Did You Know This About Williamstown...
Do You Know These Things About Williamstown?
While our local Historian, Mr. Ken Stone, wasn’t exactly sure if this happened in 1946 or 1948, he knows for certain that the City of Williamstown decided to graciously offer a place for the baby elephant to be laid to rest in the Williamstown
Cemetery. Some have claimed this was the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus, while others say that it was just a small circus company. Have you heard of the elephant buried in the Williamstown Cemetery?
John Wilkes Booth may be buried in the Williamstown Cemetery.
The death of the man who assassinated America’s 16th President and Kentucky Native, Abraham Lincoln, has been long debated. Various rumors have claimed that he escaped his capture and eventually found himself as Williamstown High School’s Principal (circa 1917). Legend has it that a mysterious man named Henry Newton came to town in the late 1870’s and took a career as a local high school teacher. Mr. Newton: a man who walked with a limp, looked almost identical to John Wilkes Booth, and refused to ever speak of Abraham Lincoln, both in and out of the classroom, married Amanda Rodgers of Crittenden in 1878 and had six children. He had teaching stints in Grant, Boone, and Kenton County High Schools until, eventually, Henry Newton become the principal of Williamstown High School. There were many, many rumors circulating at the time that this mysterious Henry Newton could be the elusive John Wilkes Booth. It was said that Henry Newton would carry with him a briefcase that was to never be opened and instructed his wife, Amanda, to upon his death, burn the briefcase without question and to not allow it to be opened or its contents shown. In 1924 Henry Newton passed away, and it was later discovered that his wife did not burn the briefcase but, instead, buried it somewhere in Williamstown. To this day, no one has ever found this mysterious briefcase.
What do you think? Did John Wilkes Booth evade his capture? Was John Wilkes Booth’s Kentucky alias Henry Newton? Will Henry Newton’s briefcase one day be unearthed?
Did You Know…..
Williamstown had a blind tiger?
That’s right not only does Williamstown have Will the circus elephant buried in the Williamstown Cemetery, but at one point in history, we were home to a blind tiger. Well actually, a handful of blind tigers roaming our downtown streets. A “blind tiger” is the more humorous title for a business that illegally sold alcohol during the prohibition. Downtown businesses would create “fake store fronts”, posing as one thing only to be selling bootleg whiskey and bourbon in their basements, or backrooms of the stores. Some stores would create an attraction at their establishment and charge a fee for entrance to the backrooms, only to be let into a secret room which sold illegal alcohol. Blind tiger raids were common during the prohibition, and some ended up turning violent. In 1914 County Attorney W.E. Clay was shot in a quarrel over a businessman owning a “Blind Tiger”.
When Grant County formed in 1820, it needed an official County seat. Knowing the need for the location of the County’s seat, Revolutionary War Captain, William Arnold, graciously donated part of his land to the County. And so it was that on June 12th, 1820, the City of Philadelphia became the official seat of Grant County. And yes, you read that right, the City of Philadelphia in Grant Co. Ky.
That is until July 10th, less than one month after its official formation, the City of Philadelphia changed its name to William’s-town to honor its founder Captain William Arnold.
Williamstown began to grow into a popular little town full of history, excitement, and tradition. From building the County’s first school, a meteorite landing, a baseball factory, a metal teepee to being the birthplace of an NBA Hall of Famer. Williamstown’s notoriety has stood so strong that on January 31st, 1956, Dry Ridge changed its name to North Williamstown by a vote of 3 to 2. Yet, like Philadelphia, North Williamstown too was short lived. The Citizens were furious over the decision to change Dry Ridge’s name, and at the next town meeting 300 people showed up to overturn the name change.
Did you know ....
That Williamstown once had a perhaps not so famous, but somewhat memorable moment in its history when planes flew over the City bombing it with giant bags of corn. That’s right corn bombs! The idea was that of Mr. J.B. Miller during one tremendously cold winter, when he, being an amateur ornithologist (bird watcher), realized that due to the ice-cold weather the local birds were unable to find food and were in danger of starvation. After having a discussion with Superintendent Mark Leming, a former captain in the U.S. Air Corps, they concocted the question “why couldn’t they scatter the feed from the air?” So that is exactly what they did! Corn Bombs, who would have thought this would have saved our local bird species during an extremely frigid winter. J.B Miller.