Uncommonwealth: Love of history drives blogger known as Kaintuckeean

ctruman@herald-leader.comApril 14, 2013 

Peter Brackney is known online, by blog and by Twitter, as Kaintuckeean.

Although not a historian by profession — he is a bankruptcy attorney — he has a wide-eyed fascination with the historic, the picturesque and places that have a good story behind them.

"I have absolutely no formal training," said Brackney who graduated with a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Kentucky, then followed that up with a law degree.

His observations — "my jaunts," he calls them — come from ideas he gets while traveling the state for his work or from things he just thinks would make a fun Saturday adventure, such as wandering around a historic Mercer County mansion about to go up for auction.

The first of his jaunts was to Oregon, a Mercer County community about five miles northeast of Harrodsburg. He was hooked.

Brackney, 29, attributes his perceptive writing and popularity not to any particular skill as an academic, but to taking a moment to be present with history — "having the time to look, having your eyes open and having a brief moment to stop and pause."

He writes about lost Kentucky — the Old Masonic Hall in Lexington, the Ebenezer church in Jessamine County, which was largely left in ruins but later rebuilt. He also writes about buildings that are still very much present, such as the Central Fire Station on Woodland Avenue, the tiny house on Old Georgetown Street that is raucously decorated for every holiday and the Columbia Steak House on North Limestone, home of the "Nighthawk special," with its celery-salted wonder, the Diego Salad.

Consider this description of the Oldham House at 245 South Limestone: "Samuel A. Oldham was an enterprising barber and business owner when he and his wife built their home on what was then Lexington's southern edge. But at the start of the 1826, Oldham was enslaved.

"During the course of the year, he would purchase his own freedom. In 1830, he transacted for the freedom of his wife and sons. The freed black family thereafter built the two-story, five-bay common bond brick house."

This is a landmark of the mind and a landmark of the heart. The description is vivid, the historic photos fascinating.

Most of us go to the doctor and find tatty copies of People magazine. Brackney goes to his doctor's office — although he won't divulge the doctor's name — and finds old maps of Lexington. He seems to be blessed with a serendipitous eye for history.

"You've got an iPhone and you're going to be waiting for a while," he said of his post on his doctor's office maps, which showed Lexington in 1904, 1930 and 1946-47.

The 1904 map of Fayette County noted the locations of schools, streams and structures in rural parts of the county.

Brackney's love of history goes back to his childhood. The youngest of five children, Brackney, was featured in a 1994 article in the Herald-Leader by staff writer Bettye Lee Mastin about children with unusual bedrooms. Brackney's, in his parents' house on Short Street, had a Civil War theme.

Brackney has contributors to Kaintuckeean who write about such subjects as the best barbecue in Owensboro (Old Hickory, as it is concluded that the Moonlite is too touristy).

Brackney longs to get out more to the western part of the commonwealth.

"I'm doing the Kain tuckeean as much for myself as for other people," he said. "... Somewhere deep inside there is a history gene."


Peter Brackney

Family: wife, Morganne; two children

Website: Kaintuckeean.com

Twitter: @Kaintuckeean

Cheryl Truman: (859) 231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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