Did you know:
Home Sweet Home
As the Ice Age ended about 12,000 years
ago, Paleoindians, the ancestors of modern Indians began to settle in the land
known now as Kentucky. They hunted mastadon, bison and deer, the bones of
which have been found at Big Bone lick as well as other salt licks.
The last Virginia governor to serve
over the land that would become Kentucky was Henry Lee. Also known as
Light Horse Harry, one of George Washington's most trusted officers during the
Revolution, He was the father of Robert E. Lee.
In Vino Veritas
The first vineyard west of the
Alleghenies was established by John Frances DeFoure in Jessamine County in 1796.
DeFoure was a native of Vevay, Switzerland. The venture was not profitable
enough here. He later settled in Indiana in a town now called Vevay,
Switzerland County, Indiana where his grapes grew much better.
Dr. Thomas Hunt Morgan, a Lexingtonian,
received the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work in genetics in 1933. The
headline in the Lexington paper simply read, "Nephew of John Hunt Morgan wins
Off to the Races
One of Kentucky's most famous
thoroughbreds, Man O' War, never ran a race in the state.
Third Time's a Charm
Preston H. Leslie served as governor
three different times. Upon the resignation of Gov. Stevenson, Leslie was
sworn into the office. In 1871, he was duly elected. In 1886,
President Grover Cleveland appointed Leslie as Governor of the Territory of
Montana. He is the only governor from Kentucky to have served in that
capacity in two states.
The First President From Kentucky
Abraham Lincoln was not the first
person from Kentucky to serve as President of the United States. That
honor goes to David Rice Atchison, president pro tempore of the US Senate.
At midnight on March 3, 1849, James K. Polk left the office as Zachary Taylor
(then a resident of Louisville) had won the election for President. However,
since the 4th of March was on a Sunday, Taylor preferred not to take office
until Monday, the 5th. Thus, Atchison, being the president of the Senate,
was President for one day.
Remember the Raison
Over half of the casualties in the War
of 1812 were Kentuckians.
What's That Smell?
In the movie, Harper Valley PTA,
a secretary had an unfortunate mishap involving a load of horse manure.
That manure was courtesy of Kentucky thoroughbred, Seattle Slew.
The Sky Is Falling
Middlesboro, in Bell Co., is the only
city in the US that is built inside of a meteor crater.
Charles Morehead II, a resident of
Fauquier Co., Virginia was an ancestor of three Kentucky governors - James
Morehead, Charles S. Morehead and Simon Bolivar Buckner.
A Minor Squabble
A duel between two friends, John Thomas
Gray, Jr., and Capt. Henry Clay Pope on June 14, 1849 was the inspiration for
the provision to the state constitution that elected and appointed officials
must swear to have never fought in a duel. The governor still has to swear
to this today.
Amen, Pass the Corn Meal
Kentucky's first grist mill was built
in 1783 on Elkhorn Creek in Fayette County by Rev. Lewis Craig. As the
church had not yet been constructed, Rev. Craig's congregation used the mill for
Speaking of Corn and Craigs
Bourbon Whiskey takes its name from
Bourbon County. Elijah Craig made the first batch in 1789. Elijah was also
Custer's First Stand?
From 1871 to 1873, George Armstrong
Custer was stationed in Hardin County in order to suppress the Ku Klux Klan and
Water, Water Everywhere
Kentucky's first public waterworks was
established in Frankfort. An original, cedar log pipe from the system is
on display in the Frankfort City Museum on Ann St.
D.W. Griffith, maker of the famous
"Birth of a Nation", was born and raised in Lagrange, Oldham County. He is
often credited with being the "father of Hollywood".
Man, That's a Lot of Glass
The Cathedral Basilica of the
Assumption in Covington has 82 stained-glass windows including the world's
largest hand-blown one. The window measures 24 feet wide by 67 feet high and
depicts the Council of Ephesus with 134 life-sized figures.
Does This Make Me Look Fat?
The swimsuit Mark Spitz wore in the
1972 Olympic games was manufactured in Paris, Kentucky.
Both Abraham Lincoln, President of the
Union, and Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy were born in Kentucky.
They were born less than one hundred miles and one year apart.
Long and Deep
Mammoth Cave is the world's longest
cave system. It was first promoted in 1816, making it the second oldest
tourist attraction in the United States. Niagara Falls was first. Who was
the first to say, "Gee, there's a big dark hole in the ground. Let's go
Two doctors have
served as governor in Kentucky: Luke Blackburn (1879-1883) and Ernie Fletcher
Ye Olde Watering Hole
Near Midway, in
Woodford County, stands the Offutt-Cole Tavern, one of the oldest structures in
Kentucky. It was here that Zerelda James, mother of the outlaws Frank and
Jesse, was born.
How's the View Up There?
The world's tallest
married couple was Martin Van Buren Bates and his wife Anna Swan Bates.
Martin, from Whitesburg, was 7' 2.5" and Anna was 7' 5.5". They met while
traveling with Barnum's Circus and later settled in Ohio. Martin had
served in the 7th Kentucky Cavalry, Confederate, during the Civil War and was so
large, that his feet nearly touched the ground while riding his horse.
