Thursday, December 27, 2007

My New Year's Resolutions

It’s that time of the year when, full of optimism, we make our New Year’s resolutions. Most of us promise to eat less or exercise more and those are great resolutions, but I have chosen to make my resolutions pertain only to genealogy.

1. I resolve to re-read all of my research notes and files on my families in the hope that a new clue will emerge.

2. I resolve to cite all sources and will use the correct format so that if my genealogy cousins want to check my sources, they will be able to easily do so.

3. I resolve to file all of my paper document copies in the proper place so they will not be lost when I want to re-read that document.

4. I resolve to be kind to novice researchers when they ask for help or offer an opinion on a genealogical puzzle. Novice researchers sometimes mature and maybe they will, in turn, be helpful to another beginning genealogist.

5. I resolve not to laugh when someone tells me they have researched their line back to Adam and Eve. Someday, somehow, someone may just be successful in achieving that goal.

6. I resolve to respond to a query if I know the answer even though the last 10 times I did so the person inquiring never acknowledged the response or the time it took to look up the answer.

7. I resolve to thank those who have helped me in my search for family information.

8. I resolve to decide what I want to be done with my research papers, books and files and put it in writing so that when I can no longer make that decision, my family will know my wishes.

9. I resolve not to portray my ancestors as anything more than who they really were - hard working, honest people, who cared for their families, reared a house full of children, and were good citizens. Not a one of them was president or in charge of anything except their own family and that is quite good enough.

10. I resolve not to take myself and my research so seriously that I can not enjoy the everyday pleasures of living.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Memories



Memories of past Christmases have been flooding my mind. I don’t remember many of the gifts I received, but the memories of preparations for Christmas are as fresh as if they had just happened. My family was small - just my parents and one brother and I - but we celebrated big. Getting ready for Christmas began when most people were still in short sleeves and didn’t end until the big day arrived.

Christmas gift lists were made long before Thanksgiving and often included homemade gifts of jams and jellies or baked goods for friends and neighbors. Mother’s talents in the kitchen were well known and her homemade gifts were received with smiles. Many years later, she would publish her own cookbook and sell over 700 copies - no small feat while living in town of about 300 people!

The baking started with the fruitcake, which had to age at least a month to reach just the right "ripeness." Cookies were baked and placed in sealed containers so they would stay fresh. The candy making started the week before Christmas as the sweets didn’t stay fresh very long, especially with hands reaching into the tins several times a day.

My dad had a special knack of determining what his gifts were just by shaking, balancing it in one hand to see how heavy it was and sniffing it - all this followed by a "Hummm." Then, he would tell us what it was. One year we took a new pair of shoes, put each in its own different sized box and dared him to guess the identity of the gift. Didn’t work. He guessed it in no time. I don’t know how he did it, but this trait has been inherited by my daughter, who uses the same techniques to guess what she has under the tree. My parents and brother are gone now, but their personality traits live on in the rest of my family.

I said that I don’t remember many of the Christmas gifts I received, but one does stand out and I doubt that it will ever be topped. On Christmas Day 1999 our talented, beautiful, funny granddaughter was born. She is a joy and I am constantly amazed at what she says. Last week I talked to her after she had tasted the fudge I mailed with her Christmas gifts. Her comment was "Grandma, you can’t dance and you can’t sing, but you sure can cook."

Maybe I am my mother’s daughter.

I hope you all are creating wonderful memories during this blessed season and may your hearts be full of peace and joy during the new year. Please say a prayer or think positive thoughts for the safety of our military men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Will Isn't The Final Record

It is exciting when we find a will for an ancestor. As a will signifies the end of a life, this means we have found all that can be found about his heirs, the disposition of his estate and now we can move on to another area of research - right? Do you hear a "But" coming? You’re right.

It has been estimated that less than 1/4 of Kentuckians left a will. I’ve never tried to determine if that figure is true or not, but it would not surprise me if it were true. I do know that having an ancestor who left a will is a good thing, but it is not the end of the story and should not signal an end to research on that person.

Don’t count on all children being named in a will. Maybe the decedent conveyed property to one or more of his children at the time they married. Since they had already received a share of his estate, the children might not be listed in the will. Checking the deed books for a transfer of property to a child or children prior to the parent’s death is a smart thing to do.

What if there was a parent-child agreement whereby the child would care for the parent in exchange for a sum of money or property. Maybe the agreement wasn’t recorded until after the death of the parent. Checking the deed books for such an agreement after the death of the parent is another smart thing to do.

What if one or more of the children contested the will, perhaps believing that the parent was incompetent at the time the will was written? What happened then? When a person died testate (left a will), the will was produced in county court and proven by the oaths of the subscribing witnesses to be the last will and testament of the decedent. At that time, if someone objected to the will, the county court might appoint a curator to conserve the estate until the controversy over the will was resolved. If the controversy was not easily resolved, the case was transferred to circuit court, where testimony from interested parties would be taken before a decision was made about the validity of the will. The circuit court case files usually contain details about the decedent and his family. But that is not the only place to learn things not found in the will.

The county court minutes may contain information found nowhere else. Be sure to read the minutes in the county court order books in the county clerk’s office from the date the will was presented in court until the estate was settled and recorded. In Kentucky, it was not unusual for a nuncupative will, sometimes called a "death bed will," to be recorded only in the county court minutes. These nuncupative wills are wonderful in that they often give the date of death and will tell who was present at the time of death.

