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DIY Sock Snowmen of Kentucky Historic Icons

There are Craft People™, there are those who craft, and there are those who do not. I am one of those who do not. On the rare occasion I find myself artistically afflicted, I look for projects that are easy and fun, with little-to-no clean up required. Since winter in Northern Kentucky can often feel never-ending, a snow-themed project sounds like the perfect way to break up the monotony, while celebrating the season. For my chosen craft, I decided to make no-sew sock snowmen, modeled after well-known Kentucky figures: Abraham Lincoln (16th President of the United States), Colonel Sanders (founder of the always delicious Kentucky Fried Chicken), Loretta Lynn (award-winning country singer and coal miner’s daughter), and Simon Kenton (legendary pioneer and county namesake). This project is simple enough to construct, appropriate for people of all ages (as is the case with most crafts, I’d recommend adult supervision for younger kids). You’ll need white socks, scissors, polyester stuffing (rice or beans work better, though), thread, buttons, markers, ribbon, and any other supplies you deem necessary to bring your snowperson to life. Let’s begin! Turn a sock inside out and cut it into two parts, just a few inches below the heel. (Hold on to the toe-end of the sock – we’ll make a hat out of that piece later!)   Take a piece of thread, wrap it around the newly cut end of the sock, and tie a knot. Turn the sock outside in (back to the way it was originally packaged; the knot is hidden this way). Fill the sock full of polyester stuffing (or rice or beans) and shape along the way in to a snowman silhouette. Then separate the two spheres of [...]

Using The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

USING THE SANBORN FIRE INSURANCE MAP We’ve done a blog post in the past concerning our Sanborn Fire Map collection, and I wanted to go one step further; while the previous post dealt with the nature and scope of the collection, I wanted to show you how to use the maps for your property research.  We have digitized maps from 1886, 1894, 1909, and 1909-1949 for Covington and vicinity, and a subscription for the entire state of Kentucky in the years that are digitally available; print maps of Covington (Vol 1) and the surrounding areas (Vol  2) that originated 1909 and are physically updated through about 1950; and 1946-1992 on microfilm. I begin below with an annotated graphical introduction to the characteristics of the maps and a view of the Sanborn’s key map.  Whether in print, digitized, or on microfilm, each ‘map’ is a set of multiple pages of enlarged maps preceded by a key map and symbol key.  Each year has slightly different symbols and color codes, so be sure to check the key for the year that you are using. Since the Sanborn maps are of more densely settled areas, I’ve also included a view from a county atlas in our collection so that you can see the types of information included in these resources in comparison to the Sanborn maps. Lastly, I’ve included a view of the enlarged map of a property in Covington in 1886; on this map I’ve noted the characteristics that can be either directly observed or interpreted through the use of the key.  USING THE SANBORN FIRE INSURANCE MAPS TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR HISTORIC PROPERTY One of the most important things to know when trying to read any [...]

From the Head of Lettice: Recipes from Historic Kentucky Cookbooks Part Two

Welcome back! As we approach the holiday season, I thought it would be the perfect time to dive back into some historic Kentucky recipes. If you are looking for a few savory ideas, please check out Part One. This time I decided to focus on baking and desserts. I once again used Lettice Bryan (1839) and The Historic Kentucky Kitchen as my two main sources of inspiration, but there are plenty of other books in our collection that can help you find the local recipe you desire. Another of my favorites is The Blue Grass Cookbook, so check that out if you’re interested. If you would like any help finding local cookbooks or recipes, please feel free to reach out to our department and talk to a staff member, or watch a periscope video that I did on how to find recipes. I wanted to use simple recipes that included ingredients I mostly had on hand. For me, that included lots of apples. However, I also love to bake bread and I couldn’t resist trying my hand at a bread recipe. Lettice has quite a few examples of biscuits, rolls, and loaves of bread. Unfortunately for the modern baker, the measurements, which are more exact in baking than other forms of cooking, are quite loose in her descriptions. This wasn’t quite so troublesome for a pie or cookies, but more complicated creations like cakes and breads run into errors of translation. Ingredients diverge from their modern counterparts more dramatically in baking than in cooking. Nineteenth century bakers would obtain yeast from beer brewers, or utilize wild yeast in the form of their own sourdough starters, instead of using the instant dry yeast that is now [...]

