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History of Kentucky



Author of "Eastern Kentucky Papers"


Department of History, University of Georgia






Copyright, 1922



^y^i^i-yrUL^ K/


James D. Black. Barbourville, judicial center and
principal city of Knox County, claims as its most dis-
tinguished citizen, James Dixon Black, former gover-
nor of Kentucky, and foremost in connection with
civic and business affairs in his home city and native
county. He has secure vantage ground as one of the
representative members of the Kentucky bar and at
Barbourville he is president of the National Bank of
John A. Black.

James Dixon Black was born on the old homestead
farm of his father, nine miles east of Barbourville,
Knox County, on Big Richland Creek, and the date
of his nativity was September 24, 1849. On this farm
his father, John C. Black, died in the year 1876, his
birth having occurred in South Carolina, in 1804.
Alexander Black, grandfather of the ex-governor of
Kentucky, was a native of Ireland, of Scotch-Irish
lineage, and was reared and educated in his native land,
whence, shortly after his marriage, he immigrated with
his young wife to America and established his resi-
dence in South Carolina, where he continued his asso-
ciation with farm industry until his removal to the
eastern part of Tennessee, whence he came as a pio-
neer into Knox County, Kentucky, when his son John
C. was a boy. He instituted the reclamation and de-
velopment of what became one of the finest farm
estates of this county, was influential in public affairs
and general community life and was a commanding
figure in connection with early stages of civic and
material development and progress in Knox County,
where he continued to reside, as an honored pioneer
citizen, until the time of his death.

John C. Black was reared to manhood in Knox
County, where in all of the relations of life he wielded
benignant influence during the course of a signally
active and useful career. He became one of the most
extensive and successful exponents of farm enterprise
in this county, was originally a whig and later a
republican in politics, and the only office in which he
consented to serve was that of justice of the peace, of
which he continued the incumbent several years. In
Clay County, this state, was solemnized his marriage
to Miss Clarissa Jones, who was there born in the
year 1807, and whose death occurred on the old Black
homestead farm, nine miles east of Barbourville, in
1862. Of the children the eldest was Permelia, who
was born in 1827, and who became the wife of Hiram
Jones, the closing period of their lives having been
passed on their home farm, in Laurel County ; Isaac
J., who was born in the year 1829, was a farmer one
mile east of Barbourville at the time of his death, and
his was the distinction of having been a captain in a
Kentucky regiment that gave valiant service in de-
fense of the Union in the Civil war ; Samuel, who was
born in 1831, likewise became a prosperous represen-
tative of farm enterprise and he was a resident of
Richmond, Madison County, at the time of his death,
in 1919; Alexander, who was born in 1832, is a retired
farmer residing at Richmond; Rhoda, born in 1834,
the widow of Nathan McBee, and resides in Laurel
County, where her husband was a representative farm-

er ; David, born in 1836, was a substantial farmer of
Madison County at the time of his death, in 1916;
Isabella, born in 1838, died at Barbourville, and her
husband, John Brogan, is now engaged in the bank-
ing business at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma ; John A.,
born in 1842, resides at Barbourville, where he was
formerly a leading merchant and where he became the
most influential factor in reorganizing the private bank-
ing business founded by John A. Black into what_ is
now the National Bank of John A. Black, of which
he became the first president, a capacity in which he
served a number of years, since which he has lived
virtually retired; Hiram was a prosperous farmer in
Knox County at the time of his death; Alabama be-
came the wife of William Hopper and died in Laurel
County, where her husband is still actively engaged
in farm enterprise ; James D., of this review, is the
youngest of the children.

