Friends of the Bullitt County History Museum
February 18, 2006 (Volume 2, Number 3)
>> The Bullitt County Genealogical Society quarterlies for March have been mailed.
If you are not a member of the Society, which sponsors the Museum, you might consider joining. For just fifteen dollars a year, you not only are a part of a fantastic local organization with members nationwide, but you receive the quarterly newsletter (for which Editor Betty Darnell has received a state award) free by mail. The 32-odd pages in each quarterly carry far more information about history and genealogy than I can do here. Information about joining is at the end of this newsletter.
>> Monthly meeting of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society
After regular business was completed, Ken and Barbara Bailey gave a presentation on Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where, as you may know, some 9,000 American revolutionary war troops under George Washington stayed several months during the winter of 1777-78. Though, of course, I knew about the stay at Valley Forge, I did not realize the size and actual hardship of the endeavor. Thousands of soldiers suffered through cold, hunger, and disease. As many as 2000 died just trying to survive the winter. Yet out of that long encampment emerged the first real fighting force of the Continental Army.
>> Teacher Betty Marshall and a class of 23 from Maryville Elementary School toured the museum for a few hours this month.
That's several more than we like to do at one time, but it went well. Barbara Bailey and I divided the group into two, visiting the display rooms and the research room. We stopped in the Fiscal Court meeting room where we discussed government. We toured the Old Stone Jail, where the youngsters could romp around a bit. We finished with all the students gathered back together sitting on the grand staircase where we and the teacher asked and answered questions and we gave each student a personalized "Honorary Bullitt County Historian" certificate and a ball-and-cup toy. Ms. Marshall, Kim Tabler, and a parent were excellent with the students, applying what they were seeing to what they had been learning in class. It must have went well...several students asked Barbara and I for our autographs!
>> We Documented another log cabin.
I received a call the other day suggesting I document an old log cabin that was to be torn down on Lights Lane, off of Ridge Road. The old log cabin had been sort of rediscovered as a newer section was being torn away. The "newer" section had been added in the 1940's but it was unknown what date the original cabin was built. The large, hand-hewn Yellow Poplar logs were in the best condition that I have seen. When the newer siding was removed, writing could be found on the horse-hair mortar that was still in good condition. Several names could be discerned, all of whom seemed to be the sons of Anderson Rouse in the 1800's. Whitewash and newspaper wallpaper were still on the inside walls. There was a writing that said "January 8, 1871", but we could find no dates on the newspaper. However, in reading a section of the paper that clearly was post Civil War, there was a paragraph about a "new" Civil War monument being unveiled that day in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Well, a quick internet search found what is today Monument Park in Woonsocket, and a history of the Civil War monument that dated the unveiling as May 29, 1870.
I love detective work like that!
So, the paper was 1870, on a log home marked 1871. All good when you figure they were applying used newspaper to the walls. So it seems pretty clear the cabin was built at least in 1871, and perhaps before. That's older than the Old Stone Jail at the museum.
The owner, Carl Hall was sad to be tearing down the cabin, but was hoping that someone could be found to want it.
The good news is that we did. Someone has come forward and made arrangements to take the cabin. I do not know where to, but at least it won't meet the fate of so many other log cabins nowadays. Another cabin I documented last Fall, which was in far worse shape, was torn down and a new house is being built on the site.
One final interesting note on this. Carl had grown up on the farm with the cabin, and he knew his family had had it a long time. Longer, it seems, than he realized. With a little research at the museum, I found that the Rouse family that was named on the cabin walls had genealogy that eventually included the Hall family name. Carl's family's ownership of the farm land, if I am correct, actually extended back to Pioneer days with the Rouse's. The old log cabin had been built by his ancestors.
>> "Full World Deluxe" access to Ancestry.com at museum research room.
Since shortly after we moved into the museum in October 2004, the museum research room boasts internet access capability on two computers. We recently renewed and expanded our license for access to "Ancestry.com". We now have full, complete access to this renowned genealogical tool, including world-wide information. This is available free of charge to visitors, as is admission to the museum.
