One hundred and fifty years ago this month the “mothers, wives, sisters and daughters” of Graves County petitioned the Kentucky State Legislature to “guard them from the direful calamity of civil war”. On May 16, the State Legislature resolved that “this state and the citizens thereof should take no part in the civil war now being waged, except as mediators and friends to the belligerent parties and that Kentucky should, during the contest, occupy the position of strict neutrality”. Four days later, Governor Magoffin notified and warned “all other states, whether separate or united, and especially the United States and the Confederate States, that I solemnly forbid any movement upon the soil of Kentucky, or the occupation of any port, post or place whatever within the lawful boundary and jurisdiction of this state by any of the forces under the order of the states aforesaid”. The State Senate resolved on May 24 that “Kentucky will not sever her connections with the national government, nor will she take up arms for either of the belligerent parties, but will arm herself for the purpose of preserving tranquility and peace within her own borders”. The government of Kentucky had committed itself to the policy of neutrality, but there was a sizable minority in the Jackson Purchase that favored joining the Confederacy.
On December 10, 2005, Robert Howard Grubbs was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Yves Chauvin and Richard R. Schrock. This Nobel Prize recognized Grubbs’ work in the development of the metathesis method of organic synthesis. “Metathesis is a chemical reaction in which atom groups break away and reform, “switching partners”. It is used in organic chemistry and pharmaceutical research, and Grubbs’ work has led to more efficient, simpler and more environmentally benign ways to synthesize medicines and plastics” (www.nndb.com/people).
Grubbs was born February 27, 1942, in Marshall County, Kentucky on a farm between Calvert City and Possum Trot, to Howard and Faye Grubbs. Both parents were from small farm families. Howard Grubbs moved his family to Paducah where Robert in due time graduated from Paducah Tilghman High School. Grubbs credits a junior high teacher with interesting him in science.
Grubbs earned his B.S. and M. A. in chemistry at the University of Florida, and his PhD in organic chemistry from Columbia University. He has been a professor at Michigan State University and is currently Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at the California institute of Technology. He is married and the father of three children.
Grubbs says “The academic model of my mother and grandmother and the very practical, mechanical training from my father turned out to be perfect training for organic chemical research”. His mother, Faye Grubbs, persevered for 28 years to earn her degree from Murray State while teaching school on a teaching certificate. She taught school for 35 years. His father attended night classes when he returned from WWII and became a diesel mechanic. Grubbs has two sisters, one a teacher and one who became the first female journeyman electrician in western Kentucky.
Even in a family that treasures intellectual achievement, being awarded the Nobel Prize must have earned Grubbs at least a well deserved pat on the back!
(This posting created using the following resources: More Profiles of Past – Paducah People, Volume 4, 2010, by Allan Rhodes, Sr. and John E. L. Robertson, Sr.; www.nobelprize.org, Les Prix Nobel, The Nobel Prizes 2005, Editor, Karl Grandin [Nobel Foundation] Stockholm, 2006; http://en.wikipedia.org; and www.nndb.com/people)
Obituary from the Mayfield Monitor’s Wednesday, 8-14-1895 edition:
“T. B. Waller died at his home…after complication of diseases after illness of only a few days. About two years ago, he came to Mayfield…engaged in queenware business until his death.”
Queenware? The online World English Dictionary says queensware is “a type of light white earthenware with a brilliant glaze developed from creamware by Josiah Wedgwood and named in honor of his patroness, Queen Charlotte”. Wedgwood gifted Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, with a tea set made of this tableware which resulted in Wedgwood being appointed Potter to Her Majesty in 1765. Upon receiving the Queen’s permission this tableware was called Queen’s Ware.
Queen’s Ware was not an original invention of Wedgwood but a refinement and development of a cream coloured earthenware already produced in several potteries in Staffordshire, England. Queen’s Ware rapidly became the generic name for creamware. In 1767, Wedgwood wrote to a friend that “it was really amazing how rapidly the use of it (Queen’s Ware) has spread almost over the whole globe, and how universally it is liked.” It was also apparently very affordable in cost for the non-royals.
Wedgwood’s Queen’s Ware is described as being able to stand sudden changes in heat and cold without “injury” and made in a “fine form, thin body, clear and brilliant glaze which formed a perfect background for the ingenious enamellers as well as other more mechanical forms of decoration”. Queen’s Ware will have a mark and the words “Queen’s Ware” on the underside. A partial dinner service of Queen’s Ware, circa 1790, with impressed marks and gilt was auctioned for $17,719 at Christie’s in November of 2008.
So, if Mr. Waller sold Queen’s Ware, and grandma was one of his customers, there may be cash in your cupboard!
