Colonels in History

Historic Colonels of Kentucky

Before Kentucky became a state it had its colonels. Most significantly, Kentucky was founded by colonels, they were responsible for appointing the first justices, sheriffs, surveying the counties, establishing a government and even selected one of their own as its first governor.

This section is currently under development.

Most Notable Colonels

Colonel Daniel Boone

Colonel Richard Henderson

Colonel James Harrod

Colonel John Bowman

Colonel Leonard Helm

Colonel Benjamin Logan

Colonel Thomas Slaughter —

Colonel Richard Callaway — He took part in organizing the short-lived colony of Transylvania. In 1776, two of Callaway's daughters, along with Daniel Boone's Jemima, were kidnapped outside Boonesborough by Native Americans. Callaway led one of parties in the rescue of the girls. His nephew Flanders Callaway later married Jemima Boone. In April 1777, Callaway and John Todd were elected to the Virginia legislature as burgesses from Kentucky County, Virginia. In June 1778, he was appointed a justice of the peace and made colonel of the county's militia. On November 8, 1780, Colonel Richard Callaway was ambushed about a mile outside of Boonesborough by a Shawnee war party. He was killed and scalped, and his body was mutilated. Calloway County, Kentucky, was named after Callaway.

Colonel Henry Skaggs

Colonel Abraham Hite

Colonel John Todd

Colonel Arthur Campbell

Colonel Robert Campbell

Colonel John Floyd

Colonel John Sevier

Colonel Evan Shelby

Colonel James Robertson

Colonel Robert Patterson

Colonel Stephen Trigg

Colonel James Knox

Colonel William Preston

Colonel Charles Lewis

Colonel William Fleming

Colonel John Field

Colonel William Pope

Colonel Joseph Crockett

Colonel Thomas Marshall

Colonel John Hardin

Colonel James Wilkinson

Colonel William Oldham

Colonel Thomas Marshall

Colonel Joseph Hamilton Daviess

Colonel Abraham Owen

Colonel Samuel Wells

Colonel John Allen

Colonel J. M. Scott

Colonel William Lewis

Colonel Richard M. Johnson

Colonel William Cocke — As a colonel of militia in 1776, he led four companies of men into North Carolina's Washington District for action against the Indians. Later that year, he left Virginia and moved to what was to become Tennessee. During the organization of the State of Franklin, Cocke was elected as the would-be state's delegate to the Congress of the Confederation.

Colonel John Marshall Harlan — (June 1, 1833 – October 14, 1911) was an American lawyer and politician who served as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. He is often called "The Great Dissenter" due to his many dissents in cases that restricted civil liberties, including the Civil Rights Cases and Plessy v. Ferguson. His grandson John Marshall Harlan II was also a Supreme Court justice.

Colonel James Edward Pepper — known as a Master Distiller, was a bigger-than-life, flamboyant promoter, who was very proud of his distilling heritage – the third generation to produce Old Pepper whiskey. He claimed the oldest distillery – founded in 1780 – in the United States, the largest distillery in the world and the “best” whiskey in the United States. He was the original prototype of the "Kentucky Colonel" and lived life to the fullest, traveled in a private railcar and visited all the fashionable resorts in the United States and Europe. He bred and raced thoroughbreds on both sides of the Atlantic. He dreamed of building a stone castle on his farm outside of Lexington to rival the castles of Europe. More about Colonel Pepper

Colonel Samuel Taylor Suit — was a Maryland businessman, entrepreneur, and agriculturalist. In 1867, he purchased some 300 acres of land just outside of Washington, DC, an estate that is now the basis for Suitland, Maryland. President of the Washington and Chesapeake and Washington City and Point Lookout Railroads, Col. Suit made his fortune from marketing whiskey in little brown jugs. His honorary title, "colonel,” seems to have been awarded during a stint at a Louisville, Kentucky distillery where he worked for a time as a young man. Col. Suit operated his own distillery, near the present site of the Census Bureau, and was responsible for building Suitland Road (one of the boundaries of the current Federal Center) as a shorter route to Washington. More about Colonel Suit

Colonel Fain W. King — a Paducah lumber magnate and relic collector, purchased the site and began excavating the mounds and developing a tourist attraction. King, later joined by his wife, Blanche Busey King, opened the site to public visitation from the beginning of his work, calling the site at first the “King Mounds” and eventually naming it the “Ancient Buried City.” King directed excavations from 1932 until 1939. Some of their excavations followed proper archaeological techniques, but their field notes and other records have disappeared. In 1946, the Kings retired and donated the site to Western Baptist Hospital in Paducah. The Western Baptist Hospital owned the Ancient Buried City from 1946 to 1983. Read more about Colonel King

Earle "The Kentucky Colonel" Combs — was born on May 14, 1899 in Pebworth, KY. He stood 6 feet tall and weighed 185 pounds. Combs batted left-handed, however, threw and wrote with his right hand. He received his teaching certificate in Tennessee while he served as player /manager for a local semi-pro team prior to a two year minor league stint in Louisville that began in 1922. By 1924, he finished the season with the New York Yankees where he would remain their starting "ball hawk" center fielder and leadoff hitter until 1935.

Col. E. R. Bradley Kentucky Colonel, Kentucky Legend, self-proclaimed gambler, bookmaker, and owner/manager of several casinos—was informed by his doctor that a more outdoor lifestyle might be beneficial to his health. Born on Dec. 12, 1859, Colonel Bradley wasn’t really a colonel. Although he partook in many different enterprises and activities during his younger days, military life was not among them. The “colonel” part of his name was actually an honorary title; he was a classic “Kentucky Colonel.” Thanks to his achievements in horse racing, he soon became a Kentucky legend.

Charles W. Anderson Jr. — born 1907. He became an attorney and a civil rights leader, elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives, in 1935. He secured legislation improving education for all students, white and black, consideration for teachers, white and black, and is credited with the repeal of Kentucky’s public hanging law. Gov. A. B. Chandler commissioned him a Kentucky Colonel, the first African American so honored.

Charles Stewart Todd — Well-known as a Kentucky colonel, however in searching for records of Todd's commission we could not find any documentation to support this, apparently he was recognized as a Kentucky colonel by some because he went to war and returned to Kentucky a colonel. Todd served in the US Army in the infantry in the War of 1812 under General William Harrison as a captain and aide-de-camp until 1814. When General Harrison retired, Todd came under the command of General Duncan McArthur as his adjunct, the following year he was made the Inspector General of the Michigan Territory with the rank of colonel, shortly thereafter Col. Todd returned to his home in Kentucky. More about Colonel Todd

Colonel Harland Sanders