Month: September 2015


by Carly Dannenmueller


Today marks Queen Elizabeth II as the longest reigning British Monarch in history. It is well-known that one of her favorite pleasures in life is her horses. The queen’s love of horses goes back to her third birthday, when her grandfather George V gave her a Shetland pony named Peggy. She has proclaimed that she is happiest when she is riding on the back of a horse, and reads the Racing Post magazine every morning over breakfast. She is also an expert in thoroughbred breeding and blood lines.

11036335_437767136411057_5340019586384221116_nThe Queen has embarked on several voyages to the Bluegrass state, taking place in 1984, 1986, 1989, 1991, and 2007, all of which she has enjoyed immensely. In October of 1984, the Queen made a private six-day visit to Kentucky horse country to tour some of the state’s most prestigious stud farms. During her visit, she stayed at the reputable Lane’s End Farm on the outskirts of Lexington in Versailles, Kentucky. Queen Elizabeth II has been known to keep many of her horses at this very farm. Her trip to the Keeneland races prompted the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup race, with a purse of $500,000. In May of 1991, Queen Elizabeth II visited ten different Lexington thoroughbred farms in order to negotiate breeding arrangements for her several broodmares living in Kentucky. These farms are indeed fit for a queen.

Although her four prior visits to Kentucky did not include a trip to the annual Kentucky Derby, the Queen finally attended the races in 2007 with her husband, the Duke of Edinborough. Churchill Downs’ course president Steve Sexton said: “Queen Elizabeth is certainly the most prestigious guest we’ve entertained in the modern-day history of the Kentucky Derby.” Queen Elizabeth was photographed smiling and clapping from her perch on the fourth floor Stakes Room’s balcony. Adhering to Derby fashion traditions, the Queen wore a stylish lime green coat and donned a matching hat with a large pink bow. Street Sense was that year’s winner.

During the in-between years of her Kentucky visits, she continues to send her horses to be bred in Lexington, Kentucky, and usually has a representative present at the Keeneland horse auctions held in the fall. The Queen is due for another visit to Kentucky soon. Perhaps the monarch may sample the delicacies of the Bourbon Trail, or even venture west to the National Quilt Museum and climb aboard the Queen of the Mississippi or Delta steamboats.

— Carly Dannenmueller

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL WITH DUSTY: There’s no “I” in “Team” but there are two in “Injuries”

by Dusty Luthy


* On Mondays, take a trip into Paducah’s football history with Dusty Luthy, a library clerk and former sports writer. We’ll explore Paducah’s firsts, bests and funny vignettes in between. *

As we continue our Monday Night foray into football on this fine Labor Day, we begin to turn our attention to what often becomes the most intriguing part of the game – the bumps, bruises, bangs, batters and blunders.

The sport was certainly growing in popularity each year of its still young existence at the turn of the century, but football was considered barbaric by many and certainly not safe. An article appearing in 1905 bemoaned the injuries and deaths sustained from football not just that season, but dating back to 1893. In 11 months’ time, 19 deaths across America were recorded. The article listed that of those 19 deaths, four were from fracture of the skull and five were from concussions.

Paducah wasn’t excluded from injuries, although no mentions of death were included in early editions of the Evening Sun. But it wasn’t a player who sustained one of the first football-related injuries, it was a coach. Paducah’s first coach, Porter Adams, broke his collar bone while coaching Paducah High School in a contest at Metropolis, Ill., on Oct. 29, 1904.

The teams agreed to play again the next week, this time traveling to Paducah to play at Wallace Park in a charity game to benefit the coach who wouldn’t be able to work again for several weeks.

A trip to Cairo, Ill., also proved unfortunate for the Paducah High team. “Bunged Up – and beaten – story of the Cairo trip Saturday” read the headline in Nov. 14, 1904’s edition of the Evening Sun. Cairo defeated Paducah 22-0, with the game only lasting a half. Carl Leigh, Clifford Reddick and Grover Burns sustained a broken collar bone, a fractured arm and a broken nose, respectively.

The Cairo boys were described in the contest as being “strong, husky fellows.”

Not everything health-related coming out of the football camps was negative, however. An article printed on Nov. 26, 1906 in the Paducah Evening Sun carried this headline: “Football Curtails Smoking Habit Among Paducah High School Boys”.

