Is Kentucky a Southern state?

If you want to start an endless debate in Kentucky, that question is a good place to start.

On Saturday at 4 p.m., I’ll be participating in a panel discussion on the question organized by James Klotter, Kentucky’s state historian and a history professor at Georgetown College.

I’m preparing my remarks Friday, so help me out and comment below. Is Kentucky Southern?  Midwestern?  A mixture?  What do you think, and why?

The panel discussion will be at the Lexington Public Library’s Central Library Theater downtown. It is part of the Library’s Forever Free: Lincoln’s Journey to Emancipation exhibit. Other related activities Saturday include:

• Lincoln’s Lexington Walking Tour – 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Meet in front of the Central Library.

• Children’s Activity: Civil War Cyphers and Codes  – 2 p.m. in the Library’s children’s department.

• Civil War Living History: Soldiers and Cannons and Horses, oh my! Phoenix Park – 12 p.m. to  7 p.m.

• A Word from President Lincoln with Jim Sayre – 3 p.m. at the Central Library Theater.

• Saxton’s Cornet Band – 5:30 p.m. in Phoenix Park.

This blog has moved locations, so I’m not allowing any more comments on this post here. But you can continue the debate about whether Kentucky is a Southern state by clicking the link below:

http://tomeblen.bloginky.com/2008/08/28/is-kentucky-a-southern-state/

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91 Responses to Is Kentucky a Southern state?

  1. David Greer says:

    Kentucky is a hybrid state. We have elements of Southern culture, Midwestern manufacturing and weather from all over creation. I’ve always been struck by how many people from the Northeast and Upper Midwest think of Kentucky as being a truly southern state. Heck, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi — those are really southern states. Deep south. Kentucky sticks more than its toe into the southern tub — we’re probably wet up to the knee or a bit more.

  2. Jesse says:

    As a native Kentuckian, I truly believe that we are a southern state. We aren’t as deep as Georgia and Alabama but neither is Virginia or North Carolina. So much of our culture is based on hybrid southern values. If we could just cut off Ohio and Indinana, we would be sitting pretty.

    My family considers Kentucky as the “Mid South”. To me, I am proud to be a southerner and I am happy to follow those values.

  3. Missy says:

    I also consider Kentucky a Southern state. The South is not all the same, there are differing parts of Southern culture.

  4. Todd says:

    If you’re in the SEC, you’re a Southern state.

  5. Paul says:

    Yes, in fact, I’ll contend that the South begins in Cincinnati.

  6. Jill says:

    Being from Northern Ohio originally — I am a graduate student at UK — I always believed Kentucky to be a southern state, although that may have just been my Yankee bias. But even after living here for two years, I still maintain that it’s Southern. Not, perhaps, Deep South like Georgia or Alabama, but Southern.

    Besides, if the President of the Confederacy attented a school in the state, it’s kind of hard to talk yourself into the Union.

  7. JVoskuhl says:

    Lexington is barely farther south than Louisville, but much more southern. Why? Because it’s farther east?
    I think it has to do with Lex. being land locked. It didn’t enjoy the diversification/cultural explosion that L-ville did once the Ohio River started dropping European immigrants there.
    I’m from No. Ky. and I can verify that there is nothing southern about that part of the state.

  8. Jack Rose says:

    Jill, Kentucky remained in the Union during the war. Three quarters of Kentuckians that participated in the Civil War fought to retain the Union. Presently I am working in Mississippi, and I can tell you that Kentucky, at least the central part is more midwestern that southern. As a native of Lexington, I have always felt a more kinship with southwestern Ohio than any other state. Maybe that is because I have family that are native of Ohio, Pennsylvania.

  9. Jan Rice says:

    Yes, Kentucky is a Southern State. We speak with more of a Southern accent. We cook more Southern food. We have good warm sunshine that does not exist in the north. Remember too, the “Sun shines bright in My Old Kentucky Home.”

  10. JAY says:

    Kentucky? A southern state? Puh-lease. I live in Georgia and I can tell you for a fact, no one in the “true” south considers the Bluegrass state southern. Kentuckians can believe that line all they want, but the south is Georgia, ‘bama, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina (barely) and Tennessee. Sorry Kentuckians, but the club is full.

    • BKT says:

      Jay, you are from Georgia. Given it’s location, sure she is considered “south”, as is Florida, but we all know that the farther south you go in Florida the more northern the people are. Georgia, unless you are on the coast or are away from Atlanta a good distance, just doesn’t seem very Southern to me. Of course we are talking about southern urbanism here (Louisville, Birmingham, Atlanta, etc…) I must respectfully say that Kentucky is way more Southern than Tennessee, and many parts of your beloved Georgia. But from one Southerner to another, we Kentuckians have been in the “club” much longer than many members.

    • Kyhillbilly says:

      Jay,
      The Center Star On the Confederate Flag Is Kentucky, so kiss my blugrass ass.

  11. Mark Byron says:

    I’m a recently transplanted Michigander, and to me, it seems southern. Maybe not as southern as JAY’s Confederate south, but southern nonetheless.

