Oldham County Historical Society Gala

Oldham County’s Charles Bottorff to receive OCHS history award at Gala

LA GRANGE, Ky. (September 2016) – Charles Bottorff grew up on a 316-acre farm along the Ohio River in Oldham County, Ky. He has always believed it is important to give back to the community, and for this reason, he is being honored with a special award this year from the Oldham County Historical Society.
“Born in 1919, Charles has spent his lifetime serving the Oldham County community, which has included his business as an electrician, his church and volunteer interest,” said Nancy Stearns Theiss, executive director of the Oldham County History Center in La Grange. Theiss interviewed Bottorff in 2010 for the Living Treasures program at the History Center. Bottorff’s great grandfather purchased a farm in the Goshen area around 1840.
Over the years, it was passed down through the family, and the farmhouse sat on the southwest corner of the farm on Buckeye Lane. “As a descendant of pioneer families that came to Oldham County, Charles has always had an interest and love for Oldham County,” said Theiss.
“I’ve always been very interested in history. It’s one of my favorite interests,” said Bottorff, 97. “I like everything from when the Pilgrims came, to now.”

Photo by Helen McKinney

Charles Bottorff will be honored Sept. 30 by the Oldham County Historical Society for his many contributions to the community.

For his contributions to the community, Bottorff will receive the J.C. Barnett Champion of History Award at the 2016 Oldham County Historical Society Gala, scheduled for Friday, Sept. 30. The event will be held on the tented grounds of the History Center, located at 106 N. Second Ave.
The evening will kick off at 6:30 p.m. with appetizers, followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. and silent and live auction at 8:30 p.m. Masterson’s Catering will provide the meal and The Little Kentucky River Winery will provide a wine bar.
This fundraiser supports the annual operation and program costs of the History Center, said Theiss. “Without the annual Gala, we could not provide our educational programs as they currently exist, which includes oral histories of veterans, Living Treasures and special family events.” 
Like any other typical farmer of the period, his father, John R., raised Angus cattle, corn, wheat and orchard grass. His mother’s name was Sallie Wilhoyte.
Charles had a brother, John, and sister, Elizabeth. Like most farm kids, he did chores around the farm the farm and was the one to run the threshing machine. It even got him out of the U.S. Army for a while.
During his senior year of high school, he bought a threshing machine. It was not just any threshing machine. It was the first one with rubber tires. While in service, local farmers wrote a letter to the War Department asking for Bottorff to come home to run the threshing machine. The army sent him home, but he had to return to service. 
He had enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in January 1942. It was the branch of service “I wanted to be in, if I had to be in service,” said Bottorff.
He was sent to Biloxi, Miss., for basic training. From there, Bottorff was sent to Scottsville, Ill., to radio school, since he had an interest in radio communication. “I was transferred to reserves after seven months,” he said. 
Army officials told Bottorff that he had heart problems and discharged him. He went back in a second time, and after a five-week stay in the hospital, was discharged again.
After the war, Bottorff started his own electrical business. “I was always interested in electricity, from the time I was in high school until I was in service.”
In the meantime, he had also married his wife, Imogene White. She was a registered nurse from Danville, Ky.
They met “on a blind date. We went to a friend’s house,” Bottorff said.
He is a “founding member of the North Oldham Lions Club,” said Theiss. He enjoyed working on different community projects with this organization, he said.
He was also a board member of the Bank of Oldham County for 17 years and helped with the building of the Presbyterian Church, which included wiring it, Theiss said.
Another of his interests has been in serving on the board of the Mahan Trust. “I knew Mr. Mahan for 50 years. They elected me as a board member, unbeknownst to me,” Bottorff said with a laugh. The Trust helps fund cultural and natural history projects, including the Oldham County History Center.
Theiss said that “Charles and his wife believed in the health and well-being of Oldham County families and sponsored the YMCA gym project.” After her death, he established a foundation in her honor at Vanderbilt University in support of the nursing program.
Bottorff also has been involved in the Oldham County Community Foundation, of which he was an original board member. He recently received the Ted Merhoff Citizenship Award from the foundation.
In receiving the J.C. Barnett Champion of History Award, he said, “There are others who deserve it more than I do.” Always humble, he will be honored at this year’s Gala in September.

• For more information or to reserve tickets, contact the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826. Tickets are $150 per person.

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