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Randy Patterson Discusses "Calloway County, Kentucky: Celebrating the First 200 Years"

"Calloway County: Celebrating the First 200 Years" features essays, photographs, and other historical information about Murray and the surrounding Calloway County area.
Calloway County Bicentennial
"Calloway County: Celebrating the First 200 Years" features essays, photographs, and other historical information about Murray and the surrounding Calloway County area.

In honor of Calloway County's 200th anniversary, the Calloway County Genealogical and Historical Society, a Bicentennial Committee, and local officials have partnered to publish a 200-year history titled Calloway County, Kentucky: Celebrating the First 200 Years. Tracy Ross speaks to the Calloway County Genealogical and Historical Society President Randy Patterson about the book.

Calloway County, Kentucky: Celebrating the First 200 Years includes essays, photographs, and first-hand accounts of historical events, figures, and other information about the local area. Around 400 people contributed to the history book, compiled by the Bicentennial Committee with members from the Murray and Calloway County schools, Murray State University, the Fiscal Court, the Chamber of Commerce, and local tourism agencies.

Patterson explains that when the committee first met to discuss the history book, they agreed that previous histories of Calloway County excluded certain individuals. "There wasn't as much we found about women as there should have been. There certainly wasn't enough about Black Calloway Countians. We wanted to tell those stories. We wanted to tell the story of people who were sharecroppers. The sharecroppers, like the other groups I mentioned, were invisible. We wanted to make everyone as visible as possible."

This included telling the story of a county split into Confederate and Union sympathizers during the Civil War. "The numbers are usually cited as around 800 men fought for the Confederacy, and around 200 fought for the United States, called the Union," Patterson explains. "We wanted to tell the stories of Union sympathizers and the men who went off to fight for the United States."

"I was eager to do that because one of my great-, great-grandfathers fought for the Union, and I had two great-, great-grandfathers that fought for the Confederacy. I had a part in both heritages. My Union great-, great-grandfather turned out to be the father-in-law of Rainey T. Wells [whose father was a Confederate soldier]. I was studying the Census once when I was looking at my own family history, and living in Rainey T. Wells' household in the 1910 Census was his father-in-law, the Union soldier," Patterson laughs.

"There was another fascinating story that happened in Browns Grove. One man met another neighbor, and they had words. There were threats that they would kill each other. Long story short, a child of each one fell in love with the other, and they wound up with what I guess we would call a blended family of sorts."

"We realized from the very beginning that there will probably not be another history like this one in several, several more years. So, we were aware that we needed to give it our best, our very best effort. And as a committee, we sought out people all across the county and even some people who had left who had grown up here and have deep ties to Calloway County. People were looking around in scrapbooks and Grandma's picture boxes trying to find things like that and passing them onto us."

There are limited copies of Calloway County, Kentucky: Celebrating the First 200 Years, which costs $60. Information about the book and ordering options is available on the Acclaim Press website.

For questions about the book, email Bobbie Bryant at or call Gina Winchester at 270-753-2920. For more information on the Calloway County Bicentennial Celebration, visit the Bicentennial website.

Tracy started working for WKMS in 1994 while attending Murray State University. After receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees from MSU he was hired as Operations/Web/Sports Director in 2000. Tracy hosted All Things Considered from 2004-2012 and has served as host/producer of several music shows including Cafe Jazz, and Jazz Horizons. In 2001, Tracy revived Beyond The Edge, a legacy alternative music program that had been on hiatus for several years. Tracy was named Program Director in 2011 and created the midday music and conversation program Sounds Good in 2012 which he hosts Monday-Thursday. Tracy lives in Murray with his wife, son and daughter.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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