(Information used in this posting found in the Graves Co. KY Newspaper Genealogical Abstracts, Volumn 4, Mayfield Monitor Jan. 1894 to April 1896, Copyright 1981 by Don Simmons; Internet sources at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse, www.wedgwoodmuseum.org.uk, www.thepotteries.org/types, and www.christies.com)
Every county in the South has a yearly Fair. It is is time of carnival rides, and food, and horse races, and mule pulls, and “home ec” competitions, which together create such wonderful memories! We take them for granted, never questioning their existence, but “someone” had to have the foresight to make them happen. And the first requirement is space enough for all the activities. In Graves County, it was Dr. Walter who provided that space.
The deed was recorded on June 4, 1948 and it says that “E.C. Walter and wife Geneva Walter have sold…to the Graves County War Memorial Association, Inc., for the purpose of being used only for a Fairground or Racetrack, or Childrens’ playground or Public Park…and should said land ever cease to be used for any of said purposes the title thereto shall at once revert to and be vested in” the Walters or their heirs. There was one other stipulation, that “a marker to be erected at some agreeable spot on the land conveyed with the following inscription therein, to-wit: ‘In honor of Effie Louisa Walter, mother of Dr. E. C. Walter.’”
The fairground was duly created sitting on the north side of Highway 121, north of Mayfield, and is the site of the yearly Graves County Fair. The marker was erected at the entrance to the fairgrounds and is still there today. In addition to the Fair, the Graves County Riding Club holds horse shows on the grounds every year from May to September. Also, horse barns on the fairgrounds are full, almost year round, of harness racing horses whose owners use the racetrack there for training.
Earle Charles Walter was a physician and the president of the Mayfield Hospital. He lived on North 18th Street and raised Saddlebred horses; the east side of the driveway leading to his barn lot was one of the boundaries of this conveyed property, as the current Highway 121 had not been built in 1948. Dr. Walter died in 1958 and is buried in Highland Park Cemetery, Mayfield.
(Information used to create this posting was found in the Deed Records of the Graves County Clerk, The 1949 Mayfield City Directory, Volume 5 of the Graves County Cemetery books published through the Graves County Historical Society, and personal observation at the fairgrounds.)
Felix Holt, author
It was indeed Felix Holt who wrote and told our story. He was born in Murray, Calloway County, Kentucky in 1898. From his father he learned to appreciate great literature, but was destined to complete his formal education with high school. It was perhaps experience rather than education which proved to be the most valuable asset to Felix Holt.
He was a cartoonist for Stars and Stripes, the Army newspaper in Paris, during WW I. This led him to serve as a cartoonist and later as a reporter for the newspapers in Chicago following the War. He moved to Detroit and wrote for the Detroit News and Detroit Times in the 1920s. He began his career in radio in the 1930s and became chief writer for the Lone Ranger serial which had originated from Detroit.
He drew on the family reminiscences and legends handed down from his pioneer ancestors in Kentucky to produce his first novel, The Gabriel Horn in 1951. The Gabriel Horn is the story of “the last immense wilderness of western Kentucky – the Jackson Purchase country”. The Gabriel Horn made it to the movies as “The Kentuckian” in 1955 starring Burt Lancaster. Holt’s second book, Daniel Boone Kissed Me, came out in 1954, shortly before his death. Holt died in Bucks County Pennsylvania June 2, 1954 at the age of 56.
(This posting adapted from the article by Danny R. Hatcher which appeared in the Jackson Purchase Sesquicentennial Publication, 1969, of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society. The above picture accompanied the article and carried this caption: Photograph taken during the 1920s. Photograph courtesy of Mrs. Louise Holt Dick of Murray, KY.)
From the Mayfield Monitor, Saturday, April 23, 1881: “Mrs. Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young, will lecture in Mayfield about the 12th of May.”
What would the wife of Brigham Young be doing on the lecture circuit and why come to Mayfield? Ann Eliza went on the lecture circuit speaking out against polygamy, Mormonism, and Brigham Young after her divorce from Young and excommunication from the Latter Day Saints Church. The divorce and excommunication make her an instant celebrity.
Born September 12, 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois, Ann Eliza, at 4 years of age, went to Salt Lake City with her Mormon parents. Married at 19 and having two children, she divorced her husband when he apparently wanted to take a second wife. Married to then 67 year old Brigham Young when she was a 24 year old divorcee, Ann Eliza filed for divorce from Young in 1873, was excommunicated from the LDS Church in October 0f 1874, and divorced in January 1875. She testified before Congress in 1875 for which she is credited with contributing to the passage of laws against polygamy. Her lecture circuit appearances centered on three (3) themes, but her appeal increased dramatically when she published, in 1876, her exceedingly successful book, Wife No. 19; or the Story of a Life in Bondage. Moving to Michigan, Ann Eliza married a third time, to Moses R. Denning, whom she divorced in 1893. A revised version of her book was published in 1908 but it was not as successful as the original. For all this notoriety, Ann Eliza died in obscurity.
