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.

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.

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