Tag Archives: Kentucky history

Recent Awards & Accolades

As 2020 begins, we’d like to start the year off right by thanking all of our authors, and by acknowledging those who have recently received awards and accolades. Take a look below for more information on individual awards, and join us in congratulating our talented authors on their incredible work!


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Winner of the 2019 Arab American Book Award for Fiction: Amreekiya by Lena Mahmoud

The Arab American Book Award honors books that are written, edited, or illustrated by Arab Americans or address the Arab American experience. Amreekiya, winner of the 2019 award for fiction, evocatively explores love and identity in a Palestinian-American community through the eyes of twenty-one-year-old Isra Shadi.

 

 

 


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Finalist for the 2019 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry and Finalist for the Housatonic Book Award in Poetry: Mend by Kwoya Fagin Maples

Mend is a collection of poetry written in the voices of enslaved women who were unwillingly experimented on by Dr. J. Marion Sims, the “father of modern gynecology,” between 1845 and 1849. It was selected as a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, which honors the best in Black literature in the US and around the globe, and as a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award for Poetry, which honors works of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction and is presented by Western Connecticut State University.

 


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Winner of the Barondess/Lincoln Award: Lincoln, Seward, and US Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era by Joseph A. Fry

The Barondess/Lincoln Award is presented yearly by the Civil War Round Table of New York to an author who has made a significant contribution to the understanding of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, Seward, and US Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era examines the legacy of foreign policy decisions that resulted from the partnership between Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Henry Seward, and analyzes the Civil War from an international perspective.

 


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Winner of the EQUUS Film Festival Winnie Award for Racehorse Non-Fiction: Taking Shergar by Milton C. Toby

Awarded yearly at the EQUUS Film Festival, the literary Winnie Awards are given to titles that best capture the elements or essence of the horse, the horse industry at large, and/or all that surrounds the horse. Taking Shergar, winner of the 2019 award for racehorse non-fiction, is a riveting account of the most notorious unsolved crime in the history of horse racing—the stealing of Shergar, one of the Thoroughbred industry’s most renowned stallions.

 


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Finalist for the Best Book Award for Biography from American Book Fest: Boy on the Bridge by Andrew Marble

Sponsored by the American Book Fest, the Best Book Awards honor books of all genres and mediums in over 90 categories, published within the past two years. Boy on the Bridge, a finalist, is the first-ever biography of General John Shalikashvili, detailing his riches-to-rags-and-back-to-riches story and how he became one of America’s greatest military leaders.

 


Jim Klotter June 19Winner of the 2019 Kentucky Historical Society’s Lifetime Dedication to Kentucky History Award: James C. Klotter

Presented by the Kentucky Historical Society, the Lifetime Dedication to Kentucky History Award is bestowed to an individual who has demonstrated a consistent, long-term commitment to Kentucky history through their work, writings, activities, or support of historical organizations in Kentucky. Dr. James C. Klotter, Kentucky’s state historian and author of UPK titles such as A New History of Kentucky (2nd ed.), was the 2019 recipient.

 


Finalists for the Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award: Lessons in Leadership (by John R. Deane Jr., edited by Jack C. Mason) and Thunder in the Argonne (by Douglas V. Mastriano)

Each year, the Army Historical Foundation recognizes outstanding achievements in writing on US Army history with the Distinguished Writing Awards, presented at the Annual Members’ Meeting. Lessons in Leadership, chosen as a finalist for the award, is a memoir of John R. Deane Jr. (1919-2013), and gives insight to a commander’s perspective on some of the most important strategic meetings and missions of the Cold War. Thunder in the Argonne, also chosen as a finalist, details the most comprehensive account to date of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during World War I, which is widely regarded as one of America’s finest hours and the battle that forged the modern US Army.


Winners of the 2019 Kentucky Historical Society Publication Award: Elkhorn (by Richard Taylor) and Boonesborough Unearthed (by Nancy O’Malley)

The Kentucky Historical Society Publication Awards recognize exemplary publications that pertain to some aspect of Kentucky state or local history. Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape, selected as one of the 2019 winners, is an evocative and creative look at the economic, social, and cultural transformation of Kentucky from wilderness to early settlement by examining the regional primary watershed of Elkhorn Creek. Boonesborough Unearthed, also chosen as a 2019 winner, is a groundbreaking book that presents new information and fresh insights about Fort Boonesborough and life in frontier Kentucky.

