Keeneland Magazine

WINTER 2014

Keeneland, Investing in Racing's Future since 1936.

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KEENELAND.COM K WINTER 2014 61 respect in the community as a founder of the Lexington Garden Club and as a leader in restoring the John Hunt Morgan House in Lexington and the Ephraim McDowell House in Danville. But the other side of her personality was legendary. She did not like children. She wrote into her will that alcohol never be served in her house. Hence, the rising of the ghostly legend. Junior Leaguers began to sense Min- nie Bullock's spectral displea- sure when glass above a sec- ond-foor conference table shattered the day after the league found a legal loophole around Minnie's ban on alcohol. On another occasion, a young boy who had gone upstairs for a nap ran back down- stairs, screaming that a "mean old woman" had told him to get out of her bed. Could it have been Minnie? The clincher has been the smell of ba- con, which some swear they have noticed in the house – quite a stunner, since there is no fast food restaurant cooking up bacon nearby. Minnie reportedly ate a pound of bacon every day. While stories of Minnie's ghost are mild- ly amusing, the primary narrative of the Bodley-Bullock House has been its owners. Most left a lasting mark on this city. Bodley, a former Indian fghter, pur- chased the house while Lexington was experiencing a huge economic expansion as a result of the war. Some Kentuckians had grown wealthy by furnishing food, munitions, and gunpowder for the war's western campaigns. Financial growth was refected in real estate prices. Town lots in Lexington sold for nearly as much as lots in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. Bodley's house was central to the city — and to Lexington society. The ultimate social event was Bodley's escorting the popular French general, the Marquis de Lafayette, past the house in 1825 on a pro- cession to Transylvania University. Lexington could not coast forever on its rising fortunes. When a global fnancial crisis developed throughout the United States in 1819, this city, like many others, was hit hard. Real estate began selling for one-sixth the amount that property had brought a few years previously. The Ken- tucky Gazette cited one example: a house that formerly sold for $15,000 selling for only $1,300. Men were out of work and begged for jobs where once jobs had gone begging for men. The effects lingered into the 1820s. Soon after Lafayette's visit, Gen. Bodley lost his savings — and his house. Bodley lived only until 1833. He was among the victims of a cholera plague that swept through the city that year. One of the strangest stories to emerge from the epidemic was that of a cellar-digger, William "King" Solomon. This man, an al- coholic, was often in trouble with city au- thorities. Yet in a remarkable turnaround he won the city's gratitude for taking on the monumental task of digging graves for cholera victims when most people had fed the community in fear. Samuel Wood- son Price painted Solomon's portrait in 1849, and the artwork, initially exhibited at the Phoenix Hotel during the 1850s, has long been on display in the Bodley-Bull- ock House. The painting was so favorably received in the 1850s that the Louisville Journal reported with great admiration of the piece, "You can see the whiskey in ev- ery feature of the old fellow…" Bodley appeared to be renting a house on Main Street, near Walnut Street, when he died at age 61. The Bodley-Bullock House had passed through several more owners before 1837 when a businessman, Daniel Vertner, pur- Minnie and Frank Bullock left their imprint on the house during their ownership. With help from gardener Frank Ross, Minnie Bullock lovingly tended the garden.

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