Chautauqua Characters

Twenty-six great historical dramas for 2014-15   

Since its inception in 1992, Kentucky Chautauqua has brought to life nearly 70 people from Kentucky's past - both famous and unknown.

Kentucky Chautauqua performers travel to schools and community organizations throughout the state delivering historically accurate dramatizations of Kentuckians who made valuable contributions. 

The current Kentucky Chautauqua cast includes 26 figures from Kentucky's rich and colorful history.  From John G. Fee's fight to abolish slavery and Mary Todd Lincoln's life as America's First Lady, to Alice Lloyd's struggle to bring education to Appalachia and the humorous stories of Harland "Colonel" Sanders, Kentucky Chautauqua offers something for every classroom and community group.

Beginning 4/28/15 there are no more reduced cost Chautauqua Programs available until August 1, 2015.  If you would like to book one of our Chautauqua performers before August 1, 2015, it will be a full-cost program. The full cost booking fee is $450.  


  Click here to download current Whole Humanities Catalog.

Please read the guidelines below very carefully!
  • Thanks to our generous underwriters and supporters, the Kentucky Humanities Council will again offer reduced-cost Chautauqua performances in 2014-15.
  • These reduced-cost Chautauqua performances will again be available to Kentucky schools. Please see below for details.
  • A non-profit community sponsor can purchase reduced-cost Kentucky Chautauqua programs for $200 each.
  • Chautauqua is intended for audiences of 40 or more. Please do not schedule for smaller groups.
  • For-profit organizations wishing to book Kentucky Chautauqua performances may purchase them at full cost—$450 per program. Admission may be charged to performances purchased at full price.
  • Kentucky Chautauqua performances are scheduled through the booking process using the forms in the catalog or online.
  • Please remember to contact the performer and confirm arrangements for programs before submitting your request to us. If you don’t, your program will not take place as you planned.
  • For questions about Kentucky Chautauqua programs, please contact Cathy Ferguson, Speakers Bureau/Chautauqua Coordinator, at 859/257-5932 or catherine.ferguson@uky.edu
For information on How to Book Kentucky Chautauqua Performances, click here.

For information on How to Become a Kentucky Chautauqua Performer, click here.  Please note that we audition for new Chautauquans every other year.  The next call will be issued in March 2016.  The call for new applications is mailed to everyone on our mail list.  If you would like to receive the call for applications, please send us your mailing address and we will make certain you receive it.

For information on School Programs, click here.

Below you will see brief bios of some of our Chautauqua characters.

Chautauqua Characters



Kevin Hardesty
Kevin Hardesty
Lexington, KY

Work Phone: 859-608-8331 (cell)
Email: booneactor@gmail.com

Daniel Boone

The First Kentuckian

1734-1820


Script by Bo List


Daniel Boone is the quintessential Kentuckian, having blazed the trails that would become the map of Kentucky through courage, a love of the newfound beauty and abundance of the region, and his cunning facility with the land and its native peoples.


Born November 2, 1734, to Pennsylvania Quakers, Boone quickly demonstrated a preference for the outdoors – rather than the schoolhouse – and established himself as an accomplished hunter and explorer at a young age. In 1767, Boone first visited Kentucky on a hunting trip with his brother, Squire. They found this new territory as beautiful as it was dangerous, as it was hotly contested by both native populations and the ever-advancing British colonists.


Throughout his life, Boone was an intrepid adventurer and natural leader whose exploits amply justify his larger-than-life reputation. In 1784, on Boone’s 50th birthday, author John Filson published The Discovery, Settlement And present State of Kentucke. This influential book chronicled in detail the adventures of Boone and his family and established Boone not only as an important settler and explorer of Kentucky and the west, but as an American legend.




Betsy Smith
Betsy B. Smith
Cynthiana, KY

Work Phone: 859-588-4019 (cell)
Home Phone: 859-235-0225
Email: edwardbetsy@bellsouth.net

Jemima Boone

Life on the Frontier
1762—1834

Jemima Boone, the fourth child of Daniel and Rebecca Bryan Boone, was born in North Carolina, on October 4, 1762. Destined to live a life beyond the boarders of civilization, she helped pioneer two American frontiers: Kentucky and Missouri.

Typical of pioneers in the era, Boone endured heartbreak and suffering almost unimaginable to modern Americans, One of the most well-knownstories to come out of Kentucky's pioneer past involved 14-year-old Jemima. In July 1776, Boone (along with Betsy and Fanny Callaway) was kidnapped by a group of Indians when their canoe mistakenly drifted across the Kentucky River. Her father led a search party that caught up with the Indians and rescued the girls after three days in captivity. Curiously, Boone never spoke unkindly of her captors, seeming to share her father's more respectful, open attitude toward Native Americans despite all the Boones endured.

In 1777, Boone married Flanders Calloway, a union that lasted nearly 50 years. Together with the other settlers at Boonesborough, they endured times of terrible suffering, facing starvation, cold, and the ever-present fear of attack. Boone survived the uncertain years of Kentucky's early settlement only to join the westward migration to Missouri.



