Monthly Archives: June 2013

Good(?) For What Ails You

Many of the collections in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library offer evidence of the drastic treatments visited upon their patients by 19th-century physicians.

You will inject a large tea spoonful of the solution in the large bottle up each nostril three times a day. . . . a half hour after each injection you will drop up each nostril six or eight of the Black drops.  This was the sinus-rocking remedy prescribed about 1840 to Colbert Cecil of Pike County, Kentucky, for an unspecified ailment.  About the same time, W. P. Payne recommended to his cousin the following treatment for cholera:  In all cases of great puking and purging or cramp take 2 parts [of preparation] no. 6 & 1 part spirits of turpentine (warm) and rub the patients stomach bowels, spine legs & feet well with it.

Hart County physician's prescription, 1909

Hart County physician’s prescription, 1909

Many physicians originally acted as their own apothecaries, not only prescribing but preparing the potions they recommended.  With the late 19th-century separation of medicine and pharmacy into two distinct professions, however, patients began to take their prescriptions to a drugstore to be compounded by a pharmacist.  In addition, the 20th century brought closer regulation of dangerous or addictive pharmaceuticals.  Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections include evidence of these developments.  Bowling Green druggist John E. Younglove, whose store was a fixture on the downtown square, kept recipes for pills, salves, tonics and other curatives for both humans and animals.  In Glendale, Kentucky, Dr. Warner J. Shacklett recorded his orders for opiates as required by a 1914 federal law.  In Hart County, doctors sometimes used prescription pads supplied by local drugstores, complete with advertising.  When national prohibition restricted the dispensing of remedies containing alcohol, Dr. James O. Carson of Bowling Green wrote Lattie Robertson Coombs an order for medicinal liquor (to wit, a pint of whiskey) on a Treasury Department form for delivery to her druggist.

Prohibition-era prescription for medicinal liquor, 1933

Prohibition-era prescription for medicinal liquor, 1933

Click on the links to access finding aids for these collections.  For more collections relating to doctors and pharmacists, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Charles Smith recently returned from a conference in Bournemouth, England, where he was an invited speaker at the ‘Unremitting Passion for the Beauty and Mystery of the Natural World—Alfred Russel Wallace Centenary’ event held on 7 June at the University of Bournemouth.  The sponsoring organizations were the Linnean Society of London, the Society for the History of Natural History, and the University of Bournemouth.  Dr. Smith spoke on the subject ‘Wallace on Natural Selection: What Did He Really Have in Mind?’  The following day he and other attendees were bused out to the site of Wallace’s grave, and were entertained by a nature walk nearby.

Dr. Smith speaking at the conference

Dr. Smith speaking at the conference

Dinner at Bournemouth

Dinner after the conference for invited speakers.


Wallace’s gravesite, with marker consisting of a petrified tree trunk.


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Renovations are underway at Cravens Library

cravens_construction_insets_finConstruction workers are making great improvements to the rooftop area of Cravens Library. Work began May 13 to fix the wall around the roof and the roof. To ensure a safe environment, the exterior of the building has been fenced off to patrons; however, the building is open and accessible through the ground and 4th floor entrances as well as the Helm Java City entrance. All entrances are expected to be open at the beginning of the Fall semester in August.

According to Daniel Peach, Library Facilities Coordinator, the renovation was definitely needed. “The roof has been in disrepair for some time now, most recently leading to massive leaking on the 7th, 8th, and 9th floors of Cravens,” said Peach.

The roof repairs are scheduled to continue through October 11, but will not limit access to the building in any way.

Photo Album

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A Daring Escape

Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia

Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia

Prison escapes make for good stories.  Stir in the additional aspects of the U.S. Civil War and the atrocious conditions of the famed Confederate Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, and you have all the makings of a great narrative.  One of the most stirring of all Civil War prison escapes involved a Kentuckian. Andrew Graff Hamilton (1833-1895), of Butler County, Kentucky, served in the 12th Kentucky Cavalry (Union) and worked his way up to the rank of Major.  He was captured at Jonesboro, Tennessee, in August 1863 and sent to Libby, the Confederacy’s sole prison for Union officers.

While at Libby, Hamilton met Colonel Thomas E. Rose, who shared his desire for freedom and a return to active service.  They formulated a daring scheme to escape.  By prying loose bricks from an old kitchen fireplace, they were able to access the prison’s basement known at “Rat Hell” because of its numerous rodent denizens.  From the basement, they determined to tunnel to a nearby open sewer and escape.

As the plan developed, more men were involved.  They took turns digging the tunnel, because lack of lighting and oxygen exhausted the men who were only working with a broken shovel and two knives.  After a tunnel to the open sewer failed, the men decided to burrow fifty feet eastward to a lightly-guarded adjacent warehouse.  On the night of 8 February 1864, the tunnel was completed.  The following night, 109 Union officers used the tunnel to escape.  Forty-eight were quickly re-captured, but the others reach freedom, including Hamilton.

Hamilton’s participation in this celebrated escape was known, but not properly documented until 28 years later, when the Libby Prison was effectively razed and reconstructed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  At a reunion of the surviving participants in Chicago, Hamilton’s role as the project’s chief engineer was acknowledged.  Only two years later, Hamilton was murdered by two drunk youths right outside Morgantown.  The celebrated prison escapist was 62; he was buried at Reedyville.

On Saturday, 15 June 2013, a historical marker was erected to recognize Hamilton’s role in the Libby Prison escape.  Located on the courthouse lawn in Morgantown, the marker extols Hamilton as “a leader of one of the most incredible prison escapes of the Civil War.”

The Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of the Special Collections Library owns some original documents and numerous news clippings about Hamilton that were donated by his family.  To see a finding aid to this small collection click here.

Cross section of Libby Prison Showing Escape Route

Cross Section of Libby Prison Showing Escape Route

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Amy Hardin took a last splash in fountain in front of Helm Library



Amy Hardin, Director of Development for WKU Libraries, took a last splash in the fountain in front of Helm Library as part of her farewell to WKU. Hardin began a new position at Middle Tennessee State University this past week. We thank her for her work at WKU Libraries and wish her well in her new endeavors.

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“Love, Love, Love Ken”

Moment of freedom: Ken Fleenor arrives at Clark Air Force Base, March 14, 1973; Ken and Anne Fleenor reunited.

Moment of freedom: Ken Fleenor arrives at Clark Air Force Base, March 14, 1973; Ken and Anne Fleenor reunited.

“I sometimes think of home and Western Kentucky University and possible retirement there.”  So wrote Major Kenneth R. Fleenor (1929-2010), a Bowling Green native and 1952 WKU graduate, in a letter to his wife and five children in Hampton, Virginia.  Four years earlier, on December 17, 1967, the Air Force pilot had been shot down during a combat mission over North Vietnam, seized by a mob, then beaten, tortured and starved almost to death.  After spending a few weeks at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison, he had been transferred to a nearby facility nicknamed “the Zoo,” where he would spend more than five years as a prisoner of war.  When Fleenor was finally released and returned to the U.S. on March 14, 1973, he was 30 pounds underweight and permanently damaged by the physical abuse he had endured.

But Fleenor’s priority on returning, he wrote, was “strictly on reestablishing myself as husband and father to my wife and kids, and to reintegrating myself into the Air Force as an Air Force officer.”  This he did, serving at Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas until his retirement.  He never moved back to Bowling Green, but came home to WKU on April 15, 1973, when the University celebrated “Ken Fleenor Day.”  After retiring, Fleenor went into business and held various public service positions, including mayor of Selma, Texas from 1987-1994.

The Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library was honored last year when Fleenor’s family donated a collection of correspondence, artifacts, photos, videos and other records focusing on his military career, and in particular on his years as a prisoner in North Vietnam.  Included are letters between Fleenor (who often signed “Love, love, love Ken”), his wife Anne, his children and other family members, written over the years as they tried to support each other, manage their lives, and look forward to his freedom.  Some of the letters bear the markings of North Vietnamese censors; one of them duly noted, perhaps for propaganda purposes, a correspondent’s hopes “for an end to this terrible War.”

Click here to download a finding aid for the Kenneth Fleenor Collection and to read some of his and his family’s extraordinary letters.  For other collections about the Vietnam War, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Collection Documents the State Insect

Viceroy Butterfly painted by Nellie Meadows of Clay City, KY

Viceroy butterflies painted by Nellie Meadows of Clay City.

Many Kentuckians purchase license plates that sport a colorful butterfly, but few can probably identify the fluttering beauty as the Commonwealth’s state insect, the Viceroy butterfly.  And even fewer would know that two Warren County women led the effort to obtain that designation from the Kentucky General Assembly.

In 1987 State Garden Club of Kentucky (GCK) president and Warren County resident, Jo Jean Scott, asked a fellow Warren Countian, Lillian Pace, to serve as the organization’s “Chairman of Conservation and Preservation of Butterflies.”  Within a year, Scott asked Pace for a nomination of a butterfly for the state insect to present for approval at GCK’s October board meeting.  Scott even suggested the Black Swallowtail.  By December 1988, after contacting several state offices about the matter, Pace and Scott–with the help of R.A Scheibner, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky–had selected the Viceroy as the best candidate.

By January 1989, the the GCK had approved the Viceroy nomination and local politicians advised Scott and Pace to contact Senate President Pro Tem John “Eck” Rose of Clark County to sponsor the legislation.  Pace finally made contact with Rose’s office and the legislation was drafted.  She also communicated with Powell County artist Nellie Meadows about painting the butterfly and then issuing a limited edition print.  She instructed Meadows:  “I see the Viceroy more often in late summer feeding on goldenrod (State Wildflower), butterfly weed, and other milkweeds.  Use your discretion as to the plants you wish the Viceroy to be on.  I would like to have at least two Viceroy Butterflies painted in the picture or more; with wings open and wings closed.”

The resulting print was praised for its beauty and sales were brisk.  Rose was also successful in guiding the legislation through the General Assembly.  Senate Bill 29 was signed into law by Governor Wallace Wilkinson on 16 Mary 1990.  Pace’s interest in butterflies never waned, and she continued to serve as the GCK’s state butterfly chairman for another decade.  She was pleased when the image of a Viceroy was selected to appear on Kentucky license plates in 2002.

The Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of the Special Collections Library is honored to house the Pace Family Papers which contain Lillian Pace’s collected information about butterflies.  The collection documents her other gardening organization activities and contains information about the family of her husband, Bowling Green dentist Dr. Robert N. Pace.  Click here for a finding aid to the Pace Family Papers.  To locate other finding aids for our collections, search TopSCHOLAR.

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WKU Libraries celebrated Peggy Wright’s birthday in Cravens on June 3.

DSC_0818Happy 88th birthday dear friend of the Libraries and best wishes for a happy, healthy year!

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WKU Hangouts

The Goal Post, Hilltoppers Lunch, HUB Pizzeria, Nite Class just to name a few. Did you / do you have a favorite hangout?  Tell us about it.

Hilltoppers Lunch

Hilltoppers Lunch

Goal Post

Goal Post

Nite Class

Nite Class

Check out this map of BU-related sites and hangouts as well.

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