Lexington, Kentucky (also Slade and Stanton)


This is the sight we see as we exited Slade.

This is the sight we see as we exited the Mountain Parkway to Slade.

Slade, Kentucky is the home of the Natural Bridge State Resort. It’s a very small town, population was 303 in 2010. The Red River Gorge is also here. If you look up Slade on Trip Advisor, you will want to come! There are so many things to do if you love nature and the outdoors. It’s located at exit 33, off the Mountain Parkway. There is also a nice rest stop at this exit. If you think you somehow passed your exit coming from the west, which we did as we saw 4 Guys RV Resort back a mile or so, you can easily turn around at this exit – in a motor home towing a car! But we didn’t miss our exit, we had to exit here (the picture shows where we exited, drove to the A-frame business, turn left and drive west a few miles. Read our first post about this area if you missed it by clicking here.

When we needed groceries, we drove 10 miles to Stanton, Kentucky.  The population in 2010 was 2,733. Trip Advisor only lists the Red River Gorge as a “thing to do.” We enjoyed the Kroger Grocery Store, where everyone was all smiles as they greeted you, helped you find something and checked you out! I’d rate it as the friendliest grocery store in Kentucky!

We really enjoyed worshipping at Stanton Baptist Church on Sunday, July 17, 2016. We were warmly greeted and made to feel welcome. Of course, the sermon was what we needed to hear, and the theme this year seems to be on the two greatest commandments as asked of Jesus, found in Matthew 22:36-38:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”  (KJV)

Lexington, Kentucky, known as the Horse Capital of the World, is about 60 miles from where we were staying at 4 Guys RV Park in Slade, Kentucky.

Up front, this was the only “horse” encounter we had while in Kentucky. We know most everyone who travels through Kentucky visits Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum, or takes a horse tour. We didn’t as we wanted to focus on the state parks and hiking. But funny that Bill didn’t want to as he is a frustrated horse-owner/rider wanna be. While on our last hike in Kentucky, he shared with me when his desire to own a horse first started. We’ll share about it in our last post here in Kentucky. His first experience riding was about the same age of his young man:

Young man riding (leading) his family while we were hiking near by.

Young man riding (leading) his family while we were hiking near by. He was galloping, but as soon as he saw us, he slowed down! What a gentleman!

We had hoped to visit the Toyota Factory in Georgetown (since Bill missed the Corvette factory), just a little north of Lexington. Can you believe they were booked up for tours for this week? Lexington had a few historical house/museum tours and gardens, so that was what we decided to do when the forecast was bleak for Saturday, July 16, 2016. We really need to plan a few days to see more of the beautiful city. Here’s just a little bit about Lexington from it’s website:

Brief History
When European settlers arrived on the scene, the Bluegrass region was in use as a hunting ground for numerous Native American tribes. Daniel Boone was one of the first Anglo-Saxons to explore the area. He helped establish Kentucky’s first forts in Harrodsburg and Boonesborough.

Lexington was founded in 1775, seventeen years before Kentucky became a state. William McConnell and a group of frontier explorers were camped at a natural spring when word came from nearby Fort Boonesborough that the first battle of the American Revolution had been fought in Lexington, Massachusetts. In honor of the battle, the group named their site “Lexington”. By 1820, Lexington, Kentucky, was one of the largest and wealthiest towns west of the Allegheny Mountains. So cultured was its lifestyle, our city soon gained the nickname “Athens of the West.”

Geography.
Fayette County consists of 283 square miles of gently rolling plateau in the center of the inner Bluegrass Region. The area is noted for its beauty, fertile soil, excellent pastureland and horse and stock farms. Poa Pratensis (bluegrass) thrives on the limestone beneath the soil’s surface, playing a major role in the area’s scenic beauty and in the development of champion horses. Numerous small creeks rise and flow into the Kentucky River.

Population
The U.S. Census estimate for Lexington-Fayette County is 310,797 (2014). The estimated population of the metropolitan statistical area (MSA), which is comprised of Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Jessamine, Madison, Scott, and Woodford counties, is 494,189.”

Since we enjoy history, we picked two historical places to visit, each with some sort of flower garden: “Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate” and the home of Mary Todd Lincoln. The picture below is the front of the home in Ashland, which was actually rebuilt by Clay’s son, James Brown Clay, after his father’s death and after it was unsafe to live in – due to an earthquake!

Quickly, what do you remember about Henry Clay from your American History classes? That is, if you attended school in the United States or Canada. Canadians seem to know more about American history than we know about their history. Anyway, Bill and I remembered he was a statesman – that’s about all until we began to walk through his house and then some of came back to us….

