Thursday, January 16, 2020

My Connection To An Impeached President.

President Donald J. Trump's impeachment currently dominates the news.  He is not the first president to be impeached and may not be the last. My family has a connection to an impeached president.  No, not President Trump; my connection is to Andrew Johnson, the first president to be impeached.

Andrew Johnson was born  into a very poor family 29 Dec 1808 in Raleigh, North Carolina. He never attended school and, at the age of 10, he was apprenticed to James Selby to learn the trade of a tailor. It is said that educated citizens would go to Selby's tailor shop and read to the apprentices. One of those citizens was Hugh Wolstenholme, born in England, former Anglican priest, and my great-great-great-grandfather.

According to legend, Wolstenholme spent hours each day reading to the apprentices as they worked.  Among  the apprentices who listened to Wolstenholme was Andrew Johnson, who was so inspired that he, along with others, accepted an invitation to gather at night to learn to read. And so, the tradition of Hugh Wolstenholme helping  future-President Andrew Johnson learn to read was born. Is it true? Several references in research on the Wolstenholme family indicate it is, but  nothing in the Johnson family references, thus far,  names Hugh Wolstenholme as playing a part in Johnson's education. Some references speak vaguely of a scholar teaching Johnson to read, but they never name the scholar.

Although he was legally bound to serve James Selby until he was age 21, Johnson and his brother, also apprenticed to Selby, ran away after serving only about five years. Andrew eventually returned to Raleigh, hoping to buy out his apprenticeship. When that was unsuccessful, he moved to Tennessee, where his career in politics began.  Johnson became mayor of Greeneville, Tennessee in 1834, served in the House of Representatives and Congress and held various other offices and then was chosen by President Abraham Lincoln to be his Vice President in 1864. When President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, Andrew Johnson became President, but angered Congress with his pardons and amnesty issued to former rebels.  He endured the impeachment and trial, and was not removed from office. He was the only United States President to be impeached and face a trial until William Jefferson Clinton became the second in 1998.

Meanwhile, Wolstenholme's life took a different path. He left Raleigh and settled in the mountains in far western North Carolina.  In the 1980s, while visiting the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I came across the papers of John Hewitt (1848-1920), who wrote his memoirs, "My People of the Mountains," in 1918. Hewitt was the great nephew of Hugh Wolstenholme.  Since he personally knew his great-uncle, Hewitt is our best source of information on Wolstenholme, whom he described as a "well-known hermit of the area."

When he was age 65, Wolstenholme was described as over "six feet tall, with steel gray eyes and shaggy eyebrows. His dress included a Quaker style hat, corduroy jacket, knee breeches of 'Kentucky jeans,'  buckskin leggings, high-top rawhide shoes and a beaver skin cloak." Few records have been found to verify the details of Wolstenholme's life and this is the only reference found to give his physical appearance.

Wolstenholme had several children, including  a son, also named Hugh, but who lived primarily in Davidson County, Tennessee and was my great-great-grandfather. Shortly before  the Civil War, the elder Hugh moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where it is stated he died in the poorhouse when he was over 100 years old.  The funeral, it is said, was conducted by Rev. Jarvis Buxton of Trinity Episcopal Church and the burial was in Asheville. No proof has been found, however.

Several years ago, I visited The North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library in Asheville in the hopes of finding some clue to Hugh Wolstenholme Sr.'s life.  Nothing was found. Even searching for information on  him through another son, Henry Fanshaw Wolstenholme, a tailor in Asheville, yielded nothing new.  I checked county records plus newspapers. Nothing! He is listed on the 1860 Buncombe County, North Carolina census, but not thereafter. On that census he was age 80 and living in the home of Dr. Madison and Isabel Greenwood, who were not thought to be related to Hugh.

So, as I hear about President Trump's impeachment and pending trial, I can't help but think of President  Andrew Johnson and the man who taught him to read. Now, if only I could find proof this happened.

1860 Buncombe County, NC census, Ivy and Flat Creek, roll M653-889, page 336,

Papers of Louise Littleton Davis (1890-1994), Tennessee State Library and Archives, AC #1710-29.

John Hewitt. My People of the Mountains, 1918, The Southern Historical Collection, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1980s (full date not recorded).

William S. Powell. "Hugh Wolstenholme," Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, University of North Carolina Press, 1994,

"Andrew Johnson," Wikipedia,

"Of Notable Ancestry," The New York Times, 17 June 1901, obituary of Mrs. Susanna Bradwell Hewitt, mother of the Rev. John Hewett. She was the niece of Rev. Hugh Wolstenholme.

