On behalf of the Trustees of the Lincoln Museum, we would like to thank everyone involved in bringing the Smithsonian’s Hometown Teams exhibit to Hodgenville for its six-week run.
Fifteen communities in Kentucky were selected to host the exhibit during its two-year tour of Kentucky and it was especially rewarding to introduce so many new visitors to the cultural and historical programming that the museum has been providing since 1989.
Major funding for the exhibit was provided by Kentucky Humanities. Transportation of the two tons of exhibition materials was provided by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
The exhibit included 133 years of LaRue County sports history; 7 gigabytes of photos; 1,633 researched documents; 4,350 lbs. of exhibits; and 153 hours of free admission to the 975 people who visited in January and February.
This exhibit would not have been possible without the support of the following individuals, organizations, and businesses who contributed time, materials, research assistance, energy, elbow grease, and moral support:
Michelle and David Brown and Family
City of Hodgenville
Kaye & Jimmy Curle
Faye and Donald Davenport
Debra De La Garza
Cecil and Clara Mae Druen
Howard Gardner family
Beverly and Pat Heath
Joanna and Jeremy Hinton
Carl Howell, Jr.
Sandy Turner Kidd
Anita & Kelly Laha
Iris & Alex LaRue
LaRue County Chamber of Commerce
LaRue County Fiscal Court
LaRue County Genealogy Society
LaRue County Herald News
LaRue County High School
LaRue County Parks & Recreation
LaRue County Public Library
LCHS Mat Hawks
LCHS Band Boosters
LCHS Band 50 Year Reunion Committee
Mary Gaines & Tommy Locke
Otis M. Mather
Wilma & Gordon McDowell
W.L. & Suzann McCoy
National Wrestling Hall of Fame
Plez Polley and family
Tickle and Howard Ragland
Nancy B. Raine
Claudette Williamson Rateau
Donna Shelton and the family of Donald and LaHoma Dean Mather
Peggy McCubbin Sprowles
The Filson Society
The Lexington Herald-Leader
The Louisville Courier-Journal
WQXE Quicksie 98.3 FM
WULF The Wolf 94.3 FM
and a very special thank you to the generations of athletes who inspired this hometown celebration.
View recent photos from the Hometown Teams exhibit. You can share your photos and stories on our Facebook Page.
Hometown Teams is designed to appeal to sports fans of all ages. Many exhibits are hands-on and interactive components are especially appealing to younger visitors. This Smithsonian exhibit also features online resources for parents, teachers, and home school groups. Download materials here to enhance your visit.
• Explore the history, the traditions, and the achievements of LaRue county’s femaleathletes •
In 1916, ten teenagers signed up for the first girls varsity basketball team in Hodgenville.
Their names were Dorothy Hansbrough, Pearl Daugherty, Gladys Hargan, Linda Boyd, Rose Patterson, Clotilde Smith, Genevieve Stark, Augustyne Ferree, Mary Alma Woods, and Rachel Kennady.
For the next 16 years, local girls would compete vigorously on the court until 1932, when Kentucky’s governing sports organization abruptly abolished the Girls State Tournament.
This decision effectively ended girls basketball programs in the state for four decades. Basketball was not the only sport for girls to be nixed. By 1940, few schools reported athletic programming for girls, except for cheerleading.
Slowly but surely, schools throughout the state began adding sports programs. By the 1960s, tennis and track programs were added and the implementation of 1972’s Title IX brought sports programming to a new generation of women athletes.
Come celebrate the accomplishments and the history of LaRue County’s women athletes.
Lincoln the Athlete: Hometown Teams celebrates Lincoln’s life as wrestler and LaRue County Mat Hawks History
On Sunday, the Lincoln Museum opened a special, temporary exhibit focusing on Abraham Lincoln’s life as an athlete as part of the Hometown Teams Exhibit on display now in the Community Room in downtown Hodgenville.
“Lincoln: The Athlete” featured materials from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Library of Congress, the Lincoln Days Art Collection, the Lincoln Museum library, and research gathered from Lincoln scholars across the nation.
The Lincoln exhibit will be on display at Hometown Teams through Saturday, Feb. 10.
Sunday’s event also commemorated Lincoln’s life as a wrestler and featured books, videos, and materials from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Hometown Teams also includes trophies, photos, and uniforms from LaRue County’s Mat Hawks wrestling program. The wrestling materials will be on display through Sunday, Feb. 24 when Hometown Teams closes and moves on to Flemingsburg.