Great War Reads

One hundred years ago today, Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. Four days later, Congress voted in favor of a war declaration and the U.S. formally entered the First World War. In honor of the centennial, we’re featuring some of our favorite releases about WWI, both before the U.S. entrance and after, on the home front and on the western front.


My Life before the World War, 1860–1917: A Memoirpershing4.indd

Few American military figures are more revered than General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing (1860–1948), who is most famous for leading the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. The only soldier besides George Washington to be promoted to the highest rank in the U.S. Army (General of the Armies), Pershing was a mentor to the generation of generals who led America’s forces during the Second World War.

Though Pershing published a two-volume memoir, My Experiences in the World War, and has been the subject of numerous biographies, few know that he spent many years drafting a memoir of his experiences prior to the First World War. In My Life Before the World War, 1860–1917, John T. Greenwood rescues this vital resource from obscurity, making Pershing’s valuable insights into key events in history widely available for the first time.

Purchase Here


york.final.inddAlvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne

Alvin C. York (1887–1964)—devout Christian, conscientious objector, and reluctant hero of World War I—is one of America’s most famous and celebrated soldiers. Known to generations through Gary Cooper’s Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 1941 film Sergeant York, York is credited with the capture of 132 German soldiers on October 8, 1918, in the Meuse-Argonne region of France—a deed for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

At war’s end, the media glorified York’s bravery but some members of the German military and a soldier from his own unit cast aspersions on his wartime heroics. Historians continue to debate whether York has received more recognition than he deserves. A fierce disagreement about the location of the battle in the Argonne forest has further complicated the soldier’s legacy.

In Alvin York, Douglas V. Mastriano sorts fact from myth in the first full-length biography of York in decades. He meticulously examines York’s youth in the hills of east Tennessee, his service in the Great War, and his return to a quiet civilian life dedicated to charity. By reviewing artifacts recovered from the battlefield using military terrain analysis, forensic study, and research in both German and American archives, Mastriano reconstructs the events of October 8 and corroborates the recorded accounts. On the eve of the WWI centennial, Alvin York promises to be a major contribution to twentieth-century military history.

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The Christmas Truce: Myth, Memory, and the First World Warchristmas_truce_final.indd

In ate December 1914, German and British soldiers on the western front initiated a series of impromptu, unofficial ceasefires. Enlisted men across No Man’s Land abandoned their trenches and crossed enemy lines to sing carols, share food and cigarettes, and even play a little soccer. Collectively known as the Christmas Truce, these fleeting moments of peace occupy a mythical place in remembrances of World War I. Yet new accounts suggest that the heartwarming tale ingrained in the popular imagination bears little resemblance to the truth.

In this detailed study, Terri Blom Crocker provides the first comprehensive analysis of both scholarly and popular portrayals of the Christmas Truce from 1914 to present. From books by influential historians to the Oscar-nominated French film Joyeux Noel (2006), this new examination shows how a variety of works have both explored and enshrined this outbreak of peace amid overwhelming violence. The vast majority of these accounts depict the soldiers as acting in defiance of their superiors. Crocker, however, analyzes official accounts as well as private letters that reveal widespread support among officers for the détentes. Furthermore, she finds that truce participants describe the temporary ceasefires not as rebellions by disaffected troops but as acts of humanity and survival by professional soldiers deeply committed to their respective causes.

The Christmas Truce studies these ceasefires within the wider war, demonstrating how generations of scholars have promoted interpretations that ignored the nuanced perspectives of the many soldiers who fought. Crocker’s groundbreaking, meticulously researched work challenges conventional analyses and sheds new light on the history and popular mythology of the War to End All Wars.

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9780813168012Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front

From five thousand children marching in a parade, singing, “Johnnie get your hoe, Mary dig your row,” to communities banding together to observe Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays, Kentuckians were loyal supporters of their country during the First World War. Kentucky had one of the lowest rates of draft dodging in the nation, and the state increased its coal production by 50 percent during the war years. Overwhelmingly, the people of the Commonwealth set aside partisan interests and worked together to help the nation achieve victory in Europe.

