John C. Latham was born in Hopkinsville in 1844. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the Confederate Army. He eventually settled in New York City where, by the age of 30, he had become a partner in the cotton brokerage firm of Latham, Alexander & Company. He displayed an ongoing devotion, however, toward his hometown and its residents, and as he prospered personally, he shared his wealth in a number of ways, including:
- Contributions toward construction of our first system of turnpikes and good roads
- Construction of the first tobacco warehouse in Hopkinsville (later donating the site to the city as Peace Park)
- Outfitting and furnishing the armory for the Latham Light Guards, the local militia
- Financing for the Latham Hotel
- Donation of the site for First Methodist Church
- Donation of the gymnasium for the local YMCA
- Donation of an organ and stained glass window to Grace Episcopal Church and $50,000 in trust for that church
- Donation of the family homestead as Virginia Park
- Landscaping design of Riverside Cemetery
- Establishment of the Latham Poor Fund, a $50,000 trust with income to be used for the "worthy poor of Hopkinsville"
The John C. Latham Leadership Giving Society, established in 1985 under the guidance of William G. Deatherage and William Turner, carries forth the tradition of philanthropy so evident in the life of Mr. Latham. Military ranks are used in identifying the levels of generosity since one of Mr. Latham's gifts to the community had been the outfitting of the local militia. The Society is intended to honor the memory of Mr. Latham and encourage that same spirit of giving in the community today.