Also, testimony about a will and the witnesses, some of whom may have died or moved away, may be given in the county court minutes. George W. Bond, who "being about to go to the war in which the United States is now engaged in Mexico, as a Volunteer Soldier," wrote his will 29 September 1847. The will was produced in court 1 January 1849 and additional testimony was given on 15 January 1849 in Caldwell County Court Order Book G, page 346:

"A writing purporting to be the last will and testament of George Bond was produced in open Court, and proved by the oath of Livingston Lindsay, one of the Subscribing witnesses thereto, who also said that according to his present recollection, he enquired of decedent as to his age, who said, as well as witness now remembers, that he, decedent, was 18 years of age, and he further States, that John T. Robertson, a subscribing witness to said will, signed the will ... and that said Robertson is now out of the state as he understands."

William Y. Harris, in whose possession the will was lodged for safe keeping, stated that in a conversation with the decedent shortly before his death, the decedent told him that he wanted his will recorded, although he wished the idea to prevail among his brothers that he had no will. Apparently, Bond anticipated problems with his older brothers.

James C. Weller, F.W. Urey and E.G. Campbell were called to testify regarding the handwriting of John T. Robertson. Each one stated the signature was in the handwriting of Robertson. The will could finally be recorded and George S. Massey, administrator with will annexed, was appointed to settle the estate.

So, just because there is a will don’t neglect checking other places for additional information. Places to check include the county court minutes, deed books, executor and administrator bond books as well as the inventory/sale bill/settlement books. If there are original settlement papers in the county, be sure to check them too.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What Happened to My Family?

Copyright by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
May not be copied without written consent

I have always preached that there is usually a grain of truth in family stories. No matter how flowery or unreal the stories may seem, there is part of them that is factual. Recently I learned this is not always true, but I don’t know why. How do family stories begin?

My father was a wonderful story teller and he could remember things that happened in his youth that everyone else had long forgotten. He was born in January 1913, the same month and year his grandfather, Reddick Smith, died. Reddick’s widow, Mary Ann, spent the remaining 20 years of her life living with first one child and then another, including her daughter, who was my dad’s mother. According to my father, Mary Ann talked a lot about her youth as a member of a family of means in Davidson County, Tennessee. He told me how Mary Ann’s brother, Henry, and sister, Elizabeth, left Tennessee and moved to Galveston, Texas just in time to drown in the great hurricane of 1900. Reddick Smith, according to the story, attempted to have Mary Ann declared heir to the family fortune after the deaths of Henry and Elizabeth.

I quickly learned this was not a "family of means" as Hugh, father of Henry, Elizabeth and Mary Ann, was listed as a hired hand on the Davidson County census records. Ok, so the truth was stretched a bit. That happens, but it's strange that the story, as told by my dad, never varied. He swore that what he told me came straight from his grandmother, Mary Ann.

Because their last name was Wolstenholme and there are so many ways to spell the name, I didn’t make a great deal of progress on the family. Besides, two-thirds of the family perished in 1900 so my direct line was the only one that had survived and I knew all of my cousins. Right? The time I expended on this family was spent trying to determine the parentage of Hugh, father of Henry, Elizabeth and Mary Ann Wolstenholme.

A couple of weeks ago I was scanning all of the wonderful indices on the Tennessee Dept. for Libraries and Archives website and noticed a Henry F. Wolstenholme listed on the 1920 death index. Surely this could not be Henry, the brother to my Mary Ann as he had drowned 20 years earlier. But, it wouldn't hurt to do more checking so I checked census records and found Henry, his wife, son and four daughters. Elizabeth was also listed. Copies of the death certificates for Henry and Elizabeth confirmed these were, indeed, my long lost great uncle and great aunt.

My dad had explained to me that Elizabeth was betrothed to a fellow who was killed during the Civil War and Elizabeth never married. At least part of that story was validated as she was listed as single on the census records through 1930, just two years before she died. I have a picture of Elizabeth so I know she really existed. With the help of a wonderful lady down in Cordova, Tennessee, I have learned much, much more about this family. She went out of her way to help me find this family from the time I lost them after the 1900 Davidson County census to about the middle of the 20th century. By 1910, they were back in Tennessee - not in Davidson County, but in West Tennessee and they moved around among Lake, Dyer and Gibson counties.

My dilemma is this: Did my great-grandmother, grandmother or my dad make up these stories about Henry and Elizabeth drowning in the 1900 hurricane? Or could they have gone to Galveston, but returned to Tennessee? If that is true, why did they go to West Tennessee and instead of returning to Davidson County, which is in Middle Tennessee? Was there no contact with their sister, Mary Ann (my ancestor), after she moved to southern Illinois with her husband and small children shortly after 1870? I’ve talked to my older cousins and they could not offer an opinion and didn't even know of the Galveston Hurricane story. What should I believe? Were these just stories to entertain a child or was there some truth to them? Have you had instances like this in your family? How did you resolve them?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

First Session of Circuit Court Crittenden County 1842

Crittenden County was created from Livingston County, Kentucky in 1842. The county and circuit courts met at the home of Samuel Ashley, who lived at or very near the early inn or ordinary called Cross Keys. The location of Cross Keys was near the present site of Crooked Creek Missionary Baptist Church, about 1 1/2 miles from Marion. It wasn’t until June 1844 that the court held sessions in the new county courthouse.

The circuit court met quarterly and each session might last for a week or more. Cases heard divorces petitions and will contests, as well as those accused of murder or other felonies, breaking the Sabbath, tippling, swearing, selling spirits without a license, fornication and failiing to keep the roads in repair and those filing to become a naturalized citizen.