David J. Bettez provides the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of the Great War on Bluegrass society, politics, economy, and culture, contextualizing the state’s involvement within the national experience. His exhaustively researched study examines the Kentucky Council of Defense—which sponsored local war-effort activities—military mobilization and preparation, opposition and dissent, and the role of religion and higher education in shaping the state’s response to the war. It also describes the efforts of Kentuckians who served abroad in military and civilian capacities, and postwar memorialization of their contributions.

Kentucky and the Great War
 explores the impact of the conflict on women’s suffrage, child labor, and African American life. In particular, Bettez investigates how black citizens were urged to support a war to make the world “safe for democracy” even as their civil rights and freedoms were violated in the Jim Crow South. This engaging and timely social history offers new perspectives on an overlooked aspect of World War I.

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Lossberg’s War: The World War I Memoirs of a German Chief of Staffuntitled

General Fritz von Lossberg (1868–1942) directed virtually all the major German defensive battles on the Western Front during the First World War. Hailed as “the Lion of the Defensive,” he was an extremely influential military tactician and, unlike many other operations officers of his era, was quick to grasp the changes wrought by technology.

Now available for the first time in English, Lossberg’s memoir explains how he developed, tested, and implemented his central principles—flexibility, decentralized control, and counterattack—which were based on a need to adapt to shifting conditions on the battlefield. Lossberg first put his theory of elastic defense combined with defense-in-depth into practice during the Battle of Arras (April–May 1917), where it succeeded. At the Battle of Passchendaele (June–November 1917), his achievements on the field proved the feasibility of his strategy of employing a thinly manned front line that minimized the number of soldiers exposed to artillery fire. Lossberg’s tactical modernizations have become essential components of army doctrine, and Lossberg’s War: The World War I Memoirs of A German Chief of Staff will take readers inside the mind of one of the most significant military innovators of the twentieth century.

Purchase Here


More books about military history can be found in our American Warriors  and Battles and Campaigns series

Singing the Summer Southern Harmony

There’s something about music during the summertime—outdoor concerts, guitar-playing on the porch, festivals across the globe. One of the oldest and most popular southern singing traditions is that of “Shape Notes.”

Shape notes have been in use by classrooms and congregations for more than two centuries, and arose to simplify the notation, teaching, and arrangement of songs. Rather than traditional musical notation heads, shapes are substituted that correspond to different sounds:

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do

William Walker’s Southern Harmony and Musical Companion was first published in 1835. During the nineteenth century, when advertising was mainly by word of mouth or relatively sedate ads in weekly and monthly papers and pamphlets, Southern Harmony sold about 600,000 copies, and is perhaps the most popular songbook ever printed.

9780813118598 As far as is known, Benton, Kentucky, is the only place where the Southern Harmony is still used regularly. The Big Singing, usually held on the fourth Sunday in May, has been an annual event since 1884. Before World War II it is said that many thousands attended; as many as four extra trains in each direction were added to bring in the crowds.

 

Preface to the 1835 edition:

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The CD included with Southern Harmony and Musical Companion contains more than 300 tunes, hymns, psalms, odes, and anthems, including “New Britain (Amazing Grace),” “Happy Land,” “O Come, Come Away,” “Wondrous Love,” and many, many more. The recordings were made at the Big Singing in Benton, Kentucky, between 1966 and 1992. We’ve included two of the more popular tunes, “New Britain” and “Newburgh” below.

The Perfect Kentucky Derby Party

Plan Perfect Derby Party

Like the big race itself, Kentucky Derby parties never go out of style. This post was originally published on our blog on May 2, 2015:

Of the many traditions that go hand-in-hand with the Kentucky Derby—the hat, the silks, the roses, the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home”—hosting a Derby party can be the most fun, especially for those who can’t make it to Churchill Down; but it can also be the most stressful. If you’re looking to throw the perfect Derby party, look no further than the recipes, decor, and ideas below. If you’re looking for something printable, download a PDF here: Plan the perfect KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY.

