2021 Recipients




Dr. Richard Duane Sears is recognized  as a distinguished author of numerous books and articles on various aspects of Kentucky history including the abolitionist movement, Camp Nelson, and Madison County.

Dr. Sears’ early life was spent in a rural community, near Independence, Missouri. He is a degree recipient of Kansas City University and Ohio University. In 2010 he retired as Professor of English and Theatre, having taught at Berea College since 1967. He held the Chester D. Tripp Chair in Humanities at Berea College. He and his wife, Dr. Grace Sears, have called Berea home since 1967.

Upon retirement, Dr. Sears pursued his lifelong passion for genealogy by researching the lives of early Berea founders and their families. His genealogical publications include those of his family and families of several Berea College presidents and their wives. A self- taught historian, Sears’ discovery of letters, ledgers, and diaries among the college archives led him to previously untold stories of students, staff, and others responsible for Berea’s early development. By exploring first-hand accounts, Sears detailed the lives and thoughts of these often forgotten figures. The Richard Sears Collection located in the Berea College Special Collections and Archives reads like a Who’s Who of early Berea with both its Black and white residents.

Sears’ unpublished notes also enlighten, as he found Berea College’s stated mission and its actions were not always in alignment. He feared some of the college’s history was being left out or whitewashed. Therefore, the accounts of “unimportant people”, as well as those of Madison County’s politicians and elite were featured prominently in his saga of Berea’s early development. The Sears collection and his publications are a “must read”.

His treatise of documents from Camp Nelson provide one of the most complete accounts of activities at the Civil War encampment, which housed thousands of Union soldiers and some of their formerly enslaved refugee families. Many of these soldiers later enrolled in the first classes of the racially integrated Berea College in 1865.

The Madison County Historical Society is proud to recognize Dr. Richard Sears as a distinguished author of numerous books and articles on Kentucky history including the abolitionist movement, Camp Nelson, and Madison County.



Dr. James C Murphy, was born May 7, 1932 in Kirksville, KY and left this life in November, 2020 at a well fulfilled age of 88.

Dr. Murphy, graduated from Model High School where he lettered in basketball and was an Eagle Scout. He earned his undergraduate degree at Eastern State Teachers College which was followed by a tour with the US Army. He then attended the University of Louisville’s College of Dentistry where he graduated with honors in 1962. He returned to Richmond to practice general dentistry until his passing.

Dr. Murphy was committed to civic participation and was active in numerous community organizations including the Richmond Rotary Club, Masonic Lodge, Valley View Ferry Board, First Baptist Church, and the Bluegrass Council of Boy Scouts of America among others. He also served in numerous leadership roles for dental associations from the local to the national level.

Passionate about history, Jim Murphy was a lifelong student of Kentucky history and actively supported many local organizations. These included the Madison County Historical Society, for which he served a term as president, and was among its most dedicated supporters. He served on the board for the very successful 1976 Bicentennial Committee. He was very proud of his Society of Boonesborough membership and heritage, and belonging to the Civil War and WWII Roundtables.

His most fervent local goal for over 30 years was to create a park to recognize the birthplace of American frontier legend, Kit Carson. Over the years, he took a trip to Georgia to negotiate with the principle owner of the birthplace site, visited the Kit Carson museum and burial site in New Mexico, and helped host a Carson descendant who came to see the birthplace. He periodically communicated with the site owners without success and repeatedly lobbied local governments to support acquisition of the site, most recently as Chairman of the MCHS’s Ad Hoc “Kit Carson Birthplace Committee”. Despite his determined efforts, this has not yet happened, but much groundwork has been laid to eventually bring this to fruition.

In 2007, Eastern Kentucky University bestowed its highest honor upon Dr. Murphy, inducting him into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni for service to his profession and community.

The Madison County Historical Society is proud to recognize Dr. Jim Murphy for his singular determination and accomplishments which have helped to preserve and publicize historical events, people and places in Madison County.



