Today we headed out of Cincinnati towards Maysville Kentucky. My dad grew up in Maysville along with his brother and adopted sister until he went to the University of Kentucky and then to the US Naval Academy and never really went back except to visit. Along our way we drove through Ripley Ohio, where my dad was born, and then over the Ohio River to Maysville.
Maysville, located along the banks of the Ohio River, might be the County Seat (Mason County) but it still only has maybe 9,000 residents and I’m sure it was even smaller when my dad was growing up. Along the banks of the River there is a 10 or 15 foot wall built to protect the downtown area from flooding – which it has been know to do over time.
On the edge of the outer Bluegrass Region, Maysville is historically important in Kentucky’s settlement. Frontiersmen Simon Kenton and Daniel Boone are among the city’s founders. Later, Maysville became an important port on the Ohio River for the northeastern part of the state. It exported bourbon, whiskey, hemp and tobacco, the latter two produced mainly by African American salves before the Civil War. It was once a center of wrought iron manufacture, sending ironwork down river to decorate the buildings of Cincinnati, and New Orleans.
Maysville was an important stop on the Underground Railroad, as the free state of Ohiowas just across the river. Abolitionist author Harriet Beecher Stowe visited the area in 1833 and watched a slave auction in front of the court house in Washington, the original seat of the county and now a historic district of Maysville. She included the scene in her influential novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852.
One of the most famous people from Maysville, at least in more modern times, is Rosemary Clooney – you know, George Clooney’s Aunt?
They hold a music festival founded by the singer at the local theatre and have the greats like Debby Boone, Rita Coolidge, Michael Feinstein, Roberta Flack, Alison Krauss, The Pointer Sisters, Michael Bolton and Linda Ronstadt have performed.
We stopped at Parc Café with a signpost
indicating the distance to Athens, Versailles, Paris and London all located along the river in Ohio and Kentucky! Fascinating world we live in.
After lunch we drove out to the ancestral home, Leewood.
My grandmother took Janeen and I to this place when we visited and mentioned that the balcony between the twin chimneys was a spot from which the owners fought off an attack from the Indians. The house and land was purchased in the late 1700 by General Henry Lee
and was held in the family for an extended time. On the hill behind the house is the family gravesites with a number of my ancestors are buried with their families.
Many of the graves are unreadable – but some are still very clear.
After visiting Leewood, we drove further along to Versailles , thoroughbred horse country ,to meet up with my cousin,
Bonnie, who I have never met! It was neat to meet my dad’s sister’s daughter and her husband Frank.