Thursday, July 9, 2020

Resolutions of Respect - Walter Burns 1849

Don’t forget utilizing Google and especially Google Books when researching your families. It is amazing what you can find!

Smithland, Ky, July 10, 1849
Bro. Moore:  I enclose to you the following resolutions of Smithland Lodge, No. 138, adopted upon the occasion of the decease of  Walter Burns , of this place.

Brother Burns was born in Kilsythe, Scotland, April 15th, A.D. 1815. Emigrated to the United States in 1836; was a worthy member of the Presbyterian Church and died at his residence in this place on the 9th inst., at half past 7 o’clock, of consumption, in the 35th year of his age.

At a meeting of the Smithland (Ky.) Lodge, No. 138, of ancient York Masons, at their Hall in Smithland, July 10th, A.D., 1849, the following preamble and resolutions were adopted:

WHEREAS, It hath pleased the Almighty Ruler of the Universe in the dispensation of an all wise Providence to remove from a world of trouble to the spirit land, our beloved Bro. Walter Burns; and whereas, a proper respect for the memory of the worthy dead demand suitable action on the part of the Lodge on this melancholy occasion: therefore, be it unanimously

RESOLVED, by Smithland Lodge, No. 138, of A.Y. Masons, in Lodge assembled, that by the death of our lamented brother, Walter Burns, the Order of Ancient York Masons is bereft of one of its brightest jewels and most useful members.

That the widow, the orphan and the distressed brother have lost a true friend, and the cause of true benevolence a faithful supporter, both by precept and practice.

That this Lodge deeply deplore the affliction thus visited upon the family of our deceased brother, and tender to them our sincere sympathy and condolence on the irreparable loss they have sustained.

That as a testimony of the sincerity of our grief, the members of this lodge will wear the usual badge of mourning for the space of thirty days from this date.

RESOLVED, That the Secretary be instructed to transmit to the family of our deceased brother a copy of these resolutions be published in the Masonic periodicals at Nashville and Cincinnati.
Yours fraternally,                       T.M. INGRAM, Secretary[1]

[1] C.C. Moore, The Masonic Review, Vol. IV, (Cincinnati: J. Ernst, 1849) 376; Google Books, accessed 2013.

Published 9 July 2020, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Friday, July 3, 2020

Happy 4th of July!

Courtesy of

Published 3 July 2020, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Rejected Will of Susan Boaz 1881

A number of years ago a short, handwritten will of Susan/Sousan Boaz was found in the Crittenden County Clerk’s Office. On the back of the will was the notation “Rejected” and signed by D. Woods, Clerk. Why was the will rejected?  I knew that a will must meet the state requirements regarding age, mental capacity, and signed  by writing his name or making his mark in front of witnesses. If the will failed to meet these requirements, it was usually rejected through the county court. If, however, it was contested by heirs or other legatees, a law suit could be filed and that usually was begun in circuit court.  

No entry regarding Susan Boaz was found in circuit court order books. In County Court Order Book 6 (1877-1881), page 538, under the date of 5 August 1881, G.L. Boaz presented in open court an instrument of writing “purporting to be the last will & testament” of Susan Boaz.  The case was continued to next term of court. The will was again produced and evidence introduced by “interested parties & heirs of the decedent pro & con” on 12 September 1881 (Order Book 6, p. 546).  The instrument of writing purporting to be the last will & testament of Susan Boaz was rejected, no reason being given.

On page 546 of County Court Order Book 6, G.L. Boaz was appointed administrator of Susan Boaz dec’d, “she having departed this life in said County on the [blank] day of [blank] 1881.” G.L. Boaz took the required oath with Sol Boaz as his surety. S.C. Bennett, John Crouch and J.A. Yandell were appointed appraisers of the personal estate of the decedent. As the will was rejected, the process of settling her estate proceeded as if she has never written a will. Unfortunately, we found nothing that indicated the reason her will was rejected. We know she met at least two of the requirements: age over 18 (she had adult children so was certainly over the age 18)) and her handwritten was signed with her mark and two persons witnessed the will. Susan’s will does not contain the customary claim of “being of sound mind," but we do not know if she was or not.  The will of her husband, John Boaz, can be found in Crittenden County Will Book 1, p. 170, recorded 27 Nov 1877, but gave no clues to why his widow’s will would be rejected.