    One difference I see from my stint in central Florida is that Kentucky was part of the Union in the Civil War, so we don’t see as much of an identity as Southerners; no Stars and Bars as a sign of both cultural independence from the north and a bit of white pride. People here are Kentuckians more than they’re Southerners.

    However, we do have the slave history and the Jim Crow history.

    On the good side, you have lots of good churches, sweet tea as a default, and southern hospitality. Not to mention the horse industry that gives Kentucky a more cosmopolitan feel than the rest of the south save metro Atlanta.

  12. Robert says:

    I think Kentucky is part midwestern, part upper south and part southern. The Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati area is midwestern as is Louisville/Jefferson County, although with a significant southern influence that is not present in northern Kentucky, where I grew up. Most of the rest of the state I consider mostly southern but not completely, except for the far western Jackson Purchase. I consider Lexington a mostly southern city. Kentucky is a border state, a very interesting and beautiful one at that.

  13. KEN says:

    Born & raised in KY – a southerner. I would be offended to be considered otherwise, even by a ‘true’ southern snob! Bet you don’t have a monument to Jefferson Davis and no ones iced tea is any sweeter than my wife’s. Lived in G’town for a while and can only guess Mr. Klotter is not a native or he would not even have to pose the question. N. KY is fartherest from being southern, well, because it is the most northern. Too many Yank’s moving in to get a taste of the good life begins to ruin it after so many years. Couldn’t even write y’all on the water tower but Mall if OK? Indiana is surely Midwest, full of labor union people. I live just across the great river now in Indiana. Night & day difference just crossing that Ohio and I long for the day to retire in the true south of KY.

  14. Rebekah says:

    It seems like the “golden triangle” — Northern Kentucky, Louisville and then over to Lexington, resembles the Midwest more than the South. On the other hand, central KY and eastern KY resemble the South more than our Northern neighbors.

  15. Wes says:

    I was born in Michigan, lived in North Carolina for 5 years, graduated from UK and lived in Kentucky for 15 years. I now live in Iowa. Kentucky is definitely a southern state, and most certainly not midwestern or northern.

    I believe the standard of living, colloquialisms and basic reputation make Kentucky southern without a doubt. Of course my opinion is jaded because I love KY so much and lived there for so many years.

  16. Brooke says:

    I live in south-central Ky and we are definitely “southern” here. As a matter of fact, even though Ky didn’t officially leave the Union during the Civil War, Ky is represented by one of the 13 stars on the Confederate flag. Even though most Ky men fought for the North, many of the high ranking Southern officers were native Kentuckians.It seems as if south and west of the Green river was Confederate Ky and the rest was Union Ky except for the Bluegrass region. Also, Hollywood seems to refer Ky as southern. You can see plenty of Confederate flags around this part of Ky.

  17. robert carrico says:

    I live in the Jackson Purchase and everything around here is definitely in the South. For me, the Deep South means the Gulf states, GA, So. CAR; the Mid South covers ARK, TN, No. CAR, and the High South is KY, So. MO, WVA, VA.

  18. Adam says:

    Kentucky is a Southern state. The central star on the Confederate flag represents Kentucky, Jefferson Davis, the one and only president of the Confederacy was a Kentuckian. Also being that we are part of the Southeastern Conference is another reason. I personally, am a central Kentuckian but consider myself a Southerner. I was raised in Southern ways, everything from food, culture, music, and my religion (Southern Baptist). Bourbon, Bluegrass music, fried chicken (hence the founding of KFC), hot browns, sweet tea, accents and Appalachian dialects, as well as Kentuckians fond love of our state make us Southern. Also there is a lot of Antebellum architecture in our state.

    I personally consider us a part of the upland South, a border state. There is no way we can be considered northern, and maybe Louisville and Northern Kentucky can be considered mid-western but that is probably b/c of imports from those other cultures. I also recently got married to a born and raised Georgia Peach, who’s folks are from North Carolina and Tennessee respectively and they all agree that Kentucky is Southern.

  19. Adam says:

    My grandmother was born and raised in Newport, KY before relocating to Winchester, KY as a 13 yr. old girl. And she is still about as Southern as it gets. Even northern Kentucky in the older the days before the major growth and Yankee imports of Cincinnati was pretty Southern in culture according to her. I’m pretty passionate about being a Southerner myself and have had to fight this battle many times over with folks from the Deep South who’ve never even been to Kentucky. Also, most of the media like mentioned before considers Kentucky southern. Myself along with many others I’ve spoken with believe the modern day Mason-Dixon line is pretty much the Ohio river. We are also directly lateral from Virginia, a major part of the South during the “war between the states”. Being that Kentucky had it probably worse than any other state considering a majority of the battles during the Civil War took place here and we had brother against brother more so than any other state during those times. Like mentioned before, my ancestors, family and myself would too be offended if referred to as anything else but a Southerner.