Why did she come to Mayfield? Again, from the Mayfield Monitor, Saturday, March 31, 1877, an obituary: “Mr. John D. Lee, Mormon priest who was shot in Utah Territory last week was born and raised in southern part of Graves County. He was son of John Lee, one of the first merchants of Feliciana and up to 1845 resided near here. Went to Utah and afterwards returned. Married a Florida lady and farmed near Water Valley. He stayed there some time and moved to Utah.” Is there some connection, church affiliation or otherwise, between Ann Eliza’s scheduled appearance and this Mormon priest’s relatives in Graves County? Cursory research didn’t uncover any. Do you know?
Incidentially, it is not known if Ann Eliza actually made the scheduled appearance in Mayfield as subsequent research didn’t uncover reports of such an event.
(This posting created from the following sources: Graves Co. KY Newspaper Genealogical Abstracts, Volume 1, Mayfield Monitor, 2-19-1886 to 12-1-1885, copyrighted 1977 by Don Simmons; Internet sources at www.novelguide.com (Ann Eliza (Webb) Young), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Eliza_Young)
Item in the Mayfield Monitor, Wednesday, February 15, 1893:
“Mittens Willett, well known young actress, died in New York of cancer. Born in Columbus, Kentucky 30 years ago. Appeared on the stage under name of Mary Anderson. In 1884 she married Henry Aveling. He was a suicide in 1891. Left a five year old boy. She was a niece of Col. Len G. Faxon of Paducah” (Graves Co. KY Newspaper Genealogical Abstracts, Volume 3, Mayfield Monitor).
Her obituary in The New York Times, on February 10, 1893, states she made her debut on the stage with Mary Anderson’s company and that she was the daughter of Edward Willett, former editor of the Sunday Dispatch and the St. Louis Globe-Democrat (see The New York Times Internet online archives).
How did Mittens get from Columbus, Kentucky to the Big Apple and was her name really Mittens? Why is the fact that she is a niece of Col. Len Faxon so important that he is mentioned in her obituary?
Leonard “Len” G. Faxon began the Cairo City Times with William Alexander Hacker in Cairo, Alexander County, Illinois in May 1854. Faxon left this newspaper in 1855 to begin his own, The Cairo Weekly Delta. When Faxon left the Times he was replaced by Edward Willett. The two papers merged into the Cairo Weekly Times & Delta and Faxon and Willett published this newspaper and the Tri-Weekly Times Delta. Faxon moved to Paducah and edited the Paducah Herald sometime after April 1859 (see “A History of Newspapers in Cairo, Alexander County, Illinois, 1841-1881 by Darrel Dexter at http://rootsweb.ancestry.com).
Cursory research does not tell us exactly what happen between Faxon and Willett but it is surmised that Faxon took Willett home to visit his folks where Willett met one of his sisters whom he subsequently married and fathered a daughter sometime around 1860. In 1880 Edward Willett was in New York with a Kentucky born wife named Dora and a daughter named Mittens, 20 years old (see U.S. Census records online at www.ancestry.com). But why she was named Mittens or if this is just a nickname has yet to be uncovered. Mittens was a direct descendant of the famous New York Willett family and both she and her father were buried in the family vault in Marble Cemetery, New York City. (see The New York Times obit).
So we can surmise that Mittens went to New York with her family and made a name for herself on the stage. She was important to the editor of the Mayfield Monitor because of her link to the Paducah journalist Faxon and her birth in Columbus.
Mittens captures the imagination not only because of her name, ancestry and her acting career but because her New York Times obituary describes a complex talent: “She was better known as an actress on the road than in this city, though her comely face and bright manners made her a favorite everywhere. From her father she inherited marked literary tastes. She was a frequent and a welcome contributor to the various comic papers, such as Puck and Judge, and has written some very acceptable verse for the magazines.”
Unanswered still is the question: where is her son and mother? Does the Jackson Purchase harbor within its history the continued legacy of this artistic talent or has the thread been knitted up elsewhere?
“John Thomas Scopes, according to Berry Craig, landed a teaching job in Dayton, TN. He told his sister, “I’m going there because it’s a small town with a small school where I won’t get in any deep water.” The skinny, freckle-faced Paducahan made headlines worldwide in 1925 when he was convicted of teaching evolution. “Brother didn’t think there was all that much to what he had done,” said sister Lela Scopes. (Paducahans, Famous and Not So Famous, by Allan Rhodes, Sr. & John E. L. Robertson, Sr., pages 40-42)
The famous Scopes Monkey Trial was held in Dayton, TN and ended with the conviction of Scopes and the imposition of a fine of $100. The decision was appealed and overturned by the higher court because of a technicality (fine imposed by judge instead of jury). Scopes wrote Center of the Storm, a book about the trial, but said little else publicly about it.
