For many of us, the academic year is moving into full swing. Our lives are once more brimming with stress, obligations, and lacking in spare time. Fret not though, for as promised we aren't suspending the New KHF.
The next installment of the MST should be published in weeks to come. Meanwhile, we have a supplementary mini-article for you as well as two doses of terrific news!
Many changes are coming about in River Cities: we've a new corps of officers, new members are being inducted at fantastic rates, new ideas abound, and naturally some members are leaving to step out into the wide world of life. Most recently, I was present at the August 9th session of River Cities Chapter in order to facilitate a vote on the River Cities Research Commission. (It passed.) The RCRC is an equal opportunity joint initiative between the HKI and RCD Committee on Historicity; just as KHF has been a joint HKI-RCD program, so it shall continue to be -- now falling under the authority of the RCRC.
What implications arise from such a major decision? There are numerous benefits which are to be fostered by the RCRC; however, the most relevant to the RCD Blog is the creation of the RCRC Fellowship Program. Each year we'll be accepting applications from various locations in our region from high school/university students with a strong academic record, adamant passion for the social sciences, and keenness for civic virtues regardless of age, sex, gender identity, origins, etc. The program is entirely free of charge. Five RCRC Fellows will be selected from the applicant pool, and these bright young scholars will be mentored in the manners of research and historiography. Each will be given an opportunity to perform research for and write articles on the RCD Blog; one fellow, whom we judge to have exhibited the greatest ability, will be offered a position as a Tenured Contributor to the New KHF.
This means that this blog will soon be seeing fresh, new authors and topics. I'll still remain the Chief Contributor. We're also considering expanding our scope to opinion pieces, social issues, etc. I hope you're as excited as I am for this wonderful institution! Effective immediately, the application period has been opened and I am to begin signing these articles as, "Austin R. Justice, River Cities Research Commission Chair" rather than, "History of Kentucky Group." While I remain a member of both, the RCRC is now directly responsible for the New KHF.
Away, I'm Again Bound Away, 'Cross the Wide Ohio
The other bit of news is equally (perhaps more so for me, personally) exciting. I was recently informed that I have been selected for a scholarship to the 2015 Lincoln Colloquium in Lincoln, Illinois! The Colloquium - to be held this year at the Lincoln Heritage Museum - is an annual academic conference for Lincoln scholars, similar to the Lincoln Forum (for which I am also pending a scholarship.) On October 2/3rd I'll be once again in the beautiful Land of Lincoln to hear presentations from historians such as Douglas Wilson and William Pederson! A particular highlight about which I'm ecstatic is the presence of Dr. James Cornelius, Curator of the Lincoln Collection at the ALPLM. Dr. Cornelius curated the powerful Undying Words exhibition featured in our previous MST installment Day 3 Part I.
Let's not lend ourselves entirely to solipsism, though. The good news for our readers: you're (virtually) coming with me! I'll be certain to blog from the conference as a part of our New KHF. It'll likely be categorized as an extension of our MST. There is also the possibility that I may remain after the conference to visit the Urbana-Champaign area and finally make my way to St. Louis, Missouri. More information will be made available via another update in mid-late September.
Finally, while you eagerly await the next MST chapter, we hope to stay any impatience with a mini-article. For those who are unaware, I'm also a volunteer for the Pikeville-Pike County Museum specializing in the American Civil War Era exhibit. By the time of our grand opening in September, we hope to have seven rooms open to public. Yesterday, I took some photographs of three rooms opened but days ago.
The City That Moved A Mountain
Welcome to my hometown where I was born and (partially) raised!
As a native Pikevillian, I take a sentimental pride in the city. It is somewhat famed afar as the City That Moved A Mountain, which references the Pikeville Cut Thru Project. Known as the 8th Wonder of the World, the Pikeville Cut Thru was a 20th century initiative began by the mayor which resulted in the rerouting of a river and the removal of a large portion of a mountain due to heavy flooding in the city. Second only internationally in the size of the earth-relocation to the Panama Canal, it is remains a true source of pride for the city and is represented in the city's seal.
