Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A French Family in Old Smithland

Smithland, Kentucky had become a melting pot of nationalities by 1850. The population consisted of people from England, Ireland, Germany, Italy and France.  Very likely the commerce on the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers played a part in drawing people from other countries to Smithland. Many of the immigrant families were assimilated into the general population. A few stopped in Smithland only briefly before  settling elsewhere.

One of the foreign-born settlers who came to Smithland was Jean Lewis Alexander Colinet of Paris, France. He stopped briefly in Perry County, Tennessee[1] before moving to Smithland by 1851.[2] The 1850 Livingston County census shows a John Colleny, age 35 born France, but he appears on only that one record. There is no indication his name was a variation of Colinet or if he and Alexander were related.

Alexander Colinet was allowed to keep a tavern with the privilege of selling spirituous liquor at his house  in Old Smithland on 3 October 1853.[3] Old Smithland was settled circa 1798 and has been described as about three miles below the mouth of the Cumberland River, which is the location of present-day Smithland.

In June 1854, Alexander Colinet's daughter, Louise, purchased 400 acres of land for $3000 on the Ohio River from W.P. and Sarah S. Fowler. [4] Less than three months later, Louise sold four or five acres of this land back to Sarah S. Fowler.  The land is described as "just above the town of Old Smithland ..."[5] Thus far, the fate of the remainder of the 400 acres purchased by Louise Colinet in 1854 is unknown. As far as can be determined, Louise was the only known child of Alexander Colinet in Kentucky.

This 400 acres of land was attributed to Alexander Colinet on the 1853 and 1854 Livingston County tax lists. It was listed as the property of  Etienne Girard thereafter.

Etienne Girard and Wiley P. Fowler were present when Alexander Colinet died on the 13th of August 1854.[6] Mrs. Coltilde Colinet, widow of Alexander, relinquished her right to administer on her husband's estate and Etienne Girard was appointed in her place. William Canady, George W. Roberson and Young Rucker, or any two of them, were appointed to appraise the personal estate and slaves, if any, of Colinet.[7] 

Even though Alexander Colinet had only been in Livingston County about three years, his estate inventory showed a fairly extensive list of farming utensils plus a few more unusual items -  1/2 barrel each of French brandy and whiskey, a wooden boat, one ream of wrapping paper. Also listed was a cabbage patch valued at $5.00 and a potato patch valued at $10.00, 100 chickens, 10 head of hogs and three milch cows & calfs [sic].

On 26 September 1854, Louise Colinet married Etienne Girard at Madame Colinet's in Livingston County.[8]   The couple moved to Paducah after their marriage and their first child, Clotilde Gerard, was born there 8 August 1856.[9] They had at least three more children.  Louise's mother, Clotilde Colinet, moved to Paducah with them and is listed as age 47 and born in Belgium on the 1860 McCracken County census.  A lot more information has been found on Louise and Etienne Girard, including their connections to royalty, but I will save that for another post. Watch for it!

[1] Deposition of Etienne Girard 23 Dec 1854, Livingston County Circuit Court Order Book O, pp 68-60 regarding his acquaintance with Colinet of Paris. W.P. Fowler also gave a deposition at the same time.
[2] Livingston County Tax List of Alexander Colinet marks  the first appearance of Colinet in Livingston County.
[3] Livingston County Court Order Book L, p. 163.
[4] Livingston County Deed Book 2, p. 424.
[5] Livingston County Deed Book 2, p. 491.
[6] Livingston County Circuit Court Order Book O, pp 68-69.
[7] Livingston County Court Order Book L, p. 209, 16 Sep 1854.
[8] Joyce McCandless Woodyard, Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Records Including Marriages of Freedmen  Vol. II (August 1839-December 1871), (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1994), 83.
[9] Kentucky, Birth Records 1847-1911, McCracken County,, accessed 6 Dec 2010.

Published 21 September 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy  Blog, http:/

Thursday, September 15, 2016

In the News - Uniontown, Kentucky 1895

Every genealogist strives to find those documents that make up the backbone of our research.  Marriages, probates, deeds and census records are absolutely necessary in proving when and where our ancestors lived.  However, there is a way to add details to their lives and that is through the neighborhood news in the newspaper.  I live near a large town in Indiana and each week news of the little towns in southwestern Indiana, southeastern Illinois and western Kentucky were found in the old issues of the Sunday newspaper.  Some towns were listed in one week and others in the next week. No matter how often, the news told when people died, had company or moved.  It also told of church,  school and fraternal activities.

"News from Uniontown," Union County, Kentucky was published in the Evansville Sunday Courier on Sunday, 13 January 1895.

Dr. Nathan Cartmell, of Tustin, California, died at his home January 3, aged 75 years. He was many years a resident of this place, being in the banking business up to his departure in 1893. His wife, who survives him, is a daughter of Judge George Huston, of Morganfield, and a sister of Mrs. S.H. Davis, of Evansville.