The Space:

tissue paper roses DIYRoses, roses everywhere! Run to the florist, or fake it up with red tissue paper to celebrate the Run for the Roses. Plus, its easy to coordinate with red plates and dinnerware. Set up a photo station with your own blanket of roses covering a blank stretch of wall. It only takes three things: thin wire, a cheap shower curtain, and plenty of red tissue paper. Here’s a great how-to from Brit and Co.

Fun & Festive:

It’s not a party without party games! Here are a few of our favorites to keep the good times going until the call to the post:

  • Bring the Derby to the Derby party! Place the names of the horses (or the numbers 1 -20) on folded slips of paper into a hat (bonus points for using a derby hat!) Guests can draw the number of the horse they’re rooting for in the big race. Make sure to have a fantastic prize for the winner, maybe an extra Race-Day Pie to take home?
  • The weather is (almost) always beautiful the first weekend in May. Horseshoes and/or Corn Hole move the party outdoors into the yard, putting Derby hats to good use under the sun.
  • Speaking of Derby hats, why not have a contest to see who has the best Derby hat? The men are invited too!
  • And lastly, an idea from KentuckyDerby.com: Ice Cube Jockey Races. Freeze small jockeys (or any differently colored or shaped tokens) to the tops of ice cubes. At the start of the race all participants can wager on a horse. Take a flat, smooth surface (glass from a large picture frame, an over-the-door bathroom mirror, etc.) and lay it across a table at an angle. Line the ice cube jockeys up, keeping them in place with a yard stick and then let them loose all at once for a fun and crazy race. To repeat simply refreeze the jockeys on new ice cubes and freeze until the down time between the next races.

The Drinks:

C’mon, this one’s obvious: mint juleps all around! Easy to prep and easy to serve, you really can’t go wrong with the most traditional of traditions; it’s a classic for a reason. Perfect MINT JULEP For the younger partiers, the designated drivers, and those who might not be bourbon fans (it’s OK, we forgive them), you can’t go wrong with a non-alcoholic sparkler. You can even reuse your mint-infused simple syrup for extra flavor. Derby Sparkler Drink

The Food:

Origin stories differ greatly, but burgoo has definitely evolved into a delicious “catch-all” stew. Basically, you can’t go wrong throwing everything you’ve “caught” into a giant pot and letting it simmer until ready. But if you’re looking for a specific recipe, The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook by nutritionist Maggie Green, has great ingredients and an easy, one-pot method.

Kentucky Fresh Burgoo

For small-bites, try Maggie Green’s steamed asparagus or green beans with toasted sesame mayonnaise:

Trim the asparagus and/or green beans and steam until bright green and tender (but still a little crisp). To make the toasted sesame mayonnaise dipping sauce, whisk 1 cup mayonnaise, juice of 1/2 lemon, 3 tablespoons dark sesame seed oil, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve on the side as a dipping sauce, or thin with a bit more lemon juice and drizzle it over the veggies.

Sweet Treats:

Race-Day Pie, Saturday-in-May Pie, Bluegrass Pie…whatever you call it, the trademarked treat with bourbon, chocolate, and pecans in a pie crust is a must-have on the first Saturday of May.

In Bourbon Desserts, Lynn Marie Hulsman offers up the recipe for her Grandma Rose’s Big Race Pie. If you want to go really Kentucky, snag your flour from Weisenberger Mill, your pecans from Hickman, Kentucky, and your chocolate from Ruth Hunt Candies (or your favorite, local chocolatier).

Bourbon Desserts Derby Pie

Georgia Powers’s Indelible Impact, 1923-2016

We were saddened to learn today that Kentucky icon, Georgia Davis Powers has died at the age of 92. Both the first woman and the first African American elected to the Kentucky state senate, Powers leaves behind a legacy of service and leadership that won’t soon be forgotten.

Recently, the University Press of Kentucky published the Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, featuring Georgia Powers. While the KAAE goes a long way in honoring and remembering the legacy of the impact of leaders like Powers, we also encourage you to read more about this powerful advocate. 

POWERS, GEORGIA MONTGOMERY DAVIS (b. 1923, Springfield, KY), first woman and first African American elected to the Kentucky Senate.

