KENTUCKY STATE HISTORY TIMELINE 1900-1910
Today, the six regions are carved into 120 counties housing a population of 4 million people in a primarily (approximately 48% in 2000) rural (towns of 2,000 residents or fewer) landscape. However, in 1900, the population was 2.1 million with 78% of the residents living in rural areas. The major industries included coal mining in the east and west, tobacco and hemp farming in the central areas, bourbon distillation in the Bluegrass, and subsistence survival in most of the state. Many people struggled to make ends meet, and women and African Americans, struggled, as they did everywhere, just to be considered "people."
State Historian, James Klotter, observed in 2000, that "whether male or female, adult or child, Kentuckians of 1900 lived in a much more violent society than we live in now." He went on to note,
When asked why the South had such a high murder rate, one Southerner remarked, "Maybe more people deserve killing." In Kentucky, it seemed, a huge number fell into that category. Racial lynchings, feuds such as the Hatfields versus the McCoys, the assassination of a justice of the state's highest court, and then, in 1900, the murder of Governor William Goebel, all gave the state its well-deserved reputation for violence.
Indeed, the first signal event in Kentucky's history of the 20th Century was the death of the newly elected Governor following a contentious election. After being gunned down on the Capitol steps on Jan. 30, 1900, Goebel was proclaimed governor after the final count of the ballots and the caucusing of the parties. He died three days after taking the oath of office. His only official act as governor was to dissolve the militia.
Peppered throughout the decade were other violent events, such as the "tobacco wars" or "Black Patch Wars" which began in the first decade of the 20th century in western Kentucky. Tobacco farmers, desperate to preserve their rights and improve their condition midst the monopolies of the tobacco companies, resorted to "night riding," or rampaging the properties of tobacco companies, their families and their sympathizers.
Feuds and duels were regularly reported in the Kentucky press, right alongside the latest news of Garrard County's Carrie Nation who was nationally known for hatcheting local saloons. In the Berea Citizen of 1904, one notes the weekly feature called "Eastern Kentucky News" which records marriages, deaths, duels and feuds in columns adjacent to the regular department called "Temperance Notes" and the advertisement for Berea College which proudly stated "Largest College Library in Kentucky. NO SALOONS".
In addition to the legacy of poverty and violence, this decade saw the emergence of many educational innovations and reforms. Although limited opportunities were available to rural citizens who received their primary education in one-room schoolhouses, an enhanced awareness for improved educational opportunities can be noted in the historic record. Transylvania University, the Kentucky State University, the University of Louisville and the Agricultural and Mechanical College (to become the University of Kentucky) were growing steadily in the prosperous Bluegrass while many smaller colleges and academies were being established elsewhere. The establishment of educational opportunities for adult illiterates, African Americans and rural populations rank among the stellar achievements of Kentucky's education reformers during 1900-1910.
As a backdrop for social and educational innovation and bloody feuds, Kentucky's economy was supported largely by coal mining, agriculture and modest business enterprise in the river cities of Louisville, Maysville, Owensboro, Paducah and Henderson, in the Bluegrass center of Lexington and in the Capital in Frankfort.
In the 1900-1910 timeline, these signal events were reported in the press depicting the state's turbulent times:
 Klotter, James C., "Looking Backward Into the Future," Kentucky Humanities (2000, no.1): 8-12.
 Klotter, p. 9.