Author Archives: Nancy Richey

Needed “Pure” Bourbon Whiskey

Today, obtaining needed medicine is relatively easy, but during the Civil War years and beyond, few medicines were available. Aspirin, which was discovered in 1849, still would not be used medically until the end of the 20th century. Doctors therefore relied on liquor such as brandy or whiskey to ease pain or disinfect a wound. It was many times the only anesthetic available. Whiskey could be purchased in large barrels but as a recent acquisition for the Department of Library Special Collections highlights, the quality of both brandy and whiskey for medical purposes was being questioned. Dr. William Cutter, of Louisville, KY was sent a “Circular to Physicians and Others, (January 1, 1862)” and it was also placed in such journals as the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. The New York physicians were asking for assistance to obtain “pure” bourbon whiskey from Kentucky as they could not find the unadulterated product in their area. Cutter promised to provide a “pure article of copper-distilled bourbon whiskey, which [he] trusts will fully meet the requirements of your letter.”
Bourbon, an American corn-based whiskey, is on the rise in popularity, now not as medicine but as a favored beverage. A recent edition of Restaurant News noted, “Bourbon is one of the fastest-growing categories in the beverage alcohol world. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, bourbon and Tennessee whiskey exports topped $1 billion in 2015 for the third straight year.” In 2016, the figure had risen to $1.56 billion.
See this latest acquisition and many other interesting bourbon related items in the Kentucky Research Collections. For more information email spcol@wku.edu or call 270-745-5083.

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Filed under General, New Stuff

Catalogue of Short Horn Bulls, Cows and Heifers

A recent and rare acquisition for the Department for Library Special Collections, with only 16 pages total, is a Catalog of Short Horn Bulls, Cows and Heifers (1864) that offers 12 bulls and 48 cows for sale by William & Benjamin Warfield of Lexington, KY. The Warfields, as observed in the Cyclopedia of American Agriculture must be included in any history of Shorthorns. They were prominent and quite well known during the years in which Kentucky supplied much of the Shorthorn blood to the breeding herds of this famous breed throughout the United States. William was the son of Benjamin Warfield and also a breeder of the shorthorn cattle in Kentucky. William Warfield was one of the best informed men on Shorthorn history and Shorthorn pedigrees. He contributed much to live stock and especially to Shorthorn literature, writing the “History of Improved Shorthorn Cattle” and “The Theory and Practice of Cattle Breeding.” The Warfield’s most active period was during the 1870s and 1880s, when the farmers of Kentucky, Ohio, and westward began extensively to improve their stock by the use of purebred cattle.
bull
Short-horn cattle were developed in England to serve as both dairy and beef animals and were brought to America in 1783. Exciting auctions of livestock were common in the 1800s and catalogues such as this one, were produced. This catalog offered details of the animals such as color, date calved and lineage for each with an example being: “Young Duke, the sire of a number of animals in this catalogue, was bred by R.A. Alexander, was by Duke of Airdrie (12730) out of imp. Rosabille, by Bridegroom (11203) &c.” The Kentucky Encyclopedia notes that many of the prize winning shorthorns of the era enjoyed as much prestige as some of the governors and perhaps contributed as much or more to the national recognition of the commonwealth! The Kentucky Library Research Collection is the only known repository of this catalog. To see other books and illustrative materials in Special Collections search our catalog, KenCat or WKU Library One Search.

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Filed under New Stuff

Hale’s Recollections of Confederate Guerilla “Champ Ferguson”

