Clark County

State looking for next historical markers

Col. William Sudduth, a surveyor who helped settle Clark County in the 1700s, wrote in his memoirs of adventures in the Kentucky countryside:

”The Indians were plenty, but we escaped them. We were very careful, concealing ourselves at night and lying without fire.“

On Sunday, a reminder of Sudduth's contributions to the state will become a permanent part of the countryside when a state historical marker is dedicated to him on Wades Mill Road in Clark County.

More new markers that give on-the spot history lessons will soon be added to the more than 1,900 already across the state. Kentucky Historical Society officials announced Thursday that they are taking applications until Oct. 1 to determine where to erect the state's next 15 historical markers.

The new signs will cost in excess of $2,000 each, 25 percent more than last year.

Who pays for the markers? Who determines where the signs go and what they say?

Behind every sign, says Nelson Dawson, director of research and interpretation at the Kentucky Historical Society, is someone like Martha Sudduth.

A 94-year-old retired University of Kentucky education professor, Martha Sudduth wanted to make sure that the contributions of her great-great uncle William Sudduth would always be remembered.

William Sudduth was born in Virginia and came to what is now Kentucky in 1783. He was a surveyor and militia member and carried out expeditions of Montgomery and Bath counties, according to a book called In Search of Morgan's Station by Clark County historian Harry Enoch.

In Clark County, Sudduth was a justice of the peace and a sheriff. He was also the last surviving member of the 1799 convention that crafted Kentucky's second constitution. He died in 1845 and is buried in the cemetery on Wades Mill Road where the marker will stand.

To get the marker erected, Martha Sudduth sent an application with several references on Sudduth's history to officials in the Kentucky Historical Society's Highway Marker Program.

State researchers can typically spend two months verifying the information that is submitted, Dawson said.

Martha Sudduth then paid $1650 for a marker with information on one side. It took another couple of weeks for state historical officials to boil down William Sudduth's history into 10 lines that could be put on the cast aluminium marker, Dawson said.

Then, the information was sent to Sewah Studios, a company in Marietta, Ohio, that carries out a 28-step process to make the marker.

Martha Sudduth said she doesn't begrudge the one year she spent on the project.

”I just thought my ancestor should be recognized,“ she said.

William Vanmeter Sudduth II, a great-great grandson of Sudduth who will participate in the dedication ceremony, said the marker will be important to future generations.

”It was important to my family to recognize the contributions he made to Clark County,“ he said.

Another of Sudduth's ancestors, sculptor Joel Tanner Hart, is also the subject of a historical marker in Clark County.

Ponice Cruse, a member of Scott County's Zion Hill Neighborhood Association, said donations and a fund-raiser paid the $1,850 needed to get a double-sided marker that will be dedicated Aug.16 in the African-American settlement of Zion Hill.

Zion Hill is located in southern Scott County off Paynes Depot Road, near Woodford and Fayette counties. The community of more than 200 acres, developed before the end of slavery, included about 45 homes and two stores in the early 1900s.

”It's important to let everyone know about this legacy,“ Cruse said. ”We don't want it to go away.“

About 30 new markers are added around the state each year. Dawson said one of the more unusual ones was dedicated Saturday in Louisville to commemorate Kentucky Southern College, a Baptist undergraduate liberal arts college. The school closed in 1969, after only eight years, because of financial problems, despite an intense ”Save Our School“ campaign by students. The school's alumni group paid for the marker, he said.

Because of the rising cost of maintenance, the fee for future markers will go up from $1,650 to $2,075 for a one-sided marker and $1,850 to $2,300 for a two-sided marker, Dawson said.

Dawson said the added money will help state officials replace and refurbish historical markers.

”Without the markers,“ he said, ”people would pass historically significant sites and not even know.“

For more information

Call Becky Vittetow, coordinator of the marker program, at (502) 564-1792, ext. 4474.

Prospective applicants can download a highway marker application from the Kentucky Historical Society Web site www.history.ky.gov/sub.php?pageid=62&sectionid=13.

Search a database of Kentucky's historical markers at http://migration.kentucky.gov/kyhs/hmdb/MarkerSearch.aspx?mode=All

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