By |November 21st, 2017|Categories: Featured Post, KCPL|1 Comment

Spring into Local History and Genealogy

Join us for one of our Historic Walking Tours! SPRING HAS SPRUNG!!! Flowers and trees are in bloom, the temperature is warming up, and you may be finding yourself out and about more so than in the past few months. This is the time of year to start planning and planting your garden, maybe visit a farmers market, and take a scenic stroll through your community. We encourage you to visit the Local History & Genealogy department in Covington in your quest for springtime fun; we have a number of fresh, new events on tap this spring that we hope you’ll enjoy! Can’t make it out of the house this week? Join us on Periscope and we’ll take you with us as we explore Historic Linden Grove Cemetery on our tour Periscope: Hey, what’s that tree? On Friday, April 14 at 3:30PM. Join us live on Periscope (@KentonLibrary on Periscope on your smartphone or tablet, or at periscope.tv/kentonlibrary) for a stroll through the historic Linden Grove cemetery in Covington. We’ll have local guidebooks on hand to help us identify the fresh buds and leaves in bloom. If you’re itching to get outside, put on your walking shoes and join us for a stroll through historic Covington. Coming up next month is our annual Historic Walking Tour, which happens every Wednesday morning this summer at 10AM, starting on May 3 and ending on September 27. We’ll talk about significant structures, their former residents, and events of times past on this one-hour jaunt down historic Pike Street in Covington. If you find yourself bored on a rainy day, or perhaps avoiding spring pollen in the great outdoors, join us in the Local History & Genealogy department [...]

Made in Covington: The Aqua-Cycle

The Aquacycle was covered in a 1949 issue of Popular Science. Via: http://goo.gl/X3nseR Twenty-five year old Phyllis Brawley was installed as a living window display at Cincinnati’s Hotel Sinton on the day of Aquacycle’s debut. Clad in a “beach costume,” the blonde model peddled the newly-patented marine invention that allowed users to propel boats and canoes by foot power. Spectators congregated around the window in such numbers that Cincinnati patrolman, Charles Ray, ordered that the live window display to cease--a proclamation that was met with jeers. Ultimately, the authorities demanded that manager of the Aquacycle Company, Earl Metcalfe, either stop the demonstration or be cited for interfering with pedestrian traffic. Metcalfe, a self-employed business consultant and manager of the Aquacycle Company of Covington, stated that he intended to defy police orders to meet public demand for the demonstration continue the next day. Arguably, their interest was likely inspired more by the visible shins and shoulders of Miss Brawley than the newfangled contraption upon which she was perched. Metcalfe, who lived on a farm in Morning View in southern Kenton County, was not the inventor of the Aquacycle, but was assignor to the company when the trademark was registered in 1948. He was involved with the contraption as early as 1947, when the Aquacycle Company of Covington was chartered and valued at an eyebrow-raising $100,000 (over $1,300,000 today). The design for the “pedal or mechanically propelling and steering mechanism for boats” was the work of Dr. Byrel Billman, a physician of physiotherapy and proctology, educated at the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati. Billman created the Aquacycle as a device to propel and steer boats in places where motorized watercraft were either outlawed or impossible operate. Sportsmen [...]

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Courting of Ginny Hilton

  Valentine, sent in February of 1929. Hail February, the month of roses and lace and stamps on Valentine cards; a prime time for a story of Northern Kentucky Love! Here’s one: Bernard Wright Southgate Jr., son of Bernard Wright Southgate Sr. and Lallie Kennedy, married Virginia D. Hilton on the 17th of September in 1929. Romantic, I suppose, if a bit dry. One can sit at any of our computers and find that information on Ancestry.com for free, like I just did.   However, what Ancestry doesn’t have is much more interesting. Now available on geNKY, the Southgate courtship letters tell a much more relatable tale. Virginia Southgate (at the time, a Hilton) kept all the letters Bernard sent her through their extensive five-year courtship, even as they both attended school and changed residences. Even though we can only hear his half of the conversation, we have a unique look into the fancies and follies between postmarks and biographical milestones. The first letter is dated the 11th of May, in 1924, from Buffalo, West Virginia, and in it, he writes that he was surprised to receive her letter. It is quite possible (and in fact, likely, from the way he describes her personality in his future notes) that Virginia wrote first.  He does tell us she even illustrated her letters! Unfortunately, we do not possess any of those, though there are a few doodles to be seen at the bottom corner of some pages, like a Tokyo sunrise, and a black cat in a dark cellar at midnight. Bernard is modest about his artistic talents. Virginia, or, as he refers to her, “Ginny”,  starts out in her family home at 15 Calhoun St., [...]

The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 in Northern Kentucky

We are creeping into that time of the year again: autumn. Autumn is all kinds of fun: pumpkin-flavored everything, apple cider, trick-or-treating, and a crisp, cool air that we are always pining for following the dog days of summer. Cool weather shoos us inside more often than summer, however, and germs are more easily spread in close proximity to others. Cue flu season, that nasty fact of life that persists from roughly October to March. Ninety-eight years ago this month, the country at large was experiencing one of the most severe outbreaks of flu in its history. Cue the constant hand-washing, and stock up on hand sanitizer, because we are about to venture into a brief, local history of the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919. Influenza comes with a slew of uncomfortable symptoms that we also associate with the common cold, but multiplied in intensity. Influenza can be life threatening to those with comprised immune systems such as the elderly and very young. Between three to five million severe cases of influenza occur each year throughout the world, with death tolls from the flu, or complications from it, ranging from 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide (1). Some years, however, the primary strain of influenza is particularly virulent and panic-inducing: for example, the Swine Flu Pandemic of 2009. The fall of 1918 happened to bring with it one of those flu strains, and was quite possibly the largest outbreak of disease in the 20th century United States. Panic Ensues The Public Health Service began requiring states to report cases of flu starting on September 27, 1918, coincidentally the date that influenza is estimated to have arrived in the state of Kentucky (2). The first newspaper reported death [...]

