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 @

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Craft Kills: Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting

Althea Merback, Gloves, 2005, Wire-knitted silk, Collection Kentucky Gateway Museum Center
Another great lead from the Ledger Independent: The Kathleen Savage Browning Miniatures Collection will be a key feature at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center when construction is complete and it opens later this year, but pieces from that collection are currently on display at The Museum of Art and Design in New York City. Four pieces in total by micro-knit artist Althea Merback are loaned from the collection, including a pair of ancient-Greek-inspired gloves (pictured left-above).

The exhibit is called Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting. A spokesperson for the museum said the exhibit "explores the phenomenal rise to prominence of knitting, crocheting and lace making in the world of contemporary artists from around the world." Yeah, maybe, but it's much cooler than that.

According to the museum's website, the exhibit, which features 27 artists from seven countries, explores "[r]adical reformers in the world of knitting and lace making [that] have overthrown the status quo from the inside out. In the space of ten years, knitting has emerged from the 'loving hands at home' hobbyist's den into museums and galleries worldwide."

Some pieces even provide social commentary. One piece, for example, highlights the countries that have publically detonated nuclear weapons. Another piece uses "computer software that translates video images into 'knitted' images to educate about sweatshop labor." Freddie Robins's Craft Kills piece (pictured right-above) is described as "a self-portrait that plays with our notions of craft as a passive activity."

Full Story

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

R.I.P. Eagle Creek Covered Bridge

I was reading the recent coverage in the Ledger Independent about the Flood of '97 and was immediately reminded of a bridge that I loved, that used to be over Eagle Creek, just north of Ripley, Ohio. It fell victim to the rising waters that swept through the area 10 years ago this week. It was a historical covered bridge built in 1872 and they had just built a modern parallel bypass in the hopes of preserving it for future generations. Sadly, their plan backfired. The supports on the new bridge caused the water to flow with more force, and the Eagle Creek Covered Bridge was lost.

Eagle Creek covered bridge

It's not the most devastating thing to have happened during the flood. I believe several people lost their lives. The Ledger reported that the flood cost Maysville around $100,000 to keep the water out and in areas not protected by a floodwall, the costs were much higher.

Still, without diminishing all of that, the bridge over Eagle Creek is what I remember. I spent a lot of time around it during my teen years, since my parents lived just up the road. Yes, I admit, some of those sweetheart J + ? carvings were mine. Though I'm about a decade older, haven't carved up historic landmarks in quite some time, and have a new sweetheart, things like that aren't supposed to just wash away.

R.I.P. Eagle Creek Bridge.

For more photos of Ohio covered bridges, click here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Pulse: Maysville Kentucky Was Confederate

This week's Pulse is from "Crow" at MySpace. Her blog post quite extensively covers the history of the Civil War in Kentucky, but here's the blip about Maysville:
After the war Confederate monuments were erected over the state, on court-house lawns, in cemeteries, and in city parks. However, only one such monument was erected to Union soldiers and that was to the soldiers of mountainous Lewis County on the Court House lawn in Vanceburg. This is said to be the only statue of its kind south of the Ohio River. Lewis County was intensely loyal to the Union and is a Republican party stronghold, quite different from its neighboring county of Mason to the west, which has Maysville as its county seat, a town steeped in the traditions and charm of an old Southern river town.

Read the full post

Two counties side by side. Lewis County went Union. Mason County went Confederate.

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fossil Hunting in Maysville Kentucky

Fossil hunting is considered to be a relaxing and rewarding year-round hobby and the Maysville Kentucky area is a favorite spot for fossil collectors across the region.

Pictured here is the Dry Dredgers Group on a fieldtrip to Maysville in 2003. The Dry Dredgers are an association of amateur geologists established in 1942.

More Pics

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Kentucky's Going Green

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, a bill recently passed the House of Representatives that would require the state to "formulate a plan to replace half of its passenger vehicles and light trucks with vehicles that run on alternative fuels". The bill needs to pass the Senate to become law, but in the House it was well received with a vote of 98-0. The 2007 Energy Independence Act also provides tax incentives for producers of alternative fuels according to the Herald-Leader.

The leading alternatives to fossil fuels are mostly agricultural-based. Biodiesel, for example, is fuel derived from vegetable oils. This could be good for Kentucky's agricultural regions, including the area around Maysville.