The Henry Clay Estate

The Henry Clay Estate. Pictures were not allowed inside. The inside is decorated in the “spirit of the era” he and his wife lived in the home. There are a smattering of artifacts owned by Clay and others owned by family who lived in the home after his death.

Henry Clay was a favorite son of Kentucky, although he was born in Hanover County, Virginia on April 12, 1777. He studied law in Richmond, Virginia and was admitted to the bar in 1797 before he relocated to Lexington. There is so much to say about him, but I”ll just pick a few things to say. I did like this basic write up to give you a flavor of this larger than life man!

American History

“American History from Revolution to Reconstruction and Beyond” website.

Text by Thomas Rush:

He was one of the most partisan, hot-headed, and polarizing politicians of his day. Yet he was also a statesman possessing an unsurpassed ability for brokering differences, for finding the middle ground, for soothing and consoling opposing passions into compromise and reconciliation. At one point in his career he was dubbed “The Dictator” by some of his Senate colleagues. But this political gut-fighter’s most lasting fame and greatest contribution to his country was achieved in the role of “The Great Pacificator,” the man who held together the Union.

Henry Clay failed in his all consuming ambition to become President of the United States. ‘I would rather be right than President,’ was his most famous remark, and probably one of the greatest utterances of political sour grapes of all time. Yet in failing in his fondest goal he became perhaps the foremost legislator America ever produced. He served as Speaker of the House longer than any man in the 19th Century, transforming the office from a mere presiding function into one of enormous power and influence. In 1957 a Senate committee, head by John F. Kennedy and charged with the task of honoring it’s most distinguished past members, named Clay the greatest Senator in the country’s history. His service to and impact on the country far exceeded, with one especially notable exception, that of nearly every President of his era….

In the era from 1810 through the early 1850s, the so called “Silver Age,” only Andrew Jackson could be said to have had more impact. And perhaps this is where the problem of Clay’s relative public obscurity lies. For Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay were bitter, acrimonious rivals, with Jackson proving to be the ultimate political winner of their long struggle. Clay was defeated and history usually most remembers the winners.

Built

That is me, pretending to leave the gardeners house. This is one of the six “out houses” on the estate. It was the home for the on-site gardner and his family. It had many other uses as well. Five generations of Clays lived on this estate.

You can read more at his relationship with Jackson on the official website noted in his picture or by clicking here. He is such a fascinating historical figure.  He was a lawyer, a business man, a farmer and he raised livestock.

He married Lucretia Hart in 1799. She was from a well-known and wealthy family. While he claimed he had humble beginnings (not that humble), he appreciated the finer things in life. He began buying property for their eventual estate in 1804.

Clay learned to love politics and served in many capacities, while keeping the home fires burning with his wife of 50 years, and the 11 children she bore. Sadly, seven of them died before he did, with the youngest one as a baby and one son died during the Mexican American war.

His political career kicked off in 1803, at age 26 when he was elected to the Kentucky General Assembly.  He was a natural politician in many respects. What helped him was the fact he married into the family of Lucretia Hart. And she was a bit of a saint. She seemed to tolerate some of his vices, which were probably the reason he never became president, or so our tour guide opined!

She took us into their “bedroom”on the tour. You need to be aware that he never actually lived in the house as it is now, but the floor plans were as he had it originally built. It is decorated in the spirit of the times, although there were a few heirlooms preserved as six generations of Clays lived in the house. Anything that was original was pointed out to us on the tour. Anyway, it was in the bedroom where we learned his three vices. So appropriate!

First, it turns out he loved his bourbon, with a decanter set on display. He would take a “barrel” back with him every time he returned to Washington, DC. He said it helped “grease” the wheels of congress. He also loved his guns, with two pistols on display. He was known to participate in duals, fortunately only being injured and injuring one man. Ironically, he gave the pistols on display to his one son, Henry Clay Jr., when he served in the Mexican American war. Sadly, his namesake was killed in action, but the pistols were rescued and returned to Clay. And the third vice was his love of gambling. Again, there was something on display to symbolize this. The American people just weren’t that accepting of his vices as his wife was!

Owning one of this meant wealth. Clay had to have two as his wife loved ice cream. There is more to the story, but I liked this part!

Owning one of this meant wealth. Clay had to have two as his wife loved ice cream. There is more to the story, but I liked this part!