  20. Jack Ratliff says:

    After reading many of the comments I would surmise that “southern state” is relative. It all depends on where you’re from. Being from Eastern Ky and having lived in Ohio for 6 years I can assure you that I was considered to be something other than northern. Whether that was southern or not was probably interpreted differently by different people. Personally, I would prefer being considered southern. However, my best guess is that people from the Louisville and the Northern Ky area would rather not be considered southern. Other than those two areas my guess is that if you took a pole, most Kentuckians would overwhelmingly say they are southerners.

  21. Mike says:

    Great question and one that I, as a native South Carolinian and one who spent years in Georgia would answer as: YES. Of course Kentucky is southern. Now, is it southern like SC, AL or other deep south states? No. But, frankly, we shouldn’t want to be. Look, Louisiana is different from Virginia. SC is different from Arkansas. However, they are all southern.

    Notice the overriding theme in these posts…southern is GOOD. This is a fairly new phenomenon in the US as for many generations the one ‘free for all’ whipping boy was the southerner (white southerner usually). This is slowly changing as our cities become more cosmopolitan.

    This is a fun debate. I’ll act for a moment like I know what I’m talking about as a deep southerner and state with full confidence: KY is southern! Now, where can I get some good BBQ? (Billy’s…of course!)

  22. Missy says:

    Louisville is Southern as well for the most part. The eastern part of the county has tons of transplants from other states but the rest of us are Southern by God!

    I think it is odd that people from the deep south doesn’t want to accept us but will use our recipes and such to fill their Southern cookbooks. Every Southern cookbook that I have includes Kentucky recipes including Louisville’s hot brown. Those of you who doubt, come on up or down depending you where you are and take in what we have!

    Mike I agree with you, the South is not one uniform, boring place. It is a place of many traditions, many ways of doing things but one heart.

  23. Missy says:

    Jay I noticed that you also left out Louisiana, Arkansas and all of Florida. I’ll give you that not all of Florida is Southern but anything north of Orlando is.

  24. Missy says:

    I’m sorry it’s Alabama, not Georgia.

  25. Elizabeth says:

    Jay “from the true South”, if you’re living in Georgia and wanting to hate on Kentucky and Kentuckians being Southern, which they are, then why are you reading Kentucky.com or this Bluegrass and Beyond blog??

    I agree with others that the South and Southerners are different in every state in Dixie. I was born and raised in southern Georgia near Savannah, one of the symbolistic cities of the South and I believe that Kentucky is southern. In fact I believe that the South in general consists of Kentucky, Tennessee, The Carolinas, Mississippi, Georgia (sans-ATL), Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, northern Florida, West Virginia, Virginia and eastern Texas. And yes I’ve been to each of those states. Also most magazines or publications about the South that I’ve read always included Kentucky. If the Confederacy considered Kentucky southern, and they did based on the their intentions of wanting to acquire the Bluegrass badly for the C.S.A., then by goodness it’s a Southern state.

  26. Missy says:

    Elizabeth great post!

  27. Mari Adkins says:

    I second what Elizabeth said.

  28. Mike Martin says:

    I’ve read that Kentucky seceded after the War Between the States because of its ill use at the hands of the Union forces that occupied the state. Some merit to that argument.

    For Paul: would you accept that the South begins in Covington & Newport instead of Cincinnati? Cincinnati is a cold place, suitable for Yankees.

    For JAY: you omitted the Commonwealth of Vahjinya where I now reside. The people here would take you to task for your omission of the Capitol of the Confederacy and home of Lee – right after they ask, “And who were your mother’s people, dear?”

  29. Adam says:

    The Confederacy actually burned down the original courthouse in my hometown of Mount Sterling, KY. I just don’t see how you can’t be considered a Southern state when a lot of people in Kentucky can look in their backyards and be in or around a Civil War battle ground. And to second Elizabeth, the Confederacy did want Kentucky badly enough to consider the part of the government we had that was Confederate a part of the C.S.A. Kentucky was a very crucial state during the war as all Civil War and Kentucky historians know.

  30. Richard Day says:

    Tom,

    Many good comments and most have the right sense of it.

    Kentucky, in fact, has two political cultures. The dominant culture is traditionalistic and is akin to the rest of the south. This does not mean that all southern states are alike. But they do tend to view the role of government in the same way – largely to maintain the status quo.

    The other political culture is individualistic, more typical of the midwest states and tends to see government as good when it promotes commerce. It is found in northern Kentucky, down to Owensboro and Paducah.

    As John Carroll told KCRW recently, the south begins outside the Waterson Expressway.

    In northern Kentucky, we would say it begins outside I-275 – somewhere around the water tower that reads, “Florence Yall.”

    Richard

  31. Richard Day says:

    And another thing…

    I grew up on the Ohio River, within sight of the Mason-Dixon line, but out town did not identify as southern. We were in the midwestern media market and every voice we heard carried that flat “news anchor” style quality.

    But the main reason northern Kentuckians knew they weren’t southern was that other Kentuckians always told us we weren’t.

  32. Richard Day says:

    OK. One more another thing….

    Rita just got home from work and wanted me to tell you what you already know….

    All true soutehrners are from Atlanta.

