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Kentucky Trivia ● Kentucky Tweets

In April 1750, Dr. Thomas Walker named the 687.9 miles long Cumberland River.  He possibly named it in honor of William Augustus (1721-65), the Duke of Cumberland, the 3rd and youngest son of George II of Great Britain.  The Cumberland is the only river in Kentucky that runs south and then changes course to run north.  The river begins in Harlan County, flows through Nashville, and empties into the Ohio River in Smithland, Livingston County.

April 1776, Native Americans attacked the village of Leestown, killing Willis Lee and wounding Cryus McCracken.  Survivors abandoned the community and fled to Fort Harrod.

April 17, 1779, Col. Robert Patterson and 25 men, who left Fort Harrodsburg two days earlier, started to erect the 1st block house in Lexington.  A fence surrounded the structure located on a spring that emptied into a stream nearby.  They built the garrison in the shape of a parallelogram to defend against Native Americans near the corner of what is now Main and Mill Streets in Lexington.  Locals formally established the town in the same year.  The Squire’s Sketches of Lexington by J. Winston Coleman, Jr.; pg: 16

April 17, 1852, Mason County native Roy Bean, The Law West of the Pecos, escaped from a California jail after one of his admirers slipped him knives hidden in tamales.  Bean used them to dig through the cell wall and escaped.  He received jail time for participating in a duel on horseback.

April 17, 1861, Kentucky Senator John J. Crittenden declared that Kentucky’s proper role was that of a mediator.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Shake Rag native Ernest Reuben Crowdus, aka Ernest Hogan, born in 1865.  He adopted the stage name of Ernest Hogan and referred to himself as The Unbleached American.  Many regarded him as the “Father of Ragtime,” a new genre of music, from which many other types of music developed.  Shake Rag is in Bowling Green.

April 17, 1877, Thomas S. Page passed over.  Kentucky’s 1st state accountant also has the distinction of being Kentucky’s 1st elected executive officer tried for corruption.  During his terms of 1851-59, he embezzled $88,927 by directing local officials to deposit their revenue collections with him rather than with the state treasurer as required by law.  The New York City native lived in destitute in Frankfort after his 1867 trial.

April 17, 1889, Lexington native Ollie Beard made his MLB debut for the Cincinnati Red Stockings at age 26.

April 17, 1893, Lexington native Carter Henry Harrison Sr. became Chicago’s 33rd mayor.  Six months and 11 days later, an assassin would kill him.  The Kentucky Blueblood also served as the windy city’s 29th mayor.

April 17, 1904, Constable William Shelton, Clinton County Constable’s Office, accidentally died from a gunshot from his own gun when he got in a fight with three drunkards in the streets of Watauga.

April 17, 1931, Special Deputy Sheriff Jessie J. Pace, Harlan County Sheriff’s Office, died from a gunshot as he and a group of 12 other deputies served warrants at the Black Mountain Coal Company; the scene of a strike for two months.

April 17, 1935, the Keeneland Association filed articles of incorporation.  Members elected Hal Price Headley as president.  Other officers included Jack Young, 1st Vice President; A.B. Gay, 2nd Vice President; Brownell Combs, Secretary; and W.H. Courtney, Treasurer.  Headley served till 1951.

April 17, 1936, Night Policeman Beverly Clark Hollifield, Prestonsburg Police Department, died of injuries he received when a vehicle struck him after placing a drunk driver in the back of his cruiser.

April 17, 1937, opening day of Keeneland’s 1st Spring Meet of 11 days.  Four stakes races ran; the Ben Ali, Blue Grass, Lafayette, and Phoenix.

April 17, 1949, Chief Ambrose Metcalfe, Harlan County Police Department, died from a gunshot as he and his wife got out of their automobile in front of the Shields Cafe.

April 17, 1953, Army PFC Harold F. Patterson from Henderson died in the Korean War.

On April 17, 1963, the NFL suspended Paul Hornung for one year for gambling.  The Packers would miss him.  Hornung claimed he made bets with friends for $100 or $200; Rozelle believed he bet as much as $500 on NFL games from 1959-61.  Hornung was contrite after learning of the suspension.  “I made a terrible mistake,” he says.  “I am truly sorry.”

April 17, 1967, Army PFC William A. Dishman from Jefferson County died in the Vietnam War.

April 17, 1971, Army CPL Michael E. Ball from Newport died in the Vietnam War.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Kentucky bred Ruffian, born in 1972 on Claiborne Farm.

April 17, 1976, Deputy Sheriff Wilson McLain, Harlan County Sheriff’s Office, died while off duty, with his handgun, in an unprovoked attack, when a man walked up behind him, took his gun out of its holster, and shot him five times.  The suspect died days later following a vehicle pursuit and shootout.

April 17, 1980, Florence native Jerry Dietrick landed in Munich’s Riem Airport after setting three world records for flights over the Atlantic in planes that weighed between 3,450 lbs. and 6,414 lbs.  1: Speed record for the fastest solo flight between NY and Munich. 2: Fastest time between Cincinnati and London. 3:  Fastest time between Cincinnati and Munich.

April 17, 1990, a sometimes violent 16-month strike at Cook Family Foods in Grayson ended.  The company welcomed back the 350 employees, except for the violent strikers. 

April 17, 1999, the Cleveland Browns chose UK quarterback Tim Couch, 1st pick overall.  News outlets reported a seven-year deal worth $48 million and a $12.25 million signing bonus.

April 17, 2001, the National Register of Historic Places accepted the Newport Southbank Bridge – popularly known as The Purple People Bridge.  The bridge had already closed permanently to automobiles.

April 17, 2002, Lexington native Austin Kearns made his MLB debut with the Cincinnati Reds at age 21.

April 17, 2004, Army 1LT Robert L. Henderson II, 33, of Alvaton, died in Iraq fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Alvaton is in Warren County.

April 17, 2010, Pikeville native Jonny Venters, 25, made his MLB debut with the Atlanta Braves.

April 17, 2010, Justin Collins caught a state record Silver Redhorse weighing 5 lbs. 6 ozs., in the Rockcastle River in Laurel County. 

April 17, 2016, Keeneland’s GIII $150,000 Beaumont Stakes for three-year-old fillies consisted of five Keeneland graduates going about seven furlongs.

April 17, 2015, police arrested a 17-year-old, 18-year-old, and a 20-year-old for murdering UK student and Kernel photographer Jonathan Krueger just five days after his 22nd birthday while walking home on East Maxwell Street.  Seven years later, the three received a collective 98 years in prison for the robbery gone wrong.

April 17, 2018, Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt resigned after a four-hour, closed-door meeting by the state board of education, whose members were all appointed by Governor M. Bevin.  The board wanted and elected an advocate for charter schools, Wayne Lewis.  Lewis resigned on December 12, 2019.

April 17, 2020, protestors circled the Kentucky Capitol in cars, urging the governor to lift an order that closed all “non-life sustaining business” and any gatherings of ten or more people.  Meanwhile, Walmart employees tested positive in Knott County while the corporate business boomed.  Texas decided to reopen in May, making them one of the 1st states to loosen restrictions.

Sunday, April 17, 2022, Christians, Jews, and Muslims celebrated an unusually holy week, as major holidays for the three religions fell on the same weekend, an intersection that only occurs every 30 years or so.  Easter Sunday and “Passover” Saturday coincided with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, based on an uncorrected lunar calendar.