Nettie Depp

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Nettie Bayless Courts Depp
Born(1874-11-21)November 21, 1874
DiedAugust 3, 1932(1932-08-03) (aged 57)
Known forfirst woman elected to county office (superintendent) in Barren County

Nettie Bayless Courts Depp (November 21, 1874 – August 3, 1932) was an education reformer and the first woman public official in Barren County, Kentucky when she won election as public school superintendent in 1913. She held the position through 1917.[1]

Early life[edit]

Depp was the daughter of John Burks Depp (1845-1927),[2] a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives,[3] and of Mariba Elizabeth Reneau (1846-1928). She was one of five children, including brothers Oren Richard and Tipton Hanson Depp, and sisters Mrs. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Eola Depp Allen,[4] Mrs. Lillie Belle Depp Matthews, and Mrs. Mary Pitsy Depp Rowland. She was a member of Church of Christ.[5] She earned her teaching certificate after having attended Normal School at Liberty College in Glasgow, Kentucky.[6]

Professional career[edit]

In 1910, Nettie Depp went to work in Scottsville, Kentucky as a schoolteacher. We know she went reluctantly and felt she was underpaid because of the letter she sent to Henry Hardin Cherry, then president of the Western Kentucky State Normal School, and a supporter of women's rights.[7] She wrote to him then of her success in public speaking on behalf of education reform:

I tried to show the people the advantages the school gives and that they should use them as their own. If I only made one person see this in such a way that he will find his way into the school I shall feel that my little talk was not in vain.[8]

Soon after the Kentucky school suffrage law of 1912 was enacted, which allowed for women to vote and run for education-related public office (so long as they passed a “literacy” test),[9] Nettie Depp ran against William Carr Turner for school superintendent in Barren County, Kentucky and won.[10] While in office, she oversaw the building of 13 new one-room school houses and repaired 50 existing buildings. She introduced and implemented a common curriculum for all schools in the county, adding music, art, and business to the rudimentary expectations for public schooling in her day. For the first time, Barren County could boast of a public four-year high school, housed in the former Liberty Female College in Glasgow, Kentucky where she had attended Normal School for her teacher training.[11] She merged the United Glasgow Graded and Barren County High schools and made more efficient the transfer of pupils after graduation. During her time in office, she enforced the compulsory school laws of 1908 and traveled to Frankfort to testify about the need for county judges to enforce the laws.[12] By the time Depp left office in 1917, she had paid off the district debt of $19,000.[13]

After her stint as superintendent, she became principal at Barren County's Cave City School until 1923. She declined to run for re-election as superintendent for the Republican Party.[1] She taught in Scottsville, Kentucky from 1923 to 1931.

Historical portrayals[edit]

In July 2013, she was honored with a Kentucky historical marker (#2397) at the Barren County Courthouse lawn in Glasgow, Kentucky.[14] The Glasgow Business & Professional Women's Club raised $5,000 to sponsor the markers.[15]

Elaine Richardson of Glasgow, retired teacher and reenactor, portrayed Depp in 2013 during a fundraiser for the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center.[16]

A six-foot bronze statue by Amanda Matthews, Depp's great-great niece, has been approved for display in the Kentucky Capitol on the first floor of the west wing.[17] However, the statue will not be placed in the rotunda which currently houses only monuments to men.[18]


Nettie Depp died of breast cancer on August 3, 1932, and was buried at Refuge Cemetery at Eighty-Eight in Barren County.[19] It was estimated that the crowd that attended her funeral was more than 1500.[5] She was the great-great aunt of actor Johnny Depp.[20]


  1. ^ a b Roe, Amy. "Nettie B.C. Depp (1874-1932)". ExploreKYHistory. Kentucky Historical Society. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  2. ^ "John Burks Depp". Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  3. ^ Journal of the Regular Session of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Louisville, Ky.: Sowle Printing & Engraving Co. 1898. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Elizabeth Eola Allen". Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b Gorin, Sandi. "From Rootsweb". Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  6. ^ Catalogue of Liberty College, Glasgow, Kentucky - Nineteenth Annual Session 1894-95. Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky: Kentucky Library Research Collections. Paper 65. 1894. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Henry Hardin Cherry, President of the Western Kentucky State Normal School". Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project. 26 June 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  8. ^ Depp, Nettie. "UA3/1/2/1 Letter Nettie Depp to Henry Cherry". WKU Archives Records. Paper 5253. Western Kentucky University. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  9. ^ Dawson, Kristen. "Kentucky white women win school suffrage rights statewide". Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project's Timeline. H-Kentucky. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Descendants of Louis Reynaud". Genealogy of the Reno/Reneau Family in America, 1600-1930: Register Report of Louis Reynaud. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  11. ^ Liberty College, 1894-1895. Kentucky Library Research Collections. Paper 65. 1895. p. 12. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Interview of Amanda Matthews in Nettie Depp (video clip from "Dreamers and Doers: Voices of Kentucky Women")". Vimeo. Michael Breeding Media, Inc. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  13. ^ Potter, Mary (July 5, 2016). "Historic Properties to consider Depp bronze". West Kentucky Journal. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  14. ^ "Nettie B. C. Depp (1874-1932)". Historical Marker Database Search. Kentucky Historical Society. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  15. ^ Overstreet, Melinda J. (22 July 2013). "Marked through time; Depp, Chappell honored with historic plaques". Glasgow Daily Times. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  16. ^ Wilson, Laurel (September 22, 2013). "Historical figures brought to life during fundraiser". The (Bowling Green, Ky.) Daily News. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  17. ^ Brammer, Jack (22 December 2017). "In 2018, Kentucky's Capitol will finally get a life-size statue of a woman". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Kentucky Capitol will get its first life-sized statue of a woman: Nettie Depp became schools superintendent in 1913". Associated Press. 23 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Nettie Depp". Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  20. ^ "In 2018, Kentucky's Capitol will finally get a life-size statue of a woman". kentucky. Retrieved 2018-10-02.

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