For now we can only wonder why Susan’s will was rejected and look for more information.  Susan Boaz (11 Aug 1795 – 2 July 1881) is buried in Caldwell Spring Cemetery, Crittenden County, according to Find A Grave Memorial #65425605.

      Click on document for an enlarged view of  the rejected will of Susan Boaz       

“State of Kentucky

I, Sousan Boaz of the county of Crittenden, in the Eighty Fourth year of my age and reasonable good health do on this the fifteenth day of August Eighteen hundred and Seventy Eight make this my last will and testament as follows, Viz,  First, I will [illegible] to my Grandaughter Ana Bell Boaz my large Bedd & Bedding and my small Beauro to my son John D. Boaz.   2nd  one large Beauro to Dreaucila Johnson and one county pin and one straw bed [illegible]    3d  the rest of my household & Kitchen furniture to [be] equally divided between my children as named herein. Mary Wilborn, John D. Boaz, Soloman Boaz, Belas Boaz and Dru Johnston.   4th: I have this day on hand Sixty Five Dollars and at my death what remains on hand to be equaly divided between John D. Boaz, Belus Boaz, & K.T. Martin and Mary Wilborn.   5th My farm containing one hundred acres to be equally divided between Mary Wilborn, Belus Boaz, John D. Boaz, Drucilla Johnson, Solloman Boaz, K.T. Martin & G.L. Boaz.

Witness my hand this 15th day of August 1878
                                                Susan (X her mark) Boaz

Witness:   S.C. Bennett
                A.S. Threlkeld

Published 2 July 2020, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Caldwell County, Kentucky Board of Health Report 1906 - 1907

Caldwell County Board of Health
Dr. J.A.H. Miller, Princeton
Dr. R. Woods Ogilvie,  Princeton
Dr. J.A. Mott,  Crider
J.E. Baker, Esq.,  Princeton
D.B. Blalock, Esq.,  Princeton

Princeton Board of Health
Mr. W.H. Rich,  Princeton
Mr. John W. Young, Princeton
Dr. R. Woods Ogilvie, Princeton

“Princeton, Ky,  Dec. 31, 1907  to the  State Board of Health  

Gentlemen: During 1906-07 we have had only one case of smallpox that was supposed to have been contracted on a steamboat, between Smithland and Paducah. As soon as the case was discovered, the patient was sent to the eruptive hospital and all who were exposed were vaccinated and kept in quarantine the required time.

During these two years we have had about 50 cases of scarlet fever out in the county. The causes of so many cases of scarlet fever were carelessness of attending physicians and non-observance of quarantine laws by families in which disease occurred.

The expense to the county for infectious diseases during these two years has been practically nill.

The slaughter house has been inspected repeatedly and the proprietor, Charles Raucher, was urged time and again to observe the rules and regulations pertaining to slaughter houses, but he could not be induced to observe these rules, so he was indicted by our last grand jury.

On the whole we consider the condition of the county much better than at the last report.

Very Respectfully,
Jos. A.H. Miller, M.D.,  Secretary.[1]

[1] State Board of Health of Kentucky 1906 – 1907, Google Books, accessed 3 May 2020, p. 72.

Published 25 June 2020, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Tavern License Granted John E. Wilson 1836

Several Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky governed the granting of early tavern licenses.  Among the requirements was that the tavern keeper must keep an orderly house and  provide adequate  provisions for travelers and horses. The licenses were granted for one year.[1] 

One tavern keeper was John E. Wilson, who was was in Smithland, Livingston County by 18 March 1830, when he married Nancy Hagey, daughter of John and Catherine Hagey.[2]  Wilson was granted a license to keep a tavern at his house in Smithland on 4 July 1831, but the exact location was not given. Then, in 1836, a license was granted for Wilson to keep a tavern at his house on Lot #7 in Smithland.  Smithland Lot #7 faces the Cumberland River where Mill Street intersects Riverfront Drive and overlooks the boat ramp  in Smithland today.

John E. Wilson was also a Smithland town trustee in 1837.[3] He died 18 March 1850 and just one month later on 16 April 1850, his wife, Nancy Hagey Wilson, died. Both are buried in Smithland Cemetery.

Know all men by these present that We John E. Wilson & John H. Criddle are held and firmly Bond unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal sum of One hundred pounds Current money the payment of which well and truly to be made we Bond ourselves and heirs &c Jointly and Severally firmly by these presents given with our seals and dated this 4th day of April 1836.  The Condition of the above obligation is such that whereas the above Bound John E. Wilson hath this day obtained a license t keep a Tavern at this house in this County in the Town of Smithland on Lot No. 7.

