News Update

Newspaper: Frankfort Roundabout, Frankfort, KY

Issue: Volume VI Number 5

Date: November 11, 1882

In this issue of the Frankfort Roundabout, we have some references to earlier subjects of this blog.

–       We regret to know that little Willie, only child of Judge W. L. Pence, has been very ill for several days, and his ultimate recovery is despaired of.

–       The girls down in this section do not think it worth while marrying unless they can run off.

–       Mr. L. W. Shackelford, who eloped with and married Miss Loulie Rogers about a month since, has settled down to married life and is doing well.


Judge W. L. Pence appeared in the second blog post, titled, “Yesterday in History.”  The last time we read about him, he had attended a Railroad Exposition in Louisville, KY and was adding a room onto his house on Kentucky Avenue in Frankfort.  Genealogical information found here, asserts that Judge Pence had two children, William L. and Frenchie T.. Frenchie T. was obviously born after her brother’s illness.  I cannot find a death certificate for little Willie, nor can I find a reference to his death in the newspaper later on.  Find a quick sketch of Judge W. L. Pence here.

It is apparent that the new fad in Walnut Grove in 1882 was to elope.  While there was a stigma attached, it seems that no one in the community is terribly concerned as long as the two people involved are of similar standing and of age.

Mr. Shackelford and Miss Rogers last appeared in the blog post titled, “Love is in the Air.”  They went to Louisville by train for the day, where they were married.  It was unclear from the entry in the Frankfort Roundabout as to whether or not they had eloped.  As it turns out, they did and remained happily married, at least for a while.

Luke Pryor Blackburn

The third update concerns Governor Luke P. Blackburn, who was mentioned in the blog post, titled “ ‘Local News’ the Facebook of Yesteryear.”  His brother, Senator J. C. S. Blackburn had just won an election in Bald Knob.  James Blackburn, who may have been another brother or close relative, undersigned the Thanksgiving Day entry.  J. C. S. Blackburn stands for Joseph Clay Stiles Blackburn who may have gone by James; however, he was not Secretary of State at that time.  You can find more about the family here.

Do these updates seem like entries that might appear on a Facebook newsfeed?

To view the full October 21, 1882 Frankfort Roundabout newspaper, please go to Chronicling America or click here.

Posted in 1882, Chronicling America, Frankfort, Kentucky, Louisville, Marriage, Politics | Leave a comment

‘Local News’ the Facebook of Yesteryear

Newspaper: Frankfort Roundabout, Frankfort, KY

Issue: Volume VI Number 5

Date: October 21, 1882

Today we are looking at a random sampling of what appears in the local gossip section of the Frankfort Roundabout on October 21, 1882.  The flowing three entries illustrate how the newspaper functioned as a database, the Facebook of yesteryear.

–       There is a curiosity in this neighborhood.  It is called a “white buzzard.”  It is, however, larger, and has a different kind of head. [B]ut it is always seen with, and roosts with a flock of buzzards.  What is it?

–       The primary election passed off quietly at Bald Knob, Saturday, giving Hon. J. C. S. Blackburn 24 majority.  There was a small vote polled.

–       Died. – Near here, on the 14th inst., after lingering illness of twenty-one days, with typhoid fever, a son of Mr. Bandy Polsgrove, aged 17 years.  Mr. Polsgrove has eight more children down with the same fever, that are not expected to live.  The family have many friends who weep with them in their bereavements.

The first entry, concerning the “white buzzard,” proves how the newspaper can be used as a search engine.  Someone has written in to the ‘Benson’ section of the Frankfort Roundabout to inquire as to the nature of this strange bird.  Today, we use Google to the same effect.  After Googling “white buzzard” and then “white buzzard KY,” I have come up with several conclusions.  One, this buzzard could be an albino or a genetic mutation of some kind.  Two, it could be that the bird has migrated and stayed in Kentucky.  There are several types of white buzzards but none that are typically found in North America, the closest would be the White-tailed Hawk, found in tropical or sub-tropical environments across the Americas.  Since we now typically use Wikipedia to quickly research such things, I have linked the page on buzzards here.