The following has been abstracted from Circuit Court Order Book A (1842-1850), page 1.

Agreeably to an act of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky establishing the County of Crittenden, approved 26th January 1842 and an Act attaching sd. County to the 16th Judicial District approved 23rd February 1842.

A Circuit Court was begun and held for sd. county at the house of Samuel Ashley on Monday the 23rd day of May 1842. Present the Honourable W.P. Fowler, Judge. Whereupon the Court proceeded to appoint a clerk, and David C. Flournoy and Harvey W. Bigham applicants for sd. appointment, personally appearing in Open Court and Bigham producing to the Court a Certificate from the judges of the Court of Appeals of his qualifications to discharge the duties of clerk ... In the words and figures following to wit: “State of Kentucky, We do certify that Harvey W. Bigham hath been examined by our Clerk in our presence & under our direction, and we judge him well qualified to discharge the duties of clerk to any County Court, Circuit Court or Court of equal dignity within this Commonwealth ... William Owsley, B. Mills. Attest: J. Swigert.” Was thereupon duly appointed clerk of Crittenden Circuit Court. And thereupon ... Bigham, as clerk of this Court, entered into and executed Bond in the penalty of Ten Thousand Dollars ... with Joseph Watts, Presley Gray, John S. Gilliam, Joel E. Grace, Wm. B. Hickman, Peter Clinton & Daniel Travis, his securities.

A grand jury was empannelled, to wit, Alexander Dean, Foreman, Edward Ashley, Williamson Ashley, Mathew Parmley, Martin Hammond, William Hoggard, John M. Wilson, Isaac Lloyd, Jacob Gill, George Melton, John E. Wilson, Uri G. Witherspoon, Andrew J. Hill, James W. Hill, Thomas Akers & Angus McAlister.

Col. George A. Barbour, Francis H. Dallam, Robert H. Marr, Paterson C. Lancer & Sumner Marble produced to the Court License as Counsellors and attornies at law & took the necessary oaths.

Presley Gray, William Kennady and James Cruce Esqr. was appointed Commissioners for the purpose of selecting a Jury for the next term of this Court.

On motion of Presley Gray, William Kennady and James Cruce, Commissioners, return in open Court a list as required by law Sealed and Signed by them ... which was delivered by the Court to the Clerk for Safe Keeping.

John Rourke vs Hermogene Brown, Anthine Labranch and Laurent Syronge, In Chancery. Ordered that a Subpoena with an injunction be awarded Complainant (Rourke) enjoining and restraining defendants from selling or conveying or removing sd. property of any part of same in the Bill mentioned out of the jurisdiction of this Court. Sheriff is directed to take into his possession all personal property named in sd. Bill & keep same subject to the future order of this Court but to deliver to Defendants upon their executing bond to the complainant ... in the penalty of $1500 ....

John S. Gilliam to report to the Trustee of the Jury fund the amount of taxes and forfeitures in his hands.

The Grand Jury returned the following presentment ... against John L. Elder for Standing Bull. Against John Gregory & Rachel Lacy, fornication. Same against James Long & Lucinda Ferrell an indictment for Adultery.

Ordered that Court adjourn until court in course. [signed] W.P. Fowler.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Civil War Discharges - Part II

This is Part II of Civil War Discharges - Caldwell County, Kentucky. See previous posting.

Edward Satterfield, (of color) private of Capt. George H. Cook’s Company F., 8th Regt. of U.S. Arty Heavy Volunteers, who was enrolled on the 24th day of May 1865 to serve 3 years or during the war, is hereby discharged from the service of the United States this 10th day of May 1866 at Victoria, Texas by reason of S.O. No. 8, his service being no longer required. Satterfield was born in Crittenden County, Kentucky, is 44 years of age, is 5 feet 10 1/2 inches high, bring complexion, dark eyes, black hair and is a farmer. [signed] H.C. Demming, 1st Lieut. Oath of Identity: Edwin [sic] Satterfield of Caldwell County appeared this 21st day of April 1866 before the undersigned and stated he is the same man mentioned above. [signed] John Satterfield, JP. [pages 86-87]

Rufus Paine, a private of Capt. Geo. W. Cox’s Company I, 8th Regt. of the U.S. C. Atty Volunteers, who was enrolled on the 5th day of June 1864 to serve 3 years or during the war, is hereby discharged from the service of the United States this 10th day of February 1866 at Victoria, Texas, his services being no long required. Paine was born in Caldwell County, is 23 years of age, 5 feet 6 3/4 inches high, black complexion, black eyes, black hair, and is a farmer. [signed] H.C. Demming. Oath of Identity: Rufus Paine of Caldwell County on the 9th day of July 1866 appeared before the Police Judge of Princeton and declared he is the identical Rufus Paine mentioned above. [signed] W.S. Talbott. [pages 99-100]

William H. McConnell, a private of Capt. George E. Sutherland’s Company B, 13th Regt. of U.S. Atty. Volunteers, who was enrolled on the 20th day of January 1865 to serve 3 years or during the war, is hereby discharged from the service of the United States this 18th day of November 1865 at Louisville, Ky. McConnell was born in Caldwell County, is 18 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches high, black complexion, black eyes, black hair and is a farmer. [signed] J.B. Shaw, Capt and A.C.M. Commanding the Regt. Dept of Kentucky. Oath of Identity: William H. McConnell of Caldwell County on the 10th day of July 1866 personally appeared before the undersigned Police Judge of Princeton and declared he is the identical person mentioned above. [signed] W.S. Talbott. [pages 100-101]