Now should the said Wilson consistently find and provide in his said Tavern good wholesome diet and ... lodging for Travellers and Stabling and provinder for horses for the Term of one year from this date and shall not Suffer or permit any unlawful gaming ... nor Suffer any person to drink more than is necessary or at any time suffer any disorderly conduct or scandalous Behavior  to be practiced in his said house with his priventy[?] or consent then this obligation is void & otherwise to remain in full force ...  [signed] J.E. Wilson, John H. Criddle.  Witness: J.L. Dallam.

Click on document for an enlarged view

[1] Digest of the Statute Laws of Kentucky, Vol. II, (Frankfort, KY: Albert G. Hodges, 1834) 1503, Section 1-10, Google Books, accessed 22 Dec 2012.
[2] Joyce M. Woodyard. Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Records, Vol. 1 (Oct 1799-July 1839), (Smithland, KY: n.p., 1992) 105.
[3] Livingston County, Kentucky Deed Book EE:252, Benj. Temple of Logan County, Kentucky conveys half of In Lot #113 in Smithland to Trustees of Smithland (includes John E. Wilson), for theological and literary purposes or to build a church, for $100.
[4] Loose Livingston County, Kentucky Clerk's Papers, 1836 - 1839, Tavern License of John E. Wilson.

Published 18 June 2020, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Spiritualism's Influence in Smithland

On the 1st day of July 1875, a jury of 12 men met in a special term of the Livingston County Court to hear evidence and decide if Charles S. Lyon, a 35 year old resident of Smithland was of unsound mind and, if so,  to determine the cause. 

Lyon, the son of Harriet Cook and Stephen Lyon, had come under the influence of a different kind of religion and had wandered away from home. His half brother suspected he had gone to Memphis, Tennessee where one of the leaders of this religion might be found.  Although a reader of general spiritualistic literature, Lyon’s relatives believed that the immediate cause of his insanity was the reading of Dr. Samuel Watson’s works on that subject.  Lyon was found in the bottom lands across from Memphis and was brought back to Smithland to determine the condition of his mind. [1] The jury, after  hearing the evidence, rendered the following verdict: “We the Jury find that Charles S. Lyon … is of unsound mind, that he is a Lunatic … lost his mind about the 13th day of May 1875, that the probable cause from the evidence, was Spiritualism, Religion and Love.”[2]  E.G. Leeper was appointed to convey Lyon to the Lunatic Asylum in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. We do not know if Lyon continued his interest in Spiritualism, but we do know that Lyon lived in the Asylum until his death 37 years later. His remains were returned for burial near his relatives in Smithland Cemetery.  

What was this Spiritualism that was given as a reason in Charles S. Lyon being declared insane?  Wikipedia describes Spiritualism as a religious movement based on the belief that the spirits of the dead exist and have both the ability and inclination to communicate with the living. Some people believed in elements of this movement that later became known as Spiritualism, but there was no organized movement prior to 1848.  Also, there was no formal text outlining the principles of Spiritualism.   “Spiritualists believe in the possibility of communication with the spirits of dead people, with whom they regard as ‘discarnate humans.’ They believe that spirit mediums are gifted to carry on such communication, but that anyone may become a medium through study and practice.” They believe spirits are capable of growth and perfection, progressing through higher spheres or planes …  The two beliefs – that contact with spirits is possible, and that spirits may dwell on a higher plane – lead to a third belief, that spirits can provide knowledge about moral and ethical issues, as well as about God and the afterlife. Many believers therefore speak of ‘spirit guides’ … [3] 

During the early years the fundamentals of Spiritualism were spread mainly through magazines, lectures and camp meetings and many of the speakers were women.    One of the early leaders was the Rev. Dr. Samuel Watson. In 1875, he published Volume 1 of The Spiritual Magazine.  A prominent member of the Methodist church for 30 years,  Dr. Watson chose to sever his connection with the Methodist church in favor of his strong belief in Spiritualism.    Dr. Watson was living in Memphis in 1875, the same year Charles S. Lyon wandered off to that city. [4]                                                                                                                                           
It was “A Sad Case,” when Charles S. Lyon was judged to be of unsound mind because of “Spiritualism, Religion and Love.”  Was he, indeed, of unsound mind or was he simply practicing a different kind of religion?  Lyon was not the only person in the area who espoused Spiritualism. Peter H. Conant of Smithland (1809-1890) was also a believer in this religion. According to his obituary, he was “a Spiritualist and an earnest believer in the faith.” [5]  “The Conant family belonged to a religious group that did not believe in marking the graves of its dead. Many of the family members were buried in a sand bank on the left of Highway 60 that now runs from the town of Smithland to the Cumberland River bridge.”[6]  His burial place is unknown.