The push for green isn't just limited to the search for alternative fuels. Recently, there's been a surge in demand for organically grown food, like what is produced at Maysville's Herb Farm at Strodes Run.

An estimated 1,250 organic farmers attended last month's meeting of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group in Louisville. According to a recent article in Louisville's Courier-Journal, "Sustainable agriculture involves food production methods that don't harm the environment, respects workers, raises animals humanely, provides fair wages to farmers and supports farming communities." At the meeting, organically raised pork was served with a shiitake dressing, using Maysville-grown shiitakes.

Full Story

Friday, February 23, 2007

Reese Witherspoon To Play Rosemary Clooney?

Reese Witherspoon won an Oscar for her portrayal as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line
While I'm on a rumor kick, let me throw another one out there that I came across recently. There's a rumor that George Clooney is thinking about making a movie about his aunt, Maysville Kentucky's Girl Singer, Rosemary Clooney. He is said to have approached Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon about the role.

According to In Touch magazine, "There is talk of a movie about George's aunt, the singer and actress Rosemary Clooney, and Reese (who won an Oscar for playing June Carter) has expressed interested in it." The magazine claims an insider revealed this in the February 26 edition.

The Cincinnati Enquirer said that Nick Clooney (Rosemary's brother and George's father) said he had heard about a possible movie back in 2002 but didn't know anything else about it. He called actor Miguel Ferrer (Rosemary's son), who hadn't heard about it either.

So there may be a movie and there may not. If it does come about, I can't think of anyone better to play her.

There was an earlier TV movie about Rosemary Clooney starring actress Sondra Locke. That movie aired in 1982 and was called Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story.

Full Story

Thursday, February 22, 2007

10-Lane Bridge To Be Built In Maysville Kentucky?

Normally I don't get into rumor-mongering. Bah, who am I kidding? As a story-teller I love rumors! I try not to regurgitate them, though, unless they have at least some bit of credibility. That's why this particular rumor is a tough one. It has some credibility but is also completely absurd.

Buried part way through an essay on foreign politics in the Harvard Business School student newspaper was the following statement:

Congress returns to its business-as-usual self, which is fraught with petty partisanship, pork-barrel legislation (bills that garner money for infrastructure projects in a Congressman's home district, such as a new 10-lane suspension bridge in Maysville, Kentucky), and distracted by the perpetual reelection campaign (the House serves 2-year terms).

Huh? A new 10-lane bridge? That's like 10 more lanes than we actually need. We've already got four spread over two bridges that are barely used.

The article was dated February 2007, so it's talking about a new bridge, not one of the two we already have. Also, I can't find any other references to a new bridge being built. It's probably a typo or mis-researched - and yet it is the Harvard Business School. See the dilema? But hey, it's just a rumor.

Link to article

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Maysville Veterans Memorial & Visitors Center

The American Veterans (AMVETS) in Maysville Kentucky are planning to build a veterans memorial and visitors center to honor soldiers who fell in U.S. conflicts. The location will be the former Simon Kenton fort, which is historical in its own right. Here, Gene Hook, Post Commander for the AMVETS Post 124, talks about some of their past projects and future goals, including the memorial park.

At the end of the clip (05:12 mark), you can preview what the park may look like when it is completed through the wonders of computer 3-D animation. For more information about the project and how you can contribute, please visit the AMVETS website at

Also read the article about it in the Ledger Independent »

My contribution: The video was shot by Gene Hook. I created the 3-D conceptual animation of the park. Google Video kind of over-compressed the animation so it doesn't look quite as good here as it does on the DVD it was made for.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Bluegrass Region

Kentucky is known as the Blugrass State. The term comes from the common name for grass of the genus Poa, which is a favored lawn and pasture grass in the eastern United States from Tennessee northward. Bluegrass is also the name of the region of Central and Northern Kentucky (green and light green below).