>> Ft. Knox Changes are Coming and we will be part of it
You may know that Ft. Knox, a large part of which is in Bullitt County, is making some BIG changes. Armor training, for which Ft. Knox was developed back in the 1930's and 40's, is being moved to another state. At last report, most of the tanks and artillery will go.
Though the armor folks will be sorely missed, perhaps there will actually be less "booming in the suburbs". Most of us who have grown up around the huge base have dealt with the artillery practice so long that we don't even notice it anymore. A tourist once even asked me about the booming sound that they heard. I did not hear it and made up some explanation about probable road work. It wasn't until after they left that I thought about Ft. Knox and then all of a sudden I heard the booming...it had been there all along!
There is good news that the renowned Patton Museum apparently will remain. And there will be a large population boom surrounding the base as some 2500 new permanent personnel are transferred to the base instead of the temporary trainees that had manned the base before. If I understand correctly, most of these new folks will be Human Resources people, with higher income, and will be excellent neighbors to have in our community.
The transfers will be coming from several bases around the nation and our museum intends to be ready to welcome them. As part of a multi-county effort to inform the coming residents about their new community, a leaflet about the museum and the Genealogical Society will be included in an orientation package being prepared for all 2500 of them.
>> Kenny Clark is seeking help to preserve the Bowman Valley Schoolhouse (also once known as Cooper's Run). The old frame building just south of Shepherdsville housed an African-American school for many, many years. The land has recently been purchased and the future of the little boarded-up building is in question.
>> "Alma Lesch: A Life in Fabric" exhibition February 23 - March 26.
Alma Lesch was a long-time resident of Shepherdsville, living just a few blocks from the museum before her passing. Though many of us locals did not realize it, she was internationally known for her artistic work with fabric. A special exhibit of that work is going to be available at the University of Louisville Belknap Campus this month.
Location: Belknap Gallery, Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville. I don't know where that gallery is but I suppose one could call UofL Belknap Campus at 502-852-5555 for directions.
Dates: February 23-March 26, 2006
Gallery Hours: M-F 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 6 p.m.
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 23, 5-8 p.m.
>> Burlyn Pike brought us a framed map by historian Robert McDowell that he had marked in the 1960's locating several local pioneer Indian ambushes, salt works, and forts in Bullitt County. I will have more on this in the next newsletter.
A Great Resource
>> Try the Kentucky Historical Society at history.ky.gov. They have many wonderful sources of information, including photos and sound clips.
Several old frame buildings were bulldozed recently on two corners of Highways 44 and 61 in Shepherdsville to make way for a drugstore and an auto parts store. Several log homes and other structures are quickly disappearing or in danger of it. It seems almost every month another vintage building goes down in the name of progress in this rapidly growing county.
And it is progress, I suppose, as odd as that is for a history buff like me to say it.
Time moves on. Not only buildings but each of us...every one of us... all grow older and eventually fade away along with too much of ourselves. Time and the future all too quickly overtakes us. It can be so frustrating and bewildering sometimes as so many things change so recklessly and the past seems to be cast away and forgotten, as we look helplessly on.
That is precisely why such institutions as The Bullitt County History Museum are so vital. How can a community, how can anyone, wisely choose how to go forward unless it understands where it has come from?
The museum stands as a bastion of memory... a storage site of where we have come from. It is not just a place where "old stuff stands". It is a place where, once in a while, when people stop for a moment and take a breath and look back, they can get a better grip on the future. Our task is to make that place worth remembering.
We can not save every building any more than we can save every memory of every life. But we can try to keep some of it, hopefully the best of it, and we can keep it in a way that people will look back at it someday and say, "Aaah. Now I understand."
Support your local museum as best you can, in whatever way you can. It is not only the past. It is the future.
Thank you for being a Friend of Bullitt County History!
Bullitt County History Museum
Museum Phone: 502-921-0161
E-Mail address: David.Strange@BullittCountyHistory.org