Who’s Always Wanted to go to Lincoln’s Boyhood Home?

A little off the interstate west of Louisville lies the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s birthplace is in Kentucky, but his family relocated to southern Indiana in 1816. At the time, young Abe was about 8 years old.

My own eight year old was asleep when we arrived in the parking lot outside the visitor center. The older two lil’ Kaintuckeeans were disappointed they’d have to endure one of their dad’s historic jaunts, but were willing to placate me in order to make a bathroom pit stop. When he awoke, however, the li’lest Kaintuckeean exclaimed how he’d “always wanted” to come to the Lincoln Boyhood Home. No doubt my grin stretched from ear to ear.

Reading up on history. Author’s collection.

So the answer to who’s always wanted to go to Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home is: this guy.

As he read the plaque, he also learned that Honest Abe was his own age when his family relocated to this locale. In addition to the visitor’s center, there is a recreated farm homestead, the archaeological site of the original Lincoln homestead, and the cemetery where Nancy Hanks (the President’s mother) is buried.

I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come.

A. Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln remained here for some fourteen years learning many of life’s lessons which he carried with him first to Illinois and then to our nation’s capitol.

Historic site of the Boyhood Home. Author’s collection.

Restore the Historic Markers

Previous Historic Marker at Hopemont in Lexington, Kentucky. WUKY.

In a column for the Jessamine Journal in 2015, I wrote about how historic markers shared Kentucky’s history. That 2015 column convoluted the Historic Markers Society and the current historic markers program in Kentucky when, in reality, the former evolved into the latter. A shortcut was made for the sake of brevity.

But the full history is being properly told this week at a legislative committee (Interim Joint Committee Tourism, Small Business, and Information Technology) which is hearing testimony on the need to restore and rehabilitate historic markers which have gone missing or are in need of repair.

In 1935, some businessmen from central Kentucky discussed an effort of “marketing the bluegrass” by “starting a movement” to promote historic places around the Bluegrass. this Historic Markers Society wanted to install 100 historic markers, though it fell short by delivering only 21. Ultimately, the historic markers program fell until state control and the effort was made to utilize these roadside markers to share Kentucky’s history statewide.

Unveiling by Foster & Brenda Pettit of the new Historic Marker #3 (#2365) at Hopemont in 2012. Author.

Many of the original 21 markers are in desperate need of repair, though some have already been repaired. Through that process, a more complete history can also be told (modern technique allows more text and context. To illustrate, compare the two photographs above of the marker outside Hopemont in Lexington; work to restore and update this marker was paid for by a non-profit organization.

Since 1935, joint federal and state efforts have sought to “preserve for public use historic sites, buildings and objects of national significance.” In 1966, the National Preservation Act strengthened this mission. The sites identified through the historic marker program truly tell Kentucky’s story through over 2,400 unique markers. You can explore them by clicking here. And you can support their repair and upkeep by encouraging your legislators to take up the cause of a line-item in the state budget for the preservation of these markers.

The hearing of the Interim Joint Committee will meet on Tuesday, July 27, at 1pm. Testifying will be Scott Alvey (Executive Director Kentucky Historical Society), Kurt Krouse (Chair, St. Paul Parish Historical Preservation Ministry), and Foster Ockerman Jr., JD (President and Chief Historian Lexington History Museum). Although the legislature is only hearing testimony at this time, it is our fervent hope that funding will be found so that Kentucky’s rich history can continue to be told through these historic markers.

Breaking the Bronze Ceiling

Only 7% of the 5,193 monuments in the United States presently recognize women. A movement in Lexington, Kentucky is underway to build a monument here recognizing the contributions of women.

During Lexington’s Fourth of July celebration this year, I was impressed by the “Breaking the Bronze Ceiling” group promoting more statues honoring the accomplishments of women. News of the removal from the courthouse lawn the two monuments honoring two Confederate men drew much attention and focus behind the meaning of monuments as well as their context.

Those same considerations help to remind us of the great disparity by gender in monuments which honor our historic leaders. According to breakingthebronzeceiling.org, only 7% of the 5,193 monuments in the United States presently recognize women.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Lexington, Kentucky

Breaking the Bronze Ceiling in Lexington, Kentucky. Author’s collection.

News has broken that a location has been selected for Lexington’s sculpture which will honor women who are as-of-yet-to-be-determined.

A Monument for Suffrage in Nashville, Tennessee

Suffrage Monument in Nashville, Tennessee. Author’s Collection.

The monument in Nashville recognizes five important women who sought suffrage both in Tennessee as well as nationally. Anne Dallas Dudley of Nashville “was known for her persuasive eloquence.” Carrie Chapman Catt of New York “came to Tennessee to direct the pro-suffrage forces.” Sue Shelton White of Jackson was among “Tennessee’s most effective suffragists.” Abby Crawford Milton of Chattanooga led the movement for women’s rights in eastern Tennessee and was the first president of the Tennessee League of Women Voters. Finally, Nashville’s J. Frankie Pierce sought equal suffrage an d is also recognized for organizing “protests against the lack of restroom facilities for blacks in downtown Nashville.”

Nashville’s monument also has significant signage about the 19th Amendment and also identifies other “Tennessee Trailblazers.”

Suggestions for Recognition in Lexington

So who might appear on Lexington’s monument once it is constructed? There are many fine candidates to be recognized for their groundbreaking contributions. Laura Clay who was profiled in Lost Lexington certainly tops my list: a leading suffragist, her name was the first nominated at a major political party convention for President of the United States. Madeline McDowell Breckinridge strongly supported the 19th Amendment’s ratification and once told the Kentucky governor that “Kentucky women are not idiots—even though they are closely related to Kentucky men.” Dr. Mary Britton was the first female granted a license to practice medicine in Kentucky. Georgia Davis Powers was the first woman elected to the Kentucky State Senate and Martha Layne Collins was Kentucky’s first female governor. There are several contenders for the monument and there are more to be learned about at breakingthebronzeceiling.org!

Goodbye to the Cranes of CentrePointe

The front page of today’s Herald-Leader proclaimed that the last crane which stood for years. The cranes (you’ll recall, there were once two massive cranes) were installed in December 2014.

The news made me recall an old post I wrote with a bit of Centrepointe poetry. Of course, the name Centrepointe gave way to City Center. But the Centrepointe will remain in my memory and in the pages of Lost Lexington.

My haiku poem was written in early 2015 as we continued to await whatever would be constructed over what had once been a historic block of commercial buildings before becoming CentrePasture and then CentrePit (the nicknames, no doubt, contributed – along with a corporate partnership agreement – to the renaming of the project to City Center).

High o’er our city

Tow’ring cranes idle they stand

What will happen here?

Well, now we know. Just look downtown and see.

Killing Kaintuckeean

An unchecked email has resulted in the Kaintuckeean domain and brand to go by the wayside. It’s a brand that I’ve been cultivating since 2009 when I took my first drive into the country to get away from today’s reality and escape into Kentucky’s history.

The old domain, kaintuckeean.com, was not timely renewed. As a result, it was purchased by HugeDomains.com. They have offered to sell is to me for the low price of $3,895. I declined.

I immediately considered scrapping my decade long project, but knew this was not a good course of action. My first book, Lost Lexington, has been successful. And I’m excited to announce that in January, the History Press will be releasing my second book: The Murder of Geneva Hardman and Lexington’s Mob Riot of 1920. (And standby … there’s another project in the works.) So giving up now doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I couldn’t give up. Like Keen’s Tavern following its devastating fire in 1820, I will rebuild the site “like a Phoenix from its ashes.” Upon the suggestion of a friend and fellow blogger, I have kept the Kaintuckeean name and updated the domain to www.TheKaintuckeean.com. For those of you who have heard me speak, you’ll recall that I was born at the hospital of THE Ohio State University. Well, now my blog is THE Kaintuckeean.

Lincoln Statue is On the Move

Back in 2011, a couple of Mr. Social Security Eric C. Conn’s statues were profiled on this site. Turns out, Conn was a con. As a result, the statues are being sold.
The most notable is the statue of the 16th President: it’s the world’s second largest seated Lincoln statue. In 2011, I wrote

Installed on November 4, 2010 (the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s election), the 19 foot tall statue weighs over a ton. It was constructed in Thailand after being commissioned by Conn in October 2009. This “Lincoln Memorial” was paid for entirely by Mr. Conn through what must be an enormous marketing budget.

Well, according to the Herald-Leader it turns out that the feds have sold Mr. Conn’s assets, including the Lincoln statue. As a result, the statue of Lincoln will be leaving its perch in the Stanville parking lot on U.S. 23.
And the good news is that President Lincoln’s likeness won’t be going far. It’s being donated to the Middle Creek National Battlefield just a little ways down the highway.
Middle Creek was the site of a Civil War battle in January 1862. During the conflict, Union troops were led by Col. James A. Garfield. Garfield, who later became our twentieth President, was promoted to brigadier general as a result of the victory at Middle Fork.
(I won’t be able to make it down that way to watch, but I hope someone records them moving and relocating the statue.)

Tales from the Kentucky Room Podcast

Peter Brackney sat down with Mariam Addarrat, a librarian with the Lexington Public Library, to discuss Lost Lexington. Later this summer, the library is hosting four Lost Lexington talks: June 3, 6pm (Central Branch); June 23, 2pm (Beaumont Branch); July 1, 6pm (Tates Creek Branch); and July 23, 6pm (Northside Branch). More on the event via the Facebook event.
Peter and Mariam discussed a few chapters from Lost Lexington as well as some of the landmarks which have been lost since the book was released in November 2014.
If you haven’t listened to Tales from the Kentucky Room before, it’s a great podcast and you should definitely subscribe!