Knox County's native son who was destined to be-
come governor of this great commonwealth, gained his
early education in the rural schools and a subscription
school maintained at Barbourville. Thereafter he com-
pleted a course in Tusculum College, situated four
miles east of Greenville, Tennessee, in which institu-
tion he was graduated as a member of the class of
1872 and with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. It was
a fitting recognition which his alma mater accorded
to him many years later, when, in 191 1, Tusculum Col-
lege conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doc-
tor of Laws, he having marked the intervening years
with substantial and distinguished service and achieve-

After his graduation in the college mentioned above
Mr. Black returned to Knox County, and here he gave
two years of effective service as a teacher in the
public schools. In the meanwhile he gave much atten-
tion to the study of law, and that he made definite
progress in the absorption and assimilation of the
science of jurisprudence is indicated by the fact that
in August, 1874, he was duly admitted to the bar of
his native state. Depending upon no fortuitious influ-
ence, he proved his ability by successful work in his
chosen profession, and for many years he has main-
tained a place of acknowledged leadership as a member
of the bar of Eastern Kentucky. His practice, which
has been of representative order, has involved his
appearance in connection with many civil and criminal
cases of major importance, and he has extended his
practice into the Supreme Court of Kentucky and the
Federal courts of the state. The building in which he
maintains his law offices, at the corner of Main and
High streets in Barbourville, is a two-story brick block
that is owned by him, and in his extensive practice he
is now the senior member of the firm of Black, Black
& Owens, in which his associates are his only son, Pit-
zer D. Black, and his son-in-law, H. H. Owens.

Mr. Black has long been a leader in the councils
and campaign activties of the democratic party in
Southeastern Kentucky, and in 1875, shortly after he
had attained to an age that made him eligible for such
office, he was elected representative of Knox and Whit-


ley counties in the lower house of the Kentucky Legis-
lature, in which he gave effective service during the
session of the Centennial year, 1876, and proved him-
self a resourceful working member of the House and
of the various committees to which he was assigned.
In 1884-5 he served as commissioner of the common
schools of Knox County, and his versatility has been
shown not only in his work as a public official and
able lawyer, but also in his vital loyalty and liberality
as a citizen. In 1911-12 he officiated as president of
Union College, and during the latter year he was first
assistant attorney general of Kentucky. He became,
in 1915, the democratic candidate for lieutenant gov-
ernor of Kentucky, to which office he was duly elected
and in which he served until 1919. As lieutenant gov-
ernor he presided over three full sessions of the State
Senate and during one impeachment trial before that
body. In May, 1919, by virtue of existing conditions,
he became governor of the state, and in this high office
he continued his executive service, with characteristic
high sense of stewardship and with marked discrim-
ination and circumspection, until the inauguration of
Governor Morrow, in December, 1919, when he resigned
the reins of government to the present chief executive
of the state. During his brief regime as governor he
punctiliously directed all routine affairs of the office
and looked at all times to the safeguarding of the inter-
ests of the state and its people, in which connection it
is to be noted that, though there were many impor-
tunities, he consented to pardon but very few crim-
inals, his judgment as a lawyer of profound learning
and long experience and his fine sense of justice causing
him to avoid the executive clemency that the merits
of cases presented to him did not fully authorize. Upon
retiring from the office of governor iie served during
1020 as chief prohibition inspector of Kentucky. Since
that time he has given his attention to his law business,
and he finds constant demands for his interposition in
advisor capacity and as counsel in connection with im-
|)ortant interests and law cases. Among his real-estate
holdings are his fine home property, at the corner of
Main and High streets in the city of Barbourville, and
2,000 acres of coal land and other mineral land, in
Whitley, Bell and Knox counties. The year 1921 marks
the third consecutive year of Mr. Black's service as
president of the National Bank of John A. Black, which
had its inception in a private bank established many
years ago by his brother, John A., its incorporation as
a national bank, under the present title, having occurred
.^pril 18, 1914. Judge W. R. Marsee and J. S. Miller
are vice presidents of the institution, and W. R. Lay is
its cashier. The bank has a capital stock of $30,000;
its surplus fund and undivided profits aggregate $50,000,
and its deposits are fully $850,000. Mr. Black is a direc-
. tor of the Barbourville Cemetery Company. He has
been a close and appreciative student of the history and
teachings of the Masonic fraternity and is one of its
prominent and honored representatives in his native
state. His ancient-craft affiliation is with Mountain
Lodge, No. 187, Free & Accepted Masons, at Barbour-
ville, and he has served seven different times as mas-
ter of this lodge, besides which he had the distinction
of serving in 1880 as grand master of the Kentucky
Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons. His capit-
ular membership is in Barbourville Chapter, No. 137,
Royal Arch Masons, of which he has twice served as
high priest. At London, Laurel County, he is affiliated
with the council of Royal & Select Masters, and his
York Rite circle is completed by his affiliation with
Ryan Commandery, No. 17, Knights Templars, at Dan-
ville. In the City of Louisville he holds membership
in Kosair Temple of the Ancient Arabic Order
Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He and his wife are
earnest members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Mr. Black was Lieutenant-Governor of Kentucky at
the time when the LTnited States became involved

