The First Successful Leg Amputation Surgery. In Kentucky

Throughout the Commonwealth, roadside historic markers dot the landscape in both our cities and rural areas like. On this website, I have often profiled some significant (and not so significant) historic markers. Regardless of their recognition or renown, each represents an interesting piece of the Kentucky story. Each Monday, I will profile a different distort marker in a new series called #MarkerMonday.

“Success Surgery” – Bardstown, Ky.

Near the old courthouse in downtown Bardstown, stands a historic marker of medical significance. Fred was in this community, in 1806, that Dr. Walter Brashear performed the first successful imputation of the leg (hip joint down). Marker #1282 reads:

The first successful amputation of a leg at the hip joint in US. Done here by Dr. Walter Brashear in 1806 without any precedent to guide him. The patient was a seventeen-year-old boy whose leg had been badly mangled. Dr. Brashear was born in 1776, came to Kentucky, 1784, and studied medicine under Dr. Frederick Ridgely of Lexington. He died in 1860.

Ridgely House – Lexington, Ky.

The reference to Dr. Ridgely should not go unnoticed for Lexington history enthusiasts, for his house still stands at 190 Market St. in Gratz Park.

And as for Dr. Brashear, he was married to Margaret Barr of Lexington in 1802. After the succesful surgery, he continued to practice medicine until 1822. Then, he moved his family and slaves to Louisiana where he developed his sugar plantations.

It is peculiar to note that some records identify Dr. Brashear a United States Senator from Louisiana, though official biographies of members of Congress are silent on the matter

To be Saved, Anatok (an African-American and Religious Landmark) Needs Help TODAY

Anatok – Bardstown, Ky.
(Photo: Courier-Journal)

In 1847, Daniel Rudd was born in Nelson County, Kentucky at the home of his mother’s master, Charles Hayden. (Rudd’s father was the property of the Rudd family whose estate was nearby.)  This slave would go on to establish the American Catholic Tribune and found the National Black Catholic Congress.

The Tribune was “the only Catholic Journal owned and published by colored men.” The Congress, established in 1889, continues to this day with a mission of enriching the lives of African American Catholics.

Anatok, the mansion in which Rudd was born, is directly across from the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral. In 1808, the Diocese of Bardstown was established along with the Dioceses of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston (all carved out of the Baltimore Diocese). Later, the Diocese of Bardstown would be relocated to the more populous Louisville – but the importance of Catholicism is key to the history of this Kentucky region.

Daniel Rudd

Rudd’s slave parents were both custodians at the Proto-Cathedral and Catholicism was a key part of Rudd’s daily life – from cradle to grave.

But the mansion, Anatok, in which Rudd was born is facing possible demolition as the neighboring Bethlehem High School seeks to expand. Though preservationists were successful in obtaining a temporary injunction on demolition, the time is running out. Funds must be gathered today for matching funding so that preservationists can partner with the high school to adapt and reuse the mansion as educational space.

As noted in a press release by Preservation Kentucky, “if preserved, this historic site would be the only site directly associated with the rise of Black Catholicism in Bardstown – known as the cradle of Catholicism in the early 19th century on the Western Frontier.”

AFTERNOON UPDATE: Matching funds to a $125,000 grant have been achieved, so the total raised now has eclipsed $250,000. This is only half way to the finish line of $500,000! (Other contributions (in-kind, tax credit) also help toward the goal.)  The good news is that Bethlehem High School has extended the deadline to July 15 (date deconstruction of Anatok will begin) – if sufficient funds can be raised in the next 45 days, Anatok can be saved!

A JULY 8, 2013 UPDATE: Preservation groups have raised over $300,000, but plans appear to be moving forward toward the demolition of Anatok. [WFPL]

A JULY 30, 2013 UPDATE: A judge has reinstated the injunction preventing the demolition of Anatok. Stay tuned for more details!

Please contact Preservation Kentucky at [email protected] if you can help save this important piece of both Kentucky history.

kernel: More Kentucky Sites Make the National Register

Parkview Motel – Bardstown, Ky.
(Photo from NRHP Application)

The day after Thanksgiving, the National Register of Historic Places accepted three Kentucky sites from the thirteen recommended by the Kentucky Heritage Council (eight were accepted the previous week). This round of approvals includes a school in Covington, a historic district in Harrodsburg and another hotel/motel in Bardstown.

KENTON COUNTY (# 11000791)
702 Greenup St., Covington,  
MERCER COUNTY (# 11000795)
E. Lexington & Cane Run Sts., Harrodsburg
NELSON COUNTY (# 11000798)
418 E. Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown

Also, on December 19, the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board will consider eight additional nominations for recommendation to the National Register. More information about these eight sites, which includes Lexington’s Leestown Road VA Hospital, is available on the Kentucky Heritage Council website.

kernel: Eight New Kentucky National Register of Historic Places Sites

Livingston County Courthouse and Clerk’s Office
(Photo: Dr. Dianne O’Bryan, 2010)

In minutes released last week, the National Register of Historic Places has accepted eight Kentucky sites from the thirteen recommended by the Kentucky Heritage Council. Those approved include historic district, rural groceries, and civic buildings. Remarkably, three of the accepted sites were motels in the Bardstown area:

CALLOWAY COUNTY  (#11000792)

704 Vine St., Murray
LAUREL COUNTY (#11000793)
Main St. between W. 6th & W. 5th Sts., London
351 Court St., Smithland
NELSON COUNTY (#11000797)
321 W. Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown
NELSON COUNTY (#11000799)
414 Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown
NELSON COUNTY (#11000800)
530 N. 3rd St., Bardstown
TODD COUNTY (#11000801)
Roughly bounded by Ewing, Park & Cherry Sts., Guthrie
WARREN COUNTY (#11000802)
7286 Cemetery Rd., Bowling Green

No Destination: Federal Hill

Visiting Bardstown for a wedding last summer, I knew one destination that I could not miss. Federal Hill, colloquially known as My Old Kentucky Home. Of course, my arrival there was moments before the state park closed so while I toured the grounds, I did not enter any of the buildings.

