Maysville Kentucky Blog

The Maysville Kentucky Blog is your guide to the beautiful and historic small town of Maysville Kentucky, snuggled into the rolling hills along the Ohio River. Though this blog has been discontinued, you can get your Maysville Kentucky fix over at Ken Downing's Mason County Kentucky Blog @

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Antiques and Collectibles

Everyone has a passion. For local resident Scotty Fulton it's hammers. According to a recent article in the Ledger Independent, Mr. Fulton has so many hammers, he has probably the largest hammer museum in the country. His collection consists of more than 9,000 hammers in all styles, for every use under the sun. "These hammers tell the history of life and times in this country," he said during the interview with the Ledger. "Finding out what a particular one was used for is like a history lesson." Full Story

Also around town: More than 100 vendors are participating in the Maysville Antique & Craft Expo today (it started yesterday actually, but continues today). The event is at the King Burley Warehouse in Maysville, off the AA Highway. Hours are 11 am to 4 pm. Who knows what you may find at the Expo. Perhaps you'll find some odd item to start your own collection.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Great Photographs of Downtown Maysville

From the Communist Squirrel:
photo thumbnail: clock. photo thumbnail: column. photo thumbnail: dog. photo thumbnail: dontpark. photo thumbnail: door. photo thumbnail: firestone. photo thumbnail: frigidaire. photo thumbnail: houses. photo thumbnail: hutchisons. photo thumbnail: russel.
(cc) zeke runyon. Some rights reserved.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Do Yu-Gi-Oh?

Dark Yugi a.k.a. Yu-Gi-Oh (Yami Yugi), the alter ego of Yugi Mutou... er nevermind, just ask your kids.
As I've said before, it's interesting the things you find when you go poking around on the web. Yu-Gi-Oh!, the popular card game that pits packs of dueling monsters against each other (if you don't know what I'm talking about, ask your kids), is coming to Maysville Kentucky with a Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship at the Pizza Hut on US 68. The cardboard action throw-down will be May 6th at 1:00 pm.

Grand prize winners will receive 24 packs and the first 10 to arrive will get a free exclusive / rare card. The cost is $15 and includes pizza. The event is brought to you by The Riverside Gym, Ashland, Kentucky. More information can be found by visiting their web site, or calling (606) 326-9374

Thursday, April 27, 2006

C'mon to Rosemary Clooney's House

"C'mon a My House," Rosemary Clooney's first big hit, was recently featured in the promotions for HBO's new series Big Love. If you'd like to visit Rosemary's actual house, now you can. Since 1980 Rosemary called 106 Riverside Drive her home. Located on the banks of the Ohio River in historical Augusta, Kentucky, this was her retreat from the demands of her career and a haven for rest between performances all over the world.

In September 2005, Clooney's family and The Rosemary Clooney House, Inc. opened the house to the public as the Rosemary Clooney Museum. In addition to numerous photos displayed throughout the home, visitors will see memorabilia from the Clooney Sisters and Tony Pastor days, movie lobby cards, costumes, posters, movie scripts, and more. The house also holds the largest collection of White Christmas memorabilia in the world.

Hours of operation are Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm and Sundays 1 pm to 5 pm. You can also schedule a tour weekdays by appointment. For more information, visit The Rosemary Clooney House web site online.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Getting Lost in Maysville

I've never really had a hard time getting around town, but then again I usually don't pay attention to the road signs. Check out this funny story from "mapguy":

I was in Maysville in October 2002, with the intention of documenting signage on US 68. Navigating through this area can be difficult and/or amusing (depending on how comfortable you are with where you're going) for a couple reasons:

  • US 68 is signed as an east-west route in Kentucky, but it's north-south in Ohio. This is where the signage changes.
  • US 62 is signed as an east-west route in both states, but it could just as easily be considered more of a north-south road in this area. And partly for that reason, there are some confusing "wrong-way" multiplexes.

I could've used at least a roll of film documenting all this, but unfortunately I didn't have time to do a comprehensive job. What I did get is marked "October 2002" below. Also, for contrast, I've posted several H.B. Elkins photos from a year or two earlier, to show how these roads were originally signed when the Harsha bridge was first opened in January 2001. Clearly, even Ohio officials themselves have struggled with how best to sign these roads.

Road signage October 2002

Does that medly of signs (pictured above) really say that if you continue going straight you will be going West, East, and North simultaneously?!?

