Lawrenceburg Legacy: E Glenn Birdwhistell

If you were sitting in the Cumberland Gap in the early 1800’s, you may have met Thomas Birdwhistell.  He was the first of the Birdwhistells to come to Kentucky and settled in Mercer County near the county line.  Years later, the county lines were redrawn and the Birdwhistells were in Anderson County.  Like most of the early settlers, he was a farmer with a long history that started approximately 200 years in Anderson County for the Birdwhistell clan.

Glenn Birdwhistell is the current patriarch of the family.  Actually, his business card reads “E. Glenn Birdwhistell”  with the “E” standing for Edwin.  He was born here in Anderson County in 1932. His schooling included two years at the Kavanaugh School and then on to Anderson County High School, graduating in 1951, which was the second graduating class.  Shortly after graduating, he joined the Kentucky National Guard.

He spent approximately a year in the guard before he went active and travelled to Fort Knox for his basic training.  He was promoted to sergeant and became a transportation movement control specialist.  While in Kentucky, he worked for the adjutant general. He later went to Fort Eustis in Virginia and had to be trained in leadership and personnel.  He ended up back in Kentucky in 1955, and resumed working for the adjutant general. He ultimately was promoted to chief warrant officer 4 and served for 41 years and 16 days in the guard, retiring at 60 years of age.  He also worked full time in civil service for 36 years.

Along the way, he married Mary Lee Baker.  They had one son, Randy.  She passed away a few years back, but Mr. Birdwhistell has remarried.  Virginia Birdwhistell has one daughter, Jennifer.  He is a UK fan, primarily, basketball and football.  He likes fishing and is a Cincinnati Reds fan, when they are doing well.  He is active in the Sand Springs Baptist Church, just like his parents before him.

One of his more interesting ancestors was his great, great, great uncle J. M. B. Birdwhistell.  He was known by the three initials, which stood for James Madison Bell.  He was a mayor of Lawrenceburg and a vice president of the Lawrenceburg National Bank (currently Farmers Bank).  He attended Center College and ran a school people called the Birdwhistell Academy, before there was a high school.  Every Saturday, the family would come in from the farm and bring him, a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, a chicken and any fruits and vegetables in season.  As a small boy, J. M. B. stood at his home and listened to the Battle of Fox Creek.

His father started the Birdwhistell real estate business in the 1940’s.  His father, like Glenn, was an auctioneer.  He started going with his father to auctions as a child and by 13 years old, was ready to start on a career that he continues to this day.  There is much to learn, from the fill words to the chanting of bids.  He still remembers the first item he sold, a chocolate cake.

He started small and worked up to the larger items.  Initially, he sold items to help raise money for the schools, gradually moving up to household goods, farm equipment and ultimately, tobacco.  In 1950, he attended auctioneer school in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Among his life highlights, Mr. Birdwhistell lists the success of his real estate and auctioneering business.  He has been elected to the Kentucky Auctioneer’s Hall of Fame and has also received their lifetime achievement award.  He is “thankful for every new day and it’s challenges.”  Yes, at 84, Glenn Birdwhistell is still going strong and continues to sell as an auctioneer.

-Written by Don West

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Posted in Family & Community, History & Heritage.


  1. While serving as editor of The Anderson News it was a joy to work with Glen for the betterment of the community. When I approached him about the National Guard aiding in removal of stumps at the Fairgrounds to make way for park expansion he didn’t hesitate in making that happen. An officer and a gentleman, that’s Mr. Birdwhistell.

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