actively in the World war, and with characteristic
loyalty he gave his aid in the forwarding and support-
ing of the various war activities in his native state, in
which connection he made many patriotic speeches in
Knox County and other counties of eastern Kentucky.
He wielded much influence in furthering the campaigns
in support of the government war-bond issues, savings
stamps. Red Cross work, etc., and made his personal
subscriptions touch hard upon the limit of his avail-
able resources.

In December, 1875, at Barbourville, was solemnized
the marriage of Mr. Black to Miss Mary Janette Pitzer,
daughter of the late T. J. and Mary (Glass) Pitzer, who
were residents of Barbourville at the time of theli'
death, Mr. Pitzer having come to Kentucky from his
native state of Virginia and having for many years
been a leading merchant at Barbourville. Pitzer D.,
eldest of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Black, was born
in the year 1881, was graduated in Centre College, at
Danville, Kentucky, with the degree of Bachelor of
Arts, and thereafter he attended the law department
of the University of Virginia. Since his admission to
the bar he has been actively associated with his father
in the practice of law at Barbourville. Miss Gertrude
D. Black remains at the parental home and is a gradu-
ate of the Woman's College at Danville, Kentucky,
from which she received the degree of Bachelor of
Arts. Georgia is the wife of H. H. Owens, the third
member of the representative law firm of Black, Black
& Owens. Mrs. Owens likewise received from the
Woman's College at Danville the degree of Bachelor
of Arts. The family is one of prominence in the rep-
resentative social life of Barbourville and Kno.x
Count}', and the former governor has commanding
place in the esteem of the people of not only his
native county, but also of the state in general, for his
ability and achievement mark him as one of Kentucky's
distinguished citizens.

John F. Lynch. In the years that immediately pre-
ceded the Civil war and in the late '40s of the last
century immigrants from the Emerald Isle came ii;
large numbers to this country, owing largely to the
unsatisfactory economic conditions prevailing at that
time in Ireland. The Lynch family, of whom John F.
Lynch is a descendant, was among the early settlers in
Chilesburg, Kentucky.

John F. Lynch, now engaged in farming and in the
management of a general merchandise store and in
the handling of grain, coal, seeds, etc;, at Chilesburg,
lying six miles east of Lexington, was born near
Chilesburg, a son of Patrick and Bridget (Walsh)
Lynch, natives of Ireland, who came to this country
when they were children and later married in Ken-
tucky. Some time after the Civil war Patrick Lynch
took up farming near Chilesburg, and continued along
that line up to the time of his death, which occurred
in 1904. His widow died in the following year. These
worthy people were the parents of four sons and two
daughters: Mrs. Thomas B. Adams, living at Brighton;
Thomas, a farmer near Chilesburg; William, deputy
county assessor, living at Lexington; John F., subject
of this sketch ; James, living with his sister at Brighton ;
and Anna, who died in March, 1910.

John F. Lynch, who is now one of the prominent
merchants of Chilesburg, received his early education
in the district schools of his native place and later
assisted his father in the operations of the home farm.
Since 1896 he has been extensively engaged in farming
on his own account. Up to the time of the death of
the late John W. Christian, in 1903, Mr. Lynch and
Mr. Christian carried on a general merchandise com-
pany, also being engaged in the sales of grain, coal,
seeds and other commodities, this business from the
very beginning having met with a large measure of
success. The members of the Christian family still
have an interest in the business in which their father


was a partner, and the entire undertaking is now under
the personal direction of Mr. Lynch.

