In 2021, President Joe Biden, in an effort to assist recovery from the economic havoc created by the COVID pandemic, signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). It provided state and local governments with billions of dollars to shore up their economies.
Many Kentucky cities used part of their allotted monies in the tourism sector. Bardstown was no exception, using its allocated funds to jump start five new projects. We will take a look at these additions to the Bardstown tourism scene over the next few months.

Kentucky Black Trailblazers:

One of these projects, the Kentucky Black Trailblazers, is a six-county (Nelson, Oldham, Bullitt, Jefferson, Shelby and Hardin) effort to bring to life the stories of people of color who made significant contributions to these counties.
In Bardstown, two men and one woman were selected. Although their stories were vastly different, each made a significant contribution.
Daniel Rudd, born into slavery, rose to become an early Catholic and Civil Rights leader. Raised in the Catholic religion, Rudd founded the first newspaper printed by and for the Black community, the American Catholic Tribune.
He began his newspaper crusade seeking better treatment for Catholics who, in the 19th century, were often persecuted by Protestants.
He eventually branched out to espouse equal opportunity for formerly enslaved people in the belief that the church could serve as an instrument of equality and social justice for African-Americans.
Mack Rowan’s path was vastly different from Rudd’s. As an enslaved person at Federal Hill, the plantation now known as My Old Kentucky Home, Rowan had no formal education, but did have considerable skill as a cobbler.
He began practicing his trade in an effort to make a suitable shoe for his own club foot, becoming so skilled that members of the Bardstown community commissioned him to make shoes for them as well.
Dorsey (no last name as she was an enslaved person at Wickland Plantation in the days leading up to the Civil War) was an early prototype for the devoted nanny who often was closer to the children than their parents.
Wickland’s owner, Charles Wickliffe fathered eight children – three sons and five daughters. As both governor of Kentucky and a U.S. Representative, his position required frequent travel back and forth from the commonwealth to the nation’s capital. His children, however, were never left without a constant companion.
For 30 years – from circa 1834 to the 1860s – Dorsey was a reassuring presence in the lives of the Wickliffe children, even going so far as to sleep in the nursery with them when they were young. Her nurturing spirit symbolized the bond between caregiver and family, and her unwavering commitment continued even during times of historical change.
Visitors can learn the remarkable stories of these Black Trailblazers through an inventive process known as augmented reality.
Former mayor Bill Seckles, founder of Bardstown’s African-American Heritage Museum, helped get the program up and running. He explains that augmented reality involves an interactive experience where reality is enhanced by computer-generated 3D content.
According to Seckles, historical markers will be placed at the museum (Rudd), My Old Kentucky Home (Rowan), and Wickland (Dorsey).
Visitors will be able to scan a QR code, and the characters – in the form of a hologram (actors hired to step into their shoes and tell their individual stories) – will appear. Hannah Medley, Marketing Coordinator at Bardstown Tourism, says that the project “has been two years in the making and is the first of its kind on this scale.”
Kentucky Black Trailblazers is scheduled to launch in June.

For more information on Kentucky Black Trailblazers and other ARPA projects, go to