Georgia Powers Kentucky SenateBorn on October 29, 1923, in Springfield, KY, as Georgia Montgomery, the second of nine children and the only girl of Frances (Walker) and Ben Montgomery, Georgia was always determined to rise above the discrimination her gender and interracial heritage imposed on her. In 1925, the Montgomery family moved to Louisville, where Georgia received the majority of her education. She attended Virginia Avenue Elementary School (1929–1934), Madison Junior High School (1934–1937), Central High School (1937–1940), and Louisville Municipal College (1940–1942).

Additionally, she received certificates from the Central Business School and the United States Government IBM Supervisory School. A year after her graduation from Louisville Municipal College, she married Norman F. Davis. The couple had one son, William F. Davis. In 1968, the couple divorced, and Georgia married James F. Powers in 1973.

Powers began her political career training volunteers for Wilson Wyatt’s U.S. Senate campaign in 1962. She led campaigns for candidates for governor of Kentucky, mayor of Louisville, the U.S. House and Senate, and U.S. president within the next five years. Additionally, she participated in many civil rights activities throughout the 1960s. As one of the organizers of the Allied Organizations for Civil Rights, a group that worked toward the enactment of fair- employment and public-accommodations laws, she helped organize the 1964 March on Frankfort. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the keynote speaker. The next year, Powers helped organize the Kentucky Christian Leadership Conference and attended the historic march in Selma, Alabama, supporting the national Voting Rights Act. Among many other important civil rights activities, she marched with Dr. King in the Memphis sanitation struggle.

In 1967, Powers ran for the Kentucky State Senate with endorsements from the AFL-CIO, the Kentucky Medical Association, the Kentucky and Louisville Education Associations, and the Louisville Chamber of Commerce. She won that seat easily, and her first bill for statewide housing passed in no time. She collaborated with Representatives Mae Street Kidd and Hughes E. McGill in introducing the first open-housing law in the South, which was passed in 1968. Other legislation that she either sponsored or cosponsored included bills for low-cost housing, the Equal Rights Amendment Resolution, and a bill to omit “race” from Kentucky driver’s licenses. She was also the secretary of the Kentucky Democratic Caucus during her entire senatorial career.

While serving in the Kentucky Senate for 21 years, she chaired the Health and Welfare Committee (1970–1976) and served as a member of the Rules Committee (1976–1978) and the Labor and Industry Committee for 10 years (1978–1988). Since her retirement in 1988, Powers has received numerous accolades. In 1995, she published her memoirs, I Shared the Dream: The Pride, Passion, and Politics of the First Black Woman Senator from Kentucky. She also published The Adventures of the Book of Revelation in 1998 and Celia’s Land, a Historical Novel in 2004.

Happy Bourbon Heritage Month!

September is finally here, which means it’s Bourbon Heritage Month, a national celebration of America’s native spirit! We’ll also be raising our glasses next weekend at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky. Be sure to stop by and say hi!

Kentucky Bourbon Festival


Bourbon New Books on America's Native Spirit

manhattan.final.inddThe Manhattan Cocktail covers everything that the aficionado needs to know about the classic cocktail through an examination of its history and ingredients. Author Albert W. A. Schmid dispels several persistent myths, including the tale that the Manhattan was created in 1874 by bartenders at New York City’s Manhattan Club to honor the newly elected Governor Samuel Jones Tilden at Lady Randolph Churchill’s request. Schmid also explores the places and people that have contributed to the popularity of the drink and inspired its lore, including J. P. Morgan, who enjoyed a Manhattan every day at the end of trading on Wall Street.


PeacheeCvCompF.inddIn The Birth of Bourbon, award-winning photographer Carol Peachee takes readers on an unforgettable tour of lost distilleries as well as facilities undergoing renewal, such as the famous Old Taylor and James E. Pepper distilleries in Lexington, Kentucky. This beautiful book also includes spaces that well-known brands, including Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and Buffalo Trace, have preserved as a homage to their rich histories.

