Historical marker for black soldiers gets little notice

Isaac Settle stands next to the historical marker he did the research for and was unveiled as part of the county’s first observance of “Juneteenth” on Thursday on the lawn of the Daviess County Courthouse. The plaque honors an estimated 1,000 former slaves who joined the Union Army from Daviess County during the Civil War.

There’s an historical marker on the lawn of the Daviess County Courthouse that got a lot of attention when it was unveiled on June 19, 2015.

But Isaac Settle, who did the research for it, wonders today how many people even know it’s there.

“I thought it was a good start,” he said of the plaque honoring an estimated 1,000 former slaves who joined the Union Army from Daviess County during the Civil War.

But, he said, “It’s not widely known. Very few people even know it’s there or understand its significance.”

The unveiling was part of the county’s first observance of “Juneteenth,” the anniversary of the day the last slaves were freed in the United States.

And it was also part of Daviess County’s bicentennial celebration.

Settle, who was then a high school senior, did the research for the plaque and for a chapter on black soldiers that he wrote for “Daviess County: Celebrating Our History,” a book published during the bicentennial.

“It was a struggle to get people to talk about the soldiers back then,” he said.

Settle said he tried to get personal stories that had been handed down about those men who ran away from slavery to fight for freedom.

“But a lot of people didn’t want to talk about those days,” he said. “I think people are starting to talk about it now. But the voices of the people (who fought for the Union) weren’t heard five years ago.”

Owensboro was a recruitment hub for both black and white soldiers, Settle said.

And people — black and white — came from several counties to join the Army.

Today, there’s a controversy across the country about monuments to Confederate soldiers, like the one on the southwest corner of the courthouse lawn.

And there’s a local movement to get it taken down.

Settle said while there’s renewed interest in the Civil War he’d like to see more attention paid to the black men from Daviess County who left home to fight for their own and other people’s freedom.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301


(1) comment

Paul Morsey

The correct title of the book mentioned is "“Daviess County: Celebrating Our Heritage.”

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