The Letcher County Historical Society is working with the Letcher County Tourism and Convention Commission to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War with a monument to honor Captain Martin Van Buren Bates.
Bates, who was born in Kona in 1837, served in the Confederate Army under Col. Ben B. Caudill in Company F of the 5th Kentucky Infantry. He later enlisted in Company A of the 7th Confederate Calvary commanded by Lt. Col. Clarence Prentice. He was a prisoner of war, then was allowed to resign from the Confederate Army because of his size.
Bates was a man of such stature that he and his wife, Anna H. Swan, still hold the title of the world’s largest couple in the Guinness Book
of World Records.
After the Civil War, he toured with a circus and entertained in Europe, where England’s Queen Victoria presented him with a gold watch with the bezel encrusted with diamonds.
The planned Bates monument will be located in Whitesburg and will depict the layout of the Battle of Whitesburg. Flagstone pavers will be engraved with the names of donors who give $100.
For more information, call Creda J. Isaacs at 855-7338 or Maxine Quillen at 633-1104.