The Hometown Teams exhibit is open Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.
The Lincoln Museum invites you to the opening of a special exhibit focusing on Abraham Lincoln’s experiences as a wrestler and athlete. To date, Lincoln is the only U.S. president to be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Lincoln’s athletic abilities were frequently on display during his political campaigns and presidency.Editorials and posters featured him jumping hurdles of split-rail fences and trouncing his opponents on the baseball fieldand even the boxing ring.
His athleticism was an enduring subject during his life in politics and continues to inspire sporting events even today.
Hodgenville’s annual railsplitting contest is one of two such annual events in the nation. Our Lincoln Days festival offers a “Railsplitter Run” which offers athletes of all ages a chance to compete in 5K and 10K challenges alongside students in LaRue County’s Track & Field programs.
Join us as we also cheer on the LaRue County Mat Hawks as they embark on their journey to the State Wrestling Tournament. Enjoy a display of wrestling materials chronicling the sport’s history in LaRue County.
It was an afternoon filled with laughs, jokes, stories, statistics, rivalries, and heartbreaks. It was an afternoon of conversation between four authors about baseball and basketball in the state of Kentucky.
Listen to a recording of this event.
Each one brought their unique perspectives to the round table conversation in the Lincoln Museum’s Community Room for a presentation about Corky Withrow as a part of the Hometown Teams exhibit on display through February 24.
Sherrill Williams, Charles Thurman, and Gary P. West joined Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Famer Corky Withrow for a lively 90-minute discussion that crisscrossed the state with tales from basketball’s golden age in the 1950s — as well as Withrow’s professional baseball career that took him from coast to coast.
Williams, a retired history teacher and LaRue County native, served as organizer and moderator for the talk, which also included North Hardin’s Hall of Fame Coach Ron Bevars and Rick Whobrey, the first executive director of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Williams co-authored the book, “UnCorked!” with Thurman and Withrow and shared many stories about his experiences as a historian and writer. He credits award-winning author Gary P. West as his mentor in bringing about the book that celebrates Withrow’s many accomplishments in baseball and basketball.
“This is one of the all-time greatest players to come out of the state of Kentucky,” West proclaimed when beginning his segment on Withrow.
West has written extensively about basketball in Kentucky. His authorized biography of famed basketball star “King” Kelly Coleman included researching Withrow’s life in sports. The two men were high school rivals from the coal fields of Eastern and Western Kentucky and had striking similarities.
“Their families, their backgrounds… it could have just as easily been ‘King’ Corky Withrow,” he concluded.
Withrow is a bit more modest about his accomplishments, but it’s clear source of pride that even after 60 years, his 3,136 points scored still places him in the top 25 players in the state.
Withrow played ball for Central City whose team made it to the Sweet 16 three times during his years in high school. Before the school closed in 1990 during a wave of consolidation, it ranked as Kentucky’s winningest team with 1,574 victories, 36 district titles, and 17 appearances in at the state tournament.
Withrow’s athletic skills were also visible on the baseball field. Recruited by the Milwaukee Braves after graduation, Corky turned down an offer to join Adolph Rupp’s team at the University of Kentucky. Conference rules prevented him from playing professional baseball and college basketball and he bounced from college to college for a few years trying to find a program that allowed him to participate in both sports.
He settled in at Georgetown, making a life-long friend in roommate, Bill Otis.
Otis was an All-State player from Mount Sterling who played four years at Georgetown under coach Bob Davis. Otis would move to LaRue County and coach alongside another “Corky” – Corky Cox. Otis shared many stories about their lives as roommates, college athletes, and friends for more than six decades.
When asked about the large number of successful basketball players to hail from his hometown and native region, Otis recalled, “The mountains were loaded with talent in 1955 and 1956. It was tough in the mountains. It was before consolidation and there were no football teams, so everyone played basketball.”
At age 25, Withrow received a late-night call that shaped his career as a professional baseball player. His contract with the Denver Bears had been sold to the St. Louis Cardinals. Less than 24 hours later, he was in Pittsburg, wearing a Cardinals uniform. In less than a month, he stepping in for Stan Musial during the latter’s farewell tour in Chicago.
