From Bois de Forges to Breathitt County: Kentucky's World War I History

This tour highlights historical markers that commemorate significant people and places to Kentucky's history during the World War I era. The tour includes markers that celebrate famous heroes of the war, such as Willie Sandlin and Samuel Woodfill, but also touches on lesser known soldiers, such as the volunteers from Breathitt County. It visits important places where Kentuckians drilled and trained to prepare themselves for war, such as Camp Zachary Taylor and the Buell Armory, but also incorporates places like Bowman and Godman Fields where military aviation took flight in the state. The tour includes markers to influential politicians, such as Ollie James and Augustus Owsley Stanley, but also incorporates almost forgotten figures, like the inventor of a gas mask used in the trenches of France and representatives of the nurses and doctors who contributed to the war effort. Finally, it includes a few of the memorials that Kentuckians erected to commemorate the Great War.

The wide diversity of topics addressed in these tour stops indicates the many ways in which World War I shaped the lives of those Kentuckians who lived through it, whether or not the war took them out of the state.

Sgt. Willie Sandlin

Born in eastern Kentucky in 1891, William Sandlin rose to national prominence for his military exploits in World War I. Upon returning home, he used his celebrity to raise awareness of the costs of adult illiteracy. His 1949 death was attributed to…

Samuel Woodfill

Historical Marker #990 at Samuel Woodfill Elementary School in Fort Thomas commemorates that military hero's long and distinguished career in the United States Army. Samuel Woodfill was born in Jefferson County, Indiana, in 1883. His father…

James Bethel Gresham

Historical marker #664 in McLean County commemorates the life and death of James Bethel Gresham, one of the first Americans killed in action during World War I. Gresham was born in McLean County on August 23, 1893. The family lived there until…

Edward "Eddie" Ward

Historical Marker #2300 in Pine Knot remembers Corporal Edward Ward, the first US soldier named to the military’s new aviation program in 1907. To say that the US military was intrigued with the possibilities of the Wright brothers’ invention…

Camp Zachary Taylor

Historical Marker #2126 commemorates Camp Zachary Taylor, one of sixteen national army training camps created during World War I. The city of Louisville won the contest to host the camp over competition from other regional centers, including…

Breathitt Volunteers

Historical Marker #904 commemorates the volunteers of Breathitt County during World War I. Better known as home to feuding Appalachians, Breathitt County gained national prominence by filling their quota of troops without relying on the draft. This…

Barker Hall and Buell Armory

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2001, Historical Marker #2070 commemorates Barker Hall and Buell Armory. Originally known as Alumni Hall, it was dedicated in 1901. The original building was three stories with a gymnasium and a…

Ollie Murray James

Ollie Murray James was born in Marion, Kentucky in 1871. After serving as a Page at the state legislature as a teenager, James decided to enter law and politics. Eventually, he became an important voice, first in state and later in national political…

Augustus Owsley Stanley

Historical Marker #1777 in Henderson County commemorates Augustus Owsley Stanley, a Kentucky governor and U.S. congressman who used his charisma and colorful oratorical skills to win elected office. Born in Shelbyville on May 21, 1867, to William…

Dr. James Bond (1863-1929)

Historical Marker #1663 in Louisville notes the achievements of African American educator and leader James Bond. Bond was born into slavery in 1863 on the Anderson County farm of Preston Bond. Preston Bond is listed in the 1860 census as a…

Nurse Mary W. Arvin

Historic Marker #2241 in Henderson County notes the location of the home of famed nurse Mary W. Arvin. On April 21, 1879, Mary was born in Henderson, Kentucky, to William Meade and Beattie Towles Arvin. In 1904, she graduated from the School of…

Famous Inventor, 1877-1963

Historical Marker #1493 in Paris highlights the accomplishments of American inventor Garrett Augustus Morgan, who was born the son of former slaves on March 4, 1877. Garrett Morgan grew up on the family farm while his father worked for the…

Daviess Countians Who Served

Historical Marker #1456 commemorates the 1,747 men who served from Daviess County during World War I, between April 1917 and November 1918. Kentucky enlisted more than 80,000 men in the Armed Forces for the First World War. With more than 1,700…

Birthplace of Naval Aviation Pioneer

Historical Marker #1564 in Stanford notes the birthplace of Lt. Richard Caswell Saufley, who was a pioneer in military aeronautics. Saufley was born in Stanford, Kentucky, on September 1, 1885. After attending Centre College in Danville up to his…

Bowman Field

Historical Marker #1676 in Louisville notes Bowman Field, which is Kentucky’s oldest continuously operated public air field. When one thinks of Louisville airports, Standiford Field quickly comes to mind. But long before Louisville International…

Godman Field

Historical Marker #1731 commemorates Godman Field, an army airfield in Hardin County, which was established in October 1918 for the 29th Aero Squadron for World War I at Camp Knox. Its initial mission was to support Army forces at Fort Knox. After…

Stoll Field

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2007, Historical Marker #2262 commemorates Stoll Field. The field was the site of the first intercollegiate game ever played south of the Mason-Dixon Line on April 9, 1880. Kentucky University (now…

Lexington's First Airport

Historical Marker #2440 in Fayette County commemorates Halley Field, Lexington’s first airport, located on Meadowthorpe Farm. Meadowthorpe was a well-known stock farm owned by Jacob Hostetter. A two-story Greek Revival house was built on the…

Memorial Hall

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 2002, Historical Marker #2089 commemorates Memorial Hall. Completed in 1929 as a memorial to Kentuckians who died in World War I, the building was financed by statewide contributions. The interior…

Memorial Auditorium

Historical Marker #1692 commemorates the Louisville Memorial Auditorium, which was built to honor those who died in World War I. The Louisville War Memorial Auditorium emerged from a prewar proposal to construct a municipal auditorium that became…

Henry Tureman Allen

Historical Marker #2509 commemorates the life of Henry Tureman Allen.Allen's life and accomplishments spanned the transition from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. Born in antebellum Sharpsburg in 1859, his earliest years coincided with the…