Full Story and More Photos

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

1846 Newspaper Clipping About January Family

From the December 26, 1846 issue of the Maysville Eagle: Business to continue under A.M. January after death of William H. January.

Reads: "The death of William H. January, late of the house of A.M. January & Sons, dissolves the partnership of the late concern. The business will be continued as usual by myself. As my whole time and attention will be given personally to the business of the House, I hope to be able to give entire satisfaction to my numerous kind friends, and the public generally, and solicit a continuance of their patronage. - A.M. January, Maysville, Ky., 10th November, 1846."

A.M. January and his family holds a prominent place in Maysville history. Among many other things, in 1851 January and his partner B. W. Wood purchased the cotton mill and renamed it January & Wood Cotton Mill.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Murals by Robert Dafford

There's more than a few people excited over the recent announcement that more floodwall murals are planned for the near future. There's definitely one lined up to cover Rosemary Clooney and the Russell Theatre, and possibly one for Simon Kenton on the horizon as well. You can read more about it in these two articles: From The Ledger Independent and from The Mason County Beat. There is also a fund-raising party, April 25th from 5 to 6:30 pm at French Quarter Hotel. The event is free and open to the public.

The muralist lined up to create the Rosemary Clooney painting is Robert Dafford, whose team painted all but two of the previous ones. Robert Dafford is one of the foremost mural artists in the United States today, with over twenty years of experience and over 200 public works in the U.S., Canada, Belgium, and France. The 46 year old Louisiana native is constantly sought out for his dramatic, large scale illusions.

Lafayette' in Lafayette, Lousiana. Painted 1999 by Robert Dafford

More than 80 of his murals are listed on his web site along with photographs. They are all amazing, but make sure you check out this 160 foot tall clarinet on the side of a Holiday Inn in New Orleans, and his "Flying Violin" series located here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

What's in a Blog?

A lot of people wonder what exactly is a blog. The term blog is short for web-log. It's basically a reverse chronological publication of articles of a particular subject. The first blogs were usually a list of interesting things bloggers found around the web that they shared with others, sort of like a publicated bookmark list. Today a lot of bloggers use them as online journals. Sadly, the guy who coined the term and started the first recognized web log is now unemployed and homeless out in California (true story, read it in Wired).

One of our readers wrote:

You always have such a wide variety of articles you write, how do you decide what you are going to write each day? Maysville is such a small town, I always wonder if you might run out of things to write about. haha

First, thanks for stopping in! To answer your question, there's a lot of things blogs can be used for. Personally, I think Maysville and the surrounding areas have a lot of fascinating things to write about, even for such a small town, and in this blog I'm hoping to highlight some of the things I personally come across. It's mostly a spontaneous activity. Keeping with the original concept of a blog, providing links to things found on the web, I start by looking around the web for any mention of Maysville. If I find something that's positive and interesting, I'll summarize it and link to the original source.

I try to keep it Maysville / Maysville Area focused, but sometimes I just write about things that could have something to do with Maysville and the surrounding areas.

Blogger's block sometimes happens where I can't think of anything to write about. It's not that there isn't anything to write about. It's just that I don't feel much like writing that day. But I have the goal of posting at least one article a day, so when blogger's block kicks in I turn off the TV, radio, and all the outside distractions and force myself to write... something. Usually on those days I come up with the most interesting articles : )

Sometimes I get lucky and there will be someone who wants to be a guest blogger, like the generous article submitted by Mr. Downing.

The old proverb is that it's the first impressions that last. Most of the people who live in Maysville or towns near Maysville know what it is that makes this place unique already. The first impression that those outside of the area have of Maysville, though, is through the web. It's just a simple fact that if someone was planning to visit this town, they'll spend some time on the web looking into it first. I want their first impression of Maysville to be of the little things that make it great. That's the overall goal.

I don't think we'll run out of anything to write about anytime soon. Really there's just so much to work with. All you have to do is grab a camera and drive around for a bit to find something interesting to talk about.

So stay tuned! There's a lot more to come : )

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Hendrickson's Magic Window

The new pamplet for Maysville and Old Washington (See: New Signage Points to Places of Interest from our March Issue) contains the following fun fact:

An illusion of glass has given this storefront the name "Hendrickson's Magic Window". Standing at the corner of the display window(s), center your body on the corner, raise leg/arm nearest the street, your reflection will be mirrored in the plate glass window.