Superintendent C.M. Lieb went on to boast about Paducah’s athletes abstaining from “the obnoxious cigarette habit” during training. The effect was obvious when Paducah played Hopkinsville, said Lieb, when the visitors were gasping for breath within a few minutes of the game while Paducah’s players were in fine shape.

Bob Swisher’s book, “A Century of Excellence” chronicles the Paducah football season that wasn’t. In 1918, Paducah was able to only play two games, with the rest of the schedule and season being canceled due to rampant Spanish Influenza not only within its own ranks, but the trenches of teams across western Kentucky and southern Illinois.

And while the region was quickly becoming enamored of the sport, despite its barbaric nature, many were not on board. An article out of Nashville, Tenn., printed in a September 1906 issue of the Paducah Evening Sun discussed a Baptist minister’s condemnations of the sport. In a sermon, the Rev. George A. Lofton attacked dance, theater, the slugger (boxing), the race track and football. He listed “football as one of the craziest of the times” and said football was an invention of the devil.

We think Rev. Lofton might not want to see what’s happened to the sport in the last 100 years!

Join us next time as we chronicle the journeys of some of Paducah’s professional footballers.

For more information on sports, football, Paducah and all things periodical, visit us at the Local and Family History Department of the McCracken County Public Library.



Today (September 3) is Welsh Rarebit (or sometimes Welsh Rabbit) Day. In case you’ve never had Welsh Rarebit before, there is nothing particularly Welsh about it, nor does it contain any rabbit. Simply put, the recipe for a Welsh Rarebit includes three steps: toast two pieces of bread, make a sauce out of beer and cheese, and pour it on the toast.

Who wouldn’t like that? Simple and delicious.

A copy of the “New Paducah Cookbook” (published in the early 1900s by Grace Episcopal Church in Paducah) includes the following expanded recipe: The proper ingredients for a rarebit are a quarter of a pound of grated cheese; two ounces of butter; two tablespoonfuls of beer; a teaspoonful of salt and a little mustard; pepper and a dust of cayenne.

So, other than the local recipe, why would the Local and Family History Department even acknowledge Welsh Rarebit day? Well, it turns out the young folks throughout Paducah (and the region) often entertained their friends with Welsh rarebit parties. A quick search of the society pages from the late 1800s/early 1900s reveals dozens of such parties, like this report from the Paducah Daily Sun on February 10, 1898: “On Tuesday evening Mrs. May Blossom Ricke entertained a few friends with crokinole, after which a Welsh rabbit was very successfully made.“

11947451_435905986597172_9031699253891135224_nWelsh rarebit parties were all the rage. At first glance that might seem like a particularly strange food to base a party around, until you consider that sometimes the cheese sauce was put into a chaffing dish and hunks of toast were dipped into it. In other words, the young folks in early Paducah were fond of having fondue parties.

In subsequent years, the popularity of Welsh rarebits faded somewhat, perhaps usurped by the equally delectable grilled cheese sandwich. Yet, it seems that in a couple obscured forms, the tradition of rarebits have persisted in Kentucky. Take beer cheese for example, which was invented in Wincester, Kentucky in 1940. The ingredients are nearly the same as a rarebit (cheese, beer, mustard, cayenne pepper), and it can certainly be spread on toast.

Consider, too, the Kentucky Hot Brown, created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville in 1926. The Wikipedia page about the Hot Brown says, “It is a variation of the traditional Welsh rarebit,” and what is it but a cheese sauce on toast, with the additions of roast turkey, bacon and tomatoes.

11988275_435905989930505_8972880238077886818_nSo, there you are. Celebrate Welsh Rarebit Day in high Kentucky style and tradition, if not for the fondue parties of the early twentieth century then for the beer cheese, and if not for than the beer cheese then for the Hot Brown.

(Bonus fact: Crokinole, the popular party game mentioned earlier in the article, was played on a two foot wide wooden circle in which participants tried to flick discs into a hole in the center. Does crokinole seem awfully reminiscent of cornhole? Who knows?)

To learn more about all things cheesy, visit us in the Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library. And if you like this article, make sure to like our Facebook page.

