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The Courier-Journal/Kylene Lloyd

Introduction Index

_ A _ B _ C _ D _ E _ F _ G _ H _ I _ J _ K _ L _ M _ N _ O _ P _ Q _ R _ S _ T _ U _ V _ W _ Y _ Z _

VENT HAVEN MUSEUM. William S. Berger of Fort Mitchell, who was Chairman of the Cambridge Tile Company from the mid-1930s through the 1940s, founded Vent Haven Museum...


(cont’d on pg. 911)

The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky Contents Introduction, Foreword, Acknowledgments and Guide for Readers Chapters: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, Y, Z Index, Bibliography, Illustration Credits

Edited by Paul A. Tenkotte and James C. Claypool THE UNIVERSITY PRESS OF KENTUCKY Republished for the World Wide Web by and Enquirer Media

A Project of the Thomas D. Clark Foundation, Inc. Mark A. Neikirk, President Sherry Jelsma, Vice President

Dave Adkisson, Treasurer Melanie J. Kilpatrick, Secretary

Thomas R. Brumley, Immediate Past President Michael J. Hammons, Past President

Dave Adkisson, Frankfort Jane Beshear, Frankfort Thomas R. Brumley, Lexington John S. Carroll, Lexington Sara W. Combs, Stanton

Board of Directors Michael J. Hammons, Park Hills Sherry Jelsma, Shelbyville Martha C. Johnson, Melbourne Mark A. Neikirk, Highland Heights Alice Stevens Sparks, Crescent Springs

Robert Ted Steinbock, Louisville Mrya Leigh Tobin, New York City James M. Wiseman, Erlanger

Editorial Staff Editors in Chief: Paul A. Tenkotte and James C. Claypool Associate Editors: David Hatter, John Schlipp, David E. Schroeder, Robert Stevie, Michael R. Sweeney, John W. Thieret (deceased), Thomas S. Ward, Jack Wessling Topical Editors: Agriculture: Lynn David & James Wallace; Art: Rebecca Bilbo; Biography: Michael R. Sweeney; Business & Commerce: John Boh; Counties & Towns: David E. Schroeder; Ethnology: Theodore H. H. Harris; Government, Law, & Politics: John Schlipp; Literature: Danny Miller (Deceased); Medicine: Dennis B. Worthen; Military: James A. Ramage; Music, Media, & Entertainment: John Schlipp; Religion: Thomas S. Ward & Alex Hyrcza; Sports & Recreation: James C. Claypool; Transportation Joseph F. Gastright (Deceased); Women: Karen Mcdaniel. Maps: Jeff Levy at the Gyula Pauer Center for Cartography & GIS, University of Kentucky. Copyright © 2009 by The University Press of Kentucky, 663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508-4008 Print editions: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The Encyclopedia of northern Kentucky / edited by Paul A. Tenkotte and James C. Claypool. p. cm. ISBN 978-0-8131-2565-7 (hardcover : acid-free paper) ISBN 978-0-8131-2585-5 (limited leather edition) 1. Kentucky, Northern— Encyclopedias. 2. Kentucky— Encyclopedias. I. Tenkotte, Paul A. II. Claypool, James C. F451.E55 2009 976.9'3003—dc22 2009027969

VAN VOAST, JAMES, GENERAL (b. September 19, 1827, Schenectady, N.Y.; d. July 16, 1915, Cincinnati, Ohio). James Van Voast, a commander of the Newport Barracks, was the son of John G. and Maria Teller Van Voast. His ancestors were some of the earliest settlers of New York. He acquired his early education at the Lyceum in Schenectady, N.Y., and received a BA from Union College in Schenectady in 1849. After college, he was admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., graduated in 1852, and was made a 2nd lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery the next year. On December 21, 1854, Van Voast was aboard the military steamship San Francisco, which was transporting troops from New York to California. The ship encountered a storm just out of New York Harbor, and the vessel was completely destroyed. Van Voast assisted the other officers in keeping the steamer afloat until rescue boats arrived and was praised for his gallant efforts. On December 5, 1855, Van Voast married Helen Francis Pierce in Massachusetts. That marriage produced two children. Later that year, Van Voast joined the 9th U.S. Infantry. In 1856, during the Yakima Indian Wars, he was stationed at Fort Dalles, Oregon Territory, along the Columbia River. He was also sent on an expedition to Fort Walla Walla in the Washington Territory, south of modern-day Spokane, Wash. It was in the West that Van Voast spent the major portion of his military career—building and upgrading remote forts used to protect the settlers of the western migration and also to guard the workers constructing the transcontinental railroads from the plains Indians. His position toward the Indians was fairly lenient. In the mid-1860s, while in charge of Fort Laramie, then in Oregon Territory, he allowed local Indian children to attend the military post’s school. He had opinions about how to deal with the American Indians, but his views held little influence in the chain of command above him. Occupied with military duties in San Francisco, he participated in the Civil War only at its conclusion, along the Florida panhandle. Van Voast’s first wife had died in childbirth, and on July 5, 1870, in St. Louis, Mo., he married Virginia Moss Harris, the daughter of a former mayor of Newport, Ky., and a granddaughter of Gen. James Taylor. Their daughter, Virginia Remsen Van Voast, born in 1873, became an acclaimed artist whose paintings were exhibited at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Van Voast and his second wife also had a son, Rufus Adrian Van Voast, who had a long and distinguished military career. In 1875 in a rare assignment in the Midwest, James Van Voast was the commander of the Newport Barracks and resided at 180 York St.

in Newport. A local militia unit was formed in his honor at Newport. Known as the Van Voast Light Guard, its members assisted in the enforcement of the law and the preservation of order in the city. Van Voast’s career returned him to the West, and in April 1883 he was made a brigadier general of the 9th Regiment of the U.S. Infantry. He retired because of injuries sustained while in the line of duty in Texas. His wife, Virginia, inherited land in modern Bellevue, Ky., which she subdivided into town lots, and a street was named Van Voast in the family’s honor. By 1900 the Van Voasts were living at 507 E. Third St., on the near east side of Cincinnati. James Van Voast died in 1915 of bronchial pneumonia at his home in Cincinnati and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate. Evergreen Cemetery Records, Southgate, Ky. Ohio Death Certificate No. 38946, for the year 1915. Robertson, E. B. “History of the Ninth Regiment of Infantry.” (accessed June 1, 2006). “Taps Sounded for Van Voast,” CE, July 18, 1915, 12. Who Was Who in American History—The Military. Chicago: Marquis Who’s Who, 1975.

Robin Caraway

VAN ZANDT, JOHN (b. 1791, Mason Co., Ky.; d. May 25, 1847, Hamilton Co., Ohio). John Van Zandt, an abolitionist, a minister, and a plantation owner, was the son of a wealthy plantation owner. In the early 1800s, Van Zandt operated a large plantation in Boone Co. on which there were several slaves. As a result of his religious convictions, it became increasingly obvious to him that “slavery was a sin.” He sold his plantation and moved to the “free state” of Ohio, freeing his slaves. Van Zandt became a Methodist minister in the Glendale, Ohio, area. Van Zandt played a pivotal part in the Underground Railroad, harboring many runaway slaves. It has been suggested that the character John Van Trompe in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book Uncle Tom’s Cabin is based on John Van Zandt. Stowe once took a female runaway slave to Van Zandt, who then delivered the slave to safety. On April 23, 1842, while driving his wagon just north of the Ohio River, Van Zandt spotted nine runaway slaves and gave them a ride. Slave-catchers eventually caught them with Van Zandt, and all but one, named Andrew, escaped. Salmon P. Chase, who later became chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, argued for Van Zandt that slavery was prohibited, based on a 1787 ordinance in the Northwest Territory, part of which later became the State of Ohio. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and Chase lost. In 1841 Van Zandt was expelled from the Methodist Church for lying about his slave-related activities. Once a prominent figure, Van Zandt sacrificed all for what he believed were injustices to humanity. Shunned by society, Van Zandt was also ruined financially by his efforts on behalf of runaway slaves. After the trial, his 11 children were sent to live with relatives throughout the United States.

He died at age 56 and was buried at Wesleyan Cemetery in the Northside area of Cincinnati. His property was sold to pay the staggering debts incurred in the courts. “Fugitive Slave Case Outlived Protagonists,” CE, June 16, 2005, A12. “Hero of Underground Railroad Honored,” CE, June 16, 2005, A1.

VARBLE, RACHEL M. (b. February 3, 1893, Shelbyville, Ky.; d. August 14, 1976, Fort Wright, Ky.). Novelist Rachel McBrayer Varble was the daughter of James and Sophia Hardin McBrayer. She was a graduate of the Science Hill Female Academy in Shelbyville, Ky. Rachel married Pinkney Varble, and the couple had one child, Annabelle. Pinkney was an executive with the American Radiator Corp., which operated plants in several states. Because of periodic transfers by his company, the family lived in a number of different cities. In the late 1930s, they moved to Northern Kentucky, where they resided along Leathers Rd. in Fort Mitchell. Early in her adult life, Rachel Varble was an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Colonial Dames of America; later she devoted most of her time and energy to a writing career, authoring 14 novels, most of them for young readers. One, Jane Clemens: The Story of Mark Twain’s Mother, was written especially for adults. Her novel Three against London was a 1962 Junior Literary Guild selection. Another of her works, A Time Will Come, written in 1940, had as its setting New York City in 1900. That novel recounted the lives of three women who suffered social and economic discrimination from a rich and tyrannical male relative. The problems of the women in the story symbolized the plight of most women, in that era’s male-dominated society. Their predicament led them to become zealous supporters of the women’s suff rage movement, led by Susan B. Anthony. The book was featured serially in a monthly women’s magazine. Later in life Rachel spent much of her free time working with a women’s group at Trinity Episcopal Church in Covington. She died at age 83 in the St. Charles Care Center in Covington. Her husband and their daughter survived her. Funeral ser vices were held at Trinity Episcopal Church, and she was buried in the Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville. “Author of Fourteen Novels, Dies,” KP, August 16, 1976, 9. “Varble, Rachel McBrayer,” KP, August 16, 1976, 11. “Women against Repression,” KE, June 4, 1941, 5.