Kelly Brengelman
Kelly Brengelman
Midway, KY

Work Phone: 859-806-6592 (cell)
Home Phone: 859-846-9177
Email: kellybrengelman@windstream.net

Madeline McDowell Breckinridge

“Votes for Women!”

1872-1920


Madeline McDowell Breckinridge — or Madge as she preferred to be called — was both a state and national leader in the woman’s suffrage movement, and was highly instrumental getting Kentucky to ratify the 19th amendment, granting American women the right to vote.


While her biggest triumph was the women’s suffrage movement, Breckinridge wasn’t only a suffragist; she was a progressive reformer as well. She worked tirelessly to advance the living conditions of the poor, establish programs for education, change the outlook for child welfare and juvenile rehabilitation, and to promote the need for tuberculosis research (a condition she suffered from — she lost her foot to amputation as a young lady). Unafraid and non-apologetically, Breckinridge used every opportunity to reach anyone who would listen, even using her husband’s newspaper to advance her causes.

Her life was filled with joys and triumphs of setting goals and seeing them come to fruition; of blue periods in which her health dragged her down, and her private married life was the subject of circle gossip. Breckinridge passed away at the age of 48 on Thanksgiving day, 1920. She was able to vote in one U.S. Presidential election.




Greg Breeding Martin Harley
Greg Breeding and Martin Harley
Lawrenceburg, KY

Work Phone: 502-600-2353 (Breeding cell)
Home Phone: 502-829-0297 (Harley home)
Email: gbreeding@roadrunner.com; martin harley@roadrunner.com

The Carlisle Brothers

Country Music Duo
1908-2003 (Bill) and 1904-1983 (Clifford)

One of the pioneers of early country music, Clifford Carlisle teamed with his younger brother, Bill, to form the Carlisle Brothers in the 1930s. the duo performed on Louisville radio in the 1930s, in an early manifestation of the barn-dance format. In 1938, they signed with Decca Records and during a stint on a Knoxville radio station they became the stars of two barn-dance programs. After World war II, the Carlisle Brohters signed with the King label, based in Cincinnati. There they had a huge hit, "rainbow at Midnight," in 1946.

Enjoying both group and individual success, Clifford had written more than 300 songs by the time he retired. Younger brother Bill was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1953.

Born in Wakefield, Kentucky, Clifford and Bill Carlisle ere among the pioneers of country music. Their songwriting, recordings, and instrumental abilities became a part of country music history. They remain a cherished link between old-time country music and today's modern sounds.



Mel Hankla
Mel Hankla
Hitchins, KY

Work Phone: (270) 566-3370 (cell)
Email: melhankla@amhiss.com

George Rogers Clark

Revolutionary War Hero
1752-1818

George Rogers Clark, a tall, talented Virginian, came to Kentucky as a surveyor, but it was as a military leader during the Revolutionary War that he made his mark. In 1777 Clark won approval from Virginia governor Patrick Henry (Kentucky was then a Virginia county) for a secret mission to attack British posts north of the Ohio River. Clark’s party — 175 soldiers and a small band of settlers — set up camp on Corn Island near the falls of the Ohio River in May, 1778. The next month Clark launched a brilliant campaign into present-day Illinois and Indiana, defeating the British and their Indian allies and securing the Northwest Territory for the young United States.

Meanwhile, the settlers Clark had brought along moved from Corn Island to the Kentucky shore, founding the city of Louisville in late 1778. His war exploits marked the peak of Clark’s career. Plagued by debts, drinking and poor health, he spent his later years living in Louisville. Overshadowed by his brother William, of Lewis and Clark fame, he never got the credit he thought he had earned.



George McGee
George McGee
Georgetown, KY

Work Phone: (502) 863-8162
Email: george_mcgee@georgetowncollege.edu

Henry Clay

Kentucky's Great Statesman
1777—1852

Available only in Regions 3, 4, 5, 6.

Above all, Henry Clay wanted to be president of the United States. Despite never quite making it—he ran and lost three times between 1824 and 1844—Clay played a large role in the history of his country, which he served as a senator, speaker of the house, and secretary of state.

Born and educated in Virginia, Clay moved to Kentucky and set up a law practice in Lexington in 1797. Elected to the state legislature in 1803, he took a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1810. For more than 40 years he was a major player on the national political scene, renowned for his oratory and devotion to the Union. Slavery posed a great political and personal quandary for Clay. A slaveholder himself, he advocated gradual emancipation and colonization in Africa. He opposed extension of slavery into the new western states, but argued Congress had no right to interfere with slavery where it already existed. Attacking abolitionists in 1839, he said he would "rather be right than president." The speech cost him the 1840 Whig presidential nomination.



Bet Stewart
Bet Stewart
Cincinnati, OH

Home Phone: (513) 542-2231 (cell)
Email: bet@intuitiontheatre.com

Rosemary Clooney

Sentimental Journey
1928—2002

*This program is targeted at high school audiences and older.