 

The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia

The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville

The editors of The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia will participate in a panel discussion this Wednesday, August 19 at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville at 6:00 pm. Sponsored by the Filson Historical Society, editors Gerald L. Smith, John Hardin, and Karen Cotton McDaniel will present individuals, events, places, organizations, movements and institutions that have shaped Kentucky’s history. Admission to the event is FREE. For more information on the event, visit FilsonHistorical.org. For more information on The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, or to purchase the book, visit KentuckyPress.com.

from WHAS 11 Great Day Live (click for video)

WHAS Mack McCormick University Press of Kentucky Kentucky African American Encyclopedia

C-SPAN’s Cities Tour Visits Lexington and “Reads” a Few Great UPK Books

On a mission to feature the history and literature of cities across the U.S., C-SPAN’s Cities Tour rolled into Lexington this weekend to explore all things Bourbon, Bluegrass, and Book-related! The Cities Tour team sat down with Mayor Jim Gray, UPK authors Maryjean Wall, Karl Raitz, Paul Holbrook, and Tracy Campbell, and toured unique Lexington landmarks like Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, Keeneland, and the Mary Todd Lincoln House. We’re sharing a few of the videos here, but hop over to the Cities Tour website to watch all of the videos.

Books by featured UPK authors:

Videos:

Videos are not embedded. You will be re-directed to the C-SPAN site.

Maryjean_Wall_CSPAN_video Paul_Holbrook_CSPAN_Video Karl_Raitz_CSPAN_Video Tracey_Campbell_CSPAN_Video

‘Admit One’ to Kentucky’s REAL Jurassic Park

Big Bone Lick University Press of Kentucky

Hold on to your butts! There might be a Gallimimus-esque stampedeJurassic Park Stampede Scene this weekend to your local movie theatre as the long-awaited and much-hyped sequel to Jurassic Park (1997), Jurassic World hits the big screen. But the true dinosaur hunters know that you won’t find fossils at the bottom of your popcorn bucket—you’ll find them at Big Bone Lick State Park in Union, Kentucky.

Thomas Jefferson waited almost 30 years to lay eyes on the immense bones collected at Big Bone Lick. When Europeans first came into contact with this site in 1739, the fossils immediately garnered fame around the world and cast many scientific and philosophical assumptions of the day into doubt. The remains exceeded the size of any species found in America: huge femur and rib bones, great ivory tusks, jawbones wider than the span of a man’s arms, molars the size of pumpkins. In 1807, William Clark, who had recently returned from the Lewis and Clark Expedition, collected about 300 fossils for President Jefferson.

John Filson Map Kentucky Bog Bone Lick

Detail from John Filson’s 1784 This Map of Kentucke, etc. (Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division)

In 1781, when Jefferson’s interest in the fossils piqued, little-to-nothing was known about the colossal skeletons found, and considerable controversy surrounded their interpretation. The Shawnee believed that they were the remains of man-eating monsters destroyed by a benevolent god to protect them. Early European discoverers made conjectures that the remains were of now-extinct human-like giants, elephants, and bison. Others, committed to a belief in the perfection of God’s creation, found it hard to accept the notion of extinction. Jefferson thought that the very concept violated the inherent balance of nature. Until Lewis and Clark returned from their historic expedition, Jefferson and others believed that the mysterious creatures discovered at Big Bone Lick still inhabited lands west of the Mississippi River.

George Culver Mastodon Big Bone Lick Kentucky

George Cuvier’s 1806 drawing of a mastodon skeleton minus the tusks and the
as-yet undiscovered cranium. (Georges Cuvier, Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles,
3rd ed. [1825], vol. 1, p. 248, plate 5)

By 1806 French scientist Georges Cuvier had identified the extinct species, Mammut americanum, or the American mastodon. Since then thousands of fossil specimens have been excavated from Big Bone Lick and seven extinct species have been discovered there. Fossils from the lick have made their way into museums and collections east and across the Atlantic. A number of Big Bone Lick fossils were deposited in the collections of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia; others resided in the Cabinet du Roi, the French king’s collection of curiosities in Paris. Bones and teeth sent to London sparked debates before the Royal Society. The fossils even found their way into the Tammany Society’s museum in New York City.

Today, you can visit Big Bone Lick State Park to observe current archaeological research, view bones and fossils found on-site, learn about the Native American cultures who came across the first discoveries, or spend the night at the Park’s campgrounds.