We learned another interesting tidbit about Mary Todd (later Lincoln). We learned while touring her former home that she was very much an intellectual and politically savvy teen. It was said that she rode her horse to the front of Clay’s home and asked for him to come outside to talk, or else she would ride her horse inside to find him! We don’t know how that worked out and we forgot to ask at her house!

It is important to know they did live near each other and were probably family friends. We do want to note this was during a very political era, post-revolution and pre-Civil War.  There was a 41 year age difference between the two of them. When we tour her home, we will learn this could have happened. Anyway, the politicians of his day had a huge responsibility to shape and protect the integrity of the Constitution of the United States, which ultimately let to heated debates and subsequently the Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln was one of many who admired and respected Clay, although they never actually met. They did correspond as letters were on display.  Actually, they say that nearly everyone loved Clay as he had a very charming personality (does that have anything to do with bourbon?) and was more than engaging.

Clay and Lincoln

“Clay and Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln called Clay ‘my beau ideal of a statesman, for whom I fought all my humble life.’ Lincoln voted for Clay in 1832 & 1844. Family of Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, were friends with Clay. Lincoln based his political ideology on ideals of Clay and quoted him in may important speeches.”

Let’s look at another side of Clay as he said his estate was really his sanctuary.  He originally bought a 600 acre farm. He and his wife had their home built one it, with her strong influence. But he also loved the grounds. The estate eventually shrank to 17 acres, but the beauty and it’s essence has been lovingly preserved.

The tour included a visit to the gift shop, which is where you pay for the tour, adults $10, seniors with AAA discount is $9, students $5 and children under 5 are free. I would not recommend the inside tour for children under about 7 or 8. They must stand and be quiet during all the presentations and not touch anything. A family of grand parents, parents and some aunts and uncles with three young children, ages 7, 5 and 2 were in our group. These children were amazing but the two younger ones were handed around! The older one brought a doll with her and cradled her gently, keeping her fully occupied! I commented later to the mother and she said they threatened the children with their lives if they didn’t behave….😉

There is a bit of a museum inside with some additional relics of Clay’s political work, gifts and awards. The tour also included a brief movie which we enjoyed. No one else in our group of about 15 watched it.

We spent nearly two hours here. We also walked around the beautiful grounds so we were in the mood for another similar experience. We drove a few miles to the home of Mary Todd Lincoln. We were only able to take outside pictures, thus the house below, but we didn’t take pictures of the flower garden in the backyard. 😞 If you want to see the rest of our pictures from our visit, click here.

This home was nearly demolished to make way for more parking for the University of Kentucky. That was a hard fought battle!

The home of Mary Todd Lincoln, from 1832 until 1839, when she moved to live with her sister in Springfield, Illinois. This home was nearly demolished to make way for more parking for the University of Kentucky. That was a hard fought battle!

The tour was limited to about 15 people. We got there just in time as a number of people arrived after we did and were turned away! The tour guide was very knowledgeable and made interesting presentations as we went from room to room. I didn’t mention earlier, but both these houses had second stories, so I had to baby step up the stairs. Ugh, that’s the downside for me touring houses.

A caveat was told at the beginning of the tour when asked whether Abraham Lincoln lived in the house. It has been assumed he and his wife returned to this house for three weeks on one of their trips. So in essence, “Lincoln slept here.”

Wow, what a life story about our First Lady of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. She was born December 13, 1818 in Lexington, Kentucky and died on July 16, 1882 in Springfield, Illinois. How interesting, we actually toured her home on July 16. We’re not superstitious or believe in spirits communicating from the dead (but she did) so there is no special meaning to it! (We hope! 😏)

Mary Todd was born into a family of wealth, her father, Robert S. Todd, was the son of one of the founders of Lexington and a clerk of Lafayette County.  Mary’s father himself was a successful merchant and co-owner of a cotton mill. He also was an intellect, having passed the bar but never opening a law practice. The Kentucky legislature named him head of the Lexington branch of the Bank of Kentucky. Which meant his signature was on the $5 bill. A facsimile of the bill was passed around to our group. It was surmised that she may have felt that gave her the right to shop to her hearts content, being one of the first women who participated in “shopping therapy” which would later haunt her husband….

Anyway, she was the fourth of seven children. Sadly, her mom died when she was only six years old. Eventually, her father realized he needed help with all his children so he remarried two years later. He and his new wife had an additional nine children, so he needed a bigger home. This house, which was built between 1803 and 1805 an Inn was for sale and seemed to be the perfect home for this large family. Sadly, she did not get along with her step mother, however she got along with her step grandmother.  But then she died during a time Mary needed a mother figure.

