MINERVA, Ky., October 14, 1857.

   MESSRS. EDITORS:––Two important events of annual occurrence are now taking place in Kentucky––the one, her usual fall-seeding, and the other, the series of County Fairs. For both, the weather has been remarkably favorable, so that on the one hand, a large crop has been put into the bosom of Mother Earth, as the "hope and expectancy" of the coming year; and, on the other, large exhibitions of stock, &c., have been witnessed by large crowds of people. One would naturally suppose that these two events would seriously conflict with each other, both occurring at the same season of the year; but, although they may to some extent, the fact shows that both are duly attended to, for that neither suffers from any neglect on the part of the people. 

   The immediate neighborhood is no in its third Fair week––each Fair continuing four days, with usually a Stock Sale on the fifth. The first was the "Union Agricultural Society," near Germantown, Mason, Co.; the second, the "Ripley Fair," at Ripley, Ohio; and the third, the "North Ky. Agricultural and Mechanical Association," near Maysville, also in this (Mason) County. Of the first, which may be taken as characteristic of the rest, I will endeavor to give your readers some few items whereby they can make some comparison between the fairs of this "dark and bloody ground," and those of their own Green Mountain State.

   The Fair Grounds consist of some 16 acres of beautiful, grassy woodland, enclosed with a substantial plank fence. This enclosure is improved at great expense, and adapted to the comfort and convenience of those who may attend to exhibit stock, to view the exhibitions of others. The improvements are as follows: 1st Stables and Stalls for the accommodation of the animals to be shown; where ebony-faced and ivory-toothed "drakes" may be seen currying and tutoring the stock, which they are to introduce into the ring. These servile ostlers, by the way, evidently take as much pride as their masters in awarding go the prizes, and show an extra length of ivory, when the blue ribbon (the emblem of the first excellency) is attached to the animal they may have in charge. 2d, A large pond and excellent well, for the supply of water for man and beast. 3d, A neat three-storied Cottage, for the exclusive occupancy of the ladies. 4th, Booths and Tables, for the various entertainment of the crowd. The public tables, however, are but poorly patronized inasmuch as a peculiarity of a Kentucky Fair is, that forty-nine fiftieths of those in attendance have a trunk or basket along with their carriage, well stuffed with the substantials and daintiness of the farm and larder, of which, when the dinner hour is sounded, the various families and favored guests forming their friendly circles, near the vehicles, on the grassy sod, partake in real basket-meeting style and hospitality, save the asking of the blessing. 5th, An elegant and capacious Hall, for the display of farm and dairy products, manufactures, inventions, ladies' "fixins," &c. And 6th, a spacious, central, covered Pavillion and Area, or Ring, for the accommodation of the spectators, and the showing of the different rings of stock. The Area is 160 feet in diameter; and the surrounding pavilion is arranged with a double story of graded seats, capable of seating comfortably 10,000 persons. Immediately in the rear and overlooking the lower range of seats, is a promenade, 10 feet in width, and extending quite round the ring, which is the resort of the gay and fickle-minded, (the rest being content with a comfortable seat,) no matter how thick the crowd, or how hazardous to the integrity of hoops, its perpetual jostling. Fashion ever seeks a crowd and the vulgar gaze, and fattens on the follies of mankind. Hundreds, yea thousands, attend Fairs for the sake of a vain display; while the sedate and sturdy stock-lovers frequent them for quite another purpose––the exercise and cultivation of their taste and judgment with respect to fine animals. 

   Of the first day's exhibition I noticed the following: three or four ploughs and cultivators, a four-horse wagon, a wagon-lock, and a cutting-box; a lot of doors, sash and blinds; an elegant buggy and sleigh; a patent spring-bottom bedstead, invented in this County; a great variety of needle-work, such as quilts, dresses, embroidery, coats, vests and pants, and last though not least, a number of rolls of the real, world-renowned Kentucky Janes, dyed in the world, like a "ginnywine dimmycrat," the making of which, (that is the Janes) is the glory of the Ky. ladies, and the wearing, the pride of the Ky. yeomanry. Of fruit and vegetables and samples of farm crops there was a great variety. I noticed 100 varieties of apples, entered by one of my neighbors: also a specimen of English Blue-grass 3 1-2 foot long raised form the seed this year; also samples of native Wine sparkling enough to tempt the appetite of anyone but a Son; specimens of dew and water noted hemp, the latter as white and fine as the purest flax; and ear of corn 13 inches in length and 9 1-4 inches in circumference; and a corn-stalk 17 feet 4 inches long, with three ears of corn on it so elevated above the ground that a man on stilts, or Porter, the Kentucky giant, only could have plucked the ears in the field to eat. The draught horses, exhibited the 1st day, were heavy specimens of this useful beast. The cattle of all grades, shown the second day, were superior animals on the average, and spoke well for the present enterprise of the State, and for the future well-being of the New York beef market. On the third day was a display of fine horses and mares of all ages, and horses in harness; and a grander or large exhibition of this noble animal was never wi tensed at any fair in or out of Kentucky. This was the unanimous expression of capital judges; and the rounds of applause that wen tup from the excited 10,000 in attendance, as the premiums were awarded, testified to the popular appreciation of their excellency. The competition was large, several rights, (not sweep-stakes) consisting of 18 or 20 animals, all capering and prancing to the elegant music of Menter's Cornet Band, from Cincinnati, that enlivened the occasion. A ring of 18 young men, the choice chevaliers of "Old Mason," and its surrounding Counties, richly saddled on the most select riding animals of the State, came off during the afternoon of this day, and the palm of grace was awarded to the most worthy. With such horseman as the Kentuckians are, you may rest assured that the view was a rich one, and of especial interest to the 10001 hopeful young ladies and hopefull widows in attendance. I doubt whether heaven-directed Poet ever strode his lofty Pegasus with more grace and glory, than did these young and gallant gentlemen, to win the applause of the multitude, and the silver cup of honor. The award was finally given to a Mason Co. boy, A.K. Marshall, a hopeful scion of a numerous and honored family in the State. The 4th day was drizzly rainy; but notwithstanding this inclemency, the Fair was well attended, and the show of saddle-horses, Jacks and Jennets, and Mules, was capital, and creditable to the growers of these hardy and useful animals. After this, a boy's riding match came off, and the premium was bestowed upon a lad of only 6 years, whose horsemanship was far ahead of his age. 