 Published 16 Jan 2020, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Friday, January 10, 2020

Jefferson Davis Clopton and Mattie A. Mantz

Jefferson Davis Clopton married Miss Mattie A. Mantz 26 December 1888 in Livingston County, Kentucky. Silas Newton, V.D.M. [1] was the officiant at the wedding. 

Marriage Certificate of J.D. Clopton and Mattie A. Mantz  1888
Livingston County, Kentucky Clerk's Office

The first census on which they appear together was in 1900 when they were living in Smithland.[2] At that time, J.D., a druggist,  and his wife, Martha A., were the parents of two children, Clarra and Jefferson.  Also living in their home was his mother, Kattie Clopton, who was born in 1842 in Kentucky.

Jefferson Davis Clopton died 3 November 1931 at the age of 70 years, four months and 12 days. [3] His parents were Rubin Clopton, born Virginia, and Catharine Harris, born Kentucky.  According to his obituary, he had been a druggist for many years. In addition to his widow and two children, he was survived by two brothers, John Clopton of Evansville and J.A. Clopton of Smithland, as well as a sister.[4]

Martha Mantz Clopton was born 20 July 1863 Livingston County and died 13 May 1946 in Smithland. [5] Her parents were listed as William Mantz, born Kentucky and Addie Wallace, born Tennessee. Her funeral was held at the Smithland Methodist Church, where she had been a member for 68 years. She was survived by her son, J.D. Clopton, a grandson and two nephews. [6] Her daughter, Clara, died 18 September 1942 and is buried in Smithland Cemetery.[7]

[1] Verbi Dei Minister - Latin for Preacher of God's Word.
[2] 1900 Livingston County, Kentucky census, Smithland, p. 5, E.D. 0053, J.D. Clopton family,
[3] Kentucky Death Certificate #27375 (1931), Jefferson Davis Clopton,
[4] "Smithland Druggist Called by Death," Paducah Sun-Democrat, Thurs., 5 Nov 1931.
[5] Kentucky Death Certificate #11720 (1946), Martha Mantz Clopton,
[6] Obituary for Martha Mantz Clopton, Livingston Leader, 23 May 1946.
[7] Kentucky Death Certificate #20707 (1942), Clara Watts Clopton,

Published 10 Jan 2020, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Tombstone Tuesday - Joseph and Elvira Thompson

Joseph H.
Apr. 13, 1862
Oct. 23, 1926

Elvira His Wife
Aug. 5, 1863
Aug. 29, 1926

Joseph H. and Elvira Thompson are buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery, Caldwell County, Kentucky. This tombstone was photographed 10 December 2018.

Joseph H. Thompson and Elvira Cooksey were married 19 January 1892 in Caldwell County. [1] In 1918, Joseph H. and Elvira Thompson were living at 407 S. 19th Street, Paducah, Kentucky.[2]

According to her death certificate, Elvira Thompson died in Hopkinsville. The  names and birthplaces of her parents were not listed.[3] Her obituary states she was survived by her husband, one daughter, two sons, a sister and two brothers.

Joseph Henry Thompson was a carpenter by trade and was the son of Henry Thompson and Martha Crafton, both of whom were born in Kentucky. He died in Paducah.

[1] Kentucky Compiled Marriages 1851-1900,
[2] U.S. City Directories, 1822-1895; 1918, p. 45, Joseph H. Thompson (Elvira), 407 S. 19th, Paducah,
[3] Kentucky Death Record 1852 - 1965,  #19558 (1926), Elvira Thompson,

Published 7 Jan 2020, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Understanding That Document

We all want to gain as much information as possible from each document we find, but sometimes we are tempted to skim through the document and leave it at that. We think we understand what the document contains, but it may not be true. There is a process that just might help.

Don't just skim the document; read it word for word. Transcribe the document - every word.  Now it is time to take some notes. Can you answer the following questions?

1.   Who are the parties mentioned in the document?
2.   What is this document about?
3.   When did the events in the document occur?
4.   Where did you find the document?

Now it is time for the final step.  Using your own words, condense the document without losing the meaning.  

If you follow the above steps, you should be able to thoroughly understand the document.

