Cornelison Pottery or Bybee Pottery, as we know it today, was established in 1809, in Waco, Madison County, Kentucky and has been owned and operated by the Cornelison family for six generations.
Throughout the decades to follow, Madison County towns and communities would see many changes take place. However, one thing that has remained constant is the business of making pottery in Waco, Kentucky. Cornelison Pottery’s lineage of owners began with Webster Cornelison, then passed to James Eli, then to Walter during the 1920’s, then to Walter’s son Ernest in 1939. Then Walter Lee Cornelison made his pottery debut as a young boy and later had two sons, Jimmy and Robert “Buzz”, and a daughter Paula who joined him in the business and are the current owners. Together the fifth and sixth generation Cornelison potters spent decades hand throwing the now famous and coveted pieces for which buyers would mark their place in line hours before the door opened, then barter among themselves for their favorite pieces.
Demand for Bybee Pottery skyrocketed in the 1980’s, becoming one of the most prized house-hold names for handmade pottery. Collectors have been known to brag about the pieces they finally acquired to “match their set”. Bybee pottery is synonymous with the iconic coffee mugs, pitchers, scalloped pie plates, baking dishes, tiny pitchers, plates, bowls, candle holders, just to name a few of the coveted pieces. Everyone has a favorite color, but the speckled pieces are highly sought after. Even today, the pottery is sought after by buyers and collectors who want to own their first, or perhaps their 100th piece of “Bybee”.
The pottery has been nationally promoted by former Kentucky First Lady, Phyllis George Brown. Recently a Facebook site called Bybee Pottery Collectors was created for collectors to brag about their finds and to share information.
Bybee Pottery has been listed among the oldest pottery manufacturers west of the Appalachian Mountains in continuous existence. To start a business back in 1809 by using the raw clay mined from a nearby Kentucky River bank demonstrates how one can “use what you’ve got” and “do what you know”. It is also a best example of the determination and resilience of pottery pioneers to “throw a pot” to create something both useful and beautiful which would last for generations -- now over 200 years!
The Cornelison family and Bybee Pottery has contributed to the rich history of successful Madison County businesses and is iconic in the field of handmade pottery.
The Madison County Historical Society is proud to recognize the Cornelison family and Bybee Pottery for turning out beautiful and functional pottery for over two centuries. They are most worthy of this award for sustaining a unique historical operation for such a lengthy time.
Stewart Davidson grew up in Berea and Lexington. In 1963 he joined the U. S. Army Reserves and was assigned to a medical unit. At the end of his enlistment in 1969, he briefly attended Eastern Kentucky University before working for Burroughs and Tab products for 35 years in sales management in Rochester, New York; Detroit, Michigan; and Dallas, Texas. He retired back to Berea.
In 2014, quite by accident, Stewart found a cemetery located across from the main gates of the Bluegrass Army Depot (BGAD). While driving by, he saw the obelisk of the Yates tombstone rising above the tall grass and brush. Being curious, he stopped and explored the overgrown area. What he found appalled him. Overgrown and neglected was a cemetery with 921 graves, several being veterans who were being disregarded and disrespected with grave stones in disrepair.
Thus began his journey to try to right a wrong and give people the dignity they deserved in death. He discovered there were two cemeteries, called A and B, created by re-interments from pioneer and family cemeteries which were relocated due to the creation of the BGAD in 1942. He tried to locate the owners in an effort to begin cleaning the cemetery, but after considerable research, ownership could not be determined. Stewart then devoted untold hours of physical labor and significant personal financial resources, to maintain and restore Blue Grass Memorial and Speedwell cemeteries. Using his own funds, Stewart paid the substantial fees required to gain 501(c)(3) non-profit status for the “Friends of the Blue Grass Memorial Cemeteries.” He created a board of directors for the “Friends” and since 2016, has recruited hundreds of volunteers, from church groups to Boy Scout troops, to help clean up and preserve these cemeteries.
According to Dr. Peggy Gripshover, a devoted assistant, Stewart’s efforts have been bolstered by scores of energetic volunteers and generous donors from Madison County, and some as far away as Iowa and California. Stewart’s dedication and enthusiasm is infectious.
As a result of Stewart’s efforts, both cemeteries are being mowed regularly and maintenance performed on grave markers, although work remains to be done to completely restore them.
Stewart and his wife, Martha, live near the Bluegrass Memorial Cemetery. They have two sons, James and Bob.
The Madison County Historical Society is proud to recognize Stewart Davidson for his diligent and sustained efforts to restore, maintain and preserve two re-interment cemeteries containing pioneer and family graves.
Warren Brunner, a native of Cumberland, Wisconsin, came to Berea, Kentucky in 1954 to work at Mrs. Ebba Mattson’s Photography Studio. Shortly afterwards, in 1960 he opened his own photography studio, Brunner Portrait Studio concentrating on weddings and portraits. Warren “retired” from working at the studio in 1990.