    She threw back her shoulders and said it with pride.

  33. Dave Myers says:

    Bluegrass=Southern Roots music..
    KY is certainly a Southern State.

  34. Marshall says:

    I grew up in the Jackson Purchase/Paducah area. I went to college in Southwest Tennessee. Kentucky (at least my part of the state) is without question Southern for good and bad.

    I now live in Toledo, and I visit Louisville often because my brother lives there. Louisville is much more closely aligned with obviously Southern cities like Nashville than it is with obviousy Midwestern cities like Toledo/NW Ohio. That’s a good thing. However, Louisville is not as Southern as the Jackson Purchase area.

  35. Missy says:

    I would like to know what was said at the forum for those of us who didn’t get to attend.

  36. Richard says:

    Louisville is Southern, hence it’s nickname the Gateway city to the South. According to just about every dialect map Louisville is included in with the South. Heck even Southern Indiana is considered to Southern when compared to the rest of Indiana, so how in the Heck can Louisville not be the South? It makes no since. Louisville’s historically, linguistically, and culturally has always been grouped in as one of the South’s premiere city’s, please don’t just generalize Louisville as Midwestern just for the sake of the argument, do some actual research.

  37. Kris says:

    Here is a unique spin that will upset many of you. Look at the plant material that can reliably grow and survive long term here. We are in USDA climate zone 6 which follows a band from Boston, MA through the Ohio Valley westward. Its basicially all areas that can fall below zero to about -10F in any given winter.

    We can grow Spruce Trees, Fir trees, and most all nothern plants…but only a few southern plants and usually not very well long term. Sure… you will see southern magnolias and crepe myrtles, but do they hold a candle to the same plants in Tennessee or even Georgia. Never!!

    Kentucky has a northern climate in winter, and a southern climate in summer. Its a border state in every regard and can never be one or the other. We are a state of transition in just about everything and there is a gradual if not sharp gradient in some respects.

  38. Missy says:

    Tell me Kris…. when is the last time that we have ever hit -10? Northern climate in winter? Are you kidding?? When is the last time it got into the 50′s, 60′s, or even 70′s in the winter up North?

  39. Missy says:

    since when has what kind of plants you have determine your culture anyway?

  40. Missy says:

    I wish you could edit on here dang it….. parts of Tennesee has the same climate we do, does it make those parts not Southern?

  41. Missy says:

    Here’s the new hardiness zone map by the way: http://www.raintreenursery.com/map_usdaHardiness.html

  42. Missy says:

    This is also on that website: (now I am officially done)

    MIDDLE SOUTH
    USDA Zones 6 and 7: If you live in most of the lower midwest, the upper south and mid Atlantic seaboard, you can grow a wide variety of fruit. You have enough chilling hours to grow fruit but don’t have the severe winter cold that limits much of the country. If you don’t live near either coast you usually get hot summers which helps to ripen fruit. Spring frosts and disease problems can limit what you can grow so consult your local county Extension Service. You can grow most of the plants listed in the catalog except consult the map for those that will freeze out in cold winters. Following are some recommendations from the book “Growing Fruits and Nuts In the South”.

  43. Missy says:

    Here is where the new blog is, scroll down to the very bottom :http://tomeblen.bloginky.com/2008/09/page/2/

  44. Kris says:

    Missy,

    Plenty of times… in Northern KY where I live now (Burlington-Florence area) it was -11F one winter, and -12F or so the next two years in a row (since 2002 when I moved here from Lexington). We had snow cover those times, but it stopped before you got to Louisville or Lexington and they only barely dropped below zero. Last year it was -2 here…but I dont think Lexington or Louisville got below zero. Frankfort managed because they have less of the urban heat island effect.

    I grew up between Louisville and Lexington and we had plenty of sub zero winters from 1994 and prior. Since then it has been abnormally mild. In January of 1994 (January 17 or 18th or so) after the historic 16-20inch overnight snowfall… Shelbyville, KY set the new all time record low for Kentucky at -37F!!! In 1989 we were in the -20F range…. in the mid 80′s…and late 70′s… etc etc etc.

    Whatever has happened to our climate since 1994 probably wont last forever, and they are worried that this year might break the trend.

    Here is all of the cold weather facts from the University of Kentucky if you dont believe me:
    http://kyclim.wku.edu/factSheets/recLowTemp.htm

    Plants and the landscape mean everything about whether your in the north or south. Take away the southern pines, and spanish moss of the deep south and think about how it would feel when you visit. The landscape, and the plants that grow define a region as much as the people and their culture.

    I run an Arboretum and Botanic garden by the way…and people in my industry that have lived here long enough will definitely not identify us as having a true southern or northern climate.

    You can’t grow Blue Spruce well south of about Nashville, TN…and Paper birch have muh less of a chance living long term south of about Lexington. Southern magnolias look terrible in most cases north of Louisville or Lexington. North meets south….

    In this area you should only plant materials that are rated to zone 5 or colder because eventually in 10-20 years you will have that nasty -20 winter that will kill out things that don’t belong. I have felt the heartache too often myself and we are getting way overdue to weed out plants that shouldn’t be growing here.