“They weren’t happy,” Corky said with a chuckle as Charles Thurman chimed in, “They threw so much trash, hot dogs, popcorn, Coke bottles, they had to stop the game to clear the field.”
Thurman himself has hosted and organized many events celebrating the legacies of players like Withrow and Coleman. His renovated family home and guest house in Sonora served as an “incubator” for the High School Basketball Hall of Fame which opened with Whobrey as director.
While Withrow played alongside some of baseball’s greatest players including Stan Musial, Phil Niekro, Hank Aaron, and Bob Gibson, Withrow recounted that, “None of them was as tough as my mother.”
She earned her nickname, “Lightning” for her quick wit and commentary. Withrow shared that even at (barely) 5’ tall , she kept her 6’4” sons in check, especially when his brother started coaching for an opposing team.
After scoring 52 points against his brother’s team. Corky came home to an ultimatum, “This is not ever going to happen again.” And it didn’t. Withrow’s mother stood at the back of the gym when Withrow played his brother’s team and would either nod or shake her head when someone passed him the ball as a sign to pass or to play.
Withrow’s baseball career spanned a decade and included 1,128 games, 325 homeruns and a lifetime batting average of .260.
Lincoln Museum hosts sports legend Corky Withrow at a round-table discussion with Kentucky sports authors Sherrill Williams, Charles Thurman, and Gary P. West Sunday, January 28 at 2 p.m.
Lincoln Museum Community Room
66 Lincoln Square
The Lincoln Museum is hosting an afternoon book signing and panel discussion as part of the ongoing Hometown Teams exhibit. Meet living legend Corky Withrow and noted sports authors and Kentucky sports enthusiasts. The event is free and authors will have copies of their books available for purchase.
SCHEDULED TO APPEAR:
Corky Withrow is one of the Kentucky’s best athletes of all-time and a member of the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Withrow grew up in Central City and graduated from Central City High School where he led his team to three consecutive KHSAA Sweet Sixteen appearances. During his high school career, he scored over 3100 points. In 1956, he signed with the Milwaukee Braves. Withrow played in 1,128 minor league games from 1956 through 1966, and batted .260 lifetime. He joined “The Big Show” and played alongside St. Louis Cardinal Stan Musial in 1963.
Sherrill Williams, a LaRue County native, is a retired school teacher from Vine Grove. He holds degrees in Education & History from UK and WKU. Since retiring, Sherrill has remained active as a musician, comedian, artist, as well as an avid researcher of genealogy. He is the co-author of “Uncorked! Kentucky Sports Legend Corky Withrow”.
Charles Thurman was born and raised in Sonora. After earning a degree in Mathematics from WKU and a degree in Geology from UK, he resided in New Orleans, where he was in the oil and gas business. Returning home a decade ago, he now owns and manages the Thurman-Phillips Guest Home in his family’s 1897 ancestral house. He is the co-author of “Uncorked! Kentucky Sports Legend Corky Withrow”.
Gary P. West grew up in Elizabethtown, and attended WKU before graduating from UK in 1967 with a journalism degree. For 12 years, he was the executive director of the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation at WKU, and provided color commentary on the Hilltopper Basketball Network. He is the author of ten books covering subjects that range from travel, dining and tourism — to Kentucky sports legend King Kelly Coleman, Olympian Kenny Davis, and professional wrestler “Hillbilly” Jim Morris.
ALSO SECHEDULED TO APPEAR:
Ron Bevars, Hall of Fame Coach at North Hardin High School who was born in Upton and played for Sonora and East Hardin High Schools. Read about Ron’s induction into the Hall of Fame at The LaRue County Herald News.
Terry Sandidge has been photographing sports in LaRue County for our local newspaper, The LaRue County Herald News, since 1981.
Nearly four decades later,he is still documenting the thrill of victory — and the agony of defeat — that every hometown team must face.
Terry graduated from LaRue County High School in 1960, the second class of seniors in the newly-built and consolidated high school. His life in sports spans generations: from Baby Boomer to Millennial… and beyond.
He’s participated in every realm of athletics: student athlete, community league All Star player, coach, principal, chaperone, fundraising booster, proud parent (and grandparent) and active community volunteer for more than 60 years.
Today he shared stories about a life in sports that has been lived in front of — and behind — the camera .
Visit the Hometown Teams exhibit to see examples of Terry’s work. The exhibit is on display through February 24, 2018.