Asa P. Grover

It was probably the worst case of backsliding in American history. Asa Porter Grover was born in Phelps County, New York in 1817. He was dirt poor but did not know it. And he felt the call to the ministry. His best opportunity to get a religious education as a Presbyterian was at Center College in Kentucky. About1837, Asa headed in that direction.

But the ministry did not take. Asa taught in school while he worked on a law degree. He went to Owen County, where he met Martha Ann Vallandingham and married her when she was sixteen. He settled in Owen County and opened a law practice. In addition he bought up land and did quite a bit of politics as a Democrat. Eventually he opened a bank. He also owned slaves. Becoming the “compleat Southerner,” Asa named his first son Jefferson Davis Grover in 1861 in honor of the president of the Confederacy.

Asa lost his slaves and no doubt took other financial hits during and after the Civil War, but he was still a powerful person. He ran for the job of U.S. Congressman and won in 1865, representing the Louisville district. But he was beaten by a half vote in the next election.

Asa represented the Ku Klux Klan in court and often got them off from whatever crimes they were accused of. It was not until the Klan murdered two of his sons-in-law that Asa turned against the Klan. In 1881 Asa sold the bank and took his entire family to Georgetown, about forty miles away, and began life over again.

Asa began another bank (which the family still owns part of). He bought a farm and built a house, so he could live in town or on the farm as his whim led him. There he settled until his death in 1887.

A U.S. Congressman, lawyer, banker and a prominent citizen, Asa came from a very humble background. He left a great deal of money to his family. It was a truly American story. But it was one in which a Yankee man, eager to serve in the Christian ministry, became instead a Southerner, a slave owner, a lawyer and a politician. One thing Asa was, was flexible.

There is more to be learned about this complex man is the book A Grover Genealogy, which is sold at all dot com book tsores.

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