Of course I had to see what this was all about. It took me awhile to figure out where I was supposed to stand (not the sharpest tool in the shed here) but I ended up with this completely unflattering picture »

Try it out for yourself sometime ; )

Friday, April 21, 2006

U.S. Grant Days Celebration in Georgetown, OH

This Saturday is the 10th Annual Ulysess S. Grant Civil War Reenactment and Living History Celebration in nearby Georgetown, Ohio, featuring Morgan's Raid and the Battle of Buffington Island. The celebration honors the life of Ulysess S. Grant in his boyhood hometown. U.S. Grant (1822 – 1885) was the 18th President of the United States and achieved national fame as a hero of the American Civil War, in which he commanded Union forces as a general and forced the surrender of Robert E. Lee.

The celebration includes Civil War re-enactors, period music & displays, a Civil War Ball, and much, much more. A full listing of the scheduled events can be found here. The celebration kicks off at 9 am and last until 11 pm. There will also be an 1860s church service on Sunday at the Georgetown United Methodist Church. Contact 937-378-4222 for more details or visit

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Healthy Ever After Mini-Muffins

Healthy Ever After Mini-Muffins are good.
Looking for a delicious treat that's also good for you? Try the new Healthy Ever After mini-muffins. They're made with no oil, no butter, no sugar, and no additives! Nothing but good, wholesome, healthy, yumness. Made daily with the freshest of ingredients, they can be found at the Homefront Cafe on Second Street by Theresa Embaucher of Healthy Ever After. Theresa also offers free morning delivery if you give her a call at 606 584-7450 or email her at [email protected] You can also learn more about the muffins at

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Barn Quilting Sweeping the Region

Ever see one of these squares on the side of barns as you drive through farm country? The colorful patterns, like this one across the river in Brown County, Ohio, are popping up on barns across the Appalachian region. I always thought they were pretty, but they also have an interesting backstory that begins in our neck of the woods.

The painted Barn Quilt Squares began when Donna Sue Groves of nearby Adams County, Ohio, wanted to create something to honor her mother’s passion, quilting, and did so with a large painting on the side of their barn. This sparked a movement that has swept Adams County. Folks driving through the country believe these colorful squares add to the serenity and charm of a lazy rural drive in the foothills of Appalachia, and many of the old 20th Century Mail Pouch tobacco ads adorning barns are being replaced by this 21st Century phenomenon – Barn Quilt Squares.

Their appearances haven't been limited to Adams County, however, which now has over 20 of them. Today you can find Barn Quilts on buildings throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and many other states.

Click here to read more about Barn Quilts and see pictures of some of the ones from Adams County.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ancient Civilization Beneath Kentucky

Here's an interesting thought next time you're out gardening in your yard: If you dig too deep, you may discover a lost civilization.

According to Unusual Kentucky, in a 1806 book called Travels In America, author Thomas Ashe wrote of the discovery of a vast cavern originally discovered in 1783 beneath the city of Lexington, 300 feet long, 100 feet wide and 19 feet high, containing "exotic artifacts, a stone altar for sacrifices, human skulls and bones piled high, and mummified remains."

These mummies were no ordinary mummies. They were reportedly strange looking with red hair and that doesn't match up too well with the Native Americans living in the area. The Native Americans believed the bodies to be from an ancient race who inhabited the area long before them.

Another strange discovery was made by General John Payne in 1792 beneath Augusta, Kentucky. Lewis Collins, the famous historian from Maysville, wrote about the discovery in Historical Sketches of Kentucky (1847):

"The bottom on which Augusta is situated is a large burying ground of the ancients... They have been found in great numbers, and of all sizes, everywhere between the mouths of Bracken and Locust Creeks, a distance of about a mile and a half. From the cellar under my (Payne's) dwelling, 60 by 70 feet, over a hundred and ten skeletons were taken. I measured them by skulls, and there might have been more, whose skulls had crumbled into dust... The skeletons were of all sizes, from seven feet to infant. David Kilgour (who was a tall and very large man) passed our village at the time I was excavating my cellar, and we took him down and applied a thigh bone to his. The man, if well-proportioned, must have been 10 to 12 inches taller than Kilgour, and the lower jaw bone would slip on over his, skin and all. Who were they? How came their bones here?"

