Owensboro’s Victor Hollowell has taken the Kentucky unbridled spirit mantra to heart. Combining his love for travel and history, he has visited all 120 counties in the Commonwealth — checking off every Civil War historical marker, courthouse, and other places of interest in each county.
Hollowell began the trek in March when his employer, Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, began offering shifts with 4 days off each week. After 5 months of traveling during his days off, he retired in August, allowing Hollowell and his wife Cathy Sue to go “all in” on the endeavor.
“God truly blessed this process, and for that, I’m grateful,” Hollowell said. “I have always loved history, especially the American Civil War. It’s easy to stay tucked away in your little county, but I would encourage others to take the bit out of their mouth, embrace their unbridled spirit, and see the beauty of Kentucky.”
Hollowell initially planned to visit Kentucky counties and photograph historical markers of the Civil War. But the more he traveled, the more he wanted to see — journeying to courthouses, veteran memorials, monuments, and cemeteries. He said only 5 counties don’t have some form of Civil War historical marker.
“I made a 175-page booklet with photos,” he said. “Kentucky is peppered with Civil War history. It was neutral but truly divided, with brothers fighting brothers and cousins fighting cousins. I set out to take photos and document the history.”
From the Land Between the Lakes in the Jackson Purchase to the mountains of the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field, the Hollowells experienced all the bluegrass state had to offer. They’ve sampled food from across the state and embraced each region’s unique culture.
“We were driving from Pikeville to the Brakes Interstate Forest near the Kentucky and Virginia line, and I kept pointing out how dark the clouds were,” Hollowell said. “Once it lightened up outside, we realized it was mountains, and they were everywhere. The 14-county swing through the mountains was amazing to see.”
Some of Hollowell’s stops included Fort Heiman in Calloway County, the Battle of Columbus-Belmont in western Kentucky, Mills Springs in Nancy, Perryville in Boyle County, and the Jefferson Daviess Monument.
The Princeton native marked Magoffin County off his list on October 28, ending his current journey. That’s not the end for Hollowell, though. There are still more historical sights to see, photograph, and document, and his adventurous personality is ready to roam.
Hollowell aspires to write a book and compile more booklets from his research and travels.
“The Kentucky Historical Society has put markers across the state, document the contributions from African American, Black, Negro, and Color individuals,” Hollowell said. “I want to cover all of those bases and craft another booklet.”
Hollowell is eager to share stories from his travels and encourages others to tap into their unbridled spirit. He can be reached at [email protected] for speaking engagements or to learn more about his journeys.
“Kentucky is a beautiful state from Hickman County to Pike County and Boone County to Allen County,” he said. “There are a lot of wonderful sites to take in and add to your trip down memory lane. Get out and explore Kentucky.”