New historical markers featuring hemp in Paris

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Bourbon County historical Hemp marker. Dedicated in Paris on 3-9-19

PARIS, Ky. (WTVQ) – The newest Kentucky Historical Marker highlighting Bourbon County Hemp and the historic Alexander House was dedicated in Downtown Paris.

People in the community gathered for the marker dedication and reception featuring hemp-infused appetizers, live music, and cocktails on Saturday, March 9, 2019.

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Bourbon County was one of ten counties in Kentucky that led hemp production across the country during the 19th century.

Paris became a central hub for hemp cultivation and manufacturing because of its location on the main trade route to the Ohio River.

As early as 1790, Bourbon county residents were shipping hemp fiber on flatboats to markets along the river. By 1810, the county boasted two hemp mills that processed 50,000 yards of fiber per year, leading the way in the amount of raw material produced at 796 tons (followed by Scott with 599, Fayette with 595, Mercer with 433, and Woodford with 417, and outside of the region, Mason County, reporting at 581 tons.

As hemp production continues to expand across Kentucky, and the nation, Bourbon County aims to reclaim its role as a leading hemp producer. In 2018, the three processors and 20 growers participating in the Kentucky Hemp Pilot Program were registered in the county.

For small business owner Jennifer Tijou, products being produced by the growers and processors under the hemp program are allowing her to serve and support the local community.

In 2015, Tijou purchased the deteriorating Alexander House located at 902 Main Street in Downtown Paris. The historic property was built for William W. Alexander, a prominent lawyer and county attorney, who was the son of an early Bourbon County hemp manufacturer, William Alexander Sr. William Alexander, Sr. built a hemp factory and ropewalk at East Paris along the Maysville & Lexington Pike circa 1816-1818.

The ropewalk was operated by 100 enslaved people and was said to be one of the world’s longest at 600 feet. He produced rope for large ship rigging, and cotton bagging made of hemp fiber, and continued in operation until 1856.

Tijou renovated the Alexander House and made it the home of Pleasanton Goods, a coffee shop and community gathering space which offers a variety of locally produced goods. Last year, she began offering Kentucky Proud Hemp Products including Bourbon County-based CBD products from Nature’s Rhythm and foods from Heritage Hemp Co. She even commissioned a hemp mural on the building to greet downtown visitors.

In 2018, Tijou partnered with the Hopewell Museum/Historic Paris-Bourbon County and the Kentucky Hemp Heritage Alliance with the goal of bringing a historic marker to the Alexander House. The marker application was completed by Alyssa Erickson, co-founder of Kentucky Hempsters and the Kentucky Hemp Heritage Alliance, and submitted last Fall by former Executive Director of the Hopewell Museum, Leah Craig. The Kentucky Historical Society administers the Historical Marker Program and approved the marker installation on behalf of the state.

The Bourbon County Hemp historical marker joins more than 2,400 markers across the state illuminating Kentucky’s complex story, 9 of which describe Kentucky’s hemp history. It will be featured on the ExploreKYHistory website and phone app, and as part of the Heritage Hemp Trail.

Visitors can find the Bourbon County Hemp/Alexander House historical marker in front of Pleasanton Goods at 902 Main Street in Paris, Kentucky.

 

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.