Joseph W. Board, a private of Capt. Glenn’s Company H, 20th Regt. of Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, was mustered into the U.S. service on the 6th day of January 1862 to serve three years and is hereby discharged from service by reason of Surgeon’s certificate of disability. He volunteered at Smithland, Livingston County, Kentucky on the 14th day of October 1861, is 5 feet 11 inches high, fair complexion, blue eyes, brown hair and by occupation when enlisted a farmer. This certificate of discharge is given Joseph W. Board this 23rd day of December 1863 at Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. [signed] A.W. Holeman, Col. of 11th Kentucky Cav. Military Comdr., Louisville, Ky. Oath of Identity: Benjamin T. Board, who declared that he is the father of the identical person referred to an the matters and things therein stated in reference to himself are true. [signed] Wm. Carter, JP. [page 101]

Daniel Neprophet, a private of Capt. Geo. W. Cox’s Company I, 9th Regt. of U.S.C.A. Kentucky Volunteers, who was enrolled on the 5th day of June 1864 to serve 3 years or during the war, is hereby discharged from the service of the United States this 10th day of February 1866 at Victoria, Texas, his services being no longer required. Neprophet was born in Caldwell County, is 24 years of age, 5 feet 9 inches high, dark complexion, green eyes, black hair and is a farmer. [signed] H.C. Demming. Oath of Identity: Daniel Neprophet of Caldwell County on the 14th day of August 1866 personally appeared before W.S. Talbott, Police Judge of Princeton, and declared he is the identical person mentioned above. [signed] W.S. Talbott. [page 102]

Civil War Discharges - Caldwell County, Kentucky


Genealogical records can show up in strange places. The following Civil War discharges were found in Processioners Book B in the Caldwell County clerk’s office. These records represent only a small percentage of veterans of the Union army from Caldwell County. Because of the length, the data will be split to make two articles. The page number where the data appears in Processioners Book B is in brackets at the end of the entry.

William Coleman, corporal of Capt. Peter Engels Company K, 10th Regt. of Tennessee Infantry Volunteers, who was enrolled on the 13th day of 1862 to serve 3 years or during the War, is hereby discharged from the service of the United States this 23rd June 1865 at Knoxville, Tenn. by reason of orders from the war department. Coleman was born in Wilson County, Tenn., is 32 years of age, 5 feet 9 inches high, light complexion, blue eyes, light hair and a farmer. [signed] Otto Jacobs, Capt. U.S. Vols and A.C.M. 1st Div. Cav. Dept. Cumberland. Oath of Identity: John Satterfield, JP, swears Williams Coleman of Caldwell County on 3 Feb 1866 personally appeared before him and declared he is the identical person listed above. [page 75]

Alphonsus C. Avery, a corporal of Capt. Charles E. Van Pett’s Company, 17th Regt. of Kentucky Cavalry Volunteers, who was enrolled the 7th of Sept. 1864 to serve one year or during the war, is hereby discharged from the service of the United States this 20th Sept. 1865 at Louisville, Ky. by reason of Special Order No. 67.1865 Per 13 D. Ky. Avery was born in Willson County, Tenn., is 46 years of age, 5 feet and 5 inches high, light complexion, dark eyes, light hair and a farmer. [signed] J.H. Smith, Capt. and A.C.M. Oath of Identity: Alphonsus C. Avery of Caldwell County on 6 March 1866 personally appeared before the undersigned Police Judge of the town of Princeton and declared he is the same person listed above. [signed] W.S. Talbott, P.J. & ex-officio Justice of the Peace, Caldwell County, Ky. [page 77]

James C. Terrill, a private of Capt. John H. Sturdivant’s Company G, 17th Regt. of Kentucky Cavalry Volunteers, who was enrolled on the 15th day of August 1864 to serve one year or during the war, is hereby discharged this 20th day of Sept 1865 at Louisville, Ky. by reason of S.O. No. 167 Per 13 Dept. KY C.S. Terrill was born in Caldwell County, Ky, is 21 years of age, 5 feet 3 inches high, fair complexion, blue eyes, light hair and by occupation a farmer. [signed] J.H. Smith, Capt. and A.C.M. Dept. Ky. Oath of Identity: David C. Terrill of Princeton appeared 16 March 1866 before W.S. Talbott, Police Judge of Princeton, and declared he is the identical James C. Terrill mentioned above. [signed] W.S. Talbott. John B. Tyler of Princeton, late major of the 17th KY Cavalry commanded by Samuel F. Johnson in 1866 and 1865, certified by David [sic] C. Terrill is the identical private in Company G. commanded by Capt. John H. Sturdivant, who was named in the above discharge James C. Terrill, by reason of his brother James C. Terrill dying before he was mustered in and David took his place. 16 March 1866. [signed] John T. Tyler, late Major 1st Btr. 17th Ky Cav. [pages 78-79]

Jackson Baker (of color), a private of Capt. L.S. Lambert’s Company D, 8th Regt. of U.S. Colored Arty. Heavy Volunteers, who was enrolled on the 28th day of July 1864 to serve 3 years or during the war, is hereby discharged from the service of the United States this 10th day of February 1866 at Victoria, Texas by reason of S.O. No. 8, dated Headquarters Dept. of Texas, Galvaston, Texas 9 January 1866, his services being no longer required. Baker was born in Colwell [sic] County, Ky., is 37 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, dark complexion, blue eyes, dark hair and a farmer. [signed] H.C. Demming, 1st Lieut. 77 Parr [?] and A.C.M. Camt. Dist. of Texas. Oath of Identity: Jackson Baker of Caldwell County appeared 23 Mar 1866 before the undersigned Police Judge of Princeton, Ky and stated he is the identical person mentioned above. [signed] W.S. Talbott. [pages 79-80]

