The Bullitt County History Museum

Museum Newsletter - 6 Dec 2007

Friends of the Bullitt County History Museum E-Newsletter
December 6, 2007, (Volume 3, Number 14)

Dear Friends,


>>Special December 20 Memorial meeting reminder ... 1917 Train Wreck.

The December 20 meeting of the Genealogical Society will be one of our most special ones to date. Anyone in the area should really try to attend this one for a couple of reasons.

This date of our regular meeting coincides with the ninetieth anniversary of the tragic Christmas-time train wreck of 1917, in which 51 people died so long ago just outside the county courthouse where our museum is located. Readers of this newsletter will recall me often writing about it, as well as reporting on our progress on creating a permanent display about the dramatic accident.

Well, we have arranged with county government to host a special memorial presentation at the exact time of the wreck.

We will meet at 5:00 p.m. at our new display in the second-floor hallway of the courthouse, which overlooks the actual site of the wreck. We plan to tell the story of the wreck, the worst in L&N Railroad history. Then, at 5:28 p.m.......the time of the wreck, we will read the names and some detail of those who died. That will be followed by a couple of dignitary speeches. Charles Hartley, author of a recent 44 page book about the wreck, will be available afterward for questions and discussion. I hope to see others as well who have researched the topic.

With so many families in both Bullitt and Nelson counties so brutally affected by that wreck, we expect to see quite a crowd.

We will also have our museum rooms open and available for tours. This will be the first after-hours opening of the museum.

Light refreshments will be available before and after the ceremonies.

So, come if you can. December 20 at 5:00 p.m. at the Bullitt County Courthouse, 300 South Buckman Street in Shepherdsville, second floor.

Handicap access is available through the east entrance.

Be sure to tell others who might have had relatives in this tragic wreck, so that they, too, can come.

There is lots of coverage of this historic tragedy. You can read a short version of the story of the wreck on our web site. The state history magazine, Kentucky Pioneer is featuring an article on it this month. Our local newspaper, The Pioneer News is featuring the story in a series over several editions leading up to the December 20 memorial. And the Courier-Journal will be reporting on it during the week of the memorial. And Charles Hartley's book on the wreck is available for sale!

>> 1917 Train Wreck book for sale.

Charles Hartley has extensively researched the train wreck of 1917, and written the first book that I know of that brings the story together in one place. Charles tells the story in a sympathetic, moving narrative style.

He has also generously donated publication rights of the book to the museum, so all profits go to the museum and we can still sell it at a low price.

The Train Wreck of 1917 book is available at the museum for $5 or it can be mailed for $7. Buy yours today!

By the way, Charles is working on a follow-up companion book that will follow how people and families were affected by the wreck.

>> Courthouse open house and Holiday Party December 13.

The officials and workers of county government are hosting the annual Holiday Party at the courthouse December 13.

The pot-luck lunch is provided by the people that work in county government but everyone is invited. This year they are having two events that day: the usual 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. luncheon, and now a second one in the evening (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) for those who can't come in the daytime. The museum, which is housed in the courthouse, will be open for both events.

I hope to see you at the morning one, but I am tied up that evening.

>> List of Elected Women in Bullitt County Government. >>>>Last call for corrections!<<<<<

As reported last month, local businessman Jim White is donating a nice gazebo for the county courthouse grounds. It is to be dedicated in memory of all the women who have been elected to public office in Bullitt County over the years. You might be surprised how many that actually is....over 64 so far.

Please take a good look at the list. Check for misspellings and other errors, and specially for anyone we have missed. I'm sure there are still several.

Let me know if there should be changes, and I'll get them done. As a side bonus, this will make another nice addition to our web site files.

Let me know soon though! The plaque is to be made in about a week. Updates can be found on our web site.


Among all the other things mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter, these other items...

>> Holiday decorations

Barbara Bailey has done the annual holiday decorating of the museum rooms. Building employees Renee and Donna have really made the rest of the building festive with trees and staircase garland. I set up the large tree (that we collected donations for last year) at the top of the grand staircase, and decorated that.

It all looks really nice!!

>> New GPS unit

Some of us have been talking for three years that we needed a GPS (Ground Positioning Satellite) unit for our field work. A GPS unit is a hand-held device that gives an exact location of where it is held, which is so helpful when documenting locations of cemeteries and historic locations for maps (That also allows a person to find that location again, even if all landmarks have been eliminated...extra important in a rapidly changing and growing Bullitt County).

Well, we finally talked about it at the right time! A visitor to the museum research room, who had had good success in his research, pulled out $100 and gave it to us for the unit. Another person donated more money, and before we knew it, we had almost all the $339 needed for the unit. This particular unit (a DeLorme Earthmate GPS PN-20) not only gives location, but also shows it on a topography map as well as on aerial photos. Data can be transferred to an included computer map that will show all locations we find.

It arrived Friday and Cemetery Committee Chairman Daniel Buxton is studying it for us how to use it to its best potential.

>>Tour of Museum by St. Francis Xavier Joy Club

A fine group of good people from St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church visited the Courthouse and the Museum recently. I love interested tour groups like that and encourage others to arrange such tours. I personally enjoy the exchange of memories and stories with new and old friends.

Holiday Wish list:

This time of year almost everyone seems to be making out gift wish lists. With that in mind, please allow me to suggest a few gifts that would be nice for the museum:

** 300 GB or larger hard drive for our computer that is quickly getting overloaded with scanned photos and documents (cost about $120).

** Pocket-size digital still camera, so we can have one on hand for field work and documentation of artifacts (cost about $200).

** Folding chairs. We need four to eight padded folding chairs for when we have several people working at the museum (cost about $24 per chair).

** 1 GB SD memory card for our new GPS unit, which will allow us to carry more digital information on our cemetery research field work (cost about $60).

** 1 GB thumb drive, which will help us transfer computer information more easily. We could use a couple of these. (cost about $20 each).

** Cheap DVD player. I am using more and more little DVD players to show looped video in the museum displays. A simple cheap one does the job (cost about $35 on sale).

** Electric fireplace logs for our display room fireplace. We have a small set, but we could use a brighter one (cost $100- $400, but I bet there are good used ones setting at homes).

** Used laptop with a CD writer & USB port, and a photo-quality scanner. I would like to have a portable setup that could be used to go to homes, etc. and scan photos to a computer at the site. This would be quite helpful in situations where a group or person would allow us to copy rare photos and documents but feel uncomfortable lending them out. A new laptop that would do the job costs about $500, plus a scanner costs about $250...but a good used laptop and scanner would do fine.

** And of course...Cash is always nice!

Keep the museum in mind as you consider gifts and donations this year. We are a tax-deductible, free service so we will always depend on your generosity to do all the good things we do.


>> Lone Grave damage update.

I reported last month that the historic "Lone Grave" had been damaged, with its 160 year old iron fence destroyed when the land was cleared.

When we called attention to the desecration, the land owner expressed his regret and his desire to "make things right". The question, of course, is how to make such damage right again.

A trustee meeting of the Genealogical Society proposed, at a minimum, that the landowner should pay local artist and blacksmith Phil Fortwienler to make a solid iron duplicate of the original wrought iron fence. Phil tells me that he has been told by the landowner that a check is on its way for the first half of the $1500 cost. He plans to make the fence in early spring.

I'll keep you informed on any progress or problems. You can find the story of the Lone Grave on our web site.

>> Hessey Cemetery tombstones to be reset

Doris Owen happily reports that at long last the fallen tombstones at the Hessey Cemetery are to be repaired and set up again.

The Hessey cemetery, located in Mt. Washington at Highway 44 and Branham Way, is one of the oldest cemeteries in the county and historically prominent people lay at rest there. In large part to the efforts of Doris and others, the cemetery was cleaned up and fenced several years ago, but many of the fallen tombstones were just set to the side.

Now, Laura Proffitt, of McFarland/Troutman/Proffitt Funeral Home in Mt. Washington, has offered to repair and reset the stones free of charge.

Thank you Laura! You are always a good friend of Bullitt County History.

For Your Information...

>>Museum web site adds items often.

Be sure to regularly check our web site. We are adding items weekly, if not daily. For example, we are keeping an updated list of the "Women Elected to Office List" as we learn new names for that project. Several new transcriptions of old documents have been added.

We are doing more and more transcribing of works and old documents in our archives and, when appropriate, adding them to the site for your research use.

You might want to even make our site your front page so you can easily check it when you log on.

Finally...Cholera in Shepherdsville.

"Cholera in Shepherdsville - Town Deserted. - We learn that the cholera broke out again in Shepherdsville last week, and up to Saturday evening nineteen deaths had occurred, making forty deaths in all since it first broke out. The disease was still raging when our informant left, and the town was almost entirely deserted.

P.S. - Since the above was in type, we have seen a gentleman who left Shepherdsville on Sunday evening. He states that there is not a dozen persons in the place. The cholera was raging to a considerable extent in the vicinity of the town."

(Published in the Louisville Democrat on 3 July 1854; and republished in the New York Times on 8 Jul 1854.)

Note from Dave Strange: Look closely in many of our Bullitt County Cemeteries, and you will notice an unusual number of people who died in 1854. Entire families were said to have been wiped out. Though a blatant lover of history, I do think that, most of the time, the "Good Old Days" were often not so good. I fuss and fume about medical care nowadays, but I still don't hesitate to run to it whenever I feel a bit sick.

Thank Goodness for modern medicine and sanitation.

And by the way, thank Goodness for you!

As we come to the close of another year, Happy Holidays to you all, and a Happy New Year too!!

Thank you for being a Friend of Bullitt County History.

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

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: