Christian County’s 21 historical markers tell stories of the past

The local markers, which are among 2,400 installed statewide by the Kentucky Historical Society, offer lessons in local history.

Lessons in Christian County history can be found in 21 Kentucky Historical Society roadside markers that tell the stories of Civil War generals, a famous clairvoyant, early churches, a U.S. vice president, innovations in agriculture and other topics.

The local markers are among 2,400 that KHS has installed across the commonwealth. The marker program, launched in 1949, has relied on Kentuckians to submit applications and research for stories they wanted to document in their communities. The program was recently put on hold because of staffing constraints resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the KHS website. However, the society maintains an online database of every marker. It can be searched by county, topic or keyword.

Christian County’s 22nd marker, approved earlier this year from an application by retired educator Ruth Lature, of Hopkinsville, honors the legacy of the late Mary Bronaugh. According to newspaper accounts and the family stories, Bronaugh was the first woman in Kentucky who passed the bar to practice law. Bronaugh’s historical marker will become the first devoted to the story of a woman in Christian County. Lature told Hoptown Chronicle that the marker is expected to be installed later this year at the Christian County Justice Center.

Here is a list of every KHS marker in the county:

Bethel College

Marker No. 1269

Location: Site of former college, 15th Street, Hopkinsville 

Description: Organized by the Bethel Baptist Association and opened in 1854 as Bethel Female High School. Used by CSA as hospital during Black Measles epidemic, 1861-1862. Bethel Women’s Jr. College, 1917. Closed 1942-1945; rooms rented to Camp Campbell Army officers. Became co-educational in 1951; name changed to Bethel College. Closed, 1964. Buildings razed, 1966. 

Charles S. Morehead, 1802-1868

Marker No. 1910

Location: Pioneer Cemetery, West 13th Street, Hopkinsville 

Description: This Kentucky governor and congressman was born near Bardstown. A graduate of Transylvania, he began law practice in Hopkinsville. Morehead served in state legislature, as attorney general, in U.S. House of Representatives, and as governor of Kentucky from 1855-59. During his administration, geological survey completed, state prison enlarged, and funds allotted for annual state fair.  

Hoping to avert civil war, Morehead attended the Washington Peace Conference in 1861. Although neutral, he sympathized with Confederacy and criticized Lincoln’s policies. Arrested by federal leaders and imprisoned for several months. Warned of another arrest, he fled to Canada, Europe, and Mexico. Died at his Mississippi plantation, 1868. Buried in Frankfort Cemetery.

Church Hill Grange House

Marker No. 1179

Location: Church Hill, 5 miles south of Hopkinsville 

Description: Built 1878 by the Grange. Used ever since for public meetings. Kentucky’s first farm cooperative, the Church Hill Grange operated a livestock market here. Leading this pioneer cooperative were two Christian County farmers, Winston J. Davie, first Ky. Commissioner of Agriculture, 1876-79, and his brother Montgomery Davie, Master of the Kentucky Grange. 

Christian County Named, 1797

Marker No. 1224

Location: Courthouse lawn, Hopkinsville

Description: For Col. William Christian, native Virginian, soldier, politician, and pioneer. Served as Colonel in Revolution, member Va. Legislature. Moved family to Jefferson County in 1785, where his Virginia land grants totaled 9,000 acres. Killed 1786, defending frontier against Indians. Original county, taken from Logan, included area of 16 present-day counties and parts of 4 others. 

Courthouse Burned

Marker No. 577

Location: Courthouse lawn, Hopkinsville

Description: Gen. Hylan B. Lyon with 800 men invaded Ky., Dec. 1864, to enforce CSA draft law and divert USA from Nashville. In 23 days he burned seven courthouses used by Union forces. (See map on reverse side.) Courthouse at Hopkinsville burned Dec. 12. All county records saved. Commandeered clothing and went on. Returned on 16th, skirmished with US force and moved to Madisonville.

Edgar Cayce

Edgar Cayce
Edgar Cayce (public domain photo)

Marker No. 1313

Location: Entrance to Riverside Cemetery, Hopkinsville

Description: Edgar Cayce-a psychic counselor and healer. Accepted nationally, he was one of the best known in this field. A humble and religious man, Cayce never profited from his predictions. Used reputed gift of extrasensory perception, including medical diagnosis, to better man’s understanding of God’s purpose for him here on earth. Born near here, 1877. Died, Va., 1945. Buried here. 

