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A Violent Immigration Story—from 1855

A violent immigration story—from 1855

Ann Gabhart, perhaps best known for her Shaker novels, took a different direction with her novel, Words Spoken True (Revell, $14.99,, leaving readers on the edge of their seats in the process. Combining both romance and mystery set in 1855 Louisville, Gabhart, who says she “threw everything into (this) story but the kitchen sink,” adds her own characters into the events surrounding Bloody Monday, a gruesome day in the city’s history.

During the early 1850s, Louisville was flooded with Irish and German immigrants, many of them of the Catholic faith. Their growing presence alarmed the city’s predominantly Protestant white population, who feared their influence would be felt in politics. By 1855, the American party, also called the “Know Nothing” party due to the members’ frequent claims of knowing nothing when questioned, had rapidly grown to 50,000 voters in Kentucky. The party’s stance was to limit immigration and prevent those already in the country from holding office, even if by force.

Newspaper editors, providers of the most common form of communication during the 1850s, were credited with fueling the political controversy. In her research, Gabhart found, “Many of the editors of these papers had agendas. They picked sides on the hot issues of the day and churned out papers full of stories and fiery opinion pieces to support their positions. Editors with disparate viewpoints dueled in words and on occasion with pistols.” As a result of the Bloody Monday election riots, at least 22 people were killed.

Into this hotbed, Gabhart adds two fictional newspaper editors. Blake Garrett is young, sharp, single, and unafraid to speak his mind. Wade Darcy is experienced, can be influenced by those in power, and is doing his best to raise his only daughter, Adriane, to be a lady. Adriane has grown up writing and working the presses alongside her father, though, and has no intention of succumbing to society’s intentions for her future. When her father reveals his plan to secure a comfortable life for Adriane, she must decide which is more important, her own desires or her father’s peace of mind.

Gabhart adds, “While the actions of my characters are completely fictional, the political unrest of the day and the riot scene I dropped them into was entirely too true. We can’t hide from history—what happened, happened—but we can hope examining our past will make us wiser as we face our future.”

–Penny Woods

Energy Efficiency Tip

Lighting accounts for about 13 percent of the average household’s electric bill—cut costs by choosing new light bulbs that have increased output and longevity. Some cost more up front, but prices are dropping as technology advances. Options include color, brightness, and even dimming and multiway functions. Combining lights with automatic sensors can cut costs further.

Co-ops oppose Obama global warming plan

The head of the organization representing the nation’s electric co-ops vowed to fight the Obama administration’s renewed effort to use the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, calling the action “a regressive new climate tax.”

“Folks in rural communities and those with low or fixed incomes already spend more of their household budget on energy; this proposal would increase their burden,” says Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Her comments followed President Obama’s June speech outlining a federal climate change action plan.

“The president’s proposal would be, in effect, a regressive new climate tax on America’s most economically vulnerable citizens,” Emerson says. “NRECA and America’s electric cooperatives will fight this proposal at the agency level and in the courts if necessary. If the president doesn’t recognize the need to keep electric bills affordable, we promise to bring it to his attention.”

In his Climate Action Plan, Obama said he would issue a memo directing the Environmental Protection Agency to set carbon emissions standards for both new and existing power plants.

The plan also calls for including up to $8 billion in federal loan guarantees for “a wide array of advanced fossil energy and efficiency projects to support investments in innovative technologies.”

Fact Check

Next to this photo of novelist and essayist James W. Hall we mistakenly ran a caption with information about poet, photographer, and filmmaker James Baker Hall in the July “A State of Storytellers” feature. Photo by Maggie Evans Silverstein.

A native of Kentucky, James W. Hall made Florida his home in the 1960s, becoming a prolific writer and for the past 36 years serving as professor of literature and writing at Florida International University.

Hall has four books on poetry, several short stories and essays, and 17 novels. He began writing his popular crime thrillers in 1986, most of which feature a loner named Thorn set in Florida. His latest Thorn Mystery novel is Dead Last, 2011, but watch for Going Dark, the 13th in the series set for release this December.

Go online to to read more about him.

Wildcat Reunion

Roger Laws, an avid Wildcat basketball fan, and his wife, Carol, members of Owen Electric Co-op in Kenton County, held a reunion for former University of Kentucky basketball players and coaches at their home. More than 30 players and former UK coach Joe B. Hall attended. Laws collected blue/white memorabilia for many years and filled a back room to overflowing. Laws says, “My wife told me I was a hoarder.” She responded, “I just told him he had it stacked up where he couldn’t see it or enjoy it.” So, five years ago Laws converted his two-story dairy barn into a gallery filled with Big Blue treasures, including all the banners displayed in Rupp Arena. Bob Burrow, a top rebounder from the ’50s, says, “I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s tremendous.” Gerry “Sparkplug” Calvert, ’54-’57, who had organized four previous reunions, helped organize the event and now refers to Laws as “Mr. Kentucky No. 1 Fan.” Ed Beck, center and co-captain from ’55-’58, presented Mrs. Laws with the ’58 championship basketball net to add to the collection. Mr. Laws received a signed cane made from old Memorial Coliseum floorboards. Coach Hall enjoyed retelling stories from his and Adolph Rupp’s former teams.