Senator J. C. S. Blackburn 1896

The second entry, announcing the primary election at Bald Knob, shows how newspapers are used to announce the outcome of elections.  This is still true today but without internet campaigns as well, candidates would not be taken seriously.  The Honorable J. C. S. Blackburn, a Democrat, who won the vote by a majority of 24, would have had an internet campaign that would likely have included a Facebook page or two.  Information on the page would have stated that Blackburn served in the Confederate Army.  He was both a lawyer and a farmer.  His political career took off after he was elected to represent Woodford County in the Legislature.  Later he served in Congress as the Senator from Kentucky.  His eldest brother, Luke P. Blackburn, was Governor of Kentucky.

As a well-connected and important man of his age, a Google search today provides plenty of information on Senator Blackburn.  Imagine if Google had existed at his time.  A search would very quickly have brought up a website, twitter page, Facebook page, campaign videos on youtube, a blog, and many other media, all having to do with Senator Blackburn.  How has the internet changed politics?  Even with all the information available via the internet today during elections, is the truth easier to find?  You can find more information on Senator Blackburn by his contemporaries here and here.

The third entry is heartbreaking.  The thought of losing one child to typhoid, let alone the possibility of losing nine, is something that is hard to comprehend for a person in a first world country.  Death occurs and is always tragic, but the fear that goes along with an epidemic is something that we very rarely experience today in the United States.  The last time a comparable scare occurred, it concerned Swine Flu.  Thanks to the speed of today’s media, we are able to catch symptoms and epidemics very early on.

Typhoid was rampant because of sanitary conditions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  The disease is spread through food or water that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person.  It usually takes the disease four weeks to fully manifest all the symptoms before death occurs.  There is the initial rising of temperature headache and cough.  Next is the delirium, diarrhea, and some patients also develop rose-colored spots.  The third week the disease varies from patient to patient but becomes ever more severe with intestinal bleeding and more delirium.  The fourth week, the fever reduces, and previous symptoms become more severe before death.

During the Civil War, 81,360 Union soldiers died of typhoid or dysentery.  The spread of the disease, especially within poorer households, was a great concern.  In the 1900’s, ‘Typhoid Mary’ (Mary Mallon), became a notorious figure in history for spreading the disease to at least 53 people.   To learn more about Typhoid Fever, click here.  To learn more about the notorious ‘Typhoid Mary,’ click here.

Typhoid Mary

People use Facebook to multiple ends; more than anything, it is used as a gossip column.  I argue that that Facebook has become the ‘Local News’ section of today.  What do you think?

To view the full October 21, 1882 Frankfort Roundabout newspaper, please go to Chronicling America or click here.

Posted in 1882, Chronicling America, Death, Frankfort, Kentucky, Politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Love Is In the Air

Newspaper: Frankfort Roundabout, Frankfort, KY

Issue: Volume VI Number 3

Date: October 7, 1882

Love is in the air in Frankfort, KY and not everyone is happy about it.  In this week’s local news section there are three announcements that pull at our heartstrings.

Today’s topics as they appear in the October 7, 1882 issue of the Roundabout:

–       The old saying that “love laughs at bolt and locks” was verified in this neighborhood last Monday.  Mr. John Shackleford and Miss Rosa Rogers took the early train to Louisville and returned at night as man and wife.

–       Mr. Benjamin Watson and Miss Eliza Jane Sharp are said to have been the best looking couple at Bethany Church Sunday. The crowd numbered one thousand.

–       One night last week, Mr. Edward Johnson went quietly to the house of James G. Bramlett, near Minorsville, Scott County, and stole his daughter, Miss Christina, took her to his uncle’s and repaired to Georgetown to obtain the necessary papers to make them man and wife; but when he got there found that Mr. B. had learned of the flight of his daughter and notified the Clerk not to issue the license.  Not to be balked in their undertaking, the young couple went to Cincinnati, where they were married, and are now as happy as young folks well be. J.K.H.

The background stories for the first and last snippet from the Frankfort Roundabout must be fascinating.  It is difficult to tell from the news, whether Mr. Shackleford and Miss Rogers eloped or if they were married with family present and a previous engagement.  The entry in the newspaper is light-hearted which suggests that the match between John and Rosa was one accepted by the community.  Most likely, they were of a similar social standing.

