Kentucky Colonel™ (250th Anniversary)

Celebrating the Official Recognition of the Founding of America's 1st Free Colonial Democracy by the Kentucky Colonel with the 250th Anniversary of the Traditional Office of Civilian Colonelcy from 1775-2025 at Boonesborough on the Kentucky River. Semiquincentennial of the Kentucke Magna Charta!

It has been almost 250 years since the First Kentucky Colonel debuted on the American landscape in 1775, when Col. Judge Richard Henderson of the Transylvania Company commissioned Daniel Boone his officer to build the Wilderness Road with over 100 settlers from the Cumberland Gap Passage to Boonesborough after making the Treaty of Watauga in Sycamore Shoals with the Cherokee. Together they founded the place which 17 years later becomes the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the 15th US State.

Kentucky Colonelcy Originates on the Wilderness Road

If you know enough about Colonial and Early American History you will discover that there were literally hundreds of colonels commissioned, normally by other colonels; 1775 is when these colonels (first freemen) led their people to change the country under new colonial law. In the 25 years that followed, colonels were the ultimate authority in the New America until they replaced themselves with their own designates, frequently themselves. These first colonels were the architects of early democratic society and the Kentucky lifestyle across America.

1st Kentucky Colonel Daniel Boon

Commissioned Colonel of the Transylvania Company in 1775, Makes a Treaty and Purchase from the Cherokee, Becomes the Founder of Boonesborough, and Writer of the First Democratic Constitution in America which later becomes Kentucky.
The temperament and disposition of Col. Daniel Boone surpasses all modern stereotypes that are desired in society today. Although his many heroic achievements, in protecting the inhabitants of the infant settlements from the bloody tomahawk and scalping knife of the Savages, were justly and duly appreciated by the most respectable inhabitants of the state, yet all compensations offered him therefrom in lands, and companies, or lucrative offices proffered him, were unequivocally refused by the Colonel, and although of very decent abilities, (with one exception) he could never be prevailed on to fill a public office—to use his own expression "I had much rather (said he) possess a good fowling piece, with two faithful dogs, and traverse the wilderness with one or two friendly Indian companions, in quest of a hoard of Buffaloes or deer, than to possess the best township or to fill the first Executive office of the State." -John Filson (1782)

Greatest Civil Honor in the United States of America, the Kentucky Colonel Commission

The story of the First Kentucky Colonel being Daniel Boone is factually and historically correct, it is not folklore or fiction, if anyone else can be credited with the creation and origin of the pioneer government of Can-tuck-ee, Colonel Boone is right there as one of its 13 first colonels, delegates and colonist settlers drafting what has become known as the "Kentucke Magna Charta" (Transylvania Constitution) in 1775. Most of the laws established by these colonels and their colonists remain in common-law today and were included by other state constitutions.

They never would have called themselves a "Kentucky Colonel," but they were in fact the "Colonels" and they wrote laws that created the governments, made peace with the natives, surveyed the frontier and made their mark one that has survived to the present creating the customs and traditions we observe today. The fact that all this plays out in Kentucky with "colonels" as the sovereign "heads of the colony" is not a coincidence with anything more than it taking place during the Revolutionary Period before the founding of the United States or the fact that Boone originally hunted in Can-tuck-ee since June 7th, 1769.

Col. Daniel Boone is actually credited as the protagonist of the founder of the Transylvania Company, which was formed after Boone lost his son in his first settlement attempt in Kentucky. Col. Judge Richard Henderson of North Carolina befriended Boone, commissioning him a Colonel of the company that built the Wilderness Road (Wild Road) and Boonesborough. It would be almost two years before one of Boone's lieutenants, John Bowman is sent to Williamsburg to meet with Governor Patrick Henry to make the Transylvania Colony part of Virginia. The Governor made Transylvania Lt. Col. John Bowman into Commonwealth Colonel John Bowman of Kentucky County. When Col. Bowman returned to Transylvania he commissioned Daniel Boone a "Lt. Colonel" as well as many others. After that little is known of John Bowman except that he continued to commission new colonels until 1783. What we can also say about Col. Daniel Boone is that he was the "First Colonel" to be commissioned under the Patriot Law by a Private Chartered Company which was enacted on January 1, 1775, we also know he commissioned many other colonels.

Kentucky Colonel becomes its Greatest Statesman

In contemporary state history Col. Daniel Boone is not recognized by the Commonwealth of Kentucky as its founding statesman, that title would go to Isaac Shelby who worked for Col. Daniel Boone 16 years earlier as a surveyor for the Transylvania Colony. When working for Col. Boone, Shelby a young impressionable surveyor learned the secret order of the colonel. Isaac Shelby the surveyor was paid in-kind with food, money and a deed for a parcel in the Transylvania Colony before returning to Southern Virginia on the Wild Road.