Very strange indeed. The skeletons found in Augusta were of ancient people about a foot taller than the tall man from contemporary times. That's very odd considering people have become increasingly taller throughout history and ancient peoples would normally be much shorter than people from the 1800s. Then you have the red haired mummies from Lexington... also odd. I guess there's more to Kentucky history than we may have thought. Obviously the story needs to be updated to include this mystery race of tall, red-haired people who lived in the region long before short red-haired people arrived from Europe.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Maysville 50 Years Ago: One Man's Recollections

We are honored to present today's article from guest blogger and Maysville native, Ken Downing. Mr. Downing has generously provided this first-hand account of life in Maysville during the 1950s...

Maysville 50 Years Ago – One Man’s Recollections
By: Ken Downing

Maysville was a thriving little town in the 1950s. Downtown flourished with a multitude of retail business. Stores stayed open on Friday night. There was no Sunday sales. No parking meters. No one way streets. On weekend nights they just "rolled up the sidewalk." People came from miles around to shop in downtown Maysville. For entertainment there was the Russell Theatre, the so called "passion pits," Riverside Drive-In in Aberdeen, the Park Drive-In on the Fleming Road, Beechwood Park in the summer, and, of course, Bulldog basketball. If you couldn’t make it to the gym, or you couldn’t get a ticket, (every home game was standing room only) you listened to the game on WFTM. Late spring and early summer meant Knothole league games in Wald Park. A real treat was a trip to Cincinnati’s Crosley field to watch the Reds play or the Cincinnati Zoo or Coney Island Amusement park.

There were several city schools. Fifth Ward, Forest Avenue, Woodleigh, and First District were all grades one through six. When you reached the seventh grade you got to go to the center building and in most cases had to face Miss Flossie Jones. A wonderful, no nonsense, teacher. The schools were segregated. Only white children attended these schools. The African American children (colored to use a word of the times) went to Fee High School. The Maysville swimming pool, on east Second Street, was for whites only. The Russell Theatre had a "colored" balcony. Shortly after integration in 1957, the swimming pool was closed and filled in, supposedly due to a major leak. Integration came in the fall of 1957. Maysville did not experience the turmoil that had occurred in Little Rock, Arkansas or Clinton, Tennessee. Cooler heads of both races kept everything under control. Basketball became the common denominator. Unfortunately, prejudice would continue for many years.

There was nothing on top of the "new hill" except the WFTM tower (erected about 1946-47), the Maysville Country Club (reserved for the wealthy and the privileged) and Country Club Heights. In the early 50s through-traffic coming off the bridge had to wind it’s way through town and up the "old" 68 hill. On the weekends traffic got really backed up. The joke used to be that all those Buckeyes, who were really from Kentucky and had moved to Ohio to find work, had to go home every weekend to get a good meal.

There weren’t many restaurants in those days. Most folks couldn’t afford to eat out. Caps of course was in business, Elite’s, Porter Morgan’s EATS, The White Light, The Greek’s, The Avalon, soda fountains at the drug stores (Ryans, Kilgus, Owl, Vances and Parkers), Frisch’s in Aberdeen and a couple of Mom and Pop operations were it.

Decent jobs were hard to come by. Besides working in retail there were factory jobs at Browning’s, Wald’s, Carnation, January and Wood and Parker Tobacco Company. A few families essentially controlled the economy. It was rumored for years that these families discouraged any new industry in order to control the labor base. It was difficult to get a job at Browning’s and Carnation but Wald’s and the cotton mill would hire the entire family. There was no minimum wage. The starting wage at the cotton mill in the mid to late 50s was about 35 cents a hour. My father worked there in 1939 and made 18 cents an hour. Some people would carpool and commute all the way to Dayton Ohio where they got jobs at National Cash Register or Wright Patterson Air force Base.

In the fall and winter tobacco sales were a tremendous boost to the economy. Over a dozen warehouses were in operation and they competed for the farmer’s business. The national tobacco companies sent teams of buyers to bid on the crops. Maysville was known as "The Second Largest Tobacco Market In The World". WFTM "World’s Finest Tobacco Market" Mr. Jim Finch had to negotiate with some people in Buffalo NY to get the call letters. Jokingly people said it stood for "Watch Finch Take Maysville." Seasonal jobs were available at the warehouses and Parker Tobacco Company’s re-dryer. Parker worked for the national tobacco companies drying, packaging and shipping the tobacco they bought. Some industrious teenagers, no names mentioned, would follow tobacco trucks around picking up hands of tobacco that fell off the trucks. Once several were accumulated they would get a friendly farmer to include them in the sale with his crop. It was always worth a buck or two.