Dark green - Eastern Kentucky Coal fields (Cumberland Plateau)
Green - Outer Bluegrass
Light Green - Inner Bluegrass
Light Brown - Mississippi (Pennyroyal) Plateau
Brown - Western Kentucky Coal Field
Dark Brown - Jackson Purchase

The Bluegrass region is characterized by underlying fossiliferous limestone, dolostone, and shale of the Ordovician geological age. Hills are generally rolling, and the soil is highly fertile for growing pasture. Because of this, the Bluegrass is well known for its horse farms. However, the area is becoming increasingly developed with residential and commercial properties, particularly around Lexington. Farms are losing ground to this development and are slowly disappearing. This has led the World Monuments Fund to include the Bluegrass region on its global list of 100 most endangered sites.

The Kentucky Bluegrass is bounded on the east by the Cumberland Plateau, with the Pottsville Escarpment forming the boundary. On the south and west, it borders the Pennyroyal Plateau, (also called the Pennyrile), with Muldraugh Hill, another escarpment, forming the boundary. Much of the region is drained by the Kentucky River and its tributaries. The river cuts a deep canyon through the region, preserving meanders that indicate that the river was once a mature low valley that was suddenly uplifted. Particularly near the Kentucky River, the region exhibits karst topography, with sinkholes, caves, and disappearing streams which drain underground to the river.

(Adapted from Bluegrass Region at Wikipedia)

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Pulse: George Clooney vs. Chris Lofton

A battle has been raging in the blogosphere over which of Maysville Kentucky's favored sons is more sexier, George Clooney or newcomer Chris Lofton. George Clooney obviously has the official title, but this week's Pulse from Lydia at "Nothing Rhymes With Lydia" comments on ESPN's recent contributions to the debate:
The ESPN commentators are more on Chris Lofton’s [edited] than…nevermind, I shouldn’t reveal that on the internet. They SERIOUSLY just said that “the only maybe more famous person to come out of Maysville, KY is George Clooney.” They went on to say that, as of tonight, Chris Lofton was now the sexiest man to come out of Maysville because he was leading the Volunteers over the Wildcats. What. the. [edited]. Did a basketball commentator REALLY just say that Chris Lofton was sexier than George Clooney? Back up. 

Read the full post (warning, post contains colorful metaphors)

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Some Recent Comments

We love hearing from readers who share an interest in our small Kentucky town. Here's some recent comments I thought I'd bump to the top.

In Response to Follow Up On Billy The Kid's Maysville Connection

Martha Poe Walls...

I find all things Poe interesting. It’s a nasty habit that comes from doing family research. I read the article that you did on Jimmy McElfresh, and knew that the McElfresh family was connected to my Henderson side. I found the name of my grandmother’s brother in that article, if it’s the same John Henderson. He mentions Cotty Henderson, and that was one of the names that John Henderson Jr., had mentioned to me when I had talked to him via phone about my Henderson roots. My father’s family runs deep in Maysville, from the Browning’s, Henderson, Mastin, and Poe lines. I could go on, but probably would bore you to tears with it. Thanks again for listing my reply on your Blog, and thanks again for the interesting and informative articles that you post. I do have to say I absolutely loved the car going through town with the camera on it. It had me in stitches, and gave me a look at Maysville that was unique.


In Response to The Original Hayswood Hospital

Molly said...

Hi, My name is Molly and I was born there in that hosital and live across the street from there before we moved to Florida. Every year I visit my relatives and go by the hospital and it saddens me to see such a horrible, run down old building that holds a lot of history. I wished it could be refurbished and use for a senior home or low income housing. I wished that the people of Maysville could do something to at least stop the deteration of the building. Could the mayor do something about it? I went to school with him. Also, there is a house across the street where my Aunt lived. Nobody lives there now. Why is it bordered up and very dirty outside? See you in June Molly


In Response to The Thank God I Made It Town

Jilana Wilson said...

Words cannot describe how much I enjoy this. I spent every summer of my life as a child on Mamaw Bess and Papaw Dick's farm on Charlotte Bottoms Road. We also spent time at Papaw John and Etta's, Ole Mom Harrison, Mamaw Boyd, and all of our other aunts and uncles. Those days were filled with wonder, Jesus, the river, tobacco, sweat bee's and heat. What a wonderful childhood I had. I miss those days so. Thanks for being there.


In Response to The Pulse: Basketball At Maysville High School

New said...

I went to my first game in the Fieldhouse after living here for 7 years. The game was against Lex Catholic and it went into double overtime. Royals win. I honestly never knew HS basketball could be like this.

