Friends of the Bullitt County History Museum
April 19, 2006 (Volume 2, Number 6)
>>I have changed the text style of this newsletter a bit.
Let me know what you think.
>>Booth season is here again and we hope to be there.
We hope to have a museum informational booth at the Mt. Washington Spring Festival May 12 and 13, and the Ancestral Trails Book Fair in E-Town June 10. We have been invited to have a booth at the Salt River Electric annual meeting June 5. Other opportunities will be coming, but a lot depends on volunteers. If you can help set up, take down, or staff the booth at any of these events, please let me know.
>>Speaking of Volunteers...
I am very sorry to say we have lost some of our most dependable volunteers that staff the museum. Dub & Alice Armstrong had been covering Mondays at the museum, but medical therapy and great grandchildren are calling them away for now. Jim Crepps has faithfully covered Tuesdays or Wednesdays at the museum for some time, but is now struggling with medical issues. All have dedicated hundreds of hours at the museum and will be greatly missed. I hope to see them back again sometime soon.
>>Ken Blair does another field study and makes a discovery.
Ken Blair, our local expert on pioneer-era Iron Furnaces and Salt-Making, went another of his great field studies this week. We have been researching the Shepherdsville city park area near the Salt River, knowing it to have long ago been a site of an 1800's-era iron works, and perhaps the site of an earlier iron furnace. Well, with the help of County Jailer Danny Fackler providing some volunteer inmates as labor, he found some seventy pounds of iron-work artifacts such as wedges and other castings. His find virtually confirms the location of the third furnace, but more research is certainly required.
>>Know anything about an Indian Head cliff?
A couple of young men have brought some photos to me of what they think is some kind of large cliff statue near Floyds Fork east of Shepherdsville. It appears to be the side of a cliff, but the rocks seem out of place with the rest of the cliff surfaces, and vaguely resembles a Mt. Rushmore-type bust of a Native American. It may be imagination or something really interesting. If you know anything about this, please let me know. We have photos at the museum.
>>Sarah Brooks Trowel of Maryland is trying to find information on some Bullitt County ancestors of hers.
She is looking for information on a Steven Brooks, who was a slave born around 1790 and probably died 1860, and a Martha Brooks, born around 1830. Steven was the father of an Anthony Brooks, who moved to Goshen and died there. Steven was the grandfather of Simon Peter Brooks, born 1849. If you know anything of this, give me a call or e-mail.
>> Microfilm ordered.
A large collection of microfilm has been ordered for the museum research room. Half of the collection of Kentucky death certificates is expected to arrive any day now with the remainder in a month of so. I'll let you know as soon as it comes in and is ready for use.
We have had several items loaned or given to the museum lately. Here are a few of them...
Judy Crepps gave the museum a nice collapsible easel that will be handy when we go out to do presentations.
>>Mt. Washington post office desk, map, and papers.
I generally do not press for items from Mt. Washington so as to not even appear to be in competition with our dear friends at the Lloyd House museum. But as a county-wide entity, The Bullitt County History Museum is always happy to receive such items. I am very happy to announce that Judge Bailey Taylor has provided to us a desk of potentially real historical significance. The desk is said to be "the first post office" of Mt. Washington. I am hoping to find some kind of documentation on that, but Bailey says that is what his father used to tell him. After it gets cleaned up more and some documentation work is done, we'll put it out on display.
Judge Taylor also gave us a framed Kentucky map from 1838 that shows Mt. Washington as "Mt. Vernon". The town was first named Mt. Vernon in honor of George Washington. But when another Kentucky town was found to have prior claim to that name, our town name was changed to Mt. Washington.
Additionally, Judge Taylor provided the museum with a collection of papers and documents that had been gathered by his father, Athol Lee Taylor.
>>Jim Pratt photo and Confederate Army discharge papers.
Judge Taylor also gave the museum an original photo and discharge papers of Jim Pratt, a Bullitt County boy discharged from the Confederate Cavalry in October 5, 1862. I have enjoyed connecting Private Pratt with the events of the day. In September, 1862, the Confederate Army had swept through Kentucky and virtually all of Bullitt County, causing panic in Louisville. The Union Army in Louisville began digging trenches and evacuating citizens and materials across the Ohio River to Indiana, in anticipation of an attack on the city. But soon the substantial army in Louisville began to realize that the Confederate Army was actually stretched quite thin, and began pushing the southerners back. By October 5, the Confederates had retreated back through Bullitt County and nearly to Perryville, where the greatest Civil War battle in Kentucky was about to occur (though they did not yet realize it.) So, Jim Pratt, his one year term of enlistment having expired, and being as close to home as he would likely be for some time, was discharged. It was probably a fortunate thing for the private. The war was starting to go badly for the South, and would never see such success as the Louisville campaign again.