Maysville had two (2) daily newspapers. The Public Ledger owned by Bill Matthews and The Daily Independent owned by the Comer family. They competed for the advertising dollar. Ponto, the Office Dog, was a daily feature of the Independent taking "shots" at people and things. It was must read everyday.

Maysville was the regional center for health care in the 1950s. Several doctors come to mind. The Denham brothers, Mitchell and Harry, Dr. Cartmell, Dr. Parker, and Dr. Savage. Several had offices in the upper floors in what was then known as The State National Bank building. Hayswood Hospital was state of the art for the times and the only hospital in a seven county radius. Later the Denhams would open the Denham Clinic on Forest Avenue, which attracted several more well known and respected doctors to the area. You just didn’t go to the hospital on Wednesday. Doctors day off.

The Cochran family owned and operated the water company. You paid your water bill in the Cochran Building on Court Street. The original water plant is on east Second street at the end of Lexington Street. The paved over area was the swimming pool.

Maysville was surely one of the only towns of its size, during the 1950s, to have a public transportation system. The buses were owned and operated by the Duke family. The history of public transportation in Maysville goes back several decades. They ran on a regular basis from Carmel Street in the east to the Germantown road turn around in the west. Parents purchased tokens for kids to ride back and forth to and from school.

The Meadow Drive apartments, at the end of Clark Street, was built in the early 50s. It provided adequate low income housing. Something the town had needed for years. Not sure of the year that the city annexed Eastland. Everything on the south side of Forest Avenue from the present Browning warehouse all the way to past Clark Street was in the county. No paved streets. No plumbing. In fact, Woodleigh School at that time was a county school. Mr Hume was the county school superintendent. He ran the school system, Woodleigh, Orangeburg, Mayslick, Lewisburg and Minerva, out of the trunk of his car.

Maysville had a "town drunk". It wouldn’t be appropriate to give his name but stories about him are classics. I was walking past him, sitting in a downtown doorway, and heard him say, "The hold world is an S.O.B. but me". Once when the jailer had him sweeping Market Street he sold his broom to a farmer and they had to go get him out of one of the bars. Another time police told him they weren’t going to arrest him and let him spend Thanksgiving in jail. He threw a brick through a plate glass window downtown and sit on the curb until they came and got him.

I left in June 1957. Mr Robert Hetrick, manager of the G. C Murphy store was instrumental in getting me a position on the Murphy Company Management Training Program. We returned in May 1968 and worked at January and Wood. We left again in 1978. Maysville will always be home. We try and visit at least once a year. With every visit there is a strange sensation. Everybody I know has gotten a whole lot older than me. Those that say nothing ever changes just didn’t grow up in Maysville in the 50s.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter Maysville Kentucky!

We'd like to take the opportunity to wish everyone out there a very Happy Easter, and since spending time with family is an important part of any Easter celebration, we offer this story that you can share with the little ones.

It's the classic story of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (1866-1943), complete with illustrations.

Here is the link to the story in text and pictures: The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Alternatively, if you just want to sit down with the kids and watch the story as a multimedia slide show, with audio, text, and illustrations, you can follow the link below:

Peter Rabbit Audio Slide Show

You'll need to have RealPlayer installed to watch the slide show, but you don't need to click to the next page during the slide show, just sit back and enjoy. (Download Free RealPlayer)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Video File: Tall Stacks

We were talking a few days back about steamboats on the Ohio River and linked to a video by the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. Most folks who live around Cincinnati know that every four years or so there's a reunion of steamboats that takes place in Cincinnati called Tall Stacks. This year Tall Stacks will return to Cincinnati Oct. 4-8, with even more music, food, fun and riverboats to entertain and educate thousands and to once again shine positive national attention on the area. Here's a sample of the 30 minute documentary hosted by Nick Clooney on the 1999 Tall Stacks riverboat festival.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hickory Hill Plantation Open for Tours

According to the Ledger Independent, the Mason County home of Clint "Butch" and Mary Jo Bramel will be open for tours by appointment beginning this weekend. The home on Hickory Hill Plantation on Millcreek Pike was built in 1861 and five generations of Bramels have lived there. It is also designated a Kentucky landmark.

