A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky by Heart: Amid horrors of racial intolerance in post-Civil War Ky., some stood and said no more

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist In an attempt to further educate myself on the roots of today’s social/racial unrest, particularly in regard to how it relates to Kentucky, I pulled from my shelves Dr. George C. Wright’s illuminating book, Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940, published in 1990. I intended to read it long ago, partly because I know George from including him in volume two...

Kentucky by Heart: Stories behind names of high schools reveal unique look at Kentucky’s past

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist While recently looking over information about public high schools in Kentucky, it occurred to me that a lot of them are not named after their locations. Most are, however, with one example being in Pike County, where there is “Pike County Central High School” and “Phelps High School” (among others in the county). Both indicate locations with their names. But...

Kentucky by Heart: Celebrating Kentucky’s own James Bond, and all of the state’s ‘overcomers’

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Reading and writing about overcomers from Kentucky is a passion of mine. Overcomers are often fueled by faith and an amazing persistence, along with the capacity to lay feelings of bitterness and self-pity aside. They don’t come “a dime a dozen,” and celebrating their stories, I believe, can inspire others with their struggles. A good place to find such noble...

Kentucky by Heart: Precious time in the family garden is heaven, a release not to be mistaken for a chore

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist I like gardening a lot, and I don’t want to mess it up by becoming too good at it. Rather, I just want it to be fun and available… and only whenever I take a notion to indulge. I typically spend a good portion of the day doing writing activities in my study, so a few hours or more spent working outside in the family’s green and brown, one-acre lot is often...

Kentucky by Heart: Authors West, Brackney offer sordid details of two Kentucky murder mysteries

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My usual amount of reading is a lot, but with staying healthy at home to avoid Covid-19, I’ve upped the load. I recently devoured a few non-fiction books about murder cases taking place in Kentucky, one written by Gary P. West and the other by Peter Brackney. West’s book dealt with one that happened in 1975 near Elizabethtown (commonly called “E-town”)....

Kentucky by Heart: Tiny Wickliffe community has a lot of ‘Hart’ and many treasured souls

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Wickliffe, Kentucky, sets along the Mississippi River, a couple miles from where the Ohio River flows into “Father of the Waters.” The town is a part of the Jackson Purchase region in the westernmost part of the state. According to the 2010 United States Census Bureau, the Ballard County place has 688 residents and a total area of 1.2 miles. From my perspective,...

Kentucky By Heart: Story of William ‘King’ Solomon a poignant one for this challenging time of pandemic

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist For many years as a fourth-grade teacher, I read the story of William “King” Solomon’s heroism in 1830s Lexington to my students. I appreciated the poignant tone of the narrative, and I loved the great lesson of a common person acting bravely and compassionately while in the midst of a devastating cholera pandemic, one that killed nearly five hundred of the...

Kentucky by Heart: Video history series offers unique look at Kentucky’s vintage buildings and structures

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Our knowledge of Kentucky’s history often comes from what we’ve read in textbooks, articles in periodicals, or what we’ve gathered from talking to a knowledgeable source. That’s a good start, but interestingly, another good avenue is looking at old buildings and other structures—often ones quite close to where we live. That’s where Satolli Glassmeyer’s...

Kentucky by Heart: These guys are deltiologists — meaning they collect postcards — lots of postcards

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist When Carl Howell looks back on his professional work career, a highly successful one, he feels a sense of pride. He served for a period in the state of New York as an FBI agent, and later came home to practice law in his native Hodgenville with his father until the elder Howell’s death in 1983. Carl retired in 2014, ending his long professional tenure at a storied...

Kentucky by Heart: Some ramblings, musings and wanderings to pass the time during social distancing

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Sometimes it feels good to allow this Kentucky-centric mind to do some wandering and then to share some of those disjointed thoughts with my readers. Long-time Courier-Journal columnist and author Joe Creason was amazing at that sort of thing, and my voracious reading of his works in my early years inspires me some five decades later. I only wish I had a tenth of...

