The Bullitt County History Museum

Museum Newsletter - 10 Nov 2006

Friends of the Bullitt County History Museum
November 10, 2006 (Volume 2, Number 16)

Dear Friends,


>> Bullitt County Genealogical Society Meeting November 16.

Friend and Bullitt County Genealogical Society member Betty Darnell will be the guest speaker this month. Betty will be teaching us some techniques on genealogical research.

Meeting is at 7 p.m., November 16, at the old Shepherdsville City Hall, 170 Frank E. Simon Avenue in Shepherdsville.

Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

>>Book Signing at LLoyd House

The book, Kentucky Civil War 1861-1865, available in hard cover only, represents a comprehensive presentation of Kentucky's role in that tragic conflict, as interpreted by Kentucky's finest Civil War scholars and writers. Among the book's distinguished authors are State Historian Dr. James Klotter, professors of history Dr. Lowell Harrison, Dr. James Ramage, Dr. Charles Roland, and former Poet Laureate of Kentucky Richard Taylor. The publisher, Back Home in Kentucky, is bringing several of its authors to the Lloyd House in Mt. Washington for a book signing November 28th at 7 p.m.

>>Meeting time change for Mt. Washington Historical Society

The Mt. Washington Historical Society, which maintains the Lloyd House Museum in Mt. Washington, has changed its regular meeting dates to the last Monday of the month at 7 p.m..

Museum Activity.

>> Edison Cylinder player donated.

Dorothy Gentry has donated a very nice 1898 wind-up Edison Cylinder Sound player and a collection of music cylinders to the museum. It actually cleaned up very nicely and it works! It has been placed in our museum exhibit about communication and the coming of electricity to Bullitt County. It strikes me as I write this article that our Old Stone Jail was built in 1891, so cylinder-shaped music players would have been what was known at that time, with flat records coming a few years later.

The player does lack the trumpet-shaped "horn" that would amplify the music, but perhaps we will come across one some day.

>> Silent Movie Projector Display.

It's kind of amazing how quickly media improved from primitive two-minute Edison cylinders to movies, but by 1915 "movies" (at least silent ones) were common enough to have a theater in Shepherdsville. And we have the silent movie projector that was used in Shepherdsville at that time, on loan from Joe Mooney. The hand-crank projector has been placed on display next to a screen that plays an old silent movie from the 1920's. The "screen" is actually a small, modern, flat-screen TV monitor playing a DVD, but you will keep that as our little secret, won't you?.

I am looking for photos of the old theaters of Bullitt County, if you know of any.

>> Alma Leshe Display Changing

We will be rotating out our display on local artist Alma Leshe in the next month or so, moving in its place a display being developed by the Bullitt County HomeMakers. We are also planning to update one of our last original displays that was set up when the museum opened two years ago. That display case about our pioneer iron furnaces, actually looks quite plain now compared to our newer displays. We are indeed getting better with each new display!

>> Looking for help on Trunnell Cemetery.

I am thinking about taking on a winter project of restoring a small local cemetery known as the Trunnell cemetery. I have exchanged e-mails with a couple of people about the little cemetery and some money has been offered. The cemetery, probably about 100 feet by sixty feet, will need a fence before cleaning (the last time it was cleaned up several years ago, four-wheelers started driving through it), and I would like to add a historic marker. We'll see. If you have any interest or support fro this project, please let me know.

Historic Preservations

I was surprised to learn recently that it is no longer recommended to oil leather and wood items for long-term preservation. At a training session at the Kentucky History Museum, Mike Hudson, Director at the Callahan Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind, said that current thinking is that oil just attracts dust and other pollutants. It is far more important to store the item, such as a leather glove or shaped wood piece, in its proper shape, supported by archival forms or acid-free paper. By the way, visit Mike's fine museum in Louisville when you get the chance. It is a real learning experience in itself.

Most of us know that light is one of the worst enemies of artifact preservation. I was recently reminded of this when some old newspapers were shown to me that had not been taken out of a deep, dark trunk for some sixty years. Though getting brittle, the papers were in surprisingly good shape. You can see quite quickly how light damages items such as paper with this simple experiment: Take a brand new newspaper from under a stack of papers; quickly place one page somewhere very dark; place another out in bright sunlight; compare the two after just a few hours and you may be amazed at how much difference there is in the paper color. Today's cheap newspaper material is particularly acidic and prone to damage, even when stored carefully, but almost all items are prone to damage from light. A museum has to strike a balance between total preservation that would keep items stored away forever, and displaying items out where they can be seen (and light damaged).

For Your Information...

>> Data available on counties.

The U.S. Census Bureau has set up a very informative web site that lists all sorts of data about individual counties. Check out

>> Sealed with a kiss?

From the Fall 2000 edition of Bluegrass Roots comes this interesting tidbit about why Xs are used at the end of a letter to signify kisses. "In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write, documents were often signed using an "X". Kissing the X represented an oath to fulfill obligations specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually became synonymous."

Finally..."The Old Stone Jail"

History is a fascinating thing. As it passes before us we hardly recognize it. Some of the big things are accepted right away as history. The December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor comes to mind. But most history is made up of common things; daily things that in their commonness pass by us almost unnoticed at the time. It is only when we look back that we notice that something was worth remembering, something valuable was almost lost.

One small example is the life of what is now known as “The Old Stone Jail” in Shepherdsville. The old jail was built in 1891 by a construction company known at the time as McDonald Brothers of Louisville. The small jail, built from two-foot thick sandstone, was used until 1946. Two other jails have come and gone since that one, but the old stone jail still exists, mostly out of stubbornness. A number of stories of escape and punishment still float around the county from the time of the old jail. Some are true. Some are fanciful. Some are painful. Most are nearly forgotten. Today the jail has been restored at its original location just behind the county courthouse. Walk in and a sound system tells you some of the stories.

It is a paradox of humanity that in looking back we can look ahead; we can take lessons from the past and apply them to the future. The challenge is to recognize the correct lesson. Hindsight allows us to examine our steps. With a sometimes better perspective, History can show us both good and bad, funny and sad. Lessons can be drawn from all if we will only recognize the lesson.

Usually facts blend with fiction to create legend, and, though no longer pure history, that is OK. Lessons can be learned, and taught, from both.

The biggest challenge is to select the correct lesson.

Thank you for being a Friend of Bullitt County History.

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

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: