Latest Exhibit “A Salute to Lexington’s Greatest Generation” Opens Saturday

Latest Exhibit “A Salute to Lexington’s Greatest Generation” Opens Saturday

wwii exhibit

LexHistory Salutes Kentucky’s Greatest Generation
Exhibit to Commemorate 70th Anniversary of World War II’s End to Open at Library
January 31, 2015 – March 29, 2015

Lexington, KY – To commemorate the 70th anniversary of World War II’s end, LexHistory will remount A Salute to Lexington’s Greatest Generation: World War II on the War and Home Fronts for a two month engagement at Central Library’s gallery space. Prior to the closing of the Old Fayette County Courthouse, this exhibit opened on the eve of Pearl Harbor’s 70th anniversary. Salute will run Saturday, January 31, 2015 to Sunday, March 29, 2015 and will be a stop on the March LexArts Hop. The exhibit will be open during library hours and is free and open to the public.

Learn how everyday Americans helped with the war effort, with rationing, victory gardens, war industries, and more. What was it like for soldiers to live through the intensity of battle and the long stretches of boredom away from home? What opportunities were there for women on the home front and abroad? On display will be the spoils of war that our soldiers, sailors, and airmen brought back home. The exhibit will also feature a Wall of Honor listing the names of those Kentuckians that gave their all to protect America and liberate the world.

Lee Overstreet 022


Left: Longtime Lexington History Museum volunteer Lieutenant Virginia Lee Overstreet (1920-2012)served as an assistant recruiting officer of the Atlanta office of the WAAC (Women’s Auxiliary Army Corp).

Right: Lee observing the exhibit before the closing of the Old Fayette County Courthouse. She passed away in 2012.

“We hope to show how this event really defined a generation, how people coped and how their outlook changed, all coming out of this period of war,” said Debra Watkins, who is curating the exhibit. “The whole country was at war. You were doing scrap drives; you were buying war bonds; you were donating to the Red Cross. Every single American was involved.”

The Lexington History Museum opened in 2003 as the city’s only free historic site with the mission to engage all citizens of Lexington and the State of Kentucky in their history. Currently a museum without walls, LexHistory continues to engage the public through dynamic programming, lectures, walking tours, and online offerings such as WikiLex and The Athens of the West blog. 2014 was the organization’s best year, serving over 17,000 through outreach, school programs, and events.

LexHistory is a new and markedly different chapter for the former Lexington History Museum. Administrative offices are located in The Square in Lexington, Kentucky. For more information, visit
Debra Watkins, Director
(859) 907-9585 (office)

This Day in History – September 30

This Day in History – September 30

RADM_James_E._JouettOn September 30, 1902, James Jouett, who served in the Mexican-American War and Civil War, passed away in his Maryland home. Jouett was born February 7, 1826, near Lexington, Kentucky, the son of portrait artist Matthew Harris Jouett and grandson of Revolutionary War hero Jack Jouett, whose home is located in Woodford County.

Jouett was a naval officer, seeing blockade duty during the Mexican American War. He also was aboard a ship that accompanied Commodore Matthew Perry’s fleet during the expedition to open Japan up to the Western world. Perry’s first visit was made in 1852 and the second in 1854.

Following capture by the Confederate army at Pensacola, Florida early on in the Civil War, Jouett joined his Union comrades in the blockading forces at Galveston, Texas, distinguishing himself during the night of 7/8 November 1861 in the capture and destruction of Confederate schooner Royal Yacht, while serving on USS Santee.James_jouett_trenton_1886

His exploits included the capture of several blockade runners and command of the fast gunboat Metacomet under David G. Farragut at Mobile Bay. After the war Jouett held several shore assignments; at sea his highest post was command of the North Atlantic Squadron from 1884 to 1886.

He was promoted to captain in 1874, commodore in 1883, and rear admiral in 1886. Jouett retired in 1890. He lived the remainder of his days at “The Anchorage” in Sandy Spring, Maryland. Jouett was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

LexHistory Announces Annual Fundraising Gala – Time Travelers’ Ball

LexHistory Announces New Spring Gala Fundraiser
Time Travelers’ Ball to Benefit Museum’s Exhibitions and Programs

For Immediate Release
September 17, 2014

Lexington, KY — LexHistory, formerly known as Lexington History Museum, is pleased to announce the creation of a new gala event, the Time Travelers’ Ball, to be held annually in the spring as a fundraiser for the museum and its exhibitions and programs. The inaugural gala will be held on Friday, March 6, 2015. The Time Travelers’ Ball is a unique event in which the historical theme will change annually. The theme for 2015 is The Roaring Twenties.

