The green house at 1222 Russell Street.

Over the summer the staff of the Local History and Genealogy Department will be posting a blog to go along with the stops for our virtual walking tour A Rainbow of Kenton County Houses. The blogs will highlight local history and genealogy resources available at the Kenton County Public Library, in-depth looks at the history of the property or its inhabitants, and/or research strategies.

The American Vernacular Victorian brick home, built around 1904, was painted green prior to May 2021; however, during the researching of this property, 1222 Russell was being transformed into a stunning white home with black trim. Despite the home’s transition picture above, this important home and its inhabitants’ contributions over the years are invaluable to the African American history of Covington, Kentucky and Kenton County, especially the contributions of the trailblazers like Dr. Norman E. Dunham, physician/surgeon, and William F. and Annie Thomas Hargraves, long-time educators at Lincoln-Grant School.

On the 1930 census Norman E. Dunham, 39 years, a doctor, owned 1222 Russell which was valued at $8,000 and was living with his wife, Sadie Lyerson, 30 years old. They had relocated from Nashville, Tennessee where they met and married after Norman completed medical school at the historically black, Meharry Medical School in 1921. Norman and Sadie were also found in several years’ Covington city directories residing at the 1222 Russell address.

1931 Covington, KY City Directory

Norman rose from humble beginnings, born in 1893 in Scott County, Kentucky, to a farmer and former slave, Levi Dunham. Norman was also a veteran of WWI.  A great deal of genealogical data can be detected from military records– such as those of Norman Dunham’s WWI Registration and his original 1951 Veteran’s Headstone Application.

WWI Registration Card, 1917, for Norman Earle Dunham

As shown on his original Application for Veteran Headstone submitted by his wife, Sadie, Norman Earl Dunham, M.D. was buried in 1951 in the Mary E. Smith Cemetery, the same cemetery as his physician colleague, Dr. James R. Randolph. This African American cemetery was founded in 1950, dedicated to Mary E. Smith, the mother of co-founder Reverend Edward Smith, who also lived on Russell Street.

Original Application for Veteran Headstone for Norman E. Dunham

We have many resources for researching the local history of Northern Kentucky at our library including our Faces & Places photograph database and our GenKY local NKY history database.  We also have several sources of information on local African American history. As always, we are happy to help with any research questions or how to research your own family history.

This blog was written by Deborah Wesley, B.S., MTox, of the Local History and Genealogy Department at Covington. If you have any questions about researching a historic property or genealogy research please email us at


Watch the virtual tour about the green house!

The next virtual tour stop will be on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 @ 2 PM on our Facebook and YouTube page. We will look at the history of 542 Greenup Street, a blue house.



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