Throughout its long history, Kirksville School served students from across southern Madison County until a new elementary school was built on KY 52 west. Kirksville School was built in 1912 to serve grades 1-12, with necessary additions in 1924 and 1937. In 1956 several community high schools were consolidated into Madison Central High School. Kirksville School went from grades 1-9 to 1-5 when a middle school was built. Bobby Harris was the last principal of the Kirksville Bluejays in 1999 when the building was closed.

Residents of Kirksville and former students formed a non-profit organization called Kirksville Community Inc. to save the building from destruction. Active early organizers were William and Jackie Golden, Carl and Jakie Turner, Stanley Whitaker, Helen Estes, Bill Hagan, Billy and Brenda Turner, Johnny Collins, Sid Hagan, Don Graham, Cecil Tussey, Scottie Tussey, and Lowell Land. They took the first step by negotiating with the Madison County Board of Education and eventually bought the building and grounds for $80,000 in 2001.

Since then, Kirksville Community, Inc. has been instrumental in adding a walking trail, playground, and restrooms to the property. Regular events held on the grounds include a Spring Fair and a Christmas in July craft and vendor fair, reunions, birthday parties, concerts, and sock hops. Kirksville Day is held there every fourth Saturday in September. The school has truly become a community center. The board of directors remain very active.

The Madison County Historical Society is pleased to recognize the Kirksville Community Center for the preservation of their community school and making significant continuing contributions to Kirksville’s vitality.



Harry Enoch is a native of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, and now lives in Clark County, Kentucky. He was trained as a research biochemist, and received a PhD from the University of Kentucky in 1975. He served in the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam from 1969-1970.

Harry has held various research and administrative positions with the Kentucky Energy Cabinet, East Kentucky Power, and the University of Kentucky, specializing in areas of environmental health. After retiring in 2004, he has focused on historic preservation, research, and writing, mostly about local history. His wife, Clare Sipple, recently retired as manager of the Lower Howard's Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve in Clark County.

In recent years Harry has chaired the Clark County-Winchester Heritage Commission. He also edited "The Millstone", the magazine of the Kentucky Old Mill Association. Harry has worked with various organizations to raise significant funds to purchase new Kentucky State Highway interpretive markers. He was instrumental in researching and creating the texts and placement of those new signs. Several of these signs discuss pioneers and events associated with Fort Boonesborough and the settlers in that area.

Harry is the author of many books about Clark County history, people, places, and events. Several of his books focus on Fort Boonesborough and the pioneers who lived in the fort and the surrounding area. Two of his books were co-authored with Anne Crabb. Both of them, Women at Fort Boonesborough, 1775-1784 and African Americans at Fort Boonesborough, 1775-1784, have been well received by the public. Another book authored by Harry, Colonel John Holder, Boonesborough Defender and Kentucky Entrepreneur, has some excellent stories about Fort Boonesborough and its pioneers. Harry has also been a speaker and a contributor to several of our Madison County history organizations.

The Madison County Historical Society is proud to recognize Harry Enoch for his numerous contributions in research and writing about central Kentucky’s pioneer history.



Sharon and Mack Cox are natives of Kentucky and both graduated from Eastern Kentucky University. They currently live in Madison County and both retired in 2017.

Over many years, the Cox’s have collected and documented early Kentucky antiquities. Their collection has been described as “one of the finest assemblages of antebellum Kentucky material.” Their work, which includes photographs, collections and writings have appeared in publications such as The Magazine Antiques, Into the Bluegrass- Art and Artistry of Kentucky’s Historic Icons, and Invaluable Blog.

Regularly, they loan parts of their collections to institutions such as the Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums, The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, The Speed Art Museum, The Kentucky Historical Society, the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion, the Headley-Whitney Museum and many more. Based on their expertise, they have curated exhibitions such as ‘Early Frankfort (1790-1820) at the Governor’s Mansion, and “Kentucky Treasures” at the Bluegrass Trust Antique & Garden Show.

They have submitted over 100 surveys on Kentucky antebellum objects.