As folklore goes, it was on an 1852 visit with his cousins (the Rowans) here that Stephen Collins Foster was inspired to write what later became the state song. There is some debate as to the veracity of this story. Foster could have been inspired on an earlier (and well-documented) 1833 visit to Augusta, Kentucky. The song was adopted as the official state song in 1928; its words were revised in 1986 also by legislative fiat (changing the word from “darkies” to “people” after a performance of the song by a Japanese choir upon the opening of the Toyota Plant in Georgetown. It was said that the lyrics “convey connotations of racial discrimination that are not acceptable.”) Also generally eliminated by the 1986 legislation: verses 2 and 3. Verse 3 is below; you can see why it was removed:

The head must bow and the back will have to bend,
Wherever the darky may go;
A few more days, and the trouble all will end,
In the field where the sugar-canes grow;
A few more days for to tote the weary load,
No matter, ’twill never be light;
A few more days till we totter on the road,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.

John Rowan, a jurist and congressman, began construction of Federal Hill in 1795 but the work was not finished until 1818.  According to The Kentucky Encyclopedia, John Rowan’s granddaughter (Madge Rowan Frost) sold the estate to the Commonwealth in 1921 who has since maintained and operated the site.

No Destination: Yocum Hite House

As I’ve said before, historic Bardstown is great because they have done so much to tell the history of the community and of individuals structures. Nearly every old building has a marker. Which brings me to my favorite: The Yocum Hite House. Its marker reads:

Yocum Hite House. Circa 1792. Early log residence sold for “152 lbs. of merchantable beef cattle” in 1797.

There is something about the bartering of real estate for beef that really made me laugh. The construction of the house was typical of the era, particularly for a “substantial” house such as this. The main portion of the home is a two-story, three-bay, V-notched log building. It utilizes a single, central chimney – a common feature in 18th century Pennsylvania Deutsch homes. It is one of a handful of pre-1800 buildings in Bardstown, the most famous being the old Talbott Tavern.

NoDestination: The Old Talbott Tavern

For over 200 years, the Talbott Tavern has provided accomodation to travelers passing through Bardstown. In the old courthouse square sits the stone building marked by several additions. Bardstown – originally called Salem – was established in 1780, a year after the then-called Hynes Inn opened.

Originally the terminal of a western stage coach line coming east from both Philadelphia and Virginia, the Hynes Inn remains the oldest western stagecoach stop still in operation. Its earlier guests included George Rogers Clark, Daniel Boone and exiled-King Louis-Philippe of France. Later Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison and Abraham Lincoln would visit. Henry Clay, John James Audubon, Stephen Foster and Jesse James also rested at the Talbott Tavern. Romanian Queen Marie lunched here in 1926 and General George Patton also passed through. To say the least, it has a “who’s who” list of patrons!

A fire ravaged much of the structure in the 1990s and “generic” renovations were made. Most unfortunate was the loss of murals painted by the entourage of King Louis-Philippe. It would seem that the paintings could be restored, but that funding has remained unavailable.

Nelson County Courthouse – Bardstown, Ky.

I didn’t know this before, but Bardstown is the second-oldest city in the Commonwealth, having been settled in 1780. As was already mentioned by Peter in a previous post, Nelson County’s Old Courthouse sits in a roundabout at the center of downtown, and the current “justice center” has been built closer to the BG. Currently, the old courthouse functions as the visitors’ center. When I first came into town and was trying to navigate the roundabout, I thought Peter had to have been mistaken about this building being the courthouse, because from almost any angle it looks like a church. But it is in fact the old courthouse.
Bardstown was the first place I’d visited that had a ton of tourists, and they were everywhere. But I guess there’s a lot to see here with the Old Talbott Tavern, a ton of bourbon distilleries, Federal Hill and the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral – at one time the center of the Catholic Church from the Allegheny Mountains to the Mississippi River.

No Destination 8-8-09

It might be a stretch to call this post a “no destination.” I was in Bardstown, Kentucky for a wedding this past Saturday and I had about an hour-and-a-half to kill. I headed into downtown, parked the car and began to explore.

Bardstown is best known as the site of Federal Hill, a/k/a My Old Kentucky Home. Relaxing on the grounds of this property, composer Stephen Foster wrote the words and music of the song that would become Kentucky’s state anthem.

Downtown is marked by a large rotary with the old courthouse in the middle. Bardstown, a ville strongly focused on historical preservation, now uses its old courthouse as a visitors center. (The new courthouse is not downtown; it’s next to the Bluegrass Parkway.)

The focus on historical preservation is everywhere – older homes and business are marked with plaques indicating the history of the structures. All in all, Bardstown is a great little ville. I hope to return to see the proto-cathedral of St. Joseph; apparently Bardstown was an important center of American Catholic life.

Without adieu…the pictures (be sure to read the captions):

Oh, and one more interesting fact. The first successful leg amputation (at the hip joint) was performed on a 17-year-old patient in Bardstown in 1806.