   At the close of each day's exhibition, the premium stock of that day was shown together in the ring, enabling the people to mark their points of resemblance, and their peculiarities. It is by this frequent and critical viewing of fine stock, that the taste of the people is formed, and their love of the beautiful in combination with the user in the animal creation is cultivated. An argument is thus derived for the usefulness of County Fairs, which in its wider application would justify State and National exhibitions, as conducing to assimilate the sympathies and tastes of the people at large, and exciting in all an honorable spirit of competition in the various department of enterprise and labor. 

   As outside attractions, analogous to your balloon ascension, though not as elevated, we had the Hairy Woman and her whiskered baby, the whistling Bird-mocker, the trained Australian Grizzly Bear, and a variety of stump orators, speaking the praises of their various areas, while a series of hops came off every night int he neighboring villages, where, from "dusky eve till early dawn," the light fantastic toe displayed its nimbleness, and the courtesies of life were sweetly interchanged by smiling belle and beau. 

   At the Stock Sale on the 5th day, a large quantity of stock exchanged owners at high prices. The calves of the cows of last year's importation sold at from $150 to $320 each, and were mostly retained in Mason Co. 

   The money crisis is effecting Ky. considerably, though her Banks, like those in New England, are determined to weather the storm, and reap the reward of faithful servants hereafter. Two or three private Banking Houses in Louisville are the only failures I have heard of in this State. But in the price of produce now seeking a market, the people generally are reached, and their anticipations disappointed. The Corn and Tobacco crops are now matured, and secured from Jack Frost, and whether money is plenty or scarce, sound or rotten, the people will have full barns and granaries, and will be above the pinchings of want and the caprices of the financial world. 

   Since I wrote you last a stampede of a dozen or two negro slaves took place from this county, all of whom made their sailing clear except one. He was a desperate fellow, and when about to be overtaken by his pursuers in Ohio, turn upon them an inflicted a severe and perhaps mortal wound upon two of them; but was finally taken, and lodged in Maysville Jail to await the vengeance of the law. It is not always lawful, it seems, to fight for freedom. The claims of "the institution" are peculiar, and its servile subjects must bend to its demands. 

   As a sequel or second scene to the Matrimonial Drama of which I wrote in my last communication, I have now to state that the fair young bride has returned in tears of the arms of her forgiving parents, and abandoned, from alleged ill-treatment and neglect when drunk, the bed and board of her husband. I was invited on yesterday, by the father, to call upon the returned prodigal, and endeavor to compose her mind and prepare her to become again, as her parents wish, my pupil in the Minerva Institute. She is greatly distressed in the mind, but is partially relieved by the thought that her parents are once more comparatively happy, whose affection for their only daughter is peculiar in its strength and devotedness. The case as it now stands is a curious one,––a warning against hasty and forbidden marriages, especially with fast young men of the land, with whose only recommendation of a gay exterior, are associated all the vicious habits of the times, with drunkenness to head the shameful catalogue. What the next scene of the affair may be, it is not for us to foresee. The husband appears very disconsolate, and will probably make no effort to reclaim his wife, until he becomes intoxicated, when something desperate may be done, to vindicate his fallen honor. The case presents sufficient materials for a thrilling romance, should Genius but lay the living threads, and interweave them with the filling of her own creation.               M.D. 


"Letter From Kentucky - A Negro Stampede and Its Consequences," St. Johnsbury (VT) Caledonian, October 24, 1857, p. 2

Related Escape / Stampede
Location of Stampede
Coverage Type
Location of Coverage- City
St. Johnsbury
Location of Coverage- State
Contains Stampede Term