Muhammad Ali, Abraham Lincoln, Jennifer Lawrence and Carrie Nation all have one thing in common: They are prominent figures with connections to the Bluegrass State. They also all grace the cover of Hardin County native George Earl Meyers’ latest book “Kentucky’s Greatest of the Great: Bourbon & Horse Capital of the World 201 Who’s Who.”
Released in May, the book seeks to tell Kentucky’s story through 201 of its most prominent natives and visitors. It is Meyers’ sophomore effort, after the release of “Lincoln & Clark: Kings, Kin and Kentucky Pioneers” in 2008, a book covering his family’s ancestral ties to historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln and William the Conqueror.
Through his research, Meyers said he discovered he is Abraham Lincoln’s second cousin, five times removed and is the fifth great-grandson of Kentucky-based War of 1812 Captain Nathaniel Hart.
“Tracing family roots is fascinating but walking in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln or his second cousin, four times removed, my mom, were thrilling experience,” he said.
Meyers said his latest offering has been in the works for about eight years, conducting extensive research via interviews, books, articles and Kentucky state and county courthouse files. The book also integrates several photos and drawings.
The book’s cover portraits were created by Meyers’ daughter, Jennifer, and the cover was designed by his daughter, Stephanie.
Meyers said he researched more than 500 famous Kentuckians along with another 200 prominent figures who are thought to have Kentucky ties in preparation for the book.
“I think I’ve made at least 1,000 name shifts, adding and removing names as new information was uncovered,” he said.
The book covers several aspects of Hardin County’s history, featuring a historical photo of the U.S. Bullion Depository, information on Carrie Nation’s infamous visit to Elizabethtown and a map of Elizabethtown pioneer forts built by Capt. Thomas Helm, Col. Andrew Hynes and Col. Samuel Haycraft.
Originally from Radcliff, Meyers moved to Louisville after earning degrees in industrial education and administration from Western Kentucky University. He went on to serve as a teacher in the Jefferson County Public Schools for nearly three decades and still lives in Louisville. Meyers also has served as president of the Louisville-Thruston SAR Chapter and the Louisville Genealogical Society and served nine years as a historian for the Hardin County-based Ancestral Trails Historical Society.
Outside of historical research, Meyers also channels his love of Kentucky history through his songwriting. He has recorded songs about historical figures ranging from Daniel Boone to Jack Jouett.
“Kentucky’s Greatest of the Great: Bourbon & Horse Capital of the World 201 Who’s Who” is available for sale locally at the Hardin County History Museum and at Back Home Restaurant in Elizabethtown. The book also is available at Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville and online through Amazon.
Meyers said he hopes readers take away from the book a greater appreciation for Kentucky and hopes to perhaps promote an interest in genealogy among Kentuckians.
“Kentucky is such a unique place with great history,” he said. “What a diverse group of extraordinary people with great stories.”