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Spotlight on Mt. Sterling: Sharing the history of Montgomery County

Posted at 9:06 PM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 23:49:47-04

MT. STERLING, Ky. (LEX 18) — Along Broadway Street in downtown Mt. Sterling's courthouse square sits the Montgomery County History Museum.

Over the last twelve years, Museum Director Miles Hoskins has dedicated much of his time to collecting and sharing the history of the area with anyone who may stop in.

"It's been a labor of love," Hoskins said.

The museum features exhibits from pre-historic times to World War I.

It's set up in chronological order and Hoskins will walk visitors through the years, adding in information about each item as he passes by.

"Mt. Sterling was the most fought-over town during the Civil War," he said while standing next to re-creation uniforms from the period. "We changed hands 12 occasions."

Then on to memorabilia from Mt. Sterling's former train station and the most notable names in the museum.

"This is the most famous person ever born in Montgomery County," he said. "Her name is Nancy Green. The world knew her as Aunt Jemima."

Green was born into slavery on Somerset Creek around 1845, according to the exhibit. Later in life, she was hired to represent the pancake brand, which announced last year it would change its name to Pearl Milling Company, retiring the name that's been criticized for being based on harmful racist stereotypes. The museum exhibit tells the story of Green's life and how she became the first person hired to publicly portray the character.

As Hoskins moved through the room, he stopped at a cell door from the old jail. When Carrie Nation came into town to preach the evils of alcohol before prohibition, Hoskins said she was arrested.

"She said, 'I've been in jails all over the country but Mt. Sterling had the dirtiest jail in the United States.' So that's our big claim to fame folks, we had the dirtiest jail in the United States," Hoskins said.

History can also be personal at the museum, Hoskins said, which has about 800 genealogy files for different families. And while many weren't able to travel to visit because of the pandemic, he said he's ready to welcome people in this summer.

"Any town worth its salt ought to have a museum," he said.

The Montgomery County History Museum is located at 36 Broadway Street and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.