PHOTO CREDIT:   Former UK coach Joe B. Hall and Roger Laws enjoy reminiscing at the “Big Blue” Reunion in Kenton County. Laws converted his two-story dairy barn into a memorabilia museum. Photo: Carol Laws

A formal love of horses

A horse like Orphan, pictured here with Raye Campbell of London, prompted her to write an essay about her love for animals. Campbell’s 8th-grade language arts teacher, Melissa Neeley at North Laurel Middle School in London, says, “Raye told me she was upset after watching a news broadcast about horse abuse and neglect. Then she showed me her prom photo and I knew her story would touch people. Most girls her age would be rushing to the waiting prom limo, but Raye took time to visit her friend Orphan first.” Campbell hoped her essay would “Reach out, bring awareness to the plight of horses and other animals by encouraging people who find it too difficult caring for animals to find an adoption center.” It’s believed Orphan’s mother, Blue Angel, was struck and killed by lightning when the stallion was 3 weeks old. Today, the 4-year-old Tennessee Walker is pampered at Willow Oaks Farm (owned by friends of the family Larry and Brenda Jamieson). Stablehand Pete Benge, Campbell, and others at the farm assisted with bottle-feeding until Orphan could be placed with other horses to socialize. Benge recalls, “Learning horse behavior and survival awareness was a key aspect in raising Orphan.” Campbell and Benge agree, “He’s less skittish than most horses because of his closeness with humans at such a young age.” Campbell laughs, adding, “Orphan follows me around just like a dog.” Her compassion for animals began at age 5 when her dad brought a rescue horse home. She continues to ride when cheerleading and other activities allow time. Photo: Amy McCowan

On the trail of Goat Man

Byron Crawford’s June column on the Goat Man brought several unusual responses. One was the photo shown here from Bill Clark of Green County. Bill collects old pictures and got this one from a postcard he said he believes Goat Man Charles McCartney sold to make money.

You can find another photo and background information from Bobby Darnell, in a June 13 posting on Kentucky Living’s Facebook page.

And then there’s the following, from Salt River Electric Co-op member Gordon McKemie of Taylorsville:

“Read your article on the Goat Man. He was well-known in Georgia for the traffic backups his entourage would cause in the hills of northeast Georgia in the summertime in the  1960s.

“I can remember the seven-hour drives across Georgia from our home in Sowega to the mountains of western North Carolina—an interminable amount of time spent in the backseat of a station wagon for a restless 7-year-old.

“Driving through Clayton on US 441 on a hot June day, climbing a two-lane blacktop that headed toward the state line and the cool hills we so anticipated, we would often come upon a solid line of cars delayed by the Goat Man’s meandering herd. After some considerable delay we came upon the sight of this nonchalant traveler, who seemed quite oblivious to the traffic snarls caused by his animals. We would gaze out the windows of our steamy automobile (air conditioning was a sometime thing with cars of that era) upon the spectacle of dozens of goats, some with clanking bells, strolling along and occupying 99 percent of both sides of the winding blacktop. Every once in a while, the goats would slowly part to allow a few cars to sneak past.

“The hills of North Georgia in those days were filled with exotic wonders such as that scene. Gristmills with old water wheels that would turn and spill cold clear water down a babbling brook. Roadside stands selling peaches, corn, and tomatoes picked from a local field. A cable car that would ferry you across a river to an old sawmill. Blue valley roadside pull-offs where you could stop and gaze upon a vista of mountains. Waterfalls that poured down mountains so close to the road you could feel the mist from the window. Shops that sold wooden spinning tops and hand-carved toys, amethysts, quartz geodes, and fool’s gold, Ball jars of honey, sweet corn so good you could eat it raw.

“Everything about him I remember is pretty much as you describe it, and thanks for bringing these memories back to the front of my head again. I am viewing scenes of my childhood, feeling the cool of the Smokies, listening to the sounds of a waterfall, and my sisters giggling in the middle seat.”


We used to think roads were the most important thing,” one government minister confided this week at a reception. “But it’s power, power, power.

—May 30 Financial Times story on electricity in India, “Indian power shortage is Achilles heel of economy”

Boyle County Gets Historic Markers

The Kentucky Historical Marker Program, in cooperation with Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet, commemorates historical events, sites, and personalities by connecting evidence that shaped local communities across the Commonwealth. These on-the-spot history lessons increase our awareness of the people, places, and events that came before us. A new marker, dedicated in April at the Kirkland Home in Boyle County on Battlefield Road, marks the site of a private home used by soldiers as a field hospital during the Battle of Perryville. Another, dedicated this summer on U.S. 68 just outside Perryville, marks the 75th anniversary for the Perryville substation of Inter-County Energy Cooperative. For more details go to or for apps. Photos: Kirkland family; Inter-County Energy Cooperative


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