Champ Ferguson

Champ Ferguson

The Civil War as a research topic never ceases to draw interest. The addition of a broadsheet to the Kentucky Library Research Collections adds to our excellent holdings about Champ Ferguson. This sheet features Dr. Jonathan D. Hale’s recollections of the life of the Confederate Guerilla and includes a facsimile of a Ku Klux Klan threatening letter sent to Hale in 1868. The letter received from the Klan in 1868 was sent from Lodge Headquarters in Arkansas, on a “dark and dismal night, from a “muddy Road with BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD. The letter issued a strong warning: “This is to notify you that the Spirit of Champ Ferguson still lives, and there are men living that are determined to avenge his death – and you are also aware that your oppressive and wicked acts toward the best citizens of Overton County stand recorded against you -… Prepare to meet your God.”
Champ Ferguson was a personal enemy of Hale and destroyed his home and business. The state of Kentucky, John Hunt Morgan, Alvan Cullom, the killing of “Little Fount Zachery”, Henry Sublits(sic), loss of much property and the loyalties of Ferguson are noted. And that he was worthy of execution by hanging. “The military trial, held in Nashville, Tennessee, lasted from July to October 1865. Ferguson was sentenced to be hanged; he was denied the opportunity to provide a defense on his behalf, and the sentence was carried out on October 20, 1865. Ferguson’s body was turned over to his wife and daughter, who fulfilled his last request which was to be buried at his home in White County, Tennessee, on a branch of Calfkiller Creek.”
Hale would leave Tennessee and live out the rest of his life in New Hampshire having grown tired of being a “damn Yankee.”
See http://www.ajlambert.com/history/ct_hus.pdf
For more information on Champ Ferguson and the Civil War, visit WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections, or contact spcol@wku.edu. For more collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Filed under General, Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, New Stuff

Rare Shaker Timeline/Chart

A recent purchase by the Department of Library Special Collections bolsters the significant Shaker holdings in Kentucky Library Research Collections. This two-piece timeline map/chart is titled, “Genealogical Chronological and Geographical Chart Embracing Biblical and Profane History of Ancient Times from Adam to Christ.” The map was produced by Jacob Skeen of Louisville, Kentucky in February 1887 as an educational tool to reinforce the traditional Christian validity of Shaker communities and to arrest the decline of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing or as they were more commonly known, the Shakers. Elder Alonzo Hollister of the Mount Lebanon, New York community wished to show that Shaker orthodoxy had continuity with scripture and the traditional church. It was also a grasping attempt to reconcile their beliefs with a fast changing, progressive worldview. Copyrighted 1887, the detailed chart with many sub-charts purports to show locations and relationships of humanity, the Church and the Devil. W.F. Pennebaker of the community at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky also participated in the publication of this lithograph. David Rumsey, a world renowned map collector and the founder of the David Rumsey Map Collection notes that “although researched, designed, drawn, and copyrighted by Jacob Skeen, a Presbyterian, the chart is strongly associated with the Shaker Church. Skeen spent 10 years developing it and it was to be used in the biblical instruction of children and adults alike.” Some 204 charts were produced, the KLRC is one of only a few holding libraries in the world. The Manuscripts and Folklife Archives has more extensive documentation of the South Union Shakers’ 115 years of existence than any other repository with many Journals, diaries, account books, hymnals, and business records chronicle the activities of the religious community of Shakers, who gathered at South Union in Logan County, Kentucky, in 1807 and disbanded in 1922.
Call the Reference Assistance desk at 270-745-5083 or search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat<BRM2482-Skeen-Geographical-Chart-1887_lowres-3000x1921

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Filed under Latest News, Uncategorized

The Bowling Green Press (1846)

Bowling Green PressWhat was happening in Bowling Green, KY on July 1, 1846 almost 170 years ago? Well, now we know! A wonderful, recent donation lets us learn more about Bowling Green’s early history. This very rare newspaper, with the masthead, The Bowling Green Press, is the only one our Special Collections Library staff have seen, and although it is in poor condition; it is definitely preferable to having no specimen at all. The survival of any periodical is a triumph against many odds. We think of our culture as a throw-away culture but newspapers have always be seen as expendable–meant to be read, passed around and then thrown away, or even used for wrapping paper or other household purposes.
The newspaper noted under its masthead, that it was devoted to “Politics, Agriculture, Literature, Morality and General Intelligence.” Headlines in the issue focus on the Mormon conflict and controversy at Nauvoo, IL, President James K. Polk and his declaration of war with Mexico and the “Awful Calamity” in Quebec as the Theatre Royal burns killing 50 people. “The Theatre Royal, Saint Lewis [street], took fire from the overturning of a camphene lamp, at the close of the exhibition of Mr. Harlean’s Chemical Dioramas, and the whole interior of the building was almost instantly in a blaze. Local news highlights include the deaths of Mrs. Sarah Cox, 87 of this county and Mrs. George (Adelaide) Milliken of Simpson County, KY in her 30th year. There are a few handsomely illustrated advertisements of products or services offered and they portray many aspects of daily life. Butter was selling for 10 cents per pound, coffee at 9 cents and sugar, 7 cents. Books and “tationary” were for sale at Townsend’s store and the most “fashionable style” hats could be had at William Whiteman’s store. The Louisville Steamer packet, “General Warren,” left regularly at 10:00 every Saturday. Also, if you did not feel well, Dr. S. A. Withrs (sic) requests that you stop by the Green River Hotel or his office across the street from the Market House for treatment.
We are so pleased to have this early Bowling Green, KY newspaper and will preserve it for future historians. You may see this and other items in the WKU Department of Library Special Collections by visiting or by searching TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Filed under New Stuff

