The Madison County Historical Society, Inc. is a non-profit organization with a mission to educate our citizenry and visitors about the county’s unique history, archeology, architecture, and cultural heritage. The MCHS board also collaborates with governmental entities, educational institutions, and public/private businesses and organizations to promote, protect, and preserve Madison County history and heritage.

Recent News

Summer 2022 Edition of Heritage Highlights is out

The latest edition of heritage highlights include the 1942 Richmond Daily Register article about J.B. Moore’s appointment as Superintendent,  Silver Creek’s Hemp Factory during the 19th Century, the creation of the Bluegrass Ordinance Depot and much more.

Become a member of the Madison County Historical Society to receive your copies of Heritage Highlights and support historical research, preservation and education.

#madisoncountyky #richmondky #bereaky #kentuckyhistory #historicalsociety 

Wandering With Warren Presentation a Success


From the Richmond Register, April 22, 2022 - Taylor Six  


The basement of the Berea City Hall was packed with those interested in history -- particularly through photographs -- which took them back in time in the city of Berea, and other incorporated areas of Madison County.

On Tuesday, the crowd was greeted by the Madison County Historical Society for a presentation of 'Wandering with Warren' which featured Warren Brunner -- famed Berea photographer who highlighted his collection of photos from the 1930's to the present.

According to Sharon Graves, the president of the Madison County Historical Society, Brunner has spent more than 50 years photographing chronicling the folk-way, the land, the seasons, the people and culture of the Appalachian region. He has produced documentaries of his photography for more than 30 government and non-profit organizations as well as his work being featured in several books.

Brunner is the 2017 East Kentucky Leadership Award for Culture and Arts recipient.

The audience was taken back in time by Brunner, who moved to Berea in 1954 to work in the photography studio of Ebba Mattson. Shortly after, Brunner opened his own studio, Brunner Studios, which is now owned and operated by his daughter Kara Beth Brunner.

Many in attendance had their senior portraits and even their weddings photographed by Brunner, who began taking photos when he was 14-years-old. Much of what he showcased featured his Appalachian artwork which depicted the War on Poverty, Mountain Churches, Save the Children, and the Kentucky Craft Guild.

With nearly 200 photos presented, the audience was graced with many photos which were of Berea throughout the 1940's to the 1970's and demonstrated the vast changes made throughout time.

Members of the audience exclaimed when they saw people they knew from around town and old buildings which were now car washes, or Mexican restaurants. Participants reminisced on simpler times with Brunner at the helm, telling stories of all his photos and journeys with his family.

His career started with a simple statement scrawled on a board: "Have camera, will travel." That is when he was hired by Mattson where he met his wife, Patricia.

"Eventually a girl came in, a little redheaded girl that bought a roll of film," he recalled. "One thing led to another and you heard of all the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren we have."

With his family in tow, the clan traveled in an old Willys Jeep.

"The greatest blessing in our family, beside having children, was having a Jeep," he said --garnering a hearty laugh from his audience. "The girls would sit on the hood and I would come down the road through the water and it would slide up over the car and get them all wet. That Jeep also made it to the top of Indian Fort Road. Sometimes, I would get in trouble and have to be pulled out."

Among the photos displayed on Thursday, were pictures of snake handlers in Berea, chicken dinners, sorghum production, family reunions and baptisms in Red Lick, and Berea College students being shuttled into school buses to repair school houses in Appalachia.

Often, Brunner said, many of the moments he captured were borne out of simply getting lost.

"Every Sunday afternoon we got in the Jeep, and we drove down a road we had never been on and when we got to the end (of the road) we got out and walked," he recalled.

Later in the presentation, photos were shown which depicted The Carlton, Dixie Kitchen, Bybee Pottery, former Berea Post Office, Little Mama's, the Red Lick Grocery, the Big Hill Store, Berea College Square, Boone Tavern, and businesses that have taken on another life over the years.


Judy Greene-Baker Presents "Quilting Blocks and the Story of the Underground Railroad"

The Madison County Historical Society invites you to join us on Thursday, February 17, 2022 at the Richmond City Hall for Judy Greene - Baker's Presentation "Quilt Blocks and the Story of the Underground Railroad".  Mrs. Greene-Baker is a member of the Historical Society's Board of Directors, served for over 25 years in the Kentucky National Guard, active in her church and community, and is an avid historian of Traditional Quilting.

The presentation will begin at 6:30 pm.  You can attend in person at the Richmond City Hall, observing CDC Covid precautions, or you may register in advance to attend by Zoom by following the link below.


When: Feb 17, 2022 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

 Register in advance for this meeting:



After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Madison County Historical Society in the News

Thanks to the Richmond Register and Blake Vickers for the recent article!

