Thursday, January 12, 2017

Civilian Conservation Corps

My dad used to tell me that when he graduated from high school, there were no jobs because of the Great Depression so he continued to attend school. He would always comment that he was the only person he knew who had had five  years of high school Latin.

After that extra year, there were still no jobs so he enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), one of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs.  Originally intended for unmarried, unemployed men between the ages of 18 and 25, the requirements were later expanded. The CCC operated from 1933 - 1942. At that time, my father was just days shy of being 20 years old, had never been employed and I am sure had never been away from home.

The CCC was responsible for many projects including building roads, national and state parks, 

Just a few weeks ago I learned that records for enrollees in the CCC could be obtained from the National Archives in St. Louis.  Until then, I had no idea these records existed. It didn't take long for me to send in the Request for Information

Within two weeks I received  the reply that my dad had a file and I could receive it after paying $25.  Although there were only five pages, there was new information. I discovered he enrolled on January 1, 1934 and was assigned to Camp Hicks in Herod, Illinois.  His pay was $30 a month with $25 being sent to his widowed mother, Beatrice Joyce. Camp Hicks  was established in December 1933 and was new when he enrolled.  

The file also contained the results of a physical exam. He was 71 1/2 inches tall, weighed 155 pounds and his eyesight and hearing were good. He was considered in good health.

Food, clothing and lodging were provided for all enrollees, but the living conditions at Camp Hicks were primitive.  Kay Rippelmeyer, the author of The Civilian Conservation Corps in Southern Illinois 1933-1942, states the following: "Sanitary conditions at Camp Hicks were poor even four months after men had moved into the camp. There was scarcely enough water for bathing, and drinking water had to be hauled in ... In addition, the men's shoes were in need of repair, and many had none to fit..." [1] Not the best of circumstances for these young men, especially while working outside.

CCC camps were located in many small towns of every state, including western Kentucky. A list of camps can be found on the Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy website. The CCC was one of the government's most popular programs and was a life saver for many families during the Depression.

Among the small towns with CCC camps were Sebree (Camp Spring Dale), Morganfield (Camp Morgan), Cadiz (Camp Trigg), Princeton, Dixon (Camp Hall), Henderson (Camp Cromwell), Marion, Dawson Springs (Camp Alexander) and Madisonville.

The record files may seem a little pricey at $25 for five pages or less or $70 for six pages or more, but you won't know if they are worth the price until you order them. 

[1]  Kay Rippelmeyer. The Civilian Conservation Corps in Southern Illinois 1933-1942, (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2015)175.  

Published 12 January 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday - Asa and Martha M. Belt

Martha      Asa

Buried Sisco Chapel Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 20 May 2015. Note this tombstone appears to be fairly new and may not date from the time of death of either Asa or Martha M. Belt.

Asa Belt was born 11 October 1836 Tennessee and died 13 December 1914 Crittenden County.[1] The names of his parents were unknown. The informant given on the death certificate was Mark Belt of Marion, Ky.

Martha M. Belt died before official death certificates were required in Kentucky. According to her obituary printed in the Crittenden Press 22 November 1909, she died 16 November 1909.

Asa Belt and Martha M. Howland married 20 March 1865 Crittenden County.[2]  This was a second marriage for both of them. Asa was first married to Lydia A. Sisco 21 August 1860[3] in Crittenden County and Martha  Rushing married J.F. Howland 23 September 1859 in Crittenden County.[4]

Published 10 January 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

[1] Kentucky Death Certificate #32106 (1914),, accessed 23 Oct 2016.
[2]  Brenda Joyce Jerome. Crittenden County, Kentucky Marriage Records Vol. 1 1842-1865, (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1990), 109.
[3] Ibid, 85.
[4] Ibid, 78.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Signs of Sturgis, Kentucky

Signs of Sturgis, Union County, Kentucky

Located on U.S. 60, where it takes a jog before heading toward Morganfield.

Located at the junction of US 365 (Bells Mines Road) and U.S. 60

Published 7 January 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday - Howel Smith

Son of
W. & E. Smith
March 9, 1838
[no death date visible]

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 6  February 2013.

Howel Smith was a son of William and Ellen (Scyster) Smith, who married 7 May 1835 in Smithland.  If the death date for Howel is on his tombstone, it most likely dates from prior to 1850 as he is not listed on the 1850 Livingston County census.  The William Smith family moved to Port Gibson, Claiborne County, Mississippi about 1858. How painful it must have been to move away from family and friends, leaving a deceased child behind.