Mr. Bramel will be conducting the tours of this mid-nineteenth century majestic home, and he has all the stories handed down through his family to offer visitors. From the Ledger:

According to Butch, in the mid-1800s, Catherine Jane Preston Bullock came from Virginia to Mason County and purchased 170 acres from the estate of John Marshall which became Hickory Hill Plantation. They built the Greek revival home in 1861 using lumber from the woods surrounding the site.

Tours can be scheduled through the Maysville-Mason County Tourism Commission at 606 564-9411.

Full Story

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Raison D'Etre Says Hello

One of our readers posted a comment to an article we wrote around Christmas. Since it was such a nice comment, we thought we'd bring it to the forefront. We were talking about the Frontier Christmas celebration in Old Washington and how the trio, Raison D'Etre, had come out to sing Christmas carols.

Roberta Schultz said...

It's so nice to run across this blog after ten years of singing outdoors on the streets of Washington. While we are not about fame and fortune, it's still nice when somebody notices!

Thanks for the lovely mention.

You are most welcome : ) Thank you for coming to our neck of the woods.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Who's This Guy? Ultralights in Mason County

Every year when the weather gets warm I hear an engine humming outside that has a distinctive sound clearly different than a lawn mower. I look up and see... this guy (pictured above) in his ultralight glider. I never see where he takes off, but I usually see him around the Old Washington area. He seems to be out there several times a year when the weather is warm. I must admit, ultralights look like a lot of fun. As soon as those lottery scratchoffs pay bigger than the usual dollar I win, I think I'll get me one. : )

More information about the increasingly popular hobby of flying ultralights can be found at the US Ultralight Association's web site.

Top reasons people enjoy flying ultralights:

  • Their lower cost.
  • The minimal amount of training required. (No FAA license or medical required.)
  • The "wind in your face" experience.
  • The ability to fly "low and slow."
  • The desire to get back to simple "stick and rudder" flying.
  • They're "just plain fun." It's pure, simple, recreational flying.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Forest Ave Bridge Construction Photograph - 1930s

This is an old photograph of the construction of the Forest Avenue bridge over Mason Creek sometime between 1934-1942.

Monday, April 10, 2006

In Kentucky by James Mulligan

The moonlight falls the softest
    In Kentucky;
The summer's days come oft'est
    In Kentucky;
Friendship is the strongest,
Love's fires glow the longest;
Yet, a wrong is always wrongest
    In Kentucky.

The sunshine's ever brightest
    In Kentucky;
The breezes whisper lightest
    In Kentucky;
Plain girls are the fewest,
Maidens' eyes the bluest,
Their little hearts are truest
    In Kentucky.

Life's burdens bear the lightest
    In Kentucky;
The home fires burn the brightest
    In Kentucky;
While players are the keenest,
Cards come out the meanest,
The pocket empties cleanest
    In Kentucky.

Orators are the grandest
    In Kentucky;
Officials are the blandest
    In Kentucky;
Boys are all the fliest,
Danger ever nighest,
Taxes are the highest
    In Kentucky.

The bluegrass waves the bluest
    In Kentucky;
Yet bluebloods are the fewest (?)
    In Kentucky;
Moonshine is the clearest,
By no means the dearest,
And yet, it acts the queerest,
    In Kentucky.

The dove's notes are the saddest
    In Kentucky;
The streams dance on the gladdest
    In Kentucky;
Hip pockets are the thickest,
Pistol hands the slickest,
The cylinder turns quickest
    In Kentucky.

Song birds are the sweetest
    In Kentucky;
The thoroughbreds the fleetest
    In Kentucky;
Mountains tower proudest,
Thunder peals the loudest,
The landscape is the grandest - and
Politics - the damnedest
    In Kentucky.

"In Kentucky" is perhaps the best known and most printed poem about Kentucky. It was written by Judge James Hilary Mulligan for a banquet for the members of the Kentucky legislature held 11 February 1902 at the Phoenix Hotel in Lexington. Full Story

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Mystery Table at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum

While at the Chocolate Festival over the weekend, I decided to stop in at the Harriet Beecher Stowe: Slavery to Freedom museum. I mean, I might as well, it was right next door to the Cajun Gumbo booth. While looking around at the various displays of antique furniture and artifacts, many of them from the surrounding grounds, I overheard a conversation about a table in the main room.