VENABLE, JOHN WESLEY (b. March 30, 1822, Washington, D.C.; d. January 29, 1908, Hopkinsville, Ky.). Rev. J. W. Venable, an Episcopal minister and an artist, was the grand chaplain of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) of the United States for 39 years. Venable was the son of Charles


Rev. John Wesley Venable, ca. 1872.

L. and Eliza W. Venable; his father was a tinsmith by trade and a common councilman for the city of Washington, D.C., and his mother was a member of the Shropshire family of Virginia. J. W. Venable attended the Capitol Hill Seminary in Washington, D.C., and later studied under the artist Charby, then resident in the capital. In 1840, at the age of 18, Venable set out for the plantations of Maryland, seeking portrait work. He met with success and made two additional journeys through Maryland that year and one into Virginia. In 1841 he made a second trip through Virginia and then sailed for Louisiana to be the company clerk in a loggingcamp operation that secured live oak timber for the U.S. Navy. In 1842 Venable moved to Covington, Ky., where he soon became involved in the community life of that fledgling river city. In November of 1842, Venable and 13 others signed the resolutions organizing Trinity Episcopal Church, and Venable served as the secretary of its first vestry. In 1843, in conjunction with his 21st birthday, he was admitted to Covington’s Washington Lodge No. 3 of the IOOF, which membership was to become a life’s work for him. He also joined the Kenton Riflemen, serving as an officer. In Covington, Venable painted portraits of the local gentry. On a grander scale, he painted parade banners for the Sons of Temperance, a pictorial flag for the Kenton Riflemen, and a portrait of George Washington for Washington Lodge No. 3. His work drew the favorable attention of the local press. The Licking Valley Register urged its readers to “visit the painting rooms of Mr. John W. Venable,” claiming that “there they [could not] fail to admire the skill of the artist, and the accuracy of his portraits.” Periodically, Venable traveled to Danville, Ky., taking a room and advertising his availability for portrait work and art instruction. There in 1846 he

married Sarah E. Farnsworth. Shortly after his marriage, Venable quit Covington for Central Kentucky to work in Danville, Shelbyville, and environs. It was probably in Shelbyville in 1848–1849 that Venable became the first drawing teacher to the very young Thomas S. Noble, whose depictions of slavery brought him early fame. Noble later, in 1887, led the newly opened Art Academy of Cincinnati, having directed its predecessors since 1869. Venable was announced in 1849 as a candidate for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church. After being made a deacon in 1851, he became an assistant to Rev. John N. Norton, rector of the Church of the Ascension in Frankfort, Ky. Norton tutored Venable in his religious studies. That year Venable also accepted his initial position of missionary at St. John’s Church in Versailles, Ky. During these years of preparation for the priesthood, he taught drawing, painting, literature, and philosophy at Shelby College, an Episcopal institution in Shelbyville, Ky. In 1854 Venable was ordained by the Right Reverend Benjamin Bosworth Smith, bishop of Kentucky, at the Church of the Ascension in Frankfort. Venable resigned his post in Frankfort in 1855 and moved to Versailles to focus on his work with St. John’s Church. These first years in Versailles allowed him time for drawing and painting. However, in 1859 he began a 23-year period of ministering to two and three parishes concurrently. In his long career with the Episcopal Church, Venable was in charge of four Kentucky parishes: St. John’s Church in Versailles, 1851–1882; St. Philip’s Church in Harrodsburg, 1859–1862 and 1874– 1878; the Church of the Holy Trinity in Georgetown, 1863–1882; and Grace Church in Hopkinsville, 1883–1894. For each parish Venable raised funds and built a new church. With the exception of the one at Versailles, the houses of worship he built stand and serve to this day. St. Philip’s Church in Harrodsburg was found worthy of mention in Rexford Newcomb’s Architecture in Old Kentucky. Venable concluded his active ministry in 1894 owing to his age and increasing disability. In retirement, he was tended by his second wife, Fannie M. Venable, his first wife having died in 1873. Although retired, Venable continued in his role as the grand chaplain of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the IOOF of the United States, a position he had held since 1868 and in which he continued for the rest of his life. He lived in Hopkinsville but maintained his membership in the McKee Lodge No. 35 of Versailles, where he was elected a member in 1854. With the duties of the parish behind him, Venable was able to prepare the conceptual layout of The Official History and Literature of Odd Fellowship: The Three-Link Fraternity, first copyrighted in 1897. The grand chaplain served as an associate editor of the 896-page tome. He also penned the closing chapters, which provide an overview of the order at a time when nearly 1 million members embraced the “Three-Links” of “Friendship, Love and Truth” and were committed to the order’s primary mission of aiding the less


fortunate, critically important in those years before government welfare and social ser vices. Venable died at his residence, Cottage Home, in Hopkinsville, and was buried on January 30, 1908, in Riverside Cemetery in Hopkinsville after ser vices at his beloved Grace Church. Ser vices at the cemetery were conducted by the Green River Lodge No. 54 of the IOOF. The news of his death was carried by the Associated Press and appeared in many of the nation’s newspapers. Averdick, Michael R. J.W. Venable: Artist and Minister, 1822–1908. Forthcoming. “Portrait and Miniature Painting,” LVR, November 11, 1843, 3.

Michael R. Averdick

VENT HAVEN MUSEUM. William S. Berger of Fort Mitchell, who was chairman of the Cambridge Tile Company from the mid-1930s through the 1940s, founded Vent Haven Museum as a charitable foundation in 1963. Over the previous 40 years, he had collected more than 500 ventriloquist figures (“dummies”) and supporting memorabilia, and he contributed his entire collection to the museum. The Vent Haven Museum became, and continues to be, the largest of its type in the world and is a mecca for ventriloquists from all over the world. Its collection of figures has increased to 675 and grows each year from donations. When William S. Berger died in 1972, museum president John R. S. Brooking constructed a building in Berger’s honor to house the museum’s best figures and to complement the other two buildings on the property at 33 W. Maple St., Fort Mitchell, which contain the balance of the collection. The curator of the museum maintains the collection and gives tours from May 1 through September 30. The museum sponsors the Annual Ventriloquist Convention in July at the Drawbridge Convention Center in Fort Mitchell, where more than 400 ventriloquists, both amateurs and professionals, gather to promote the art of ventriloquism and support the museum. More than 1,000 people visit the museum annually, and many professional ventriloquists bequeath their figures to the museum. The museum houses replicas of Edgar Bergen’s Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, originals of Jimmy Nelson’s Danny O’Day and Farfel, Jeff Dunham’s Walter and Peanut, Senior Wenses’s Johnny, and many others. “A Dummy’s Guide to Dummies,” CE, July 15, 1999, C1–C2. “A Museum for Dummies,” KP, July 22, 1998, 1KK– 3KK. “Talk about a Real Dummy,” KP, July 16, 1994, 8A.

John R. S. Brooking

VERONA. Verona is a small rural community located in southern Boone Co. at the crossroads of Ky. Rts. 14, 16, and 491. The larger Verona area also encompasses portions of northern Gallatin and Grant counties. The exact circumstances leading to Verona’s settlement, and its founders, are

912 VEST, JOHN L. unknown. One of the earliest settlements in the Verona area was known as the Stephenson Settlement. It is mentioned in the “History of New Bethel Baptist Church,” as Zadock and Delphia Stephenson deeded one acre of land to the church in 1845. Today, this property is part of the grounds of the New Bethel Cemetery. There are two theories as to the location of the Stephenson Settlement. According to one theory, Stephenson Mill, owned and operated by Arthur Stephenson, was located on McCoy’s Fork Creek, and the Stephenson schoolhouse was nearby. The mill was located at the current I-71 overpass just north of the Verona interchange. Another possible location of Stephenson Settlement is along Eades Rd. near the Ky. Rt. 16 intersection. Verona once was a thriving business community surrounded by farmland. A family could purchase the goods they needed in town. Businesses included a bank, a blacksmith shop, a building supply store, a creamery, a dry goods store, a funeral home, grocery stores, a jail, a post office, saloons, and tobacco shops. The local 1883 Lake atlas indicates that the H. Anderson family owned one of the early businesses in Verona; Anderson was a farmer and a wagon maker who settled in Verona in 1805. Names of other early families in Verona included Coyle, Hamilton, Johnson, Porter, Renaker, Richards, Ryan, Stephenson, Vest, Waller, and Whitson. The Verona Post Office was established on March 24, 1834, and the first postmaster was Alexander McPherson. The post office was at the corner of Ky. Rts. 14 and 16 in a large building that also housed the local barbershop, the dry goods store, and the grocery store. Trains began delivering the mail to the Verona Depot soon after construction of the Louisville, Cincinnati, and Lexington Railroad (today the CSX) through Boone Co. in 1869. The old building now serves as a local gathering place called Verona City Hall. Currently, the post office is in the firehouse building. The train depot was at the current water station on Ky. Rt. 491. Trains provided an important mode of transportation for the citizens of Verona. For example, passenger trains transported students from other communities to Verona School. At one time, Verona was also a college town: Nancy E. Hamilton operated the prestigious League Institute at Verona in the 1880s. The local public school, Verona High School, was established in 1914. The Verona Bank, one of the oldest banks in Boone Co., was established in 1904 by a group of concerned citizens and remained in operation throughout the Great Depression. William M. Whitson was the first president of the bank. It was the members of the Verona Bank Board of Directors who were responsible for the incorporation of the city of Verona in 1909. The new town’s leadership became inactive, however, and the incorporation was eventually dissolved. The Renaker family owned and operated Verona Garage. In the early days, when patrons purchased coal and feed at this garage, scales built in the ground were used to weigh each wagonload or truckload of goods. In later years, the owners of the garage sold gas products and provided towing and mechanic ser vices. The Verona Garage and

the Renaker home were destroyed by fire in January 2003. Churches in the Verona vicinity have been important to the community as the sites of worship ser vices, ice cream socials, and picnics. The New Bethel Baptist Church was established in 1840. There was a Methodist Church in Verona at the New Bethel Baptist Church site on Ky. Rt. 14. The Concord Baptist Church is located on Ky. Rt. 16 in nearby Gallatin Co. In the mid-1850s in Verona, Irish immigrants were attending a Roman Catholic mission, which became St. Patrick Church. In the early 1950s, St. Patrick Church merged with All Saints Catholic Church in Walton. The Verona Full Gospel Church was established in 1973, in the home of Nanny Gumm. During a small group prayer meeting, Gumm told Rev. David Hocker that he needed to start a church in Verona, and she gave him one dollar toward its establishment. Today, the church, with approximately 65 members, is active in the community. The Verona Fire Department began in 1968, with an old army truck equipped with a water tank and a pump. The fire truck was housed in a garage along Ky. Rt. 491. The Life Squad dates back to 1978, after Dr. William M. Waller challenged the citizens of Verona to provide emergency ser vices for the community. Nearly 35 dedicated volunteers today staff the Verona fire department and life squad. An Atlas of Boone, Kenton, and Campbell Counties, Kentucky. Philadelphia: D. J. Lake, 1883. Boone County Banner, March 1, 1897. Boone County Recorder, historical ed., September 4, 1930. Flynn, Terry. “Close to Home in Verona,” CE, June 29, 1998, B1. “History of New Bethel Baptist Church,” 2001, New Bethel Baptist Church, Verona, Ky. Reis, Jim. “St. Patrick in Verona Filled Spiritual Needs for 87 Years,” KP, March 16, 1998, 4K. “Schools and Teachers,” DC, September 11, 1883, 1. “Verona Fire Department Marks 25th Anniversary,” KP, November 9, 1993, 9A.