William Blakely, private of Lieut. L.S. Catlin’s Co. C, 13th Regt. of the U.S. Cold. [Colored] Artillery (Heavy) Volunteers, who was enrolled on the 1st day of February 1865 to serve three years or during the war, is hereby discharged fro the service of the United States this 18th day of November 1865 at Louisville, Ky. by reason of G.O. No. 209. Blakely was born in Kentucky, is 51 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, black complexion, black eyes, black hair and a laborer. [signed] J.B. Shaw, Capt. & A.C.M., Dept. of Ky. Oath of Identity: William Blakely of Caldwell County on the 31st day of March 1866 personally appeared before the undersigned and declared he is the identical person mentioned above. [signed] W.S. Talbott. [pages 80-81]
To Be Continued

Monday, December 3, 2007

Time to Order New Book

Those of you who plan to order the new book, Caldwell County, Kentucky Marriages 1874 - 1884, will want to do so right away. I have to turn in the number of books to be printed in about a week. Since this will be a limited printing, the book may not be available if you wait to order your copy.

Again, the book has 221 pages, a full name index and is printed on acid-free paper. The information is taken from the marriage registers, bond books, consent notes and original licenses and certificates for white and African-American couples. This is not an index to marriages with just a list of names and dates.

The book is soft cover and costs $30, which includes mailing. The book should be back from the printer the middle of January 2008 and will be mailed to those who have pre-ordered the book. The book can be ordered from Brenda Joyce Jerome, PO Box 325, Newburgh, IN 47629-0325

If you have a question, contact me at bjjerome at wowway dot com

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Genealogical Terms

Legal terms appear often in documents used by genealogists. If you have a working knowledge of the meaning of those terms, you will also have a better understanding of the document and its value. Below are some of the often found terms and their meanings.

Administrator/Administratrix = Appointed by the county court to settle the estate of a deceased person who left no valid will.

Administrator de bonis non = Appointed to finish settling an estate which had a previous executor or administrator. The estate has been partially settled.

Bondsman = Co-signer on a bond; also called surety or security.

Consort = Spouse of a living person. Often seen on old tombstones.

Curator = Appointed by the county court to conserve the estate of a deceased person or of a minor child. Often appointed until a dispute over a will has been settled.

Dower Portion (1/3 in Kentucky) = wife or widow is entitled to 1/3 of her spouse’s estate.

Executor/Executrix = Named in the will by the decedent to settle the estate. Has the same duties as an administrator.

Femme Sole = A single woman.

Grantee = Person buying land or person to whom property is being conveyed.

Grantor = Person selling land or person who is conveying property to someone else.

Indenture = Written agreement.

Nuncupative Will = Commonly called an oral will or death bed will; must be reduced to writing and signed by those who heard the decedent say the words. Presented to county court and an administrator appointed.

Orphan = Child whose father has died. Mother may still be living.

Relict = A widow or widower; the survivor in a marriage. Often seen on old tombstones.

Testator/Testatrix = One who made a will; one who died leaving a will. Testator is a male and testatrix is a female.


ABBREVIATIONS COMMONLY FOUND IN RECORDS

Admr. Administrator
Admrx. Administratrix
CC Chain Carrier [used in land surveying]
Clk Clerk
CM Chain Marker [used in land surveying]
Exr. Executor
Exrx. Executrix
JP Justice of the Peace
Jr. or Junr Junior
MG Minister of the Gospel
O.R. Ordered recorded
Sr. or Senr Senior

Friday, November 30, 2007

Loose County Court Papers

Some counties have retained those loose papers which were presented for action in the county court. Very often they contain more information than what is found in the county court order books. The problem is that many of the papers have been lost or have disintegrated through the years and some counties, lacking storage space, may have discarded them.

The following document comes from Crittenden County, Kentucky's loose county court bundles, county clerk's office, Marion, Kentucky.

Whereas John W. Daughtry departed this life at W. Mc. Clark's house on the 25 day of Decr 1885, leaving surviving him one only child who is now living with said Clark. He also left the following property with Jerry Daughtry, where he had been living - 1 Bed, bedstead & necessary cover thereto, his wearing apparel, 1 saddle & 1 Pistol & fiddle - and whereas Lewis J. Daughtry, Brother of said Decedent, has assumed the payment of all the funeral Expenses of said Decedent and in order [to] remunerate him for same or at least in part, It is agreed by & between the said Clark & said L.J. Daughtry, the said L.J. Daughtry shall take the property to indemnify him for said funeral Expenses. He can either sell it or Keep it. And the other property left by the Decedent shall be held by Clark for the use & benefit of the child of the Decedent, which consists of Bed, bedding, wearing apparel, Trunk &c - said Clark being the Grand Father of said child & having it in charge to raise, same being placed under his care by said Decedent several years ago prior to his death. This Feby 13 - 1886. [signed] L.J. Daughtry, W. Mc. Clark.

Monday, November 26, 2007

My Favorite Ancestor



Do you have a favorite ancestor? It’s hard for me to narrow down my favorite to just one, but I do like John E. Wilson, who was buried at Crooked Creek Cemetery in Crittenden County in 1853, age about 75. This area was part of Livingston County, Kentucky until 1842, when Crittenden County was formed.

