Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
A Kentucky Sampler

A Kentucky Sampler: Essays from The Filson Club History Quarterly 1926--1976

Lowell Harrison
Nelson L. Dawson
Copyright Date: 1977
Pages: 452
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A Kentucky Sampler
    Book Description:

    The Filson Club History Quarterly, first published in 1926, has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the nation's finest regional historical journals. Over the years it has published excellent essays on virtually every aspect of Kentucky history. Gathered together here for the first time are twenty-eight selections, chosen from the first fifty years of the journal's publication. These essays span the range of Kentucky history and culture from frontier criminals to best sellers by Kentucky women writers, and from Indian place names to twentieth century bank failures. Included among the essayists are Thomas D. Clark, J. Winston Coleman, Jr., Robert E. McDowell, Lowell Harrison, Hambleton Tapp, Julia Neal, Allan M. Trout, and many other well-known authorities on Kentucky history.

    The editors have arranged these essays into five chronological periods, which include the pioneer era, the antebellum years, the Civil War, the late nineteenth century, and the twentieth century. They have carefully chosen essays that provide a topical diversity within each category. Included in this volume are two brief introductory essays sketching the history of The Filson Club andThe Filson Club History Quarterly.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6308-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
    (pp. 1-4)

    Many people do not consider anything worthy of historic interest until it acquires the patina of age. We are delighted with objects our ancestors lightly discarded, while we casually dispose of materials that will some day be of great interest to our descendants. Although Louisville was founded in 1778, a century passed before a permanent historical society was established.

    In March 1880 Richard H. Collins, son of the Kentucky historian Lewis Collins, wrote Louisville businessman C. P. Moorman pointing out the need for a historical society in Louisville. He suggested that Moorman might be willing to provide a building and...

    (pp. 5-8)

    With the appearance of the October 1976 numberThe Filson Club History Quarterlycompleted its first half-century of publication. To commemorate that milestone, we are reprinting twenty-eight articles that have appeared in the journal since its inception in October 1926. We believe that this representative sampling will indicate why the publication is recognized as one of the best state historical journals in the country.

    Although The Filson Club was organized in Louisville in May 1884, the journal was not established for forty-two years. The club published thirty-six volumes in a well-received series,The Filson Club Publications, but there was a...


    • The Indian Place Names of Kentucky (July 1960)
      (pp. 11-22)
      Thomas P. Field

      Kentucky is constantly yielding clear evidence of long occupation by a succession of Indian cultures. Is it possible that the last Indian occupation and the beginning of white settlement had enough overlap and contact to allow the continuation of some Indian place names into the contemporary world? A casual survey of the state map creates a large measure of pessimism. Only Ohio County and the city of Paducah are evident possibilities. The Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi rivers are of certain Indian origins. Beyond this point the search must become involved with the mass of names of neighborhoods, streams, hills,...

    • Bullitt’s Lick: The Related Saltworks and Settlements (July 1956)
      (pp. 23-53)
      Robert E. McDowell

      There is a region just south of Louisville, roughly the size of a small county, that was probably the most important—the most notorious section in the entire state of Kentucky during pioneer times. Geographically it commences a little north of Fairdale and runs southward along the eastern foot of the Knobs, crossing Salt River and extending on as far south as Bardstown Junction in Bullitt County.

      The heart of this region**was Bullitt’s Lick and it derived its importance from salt.

      Today we take salt more or less for granted. But in early days salt was a very precious,...

    • The Harpes: Two Outlaws of Pioneer Times (July 1927)
      (pp. 54-62)
      Otto A. Rothert

      The story of the Harpes is more than that of mere criminals. They were arch-criminals apparently loving murder for its own sake. Any account of the barbarities they committed in Kentucky and Tennessee would be looked upon as wild fiction if the statements therein were not verified by court records and contemporary newspaper notices, or were they not carefully checked with the sketches of early writers who gathered the facts from men and women who lived at the time the crimes were committed.

      It should be borne in mind that the exploits of outlaws in pioneer times greatly affected settlement...