>> Civil War speaker at Bullitt County Genealogical Society meeting April 20.
Eldon Smith will be speaking on the Civil War in Bullitt and Nelson Counties. (That's a nice coincidence with the main theme of this newsletter!) Meeting is 7:00 p.m. at Paroquet Springs Conference Centre in Shepherdsville.
>> Ken Blair Speaking at Falls of Ohio May 13.
Our very own local Iron Furnace and Salt Making expert, Ken Blair, has been invited to speak at the Falls of the Ohio Museum Saturday May 13 at 2 p.m.
>> The Adair County Genealogical Society will be holding its first annual region-wide genealogical society book fair Saturday, June 24, 2006 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. central standard time at the Adair County High School. For more information call 270-634-0717 or e-mail email@example.com.
>>Yard Sale at Mt. Washington
The Mt. Washington Historical Society, which operates the Lloyd House Museum in Mt. Washington, will be having a fund-raising yard sale April 22 in front of the Bullitt East Bowl from 8-2. The Lloyd House volunteers have given a lot of themselves over the years to preserving Mt. Washington history and deserve all the support they can get. So stop by and buy something if you can.
>> Kentucky Almanac for sale.
The premier edition of Clark's Kentucky Almanac and Book of Facts is available for sale at the museum. This thick compilation of information about Kentucky and its counties is a very handy book to have. Through a special arrangement, the museum has the book in stock for $20 including tax. For that price they must be picked up at the museum office (no shipping).
For Your Information...
The Perryville Battlefield State Park will be host to another great Civil War re-enactment this year and you should see it if you can. This site is where 40,000 Union and Confederate troops clashed in what is considered to be one of the bloodiest battles of the war and a turning point in he conflict. This year's re-enactment (October 7-8) is supposed to be one of the largest in years. For more information check www.perryvillereenactment.org.
Friend and longtime Civil War buff Charlie Long recently suggested that I read the book, They Died by Twos and Tens, by Kenneth A. Hafendorfer. I am so glad that he did. The book has substantial details about Civil War activity in Bullitt County. Until now, I had thought the total amount of war activity in Bullitt County amounted basically to some guerrilla activity, an attack at Lebanon Junction, and the three times that Confederate soldiers tried to destroy the railroad bridge at Shepherdsville.
Boy was I wrong!
Thousands of Confederate troops and cavalry swept through Shepherdsville and Mt. Washington in 1862 on their way to capture Fern Creek, Okolona, and Middletown, before being forced to pull back again through Bullitt County. Significant battles were fought in tiny Bullitt County communities such as Hen Peck, Deatsville, and Cedar Grove Church.
One account tells of a Confederate 8th Texas Rangers cavalryman, Roland Chatham, being shot in the forehead in a battle near Fern Creek in Jefferson County. Though the soldier was critically wounded, he did not fall off his horse, but rather kept on riding. A little later that day he was seen riding through Mt. Washington as his troops retreated south. He was seen by a lady in Mt. Washington as he rode by, bleeding, reigns in one hand and a gun in the other. The lady is quoted as saying, "Just look at that poor Texas Ranger, shot through the head and still he wants to fight!"
No doubt, the memory of that scene stuck with a number of people for a long time, and any lesson learned was probably colored by the observer's Union or Confederate sympathies.
Many people died that day, probably including the valiant Roland Chatham.
Fighting bravely, brother against brother, for causes few really understood.
Today many divisions arise between us, any one of which could one day quickly rise to the level of hatred and destruction.
From world affairs to national immigration issues to county politics, it is important to not just have an opinion but to understand.
Someone once said, "It is very difficult to keep your head when everyone else about you is losing theirs".
God help us all to be both heroes and wise men, both righteous and right.
All together on one one good path to a better tomorrow.
Thank you for being a Friend of Bullitt County History.
Bullitt County History Museum
Museum Phone: 502-921-0161
E-Mail address: David.Strange@BullittCountyHistory.org