Apart from his commercial interests in the store Mr.
Lynch is the owner of 600 acres of prime land, on
which he carries on general farming, and in this line
he is regarded as one of the most successful farmers
in this part of the state. He is a director of the
Phenix and Third National Banks at Lexington, to
the affairs of which he gives close attention. He is an
earnest member of the Catholic Church, to the good
works of which he gives practical support. In frater-
nal affiliation he holds membership with the Elks. Mr.
Lynch has never been a seeker after political office,
but gives a good citizen's attention to civic affairs and
takes a warm interest in all projects designed to ad-
vance the welfare of the community in which he has
spent almost his entire life.

George Clifton Leachman, M. D., iias responded to
the routine duty of a capable physician and surgeon
at Louisville for over twenty years. This has been
important service in itself, but other attainments rank
him as more than an ordinary member of his profes-
sion. He has done his share in the educational de-
partment of medicine and surgery, has helped advance
the prestige of local hospitals and was an army sur-
geon during the World war, while tw^o of his sons
were in the navy.

Doctor Leachman is the son of a physician and was
born at Louisville, September 23, 1877, son of William
Thomas and Lettia (Field) Leachman. His father,
who was born at Danville, Kentucky, in 1834, was
primarily educated in Washington County and in 1857
graduated from the Medical Department of the Univer-
sity of Louisville. From that time until a few years
of his death, which occurred in May, 1906, he had an
extensive general practice and for years was considered
one of the ablest physicians of Louisville. He was a
member of the Jefferson County and Kentucky State
Medical associations, and for several years was a trus-
tee of the Louisville city schools. His wife was
born at Louisville in 18-14 and died in 1900. They had
nine children : Silas F., of Chicago ; W. T., of Cin-
cinnati; Edward, deceased; Theodore, of Louisville;
Bessie, who married John Rosenbaum and died at the
age of twenty-seven; Harry M., who died in 1919;
Lettia, wife of Richard F. Watts, of Louisville; Ro-
man, of Louisville; and George Clifton.

George Clifton Leachman has lived practically all
his life in Louisville, where he was educated in the
grammar schools and the Male High School. He was
only nineteen when he graduated in June, 1896, from
the Kentucky School of Medicine, and from the date
of his graduation until 1898 remained with the college
as demonstrator of anatomy. Since 1898 he has had a
practically uninterrupted program of professional work
at Louisville. He was assistant professor of surgery
and clinical surgeon at the University of Louisville.
He has been visiting surgeon at the Louisville City
Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital for a period of
twelve years. He is a member of the Jefferson County,
State Medical and .American Medical associations, the
Mississippi Valley Medical Association, and is a Fel-
low of the American College of Surgeons, indicating
his special attainments in surgery. Doctor Leachman
was one of the first members of the Medical Advisory
Board of the United States Army. Later he re-
signed to take active duty with the Medical Corps
and was in service from September 13, 1918, until
December 15, 1919. He is a member of the United
States Military Surgeons. In politics Doctor Leach-
man gives his approval to candidates and policies ac-
cording to his independent judgment.

October 2, 1895, he married Margarita Antoinette
Denunzio, a native of Louisville. Doctor and Mrs.
Leachman, whose home is at 1127 Fourth Avenue in
Louisville, are the proud parents of a family of ten

children, named: Salvador J., William T., George
Clifton, Jr., Bernard D., Louis F., Mary M., Margaret
L., Helen L., Silas F. and Angeline N.

The oldest son, Salvador J., was a member of Com-
pany A of the First Kentucky Infantry during the
Me.xican border difficulties, and saw service on the
border for ten months. He was mustered out of the
Federal service about two months before America de-
clared war against Germany, and he. at once re-enlisted,
joining the navy and became a fireman on the trans-
port America. He was on this vessel when it took its
first cargo of American troops to Brest, Altogether
he made eleven trips in transport work across the
Atlantic, and was in service until mustered out in
March, 1919. He now lives at Nutallburg, West Vir-
ginia. His wife was Clara O'Connell.

The second son, William T. Leachman, enlisted a
month after war was declared with Germany and be-
came an apprentice seaman assigned to the battleship
.Arkansas. He was with this ship in the North Sea
for six months and was present at the surrender of the
German fleet. After twenty-seven months he received
his honorable discharge and is now living at Louisville.
He married Catherine Gruesling. The third son,
George C, Jr., was a member of the Reserve Officers
Training Camp while a student in the Male High
School of Louisville.

