St. Matthews, Kentucky

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St. Matthews is the 20th largest city in Kentucky, United States and is a prominent suburb of Louisville. It is located 8 miles east of downtown Louisville in Jefferson County. It is one of the state's major shopping areas, being home to second and fifth largest malls in Kentucky (Mall St. Matthews and Oxmoor Center), respectively, along with many smaller shopping centers along Shelbyville Road.

In 2003 St. Matthews became part of the new "Louisville Metro" government. It remains an independent city with its own mayor and emergency services. It is not counted in Louisville's population, although its citizens can vote for Louisville Mayor and Metro Council members.

Contents

History

Indigenous peoples of varying cultures lived along the waterways of Kentucky for thousands of years before European contact. The Mississippian culture was a complex, sophisticated prehistoric culture whose people built massive earthwork mounds in the Ohio River valley, areas they settled between 1000 CE and 1400 CE. They preceded the historic tribes of the Ohio River area.

The area eventually known as St. Matthews was first settled by European Americans in 1779 by Colonial James John Floyd. Floyd, who had conducted an important survey of Jefferson County in 1774, bought 2,000 acres (8 km2) of land from soldiers who had been awarded the parcels for their service in the French and Indian War. He arrived overland on November 8, 1779, bringing several family members and a black slave. They built cabins and a stockade, which came to be known as Floyd's Station, as early forts were called.[1]

During the early 19th century, "the area was developed into several plantation tracts. The area was known as 'the garden of the state' for the produce that it grew and for which it served as a distribution point." As with most areas of the Inner Bluegrass Region, labor on the plantations was mostly enslaved African Americans. Major crops were tobacco and hemp, and the breeding of quality livestock, including horses, was important to the economy.[2] With changes in agriculture, in the years before the Civil War, Kentucky planters were selling excess slaves at markets in Louisville for shipment to the Deep South, where new plantations for sugar and cotton had created huge demand for slave labor.

St. Matthews developed at the same time as nearby Louisville. It was centered around the intersection of present-day Breckenridge Lane, Shelbyville Road, and Westport Road. By 1840, the community was known as Gilman's Point, after local tavern owner Daniel Gilman. The name St. Matthews emerged in 1850, after the area's first church, St. Matthews Episcopal Church. It became official in 1851 when a newly opened post office adopted the name. Numerous other Protestant churches were founded. The oldest of three Catholic churches in the city is Holy Trinity, built in 1882.[3] Trinity High School was established nearby in association with the church.

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