    • A Roof for Kentucky (April 1955)
      (pp. 63-84)
      Charles G. Talbert

      Colonel George Rogers Clark returned to Kentucky from his Shawnee campaign of 1780 with his desire to capture the British post at Detroit still unrealized. The idea, however, had caught the attention of Virginia’s governor, Thomas Jefferson. The governor realized that such a project would reduce the state’s support of the continental army. He referred the matter to General George Washington. Jefferson believed that the Virginia regulars under Clark’s command, assisted by volunteers or by militiamen from the state’s western counties, would be an adequate force for the purpose. He was confident that Virginia could furnish all necessary supplies with...


    • Asiatic Cholera’s First Visit to Kentucky: A Study in Panic and Fear (July 1974)
      (pp. 87-99)
      Nancy D. Baird

      Few maladies have struck Kentucky in epidemic proportions in recent years, but the state’s first century was plagued with epidemics of smallpox, typhoid, yellow fever, and Asiatic cholera. The most devastating and dramatic, from a medical and historical viewpoint, were the cholera visitations.¹ This “scourge of the nineteenth century” caused the untimely deaths of millions throughout the world, and during its four visits to the United States, thousands of Kentuckians died. Although each visit was severe, cholera’s initial visit to the Commonwealth, during the 1830’s, was the most severe—and the most frightening.

      Originating in India, the scourge passed beyond...

    • The Slavery Background of Foster’s My Old Kentucky Home (January 1936)
      (pp. 100-117)
      Thomas D. Clark

      Perhaps no state in the Union has taken more pride in a song than has Kentucky. As a matter of fact Kentucky can not claim a monopoly on this song for it has long since become the property of music lovers the world over. The long-standing popularity ofMy Old Kentucky Home, Good Nighthas stimulated a vast amount of research in American social life of the middle Nineteenth Century, and likewise more or less bitter controversy.

      In hisStephen Foster, America’s Troubadour, John Tasker Howard¹ has painted a careful and complete picture of Foster’s early background and life. However,...

    • The Code Duello in Antebellum Kentucky (April 1956)
      (pp. 118-134)
      J. Winston Coleman Jr.

      By the turn of the nineteenth century, much of the rawness of the backwoods was passing; men were taking on the more polished ways and manners of the Atlantic seaboard states and duelling became the accepted means for gentlemen of the Bluegrass region to settle their personal disputes. This method of defending one’s honor or avenging a personal affront by the code duello superseded the rough and tumble fights of the pioneer era, when backwoodsmen, drunk or sober, scorned such pompous formalities.

      A gentleman of this period could demand satisfaction from another gentleman for any grievance, either real or imagined,...

    • Cassius Marcellus Clay and the True American (January 1948)
      (pp. 135-155)
      Lowell Harrison

      One of the most determined opponents of Kentucky slavery was Cassius Marcellus Clay, who devoted half a lifetime and sacrificed a career in his struggle to free the state of Negro bondage. Born into a wealthy slaveholding family outside Lexington, young Clay became convinced of the evils of the institution while at Yale, where he was swayed by one of William Lloyd Garrison’s fiery denunciations. After his return home Clay entered into the anti-slavery crusade, but his conversion was far from being complete; for a number of years he wavered near the dividing line, and not until 1843 did he...

    • Milksickness in Kentucky and the Western Country (January 1945)
      (pp. 156-167)
      Philip D. Jordan

      Through Kentucky and the western country an insidious disease, somber as forest shadows, struck at settlers and their cattle during the nineteenth century. Hardy frontiersmen who scoffed at “fever’n ager” shunned milksick communities with determined zeal. They knew what it meant when their milch cows trembled and thrust dry nostrils deep into cool creeks; they realized, too, the impending tragedy when the lassitude, weakness, nausea, and extreme thirst fell upon their families. From the Yadkin and the Chattahoochee, through the counties of Kentucky, to the Ohio and the Wabash, the mysterious sickness annually forced many pioneers to abandon settlements, pack...

