- Editor’s Page
Kentucky history does not stop at the Kentucky border. People, ideas, institutions, and events from outside the commonwealth have affected the course of history in Kentucky, and, conversely, Kentuckians have made change in the world. The three articles in this issue each make this point and serve as a valuable reminder that Kentucky history is U.S. history and is world history.
As Susan Croce Kelly notes in her article, Kentucky leaders in the 1920s wanted the power to name the main east-west highway that traversed their state, from Ashland to Wickliffe. Federal officials wanted to call that road Highway 62; leaders in Kentucky wanted to call it Highway 60, as highways that ended in zero were considered major thoroughfares, and it would supposedly bring more tourists and commercial activities to the commonwealth. Unfortunately, federal officials had already given that number to the highway that stretched from Los Angeles to Chicago. In what turned out to be the longest and most difficult battle over the naming of federal highways in the mid-1920s, Governor William J. Fields and other Kentucky officials ultimately won their fight for naming rights. The road that became known as Highway 60, of course, did not exist only in Kentucky but ultimately stretched from Los Angeles to Virginia via the Bluegrass State. Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, the name of the highway mattered less than other factors, particularly location. The road from Los Angeles to Chicago was given the name Route 66 and went on to become a much more important highway and a pop-culture phenomenon.
In her article on the broad form deed and landownership, [End Page 1] Stephanie M. Lang examines an interesting example of a cross-class alliance in eastern Kentucky between small landholders and mineral speculators, especially the wealthiest man in the state in the early twentieth century, John C. C. Mayo. The two groups of locals united briefly to oppose the holders of Virginia land-grant claims, which pre-dated Kentucky statehood. Mayo and other mineral speculators owned much of the below-the-surface mineral rights in the region, thanks to the broad form deed. Yet, they and small farmers in eastern Kentucky needed to rebuff the claims of the Virginia land-grant holders before their deeds could be considered secure. Mayo and other local elites won the initial battle in the Kentucky constitutional convention of 1890–91 and then won the subsequent battle in the state legislature and courts from 1906 to 1911. The victory for small landholders was, of course, hollow, as the broad form deed allowed for the extraction of mineral resources in eastern Kentucky, from which the profits flowed to local elites and investors outside the state.
Donald A. Clark examines the little-known work of early Kentucky physician Joshua Taylor Bradford. Born in Bracken County in 1818 and trained at the Transylvania University Medical Department in the 1830s, Bradford became a doctor during an era of increasing professionalization in the field. As Clark notes, Bradford’s practice changed dramatically in the late 1840s when he began performing ovariotomies, a surgical procedure to remove an ovarian tumor. Bradford was an early pioneer who supported this procedure, the efficacy of which surgeons on both sides of the Atlantic debated in the 1840s and 1850s. Although he performed only thirty ovariotomies during his career in the mid-nineteenth century, Bradford was best known among his contemporaries for having the highest success rate in the world for the procedure—90 percent. As Clark points out, Bradford’s success did not occur in a vacuum. He was part of a transatlantic community of medical professionals that helped to revive and standardize the procedure. Knowledge and ideas did not stop at the Kentucky border or the U.S. border but instead flowed across borders and across the vast Atlantic Ocean. [End Page 2]