Published 3 January 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Crittenden County, Kentucky Emancipations

Slaves in Kentucky could be emancipated by the owner petitioning the county court or being set free through a  provision in the owner's last will and testament. To guarantee the former slave would not become a charge upon the county, a bond with security was signed by a responsible local citizen. The following handwritten emancipation papers are located in the loose county court papers, Crittenden County Clerk's Office.

Know all men ... we John S. Elder, Harvey W. Bigham & George T. Mayes are held & firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal sum of $1000  ... 11th day of December 1843. The condition  is such that whereas the above named court have this day  ordered a certificate of freedom to be granted to Sethe a man of Color emancipated by the last will & testament of James Elder. Should Sethe never become chargeable upon any County of the Commonwealth this obligation to be void ... [signed] John S. Elder, H.W. Bigham, G.T. Mayes.

Know all men ... we H.M. Witherspoon, Wm. B. Hickman, U.G. Witherspoon and James R. Hanks are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal sum of $500 ... this 11th day of Octr. 1847. The condition  is such that whereas George Witherspoon late of Crittenden County now deceased in his last Will and testament declared that his slave named Sam should be liberated and set free at the Octr. term of the Crittenden County Court. Now whereas the sd. Court has this day directed that Certificate of Emancipation shall issue to sd. slave ... if Sam shall never become chargeable to the County then this bond is to become of no effect ... [signed] H.M. Witherspoon, W.B. Hickman, U.G. Witherspoon, J.R. Hanks.   Attest: R.L. Bigham.

Know all men ... we Green C. Reece and W.H. Husband & H.R.D. Coleman are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal Sum of $500 for the payment of which ...  bind ourselves our heirs  executors &c  ... this 10th day of April 1848. The condition is such that whereas Elisha Reece dec'd by his last will and testament (which was this day proven & ordered to Record by the County Court) hath set free and Emancipated his Negro Boy Cyrus aged about fifty years  Now if  Cyrus shall not become chargeable to any county in this Commonwealth then ... this shall become null and void ... [signed] G.C. Reese, W.H. Husbands, H.R.D. Coleman.

Know all men ... we Manerva and W. Wagar are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal sum of $500 ... this 11th day of March 1861. The condition is such that whereas Manerva has been Emancipated and set free Now should Manerva never become a charge upon any County in the Commonwealth for her support and maintenance then this obligation shall be void ... [signed] Manerva (X her mark), W. Wagar.

Know all men ... we King and F.D. Wyatt are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal sum of $500 ... this 11th day of March 1861.  King has been emancipated and set free ... should King never become a charge upon any county in the Commonwealth for his support and maintenance then this obligation shall be void ... [signed] King (X) his mark, F.D. Wyatt. Wit: Berry S. Young  clerk.

Published 28 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas!

Published 25 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Lyon County, Kentucky Paupers 1880

In the earliest days of Kentucky, the goal of dealing with  paupers was to keep them from becoming a charge upon the county.  Prior to the establishment of county poorhouses, local residents bid on the care of each  individual pauper and cared for the pauper, usually in the resident's home.

In 1821  "An Act authorising the county courts to erect houses for the accommodation of their Poor" was approved.[1]  The county court was also given the power to appoint a fit person to superintend those who were in the poorhouse and to receive a reasonable fee for his services. Those wishing to be in charge at the poorhouse farm, placed a bid with the lowest bidder becoming the "winner."  No experience was required, but there were periodic reviews.

The order sending paupers to the poorhouses is often recorded in the county court order book (court minutes).  In addition, you might find a list of poorhouse inmates on the census records.  Lyon County poorhouse paupers can be found on the 1880 Lyon County, Kentucky census .[2]  The head of the household was J.W. Warfield, Supervisor of the Poor House. The inmates of the poorhouse  on the 21st of June 1880 were:

Sam Dyer, Black, Male, age 89, born Virginia, parents born Virginia.

Jas. Lady, White, Male, age 70, birthplace illegible, father born Virginia, mother born North Carolina.

Geo. Moneymaker, White, Male, age 37, born Kentucky, parents' birthplaces not given.

Fanny Oliver, White, Female, age 35, born Kentucky, parents born Kentucky.

Rilla Goins, White, Female, age 19, born Kentucky, parents born Kentucky.

Lilly Goins, White, Female, age 12, born Kentucky, parents born Kentucky.

Nancy Oliver, White, Female, age 4, born Kentucky, parents born Kentucky.

Alone Sells, White, Female, age 1, born Kentucky, parents born Kentucky.

[1] Digest of the Statute Laws of Kentucky, Vol. II, (1834) p. 1325, referencing  Session Acts, p. 385.
[2] 1880 Lyon County, Kentucky Census, Eddyville, Page 8C, E.D. 141, image 0018,, accessed 27 September 2016. 

Published 22 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,