The Bullitt County History Museum

Museum Newsletter - 12 July 2006

Friends of the Bullitt County History Museum
July 12, 2006 (Volume 2, Number 10)

Dear Friends,

Announcements and lots of 'em this time.

>>Important Announcement. Cemetery Re-dedication Ceremony.

Most of you who have been involved with the museum for a while know, we have been a part of a large cemetery restoration project. Over the past twelve months a very successful 3-way alliance of the museum, a group of Scottish Rite Masons, and the city of Shepherdsville have been working on an old pioneer cemetery in town. The cemetery, located in Shepherdsville near the Salt River, had been known as far back as the 1930's as "the abandoned cemetery". It had gotten so bad that, even though its three acres contained some 300 graves, some people living right next to it did not know a cemetery was there.

Well, they do now! The Scottish Rite volunteers and city crews cleared over eighty trees and tons of underbrush. One old tree had completely overgrown a 14" wide tombstone. 30 stones were repaired and many more straightened. With the aid of a grant obtained by the museum through the Kentucky Governor's Office of Local Development, a new fence and historic marker were erected and fresh grass sewn. Best of all, the city council voted unanimously and energetically to accept the cemetery into their permanent care. And it all looks great!

On August 5 we celebrate the achievement and honor those resting souls who had been so long forgotten.

And what an impressive group they are! Extensive and ongoing research by Betty Darnell, Jim McClure, and museum volunteers have found past officials such as judges, county attorneys, county and court clerks, and senators buried there. We found a father and son (Crist) who died a month apart, the son the victim of a shooting. We learned of the 1854 choler epidemic that killed so many in the county. There are literally dozens of interesting individual stories to be found and further researched. Betty Darnell had written details on many of these in the Bullitt County Genealogical Society quarterly, "The Wilderness Road", and we continue to add to that information.

In fact, there are such good stories we have decided to do an unusual thing for the re-dedication ceremony.

We will be having several people recreating individuals buried there. As we do our formal ceremony at the new iron gateway, individual re-enactor volunteers will be standing next to the grave of the person they are representing. Each person will know something about the honored deceased. After the ceremony, everyone will be invited to walk into the cemetery and learn a bit about a few of the newly-remembered people at rest there.

Here's the details:

Ceremony will be at the gate of the cemetery located next to the new city park near the Salt River and Buckman (Main) Street.

Saturday, August 5 at 12:30.

The timing is part of a weekend Civil War re-enactment camp going on at the park that weekend. The soldiers will help us in the ceremony (the cemetery contains some Union Army veterans and Confederate Army sympathizers), including an honor guard and 21-gun salute (including cannon).

Come if you can! And if you are into re-enacting, give me a call at the museum to volunteer for that!

>>Civil War encampment.

As mentioned above, there will be a Civil War re-enactment/encampment August 5 & 6. Visitors are welcome to visit the camp and talk with the re-enactors. A special Civil War style band will be there this year and it all is expected to be even better than last year. Here's the schedule as we know so far:

Saturday (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.):

Early part of day -- firearms display and cannon firing.

  • 12:30 ---- Cemetery Re-Dedication
  • 2:00 -------Civil War skirmish
  • 3:00 -------Bourbon City Brass Band
  • 5:00 -----Camp closes to public
  • 9:00 p.m. ---- nighttime cannon firing

Sunday (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

>>Charges Set for Death Certificate copies.

As reported before, the museum research room recently purchased $5,000 of Kentucky death certificate microfilm. The film contains all available Kentucky death certificates from 1911 to 1955. The film is offered as a free public service, but there will be a charge of fifty cents per copy done at the museum, primarily to recoup ink costs.

We also now offer a service of printing and mailing the death certificates to you. Worker time is limited so we will be charging a fee of five dollars per copy including postage (paid in advance) to find, print, and mail a copy to you. For this service, though, you will need to provide the year of death and certificate number. Call us or e-mail us at the museum.

>> Genealogical Society monthly meeting.

The Bullitt County Genealogical Society, under whose umbrella the museum operates, will have its regular monthly meeting July 20 at 7:00 at the Shepherdsville City Hall. The process of selecting officers will be starting soon and that will be discussed.

Come if you can.

>> History Detectives Show

Have you ever watched the Public Television show, "History Detectives"? A current edition is showing a bit about baseball greats Dizzy Dean and Satchel Page and if they were in in Louisville together. Interesting and local.

>> Got and extra log cabin?

It's not actually an odd question. We have helped document and place three log cabins since the museum has been open this past year and a half.

Jim Crepps is looking for an old log cabin to place on some land he owns. If you have one that needs to move, let me know and I'll relay the info to him.

>> Red Cross Display replaced by Alma Lesch display.

The museum has replaced its display honoring the local Red Cross. In its place we have a new display honoring a secret gem that had lived in Bullitt County until her death a few years ago. Alma Lesch was an internationally acclaimed artist who focused mainly of fabric. I will have more on that display next time.

