Each month, The Kentucky
Explorer magazine receives literally scores of letters from
our faithful readers. Whenever possible, we try to publish as
many of them as possible in the 12 pages we have set aside for
"Letters to the Editor."
Here are actual letters from February
Strange Facts About Kentucky
In reading through the November 2011 issue of The Kentucky Explorer,
I noticed the "Strange Facts About Kentucky" on page
I would like to share some information about the first commercial
vineyard in Kentucky.
On Highway 27, about 10 miles southeast of Nicholasville, Jessamine
County, there is a small community known as The Vineyard.
John Frances DeFoure was a native of Vevay, Switzerland, and
planted the first vineyard west of the Alleghenies in Jessamine
County in 1796.
The DeFoures purchased the land from Colonel Hazelrigg, who lived
and died in Bourbon County. They afterwards settled in Vevay,
Indiana, and named the county Switzerland. They were very successful
in Indiana and became very wealthy.
The deed and agreement between the DeFoures and Hazelrigg is
recorded in Deed Book 1, page 34 in the Jessamine County Clerk's
The land chosen did not suit the varieties of grapes introduced.
Hybridizing and crossing had not yet developed excellent varieties
of grapes, and the European varieties were not adapted to the
soil of Kentucky.
There is now a winery and vineyard at Chrisman Mill, which is
producing excellent wine, using a different variety of grapes.
Many farms in Jessamine County are now raising grapes instead
of the tobacco that they used to raise. These grapes are being
sold to the winery.
DeFoure's original vinery and winery failed.
The information about the early DeFoure Vineyard was taken from
A History of Jessamine County written by Bennett H. Young and
published in 1898.
Harold L. Higgs
217 Vicksburg Drive
Nicholasville, KY 40356
Letcher County Courthouses
Thanks for printing the old newspaper article in the October
2011 issue of The Kentucky Explorer on the Letcher County Ku
Klux Klan. It is one of more than 100 articles I have from that
I would like to share some information regarding the Letcher
County Courthouse which is shown in the photo on page 19 of the
October 2011 issue.
The courthouse shown in the photo was torn down by the time of
the 1899-1901 Letcher-Pike County Ku Klux Klan War. The new courthouse
was built in 1898 and was bigger than the one shown in the picture.
Both courthouses were there at the time of the Ku Klux Klan
troubles. The Klan was organized in Letcher County around 1893
and was active on and off until about 1904. The period of the
Ku Klux War was from July 1899 until late 1902. At this point
many of the klansmen were convicted of murder or still in the
process of being tried.
331 Aylesford Place, Apt. 3
Lexington, KY 40508
"The Kentucky Wanderers"
The group known as "The Kentucky Wanderers" [not Kentucky
Wonders as reported] is shown on page 104 of the November 2011
issue of The Kentucky Explorer.
The ladies are the Findley sisters. The only one I can identify
is Zredah Findley Kepics, who is shown standing on the right.
She was neighbor of mine years ago.
All the girls shown in the photo were from Carbon Glow, Letcher
County, Kentucky. One of the girls lives in the Cincinnati, Ohio,
1812 Parker Road
Milford, OH 45150
just samples of the many letters in each issue of The Explorer.