  45. Kris says:

    Ooops… my mistake that climate facts website actually was from Western KY University.

  46. Missy says:

    Kris I can’t answer for Northern Kentucky but I have lived in Louisville almost all my life and can’t remember going below zero except maybe wind chill which is different than actual temperature. As far as tyhe Blue spruce, what does that have to do with anything? As far as I can tell Nashville is still in the South.

  47. Missy says:

    Ok I read that site and here’s some other info too http://kyclim.wku.edu/factSheets/recHighTemp.htm

  48. Chrispy says:

    I was born and raised in Brandenburg, KY. I personally feel that Kentucky is neutral. For those of you who believe that you are southerners; it is because you have no life! Move to Tennessee or Alabama (most southern state). Get over it, Kentucky is NOT classified as a Southern state. I have never eaten grits before, and I don’t even like tea! We just recently got about 1 and a half feet of SNOW people! SNOW is NOT southern.

    • BKT says:

      Okay where do I start with this. First, snow, well not traditionally thought of as a southern element is actually quite common in the upper south (Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina, etc…). The farther south one travels the less of a chance for it to happen, it does happen in all of the south except for South Florida. I remember visiting Disney World one January and the snow was coming down quite respectably, by the by, that was a great time to visit the park, not many people there, LOL! To reply to your comment about never have eating grits. Are you serious? In Kentucky? As far as the tea thing goes, my mother never liked tea, however the rest of us have always loved the stuff, the sweeter the better. While I’ll agree with you about Alabama, I must say that many parts of Tennessee are not nearly as Southern feeling as parts of Kentucky. I suppose me and most of this beautiful State have no life, because we very much consider Kentucky a southern state!

  49. Kris says:

    Louisville has been as cold as -22F at the Airport…. most recently in 1994. I grew up near Bardstown about a half hour southeast of Louisville and lived there until I was 18 before moving to Lexington to attend UK. We were below zero almost every winter at least once or twice from 1994 and prior. It has just been in the past decade that that trend faded.

    Spruce trees are a element of cold winter climate landscapes. Your surroundings and look and feel of the area you live in define an area as much as the people and its culture. You dont see spruce near as much in TN as you will from KY northward.

  50. Missy says:

    Y’all can say all you want. This issue has been discussed by a panel of experts and they say we are a Southern state. Period. The end.

  51. Missy says:

    Chrispy, I believe I have seen your posts before. My grandpa, grandma and their kin are from Brandenburg also and guess what??? The eat grits and sweet tea. Not to mention any other Southern food you can get ahold of.

  52. Zack says:

    I’m a western Kentucky native, born and raised and I’ve always understood and felt Ky. to be a Southern state, that’s the “cultural consciousness”, natural assumption I was raised in anyway.
    Most any Kentuckian will naturally take it for granted we are part of Dixie, probably most like Tenn.
    I always looked at those from the ‘North’ as different,rude, outsider, I guess the cultural stereotype of the “damnyankee” if not actually articulated by my parents, etc.
    As far as Ky. in the “Civil War”…a very complex subject but let it be said Ky. had representation in both the CS and US governments. The Unionists controlled the state house and the state was occupied by federal troops throughout the war, so officially remained “loyal” in the Union, though occupied and under federal military control for the majority of the war.
    However, a group of representatives from ^0+ counties declared secession at Russelville and joined the CSA in 1861, thus we’re the 13th star on the CSA flag.
    It might be said part of the state “seceded”, and most of western Ky. was pretty solidly Confederate as was my county and region. Greatly divided in other regions.
    I’m descended from and related to multiple Confederate Ky. veterans in counterpoint to one “black sheep” uncle and a cousin that joined the Lincolnite army,lol.

  53. Zack says:

    An interesting Civil War addendum concerning Kentucky is that of multiple approx. 80 monuments and memorials pertaining to the War located in the Commonwealth, all but two of them are Confederate, like the Confederate soldier statue at my county courthouse.
    My mother’s family is from UNION County, Ky. which ironically furnished about 657 men to the Confederate Army, 180 to the Union. That county is on the Ohio across the river from Indiana and Ill.

  54. Missy says:

    Good post Zack!

  55. KY Colonel says:

    Kentucky is Southern.

    Historically:
    Bowling Green was the Confederate Capital of KY. It is home to Jefferson Davis, president of CSA. Its essentially home to James Hunt Morgan. At the age of 6 moved he to Lexington, attended Transylvania University, and essentially sought to win back his state through raids. KY was pledged to the South; it is represented as the center star on ‘Naval Jack’. Lexington was also home to the state’s largest slave trade auction site. Had the CSA won KY, they would have stood a tremendous shot at becoming their own nation. Kentuckians got a horrible deal out of the war, their government left them with a depraved state, and Lincoln did not make good on his promises. Most reputable historical scholars agree that KY would have seceded had they a second chance.