–Matt Jaeger

1933 Souvenir Program: Paducah vs. Mayfield

Tomorrow night (September 4, 2015) Paducah Tilghman High School will match up with opponent Mayfield High School in one of Kentucky’s biggest high school football rivalries.

Just yesterday we uploaded a souvenir program to our Digital Collection from the 1933 Tilghman/Mayfield showdown…a game which ended in a 7-7 tie. Click the link below to view the program.

And for more information, be sure to also check out our previous Facebook posts by Dusty Luthy about the Tilghman/Mayfield rivalry.,subject,date,coverage&qvq=q:mayfield;sort:title,subject,date,coverage;lc:McCracken~21~21&mi=0&trs=1

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL WITH DUSTY: Mayfield-Tilghman: A rivalry is born

by Dusty Luthy


* On Mondays, take a trip into Paducah’s football history with Dusty Luthy, a library clerk and former sports writer. We’ll explore Paducah’s firsts, bests and funny vignettes in between. *

It’s thought to be the second-oldest rivalry in the state of Kentucky, and one of the oldest and most prestigious even in the nation.

Mayfield Cardinals. Paducah Tilghman Tornado. Over 100 years of storied rivalry games officially dating back to 1911. The rivalry is so steeped the two programs can’t agree on exact records – each claiming the win during the 1911 season.

Unofficially, however, the rivalry dates back to the teams’ first meeting in 1904.

What we learned last week in this space is Mayfield traveled by morning train to Paducah’s Wallace Park baseball field on Oct. 22, 1904. Reports in the Paducah Evening Sun two days later included the headline “Football Game a Fizzle”, discussing how Mayfield brought a bunch of men to play a group of boys, and leading 12-0 after the first half, wouldn’t finish the game once Paducah beefed up its own roster.

However, a look into the The Daily Messenger, Mayfield’s newspaper, on Oct. 24, 1904 called the game “A Gentle Walk Over” on behalf of the Mayfield team.

Much was made over a difference in weights, one of only a few statistics easily gleaned at the time in the early days of the young sport. The Paducah team, the Messenger stated, averaged 128 pounds for “a total of 1408 pounds of goose egg material.”

Them’s fightin’ words nowadays.

The Mayfield team averaged 130 pounds, for a total of 1430. The 22-pound difference was enough, the Messenger declared.

The Messenger wasn’t completely biased against Paducah, perhaps almost complimentary: “The Paducah team had all the encouragement of many fair maidens at the Park but our boys were undaunted and went after the city boys in great shape, as the above result clearly shows.”

The 1904 meeting might have been enough to cement the rivalry, but the 1907 game alone would have etched it on immutable stone.

“Paducah High School Boys Return in Disgust” reads the headline of the Nov. 11, 1907 article in the Paducah Evening Sun. The short article only quotes an unnamed Paducah High School team member:

“Speaking about raw deals, we got one at Mayfield. We went through the lines four abreast and mopped up with the home boys. In the last half, when we had the score 5 to 0 in our favor, a fumble by one of the Mayfield boys was picked up by a Mayfield substitute, who made a touchdown. The substitute was not in the game. We played all around the boys, but they tried to take the game from us by fair or foul means.”

And if we have learned anything about history, sports, football or rivalries, we know there are two sides to every coin. The final score – a 5-5 tie – seems undisputed, at least. (Also, we’re slightly befuddled at a touchdown being considered 5 points, but we’re just reporting the facts here.)

The Mayfield Daily Messenger reported on Nov. 12, 1907 that there was a fair amount of disgust among Mayfield’s own ranks. The visiting boys, the article stated, began their “ugly tactics” as soon as the game began.

“The Paducah boys were a set of rowdies and tried in every way to injure the home boys and one made a break for his pocket as if to bring out a weapon,” the article said.

The article said the mood was “warlike” before the “big city dudes” vacated the grounds.

And to think, those goose eggs, ugly tactics and city boys got it all started.

In the past decade, the rivalry doesn’t look like too much on paper: Mayfield has won nine straight and Tilghman hasn’t scored more than three touchdowns against the Cardinals in 10 years.

