Happy Birthday Kentucky
FRANKFORT – There likely won’t be any cake involved, but on Friday this week, our commonwealth will celebrate its 226th birthday.
We were the 15th state to join the Union, arriving about four-and-a-half years after the first – Delaware – and four years before the 16th, which was Tennessee.
It’s no overstatement to say we’ve seen a lot of history over the years. We have 30 National Historic Landmarks, for example, and those range from Churchill Downs and the Old State Capitol to battlefields in Perryville and Mill Springs.
Others include Danville’s Ephraim McDowell House, home of the world’s first successful abdominal surgery, and Louisville’s Zachary Taylor Home, where our country’s 12th president spent much of his life and where he is buried.
Kentucky’s own historical-marker program takes an even deeper look at our history, with more than 2,400 locations having one of those iconic markers.
While they are designed to stand alone, they can be strung together to tell a great story. The Kentucky Historical Society, which formed in the 1830s, has compiled more than 50 tours linking them.
Some stretch across a region while others are contained in a single county. They can be found online at http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/ or through the ExploreKYHistory app on smart phones.
One of the longer tours promotes those who were pioneers for women’s rights. Mary Elliott Flannery of Boyd County, for example, was the first woman elected to a legislature in a southern state, while Emma Guy Cromwell in Simpson County became the first woman elected as Kentucky’s secretary of state. Both of these elections took place within three years of the 1920 passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
In Frankfort, there is a cluster of about 40 homes spread over four acres that is known as the Corner in Celebrities. Few if any areas of similar size in the country produced as many national leaders. Those who lived there for at least a time include two U.S. Supreme Court justices, nine U.S. senators, six congressmen, eight governors, seven U.S. ambassadors, three Navy admirals and John Bibb, who served as a state legislator and developed Bibb lettuce.
Another way Kentucky is a leader in preservation is that we were the first state to join the popular Main Street program, which has brought in more than $4.5 billion in public and private investment since 1979. We also have more than 400 museums and historical organizations dedicated to keeping our history alive.
Thanks to work of the state’s preservationists, and the access the internet provides, it’s easier than ever to get to know Kentucky’s past in a way no textbook could ever show. Now that summer has all but arrived, I encourage you to search out some of these places, especially if you have school-aged children. You won’t regret it.
As always, I would like to hear if you have any thoughts or concerns regarding this issue or any other affecting the state. You can email me at Rick.Rand@lrc.ky.gov.
To leave a message for me or for any legislator by phone, please call 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.
I hope to hear from you soon.