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.

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!

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