What makes Rosemary Clooney's life so fascinating, so charmed and charged with intrigue and great challenge? First and foremost, it is the sheer power of her talent, her girl-next-door appeal, her love of music, art and drama, and her love for her home state of Kentucky. But behind this small-town-girl-rises-to-fame story is also one of extraordinary perseverance and dedication, one that teaches that it is possible to overcome the worst to become the best.

Rosemary was born in Maysville in 1928 and became an internationally known singer of pop, big band and jazz music. She recorded with big-name labels and some of the greatest musicians of her time—Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, Nelson Riddle, and Frank Sinatra. However, through her rise to fame she encountered many obstacles—having a constantly traveling mother and alcoholic father, raising five children through the turmoil of a failed marriage, witnessing the assassination of friend and presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy, and eventually suffering from drug-induced psychosis. Yet, she always rebounded with resilience, just as her mother told her she would. "You're the oldest, Rosie. You'll manage," her mother would say. Before her death in 2002, Clooney resurrected her singing career, married the love of her life and continued to keep her family and her love of Kentucky as her top priorities.



David Hurt
David Hurt
Frankfort, KY

Home Phone: (502) 330-6961
Email: elkhorndavid@hotmail.com

Lilley Cornett

A Voice for the Forest
1888—1958

In 1918 Lilley Cornett and many other mountain boys were drafted and sent to training camps in the East in preparation to ship out to the frontlines in France. Cornett suffered an injury during basic training and never left the country. After spending a year in wartime hospitals in Baltimore, he was discharged from the Army and returned to Letcher County with a small pension and discharge payment.

But in his absence, Letcher County had been transformed. The coal mines were booming and Cornett went to work shoveling coal, living in a rooming house for unmarried men, and saving his wages to purchase land around Line Fork, his birthplace.

Local timber buyers became interested in Cornett's land. His 500 acres were lush with white oak, poplar, and hemlock, many as large as six-feet in diameter. A conservationist before his time, Cornett refused to sell his valuable forest property to developers seeking to get rich from the timber.

When he died in 1958, Lilley Cornett owned the entire tract of land known today as the Lilley Cornett Woods. His estate sold the 500 acres to the State of Kentucky and it is now managed for education and research by Eastern Kentucky University. Bought on a miner's wage in 1920s and 1930s, the Lilley Cornett Woods is the only place in Kentucky that looks as it did before the 18th European invasion.



Kevin Hardesty
Kevin Hardesty
Lexington, KY

Work Phone: 859-608-8331 (cell)
Email: booneactor@gmail.com

Jefferson Davis

On Dark and Bloody Ground
1808—1889

Script by Bo List

Born near modern-day Fairview, Kentucky, on June 3, 1808, Jefferson Davis moved with his family to Louisiana and Mississippi before returning to Kentucky to attend Transylvania University. If Davis had not joined the secession movement and served as President of the Confederate States of America, he likely would be remembered as one of Kentucky’s most respected and distinguished native statesmen instead of one of our nation’s most controversial renegades. Davis served the United States with distinction in two wars, and in both chambers of Congress representing Mississippi. As Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce, he supported or promoted a number of improvements and innovations that increased the capability of the United States Army and the government’s infrastructure, including preparations for the proposed Transcontinental Railroad, the purchase of southern Arizona from Mexico, an expansion of the Capitol building and the building of the Washington Aqueduct.

For all of his contribution to the confidence and character of the United States, it was Davis’s role in the creation of the Confederacy, a nation of defectors, that enshrines his legacy not as a man who loved his country, but as a man who left it.

Following the performance, the audience will have the opportunity to discuss the controversial emotional and political issues raised in the performance, and their relevance to today.




Elizabeth Lawson
Elizabeth Lawson
Lexington, KY

Work Phone: 859-457-5717
Email: elizabeth.lawson83@yahoo.com

Charlotte Dupuy

Suing for Freedom
1787—d. after 1866


The daughter of George and Rachel Stanley, Charlotte Dupuy was born in Cambridge, Maryland, in 1787. Her parents were owned and enslaved by Daniel Parker. Eight short years later, Dupuy was sold to James Condon for $100 and was forced to leave her family.


As the only slave owned by the Condon family, Charlotte was forced to grow up quickly. Tasked with the household chores as well as caring for the Condon children, Charlotte worked tirelessly.


In 1805, at the age of 18, Charlotte was brought to Kentucky by Mr. Condon and she was registered as his slave. While in Kentucky she met Aaron Dupuy, who was enslaved by Henry Clay and his wife, Lucretia. Charlotte and Aaron were married in 1806 and Charlotte was sold to the Clay family. Charlotte spent life with the Clay family carrying out household chores and caring for the Clay’s 10 children, as well as raising her own two.


In 1825, the Clay family moved to Washington, D.C. as Henry Clay served as Secretary of State. Charlotte found a lawyer who filed papers for her and her children, suing for their freedom. Her petition was denied and Charlotte was jailed for refusing to return to Kentucky with the Clays. She was later emancipated by Henry Clay in 1840.