Kentucky by Heart: A most underrated tool of the small farmer or gardener — the trusty bucket

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist I should have learned while growing up in Claryville that the most important tool for the gardener or small farmer could well be the common, relatively inexpensive bucket. It was right there in front of me. Steve and The Bucket (Photo provided) However, that observation hadn’t dawned on me until recently while doing some work in my yard and the fledgling spring...

Kentucky by Heart: Alice Hegan Rice’s classic ‘Mrs. Wiggs’ offers many lessons for today’s trying times

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Last week, I pulled a book out of my collection of old Kentucky books that I had put off reading until I had more time. Well, in this coronavirus-stay-home-period, “more time” presented itself and I devoured the 138-page book in a few sittings. It’s a classic piece of Kentucky literature, published in 1901, called Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, and is written...

Kentucky by Heart: One man’s top 10 bucket list of books not to be missed — what are your favorites?

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My love of reading Kentucky-related books, particularly non-fiction, started as a child. Inspired by my father’s interest in showing our small family the people and places of the state, I devoured the biographies in the tiny Grant’s Lick Elementary School library dealing with the Commonwealth. I read books about Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, Mary...

Kentucky by Heart: Even the inconveniences brought on by coronavirus can be embraced in a positive way

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Okay, my Kentucky brethren, our personal mobility will likely be curtailed for the foreseeable future because that pesky little virus world traveler (COVID-19) has shown up uninvited. And now that the reality is here, we’re making some serious life adjustments, probably for a longer period than we’d like. Not to preach, ‘cause I don’t like people preaching...

Kentucky by Heart: Nobody is ‘crazier about the ‘Cats’ than long-time sports writer Jamie Vaught

By Steve Flairty NKyTribune columnist If you are a Kentuckian or have been around these parts for a long time, to be “crazy about the Cats” is an expression that likely resonates. Most often, it refers to the abiding love that fans have for the Kentucky Wildcats college basketball team. It might also refer to UK’s football or other of their sports teams as well, but most often, it’s a hoops...

Kentucky by Heart: More stories of the Great Flood of 1937 from Shawnee High School students

Author’s Note: This is the second installment of a two-part series looking at a book published in 1937, called Flood Stories. It’s a collection of personal accounts—each written by a girl student of the “Grammar and Composition” class at Shawnee High School, in Louisville—that occurred around Louisville and The Great Flood of 1937. I have paraphrased the following narratives except...

Kentucky by Heart: Unique book offers personal accounts of life in Ky. during Great Flood of 1937

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series. By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist A friend of mine, knowing my love for old Kentucky books, recently gifted me with one that drew immediate fascination. It’s called Flood Stories, and it’s a collection of personal accounts of The Great Flood of 1937, a tumultuous natural catastrophe resulting from heavy rainfall causing the Ohio River...

Kentucky by Heart: George Wright grew up poor but he listened when his mother said ‘no excuses’

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist When George Wright was growing up in poverty in Lexington over 50 years ago, he felt like he was living in shame and didn’t want others to know about it. It got worse when his parents divorced. His grades were bad, even though he had a good mind. “I always acted real out-going and was a show-off,” said George. “I didn’t let people know of the hurt in my...

Kentucky by Heart: Return to Harrodsburg brings back childhood memories of visit to Ft. Harrod

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Last week, I spoke at the Mercer County Public Library in Harrodsburg about my Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes book series. In my talks, I always like to add some “local color” to the opening remarks for my audience. It didn’t take much thought to come up with some personal observations drawn from my past to use for the Harrodsburg audience. Mercer County Library...

Kentucky by Heart: Author and storyteller Ben Woodard ‘lets himself go’ in his books for children

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Ben Woodard developed good literary skills and a strong work ethic early in his young days growing up in Lexington, where he told neighborhood kids stories. Those attributes pretty much set a firm foundation for the success he has today as a successful children’s author and storyteller, with ten published books, many others in process, and occasionally is a speaker...