But in any good rivalry, fortunes can change at the blow of a whistle. Check in Friday night at Tilghman’s McRight Field to see if the Tornado can end its longest program losing streak to the Cardinals.

For more information on sports, football, Paducah and all things periodical, visit us at the Local and Family History Department of the McCracken Count y Public Library. And if you like the photo with this story, be sure and check back later this week with our Digital Collection for the full program from the 1933 Mayfield vs. Tilghman football game.

Join us next time as we delve into the early health effects football caused for local athletes in next week’s “Monday Night Football with Dusty”.

*Special thanks to Steve Millizer, former Paducah Sun sports editor, for supplying historical statistics.



As you are undoubtedly aware, today (August 27) is Banana Lovers Day, and I dare say that the vast majority of us are Banana Lovers, so that pretty much makes Banana Lovers Day a national holiday. Come on…who doesn’t enjoy the banana in some form? If not straight out of the peel, then in some delectable concoction: whipped into a smoothie, baked into bread, split with ice cream, or embraced as the greatest of all Laffy Taffy flavors.

11899842_433532303501207_6728196295069997494_nOf course, whenever such a prestigious holiday is celebrated, we in the Local and Family History Department do our best to find a way to somehow tie it into western Kentucky’s past. No topics have proven too obscure and bananas are no exception. For instance, in the early 1900’s, Mrs. J.D. Berryman was able to cultivate three large banana trees at her Paducah home at 1113 Farley Place. The Paducah Evening Sun said that her “tropical garden has been an object of much curiosity.” Also, were you aware that in the 1880’s and 1890’s Fulton was called the “Banana Capital of the World”? Because Fulton, KY had the only ice house on the train route from New Orleans to Chicago, about 70% of the bananas consumed in the U.S. ended up in Fulton to be re-iced during shipping. Fulton still hosts the International Banana Festival which is highlighted each year by a one-ton banana pudding (thought to be the largest in the world).

But this article is neither about Mrs. Berryman nor hefty puddings, but about a specialized shipping container that was created in Paducah, moved to Chicago, and ultimately founded a town in South Carolina. In 1904, a local fruit merchant, Mr. Charles Q. C. Leigh, found himself quite distressed at how bananas were shipped to him, arriving loose and rotten and smashed. He saw a great need for a new kind of packing crate for bananas, one that didn’t break them up but could accommodate an entire bunch at one time. So, he created the box, filed for the patent, and founded the Leigh Banana Case Company. Later that year, on November 1, the manufacturing of his banana cases began at 115 N. Second Street in Paducah.

His vision for a new crate was so accurate, so forethoughtful, that in just over a year, Leigh moved his business headquarters from Paducah to Chicago. Though still under the moniker of the Leigh Banana Case Company, his inventory expanded to include specialized shipping crates for all types of fruits and vegetables under the slogan “Why the Leigh-Way is Different.” In the midst of it all, Charles Leigh never forgot his Paducah origins. He kept a small banana case assembly plant in Paducah at First and Washington Streets, and a 1906 Paducah Sun article states that Leigh order 1,000,000 feet of lumber to be prepared and shipped from Paducah for use in his Chicago plant.

For the next couple of decades, the Leigh Banana Case Company continued its meteoric rise, claiming a virtual monopoly on the banana crate business between 1905 and 1930. Success was so great that lumber for the crates began to grow expensive and scarce. So, in 1926 the Leigh Banana Case Company relocated from Chicago to South Carolina, to the Savannah River Valley where the cypress and sweet gum trees were in ample supply. They founded the town of Leigh, a whole town dedicated to the manufacture of fruit crates. The Banana Case Company employed 350 workers, provided housing and free utilities for them all, and established a church, general store, and hotel for their common use.

11885214_433532290167875_7831427557344862806_nWith new technologies and shipping options, the Leigh Banana Case Company finally closed its doors in 1952, and in 1954, the small town of Leigh, SC was disassembled. But for nearly half a century, a Paducah merchant had really made good on a load of bananas, which is a fine lesson to remember on National Banana Lovers Day. And even if you’re in the small group of those who don’t happen to love bananas, we at least hope you found this story ap-peel-ing.

For more about your daily dose of fruits and veggies, visit us in the Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library.

