“The Stolen Boy” is a fascinating story that has been handed down through my family. The main character’s name is never revealed, but there are several details in the story that prove it describes the life of my 3X great-grandfather, Ambrose Bowen Epperson. I am almost certain that Ambrose is also the author of the story, although the evidence for that conclusion is a bit more circumstantial. I will be devoting a series of blog posts to a historical and genealogical analysis of the story. The text of the story will be shared exactly as I received it, including all misspellings and grammatical errors.
Now let us go back to the town of H in Kentucky. Their other brother went back to his boss for his time was not out yet and Nay was busy with his brother S who was doing a lively business. Nay attended Sunday School and churches and had the pleasure of shaking hands with Andrew Jackson, which made him feel almost as big as the ex-president himself. In the spring of 1832, his brother married and in the fall of 1833, concluded to wind up his business and move to Indiana, was on the road in camp about five miles from Danville Indiana the night the meteor fell. He stopped at Danville, left his family there and started out to find a location which he found in Green Castle Indiana and in due time moved to the town.
A Presidential Handshake
One of the memorable experiences that Ambrose recounted from his time in Kentucky was shaking hands with President Andrew Jackson. I wanted to determine if this was at all possible, so I began researching whether Jackson ever visited Kentucky during the time Ambrose lived there (1831-1833). In fact, he did! In 1832, as he was finishing up his first term as President, Andrew Jackson spent a little over a month at the Hermitage, his home near Nashville, Tennessee. On Aug. 23, John Breathitt, the newly elected Governor of Kentucky, wrote to Jackson expressing his hope that the President would travel through Kentucky on his way back to Washington, D. C. He advised him that the road was better than the one Jackson had come on and said, “I will meet you at Harrodsburg and go on to Lexington…” Jackson did indeed return to Washington via Kentucky, making several documented public appearances. But did he visit Harrodsburg (the town of H), where Ambrose would have been most likely to encounter him? Newspaper accounts document that Jackson attended a “grand barbecue” in Lexington on September 29, 1832. Harrodsburg is about 30 miles southwest of Lexington. On a previous trip to Washington, in 1824, Jackson’s travelling party had a carriage accident near Harrodsburg shortly before arriving in Lexington, suggesting that Harrodsburg was in fact on the route from Nashville to Lexington. This, together with Breathitt’s letter, suggests that Jackson probably did travel through Harrodsburg in late September 1832. Thus, it is very plausible that Ambrose really shook hands with the President of the United States! I’m not sure why Ambrose refers to Jackson as the “ex-president” since he was re-elected to a second term later that fall. Perhaps it simply reflects the fact that Jackson was indeed an “ex-president” (and a long deceased one) by the time Ambrose wrote this story in 1881.
History of Lexington, Kentucky: Its Early Annals and Recent Progress….
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
The 1833 Leonid shower was also important from a scientific perspective. Although meteors had been observed for thousands of years, astronomers did not yet understand their origin. The 1833 shower led to the observation that the meteors appeared to originate from a particular point in space in the constellation Leo and that they recurred yearly in November, although usually not in such large numbers. In the late 1860s, scientists linked the Leonid meteor shower to debris from the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Leonid showers are most intense when the earth passes through the part of the comet’s orbit closest to the sun (where the comet leaves the most debris). Tempel-Tuttle orbits the sun every 32.5 years, so the strongest showers tend to occur in 33-year intervals. However, no Leonid showers in modern times have approached the intensity of the 1833 display. The next peak of Leonid activity will be in 2032.
Teresa is the the owner of KinSeeker Genealogy Services. She has a Ph.D. in Biology and a lifelong fascination with genealogy. She been researching her own family history for over 20 years and loves helping others "find their stories."
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