MADISON CAWEIN

The Department of Special Collections recently added a first edition of a book composed of a beautifully illustrated poem by Madison Julius Cawein.

Madison-J-CaweinThe poem, “Let Us Do The Best We Can,” is one of the works produced by this prolific Kentucky poet. He was popular in his lifetime (b. March 23, 1865, d. December 8, 1914), but he is not a familiar name to many Kentuckians.  He was known as the “Keats of Kentucky,” and acclaimed as the great nature poet of his time.  He loved and praised the beauty of  the flora and fauna of his native Kentucky and showcased a deep love and appreciation of the same. Cawein said of his poetry that “the dreams which any true poet presents to the world may not be of that imperishable stuff that makes for immortality, but they help humanity for the time being, and that is sufficient, is all he hoped for them; dreams of a beauty that has never died, and that will never utterly perish from the earth, as long as the aesthetic sense is a part of the spiritual nature of man” (Rothert, O.A., 1921, The Story of a Poet.) 

From “Let Us Do The Best We Can”:

Let us do the best we can, I say

and have done with the failures of yesterday:

Let us do our work, whatever it is

Let us do our work, or hit or miss

and the world will take from our hearts its tone

and echo the song that’s in our own,

for happienss lies in the work we do,

whatever it be, or old or new:

And whatever the work, whatever the way,

Let us do the best that we can, I say!35827

See this book and other poetry written by Cawein at the Special Collections library. Search the collection by using KenCatTopSCHOLAR and the One Search online catalog.

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That Muhlenberg Sound

WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections recently acquired a rare set of newsletters that highlight the richness of Southern Kentucky Music and the loyalty of its followers. Journalist, author and Muhlenberg County, KY native, Bobby Anderson produced for several years, a newsletter KL026devoted to “that Muhlenberg sound.” The newsletter, by the same title, was “published every once in a while, and sometimes not that often.” It began in 1994 with Vol. 1, No. 1, featuring discussion of a musical documentary on coal mining, an Everly Brothers festival in Central City, KY and the “Home of the Legends” thumb picking contest winners. Other issues include articles about such varied topics as: a new cassette by the late thumb picker Bobby Barber of Sale Creek TN, Mose Rager Day, “Home of the Legends” thumbpicking open class, Les Haney (former Merle Travis picking buddy) cassettes, National Thumb Pickers Hall of Fame inductions and history. Other issues showcase “behind the scenes” stories such as the tale of how Merle Travis and his wife were married when a couple of other fellows became their “pappies.”

See this newsletter and other Southern Kentucky music related items at the Special Collections library. Search the collection by using KenCat, TopSCHOLAR and the One Search online catalog.

