Thursday, January 29, 2015

Often Overlooked Records Part IV - School Census Records

The School Trustee, who was in charge of each school district, played a big role in Kentucky communities. Among other duties, he was responsible for employing a qualified teacher, "who in no case shall be related to the trustee by blood or marriage ..."[1] If there was a complaint against or by the teacher, he had to deal with it. In addition, he was required to visit each school at the beginning of the year and make monthly visits throughout the year.[2]

The job of the trustee that interests us, as genealogists, relates to  the census that was taken each April in each school in the district. It was the trustee's duty "during the month of April, to take an exact census of all the children then residing in such district, who will be, on the first day of July following, between the ages of six and twenty years ... specifying the name, age, sex and names of the parents or guardian of each child"[3] Failure to take this census could result in the trustee being fined.  While it is great to have a date for the school children, be aware that some years only the age of the child was listed, some times the birth year was omitted and some birth dates vary from year to year.

School census records are found either in the county clerk's office of the courthouse or in the school board office. They may be in bound volumes, as in Livingston County, or as folded, loose papers, as in Lyon County. No matter what form they are, they may provide valuable information.

Part of 1900 Census of Lola School (District 7)
Livingston County, Kentucky

[1] Article VIII, "District Trustee," Journal of the Regular Session of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Begun and Held in the City of Frankfort on Monday, the Thirty-First of December, in the Year of Our Lord, 1883, and of the Commonwealth the Ninety-Second (Frankfort, KY: S.L.Major, Printer,  1884), 814; digital images, Google Books (; accessed 5 December 2014.
[2] Article VIII, "District Trustee, 815."
[3] Article VIII, "District Trustee, 816."

Published 29 January 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Willard Library Addition To Open

The long-awaited 8,000 square feet addition to Willard Library at 21 First Avenue, Evansville, will open Saturday, 7 February 2015. The ribbon cutting will be at 2 p.m., followed by tours and a Victorian Tea.

The genealogy collection will remain on the second floor of the library, but there will be a bit more room as the Archives will move from the second floor to the new addition.  A Gallery in which art and historical exhibits will be displayed will be included in the addition, also. The library's operating hours can be found Here

This will be a good chance to see how Willard Library has grown, but it might be wise to go early as there is sure to be a crowd.

Willard Library 
Before New Addition (in rear of building)

Published 27 January 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Aunt Allie's Album

A friend recently purchased an old photograph album at an antique store in Trigg County, Kentucky.  The photographs are primarily of the Cherry family, but other surnames are also mentioned. Some of the people appear to be connected to Bowling Green, Hartford  and Butler County, Kentucky.

Written inside the album is "Aunt Allie's Album." It was the property of Mrs. Allie Cherry Boulton, born Sept. 14, 1877 and died May 29, 1927.

Other photos are of the following people:    Grave of Uncle Elzie, brother of Alma Neel Murray;  Eunice Cherry;  Uncle Lon & Aunt Zimru Neel, parents of Elzie, Will, Alma and Bubby Neel, parents-in-law of Allie Cherry Neel;  Bubby Neel;  Will Neel of Oklahoma;  Laura Phelps Cherry, wife of Dr. E.A. Cherry;  Preston & Eunice Cherry;  Hugh Cherry (baby);  Uncle Luther Cherry;  Dudley Tanner;  Phocian McKinney - obituary card - died Sept. 15, 1914;  Martha J. Goode, second wife of Adam Cherry (married 1858).  There are also photographs of unidentified persons.

If you are descended from this family, let me know and I will put you in contact with the person who owns the photograph album.

Dudley Tanner
Teacher at Hartford, Kentucky

Published 25 January 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Often Overlooked Records Part III - Bonds, Bonds, Bonds

A person appointed an estate administrator or executor, guardian to a minor or incompetent or granted a license to keep a ferry, tavern or coffeehouse was required to sign a bond to guarantee he would perform the required duties. These bonds are found in the county clerk's office in Kentucky and may appear as loose papers or bound in a book. The information was supposed to be recorded in the county court minutes, but sometimes the entries were omitted or they were incomplete.  Looking at just one rendering of this information is often not sufficient to obtain all of the information. One source may have the most basic information, while another source may contain much more. Rarely will you find any this information online.

The following guardian bond is an example of the information that can be found. It comes from Loose Guardian Bonds (1842) filed in the Caldwell County Clerk's Office, Princeton, Kentucky.

