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Unsung heroes in the county’s past

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By Brad Bowman

I
 have recently started on another bit of history in the county that continues to interest me: the Civil War. The farther I look into the history of the county the more intriguing history I find.
In last week’s edition, I wrote about Capt. I. N. Johnston of Pleasureville. Johnston was one of the officers who was instrumental in carrying out the great escape from Libby Prison. More than 100 people escaped through a tunnel dug in the company of rats that regularly climbed over the freedom seekers as they worked in shifts digging.
In this week’s issue, I write about the escape of the Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan from an Ohio penitentiary. Morgan came across the Kentucky River on a ferry which most likely was either in Monterey or near Ghest. Morgan has always been a famed character for his rogue military actions and the fact that he was so young  39 when he was shot during a Union raid.
Morgan’s escape back to Confederate lines brought him through the county with the aid of Judge Pryor who lived in the federal mansion on the right side of KY 55 north of the courthouse. Pryor almost deserves his own story. He passed the bar at such a young age, his family is thought to have been influential in getting the law passed that changed the age limit to practice law in Kentucky. Pryor began practicing at 20. He was the son of Samuel Pryor who was a farmer near New Castle and, at one time, a sheriff of the county. Union officers came to his house and were stalled as he escaped eventually to Canada. He sent for his family to join him there. He was later incarcerated in Ohio and President Abraham Lincoln granted him permission to return home and practice law in New Castle. A bust of Pryor sits in the Kentucky Appellate Court chamber. There are many unsung heroes in our county’s past and present. Johnston and Pryor are an example of brave Henry Countians that stood by their beliefs despite consequence or division.