Karen L. Leek

VEST, JOHN L. (b. November 13, 1875, Verona, Ky.; d. November 15, 1960, Walton, Ky.). Attorney John Lewis Vest was the eldest son of Carter Hamilton Vest and Miranda Jane Lewis Vest and a great-great-grandson of George Vest, a Revolutionary War soldier who had a land grant in Boone Co. on the north side of the Walton-Verona Rd. John Vest practiced law in Kenton, Campbell, and Boone counties for more than 60 years; at the time of his death, he was considered the dean of Boone Co. lawyers. For the most part a corporate lawyer, Vest served on the boards of numerous corporations and financial institutions, including the Formica Corporation, of which he was majority stockholder; Equitable Band & Trust Company of Walton, of which he was a founder; the Bank of Independence; the Income Life Insurance Company of Louisville; and Lexington’s Angliana Loose Leaf Tobacco Warehouse. Educated at National Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio, he first studied law under John G.

Tomlin and passed the bar exam in August 1899; Vest opened his first law office in Independence. While practicing law there, he was also active in the formation of a fledgling telephone business. In the summer of 1904, Vest, serving as city attorney, found himself in need of a defense attorney, because he had shot and killed Tom Riley, the town marshal, in a dispute over a telephone exchange located in Riley’s home and overseen by Riley’s wife. The two men had had words on the morning of July 24, 1904, and had to be separated. That afternoon they met again, and witnesses said Vest walked away but Riley followed. After being restrained again, Riley came after Vest. Vest said he saw Riley reach for his pocket. Vest pulled out a revolver and shot three times, hitting Riley twice and killing him. A search of Riley’s pockets turned up only a slingshot, but Vest was acquitted on a claim of self-defense. In 1906 Vest married Edna May Loomis of Kenton Co., and they had one child, Walter Dudley Vest. In 1910 John Vest, in partnership with Tomlin, opened what became an extensive law practice in Walton, where he worked until his retirement in 1957. During his time in Walton, he was also active in various business interests, including a Chevrolet auto dealership that sold more than 500 cars annually in Boone and Gallatin counties. An attorney most of his career, Vest served as a special judge in the Campbell Co. Circuit Court in 1944, during a gambling abatement suit. Vest’s younger siblings were also active in the community: his sister, Lizzie Vest (1880–1967), was postmaster of Verona from 1920 to 1950; his brother, D. Hess Vest (1892–1979), was postmaster of Walton through the mid-1960s; and another sister, Sallie Vest (1877–1975), spent her career working with the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. John Vest was buried in Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell. “John L. Vest,” Boone County Recorder, historical ed., September 4, 1930. “Noted Attorney Dies,” Walton Advertiser, November 17, 1960, 1. Reis, Jim. “Guns Brought Death to Three Who Wore Badge,” KP, February 3, 1997, 4K. “Rites Set Friday for John L. Vest,” KP, November 16, 1960, 1.

Stephen M. Vest

VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL CENTER. The Veterans Administration Medical Center in Fort Thomas is located at the intersection of S. Fort Thomas Ave. and River Rd. and is housed in an army barracks constructed in 1938. From the 1890s until 1940, the military installation at Fort Thomas was home to various U.S. Army infantry regiments. Initially, the fort was able to house only part of a regiment in its barracks. In 1938 the Work Progress Administration (WPA) built a 375-man, multistory brick barracks, a facility that was used by the 10th Infantry Regiment from 1938 until 1940, when the unit shipped overseas. From 1940 until 1944, the barracks was


used both as the post’s headquarters and as a regional military induction center to process draftees into all branches of ser vice. In 1944 the Army Air Force took over the barracks and used it as a rehabilitation center for its personnel until late in 1945. In 1946 the barracks was turned over to the Veteran’s Administration (VA), which spent $172,000 converting it into a hospital. This expenditure was announced as only the first step in locating a 750-bed VA hospital at the site in Fort Thomas. The first patients entered the hospital on September 2, 1947. The funds necessary to increase the size of the Fort Thomas facility to 750 beds, however, was never forthcoming from the U.S. Congress, in spite of the persistent efforts of local congressman Brent Spence. Instead, on January 23, 1957, the Fort Thomas VA Hospital was made a division of the newly built Cincinnati Veterans Hospital on Vine St. in the Cincinnati suburb of Corryville. In 1967 the Fort Thomas VA Hospital was converted into a 206-bed VA nursing home, and all other previously provided VA medical services were transferred to the Cincinnati facility. The mission of the Fort Thomas facility has been changed, over the years, to supporting the needs of local veterans. In 2005 the Fort Thomas VA facility remained a division of the Cincinnati VA Medical Center, even though the two operations are situated in different federal regions. The Fort Thomas Veterans Administration Medical Center is now configured as a 131-bed Nursing Care Unit (presently using only about 60 beds), a 50-bed Homeless Veterans Domiciliary Unit, and a 10-bed Substance Abuse Domiciliary Care Unit. Fogarty, Bob. “To Revamp Ft. Thomas VA as ‘Model Nursing Home,’ ” KP, March 25, 1967. 1K. “Ft. Thomas Post Passes to Air Force,” KP, September 30, 1944, 1. Fort Thomas VA Facility Historical File, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Cincinnati.





Government Center Center of town near railroad tracks

WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam All veterans

Elizabeth St. Second and Bracken Sts. Court House square, NE Corner

WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam WWI, WWII WWII

Dayton Wilder

Veterans Park, Sixth Ave. and Berry St. Behind city building

All veterans All veterans


Park behind VFW Post



In front of city building

All veterans

Fort Thomas

Water Tower, Old Fort Thomas Post

Spanish-American War

Boone Co. Florence Walton Bracken Co. Augusta Brooksville Campbell Co.

Carroll Co. General Butler State Park Hwy 227 at park entrance Carrollton County Courthouse Square Gallatin Co. Warsaw

100 Main St., Court House lawn

WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam

County Court House lawn Beside Grant Co. Middle School, facing Dry Ridge Elementary School

WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam WWI, WWII

Villa Hills

Buttermilk Pk. and Collins Rd.

WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam


Commonwealth Ave. and Dixie Highway



Rittie’s Corner


Inside entrance to American Legion Post 203

World War I

Linden Grove Cemetery

Civil War (Union and Confederate)

Holmes High School Campus


Grant Co. Williamstown Dry Ridge Kenton Co.


Charles H. Bogart

VETERANS’ MEMORIALS AND MONUMENTS. Each of the 11 Northern Kentucky counties has a county veterans’ memorial. The practice of constructing veterans’ memorials and monuments in the United States began to expand in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These early memorials and monuments were mostly dedicated to Civil War veterans; there were monuments to individual soldiers as well as to entire units that fought. Depending on the location, they honored soldiers from both the North and the South and were erected in towns and cemeteries and on battlefields. These memorials were constructed through the efforts and sometimes with the funding of veterans’ organizations, including the Grand Army of the Republic (Union veterans) and the United Confederate Veterans Association, to honor their fallen comrades. As the United States became involved in other conflicts, especially World War I and World War II, individual states and counties as well as many cities and towns began to create memorials to their war dead. Today, veterans’ me-

All Kentucky veterans WWI, WWII, Iraqi freedom

Fort Wright

In front of city building

All veterans


City Park

Korea and Vietnam

In front of County Court House Maysville Cemetery

WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam Civil War (Union)

In front of County Court House I.O.O.F. Cemetery

WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam Civil War

In front of County Court House In front of VFW, Second and Park Sts.

WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam All veterans

In front of County Court House City park, center of town

All veterans WWI, WWII, Korea

Mason Co. Maysville Owen Co. Owenton Pendleton Co. Falmouth Robertson Co. Mount Olivet


914 VFW morials can be found in all 50 states. These tributes to veterans in many cases cover more than one conflict, and some honor all veterans regardless of when they served. The table is a sampling of veterans’ memorials and monuments in Northern Kentucky, including their general location. Carroll County Tourism. “Kentucky Veterans Memorial”; “General Butler State Resort Park and Conference Center.” _ to_do.htm (accessed April 20, 2007). War. guid=51c899fa-88c4-4eae-b8ff-c099130a6f62. A listing of Civil War veteran monuments with dates they were dedicated.