    Geographically:
    Same longitude as Virginia and south of the Mason-Dixon Line. According to the US Census Bureau, USA Embassy, US Department of Agriculture, and Environmental Agency (to list a few) Kentucky is in the Southern region. Needless to say, UK is in the SEC, WKU is in the Sun Belt, and Murray State (which is arguably the most Southern) is, according to U.S. News & World Report, ranked as the South’s best public master’s university.

    Regions:
    Eastern Kentuckians in the mountains and coal fields are nearly identical to those in TN, NC, VA, and WV traditionally and culturally. Central Kentuckians in the Pennyroyal region are known by their farming and rural identity. Its tradition of thoroughbreds and white picket horse farms lend it to the picturesque Southern plantation. Also, the stereotypical southerner’s dream car, the Corvette, is exclusively built at the Corvette Plant in Bowling Green, KY. The Jackson Purchase region, in the southwestern part of the state, share kinship with the Deep South in its a huge production of cotton.

    Religion:
    Most certainly a member of the “Bible Belt”. Louisville is home to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention. Needless to say, Boyce Bible College, the undergrad institution at Southern Seminary, and Braudus Chapel are named after Confederate Chaplains. Kentuckians faithfully fill the pews at Baptist Churches in every county of the Bluegrass. Kentucky is just as God-fearing as any other Southern state, a characteristic not found in the North or Midwest.

    Culturally:
    Kentucky is agrarian like the rest of the South. Tobacco is the leading cash crop, more so than North Carolina. Rosine, Kentucky is home of Bluegrass Music. Every Friday night locals still play outdoor concerts, the same way its been done for years. Another unique Kentucky secret is shape note singing from the Sacred Harp and (distinctively Kentuckian) Southern Harmony tune book. Its a primitive type of singing hymns, with deep roots in the South. KY is home to 4 annual singings, which rivals that of any Deep Southern state. Kentuckians, and yes, ‘Louisvillians’ and those from Covington, talk about how they are mocked and imitated as having “accents” while on vacation or in the North. The Kentucky State Fair would give any Southern state a run for its money. Country music’s biggest stars frequent Louisville’s Freedom Hall and Lexington’s Rupp Arena. No doubt, we say “y’all” and sweet tea is in the fridge for any welcomed guest. What’s more Southern than the gentlemen with cigars and belles elegantly dressed with Derby hats at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby?

    Food:
    Owensboro is the home of Bar-b-que, Louisville is infamous for the Hot-Brown, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Bourbon Balls, and Derby Pie are also exclusive to the Bluegrass. Kentucky is also Bourbon Country. Also known as, “America’s native spirit,” it is almost exclusively distilled, aged and bottled in Kentucky. Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, Tom Moore, and Southern Comfort (to name a few) are all made in Kentucky. You won’t find any Southerners complaining about the food or drink availability…

    So I’ll keep on regarding my Bluegrass State forever as Southern. May the sun shine bright on my Old Kentucky Home in the beautiful Commonwealth.

  56. Missy says:

    Great post Colonel!

  57. Bill says:

    Silliest discussion ever, of course we’re southern. For the record, Kentucky never actually had the chance to secede because the state government was disbanded. It likely would have happened if it would’ve been put to a proper vote.

  58. Jenny says:

    People here know how to make good grits, and they say y’all. These are not Midwestern traits.

  59. Baby Taylor says:

    yeah kentucky is a southern state, i live in lexington and yeah me and my family have that southern accent but i say that kentucky is a class of its own cause: toothless beer drinkin rednecks that love trucks, but me personaly im a redneck/hillbily cause im from the mountains baby!!! I LOVE YOU KENTUCKY!!! GO BIG BLUE

  60. davit says:

    I am from Wisconsin and think Kentucky is southern. HA! On a side note I would like to move south and would feel more comfortable in Kentucky than most of the south because it’s less southern. HA!

  61. BKT says:

    So how in the heck do you get Lexington as a midwestern feeling city? Very genteel, laid back, agrarian. By the by, Louisville, because of it’s proximity to the midwest has some midwestern feel to it. However, I still would not classify it as midwestern. Many parts of Old Louisville have a genteel, urban feel somewhat like the coastal cities of Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. Northern Ky, is only considered southern by default, located below the Ohio river, other than location, it might as well be a part of Ohio itself. The rest of Kentucky is even more “Southern” than most parts of Tennessee, North Carolina, and many parts of Georgia. The culture is just more traditional in most of Kentucky than in those places.

  62. Jeanie says:

    Pardon my ignorance, but what is a “hot brown?” I’ve never heard the term before.

    BTW: This is an intriguing post; never heard this topic discussed before. Originally from WV and now living in TX, I almost moved to Lexington in the early 90′s – such a beautiful city with lots of appeal (at the time; haven’t been back in years). I’ve also been through Louisville, Paducah and Bowling Green and none of those towns left as much of an impression. KY – an enigma wrapped in a riddle… Someday I would like to check out the “Kentucky Nub” caused by the New Madrid earthquake. For some reason I’m fascinated by that.