In the past, a LexHistory fundraiser had been held at the Old Fayette County Courthouse. Belle’s Ball was held for several years before the building was closed. This new event will be much grander than anything the organization has undertaken. It is part of an initiative to create dynamic programming which helps to fulfill the museum’s mission of engaging the public in Lexington’s rich history. We are confident that it will become one of the landmark events in Lexington.

On Friday, March 6, 2015, LexHistory will turn The Club at Spindletop Hall into a Prohibition-era speakeasy for the Time Travelers’ Ball. Heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and drinks are on the menu, as is dancing, an auction, and live music. There will be plenty of fun activities at this event! Go get your flapper dresses and shine up your oxfords because The Hepcats Swing Dance Club will be on hand as dance instructors and will help judge the Charleston contest. And what would a speakeasy be without gambling?

In addition, join LexHistory in honoring two longtime board members who were instrumental in the success of the organization and whose influence is still felt today: Isabel Yates and the late Robert “Bob” Brewer. Time Travelers’ Ball will include a presentation honoring them and their service to Lexington History Museum.

Tickets for the Time Travelers’ Ball will be available December 2014. Sponsorship opportunities are now available. For more information please contact Director Debra Watkins at (859) 907-9585 or by email or Manager of Development and Community Engagement Natasha Collier by emailing

The Lexington History Museum opened in 2003 as the city’s only free historic site with the mission to engage all citizens of Lexington and the State of Kentucky in their history. Currently a museum without walls, LexHistory continues to engage the public through dynamic programming, lectures, walking tours, and online offerings such as WikiLex and The Athens of the West blog.

LexHistory is a new and markedly different chapter for the former Lexington History Museum. Administrative offices are located in Victorian Square in Lexington, Kentucky. For more information, visit

This Day in History – August 13

James JohnsonOn August 13, 1826, congressman and soldier James Johnson passed away in Washington, D.C. Johnson was born January 1, 1774 in Orange County, Virginia to Robert and Jemima (Suggett) Johnson. His father moved to the land that would become Kentucky in 1779 and helped build Bryant’s Station. After some time, the Elder Johnson sent for the family and James arrived with them in 1781, when he was seven years of age; Robert Johnson struck out to build his own station in 1784. Johnson’s Station was also known as Great Crossing and was located at where the Alanantowamiowee Trail intersected the North Elkhorn Creek in present-day Scott County.

Johnson’s family was prominent; James and his younger brothers Richard Mentor Johnson and John Telemachus Johnson received preparatory educations. The three Johnson sons led political lives. From 1837 to 1841, Richard served as ninth Vice President of the United States under Martin Van Buren. John, a Transylvania University alum, was a long-time member of the Kentucky House of Representatives and ordained Methodist minister.

At 34, James became a representative of Scott County in the Kentucky Senate, serving from 1808 to 1811. His tenure ended with his entering into armed service as a lieutenant colonel in the War of 1812. With two of his sons in the company, he led a decisive charge into British lines at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813, where his superior officer and brother Colonel Johnson was said to have slain Tecumseh. Johnson was also present at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815, as a major in Gray’s regiment, Kentucky Detached Militia.

Upon returning to Kentucky, Johnson became very active in the stagecoach industry. In Stage-coach Days in the Bluegrass, J. Winston Coleman wrote that “Colonel Johnson was associated with numerous enterprises of early travel and transportation, and was proprietor of a freight line which maintained the steamboat Providence, carrying freight from Leestown on the Kentucky River at Frankfort to Natchez and New Orleans.”  Johnson organized several stagecoach companies, including Johnson, Weisiger and Company, a line that ran from Frankfort to Louisville. At this time, he was reported to have been one of the wealthiest men in Kentucky, holding a plantation at Great Crossing.

Johnson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served from March 4, 1825, until his death in Washington, D.C., on August 13, 1826. He was buried in the family cemetery at Great Crossing.

LexHistory Presents Dinner with the Dead This October

LexHistory Presents Dinner with the Dead This October


Image courtesy Christ Church Cathedral

This October, the ghosts of the Old Episcopal Burying Ground will rise for one very special evening. On October 18, LexHistory will present “Dinner with the Dead” a unique living history event in Downtown Lexington. Featuring interpreters telling the stories of real individuals buried in the cemetery, music, food, and family activities, this annual event will become a Halloween tradition in Lexington. Originally sponsored by the Fayette County Cemetery Trust, a now inactive organization which works to preserve the history of Lexington’s burial grounds, Dinner with the Dead was last held in 2009. Continue reading

This Day in History – July 9

This Day in History – July 9

Zachary_Taylor_half_plate_daguerreotype_c1843-45On July 9, 1850, Zachary Taylor succumbed to illness following celebrations in Washington DC for Independence Day. The 12th president had enjoyed a fundraising event for the Washington Monument, which was under construction, and after having been served a dessert of cherries and iced milk, he became severely ill with what was thought to be cholera morbus, which was very different from the Asiatic cholera which killed hundreds in Lexington just two decades prior.

“Old Rough and Ready” moved to Louisville and lived at Springfield until entering into the United States army, joining prior to the War of 1812. During his tenure, Taylor successfully defended Fort Harrison in Indiana Territory from an Indian attack commanded by the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. He went on to command troops in the Seminole Wars in Florida.

Taylor became a hero during the Mexican-American War, inflicting heavy casualties in many battles, including the Battle of Monterrey, a city which had been deemed “impregnable”, but was captured in three days, forcing Mexican forces to retreat. Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna attacked Taylor with 20,000 men at the Battle of Buena Vista in February 1847, leaving around 700 Americans dead or wounded at a cost of over 1,500 Mexican.

Taylor ran as a Whig and was elected in 1848. His brief presidency was fraught with conflict regarding statehood and foreign affairs. Henry Clay took a central role in Congress, announcing the Compromise of 1850. The proposal allowed statehood for California, giving it independence on the slavery question, while the other territories would remain under federal jurisdiction. This would include the disputed parts of New Mexico, although Texas would be reimbursed for the territory. Slavery would be retained in the District of Columbia, but the slave trade would be banned.

Taylor died after only sixteen months in office. He was buried in the Taylor family burial plots, which became the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville.


A New Era for LexHistory

courthousebluesky.jpgWhen the Lexington History Museum opened in 2004, the mission was to educate life-long residents and newcomers to the Bluegrass Region on the rich history of the area. Over the course of the last decade, the Lexington History Museum has experienced a great deal of change. As troubled and uncertain as some times have seemed, we are extremely happy to be entering into a new era of LexHistory, with new beginnings and a direct focus on education and outreach. You’ll notice that we’re now referring to ourselves as LexHistory. This name change is part of our effort to include all of our functions, not just that of a museum.
Debra Watkins

Director Debra Watkins at the Arbor Day celebration at the Arboretum.


Our organization is currently without a permanent facility. Though we have been graciously been allowed to house our office in Victorian Square, aside from Pocket Museums, there is no permanent structure in which our exhibits are housed. We’re certainly in a unique situation and one that we hope that we do not have to continue in for a great deal of time. LexHistory’s director, Debra Watkins, is truly a wonder woman. As the only paid staff for LexHistory, she is responsible for educational programming and outreach, coordinating  meetings with city government, volunteer orientation, and research. Assisting her is volunteer Natasha Collier, Manager of Development and Community Engagement. She reaches out into the Lexington community to discuss partnerships and fundraising opportunities with local businesses and individuals. As manager of our social media efforts, she analyzes latest trends in order to implement best practices. Through a dedicated team of volunteers, including our Board of Directors, LexHistory is currently able to maintain basic organizational functions. Unfortunately, there is a diminished capacity for us to move forward with many plans due to very little funding at present.


Though the organization has cut back many functions of a traditional museum, we are confident that until which time we are in a permanent building again, we will be able to fulfill our goals and our mission. In 2013, we served nearly 10,000 through community outreach and also unveiled our Pocket Museum program. In January of this year, we opened an updated version of In Black and White at the Lyric Theater. We hope to forge a partnership with the Lyric and other community organizations that will be mutually beneficial. We have also launched WikiLex, an online collaborative encyclopedia of Lexington history. Users can upload their own stories of Lexington’s history to contribute.
We’re very excited for what is to come in the remainder of 2014 and moving forward into 2015. There are plans for fundraising opportunities, but LexHistory is always accepting donations both monetary and in-kind. We also hope to expand our Pocket Museum program into more sites around the downtown area and are even working on exhibits as far out as 2017. This is a time of change and growth for LexHistory and we hope that you will want to join us on this journey.


For more information about our organization, visit our website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter. If you are interested in volunteering with us, please email Director Debra Watkins at To discuss community partnerships and donations, email Natasha Collier, Manager of Development and Community Engagement at