Solomon, William King (1775-1854)

TITLE OF VIDEO CLIP William "King" Solomon

Section A, Lot
In the summer of 1833, a cholera epidemic killed 500 Lexingtonians in two months, and half the population fled the city in fear. William "King" Solomon remained to dig the graves, an act which earned him the lasting respect of the town.

Migrating to Lexington from Virginia, "King" Solomon was the town drunk who now and then did odd jobs such as digging ditches. Finally his public drunkenness earned him a vagrancy charge. He was sentenced to be auctioned as an indentured servant to the highest bidder. Aunt Charlotte, a free Negro vendor of homemade cakes and pies, purchased him for 18 cents. When the plague broke out, Aunt Charlotte pled with Solomon to leave the city. Solomon was not afraid of contracting the plague, and he remained. For two months, he labored every day burying the dead and sleeping in the pioneer graveyard at night.

On the first day of the court session in the fall of 1833, Solomon was lounging in the back of the courtroom when the judge spotted him. Without a word, the judge stepped from the bench and walked back to the vagrant. The judge shook his hand, and everyone in the room stood, walked to the gravedigger and did the same. "King" Solomon had become a hero.

Back to Notable People