Saturday, May 5, 2012

Derby Day

Today is Kentucky Derby Day and a very significant day for all horse lovers and probably also for anybody who has raced through the archives of Kentucky trying to find their ancestors.  I fall into both categories.
I have a number of ancestors who made Kentucky their home at one time or another.  Some of those surnames include: Shrewsbury, Akers, Anderson, and Norman. Even one branch of Loves lived there.  We know that those Loves are related to us because of DNA analysis, but so far we haven’t made the exact connection.  Hopefully, one day soon we will.
I think, however, that what I love the most about Derby Day are the horses themselves. I’ve always loved horses.  Even though I’m a ‘city girl,’ I used to dream that I would own a horse someday (I guess I never contemplated where I would put it!) and would sit for hours sketching horse after horse, each one turning out a little better than the last. Oh, how I wish I still had those drawings!  That love of horses appears to run in the family, as many of my Love family ancestors have been described as horse breeders, importers, horsemen, and turfmen.  Even my Father’s application for the Marine Corps in 1936 included ‘horseshoer’ as one of his skills.
Back in 1774, my 5th great grandfather, Samuel Love (1720 – 1787) purchased land near the Broad Run in Prince William County, Virginia.  He also bought the mill that was in the area and then built “Buckland Plantation” on his newly-purchased land.  He and his four sons, Samuel, John, Charles, and Augustine, proceeded to develop the entire area surrounding Buckland into one of the finest mercantile centers in the area at that time.  It would later become a town and is still there today.
When Samuel died in 1787, he deeded his main plantation, “Salisbury,” which was located in Loudon Co., Virginia, to my 4th great grandfather, Samuel Love.  “Buckland” was left to John.  Between the two of them, they began to import thoroughbred Arabian and European horses.  Two of those horses, “Mahomet” and “Spread Eagle,” are said to be “listed among the origins of the modern thoroughbred.”( Source: “The Buckland Preservation Society)
George Washington bought horses from the Love family for his own use.  The Loves were also friends with Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and James Madison, all of whom purchased supplies and horses from the successful commercial center located at Buckland.
I’m very proud to be descended from people who were in the forefront of bringing thoroughbreds to America.  My own love of horses, as well as my love of the Kentucky Derby itself probably stems from those origins. (Hmmm…could it be that ‘genetic memory’ thing again?)
Today is the 138th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.  I’m gettin’ my Mint Julep ready and am looking forward to seeing those horses run.
And then, of course, there are the hats.  That just might be the best – and most ‘fascinating’ part of all!

Source: The Historical Marker Database (

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