Ken Downing Class of 1957 said...

How well I remember. Except my thrill was in 1956 and a triple overtime win over Nicholas County in the regional finals at Harrison County and the Sweet Sixteen was at Memorial Coliseum. Oh, and I too wished they had the 3 point shot in 1956. Thanks for bringing back the memory.


In Response to Dave Tomlin: Maysville Baseball Player

Jane Beam Johnson said...

Just cannot resist the blog! Love Maysville and always will! Dave Tomlin was perhaps born in Maysville, Ky., but he was one of a large family that lived in Liberty Township, Adams County, Ohio. He attended Liberty School and West Union High School. The Tomlin boys were all good baseball players and their sisters could play softball, too! David being one of the younger ones was blessed with a great cheering section at his games as he grew up, and with lots of love and encouragement that probably contributed to his successful career. He was a student at Liberty Twp. School where my mother taught, and like his brothers and sisters, he always treated her and my dad with respect and appreciation.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Video File: Ranking House in Ripley Ohio

Video of the Rankin House in nearby Ripley, Ohio. This is the home of John Rankin (1793 - 1886), a Presbyterian minister, educator, and abolitionist, who helped slaves escape from Maysville Kentucky. He was Ohio's first and most active "conductors" on the Underground Railroad. You can learn more about John Rankin and his influencial book Letters on Slavery (including a link to the online version) here: Black History Month: John Rankin

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

In 1985, PBS released a movie adaptation of Mark Twain's classic story The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was filmed in the neighboring community of Augusta, Kentucky.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is my personal all-time favorite book. It's the story of life on the river as only Twain could tell it, moving from idyllic descriptions of floating through the heart of America by raft, to the misadventures that go along with it, and all the murderers, thieves, confidence men, good people and hypocrites that make the tale the best American tale ever written, in my opinion.

It's also a book of controversy.

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

Despite the opening note to the novel, the book does carry a social message, unlike Twain's earlier The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In addition to the obvious themes of slavery, race, class, and a satirical portrayal of Southern society, there are many subtle themes woven into the story as well. Family, for example, is embodied by Huck's absentee and drunken father, and the numerous families he encounters that try to adopt him.

Almost as controversial as the slavery theme is Huck's struggle to find a sense of morality in himself and the people he encounters. Throughout the story he matures into an indivual sense of right and wrong. When he is faced with the dilemma of whether or not to steal Jim out of slavery, and the moral implications of society in doing so, he famously says, "All right, then, I'll GO to hell". In writing Huckleberry Finn in this way, Twain created one of the most most unbiased, open-minded characters of popular literature.

The controversial themes did not fall on deaf ears. Soon after publication, the Concord, Massachusetts, library banned the book because of its "tawdry subject matter" and "the coarse, ignorant language in which it was narrated". However, the San Francisco Chronicle came quickly to its defense, stating:

Running all through the book is the sharpest satire on the ante-bellum estimate of the slave. Huckleberry Finn, the son of a worthless, drunken, poor white man, is troubled with many qualms of conscience because of the part he is taking in helping the negro to gain his freedom. This has been called exaggerated by some critics, but there is nothing truer in the book.

The controversy didn't end there. In fact, the book ranks fifth as the most frequently challenged (in the sense of attempting to ban) book in the United States according to the American Library Association. Attempts to "clean-up" the language in the book have always failed. CBS Television went so far as to produce a made-for-TV version of Huck Finn that included no black cast members, no mention of slavery, and without the critical character Jim. It tanked horribly.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Black History Month: From Maysville To Toronto

Thorton Blackburn and his brother Alfred were two individuals who escaped slavery in Mason County, Kentucky, to start Toronto's first taxi service. Their lives are detailed in Chapter 12 of I've Got a Home in Glory Land by Karolyn Smardz Frost.

Though Thorton and his wife, Lucie, escaped Kentucky slavery in 1831, it took them several years to make it as far as Canada. When they arrived it was 1834, the same year Toronto became a city (it had been called by its British colonial title, "York", before that year). Toronto at the time had a booming economy that was somewhat welcoming of blacks. It had, in general, a lower degree of antiblack prejudice. It wasn't free from racism - white and black societies lived in separate spheres - but in many ways it was a 19th century model of what would become commonplace decades later. In business and employment, and even in churches, blacks and whites intermingled.