It looks like a normal antique table.

But, as the tour guide explained, when they went to move the table into the main room, it took five full-grown men to move it. Obviously this was no ordinary table. As the table shifted, they also heard a noise from inside that sounded like a piano.

No one seems to know exactly what the table is. It's... a mystery table. While there are seams on the top, there's no visible hinges and no discernible way to open the thing. It also weighs a ton, and the table top is a few inches in height, much like a pool table. Could there be a hidden piano inside?

It certainly doesn't look like a traditional piano. As I mentioned, there's no obvious way to open it, so it's anyone's guess as to whether there are hidden piano keys and other mechanisms inside.

After searching around on the web, I did find one possible explanation.

Pictured left is a cylinder-played music box piano from the late 1800s. It's like one of those self-playing pianos you see in old western movies. These devices are reportedly rare, so there's not much information about them available. The one pictured here is about 3 feet long which is almost as long as the one at the Harriet Beecher Stowe museum, give or take a foot.

Do the folks over at the museum have a secret music box in their main room?

One thing is certain about this mystery, it's not an easy one to solve. The only real way to answer the question of what's inside is to, of course, open it up. The only problem is that the table is like a chinese puzzle-box, and it's not giving up its secrets that easily.

According to the tour guide, anyone is welcome to give their theories on how to open the contraption, with much appreciation.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Chocolate Festival in Old Washington

This year's Chocolate Festival appears to be drawing the best turnout in years. And why wouldn't it? In addition to cramming your face full of chocolate, you can cram your day full of fun events.

That's Sophie (above). She's the horse from "R" Farms leading the carriage rides. The kids might prefer the Pig Train (behind Sophie) or the Pony Cart instead. Of course the more adventurous kids can take the Pirate Ship, arggh! There's also dart throwing, old tyme photos, dulcimer musicians, a caricature artist, flute music, and much much more. Plus all the shops and museums are open and there's dozens of vendors and food booths.

One place I plan to return to tomorrow is the Cajun Gumbo booth outside the Harriet Beecher Stowe house. I had already eaten by the time I got there today, but now I've got a craving for gumbo. That's definitely my lunch tomorrow.

That's Ernie Parnell above giving a demonstration on how to make "Buckeyes". Buckeyes are peanut butter and chocolate based candies. Ernie's secret ingredient (don't tell anyone I told you) is recycled coffee grounds. He'll be giving another demonstration Sunday at 12:00 pm if you want to learn the entire process.

Also on the schedule for tomorrow is the "Chocolate Candy Hunt" for children on the Harriet Beecher Stowe Lawn and the "Chocolate Fudge Contest". There'll also be door prizes, music, and a whole lot more. Things kick off around ten o'clock and last until 5 pm.

See you there!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Miss & Mr. Chocolate Festival Pageant Today

The 19th Annual Chocolate Festival kicks off in Old Washington this weekend and today the Miss & Mr. Chocolate Festival Pageant will be taking place at the Maysville Community College - in the Fields Auditorium - starting at 6:30 pm. Winners will participate in the Chocolate Festival this weekend and later advance to the Kentucky Festival State Pageant in Lexington.

All contestants will receive a crown, trophy, & gift for participating. Call (859) 626-8882 or visit for further details.

And don't forget... Chocolate Festival this weekend. Come on out and participate. It's looking to be both entertaining and, well, tasty : )

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Packet Boats on the Ohio River

From Pieces of the Past by Jim Reis:

For the better part of seven decades in the 1800s, they churned up and down the Ohio River. They carried passengers, mail and freight between the river cities. They were the packet boats and provided a vital link among the cities. Packets were boats, usually steamers, that operated regularly scheduled passenger service among the cities.

Among the companies operating steamers on the Ohio River was the Cincinnati and Maysville Packet Co. An advertisement in the April 19, 1845 Licking Valley Register said the company ran two boats on a regular schedule between Maysville and Cincinnati-Newport.

The Simon Kenton left for Maysville at 10 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and made the return trip every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 10 a.m. The Daniel Boone operated on exactly the opposite schedule. By the 1850s an estimated 3 million passengers annually were using packets on the Ohio River. One company listed prices for a ride from Pittsburgh to Newport, ranging from $5 a person in a cabin to $1 for a ride on the open deck. Riders on the open deck not only braved the weather but also shared space with the animals from time to time.

