Remembering Dr. G. Hambleton Tapp
Dr. G. Hambleton Tapp was a founder and first Secretary of the Kentucky Civil War Roundtable, elected at its first meeting on November 18, 1953. He served as Secretary until 1984, the longest tenure of any officer in the history of the organization.
A native of Washington County, Kentucky, he graduated from Centre College in 1922. He once related how followed the famous Centre-Harvard 1921 football game – and future roundtable executive committee member Norris Armstrong – by reading the teletype at the Western Union office in Danville. Tapp and Armstrong became lifelong friends.
Dr. Tapp received his Master of Arts degree from Peabody College in 1929 and his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in 1950. He began his teaching career at Male High School in Louisville, but soon became an assistant professor of history and assistant to the president at the University of Kentucky.
Two notable Kentuckians fascinated Dr. Tapp – George Rogers Clark and Daniel Boone. It was Dr. Tapp who organized a committee that sought to change the name of Cumberland National Forest to the Daniel Boone National Forest in 1966. Dr. Tapp was also the founder and chairman of the Daniel Boone National Forest Association and vice chairman of the Fort Boonesboro State Park Development Association, two organizations that continue to honor the life of Daniel Boone.
Dr. Tapp served as chairman of the Kentucky Civil War Centennial Commission and as chairman of the Kentucky Heritage Commission. He was the vice chairman of the Kentucky Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission and president of the George Rogers Clark Memorial Foundation. He was also the founder, developer, and director of the Kentucky Life Museum at Waveland on Higbee Mill Road in Lexington.
Dr. Tapp retired from the University in 1971. He then joined the staff of the Kentucky Historical Society as assistant director and editor, soon becoming the Kentucky State Historian.
Dr. Tapp authored two books – George Rogers Clark: A Brief Biographical Sketch, and Union, the Civil War, and John W. Tuttle: A Kentucky Captain’s Account. He also co-authored two others – Valley of the Ohio, with G. Glen Clift, and Kentucky: Decades of Discord, 1865-1900, with James C. Klotter. He also contributed to many scholarly journals and was a noted lecturer.
For his lifetime of service to historical preservation, Dr. Tapp received the American Association of State and Local History’s Award of Merit in 1979.
Dr. Tapp passed away on October 14, 1992. He was one of a group of extraordinary individuals who founded and guided the Kentucky Civil War Roundtable to become the nation’s foremost such organization. ■