Tag Archives: Bowling Green

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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Fortress Bowling Green

When Union troops arrived in Bowling Green, Kentucky in February, 1862 after a 5-month-long Confederate occupation, they found a town stripped of its timber, livestock and foodstuffs, its railroad depot set afire, its Barren River bridges destroyed, its secessionist sympathizers in flight, and its Northern sympathizers relieved but still apprehensive at the sight of another occupying force.

Bowling Green defenses, 1863

Bowling Green defenses, 1863

Despite the destruction, the troops also found a daunting array of Confederate fortifications.  Bowling Green, at the confluence of road, rail and river routes into the South, was considered a prize by both sides, and the defenses constructed during their occupation had emboldened the Confederates.  We “are too well fixed for the Yankees to come here,” Tennessee volunteer James McWhirter boasted to his sister.  “If they ever come we will give them a genteel whipping.”

The Confederates, nevertheless, had evacuated without a major clash ever taking place, a stroke of luck that left the Union forces relieved.  “I don’t think it would pay them to attack this place from the looks of the forts around here,” Erasmus Shull wrote his aunt.  Lieutenant Colonel George Jouett was similarly impressed, calling Bowling Green a “city of fortifications.”  The College Hill fort was “an almost unapproachable fortress,” he wrote his mother, and Baker Hill is “quite as strong and perfect.”  Ohio infantryman George Jarvis notified his family of “a glorious but bloodless victory” that “gives us possession of one of the strongholds of this state.”

Accounts of the war came to describe fortified Bowling Green as the “Gibraltar of Kentucky.”  Two of the above letters, however, confirm that this was a contemporary characterization, even if the correspondents were a little unsure of their spelling.  George Jouett found Bowling Green a “Gibralter which could not be taken by assault,” and George Jarvis agreed that “in fact it is the Gibralter of Kentucky.”  Only lack of supplies, illness, and setbacks elsewhere (losses at Mill Springs and Fort Henry, and pressure at Fort Donelson) had convinced the Confederates to withdraw before a serious test of its defenses.

These letters about Bowling Green’s Civil War fortifications are part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click on the links to access finding aids, and click here to browse a list of our Civil War collections.  For more, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

What We Did Over Summer Vacation

Summer is quickly drawing to a close and thanks to our student worker Jack, we have quite a lot to show for our summer.  He has been diligently scanning scrapbooks, photographs, negatives and original documents.  Here’s a taste of some of the new old items now available on TopScholar.

1980 WKU Football Scrapbook

Bowling Green Business University Scrapbook

College Heights Herald, Vol. 54, Nos. 1-21 [the remaining numbers will be available soon]

College High Basketball Scrapbook 1946-47

Concerns Presented by Faculty Senate

Cook Twins Scrapbook

The Fourth Estate, Sigma Delta Chi publication

Gary Ransdell Installation negatives

Kelly Thompson Chapter, Public Relations Student Society of America records

Lady Toppers Basketball Press Releases, 1992-93

Phi Alpha Theta Petition

Progress Report of the Faculty Participation Committee

ROTC 1942 Notes

Stickles History Club Minute Books, 1924-1957

University Senate – Executive Committee Meeting Minutes

Vietnam Moratorium Correspondence

Voices, publication of the Western Writers group

Western Players Scrapbooks 1934-1960

WKU Advertising Club newsletters

Thank you, Jack!

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Filed under University Archives

Reservoir Hill from Vinegar Hill (WKU)A recent donation of 11 stereographic cards opens up a view of early Bowling Green, KY. These images are from 1886 and show downtown Bowling Green, the Barren River, an early school, the Fairview Cemetery, Southern Normal School, Main and State Streets and two bridges. Many of these albumen images have not been seen before. Stereographs like these were a vehicle for popular education and entertainment in the latter part of the nineteenth century.  These images were mounted on cardboard with two almost identical photographs, side by side, and they had to be viewed with a stereoscope. Viewing them in this way created a three-dimensional effect. These images gave an opportunity for many to see views of far-away lands in a way that was not available to the general population. Their affordability and easy availability also made stereography a popular pastime that lasted over six decades. See other images of Bowling Green, KY by using KENCAT at kencat.wku.edu

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by | October 10, 2013 · 7:55 pm

Military Broadsides

In 1943, World War II was in full swing. U-boats were sinking, London was being bombed, the Trident Conference was taking place, Italy was being liberated by the Allies—and military squadrons were heading to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Why did so many squadrons come to town? They were using Bowling Green as a part of their troop training. We know that our airport was used for training beginning in 1943. The 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was deployed to the Bowling Green Airport for about four months in 1943 and 1944 and some of the other divisions were probably doing air training as well, though the reasons for a tank division to be deployed here is less clear.

