Madison County Historical Society Pitches Idea for Kit Carson’s New Birthplace Marker | News

Discussions are underway about a planned memorial for Kit Carson in Richmond.

Designs for a proposed $60 million park project at the corner of Goggins Lane and Tates Creek Road allow for the creation of a memorial space to commemorate the birthplace of Christopher “Kit” Carson.

Carson was a famous pioneer and explorer of the western frontier. According to the Richmond Tourism website, Carson was born on Christmas Eve in 1809, in a small log cabin in Madison County.

The Madison County Historical Society made an appearance at the Richmond Parks Board meeting on Tuesday afternoon to share their thoughts and ideas on what the memorial should include. The historical society produced a rough sketch and preliminary budget for their idea.

According to Tom Black, former president of the Madison County Historical Society, the organization hopes the interpretation included in the park will recreate the 1934 landmark erected by Carson’s grandson. This marker has been destroyed over the years by livestock, Black explained.

However, all pieces of the original monument are still stored and can be rebuilt, Black noted.

The group also hopes to include at least two interpretive panels that explain Carson’s role in the exploration and settlement of the west.

“The language we use on these is going to be very important, because the way Native Americans view Kit Carson is not the same as the settlers saw him back then – and still (do),” explained Black to the parks board.

In 1973, at the annual Taos Fiesta, protesters declared that Kit Carson should be stripped of historic honors. Carson’s grave in Taos has been threatened with exhumation and a renaming of Kit Carson National Park has been demanded, according to Taos News. Taos led to reconsidering, in a public forum, whether Carson was the hero of old or a “bloodthirsty imperialist”. For one group represented, the American Indian Movement, Carson was responsible for the murder or genocide of Native Americans. A subsequent history symposium in 1993 in Taos, attempted to illuminate and explain the pioneer. Although invited to the symposium, Navajo leaders declined to attend.

Expressing an extreme view, one anthropologist remarked, “It’s like trying to rehabilitate Adolf Hitler,” in the Santa Fe Reporter.

To highlight the period of its birth, Black explained, the historical society recommends using split rail fencing around the site and that an actual period log cabin be placed at the heart of the site.

There are a few cabins in the county that could be relocated for use in this project, including one off Congleton Lane, as well as another located on Jacks Creek.

Sharon Graves, the current chair of MCHS, said the cabin at Congleton Lane would be a good fit as it is associated with Milford, Madison County’s first seat, which has its own marker at the opposite end of Goggins Lane.

Finally, members of the historical society told the parks board that they were also aware of a Kit Carson monument in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was temporarily covered up due to “political correctness in this part of the world”.

Black told the parks board that the current situation with the monument in Sante Fe could be an opportunity for the monument to be moved to Madison County. According to reports from Sante Fe, the monument has been vandalized several times in recent years. Kit Carson’s monument in Sante Fe has been identified as a potential candidate for removal in 2020 by city leaders as tensions mount in Sante Fe and around the country over controversial monuments.

The historical society also mentioned the inclusion of interpretive signs in the parks.

“This park location was associated with several other historical events of the time and could be approached with interpretive signs,” he continued. “This could be included as part of the original creation or added later.”

The first is a sign that might recognize the Boone Trace Ax Crew reconnaissance party of 1775 that was attacked nearby and had two members killed. The crew chief was Samuel Tate, and his name was commemorated with the name Tates Creek, and used for other purposes later.

The second was the Confederate cavalry’s use of Goggins Lane in an attempt to bypass the Union army’s battle at Richmond and cut off their flight north to Lexington.

The third historical aspect of the area is the Riney B. Railroad which ran through Madison County to Valley View, then Richmond and Irvine.

“That would be an appropriate place to possibly put some interpretative information on this,” he said.

When estimating a budget, Black said the historical aspect, if approved, would cost around $75,000.

“We hope that a small portion of the overall mega-park funding can be designated to support this,” he said. “We also anticipate there will be contributions from historic individuals, businesses and organizations.”

In total, Black estimated that this part of the park could take up about an acre of the total park project – more or less space.

“It’s on the corner of a hill up there, so that’s where there’s not too much going on up there,” he told the parks board.

A gravestone marker is still in place in the area, and the other marker from 1934 was next to it and the pieces have been recovered.

The marker reads: ‘Famous hunter, soldier and scout born near here. Carson (1809-1868) grew up in Missouri; began his Scouting career in Taos, NM at age 17. Came to prominence piloting the Western Fremont Expeditions; served in the Mexican War. Appointed Indian Agent in 1853, he was a peacemaker and counsellor. During the Civil War, the patented brig. gen., United States Buried in Taos. Carson City, Nevada, is named after him.

According to the Kentucky History website, Carson became a folk hero while he was still alive. Although Carson could not read or write, short story writers and dime novelists — writers who wrote short, racy novels that sold for a penny — made Carson a larger-than-life figure, a said the website. These stories began appearing in 1847, but they continued to appear long after his death in 1868. The stories focused on his battles with Native Americans, rescuing captured women, and his travels west. During the 19th century, these writers wrote hundreds of stories featuring Carson – creating a fictionalized version of “Kit” that bore little resemblance to the real man.

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