TODAY IN KENTUCKY HISTORY

Kentucky Trivia ● Kentucky Tweets

April 16, 1779, the party from Harrodsburg arrived on the Middle Fork of the Elkhorn Creek after dark
Lexington, 1779 Pioneer Kentucky As Described by Early Settlers by Bettye Lee Martin

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Isaac Murphy, born Isaac Burns in 1861.  His birthplace is unknown.  Some biographies say Pleasant Green or Pleasant Green Hill Farm, and place the location near Winchester, Lexington, or Frankfort.  He was born to free black parents and rose to be the highest-paid jockey of his era, winning three Kentucky Derbies.  Murphy was the first American jockey elected to Racing’s Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York and only one of two black jockeys (Willie Simms is the other) to have received this honor.

Kentucky Trivia:  13 of the 15 riders in the first Kentucky Derby were African-Americans.  Black jockeys won 15 of the first 28, with Isaac Murphy taking three.  The winning trainers in two of the first three Derbies were former slaves – Ansel Williamson (Aristides, 1875) and Ed Brown (Baden-Baden, 1877).

April 16, 1880, the 2nd “organized” football game in Kentucky occurred between Transylvania University and Centre College in a Danville cow pasture.  Transy won 5 ½ to zero.  Transy hosted a week earlier in a Lexington cow pasture.

April 16, 1894, Lucy Hawkins Tate died, the wife of James “Honest Dick” Tate.  Soon after she petitioned Governor John Young Brown to pardon her husband, she fell ill with tuberculosis and died before the governor could reply.

Kentucky Trivia:  Tate’s daughter Edmonia, petitioned the court to have her father declared legally dead.  After all, he paid for life insurance.  Awarded approximately $12,000 ($370,000 in 2022 dollars) from various insurance companies, Edmonia promptly divorced her husband and traveled first class around the country.

On April 16, 1910, Falmouth native Frank Browning, 27, made his MLB debut with the Detroit Tigers.

April 16, 1924, Mount Sherman native Hi Bell, 26, made his MLB debut with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Mount Sherman is in LaRue County.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Paducah native Julian Morton Carroll, born in 1931.  The 54th governor was vehemently against third parties in Kentucky.

April 16, 1933, Deputy Sheriff Isaac Pennington, Harlan County Sheriff’s Office, died by gunfire at the Black Mountain Coal Company’s camp in Kenvir, by a subject who was seeking revenge against him for a previous arrest.  The man had recently been released from the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, after serving a two years sentence on a liquor law violation.  

April 16, 1945, Glasgow native CPL Richard Earl Bush placed himself on a thrown enemy grenade, absorbing the force of the explosion and saving the lives of his fellow Marines and corpsmen.  For his actions, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

April 16, 1946, UK’s head football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, pictured with his first UK staff in the spring of 1946.

April 16, 1951, Army PFC, Jonas B. Webb from Henderson died in the Korean War.

April 16, 1953, Army PVT Elbert R. Lunce from Perry County died in the Korean War.

April 16, 1955, Racing Hall of Famer Steve Brooks becomes the first jockey to win five Keeneland races on a single card.  He scores five wins, including four in a row, from eight mounts.

On April 16, 1960, over 200 baseball buffs turned out two hours early at the Fairgrounds Stadium for the Colonel’s season opener, but the 4,298 attendance was disappointing.

April 16, 1967, Army SP4 Benjamin L. Barrick from Shelbyville died in the Vietnam War.

April 16, 1968, Army SSG Billy Joe Cole from Guthrie in Todd County, Marine Corps PFC Larry G. Moore from Owensboro, and Maine Corps LCPL Joe R. Melczek from Insko in Morgan County, all died in the Vietnam War.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Lexington native Joseph “Joe” Arvin, born in 1971.  Joe authored the cookbook Madlove Cooking and has appeared on numerous cooking shows, including Cutthroat Kitchen and The Taste and Big Brother 14.  He is also the creator of FoodTruckers TV.

April 16, 1972, Army PFC Charles D. Landis from Ashland and Air Force MAJ Alan P. Mateja from Louisville, both died in the Vietnam War.

April 16, 1978, at Fenway Park, Fort Knox native Len Barker (then with the Texas Rangers) threw a pitch that sailed upward onto the screen above and behind the backstop.  Partly due to this, he didn’t make the majors for good until 1979.  He did however throw a perfect game in 1981.

April 16, 1982, Deputy Sheriff Randall Cook, Knott County Sheriff’s Office, died when his vehicle collided with another at an intersection near Hindman.

April 16, 1986, Leslie Combs, II announced Spendthrift Farm, Inc. would it would sell more than half of its real estate and all of its broodmares.  They sold 1,200 acres leaving the farm with 800.  Three lawsuits against the farm drove the restructure.

April 16, 1993, 9:25 p.m., the largest fireworks show in the world began.  Thunder Over Louisville shot 15,000 explosives from six barges in the Ohio River.  The show included 550 miles of wiring, 112 search lights, and a 425,000-watt sound system.  

April 16, 1998, Investigator Brandon Heath Thacker, Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, died by gunfire as he was driving to an undercover assignment with three other agents on the Western Kentucky Parkway near Eddyville.

April 16, 2003, Police Officer Eddie Mundo, Jr., LaGrange Police Department, died when his patrol car was struck head-on by a vehicle he was searching for.

April 16, 2006, Army SGT Clinton W. Cubert, 38, of Lawrenceburg, died in the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center of injuries sustained in 2005 fighting in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

April 16, 2011, Thunder Over Louisville took place, showcasing the largest annual fireworks display in North America.  The event began in 1989 with daytime fireworks, and in 1990 it became a night show.  An average of 625,000 people has attended each year since 1997, with 2007 attracting the largest crowd of 850,000.

April 16, 2016, Oaklawn Park’s GI $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby is a Keeneland graduate exacta.  Nine out of the 12 entries were Keeneland graduates.

April 16, 2019, Attorney General A. Beshear demanded the Labor Cabinet rescind its subpoenas for teachers’ name who called in sick to protest in Frankfort.  Beshear claimed the Bevin Administration’s bullying reached a new level when they wanted to fine them $1,000.   

April 16, 2020, Kentucky confirmed 159 new coronavirus cases and seven new related deaths.  The totals for this date were 2,429 and 129.  The governor announced the opening of more drive-thru testing sites for Kentuckians who felt sick.  Kentucky television newscasters broadcasted the local news from their homes.  Governor A. Beshear began talks about opening the local economy back up.

April 16, 2020, President Trump unveils a set of guidelines called “gating criteria” for opening up America giving liberty to state governors to choose whether they want lift restrictions statewide or on a county-by-county basis.  An additional 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment over the previous week, bringing the total number to 22 million Americans filing since Trump declared a state of emergency four weeks ago.  This job loss is comparable to Great Depression statistics.

April 16, 2021, Kentucky had 436,445 positive coronavirus cases and 6,317 related deaths.  “There are more than half a million Moderna and Phifzer vaccines available in Kentucky right now, and it takes a few minutes to find yours,” the governor said in a written statement.  Kentucky parents had to decide whether or not to hold their child back a year due to the closed schools, isolation, and covid-19 restrictions.