A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Our Rich History: The Earth’s not flat, it’s . . . hollow? The other John Cleves Symmes

by Steve Preston Special to NKyTribune Part 64 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.” “I declare the earth is hollow, habitable within and constituted of a number of concentric spheres.” Those were the words of John Cleves Symmes, Jr. — not the founder of the Miami Purchase and original owner of the land on which Cincinnati was founded — but his namesake...

Our Rich History: Dave Cowens and his life in Newport before the Hall of Fame

Part 63 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.”By Steve Preston Special to the NKyTribune “Our Rich History” editor’s note: This column is the 300th article in the “Our Rich History” weekly series for the NKyTribune. Many thanks to our publisher, our readers, all of our authors, and especially to Judy Clabes! Together, we look forward to continuing to...

Our Rich History: The music of Sin City — Newport’s cultural legacy of wild days past

By Chad Huggins Dunbar Special to NKyTribune Part 62 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.” The era of Prohibition had lasting effects on societal norms regarding America’s bar culture. In the age of speakeasies (hidden, illegal nightclubs that served alcohol and entertainment), women were more welcome in bars than they were during previous times. At the same...

Our Rich History: Brighton Center, a shining ‘diamond’ in Newport, offers wide range of services

Part 60 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.” By Samantha Hamilton Special to NKyTribune During a period of rapid urbanization and demographic change in Northern Kentucky, a diamond in the rough emerged in Newport’s West End. Illegal activities, including gambling and prostitution, ran rampant in the first half of the twentieth center in the city, when organized...

Our Rich History: Segregation and how it affected Newport’s underworld

By Chad Huggins Dunbar Special to the NKyTribune Part 59 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.” A note from “Our Rich History” editor, Paul A. Tenkotte: Segregation in the United States was, from its start centuries ago, another ugly component of racism and of slavery, the “peculiar institution.” While the story of segregation in housing, employment,...

Our Rich History: “Numbers King” Melvin Clark and African American racketeers in Newport

By Chad Huggins Dunbar Special to NKyTribune Part 58 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.” Newport’s “Sin City” image, from the days of Prohibition until reform in the 1960s, was well known nationwide. During Prohibition, speakeasies abounded, and after its repeal, illegal gambling, prostitution, and other vices continued unabated. As stereotyped in films...

Our Rich History: African Americans, gambling and the Payne Brothers, part of Newport’s Sin City era

By Chad Huggins Dunbar Special to NKyTribune Part 57 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.” While there are many books, films, articles, and other scholarly works detailing the story and legacy of Newport’s organized criminal underworld during the Sin City era (Prohibition through the 1960s), far less attention has been paid to the role of African-American...

Our Rich History: New Ky. books on U.S. Senators, women’s suffrage provide sharp focus for 2021

By Paul A. Tenkotte Special to NKyTribune The end of any year causes us to reflect upon what we’ve accomplished, as well as what we resolve to do in the coming New Year. If social media and casual conversational remarks are any indication, this year — 2020 — is one that many people would prefer to forget. Of course, we all know deep down that forgetting 2020 will never be possible, and indeed,...

Our Rich History: The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky ‘Christmas Top Ten,’ music and media moments

By John Schlipp Special to NKyTribune A number of Christmas tunes and holiday-themed movies are tied to personalities and places of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region. Some examples are classics, while others are more contemporary. No matter what time period, this “top ten” list should kindle some tender memories of Cincinnati Christmases past. Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive...

Our Rich History: The Black Population of Newport and Campbell County

By Chad Huggins Dunbar Special to NKyTribune Part 56 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.” Cincinnati’s position as the largest city along the Ohio River, which formed a natural border between the free North and the pro-slavery South, made it a popular destination for runaway enslaved people fleeing the South. While many continued to travel farther north to...

Our Rich History: George Ratterman (1926-2007), football star, reform sheriff, led Newport’s cleanup

Part 55 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.” By Richard Challis Special to NKyTribune Northern Kentucky has its heroes — those people who dramatically changed the culture of the area by their actions. Long before George Ratterman became the reform sheriff of Campbell County, Kentucky, expelling an entrenched Jewish syndicate and Italian mafia organized crime...

Our Rich History: The ‘Sin City’ reformers (and there were plenty) met obstacles but finally found success

By Richard Challis Special to NKyTribune Part 54 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.” Known as “Little Mexico” and later as the “Sin City of the South,” Newport, Kentucky has had many pejorative monikers that described its widespread criminal activity. Concerned reformers tried to rid Newport of its open vice image. There had been reform movements in...

Our Rich History: As NKY’s oldest city, Newport has rich architectural heritage and treasures abound

by Margo Warminski Special to NKyTribune Part 53 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.” Newport is the oldest of Northern Kentucky’s river cities, with a rich history of buildings, their owners, their designers and their occupants. For too long, this legacy was neglected, if not scorned, by investors who wanted to make a quick profit from these treasures, or...

Our Rich History: 200+ years of Southgate/Thompson House in Newport, last 44 as entertainment venue

Part 52 of our series, “Resilience and Renaissance: Newport, Kentucky, 1795-2020.” By Jacob Koch Special to NKyTribune For the last 44 years, the Thompson House at 24 East Third Street in Newport has been a place that has garnered much attention for musical acts. It has drawn many national acts, as well as given birth to a host of local bands that would go on to contribute to the national scene. But...

Our Rich History: Scarlet Oaks, a grand Cincinnati mansion built by a Hessian soldier’s grandson

By Don Heinrich Tolzmann Special to NKyTribune Scarlet Oaks is a beautiful mansion in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati that looks like a castle. A wealthy businessman, George K. Shoenberger (1809-92), had it built after the Civil War. Although his mansion is well known, his family origins most likely are not. They provide a good example of an immigrant success story over three generations of...