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Historical Timeline 1866–1939



The Roebling Bridge is completed and opened to pedestrians.


The state legislature passes a law that only the tax money collected from blacks can be used to support black schools. Since Northern Kentucky’s African-American population is so small (1% in Newport), those funds are inadequate. A group of concerned citizens meet at Covington City Hall to establish a school for black children. The first classes are held in the home of minister Jacob Price.


The Bavarian Brewery, first known as DeGlow & Co., opens on 12th Street in Covington.


A short-line railroad is built from Covington to Louisville.


The John Butcher Brewery, later to become Wiedemann, opens on Columbia Street in Newport.
The Newport City Council votes to open Southgate School to serve African-American students. It will be subject to the same rules and regulations and funded out of the same general fund as the other Newport public schools.


St. Patrick Parish is established to serve the large Irish community on Covington’ west side.


Barney Kroger opens his first grocery store, and the Latonia Racetrack opens.


Newport Barracks is destroyed by a flood.


Thanks largely to the diligent efforts of Jacob Price, William Grant High School for African-American students opens in Covington. Price’s daughter, Ann, will be a member of its first graduating class.


A military post is established at Fort Thomas.


The Central Bridge, also known as the Cincinnati and Newport Bridge, opens between the Roebling and L&N bridges. As the first “standard” cantilever truss bridge ever built, it serves as a prototype for what will become one of the most common bridge designs throughout the world.


The Kentucky Post debuts on September 15.


The Ludlow Lagoon amusement park opens. It is served by a South Covington & Cincinnati Street Railway Company railroad line from Covington.


Troops returning from the Spanish-American war ride streetcars in a parade from Union Terminal to Fort Thomas.


Benjamin F. Howard of Covington and Pullman porter Arthur J. Riggs, who had both been denied membership in the all-white Elks organization, found the Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks of the World in Cincinnati. One of the first lodges is in Covington.


Census results show that Covington and Newport are the second and third largest cities in Kentucky.


The Day Law makes it illegal in Kentucky for black and white students to be educated together.


The Devou family donates 550 acres of land to the city of Covington for a park.


The town of Fort Thomas is founded.


Gen. John Thompson, born in Newport in 1860, retires from military service and begins work on a new project: the development of a personal automatic weapon that will eventually be named the Tommy gun in his honor.


Covington native Haven Gillespie becomes one of the most popular songwriters in America.


The Dixie streetcar terminal is built at the Cincinnati end of the Roebling bridge.


The Lincoln School is built in Covington.


Union Terminal opens in Cincinnati. A Kentucky Post article reports that Newport has been dubbed “Little Mexico” because of its south-of-the-border location across from Cincinnati and because it has become a “hell-hole, a den of vice and corruption and a haven for criminals from all states in the union.”


Haven Gillespie publishes his greatest hit: “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”


A devastating flood batters communities all along the Ohio River. For a time, the Roebling suspension bridge is the only one open between Steubenville, OH and Cairo, IL—a distance of more than 800 miles.


After years of decline and the stuggles of the Depression, Latonia runs its last race at its original location.