John E. Wilson just shows up in Livingston County in 1816, when he married Harriett Brooks. John E. doesn’t appear on the tax lists there until 1818, but he bought land on Crooked Creek from David Dickey in 1817 and then is on the 1820 census record. Bit by bit, I was able to learn more about him. John E. had an earlier marriage to the daughter of Hugh McVay, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and he had a third marriage to Nancy Franks in 1831. I also learned that his oldest child was born in Tennessee about 1807/08. Prior to that, his whereabouts were a mystery.

Long after John E. Wilson's death, a deed was recorded which conveyed land for an addition to the cemetery at Crooked Creek Baptist Church so I knew he lived near the church. The area around Crooked Creek was settled mainly by people from the upstate area of South Carolina. None were named Wilson except John E. and he listed North Carolina as his place of birth on the 1850 census. Maybe he was actually born in South Carolina or maybe he was born in one of counties along the North - South Carolina border. Previous research on other Wilson families in the area had shown that several Wilson brothers who settled in the Bells Mines area were from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, but I had eliminated them as relatives of John E. Settling over in the Piney area was John M. Wilson, but he was from Roane County, Tennessee and came to Kentucky later than John E.

Sometimes when you can't find the info you need by researching the person directly, you have to try a different tactic. It was time to research anyone who might have had contact with John E. I gathered as much information as possible on the neighbors of John E. Wilson - their marriages, who witnessed their deeds, who owned land adjoining that of John E. Wilson, who was also buried in Crooked Creek Cemetery, and anything else I could turn up. There was some success as I did learn that William McMican, who bought land from John E. Wilson in 1820 was married to Rhoda Brooks and her death record lists her father as Dabney Brooks. Interesting. There was no other Brooks family in the area so maybe Rhoda and Harriett Brooks were sisters, or at least closely related. I also learned that each of John E. Wilson’s three wives had some sort of connection to Hugh McVay, his first father-in-law, either through blood, marriage or location. Hugh McVay was also in Tennessee before receiving a land grant in Kentucky. Perhaps that is where his daughter met and married John E. Wilson. No marriage record has turned up, though.

I’ve learned a little more about John E. Wilson and it causes me to feel there was a strong connection to Dabney Brooks with Dabney probably being the father in law of John E. Wilson. John E. and Dabney Brooks were both in southern Indiana, not far from where I live, at an early date and, while Dabney stayed and died in Indiana, John E. apparently went back to Kentucky. Dabney also shows up in some of the same counties and states as Hugh McVay and there is a connection by marriage years before they both show up in Kentucky.

I have been in contact with other researchers who suggest that John E. is connected to Aquilla Wilson, who left Maryland and settled in Rockingham County, North Carolina. Some members of this family migrated to Giles County, Tennessee. I haven’t seen any proof, but, if this is true, it is quite a coincidence as my Joyce and Bostick families also lived in Rockingham County. They, too, went to Tennessee, just one county west of Giles.

As far as I know, John E. Wilson didn’t participate in any great event, he owned but little land, and he has managed to keep his birthplace secret for years and years. I’ll keep on searching and sometime, somewhere I’ll turn up that piece of information to complete this puzzle. In the meantime, I’ve learned quite a bit about his neighbors and that isn't bad.

Another time I’ll tell you about my Livingston County ancestor who had several children and no husband. What a challenge she has been! Also, be thinking about your favorite ancestor and what makes them special. Maybe you will share that information with us.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hopkins County, Kentucky Division of Property

On the 24th of October, we talked about using deeds in genealogical research and the types of records found in deed books. One of the most beneficial records often found there is a division of property. The following division has the added benefit of naming the slaves. This document, abstracted from Hopkins County, Kentucky Deed Book 10, page 169, is dated and recorded 14 December 1841.

Whereas we Hannah Eaves (formerly Turbeville) and David C. Turbeville inherited from our mother Elizabeth Turbeville the following named negroes, Vilit, Tom, Paulina, Ben, Mary, Tabitha, Joanna, Cyrus, Spica, Smith, Nance, and Profitt jointly and whereas we are desirous to divide the said negroes it is hereby agreed between John S. Eaves Jr., who intermarried with Hannah Turbeville now Eaves, the said Hannah and the said David C. Turbeville that the above named negroes be divided between John and Hannah and David in the following manner, to wit, John and Hannah are to take as their shair and eaqual half Paulina, Ben, Tabitha, Joanna, Spica & Profitt and David C. Turbeville agrees to take as his shair and equal portion Vilit, Tom, Mary, Cyrus, Nance & Smith and the parties hereby bind themselves to stand to and ratify the division made as above set forth and each party hereby relinquishing all and any further claim in the negroes as set forth in the division. [signed] John S. Eaves Jr, David C. Turbeville.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Winter is approaching. What, if anything, have you done to prepare for those months of cold, perhaps snowy, weather? After moving up north in 1973, I had a routine to prepare for my least-favorite time of the year. Make sure there was plenty of wood for the fireplace as we were certain to lose electricity at least once during the winter. Keep an emergency supply of food in case we could not get to the grocery because of heavy snow. However, I always knew that the road crew would eventually be out, clear the roads, and electricity would soon be restored.

