Kentucky Colonel Commission

Only His Excellency, Governor Andy Beshear, or, the Acting Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky can commission a Kentucky Colonel with the honorable title, it is an "official act" that is also signed by the Secretary of State and registered in the state archive. The Kentucky Colonel Commission is bestowed honorarily by the governor upon a person for performing a good deed, saving a life, a heroic act, bringing attention to the state, demonstrating great moral character, civil service, starting a business or being recognized performing local volunteer activities in your own community that are considered noteworthy. Kentucky Colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In common law the Kentucky Colonel Commission can be very beneficial to its recipient and used throughout the world. In the United States since 1775 there has been no greater civilian title or honor recognized than that of the Colonel. Once conferred the honorable title the recipient is granted all the duties and privileges of the office of Kentucky colonelcy through letters patent.

Kentucky Colonel, An Internationally Respected Title and Privileged Honorific Style

Since 1895 only a Kentucky Colonel (or someone close to the governor) could nominate another to be commissioned with the honorable title (that was the tradition until 2019), now since February of 2020 nearly anyone with an email, phone number, a street address, living anywhere that uses their real name can recommend that a person receive a Kentucky Colonel Commission. The applications are screened and commissions are issued, sometimes over 100 per day; likewise there are probably many that are also turned down. Only the most forthcoming, sincere and well-elaborated applications are screened.

The act, which is letters patent, bestows the honorable title holder a Kentucky Colonel Commission which is a civilian officership as a goodwill ambassador for the state. A Kentucky Colonel can use the title to start a business, an association, an organization, a company or a civilian militia; a colonial colonel could also designate who the justices of the peace, schoolmasters, sheriffs, coroners, doctors, firemen, merchants and lieutenants were in their colonies. The main duty of the colonel was to organize the colony by establishing a civil government honorably for his commissioner. Colonels also performed weddings and officiated civil order perhaps they still can? 

Slowly but surely the colonel replaced themselves with the governments they created; the US Military adopted the title as a rank in 1802, but for civilians the title remained as it was applied to the heads of land companies, large plantations, distilleries, and other companies before the corporation was created in the 1850s. By 1895, Colonel William O'Connell Bradley had recognized more than 100 of his closest friends and fellow attorneys as Colonel when he became governor, most of them had not fought in the Civil War. By the time Governor Bradley left office he had a personal staff of Kentucky colonels, a ceremonial honor guard, a mounted cavalry for parades, had many more friends who were colonels and started bestowing the title upon others as a civilian honor for great deeds that warrant the attention of his office.

Kentucky Colonelcy is the greatest, oldest and most widely recognized honorary American civil officer commission. To be recognized today as a Kentucky Colonel, a civilian is granted letters patent under "Kentucky Common Law and Customs", it is a legal status, a license to conduct oneself as a colonel and invitation to adopt the honorable title as a prefix to their name. It was recently discovered based on research in 2021 that "colonels" were the most important figures in the Commonwealth's founding history dating back to 1775, not the others that came with money from 1780 forward; but the origin of colonelcy in America dates back to 1651, the Colonial Act, the adoption of English Common Law in 1776 and the founding of the United States. Most of the US states were founded or settled by early civilian, company and militia colonels, many from Kentucky.

Rare old photo of Governor Bradley and the Colonels
Governor "Colonel" W.O. Bradley, one of Lincoln's Kentucky colonels at age 15; later here as governor with his ceremonial staff of Kentucky Colonels. Photo: 1898, Public Domain

New Articles - Coming Soon in 2023

Interested in helping us write new articles? How did you become a colonel? That in itself must be newsworthy or at least it should be if you are a real Kentucky Colonel that deserves the honorable title. If you cannot write well, ask someone to write something for you in the third-person, if it is interesting and newsworthy we will publish it to our news feed starting in February. 

Kentucky's Original Goodwill Ambassadors

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 their activities, fraternity and social prosperity. While colonels today have no official responsibilities mandated, they are legally recognized as 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.

Today's Kentucky Colonels

Colonels are in a great part 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, don't speculate, why would they not be? The Coat of Arms or State Seal is the official image for the Kentucky Colonel.

The foundation values of the Kentucky Colonel are goodwill, authenticity, integrity, trust and honor. 

Illustration of the Kentucky Coat of Arms from 1876
"United We Stand, Divided We Fall"Historic representation of the Kentucky Coat of Arms (c. 1876).
Image from Wikipedia

Before they were called Kentucky Colonels, they were Commonwealth and Kentucky County Colonels!

Few people know, but the Kentucky Colonel Commission (Kentucky Colonelcy) actually has its roots in the Commonwealth of Virginia, not in Kentucky. Gov. Patrick Henry Jr. commissioned the first "colonel" to Kentucky County on December 21, 1776. It can also be said that the "first" Kentucky colonels were the pioneer statesmen who wrote the Kentucke Magna Charta, which included Colonel Daniel Boone, Colonel Richard Henderson, Colonel James Harrod and ten or more other colonels on May 23, 1775 at the end of the Wilderness Road in Boonesborough. We have identified many sources for Kentucky colonels since these early dates, this site is about where we believe it all began leading up to today. Traditionally, Common Law colonelcy was granted from one colonel to the next to establish forts, towns and villages to form colonial governments.