At Morganfield last Monday, county court day,  installation of the county officers took place. A majority of these were re-elected to their respective offices, but the best paying office of the county changed hands, Mr. W.T. Cannon succeeding Capt. John H. Wall as county clerk . Capt. Wall is a confederate veteran, and has held this office twenty-four years since the war, his last three terms, 18 years, being continuous..

The ladies of the Episcopal church gave an oyster supper Thursday evening in the city hall, which was well patronized. The oysters were sent direct from their beds, off the Maryland coast, and were a gift to the rector, Rev. Mr. Ewing, and his wife.

Mrs. Sam Clements, of Pittsburgh, Kansas, is in the county visiting her sister, Mrs. Louis Clements.

Mrs. Alonzo Hatfield, the pleasant hostess of the Carlisle Hotel, entertained at cards, Wednesday evening a coterie of young people.

The Uniontown Minstrel Troupe will make their maiden performance in Berry's opera house next Tuesday evening, a benefit for St. John's Episcopal church.

Where else would you find this type of information that adds color and texture to the lives of our ancestors?

 Published 15 September 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - James M. and Mary Davis

James M. Davis
Mar. 9, 1845
Aug. 28, 1917

Mary Rutter
Dec. 31, 1844
Jan. 9, 1916

Both are buried in Smithland Cemetery. Tombstones photographed 3 December 2015.

According to death certificate #3569 (1917), James M. Davis,  the son of James Davis and Louisa Toley, died in Riverside Hospital, Paducah, Kentucky. In his obituary in The Louisville Courier-Journal of 29 August 1917, it states Davis was Livingston County Sheriff for two terms and served one term as County Judge. Three weeks before his death he married Mrs. Mollie Unselt of McCracken County. His survivors included six daughters, Mrs. L.H. Adams of Smithland, Mrs. W.E. Abell of Birdsville, Mrs. Harry Worden of Hampton, Mrs. L.D. Threlkeld of Oklahoma City, Mrs. H.D. Chipps of Corinth, Miss. and Mrs. Frank Bush of Jackson, Miss.

Mary Rutter Davis' death certificate #23224 (1916) identifies her parents as Jonathan Rutter and Mary Ann Coleman, both of whom were born in Livingston County.

Published 13 September 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, http:/

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Update on the H.F. Given Tomb

Recent research has turned up new information on William Smith and H. Staub, the builders of the H.F. Given Tomb  in Smithland Cemetery. Because William Smith and H.F. Given were both from Smithland, I thought Given ordered the tomb built because he was familiar with Smith's work. He may very well have been familiar with Smith's work, but there was probably another factor involved in the decision to choose Smith to build the tomb.  That factor is often the most important and has to do with money.

It seems that William Smith was indebted to various business men, including H.F. Given, and owed three mortgages that may or may not have been satisfied before he moved to Port Gibson, Mississippi.  In 1855, William Smith mortgaged 90 pieces of rough marble and 50 pieces of dressed marble to H.F. Given, T.C. Leech & Bros. and W.P. Fowler to guarantee a debt of $600, most of which was owed Given.[1]

The next year, Smith mortgaged his household furnishings to Given Haynes and Co. to guarantee the payment of another debt. [2] And, finally, Smith mortgaged a lot in the Sanders Addition in Smithland "upon which is a brick dwelling now occupied by Smith."[3] By this time, Smith  owed debts totaling $2026.60. Smith must have moved his family to Mississippi shortly after this date in 1858 as they appear on the 1860 Claiborne County, Mississippi census. Perhaps Given decided to have Smith build a tomb to satisfy payment of the debt.

While researching another family, something turned up on H. Staub, who worked for or was in the stone carving business with William Smith in Port Gibson, Mississippi. He was in Smithland before appearing with the Smith family in Mississippi. In 1857, he filed his intention to become a citizen of the United States.[4]   He stated he came to the United States "on or about the 20th of April 1854 from the canton of Zurich in the  Republic of Switzerland ..."[5]  He signed the petition Henry Staub. He also appears on the 1857 Livingston County tax list.

Wm. Smith & H. Staub  Port Gibson, Mississippi
Front lower right corner of H.F. Given tomb
(click on photo for an enlarged view)

I learned two things from this research:  (1)  William Smith was indebted to H.F. Given before he moved to Mississippi  and that may have played a part in Smith building the Given tomb and (2) Henry Staub was in Smithland before he showed up on the 1860 Claiborne County, Mississippi census and very likely knew both the Smith and Given families. The world now seems like a smaller place.

Published 7 September 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

[1] Livingston County, Kentucky Deed Book 2:496, 42 Jan 1855.
[2] Livingston County, Kentucky Deed Book 3:129,  8 Feb 1856.
[3] Livingston County, Kentucky Deed Book 4:90,  1 Nov 1858.
[4] Livingston County, Kentucky Circuit Court Order Book O:354, 5 Jan 1857,
[5] Ibid.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day!