In 1776 under the new patriot laws Shelby found a commission from the Virginia Committee of Safety appointing him captain of a company of Minutemen. In 1777, Virginia governor Patrick Henry appointed Shelby to a position securing provisions for the army on the frontier. He served a similar role for units in the Continental Army in 1778 and 1779. With his money, Shelby purchased provisions for John Sevier's 1779 expedition against the Chickamauga, a band of Cherokees who were resisting colonial expansion in the Extralegal State of Franklin.

Shelby was elected to represent Washington County in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1779. Later that year, he was commissioned a major by Governor Thomas Jefferson and charged with escorting a group of commissioners to establish a frontier boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina. Shortly after his arrival in the region, North Carolina Governor Richard Caswell made him magistrate of newly formed Sullivan County and elevated him to the rank of colonel of the Sullivan County Regiment. While he was a colonel, Shelby assisted other colonels establish the State of Franklin before moving to his property in the Kentucke region. Engaging in local politics later creating the Commonwealth of Kentucky with more than a 12 other colonels who made him their first governor. Most of Kentucky's counties today are named after the historic pioneer colonels that migrated there following Boone and Shelby.

Kentucky Colonel Isaac Shelby

Colonel Isaac Shelby, First Governor of Kentucky, Former surveyor of the Transylvania Company working under Col. Daniel Boone in August 1775. Selected the First Governor by a unanimous vote of fellow colonels.
Great Seal of the CommonwealthMany believe the Kentucky Colonel Seal depicts Col. Daniel Boone and Kentucky Statesman Col. Isaac Shelby. There are 15 official artistic versions of the Seal that are accepted.

Kentucky Colonel Nomination Procedure

In deed, the award or title is the highest form of recognition bestowed to individuals by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Kentucky colonelcy can only be granted by the Governor and the Secretary of State based upon being nominated by another colonel, being recommended by a third party, or being individually recognized by the state's governor for a noteworthy act that commands the governor's attention (or the state). Historically there have been cases where the governor has recognized noteworthy individuals as Kentucky colonels based on formal written suggestions by citizens and other officials of the Commonwealth.

Nominations for the title of Kentucky Colonel must be made by an independent third party, it is not recommended that family members living at the same address make nominations because they may be rejected.

Recommendations can be made directly on the Governor's Website.

Kentucky Colonel, Original Goodwill Ambassador Title of the Commonwealth's Founders and Governor's

Today there are more than 250,000 Kentucky colonels living in over 70 countries, many organizations have been formed since the turn of the 20th century to promote activities, fraternity and social prosperity relative to Kentucky colonelcy. While colonels today have no official responsibilities mandated, they are legally recognized reciprocally as the state's "ambassadors of good-will" due to their dedication to community service, contributions to the welfare of the state, and for improving the lives of others to make the world a better place for everyone.

The honorary title is warranted through letters patent which grants them the Title "Colonel" recognizing them as "Honorable" through a commission as an officer on the governor's staff. Colonels optional duties are de facto and extra officio responsibilities of promoting tourism, economic development, participation in community service, fostering the general prosperity of the Commonwealth and projecting Kentucky's image abroad on behalf of the State and the Governor.

The Kentucky Colonel has always been those who are most like to succeed in the Commonwealth. Kentucky colonels are selected because they possess admirable characteristics, for recognizing the noteworthy achievements of thousands of great people and the most benevolent honorable deeds that support the best ideas and traditional customs forward in the Bluegrass State.

Kentucky Colonel Andy Beshear

Gov. Andy Beshear, in 2020 amended the traditional process for nominating Kentucky colonels on the Governor's website, making it easier to be recommended for the award.

Kentucky Colonel Certificate

The Kentucky Colonel Commission is a Title of Authority issued as Letters Patent, it is difficult to reproach a Kentucky Colonel in modern society for their activities taken under this grant of authority as a recognition.

Kentucky Colonel, The Honorable Title

Kentucky Colonel is the highest and most prestigious civilian title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. "Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the Governor and the Secretary of State to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments, personal achievements, individual deeds and outstanding service in a person's community, state, or nation."

The Governor of Kentucky bestows the "Honorable" title upon someone with a colonelcy commission through the issuance of letters patent (certificate). The commission is a legal act of the Office of the Governor and lifetime appointment as a civil officer of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The practice of naming civilians as Kentucky colonels began in 1895 with Governor "Colonel" William O'Connell Bradley who himself was known as a Kentucky Colonel since his adolescence, so perhaps the practice of making colonels has much deeper roots?

This is not where Kentucky Colonelcy began, long before Governor Bradley came to office Kentucky was full of colonels, in Colonial Virginia being a colonel meant a person was recognized as the "head of the colony"; the same common law colonelcy exists today as it did in 1775, when the colonies turned to states the colonels had done their job and the title remained an honorary one for civilian use.