Robert Dale Owen of New Harmony, Posey County, Indiana was also a Spiritualist.  Owen (1801-1890) was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives, wrote about his personal and political views and published two books. His family is found throughout New Harmony’s history.  Another well-known Spiritualist was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) who was interested in many subjects, including the paranormal and those of a mystical nature, but is perhaps better known as the creator of the character, Sherlock Holmes.

Spiritualists are still found in all segments of society with some having websites and online videos explaining their beliefs.

[1] “A Sad Case,” Daily Louisville Commercial (Louisville, Ky), Fri., 9 July 1875, p. 4, GenealogyBank, accessed 1 June 2020.
[2] Lunacy Record, Charles S. Lyon, Livingston County Loose Court Clerk’s papers, Box 19, July term 1875, Livingston County Court Clerk, accessed 2008.
[3] “Spiritualism,” Wikipedia, <>, accessed 4 June 2020.
[4] S. Watson. The Spiritual Magazine, Volume 1, (Memphis, TN: Boyle & Chapman, 1975) Google Books, accessed 4 June 2020.
[5] “A Sad Case,” Daily Louisville Commercial, 9 July 1875, p. 4.
[6] Leslie McDonald. Echoes of Yesteryear, (Smithland, KY: Livingston County Historical and Genealogical Society, Smithland, Kentucky, 1972) 105-106.

Published 11 June 2020, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Kentucky Blind Institution 1885

The Kentucky Institution for the Education of the Blind was a boarding school with sessions lasting ten months of the year. It was recommended that the blind children should be sent to school between the ages of  8-10 as delaying after age 10 made it more difficult for the child to learn. Each child returned home during the summer. At the Institution they were provided wholesome food and received a sound English education and training in music and instruction in handicrafts.

In 1885, the following were the employees:
B.B. Huntoon, Superintendent, salary $125 per month
Mrs. Sarah J. Huntoon, matron, salary $33 1/3 per month
Miss Nina Grist, teacher, salary $30 per month
Miss Josephine Sloan, teacher, salary $30 per month
Miss Julia Purnell, teacher, salary $30 per month
Miss Mary Reilly, sewing teacher, salary $30 per month
D. Lasch, handicraft teacher, salary $50 per month
Charles Frederick, music teacher, salary $100 per month
Miss Eleanor Beebe, kindergarten teacher, salary $30 per month
Mrs. Neppie Frederick, music reader, salary $10 per month
Barbara McKinney, assistant pupil teacher, salary $10 per month

Some of the pupils enrolled in the Institution Recorded During the past year (1884):
Lidian Ball of Henderson
Anna May Carlisle of Henderson
Sophia Cromwell of Henderson
Max Rushing of Caldwell County
Anna Evaline Vaughn of Webster County

List of Blind Persons Between the Ages of 6 – 16 According to the 1880 United States Census in Kentucky [in counties covered by this blog]:
J.M. Sullivan of Williams Mills, Caldwell County
Robert Clark of Marion, Crittenden County
Arthur Riley of Hurricane, Crittenden County
Fanny Mullen of Bells Mines, Crittenden County
Kitty Wallace of Corydon, Henderson County
Eva Wallace of Corydon, Henderson County
Sarah H. Jones of Smithland, Livingston County
Ida Lee Heater of Smithland, Livingston County
Mary Bennett of Carrsville, Livingston County
Mary J. Wilson of Webster, Webster County
L.J. Shouner of Claysville, Webster County
Christina Claner of Claysville, Webster County
L.A. Stone of Jones Stand, Webster County

The information for this post comes from Legislative Document No. 13. Annual Report of the Kentucky Institution for the Education of the Blind at Louisville, KY. For the Year Ending October 31, 1885, Google Books, accessed 14 May 2020.

Published 4 June 2020, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,