If you've ever wondered how Lone Oak got its name or thought about the history behind the Purple Flash, Roy Hensel's program at the McCracken County Public Library tonight is a must-see.

Titled "History of Lone Oak, Kentucky, and the Naming of McCracken County," Hensel's talk is a part of the library's 101 series, which works to teach patrons unique skills and knowledge through programs given by local speakers. The one-hour event is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

Hensel, a retired Lone Oak Intermediate School social studies teacher, originally put the presentation together for elementary school students and he continues to tailor it that way, incorporating many visuals and costumes.

"It's important that people know about their community. There's a lot of interesting things about ours," Hensel told The Sun. "The more research I did and the more people I contacted and the more information I got, the more amazed I was at the changes over time."

Lone Oak, Hensel explained, was founded by Dr. William C. Pepper, a Tennessee-born veteran of the Civil War. After serving as a field surgeon, Pepper moved to the area in the 1870s, bought a hundred acres and built a mill.

For decades the area was known as Pepper's Mill until it received the formal name of Lone Oak in 1900. The area's name changed after "Doc" Potts applied to open a post office.

"They told him they needed a name for the community, and at that point he was sitting in his store looking out the window and the only thing he could see from where he was sitting down was that big oak tree across the street," Hensel said. "It had been used as a landmark for giving directions for some time, and he thought it would serve as a fitting name."

The eponymous oak once stood at the intersection of Lone Oak and Lovelaceville roads. Early news coverage of the area actually listed the name as "Lone Oaks" -- perhaps acknowledging a second large oak that once towered over the lot where a Hardee's is now located -- but the name stands, as it still does today, in a singular form.

Hensel's talk also will cover the history of area schools -- including Kentucky Western College, which became Lone Oak High School -- and the history of McCracken County.

The county got its name from Capt. Virgil McCracken, who served in the War of 1812 alongside the namesakes of Ballard, Graves and Hickman counties. His program will include a discussion of the Purchase Area as a whole, even delving into the history of Wilmington, the original seat of McCracken County.

Hensel is currently working to develop similar programs on the history of Reidland and Paducah.

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