Future of the Kentucky Colonel

One of the facts we discovered about the Kentucky Colonel when getting a lawsuit dismissed in 2020 is that in the Early Years of Kentucky only the Colonels were allowed to officiate the ballots and polling places, much like the Secretary of State today. Kentucky colonels everywhere want to see the Kentucky Colonelcy awarded under more traditional and transparent conditions, because anything less makes the colonel themselves less significant. Fewer colonels always meant a greater honor, for all the right reasons, most believe it has become too liberalized despite retaining great significance.

Currently serving as Secretary of State, the Hon. Michael G. Adams was a member of the Facebook Group "Kentucky Colonel Community" during the lawsuit, he was privileged to some of the US District Court proceedings in the HOKC v. KCI where his office was implicated by the plaintiff. Steadfast to the case when it was revealed that the case was being dismissed with prejudice his office removed the Secretary of State's original "Kentucky Colonels" history webpage replacing it with a verified and collaborated edited copy of content offered by his Facebook Group which won its case through the dismissal of the civil complaint. Within 30 days the powers to be, reverted his personally edited content of our history under pressure by the HOKC. When the Facebook Group Members complained about the reversion, the Office of the Secretary of State removed the webpage entirely as not to propagate the Myth of 1813 promoted previously. His office staff referred to the historical accounting about the Real Kentucky Colonel representative to state history as a firestorm for the HOKC, the Kentucky Historical Society and the Governor's Office to resolve in the future, it was not a matter of the Office of the Secretary of State.

Col. Michael Adams, we believe has what it takes to be a great colonel; considering as much as his important itinerary, he knows all so well Kentucky Colonels are not political advocates, but they are strong leaders with great principles for truth and justice to get the job done (at least they always have been). We have great confidence the history of Kentucky colonelcy had only begun to see the light of the day understanding (SOS) Col. Michael Adams agreed with our historical narrative as opposed to the pseudohistory posed by the original Kentucky Colonels website.

Kentucky Colonel Michael Adams

Col. Michael G. Adams, Secretary of State authorized the removal of the propagandist history which had been in place for more than 30 years about a former Secretary of State, Col. Charles Todd becoming the First Kentucky Colonel in 1813. Adams Staff investigated the history and were unable to find any fact relative to the history of Todd being commissioned a Kentucky Colonel by Governor Isaac Shelby.

Kentucky Colonel Coat of Arms

Logo
"United We Stand, Divided We Fall"Historic representation of the Kentucky Coat of Arms (c. 1876), note that the Coat of Arms uses the Motto of the Kentucky Colonel, "United We Stand Divided We Fall". A phrase attributed to Founding Father John Dickinson in his pre-Revolutionary War song "The Liberty Song", first published on July 7, 1768. The song was a favorite of Boone and Shelby.

Kentucky Colonel (Professional Occupation)

People often ask themselves why they would want to become a Kentucky Colonel, if all the benefits, privileges and responsibilities of common-law colonelcy have been surrendered to past histories and legacies?

Many people even view it as a joke, but the Title: Kentucky Colonel is not a joke it is quite the contrary; despite its history of 250 years the Office of the Colonelcy is very real, an attorney knowledgeable of this will tell you the Kentucky Colonel Commission is a Title of Authority, it is not just an honorary award despite the references. In 1957, soon to be Governor, Justice Bertram Combs said on the bench that a Kentucky Colonel is an officer of the Commonwealth with greater or equal powers than that of a Notary Public. The Kentucky Colonel may even be likely to have created the first Notary Offices.

While the original rules and traditions may have been subdued as the first colonels (our sovereign leaders) built the governments up around them, the honor and integrity of the engineers of government were incorporated with them in today's civil award (commission), the difference today is that it is more difficult to apply the wisdom of the freemen with the vision they had considering our environment and the existing civil society. Any legal expert most likely knows the actual authority the title gives them, however they will also tell you that there is no way to exercise all the powers except by leading others in your own endeavors.

Col. Harland D. Sanders (The Colonel)

Kentucky Colonel, Hon. Harland David Sanders became a colonel twice, he is the greatest example of how a person can use the Kentucky Colonel Title to promote a business idea and will most likely always be an iconic image of a Kentucky Colonel, his image and style has had a major impact on the reach of the state's name; his business enterprise has brought billions of dollars to Kentucky's economy, goodwill and name recognition.

Col. Sanders followed his heartfelt ideas and personal research to develop his style based on the book, "A Kentucky Colonel" by Opie Read which was copyrighted the year of his birth in 1890. When he became a Kentucky Colonel the concept, iconography and reputation of the ideal was already firmly planted in America's psyche based on the character Col. Remington Osbury from the silent film, "The Kentucky Colonel" in 1920.