In 1837, James G. Birney, a Kentucky slaveholder-turned abolitionist, visited Toronto. He wrote approvingly:

On Sunday I attended, in the morning, the "English Church" [Church of England]. I saw here several colored people sitting promiscuously with the whites. In the afternoon, I went to a Baptist Church, the pastor of which is Mr. Christian, a colored man, a native of Virginia and formerly a Slave. The Congregation, which was larger than the building could well accommodate, was composed of about an equal number of whites and colored persons. There was no distinction in seats, nor any, the least recognition, so far as I could discern, of a difference made by complexion or any other cause. There is a considerable number of the members of the Church that are whites. I never saw a better looking or more orderly Congregation assembled. In their persons they were neat – in their attention to the services decorous and exemplary.

There was also a strong abolitionist sentiment and slave catchers were despised. They rarely came to this city on the north shore of Lake Ontario because little assistance was given by Torontoians to American slave owners hoping to kidnap runaway slaves.

Finding a prosperous new life in Toronto, Thorton Blackburn began the first taxi business in Upper Canada in 1837, with his brother Alfred, who had escaped slavery in Mason County, Kentucky years before. Amazingly, Thorton and Alfred found each other in Toronto despite not knowing the other would be there.

Full Story

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Maysville Kentucky Mystery Photo: 1950s, 60s?

This photograph is of an important Maysville Kentucky building, despite its use a service station when the picture was first taken. Let's see if anyone can guess what the building is used for today, what street is in front of the building, and the date of the photo.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Black History Month: Underground Railroad Lore

Marla Toncray, assistant director of the Maysville-Mason County Tourism Commission, was recently interviewed for an article that appeared in Knoxville, Tennessee's News Sentinel. In the interview she discusses Maysville's Underground Railroad history and its present place as one of four communities on the Freedom Trail, a driving tour linking sites in Kentucky and Ohio that were major stops for escaping slaves heading to Canada.

From the article:

"In Washington (Ky.), slave owners and abolitionists lived next door to each other. There was tension, needless to say," Toncray says. Washington, a pioneer village with log cabins dating to the 1790s, is now a historic district in the city of Maysville.

In 1833, Harriet Beecher Stowe visited Marshall Key at his home in Washington. Stowe was the private teacher of Key's daughter, Elizabeth. According to the local history, Stowe witnessed a slave auction on Washington Courthouse lawn. The ardent abolitionist placed the scene into her novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin." The Key home is now the Harriet Beecher Stowe Slavery to Freedom Museum.

Nearby, a white frame house holds photographs, period furniture and documents related to Albert Sidney Johnston. The Confederate general spent his childhood in the two-story house. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and joined the Confederate army, where he reached the rank of supreme commander in the west. He died at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862.

The Paxton Inn was a safe house for the Underground Railroad. Oral histories indicate escaping slaves were hidden on a narrow staircase next to the kitchen fireplace. At the Bierbower House, slaves escaped detection under false floors. Conductors, the people who assisted the freedom seekers, put lights in the windows as signals for safe passage.

Full Story

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Pulse: Tina Rigdon Fitness Competition

This week's Pulse comes from Ben-Gal Cheer Alumni and the blog post is about former Cincinnati Bengal's cheerleader and Maysville resident Tina Rigdon's upcoming fitness competition:
Fitness Competitor and Former Ben-Gal, Tina Rigdon, is hosting "The Tina Rigdon FAME Classic" to be held in Maysville, KY on April 27, 28 and 29th.

The event will be backed by the World Natural Sports Organization (WNSO) and various Fitness Magazines. There are a variety of events including Muscle, Fitness, Figure and Model Competitions. 

Read the full post

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Black History Month: Slave Pen At Freedom Center

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a museum in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, based on the history of the Underground Railroad. While Maysville Kentucky and Mason County have shining examples of the contributions it made in helping escaped slaves reach their freedom, it unfortunately also played a negative part in this period of American history as well. This is evident by the Freedom Center's principal artifact, a 21 by 30 foot, two-story slave pen (pictured above) that was locally built in 1830 and was used to house slaves being shipped to auction. There's no overlooking it either. It fills most of the space on the second-floor atrium and can even be seen from the street outside. In many ways it is the anchor of the Freedom Center, reminding visitors that although great strides have been made in civil rights, we should never forget the attrocities of the past.