Robert B. Snow

VFW. The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) is the oldest active military veterans organization in the United States, and it is strongly represented in Northern Kentucky. In 2004 the VFW included more than 2 million members organized into 9,781 posts worldwide. The VFW traces its origin to 1899 when demobilized Spanish-American War veterans formed a number of fraternal organizations. During the next few years, veterans of the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rebellion in China also formed fraternal societies. These various separate fraternal groups slowly began to combine into one large orga ni zation modeled on the Civil War’s Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) veteran orga ni zation. In 1914 the 20th-century military fraternal veteran organizations merged to form the VFW. Membership was open to any member of the U.S. armed ser vice (Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and later, Air Force) who served in a military campaign outside the United States. As a result of this broadening of membership requirements to all veterans who had served outside the United States, participants in the Spanish-American War (see National Guard, Spanish-American War), the Cuban Pacification, and other U.S. overseas military actions were allowed to join. Within a few years, the veterans of the Mexican Expedition Campaign of 1916–1917, World War I, and pacification missions in Central America and the Caribbean also began to join. In 1921 VFW membership was opened to women veterans. World War II, the Korean War, the Gulf and Iraq wars, and a host of other post–World War II overseas unilateral actions and United Nations– supported military missions have been added to the groups eligible. Since its beginning, the VFW has promoted a strong defense establishment, veteran benefits (the GI Bill, the Veteran Bonus, veteran preference, and disability and survivor benefits), and patriotism. The VFW is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. The Northern Kentucky region has 16 VFW posts: No. 3205 Alexandria, No. 9535 Augusta, No. 1484 Covington, No. 7099 Covington, No. 7453 Covington, No. 2899 Dayton, No. 6423 Erlanger, No. 1978 Falmouth, No. 6095 Latonia, No. 2734 Maysville, No. 1404 Newport, No. 5662 Newport, No. 3199 Owenton, No. 1095 Ryland Heights, No. 3186 Southgate, and No. 11140 Warsaw.

Mason, Herbert M. VFW: Our First Century. Lenexa, Kans.: Addax, 1999. “VFW Elects Postal Carrier,” KTS, June 17, 1958, 2A. “VFW: More than Just a Bar,” KE, July 3, 1995, A10. “VFW Post Given Citation,” KE, February 21, 1996, B3.

Charles H. Bogart

VIETNAM WAR (1959–April 30, 1975). Northern Kentuckians were among the courageous soldiers who served in the Vietnam War. The war in Vietnam is the longest military action by the United States in its history. The nation’s role in Vietnam began in 1950 when U.S. equipment and advisers were sent to help French colonial forces fight an attempt by the Viet namese to win their independence. By 1954 the French had lost this war and Vietnam was divided into two sections: the Communist North and the Democratic South. In 1956 the United States took over full responsibility of advising and building up the South Vietnamese military to prevent Vietnam from being unified under a Communist government. The first U.S. combat deaths in Vietnam occurred in 1959. By 1960 a new orga ni zation in the North, named the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, was established with the goal of defeating the South through guerilla warfare and by insurgency operations. This group, called by Americans the Viet Cong (VC), began to step up operations in 1961, including incursions into neighboring Laos. By 1962, as a result of the worsening situation, the number of American advisers in Vietnam was increased from 700 to nearly 12,000, and American forces began providing air support for the South Vietnamese military. It was during this escalation that the first Northern Kentucky soldier was killed: on November 5, 1962, 1st Lt. William Tully of the U.S. Air Force (USAF), from Mason Co., was shot down while supporting South Vietnamese ground forces. In August 1964 an incident was said to occur in the Gulf of Tonkin involving an attack on U.S. warships by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Following this alleged incident, the United States attacked a North Vietnamese naval installation. Shortly afterward, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was signed by President Lyndon Johnson (1963– 1969), increasing military involvement in Vietnam but not actually declaring war. In November 1965 the first major battle between North Vietnamese and U.S. forces took place when 450 soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division (Air mobile) were airlifted by helicopter to the Ia Drang Valley in the central highlands of Vietnam. Their objective was to destroy a North Vietnamese force, but they were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops. During the three-day battle, 234 Americans were killed, including Carroll Co.’s Sgt. Paris Dusch of the Army’s 7th Cavalry Regiment, and more than 1,000 NVA soldiers were killed, making this the first major U.S. victory of the war. From 1966 through 1969, the war escalated and the number of American troops in Vietnam steadily increased. The highest troop strength in Vietnam reached 543,582 on April 30, 1969. The only Ken-

tucky National Guard unit to be called to active duty during the Vietnam war was Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, from Carroll Co. It saw ser vice in 1968 and 1969. This period was also among the costliest in terms of U.S. combat deaths, especially for Northern Kentucky, which lost 75 men during these years. One of the heaviest and costliest years of fighting was 1968. In January 1968 a combined force of NVA and VC units launched a surprise countrywide offensive known as the Tet Offensive. It was undertaken primarily because of the hope that it would incite an uprising against the South Vietnamese government. The offensive included attacks on 100 towns and cities, including 36 provincial capitals and the national capital, Saigon. Among the Northern Kentuckians killed during this offensive, which lasted from January to June 1968, were Army Cpl. Samuel G. Hurry of Kenton Co., who was killed on February 2, 1968, and Army Pfc. William Eldridge, also from Kenton Co., who was killed on April 4, 1968. During combat action that took place on May 27, 1969, Army Sgt. Charles C. “Chalkie” Fleek, of Boone Co., was serving with Charlie Company, 127th Wolfhounds, 25th Infantry Division, during an ambush operation in the Binh Doung Province. During this action a grenade landed near some of Fleek’s men, and instead of taking cover he threw himself on the grenade and was killed, saving his men. For this act of heroism, Fleek was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor; he was the most decorated Northern Kentucky soldier of the Vietnam War. At various stages, the war involved clashes between small units patrolling mountain and jungle areas as well as amphibious operations and combat operations on the waterways of Vietnam. The war also saw guerrilla attacks on villages, towns, and even in the cities. A large-scale air war was also fought in Vietnam by both the USAF and the U.S. Navy (USN), which targeted North Vietnamese cities, industrial targets, and supply lines. Between 1966 and 1968, a major air campaign was fought over North Vietnam that included bombing raids, fighter support missions (which dealt with enemy fighters and surface-to-air missile sites), and flights to gather intelligence. It was during a mission over North Vietnam on October 21, 1968, that Kenton Co.’s Lt. Col. Alden O’Brien, USAF, was shot down and killed in action, making him the highestranking Northern Kentucky officer killed in action. The bombings of North Vietnam ceased on November 1, 1968, by order of President Johnson, as a gesture to bring the North to the peace talks in Paris, France. The air war shifted to Laos, and from there the North continued to stage attacks, until the North again became a target in 1972. Aviation was also an important part of the war in South Vietnam. Helicopters played a vital role in troop movement, evacuation of casualties, command-and-control missions, ground troop support, and movement of supplies. They were used by all branches of the armed forces, but primarily by the Army and the Marine Corps (USMC). During a mission on August 28, 1968, a Marine UH-1E Huey gunship of Marine Squadron HML-167 was flying a night “Firefly” mission to


spot and attack enemy positions. The helicopter was hit by enemy ground fire, crashed, and exploded, killing three members of its crew. Among those killed was Cpl. John B. Becker, USMC, of Campbell Co., who was the gunner on the mission. The USAF used light aircraft, such as the O-1E Birddog, for low-level reconnaissance and support missions. On September 8, 1967, during one such reconnaissance mission near Bien Hoa, Campbell Co.’s Air Force captains Albert Sayer and J. J. Cappel were shot down by automatic weapon fire. Both were trapped in the wreckage and survived the crash, but Sayer died from his wounds. USN missions included attacking areas along the river that were used as supply and staging areas for the NVA and the VC, intercepting supplies being smuggled up and down the rivers, and supporting ground operations either by fire support or the transporting of assault troops to specific areas. On July 23, 1969, a 22-boat column transporting the 360th Infantry to designated landing beaches along the Rach Ben Tre River was ambushed. Two sailors on the lead boat were killed, and 15 were wounded during the assault; one of the two dead was BM1 John F. Bobb, USN, from Kenton Co. In an earlier river mission, called Operation Allen Brook, members of the 3rd battalion of the 5th Marines attacked Go Noi Island southwest of Danang, which was being used as a base by NVA and VC forces. During the assault on the island, four marines, including Kenton Co.’s Pfc. Bradley Bowling, USMC, were killed. Following the election of President Richard Nixon (1969–1974), a gradual reduction in troops began. Throughout the war, especially after the Tet Offensive of 1968 and the Mai Lai massacre, antiwar protests heated up in the United States. Although many of these protests were peaceful, some did erupt into violence. In Northern Kentucky, war protests tended to be peaceful in nature. In 1970 President Nixon ordered operations against NVA and VC troops that were using Cambodia as a staging ground for attacks against U.S. forces. One of the few casualties of the fighting in Cambodia from Northern Kentucky was Kenton Co.’s 1st Lt. William J. Brewer, U.S. Army, who was killed in action on May 14, 1970. From 1970 to 1972, Nixon authorized reductions in troop strength seven times, and by May 1, 1972, troop levels had been reduced to 69,000. On March 30, 1972, the North launched the biggest offensive since Tet in 1968, and by April, Nixon renewed the bombing of the North. The operation, known as Linebacker II, included aircraft of the USN as well as units of the 7th and 8th Air Forces. The highest-ranking officer from Northern Kentucky to serve during the war was Owen Co.’s Lt. Gen. Gerald Johnson, USAF, commander of the U.S. 8th Air Force, based at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam. He held this command from 1971 to 1973 and was involved in the planning of Linebacker II. Linebacker II forced the North back to the bargaining table, and by January 1973, peace was in sight. On January 27, 1973, the war officially ended and most U.S. troops were withdrawn. Even with the war officially at an end, some American troops

remained to advise the South Vietnamese military. On March 9, 1975, the North launched their last major offensive in the South, taking control of the South in 55 days. They had gambled that the United States would not recommit its forces, and their gamble paid off. The last Americans left Vietnam with the evacuation of Saigon on April 29, 1975. During the course of the war, Northern Kentuckians fought in every branch of the armed forces; some had joined voluntarily and some were drafted. Of the 1,103 Kentuckians that were killed in Vietnam, 109 were from Northern Kentucky counties. The losses by county were as follows: Boone, 11; Bracken, 1; Campbell, 35; Carroll, 2; Gallatin, 2; Grant, 4; Kenton, 44; Mason, 4; Owen, 4; Pendleton, 1; and Robertson, 1. By branch of ser vice there were 5 in the Air Force, 66 in the Army, 35 in the Marine Corps, and 3 in the Navy. Two Northern Kentuckians are still listed as Missing in Action (see Vietnam War, Missing in Action); they are Campbell Co.’s Capt. John S. Ross, USAF, and Kenton Co.’s Pfc. Gary Lee Hall, USMC. Hall can also be considered the last Northern Kentuckian to lose his life, since he was listed as MIA on May 15, 1975. Herring, George C. America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950–1975. New York: Random House, 1988. In Memory of Captain Albert Francis Jr Sayer. http:// (accessed May 10, 2007). Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial. www.kyviet (accessed May 14, 2007). Kleber, John E., ed. The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1992. The National Archives. “State-Level Casualty Lists for the Vietnam War.” vietnam -war/casualty -lists/state -level -by -town .html (accessed May 2, 2007). No Quarter. “Vietnam Casualty Search Engine.” www (accessed May 4, 2007). Rather, Julia D., ed. Register of Vietnam War Casualties from Kentucky. Frankfort, Ky.: Department of Libraries and Archives, 1988. U.S. Naval Forces. “John F. Bobb.” www.mrfa .org/ navykia .htm (accessed May 10, 2007). Vietnam War Statistics. statistics.htm (accessed May 15, 2007). Vietnam War Timeline. .htm#time%20line (accessed May 5, 2007).