A saving grace was that Mary attended a finishing school from an early age. She not only learned all the social graces, how to sew, dance and other talents, she also became fluent in French. Due to her father’s intellect, he engaged her and her siblings in political conversations. She was allowed in the men’s drawing room as long as she could hold her own. And she loved that challenge. Maybe that is why she rode her horse to go talk to Henry Clay!

Mary moved to Springfield, Illinois to live with her sister and her husband in 1839. Within a few years, she caught they eye of Abraham Lincoln at a social affair. She was 5’2″ while he was 6’4″. What an interesting couple, but they had another major difference. He came from a very humble background while she was privileged. But he loved her intellect and she once dreamed or told a friend, her one-day husband would become President of the United States. Maybe she saw that in him! No matter, they married and had four children. But tragedy would continue to plague Mary.

We visited the Lincoln Library in Springfield, Illinois a few years ago. The picture that was painted for us there just didn’t seem to mesh with what we learned here. We thought Mary had been somewhat of a saint, being concerned with being a good wife and mother. We knew Lincoln was a man of faith and assumed she shared his faith as they coped with the death of three of their four sons.

Rather than go into a lot more detail, I’d rather summarize what was new to us and was so shocking about her. She did enjoy the finer things in life and seemed to have no limit in her shopping. On display was a silver hot coco dispenser from Tiffany’s, so we know it was expensive. After Abraham was elected, they moved into the White House. It was in a shambles. The house actually belonged to the people. So the public was allowed to freely walk around, take snippets of fabric and whatever else they wanted!

Congress allotted $20,000 for each incoming President and his wife to “redecorate” the house. Remember how Mary loved to shop and loved the finer things in life? Well, let’s just say that the White House was restored to a home fit for a king and queen (my interpretation). She went way over budget, which was really egregious during the time of the Civil War, when soldiers needed supplies. They say Abraham lost his temper, but she continued on with her spending.

Maybe Mary felt better when she shopped. She also suffered from headaches, which seemed to get worse. Her reputation was not very good. After her husband was tragically assassinated, she refused to move right out of the White House, instead, she took her time – probably so she could take all the extra things she bought with taxpayers dollars. She was “allowed” to buy two sets of dishes, etc. so one set would stay at the White House and another set for the “family” to keep.  And some of those things were on display in the dining room.

She was later found to be insane, buy her only living son. Remember, she also lost three son. I guess that would make me insane….She was eventually freed from the insane asylum and was declared sane. Bur her life was plagued with depression, headaches and too many deaths. And now there is new evidence she actually suffered from an illness. We were told to do our own research to decide for ourselves as the Museum and Docents don’t want to state for sure. In the Gift Shop, we were taken into as the tour ended, several biographies and other books were on sale for us to (buy) and made up our own minds.

I will end with this quote and link to one book that explains what was “wrong” with Mary Todd Lincoln. I’m not sure if this was one offered for sale – if you recall from our post on becoming minimalists, I no longer buy books….so I didn’t really pay attention to them. But I found this which was mentioned to us as a possible explanation for some of her depressive behaviors, from this website:

Pernicious anemia ruined Mary Lincoln’s life and reputation. And, almost certainly, it got her husband killed.

Undeniably smart, savvy, and cultured, her unaccountable lapses of judgment as First Lady and widow made her one of the most controversial figures in American history.

But now the central mystery of her life has been solved… with science.

In this scholarly book, renowned Presidential medical historian John Sotos, MD examines the tell-tale clues in Mary Lincoln’s turbulent life to arrive at a diagnosis — pernicious anemia — that explains her insanity, irritability, poor judgment, innumerable physical symptoms, and early death, while explaining how her personal tragedies intensified the disease. Mary Lincoln’s faults were in her metabolism, not in her character.

Primarily a reference work, this book is a must-have for anyone with a deep interest in Mary Lincoln or in a tale of how history can be wrong for 150 years. “

If you have never heard of pernicious anemia, it’s a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Bottom line, this is I what I want to believe about this tortured soul, who suffered from something greater than just a personality disorder or insanity!

Next up, we will stay in Carter Caves Campground in Olive Hill, Kentucky. Our last campground and hikes in Kentucky….

3 thoughts on “Lexington, Kentucky (also Slade and Stanton)

  1. I gotta tell you, it is so fun to read your blog. It makes feel that I’m traveling with you guys!! Have fun!!!

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  2. […] Todd Lincoln’s home in Lexington, Kentucky, we’d check out another First Lady. See our post here, to learn more in case you missed that […]

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