Published 2 Jan 2020, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Lyon County, Kentucky Estate Administrators 1867

In the absence of a will or death certificate, the date an administrator of an estate was appointed is a good way to determine the approximate date of a person's death. However, if the decedent had no property at the time of his death, there would be no estate to be settled. When an administrator was appointed, he or she had to sign a bond with at least one other person signing as security for the faithful performance of his duties as administrator. The following information has been abstracted from Lyon County, Kentucky Court Order Book B (1866-1874). The letters and numbers at the end of each entry show where the information is located. For example, OB:20 refers to Order Book B, page 20. Order Book B is available at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives and at online at It should be noted that pages 98 and 99 in the digitized version of Court Order Book B in FamilySearch are very faded with page 99 being impossible to read.

John R. Fleming (at the instance of G.L. Cobb) having refused and fail to give additional security, is removed as administrator of Martha J. Fleming  and estate to be delivered to James J. Glenn, Public Administrator.  28 Jan 1867.  [OB:20]

Anny McElhaney appointed administrator of estate of her late husband, A.Y. McElhaney dec'd. 12 Feb 1867.  [OB:28]

Clarisa Horn, widow of John M. Horn dec'd, filed written declination of her right to administer on the estate of her late husband.  J.J. Glenn, Public Administrator, to take charge of decedent's estate. 25 Mar 1867. [OB:35]

Administration de bonis non of P.S. Holloway's estate granted to J.C. Holloway. Surety: J.M. Freeman. 25 Mar 1867. [OB:35]

Administration on the estate of Dicy Jones dec'd granted to J.J. Layton.  22 Apr 1867.  [OB:39]

Written declination of G.M. White and M. Hogan to administer on estate of George White dec'd filed in open court, it appearing Mrs. Catharine White who was administrator of sd. estate has departed this life, now ordered that the estate of George White dec'd be confided to James J. Glenn, Lyon County Public Defender. 10 Jun 1867. [OB:57]

On motion of Mrs. Mary G. Boon, widow of Jacob Boon dec'd, administration of her husband's estate granted unto James H. Leech. Surety: John Leech.  13 Jun 1867. [OB:57]

On motion of N.T. Braswell, estate of Mr. Phelps Harmon dec'd confided to James J. Glenn, Public Administrator. 13 Jun 1867.  [OB:58]

Administration upon the estate of Caleb Winters dec'd granted to Wm. T. Jeffrey on the motion of Solomon D. Winters. Sureties: John L. Irvan, Solomon D. Winters. 8 Jul 1867.  [OB:59]
On motion of Dr. J. Elliott ordered that the personal estate of Jane Brown dec'd confided to James J. Glenn, Public Administrator of this county.  22 Jul 1867.  [OB:66]

On motion of F.A. Wilson, the personal estate of Wilbourn Rowland dec'd confided to James J. Glenn, Public Administrator of Lyon County.  22 Jul 1867.  [OB:67]

The personal estate of William Stone dec'd confided to James J. Glenn, Lyon County Personal Administrator.  23 Sep 1867.  [OB:80]

The personal estate of James T. Stone dec'd confided to James J. Glenn, Public Administrator, William Stone, who was administrator, being dead.  23 Sep 1867.  [OB:82]

Administration of estate of Christopher H. Smith dec'd granted Thomas Wall. Surety: D.D. Wall.  4 Oct 1867.  [OB:82]

On motion of B.F. Smith Esqr, the other heirs having declined by writing to administer upon the estate of E.J. Smith dec'd, administration upon decedent's estate granted unto James H. Leech. Surety: John Leech. 16 Nov 1867.  [OB:93]

On motion of F.A. Wilson, ordered that personal estate of Wm. H. Yates be confided to James J. Glenn, Public Administrator. 23 Dec 1867.  [OB:97]

Sarah E. Moneymaker, widow of William Moneymaker dec'd, having filed her written [word illegible] of her right to administer on the estate of her late husband, in favor of W.L. Crumbaugh [remainder of entry faded out].  23 Dec 1867.  [OB:98]

Published 26 Dec 2019, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Published 24 Dec 2019, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Friday, December 20, 2019

Update on St. Vincent Academy Old Records

Thanks to Edward Wilson,  Director of Archives for the Diocese of Owensboro, word comes that the Archives has several attendance books as well as the registration books for St. Vincent Academy of Union County, Kentucky.  Several people have inquired on this blog about records of St. Vincent.  The website for the Diocese Archives is Here

Published 20 Dec 2019, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,