Henderson County Historical Society, founded
21 April, 1922 by a small group gathered about a ten table, had
for its charter members and first officers, Miss Susan Towles, President;
Mrs. Harry E. Thixton, Vice President; Miss Mary Stuart Bunch,
Secretary-Treasurer, the other active members being Mrs. David Clark,
Miss Virginia Lockett, Mrs. Paul Banks, Mrs. Claude Morton, Miss Lida
Williams and Mrs. H. E. Von Tobel.
society has grown to have one hundred members.
Among the honorary members are Young E. Allison, Dr. Archibald
Henderson, N. C.; Judge Robert Bingham; Nancy Houston Banks; Ewing Galloway;
E. A. Jonas; George Priest; Cale Young Rice; Otto Rothert, and Mrs.
the six years of its existence, the society has accomplished something
of its plans. It has placed
(through Mann Bros.) a tablet to locate the general merchandise store
of Audubon, and has marked the birthplace of Cale Young Rice at Dixon;
has made a handsome collection of original Audubon prints — one hundred
in number — a fine Indian collection, given by William H. Soaper, W.
A. Towles and J. W. Young of Henshaw.
They own an original manuscript of Audubon, entitled “A Raccoon
Hunt in Kentucky” and an original painting, both given by his granddaughters,
Miss Marie and Miss Florence Audubon of Salem, New York.
Many manuscripts, papers, old books, swords and gun, are in their
cases. Besides a miscellaneous
collection, they have the rare “Duckbill Platypus and the Laughing Jackass”
from Australia, given by the Misses Burbank and brought by them from
Australia at considerable trouble and expense; a Snowy Owl, shot over
fifty years ago, and a Great Horned Owl, given by the Rev. Dr. Douglas.
They have placed portraits of Governors Dixon and Brown in the
“Governors’ Room” at the Library.
the request of this society, the Kentucky Legislature made the Kentucky
Cardinal the bird of Kentucky, and at the next session they presented
to the Governor for the Sate, a handsome copy of Audubon’s Cardinal
— a very rare print. It
was framed in wood from the old beech inscribed “J. J. Audubon, 1814.”
that their valuable collection would be finally scattered or possibly
lost by fire if a suitable, fireproof place is not provided for it,
the Henderson County Historical Society, now the strongest local one
in the state, resolved to cooperate with the Audubon Society in working
for a memorial “Hall of History,” to be erected, in all probability,
in the Audubon Mill Park. A
fund for this purpose has been begun.
Contributions are received at the Chamber of Commerce or the
objects of the society are to gather the history and traditions of pioneer
times, to collect Henderson family histories, to induce each civic organization
to place at least one memorial or to plant a memorial tree, for those
they wish to be remembered. They
wish to mark off with arrows along the paved streets, the “old town”
laid off by the Transylvania company and still constituting the main
part of the city, from Twelfth street to “Sandy Row” and from Water
street to Green or “Back
street.” Old songs, games,
life stories, anecdotes, and the deeds of our Henderson soldiers — and
in this respect Henderson has been rich — should be preserved.
It has been found that a Henderson, Major Spotts fired the first
shot at the Battle of New Orleans; that another, Col. Phillip Barbour,
was the first to fall in the Mexican War, while James Bethel Gresham
was the first American to fall in the World War.
Though enlisting from Evansville, he belonged to Henderson County,
his family still owning the farm they had held here since 1798.
Henderson went Channing Moore Williams to open Japan to the Christian
Missionaries shortly after Perry forced that country to receive him.
governors and one lieutenant governor went from our town to govern Kentucky.
Here was the first
municipal park west of the Alleghenies — a gift from the Transylvania
company, as were the original streets and the river front, in memory
of which gifts and of the founding of our town, it is hoped the name
of “Transylvania Avenue” will finally be given to one of these streets.
is planned to mark the site of the old Union Church in Central Park
and to make the city’s birthday, August 9th, known familiarly.
Day having originated in Henderson, it is declared to honor Mary Sasseen,
the mothers and Henderson with some form of memorial of her.
are a few of the objects of the Henderson County Historical Society
and if, as they think, our people and especially the civic bodies of
Henderson truly believe in the cooperation taught by our state motto,
“United We Stand,” then all of these things may be done before many
years have passed.
By: Susan B. Towles, 1928