first governor of Kentucky
program is scheduled
for April 1 in Shelbyville
Helen E. McKinney
SHELBYVILLE, Ky. Isaac Shelby was a larger-than-life
character from the annuals of history that doesnt often get the
credit he deserves. Upon becoming a state in 1792, a city and county
(Shelbyville and Shelby County) in Kentucky were named for this illustrious
man who became the states first governor.
interpreter Mel Hankla (above) of Jamestown
has been portraying
Isaac Shelby (below
portrait) for the last
Isaac Shelby was the third child born on Dec. 11, 1750,
to Letitia Cox and Evan Shelby Jr. Born along the Potomac River near
Hagerstown, Md., Shelby was destined to be a leader in military and
Isaac Shelby was equally at home on the fields of battle or in
the halls of government, said Mel Hankla of Jamestown, Ky. Hankla,
a living history interpreter, will present Isaac Shelby
Frontiersman, Military Hero, and Politician at 7 p.m. Thursday,
April 1, at the Stratton Center in Shelbyville.
Shelby was known for his common sense, diplomacy, and self-control,
making him a likely choice to lead the transformation of Kentucky from
primitive wilderness into American statehood, said Hankla, 53.
Although Isaac Shelby is not a Kentucky Humanities Council presentation,
Hankla has portrayed many characters through the Kentucky Humanities
Council in the past, including Gen. George Rogers Clark and Simon Kenton.
Isaac Shelby is being sponsored by the Painted Stone Settlers Inc. of
Shelbyville. It is a local non-profit group of living history interpreters
and history buffs.
The Painted Stone Settlers are all about teaching history,
said club president Kathy Cummings. Last year, we presented a
highly successful presentation of Daniel Boone in April at the Stratton
Center. We decided to repeat a similar program this spring.
This program is free to the public and will include a question and answer
session after the presentation. Light refreshments will be available,
in addition to an art show.
Realizing that there are many events vying for peoples time and
that not everyone can attend the groups annual September event,
the Long Run Massacre Re-Enactment, the Painted Stone Settlers decided
a special spring performance might be more appealing to some individuals.
Cummings said that when discussion began about who to feature with the
presentation, Isaac Shelby, first governor of Kentucky, was an
obvious choice. He was prominent not only in the settling of this land
beyond the mountains, but also in the formation and governing of the
Shelby had a strong sense of patriotism that was more than likely instilled
in him by his father. Evan Shelby Jr. served with distinction in the
French and Indian War (1754-1763). The family moved to western Virginia
in 1772, and Shelby became a lieutenant in his fathers company
of the Virginia Colonial Militia of Fincastle County by the time he
was 23 years old.
On Oct. 7, 1780, Shelby led American sharpshooters to victory at the
Battle of Kings Mountain, defeating the British. Not only
was Isaac Shelby important to Kentucky, but he was instrumental in procuring
our independence from Britain during the Revolutionary War, and also
in keeping the Liberty and Freedom that we enjoy in America today by
being a part of the War of 1812, Hankla said.
After the Battle of Kings Mountain, Shelby returned to Kentucky
and married his childhood sweetheart, Susannah Hart, on April 19, 1783,
at Fort Boonesborough. The couple reared 10 children. In 1786, Shelby
completed a stone house on his Lincoln County farm, better known as
Shelby was a member of the 1792 convention that drew up Kentuckys
first constitution, and was elected its first governor. He took office
on June 4, 1792. After serving his four-year term, he declined re-election
and retired to Travelers Rest.
When the War of 1812 began, Kentucky again called on 62-year-old Shelby
to serve a second term as governor. Once in office, he immediately took
action by organizing and leading an army of Kentuckians that ultimately
defeated the British at the Thames River in Ontario, Canada, in 1813.
He triumphantly returned to Kentucky a hero.
Plans are under way in several states for the Bicentennial of the War
of 1812, said Cummings. As more and more focus comes to bear on
the War of 1812, we thought that learning more about Isaac Shelby and
his role in Kentucky history would be the best choice for our spring
Members of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), Isaac Shelby Chapter
will also be in attendance. Members will provide a brief speech about
the SAR and a Color Guard ceremony before the main presentation.
To learn more about Mel Hanklas performances,
To learn more about the Painted Stone Settlers Inc., visit: www.PaintedStoneSettlers.org.
For more information on the Isaac Shelby presentation, contact Kathy
Cummings at (502) 228-3746.
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