Welcome to the blog of the Henderson, Ky., Depot Community Room. The Community Room strives to promote a better understanding of Henderson, Ky., history and culture through special programs and exhibits. Our exhibit hall features the collections of the Henderson County Historical and Genealogical Society. The Community Room is funded by the City of Henderson, Ky., through the Henderson County Tourist Commission.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pioneer Christmas Celebration

The Depot Community Room has refurbished its conference room into an early American home at Christmastime. The display is on exhibit through the end of December.
While you're out running ragged and fighting traffic and crowds this holiday season, take a deep breathe and remember there was a simpler time in our nation's history. In fact, if you'll turn that car in the direction of the Depot Community Room, you can get a glimpse back into Christmases long ago with our new exhibit "An Early American Christmas" now open.

Also mark your calendar for December 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. That's when the Community Room will celebrate Christmas with a reading of " The Night Before Christmas".

This poem was believed to have been written on December 24, 1822 by Clement Moore, although he didn't publish it under his name until 1844. Henderson at the time was still part of what is often called the First Frontier. Settlers from North Carolina and Virginia were pushing their way west and into the Ohio River Valley, which was still for the most part a vast wilderness. Follow this link to read more about the history of the poem on the Library of Congress website!

Other activities for that day are TBA soon!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Join us on the final Historic Walking Tour of the Year

Join History Professor Susie Thurman on a guided walking tour highlighting historical sites and stories in downtown Henderson Saturday, Nov. 6. The tour leaves from the Depot at 101 N. Water St. on Henderson's riverfront at 10 a.m. The tour lasts approximately 1 hour and is free to the public. This will be our last walking tour of the year!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Central Park has a not-so-serene past

Our Spooks and Legends Tour is over, and there have been several calls for an encour tour from those who missed it. Sadly, they'll have to wait till next year, but we thought this Halloween week we would share a story or two from the highly anticipated walk!

Formerly known as Transylvania Park, Central Park is one of the oldest municipal parks west of the Allegheny Mountains. Today we associate Central Park with a place of leisure and remembrance, but this wasn't always the case.

In fact, in Henderson's earliest days the park was associated with justice and death.
When Charles Carr was convicted for the murder of Lemuel Cheaney in 1819, he sealed his fate in history as the first person to officially be executed in Henderson, on July 26, 1819. As was the custom at the time, a crowd gathered to watch Carr's hanging. After officials pronounced him dead, he was placed in a coffin and buried in Central Park.

The first and only woman to be legally executived in Henderson County also met her fate in Central Park in 1834. Hannah Hazelwood had been convicted for the murder of a Hicks child. The last legal execution to take place in Henderson County was that of Robert Charlton on Feb. 5, 1892. Later that year all prisoners condemned to death were sent to Eddyville Penitentiary.

In the 1940s, Central Park was also the site of murder. Two men were arguing on a Saturday afternoon in the park, apparantly over a girl. One of the men stabbed the other, who later died at the hospital. The murderer confessed to the crime and was sent to Eddyville Penitentiary.

Of course, the park now offers a serene and inviting location for leisurely strolls, child's play and honoring fallen heroes. It has been and will continue to be a deeply-rooted and important part of our city's heritage!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spooks and Legends Tour Countdown

Want to hear the tale of the nation's first serial killers, and their connection to Henderson, Ky.?
Then join us Saturday, October 16 for the Spooks and Legends of Old Henderson Walking Tour!
It has been so much fun gathering new stories for this year's event!
We don't want to give too much away, but will tell you that the stories include robberies and murders, medical oddities and tricks too gruesome to be made up!

