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Kentucky Trivia

“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.”  Wendell Berry

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Nicholas County native Thomas Harris Barlow, born in 1789.  Thomas invented a steam-powered mechanism to separate hemp’s fiber from the stalk.  Although it worked well, it was too expensive for general use.  However, the public did use his orrery, or model of the solar system, his best seller.  Remarkably accurate, it showed the location of the planets on any given day in the 19th century.

On August 5, 1805, Charles Burks petitioned the Washington County Court for permission to dam Hardin Creek so that he could build and operate a water grist mill.  They agreed and by the year’s end, both were operational.  Milling has continued ever since, having been interrupted only by prohibition.  There is no definitive evidence of when the Burks family began making whiskey on their Hardin Creek farm, however, distilling operations started a short time after the grist mill began.  Today, their product is known as Maker’s Mark. 

August 5, 1807, Joel Elkins shot John Amis dead, in the Clay County courthouse, as he testified from the witness chair on the 1st day of the Cattle War trial.  The Cattle War began in 1806 between residents of the Kentucky River’s South, Middle, and North Forks.  Clay County came into existence in 1807 to help keep various Clay County factions in check.  The disputes, however, lasted for a century to come.

Kentucky Trivia:  The main stem of the Kentucky River is formed in Eastern Kentucky at Beattyville, in Lee County, by the confluence of the North and South Forks at about 670 feet (200 m) elevation.  The Middle Fork enters the North Fork about five miles above Beattyville. Clay County formed in 1807 and Lee County 1870.

Kentucky River Map

On August 5, 1818, two noted surgeons for Transylvania Medical College met six miles north of Lexington on Georgetown Pike.  One received a severe injury to the groin; the other saved his life.  They settled their differences over an autopsy and became close friends.

August 5, 1861, the Unionists won another decisive political battle in the Kentucky elections.

At the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864, Breathitt County native Daniel Noble rescued survivors of the USS Tecumseh, which a torpedo had sunk.  A few brave men set out on a small boat from the Metacomet to pull the sailors from an intense fire.  For this action, Noble received the Medal of Honor.

August 5, 1867, Kentuckians voted for gubernatorial candidates John L. Helm (Democrat), Sidney Barnes (Radical Union), and William Kinkead (Union Congressional Radical).  Governor Helm won and took the oath of office in his bedroom, too ill to be moved.  Five days later, on September 8, Helm passed away, making John W. Stevenson the 25th governor. 

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Wickland native John Crepps Wickliffe Beckham, born in 1869 in Nelson County, Kentucky’s 35th governor.  He also served as the state’s 1st popularly elected U.S. Senator after the 17th Amendment passed in 1912.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Henry County native Wendell Berry, born in 1934.  The 1st living writer to be ushered into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame bases his life on the notion that one’s work should be rooted in and responsive to one’s place.

August 5, 1938, Kentucky’s 39th governor for five months, James D. Black, died.  He ascended to the office after Governor Augustus O. Stanley took the open U.S. Senate seat.  The chief prohibition inspector for Kentucky in 1920 rests in Barbourville.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Louisville native Larry Elmore, born in 1948.  A fantasy artist, Larry creates illustrations for video games, comics, magazines, and fantasy books.  His resume of drawings includes; Dungeons & Dragons, Dragonlance, and his comic strip series SnarfQuest.

On election Day, August 5, 1950, only 23,822 registered Louisville voters, 14%, cast a ballot in the primary, one of the lightest turnouts in memory.

August 5, 1965, Alberta Odell Jones, the 1st African-American woman to pass the Kentucky bar and the 1st woman appointed city attorney in Jefferson County, died by an unknown assailant in Louisville, possibly due to her passion for civil rights.

August 5, 1966, Columbia native Steve Hamilton pitched a Yankee shutout against the Cleveland Indians.  He gave up five hits, walked one, and struck out three.  He only started three times in the 1966 season.

August 5, 1976, Dr. Fager passed away from colic.  Many consider his four-year-old season one of the greatest single racing seasons by any horse in the history of the sport.  In 1968, at the age of four, he became the only horse to ever to hold four American titles in one year; Horse of the Year, champion handicap horse, champion sprinter, and co-champion grass horse.  In his most famous performance, Dr. Fager set a world record for a mile in the Washington Park Handicap while carrying 134 pounds.

August 5, 1980, Madisonville native Phil Conyers caught a state record Bluegill weighing 4 lbs., 3 oz.  He caught the sunfish in a strip mine lake in Hopkins County.

On August 5, 1981, President R. Reagan fired 11,345 striking air traffic controllers and barred them from ever working again for the federal government.  By October of that year, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), the union that had called the strike, ended.  The government initiated the 1st massive battle in a war that corporate America has fought on this country’s middle class ever since.  Warren Buffett said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”     

Saturday, August 5, 1995, political supporters showed their preferences at the 115th Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, in Graves County.  Lt. Governor P. Patton took advantage of Louie B. Nunn’s split from Larry Forgy.

August 5, 2005, Sergeant 1st Class Robert V. Derenda, 42, of Ledbetter, died in Iraq fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Saturday, August 5, 2006, Governor E. Fletcher stayed far away from the Fancy Farm political speeches due to his ongoing hiring scandals.  However, Trey Grayson wanted his job and showed up to let everyone know.

August 5, 2017, no third party spoke at Fancy Farm, and the two-party system continued to destroy America, especially on a federal level.  Meanwhile, a Kentucky bred won the Spa’s Whitney Stakes.

August 5, 2018, Louisville native Justin Thomas won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by four strokes for his 9th PGA tour victory.

August 5, 2019, William N. McCaslin grew the heaviest cantaloupe melon, 67 lbs and 1.8 oz, when measured at the U.S. Post Office in Hawesville (Hancock County).  The Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) verified the weight of the North Carolina Giant variety.

August 5, 2020, with 546 new cases, the governor said it might be good news as the numbers appeared to plateau.  Officials reported one death of a 71-year-old woman for 752 deaths state-wide.  However, Lexington had the 2nd largest one-day total since the pandemic started.

August 5, 2021, Governor A. Beshear announced 11 Kentucky health care companies took the following pledge: “The health care facilities below were committed to the health and safety of our patients and employees.  In support of this commitment, we will all require our health care workforce to initiate a complete COVID-19 vaccination series no later than Sept. 15, 2021.”

August 5, 2021, Deputy Sheriff Brandon Alexander Shirley, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, died in an ambush while working a secondary employment assignment in Shively.

On August 5, 2021, Alphard S. Owsley, a sailor killed in Pearl Harbor, lay beside his family in Paris.  The 23-year-old Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Kentucky Sailor, passed away on the Battleship USS Oklahoma.  His sister Mary Ida, played a crucial role in identifying him during a DNA test.

On August 5, 2022, a Texas jury awarded $45.2 million to the parents of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.  Alex Jones will have to pay for continuously calling the mass shooting “a hoax.”