Bloody Monday—Louisville, Ky.

Map prepared by Dr. Bob Ullrich 1

Bloody Monday Historic Sites

August 6, 2005

Prepared by Dr. Bob Ullrich


The tragic events of Bloody Monday happened in Louisville on August 6, 1855, an election day for state officers and for a congressman. The anti-immigrant American Party (Know-Nothings) already held the offices of Governor of Kentucky and Mayor of Louisville, and the party was in physical control of the mere eight polling places for the eight wards of a city of 50,000 people. Know-Nothing voters carried yellow badges, or tickets; those who were not members of the American Party did not have badges and were systematically denied the vote. Late in the morning, shots were fired and the riots erupted. Rioters (armed with cutting tools, knives, clubs, pistols, muskets, and even a cannon) burned, looted, maimed and killed until after midnight. Historic Sites Tour Stops

1. Louisville Gardens (Muhammed Ali Blvd. between Armory Place and Sixth Street). Start and finish of tour.

2. St. Boniface Church (Liberty Street at Jackson Street). St. Boniface Church, the second Catholic church in Louisville, was founded in 1836 to serve the city’s growing German immigrant population. The Franciscan Fathers staffed the church from 1849 to 2001 and St. Boniface School was the first German Catholic school in the city. The present church building was erected 1899-1900. (A plaque on the southeast corner of the church commemorates Father Abram J. Ryan, “the Poet Priest of the Confederacy,” who is the patron of the local chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.)

3. Shelby and Liberty Streets. The intersection of Shelby and Green (now Liberty) Streets was in the heart of the "Uptown" area (now called Phoenix Hill) where many Germans lived. This is the block where the riots began in earnest. Intimidation, threats and assaults had been directed against the Germans and the Irish at various places in the city during the morning hours. Most likely, abuse was also taking place at the First Ward polls located at the corner of Shelby and Green Streets. In the late morning, somewhere nearby in this block, gunshots of undetermined origin were fired. Widespread mayhem followed. Mobs of Know Nothing rioters fanned out through the German neighborhoods ransacking shops, setting fires and beating helpless residents.

4. St. John's Catholic Church (Muhammed Ali Blvd. at Clay Street). St. John's Catholic Church was founded in 1855. Although not a German church, it was located in the Uptown neighborhood. Current Louisville Irish-American residents, the Hargadon family, note in their traditions grateful mention of St. John's Church. Michael J. Hargadon had immigrated to Louisville as a young man. During the riots, he was attacked in his place of employment at Cooper and Hull Streets, and he killed a man in self-defense. Hargadon fled the Irish Hill neighborhood and lay hidden in the basement of St. John=s Church for several days, until order was restored and it was safe for him to return to his home.

5. St. Martin of Tours Church (Shelby Street at Gray Street). St. Martin of Tours Church was founded as Louisville=s fourth Catholic church in 1853 to accommodate the overflow from nearby St. Boniface Church. The church school, first staffed by Ursuline Sisters from Straubing, Bavaria, was founded in 1858. During the afternoon of Bloody Monday, a large mob of Know Nothing rioters descended on the locked church. The Catholics were accused of hiding arms and explosives there, the same charge that the Know Nothings had made concerning other buildings occupied by Catholics. A cannon was rolled to the street in front of the church and rioters threatened to blow the doors down. Only the intercession of Know-Nothing Mayor John Barbee, who physically stood in front of the door, saved the church from destruction.

6. Armbruster's Brewery (Baxter Avenue between Liberty Street and Jefferson Street). One of Louisville's first breweries, Armbruster"s was attacked during the afternoon of Bloody Monday for the professed reason that employees in the brewery had fired from the windows at a crowd of “Americans” chasing a German. The rioters, after swilling the brewery's products, beat the employees and burned the building. The adjacent Green Street Brewery was also attacked, but rioters failed to burn it after three attempts.

7. Woodland Garden (Market Street between Wenzel and Johnson Streets). Woodland Garden opened in the late 1820s with William Pickett as its proprietor. German immigrants who moved into the Uptown area in the 1830s were the core patrons. They drank and smoked, ate their fill of sausage, cheese and pretzels, sang and danced, and listened to music. This sort of behavior, especially on a Sunday afternoon, became a target in the 1850s for the American Party (the Know Nothings) because (in their minds) these "foreigners" were defiling the Sabbath.

8. St. John’s United Church of Christ (Market Street at Clay Street). St. John’s United Church of Christ (formerly St. John’s Evangelical Church) was founded in 1843 as Louisville’s second German Protestant church (St. Paul’s Church was the first). The present church, built in 1866-67, replaced the original church building located on Hancock Street between Market and Jefferson Streets (still standing as Pyro Gallery). Although the number of German Catholics in 1855 was substantial, the number of German Protestants was equally large. The number of German Catholic and Protestant congregations in 1855 – more than ten – emphasizes how large Louisville’s German population was. The presence of such a large “foreign” group in Louisville fed the xenophobia of the American Party. In the Bloody Monday riots it is likely that all Germans, not just Catholics, were targets of the Know Nothings.

9. Jefferson County Courthouse (Jefferson Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets). Construction of the Jefferson County Courthouse (designed by Gideon Shryock) began in 1836, but financial difficulties held off its total completion until 1860. At the time of the Bloody Monday riots, the building was under roof and at least the first floor was operational. A polling place was located there, and witnesses reported numerous beatings of Germans and Irish on the Courthouse lawn that day. The Know Nothings, who ran both the city and state governments, controlled the August 6, 1855 election from this courthouse. (The statue of Thomas Jefferson on Jefferson Street in front of the Courthouse was presented to the City in 1901 by German immigrant and Louisville industrialist Isaac Wolfe Bernheim.)

