Family Stories

Colonel Cuthbert Bullitt – Louisville’s Oldest Citizen in 1899

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Sunday, December 31, 1899

Louisville’s Oldest Citizen

Louisville’s oldest citizen of prominence is, without doubt, the notable figure, Col. Cuthbert Bullitt.  Col. Bullitt was born January 12, 1810, in the city of Louisville.  His birthplace was a substantial house which then stood on the corner of Fifth and Main Streets in the city which was then a small village.  Col. Cuthbert Bullitt’s father was also named Cuthbert Bullitt, and another brother, William, lived on the corner of Bullitt and Main Streets.  Col. Bullitt was one of eight children and the youngest of four sons.

He was educated at St. Joseph’s College, Bardstown, and in his young manhood went to New Orleans, where he remained until 1870.  In that city he married a daughter of Col. Maunsel White, a prominent man of Louisiana, a merchant and sugar planter.  Col. Cuthbert Bullitt was for a number of years a member of the great firm of Maunsel White & Co., extensive dealers in cotton and sugar.  He was formerly an old-line Whig, and as a sequence became a very prominent Union man.  He was always individual, always courageous, and, after Louisiana seceded from the Union, he placed in front of his house a motto which could be seen at the City Hall of New Orleans and all over Lafayette Square.  It was as tall as a man and it read: ‘Kentucky:  United we stand, divided we fall.’  For his too ardent expressions of opinion he was advised by his many friends to leave the state, and soon after acted upon their advice.  After the capture of New Orleans by the Federal troops, and before the Mississippi was opened, President Lincoln sent Col. Bullitt to that city by sea, and afterward made him Collector of the port.  In 1870 her returned to Louisville, where he was always well known and since he has resided here.  During the winter months he goes to New Orleans.  He has ever been a great social favorite, a typical club man, an authority on questions of etiquette and good living, and he has ever been popular.  He is a successful write of newspaper articles and within the past few years his series of articles, ‘Tales of Two Cities,’ in the Courier Journal, have attracted not a little attention.  Well versed in the news and social gossip of New Orleans and Louisville, he interested many people.  Col. Bullitt’s handwriting, memory, carriage, appearance and conversation are marvelous for a man of his age.  He is handsome, erect and dignified, and travels about alone.  Recent letters from New Orleans to friends in Louisville describe, in a graphic manner, his present life as full of winter gayeties, the opera, parties, balls, etc., particularly a ‘mystery party’ where the ladies go masked and the gentlemen unmasked.  It is safe to say that Col. Bullitt has kept up the social whirl longer than any other man in the country, for he will be ninety years old next month, and is as great a society man as he was seventy years ago.  Louisville citizens of note quote him and tell of him in other cities as the most wonderful example of the ‘old citizen’ that any city in the country can produce.

A portion of the article on Col. Cuthbert Bullitt’s death:

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Sunday, August 5, 1906

After an eventful life of almost ninety-seven years, Col Cuthbert Bullitt, the oldest native -born resident of Louisville, died at 7:15 o’clock yesterday morning in his apartments at St. Joseph’s Infirmary.

During his stay in New Orleans, Col. Bullitt became enamored of a beautiful girl, Miss Eliza White, the daughter of Col. Maunsel White, a distinguished and wealthy merchant of New Orleans.  Col Bullitt, in an interview given out by him several years before his death, said that Miss White inspired the one perfect love in his long life.  They were married in the early thirties, and as a result of the union five children were born.  All of these children have died, one son living until he was eighteen years old.

During the Revolution, General William Bullitt, Col. Bullitt’s grandfather, was on the staff of Gen. LaFayette.  It was this General William Bullitt who was the founder of the family in Kentucky.  He built a house near the river at a point near which the pumping station of the Louisville waterworks now stands.

Although the brothers and immediate relatives of Col. Bullitt have preceded him to the grave, he is survived by many nephews, nieces and cousins.

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