The Bullitt County History Museum

Museum Newsletter - 29 August 2014

Friends of the Bullitt County History Museum
August 29, 2014 (Volume 10, Number 8)

Dear Friends,


>> The Bullitt County History Museum will be closed Monday, September 1, for the Labor Day Holiday. Ya'll be safe out there.

>> Bullitt County Genealogical Society meeting September 20. Meranda Caswell will be the guest speaker, this month. Meranda has compiled three photo books; two on Elizabethtown and one on Hardin County. She will be speaking on Elizabethtown, and she will have books with her you can purchase. Our meeting is at the Ridgway Memorial Library meeting room in Shepherdsville at 11:00 a.m. Refreshments are always provided and interested visitors always welcome.

>> The Spencer County Historical & Genealogical Society meets Monday, September 22, 7 p.m., at the library in Taylorsville.

>> The Louisville Genealogical Society meets September 9, at 1 p.m., at the LDS (Mormon) Church on Hurstbourne Pkwy. Sarah-Jane Poindexter and Elizabeth Reilly, of the University of Louisville Archives, will speak on "Caring for Family Documents and Heirlooms." The Society will meet on Tuesday, September 17, 1 p.m., at the same place. Mel Arnold will speak on PERSI, the Periodical Source Index.

Activity & News...

>> 1920's Photos donated. Mark Shepherd, a regular visitor at our museum research room, donated a series of 210 photos, scanned to digital, to our museum. These photos were taken around the Shepherdsville and Bardstown Junction areas in the 1920's. They are originally from Mark's grandmother, Mildred Bergen's photo album. We have put most of them on the museum web site for you beginning here. I have included one here. We are trying to figure out just where this one was taken. Any ideas? Charles Hartley is thinking it might be at Bardstown Junction, and that might be the depot in the background.

>> Railroad Incident Timeline & Map. With that photo of a railroad track in mind, let me tell you of another new page being developed on our web site. I don't think it is shown on the web additions shown below, but we are developing a timeline and map of railroad wrecks and incidents that have happened over the years on our Bullitt County rails. These tracks have been an important main line through our county since about 1855, so there has been a lot of opportunity for tragedy. There is much yet to add, but the developing page can be seen here.

>> Coffee Pot donated. Thanks to museum volunteer, Sherry Lee, for buying and donating a new coffee pot to the museum. The old one was not working well and getting pretty nasty. So stop by sometime and we'll make you a fresh pot of coffee from our shiny new maker! :)

>> "Harlen's Kids" discontinued. The children's magazine "Harlan's Kids" has been offered as a freebie at our museum for the past several months. It was a nice educational magazine that was provided to us for free by its publisher. Sadly, the publishers have determined that they can no longer afford to publish it. After the magazines that we have run out, we will have no more. The magazine was a worthy attempt. My best wishes to the folks at Innovative Publishing.

>> Riedel Family Tree Book donated. John Riedel donated a copy of his book, The Riedel Family Tree 2005, for our research library. The book is a culmination of 25 years of research. Thank you, John!

>> Web Site Additions. As we do every month, we have added quite a bit of new information and stories to our web site. Be sure to click on these links to take a look.

>> Samuels Family Farm Cemetery added. Cemetery updates and additions continue. Last week, a team of volunteers including Barbara & Ken Bailey, Wilma Lemons, and Daniel Buxton, went out to document the old Samuels Family Farm cemetery, taking photos and a GPS location reading. We thank the owner for welcoming our visit and for caring for the cemetery.

>> Was George Washington or Thomas Bullitt the hero? I received an interesting email this month, from a very nice history curator in Fort Ligonier, Pennsylvania. It seems that the folks there are developing a display about George Washington. The story there goes basically that, very early in his military career, George Washington stopped a friendly-fire incident by heroically running between the two forces telling them to stop firing.

The really interesting thing for us is that Thomas Bullitt was said by his family that he did that act, while George Washington sat on the sidelines, being less than his usual self. Apparently the disagreement in who was the hero led to a lifelong animosity between Thomas Bullitt and the Father of our Country.

Here's some links to the Bullitt version of the story. What we are looking for is some solid documentation of the truth, especially of the Bullitt version. The source for the text on our Thomas Bullitt page is located on Google Books, and the source for our Thomas Bullitt and the Bullitt Family page is located on Google Books here. We're hoping for some more solid documentation.

For Your Information...

>> Interested in statistics about Bullitt County? Or any county, for that matter? Go to this census page and you will likely find facts that you never imagined before.

>> Public Library photos of LJ. Our wonderful county library system has added a collection of historic photos to their web site. These Lebanon Junction photos are from a large collection donated to the library by Steve Masden. They can be seen here.

>> Link to History Markers. I was recently asked where one could find a list of Bullitt County history markers. For that, go to our web page here. For a full list of all Kentucky history markers, go to this page.

>> Jefferson Memorial Forest is a large parkland on the western border of Bullitt and Jefferson Counties. Here is a link to some detailed information about the forest, titled "A Culture History of the Jefferson Memorial Forest". Caution, it is a fairly large download.

Final Thoughts...Lilburn Radcliff and learning about "history".

I mentioned in last month's newsletter that I wanted to research a man named Lilburn Radcliff, who died in France on the last full day of World War One. Our records, and news reports of his time, said that Lilburn was from "Smithville, Bullitt County, Kentucky".

That was of double interest to me. Not only was the loss so tragically late in the war, but our historic WWI memorial bronze plaque (preserved in our museum) did not list his name among the dead.

So I started digging into the history, but found no mention of Lilburn in Bullitt County genealogical files. All I could find was the old newspapers (both national and local) from the war reporting his death, and the 1920 listing of his name among those to be on the memorial plaque....and then the final report about the plaque itself being made, with Lilburn Radcliff no longer included.


Then volunteer museum researcher, Bob Cline, solved the mystery. He found that Lilburn was actually from SmithFIELD, Kentucky; Not SmithVILLE. Military releases and newspaper reports of the time had misstated the name of his home town. Even some modern-day web pages about WWI list him as from Bullitt County. He was not from Smithville, which is in Bullitt County, but Smithfield, which is in Henry County. Apparently someone had figured that out just in time before the bronze plaque was cast.

So that's twice, now, that we have found major history errors in WWI reports.

And it's a good lesson in doing research. You just can't automatically believe things, just because they are in print.

Thank you for being a friend of the Bullitt County History Museum.

David Strange
Bullitt County History Museum
Executive Director
Museum Phone: 502-921-0161
E-Mail address:

The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 12 Sep 2020 . Page URL: