Friends of the Bullitt County History Museum E-Newsletter
February 19, 2009 (Volume 5, Number 3)
>>With this edition of the newsletter, I am trying a new format. The brown and beige colors reflect the heritage we share with the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, which has used these colors since its founding. I am also using larger print for the body of text, in response to those who expressed difficulty reading previous editions. Please let me know what you think! This particular edition is shorter (and later) than usual because of the severe ice storms and wind storms that hit our area this month, as well as me taking care of my wife, who has had knee-replacement surgery and is not enjoying the experience. I hope to be back in form next time.
>>Genealogical Meeting this Saturday, February 21. The Bullitt County Genealogical Society will hold its regular monthly meeting Saturday, February 21 at 10 a.m. at Ridgway Memorial Library in Shepherdsville on the corner of Walnut and Second Streets (usual time and place). Daniel Buxton will be the guest speaker, reporting about his research work on African American cemeteries and history in Bullitt County. You can also read some of Daniels' report on our web page. Look at the new additions page.
>>Books donated. Volunteer Bob Cline has donated three books to our collection. One is The Clines and Allied Families of the Tug River Region of Kentucky and West Virginia, a 300 page genealogical study by Cecil Cline; and two books on Allen County: A Pictorial History of Allen County by the Allen County Historical Society, and the 500+ page Allen County Family History. We also shared the cost of a fourth book, Crigler-Kriegler Genealogy 1660-1966 by Arthur Crigler. Thank you Bob!
>>African American Cemetery research work donated.
Society VP and Volunteer Daniel Buxton has donated his extensive research work on the Hall/Shepherdsville African American Cemetery. This 4" thick binder includes information on, and photos of, the cemetery itself, as well as detailed information such as death certificates and other information on those buried there. It's no telling how many hours Daniel spent researching this work, in addition to his work restoring the old cemetery and getting the city to care for it.
So, thank you, Daniel, for this important addition to our research collection, and for all the cemetery work you have done!
For Your Information...
For more information on Kentucky and the "Code Duello" that I write about below, check out http://www.sos.ky.gov/land/journal/articles/bryant/article2.htm .
Finally... Dueling, Our odd Kentucky oath of office, and its connection to Bullitt County
"....I do further solemnly swear (or affirm) that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this state, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this state nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God."
That quote makes up fully half of the oath that nearly every office holder in Kentucky, whether elected or appointed, must swear to every time before taking office.
It is nearly as often laughed at and ridiculed as anachronistic. "A silly waste of time from another time," many say.
But, as with most things, there once was a very real purpose for these words.
And there is some connection with those words and with Bullitt County.
In early America, the tradition of dueling over matters of honor (usually from things as simple as disparaging remarks) had been brought over from Europe. The most famous case that I can think of was that of Alexander Hamilton, one of our nations' founding fathers, who was shot and killed by Aaron Burr in a duel in 1804. In fact, if I recall correctly, Hamilton's son had also been killed in a duel some time before that.
Well, this waste of life became more and more unpopular over the years, but, it seemed, could not be stopped. In Kentucky alone, between 1790 and 1867, there were forty-one recorded duels and probably many more unrecorded. The most well known, and the "straw that broke the camels' back", was that of Henry C. Pope and John T. Gray in 1849. According to an account in "The Louisville Encyclopedia", Louisvillians Pope and Gray were actually close friends, but in an alcohol-impinged game of cards at the Galt House hotel, Pope insulted Gray. Gray responded by hitting Pope on the head with a cane and then hit him in the face. The next day, Pope challenged Gray to a duel and Gray accepted. They met in Indiana, to avoid Kentucky laws, using twelve-gauge shotguns loaded with a single ball, to be fired at sixty feet. Both men fired. Pope missed his mark, but Gray did not, and Pope died soon after.
Outrage over the duel forced Gray to flee to Maryland. By coincidence, Kentucky held a state constitutional convention shortly after that in 1850, and the duel was fresh on the minds of the law makers. Seeing that such prominent people were still having duels and circumventing normal laws, the decision was made to place the words in the constitution that might most effect prominent people (who were often the main participants of the "honorable" order of dueling).
And so it remains to this day.
Oh, the Bullitt County connection? Henry Pope was the grandson of Col. William Pope, who was the brother of Benjamin Pope, a very prominent early settler and land holder in Bullitt, and relative to many other important leaders of the day.
And, by the way, in an interesting example of unintended consequences, the constitutional banishment of dueling actually caused more killing, at least for a time. You see, according to the elaborate "code duello", or code of duels, there was supposed to be strong efforts made to make peace before an actual duel took place. Friends of the opponents were to try to work out agreement between the parties. With such a code no longer to be followed, men often resorted to just killing one another out-right in what was called a "defacto duel".
And so it goes. As I say, there is often movement today to eliminate the dueling words from the oath of office. I kind of like it in there though, for some reason. It reminds me of a more civil time, and yet a less civil time.
I think I prefer swearing that I never fought a duel with deadly weapons, than to having the risk of being expected to actually fight one.
Thank you for being a Friend of Bullitt County History.