The structure itself was built in 1830 and belonged to a Captain John Anderson who was a Revolutionary War soldier. He lived on a farm in nearby Dover, Kentucky, where the slave pen stood before being moved to the Freedom Center. It has eight small windows, a stone floor, and a fireplace for cooking and warmth. Sometimes slaves were housed in the tiny log building for several months, waiting for favorable market conditions and higher selling prices, sometimes chained to a row of wrought iron rings that are on display in the cabin as well.

"The pen is powerful," says Carl B. Westmoreland, the museum curator. "It has the feeling of hallowed ground. When people stand inside, they speak in whispers. It is a sacred place. I believe it is here to tell a story - the story of the internal slave trade to future generations." This effect is reinforced by a wooden slab inside the pen where the names of some of the slaves are written. These names come from local records of the slave traders of the period.

More about the Freedom Center

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bigfoot Spotted in Ohio River Valley?

Weird post today. Apparently a story is making its way around the Internet that a Bigfoot was spotted and filmed in Kentucky along the Ohio River Valley, which would put it somewhere around here. This isn't an old story either. Supposedly it happened in 2005. I use the term Bigfoot loosely because I've seen the video and it can be any number of things.

The story gets a little weirder. The video comes from a motion detection camera that was placed on location where the Bigfoot was supposedly seen. They set up the camera, placed some bait on the ground, and waited to see what would happen. The bait - and I couldn't make this up if I wanted to - was pancakes.

So, if this is actually a video of Bigfoot, it is also a video of Bigfoot eating pancakes!

In any case, the first part of the video is the group setting up the camera. Around 02:20 on the timeline, a woman comes into the scene and places a plate of pancakes on the ground. "Bigfoot" arrives on the scene at about 05:57 on the timeline. Judge for yourself.

The full story in detail is available at

Friday, February 09, 2007

Maysville Regional Area Forms Masonic Symbol

The Square and Compass is one of the most prominent symbols of Freemasonry.
A sacred geometry related to the Masonic Square and Compass symbol is represented by the layout of certain regional Kentucky towns, particularly the Rowan County area, according to an anonymous Wikipedia contributor (his contributions were later removed as anecdotal). The entry suggested that early regional towns were perhaps designed and built according to esoteric symbology, including Maysville. It said (paraphrased to make sense):

"Rowan County was once part of a much larger area called Mason County which had a southwest border using the Licking River for a 45 degree angle aligned with the north-most point of Kentucky. If you place the masonic square and compass over a properly sized map with the pivot on Rome, Ohio, the shape of the county is covered proportionately by the symbol, and the compass points run past Mt. Olympus in Bath County and point towards London and Whitesburg.

"The southern tip of the county lies directly east of Lexington and a north-south line disects the confluence of the Licking River, Lexington, and the north point of Pulaski County, as well as the point where the Big South Fork crosses the border with Tennessee."

That, according to the entry, forms the basic shape of the Masonic Square and Compass. The central feature of the symbol, the "G" part that is thought to represent either God or Geometry, would fall directly over the east gate of Morehead State University - oddly marked by a black marble obelisk with the esoteric number "13" on it.

The entry then goes on to explain that the road extending from Maysville to Morehead was a part of this symbology and discusses how this is tied into the Proctor and Gamble operations in Cincinnati (whose logo has a symbolic crescent moon and 13 stars on it). It also said that the original layout of MSU was 13 buildings forming a crescent moon pattern and that "Moonlight schools" were conducted at MSU by the Masons to teach to the "enlightened".

I have no idea if any of this is true or not, just that it is a weird and interesting contribution to local lore.

Archived Rowan County, Kentucky, entry at Wikipedia

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Bela Lugosi Connection

Film actor Bela Lugosi, best known as Bram Stoker's Dracula
Long before any of the Clooneys set out west to Hollywood, and really just as the motion picture industry was getting its footing, two Maysville Kentucky natives made their mark in film. Lorimer Johnston (1858 - 1941) and Henry Wadsworth (1897 - 1974) both had long careers in Hollywood. Johnston was a actor, writer, and director between the 1910s and 1940s, and Wadsworth was an actor through the 1930s and 1940s. Neither had a break-out role that made them super-famous like George, Rosemary, or Nick Clooney, but their careers were remarkable nonetheless.