    • General James Taylor and the Beginnings of Newport, Kentucky (October 1976)
      (pp. 168-184)
      Robert C. Vitz

      The first hint of the coming winter was in the morning air as the election judges made their way toward the Taylor mansion overlooking the Ohio River. They were paying Newport’s most distinguished resident a singular honor by going to the old general’s bedside to record his vote on that gray November day in 1848, and as the ailing gentleman cast his vote for his cousin, Zachary Taylor, he supposedly said, “I have given the last shot for my country.”¹ Hours later General James Taylor was dead. Although in declining health his last years, James Taylor had led an active...


    • General John Hunt Morgan: The Great Indiana-Ohio Raid (July 1957)
      (pp. 187-211)
      James Bell Benedict Jr.

      The spring of 1863 was marked by a feeling of hope and confidence in the Confederacy. General Lee’s fighting Southerners had recently succeeded in whipping “the finest army on the planet,”¹ under General Hooker, at the battle of Chancellorsville. Richmond was not yet seriously worried over the safety of Vicksburg, and General Bragg, with his command protecting Chattanooga from Rosencrans’ advance, was credited with having a force strong enough to keep the Yankee at bay. Hearing this, Lee decided against re-enforcing Bragg, and led his men northward in search of new successes. The high hopes of the Confederacy rode with...

    • Quantrill’s Missouri Bushwhackers in Kentucky: The End of the Trail (April 1964)
      (pp. 212-220)
      Albert Castel

      On the morning of January 22, 1865, several dozen heavily armed men, attired in Federal uniforms, rode into Hartford, Kentucky. Their leader, a tall, slender man in his late twenties with reddish brown hair and drooping eyelids, identified himself to the commander of the Union detachment stationed in the town as Captain Clarke of the Fourth Missouri Cavalry. He further stated that he was heading for the Ohio River to search for guerrillas, and that he would like to have the services of a guide. Lieutenant Barnett of the Hartford post at once volunteered to act in that capacity, and...

    • Louisville, Kentucky, during the First Year of the Civil War (July 1964)
      (pp. 221-235)
      William G. Eidson

      During the first eight months of 1861 the majority of Kentuckians favored neither secession from the Union nor coercion of the seceded states. It has been claimed that since the state opposed secession it was pro-Union, but such an assertion is true only in a limited sense. Having the same domestic institutions as the cotton states, Kentucky was concerned by the tension-filled course of events. Though the people of Kentucky had no desire to see force used on the southern states, neither did they desire to leave the Union or see it broken.

      Of course, there were some who openly...

    • South Union Shakers during War Years (April 1965)
      (pp. 236-240)
      Julia Neal

      It was August 15, 1861, when General Bedford Forrest, with a company of eighty-six cavalry, rode into the South Union Shaker village and pitched camp at the head of the mill pond. This visit and many others were to be set down by Eldress Nancy Elam Moore, a member of the Shaker ministry, who got a “feeling to record … the destruction, distress, and desolation … of the unnatural war.” Her two-volume diary, which began with Forrest’s arrival, ended on September 4, 1864. It was Nancy’s journal that would be sent later to the head ministry in New Lebanon, New...

    • Incidents in the Life of Frank Wolford, Colonel of the First Kentucky Union Cavalry (April 1936)
      (pp. 241-259)
      Hambleton Tapp

      Colonel Frank Wolford fought to save the Union and after the Civil War he worked to save the South. He was a lion in battle and a giant in debate.

      Few things pleased Colonel Wolford as much as speaking in public. In fact, so inordinate was his pleasure in forensics that he often spoke for three and four hours. Equally fond was he of praying in public, to which laudable function was transferred his penchant for lengthiness. One hot Sunday morning in July at the Baptist Church in Liberty, Kentucky, he had been called upon to pray and was getting...

    • The Delicate Track: The L & N’s Role in the Civil War (April 1962)
      (pp. 260-272)
      John E. Tilford Jr.

