Covington is celebrating its bicentennial in 2015. Named after a general in the War of 1812, Covington was a Gateway City to the West.
“People were coming down the Ohio River; they were settling in places like Cincinnati and Covington, or they were going further west,” said Paul Tenkotte, historian at Northern Kentucky University. “You have to remember that this area was the Wild West in the early 1800s.”
Dave Schroeder, executive director of the Kenton County Public Library, said German immigrants arrived in large numbers in the 1830s and ‘40s. “What had traditionally been English and Scots-Irish population was being quickly overtaken by many German and Irish immigrants,” he said.
Covington first catches the notice of visitors with the Roebling Bridge, which opened in 1867.
The city is home to a number of impressive churches, including St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, which has the largest handmade stained-glass window in the Western Hemisphere.
Stewart Iron Works, founded 150 years ago, manufactures distinctive ironwork used here and throughout the country. “As many people know, they made the bars at Alcatraz [prison]”, said James C. Claypool, professor emeritus at NKU. “They also made all kinds of decorative fences,” notably in New Orleans.
Prohibition was unwelcome in a town known for its German beers. Although breweries and beer gardens were forced to close, speakeasies were common and the law was ignored.
“Raids became so common that they didn’t even list them in the newspaper after a few years,” said Schroeder.
The city was an early hotbed of baseball, and had its own professional team, the Covington Blue Sox, in 1913. Latonia Racetrack opened in 1883 and in its heyday drew more than 100,000 visitors each year.
The city was the home of two Kentucky governors, John Stevenson, who served from 1871-77, and the assassinated William Goebel, who served only a few days in 1900.
Covington has produced a number of people influential in the arts, including cinematographer Robert Surtees of “Ben-Hur,” Tin Pan Alley lyricist Haven Gillespie, and artist Frank Duveneck.
Today Covington continues to be appreciated for its diversity, architecture, walkability, art, and culture.
Daviess County Bicentennial
Daviess County is also marking its bicentennial in 2015.
Aloma Dew said the county has a rich agricultural history, and barbecue that can’t be beat. “We have probably the best barbecue in the world, and we think everyone should know about that.”
Singer-songwriter Marty Brown of Simpson County signed with MCA Records back in the 1990s and released four studio albums and charted one single, “It Must Be the Rain,” on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts.
His career waned and had pretty much disappeared until his wife, Shellie, tricked him into trying out for “America’s Got Talent” in 2013. She signed him up for the audition in Nashville.
Three brothers from San Diego — Ray, Sergio, and Ron Garcia — moved to eastern Kentucky and opened a restaurant serving West Coast (or SoCal) style Mexican food. Although the concept of a taco shop, common to California, was new to diners in the area, the restaurant quickly became a hit.