Visiting the Bluegrass Commonwealth

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
September 4, 2015

On July 31, 2015, I flew to Lexington, KY where State Regent Barbara Zink and my Page, JeanEllen Hiter Melton, welcomed me to the Bluegrass Commonwealth for the Fall workshop.  Lexington is known as the Horse Capital of the World and the rolling hills and fine horses look like a scene from a movie.   

Barbara’s emblem is the Liberty Bell and her motto is “Liberty, Friendship & Freedom.”  Her project is to restore the life-size replica of the Liberty Bell, located in Liberty, KY.  The Kentucky Society has 4,500 members in 85 chapters, including our Registrar General, Sharon Mayne Withers.

Kentucky Daughters have lovingly maintained Duncan Tavern in Paris, KY, for 75 years.  It was built in 1788 built by Joseph Duncan, an officer in the Revolutionary War, as a house but later used as a tavern for the pioneers traveling west, such as Daniel Boone. It is the oldest standing tavern in Kentucky. Voices were sold on a beautiful table runner and patriotic wall hanging by Ruth Korzenborn.

Workshops were held on Friday afternoon and 200 members took advantage of the opportunity to interact and learn more about the work of DAR.  At the Banquet, I had the opportunity to share with the ladies some of the history of our buildings and a discussion of the current needs, including the Guardian Trust Campaign.  The Kentucky Daughters certainly understand my appreciation for Sharon Withers, Registrar General.

Barbara presented me with a generous check for the President General’s Project and a mint julep cup, along with the recipe and instructions to raise the cup in a toast to the Commonwealth of Kentucky on Derby Day while singing “My Old Kentucky Home.” In addition, she presented me with a commission as a Kentucky Colonel.  Other recipients of this high honor include John Glenn, Winston Churchill and Elvis Presley.

Brent Hutchinson, Executive Director of Hindman Settlement School in Hindman, KY, talked about the success of the dyslexia program. Hindman was organized in 1902 by two DAR members and is one of our six DAR Supported Schools.  It was one of the first and most successful rural social settlement schools in America.   Since 1980 the school has emphasized workshops for learning differences with an emphasis on dyslexia.  Brent reported on the success of this summer’s program with 45 enrollees.  All students are tested at the beginning and at the end of the program and their progress in reading ranged from 1-3 months (Kindergarten and First grade) to 2 years – Middle and High School.  Now that is changing lives!

Hindman also serves as a cultural center and has a wonderful crafts shop.  Brent presented me with a very unique piece of pottery made by Michael Ware, a candlelight vase with the Administration’s celebration eagle.

Additional workshops were held Saturday morning.  Ladies were given the opportunity to ask me questions and topics included obtaining a chapter charter, minority research, Ancestry K12 initiative, Daniel Boone marker and meeting Queen Elizabeth. State Vice Regent Becky Malone led a lively Jeopardy game with the audience divided into the Red, White and Blue teams.  The contestants used buzzers with animal sounds to indicate their intent to respond to the questions.  The room was full of barnyard sounds, including mooing cows, crowing roosters and braying donkeys.  The challenging questions focused on the work of ten committees and competition was tough. 

The workshops concluded after the luncheon and many of us visited Lexington Cemetery to place a wreath on the grave of DAR Founder Mary Desha. The Cemetery is absolutely beautiful and her grave is near Henry Clay’s large marker.

Saturday afternoon, Honorary State Regent Jessieanne Wells drove me to Bloomfield, KY where she had arranged for me to be a guest at Walnut Groves, the estate of Jerry and Linda Bruckheimer.  Mrs. Bruckheimer, a member of Cox’s Station Chapter, has made a huge difference in Bloomfield through her preservation of many of the historic buildings.  We visited her antique store, Nettie Jarvis Antiques, named for Mrs. Bruckheimer’s great-grandmother, which was filled with fabulous antiques.  Walnut Groves features a beautifully restored 1820 home, the Merrifield House, as well as several restored cabins located throughout the scenic estate.  I was fortunate to stay in the main cabin which had been converted from two log cabins into one large cabin with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, stone fireplaces and wonderful antiques in each room.  The cabin overlooked a pond and it was absolutely lovely. 

Saturday evening Sheila Barnes, Walnut Groves’ house manager, drove me to Bardstown for dinner with Jessieanne and the ladies of the John Fitch Chapter in Bardstown and Cox’s Station Chapter.  The Harrison-Smith House Restaurant was located in one of the oldest buildings in Bardstown and features locally produced food.  The grilled romaine lettuce was amazing!

Jessieanne and I enjoyed breakfast at Walnut Groves Sunday morning before returning to Bardstown for lunch at the Old Talbott Tavern, opened in the late 1700’s.  The Tavern hosted Abe Lincoln, Daniel Boone, General George Rogers Clark and Jesse James in their long history.  Bardstown is not only a lovely small town with many beautifully preserved homes, but is in prime Bourbon country with headquarters of several distilleries nearby. It was also at Bardstown that Stephen Foster was inspired to write “My Old Kentucky Home” while visiting his uncle’s home, Federal Hill.  In 2012, Bardstown was named “The Most Beautiful Small Town in America.”

It was an honor to participate in the dedication of a historical marker at Jessieanne’s church, Bardstown Baptist Church, in celebration of their 200th anniversary this year. The Cox’s Station Chapter will be sponsoring a large Welcome Home event in September for over 400 Vietnam War Veterans.

After the reception following the dedication, Janice Lear drove me to Louisville for my flight home as my visit to the Bluegrass Commonwealth came to an end.  It was a lovely weekend celebrating Liberty, Friendship and Freedom.

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