Published 5 September 2016,  Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Friday, September 2, 2016

Caswell Bennett, Chief Justice of Kentucky Court of Appeals

Livingston County, Kentucky has produced a number of prominent people, one of whom was Caswell Bennett, chief justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals from 1878 until his death in Hopkinsville, Kentucky on 9 August  1894. The story of his life can be found in area newspaper obituaries shortly after his death.

Caswell Bennett was born August 27, 1836 in Halifax County, Virginia. His father, Ambrose L. Bennett, was  a lawyer, and for many years a farmer in that county. He was of Scotch-Irish origin. Judge Bennett was liberally educated in the neighborhood schools and at Millwood College, in Tennessee, under James B. Rains, who became a general in the Confederate army and was killed in the battle of Murfreesboro. 

He commenced the study of law at Lebanon, Tenn., subsequently read with Judge Joseph R. Underwood  of Bowling Green and finished his legal preparation with Hon. F.H. Bristow.  In 1857 he was admitted to practice. His first office was at Smithland, in Livingston County, where he has ever since continued to hold his residence.  Very soon he became known as one of the best lawyers in that region. In 1867 he was elected circuit judge of the third judicial district, holding the position six years, whereupon he was re-elected without opposition.

In 1870 he was a candidate for a seat on the appellate bench, but was defeated by Judge Lindsay. Eight years later he was again a candidate and was elected. He continued to serve and at the time of his death was presiding chief justice of the state's highest tribunal. Recently he secured the nomination to again succeed himself.

He was married in 1868 to Miss M.T. Cruce, of Smithland. She died a number of  years ago and Judge Bennett was again married in 1886 to Miss Mollie Crumbaugh, of Lyon County, who survives him. Two children, a son and daughter, were born of the first marriage, and a daughter of the last, and all are living.

Justice Bennett's remains were conveyed to the statehouse where they were to lie in state until the funeral. All state offices were closed during the day of the funeral. He is buried in Frankfort Cemetery.

"At the State Cemetery Remains of Judge Bennett will Probably Be Buried," Evansville Courier,  10 Aug 1894, p. 1.
"The Dead Jurist," Evansville Courier, 11 Aug 1894, p. 1.

Published 2 September 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Monday, August 29, 2016

John H. Smith of Smithland

Sometime before 1830 John H. Smith and his wife, Rhoda, moved to Livingston County, Kentucky.  The following year, John H. Smith purchased lot #22 on Front Street in Smithland.[1] This lot is located in the middle of the block between Level and Maiden Streets and was an ideal location for a business. There is no indication, however, that Smith had a business there or the type of business it might have been..

Smith became a part of the activity of Smithland and, on 1 Oct 1832,[2] he was appointed captain of the group of men who routinely patrolled to make sure the town was quiet and no one, especially slaves, were out without a good reason.

John H. Smith did not stay in Smithland.  He and his family are found on the 1840 Pope County, Illinois census, but apparently returned to Smithland after that census. In April 1844, the children of John H. Smith purchased the lower half of lot #31 in Smithland as a result of a decree (John Shers vs Elizabeth and Eliza Simpson) from Livingston Circuit Court.[3]  Named as children of John H. Smith were C.W. Smith, Malinda H. Cook and husband Elbert Cook, John B. Smith, Wm. B. Smith and Mary Smith.

From her tombstone in Smithland Cemetery, we know the wife of John H. Smith was named Rhoda, but we do not yet know her maiden name.

Rhoda W.
Consort of
J.H. Smith
Born July 15, 1790
Died July 18, 1849

John H. Smith married Mrs. Elizabeth Green, former wife of Richard A. Green, 23 June 1850.[4] The marriage was not happy and "whereas unhappy differences" existed between them, they agreed to live apart . Elizabeth could live wherever she wanted and do whatever she chose as if she were a femme sole and John agreed to not bother her or claim any of her assets, including her dower interest in the estate of her former husband.[5]

John H. Smith died testate in 1856. In his will he named only his daughter, Mary, leaving her town lots in Smithland and all household and kitchen furniture.

J.H. Smith
Dec. 16, 1785
Feb. 26, 1856

[1] Livingston County Deed Book CC, p. 327, 28 Oct 1831, Given and Campbell to Smith.
[2] Livingston County Court Order Book H, p. 97,  1 Oct 1832. Other patrollers were John Byrne, Wm. D. McCloud, David B. Sanders and Ora Drury.
[3] Livingston County Deed Book HH, p. 423, 3 Apr 1844, Henry W. Bigham Commissioner to children of John H. Smith.
[4] Joyce McCandless Woodyard. Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Records Including Marriages of Freedmen, Vol II (Aug 1839-Dec 1871), p. 61.
[5] Livingston County Deed Book 2, pp 99-100, agreement with J.H. and Elizabeth P. Smith and R.W. Coleman (as trustee).

Published 29 August 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,