Peter Brackney and Mariam Addarrat after recording an episode of the
Tales from the Kentucky Room podcast

The Feminine County and General Pulaski’s Gender

Counties and localities have historically been named after men. This is not a surprising fact for a society where women were traditionally unable to serve in military or government. After all, these place names were almost uniformly created several decades before women could even vote.
As a result of this implicit gender bias, Jessamine County has long been thought to be the only Kentucky county with a feminine name. Although this represents a small percentage of Kentucky’s 120 counties, we can be grateful to at least be on the list. According to Wikipedia, the number of counties in the United States with feminine names are woefully low.
New research, however, indicates that another Kentucky county may be named after a woman, or perhaps an intersex, individual.
   Pulaski County is named after Casimir Pulaski, an 18th century Polish-American general who aided  colonial forces during the Revolutionary War. Revered as the “Father of the American Calvary,” Pulaski is often depicted on horseback.
When arriving in the United States, Pulaski threw his allegiance to the young country and wrote General George Washington: “I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it.”
Modern science, funded by the Smithsonian Institute, has revealed new information about Casimir Pulaski using xis* skeletal remains. Pulaski died during the siege of Savannah in 1779; xe was only 34. Pulaski’s bones were stored under a monument in that city.
Through DNA testing, it has been determined that General Pulaski was born with XX chromosomes (typically, female) and was thus female. It is likely that the infant’s external sex organs, however, appeared (in some ways) in the male form. As a result of the baby’s apparent anatomy, Casimir’s parents raised xim male which gave Casimir the opportunity to serve in the military and to save General Washington’s life at the Battle of Brandywine.
But despite xis gender identity, Casimir was not, in fact, male. Xe was either female (chromosomal-based) or intersex (both sexes). Without diaries, we cannot understand what Casimir thought of xis sexuality or his gender identity. But no doubt, the lens through which we view the legacy of General Casimir Pulaski will forever be changed through this scientific discovery. Neither Pulaski’s gender identity nor his sexuality (of which we know nothing) have any impact whatsoever on his contributions to American history. And perhaps that is the point.
This summer is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City which is seen as a seminal moment in the fight for LGBT rights in this country. In Kentucky, the Kentucky Heritage Council has been working to recognize significant LGBT sites in the Commonwealth. Given the modern science, Pulaski should be so recognized. Xis contributions, as a transgender/intersex individual, to our society were significant. Given that approximately 1.7% of children are born with intersex traits (approximately the same likelihood as one having red hair), it is a demographic which should not be ignored.
Kentucky already celebrates General Pulaski every year.  KRS 2.140 provides that October 11 of each year (the anniversary of Pulaski’s death) is a state holiday in Kentucky which should be marked “with appropriate ceremonies” in “schools, churches, or other suitable places.” Perhaps, in light of the Smithsonian’s latest research, this holiday will garner more attention in 2019 and beyond?

“Casimir Pulaski may have been woman or intersex, study says. BBC News. Available at bbc.com, last accessed April 16, 2019.
Mervosh, Sarah. “Casimir Pulaski, Polish Hero of the Revolutionary War, Was Most Likely Intersex, Researchers Say. New York Times. Available at nytimes.com; last accessed April 16, 2019. 
Viloria, Hida. “An Intersex Revolutionary May Have Saved General Washington’s Life.” Out Magazine. Available at out.com; last accessed April 16, 2019.
*Nota bene. In referring to General Pulaski, the author of this post has carefully avoided using either the masculine or the feminine pronoun instead utilizing “xe” which has become a standard gender-neutral third-person singular subject pronoun. 

A Museum at the Stockyards

On October 3, 1889, the Lexington Leader reported that the “Bluegrass Stock Yards buildings, the property of Carrithers & Beard, were leveled to the ground by fire Wednesday afternoon. The buildings occupied an area of about two acres. This is the second time the stock yards have been burned out. The buildings were unusually full of provender, a large quantity of it having recently been hauled.”

It would by no means be the last stock yard fire in Lexington, Kentucky. The most recent fire (in January 2016) destroyed seven acres of stockyard infrastructure sending thick, black clouds of smoke skyward in a plume that could be seen from neighboring counties. Emerging from this destruction is a new stockyards, though the location has left the urban center of Lexington and found a new home along the interstate near the Kentucky Horse Park.

In September 2018, the new stock yards opened in an impressive 232,000 square foot facility that boasts a regional marketplace. With a friend, I visited there a few months ago for the first time to have lunch at Hayden’s Stockyard Eatery. On the way out, I discovered another treat: The Blue Grass Stockyards Museum.

According to its website, the museum “is home to pictures, artifacts and information about central Kentucky’s storied past and influence on the region, country and the world. Stop by the museum to reflect on the past and dream about the future of production agriculture’s vital role in the Bluegrass state.”

If you haven’t previously checked this museum (or the stockyards, or Hayden’s) out, take the opportunity to do so!