First Presbyterian Church

Marker No. 1045

Location: Ninth and Liberty streets, Hopkinsville

Description: Organized in 1813, traditionally by the Reverend Gideon Blackburn, a pioneer minister and missionary to the Cherokee Indians. Present church building, not including later additions, was built during the period 1848-1852. Used as a hospital during severe epidemic that swept the camp of Confederates under Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest through the winter of 1861-62. 

Forrest Reconnoitered

Marker No. 618

Location: Hopkinsville Stone Co., U.S. 41, Hopkinsville

Description: CSA General Nathan Bedford Forrest with 6 cavalry companies joined Gen. Charles Clark here November 15, 1861. Forrest made reconnaissance and foraging expeditions out of here. See map on other side. When on one he defeated USA forces in Battle of Sacramento on December 28. After occupation of Hopkinsville for almost three months CSA evacuated. They withdrew into Tennessee.

Installed August 16, 1965.

Genoa

Marker No. 851

Location: Kentucky 107, approximately 5 miles south of Hopkinsville

Description: Winston Jones Davie, 1824-87, home and burial site. Native of Christian County. He was Kentucky’s first Commissioner of Agriculture, 1876-79. Appointed by Gov. James B. McCreary. Davie was an outstanding farmer, banker, legislator, and agricultural writer. Elected to Kentucky Legislature, 1850. Devoted life to improvement of agriculture and rural life. 

Grace Episcopal Church

Marker No. 1690

Location: Sixth and Liberty streets, Hopkinsville 

Grace Episcopal Church
Grace Episcopal Church (Photo by Jennifer P. Brown)

Description: Organized in 1831 by local laymen with aid of George P. Giddinge, Md. missionary, who became first rector, and Benjamin B. Smith, later first Bishop of Ky. and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. First church was built ca. 1850 on Virginia St. On Oct. l0, 1875, Jefferson Davis, an Episcopalian and native of Christian Co., worshiped there. Over. 

Present church built 1883-84. Liberal contributor was John C. Latham, Jr. Under rectors John W. Venable, 1883-94, and George C. Abbitt, 1902-29, church became center for social and cultural community activities. Parish house, a memorial to Emma Glass Gaither, built 1906. Tower destroyed in 1978 by tornado, restored in 1979. Presented by Grace Episcopal Church. 

CSA Commander Headquarters

Marker No. 880

Location: Riverside Cemetery, Hopkinsville

Description: Nathan Bedford Forrest, stationed in Hopkinsville during winter of 1861-62, resided, with wife and daughter, in log house, the third residence south. As colonel, in command 6 companies CSA Cavalry, reconnoitered Union forces between here and the Ohio River, defeated gunboat, CONESTOGA, at Canton, also US force at Sacramento. Withdrew when CSA left Bowling Green.

101 CSA Unknown – Six companies CSA Cavalry under Col. Forrest were camped a mile to the north at the old fairgrounds, while reconnoitering this area in winter, 1861-62. A severe epidemic swept the camp and several hundred men died. When the city enlarged cemetery, 1887, John C. Latham, native of Hopkinsville, had bodies of 101 unknown reinterred and a large monument erected. Over. 

Hotel Latham

Marker No. 1501

Location: Seventh and Virginia streets, Hopkinsville

Description: Erected on this site, 1894, and named for Hopkinsville native and philanthropist, John C. Latham, Jr. Structure was Italian Renaissance style. It became a well-known tourist stop, social and civic center. Among its famous guests: Vice President Charles Curtis, William J. Bryan, John Philip Sousa, Ethel Barrymore, and Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker. Hotel burned, 1940. 

Lewis & Clark in Kentucky

Marker No. 2190

Location: Main & Court streets, Hopkinsville 

Description: William Clark, co-leader of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, and his family stopped at Allsbury’s Tavern in Hopkinsville on Oct. 2, 1809. In 1807 Clark was appointed militia brigadier general and chief Indian agent for the Louisiana Territory. Over. 

Thomas Allsbury was an early tavern keeper in Hopkinsville. In the War of 1812 he organized a company and served as a captain in the First Regiment of Kentucky Mounted Militia. Over. *Sponsored by Ohio River Chapter-Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Fdn.; Christian Co. Fiscal Court; Col. John Green Chapter, D.A.R.; John Manire Chapter, S.A.R.; Pennyroyal Area Museum; Hopkinsville/Christian Co. Hist. Soc.; Christian Co. Gen. Soc.; Natl. Park Service, Ky. Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Com. 