First Europeans to KY
Robert La Salle was
the first Frenchman to enter Kentucky in 1679 while on
an exploration trip from Canada. The first Englishman to come to Kentucky
was Gabriel Arthur, while a prisoner of the Shawnee in 1674. He later
escaped and made his way back to Virginia.
Load Sixteen Tons....
In Middlesboro there
stands the Coal House, made from 40 tons of coal. Built in 1926, it serves
as the Chamber of Commerce and tourist information center.
The first enameled
bathtub was made in Louisville in 1856.
Long Before They Thought We Were
The first American
performance of a Beethoven symphony was in Lexington in 1817. Take that, fancy
New York columnist.
A Land of Irony
Christian County is
wet (allowing liquor sales) while Bourbon County is dry. Barren County has the
most fertile land. And Big Bone Lick ain't what it sounds like.
McDonald's Owes Us...
The world's first
cheeseburger was served at Kaolin's restaurant in Louisville in 1934.
...So Does Texas
The first commercial
oil well was established on the Cumberland River in McCreary County. It
started in 1819.
Another Dubious Distinction
The first American
casualty of WWI was Kentuckian Cpl. James Bethel Gresham of McLean County.
John Bibb, a
resident of Frankfort, developed Bibb lettuce in his garden. Sandwiches
and salads haven't been the same since.
Kentucky's Oldest Court Houses
Built in 1816, the
oldest courthouse in use is the Washington County Courthouse in Springfield.
The oldest courthouse standing in Kentucky is the old Green County Courthouse in
Greensburg. It currently houses the Green County Historical Society museum.
It was erected in the 1790s.
Kentucky Almost Had 121 Counties
In 1904, Beckham
County was formed from Carter, Elliot, and Lewis Counties by an act of the state
legislature. A few months after its creation, the Kentucky Court of Appeals declared
the act to be un-constitutional and Beckham County was dissolved.
Kentucky's Biggest Cash Crop
(not what you are thinking)
Hemp (ok, maybe it
was) was first raised in Kentucky near Danville in 1775. Growing very well
in our climate, hemp became the biggest cash crop grown in the Commonwealth in
the 19th century, the largest yields coming from Jessamine and Fayette Counties.
Its fibers were used in the manufacture of rope for the shipping industry and
burlap bagging for the cotton industry, among others. Due to factors such
as the Civil War, steam engines for ships, and cheap foreign jute, hemp all but
disappeared by the early 1900s. Hemp was grown again during WWII to supply
rope for the war effort.
Our Beloved State Song
Mrs. Grant E. Lilly
sponsored the song "My Old Kentucky Home" to become our state anthem in 1928
when the bill was introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly to make the tune
our official state song.
In the 1830s, school
master Nathan Burrows produced a new variety of mustard. He named the
concoction after his home town. Lexington Mustard was sold throughout the
Our First College
In 1780, under the urging of Col. John
Todd, the Virginia Legislature granted 8,000 acres for the establishment of an
institution of higher learning. After the counties of Jefferson, Lincoln,
and Fayette were formed the same year, another 12,000 was given to the trustees of the
school, not yet having a name or a location. This same year, the
trustees held their first meeting near Danville. In 1784, the first
session of what was called Transylvania Seminary, was held in the home of a
Presbyterian minister named David Rice, near Danville. The first Master of
the school was the Rev. James Mitchell, his salary set at thirty pounds sterling
per year. In 1788, Transylvania moved to Lexington, and in 1793, the
school moved into its first permanent building at its present location near what
is known today as Gratz Park.
This organization was formed to relocate freed slaves to Africa. The
colony thus formed was Liberia. Among its members were Kentuckians Henry Clay (once its president) and Abraham
The Language of the
Finger Rings (from an 1870s Ky newspaper clipping)
the case of a gentleman wishing to marry – literally "in the market" with his
heart – he wears a plain or chased gold
ring upon the first finger of the left (or heart) hand.
When success attends his suit and he is
actually engaged, the ring passes to the second finger.
After marriage, it passes to the third
however, the gentleman desires to tell the fair ones the he not only is not in
market, but he does not design to marry at all, he wears the signet upon his little finger, and all ladies may understand
that he is out of their reach.
With the fair sex, the "laws of the ring"
plain or chased gold ring on the little finger of the right hand implies "not
engaged;" or in plain words, "ready for
proposals, sealed or otherwise."
When engaged, the ring passes to the first
finger of the left hand.
When married, the third finger receives it.
the fair one proposes to defy all siege to her heart, she places the rings on
her first and fourth fingers – one on each,
like two charms to keep away the tempter. It is somewhat singular that the
disposition of rings is rare!
A Scott County Indian School
In 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette, on a visit to Kentucky, was
entertained by about 200 students from Col. Richard Johnson's Choctaw Academy
near Great Crossing
Known the World Over
Perhaps the most recognizable song in the world, "Happy
Birthday to You", was written by sisters Patty and Mildred Hill in Louisville in
James B. McCreary of Madison County was the oldest person to be elected Governor of Kentucky. He was elected in 1875
at the age of 37
and again in 1912 at the age of 74.