George L. Danforth. The first wholesale dry goods
house was established at Louisville nearly a century
ago by Joseph Danforth. From that time to the pres-
ent the family name has been signficant of the larger
commercial enterprise of the city, and also of that
liberal public spirit which has been responsible for
some of the community's best institutions and stand-
ards of civic progress.

The Danforths came to America nearly two cen-
turies before the first of the family reached Kentucky.
Nicholas Danforth settled in the Massachusetts Bay
. Colony in 1634, coming to America to seek religious
freedom. He was one of the founders of Newtown,
later Cambridge,. and was also identified with the early
history of Harvard College. His son Thomas _ was
deputy governor of Massachusetts and later president
of the Province of Maine. His son Samuel was a
clergyman distinguished in Massachusetts church

From Massachusetts various branches of the family
spread into adjoining sections of New England. One
of the Revolutionary soldiers at the battle of Bunker
Hill was Joseph Danforth, Sr., who married Elizabeth
Barker and lived at Londonderry, Rockingham County,
New Hampshire, when his son Joseph was born Janu-
ary 21, 1792.

This Joseph Danforth was reared and educated in
New Hampshire, at the age of eighteen began his ap-
prenticeship as a mechant at Boston, and for_ several
years was an importing merchant in that city. In
1815 he married Lucy Shaw Lewis, a lineal descendant
of Mary Chilton, the first woman to step from the
Mayflower to Plymouth Rock in 1620. In search of a
location to build up a business in the far west Joseph
Danforth visited Kentucky at a time when Louisville
had less than 4.000 population. He came to the city
in 1818 and later established himself in business as a
general commission merchant and in 1823 founded the
first wholesale dry goods house. He was associated with
his brother, James B., in the business known as J. B.
Danforth and Company, later known as Danforth,
Lewis & Company, and finally as J. Danforth & Son.
Joseph Danforth died at Louisville, November 26, 1885.
His wife passed way August 10, 1859.

One of their four children was Joseph L. Danforth,
who was born at Louisville, January 21, 1821, and died
October 29, 1887. only two years after the death of his
father. Cultured New England parents gave him every
advantage and facility for acquiring a liberal education,


and at the age of fourteen he entered Harvard Col-
lege, remaining until he graduated in 1839. He se-
cured his training in business at Philadelphia under
his uncle, James B. Danforth, then head of the firm
Danforth, Lewis & Company, and two years later
went to New Orleans, were he was associated with his
maternal uncle, George A. Lewis. He returned to
Louisville in 1844 and became a member of the firm
Danforth, Lewis & Company, and later junior partner
of J. Danforth & Son. He was a merchant until 1853,
when he became secretary of the Falls City Insurance
Company, thereby transferring the business associa-
tions of the family name to the field of fire insurance,
with which it has been prominently related ever since.
Joseph L. Danforth was elected president of the Louis-
ville Board of Underwriters in 1861. He was largely
instrumental in securing better fire protection for
Louisville after the destructive fire of 1856. His name
was associated with several important and philanthropic
enterprises of the city during his time. In 1866 he was
elected president of the Board of Education, and was
largely instrumental in introducing manual training
into the high school in 1870. He was one of the foun-
ders of the Home for Aged Women, and on his ad-
vice this institution was merged into the Cook Benevo-
lent Institution, and he was one of its trustees. He
was one of the organizers of the Home of the Friend-
less, established in 1869. From 1854 until his death he
was a prominent member of the Church of the Mes-
siah, Unitarian, and in politics was a democrat.

May 12, 1845, Joseph L. Danforth married Miss
Frances A. E. Ward, of Boston. Her great-grand-
father was Gen. Artemus Ward, who was a president
of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was one of the
first major generals appointed by the Continental Con-
gress during the Revolution. He was a member of
Congress from Massachusetts from 1791 until 1795.
Mrs. Joseph L. Danforth died November 19, 1898, at

Online LibraryCharles KerrHistory of Kentucky (Volume v.4) → online text (page 1 of 205)