The two men were born almost forty-years apart and I couldn't find any sources that said the two men were friends or even knew each other. And yet, they have a surprising connection that ties the classic horror film genre to our very own Maysville Kentucky. Both men starred in Bela Lugosi films.

Bela Lugosi was the stage name of actor Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó (1882 - 1956). You know him as Dracula. He was the actor who played the starring role in the 1931 classic vampire movie Dracula by Bram Stoker. Oddly Lugosi was born in what is now Romania, the setting for the classic vampire story. After Dracula, Lugosi found himself typecast as a horror villain and went on to make dozens of other horror and sci-fi films until his death in 1956. It's a huge body of work. He even appeared post-mortem in Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space that featured a clip of him filmed a short time before he died.

Back to our Maysville stars: Lorimer Johnston starred with Bela Lugosi in the 1939 film Son of Frankenstein (we've mentioned that before at this blog). Henry Wadsworth starred with Bela Lugosi as well, four years earlier in the 1935 film Mark of the Vampire.

So now, in addition to the George Clooney six degrees of separation between Maysville Kentucky and Kevin Bacon (George is from Maysville, starred in Ocean's Eleven with Brad Pitt, who starred in Sleepers with Kevin Bacon), we now have a more historical connection. Henry Wadsworth starred in Mark of the Vampire with Lionel Barrymore, who is the great-uncle of Drew Barrymore, who starred in Charlie's Angels II with Demi Moore, who starred in A Few Good Men with... Kevin Bacon.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Video File: Sledding At The Rec Park

Locals Josh and Mason take advantage of the recent snow fall at the Maysville-Mason County Recreation Park (this is before the big snowfall, so it's more like wet grass sledding).

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Don't You Just Love The Snow?

Snow fell throughout the day and is expected to continue through the night. Although we've had light dustings earlier in the season, this is our first real snowfall of the year. I took advantage of the opportunity to snap some photos in Old Washington.

The Old Marshall Homestead

Shops on Main Street

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Pulse: Basketball At Maysville High School

This week's Pulse comes from Lieutenant Johnson at MySpace and his blog post is about the glory of playing basketball for Maysville High School when he was growing up:
As a kid growing up in a small town in Northern Kentucky, I had many dreams, most revolving around basketball. I had a passion for the game like no other. I can remember cleaning snow from the local court for two hours, just to be able to play basketball for those fading few minutes of daylight...

I attended Maysville High School, where basketball was king, and any kid who played was treated like a God. I can remember walking down the hall way and seeing the pictures of teams that dated back to the 1930's. but the one thing I remember the most is the 1947 State Championship Trophy, which set in one of the many trophy cases which lined the hall way. I would often stop on my way to class and wonder what it would feel like to hold that championship trophy on the floor of Rupp Arena. Maysville High was a very small school. My senior class had less than 60 students, and there were less than 200 in the whole high school. So the chance of our team ever reaching the state tournament was very slim. My senior year was one of the most exciting for Maysville High Basketball. Our team was 22 and 5 going into the regional tournament.

Read the full post

The Pulse is a weekly series at the Maysville Kentucky Blog where we pull something we found in the blogosphere that relates to Maysville and share it with our readers.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Photograph of Downtown Cow Parade

Times certainly have changed. This photograph from the early 1900s shows a calf club show and parade in downtown Maysville Kentucky. While Mason County is still an agricultural region, they don't walk the cows downtown anymore : ) This photograph of Second Street is also great because of all the details in the background. If you look real close, you can make out some of the signs showing what was around in those days.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Maysville Kentucky Floodwall Inspection

The 1937 flood we wrote about in recent articles seems to be on a lot of people's minds, including the Army Corps of Engineers. They inspected our floodwalls recently and gave it a passing grade - barely. Citing room for improvement, City Manager Ray Young said yesterday that the city is working with the corps to repair concrete deterioration. He also said that for the river to breach the floodwall, it would have to rise to 62 feet (the height of a faulty portion of the wall) and that sandbags could be used effectively if that were to happen. Read the full story here.

