Captain Isaac Cunningham

Historical Marker #2302 in Clark County commemorates Captain Isaac Cunningham, a War of 1812 veteran who was among the first to cultivate bluegrass in Kentucky.

A Virginia native, Cunningham commanded a company of Clark and Bourbon county soldiers in Colonel John Donaldson's regiment of the Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Militia during the War of 1812. After the war, Cunningham served in the Kentucky legislature in 1816 and 1827 and was a sheriff and Clark County magistrate.

A friend to Henry Clay, many notables, including Clay, Governor James Clark, and Daniel Webster, visited his Clark County farm. Isaac and his brother Robert brought bluegrass seed from Virginia and were some of the first Kentuckians to cultivate bluegrass. One early writer noted that "Their farm soon attracted the attention of their neighbors, who began to visit and learn how to manage [the bluegrass]." The family also raised shorthorn cattle and bred thoroughbred horses.

Cunningham died in 1842 and was buried in the family farm in Clark County.


Clark County Courthouse

Clark County Courthouse

The Clark County Courthouse in Winchester, KY. ca. 1954. Image Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Governor James Clark

Governor James Clark

Portrait of Governor James Clark on display in the Kentucky Historical Society's Toyota Hall of Governors. Clark was a prominent Whig politician who served in many offices, including governor of Kentucky from 1836-39. Image Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Sanders, “Captain Isaac Cunningham,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed June 24, 2017,


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