Washington Watkins was appointed guardian for Miss  Delitha Lunnen [Lemmen?] 16 May 1842. Also signing the bond, as his security, was Jesse W. Young. This is good information, but it is the note that is filed with the loose bond that puts this into the "Wow!" category. On 14 May 1842, Delitha wrote a note to the county court stating that she wanted Watkins to be appointed her guardian because "I have neither Farther nor Mother living  my age is about Sixteen."  At the age of 14, minors were considered mature enough to choose their own guardian, but this note gives a more exact age and it states that both of her parents were deceased. The names witnessing her note are important, also. We know that Jesse W. Young was Watkins' security for the guardian bond, but who was Leven T. Olover?

When a minor married, a parent or guardian had to give consent for the license to be issued. If there were no living parents, or even if the father alone was deceased, a guardian was often appointed for that specific purpose.  A check of Caldwell County marriages shows that on the same date the guardian bond was issued, Levin T. Oliver obtained a marriage bond to marry Miss Delitha Lemmen in Caldwell County.[1] Ah ha! Leven was a principle player in this saga.

One record is often insufficient to get the complete picture so help yourself by checking every possible record.

Loose Guardian Bond and note 1842

[1] Brenda Joyce Jerome. Caldwell County, Kentucky Marriage 1833-1853 (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery) 1997: 71.

Published 22 January 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Margaret Hammond - Midwife and Artist

When the Sutton Law of 1852 went into effect in Kentucky, physicians and midwives were required to submit a written account of the births they had attended. At the time, there were four known midwives in Crittenden County - Elizabeth Brasher, Annie Heath, Maria Hoggard and Margaret Hammond. No formal education was required of midwives; they learned by doing.

Because of the Sutton Law, we have a number of original birth records from the mid-1850s. They contain the following information: Date of birth; sex; where born; names of parents, including mother's maiden name; date certificate was signed and the signature of the midwife.

One of these midwives is of particular interest, not because of her skills as a midwife, but because of her personality that is displayed on some of the birth records she signed. Most women of the mid-1800s left few records to indicate their personality, but Margaret Hammond was different. 

Margaret Lamb married Martin Hammond 5 January 1814 in Caldwell County, Kentucky.[1] Her father, John Lamb, gave consent for the license to be issued.  Martin Hammond died in 1855, leaving Margaret a widow. Martin's estate wasn't settled until 1857, which was the last year we have a record of Margaret being a midwife.  We don't know how long she worked as a midwife, but the first record we have dates from 1852. All births she attended were  in the Crooked Creek area of Crittenden County.

Margaret distinguished herself for being a midwife, but she is also known for the little figures she drew on some of the birth records. The figures may be males or they could be females. Most are smoking a pipe and some are wearing a hat. The figures are rough and primitive, but they have a certain charm. Why did she decorate some of the birth records with these figures? Was she just drawing what she saw?  Did she think of herself as an artist? Was she poking fun at someone?  One drawing not pictured here is offensive because of the words she used in describing the birth of an African American child.  What was the purpose of decorating these birth records? What do you think?

Crittenden County Birth Records
Decorated with  Margaret Hammond's drawings

[1] Brenda Joyce Jerome. Caldwell County, Kentucky Marriages 1809-1832 (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1996) 24.

Published 18 January 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Often Overlooked Records Part II - Medical Register

Another record not usually found online is the county medical register.  "An act to protect the citizens of this commonwealth from empiricism,"[1] approved 23 February 1874, stated that on and after the first day of April, 1889, "it shall be unlawful for any person to practice medicine in any of its branches within the limits of this State who has not exhibited and registered under this act exhibited and registered in the county clerk's office of the county where he is practicing ..."

In addition, each person shall have either a diploma from a medical school within the state or another state or an affidavit showing he is exempted from obtaining a diploma. The medical register contains the name of the physician, his age and place of birth and the name of the school granting his diploma. In addition, if the physician moved away or died, it was to be so noted at the bottom of the page.

If you have a doctor in the family, be sure to check to see if there is a  medical register in the county clerk's office in the courthouse. Not every county has a medical register, but if you have Crittenden County ancestors, be sure to check this valuable source.

The page below comes from page 3 of the Crittenden County Medical Register 1889-1893.

[1] Medical and Surgical Register of the United States, (Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago: R.L. Polk & Co., 1890) 457, Google Books ( accessed 1 November 2014).

Published 15 January 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday - Thomas H. Harris

Thomas H.
Dec. 12, 1926
Son of Sarah M. Harris

Buried Ferguson Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 3 Dec 2012.

Kentucky death certificate #1928 shows that Thomas H. Harris was born in Illinois and was the son of James Harris and Sabra [sic] Medcalf. He died at the age of 34 and his usual residence was in Gilbertsville, Kentucky.

James Harris and Sarah Metcalf, parents of Thomas Harris, married in Pope County, Illinois 29 May 1887.

On the 1920 Livingston County census, Harris was living in Smithland Precinct with T. Robert Smith and Ann Smith. Harris is listed as their nephew.

Published 13 January 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,