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Luke Pryor Blackburn

Kentucky's Twenty-Eighth Governor

Serving from September 2, 1879 - September 5, 1883

Luke Pryor Blackburn was born to Edward M. and Lavinia Bell Blackburn on June 16, 1816 in Woodford County. He obtained is his medical
degree in 1835 from Transylvania and began his practice in Versailles.  Later that year he married Ella Gist Boswell, daughter of Dr. Joseph
and Judith Bell Boswell of Lexington. He fought to control epidemics in Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, Tennessee and Louisiana.  When
cholera broke out in Woodford County, Dr. Blackburn offered his services free of charge.  In 1843 Luke represented Woodford County in the
State House of Representatives.  Several years later the yellow fever epidemic in the lower Mississippi River Valley drew him to Natchez
where, at his own expense, he set up a marine hospital. His skill and dedication in controlling epidemics made him known to the entire nation.
Ella died in Mississippi in 1856. Shortly after Luke visited hospitals in England, Scotland, Germany and France. While in Paris he met Julia M.
Churchill of Louisville, Kentucky.  He and Julia made their home in New Orleans until Civil War broke out.  He offered his services to the
Confederacy and was attached to staff of General Sterling Price.  Luke removed to Arkansas for several years then returned to Kentucky in
1873 to make his home in Louisville.
In 1879, Luke P. Blackburn won the Democratic nomination for governor and easily defeated Walter Evans.  Blackburn's administration made
much needed improvements to the states judicial system.  Pardons were generously issued to relieve overcrowding.  He also served on a
commission which made changes at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Frankfort. Luke made efforts to establish funding for a new facility which
was completed in Eddyville in 1888.

After his service as governor, Luke, returned to his medical practice.  He died on September 14, 1887 and along with other family members is
buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.


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