Author: Susan B. Dyer
Hardcover: 256 pages
Product Dimensions: 6"x9"
Retail Price: $24.95
One of Kentucky's highest-ranking national figures, the story of Judge Joseph Holt and his remarkable life has remained untold...until now.
Susan Dyer dove in with both hands, uncovering a brilliant legal mind who had been appointed cabinet posts under several presidents in such diverse positions as Commissioner of Patents, Postmaster General, Secretary of War, and finally, our nation’s first-ever Judge Advocate General. In this position, he had the tremendous responsibility of prosecuting the conspirators who had slain the very president who had appointed him to that office, President Abraham Lincoln.
Similarly fascinating, this book tells the story of Holt Mansion, its many mysteries, legends and historic events and the immense project to acquire and restore it to its antebellum splendor that is underway today.
No Kentucky collection or library will be complete without this amazing account.
Born at Fort Knox, Susan Dyer was educated at Western Kentucky University with a B.S., M.A. and Rank I in Education. Formerly a Language a Language Arts teacher, Susan has been included numerous times in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
Dyer lives in Breckinridge County, Kentucky, with her husband. They have two sons. Undertaking two projects at the same time, she has written the sensational story of Judge Joseph Holt, Judge Advocate General under President Lincoln, while working with various groups to save and restore Holt’s boyhood home as part of the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration.
Susan has received the following honors in relation to her work with the Judge Joseph Holt House; Outstanding Citizen of the Commonwealth, by the Kentucky House of Representatives, 2008, Volunteer of the Year, Breckinridge County Chamber of Commerce, 2008-2009; Cooperative Hero, Kentucky Living Magazine, March 2010 and most recently, as Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation 2010 Service to Preservation Award.
Holt Home Community Day attracts record crowd of more than 3,000
Holt Home Community Day attracts record crowd of more than 3,000
The Friends of the Holt Home chair summarized it best.
The Holt Home is our compass, a link to our past and our gift to the future.”
Susan Dyer’s remarks were made at the 8th Annual Holt Home Community Day, as a record crowd of more than 3,000 attended the Sept. 24 event.
The Joseph Holt Home, circa 1850s, was built by the nation’s first Judge Advocate General, who gained fame as the prosecutor of President Abraham Lincoln’s accused assassins. The Holt Home and surrounding 19.5 acres were acquired by the Breckinridge County Fiscal Court in 2008.
Holt was a Centre College graduate and a native of Breckinridge County. Prior to his appointment as the top lawyer in the Army, Holt had served as both postmaster general and secretary of war in the Buchanan administration.
The 6,225-square-foot Holt mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and continues to undergo extensive renovation, coordinated by the Friends organization.
Recent major renovations to the mansion and grounds include restoration of windows, a back stair tower and wrought-iron fence. An original brick walkway also has been unearthed and picnic tables have been purchased and placed.
Special events at the community day included a Civil War baseball game with local players, music by period bands, local singers, cannon firing, a Civil War campsite and infantry demonstrations.
Keynote speaker David L. Morgan emphasized the importance of preservation, protecting history and the numerous benefits it brings to local communities, the state and nation. Morgan, now retired, was executive director of the Kentucky Heritage Council from 1984-2006 and initially instrumental in the structure’s renovation project. He continues to serve as a resource agent for the activity.
Ninety-eight-year-old artist James Wimsatt was recognized and honored for his gift – the Holt Home print used for all events, promotions and programs. And, U.S. Army officials commented on progress to make the home a national meeting place for Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) organizations.
8th ANNUAL HOLT COMMUNITY DAY- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016 FROM 9AM-2PM CDT
DAVID L. MORGAN IS THE KEY-NOTE SPEAKER
Dyer’s chocolate cakes may be impetus
to save Hardinsburg’s Joseph Holt home
How do you express appreciation to someone who has helped make restoration of a Kentucky Civil War mansion possible?
The answer – bake them a chocolate cake.
Hundreds of chocolate cakes later, Breckinridge County’s Susan Dyer has made a national name for herself. The president of the Friends of the Holt Home, Inc., has provided cakes to community and state leaders, U.S. Army officials and national politicians.
It’s become a delicious way of expressing thanks to all those who are helping make the Hardinsburg home of the nation’s first judge advocate general – Joseph Holt – a bright and shining Commonwealth landmark.
The 6,225-square-foot home, constructed during the 1850s, was in a terrible state of disrepair when Dyer, a former middle school teacher, stopped to view it in 1997. Since then, she has dedicated herself to seeking funds, organizations and people who are helping restore the structure as the new jewel in Kentucky’s Civil War crown.
Nearly $1.4 million has been raised through grants, tax credits and outright gifts. Renovation of the mansion’s exterior is nearly complete and work is progressing on restoring the interior to its 1850s elegance. It’s estimated that restoration will be completed within the next two years and the structure will be used for community events and is expected to be a national meeting location for Army JAG activities.
Joseph Holt, a Breckinridge County native, was President Abraham Lincoln’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) during the Civil War and was famous across the nation, particularly for his part in the trial of the president’s accused assassins.
What now is known as the Holt Cake first was baked and delivered by Susan to former Kentucky Heritage Council executive director David Morgan. In a conversation with Morgan, he shared a story with Dyer about a lady in Texas who was working there to save a historic home.
“If someone did something nice to help with the home’s restoration, she baked a cake and sent it,” Morgan related.