      When Federal Troops marched into Atlanta on September 2, 1864, the Confederacy had been mortally wounded. It was only a matter of time until the death rattle. About the expedition leading to Atlanta’s capture, the world’s outstanding authority on the subject had this to say:

      The Atlanta campaign would simply have been impossible without the use of the railroad from Louisville to Nashville — one hundred and eighty-five miles — from Nashville to Chattanooga — one hundred and fifty-one miles — and from Chattanooga to Atlanta — one hundred and thirty-seven miles. Every mile of this “single track” was so...


    • William Goebel and the Campaign for Railroad Regulation in Kentucky, 1888–1900 (January 1974)
      (pp. 275-292)
      Nicholas C. Burckel

      William Goebel has been an enigma to historians since his assassination in 1900. Detractors have painted him as the unscrupulous politician whose overweening ambition drove him to sponsor undemocratic and partisan legislation that paved the way for his illegal ascension to the governorship after his defeat at the polls. Goebel’s admirers, on the other hand, have seen him as the youthful David pitted against the corporate Goliath who sought to exploit the people. Such rhetorical polarity does little to set the record straight and the fact that none of Goebel’s manuscripts have survived makes the job of evaluating the man...

    • John M. Harlan in Kentucky, 1855–1877: The Story of His Pre-Court Political Career (January 1940)
      (pp. 293-316)
      Louis Hartz

      Overshadowed by his long and significant service on the United States Supreme Court (1877–1911), the Kentucky career of John Marshall Harlan remains virtually unexplored. Yet few bore a more consistently significant role in the swift-moving drama of deepening crisis and Civil War and Reconstruction in the border state.

      The early years of that drama reveal the Whig party in Kentucky set adrift by the death of Henry Clay and the impatient challenges of the slavery question, never again to reconquer the unity and strength it possessed under the leadership of the Great Commoner from Ashland. Indeed it was a...

    • Bases for Conflicts in the Kentucky Constitutional Convention, 1890–91 (January 1972)
      (pp. 317-329)
      Rhea A. Taylor

      After four years of civil war, in which Kentucky suffered as a border state, her people passed through a short period of optimism, followed by one of confusion and disorder. These divergent periods were caused by the war and complicated by the unfriendly attitude of the Federal Government. These experiences produced bitter factional feelings. New industrial, commercial, and agricultural developments contributed greatly to the rehabilitation of the state, but they added conflicts to the partisan political outlook. Changed social practices, which lowered moral principles, created problems of great magnitude. Educational concepts suffered under the weight of state-wide handicaps which remained...

    • Henry Watterson and the “Ten Thousand Kentuckians” (October 1950)
      (pp. 330-340)
      Joseph F. Wall

      Henry Watterson, who for fifty years was editor of the LouisvilleCourier-Journal, has won for himself a lasting place in American journalism’s Hall of Fame. His adroit phrases such as “the Boy Orator of the Platte” to describe Bryan, and “the long grey wolves of the Senate” to describe certain predatory members of the United States Senate are still remembered and quoted a quarter of a century after his death. His place in American politics, however, during those same eventful five decades has been curiously slighted or misinterpreted by recent historians and largely forgotten by the American people. Although Henry...

    • Louisville’s Labor Disturbance, July 1877 (April 1974)
      (pp. 341-350)
      Bill L. Weaver

      The year 1877 proved to be a turbulent one both for American labor and for the nation’s railroads. Strikes occurred on railroad lines across the nation, and in many locations violence caused the loss of lives and massive destruction of property. Unlike many cities hit by the strikes, Louisville escaped without deaths and with a minimum of property destruction. The disturbance at Louisville differed also in that few, if any, railroad employees participated in the disruptive events.

      For many workers, as for Samuel Gompers, who later founded the American Federation of Labor, the year 1877 “dawned on a world of...


    • Stoney Point, 1866–1969 (October 1976)
      (pp. 353-368)
      J. W. Cooke

      Stoney Point¹ is a rural, black community a few miles northeast of Smiths Grove in Warren County, Kentucky. It has been in existence for about 112 years, although blacks, both bond and free, farmed some of the Stoney Point lands before the Civil War. The boundaries of Stoney Point, which are not fixed but change as the amount of roughly contiguous land owned by blacks changes, have shrunk in the twentieth century. This is also true of the membership of the Stoney Point Baptist Church (founded in 1866). In 1880, for instance, the membership of the church was 255 (91...