Cabin travel offered the advantage of safety because most companies gave cabin customers first priority in the event of a fire or wreck. Two girls from the Redstone explosion near Carrollton Kentucky in April 1852 were saved in part because the ladies cabins were the first place rescuers searched.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Watches and Hair Plaits in the 1840s

Newspaper clip from the Maysville Eagle, December 26, 1846 - Apparently after being robbed, D.S. Hudson of Maysville Kentucky announced that he would focus solely on repairing watches and jewelry. His wife, on the other hand, would preserve the hair customers brought her by making it into bracelets, necklaces, and other types of jewelry. The custom of keeping family member's hair as a keepsake was widespread in the 1800s.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Video File: Experience Steamboatin'

For many years now, Maysville Kentucky has been a port for steamboats traveling along the Ohio River. The most frequent visitor is, of course, the Delta Queen, a stately steamboat in operation since 1947 and the flagship for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company.

According to the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, "steamboatin' is a unique blend of American beauty and history, its sumptuous river cuisine, lively 'showboat' style entertainment, and the adventure of exploring Mark Twain's riverside America. Charming, historic river ports. Lively cities. Stately plantations. And what a unique way to discover them!

"There's nothing quite like Steamboatin' on the rivers of America's Heartland. Gliding along at a stately 8 mph, your mind has time to wander—back to a time when life was a bit slower and more genteel, when these mighty rivers served as America's natural 'highways,' and an elegant paddlewheel steamboat was the epitome of travel."

Click here to watch the Experience Steamboatin' Video which features the Delta Queen. According to the Delta Queen's itinerary, their next stop in Maysville will be in September.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Special Thanks to Area Utility Companies

Talk about a technical problem. The massive storm last night blew a tree right off its root structure and brought it down over powerlines out here in Old Washington. The result was that the power and phone lines to my house were literally ripped off the side of the building. Sure, we were temporarily in the dark out here, but candlelight is cool, and the response time by local utility companies in getting things back up and running was far better than what I expected. By early morning, the power was back on. By the afternoon, the wires were reattached to my house. Since I imagine that local utility companies rarely get a thank you note, I thought I'd give a shout out here and say thanks! Great job guys!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Historic District Expansion Possible

The Maysville City Commission will be meeting April 5th at 5:30 pm in the Municipal Building conference room to discuss whether the Downtown Historic District should be expanded to properties fronting on the north side of Fourth Street and those properties between Fourth Street and the current district. The expansion would include such historic buildings at the Bierbower House, Bowery House and Scott United Methodist Church on the south side of Fourth Street.

In an interview with the Mason County Beat, Zoning Administrator Matt Wallingford pointed out some of the benefits of an expanded historic district:

"Designation is an honor, meaning the community believes the architecture, history, and character of the area are worthy of recognition and protection. Historic district zoning can help to improve property values by stabilizing and enhancing the neighborhood's character, and it benefits property owners by protecting them from inappropriate changes by other owners that might destroy the special qualities of the neighborhood...

"Historic districts encourage better design, educate residents about their neighborhoods and ensure the architectural integrity of the district. Business owners and residents of these areas also gain by participating in protecting their investment. Buyers of property know that the aspects that make a particular area attractive will be protected over a period of time. Real estate agents often use historic district status as a marketing tool to sell properties."

More about the proposed expansion can be found in this Mason County Beat article.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Beauty of Thought Poetry Book Signing

Larry Allen Burns Sr., author of The Beauty of Thought, a collection of poems, will be at the Mason County Public Library for a book signing April 1st at 2 pm.

The Beauty of Thought was written at a turning point in my life. By that I mean I've always been an active person until I was injured; my injury left me unable to do the thing I loved, bodybuilding and working out. I had seven good years as an amateur bodybuilder and had gained much respect. Being injured and out of the gym, I had to do something with my energy. It gave me a lot of time to think about life in a different way. I think one should always be positive about something you love to do, knowing that it's not only you but other people feeding from that passion. This book of poetry is now my passion and a way to express my love for life and its gifts. My poems are written from true feelings that we all can relate to-a book for all to read, the young, the old, the big, and the small. I would like to share my book with you and yours. Thanks for keeping me writing and sharing my passion. Sincerely yours, Larry Burns.