Obadiah Ewing-Roush
Obadiah Ewing-Roush
Madison, TN

Work Phone: (615) 545-4431 (cell)
Email: obadiah.er@gmail.com

John G. Fee

Abolition...Amen!
1816—1901

As the son of a slave-holding father, John Gregg Fee witnessed firsthand the benefits of having slaves and the profits that could be made from their labor. When he graduated from college and enrolled in Lane Theological Seminary, Fee began to understand the inherent wrong and destructiveness of slavery. He was determined to become an abolitionist and work for the immediate end to slavery. Feeling betrayed, his father took him out of school and forced John to return home. Rather than staying in the relative safety of the North and writing anti-slavery pamphlets, Fee committed his life and work to ending slavery and discrimination at home in Kentucky.

Fee’s anti-slavery efforts garnered the attention of Cassius Clay, a prominent politician and outspoken emancipationist from Kentucky. Although the two agreed that slavery in the Commonwealth should end, their relationship became hostile when they couldn’t agree on how to go about it.

Fee’s dedication and passion for the abolishment of slavery gave him the strength to persevere through the wrath and disappointment of his father, financial hardship, and threats to his safety. His work led to the founding of Union Church of Christ, an anti-slavery, non-denominational church, which planted the seeds for what would become Berea College.



Harry Smith
Harry Smith
Cynthiana, KY

Work Phone: (859) 492-1451 (cell)
Email: ehsmith95@gmail.com

Private William Greathouse

Proud Kentucky Militiaman
1794—1876

When Kentucky Governor Isaac Shelby was tasked with raising troops for a war with the British and the Indians, Kentuckians responded with fervor. William Greathouse was one of more than 3,500 Kentuckians who answered Shelby’s call to arms in 1813. Just a teenager, Greathouse joined the troops because he strongly opposed the British occupation and the Indian Confederacy led by Chief Tecumseh. Greathouse mustered in on August 24, 1813 in Nelson County, joining Colonel Renick’s 5th Kentucky Regiment.

Greathouse took part in the Thames Campaign, marching into Canada to drive out the British forces who were assisted by Chief Tecumseh. He took part in the Battle of the Thames, considered the turning point of the war. In a battle that lasted less than an hour, the American troops, the majority of whom were from Kentucky, destroyed the Indian Confederacy and drove the British occupants out of Upper Canada.

With great humor and pride in his home state of Kentucky, Private Greathouse’s story not only tells of his personal contributions to American history, but also explains Kentucky’s vital role in America’s “Second War for Independence.”



Ethan Smith
Ethan Sullivan Smith
Georgetown, KY

Work Phone: (859) 537-9558 (cell)
Home Phone: (859) 235-0225 (home)
Email: esmith1841@gmail.com

Johnny Green

An Orphan's Survival
1841—1920

Johnny Green was 19 when the Civil War broke out. He was one of the few soldiers in the Orphan Brigade alive when it ended. Orphan Brigade soldiers were unable to return to their home state of Kentucky until the war was over — lest they be tried for treason — because they chose to fight for the Confederacy. Though he had learned to love the Union, as his mother was from Boston, Massachusetts, Green felt passionately that states should have the right to govern themselves. And when President Abraham Lincoln called for men and arms, Green left his job in Florence, Ala., to travel to Bowling Green, Ky., to join the Confederacy on the day before his 20th birthday. Green’s story, as detailed in a journal he wrote for his daughters years later, provides extraordinary accounts of courage and bravery, and brings the story of the Orphan Brigade to life.



Dr. Edward Smith
Dr. Edward B. Smith
Cynthiana, KY

Work Phone: (859) 492-9163 (cell)
Home Phone: (859) 235-0225 (home)
Email: ed_smith@georgetowncollege.edu

Justice John Marshall Harlan

The Great Dissenter
1833—1911

During his 33-year tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice John Marshall Harlan dissented in some of the court's most important civil rights cases, earning him the title of "The Great Dissenter."

In one of the most famous dissents in U.S. Supreme Court history, Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld the constitutionality of segregation, Harlan wrote: "Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows or tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law."

His words were an inspiration during the Civil Rights Movement to Thurgood Marshall, NAACP chief counsel who would later be appointed to the Supreme Court. Marshall cited the dissent as he argued to end segregation in the 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education.

Though Harlan was born in Boyle County to a prominent slaveholding family, and was once a slaveholder himself, he fought for the Union during the Civil War after graduating from Centre College and earning his law degree at Transylvania. As he became involved in Kentucky politics—being elected as county judge of Franklin County and Kentucky attorney general, and running two unsuccessful campaigns for governor in the early 19702—his political leanings shifted, and he became a major force in the Republican Party.

He was often chastised for contradicting himself politically, but Harlan always maintained that the law afforded him the right to change his mind—and his support for equal rights after the Civil War never waned.