Col. Sanders did not follow the ideals of the HOKC, nor was he ever requested to serve on their board. Several foundations have been established in his name as well as cooking equipment, streets and other characters modeled incorporating the image he made popular and a part of American culture.

Sections Under Development

Kentucky Colonel Jobs

Any Kentucky Colonel who is an Attorney, Scientist, Accountant, or any professional occupation may call themselves a Kentucky Colonel (in-law). So now instead of just "Jane Doe, Accountant" she can use (Col. Jane Doe, Kentucky Colonel™), if she was not an accountant you probably never would have known she was a colonel?

Kentucky Colonel (Goodwill Ambassador): As the State's Goodwill Ambassadors™, Kentucky colonels are responsible for more than 10 billion dollars per year to the Commonwealth's economy by boosting tourism and economic development. The Kentucky colonel began becoming recognized as the state's icon outside of Kentucky as early as 1875, there is no doubt at least one of the two men in the Kentucky State Seal and the Coat of Arms is a Kentucky Colonel (most likely both), don't speculate, why would they not be? The Coat of Arms or State Seal is the official image for the Kentucky Colonel. The foundational values of the Kentucky Colonel are goodwill, authenticity, integrity, trust and honor. Traditionally before a person could be designated a colonel they needed to be considered capable of taking on the office. Today there is an intermittent step to become recognized officially as a Goodwill Ambassador for the State abroad (in other states and internationally), but the prerequisite is the same: Goodwill Ambassador Commissions for Kentucky are only awarded to a Kentucky Colonel or a Commonwealth Ambassador.

Kentucky Colonel (Attorney-at-Law): The Honorable Title is both a fitting and recognized title in Kentucky History, prior to the turn of the century there were over 100 attorneys in Kentucky that were known as Kentucky colonels that used the title "Colonel" that were connected to Governor W.O. Bradley the use of the term "colonel" in reference to legal counsel waned out in the 1920s after many colonelcies were granted to newspaper editors.

Kentucky Colonel List(s) 1775-2025

We are discovering more everyday in the US Library of Congress and the Internet Archive! If we find your name there we will include it.

There are many, and many more that were, and knew, where it all started and when it began, they wrote about it. A separate cross-referenced Kentucky Colonel List and Honorific Title Register (Honorary Kentucky Colonel List) are being developed based on newspaper articles, search engines, historical archives, family genealogies and public acknowledgement of the Honorable Title held Kentucky Colonel Commissions and Uncommissioned Kentucky colonels in history. To get listed a Kentucky Colonel must have a news article or other evidence of their commission besides the commission itself.

Kentucky Colonel Rights, Privileges and Responsibilities

All of the benefits of a Kentucky Colonel Commission are realized with the words "I hereby confer this honor with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities thereunto appertaining." You may not feel any different or become richer in wealth, but really some of those rights, privileges and responsibilities are important and cannot be enjoyed if you are not a colonel, legally that is. We have identified some of these rights and the designation of the Title of Authority, Kentucky Colonel in law.

"Rogers Clark, Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton. Like John Sevier and James Robertson, they were heroe colonels in a heroic period. Other men of mark and prominence might be mentioned — Bowman, Shelby, Floyd, Ballard, Henderson, Harrod; but the trio first named must be accorded the most distinction." We have found hundreds of civilian, company and militia colonels from 1775-1790; some commissioning documents are found in the form of minutes, logs, journals, family histories and actual military commissions designating the most specific details. We also find that hundreds of captains, majors and aides-de-camp are brevetted upon completion of their patriotic duty with the Honorable Title of "Colonel" from 1780-1790 by Governors, Generals and other Colonels.

Kentucky Colonel (Official WebSite)

There is no other source or origin suggested or realized better or more well informed than our team of colonels from the Office of the Colonelcy in Madison County, Kentucky (origin of the Kentucky Colonel) where many mysteries of the Kentucky colonelcy were eventually solved at Berea College, the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University, the State Capitol at Frankfort, Boonesborough State Park and Whitehall (Clay Residence) to arrive at the conclusions for our book which will now be released by the end of 2025 immediately following the 250th Anniversary of the Kentucky Colonel.. As the historical record is better assembled, many new pages will appear here in our website that have been generated covering over 250 topics of discussion. To assist with the project please see our other websites where you can make donations towards this painstaking work. Please enjoy our website, if you find errors or facts that should be corrected please email us with the details, we will quickly edit any erroneous or misleading paragraphs provided we are provided factual details or narrative summaries. webmaster@colonelcy.org

Screenshot of First Kentucky Colonel website Kentucky Colonels
First website published about the Kentucky Colonel offering services to Kentucky colonels where a registry and other pages were present naming the colonels responsible for the website. © Kentucky Colonels (Title:Domain)