Pikeville is nestled in the Appalachia region's Big Sandy Valley in Southeastern Kentucky. It's the county seat of Pike County, our state's largest county in terms of land area. Founded in the early 19th century, it was originally named the Town of Pike prior to being renamed Piketon and, immediately prior to the Civil War, Pikeville. It indeed experienced a brief occupation during the conflict, and was the site of the promotion of James A. Garfield to the rank of Brigadier General. Pikeville is also home to former Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton. Ever expanding, it is a decent sized city for Eastern Kentucky yet still a small town when given to comparison with Lexington or Louisville. Pike County is named for Zebulon Pike, military officer and discoverer of Golden Peak (Now Pike's Peak;) Pikeville is in turn named for the county.
Two of most prominent buildings in the city's ever expanding downtown are the Pike County Courthouse and Judicial Center. The Old Hall of Justice, in which the Pikeville-Pike County Museum (formerly Big Sandy Heritage Center) is located, is on the courthouse plaza though not pictured above.
The museum is presently divided into four rooms. The main room, which will not be shown, is a preview of the collection; it contains the Civil War exhibit as well as exhibits pertaining to pre-European colonization, pre-industrialization, the Hatfield-McCoy Feud, Pikeville Cut Thru, and everyday domestic devices. Upon our grand opening in September, there will be seven rooms total. Today I'll be providing brief views of the three other rooms presently open to the public: the Heritage Room (above,) Medicine Room, and Coal Room.
The museum continues in its organization, construction, and building re-purposing. As such a majority of displays and artifacts, such as this ornate family register pictured above, have little to no interpretive signage. It is my hope that this can be soon rectified. By extension, much of what you will see here is but a sequence of photographs; I'll provide some interpretation for particular favorites.
This etching, titled My Old Kentucky Home, does little to represent life in Pike County. Having considerably little flat land, Pike County is rife with mountain sides and hill-top homes. It is nonetheless rather beautiful.
This clock was assembled by Pike County's John McGilp, who from 1910-11 attended the British Horological Institute. His degree is framed below.
My first day at the museum, circa 3 months ago, had little to do with the 19th century (although I did uncover an 1878 Harper's Weekly from the year of a failed Post-War Reconstruction.) Rather I was tasked with unboxing several boxes and cataloging artifacts I felt worthy of exhibition. The book above is one of such items.
On a note of contemporary Pikeville, this print promoted the 2003 grand opening of original Big Sandy Heritage Center at the old train depot.
Ah, the Coal Room. Pike County is one of the great (or infamous, depending on your opinion) coal counties of Eastern Kentucky. The same cannot be said of Boyd County, although the City of Ashland claims to be where coal meets iron. The coal industry in Pike County has flourished for numerous years; my maternal grandfather was a mine rescue team member and Vietnam veteran (to give you an idea of chronological roots of mining in PC.) It is deeply ingrained in Pike Countian society; it was once the default occupation, and its remnants still remain cultural norms. I, for instance, recall dressing as a coal miner during the 1st grade as a child.
However in our increasing environmentally conscious society, pressing EPA regulations have caused vehement outcry in the region. Many Pikevillians fervently rally 'round their traditional industry. Indeed, Eastern Kentucky generally is a den of conservatism. Yet much of PC's citizens identify as Democrats, the party traditionally aligned with unions (see below and above.) The result is an odd pairing: conservative Democrats, at times called Blue Dog Democrats.
(I am refrained to mention my personal political ideologies here, as they are irrelevant.)
We hope you've enjoyed this brief glance into the City That Moved A Mountain. Check back regularly for the next MST installment!
- Austin R. Justice, River Cities Research Commission Chair.
Hi, I'm the website Admin. I look after the website as well as the chapter social media accounts.
Austin R. Justice
PMC of River Cities Chapter and Lincoln Forum & Colloquium Student Scholar.
Spencer M. Dayton