  63. Missymomof3 says:

    Jeanie you have to try one, they’re wonderful!

  64. Russell says:

    I was born and raised here in kentucky. Larue county to be exact. I strongly consider myself a proud southerner. I fly both the american and confederate flags in my front yard. I have traveled all through what people call the “true south”, that being bama, georgia, the carolinas, arkansas, mississippi, louisiana, virginia, parts of texas and tennessee. Some of your “true southerners” say kentucky is, some say were just a bunch of wanna be yankees. When you ask these “true southerners” why kentucky ain`t included they say because we didnt leave the union in 1861. To that I say part of the state did. There was a offical southern goverment in southern kentucky. Jefferson davis was born here. We have monuments of him here in kentucky. We are represented on the southern battle flag. On a bad note some people dont consider us southern because we didnt have the huge slave population like the deep south. To that I say one of, if not the largest, slave auctions took place in louisville. kentucky sold more slaves than any other state because of the ohio river being so close. Kentucky wasnt as segregated as alabama or mississippi in the 50s and 60s, but tennesse wasnt as segregated either. Trust me, we had our fair share of segregation and violence. As a matte rof fact the supreme court had to get invovled not to long ago in louisville because they were segregating the schools to much. Most kentuckians share the same old time values and ideals as most other southeners. We speak the same southern accent, it might not be as thick as someone from birmingham, but you can here it when we talk. So I would say yes we are southern.

  65. Pat says:

    For what it’s worth, we Yankees up here in Mass (as well as most North Easterners) would consider KY the South. Would like to visit there some day, but am quite happy in New England.

  66. Missymomof3 says:

    Looks to me that most of us still consider ourselves Southern and I guess that is what matters most :)

  67. vinny says:

    A very interesting discussion. Most of the country, unfortunately, has no concept of what a border state is. There is only north and south. There is no in-between. There is a 30 degree temperature difference on each side of the Ohio River. What bologna! I am a native Kentuckian. I see Kentucky as well…Kentucky. I believe it’s best described as, “daughter of the east, forebearer of the west, and the vital link that holds the north and south together.” Some parts of the state are more southern than others-particularly the Jackson Purchase and Bluegrass. Our food is not entirely southern. Our accent and language usage is not entirely southern. Our food is not entirely southern. I’ve seen temperatures as warm as 110 and as cold as -50. I’ve never drank sweet tea in a Kentucky household. If you’re OK with labeling a state that sent 67-90 percent of its soldiers to the Union, where it can snow 9 months out of the year as southern, have at it.

  68. Missymomof3 says:

    Vinny LOL I have never seen it -50 here in all my 35 years nor has it snowedfor 9 months out of the year. Either you are not really from Kentucky or you are hallucinating lol

  69. vinny says:

    Missymomof3, a wise man once wrote, “When the heart pleads the cause, there is never a sufficient enough amount of evidence to convince it otherwise.” Not that I’d expect it to do any good, here goes. Measurable snow has been recorded in Kentucky as early in the season as October and as late as June. This fact is irrefutable. You have a computer. Look it up.

  70. Missymomof3 says:

    Vinny just curious, where in kentucky are you that you have never drank sweet tea in someone’s house?

  71. Carlton Mann says:

    Friends, I am a North Carolinian who became an Alabamaian by way of Kentucky. I was raised on a North Carolina tobacco farm, graduated from high school and college in Kentucky and have lived in Alabama most of my life. Kentucky, God bless her, is a Southern State- I speak as one who has experienced Southern culture in a unique way. The “South” consists of an upper, mid and deep part. States below the Potomac and Ohio rivers are in the South. Kentucky happens to be in the upper part of the upper South and because of that has Midwestern and Northern Midwest cultural and climatic influences but at the end of the day, when all things are considered, Colonel Sanders, the Lexington gentry and the melodic accents of native Kentuckians give no doubt that Kentucky (even sounds Southern doesn’t it) is a Southern state. Me, the Alabamian, says so.

  72. Russell says:

    Vinny, just because it can snow 9 months out of the year dosent mean it does. And -50 sounds a little extreme to me. And I have had a many glasses of sweet tea in other peoples homes.

  73. Missymomof3 says:

    I agree carlton and Russell! Thank you!

  74. Sean says:

    I have lived in the north and in the south. I live in Nashville right now.

    I don’t think Kentucky is either. Kentucky is Kentucky – it’s a border state. It definitely feels different in Tenn. than it did when I lived in Kentucky.

    A southern state just wouldn’t have a highway named “Abraham Lincoln Memorial Highway”…if Jeff Davis and Lincoln were BOTH from Kentucky, then it makes my point all the more: Kentucky is its own thing.