Anti-German Hysteria in Greater Cincinnati

Newspaper article found on microfilm in the Local History and Genealogy Department at Covington. Appeared in the Kentucky Post on September 25th, 1918 on page 1. My ancestor, Louis Lang, then going by the name Ludwig, emigrated from his home in Alsace-Lorraine in 1895 when he was 15 years old. On the passenger list for the ship traveling from Antwerp, Belgium to New York City, his family listed that they were headed directly for Cynthiana, Kentucky, where Louis’s eldest brother was a farmer. Louis lived a normal life: he got married and had two daughters, subsequently divorced his wife, and spent the rest of his life as a farming bachelor before dying at the age of 47. This all seems pretty straightforward, but Louis caused some confusion for me when I started to research him I first read Louis’s name when I found my great-grandmother, at the age of 14 months, with her family on the 1910 census. It was there that I saw Louis was listed as a naturalized American, born in Germany. Since both of his parents were listed as also being born in Germany, I simply assumed that that side of my family was German. But, I noticed on the 1920 census that my great-great-grandfather Louis was no longer claiming his German heritage. This time around, he listed his birthplace as France despite his native tongue still being listed as German. The 1920 census also listed Louis’s parents as being French instead of the previously stated German. Some may argue that the reason Louis changed his country of origin was due to Alsace-Lorraine reverting from German back to French terrain. After all, in 1870, only ten years before the Langs [...]

130th Anniversary of the Covington Ladies Home

Old Ladies Home is Real Haven. Kentucky Post, July 11, 1914, page 1 2016 marks the 130th year of operation for the Covington Ladies Home located at 702 Garrard Street in the Licking Riverside Historic District. The organization, originally called the Home for Aged and Indigent Women (still visible in the stone above the main entrance today), was founded in 1886 by Covington resident Ellen B. Dietrick, an early advocate for equality and education for women, with the goal of providing care for women over the age of 60. Today, 130 years later, the mission of the Covington Ladies Home is the same, “to serve senior women, regardless of their economic circumstances, by providing high quality personal care in a community based and homelike environment.” In February 1884, the Ohio River reached a level of 71 feet devastating Covington and surrounding communities. Dietrick, concerned about the plight of many women and families displaced by the flood, joined with other Covington women to form the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union. The Union provided training classes and an employment bureau for women in need. Particularly concerned about women over 60 with no family or financial support, Ellen created the Home for Aged and Indigent Women with the goal of providing care and shelter. The Home became an independent organization in 1887 and was incorporated by the Kentucky General Assembly in March 1888. Ellen Dietrick (1847-1895). Courtesy of the Covington Ladies Home. Ellen Battelle Dietrick was born in Morgantown, Virginia (now West Virginia), to Reverend Gordon Battelle (1814-1862) and Maria L. Tucker (1818-1899) in 1847. Gordon Battelle was a Methodist minister, educator, and delegate to the West Virginia’s Constitutional Convention in 1861. At the outbreak [...]

By |April 29th, 2016|Categories: Featured Post, KCPL|0 Comments

Countdown to Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day 2016

Photograph from www.myfountainsquare.com With the 2016 Opening Day rapidly approaching for the Cincinnati Reds, below are some fun facts and interesting stats about the professional baseball team just north of the Ohio River. Cincinnati boasts the first professional baseball team and for decades hosted the initial game of the Major League Baseball season. The Reds’ first of 162 regular season games is on April 4th. Getting excited for the first day of the new baseball season is a long-standing tradition for people in the greater-Cincinnati area. Former Reds’ catcher Joe Oliver said, “A lot of clubs have great openers...but I never saw an Opening Day that got the attention of an entire city the way the Reds opener does.” The legendary Sparky Anderson, the winningest manager in Reds’ history, explained, “It’s a holiday—a baseball holiday! Ain’t no other place in America got that!” The Findlay Market Opening Day Parade has been going strong since 1920 and is an excuse for many locals to suddenly feel too sick to go to work or school, but somehow well enough to attend the parade and baseball game. Cincinnati native and former Red Buddy Bell stated: “If you don't try to get out of school on Opening Day, there's something wrong with you! It's right up there with Christmas.” [Not that I’m advocating truancy!] Though many baseball experts predict Cincinnati will finish dead last in their division this year–let’s hope they are terribly mistaken–fans never know what will happen. That is why they play the games; each season is a fresh, exciting beginning. Said Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton: “I loved opening the baseball season in Cincinnati. It is a sea of red…I remember thinking, ‘Yeah, [...]