The winter preparations we made seem like nothing compared to what our ancestors had to endure 200 years ago. No electricity or gas to warm the house or brighten the nights. No telephones or email to check on friends and relatives living across town or across the country. Instead, there was much work to be done in order to be ready for winter. During the summer gardens were planted and what wasn’t eaten fresh was "put up" to enjoy months later. Fruit was picked and dried to enjoy as a wintertime treat. Heavy clothing was mended and perhaps passed down from an older child to a younger one. As the temperatures fell, going barefoot was no longer an option so a pair of shoes had to be made. Firewood must be cut and stacked to last through the winter and feed for the animals must be stored for use later. This list could go on an on.

My wish for you during this season of thanksgiving is this: We have much to be thankful for in this year of 2007. Appreciate what we have and what our ancestors endured so that we might enjoy a more comfortable life. Please say a special prayer for the safety of our military men and women who are so far from home.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

County Courts in Kentucky

In Kentucky, there are two separate courts in the county system - the county court or monthly court and the circuit court. The function of each court is different. Understanding the difference in these courts can help determine which court holds the information needed by the genealogical researcher. This article will discuss the county court with a discussion of the circuit court at a later date.

The county court was composed of the county justices of the peace. The function of the county court is to conduct the business of the county - appointment of guardians of minor children; appointment of administrators, executors and curators of estates; granting of tavern, coffeehouse, marriage and ferry licenses; processioning of land, the laying out of new roads and building of bridges; emancipation of slaves; recording of wills, inventories and sales of estates; appointment of jailers, road surveyors, and tax collectors; binding out of apprentices and various other duties.

While the county court is known as a monthly court, often only 10 sessions were held during the year. Each session of the county court might last for several days, depending on how much business had to be heard and discussed. At each session, the county clerk or his deputy, was responsible for recording the minutes of all business discussed. These minutes were transcribed into the county court order books.

The following is an entry from Livingston County, Kentucky County Court Order Book A, no pagination, dated 5 May 1801: "On motion of Thomas Gist ordered that he be permitted to keep Tavern at his ferry in Smithland he having entered into bond with Surety."

An entry from Caldwell County, Kentucky County Court Order Book A, p. 296, 23 Aug 1813 reads as follows: "Clerk of the Court ordered to bind out Nathaniel Snow, orphan of Nathaniel Snow, aged 14 last march, to Sylvanus Palmer to learn the trade of a cooper."

Not all counties have such complete entries in the order books. Webster County’s clerk seemed to write in some sort of shorthand that makes it difficult to tell what he was recording. But no matter how difficult it is to read some entries, neglecting to use the county court order books is a mistake. I have found absolute jewels of information tucked between the covers of the order books.

The county court order books are usually still located in the county clerk’s office in the courthouse. Some counties, however, have opted to send the older order books to the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives in Frankfort. Lyon County is one of the counties that has done this. The county court order books have been microfilmed and are available for reading at the Archives or the microfilm rolls can be purchased from the Archives for use at home.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Letter From R.B. Dorr

Even when people moved away from their home county, they were almost sure to keep in touch, often through a letter to the editor of the hometown newspaper. Through these letters, it is possible to track the migration of people from one place to another. One such letter is the following written by R.B. Dorr, who moved from Crittenden County, Kentucky and eventually settled in Los Angeles, California. In the interest of brevity, the letter, which appeared in the 9 March 1905 issue of the Crittenden Press, has been abstracted.

"Los Angeles, Calf., 2.23, 1905. I feel very much like writing and telling you and my old friends of Marion and Crittenden county of my joys and sorrows, my ups and downs since leaving old Kentucky. I have met a great many friends of former years since coming west. Among them [is] Mrs. Julia Moore, widow of our lamented friend and pastor, W.T. Moore, remembered by a great many of your readers; another who long years ago left Marion and is almost forgotten by many of his friends, but who I have no doubt will be overjoyed to hear of him again, Harry McKinney. I have lived within 5 or 6 blocks of him for over two years and just run upon him last week. He carried me back over the flight of years to mine and Marion’s younger days when Charlie Gregory, Charlie Stinson, Calvin Elder, Press Woods and a host of other good fellows made life joyous and happy. Quite a number of Crittenden people are living in Los Angeles. I have met Frank Orr and his wife, Mrs. Addie Briggs, Charley Love. All are happy and contented in this beautiful land of sunshine and flowers.

Mrs. J.B. Kevil, wife of your city judge, Miss Rosa and Jammie, are enjoying life here, and by the way, Mrs. Kevil is looking well and enjoying better health than she has for many years. I think the judge would do the best thing he ever did were he to locate in this city and become like his better half - 20 years younger.

By the way, I want to thank my dear old friend, J.W. Bigham, for the poem "The Old Brick Church." Jim, it brought tears to the eyes of my wife and myself, for in reading it we could see the old church ... we could see the old church in its glory, plain in its furnishing and make up, but glorious in memory of the dear ones who worshiped and communed with us beneath its hallowed roof. Your friend, R.B. Dorr."

Richard Buntin Dorr married Sally Kit Stewart in Crittenden County in 1873. They first moved to Texas and later to Los Angeles, where R.B. Dorr died 29 Dec 1909.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Caldwell County, Kentucky Tavern and Liquor Licenses 1852

One of the responsibilities of the county court was to issue licenses to operate taverns within the county. The license was good for one year. The court also set the rates that could be charged by the taverns. Allowing patrons to "tipple" more than necessary or to be disorderly could result in the license being revoked. The following entries have been abstracted from Caldwell County Order Book H, Caldwell County Clerk’s Office, Princeton, Kentucky.

Thomas J. Johnson was granted a license for a tavern at the house now occupied by him in the town of Princeton, also known as the "Union House." 19 Jan 1852.

