TODAY IN KENTUCKY HISTORY

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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, Barlow’s most widely used invention was the orrery, or model of the solar system.  Remarkably accurate, it showed the location of the planets on any given day of the nineteenth 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; it is believed, however, that distilling operations began a short time after the grist mill became operational in 1805.  Today it is known as Maker’s Mark.

August 5, 1807, Joel Elkins shot John Amis dead as he testified from the witness chair, during the first day of the Cattle War trial at the Clay County courthouse.  The Cattle War began in 1806 between residents of the South, Middle, and North Forks of the Kentucky River.  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.

August 5, 1861, the Unionist won another decisive political battle in the state elections.
The Civil War in Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison

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 USS Metacomet to pull the sailors from an intense fire.  For this action, Noble received the Medal of Honor.

August 5, 1867, Kentucky’s gubernatorial election took place between 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 first 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.  Wendell was the first living writer to be ushered into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.  His influential writing is grounded in the notion that one’s work should be rooted in and responsive to one’s place.

Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup. Wendell Berry

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.  James was also the chief prohibition inspector for Kentucky in 1920.  He rests in Barbourville.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Louisville native Larry Elmore, born in 1948.  Larry is a fantasy artist with a resume that includes; Dungeons & Dragons, Dragonlance, and his own comic strip series SnarfQuest.

Election Day, August 5, 1950, only 23,822 registered Louisville voters, 14%, cast a ballot in the primary, the lightest turnout in decades.

August 5, 1965, an unknown assailant killed Louisville native and civil rights icon Alberta Odell Jones.  As one of the 1st African-American women to pass the Kentucky bar, she became the 1st woman appointed city attorney in Jefferson County.

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 hold four American titles in one year when he was named the 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 of 1:321⁄5 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 ozs.  Phil caught the sunfish in a strip mine lake in Hopkins County.

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, was decertified and dead.  It was the first huge offensive in a war that corporate America has been waging 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 show their preferences at the 115th Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, in Graves County.  Lt. Governor Paul Patton took advantage of Louie B. Nunn’s split from Larry Forgy.

August 5, 2005, Sergeant First 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 next election and showed up to let everyone know.

August 5, 2017, while no third party spoke at Fancy Farm, and the two party system continued to deteriorate into authoritarianism, especially on a federal level, a Kentucky bred won the Whitney Stakes at the Spa.

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.  It weighed 67 pounds 1.8 ounces when measured at the U.S. Post Office in Hawesville in 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 seem to plateau.  Officials reported one death of a 71-year-old woman for a 752 total.  However, Lexington reported the 2nd largest one-day total since the pandemic started.

August 5, 2021, Governor A. Beshear announced 11 Kentucky health care systems took the following pledge during the Delta variant spread: “The health care facilities below are 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.”