–Matt Jaeger

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL WITH DUSTY: Paducah, meet football. Football, meet Paducah.

by Dusty Luthy


* On Mondays, take a trip into Paducah’s football history with Dusty Luthy, a library clerk and former sports writer. We’ll explore Paducah’s firsts, bests and funny vignettes in between. *

As summer officially begins to wane, the countdown is on for the start of one of the South’s favorite pastimes: football.

Weekends in the lowest of the lower 48 states become filled not only with pigskin, tailgating, pompoms and the display of colors of varying alma maters, but a fanaticism that rivals all the nation’s other football hotbeds (we like to spell it “S-E-C”).

Folks in Paducah and far western Kentucky are no different in their love for football. One of the oldest and most storied rivalries in all of football is conducted each fall when Paducah Tilghman takes on Mayfield in the program’s annual grudge match (the teams meet Sept. 4 at Tilghman’s McRight Field this season).

And while the South seems synonymous with the gridiron, it hasn’t always been so. Which begged us to pour over the archives of The Paducah Sun housed here in the library’s Local and Family History Department.

What we found was a passionate interest in the game, which was conceived in the early 1800s, but made popular by East Coast colleges in the late 19th century. By 1901, The Paducah Evening Sun was reporting scores for colleges and universities, including “Kentucky University and Central University of Danville.”

But it wasn’t until 1904 when football truly came to Paducah. September 14, 1904 is when local mentions of football first hit the Sun: “This morning the first cool weather of the fall arrived and talk of football has been taken up. There is much gossip about the schools relative to football teams and there will likely be several juvenile teams organized. The High school and Y.M.C.A. will have teams and will play match games this winter.”

Another blurb on September 22, 1904 mentioned the specific high school interest rising after the beloved baseball season was ending. “…it is likely a team will be organized here which will make a reputation for the city.”

The football frenzy was not limited to secondary educational facilities. Several teams in various forms were organized in and around Paducah and were comprised of teenagers and adults. In 1906, there is a mention of a “Famous” football team organized by James Davis but no other mentions of the team were found. In 1907, the “Culley” team named for the clothing merchant Roy L. Culley was formed, and another team was formed called “Weille” the same year. Weille’s team was organized in Mechanicsburg by employees of Paducah Glass Company and the organizer, a Mr. Warfel, was characterized as a professional football player working as a glass blower.

In Bob Swisher’s 2005 book “A Century of Excellence,” which focuses on the football history of Paducah’s various high school efforts, 1904 is listed as the first season of what would become Paducah Tilghman football’s rich tradition. Two wins over Metropolis and two losses for Cairo are listed, but the first game played was actually against soon-to-be archrival Mayfield.

The first game was played on Oct. 22, 1904 at Wallace Park baseball grounds between Mayfield and Paducah. The Mayfield team arrived by train, and was reported to be considerably heavier than the Paducah squad. “…but the locals think they have the scientific points of the game down and will win out against weight and brawn.”

But the next report in the Evening Sun shows that the local sentiment was in fact, dead wrong. Under the headline “Football game a Fizzle,” the report said the game ended abruptly after the first half resulted in a 12-0 lead for Mayfield. But Paducah argued the lead wasn’t an honest one: “They brought a lot of men up to play a team of boys, and not standing any chance the Paducah team strengthened with some larger boys for the second half. Mayfield then refused to play.”

And thus unofficially began one of the most legendary prep sports rivalries in the U.S.

Join us next time as we more fully explore some of the Paducah-Mayfield rivalry in next week’s “Monday Night Football with Dusty.”

For more information on sports, football, Paducah and all things periodical, visit us at the Local and Family History Department of the McCracken County Public Library.



Today, August 13, is the birthday of the American hero, Annie Oakley (1860-1926). Also dubbed, “Little Miss Sure Shot” because she stood only five feet tall, Annie Oakley was at one time the nation’s most recognized sharpshooter…and perhaps she still is. Truly, some call her America’s first female star. Her prowess was staggering. With a .22 caliber rifle at 30 paces , she could snuff candles, hit dimes tossed in the air, shoot cigarettes out of her husband’s mouth, and repeatedly split playing cards, held on edge! At age 15 she joined Buffalo Bill’s famed Wild West Show, thus securing her legend for generations to come. With Buffalo Bill, she traveled and performed across the nation and world…including Paducah…not once, but twice, in 1897 and 1901.

