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American History books by Acclaim Press

Joseph Holt Mansion: Saving & Restoring the Home of Lincoln's Judge Advocate General
ISBN: 978-1-948901-06-2

Book Details

Author: Susan B. Dyer
Foreword by LG Dana K. Chipman, U.S. Army, Retired, 38th Judge Advocate General of the Army

Hardcover: 224 pages
Product Dimensions: 8.5” x 11”
Retail Price: $34.95

Book Description

On a Sunday afternoon in 1997 while driving along State Highway 144 near Stephensport, Kentucky, Susan Dyer and her husband passed the Joseph Holt Mansion and her life changed forever. Originally built in the 1850s with some features dating to the 1870s — once part of Holt’s 10,000-acre estate — the home had been vacant for more than 50 years and deteriorated due to time, the elements, and lack of upkeep.

Joseph Holt Mansion tells the story of Susan’s tireless efforts to save the Holt mansion, initially by bringing awareness to the historical importance of Judge Joseph Holt and the Holt home to the people of Breckinridge County, Kentucky. Although told it couldn’t be restored, Susan began a campaign to restore the mansion to its former glory. Joseph Holt Mansion describes Susan’s “never say never” attitude and the thousands of hours spent in fund raising, grant writing, and leading the charge along with other volunteers and public officials to save the Holt mansion.

Judge Joseph Holt was born in Breckinridge County in 1807 and was buried in the Holt Family Cemetery east of the mansion in 1894. The mansion was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Read Joseph Holt Mansion and learn the story behind the efforts to restore a true piece of Kentucky heritage.


Nine years ago, following publication of her biography about Judge Joseph Holt, President Abraham Lincoln’s Judge Advocate General, Susan Dyer began a roller coaster ride that has led to an upcoming renovation and ultimate salvation of the Holt Mansion in Breckinridge County.

The home that Holt built in the 1850’s was home to one of Kentucky’s highest ranking national figures, was visited by Who’s-Who of pre-Civil War luminaries and was the site of many historic events. Dyer has met with national and state officials, leading military personnel and prominent figures throughout the South raising money, writing grants and spearheading efforts to return the sprawling three-story structure to its antebellum splendor.

Her non-stop crusade is bearing fruit. Exterior renovation of the home began in 2013 and Joseph Holt is again being remembered for his remarkable contributions to his country and his dedication to the task of prosecuting those involved in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Dyer, a retired language arts teacher, is president of The Friends of the Holt Home, Inc., a member of the Holt Home Steering Committee and vice chair of the Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail Alliance.

Her work with the Holt Home has resulted in numerous awards. She received the Cooperative Hero award from Kentucky Living Magazine in 2010, and the 2010 Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Service to Preservation Award.

Ms. Susan B. Dyer was the Prugh Lecturer for the Fifth Annual George S, Prugh Lecture in Military Legal History held on April 27, 2011 at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS) in Charlottesville, VA. Dyer was presented by the Commanding General, John W. Miller II, Brigadier General U.S. Army, a medal for Excellence on April 27, 2011. The lecture was published in the Military Law Review in Spring of 2012. LTC Christopher Fredrikson, Staff Judge Advocate for United States Cadet Command and Fort Knox Office of the Staff Judge Advocate presented Susan Dyer with a medal for Leadership Excellence in 2013. In 2014 Mrs. Dyer was honored as an honorary member of the Kentucky Heritage Council / State Preservation Office at the Holt Home Community Day by Executive Director, Craig Potts.

On April 20, 2017 Susan was presented on behalf of Brig Gen. Flora D. Darpino, Judge Advocate General for the U.S. Army a medal for excellence for 20 years of dedicated service and duty to Holt’s legacy and restoration of his home. She was also given a certificate of appreciation and invited to meet with the 39th Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army at the Pentagon on May 5, 2017. On July 27, 2017 Susan B. Dyer was the Special Guest Speaker for the 242nd Birthday of the United States Army JAG Corps with the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. After delivering the speech Mrs. Dyer was honored by assisting Col. Andras M. Matron cutting the cake with the sword and presented a plaque and medal for her commitment honoring the legacy of General Joseph Holt. This award is an inspiration to the Office of the Judge Advocate, 101st Airborne Division, (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, and the entire U.S. Army JAG Corps. In December of 2017 Dyer received Historian of the Year from the Breckinridge County Historical Society.

Born at Fort Knox, and a native of Breckinridge County, Her biography Lincoln’s Advocate, the Life of Judge Joseph Holt, was given its second printing in 2010.

Dyer was educated at Western Kentucky University where she received her bachelor’s and masters degrees and Rank I designation in Education. She and her husband live in Breckinridge County and have two sons and a granddaughter.

Upcoming Events

Guest speaker for the Hometowner’s Club Cecilian Bank, March 13, 2019, 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. ET

Joseph Holt Mansion: Saving and Restoring the Home of Lincoln’s Judge Advocate General will be available for signing after speaking.

Prospect Point Cecilian Bank

2920 Ring Road

Elizabethtown, KY 42701


Barnes and Noble Elizabethtown March 30th from 12:00 p.m.-4:00 P.M. E T

Susan B.  Dyer will be signing her new book Joseph Holt Mansion: Saving and Restoring

the Home of Lincoln’s Judge Advocate General

1980 N. Dixie HWY

Elizabethtown, KY 42701

SOKY Book Fest 2019, April 27th (9:00-a.m.- 3:00 p.m. CT)

Susan B. Dyer will be signing Joseph Holt Mansion: Saving and Restoring the Home of Lincoln’s Judge Advocate General

Knicely Conference Center

Western Kentucky University

2355 Nashville Road

Bowling Green, KY 42101

Guest Speaker for the Meade Co. Historical & Archaeological Preservation Society, Monday June 10, 2019 (6:00 PM ET)

Meade County History Museum

281 Oakland Road

Brandenburg, KY 40108

Susan will be speaking prior to the presentation on WMMG , 93.5 radio about her newest book Joseph Holt Mansion: Saving and Restoring the Home of Lincoln’s Judge Advocate General from 11:00 a.m.- 12:00 noon ET in Brandenburg and will sign books from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.  before the meeting at the Meade Co. History Museum.

Praise for Judge Holt Mansion

“Preservation of the Holt Home is a triumph of commitment, perseverance and passion. A gold standard for others.”
—Byron Crawford, Kentucky Living Magazine

“Joseph Holt has been a misunderstood and forgotten hero in America and Kentucky. Our hope is to get this great man’s story told.”
—Dwight D. Butler, former Kentucky State Representative

“Susan Dyer’s decades-long journey to restore the historic mansion of a historic Kentucky figure is a story of dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to overcome. It’s also a how-to account for any restoration enthusiast.”
—Ed Ford, author

“Every community should be so lucky to have an individual such as Susan Dyer. Susan has worked tirelessly to see the Holt house, an important piece of history and link to Lincoln heritage, saved for future generations. Her efforts have taken her from the courthouse to the statehouse to the US Capitol seeking funds and recognition for preservation and restoration. What a joy it is to see her work pay off! As simply a residence, this home is a magnificent piece of history in itself representing an era of Kentucky’s past that should not be forgotten. Yet the rich history associated with Joseph Holt and his intertwining with Lincoln makes it all the more special. If only those walls could talk! Thanks Susan for making Kentucky’s and our nation’s heritage a bit richer!”
—Judge Tommy Turner, ALBC commissioner and Co-Chair, Kentucky Lincoln Bicentennial Commission




Proceeds from the sale of this book will also help other communities and organizations preserve their history through Our American Heritage Project, a non-profit organization.

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