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February 12, 2009

Louisa, Kentucky

A few years ago, I set off in search of the grave of a local statesman named Fred Vinson. Vinson lived from 1890 to 1953 and served a dozen years in the House of Representatives, was the Treasury Secretary under Truman, and was the 13th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. While Chief Justice, he swore in Truman and Eisenhower and according to Wikipedia, he was the last Democrat Chief Justice appointed by a president. You would think he would be more of a local legend, but I found his grave and this monument on a lonely hilltop cemetery overlooking his hometown.

The strangest bit of trivia is that his portrait, called Dead Fred, is often taken by a fraternity of his alma mater Centre College in Danville KY to home ball games and other notable events. Here's the press release when Dead Fred attended the 2000 Vice Presidential debates held on the college campus.

Here is the Wikipedia article.