Betsy Smith
Betsy B. Smith
Cynthiana, KY

Work Phone: (859) 588-4019 (cell)
Home Phone: (859) 235-0225 (home)
Email: edwardbetsy@bellsouth.net

Emilie Todd Helm

Rebel in the White House
1836—1930

As the sister of Mary Todd Lincoln and the wife of Confederate Gen. Benjamin Hardin Helm, Emilie Todd Helm had a front row view of history during and after the Civil War. She and her husband knew the Lincolns very well. Benjamin Helm turned down a personal offer from Lincoln to become paymaster of the Union Army with the rank of major, choosing instead to join the Confederacy and become the president’s “rebel brother-in-law.” After Helm was killed at Chickamauga, President and Mrs. Lincoln invited Emilie to come to the White House. As a southern loyalist and widow of the commander of the famous Orphan Brigade, her presence in the White House aroused protests. Lincoln defended his right to have anyone he chose as his guest, but Helm soon departed for Kentucky, where she lived out her long life.

She weathered the ordeals of the war and reconstruction and landed in Elizabethtown. Three consecutive presidents appointed her postmistress. Helm attended many Confederate reunions, where she was hailed as the mother of the Orphan Brigade.



Robert Brock
Robert Brock
Glasgow, KY

Work Phone: (270) 590-4803 (cell)
Email: brockr@lindsey.edu

Billy Herndon

One Man's Lincoln
1818—1891

*This program is targeted at high school audiences and older.

Friends and law partners for 18 years, Billy Herndon felt he knew Abraham Lincoln better than Abraham Lincoln knew himself. That's why he was confident his biography of Lincoln would tell a story that was honest and true to Lincoln's character. In 1861, as he was leaving to be inaugurated president, Lincoln told Herndon to keep his name on the shingle outside their office because he intended to return someday. But he would not.

After Lincoln's assassination, Herndon dedicated his life to collecting materials for a definitive biography of the 16th president. When it was published 24 years later, Herndon's critics labeled him as an angry, contemptuous alcoholic who painted a negative portrait of Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd. In Herndon's eyes, however, he presented Lincoln unvarnished, a great man in all his humanity, neither saint nor villain. Is Herndon's story the true story of Abraham Lincoln? You be the judge.

A native of Kentucky's Green County, Herndon presents an intimate portrait of Lincoln's political awakening and the development of his views on slavery in the years up to and through the Civil War.



Ethan Smith
Ethan Sullivan Smith
Georgetown, KY

Work Phone: (859) 537-9558 (cell)
Home Phone: (859) 235-0225 (home)
Email: esmith1841@gmail.com

Price Hollowell

Black Patch War Hero
1895—1975

When the Night Riders attacked the Hollowell farm in Caldwell County on the night of May 2, 1907, one of them boasted, "We Night Riders fear no judge or jury!" Young Price Hollowell, who saw everything they did, made them eat those words in one of the most remarkable episodes of the Black Patch War, a western Kentucky conflict that featured mayhem and murder not seen in those parts since the Civil War.

Low tobacco prices caused the Black Patch War, named after the dark leaf grown in west Kentucky and Tennessee. The American Tobacco Company was paying less for dark tobacco than it cost farmers to grow it. The farmers fought back by forming the Planters' Protective Association, whose members withheld their tobacco from the market. When this strategy did not produce higher prices, some members—the Night Riders—resorted to violence against farmers, like the Hollowells, who refused to honor the boycott. The Night Riders ran the Hollowells out of the state, but they returned, filed a federal lawsuit, and, thanks in large part to Price's testimony, won damages of $35,000.



Anne Shelby
Anne Shelby
Oneida, KY

Work Phone: 606-847-4792
Email: annegshelby@gmail.com

Aunt Molly Jackson

Pistol Packin' Woman
1880—1960

Born in Clay County in 1880, Aunt Molly Jackson (Mary Magdalene Garland) spent most of her life in the coal camps on southeastern Kentucky, serving both as a midwife and union organizer, as well as the daughter, sister and wife of coal miners. Through it all, Aunt Molly wrote songs — "Hard Times in Coleman's Mines," "I Am a Union Woman," "Poor Miner's Farewell," as well as many others.

BIn late 1931, when Theodore Dreiser and his committee of writers visited Bell and Harlan counties to gather information on the conditions in the coalfields, she sang her song "Hungry Ragged Blues" for them. Impressed with hr eloquence and knowledge of the lives of miners and their families, Dreiser arranged for Aunt Molly to come to New York to help raise funds for striking miners. She spent much of the 1930s performing in New York and around the country as part of a group of political singer-songwritrs that included Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Josh white Sr., Charles Seeger and his young son Pete. The coal miner's wife from Kentucky became well known among New York City newspaper reporters, folklorists, musicologists, radicals and intellectuals. Just as quickly, however, her fame subsided. She died in Sacramento, California, in 1960, and is buried there in an unmarked grave.



