July 20, 1847, Kentuckians who fell at the Battle of Buena Vista were brought to Frankfort to rest in their “eternal camping ground.” They read The Bivouac of the Dead at the unveiling of the monument erected in their honor. Over 20,000 people attended, along with 11 military companies. Major John C. Breckinridge delivered an eloquent funeral oration. The Story of Kentucky by Cherry and Stickles pg: 243.
July 20, 1857, newspapermen George D. Prentice of the Courier and Reuben T. Durrett of the Journal encountered each other on a Louisville street. They fired seven shots and one bystander received wounds. The matter arose from an editorial. Old Kentucky Almanac 1996 No.3 Editor Col. William J.B. Robinson pg: 12
Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Tar Springs native Wiley Blount Rutledge Jr., born in 1894 in Breckinridge County. Wiley was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 8th and last appointment to the Supreme Court. He demonstrated strong liberal credentials throughout his career and consistently upheld individual rights, including the rights to a jury trial, practicing religion freely, being free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and not suffering cruel and unusual punishment. Rutledge sat on the bench from 1943 until he died in 1949.
July 20, 1918, Babe Ruth wrote a thank you letter to Mr. Bradsby, head of the Louisville Base Ball Bat Company. Babe thanked him for the $100 in exchange for his signature. Babe stated that he preferred the company’s 1st model, not the heavy bat that just came out. Workers found the letter by chance in the Louisville Slugger Museum’s basement. At one time the letter had a value of $20,000.
July 20, 1921, police raided a complete moonshining plant with five stills on the 2nd floor of a business in the very heart of downtown Paducah. The operators were not present; however, they posted a note on their door which read, “Out to lunch.” This was one of the the city’s 1st dry raids.
July 20, 1945, six armed convicts overpowered six guards and Warden Tuggle at Frankfort’s State Penitentiary in a futile attempt to escape. The convicts tied up the warden and told him, “We like you, warden, and don’t want to kill you, but we are going to escape.” Reality sunk in, and they gave up soon afterward. Meanwhile, Kentucky received news they would receive 3,100 German prisoners of war to work in factories and farms.
July 20, 1950, seventeen Kentuckians died in the Korean War: Army PFC John B. Campbell from Garrard County, Army PVT Lester R. Garner from Lincoln County, Army CPL Ottis D. Johnson from Russell County, Army PFC George T. Kitchens from Franklin in Simpson County, Army PFC Earl R. Logston from Madison County, Army SFC James L. Matthews Warren County, Army PFC Beuford McComas from Grant County, Army SGT Neil S. Mckenzie from Jefferson County, Army SGT John R. Miller from Jefferson County, Army SGT Charles Napier from Leslie County, Army PFC Charles L Newton from Nelson County, Army PFC Jack C. Samms from Boyd County, Army PFC Logan Sebastian from Breathitt County, Army PVT Cecil E. Smith from Lee County, Army PFC Louis K. Smith from Marion County, Army PFC Irvin J, Thibodeaux from Jefferson County, and Army PFC Robert G. Vanhoose from Boyd County.
July 20, 1962, Muhammad Ali (15-0) fought Alejandro Lavorante (19-3) in the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Lavorante was another Argentine fighter discovered by Jack Dempsey. The handsome Hollywood boxer possessed a great knockout punch; however, Clay knocked him out in the 5th round. In his next fight two months later vs. John Riggins (not the football player), Lavorante was KO’d in the 6th round, fell into a coma and died from his injuries 19 months later at age 27.
July 20, 1973, Denver Earlington Tabor, Conservation Officer for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, drowned while attempting to rescue a boy who had fallen overboard from a boat in the Ohio River near Dam 40.
July 20, 1973, Ashland Oil Inc., and its Chairman, Orin E. Atkins, acknowledged an illegal $100,000 cash contribution to President Nixon’s reelection campaign. A new law that went into effect months earlier stated all campaign contributions had to be made public. Fred M. Vinson, Jr. acted as Ashland’s lawyer.
July 20, 1991, former 1st Husband, Dr. Bill Collins, pleaded not guilty to three federal charges for profiting off his wife’s term. Meanwhile, a few miles west in Louisville, Governor B. Clinton told an audience that he supported tobacco, a waiting period to buy a gun, and would lower healthcare costs in his 1st 100 days in office.
Kentucky Trivia: More than $2.2 billion was wagered on historical horse racing at four Kentucky racetrack facilities in the 2019-’20 fiscal year that ended in June, with gross commissions of $188.9 million. Nearly $15.6 million went into the Thoroughbred Development Fund, $1.8 million for the Standardbred Development Fund, $650,000 for the Equine Industry Program, $320,000 to Equine Drug Research, $320,000 to the Higher Education Fund and $15.2 million to the Kentucky General Fund.
July 20, 2015, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis testified in Federal Court that she prayed and fasted over her decision to refuse a marriage license to same-sex couples and said she believed she upheld her oath to the constitution.
July 20, 2020, declaring Kentucky in the “accelerating stage” of the coronavirus pandemic; Governor A. Beshear limited gatherings to ten people and recommended Kentuckians to quarantine for 14 days after they returned from a trip. The governor reported 258 new positive cases and one death of a 94-year-old lady from Casey County.
July 20, 2021, Kentucky State University (KSU) President M. Christopher Brown II suddenly resigned from his position amid formal inquiries into the university’s finances. This made Brown’s 2nd time resigning as an Historically Black College/University (HBCU) president over finances, as he also once headed Alcorn State University. He supposedly charged $73,000 on a KSU credit card.
July 20, 2022, federal authorities sentenced two men in a large crystal methamphetamine distribution operation in Lexington. One man caught with 50 pounds, ran his dealings from a Lexington office building. The other case involved a California man who flew to Kentucky to retrieve nearly 50 pounds.