The second entry about Mr. Benjamin Watson and Miss Eliza Jane Sharp is also light-hearted.  The couple was most likely young and known to be courting.  Previously in the week, the newspaper notes that, “Misses Alice and Bettie Wigginton and Eliza Jane Sharp spent several days last in Owen county with Miss Annie Watson”.  This is important because there are several Bethany Churches in the area around Frankfort, one of which is in Owen County.  It is difficult to narrow down what sort of church it is as there are references to Disciples, Baptist, and Lutheran.  We might also guess that Miss Annie Watson is a relation, most likely a sister, of Mr. Benjamin Watson.  It was normal, in 1882, for a courting couple to have chaperones or to be accompanied by female friends of the lady.  It sounds like this trip to Owen County was just that; a courtship. Or perhaps, this is where love began.

Beechwood General Store, Formerly Bethany Church, Owen County, KY

The third entry is, by far, the most intriguing.  There might be several reasons why Mr. Bramlett would not want Christina to marry Mr. Edward Johnson.  An obvious one would be class difference; Mr. Johnson could have been a man of little means or a ‘bad’ family.  Mr. Bramlett might also have thought the couple much too young.  There is one more very obvious reason; Mr. Bramlett did not like Mr. Johnson.  It would be wonderful to know the family history behind the story.  Elopement, in 1882, had a bit of a stigma to it; often because it meant early pregnancy, desperate young folks, or class issues were things that would keep the couple from having a respectable service.  The newspaper entry seems to suggest this as well because of the harsh language it uses.  For example, saying ‘stole his daughter’ instead of something like ‘whisked her away.’  Whether Mr. Johnson already had a good job in Cincinnati or the couple was just too afraid to go back to Kentucky and face Mr. Bramlett, it is good to know that they were happy in the end.

This is what a wedding picture of the time period looks like:

To view the full October 7, 1882 Frankfort Roundabout newspaper, please go to Chronicling America or click here.

Posted in 1882, Chronicling America, Frankfort, Kentucky, Marriage, Owen County | 1 Comment

Explore Historic Frankfort

Take a trip through historic Frankfort, KY and familiarize yourself with the sights that the readers of the Frankfort Roundabout saw.  Frankfort has changed greatly since 1920; however, many of the buildings on Main Street and Broadway are still in their original styles.

Here are some pictures to wet your whistle:

New State Capitol

Governor’s Mansion

Make sure you try out the street view and take a stroll!

For more information about historic sites and building in and around Frankfort, please visit these sites:

Frankfort History

Kentucky Historic Markers Be sure to click on Franklin Co.

Historic Frankfort Buildings

Posted in Frankfort, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yesterday in History

Frankfort circa 1871

Newspaper: Frankfort Roundabout, Frankfort, KY

Issue: Volume VI Number 1

Date: September 23, 1882

The Frankfort Roundabout’s tagline is ‘Devoted to Local and Society News’ so, today, I have picked several pieces of news from the local society section of the front page of the first issue.  The local news section is a place to brag about achievements, announce engagements, weddings, births, and deaths, and generally educate the public about what is going on that week.  By studying this section we can learn a lot about what the ‘bigshots’ were doing in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s and see what was important to them.

Today’s topics as they appear in the September 23, 1882 issue of the Roundabout:

  • Judge W. L. Pence is bringing an addition to one of his houses on Kentucky Avenue.
  • Judge W. L. Pence and wife attended the Exposition and railroad celebration in Louisville last week.
  • Miss Lizzie Thompson, a prepossessing blond of St. Louis is visiting the Misses Todd, at Lake Park.
  • Mr. R. W. Deakins left for Baltimore Monday morning to attend Medical College.  He attended the Louisville Medical College last year and has been a diligent student all summer.  This will be his finishing course, and when he returns will no doubt locate among us and make happy one joyous young heart, who will anxiously await his return.

Let’s start with some background information about Frankfort, Kentucky prior to the Frankfort Roundabout.  Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky.  Kentucky was a border state during the American Civil War and eventually sided with the Union.  For a time during the Civil War, the Confederate Army occupied Frankfort after they had first taken Richmond and then Lexington (Kentucky, not VA and MA).  This occupation lasted only a month but the effect of the Civil War left Frankfort conflicted.  There were as many Southern sympathizers as there were Northern.

After the Civil War, Frankfort experienced a boom in economy and population.  By 1900, the city’s population had reached 9,487.  For more background information on Frankfort, please feel free to visit the government website found here.