The Ledger Independent also ran a great piece by Marla Toncray, titled "Remembering 'The Flood.'" In the article, she interviews Don Buckley, a first-hand witness. He was only seven years old at the time, but Buckley says he remembers it well. "You don't have floods in January. So many people didn't anticipate it was going to be the magnitude it was," he recalled. Read the full story here.

Just so folks don't think that the 1937 flood was the only disastrous flood in Maysville Kentucky history, here's a Cincinnati Enquirer photograph of city workers bracing against the 1997 flood, which reached a height of 64.7 feet. During that flood, nearby Ripley, Ohio, was declared a federal disaster area.

Also check out the Cincinnati Enquirer's Infamous Floods timeline which chronicles all of the major floods to have swamped the area. The first recorded flood was in 1773 where Indians mark the depth of the Ohio River at 76 feet.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Margaret Mitchell's Husband: Maysville Native

So many famous people were born in Maysville Kentucky. In listing them all, I feel a bit like Adam Sandler listing off all the famous Jewish people in his Chanukah Song. This is the part where I say Margaret Mitchell wasn't a Maysville native, but I heard her husband was.

Margaret Mitchell is the famous author of Gone With the Wind, the phenomenal bestselling novel of life in the South during the Civil War. Who doesn't know of Scarlett O'Hara? In any case, within the first six months of the book's publication in 1936, it sold more than a million copies. This was during the depression era as well. Since then, it has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide with an additional 250,000 copies sold each year. It's one of the most popular books of all time.

Although Margaret Mitchell was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and had been briefly married before, she married John Robert Marsh, a Maysville Kentucky native, on July 4, 1925. Marsh worked in public relations for the Georgia Power and Light Company.

Historians have speculated whether characters in the novel Gone With the Wind were based on real people. Mitchell has denied this, saying that they were simply imaginative creations. However, if she did base her characters in part on real people, one must wonder if she based any of them on her newly-wed husband John Marsh. After all, it was less than a year after they were married that Mitchell began writing the book (she started it in 1926 while cooped up with a broken ankle).

Was a Maysville Kentucky native the muse for Gone With the Wind? Only Mitchell would know. Still, she was obviously enamored with Marsh. After becoming a celebrity overnight, and after being much sought after for speaking engagements and interviews, Mitchell withdrew somewhat from the public eye saying that she "wanted to remain simply Mrs. John Marsh."

Full Story

(Special thanks to Ken Downing for the lead on this story)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Roy Bean: The Hangin' Judge

If you think the judge was particularly harsh when you saw him for that speeding ticket, count your blessings that the judge wasn't Mason County Kentucky native Roy Bean. Roy Bean was an eccentric saloon-keeper who called himself "The Law West of the Pecos". Everyone else called him by a name you might be more familiar with: "The Hangin' Judge". He was born in Mason County in 1825 and lived until 1903.

Around the age of 15, Roy Bean left Kentucky and sought adventure out West, developing a colorful past of murder and gun smuggling before eventually founding a saloon along the Rio Grande River in a part of the desert in west Texas. The saloon he called Jersey Lily, after the beautiful British actress Lillie Langtry.

He was appointed as a judge for lack of any other law in the area and decorated the Jersey Lily saloon with signs proclaiming "Ice", "Beer", and "Law West of the Pecos". He was elected in 1884 and re-elected many times after.

His sort of justice was a unique justice. Judge Roy Bean knew very little about the law actually and sort of made it up as he went along. In one story, for example, a case was brought before him where an Irishman had killed his fellow Chinese railroad worker. The Chinese man was found dead with a gun and $40 in his pocket. Reportedly, Judge Bean declared that since he knew of no law against killing a "Chinaman", he proceeded to fine the dead man $40 for carrying a concealed weapon.

Legend has it that Judge Roy Bean was a "merciless dispenser of justice", for which he earned the nickname "The Hangin' Judge". In his book "Judge Roy Bean Country," Jack Skiles says that although Bean threatened to hang hundreds, "there's no evidence to suggest that Judge Roy Bean ever hung anybody."

More about The Hangin' Judge

(Special thanks to Ken Downing for the lead on this story)