Virginia stopped commissioning colonels honorarily in the 20th century, they still may serve on the governors actual staff. "In the Old Dominion statesmen should remember that Commonwealth Colonels are born, not made. " 1898

Our project here is dedicated to the historic origins of the "Kentucky Colonel" the first and original Kentucky pioneer and a great American cultural icon. Our website offers over 750 links to original references from American newspapers, literary works like encyclopedias, books, folklore, fiction and fact that illustrate the idea and how it became such a popular title. Kentucky colonels are responsible for most of the Commonwealth's firsts like thoroughbred horses 1775, whiskey in 1780, a university in 1780, 75 of its counties 1777-1851, first hemp crops in 1775-1784, horse racing in 1873, baseball in 1892 and a quartet in 1896. Ever since the book, A Kentucky Colonel by Opie Read in 1890, Kentucky colonels became popular across the United States. To truly understand how great Kentucky Colonelcy has become you must review our website.

How to be a Kentucky Colonel

All persons who wish to become a Kentucky colonel should read our website as if they are participating in a university level history/sociology course, treat our website like a Kentucky Colonel Course. Our upcoming book has all the resources you need to exemplify your honorary standing, start your own independent Kentucky colonels social group or an independent civil society organization in your own state or country. We also show colonels how to promote themselves better using their honorable title, while quaint, perhaps corny or even pomperous, is potentially impressive and serves well as an attention getter when it is used at the right moment. Read more in our Guide to Kentucky Colonelcy to make sure being a colonel is right for you. Also read what people are saying about the Kentucky Colonel Certificate at Indeed Certifications.

Honorable Order of the Blue Goose International (1939)

These guys really dressed the part, straw hat, string tie, split tail coat with all the senior members with moustaches and goatees. Considering when this group of gentlemen started in 1917, it appears the name "Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels" in 1933 is a name that was based on these Kentucky colonels from the Honorable Order of the Blue Goose? 

HOBGI Kentucky Colonel Model Initiation Group
Personnel of the Kentucky Colonel Initiation Team of the Honorable Order of Blue Goose International in Cincinnati, Ohio c.1939. The HOBGI was established in Green Lake, Wisconsin in 1906 and today has chapters called Ponds and Puddles. The Kentucky Colonel Model Initiation Team was started in Chicago in 1914 by Col. Frank G. Snyder the initial members of that team were: James E. Crittenden, Roy Hunt, Milton C. Miller, Claude F. Snyder, Sr., George R. Snyder, Robert W. Snyder, H. H. Crittenden, and M. B. Russell. 

Kentucky Colonelcy (website)


Our website is a Creative Commons cultural, educational and historical reference work inspiring Kentucky's colonels to become the modern day pioneers of change, culture, customs, history and traditional values for a more prosperous Commonwealth. If you are a Kentucky Colonel and you have material to submit for our website, you may from our Contact Page. If it is not included on our website it may be included in the book about Kentucky colonels and colonelcy (due out soon for the 250th Anniversary of the Kentucky Colonel), or used to create a microblog post on Facebook.

Kentucky Colonelcy refers to the actual state of being of a Kentucky Colonel, the use of the "Honorable" title, their duties, their charge, the responsibility of discharging his/her office and what types of actions that can be performed. Colonelcy from the Commonwealth is the equivalent of a goodwill ambassadorship to the world, the status and standing of a Kentucky Colonel has many potential benefits and privileges, it is also highly respected.

Kentucky Colonel Nominations

In deed, the award 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. 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 on the Governor's Website.

Contact us for a Complete List of Kentucky colonels, the Kentucky Colonels book, about Kentucky Colonelcy, the civil obligation of colonels in common law.

Great Seal of the CommonwealthMany believe the seal depicts Col. Daniel Boone and a Kentucky statesman.


Fellowship with our non-governmental and non-state network formation as the American Colonels Network is on a volunteer basis, it is not just for Kentucky colonels, the network is open to all colonels around the world that have duly earned the distinguished honor to be part. Those who engage or subscribe to the Colonels' network will gain access to more information about American colonelcy.

A communications platform [] is under development now that empowers colonels using a virtual private network (VPN), Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS), and smartphone application; the program will be released in 2022 to compliment our book and our identity products. Volunteers in our network are encouraged to provide information relative to their status, engagement in local associations and participate in programs to further their abilities and prominence as honorable ladies and gentlemen serving as the state's goodwill ambassadors. The network will support the ideals of transparency, goodwill, hospitality, integrity, respect, honor, and tradition among its users. 

Summary: 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 an honorary colonelcy commission through the issuance of letters patent. The commission is a legal act of the Office of the Governor and lifetime appointment as an honorary 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.

List of Historic Colonels in Ky

There are many, many more.