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Uncle Will of Wildwood is a warm and humorous memoir of the nineteenth-century Bluegrass that recalls a defining period of Kentucky’s past. It was a time of self-sufficient country estates when, as Thomas D. Clark writes in his introduction, “every Bluegrass farm gate was the entryway into a ruggedly independent domain.” Wildwood was such a place, ruled by the affable Uncle Will of this classic book.

Everything at Wildwood revolved around Will Goddard, who was “a cross between a hurricane and an electric fan.” Uncle Will—with his mad dashes into Harrodsburg for mowing-machine parts, his habit of leaving his stallion Black Joe unhitched, his irrepressible spirit, and his uncanny perception of the potential of a horse—became a family and community legend.

A celebration of Kentucky before the arrival of the modern age, Uncle Will of Wildwood fondly remembers life before the automobile, before radio and television, and before growing cities eroded the quiet and grand way of country life. Though Uncle Will’s story is nearly two hundred years old, his lessons of self-sufficiency, community, and eccentricity are still pertinent today. In print for the first time since 1974, Uncle Will of Wildwood captures the riotous spirit of one Kentucky man and the flavor of country life.

Frances Jewell McVey (1889–1945) was the wife of University of Kentucky president Frank LeRond McVey.

Her brother Robert Berry Jewell (1896–1986) was a well-known Kentucky farmer and horseman. Will Goddard was their mother’s great-uncle.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Will Goddard, Kentucky, Kentucky farmers, Kentucky biographies


United States History


Paperback edition; with an introduction by Thomas D. Clark.

Uncle Will of Wildwood: Nineteenth-Century Life in the Bluegrass
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