David Hurt
David Hurt
Frankfort, KY

Home Phone: (502) 330-6961
Email: elkhorndavid@hotmail.com

Grandpa Jones

Country Musician and Comic
1913—1998

Louis Marshall Jones, better known as Grandpa, was the son of Henderson County sharecroppers. Hard times drove the family north to Akron, Ohio in the late 1920s. Jones, who had a repertoire of songs learned from his parents and the radio, won a talent contest that led to regular work on an Akron radio station. That launched a career that lasted more than sixty years. It was during tours with country music star (and fellow Kentuckian) Bradley Kincaid in the 1930s that Jones developed the Grandpa persona he used the rest of his life.

Jones wrote many of his most popular songs. Like many old-time musicians, he struggled during the rock-and-roll craze of the 1950s—he toured Canada and tried his hand at early television. Beginning in 1969, television brought Jones fame as a member of the original cast of "Hee Haw," which showcased his skills as a vaudeville comic. Grandpa Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1978. He never retired, suffering a fatal stroke after a performance at the Grand Ole Opry in 1998.



Mel Hankla
Mel Hankla
Hitchins, KY

Work Phone: (270) 566-3370 (cell)
Email: melhankla@amhiss.com

Simon Kenton

Frontiersman
1755—1836

Thinking he had killed a boy in a fight over a girl, Simon Kenton fled west from Virginia at age 16. He was wrong — he had only knocked his rival unconscious — but the incident launched him on a life of high adventure. By the time he was 20, Kenton had fetched up on the Kentucky shore of the Ohio River in what is now Mason County. He proceeded to carve out a remarkable career as an explorer and frontiersman. A self-appointed welcomer-in-chief, he personally greeted early settlers as they arrived in what was then the far west. Kenton became a wealthy man, but lost his land. Unable to read or write, he spent his final years in poverty in Ohio.

His Life and Period: A crippled up old Simon reminisces, telling his life’s story. Respected for his knowledge of the land and competence as a woodsman by pioneers and Indians alike, Kenton was a key figure in opening up and keeping the frontier safer for all of north and central Kentucky.

Kentucky Scout: The Indians knew Kenton as “the man whose gun is never empty” for his skill of running and reloading his faithful flintlock at the same time. He risked his life to save many future Kentuckians, not the least of whom was his lifelong friend Daniel Boone.



Sandy Harmon
Sandy Harmon
Henderson, KY

Home Phone: (270) 827-2983
Email: honeytours@twc.com

Lily May Ledford

Coon Creek Girl
1917—1985

When Lily May Ledford was a young girl growing up in a musical family in eastern Kentucky's Red River Gorge, she wanted a fiddle so badly that she traded her most precious possession—a box of crayons—for a broken-down instrument that didn't have strings, tuning pegs or a bow. She eventually became better known for banjo picking than fiddling, but that old fiddle helped launch a career that brought Lily May and her Kentucky mountain music to a national audience.

In 1936, Ledford went to Chicago to perform on WLS Radio's National Barn Dance. The next year her manager, John Lair, assembled a string band featuring Ledford's distinctive banjo style. Called the Coon Creek Girls, it was the first all-female string band. In 1939, the group began an eighteen-year run on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance radio show. That same year they played at the White House for President and Mrs. Roosevelt and their guests, the King and Queen of England. The king tapped his toe in spite of himself. The Coon Creek Girls disbanded in 1957.



Jim Sayre
Jim Sayre
Lawrenceburg, KY

Home Phone: (502) 839-7191
Email: lincolna@dcr.net

Abraham Lincoln

"I, too, am a Kentuckian."
1809—1865

Limited number of programs available.

Available only in Regions 3, 4, 5, 6.

Refer to Speakers Bureau regional map.


Born on a farm in what is now Larue County, Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln spent his early years in the Commonwealth. His family moved to Indiana when he was seven, partly because of his father’s opposition to slavery, and never returned. But as his native brilliance and burning political ambition carried him to the presidency and greatness—a panel of historians recently chose him as the most influential American who ever lived—Lincoln always had connections with his native state.

In his law office in Springfield, Illinois, he had a law partner from Green County, Kentucky—William Herndon, who later wrote a biography of Lincoln. His best friend in Springfield was Joshua Speed, a son of Louisville’s prominent Speed family; and in Springfield he found a wife from Kentucky—Mary Todd, the daughter of a well-known Lexington family. Lincoln visited Kentucky to see the Speeds and his in-laws, and took the great Kentucky statesman Henry Clay as his political hero. During the Civil War Lincoln was very unpopular in Kentucky, but when he said, “I too am a Kentuckian,” no one could dispute it.



Trish Clark
Trish Clark
Lexington, KY

Home Phone: (859) 806-7429
Email: trishcclark@hotmail.com

Mary Todd Lincoln

A House Divided
1818—1882

Script by Bo List

* This program is targeted at high school audiences and older.

Mary Todd Lincoln lived a life of tremendous achievement and great tragedy. Born in Lexington in 1818, she was uncommonly educated and politically-minded. She followed her older sisters to Springfield, Illinois, and in November 1842 she married lawyer and state legislator Abraham Lincoln.