Now to the people and times:

Judge William L. Pence’s announcements definitely fall in the ‘bragging about achievements’ category.  He was born in 1839 to James P. Pence, a second generation American (James’ father was German) who was a wagon-maker, farmer, and saw-mill owner.  The Frankfort Roundabout announces that the Pence family has the money to add an addition to one of their houses.  Note that they have multiple houses and that those houses are on Kentucky Avenue,

which is along the river across from Frankfort in Belle Point, KY.  At one time this was a nice street to live on, currently the houses are a bit dilapidated.  Judge W.L. Pence paid for these additions with money from his profitable lumber business.

Judge Pence attended the Exposition in Louisville with his second wife, Sallie (same first name as his first wife, Sallie Enchminger) French, of Frankfort.  The exposition celebrated the opening of four new railroad lines.

More than mere entertainment for Judge Pence, the railway celebration was personal for him.  W.L. Pence was a railroad contractor on the Louisville & Nashville Line.  He provided all their timber needs with his mills and became known around Frankfort as an excellent businessman.

I can’t provide much information about Miss Lizzie Thompson of St. Louis or the Misses Todd.  This is eye-catching because Todd is an important name in Kentucky.  There is a Todd St. n Frankfort, a Mary Todd Dr., can you guess why? Anyone remember Mary Todd Lincoln, wife to President Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of our great country?  Mary Todd Lincoln was from Lexington, Kentucky.  Her house still stands on West Main Street in Lexington.  She was one of sixteen children born to prominent businessman, Robert Smith Todd.  Henry Clay, senator from Kentucky, and three-time presidential candidate was one of a number of influential people the Todds counted among their family friends.  I have no doubt that the Misses Todd referred to in the Frankfort Roundabout are relatives of the Lexington Todds.


Mary Todd Lincoln House

To learn more information about the Mary Todd Lincoln home in Lexington, Ky, visit their website found here.

To learn more about Lexington, KY and the history of the city, visit the website of The Lexington History Museum, found here.

Would it be fair to assume that Mr. R. W. Deakins was a bit of a romantic?  This announcement is hard to classify and yet I would say it still falls in the category of achievement.  Mr. Deakins more than likely attended the University of Louisville’s Medical College, founded in 1837.  The medical school was considered one of the best in the west at the time, thanks to a man named Charles Caldwell.  It is possible that he attended the rival Medical College in Louisville, Louisville Colligiate Institute, founded in 1844.  The University of Louisville was considered a bit elitist at the time Mr. Deakins attended.

He went on to Baltimore (probably traveling by rail at least part of the way).  The University of Baltimore’s school of medicine was founded in 1807 and is one of the oldest in the country.  Johns Hopkins University would have newly opened its doors to students in 1876.  The school of nursing was not open until 1889 and the school of medicine was not opened until 1893, missing Mr. Deakins by a little more than a decade.

Do you think Mr. R. W. Deakins married his sweetheart?  I tried looking for a marriage certificate but was unsuccessful.  Perhaps Mr. Deakins found another love in Baltimore.  If anyone knows the answer please comment!

Because every newspaper needs some ads:

If you would like to further investigate this issue of the Frankfort Roundabout, it can be found here.

Posted in 1882, Chronicling America, Frankfort, Lexington | 1 Comment

About This Project

This blog is a project for a digital history class at American University.  It explores local Kentucky history in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Recently the Library of Congress has created a website called that allows people to browse the history of states, cities, and towns in the U.S. through print media.  This website, called “Chronicling America,” ranges in dates from 1860 – 1922 and includes information that is strictly in the undisputed public domain.  With the help of university libraries all over the country, newspapers meeting the high standards of the project have been selected and digitized for free public access on the web.

On February 18, 2011, an article appeared in The Lexington Herald-Leader in Lu-Ann Farrar’s News Review section about “Chronicling America”.  You can read it here.

There are many useful ways to use newspapers; the most obvious being to read the news of the day.  You can also use newspapers to track changes over time, to chronicle vocabulary changes, population changes, styles through advertisements, etc.  I am using a single newspaper published between 1882 and 1908 in Frankfort, Kentucky called, “The Frankfort Roundabout,” to write a historical ‘This day in history’ blog.

There is a section on the front page of each issue that contains ‘Personal News’ for the locals of the time.  I randomly pick several of this blurbs to post on.  Both people and events are included.

I am a Lexingtonian myself and have found many familiar names in this paper.  If I write about any event or person that you have a connection with or know anything about, please be sure to let me know in a comment.  This blog is all about community history.


Posted in About, Chronicling America, Frankfort, Lexington, Lexington Herald-Leader, Library of Congress | Leave a comment