For more information on the history and discoveries at Big Bone Lick, and what implications they might have on current scientific research, Big Bone Lick: The Cradle of American Paleontology, is a fascinating and comprehensive book from natural historian Stanley Hedeen. Hedeen recounts the rich history of the fossil site that gave the world the first evidence of the extinction of several mammalian species, including the American mastodon. It explores the infancy and adolescence of paleontology from its humble and sometimes humorous beginnings. Hedeen combines elements of history, geology, politics, and biology to make Big Bone Lick a valuable historical resource as well as the compelling tale of how a collection of fossilized bones captivated a young nation.

At Long Last, A Triple Crown Winner

Sir Barton, the first horse to capture the American Triple Crown, with jockey Earl Sande. (Cook Collection, Keeneland Library, Lexington, Kentucky.)

Sir Barton, the first horse to capture the American Triple Crown, with jockey Earl Sande. (Cook Collection, Keeneland Library, Lexington, Kentucky.)

In the weeks between American Pharoah’s 2015 Kentucky Derby win and his dominant victory in the sloppy Preakness, and then during the lead-up to the Belmont Stakes, the hope in the hearts of many was similar: that this impressive three-year-old would finally break the thirty-seven year drought between Triple Crown champions. And on Saturday, American Pharoah did just that in spectacular fashion.

For those less directly connected to the Thoroughbred industry than those of us here in Kentucky, the world of horse racing can perhaps feel removed—a legacy sport of the landed gentry. Yet, in The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America’s Premier Sporting Event, author James C. Nicholson describes how three special races have come to transcend the sport itself and define the pinnacle achievement of Thoroughbred racing.

At the heart of the series, of course, is the Kentucky Derby, followed by the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Since 1920, the Triple Crown has become the yardstick by which outstanding three-year-old Thoroughbreds are measured.

In the realm of sport, the term Triple Crown had first been used to describe three English horse races: the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby, and the St. Leger Stakes. American racetracks had attempted to establish racing series along the English model, but none achieved lasting national recognition. By 1930 the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, the Kentucky Derby, and the Belmont Stakes in New York had clearly risen above all other American races for three-year-olds. That year Gallant Fox captured all three events and was referred to by the New York Times as a “Triple Crown Hero.” Five years later, Gallant Fox’s son Omaha matched his father’s feat (and the pair remains the only father-son combo to win the American Triple Crown). Once the term entered the popular vocabulary of sports fans and journalists in the 1930s, Sir Barton was recognized after the fact as the first to accomplish the feat in 1919.

Churchill Downs had moved the Derby from its traditional place on the opening day card to the second Saturday of the meet in 1923 in order to avoid a conflict with the Preakness, which was held the week prior. This arrangement continued until 1932, when the Derby was moved to the first Saturday in May, where it has remained, with two exceptions, ever since. The Derby was popular before the Triple Crown was even recognized. It could have survived with or without the Triple Crown. However, the association with the most important series of races in the country certainly raised the prestige of each of the races, including the Derby.

Matt Winn [the human face of the Kentucky Derby for almost fifty years] recognized the potential for a national Triple Crown series consisting of the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont and was an early proponent of a bonus to be presented to the winner of all three races, but the racetracks that hosted the events failed to cooperate. In fact, at least as early as 1919 Winn had proposed a Triple Crown modeled after the English version but consisting of three races run exclusively in Kentucky: the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, the Latonia Derby near Cincinnati, and a third race to be created at the Kentucky Association track in Lexington. The Kentucky Triple Crown never came to fruition, but the Kentucky Derby was certainly a beneficiary of the increase in media attention paid to the American Triple Crown series beginning in the 1930s. That acknowledgment of the American Triple Crown gave the three races, including then Derby, a small connection to the history and prestige of the English version on which the American Triple Crown was based.

Prior to Saturday, many wondered whether we would ever see another Triple Crown champion. Now, with American Pharoah’s ascension into the ranks of Sir Barton, War Admiral, and Secretariat, we’ve been reminded that the Triple Crown is achievable but that it takes a truly special horse to deserve the title and those just don’t come around every year.