After the trial, Scopes did graduate study in geology at the University of Chicago and did geological field work in Venezuela for Gulf Oil of South America. In 1930 he did further graduate study and later took a position as a geologist with the United Gas Company studying oil reserves. He worked in Houston, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana until retirement in 1963.
Scopes was born in Paducah on August 3, 1900 and died there in 1970. He and his wife, Mildred, are buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Paducah, KY, where his tombstone carries the epitaph, A MAN OF COURAGE.
John’s older sister, Lela V. Scopes, was a teacher, in 1925, in Paducah. When she returned after the trial, Miss Lela learned that she was no longer employed as a teacher. She didn’t like to talk about it, but felt the trial also cost her her teaching job in Paducah. Miss Lela was born in 1987 and died in 1989.
(This posting created from the following resources: Paducahans, Famous and Not so Famous by Allan Rhodes, Sr. & John E. L. Robertson, Sr.; Internet at www.findagrave.com and Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_T._Scopes)
Dennis Henry Anderson was born in West Tennessee, near Jackson, in 1866. He graduated from Lane College, Jackson, Tennessee, in 1893 and became a Methodist minister and teacher. He married Artelia Harris, a native of Virginia, on July 14, 1897 while they were teachers in the Fulton, Kentucky public schools. Anderson believed that education and job training were vital for change for African Americans.
He opened schools in Fulton and Graves counties, raising the funds for the building of the first high school in Fulton County in 1905. On December 9, 1909, the 43 year old Anderson began work on the foundation of the first building of what would be called the West Kentucky Industrial College (a predecessor of today’s West Kentucky Community & Technical College). He and his wife worked on the foundation in the evening by candlelight, constructing the school “out of logs and faith.” He went door-to-door, requesting funds for the school. The cornerstones were laid in 1911, and Anderson began a 7 year struggle to get state support for his college.
In 1918, a bill creating the state supported West Kentucky Industrial College was signed by Governor A. O. Stanley “for the mental, moral and physical development of the colored people after the manner of the Booker Washington School of Alabama” by operating a “training school for colored teachers, boys and girls”. The school grew to be, at one time, the second largest black junior college in the United States. In 1938, the teacher-training program at the college was transferred to Frankfort, and the college closed and reopened as West Kentucky Vocational School.
Anderson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Lane College in 1934. He died at the age of 86 in 1952. To read more about Dr. Anderson, see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; Fifty Years of Segregation: Black Higher Education in Kentucky, 1904-1954 by J. A. Hardin, and My West Kentucky, A History of West Kentucky Technical College 1909-1999 by J. M. Blythe.
(This posting created using the following resources: Paducahans, Famous and Not So Famous, by Allan Rhodes, Sr. and John E. L. Robertson, Sr.; the Internet website of the University of Kentucky Libraries, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database at www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA and the Internet website of West Kentucky Community and Technical College at www.legacy.westkentucky.kctcs.edu/aboutus from which the image of Dr. Anderson used above was obtained.)
“Alice “Dolly” McNutt
June 22, 1917 – January 11, 1989
“Madam Eloquent” was a title bestowed on Alice “Dolly” McNutt by those who heard her speak. She was the first woman to become the mayor of a second-class city in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, in 1971. Dolly carried 22 of the 28 precincts and tied for another. During her tenure in office the city enjoyed many federal funds that went for improvement of the infrastructure such as improved sewers and sewage treatment facilities. Also, new water, power, and sewer lines went out to what is now Kentucky Oaks Mall and out Coleman Road. Locally, she fully funded the pension funds for both fire and police departments. Hueblein opened a plant in Paducah to produce vodka. Bill Bartleman and Berry Craig summed up the career of Mrs. Houston McNutt in the Paducah Sun on January 13, 1989. Their article reported Judge J. William Howerton saying, “She didn’t count votes before she took a position on an issue. She decided what was best and worked to accomplish that, without concern about how it was going to affect her politically.” Former Governor Julian Carroll felt Mrs. McNutt was one of the rare people who not only was intelligent, but also had the ability to communicate. “We very rarely see anyone that has both of those abilities and because of it, she had a tremendous influence in her leadership in the General Assembly and as mayor.”" (This excerpt from Paducahans, Famous and Not so Famous by Allan Rhodes, Sr. and John E. L. Robertson, Sr.; used by permission)
Dolly McNutt served in the Kentucky State House of Representatives from 1976 to 1986. An outdoor civic plaza in Paducah is named in her honor. Alice “Dolly” Hite McNutt died of cancer on January 11, 1989 and is buried beside her husband, Samuel Houston McNutt, in Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Paducah, KY.
(This posting also created using Internet sources: www.findagrave.com; www.politicalgraveyard.com; and city of Paducah website.)