Robert B. Snow

VIETNAM WAR, MISSING IN ACTION. Two individuals from the Northern Kentucky region, Joseph Shaw Ross and Gary Lee Hall, went off to fight in the Vietnam War but never returned. They are still classified missing in action. Capt. Joseph Shaw Ross is a descendant of a prominent Fort Thomas family. The Shaw family was present in Campbell Co. from the early days of its settlement. Ross, the son of Perry S. and Katherine Shaw Ross, grew up along Highland Ave. in Fort Thomas. In 1961 he graduated from Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, where he played football on the school’s first state champi-


onship team of 1960. From there he went to the U.S. Air Force Academy, graduating with a commission in 1965. On August 1, 1968, while he was flying his F4D Phantom II out of Da Nang Air Force Base in South Vietnam with the 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron, his aircraft was shot down during a night reconnaissance mission. This took place near the Ban Karia Pass on the Laos-Vietnam border, in a mountainous area. There have been no reports indicating what happened to him, whether he is dead or alive, or whether he is living in captivity. A memorial ser vice was held for Captain Ross at the Evergreen Cemetery Chapel in Southgate on March 17, 1975. Gary Lee Hall was born in Covington on July 26, 1956, the son of Seldon and Norma Georgorie Hall. Gary graduated from Holmes High School in 1974. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, and in May 1975 was assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine, 3rd Marine Division. After the USS Mayaguez incident, when Cambodian naval forces captured the ship and its crew en route to resupply U.S. military bases in Thailand, President Gerald Ford (1974–1977) authorized military action to return the ship and its crew. Hall was a marine assigned to the Operation Mayaguez task force, and he took part in the combat that occurred; however, Hall was left behind in the confusion of battle. His memorial marker at Holmes High School reads, “Captured and executed by enemy forces after heroically defending the evacuation of his fellow Marines [at] Koh Tang Island, Cambodia May 15, 1975.” If the account given on this marker is correct, though it has never been verified, Hall was the last or the second-to-last ser viceman killed in a combat mission connected with the Vietnam War. Currently, however, the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office lists Hall as “unaccounted-for,” just as it does Joseph Shaw Ross. Holmes High School Alumni Records, Holmes High School, Covington, Ky. “Tri-States Missing in Action,” CE, April 2, 2000, A14.

VILLA HILLS. Villa Hills, a residential city in northern Kenton Co., is bordered by the Ohio River and Bromley on the north, by Erlanger and Boone Co. on the west, and by Crescent Springs on the south and east. It was incorporated as a sixthclass city in 1962. The first known permanent settlers arrived in about 1785. Robert McKay, his wife, and seven children traveled from Frederick Co., Va., to settle on land that was deeded to him for ser vice in the Revolutionary War. His land was bounded by the Ohio River, Dry Creek, and Pleasant Run Creek. It is believed that the McKays owned around 3,000 acres. In 1825, the granddaughter of Robert McKay married Charles W. Scott and was deeded about 300 acres. In 1843 the Scotts began construction of a two-story white brick house that stood until 2004 on Highwater Rd., overlooking the Ohio River. The Scott home place had been continuously occupied by family members from 1843 to 2004.

916 VILLA MADONNA ACADEMY In 1903 the Sisters of St. Benedict purchased about 85 acres of the W. C. Collins Estate, on which were built the St. Walburg Convent and the Villa Madonna Academy, which was originally a boarding and day school for girls. The sisters continued to purchase adjacent property and currently own about 230 acres. Th is land is now home to Villa Daycare; Villa Montessori School; the modern Villa Madonna Academy, a private coeducational school for grades 1–12; the St. Walburg Convent and Motherhouse; several historic homes; a cemetery for the sisters; and the Madonna Manor Nursing Home, opened by the sisters in 1964. The full-care nursing home is surrounded by independent-living apartments. Around 1900, what is now Villa Hills was unincorporated county farmland dubbed unofficially Madonna Acres and Ludlow. Some of the farm owners at that time were named Boh, Cleveland, Collins, Eubanks, Kremer, Krumpelman, Maegley, Schreck, Scott, Summe, and Thirs. The creation of I-75 in the early 1960s brought residents from the cities to the new suburbs. The streets existing then were Buttermilk Pk. and Collins and Amsterdam Rds. With the 1955 sale of the Boh and Schreck farms came the development of new streets: Ann, Frank, Kenridge, Mary, Rardin Ct., and Sunglow. In 1962 the population was 425. Fearing annexation from Covington, a group of neighbors formed a board of trustees and borrowed $300 from the Villa Hills Civic Club to incorporate as a city. The original trustees of Villa Hills were George Parsons, chairman, William Krumpelman, Roger Nolting, Robert Springelmeyer, and Robert Stephenson. Harry Rigney was police judge; Gerhard Tebelman, marshal; Joseph Spille, treasurer; and Betty Stivers, secretary pro tem. The first order of business was to annex the property surrounding the original one-half square mile of Villa Hills. The property was obtained and Villa Hills grew to 3.5 square miles. The trustees realized that if they wanted growth, they must take on the huge project of replacing septic tanks with a sanitary sewer system. This was undertaken and accomplished, with the first families able to tap into the system in 1967. The Voice of Villa Hills, a free monthly newsletter, was first published in June 1967 and delivered to 370 homes. Today, the newspaper continues to be published by an all-volunteer staff. By 1968 the state legislature passed a bill that raised Villa Hills to a fift h-class city. With this change, the city replaced the title of chairman of the board by that of mayor. So Tom Braun, who was the chairman at the time, became the first mayor of Villa Hills. In 1968 the Vietnam War claimed the life of one resident, Sgt. Ronald L. Niewahner. A street in the Amsterdam Village subdivision is named in his honor. Recreation has always been important to Villa Hills residents. In the mid-1960s, teams were created for youth football, knothole baseball, and softball; in the mid-1970s, soccer was introduced to the area. The Villa Hills Civic Club purchased 28 acres of land, including a lake and a public building, from longtime residents Joe and Helen Franzen and cre-

ated Franzen’s Fields, used for baseball, softball, and soccer. The building is the home of the Civic Club and the site of social activities sponsored by the club, including the Easter Egg Hunt, the Christmas Party, and the Halloween Haunted Trail. The early 1970s found the city in need of more fields, so an agreement was signed with the Sisters of St. Benedict to lease acreage along Amsterdam Rd. for $1 per year. Originally, the baseball diamonds there were called Tom Braun Fields, in honor of the first mayor. A soccer field was added and named LeRoux ”Bud” Cunningham Field in honor of the city’s second mayor, who was instrumental in the creation of youth soccer teams in Northern Kentucky. Around 1980, the first Villa Hills City Building was built on Rogers Rd., providing a permanent home to the Villa Hills Police and Public Works departments. The year 1980 also brought the annexation of Prospect Point, a condominium and apartment community off Amsterdam Rd. overlooking the Ohio River. This community has 359 condominiums and 139 apartments. In the late 1980s, Villa Hills was the first city in Northern Kentucky to institute a recycling program. It began with a voluntary program, in which residents brought recyclables to the City Building parking lot and volunteers separated the items. In 1990 the city began its curbside recycling program. River Ridge Elementary School, on Amsterdam Rd., opened in 1992, replacing the aged Crescent Springs School. At the time, River Ridge was the largest elementary school in the state, with a capacity of 1,200 children. In 1994 Villa Hills was designated the Cincinnati area’s most livable city by Cincinnati Magazine. During the late 1990s, sidewalks were expanded on three major roads, Amsterdam and

Villa Madonna Academy, ca. 1908.

Collins Rds. and Buttermilk Pk. The sidewalks for these busy streets were built and paid for through grants and donations, including citizens’ donations of free labor. In 2003 the Villa Hills City Council instituted the No Knock Ordinance, the first of its kind in Northern Kentucky and now a model for other cities. Persons who sell door-to-door must get a restricted list at the city building or risk being fined for breaking the ordinance. Villa Hills has developed from acres of farmland into now a residential fourth-class city. Almost all the farmland is gone, with only an acre or two tacked onto an old farm house. According to the 2000 census, Villa Hills is home to 7,984 residents. Villa Hills Millennium/Historical Committee. The Villa Hills Area: A Great Place to Live. Villa Hills, Ky.: Villa Hills Millennium/Historical Committee, 1999.