We will have multiple tours leaving from the Depot, which is located on the Henderson riverfront at the intersection of First and Water Streets at 2 p.m. and again at 5 p.m. Because the stories contain adult content, parental guidance is suggested. Refreshments will be served prior to the tours. The event is FREE  and no pre-registration is required!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Taking Tobacco to Market

Photo Courtesy the Henderson County Historical and Genealogical Society

The Community Room staff and Henderson County Historical and Genealogical Society have been working together this month to bring you a new exhibit featuring photos and memorabilia from the olden days of Henderson. Some of the businesses featured in the exhibit include Mann Brothers, Coquillard (Henderson) Wagon Works and the Baskett Coal Company.  The above photo shows how downtown was transformed when it was time for area farmers to sell their tobacco.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Spooks and Legends of Old Henderson Walking Tour

Boy, does downtown Henderson have a rich haunted lore!
Our in-house ghost detective, Tamara, has been on the hunt for new legends and lore to add to this year's Spooks and Legends of Old Henderson Walking Tour, and she has found some great ones!

And though we'd love to share those stories with you now... well, you'll just have to wait till October 16!

On that afternoon join us as we weave these haunted tales with historical facts about Henderson, Ky., on a guided walking tour through the historic district! We might even have a few extra surprises in store!

There will also be free refreshments available before and after each tour. Tours are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on October 16, and best of all they're FREE. What a great way to celebrate the bewitching season with your older children. They'll be so entertained, they won't even realize they spent the afternoon learning about local history! Parental guidance is suggested, as some stories contain mild violence.

The tours leave from the Community Room, which is located at 101 N. Water St. in downtown Henderson, Ky.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

History of Henderson's Early Days, 1810 Census Available at Depot

The Henderson Historical and Genealogical Society put together a very nice book commemorating the town's bicentennial that is for sale at The Depot! The booklet documents Henderson's earliest days, including Richard Henderson's land purchase from the Cherokee Indians and some of the many "firsts" in our fair city! It's a great read and a great reminder of our roots!

The book is $5 and may be purchased at the historical society, the Depot Community Room and the Henderson visitor's center. Copies of the 1810 census are also available for purchase at the historical society, and a large reprint of the census is hanging on a wall in the Community Room. The historical society also has copies of 1799 Quarter Session Court Records, Early Census, 1792, 1799, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830 and 1840 available for sale.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Henderson Through the Decades Part I: Early Settlers

Photo courtesy the Henderson County Public Library

Note: To help celebrate the 200th anniversary of the City of Henderson's Incorporation, we will dedicate a series of blogs to profiling people, places and important time periods in the city's history.

Adam Rankin, Pioneer Doctor

The photo above shows us the home of Dr. Adam Rankin, who was one of Henderson's first physicians. Rankin was born in Pennsylvania, then later moved to Danville, Ky., before settling in Henderson around 1800. At that time, Henderson had fewer than 200 people living inside the city limits.

He was not only an esteemed physician -- having actually been trained in the field -- he was active in the planning and growth of Henderson as a town.  Dr. Rankin served on Henderson's first Circuit Court, and in 1802 was appointed commissioner along with Edmund Hopkins with the responsibility of having bridges constructed over several creeks in the county at important fords. Both men paid 90 dollars each to bridge Canoe Creek at the crossings on the Owensboro Road, Madisonville Road and Morganfield Road, according to Edmund Starling's "History of Henderson County, Ky." There were no spike nails at the time, so wooden pins were placed at each end of the bridge poles to hold them in place.

When John James Audubon arrived by boat in Henderson in 1810 a very ill man, Dr. Rankin took Audubon and his family into his home while he nursed Audubon back to health. Later, when Audubon left his family for several months to try a business venture in Missouri, Lucy worked as governess to the Rankin children and boarded with her children in the doctor's home.

*Bibliography: Edmund Starling, "History of Henderson County, Ky." 1887; Henderson County Historical and Genealogical Society family files.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Depot Community Room has new blog!

Welcome to our new blog!
Tune in here regularly to learn about events and exhibits in the Depot Community Room, an exhibit hall featuring items related to Henderson, Ky., history.

Saturday, Sept. 4, join us on a church walking tour featuring a sampling of music played on the unique organs inside each church! Holy Name, Immanuel Baptist Temple, United Methodist and Zion United Church will be featured. The tour starts at 10 a.m. at The Depot, located at 101 N. Water St. in downtown Henderson, Ky. Best of all, it's FREE!!