Lexington Lincoln Day

Anyone familiar the history of Lexington, Kentucky knows that there are many connections between our community and our nation's sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln. His wife, Mary Todd, was born in and grew up in Lexington. As a result of this connection, Lincoln made three trips to Lexington from 1847 to 1850.

Lincoln's Trips to Lexington

The first of those trips was in November of 1847.  Abraham Lincoln was a Congressman-elect, having just won an election to serve the people of Illinois in Congress. The young couple stayed in Lexington for about three weeks during their sojourn to Washington, D.C. During the visit, Abraham Lincoln heard two great orators speak with views that ultimately shaped his own.

Henry Clay, on November 13, 1847, gave an impassioned speech to a Lexington audience that included Mr. Lincoln. Lincoln was a supporter of Henry Clay and was influenced by both Clay and his Whig political views.

On the 25th of the same month, Lincoln heard the Rev. Robert J. Breckinridge, minister of First Presbyterian Church, preach a guest sermon at the newly opened Second Presbyterian. It was a Thanksgiving Day sermon. Rev. Breckinridge was known as the "Napoleon of the pulpit." Though the words of his sermon from that day have not been preserved, Breckinridge was "noted for his hostility to slavery" and his sermon, no doubt, also had an influence on the future President. That afternoon, the Lincoln's left Lexington for a trek by stage, boat, and train to our nation's capital.

Two future occasions would cause Abraham Lincoln to return to Lexington: the death of Mary's father in 1849 and her maternal grandmother in 1850.

Event Details

To celebrate the President's Lexington connection, November 17, 2018 will be designated Lincoln Day in Lexington. Hopefully, this will become an annual event timed to coincide with the occasions of Lincoln's first visit to the Athens of the West!

Come celebrate with us the first Lexington Lincoln Day on November 17, 2018. The celebration will be from 10 am to 1 pm at the new VisitLEX Visitors Center at the newly renovated former Fayette County Courthouse. LEX History Tours and the Lexington History Museum are putting on this event with VisitLEX and the Explorium of Lexington. We will celebrate the significant influence that Lexington and Lexingtonians had on the remarkable life of Abraham Lincoln. We will also celebrate the recent designation of Camp Nelson as a National Monument and its importance to central Kentucky.

There will be activities for adults and children alike. Included will be presentations on Lexington's influence on Lincoln followed by a short walking downtown tour displaying pertinent locations that were impactful to Lincoln during his three visits to Lexington. A short presentation will also be made describing the importance that Camp Nelson had on the African-American community in and around Lexington. The Explorium of Lexington will provide a table with fun tools for kids to learn the history of Kentucky.

The Love of a Place: Richard Taylor's Elkhorn

Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape by Richard Taylor
As readers of this blog know, I am passionate about Kentucky and Kentucky history. Although not a native to the Commonwealth, I have lived here for most of my life and have developed a deep love of place. Kentucky, however, is an expansive place with different locales and environments. From the urban cores of Lexington and Louisville to the Appalachian hills to the wide fields of western Kentucky, Kentucky’s topography is not homogenous. Yet, I still love this place.

A new book published by the University Press of Kentucky, Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape, explores the rich history of a creek that cuts through central Kentucky.

The author, Richard Taylor, explains in his introduction, his passion for this place. For forty or so years, Taylor had developed a passion for a narrow slice of Kentucky and he wanted to share his passion with his readers. Taylor introduced me to what he described as “a new name for an old concept - the love of place”: topophilia.

Topo” means “place” in Greek and “philia” is “love of.”

Library Collection For Sale

A sampling of books for sale

The Withers Library

In 1897, Mrs. Sarah Rice Withers bequeathed nearly $33,000 to the Nicholasville Presbyterian Church for the creation of a public circulating library. On the first floor of a building at Maple and First Street, 600 books were moved in. Additional volumes were added to the collection and two employees (a librarian and an assistant) operated the full-time facility.

In 1906, a two-story building (pictured below) was constructed for the library at the corner of Main and Oak streets. Later, the library moved to the corner of Chestnut and Second streets.


At the time of this move, in 1964, the library's collection was also replaced. The old collection was auctioned and purchased by Swintosky family - a collection of some 3,000 volumes. Since that auction of 54 years ago, the books have remained at the Swintosky residence. Until now.

Hiding Fairview in Jessamine County

Fairview. Photo dated 1980 by Kenneth Gibbs for the Kentucky Heritage Council (NRHP)
Fairview is located at the corner of Ash Grove and Lexington Roads in Jessamine County. Thanks to the population growth in Nicholasville along U.S. 27, the property is located within the city limits of Nicholasville. And that growth is having a direct impact on Fairview itself.

The History of Fairview

Construction of Fairview, also known on the National Register of Historic Places as the Marshall-Bryan House, began around 1850 by Dr. Lewis Marshall. Dr. Marshall was the younger brother of Chief Justice John Marshall of the United States Supreme Court.

Decades earlier and prior to the Revolutionary War, Alexander McKee had surveyed and claimed this land for himself. In fact, McKee possessed some 3,000 acres in Fincastle County. His allegiance, however, to England during the war resulted in him losing his land holdings. According to historian Walter Hoberg, "an inquest of escheat was held at Lexington by the sheriff of Kentucky county on July 1, 1780, regarding [McKee's] holdings. They were declared forfeited and were sold for $30,000 at a sheriff's sale. The money was used in the establishment of Transylvania University."

It was later that the land on which Fairview was constructed was sold to the Marshall family. Before Fairview would be completed, however, Dr. Lewis Marshall opted to construct a home in Woodford County and the land was sold to the Bryan family and which family would continue to own the property until it was sold in January 2018 to developers.

Fairview in 2018. Author's collection.

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