Historical Society UnearthsRevolutionary War Patriots by Blake Vickers

"The Madison County Historical Society has been doing some counting lately.

As of now, they have made a list of 143 veterans and supporters of the Revolutionary War buried in Madison County.

With more names expected to be added to the list in the coming months, the project is part of an initiative to raise money to create a bronze plaque recognizing the people who fought for American Independence. All donations are private and come from individuals or other historical organizations.

The plaque committee is organized by Historical Society President Sharon Graves, Sharyn Mitchell, Bill Williams, Phillip Seyfrit, Tom Black, John Buckler, and Dean Whitaker. Formed roughly two months ago, the committee has been hard at work researching and unearthing patriots.

The Revolutionary War was more than just a martial struggle. Some supported the struggle for American independence through the donation of supplies or even just rhetoric. That's why the people who are being honored by the historical society aren't being referred to as "patriots," as many on the list supported through different means.

"A patriot is someone who either fought in the war as a soldier or someone who provided services. For instance we have a Quaker on the list who would not have fought in the war, but he's identified as a patriot because he gave food to the cause," Graves said. "Women, men, children, African-Americans - anybody that we can prove rendered patriotic service."

Along with being a part of the plaque committee, Sharyn Mitchell is the President and co-founder of The African American Genealogy Group of Kentucky. She had some curiosities upon joining the committee.

"One of things that interested me was were there any African-Americans serving as patriots? When you look at their descendants they wanna know what were they then. About five or six years ago, I was meeting with the Sons of the American Revolution in Louisville and we were beginning to identify African-Americans," Mitchell said. "Madison County was big. Were there any African-Americans serving the war effort? That's what I've been tracking and going down rabbit holes for."

Each member of the committee is shocked at how quickly the project is progressing.

"We were wanting to memorialize the American Revolutionary veterans buried in the current confines of Madison County. We knew there were some, but I think we are all surprised that we managed to come up with over 140. That doesn't mean that that's all of them, we may discover more. This project will never really end," Seyfrit said.

As the project is perpetually ongoing, the plaque will be made with the space so that other names can be added over time as more Revolutionary War patriots are discovered. The project finds it's inspiration from a similar event that Buckler attended in Boyle County.

"I joined the Sons of the American Revolution through a patriot ancestor named Henry Sparrow who is buried in Boyle County. The Daughters of the American Revolution chapter over in Boyle County said they planned a re-dedication where they had found more patriot names buried in the county and they added names to the plaque," Buckler said. "I attended that plaque rededication and talking to Phil (Seyfrit)... and it all kind of started snowballing from there."

"If they can do it over there, why can't we do it over here?" Seyfrit added.

According to Buckler, the committee felt the lack of a memorial for the Revolutionary War supporters in the county was an issue of unintentional neglect that needed to be rectified. From there, the group came together with research from several different sources and local historians.

Williamson plays a large role in this process as a researcher, filling in the gaps in their information through online digging.

"Sometimes you can find a lot of paperwork on them, other times not so much... You can find military files, and you can find applications they made for a pension after the war. It will tell what they did and then they wrote it out and verified it with the local attorney and court," Williamson said of some of the ways he has found information on some of the buried patriots.

There are several challenges the group has faced in their research. As Kentucky was yet to be made a state during the war, many of the soldiers fought with groups based out of Virginia and were paid in land in Kentucky. Another issue is the changing boundaries of Madison County - as it used to stretch all the way out to what is now Hazard. Some of the patriots may no longer be buried are now resting in neighboring counties.

New and conflicting information can cause confusion as well, as history can be embellished over time through folklore and family tales.

"You have a fact and if it's repeated several times and generation to generation it can really go off the rails as to what really happened and what is being said or written about. Some of this is family lore and so forth. Of course grand pappy was in the war and fought for the patriots. But grand pappy may have ducked in the woods and not participated at all. You've got to sort through it, " Black said.

The Historical Society has a $4,500 funding goal for the plaque, with $2,660 raised so far. They ask that anyone who has any helpful information contact them. Tax-deductible donations can be made to The Madison County Historical Society at P.O. Box 397 at Richmond, Kentucky 40476." 

-Richmond Register 1/20/22


Meeting Schedule of the Madison County Historical Society

Regular meeting date is the 3rd Thursday of each month.  Meeting location will be in the Community Room (Lower level) of the Madison County Library at the corner of West Main and 5thStreet.

In case of continuing health restrictions, meetings will be by internet – Zoom.

Regular meeting time is 6:30 PM.  Publicity will be made via Facebook, email and the Community Calendar in the Richmond Register and Berea Citizen.