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    Women and their roles in Kentucky History

    This summer will begin our celebration of the Bicentennial of Daviess County, Kentucky. This year marks our 200th anniversary of being formed as a new county out of Ohio County, which occurred on June 1st, 1815. There will be a great number of festivities throughout the next year celebrating this momentous occasion in history.

    The Daviess County Public Library will play a large role in planning and hosting many of these festivities and events. Starting in June the library will be host to a variety of programs that will help to showcase the life and times of this county and the many different roles that people played throughout history.

    One of these programs will be coming up shortly on Saturday, June 13th, 2015 from 2 to 3 p.m. The Women in Kentucky History program will host Jody Ingalls as she weaves the diverse and interesting tales of these four women: Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, Jenny Lind, Lottie Moon, and finally, a Civil War Nurse named Martha. Each of these women had a profound effect on the culture and history during this time and their stories are ones that you won’t want to miss.

    According to the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, Kentucky, Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln was born in Hardin County, Kentucky and raised in Elizabethtown. At the age of 18, Sarah married a Daniel Johnston who then died of cholera in 1816 leaving Sarah with no money and three children.

    Thomas Lincoln, father of Abraham Lincoln, knew Sarah from a previous acquaintance and when he moved back to Elizabethtown in 1819, newly widowed from the death of his own wife, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abraham’s mother, he decided to find Sarah and started courting her. On December 2, 1819, Thomas and Sarah became husband and wife in an old log house in Elizabethtown. After giving their marriage vows, they packed up and headed back to Thomas Lincoln’s home in Indiana, where his two children, Abraham and Sarah were already living.

    Upon meeting their new stepmother, Abraham was 10 and Sarah was 12. They lived in Indiana until 1830 and then moved to Illinois. Abraham always thought kindly of his new mother and spoke well of her during his older years. (Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s stepmother, Courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Museum of Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN)

    The next lady to be discussed at the program will be Jenny Lind. Jenny Lind arrived in Elizabethtown on April 5th, 1851. She was known as the Swedish soprano and was on a tour of the United States in 1851 as part of a contract with P.T. Barnum to give 100 concerts for $1,000 dollars each. Jenny Lind was also known as the “Swedish Nightingale” and with the publicity that Barnum provided she became an overnight hit in the states eventually having a multitude of products named after her including songs, gloves, bonnets, chairs, sofas and even pianos.

    After giving a concert in Nashville in April 1851 she embarked on a three-day coach ride to Elizabethtown. Once she arrived in Elizabethtown on April 5th, large crowds had gathered around the place she was going to stay. The only problem is that it wasn’t large enough for all to see and hear her sing. She decided instead to go up the street to a place called the Hill’s Hotel and stood on the great stone steps out front to sing to the excited crowd.

    Jenny Lind had been an inspiring and lovely figure to behold for the people of Elizabethtown and she was highly regarded in the state of Kentucky. As she left Elizabethtown, it is said that she decided to sit up front with the driver so that she could see the Spring beauty of Muldraugh’s Hill as they rode away on the coach. (Bits and Pieces of Hardin Co. History, Vol. XVIII Vol. 1, Winter 1999, Mary Jo Jones Editor

    The third lady that will be discussed for women’s history in Kentucky will be a name that most here in this state and the world know very well. Lottie Moon went from being a mischievous trouble-maker to one of the most recognizable traveling missionaries in the world, saving lives and changing China forever.

    Lottie Moon was born Charlotte Digges Moon on December 12, 1840 in Albemarle County, Virginia. She was known to have rebelled against Christianity until she went to college at Albemarle Female Institute, which was the female counterpart to the University of Virginia. In 1861, she was one of the first women in the South to receive a master’s degree.

    Lottie became involved in missionary work after her sister, Edmonia Moon was appointed to Tengchow, China in 1872. The following year Lottie came to that part of China too. Lottie ended up serving 39 years as a missionary mostly in China’s Shantung province.

    While she was a missionary in China, she repeatedly wrote letters to the United States asking for help in continuing the work in that part of the world. She also challenged Southern Baptists to go to this area as well to become missionaries. By 1888, Southern Baptist women had organized and collected $3,315 to send more workers to China.

    Lottie Moon died on a ship in the Japanese harbor of Kobe on December 24, 1912. She was 72 years old. A few years later, the Women’s Missionary Union decided to name the annual Christmas offering for the International Missions that Lottie had started many years before. (

    Finally, the last lady to be discussed in the Women’s history program is a Civil War nurse named Martha and she will talk about how Morgan’s Christmas raid of 1862 deeply impacted Elizabethtown, Kentucky and how the life of one soldier would change her own.

    Captain John Hunt Morgan of the Kentucky cavalry was the leader of the charge in the Christmas raid of 1862. On December 23, 1862, Morgan crossed into Kentucky with nearly 4,000 men to head to Hardin County and two railroad trestles on Muldraugh Hill north of Elizabethtown. His mission was simply to destroy the supply line through Kentucky to Nashville.

    Morgan would go on to lead many additional raids in the state of Kentucky and would eventually die after being shot in the back trying to escape from a Union encampment that had rode into town. His body was thrown over a mule and paraded around town before being dumped into a ditch devoid of almost all clothing.

    Some believe that Morgan was murdered after he had surrendered. Others feel that he chose death over being separated forever from his wife, Mattie. This ended one of the greatest love stories of the War Between the States. The marriage had lasted a total of 630 days. Once she learned of his demise she raised a flag of truce and left the area. She was pregnant and grief-stricken and left to return to Augusta, Georgia to stay with relatives. (

    Thus ends the story of these four women in the history of Kentucky. To learn more about these famously, provocative women you will need to make sure and attend the program on Saturday, June 13th from 2 to 3 p.m. in the public lounge on the 2nd floor of the Daviess County Public Library.

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