 

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Mammoth Cave Stereoviews 1866

The Department of Library Special Collections at WKU already has an impressive collection of illustrative material related to Mammoth Cave. These items include glass plate negatives, post cards, guide books, etc. A recent acquisition of a complete set Charles L. Waldack’s 1866 stereo views will greatly enhance these materials as Waldack is the first photographer of the cave. The 42 “Magnesium Light Views in Mammoth Cave” were published by E. & H.T. Anthony & Co. and include scenes of the Hotel, guests, the African American cave guides and many interior shots of cave formations. Waldack, origimage015inally from Belgium came to the United States in 1857. It was noted that he brought “sunlight” to the interior of the cave by the use of magnesium, so that one of the greatest natural wonders of the world could be seen by many. His biography from a special edition of the “Journal of Speleological History” (2000) notes: “These were the first high quality photographs produced underground in any cave. Waldack was naturalized as an American citizen after his marriage to Mary Tanner (born about 1849) of Kentucky, who was also a photographer. He set up a photography shop at 31 West 3rd Street in Cincinnati and made many excellent views of buildings, streets, and bridges between 1857 and 1873. Most important was his 42 stereo cards of Mammoth Cave. The Anthony series was continuously printed until about 1872, and 12 of the photographs were printed as engravings in the 1870 book, “A Historical and Descriptive Narrative of the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky” by William S. Forwood.

These stereo views can be seen at by visiting WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections or by clicking on the link to access the images at KenCat.

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ROSA PARKS IN GLASGOW, KY?

Ragerbook004

No, Rosa Parks was never in Glasgow, KY but her defiant and freedom loving spirit was there ten years before her own historic act. It is noted she was not the first person to resist bus segregation and this article from the April 27th, 1944 edition of the Glasgow, (KY) Republican highlights this fact.  Lucy Franklin and Enna [Emma] Collins, sisters, who were in their early 30s, were visiting their hometown and grandmother, Harriet Allan in Barren County. Little did they realize, they were also a part of the birth of the Civil Rights movement and “mothers” also of the movement. They refused to move to the back of the bus, “We’ll sit just where we are. We paid our fare same as anyone else.” The newspaper report notes their arrest for this defiant act and that they “missed the bus.” Thankfully, their brave act in our local community finally allowed others to never “miss the bus” again. Lucy and Emma’s act, like many others, “strengthened blacks’ resolve and ability to resist their “second-class” status in the United States. Thus, their efforts in the period during and after the Second World War, aided by the international attention to race brought by that war and the Cold War, led to a modern civil rights movement. [This] would dismantle legally sanctioned segregation and discrimination in public accommodations within two decades. (CIVIL RIGHTS IN AMERICA: RACIAL DESEGREGATION OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS, p.31.)

Find materials about this topic and other subjects in the Department of Library Special Collections by searching TopSCHOLAR andKenCat or request more information from spcol@wku.edu.

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Filed under General, People

Kentucky Cave Wars

Since the first tourist tract written by Alexander Clark Bullitt in 1844, it seemed  everyone wanted to visit the “Mammoth Cave.” He considered such a visit an almost spiritual pilgrimage.  “Awe and apprehension soon yield to the influence of the delicious air; and after a time a certain jocund feeling is found mingled with the deepest impressions of sublimity. I recommend all broken-hearted lovers and dyspeptic dandies to carry their complaints to the Mammoth Cave, where they will undoubtedly find themselves ‘translated’ into very buxom and happy persons.”

Mammoth Cave is the country’s 26th national park and contains almost 60,000 acres of land in South Central, KY. But, the entire region, because of our 22545771karst topography is riddled with caves. This push for visitors lead to one of the most interesting parts of Mammoth Cave history. It was the period known as the “Kentucky Cave Wars.” It was a time when local cave owners used devious advertising and other illegal means to lure tourists to their underground treasures and away from the “real” cave.  They did this impersonating rangers and flagging travelers off the road before they could reach the cave and national park. A recent book by David Kem, The Kentucky Cave Wars: The Century That Shaped Mammoth Cave National Park, delves into this time by “telling the story of Mammoth Cave’s greatest competitors in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.   From the death of Dr. Croghan and the first competitors popping up in Cave Country, to the national park’s creation and beyond, more than a century of fighting for tourist dollars shaped the decisions in and around the famous cave.” Kem used several photographs and other illustrative materials from the Kentucky Library Research Collections to illustrate his new book. Find materials about the cave and other subjects in the Department of Library Special Collections by searching TopSCHOLAR and KenCat or request more information from spcol@wku.edu.

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Filed under General, Uncategorized