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  Grave Matters: Elmendorf Farm, Lexington, Kentucky

Photos by Barbara Livingston © Barbara Livingston 2003; all rights reserved.

Elmendorf Farm
Speak John
Top photo: Elmendorf stallion graves in front of the pillars of the old Elmendorf mansion "Green Hills," left to right: Verbatim, Speak John, Protagonist.
Second row left: Speak John.
Second row right: Protagonist.
Third row: Verbatim.

ELMENDORF FARM is one of the most historic Blue Grass nurseries. The property was long referred to as the "North Elkhorn Farm" and various tenants came and went. In the mid-1800s, Milton Sanford transferred his famous Preakness Stud here from New Jersey. Sanford sold the land and his bloodstock, including stallions Virgil and Glenelg, to Daniel Swigert, who renamed it "ELMENDORF" for his mother-in-law. Swigert, formerly the manager of Woodburn Stud and an extremely successful market breeder in his own right, buried stallions Virgil and *Prince Charlie here in unmarked graves at the end of their days. In the late 1800s, Elmendorf was acquired by James B.A. Haggin, who expanded the acreage to include many of the surrounding farms, and built the great "Green Hills" mansion, and stood the great runner SALVATOR, who died here in 1909 (and may be buried here in an unmarked grave). Haggin's empire was broken up after his death.

In the 1920s through 1940s, the central core of Elmendorf was owned by Joseph E. Widener (who tore down Green Hills in 1929, leaving only the famed pillars as a landmark), and then by his son P.A.B. Widener. In 1951 Elmendorf was sold off in tracts. E. Barry Ryan purchased the section of with the Widener horse cemetery and renamed it "Normandy Farm." Other sections of Elmendorf became George D. Widener's Old Kenney Farm, Robin Scully's Clovelly Farm, and the core farm was purchased by Maxwell Gluck, who kept the name "Elmendorf, and owned it up into the 1990s.

In front of the ruined pillars, Gluck buried his juvenile champion PROTAGONIST (by PRINCE JOHN) who died as a 5-year-old in 1976. Later, the stakes winner and sire SPEAK JOHN (also by PRINCE JOHN) and his good son VERBATIM, an even better runner and sire, were also laid to rest here. -- A.P.

Swigert -era Burials (unmarked)
Prince Charlie (c. 1869)
Virgil (c. 1864-1886)
Haggin -era Burials (unmarked)
None known
Widener -era Burials (unmarked)
see Normandy Farm
Gluck -era Burials (unmarked)
Protagonist (c. 1971-1976)
Speak John (c. 1958-1980)
Verbatim (c. 1965-1991)

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