Historian Details County Firsts

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Historian Details County Firsts


I recently ran up on some interesting facts about Madison County in an article by Dr. Jonathan T. Dorris, onetime professor of history at Eastern, founder of Eastern's museum and early author of Madison County history. Here are some of them. The first house in Richmond was built in 1784 by Captain John Miller, a Revolutionary War soldier. I was not aware of the fact that he first called the town Newton. Madison County had been founded in 1786 with the county seat at Milford. The court moved to Miller's barn in the now named Richmond in 1789. The city was chartered in 1809. Madison was a county of Virginia until Kentucky statehood in 1792. The second courthouse (after the one at Milford) was built in 1799 and was used for 50 years. The present one was constructed in 1849-50. Richmond is on the Boone Trail from Cumberland Gap to Fort Boonesborough (see the Wilderness Trail monument in the courthouse yard). Just a little way out the Lancaster Pike is a monument noting the location of the first known white man's grave (Hancock Taylor, killed by Indians in 1774). On August 29-30, 1862 the Confederate Army under General E. Kirby Smith won the Battle of Richmond. Before moving on to capture Lexington and Frankfort, Smith authorized the organizing of the 11th Kentucky Cavalry, CSA in Madison County under the command of Colonel David W. Chenault. The 11th joined John Hunt Morgan's brigade. Col. Chenault was killed at Green River Bridge on July 4, 1863. He is buried in the Richmond Cemetery. The 11th Cavalry participated in Morgan's Ohio raid, which ended in capture for the southern troops and many Madison Countians from that regiment were in northern prisons for more than a year. Dorris makes the point that our two original colleges were outgrowths of the slavery controversy. Berea College was founded by abolitionists, while Central University was begun by southern Presbyterians who did not like the way their northern brethren were running Centre College at Danville after the Civil War. Many of the Central faculty were ex-Confederates. There was a close connection between the school and the first Presbyterian Church of Richmond. Eastern came to Richmond mainly because of the offer of the ready-made campus of Central (which had closed its doors in 1901 because of financial difficulties). He also stated that the 20 year semi-merger between Madison High and Model High ended in 1961. During the joint venture, students could take classes at both schools, ball teams were made up of players from both, and there was a joint graduation ceremony at the large Madison auditorium. One reason for the breakup of the two divisions was the success of the Madison-Model football team in the early 1960's, coached by Roy Kidd and led by Fred Ballou and Talton Todd.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “Historian Details County Firsts,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed April 15, 2024, https://madisonsheritage.eku.edu/items/show/919.