Winchester Wanderings – Feb 2024

Winchester Wanderings

February blog

Celebrate Black History Month Moments

In celebration of Black History Month, the Winchester Black History and Heritage Committee will be posting Black History Moments on its website throughout the month of February.

Here are two moments:

Between the Lines Book Club

Read the book, The Untold History from Slave Ship to Horse Racing, by Winchester native Wallace Howard, then join the discussion at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 10, at the Clark County Public Library. The facilitator is James Robinson. Howard will be in attendance for a Q&A session.

Fanny Cole at Holly Rood 

In 1840s Kentucky it was virtually impossible for a Black woman to accumulate meaningful financial assets, even if she was among the small minority that was no longer enslaved—yet Fanny Cole did just that. See “Fanny Cole: A Most Enterprising Woman,” portrayed by Jane Burnam, at Holly Rood. Performance at 6 p.m. on February 20.

Check the website for updates. In the meantime, experience more Black History moments at these Winchester attractions:

African American Heritage Trail

Open year-round, the trail presents eight educational signs in downtown Winchester that highlight significant people and places of the African American community, including these:

  • West Washington Street, locally known as “Bucktown,” was the center of Black businesses and social life in Winchester.
  • After starring in football, basketball and baseball at Oliver High, Robert Arthur Brooks played his senior year at Winchester High. In this first year of integrated schools, he led the football and basketball teams to their first winning seasons in many years. He made Little All American in football at Ohio University and went on to play for the New York Titans in the American Football League.
  • In 1953, Coach Joe Gilliam, with William Didlick, Emmett Menifee, Walter Mack, Walter Newell and Harvey Robinson, organized the Winchester Little League for African American youth at Harmon Field.

Learn about these significant figures and landmarks and others on the African American Heritage Trail. Find more details and personal recollections on the Winchester Black History and Heritage website.

Bluegrass Heritage Museum

When the museum reopens in March for the season, plan to visit the second floor to learn about Peter Bruner (1845-1938), author of A Slave’s Adventures Toward Freedom: Not Fiction but the True Story of a Struggle. Born into slavery, Bruner ran away to Camp Nelson and enlisted in the army.

Bruner was assigned to the 12th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery and engaged in combat in Kentucky and Tennessee during the Civil War. After the war, he moved to Oxford, Ohio, and published his autobiography. Read Bruner’s story here. Learn more about his accomplishments, including being proclaimed Mayor for the Day, at the museum.

Civil War Fort at Boonesboro

In 1863, African American Union soldiers built the Civil War Fort at Boonesboro, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These soldiers also took control of the fort, which was to protect a ford and ferry from Confederate invasion.

Although little remains of the earthen fort today, a wooded one-mile loop trail to the site rewards visitors with amazing views of the surrounding countryside and the Kentucky River valley.

Self-guided tours and cell phone tours are available. For the latter, dial 859-592-9166. Learn more about the fort, its history and its role here.