Susan liked the idea and adopted it as a small token of appreciation to those who were assisting with the Holt project. She used an old-fashioned recipe, froze the cake for several days, wrapped it in aluminum foil, placed it in a container and mailed it by priority mail. The response blossomed and the “reward” was sent “to anyone helping with the Holt project.”
The Holt Cake has been provided to individuals across the nation, Susan said, but has become somewhat expensive to deliver. Because of its weight, the delicacy now costs more than $18 to mail. But, despite the cost and time required to bake the cake, the task is worth it.
“It’s a great way to say ‘Thank You,’ you are appreciated,” Susan concluded.
Morgan, who declares that Dyer’s chocolate cake is the best he has ever eaten and who named the cake, is even more succinct.
“The Holt Cake may be the thing to save this home,” he said.
Holt Home savior Susan Dyer prepares to mail her famous chocolate cakes to individuals who have been instrumental in helping restore Breckinridge County's historic Judge Joseph Holt Home. Susan has made hundreds of "thank-you" cakes and mailed them across the nation.
Holt Home Community Days
Keynote speaker Ret. Col. Frederic L. Borch III, historian and archivist at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School
LT General Dana K. Chipman, 38th Judge Advocate General of the United States Army speaking at Holt Home
The 12th Regiment Colored Heavy Artillery unit was reinstated a few years ago by legislation and they are not re-enactors. This unit is from Camp Nelson in Kentucky.
The 38th Judge Advocate General of the United States Army, LT General Dana K.Chipman
Susan Dyer delivering a lecture at the Daviess County Public Library in February, 2014.
Interview with Wave 3TV
Click here to watch author Susan Dyer's interview with Wave 3TV.
Reviews and Articles
Susan B. Dyer featured in the January issue of The Kentucky Civil War Bugle
5th George S. Prugh Lecture has been published in the Military Law Review, U.S. Army
Robert Redford Movie The Conspirator Includes Judge Holt
Robert Redford movie The Conspirator to be released in movie theaters nationwide starting April 15, 2011.
Judge Joseph Holt House Touching Hearts
Kentucky Civil War Bugle Book Review
Bernson's Corner - A Piece of American Heritage
Fall Kentucky Humanities Magazine Holt Article
Kentucky Living Magazine March 2010 Article
Joseph Holt Comes Alive
Joseph Holt has languished in almost obscurity for much too long. Now, Susan Dyer has brought Holt back to center stage. Hers is a story worth reading.– James C. Klotter, State Historian of Kentucky and Professor of History, Georgetown College
Saving the Joseph Holt House and its marvelous story are among the most significant legacy projects of the entire Lincoln Bicentennial! Our congratulations and deepest thanks go to Susan Dyer for championing this most important cause. – Kent Whitworth, Director, Kentucky Historical Society
About the Author
Born at Fort Knox, Susan Dyer was educated at Western Kentucky University with a B.S., M.A., and Rank I in Education. Formerly a Language Arts teacher, Susan has been included numerous times in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
Susan lives in Breckinridge County, Kentucky, with her husband. They have two sons. Undertaking two projects at the same time, she has written the sensational story of Judge Joseph Holt, Judge Advocate General under President Lincoln, while working with various groups to save and restore Holt’s boyhood home as part of the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration.
My name is Bobbi Rightmyer and I am a book reviewer for The Harrodsburg Herald and Kentucky Monthly Magazine. I have just recently had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Lincoln's Advocate: The Life of Judge Joseph Holt by Susan B. Dyer. I enjoyed this book very much, and I have written a favorable review for the next issue of Kentucky Monthly. Read the review.
From Amazon.Com: One of the state's highest-ranking national figures, the story of Judge Joseph Holt and his remarkable life has remained untold...until now. Susan Dyer dove in with both hands, uncovering a brilliant legal mind who had been appointed cabinet posts under several presidents in such diverse positions as Commissioner of Patents, Postmaster General, Secretary of War, and finally, our nation s first-ever Judge Advocate General, where he had the tremendous responsibility of prosecuting the conspirators who had slain the very president who had appointed him to that office, President Abraham Lincoln. Similarly fascinating, this book tells the story of Holt Mansion, its many mysteries, legends and historic events and the immense project to acquire and restore it to its antebellum splendor that is underway today. No Kentucky collection or library will be complete without this amazing account. When President Abraham Lincoln appointed fellow Kentuckian Joseph Holt as America's first-ever Judge Advocate General, he could never have imagined that this very talented gentleman's greatest role in their divided nation's history would be that crucial position which he would play in the prosecution of Lincoln's own assassins. Thus, America's Advocate became Lincoln's Advocate.
This book reads like a work of lyrical prose as we are taken on a historic journey through the early childhood and legal career of Joseph Holt. Holt had an excelling legal mind and had been appointed to cabinet positions under several presidents, including Commissioner of Patents, Postmaster General and Secretary of War. He is most noted as our nation’s first Judge Advocate General appointed by President Abraham Lincoln, and he was later in charge of prosecuting the conspirators who assassinated President Lincoln. It was heartwarming to see the loving relationship between Holt’s parents and the strong sense of self-pride and character development Holt learned from them. A Kentucky native, Dyer lives in Breckinridge County with her family, and in addition to this book, she has been actively involved in restoring Holt’s boyhood home, Holt Manor, as part of the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration.
Ancestral Trails Historical Society Book Fair, February 2, 2019,
10:00 a.m. -4:00 p.m.
Susan Dyer will be
present with Joseph Holt Mansion: Saving and Restoring the Home of
Lincoln’s Judge Advocate General
Pritchard Community Center
404 S. Mulberry Street (Highway 62)
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
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