|John Breckinridge Castleman|
June 30, 1841|
Castleton Farm, Lexington, Kentucky
May 23, 1918 (aged 76)|
|Political party||Democratic Party|
John Breckinridge Castleman (June 30, 1841 – May 23, 1918) was a brigadier general and prominent landowner and businessman in Louisville, Kentucky. He studied law at Transylvania University before the Civil War.
During the Civil War, Castleman recruited 41 men in his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky, who went to Knoxville, Tennessee, to form the Second Kentucky Cavalry company under John Hunt Morgan. Castleman was promoted to major in 1864. He led guerrillas in the attempted burning of supply boats in St. Louis, Missouri and was arrested in October 1864 at Sullivan, Indiana. He was convicted of spying and sentenced to death, but his execution was stayed by Abraham Lincoln. Following the war, Castleman was exiled from the United States, and studied medicine in France. He was pardoned by Andrew Johnson and returned to Kentucky in 1866.
He revived the Louisville Legion, a militia unit, in 1878 and became adjutant general of Kentucky in 1883. The unit became the 1st Kentucky Volunteers in the Spanish-American War, and Castleman was commissioned a colonel in the U.S. Army. His unit participated in the invasion of Puerto Rico, and after the war he was promoted to brigadier general and served as military governor of the island.
He graduated from the University of Louisville School of Law in 1868, married, and founded an insurance company, Barbee and Castleman, with his father-in-law. The company represented Royal Insurance Company of Liverpool in the Southern United States.
In 1870, Castleman bought a 60-acre (240,000 m2) tract of land called Schwartz's Wood in what was then the outskirts of Louisville. He intended to build a country estate there, but as Louisville expanded around it quickly, the land became much more valuable as a subdivision. It became the western half of Louisville's Tyler Park neighborhood.
Castleman never ran for office, but his military and business reputation gave him considerable influence. As a Delegate to the 1892 Democratic National Convention, he successfully lobbied for the nomination of Grover Cleveland. After Governor William Goebel was shot in 1900, Castleman was again appointed adjutant general of Kentucky and helped avoid conflicts in the fallout of the assassination.
In Louisville, he had great influence as Commissioner of the Board of Parks for over 25 years, during which time he helped establish Louisville's Olmsted Park system, which spurred development in various parts of Louisville and became one of the city's prized possessions over the next century.
In 1905, he was a key figure supporting Louisville's Fusionist Party, an anti-corruption party. Although the Fusionists never won many elections, they eventually caused reform in Louisville's election system to come about.
Death and legacy
Castleman died in 1918 and was survived by his five daughters. His statue in the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood, the John B. Castleman Monument, became a well known local landmark. The horse he rides in this great equestrian statue is his beloved Caroline. He was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery. His autobiography "Active Service" was published by Courier-Journal Job Printing Co., 1917.
- Johnston, J. Stoddard, ed (1896). Memorial History of Louisville.
- Johnson, E. Polk (1912). A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians: The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities. Lewis Publishing Company. pp. 945–950. http://books.google.com/books?id=FXQUAAAAYAAJ. Retrieved 2008-11-10.
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