Mary had high ambitions for her husband's political career, in which she was both influential and instrumental. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846, and then to the Presidency in 1861. Mary's years in the White House were some of the most tumultuous; while her husband worked to unite a nation divided by the Civil War, Mary controversially spent her time renovating the run-down presidential residence into a stately and symbolic mansion-cementing her reputation among both admirers and critics as a force to be reckoned with.

While politically triumphant, the Lincolns' personal lives were filled with tragedy. Three of their four sons died before reaching adulthood, and a number of Mary's siblings and relatives died in the war. And, of course, at the war's end, President Lincoln was assassinated. In 1871, the last remaining Lincoln son, Robert, committed his mother to a private asylum for the insane.

You, the audience, get to decide if she belonged there.



Jacqueline Hamilton
Jacqueline Hamilton
Winchester, KY

Home Phone: (859) 935-5153
Email: aliceontheroad1955@gmail.com

Alice Lloyd

Stay on, Stranger
1876—1962

Born in Athol, Massachusetts in 1876, Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd was afforded the luxury of being educated at Chauncey Hall and Radcliffe College. Once she completed her schooling, Alice worked as a journalist in New England, which exposed her to people suffering because they lacked education, proper housing, and medical care. These experiences developed within her a passion for social reform.

At the age of 39, health problems forced her to find a home in a milder climate. In 1915, Alice packed up her printing equipment and left her New England home for the mountains of Kentucky.

Despite the difficulties Alice faced connecting with and gaining acceptance of the eastern Kentucky mountain people, she remained in the area because she believed in the good that one person can do for others.

With the help of her friend and co-worker June Buchanan, Alice established Caney Junior College in 1923. The college sought to provide a liberal arts education while teaching students to think critically and understand complex philosophical issues.

Alice had great passion for her students and desperately wanted to provide them with a free education. To accomplish that goal, she worked without salary and was forced to seek outside financial assistance.

Despite suffering from partial paralysis on her right side, Alice successfully directed the college for almost 40 years. Upon her death in 1962, the school was renamed Alice Lloyd College.



L. Henry Dowell
L. Henry Dowell
329 Biloxi Drive
Nicholasville, KY 40356

Home Phone: (859) 553-2059 (cell)
Email: lhenryd@yahoo.com

Dr. Ephraim McDowell

Frontier Surgeon
1771—1830

On Christmas Day 1809, a thousand miles away from the nearest hospital and thirty-five years before the discovery of anesthesia, Dr. Ephraim McDowell removed a 22-pound ovarian tumor from the abdomen of a 46-year-old woman. It was the world’s first ovariotomy, and it eventually brought McDowell worldwide acclaim as the Father of Abdominal Surgery. The patient, Jane Todd Crawford, had ridden three days on horseback to reach McDowell’s home in Danville, Kentucky, to have the operation. The medical authorities of the day were convinced that opening the abdomen meant certain death, so McDowell was far from sure that the surgery would succeed. He told Crawford he would proceed only if she “thought herself prepared to die.” She said she was ready, but they needn’t have worried. Mrs. Crawford came through with flying colors and in less than a month was on the way home to Green County.

She lived another 32 years. Dr. McDowell’s boldness had saved Crawford’s life and paved the way for surgeries that have since saved untold numbers of lives.



Duane Murner
Duane Murner
Prospect, KY

Work Phone: (502) 648-6284 (cell)
Home Phone: (502) 292-2701 (home)
Email: murner@aol.com

Caleb Powers

Who Shot Governor Goebel?
1869—1932

On January 30, 1900, Caleb Powers, recently elected Kentucky Secretary of State, found himself at the center of an assassination in Frankfort. The victim was William Goebel. President of the Kentucky Senate, who had just been defeated in the governor's race, but was contesting the results. The day after the shooting on the Capitol grounds, Goebel was sworn in as governor. Three days later Governor Goebel died.

Powers was one of three men tried and convicted for the murder of Governor William Goebel, Powers' political rival. Through a series of trials Powers was convicted of Goebel's murder three times. Each time, however, Kentucky's Appellate Court reversed the decision. His fourth trial resulted in a deadlocked jury.

After spending eight years in prison, Powers was pardoned by Kentucky Governor Augustus Willson. He went on to be elected to the United States Congress, and served four consecutive terms as a Kentucky representative. In 1918, he chose not to see a fifth term and, for the next 13 years he served as counsel to the U.S. Shipping Board in Washington, D.C.

The murder has never been solved.



Dick Usher
Dick Usher
Benton, KY

Work Phone: (270) 703-0467 (cell)
Home Phone: (270) 354-8058 (home)
Email: ushmd01@yahoo.com

Pee Wee Reese

Hall of Famer
1918—1991

Harold Henry Reese got his famous nickname Pee Wee from a marble he used when he was a boy. The name fit because he did turn out to be a man of modest stature, but by every measure you could apply to an athlete—teamwork, leadership, determination, winning, grace under pressure—Pee Wee Reese was a giant. Born in Meade County, Kentucky, Reese grew up in Louisville. At 19, he quit his job at the telephone company to play professional baseball for the Louisville Colonels. By 1940, he had reached the big leagues, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers at storied Ebbets Field. As captain, shortstop and lead-off man, he led the Dodgers to seven pennants and, in 1955, a World Series win over the New York Yankees. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 1984, his plaque there also records the powerful example he set when Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers in 1947 as the major leagues’ first black player. Reese’s acceptance and support of Robinson were instrumental in breaking down baseball’s color barrier.



