Monday, July 7, 2014

1854 - It Was A Very Bad Year

Thomas lost his father at the age of 13. His father, William, died on the way back home from the War for Texas Independence in 1837. By the age of 25, he was the head of a household in Lexington that included his mother, young pregnant wife, first-born daughter, 15-year old younger brother and two workers from his bakery.

Note how "Probert" was transcribed incorrectly.

Everything changed in 1854. In the previous post, we know his mother died in Louisville, Kentucky of cancer. She was living with her daughter. His wife died shortly after the birth and death of their first-born son, Thomas. By the end of 1854, Thomas was a 30-year old orphan and widower with two little girls aged two and four. I can't imagine what his options (or lack of options) were.

Sometime between his wife's death and 1856, Thomas relocated to Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky -- not far from Lexington. I do not know if he had family connections there, but not long after his arrival, Thomas became the baker for the primary hotel in town called the Bourbon House. According to a newspaper article published in 1856, "Probert had been the baker for the hotel and had acted as bar keeper for two or three months."

Bourbon House*
Citizen Advertiser, 24 April 1977

Note: The picture of the Bourbon House was reprinted in 1977.However, the cars have been dated to 1928-1935, approximately 75 years after the events discussed above.

It is possible that Thomas knew the family of his soon-to-be second wife, Catherine Richardson, as she was living in Paris at this time. But as readers of this blog know, life was to take a terrible turn (next post).

The Citizen Advertiser published a story  on April 24, 1977 describing the fire that destroyed what was then known as the Windsor Hotel. The story was based on files of the Kentuckian Citizen dated January 30, 1945.

Fire of undetermined origin yesterday gutted the three-story, 81-room Windsor Hotel, Main and Second Streets, which has stood as a landmark in Paris for 140 Years. The blaze was discovered about 4 p.m., coming from a linen closet on the second floor and spread rapidly to the entire front of the building and south wing. In about two hours the front part of the roof and the roof over the wing had caved in, as well as the floors. . . . The walls are said to be 18 inches thick, and at present are supported by ice which has formed by water from fire hoses.

History of the Hotel

"The hotel was built in 1804-5 by Maurice Langhorn and was called the 'Indian Queen House.' Outside hung a sign depicting a beautiful Indian girl. Later the hotel was sold to Major Aris Throckmorton, a wealthy Virginia landowner (1789-1866), who ran the hotel on a lavish scale and he, in 1840, built the present dining room and parlor. The original woodwork was still in these rooms. He later went to Louisville where he erected the Galt Hotel. 

Daniel and Henry Turney bought the hotel here and made extensive improvements, building the present front. In 1854 the first railroad came to Paris and built its depot behind the hotel. The hotel was the center of social functions at this time and its name had been changed to Bourbon House. During the old Bourbon County Fair, one of the oldest in the country, famous balls were held there."

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