Deborah Kohl Kremer

VILLA MADONNA ACADEMY. The Villa Madonna Academy (VMA) is Northern Kentucky’s only private, coeducational Catholic school offering grades K–12. Since 1904 VMA has provided education to families from Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati. Sponsored by the Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Walburg Monastery in Covington, VMA began on September 8, 1904, as the region’s only boarding and day school for girls. There were 17 girls and 7 sisters living and studying in the former Collins homestead, in rural Kenton Co. (now Villa Hills), which was purchased by the Catholic Church in 1903. In 1906 the cornerstone for a new building, designed by Lyman Walker, was laid. In 1907 this new brick building opened, and in 1911 it graduated its first high


school class, four females. The sisters added Villa Madonna College to the academy in 1921 and conferred the first college degrees and teaching certificates in 1929. During the 1920s, the college faculty included Patia Power (Helen Emma Reaume), the mother of noted actor Tyrone Power. Villa Madonna College became a diocesan college in 1929 and moved to 12th St. in Covington to allow for growth. In 1932, 32 acres adjacent to the high school in Villa Hills were purchased from E. S. Lee. The building VMA presently uses for its elementary and high school programs was built in 1957 next to the original 1907 building. In 2000 VMA erected a third building, a multipurpose sports complex. A fine arts center, complete with a state-of-the-art theater, was dedicated in February 2005. Excellence in education for women was VMA’s central feature until the parents of the students of Villa Madonna’s Montessori school (which was established in 1971) encouraged the VMA board to welcome boys. Boys were enrolled in 1977 in the elementary grades and in 1985 in high school. In 1990 the first three males graduated from the high school. VMA affi liated with the Catholic University of America in 1915 and renewed the affi liation in 1941. In 1923 the Kentucky Department of Education accredited the school as a Class A school. Since 1959 the entire school, grades K–12, has maintained full accreditation in the standard class. The high school has also been a member of the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges since 1925. VMA’s test scores are in the top 10 percent in the nation, and the high school was named a Blue Ribbon school in both 2002 and 2003. The school’s small class sizes and low studentteacher ratios attract students. A student can enjoy full participation in the athletic program, high school advanced placement courses, a full array of fine arts, an integrated technology curriculum, progressive foreign language instruction, and choral and instrumental programs. VMA’s economically, culturally, and religiously diverse student body currently numbers 500. Reis, Jim. “Thomas More College Traces Its Roots to a Bluff above the River 70 Years Ago,” KP, February 11, 1991, 4K. Ryan, Paul E. History of the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky. Covington, Ky.: Diocese of Covington, 1954. Schwartz, Joann R. “St. Walburg Monastery, Covington, Kentucky, 1859–1899,” master’s thesis, Xavier Univ., 2005. Wolking, Teresa, O.S.B., and Joann Schwartz. “The Story of Villa Madonna Academy and the Benedictines,” NKH 11, no. 1 (Fall–Winter 2003): 2–16.

Teresa Wolking

VINCENT, LARRY (b. Larry Vincent Allario, January 13, 1901, San Jose, Calif.; d. January 5, 1977, Fort Wright, Ky.). Patrons of the two famous dining and entertainment clubs in Northern Kentucky, Fort Wright’s Lookout House and Southgate’s Beverly Hills Supper Club, may not remember songwriter and performer Larry Vincent

by name, but they certainly recall his piano talents and the songs he played. While waiting for a table, and perhaps while sipping drinks in the cocktail lounges, they were treated to the engaging and memorable sounds of Vincent’s keyboard playing. Vincent began his career in vaudev ille by playing in most of the major cities of the United States. He came to the Lookout House in 1941 for a twoweek booking and stayed to perform at the nightclub for five years. Later, he put in nine years performing at Beverly Hills. At this time he was residing in Park Hills, Ky., at 802 Arlington Rd. As a songwriter, he composed at least 50 songs, many of which, beginning in 1946, were produced by his own record company, Pearl Record. Vincent and the various music combo groups he headed, the Pearl Boys, the Pearl Trio, and the Lookout Boys, played in the side lounges of the large local entertainment clubs in the region. He referred to himself as the musical answer to W. C. Fields; 25 different recording artists recorded his million-and-a-halfselling 1949 composition “If I Had My Life to Live Over.” It was also in the late 1940s that Vincent joined with Haven Gillespie to write the successful song “How’s My Baby Tonight?” Together, they brought a little bit of Tin Pan Alley to Northern Kentucky for a short time. In the mid-1970s, Vincent wrote “The Whole Town’s Batty about Cincinnati” to honor the World Champion Cincinnati Reds; area morning television viewers of that era may remember program host Ruth Lyon’s zesty live rendition of it. Vincent died at the St. Charles Nursing Home in Fort Wright in early 1977 and was buried at St. Mary Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, a few months before his beloved Beverly Hills burned to the ground. The Blue Pages. “The Encyclopedic Guide to 78 R.P.M. Party Records.” (accessed February 10, 2006). “Songwriter Larry Vincent Dies at Age 76,” CE, January 7, 1977, D2. “Songwriters Strike Pay Tune,” CE, September 11, 1949, sec. 3, p. 1. “Songwriter Vincent Dies,” CP, January 6, 1977, 16K.

Michael R. Sweeney

VINEGAR, THEODORE ROOSEVELT “TEDDY” (b. June 10, 1909, Owen Co., Ky.; d. August 7, 2001, Cincinnati, Ohio). Teddy Vinegar, an African American farmer who raised and trained horses in Owen Co., Ky., was the youngest son of a former slave whose family owned Mountain Island Farm in Kentucky. His parents were Cord and Charlotte Vinegar. Vinegar was born on the 110-acre family property at Mountain Island, where he learned his farming skills from his father. Horses and farming were part of the family culture, and Vinegar worked with horses most of his life. In the 1930s he started to race horses at Mountain Island. He also used the roots of plants to make medicines to cure various horse ailments. The family moved away from Mountain Island in the 1940s but continued to own and maintain the farm. Vinegar bought a 40-acre farm on Ky. Rt. 330 in Owen Co., where he


farmed and also raised horses. During World War II, Vinegar served in the U.S. Army with the 318th Engineering Combat Battalion. In the 1950s Vinegar bred a black and white gaited pinto stallion named Hillrise, from a mostly thoroughbred mare with just a splotch of white on her and a gaited stallion named Rooster. For 50 years Vinegar bred for gait with the pinto stallion Hillrise and his offspring, and these horses were prized all around Owen, Grant, and neighboring counties. They undoubtedly represented a major contribution to the Spotted Saddle horse breed, first made official in the 1980s; hence a pool of compactly built, pinto-gaited horses was first bred in the Northern Kentucky region. Today many Spotted Saddle horses are part- or full-blooded Tennessee Walking breeds. Vinegar preferred a smoother and less “hip-jiggling” gait than that of many modern Tennessee Walkers, a gait more like that of the Plantation Walker. Vinegar introduced an innovative farming technique, planting crops on hillsides in a way that would not cause erosion; he used only a horse and a plow in his farming. This technique was taught to agricultural students from the surrounding counties and at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Teddy Vinegar died in 2001 at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Cincinnati and was buried in the Newby-Vinegar Family Cemetery, at New Columbus, in Owen Co., Ky. Graham, Shelby. “Land Given to freed Slave Ties Grandson to His Past,” Lexington Herald-Leader, March 1, 1992, 10–13. “Kentucky Obituaries,” CE, August 9, 2001, B2. Williams, Geoff. “Volunteers Unearth Remnants of Civil War Community,” KP, November 18, 1998, 1KK.

Theodore H. H. Harris

VINICULTURE. Northern Kentucky was a major producer of wine for a time in the 19th century. In 1798 Jean Jacques Dufour, a Swiss winegrower, established the oldest vineyard society in the United States when he started a commercial winery in Jessamine Co., Ky. Efforts to grow old-world Vitus vinifera grapes in the western regions of America proved quite difficult. In Cincinnati, Nicholas Longworth (1782–1863) experimented with 40 different varieties before he turned to native grapes. He offered a reward of $500 to anyone who could produce a variety well suited to the climate and soil of the Ohio Valley. The reward was claimed in 1826 when Major Adlum came up with a Catawba vine derived from the native Vitus labrusca. By 1840 Kentucky growers produced a mere 2,209 gallons of wine. Temperance societies had become prominent, prompting Methodists in Bracken Co. to produce an unfermented wine in 1842. At this same time, a large number of German immigrants from districts along the Rhine River arrived in the region, and Longworth made a standing offer to buy any and all the grapes brought to him, regardless of quality. Vineyards soon dotted the hillsides along the Ohio River, and Longworth began making a profit. In 1857 the Cincinnati Commercial called

918 VINSON, FREDERICK M. him “the founder of wine culture in America and author of sparkling Catawba.” In 1860 the federal census indicated that Kentucky had become the third-largest grape-producing state in the nation, with 136,000 gallons. Campbell Co. alone produced one-third of the national wine output. But soon downy mildew, black rot, and the Civil War exacted a serious toll on the Catawba vines in the region. In 1862 Kentucky’s production dropped to 36,009 gallons, and the next year to 31,030 gallons. In 1865 Dr. J. Taylor Bradford (1818–1871) sold 10,000 gallons from his Bracken Co. vineyards to Longworth’s Wine House in Cincinnati. At an average price of $2.43 per gallon, they yielded a heft y revenue of $24,300. The death of Nicholas Longworth and the sale of his bottling operation in 1870 hurt growers. At the newly established Agricultural and Mechanical College of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, students like Thomas V. Munson (1843– 1913) became fascinated with viniculture and wrote numerous papers and essays for the school journal. That interest helped grape growers in Bracken Co. to expand their production so that Bracken Co., with an annual production of 30,000 gallons, became one of the leading wine-producing counties in the United States. Along the Ohio River, Abraham Baker gained a widespread reputation for having one of the finest wine cellars in the nation. By July 19, 1899, an article title in the Kentucky Post announced, “More Money to Be Made in Cultivating Vineyards: Farmers Find Growing Tobacco Is Not Profitable.” That situation changed with the Volstead Act, the federal legislation enacted to enforce the 19th Amendment (Prohibition) in 1920. The domestic wine industry ceased operation. Other crops replaced winegrowing, and it has only been in recent years that a resurgent interest in domestic wines has encouraged a few tobacco-growers to cultivate grapes and establish wineries. By the 1950s and the 1960s, Campbell Co. experienced a resurgence in grape production. For example, the Schwerin family’s Campbell Vineyard and Orchards harvested 36 tons of grapes annually, much of which was sold to the Meier’s Winery in Ohio. In the early 21st century, the area of Camp Springs in Campbell Co. returned to its roots as a wine-producing center. Growers in the area initiated a Northern Kentucky Wine Festival at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Camp Springs in 2005. A major winery is Dennis Walter’s Stone Brook Winery in Camp Springs. Currently, the Northern Kentucky Vintners and Grape Grower’s Association, a group of 120 winemakers, grape growers, and related businesses, are attempting to turn the region into a weekend entertainment destination and tap into the commonwealth’s agricultural tourism market. “Bracken Winery Was Famous,” Bracken Co. Chronicle, October 23, 1930. Collins, Richard H. History of Kentucky. Vol. 1. Covington, Ky.: Collins, 1882. De Bow, J. D. B., ed. “Progress of the Great West in Population, Agriculture, Arts, and Commerce,” Debow’s Review 4, no. 1 (September 1847): 64– 65.