    • The BancoKentucky Story (January 1976)
      (pp. 369-387)
      Robert T. Fugate Jr.

      On the evening of November 16, 1930, an official of the National Bank of Kentucky posted a notice on the bank’s door. The message solemnly proclaimed that the bank had been closed by an order of its board of directors. Simultaneously the Louisville Trust Company and the Security Bank, two smaller institutions controlled by the BancoKentucky Company, were closed by their respective directors. The shock wave spread across the city and out into the state. The affairs of the BancoKentucky Company were of vital importance to numerous communities all over Kentucky and the Ohio Valley region. The chain reaction from...

    • The Night Riders’ Raid on Hopkinsville (October 1950)
      (pp. 388-400)
      William Wallace Henderson

      “A Hot Time in the Old Town.” Since the song containing these words became popular during the Spanish American War, many, in a convivial spirit and otherwise, have threatened to create just such a state of thermal intensity. But it remained for a band of from two hundred to two hundred fifty farmers to do just that in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, during the early hours of Saturday morning, December 7, 1907.

      The period preceding and following this eventful date, known as the Night Rider Days, encompasses perhaps the darkest hours experienced throughout the confines of the dark tobacco belt, the Civil...

    • Amazing Best Sellers by Kentucky Women Writers (October 1967)
      (pp. 401-405)
      Mariam S. Houchens

      Some of Kentucky’s most popular women writers have made their mark not by writing novels, but by portraying the wholesome, quaint, human appeal of people and places in short stories, essays, diaries or letters.

      Eliza Calvert Hall back at the end of the last century was told by eight New York publishers that herAunt Jane of Kentuckycould not be accepted because “short stories in dialect would never sell.” Little, Brown and Company of Boston finally took a chance, and in 1910, “Aunt Jane” had sold 80,000 copies.

      Mrs. Lewis H. Mayne of Bowie, Maryland found a diary of...

    • The Kentucky WPA: Relief and Politics, May–November 1935 (April 1975)
      (pp. 406-422)
      Robert J. Leupold

      Prior to 1935 it was generally recognized in Kentucky that the Republicans won during years marked by intense factional strife within the Democratic ranks. In the Democratic primary and the gubernatorial election of 1935, the Democrats were divided, partially as a result of interference by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Hoping to make a Democratic defeat reflect dissatisfaction with the national administration and the New Deal, the Republicans publicized the contest as a barometer for the 1936 presidential campaign.

      While Kentucky’s Democrats waged political warfare, Roosevelt launched the largest and most ambitious of the federal relief agencies, the Works Progress Administration...

    • Paul Sawyier, Kentucky Artist: Some Recollections of Him (October 1959)
      (pp. 423-427)
      John Wilson Townsend

      The renaissance regarding the lovely oils, water colours, and other media of Paul Sawyier, which began with his death in 1917, and has continued to grow and broaden throughout Kentucky and other states, is a joy to me, an old friend and always an ardent admirer of his beautiful work. I have even given birth to the idea that I should set down my recollections of him. Perhaps this became apparent to me one snowy night when I read in the Lexington press that November, 1958, was the fiftieth anniversary of the first comprehensive “show” of his work ever held....

    • The Charm of Kentucky Folklore (July 1947)
      (pp. 428-446)
      Allan M. Trout

      To the ballader, folklore means old foot-pattin’ fiddle tunes around which is improvised such doggerel as:

      Somebody stole my old hound dog,

      I wish they’d bring him back;

      He chased big hogs through the fence,

      And little ’uns through the crack.

      To the historian, folklore is the spice that enlivens the dull pudding of heavy events.

      To the artist, it is the weather lines in an old man’s face, or the sunbonnet on a wrinkled old woman’s head.

      To the sociologist, folklore is the cold classification of warm human emotions into Roman headings I to IX inclusive, with alphabetical subheadings...