Friends of the Bullitt County History Museum
January 31, 2006 (Volume 2, Number 2)
Well, Friends, I am sitting here at my desk at home, fighting a nasty cold. I usually avoid such things, but it feels like this one has found me and settled in for a visit like a bad relative. Ah well, this gives me the chance to write to you.
And there is much to write about, so let's get to it!
Queen Anne style mansion looking for new owner in Shepherdsville
Debra Owen owns a fine old mansion in Shepherdsville and she is seeking a buyer for it. Debra has used the two-story house as a shop for while and now is looking to move on. The mansion is located at 155 North Buckman next to the Gaston's Furniture building. It is the last of the two-story frame buildings in that section of town. Three lesser buildings on the corner were torn down just last week.
Debra says that the house has a lot of history, originally owned by the Croan family (who were some of the first settlers in the area) and probably built around 1880. The house is said to be "high integrity", meaning floors, hardware, etc. are still in very good shape.
She is hoping someone will want to buy it and preserve it. It would be very sad to lose yet another such building in the county, so I am passing along this note in hope that perhaps one of our readers would be interested in it.
Call her at 502-969-1194 if you want more information.
>> Indexing our photo collection continues.
Dub and Alice Armstrong, along with some others, have been making excellent progress indexing our collection of old photographs. They could use some help identifying many of them, though. If you have been around the county for some time, perhaps you can stop by the museum on Tuesdays when the Armstrongs are there and see if you can add any information. We could also use volunteers to scan the photos onto computer, but you will need to contact me to do that.
>> Red Cross display is nearly done.
We had a change of plan on this display from last time I wrote to you. We decided to keep the popular "School Days" display for a while longer, and instead replaced a cabinet display of generic old items with a new Red Cross exhibit. That cabinet now recognizes the long service of our local Red Cross, which was established in Bullitt County in February 1917. The local Red Cross has helped Bullitt Countians through many floods, storms and burned homes over the years, so let's remember them fondly for all the good they have done. The display is not totally complete yet, but it includes some vintage uniforms and mementos, including a vintage letter from the Queen of England which recognizes the Red Cross for its work, and a photograph of a Bullitt County food drive for "the boys at war" during WWI.
Plans call for the County Judge Executive to use the display as a backdrop when he declares March as "Red Cross Month" later in February.
The display needs a few more things yet, but it will be a nice addition to the museum for the next several months.
>> The Old Salt Kettle temporarily off display
Our grand old iron salt kettle has been taken off display for a couple of weeks while a local blacksmith makes up a display stand for us. I hope to report on that next time.
>> Ever hear of Bill Gaither, Charlie Curtsinger (Kurtsinger?)... or Adam Shepherd?
Of course, Adam Shepherd is well known because of Shepherdsville, but I am surprised that I have not seen much real documentation about him. Though we do have some folders of information about him, we should have more at the museum than we do. The museum was contacted this month by a man in Tennessee that is writing a book that will be at least partially about Adam Shepherd, who (if I am remembering correctly...my cold medicine is kicking in) also owned a iron furnace near Nashville, and businesses in New Orleans. The writer will be visiting us in February to do some research.
Pioneer News reporter Steve Thomas has been researching a couple of people that should be of interest to Bullitt County historians. Bill Gaither (born April 21, 1910, Died October 27, 1970) was once well known for his blues guitar music in the 1930's and 40's. This African American man apparently was born in Bullitt County, moving with his mother to Louisville in the 1920's after his parents separated. He may have stopped his music after serving in the military in WWII. Mr. Gaither died in 1970 in Louisville where he was a maintenance man at a restaurant. If you can be of help to Steve verifying this information or can give him more, please contact him at the paper.
Steve is also researching a lead on Charles Curtsinger (perhaps spelled Kurtsinger, I don't have the correct spelling with me) who was a well-known jockey who rode in the famous two-horse race against Seabiscuit (recently shown in the movie of that name). Steve found some information that Charlie was from Bullitt County and we would like to document the connections of him in the county.
