TODAY IN KENTUCKY HISTORY

Kentucky Trivia ● Kentucky Tweets

February 20, 1835, Clinton County was created from Wayne County and Cumberland County.  The county was named in honor of NY Governor DeWitt Clinton.  Albany is the county seat.  Other localities include: Aaron, Abstons Corner, Alpha, Browns Crossroads, Bug, Cannons Mill, Cartwright, Cedar Knob, Churntop, Cumberland City, Decide, Dicken, Five Springs, Highway, Hobart, Hogback, Huntersville, Ida, Jones Mill, Lettered Oak, Marlow, Narvel, Nora, Ootens Store, Pikeview, Rolan, Savage, Seventy Six, Shipley, Snow, Sparta, Static, Upchurch, Wago, Watauga, Willis Creek, and Wolf River Dock.  Clinton County was the 85th county created and covers 196 square miles.

1280px Map of Kentucky highlighting Clinton County.svg

On February 20, 1877, workers completed building High Bridge, connecting Jessamine and Mercer Counties over the Kentucky River Palisades.  The Railroad Bridge was the first cantilever bridge in the U.S. and is designated a National Civil Engineering Landmark.  High Bridge is the tallest bridge above a navigable waterway in North America and the tallest railroad bridge in the world until the early 20th century.  President Hayes and Gen. Tecumseh Sherman attended the 1879 dedication.  The current bridge was built around the existing structure in 1911 and expanded to two tracks in 1929.

February 20, 1903, Agriculture and Mechanical College of Kentucky (UK) played their 3rd and final game of their first season, losing to Kentucky University (Transy) 2-42.  A&M hosted in the State College Gymnasium, and both teams had a five-team rooster.  A&M finished the season 1-2.

February 20, 1924, for the first time in Fayette County, farmers who sold their tobacco outside the Bingham Cooperative Marketing law were sent to jail and fined.  Judge Stoll handed down the sentences.

February 20, 1934, 2:05 a.m., Kentucky’s first consignment of airmail left Bowman Field in a plane piloted by Lieut. Warburton.  He flew to Memphis with seven sacks of mail from the Louisville post office.   The flight and similar ones across the country began the Army’s most extensive peacetime job to date.

February 20, 1937, Captain Vernie C. Snellen, Kentucky Highway Patrol, died in an automobile crash on the Dixie Highway when the car’s accelerator got stuck; he was three miles from Georgetown, while returning from working in Covington.

February 20, 1943, Adolph Rupp’s Wildcats lose to Ray Meyer’s DePaul Demons in Chicago Stadium 53-44.  Over 16,000 people saw Kentucky’s first game in the stadium.  By 1968, when they played their last game, the Wildcats would have a 10-6 record in the historic facility.

Feb 20 Chicagostadiumnight150
Chicago Stadium at Night, 1950 Curteich Linen Postcard

February 20, 1950, mobs in Harlan, Bell, and Knox Counties beat and shot at miners leaving work.  Sixteen cars with six men in each attacked workers at the Mary Helen Coal Corporation in Harlan.  Twenty-eight bullets destroyed a vehicle used to transfer miners to mines in Knox.  Dynamite exploded in other mining camps.  The list of terror incidents was many on this day.

February 20, 1960, three of the nation’s busiest airlines ordered a complete shutdown after flight engineers struck, creating the worst tie-up in American aviation history.  Louisville’s Standiford Field canceled Eastern, American, and Trans World flights but kept Delta, Piedmont, and Ozark open.

February 20, 1966, Army PFC Emmitt C. Adams from Isom in Letcher County and Army SP4 Raymond S. Ford from Bardstown in Nelson County died in the Vietnam War.

February 20, 1968, Army 1LT Jeffrey W. Green from Bowling Green in Warren County and Army PFC Donald D. Philbeck from Richmond in Madison County died in the Vietnam War.

February 20, 1969, Army SGT Harold Sullivan from Pineville in Bell County died in the Vietnam War.

February 20, 1970, Army SP4 Charles M. Medley from Springfield in Washington County and Army SSG Leon A. Miller from Louisville died in the Vietnam War.

February 20, 1970, 18-month-old Gregory Popan of Hazard greeted Miss America 1969, Judith Anne Ford, when she got off the plane at Blue Grass Field.  She was in town to be the master of ceremonies for the Miss University of Kentucky pageant.

February 20, 1971, UK Coach Adolph Rupp, who left the hospital to watch his team, was the #1 fan while Coach Joe B. Hall took the reins.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Lexington native Brian Thomas Littrell, born in 1975.  After the Backstreet Boys, he became the father of country singer Baylee Littrell.

February 20, 1976, Muhammad Ali (50-2) fought Jean-Pierre Coopman (24-3) in Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Ali’s best friend, Howard Bingham, said this about Coopman, a Belgian: “By all accounts, he was a very nice man.  He just couldn’t fight.”  At the news conference to announce the fight, Coopman was pleased to meet his hero; he kept trying to kiss him.  “Get this guy away from me,” Ali said.  Coopman’s American manager, George Kanter, who tried to sell the fight, found a voodoo witch doctor he claimed would help Coopman win.  Coopman believed in witches and was happy to be put into a deep hole and have water poured over him.  He drank champagne in his locker room before the fight.  Ali toyed with him until the fifth round and then dropped him.

February 20, 1980, a two and a half month civil suit ended when a jury decided that family members did not prove that “old-style” aluminum wire caused the Beverly Hills fire in Covington, a disappointing verdict for many.

February 20, 1982, Rev. Dale Peterson, Pastor of Paducah’s Broadway Baptist Church, led 500 protestors worried about an off-track betting facility planned for his city.

February 20, 1990, Logan County teen-ager Courtney Wright, 17, who was named Miss National Teen-ager, visited President Bush in the White House.

February 20, 1998, Harvey C. Russell Jr., a retired Pepsico executive who was the first black man to become a vice president at a major American corporation, died in the Bronx.  A Louisville native, his father was a college professor, and his mother taught in a Kentucky high school.

February 20, 2000, the Jefferson Davis Memorial underwent a $3 million renovation in Fairview.

February 20, 2010, reports showed that despite a struggling economy, the nation’s five largest health insurance companies increased their profits by a combined 56% last year to $12.2 billion, even as they lost two million members.

February 20, 2017, a Keeneland graduate superfecta wins Oaklawn Park’s GIII $500,000 Southwest Stakes for three-year-olds.

February 20, 2018, the NCAA vacated Louisville’s entire 2013 tournament run, including its national title, due to multiple recruiting violations.

February 20, 2020, after a decade of failed attempts, the state House finally passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana.  In addition, another bill aimed at cutting the corporate middleman out of Kentucky’s $1.7 billion-a-year Medicaid prescription drug business passed the Kentucky Senate.  Sen. Max Wise (Campbellsville) wanted to end the leeching of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

February 20, 2020, famed one-armed golfer, mentor, and advocate, Don Fightmaster, died at age 87.  He won two international crowns and Time Magazine referred to him as the “Arnold Palmer of the one-armed golf world.”

February 20, 2020, poachers killed two bull elk in the Ball Creek area of Knott County.  The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources offered a $6,000 reward.

February 20, 2021, Fayette County and many other counties across the Commonwealth reported that failing grades tripled for middle and high school students as a consequence of the covid-19 shutdowns and restrictions.