Many reading this may not realize that we had a U.S. Vice-President call this area home. Alben W. Barkley, who was vice-president under President Harry S. Truman, was born in Graves County. This year marks the 135th anniversary of his birth. To honor him, the McCracken County Public Library will be offering a program, “Vice President Alben W. Barkley: In His Own Words” presented by Judge Christopher Shea Nickell from the Kentucky Court of Appeals on July 19 at 7:00 p.m.
Barkley was born to tenant farmer parents. He went to school, then on to law school and shortly after, became involved in local politics. He was known as a very eloquent speaker and worked hard in campaigns. He began his political climb by being elected as McCracken County Attorney in 1905 and then went on to serve in the U.S House of Representatives; the U.S. Senate; and then as U.S. Senate Majority leader. He became the 35th Vice President of the United States in 1949 and served until 1953. After serving as vice-president, he was re-elected to congress as a Senator.
Barkley is well known for his final words. He was speaking at Washington and Lee University on April 30, 1956 and had uttered the quote so closely tied with him when he collapsed. “I would rather be a servant in the house of the Lord than to sit in the seats of the mighty.” The speech is available on YouTube. His funeral service held in Paducah was attended by many of the up and coming in the Democratic party as well as the local people who knew him as the owner of his farm “Angles.” Barkley Lake and Dam were named in honor of this great statesman.
Judge Nickell is a native of McCracken County and has practiced law for twenty two years. A 1977 graduate of Paducah Tilghman High School, he was elected to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 2006. He is a graduate of DePauw University and earned his law degree from the University of Kentucky. Named the 1995 Kentucky Bar Association Outstanding Kentucky Young Lawyer in 1995, Nickell also serves on the Market House Museum Board.
For more information, contact Bobbie Wrinkle at 270-442-2510 ext 119 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org