NoD: Celebrate Veterans Day by Thanking a Doughboy

Carter County, Ky. Jamestown, Ky.
Doughboy – Grayson, Ky. Doughboy – Jamestown, Ky.

I’m sure that around the country, hospitals will see an uptick in deliveries and scheduled caesareans. And many couples will share their nuptials on this memorable date: 11-11-11. Grooms won’t have to worry about forgetting that anniversary!

Rowan County, Ky.
Morehead, Ky.

But November 11 also has a symbolic meaning in our country and around the globe for on “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” in the year 1918, hostilities with Germany ended thus concluding “The Great War” (n/k/a World War I). In America, this date was celebrated for years as Armistice Day until after the conclusion of another great war – World War II – that the date became known simply as Veteran’s Day. In other countries, November 11 is referred to as Remembrance Day.

I am particularly fond of the original term Armistice Day because of its historic context. The young Americans in the early part of the twentieth century crossed the ocean to fight the Germans in an era when crossing the ocean wasn’t something you did for reasons other than immigration. Earlier this year, Frank Buckles of Missouri passed away – he was the last of the American doughboys from World War I.

Pikeville, Ky.
Pikeville, Ky.

Statues of  World War I doughboys stand in memorium around America in front of courthouses, in cemeteries and in town squares. In fact, the doughboy statue is the most reproduced life-size statue in America with 140 known copies. First designed and sculpted by E.M. Viquesney in 1920, “The Spirit of the American Doughboy” went through a few design changes over the years. Though most don’t realize it, Viquesney’s doughboy is likely the most witnessed sculpture in the United States other than the Statue of Liberty herself.

In Kentucky, eight Viquesney statues are known to exist in the following towns: Grayson, Harlan, Jamestown, Liberty, Monticello, Morehead, Pikeville and Winchester. The first of these to be installed was the Monticello doughboy in January 1923; the last was in Jamestown 75 years ago today on Armistice Day, 1936.

Whatever its name, it is a day to thank the men and women in uniform who have served our country. And though many people only recognize today as being a day when schools, banks and government offices are closed, it is because our soldiers fought that we can enjoy our freedoms today.

Source: Viquesney Database

No Destination: Diamonds!

One diamond was found in Kentucky (Russell County; though some poor quality diamonds were later discovered in the 1960s in Elliott County); it is thought to have been brought here during one of the glacial periods. The 0.776 carat diamond was purchased from the discoverer for $20 by a Louisville jeweler and the gem now is on display at the Smithsonian.

The events of the discovery were described in The American Journal of Science (vol. 28, no. 223-228 dated 1889):

To be sure, it is an interesting antecdote in Kentucky’s history. And, as my wife would say, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”

No Destination: Evangelist Dewey Cooper

If you have spent any time driving on Kentucky’s back roads, you have most likely seen a sign erected by Evangelist Dewey Cooper.

The signs are all the same: “Warning: Jesus Is Coming, Are You Ready?” and “Be Prepared: Jesus is Coming” they read with their red, white and blue colors.

According to a 2007 article, Cooper began erecting these signs throughout Kentucky in 1997. Although my first introduction to a Dewey Cooper sign was in Garrard County (US 27, just south of the Kentucky River), I couldn’t resist photographing this Russell County sign.

The community has its own religious/patriotic name: Freedom, Kentucky. It is the junction of US-127 and KY-55. According to the article, this is one of 31 of these signs erected by Cooper.

Dewey Cooper is an evangelist to 40 churches in the West Union United Baptist Association. The United Baptists have a long history in the United States and are the forerunners to today’s better-known Southern Baptists. Interestingly, it was originally those of faith – and particularly the United Baptists – who encouraged and promoted a strong separation between church and state.

No Destination: Jamestown

Although Russell Springs is the largest city in Russell County, Jamestown is the county seat. Originally named Jacksonville (after President Andrew Jackson), the area was renamed to honor James Wooldridge who had given the land for the town. The renaming of the community was actually prompted for political reasons; those opposed to Jackson came into power in the area around 1826.

Two Civil War skirmishes occurred near this sleepy community, a community that grew in popularity (particularly in the summer months) after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed Lake Cumberland in 1952. [Simultaneously, the population of Russell County dropped 19.3% between the 1950 and 1960 census.]

Jamestown’s city center is well-designed. A large town square finds the old (1978) courthouse in one corner, which is complemented on its opposite corner by the new judicial center (under construction). The other two corners have a number of businesses, including cafes, antique stores and other small-town essentials. The northwest corner is pictured above. In the center of the square is a large American flag under which a Doughboy stands as a memorial to the soldiers who served our nation. All of which begs the question: How many Doughboys stand on the “lawns” of Kentucky courthouses? (Casey and Carter Counties, among others, come to mind…)

No Destination: Russell Springs

This community – Russell County’s largest – was known as Big Boiling Springs when it was founded, though the local post office (est. 1855) postmarked letters as being from Kimble, Ky. It was not until 1901 that the town was named Russell Springs.

I drove through quickly; the only site I was able to see was a historic marker in a small park – Chalybeate Springs:

A health resort long known as Big Boiling Springs, operated before 1850 by family of Sam Patterson, among the earliest settlers. Log cabins (12) called Long Row were built for guests who came here for amusement, pleasure, and the medicinal iron and sulphur water. In 1898, large hotel built which burned in 1942. The spring has been capped for use as a well. [Marker 1233]

Unfamiliar with the term ‘Chalybeate’ I inquired further. The term simply refers to mineral spring waters with heavy iron deposits. Derived from the latin word for steel, “chalybs,” the most famous chalybeate spring is Turnbridge Wells in Kent, England. Lord Dudley North discovered Turnbridge in 1606 and later wrote: “These waters youth in age renew //Strength to the weak and sickly add //Give the pale cheek a rosy hue //And cheerful spirits to the sad.” [cite].