Lukacs, Paul. American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine. Boston: Houghton Miffl in, 2000. U.S. Bureau of the Census. Agriculture of the United States in 1860: From the Original Returns of the Eighth Census. Under the Direction of the Secretary of the Interior, Joseph C. G. Kennedy. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of the Census, 1864.

Donald A. Clark

VINSON, FREDERICK M. (b. January 22, 1890, near Louisa, Ky.; d. September 8, 1953, Washington, D.C.). Frederick Moore Vinson, chief justice of the Supreme Court, was the son of James and Virginia Ferguson Vinson. He attended the Kentucky Normal School at Louisa and in 1911 graduated from the Centre College School of Law at Danville. Vinson served in the U.S. Congress from 1924 to 1929 as a representative from Kentucky’s old Ninth Congressional District, which stretched along the Ohio River from Bracken Co. in Northern Kentucky to Lawrence Co. in Eastern Kentucky; he was elected again to serve from 1931 to 1938, representing Mason and Bracken counties in Northern Kentucky, in addition to counties in northeastern Kentucky (1931–1935, Ninth District; after 1935, Eighth District; see Congressional Districts). During his time in Congress, Vinson introduced legislation that would have funded a bridge across the Ohio River at Augusta in Bracken Co. Vinson resigned from the Congress in 1938 to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In 1943 President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933–1945) appointed him director of economic stabilization, one of several posts in which he used his expertise in financial matters to help finance World War II. In 1945, President Harry S. Truman (1945–1953) appointed Vinson U.S. secretary of the treasury, and in 1946 Truman appointed him chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, a position that he held until his unexpected

Frederick M. Vinson.

death from a heart attack in 1953. Vinson was buried in the Pinehill Cemetery at Louisa. Hall, Kermit L. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2005. Kleber, John E., ed. The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1992. St. Clair, James E., and Linda Gugin. Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson of Kentucky: A Political Biography. Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 2002.

Paul L. Whalen

VISALIA. Visalia was a sixth-class city in eastern Kenton Co., wedged between Decoursey Pk. (Ky. Rt. 177) and the Licking River. First settled during the early 1800s, the city was founded in 1818 when the Campbell Co. Court authorized Nathaniel Vise to establish a town site. The name Visalia came from the founder’s surname. The Vise family later moved to California, where they established another town, also named Visalia, in 1852. Because of its central location within Campbell Co., Visalia briefly served as the county seat in 1827. Visalia became part of Kenton Co. upon that county’s formation in 1840. The completion of the Covington and Lexington Railroad through Visalia in 1853 began a new chapter in the town’s history. For several years, Visalia was also known as Canton Station, the name of its railroad depot. A post office opened in the town in 1855. The railroad brought enough prosperity to Visalia that the town formally incorporated as a city in 1869, and by the early 1880s, Visalia had a general store, a gristmill, a Methodist church, a sawmill, a school, and a large tobacco warehouse. The city honored American statesmen with such street names as Washington, Jefferson, and Clay. Besides providing Visalia farmers cheaper access to the Covington and Cincinnati markets, the railroad allowed affluent urban residents to establish country residences and still attend to their urban business interests. Gen. John W. Finnell, a leading Covington attorney, journalist, and politician, established an elegant home in Visalia called Sunny Side. On one occasion, Finnell had a special railroad car conduct guests to Sunny Side for an outdoor party at which they could admire the estate’s abundant fruit trees. Visalia’s scenic beauty made it an outdoor recreation destination for Northern Kentuckians. Picnic grounds such as Finnell’s Grove and Canton Grove in Visalia were popular during the 1870s. Visalia resident Thomas Mann owned and operated Canton Grove, which offered rental cabins, a dance floor, swings, and a ride called the Flying Dutchman. He also arranged for special railroad cars for Canton Grove excursionists. Patrons could also reach Canton Grove from Campbell Co. by ferry. By 1884 Canton Grove had passed from Mann’s ownership and had been renamed Bethel Grove. The new proprietors further improved the grounds by constructing a dining hall and 16 additional two-room cottages available at a $15 summer rental fee. Bethel Grove’s summer cottages and reduced railroad fares made it affordable for middle-


class businessmen and their families to experience a taste of the bucolic life that Finnell enjoyed at Sunny Side. In 1901 Bethel Grove became primarily a religious camp and continued as such until the early 1970s. The 1913 construction of a bridge at Visalia spanning the Licking River made Visalia part of a vital transportation route in rural Kenton and Campbell Counties. At the time, the decision to build the bridge stirred a controversy pitting rural and urban interests against each other. In Kenton Co., farmers favored the bridge’s construction because of the potential markets it opened across the river. Covington merchants, however, feared a loss of business to Newport because the bridge would give Campbell Co. retailers access to rural Kenton Co. The new Al Schneider Bridge replaced the Visalia bridge in 1978. As a functioning city, Visalia led a precarious existence beginning in the 1970s. It escaped the brunt of post–World War II suburbanization that transformed central Kenton Co. and reincorporated in 1976 but then began to be threatened with dissolution. In 1979 several residents tried to dissolve the city, claiming a lack of ser vices received for their taxes. Garbage collection was the only city ser vice provided. A decade later, Visalia’s mayor also considered closing the city when city council vacancies went unfi lled. In many instances, Visalia relied on write-in votes to elect city officials. The city survived the 1990s; however, the closing of Visalia Elementary School in 2003 dealt the community a severe blow. The Kenton Co. Board of Education cited budget cuts and declining enrollment as reasons for the school’s closure. A Visalia resident filed a petition for the dissolution of the city’s government in January 2006 after discovering that no one had the authority to issue a building permit (there had been no active city council since the early 1990s). In September 2006, Kenton circuit judge Gregory Bartlett ordered the dissolution of the city. Visalia’s population was 198 in 1980, 190 in 1990, and 111 in 2000. “City Fades from Lack of Interest,” KP, March 12, 1988, 1K. “Kenton County’s Newest City Also Is Least Known,” KE, May 21, 1979, 2A. “Raspberry Festival,” DC, June 21, 1880, 1.

Greg Perkins

VISION 2015. See Forward Quest Inc./Vision 2015.

VISITORS TO NORTHERN KENTUCKY. The first European visitors to the area that became Northern Kentucky were explorers. One of them was Robert de La Salle, a Frenchman who reportedly came down the Ohio River with his party during the mid-1700s. He camped on the beach at present-day Dayton, Ky. Later, the Point in Covington was well known to the English frontiersmen Simon Kenton and Daniel Boone and also served as a gathering place for the various pioneer military campaigns launched against the Indians under the command of Gen. George Rogers


Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking at the Latonia Racecourse, July 1938.

Clark. In 1751, while exploring the region, Christopher Gist stopped at Big Bone Lick. In 1803 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, at the request of President Thomas Jefferson (1800–1808), also stopped at Big Bone to gather mastodon bones (see Lewis and Clark in Northern Kentucky). In 1824 the general Marquis de Lafayette, another Frenchman, who had helped the United States gain its independence from Great Britain, came through Northern Kentucky from Lexington en route to Cincinnati and upriver from there. Many notable Northern Kentuckians came out to greet the general, and some of them were privileged to have him stay at their homes: included among the latter were the Gaineses. The presence of the Newport Barracks in Newport brought significant military figures to Northern Kentucky: Robert E. Lee, George Custer, and Charles Stuart Tripler, to name just a few. As the region grew in population, there were more reasons for prominent politicians and entertainers to come and visit. Gen. Phillip Sheridan was in Newport during the late 1880s to select the site that became the Fort Thomas Military Reservation. Sent here by Gen. William T. Sherman, Sheridan rode his horse from Newport out the Grand Ave. Turnpike to the fort’s site in the District of the Highlands (Fort Thomas). In 1893 Covington’s Kate Trimble married Edward J. Woolsey of New York City (see Kate Trimble Woolsey). Kate’s mother invited the king of Bulgaria, Princess Maria De Bourbon, and the dowager duchess of Wellington to the wedding ceremony. In the first years of the 20th century, socialists were plentiful in Covington and Newport, and future five-time presidential candidate Eugene Victor Debs spoke at Clark’s Beach in Dayton in 1905. In November 1915, the Liberty Bell passed through along the Louisville and Nashville Railroad tracks, returning to Philadelphia from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific Exposition. The people of Covington were out in full force to catch a glimpse of this permanent piece of U.S. history. The Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate brought many big-time entertainers to the area, such as Jack Benny, Jimmy Durante, Ted Lewis, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra. Famous strippers who have

danced here include Gypsy Rose Lee, Morganna, and Sally Rand. Two of major league baseball’s famous pitchers, Cy Young and Satchel Page, pitched in Newport at the old Rough Riders Park, at W. Fift h St. and the Licking River. Sitting, former, and future U.S. presidents have also visited. Teddy Roosevelt (1901–1909) reportedly visited Richard P. Ernst in Covington for at least a few hours in the early years of the 20th century; Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933–1945) spoke at the Latonia Racecourse in July 1938; John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961–1963) was here twice in October 1960, when he traveled to the Cote Brilliante neighborhood of Newport, campaigning; and Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963–1969) came to open the new campus of Thomas More College in Crestview Hills in 1968. Other presidents motorcaded through the area after the Greater Cincinnati Airport opened in 1947 in Northern Kentucky (see Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky International Airport). In April 1970, the funeral train for President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953–1961) passed through Northern Kentucky along the C&O rail line, from east to west, on its way to Manhattan, Kans. There have also been suggestions that Abraham Lincoln (1861– 1865) visited Richard Southgate at his Newport home during the mid-1850s. In more recent years, both Gerald Ford (1974–1977) and George W. Bush (2001–2009) visited the campus of Northern Kentucky University, in 1978 and 2006, respectively. William Jefferson Clinton (1993–2001) and former first lady and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton visited Northern Kentucky in May 2008, campaigning at Main Strasse’s Maifest in advance of the Kentucky primary. Joseph Cardinal Mindzenty (1974) and Mother Teresa (1982) both came to Covington as a result of their Roman Catholic connections. Pope John Paul II came through the area on his way to Cincinnati in 1987. The Beatles came through Northern Kentucky twice during the 1960s: first in 1964, from the airport to the Cincinnati Gardens to perform, and then in 1966 to sing at old Crosley Field. Similarly, Elvis Presley was here at least twice, once in 1971 and later in 1976. Several restaurants along the