>> Joe Mooney recently loaned the museum one of his many great pieces of Bullitt County history. This one is the old silent movie projector that played at the Masonic Hall in Shepherdsville. Today, when so many of us are trying to get a movie theater in the county, many people do not recall that we once had one in Shepherdsville, and another in Lebanon Junction. The two-story Masonic Hall once stood on the corner of Highway 44 and Buckman. The Peoples' Bank building replaced it several years ago. The Hall was once the center of local activity, hosting movies in the 1920's and (I believe) into the 1950's, as well as hosting plays using local leaders in such things as "A Womanless Wedding". The first floor later was used as a drugstore. Joe's old projector is in pretty rough shape but has survived remarkably well, all things considered. I hope to clean it up a bit and make it part of our Electricity-Coming-to-Bullitt-County display when we reorganize that later this year. I especially hope to add a hidden modern projector that will make it appear that the old projector is still playing silent film (perhaps Buster Keaton?).
>> Kentucky Historical Society offers free family history workshops.
The Kentucky Historical Society is making it easier to trace your roots in 2006. The KHS will offer a free genealogy workshop on the second Saturday of each month, from 12:30 - 4:00 p.m. Each session focuses on a family history research topic and offers hands-on research assistance in the KHS Martin F. Schmidt Library, at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in downtown Frankfort.
"African American Genealogy" - February 11
"Genealogy 101" - March 11
For more information, contact Tom Stephens, (502) 564-1792, ext. 4435, or the KHS library, ext. 4460.
>> The Bullitt County Genealogical Society will have its regular meeting Thursday evening February 16 at Shepherdsville City Hall.
Nell Hall, who not long ago gave the museum a great old copper kettle, recently sent along a recollection that has been handed down to her about an Indian attack that occurred in the Camp Crescendo area, where she is from. The story, written by M.I. Troutman in 1903, goes like this (somewhat shortened for this newsletter):
"There was a family of Johnsons who had settled in Bullitt County on a small stream called Cane Run, about three miles north of what is now Lebanon Junction in the late 1780's. Some of the Johnson children were out at the sugar camp after wood for fuel, and while they were gathering the wood they were attacked by a band of several Indians. The oldest boy, Phillip, was killed outright. Elisha was scalped and left for dead, and another brother, Ephraim, was beaten with a club until unconscious. Four other children made their escape to the woods.
Elisha and Ephraim both recovered from their fearful treatment. Elizabeth, one of those to escape, lived to adulthood and told this story to Troutman. Joseph was the third boy of the family, and while the Indians were trying to capture or kill him the other made their escape. The boy was a swift runner and made for a knob that was close by and after running for some time had placed quite a distance between himself and his pursuers. Coming to a deep ravine the boy espied a hollow log lying across it and into it he crept unobserved by the Indians. He had not been in his hiding place long before an Indian in pursuit walked the length of the log in which the boy was concealed.
The three others, William, Elizabeth, and Polly, made their way to a fort on Wilson's Creek, known as Gasher's Fort. Here they found their parents who had gone to the fort for assistance when the attack was made upon their children.
Joseph Johnson lived a number of years and was a soldier of the War of 1812, being with General Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, and was one of the first men of his company over the breastworks. Elizabeth, or Aunt Betsey, married Anthony Shawler and lived on or near the place where the Indian attack took place, until her death which occurred about 30 years ago (probably about 1870). Aunt Betsey Shawler was the mother of Lloyd Shawler, and the mother of C. I. Shawler, late representative of Larue County. Squire Shawler, of Cox's Creek, was another son, and Mrs. Mary Deats, of Deatsville, and Mrs. Susan Napper, of Boston, were daughters."
Recorded memories such as that brings home to us what life was like, right where we stand, not so very long ago.
And with that, my Friends, my cold medication is really kicking in. I am going to my nice comfortable bed in my nice comfortable electrified house, and go to sleep.
Thank you for being a Friend of Bullitt County History!
Bullitt County History Museum
Museum Phone: 502-921-0161
E-Mail address: David.Strange@BullittCountyHistory.org