>> Mt. Washington group visits.

Ann Stout and a nice Seniors group visited the museum recently from Mt. Washington Baptist Church. We are always happy to host such groups

>> Charlie Long named Chairman of Commission.

Long-time museum Friend and historian Charlie Long has been named Chairman of the Kentucky Heritage Civil War Trails Commission.

>> Another adventure for Dave.

I have been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Bullitt County Library system, and have been elected as board treasurer.


We have had several items given to the museum lately. Here are a few of them...

>>James (1825-1879) and Nancy Black (1834-1917) research work.

Bob Black has graciously given the museum research room a copy of his rather extensive Civil-War-era research work on these two people, who lived for a time in Bullitt County

>>History of First Baptist Church of Lebanon Junction.

Steve Masden recently brought in a copy of the new book for the museum library. It includes a nice collection of photographs.

By the way, I am building a collection of church and club histories for the museum and am always happy to have more.

>> Odd Fellows book and papers.

Gerald Tamme has given for loan to the museum a selection of two books and a paper which includes a beautifully handwritten book for the now-defunct Odd Fellows club that was in Lebanon Junction long ago. It includes signatures of many prominent local people of the time.

Gerald has also made a fine loan/gift to the museum in Elizabethtown. Gerald and his wife, Mona, had developed basically an entire vintage country store in his basement and they have provided that to the E-Town museum. Our loss is their great gain. As Gerald and I recognize, the E-Town museum is far more capable at this time to make good use of his collection. We just do not have the space at this time to handle such a large display. Hopefully ... some day...

For Your Information...

>> KDLA E-Archive

The Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives is establishing a new "Electronic Records Archives" that will host public digital records of archival value. Examples are electronic records of state-level board and legislative committee meeting minutes, as well as state agency publications. Check out

By the way, the KDLA main web site has an amazing amount of useful information that can get you involved for hours learning new things. Try

>> Callahan Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind.

I recently discovered this hidden jewel of a museum in Louisville. Many people do not realize that right here locally is the world's largest resource of accessible materials for blind and visually impaired people. Not very long ago they also established a museum and tours at the facility. Its well done and fascinating. Check out their web site here.

>> Did you know this is the "Year of the Museum"?

AAA reports that there are 17,500 museums in the U.S. (It's a mystery to me why AAA didn't follow that with a comment about our museum being the best [grin]). Anyway, Congress has declared this the Year of the Museum. An American Association of Museums web site has been set up that has "an abundance of information and web links to museums. Check out


Of the many projects we have taken on in our short existence as a museum, one of the most interesting and rewarding has been the restoration of the old cemetery at Shepherdsville. It's frustrating and overwhelming to know that there are probably as many as 300 other cemeteries in our county that also need such attention, but at least we saved this one rather large one and have seen it established for perpetual care. It has been a lesson to me of the many individuals that have dedicated large parts of their lives trying to voluntarily keep up small cemeteries scattered all over the area.

This one has been a learning experience in so many ways, not the least of which is the nuts and bolts of restoration work.

But the most interesting has been "getting to know" some of the people buried there. Personal, individual history and experience has long been one of my interests. Everyone learns the grand, partly-mythical histories of national heroes and groups, but I personally like many of the stories of "small-time" people...people who were just trying to grind out a life for their families and along the way stepped into, or were forced into, extraordinary circumstances.

One of many examples at the cemetery is the twenty-something young woman and her daughter who died of cholera in 1854. How sad a thing to be cut down so early. Then there is the young man who drowned and his brother who died at twelve years old.

Then there are the happy success and long lives. The name escapes me at the moment but one man buried at the old cemetery had been forced from his home in pioneer times as a very young boy, but seems to have refused to fail, talking his way onto a rough job at a salt works, saving his money, working for new opportunities, and gradually scraping his way up the ladder of life to success. He eventually became a very successful businessman and community leader. He could have failed and no one would have expected more. But he did expect more and he succeeded against all odds.

Life is weird sometimes (I can't think of a more appropriate word), and personal history displays that with vigor. Personal conviction mixed with personal misfortune. Some make their own fortune while others are destroyed by cruel misfortune. What did these people buried at the Shepherdsville cemetery, now long gone, expect their futures to be? Probably not what it became, especially in the world of their time.

And what will our future be? We work toward worthy goals but who knows what will happen next. We only can, or should, do our very best and deal with what comes as best we can.

It might be interesting a hundred years after we are gone to see what some researcher finds about each of us. What paragraph or two would that person write down about you or I as he researches the unknown little person buried in the long-forgotten grave? What little scrap of information will survive?

I try to remember that when studying the lives of these individuals buried at Shepherdsville. They were, as we are, real individuals with real lives and real problems and real emotions.

Life is weird sometimes, for everyone.

Life is weird.

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: