TODAY IN KENTUCKY HISTORY

Kentucky Trivia ● Kentucky Tweets

May 15, 1790, Masterson’s Station hosted the first Methodist Conference west of the Allegheny Mountains.   The conference took place where the federal prison is now in Lexington and lasted three days.   Historians erected a granite marker where the plain two-story log cabin stood.
The Squire’ Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg: 21

May 15, 1792, Kentucky electors, from different parts of the state, selected Isaac Shelby to be the 1st governor.  On June 4, he took the oath of office.
Governors of Kentucky 1792 – 1942 by G. Glen Clift

May 15, 1841, Cassius Clay dueled Robert Wickliff on Locust Grove Farm in Jefferson County.  They chose pistols at thirty feet, and fired two rounds, but no one received injuries.  Wickliffe made derogatory remarks about Mrs. Clay during a public speech.  Both parties ate and drank after the duel.

May 15, 1853, Flemingsburg native Willis Arnold Gorman became the 2nd Territorial governor of Minnesota.

May 15, 1861, Fleming County native Alvin Saunders became the 10th governor of Nebraska Territory.

Monday, May 15, 1876, Vagrant won the 2nd Kentucky Derby in 2:38 4/5 over a fast track and earned $2,950.  The 11 horse field of 11 went in good order for the 1 ½ mile race.  Owner William Backhouse Astor Jr., trainer James Williams, and jockey Robert Swim completed the winning connections.

May 15, 1876, a Lexington fire destroyed 17 buildings downtown including the Phoenix Hotel.  The hotel had a full capacity from people attending the popular Kentucky Association Track.
Madam Belle by Maryjean Wall; pg: 37

May 15, 1884, ten prominent citizens formed The Filson Club of Louisville to conserve Kentucky’s past.

Tuesday, May 15, 1894, Chant won the 20th Kentucky Derby going a mile and half in 2:41.  There is a dispute on the winning margin, five through ten, but regardless it was a Derby record.  Winning jockey Frank Goodale, passed away a few days later when his mount stumbled and rolled on top of him.  Owners H. Eugene Leigh & Robert L. Rose and trainer H. Eugene Leigh completed the winning connections that earned $4,020.

On May 15, 1900, the U.S. Navy commissioned the BB-6 USS Kentucky.  They described her as the most powerful battleship when launched.  From bow to stern, Kentucky could fire a thirteen-inch gun simultaneously.  No European power came close.  Her first active service lasted from 1900-04, sailing between the U.S. and the Far East via the Suez Canal.

May 15, 1926, Bubbling Over won the 52nd Kentucky Derby in 2:03 4/5 over a fast track.  Some called the winner the second Man o’ War.  However, he bowed a tendon in the race and retired with a 10-for-13 record.  He went on to a successful stallion career, including siring Edward Bradley’s 1932 Derby winner Burgoo King.  The winning trainer, Herbert J. Thompson, won his second of four Derbies.  Idle Hour Stock Farm Stable and jockey Albert Johnson round out the winning connections, to earned $50,075.

May 15, 1932, Deputy Constable James S. “Sol” Saylor, Harlan County Constable’s Office, died from a gunshot while attempting to arrest a man in the Wallins Creek community.

May 15, 1935, “The United States Narcotic Farm,” sitting on 1,000 acres, opened in Lexington.  The farm’s population comprised of volunteer patients and inmates subject to the nation’s first attempts at treating addiction as a disease rather than a moral failing.  They were among the first to use methadone during that process.  Another critical step was vocational training; all patients were required to learn a trade, ideally preparing them to enter the workforce upon release.

Kentucky Trivia:  For 40 years the Lexington institution hosted famous jazz musicians, drug-abusing MDs, street hustlers, and drugstore cowboys, the new American junkie.  The institution recruited hundreds of prisoners to volunteer as human guinea pigs for groundbreaking drug experiments and rewarded them with bonus doses of heroin for their efforts.

On May 15, 1954, African Americans Andrew and Charlotte Wade moved to Rone Court, a racially segregated neighborhood in Louisville.  The move occurred two days before the Supreme Court condemned school segregation.  Neighbors burned a cross and shot out windows, and the Wades endured harassment until June 27, when the house was dynamited.

May 15, 1966, Air Force CMSGT William L. Madison from Lexington died in the Vietnam War.

May 15, 1970, Marine Corps LCPL Douglas Carroll from Anneta in Grayson County died in the Vietnam War.

May 15, 1971, Kathleen Mulligan, the first woman to sit as a judge in Kentucky died.  She was also the first woman vice president of the Kentucky Bar Association.

On May 15, 1971, two U.S. Congressmen, one from Kentucky and one from Utah, held a free throw contest at the half-time of the Kentucky Colonels and Utah Stars ABA game in Freedom Hall.  The Colonels made an exciting comeback to tie the series 3-3 in the finals of the ABA Championship.  

May 15, 1971, watch the 96th running of the Preakness Stakes and Canonero II go for the second leg.

May 15, 1975, Marine Corps PFC Gary L. Hall from Covington died in the Vietnam War.

May 15, 1975, the U.S. National Register of Historic Places added the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge.  Connecting Cincinnati and Covington, the first pedestrians crossed on December 1, 1866.

May 15, 1979, Deputy Sheriff Earl Smith, Pike County Sheriff’s Office, died while attempting to serve a warrant.  The suspect shot him six times; he pled not guilty by reason of insanity and was acquitted.

May 15, 1980, watch the controversial 105th Preakness Stakes where Jacinto Vasquez riding Genuine Risk claimed a foul claim against Angel Cordero Jr. on Codex for forcing the filly extremely wide in the stretch and shaking his whip in her face.  Cordero later received threats against his life and threats to burn his house.  Stewards disallowed the foul.

May 15, 1981, Ft. Knox native Len Barker, as a member of the Cleveland Indians, pitched the tenth official perfect game in baseball history.

May 15, 2001, fire severely damaged the University of Kentucky’s oldest building, the Administration Building.

May 15, 2003, Louisville native Todd Wellemeyer made his MLB debut with the Chicago Cubs.

May 15, 2004, watch the 129th Preakness Stakes.

On May 15, 2020, two prisoners in their 60s died at the Federal Medical Center, bringing the Fayette County total to 12.  The governor announced 380 Kentuckians were hospitalized, 218 in intensive care; however, various tourism-related activities would re-open on June 1, including State Parks and their lodges.

May 15, 2021, Hawesville native Navy Fireman Martin Young, who died on the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor, was laid to rest in Lewisport after his DNA identified him in 2015.