920 VON HOENE, RICHARD A. “DICK” Dixie Highway in Kenton Co. claim that, early in his career, Elvis ate there. Because of its early strategic location as a transportation junction, many important people visited Maysville. Chief Justice John Marshall would visit his family members there, and both presidential candidate Henry Clay and President Andrew Jackson (1829–1837) stopped on their way to and from Washington, D.C., traveling along the Maysville and Lexington Turnpike and Zane’s Trace heading to and from the National Rd. General Lafayette also passed through Maysville after a stopover in Cincinnati. Reis, Jim. “Visitors,” KP, February 17, 1986, 4K.

VON HOENE, RICHARD A. “DICK” (b. July 17, 1940, Cincinnati, Ohio; d. February 4, 2004, Cincinnati, Ohio). Comedian, actor, and newsman Dick Von Hoene, known professionally as the Cool Ghoul, was born in the Madisonville section of Cincinnati to Harry Frederick and Margaret Carolyn Fischer Von Hoene. Dick was educated in local schools and graduated from Purcell High School in Cincinnati in 1958. He entered the University of Cincinnati (UC), where he earned a BA in history and an MA in theater. While at UC, he performed in collegiate plays and also appeared in summer stock and community theater productions. In 1961, while a writer on the Bob Smith Monster Mash show, Von Hoene created the Cool Ghoul character for a Halloween production. He married and had two daughters. In 1962 he took a job as a copywriter for WCPO radio, remaining there for about five years, and then became an announcer on Cincinnati radio station WUBE. He revived his Cool Ghoul character in 1969, while hosting the weekly “scream-in” horror movie show on WXIX Channel 19 television in Cincinnati. The character became a phenomenal success, especially among school-age children. Von Hoene said that he created the cool ghoul from a number of different people, including the “poor soul” on the Jackie Gleason television show. Von Hoene even had an LP record cut on the Artists Label, called The Cool Ghoul’s Phantasma. During the early 1980s, he entered a more serious period in his career when he took a position as news director for Storer Cable in Northern Kentucky. In the mid-1990s, he began hosting the Northern Kentucky Magazine show on Insight Cable (formerly Storer Cable) (see Cable Television). In that capacity, he interviewed many celebrities visiting the area, including singer Chubby Checker and Olympic gold medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton. In 1999 Von Hoene was inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Legends of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In his spare time, he was an avid golfer and a Civil War history buff. While shopping on February 4, 2004, Von Hoene collapsed from an apparent heart attack and was rushed to Mercy Franciscan Hospital in Cincinnati, where he died. Funeral ser vices were held at the Allison and Rose Funeral Home in Covington, and burial was in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. With the passing of this Greater

Cincinnati legend, a memorable era of live television shows in the region came to an end. “Appreciation,” CE, February 8, 2004, 13D. “Cool Ghoul Dick Von Hoene Dies,” KP, February 5, 2004, 2K. “ ‘Cool Ghoul’ Was Icon of Queen City,” CE, February, 5, 2004, 1C. “Kentucky Senate Resolution in Honor of Richard A. (Dick) Von Hoene,” 2004 Regular Session.

Jack Wessling

VON OHLEN, JOHN (b. May 13, 1941, Indianapolis, Ind.). A jazz and big band drummer of national renown, John Von Ohlen is the son of Raymond and Alma Von Ohlen. He began classical piano lessons at age 4 and started playing the trombone at age 10. He was 14 when, while observing drummer Mel Lewis performing at a Stan Kenton concert, he decided that drumming would be his profession. He taught himself the drums at home and played them in his high school’s jazz band. After graduating from North Central High School in Indianapolis, Von Ohlen began classes in Jazz Studies, a prestigious lab band program at North Texas State University, in 1960. He developed his drumming craft during a year and a half of performing with Ralph Marterie and two years in the army touring stateside with Showmobile. In the mid-1960s, Von Ohlen returned to Indianapolis to perform as a nightclub drummer. Soon he started traveling the national circuit, joining the bands of Billy Maxted in 1966 and of the wellknown Woody Herman between 1967 and 1968. In 1970 he received a call from his favorite legendary band leader, Stan Kenton, inviting him to play the drums; Von Ohlen toured the United States and Europe with the Kenton band for two years. His skills and confidence matured under Kenton’s guidance. Kenton also conceived Von Ohlen’s stage name, the “Baron,” by which fans still know him today. Von Ohlen has played for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and has backed noted vocalists such as Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, and Perry Como. He toured and recorded with jazz vocalists Carmen McRae and Mel Tormé. After 12 years as a traveling musician, Von Ohlen settled back in the region to form the Blue Wisp Big Band in 1980. The band performed at the Cincinnati area club from which its name was derived, the Blue Wisp, one of the few remaining clubs devoted to jazz in the area. It has recorded seven commercial albums purchased by fans worldwide. Oscar Treadwell, the late Cincinnati radio jazz historian, stated that these world-class musicians have brought more jazz recognition to the community than any other band. Von Ohlen also plays weekly at the Dee Felice Café, as well as at Chez Nora Restaurant (with the Mary Ellen Tanner Quartet), both in Covington. Von Ohlen has been an adjunct instructor of Jazz Drums at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati since 1985, mentoring students of percussion. His students call him the “Coach” because he prefers teaching by example and discussion rather than relying on textbooks.

Von Ohlen was honored with the Michael W. Bany Lifetime Achievement Award of the Cammy (Cincinnati Area Music) Awards and was inducted into its Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame, both in 2005. He resides in Covington with his life partner, jazz singer Mary Ellen Tanner. Bird, Rick. “Blue Wisp Big Band Turns 25,” CP, January 13, 2005, 5T. ———. “ ‘Tribute:’ Blue Wisp Big Band Honors Composers, Fans with New CD,” KP, May 29, 2007, 1B. CEA. “The Baron Gets His Due.” cea/05pages/halloffame.html (accessed October 1, 2007). College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), Univ. of Cincinnati. “John Von Ohlen.” faculty/facultyProfi le.aspx?facultyid=54 (accessed October 1, 2007). Knippenberg, Jim. “For the Love of Jazz: Drummer John Von Ohlen Could Play Anywhere in the World but His Heart Belongs to Downtown’s Blue Wisp,” CE, April 15, 2007, 1D.

John Schlipp

VOTRUBA, JAMES (b. March 26, 1945, East Lansing, Mich.). James Votruba, president of Northern Kentucky University (NKU), is the son of Jim and Betty Votruba. He earned his BA in political science (1968), his MA in political science and sociology (1970), and his PhD in higher education administration (1974) from Michigan State University at East Lansing. He began his career in higher education with faculty and administrative positions at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He served as dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y., from 1983 to 1989 and as vice provost for university outreach and professor of higher education at Michigan State University from 1989 to 1997. He was named the fourth president of NKU on August, 1, 1997. Votruba is a frequent lecturer, an author, and a consultant in the areas of higher education leadership, strategic planning, and public engagement. In 2002 he chaired the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) National Task Force on public engagement and later served as a faculty member in the AASCU New President’s Academy. In 2004 he delivered the annual AASCU President-to-Presidents Lecture, entitled “Leading the Engaged University.” Votruba has served as president of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities and on a variety of boards, including the National Campus Compact Board of Directors, the Association of Governing Boards Council of Presidents, and the Board of Directors of the Ohio National Mutual Holding Company. Under Votruba’s leadership, NKU became a national model for civic engagement in higher education by weaving its cross-discipline outreach programs into the university’s undergraduate, graduate, and law classrooms. He helped the university to strengthen its position as a regional economic development engine through initiatives such as the Metropolitan Education and Training Services unit, the


Bank of Kentucky Center, and the creation of the College of Informatics. During Votruba’s tenure, NKU’s enrollment, its overall growth, and the state and private funding acquired by the university have reached new levels. The university’s Dorothy Westerman Herrmann Natural Science Center, completed in 2002, was at the time Kentucky’s largest academic facility. A new state-of-the-art student center was completed in August 2008. NKU also implemented comprehensive admission standards for the first time in the school’s history in 2005.

Votruba’s regional leadership extends far beyond NKU’s Highland Heights campus. In 2005, as cochair of Vision 2015, the current planning initiative for Northern Kentucky, he guided a yearlong regional visioning process that set a 10-year agenda for Northern Kentucky’s growth and development. He was named the “Most Influential Person in Northern Kentucky” by the Sunday Challenger newspaper in 2005. Votruba lives in Lakeside Park with his wife, Rachel, who is actively involved in several community-


based nonprofit organizations. The Votrubas have three children and five grandchildren. May, Lucy. “NKU’s Energizer,” Business Courier, February 16, 2001, available at cincinnati/stories/2001/02/19/story2.html (accessed March 10, 2006). “NKU Picks Michigan Educator,” KP, April 4, 1997, 1K. Pulfer, Laura. “At NKU, It’s Really Not About Building at All,” KE, October 9, 2003, B1.

Rick Meyers

Chapter V of the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky  
Chapter V of the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky  

The Encylopedia of Northern Kentucky in partnership with Edited by Paul A. Tenkotte and James C. Claypool, The University Press of...