Jim the Pilot

Jim the Pilot

Five military broadsides found in the WKU Archives were apparently made by different squadrons as thank you cards to the citizens of Bowling Green for their hospitality. These broadsides offer some interesting information about soldiers who were about to head off to war. They reveal a sense of humor that underscores the stereotype of the happy-go-lucky, charming, confident American soldier boy. Nicknames like “SNAFU,” “Tough Boy,” and “Toothless” pepper the signatures. Corporal Martin “Snooks” Schnall Jr. is called “Headquarters (Brains of the Outfit)” on one poster. Some posters include references to the battalion’s purpose, like a tank or the outfit’s insignia or a plane, piloted by “Jim,” whose picture has been cut out and pasted into the airplane’s window.  [Click on images to enlarge].

Ship

Ship

One broadside is a complete mystery, though. Why does it have two ships from different eras passing or a sketch of a dog? Instead of including the signatures of the men in the outfit, there is an illegible inscription at the top and a lot of shorthand at the bottom.

Dog

Dog

There are a few other unanswered questions. What brought the tank battalion to town? It was the only part of its division to see engagement; did their training here help them get there and get through? Were hand-drawn posters a typical thank you to towns they visited? And what on earth does this shorthand say?

Shorthand

Shorthand

If you have the answer to these questions or know someone who was attached to any of these squadrons, we would love to hear from you! Please contact archives@wku.edu or leave a comment. Use the links below to take a closer look at the broadsides in TopScholar.

These and other university records are available for researchers to use in the Harrison-Baird Reading Room of the Kentucky Building, Monday-Saturday, 9 to 4.

Blog post written by WKU Archives Assistant Katherine Chappell.

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Genealogy Question of the Week

Baptizing at Dennison Ferry, Green River

My great-grandfather was Baptist Minister; do you have any church records or minutes in your collections?

Church records are among the best records for genealogists to locate and study. They can provide information that is not recorded in any other source such as births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, and even the burial location of your ancestor. Additionally, you can learn about your ancestor’s participation in the church’s life or separation/transfer from the church rolls. Discipline in churches has changed dramatically over the years but in many cases, members were removed from the church for non-attendance, profanity, drinking or dancing. They can reveal the extent to which your ancestors participated in religious affairs. They are also helpful for tracing family relationships or migration patterns.
For those ancestors who were ministers, priest or rabbis, biographical information may be found in a printed source, obituary listing or in church or synagogue archives.

Finding theses important records can be difficult. Many churches do keep good records but they may have been sent to a central archive, placed in private hands or given to a historical society or special collections library. Fortunately, many churches have microfilmed these records, or at least given copies to local organizations.

The Kentucky Library and Museum’s manuscript collection of church records can be found at
http://www.wku.edu/Library/kylm/collections/inhouse/mss/ChurchRecords/index.html
Other records have been published in book form and may be found by using  TOPCAT.

There are excellent chapters on the information provided by church records and how to locate them in The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, edited by Arlene Eakle and Johni Cerny (Ancestry Publishing, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1984) and in Val Greenwood’s revised edition of the Researcher’s Guide to American Records (Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, Md., 1990.

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Far Away Places Presents John All

mteverest_014
On the evening of March 17 at Barnes & Noble, the WKU Libraries’ “Far Away Places” international talk series featured Professor John All from WKU’s Department of Geography & Geology. While studying climate change in the Himalayas in 2010 as part of the Fulbright Scholar program, he scaled the treacherous northeast ridge and reached the summit of Mount Everest, at 29,035 ft. the world’s highest mountain on May 23rd.

Photo Album | Audio | Podcast

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Filed under Events, Far Away Places, Flickr Photos, General, Latest News, Past Events, People

When is a Music Program Not Just a Music Program?

Iolanthe Program

Iolanthe ProgramWhen it is the program for Gilbert & Sullivan operatta Iolanthe performed at WKU March 29, 1927. This program is chock full of ads for Bowling Green businesses. Some ads tell us where the business was located, especially in the downtown area. It is also a record of how much support the citizens of Bowling Green have given to WKU throughout the years.

And, of course, it is a program of the performance, giving a list of the principle actors, members of the band, orchestra and chorus as well as the officers of the Strahm Music club. Quite the bang for the printing buck for six page program.

This and many other music programs are available to researchers in the Harrison-Baird Reading Room of the Kentucky Library & Museum, 9 – 4 Monday through Saturday.  The entire program is available on TopScholar:  http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/dlsc_ua_records/82/

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Finding Family in City and Telephone Directories

The Kentucky Library and Museum (KLM) holdings include many city and telephone directories. There are similarities between the two and if used skillfully, they can reveal a great deal of personal and family history information such as occupational data, relationships, home ownership and locations. They also can help with identifying persons with the same names or initials. City directories in particular list items such as asylums, cemeteries, fraternal organizations, newspapers, railroads and schools. They also have city maps with defined boundaries and can, through the years, include the changes of street names. Even in the addenda, there is pertinent information that was “too late for insertion” or and in some select directories, there were lists of deaths in an epidemic year. City directories were often compiled through door-to-door surveys and so had the benefit of verified information from the householder. The library has city directories from Bowling Green starting in the late 1880s and telephone directories starting in the 1920s.
February, 1958 Telephone Directory

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