Kentucky History

Kentucky History

North America

Kentucky is a US state. The state capital is Frankfort, while Louisville is the largest city. In 2006, the state had 4.2 mill. residents. Kentucky has been nicknamed The Bluegrass State after a species of the plant rapeseed grass (in English bluegrass ), which through this nickname gave designation to the music genre bluegrass.

Kentucky was a battlefield during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the last major battles of the war, was fought by the Blue Licks. See directoryaah for museums in Kentucky.


18th Century – Explorers and settlers began to flock to Kentucky in the mid-18th century. The land was used as hunting grounds by, among others, Cherokee and Iroquois Indians.

1739 – Captain Charles de Longueuil of France discovers Big Bone Lick.

1767 – Pioneer Daniel Boone, considered one of the founders of the state,explored the area from 1767 and in 1769 he opened a route into Kentucky.

1775 – On April 1, Daniel Boone establishes Fort Boonesborough, which is today the second oldest European-American settlement. In 1778 the fort was besieged for 13 days by the shawnee Indians. Read more here.

1778 – The city of Louisville is established. It is today Kentucky’s largest city with 700,000 residents and 1.2 million in the suburbs.

1780 – Virginia divides Kentucky County into three counties; Fayette, Jefferson and Lincoln.

1782 – One of the last battles of the War of Independence, fought on August 19 in the Blue Licks. Read more here.

1792 – Kentucky is admitted as the 15th state of the United States on June 1.

1795 – The first barrel of ” Old Jake Beam Sour ” ( Jim Beam Whiskey ) is presented by the Beam family.

1797 – The main entrance to Mammoth Cave is found by Robert Houchins. Read more here.

1811-12 – Two major earthquakes occur in western Kentucky ( New Madrid earthquakes ).

1818 – An area of ​​western Kentucky is acquired by President Andrew Jackson of the Chickasaw Indians.

1861 – Kentucky joins the Confederate States of America, becoming the 13th state on February 4. It was the beginning of the Civil War at the Battle of Fort Sumter on 12 April. The next day the fort surrendered and was evacuated. No Union soldiers died during the attack, while a single rebel bled after being wounded by a cannon that went off by accident. The flag of Fort Sumter became a popular, patriotic symbol after Major Anderson returned to the Northern States with it. The flag is still found at the fort’s museum.

1862 – The first battle of the Civil War takes place in Kentucky near Prestonburg ; The Battle of Perryville was the bloodiest battle. Kentucky remained under Union control for the remainder of the war.

1867-81 – The Ku Klux Klan became active in Kentucky ; many cases of shootings, lynchings, and whiplash to the blacks.

1875 – The first horse race, the Kentucky Derby, is held at Churchill Downs.

1900 – Over 1,500 armed civilians occupy the Capitol for two weeks; The governor declared a state of emergency, and activated the Kentucky Militia; William Goebel was mortally wounded after a shot on January 30 when he was to take over the governorship. The next day he became governor while lying in the hospital bed, and on February 3, he died, only 4 days in the post. He is the only governor in the United States to have died of assassination.

1905-09 – The ” Black Patch Wars ” – was a conflict in which farmers burned barns and fields belonging to the American Tobacco Company ; the conflict put an end to the company’s tobacco monopoly.

1918 – Camp Henry Knox, a military base 50 km SW of Louisville, is established. In 1932, it changed its name to Fort Knox. In December 1936, Fort Knox was established as a gold depot. It is believed to be one of the safest places in the world, as the depot’s walls are reinforced with 65 cm of steel and concrete, and with a bomb-proof roof. It takes 4 men, each with their own code, to open the doors. Since 1940, Fort Knox has been a center for the development and training of American armored troops.

1920-33 – The Prohibition of Liquor in the United States.

1936 – The last legal execution by hanging takes place on August 14 in Owensboro. Mistakes during the execution, and the subsequent media coverage, were instrumental in stopping public execution in the United States. Read more here. And here.

1941 – Mammoth Cave National Park was established on July 1, and is a national park, biosphere reserve and a 213 km² World Heritage Site. The main attraction in the national park is Mammoth Cave, which is the world’s longest cave system with 630 km of known passages. No fossils or remains of mammoths have ever been found in the caves, and the name refers to the size of the caves.

1958 – On February 28, a school bus collides with a truck, crashing into the Big Sandy River in Prestonburg, the driver and 26 out of 48 children drowned. The bus was found and salvaged 53 hours after the accident.

1964 – FILM: Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger, was filmed between January 20 – July 21, and eventually, an idea was added to film the climactic scene at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Albert Broccoli was allowed to film outside the depot and the indoor stage was built in the film studio in England. Ian Fleming visited the set in April, and died a few months later in August, shortly before the film premiere.

1966 – Kentucky becomes the first state to approve the comprehensive Civil Rights Act.

1977 – A fire at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate kills 165 and wounds over 200. Read more here.

1984 – The Trinity murders took place on September 29 in Louisville, and are named after Trinity High School, where two 17-year-old students get too lost on their way to a football game at DuPont High School. The boys stopped at a Moby Dick restaurant, where two cousins, Victor and George, offered to show them the way, but were instead led to a deserted parking lot on Ardella Ct. near the football field at Louisville Male High School, where they were forced to take off their clothes. They were then tied and gagged. After Victor had raped one of the boys, they were both shot in the back of the head to hide their identity. George was reported to police by a family member who had given him a Trinity High School jacket. He admitted that his cousin Victor had also been involved. The belongings of the two murdered men were found in Victor ‘s mother’s home. In 1986, both men were found guilty of kidnapping, robbery, and Victor for rape on top of that. Victor was sentenced to death and George to life in prison.

1988 – A drunk driver hits a bus carrying young people; 27 were killed.

1997 – On December 1, 14-year-old Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of students at Heath High School, killing 3 and injuring 5. The shooting was featured in an episode of ” Very Bad Men ” on Investigation Discovery.

2005 – The US Supreme Court bans two courtrooms in Kentucky to display ” The Ten Commandments ” on the walls.

2006 – On August 27, Comair Flight 5191 crashed 6 miles from Lexington, killing 49 passengers.

2010 – Stanley Neace (48) kills his wife Sandy (54), and her daughter Sandra (28) and neighbors Dennis (31), Teresa (30) and Tammy (40) and herself in an argument over breakfast in Jackson. Teresa’s 7-year-old daughter prayed for her life, and was allowed to run away. Read more here. And here.

2012 – A series of powerful storms and tornadoes kill 12 people in Kentucky. See pictures of the injuries here.

Kentucky History