated Central University (Centre), 31-20, in State College Gymnasium in Lexington.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Bardstown native Hal Moore, born in 1922.  Hal was decorated Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army.  He fought in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, winning four Bronze Stars, nine Air Medals, the Legion of Merit, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, and the Distinguished Service Cross.

February 13, 1922, The Louisville Courier-Journal printed a letter by Governor E. Morrow publicly inviting David W. Griffith back to his home state to show, for the first time, his new film, Orphans of the Storm.  The producer arrived the following Saturday and stayed at the Seelbach.  He also made time to visit his hometown of La Grange.

February 13, 1925, Auburn native William Floyd Collins, one of Kentucky’s great spelunkers died.

February 13, 1926, Deputy Constable Roby B. Scott, Floyd County Constable’s Office, was killed in Garrett.  A posse later killed the suspect.

On February 13, 1931, Special Deputy Sheriff Rudolph Virchow Phelps, Butler County Sheriff’s Office, was killed in a vehicle crash on Route 71 (modern-day Route 231) south of Morgantown.

Kentucky Trivia:  Henderson native Mary Ann Fisher won a talent contest at Louisville’s Lyric Theatre in 1941, kick-starting her singing career and earning her the title “Songbird of the South.”  Within three months of meeting Ray Charles at a USO club in Fort Knox, she began touring with him as his first female backup singer.  According to Charles’s autobiography, she served as his inspiration for the songs “Mary Ann,” “What Would I Do Without You” and “Leave My Woman Alone.”

February 13, 1951, the following Kentuckians died in the Korean War:
Army SGT Benny C. Atkinson from Rockcastle County
Army SFC Vernon R. Barker from Carter County
Army PFC Jackie A. Campbell from Jefferson County
Army PFC William W. Coffee from Boyd County
Army PVT Jerald W. Henry from Crittenden County
Army CPT Thomas Joyce Jr. from Jefferson County
Army PFC Billy J. Kays from Washington County
Army PFC Robert L. Prather from Jefferson County
Army PFC George L. Sampson from Daviess County
Army CPL Joe R. Scalf from Floyd County
Army PFC Thomas H. Watson from Harlan County
Army CPL Vernon Watson from Morgan County

On February 13, 1952, responding to the shocking scandal that engulfed the UK basketball program in 1951, the General Assembly passed “an act addressing the bribery of participants in professional or amateur games, sports, contests, horse racing, and horse shows.”

February 13, 1967, Army SP4 Carl W. Mueller from Covington died in the Vietnam War.

February 13, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy landed in Lexington to tour Eastern Kentucky for two days. Kennedy wanted to examine the outcomes of the “war on poverty” legislation with the people it most affected and to campaign for President.

February 13, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy visited Hazard as part of his Appalachia tour.  He came one week before he announced his candidacy for President.  Kennedy would hold two field hearings soliciting the views of area residents.  A one-room schoolhouse in Vortex hosted one and the other in a school gymnasium at Fleming-Neon.  In Vortex, Kennedy listened to residents from Wolfe, Breathitt and Madison counties.  Some who spoke noted how hard it was to make ends meet, while others offered suggestions on what the government should be doing.  In the town of Barwick in Breathitt County, Kennedy visited a one-room schoolhouse that was in session.  He spoke with each student individually, asking them what they’d had to eat that day.

Feb 13 Sen RFK walks up Liberty Street Hazard by Paul Gordon
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (center) walks up Liberty Street in Hazard.
Paul Gordon

RFK’s tour of the region was not a unique event: Johnson came in 1964.  In later years, Nixon, Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Jesse Jackson all conducted “poverty tours.”  The locals remember RFK as meaningful, his person the most understanding, and best listener.  The Senator was assassinated some three months after his trip.

February 13, 1970, a wave of influenza spread over the nation and found its way to Kentucky.  The virus, not yet identified, arrived up in multiple counties.  According to one doctor, “hiding out and avoiding people would no protect anyone from the flu germs, there is absolutely nothing you can do but wait for the bug to hit you and then take rest.”

On February 13, 1981, a series of sewer explosions destroyed more than two miles of Louisville streets.  The ignition of hexane vapors discharged from a Ralston-Purina soybean processing plant near UofL caused the explosions.  It is a miracle that there were no fatalities.  Ralston-Purina paid $18 million to the Louisville and more than $8.9 million to 16,000 plaintiffs in a lawsuit.

February 13, 1999, at halftime of the UK vs. SC game, UK retired Bob Burrow’s #50 and Rick Robey’s #53 jerseys.  Tubby’s Cats beat the Gamecocks 74-40.

February 13, 2000, the Kentucky Historical Society’s Valentine History Party in Frankfort was a big hit with the children, who created Valentines’ cards from the 1890s.

February 13, 2009, Congress voted to jolt that nation’s struggling economy with a $787.2 billion stimulus package, under the Obama administration, designed to provide tax relief and save 3.5 million jobs.  Kentucky received $654 million for education, $118 million for flex funds, $421 million for highways, and $1.3 billion for Medicaid.

On February 13, 2016, the GIII $201,800 El Camino Real Derby for three-year-olds ran, for Kentucky Derby points, at Golden Gate Fields.  Not one of the 13 runners made it to the Derby.

On February 13, 2020, gun-safety activists fill the Kentucky Capitol.  Roughly 100 people packed the Rotunda for the rally, organized by the gun-safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action.

February 13, 2020, the U.S. Senate approved legislation to limit the President’s war powers against Iran.  Alabama native Mitch McConnell voted against the measure while Texan native Rand Paul voted in favor.

February 13, 2021, the Senate acquitted former President D. Trump for incitement of insurrection in his 2nd impeachment trial.  He is the only U.S. President and federal official to be impeached and acquitted two times.