For more than 50 years, Mr. Brunner produced documentary photography for more than thirty government and non-profit organizations. Warren’s work has been featured in several books such as Down to Earth Spirituality, Appalachia: A Meditation with Al Fritsch, Appalachian Values with Loyal Jones, and Mountain Holiness: A Photographic Narrative with wife, Pat, as one of the co-authors. Some of his other photographic collections include: War on Poverty in Appalachia, from which several photographs were published in Time magazine and were on display at the Smithsonian Institution; Hungry Moon: Portraits of Appalachian Women; Children of Appalachia; Coal Mines: A Fifty-Year Collection; Country Stores as Seen by Warren E. Brunner, and Outhouses I Have Known.
Over the course of his long career, Warren has worked with the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Sierra Club, Hospice, Save the Children Federation, Christian Appalachian Project, Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen, and the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development to name a few.
According to the Berea College Library, between 2000 and 2013 Warren donated over 45,500 images dating from 1953 to the Berea College Special Collections and Archives. Included in this collection are “photographic prints, negatives, and slides of various size”. Also in the collection were calendars, pamphlets, interviews, and surveys documenting Warren’s career.
James Still, noted Appalachian author said of Warren, “Brunner has helped Appalachia see and remember itself.”
In April 2007 Michael Hughey, presented Warren a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Highland Craft Guild in Berea. Warren has spent more than fifty years of photographic work chronicling the folkways, the land, the seasons, the people, and the culture of the Appalachian region. In 2017, he was recipient of the East Kentucky Leadership Award for Culture and Arts. In 2018, he was the winner of the Berea Artist of the Year award.
Warren and his wife, Pat, have three daughters: Gwen, Scharme and Kara Beth, all of whom have careers in the arts. He also has four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
The Madison County Historical Society is proud to recognize Warren Brunner for his lengthy list of contributions and accomplishments which have provided decades of valuable photographic documentation of Appalachia. His lengthy list of achievements makes him most deserving of the James J. Shannon Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award.
Bill and Anne Farmer came to Fort Boonesborough in the mid-1990s as a volunteers. Bill was an interpreter and demonstrator blacksmith. In 2000, he became the Historical Coordinator and was soon named to the position publically known as “Fort Manager” which he professionally executed until his retirement in 2020.
Bill created and improved the presentation of all the pioneer skills and activities with authentic clothing, tools/implements and techniques. His care and assistance for his employees was truly noteworthy and brought forth the best they had for their jobs. A common comment about Bill was “best boss ever”.
Bill’s footprint at Fort Boonesborough will remain for all times. Noteworthy physical changes under his guidance were the transformation of the gift shop into a frontier store and creation of the pioneer museum within the fort. Equally important were the numerous new programs and skill demonstrations that were created due entirely to his initiatives, personal expertise in pioneer ways and means, and genuine desire to share them with the public with emphasis on authentic 18th century clothing, equipment, and methods.
A sampling of the important and on-going programs which began under Bill’s initiatives include: Fort Boonesborough Living History, Women on the Frontier, Cool History on Hot Summer Days, Fireside Chats, Trade Weekend, a Gathering of Descendants, African-American contributions during the pioneer period, and the 1778 Siege Re-enactment.
The impact of Bill’s initiatives and personal leadership not only influenced the employees of the fort, but extended to reenactors who came from far and wide, the public who visited the fort, and the Fort Boonesborough Foundation who rallied around his programs to insure that funding and manpower were made available.
The Madison County Historical Society is proud to recognize Bill Farmer for his numerous contributions and accomplishments which have helped to preserve and enhance historical pioneer skills and methods as well as to generate greater interest in Fort Boonesborough’s unique historical story. He is most worthy of this award for his lengthy contributions for these achievements.
Ms. Donna Kavanaugh was born in Richmond, Kentucky and raised in Bybee, Kentucky. She is a graduate of Waco Elementary, Madison Central High School and Eastern Kentucky University with a BS degree in Interior Design. She holds a Master’s degree in K – 12 Administration from the University of Cincinnati. After graduation, she made her home in Cincinnati, Ohio and was a Language Arts and Social Studies teacher. She served as a lead teacher for fourteen years and a teacher evaluator for three years before her retirement in 2015 with a total of 33 years. Ms. Kavanaugh is the proud mother of 2 sons and 4 granddaughters.
Donna is recognized this evening as the sole documentarian of the 2021 Maple Grove Cemetery Grave Registration Record Book. This serves as a comprehensive reference to document all gravesites with headstones within the cemetery. She worked tirelessly to gather the names and dates found on each stone, input the data into a spreadsheet and correlated it into several formats making it extremely user friendly. The book also contains a quick location reference for finding the general area of each grave.
Donna was also the main researcher for the Maple Grove Cemetery Memorial Day Celebration and Cemetery Walk. She provided key information and was the biographical writer for each of the twenty-seven individuals recognized in the walk. She served as one of three tour guides which introduced tour participants to educators, business owners, farmers, ministers, soldiers and other African Americans buried in the cemetery.