No-Tillage Farming

Marker No. 1759

Location: Approximately 2 miles south of Herndon, Kentucky 107 

Description: First practice of no-tillage crop production in Ky. occurred on this farm in 1962. Harry and Laurence Young, of Christian Co., were among first in nation to experiment with no-tillage techniques, which use herbicides in providing seed bed in residue stubble. Conserves soil and water; saves time, labor, fuel, and often produces higher crop yields. Presented by the Du Pont Agricultural Chemicals Dept. 

Peace Park

Marker No. 1041

Location: At the park, Ninth and Campbell streets, Hopkinsville 

Description: Bequest to city of Hopkinsville with funds for beautification and maintenance by John C. Latham of New York, a native of Hopkinsville. A generous and forgiving gift. Mr. Latham was owner of a large tobacco warehouse on this site that was destroyed, when burned by Night Riders, disgruntled tobacco growers, Dec. 8, 1907. The next year death came to Mr. Latham. 

Pioneer Graveyard, 1812-1858

pioneer graveyard statue
A statue of an early settler in Pioneer Cemetery. (Photo by jennifer P. Brown)

Marker No. 1268

Location: West 13th Street, Hopkinsville

Description: Within this enclosure are buried 185 named persons, and many more unknown, all early settlers of Christian County. The land for this cemetery was donated in 1812 by Bartholomew Wood, the first settler in Hopkinsville. He also donated land and timber for the first public buildings, 1797. He died in 1827 and was buried here. 

Ted Poston, “Dean of Black Journalists”

Marker No. 2518A

Location: Founders Square, Ninth and Main streets, Hopkinsville 

The Ted Poston historical marker was dedicated at Founders Square on May 20, 2017. (Photo provided)

Description: Theodore Roosevelt Poston was born on July 4, 1906, in Hopkinsville. He was a graduate of Attucks High School and Tennessee A&I State College. In 1936 he began freelance writing for the New York Post and was soon hired full-time. He retired in 1972 after spending a career there. He died in NYC in 1974 and is buried in Cave Spring Cemetery, Hopkinsville. 

He covered major civil rights stories of his era and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1949. Poston received numerous other awards, including the George Polk Award in Journalism for national reporting. His book of short stories, The Dark Side of Hopkinsville, was published in 1991. He was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in 2000.

Trail of Tears

Marker No 1042

Location: East Ninth Street at Little River, Hopkinsville

Description: A camping ground, Oct. 1838, for a part of the Cherokee Indians who were forcibly moved from their homes in the Smoky Mountain region of N. Car. and Tenn. to Indian Terr., now Okla. Badly clothed and fed, hundreds became ill and many died, among them the aged and highly respected chiefs, Fly Smith and Whitepath. Their graves on bank of Little River. 

U.S. Vice President

Marker No. 740

Location: Kentucky 117, Herndon 

Description: Adlai Ewing Stevenson, 1835-1914, one of four Kentuckians-more than any state, except New York-who were U.S. Vice Presidents. Others were Richard M. Johnson, John C. Breckinridge and Alben W. Barkley. Stevenson, born here, moved to Illinois, 1852. Member Congress two terms. Elected Vice President with Cleveland in 1892. Bryan’s running mate in 1900. 

Union General’s Grave

Marker No. 882

Location: Riverside Cemetery, Hopkinsville 

Description: Brig. Gen. James S. Jackson, USA, killed in the battle of Perryville on Oct. 8, 1862, is buried in south end of cemetery. Born Woodford Co., Ky., 1823. First Lt., Mexican War, then practiced law in Greenup. He came to Hopkinsville, 1855. Elected to Congress, 1861. Authorized by Lincoln, he recruited 3rd Ky. Cav. during fall 1861. In battles, Shiloh and others, before his untimely death. 

Universalist Church

Marker No. 1625

Location: Kentucky 109, approximately 14 miles northwest of Hopkinsville

Description: Near this site, the Consolation Universalist Church was organized by a traveling preacher, William Lowe, in the home of James E. Clark in May 1819. It was the first Universalist Church organized west of Allegheny Mountains. Early ministers were L.T. Brasher, J.E. McCord, D.M. Wooldridge, W.E. McCord, Joab Clark, and L.M. Pope. Presented by the Kentucky Universalists. 

Christian County’s 21 historical markers tell stories of the past

Jennifer P. Brown

Jennifer P. Brown is the founder and editor of Hoptown Chronicle. You can reach her at editor@hoptownchronicle.org.