The Best of 2018
2018 was an eventful year for CWGK. Numerous teachers, students, researchers, fellows have accessed and utilized the database. 2018 also saw the publication of our 1,000th document. We also started #MondayMystery on social media to help our team discover more Kentuckians.
To recap our year, we’ve organized a series of “Best of” lists that chronicle everything from our individual takes on the most Tragic Case (deaths) in Civil War Kentucky to the one place we would like to travel back to. We hope you’ll enjoy reading these lists these as much as we enjoyed creating them
1.) MOST TRAGIC CASE: The database does not lack unusual and/or gruesome deaths. Each editor has selected the most memorable demise so we asked the CWGK Team to determine the most tragic case in the Archive.
Natalie: While taking refuge for the night in a church, a sleeping man was bludgeoned to death and robbed of the six dollars in his possession. The accused were two men whom the victim had met at a turnpike only one mile from his place of rest. As the three men had traveled together to the church, the victim was evidently unaware that he had anything to fear. To make matters even worse, his body wasn’t discovered until 17 days after the murder had taken place. “I consider this the most aggravated, cold blooded and unprovoked murder I ever heard of,” wrote C. D. Shean, asking that a reward be offered for the capture of the accused men. (KYR-0001-005-0009)
Emily: Thomas Edrington while in a fit from severe alcohol deprivation murdered his wife. He suffered from a severe form of Alcohol withdrawal, delirium tremens. In a petition to Governor Thomas E. Bramlette in 1863, he asked for executive clemency from the verdict of manslaughter based on the defense of insanity. “It like to Broke my poor heart to think of sutch A thing as that to loose my nearest and dearest friend whitch those that knowed us has often said they never seen A more happyer Couple in there life than we were we never had anny Malice towards each other” stated Edrington, in his plea to be released from the verdict and state prison. (KYR-0001-004-0160)
Graduate Research Assistant: Taylor County brothers Merritt and Vardiman Dicken, about 23 and 21 years-old respectively, were both shot and killed in early December 1864 while searching for their stolen mule. They first encountered trouble at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Rinehart in Marion County. Two strangers arrived there on horse and pretended to act as their guides until shooting them both with pistols. The wounded brothers escaped and came upon Michael Foley, a railroad worker and Union Army veteran, who mistook the Dickens for Confederate guerillas and attempted to arrest them. Merritt Dicken refused to surrender and, as he attempted to escape, Foley shot and killed him. Vardiman Dicken died of his wound days later. Governor Thomas E. Bramlette pardoned Foley of his murder charge, believing that he made an “honest mistake” and stated, “No man who kills a guerilla should suffer if I can prevent it.” (KYR-0001-004-1380)
2.) MOST MEMORABLE NAMES: Our editors have compiled a list of the Top 5 most memorable names encountered in the CWGK database in 2018. You can search these names here.
- Rye Curry
- Michael Scott
- Queen Victoria Lucas (daughter of Squire Lucas)
- Liberty Langford (who was arguing that a public road shouldn’t be built over his property)
- Joel Noel
3.) THE TIMELESS TRAVEL: Finally, we’ve asked each editor to select one place from the CWGK archive that they would most like to visit.
Natalie: I would most like to visit the Capital Plaza Hotel in Frankfort, Kentucky, specifically on the evening of February 24, 1863, to attend the reception held by the governor and Kentucky government in honor of the Union Ladies of Kentucky. With attendees counting among Kentucky’s high society, I’m sure discussions were held that shaped the course of the state’s history. And who wouldn’t love to see 1860s fashion on full display? (KYR-0362-001-0001)
Emily: Located in Kenton County, Latonia Springs was the hot spot for society during the Summer and during outbreaks of disease. Similar to the mineral springs in Bath, England, Latonia served as a retreat to help cure all ills. I would most like to “take the waters” and discuss with those who anticipated the war in 1860. During the Civil War the springs transformed into a convalescence space. While it would be a fascinating place to visit today, the Springs closed in 1910. (O00009485)
Graduate Research Assistant: The Steamer St. Patrick traveled between Louisville, Kentucky; Cairo, Illinois; and Memphis, Tennessee on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers during the mid-1860s as the Civil War reached its conclusion. Along with Fulton County minister Nathaniel N. Cowgill, who wrote to Governor Thomas E. Bramlette in May 1865 from this steamboat, passengers witnessed both times of war and peace in this border region where the North meets the South. I would most like to board the St. Patrick at this time to view the landscapes, speak with men and women regarding the current events, and to better understand what Kentucky and its neighbors experienced during this era. (KYR-0002-225-0068)
4.) MOST OUTRAGEOUS STATEMENT: Our documents are not short on their own humor or scandalous affairs. Each member of the staff was tasked with finding their favorite one-liners.
Natalie: “His wife is a poor distressed woman, and the condition of her husband Makes her nearly crazy.” (About the wife of a “no good” man who was imprisoned for quarreling–KYR-0001-020-1212)
Emily: “May the Lord grant that these Duch and all the Duch in Lincoln Army May be Put in front of Batle for they are all Aboliost.” The petitioner here was mad at the Dutch for starting a fight and then joining the Union Army, and you guessed it, he was a Confederate supporter. (KYR-0001-020-1219)
Graduate Research Assistant: “Mr Darnall, I think, too young for such an important position besides, he has been Connected I understood with negro recruiting, which you know would to a great extent paralyze his usefulness.” Maysville’s Robert A. Cochran changed his mind about signing a petition a few days before, and here he does not hide his opposition to Darnall commanding a local militia company. (KYR-0002-225-0070)
5.) MOST REFUSED PARDON: A major component of the CWGK archive is requests for executive clemency. We asked the team to identify a document where they believe the evidence was there for the pardon, but the Governor seemed to have an “off” day.
Natalie: Richard Lucas from Shelby County was fined $200 for keeping a tippling house, though he claims to have had a federal license to sell alcohol. He begs Governor Bramlette to remit his fine as he is dying from tuberculosis and it is unlikely he will recover, and he does not wish to burden his family with the fee. His neighbors confirm in his petition that he had a license at the time, is an honest man, and is undoubtedly dying from the disease. Gov. Bramlette refuses him a pardon. What makes Bramlette’s refusal even more tragic, in my opinion, is that the document shows that he initially offered a 12-month respite, but crossed it out and wrote “Refused” instead. Even a respite would have been a little more compassionate! (KYR-0001-004-0563)
Emily: We don’t often come across a continuous set of “Refused” pardon request. However, between February and March 1864, Thomas E. Bramlette consistently refused these request to help individual Kentuckians. I know, I know, it is his prerogative to give clemency but I mean come on. Fingers crossed as we get into April 1864, he changes his tune.