  75. jen says:

    Sean, Tennessee has Lincoln Memorial University and its ‘southerness’ has never been in dispute. It also voted overwhelmingly against secession the first time and the second vote was rigged with widespread voter suppression and intimidation practiced by pro-secessionists against voters in the East. East TN voted to secede from Confederate Tennessee and many years prior was the first place in the entire US to publish a magazine totally dedicated to the abolition of slavery. It was commented upon by more than one Northern Abolitionist that the place you could speak freest about abolishing slavery was not on free soil but in East Tennessee. Other, slavery supporting Tennesseans and Southerners disdained East Tennesseans for mingling and socializing with blacks, teaching the few slaves that were kept to read, and treating blacks as either equals or near equals. East Tennesseans were considered traitors by pro-slavery forces for not abiding by the strict social hierarchy the planter class put in place to protect and enrich itself through slavery and racism. When the war broke out, East Tennesseans were shot on sight as they tried to cross the border into Kentucky so that they could join the Union Army.

    All of this is to say that the South is and always has been a diverse region. It’s never been unified or monolithic — not now, not pre-Civil war, not during the war, not ever. Even North Alabama and North Georgia had smaller hot spots that like East Tennessee were firmly pro-Union. Western North Carolina, W. Virginia, and Kentucky alongside many other towns and counties throughout the South share similar stories.

    The South is NOT the Confederacy — a shameful period in our history that lasted only a few years. Rather, we are a proud, diverse (in both opinion and color), distinctive region of the United States with many stories tell.

  76. Brendan McClelland says:

    Kentucky is a Southern state in my book. Most classifications of US regions consider Kentucky a Southern state, especially the classification used by the US government. Yeah I guess Kentucky does have a bit of Midwestern flavor but that Midwestern flavor is mild. In the Golden Triangle which includes Louisville, Lexington, and Northern Kentucky that is where the Midwestern flavor is. Let me explain for each of the three areas. Louisville is 50/50 half Southern and half Midwestern. Lexington has a slight Midwestern vibe but still has a very strong Southern character. Northern Kentucky which always includes Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties, occasionally includes Grant and Pendleton counties, sometimes includes Gallatin County and seldom includes Carroll, Owen, and Bracken counties is the most Midwestern part of Kentucky but there is still Southern character here, too because Southern accents are heard around here. There are urban and rural parts of this area and the urban parts would have some Midwestern vibe and the rural parts even of the three core counties (Boone, Kenton, and Campbell) would be rather Southern. But Kentucky outside of the Golden triangle would be plain Southern. So Kentucky is Southern with a Midwestern touch.

  77. Missymomof3 says:

    It has already been established that Kentucky is a Southern state with Midwestern influence. I have a feeling those who are arguing it haven’t read the follow up after the meeting last year.

  78. Sean #2 says:

    Kentucky is a southern state. This is how I look at it. Northern Virginia being said as southern is an oxymoron; people there will get offended if you call them a southerner. Once you hit Richmond your officially in the coastal south. The top of West Virginia by wheeling (northern panhandle) is not southern, but the rest of the state is pretty southern Appalachian. Western North Carolina is strange because there are accents strikingly similar to a British accent. Southern Missouri extending up to Saint Louis does have somewhat of a southern influence, I lived there.

    I guess this is what I’m getting at; here is what I believe to be the true south.

    Central/Southern Virginia
    Central/Southern West Virginia
    Most of Kentucky
    Tennessee
    North Cackalacky
    South Cackalacky
    Jaw-Ja
    Northern Florida
    Mississippi
    Alabama
    Lousiana
    Eastern Texas
    Arkansas ( Accents very similair to West Virginia)
    Southern Missouri

    I think thats it…

  79. Pete says:

    I am a native of Louisville, Kentucky and proud to be a Southerner. I stand for the National Anthem, God Bless America, My Old Kentucky Home, and “DIXIE” – Louisville is right on the Mason-Dixon Line …..YEP. Y’all……. on the South side of the Line !!

  80. greg says:

    it’s funny to see how everyone gets offended by the status of a state they live in..i personally have lived in three different states: eastern ky, southwest ohio, and middle tennessee. the differences that i’ve noticed in the the three are very minimal. the thing that i do notice in all the states is that they all believe that they are truly unique when they are really not! to me, southern is a way of life and a personality..i consider myself southern and it doesn’t matter what the rest of the state is! people can be southern living in the north, and people can be northern living in the south..PERIOD.
    i lived in southwest ohio and drank sweet tea daily and it was damn good! grits too! and guess what? i’ve done the same thing in kentucky and tennessee!
    it gets cold here in tennessee and SNOWS EVERY WINTER!
    and guess what? It does in kentucky, ohio, and indiana too!
    people try to classify everyone else to fit into there own beliefs and ways. states and areas are not as unique as people think! if you don’t believe me, just travel somewhere besides your house!

  81. Dave says:

    Well I just read all of these very interesting posts, and I can assure you that KY is very much south. I just recently moved to the Louisville area from Upstate NY. I love it here and I say “y’all” without even noticing now lol…Anyways, Kentucky is truly a southern state in many aspects. Point blank, period, end of story!

  82. Tom Eblen says:

    This blog has moved locations, so I’m not allowing any more comments on this post here. But you can continue the debate about whether Kentucky is a Southern state by clicking the link below:

    http://tomeblen.bloginky.com/2008/08/28/is-kentucky-a-southern-state/

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