Dr. Edward Smith
Dr. Edward B. Smith
Cynthiana, KY

Work Phone: (502) 863-8042 (work)
Home Phone: (859) 235-0225 (home)
Email: ed_smith@georgetowncollege.edu

Adolph Rupp

The Coach
1901—1977

During the 42 years he coached the University of Kentucky men's basketball team, Adolph Rupp raised the game to near-religious status in the Commonwealth. Basketball took its place next to horses, coal, and bourbon as Kentucky cultural icons. Rupp's teams won 880 games, four national championships, and one Olympic gold medal. There was a flip side to all this success—the team was suspended for the 1952-53 season after a point-shaving scandal, and Rupp was heavily criticized for taking too long to integrate the Kentucky basketball program.

Adolph Rupp grew up in Kansas, the son of immigrant farmers. He played three years of varsity basketball at the University of Kansas, but never scored a point. He began his coaching career in Kansas, but soon moved on to high schools in Iowa and Illinois. The University of Kentucky hired him in 1930. Rupp's genius for public relations and his team's winning ways combined to make Kentucky basketball a statewide phenomenon, a point of pride around which Kentuckians of all stripes still rally.



L. Henry Dowell
L. Henry Dowell
Nicholasville, KY

Home Phone: (859) 553-2059 (cell)
Email: lhenryd@yahoo.com

Harland "Colonel" Sanders

More than Fried Chicken
1890-1980

Although he is most well-known for the eleven herbs and spices that made Kentucky Fried Chicken famous world-wide, Harland "Colonel" Sanders' life was about much more than fried chicken. The man whose face became synonymous with "finger-lickin' good" chicken used hard work and perseverance-- not to mention a little luck along the way-- to become recognized as Kentucky's most famous citizen.

Armed with only a sixth-grade education, Sanders worked a number of jobs over the years -- an army mule tender, railroad worker, tire salesman, and farmhand.

In 1930, he moved to Corbin and opened a lunchroom behind a service station that had room for six people sitting at one table. His restaurant grew rapidly , and in a short time, he was operating Sanders' Cafe, which seated 142 patrons. His customers made fried chicken the most popular item on the menu. He might have worked in that cafe for the rest of his life if it weren't for the building of interstate 75, forcing him to sell his place at auction.

Sanders was now in his mid-sixties, an age when most people take the opportunity to retire. He decided to go out on the road, traveling the country showing restaurants how to make Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken. By 1963, there were more than 600 outlets selling his chicken.




Janet Scott
Janet Scott
Lexington, KY

Home Phone: (859) 825-8946
Email: janetscott1@aol.com

Mary Settles

Building the Beloved Community
1836-1923

When the first Shakers arrived in Kentucky, they believed it to be "as beautiful habitation as almost any to be found in the world" and built their village at Pleasant Hill on the western frontier, where they lived a privileged, communal life as educated artisans with their "hands to work and their hearts to God." The declared the New Millennium to be a time when "all tyrannical and oppressive governments shall be overthrown and destroyed, and mankind enjoy just and equal rights in all matters, civil and religious." The Shakers empowered women, freed slaves and served as an army of peacemakers during the Civil War.

Within months of her arrival at Pleasant Hill, Mary Settles worked together with her Shaker sisters and brothers to provide the 'simple gifts" of food and medical care to the armies of both North and South. The last Shaker to live at Pleasant Hill, Mary Settles served as an elders, deaconess and teacher of women, maintaining the highest educational standards for the public school at Pleasant Hill. The story of these revolutionary Kentuckians whose ardent beliefs were so far ahead of their time is affirming of our nation's courageous history of passive resistance in the fight for civil rights and offers a powerful vision of social justice for our shared future.



Robert Brock
Robert Brock
Glasgow, KY

Home Phone: (270) 590-4803 (cell)
Email: brockr@lindsey.edu

Mark Twain

American Icon
1835—1910

*This program is targeted at high school audiences and older.

Mark Twain, born Samuel Clemens, was a powerful observer of human nature. Born November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri, Twain penned several novels including two major classics of American literature, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was also a riverboat pilot, humorist, lecturer, journalist, publisher and inventor. His mother, Jane Lampton, was born in Adair County, Kentucky, where she met Clemens' father, who was clerking at a law office in Columbia, Kentucky. They married and lived two years in Columbia before moving to Tennessee and then on to Missouri.

Through his characters and stories, Twain single-handedly put American literature on the map. Ernest Hemingway was quoted as saying, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since." Mark Twain lived many lifetimes in one, traveled much and entertained multitudes with his particular sense of humor. But that humor was borne on the back of great sorrow and many personal tragedies. He was irreverent, irascible, and had a razor-sharp wit. He is an American icon.

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