Around the same time Oakley and Cody were gracing our riverbanks, a pair of Paducah siblings, the Terrell Brothers, decided to form their own, competing western show, curiously and similarly called Buckskin Bill’s Wild West Show. Ever heard of it?

Keep in mind, that in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, much of the area west of the Mississippi River was still consider the Old West. Much of that territory wasn’t considered for statehood until after the Civil War. The exploits of Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and Wyatt Earp all took place around the 1880s, so the tales were still fresh in the minds of many Americans. The Old West was considered a foreign land by many “easterners”, so imagine the spectacle then to see all these popular characters come to life.

Buffalo Bill Cody

Buffalo Bill Cody

Buffalo Bill’s show first rolled into Paducah on October 5, 1897 and was advertised in the Paducah Daily Sun for nearly a month prior. The regular advertisement for the extravaganza promised no fewer than 100 Indian Warriors, 50 American Cowboys, 30 South American Gauchos, 50 Western Frontiersmen & Marksmen, 25 Bedouin Arabs, 20 Russian Cossacks, as well as a bevy of Cavalry, Lancers, German Cuirassiers, and live buffalo. Add to this three bands, trick horses, a parade (led by Colonel Cody himself), a display of 250,000 electric lights (still a relative oddity for those days), and the famed Annie Oakley, and you’ve got yourself one rip roaring festival.

The fairgrounds were erected at Tenth and Boyd streets. Buffalo Bill’s advertisements boasted tents that could hold 20,000, and by all accounts, it seems that Paducah might have reached that number. In the following day’s paper under the headline “Whew, What a Crowd,” the Paducah Daily Sun stated that folks came to town from as far away as Chattanooga and St. Louis to see the show. “They arrived in wagon loads, boat loads, carriage loads, and train loads. No adequate means of transportation could be found.”

Among the crowd of the thousands who witnessed Buffalo Bill’s grand performances in 1897 were a pair of brothers, Ed and Fletcher Terrell. The Terrell Brothers were no strangers to the entertainment business as they were already the owners and operators of a small circus and of Morton’s Opera House which stood at 4th and Broadway. Surely inspired by Buffalo Bill, his fame and success, the brothers decided to start their own Wild West show, based right here in Paducah. They named their show Buckskin Bill’s Wild West Show, and found a star with the moniker Colonel V.F. Cody, as opposed to Buffalo Bill’s true name W. F. Cody.

The first mention of their enterprise reached the Paducah paper on December 22, 1899: “The wild west show that Messrs. Terrell are to start on the road in the spring is the ‘Buckskin Bill Wild West Show,” which was incorporated a few months ago by these gentlemen. These gentlemen…have purchased the Bothe Wagon factory and will use it as a winter quarters for their show. The knowledge they have of the business and the preparations they are making for the show insures their success.”

And preparations they did make; the papers for the next few months are full of notices of the arrivals of all sorts of performers. Success, however, was much harder to come by. Almost from the onset in the spring of 1900, the Buckskin Bill show was besieged by tragedy and criminality. The list is of offenses is mind-blowing: an 18 year old horse rider, Theresa Russell, was dragged to death by her horse during a performance; one of the show’s snake handlers tried to commit suicide in front of the crowd by downing a bottle of laudanum; a spectator was killed in a shootout with some of the show’s “cowboys;” a 15-year-old girl from Vanceburg, Illinois was kidnapped by some of the men from the show, the Terrell’s Opera House burned to the ground by disgruntled Buckskin Bill employees, and an assassination plot against Fletcher Terrell was hatched…but not realized.

The Buckskin Bill show was jinxed, at least in the hands of the Terrells who ultimately sold their show a year and a half later to a Chicago firm, who in turn sold the show to Frank Jesse and Cole Younger of the James-Younger Gang. Still traveling under the name Buckskin Bill, the show found moderate success under new management.