10. City Jail, Jefferson Street between Sixth and Seventh Streets. In 1855 the city jail was located where the City Hall Annex presently stands. During the Bloody Monday riots, the jail functioned as a morgue, as well as a makeshift hospital for victims. Also, targets of the Know Nothings were detained there "for their own safety."

11. Immaculate Conception Church (Eighth Street at Cedar Street). Immaculate Conception Church (St. Mary's) was founded in 1845 as Louisville's second German Catholic church. Its pastor, Rev. Karl Boeswald, and Rev. Otto Jair of St. Boniface Church co-founded St. Joseph's Orphanage in 1849. As Father Boeswald was called to attend an injured parishioner in the evening of Bloody Monday, he was felled by a hail of stones. He died of his injuries in November, 1855, and is buried in St. John's Cemetery. (St. Mary's School building at 428 South Eighth Street was later the site of Catholic Colored High School, Louisville's only Catholic high school for African-American students.)

12. St. Louis Church (Tenth Street between Main Street and the Ohio River). St. Louis Church was founded in 1811 as Louisville's first Catholic church. A new St. Louis Church was built at the site of the present cathedral on Fifth Street in 1830. When the seat of the old Bardstown Diocese was moved to Louisville in 1841, St. Louis Church became its cathedral. The Cathedral of the Assumption, which opened in 1852, replaced the second St. Louis Church.

13. Quinn's Row (Main Street between Tenth and Eleventh Streets). Quinn's Row, a block of houses and apartments (10 or 11 structures) occupied by Irish immigrants, was named for Francis Quinn (also called “Patrick” Quinn in various references), who came to Louisville from Ireland with his brother John in the 1830s. John was later ordained as a Catholic priest and he served at St. Louis Church on Fifth Street until his death in 1852. (Father Quinn is buried in the Cathedral of the Assumption undercroft not far from Bishop Flaget.) In the evening of Bloody Monday, between 7:00 pm and 1:00 am, rioters attacked and totally destroyed Quinn's Row. The doors of the buildings were barricaded and the buildings set afire. Those who sought to escape by jumping out the windows or running from the buildings were shot. Francis Quinn, himself, was stabbed and shot and his body thrown back into the fire.

14. St. Patrick's Church (Market Street at Thirteenth Street). St. Patrick=s Church was founded in 1853 as Louisville's first Irish Catholic church. The original church building, razed in 2004, was located on the west side of Thirteenth Street between Main and Market Streets. Rev. Thomas Joyce, the first pastor of the parish, was hanged but cut down during the Bloody Monday riots. Father Joyce, who later died of causes not related to Bloody Monday, is buried in St. John's Cemetery near the grave site of Father Karl Boeswald. St. Patrick's Church was searched for arms but was not otherwise damaged on Bloody Monday. Xaverian Brothers, who first came to Louisville in 1854 to serve at St. Patrick's School, lived on an upper floor of the original church building but took refuge in St. John's Cemetery during the riots.

15. Western Cemetery (Jefferson Street between Fifteenth and Eighteenth Streets). Western Cemetery was established in 1830 as Lower Jefferson ("Pioneer") Cemetery. The eastern third of Western Cemetery, dedicated for Catholic burials, is most likely where many of those who died in the Bloody Monday riots are buried. Records are inconclusive on this point.

16. Cathedral of the Assumption (Fifth Street between Muhammed Ali Blvd. and Liberty Street). The Cathedral of the Assumption was constructed between 1849 and 1852. It is the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, whose first bishop, Benedict Joseph Flaget, is interred in the undercroft beneath the altar. On Bloody Monday, the newly constructed cathedral was the target of rioters who suspected that arms were being stored in the church. Bishop Martin Spalding entrusted the keys to the cathedral to Mayor John Barbee, who allowed the church to be inspected peacefully.

Other Sites of Interest

St. John's Cemetery (Duncan Street between Twenty-Sixth and Twenty-Eighth Streets). St. John's Cemetery was established in 1849 as St. Mary's Cemetery by Rev. Karl Boeswald, the pastor of Immaculate Conception Church (St. Mary's). It served as the burial ground for many German and Irish Catholic immigrants who settled in Louisville's Portland neighborhood. The most famous persons buried in St. John's Cemetery are Father Boeswald and Father Joyce.

Cedar Grove Academy (Cedar Grove Court at Rudd Avenue). Cedar Grove Academy, originally named St. Benedict’s Academy, was founded in 1842 by the Sisters of Loretto as a school for "young ladies." On Bloody Monday rioters gathered outside the school in the belief that Catholic men had taken refuge inside. As the Sisters retreated to the upper floors, a priest suddenly appeared at the front door and convinced the mob that no men were hidden in the building. Local lore has it that the mysterious priest actually was an apparition of St. Benedict.

George Prentice Statue (York Street entrance to Louisville Free Public Library). George Prentice was the Publisher/Editor of The Louisville Journal, a predecessor of today's newspaper, The Courier-Journal. After the death of Henry Clay in 1852 and the subsequent collapse of the Whig Party, Prentice found himself without a political cause. Somehow he became attracted to and deeply involved in the extremely nationalist and nativist rhetoric of the American Party, the Know Nothings. While Prentice was not solely responsible for the Bloody Monday riots, his inflammatory editorials in The Journal stirred anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic fervor leading to the riots of August 6, 1855. The controversial statue of George Prentice located outside the York Street entrance to the Louisville Free Public Library was sculpted by Alex Baily. It was once owned by The Courier-Journal, but was given to the Library in 1914. 1


St. Patrick's Catholic Church                                                                          St. John's United Church of Christ (formerly German Evangelical)
St. Boniface Catholic Church
Cedar Grove Academy
Cathedral of the Assumption

Make a free website with Yola