Sharon currently serves as a Kentucky representative on the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts Advisory Board in Winston-Salem, NC as well as being the regional representative for the Object Database, Kentucky Culture Symposium Chair on the National Association of the Colonial Dames of America, and Collections Committee Chair at Liberty Hall Historic Site. She has published two articles on Harry Mordecai, the bricklayer and plasterer at Liberty Hall.

Mack currently serves on the advisory board of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Art Museum and the Magazine Antiques, on the board of the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation, on the collections committee of Liberty Hall Historic Site and the National Association of the Colonial Dames of America for Kentucky, and is the regional representative for the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Object Database. He has published articles in publications including The Magazine Antiques, Decorative Arts Trust Bulletin (Philadelphia), and the Chipstone Foundation (Milwaukee), among others.

Mack has lectured widely on Kentucky’s material culture, especially furniture, at locations such as the Decorative Arts Trust in Philadelphia, Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum, Historic Deerfield in Deerfield Massachusetts, and locally at the Speed Art Museum, the Jack Jouett House, Locust Grove National Historic Site, the Kentucky Historical Society, The Filson Historical Society, and the Madison County Historical Society.

We are extremely proud to present the first James H. Shannon, Jr. Special Achievement Award to Sharon and Mack Cox for their individual and collective extensive achievements in researching, documenting, teaching, and preserving pioneer Kentucky history.



Founded in 1855, Berea College was initially the brainchild of a northern Kentucky abolitionist who sought to create an equal playing field for newly freed slaves and the white mountain people of eastern Kentucky. Years ahead of his time, John G. Fee was an “equal opportunity” educator who envisioned a school where women and men, Black and White could live, learn, and work together. In need of land to build this school, Fee was supported by abolitionist Cassius M. Clay who gave ten acres to fulfill the dream.

Each year the Madison County Historical Society presents and award to an organization which has demonstrated Sustained Historical Support in preserving the history of our Madison County communities. Berea College has sought to create a legacy of “oneness” by valuing the histories and worth of all people without regard to class, creed, color, or region of birth.

has been evidenced in the lives of hundreds of Madison County citizens. Berea College has continued to demonstrate this commitment of over one hundred sixty years.

Indeed, Madison County, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the world at large have benefited form having Berea College in our midst. It is most deserving of this award for preserving our histories, and for lending perspective and invaluable support to all facets of our historical research.



Thomas H. Appleton Jr. (Tom) was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1950.

After graduating from the University of Memphis in 1971, he enrolled at the University of Kentucky to pursue a doctorate in American history. At UK he was fortunate to study under two of the eminent scholars in that field, Charles P. Roland and Holman Hamilton. In 1979, he joined the publications department of the Kentucky Historical Society, where he rose from assistant editor to editor in chief in 1990. His work at the KHS nurtured his desire to collect historical materials, which he had begun in elementary school.

Appleton, who joined the EKU faculty in 2000 after 21 years with the Kentucky Historical Society, was named a 2015-17 EKU Foundation Professor, the highest honor bestowed by the University for teaching excellence. He taught survey classes, World War II, Modern American Presidency, and Kentucky history to name just a few. Reviews from his students include comments such as "this professor will make you love history," "literally the best professor at EKU," and "Dr. Appleton inspired me to be a history major." Upon his retirement he was honored on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Mitch McConnell who called him "one of Kentucky's premier historians" and said he had "made a lasting impact on the next generation with his teaching."

In addition to teaching, he is the co-editor of six books, including the recently published “Kentucky Women: Their Lives and Times.” Other titles include “Negotiating Boundaries of Southern Womanhood: Dealing with the Powers That Be” and “Searching for Their Places: Women in the South across Four Centuries.”

Appleton is currently working on a biography of legendary Kentuckian Albert B. “Happy” Chandler.

The Madison County Historical Society is proud to recognize Dr. Tom Appleton for his singular accomplishments as an exceptional educator inspiring students with a love of history.