Just around the time Buckskin Bill’s left Paducah in 1901, Buffalo Bill returned to town with his show. Held on October 3, 1901 behind the I.C.R.R. hospital, Buffalo Bill’s show enjoyed the same phenomenal success it had enjoyed in 1897. “Combining as it does so much that is instructive as well as entertaining, so much of history mixed with romance, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West never palls on the public taste, but the more it visits us the more we see of it, the heartier is our welcome for it.” (Paducah Sun, 1901).

11892116_429144067273364_7815843101531993689_nAmong the performers in that October 3, 1901 show was our birthday girl, Annie Oakley. The Paducah show proved to be one of her last performances with Buffalo Bill. A little over three weeks later one of Buffalo Bill’s trains was hit head-on by another train in North Carolina, an accident that left Oakley temporarily paralyzed from spinal damage and ending her traveling career with Buffalo Bill.

To learn more about the Wild West, be sure to visit us in the Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library. And if you like this article, make sure to “like” our Facebook page.

–Matt Jaeger


by Nathan Lynn


I recently had the fortune of visiting the Ohio River Museum in Marietta, Ohio as part of the 2015 Inland Waterways Festival. I was speaking on Mary Wheeler and the African American Folk Songs of the Roustabouts. Between engagements I was doing a bit of research and admiring the displays on hand. Much to my surprise was a model of the sternwheeler the JOE FOWLER, constructed by the late Frederick Way Jr.

The JOE FOWLER, described best by Frederick Way Jr. himself in Ways Packet Directory, 1848-1983 (Way 3031), was a wooden hull packet boat built in 1888 at Howard Shipyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana for the Fowler family. She was named for the notable Paducah river man Captain Joseph Fowler and originally set to run the Evansville-Paducah trade along with the JOHN S. HOPKINS.

11878967_428369510684153_7300692720789436818_oWhile the JOE FOWLER went on to run for a long time on the upper Ohio, her years in the Paducah-Evansville trade are noteworthy. According to the Paducah Daily News, she landed in Paducah for the first time with Capt. Joe aboard on September 11, 1888. She departed the next morning at 6:00 a.m. for Evansville and returned the next night at 10:00 p.m., finishing the first trip in her trade. Way notes that, “On May 1, 1895, she had completed in seven years a total of 327,000 miles as a U.S. Mail steamer, and had carried some 152,400 passengers without a life loss.” Capt. Joe Fowler himself departed Paducah on a relief effort on April 21, 1902 and was the first boat to arrive at the site of the burning of the steamboat CITY OF PITTSBURGH.

Ms. Mary Wheeler describes the JOE FOWLER in her book Steamboatin’ Days as, “…one of the most popular packets on the river. She was named for a member of a family vividly identified with historical events on the Western Waters-the Mississippi River and its tributaries.” Wheeler also notes that the roustabouts called her the “Jumpin’ Joe” due to her speed and the waves she left in her path. Wheeler notes that her whistle was especially distinctive and musical giving one very long blast. Mary goes on to state that, “The JOE FOWLER was a luxurious boat, and every care was taken to insure the comfort and pleasure of her passengers. The ladies’ cabins were beautifully equipped, and in the main salon the white and gold woodwork was carved in delicate and exquisite designs.” Numerous roustabout songs that appear in Wheeler’s book mention the JOE FOWLER, including the pensive, “The Joe Fowler Blue,” in which the roustabouts sang, “…seems like I heerd the Joe Fowler blow…” in which the words paint a picture of the roustabouts waiting on the levee and dreaming that they hear the JOE FOWLER coming around Owen Island, soon to arrive in Paducah with their loved one onboard.

Capt. Way goes on to note in his Packet Directory that, in 1912, she was moved to Parkersburg, WV where she was eventually rebuilt to run mainly on the upper Ohio. Minus a few Mardi Gras excursions, she ran Wheeling-Bellaire, Pittsburgh-Louisville, and Parkersburg-Pittsburg. Eventually the JOE FOWLER was condemned and sold to Capt. Jeff H. Williams and made into the excursion boat CRESCENT (Way 1368) at Evansville, IN in 1919, which burned in winter quarters on the Green River on November 17, 1920.

To learn more about the Jumpin’ Joe or other legends of the Western Waters, have a visit to the Campus Martius and Ohio River Museum or stop by the Local and Family History Department at your McCracken County Public Library.


Nathan Lynn