Donna is a founding member and serves on the Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery Board, a non-profit established in 2019, to restore and maintain the cemetery, the largest African American Cemetery in Richmond.
Donna also serves as the Treasurer of the African American Genealogical Group of Kentucky which provides information and resources for descendants across the nation, as well as providing beginning and advanced research guidance to individuals and groups. She served as a resource during Juneteenth celebrations and the Boonesborough Gathering of the Descendants.
Donna facilitated the inclusion of historical information about Richmond High School to Eastern Kentucky University Archives and has worked to identify a large set of professional photos of African Americans from Madison County in the archives.
Donna is a member of the Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery, Richmond – Madison County NAACP, Phi Delta Kappa Sorority, African American Genealogical Group of Kentucky, National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Kentucky and Madison County Historical Society.
The Madison County Historical Society is proud to recognize Donna Kavanaugh for her contributions and accomplishments in restoring and preserving the Maple Grove Cemetery and documenting those interred therein. She is a most worthy recipient of this recognition for a specific historical achievement.
Todd Doty Moberly earned a B.A. in History and Paralegal Studies in 1984, a M.A. in History in 1986 and his Rank I in 1988 from Eastern Kentucky University. He taught social studies at Madison High School in 1985 and moved to Madison Southern High School in 1986 after Madison High merged with the county schools. He would remain in the classroom until 2011. Over those years, he taught A.P. World History, A.P. United States History, World Civilizations, United States History, Sociology, and Humanities. For many summers, he evaluated essays for the College Board’s A.P. World History and U.S. History exams.
During his 27 years in the classroom, Todd facilitated a variety of student-led research and project-based learning. He led annual field trips to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill and Northpoint Training Center. While teaching American history, he would have his students investigate their own family history to construct their family tree. This led many of his learners to gain a deeper appreciation for their families, as well as how to independently conduct genealogical research and oral interviews. During summer school sessions, Todd led a course in archaeology that would culminate in hands-on field research at the Cochran Farm near White Station Road.
In 2007, after a cast-iron coffin was discovered by excavators, he collaborated with the Kentucky Archaeological Survey and the state medical examiner’s office to create a unique learning opportunity. Todd charged his students to determine the identity of the person in the coffin using a variety of primary source documents. Field trips were made to the state medical examiner’s office in Frankfort, the Madison County Courthouse, and the site where the coffin was discovered. Bill Robinson’s Richmond Register article describing the project was also run by the Associated Press in multiple newspapers.
In the 1990s, Todd led a similar project with his students, whom he called his “graveyard kids”, to refurbish a rural cemetery near Crooksville Road. Many of these students would later relate how impactful this project had been as one of the highlights of their high school years. Todd was truly masterful in his ability to instruct his students in the essential skill-set of a historian.
From 2011- 2018, Todd worked with the GEAR-UP program, which helped students prepare for life after graduation. He continues to work with students at Madison Central and Madison Southern through a workforce readiness program. Additionally, he performs personal property appraisals and genealogical consultation. He has recently published three collections of short stories: Notes on Cracker Barrel Napkins, To Dream of Elephants, and Kingdom of Dogs.
The Madison County Historical Society is proud to recognize Todd Moberly for his singular contributions and accomplishments in teaching history to high school students in a style which instilled a lasting impression and appreciation for our past. He is a most worthy recipient of this recognition as an educator.
Born Charles Searcy Wagers, Jr., "Charlie" has a long family history in Madison County, going back to Fort Boonesborough.
A 1966 graduate of Madison High School, he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Kentucky. He then worked as an engineer with Procter and Gamble in Cincinnati for over thirty-four years before retiring in 2007. He was involved in P & G facilities projects in North and Latin America, Malaysia, Philippines and India as a project engineer. He received the Proctor and Gamble PRISM award in 2000 in recognition for his individual sustained mastery.
Early in life he developed a passion for collecting. A family friend, Alex Herndon, fed his Civil War passion by allowing Charlie to search his farm for relics. That farm is now Battlefield Park, where the August 1862 Battle of Richmond took place. His favorite relic from those early searches is a very rare wooden canteen, which belonged to a Confederate soldier.
His love of history and collecting has led him to build a Native American artifact collection identified among enthusiasts as one of the finest in the nation. Charlie is also a recognized expert and an author of many articles in widely respected publications.
His late father, longtime Madison County Court Clerk, C.S. Wagers Sr., served in the Pacific during World War II, while his brother, James, served in Europe. Learning from their experiences and those of others from that generation, Charlie has also built a large collection of World War II militaria from both the European and Pacific Theatres. It is safe to say that his collection which he has spent a lifetime building is substantial.
A full-time resident of Fairfield, Ohio, Charlie is the husband of another Madison County native, Mary Jayne Brown Wagers. They are the parents of two sons: John William Wagers and Charles S. Wagers III.
The Madison County Historical Society is proud to recognize Charlie Wagers particularly for his singular preservation efforts and expertise in Native American and Battle of Richmond artifacts. These accomplishments make him most deserving of the James J. Shannon Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award.