I was lucky enough to spend last summer in Frankfort Kentucky in order to conduct some research for a novel I’m writing about my second great-grandfather, James G. Crutcher, a Confederate soldier who eventually abandoned his wife and children, disappearing from all family memory for over 100 years. It was a chance to go back in time, a haunting and lovely experience.
Pioneers Of Frankfort KY
My family left Virginia and settled in Frankfort around the same time that Kentucky was granted statehood in 1792. That same year, Frankfort became the state capital since it donated the most supplies to construct a government building. Many generations of my family spent their whole lives there, born into the tiny city, and eventually died there. Back then, Frankfort relied heavily on hemp and tobacco as its main industries for survival, using the Kentucky River that so closely embraced the town for its commerce and trade.
My 3rd great-grandparents, Charles Todd Crutcher and Sarah Jane McKendrick, were just toddlers when the Kentucky Tragedy struck in 1825. They were there when the cholera epidemic swept through Lexington during the summer of 1833 and took the lives of 501 people. My 2nd great-grandfather, James, was four years old when the imposing state arsenal was built in 1850, and was most likely inspired to join the Confederate army after they captured the Capital in 1862, since he enlisted a month later at the age of 16.
A few of my favorite things about Frankfort KY
Over 200 years later, I found Frankfort to still be a charming, vibrant community. Here is a list of some of my favorite things about Frankfort:
1. My neighbor’s cat, who followed her to church, attended service, and followed her home afterward.
2. My sweet elderly neighbor, Bobby, who lamented more than once that sometimes, “Frankfort is just so boresome”.
3. That the local newspaper actually ran a headline that said, “Book Bug Prevention“. Yes. That was the HEADLINE. A little different from the LA Times.
4. That most of the locals believe in ghosts because they live in haunted houses or work in haunted buildings. Even if you don’t believe in them yourself, the frequency of believers is intriguing (especially in such a small population!).
5. The kindness, generosity, and warmth of the people there.
6. That history is valued and respected there. Everyone knows who their people were and they strive to preserve and protect old homes and buildings. History has immediate presence there.
7. That Frankfort is far more progressive in its thinking than one would expect in the South. I was delighted to see all different races (including multi-racial individuals and relationships), religions, sexual orientations, politics and philosophies embraced– if not welcomed there. It gives me a lot of hope for other communities and for the future.
8. That the downtown community is lively, creative, and fun. From theKentucky Coffeetree Cafe, to Vibrant Life, to the The Woolery, to Rick’s White Light Diner, to Poor Richard’s Books, and the Grand Theater, there’s always something going on. There are artists, potters, writers, musicians, bicyclists, dancers, healers, and diners. There are festivals, concerts, speeches, fireworks, movie events, farmers markets, and so many other wonderful things that Frankfort indulges in as a community, it’s really inspiring.
I’m so blessed to have been able to experience this little city. I’ve walked on the streets that my ancestors used, been inside many of the buildings they frequented, and sunk my feet into the same soil that nourished them and provided their livelihoods. And I hope to do so again.
Heretic: The Life and Death of Akhenaten by Bijit Reed is available on Amazon.com. You can read the first chapter free or “look inside”. It’s available to buy in paperback and Kindle. Click on the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009H6R8GC