John H. Rackerby was granted alicense to keep a tavern at the house now occupied by him in Princeton, known as the "Centre House." 19 Jan 1852.

John Gray was granted a license to keep a tavern at the house now occupied by him in Princeton, known as the "Globe Tavern" and also a license to sell & retail spirituous liquors in less quantities than a quart. 19 Jan 1852.

F.H. Skinner was granted a license to keep a tavern at the house now occupied by him in Eddyville for one year. 19 Apr 1852.

R.B. Ratliff, as a merchant, was allowed to vend spirituous liquors for 12 months. 19 Apr 1852.

Thomas J. Flournoy was allowed to vend spirituous liquors in quantities not less than a quart. 19 Apr 1852.

N.T. Braswell was allowed to keep a tavern on his wharf boat now lying at Eddyville and occupied by him. 19 Apr 1852.

F.H. Skinner was granted a license to vend spirituous liquors at his Tavern House in Eddyville, known as the Eddyville. 19 Apr 1852.

James B. Rodgers was granted a license to vend spirituous liquors in quantities less than a quart. 19 Apr 1852.

Sandford Duncan Jr. of the firm of Duncan & Dickey, merchants, was granted a license to vend spirituous liquors. 20 Apr 1852.

Thomas J. Greer was granted a license to vend spirituous liquors. 21 Jun 1852.

James Lester, as a merchant, was granted a license to vend spirituous liquors not less than a quart. 21 Jun 1852.

Washington Johnson, as a merchant, was allowed a license to vend spirituous liquors of less than a quart. 21 Jun 1852.

M.K. Asbridge was granted a license to vend spirituous liquors in quantities less than a quart. 21 Jun 1852.

John Y. Chambers was allowed to vend spirituous liquors as a merchant. 21 Jun 1852.

William D. Franklin was allowed a license to vend spirituous liquors, being a merchant. 16 Aug 1852.

William D. Tinsley was granted a license to keep a tavern at the house now occupied by him in this county for the term of one year. 16 Aug 1852.

RATES - 16 August 1852
For single meal .25
Board & lodging per day .75
Lodging per night .25
Board for Single Week 2.50
If longer than a week 2.00
Stabling & 1 horse feed .25
Stabling & horse feed for 1 day .50
Horse per week 2.00
Pasturage per week 1.00
All kinds of drink .05
(except Cogniac, Champaigne, Brandy)
Extra Cogniac, Champaigne,
Brandy per drink .10
Common whiskey per qt. .10
Good Rye or Bourbon whiskey
per qt. .25
Same per gallon 1.00
Finest Brandy & wine per qt. 1.00
Same per gallon 4.00

Information has been given to the Judge of this Court, by James A. Carr, S. Duncan Jr., John Wheatly, H.W. Champion and William C. Morrin, Trustees of the Town of Princeton, that Thomas J. Johnson, keeper of the Tavern called the Union House in the town of Princeton, did on the 16th day of August 1852 permit more spirituous liquors to be drunk in sd. Tavern House than was necessary, and also did then and there keep a disorderly house, contrary to the law. A summons is to be issued against Johnson to appear before the Judge of Caldwell County Court to answer the charge & show cause, if any, he hath or can, why an order shall not be entered by the court, disabling him from keeping a tavern. [Caldwell County Court Order Book H, p. 143]

Miles Cato was granted a tavern license to keep a tavern and the privilege to vend spirituous liquors by wholesale or retail at the house now occupied by him. 20 Dec 1852.
Wm. H. Robertson was granted a license to vend spirituous liquors as a merchant in quantities less than a quart. 20 Dec 1852.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Caldwell County, Kentucky Marriages

It is finally finished - well, 99.99% finished! Caldwell County, Kentucky Marriages 1874 - 1884 will go to the printer as soon as I finish the preface.

Only a limited number will be printed so, in order to guarantee a copy for yourself, you will need to reserve it before the middle of December. The price is $30 postage paid. There are 221 pages, full name index and it is printed on acid-free paper. To reserve your copy, send a note with payment to Brenda Joyce Jerome, PO Box 325, Newburgh, IN 47629-0325.

Not just a list of names and dates, all information from the marriage bond books, marriage registers and original licenses and certificates will be found in this book. Included are marriages for both white and African-American couples.

One thing I noticed while transcribing the records for this book is the variety of occupations. Many of the men worked for the railroad and quite a number of the brides and bridegrooms were born outside Caldwell County. Other information includes the ages of the couple, birthplace and place of residence, birthplace of parents, location of marriage and the names of the minister or justice of the peace and witnesses. Many have consent notes from parents or guardians.

Courthouse Fires

Mention burnt courthouses and we automatically think of fires set by the opposing side during the Civil War, resulting in a great loss of records. However, marauding armies were not the only ones who set fire to courthouses.

Hoping to destroy records which might be detrimental to one side in a law suit was another reason for courthouse fires. In Hardin County, Illinois, the courthouse burnt twice – at least once, it is rumored, to destroy records that might be important in a trial involving the infamous Logan Belt, a former resident of Crittenden County, Kentucky. Sadly, Hardin County has almost no records prior to 1884.

In an issue of the Crittenden Press, one such event was reported as follows:
“Princeton, Ky., March 13, 1905 - “An attempt was made to burn the Caldwell county court house this morning. At 7 o'clock this morning when the courthouse was opened, the floor was found to be on fire in the large court room, just inside the big double doors that lead from the corridor on the second floor. The blaze was quickly extinguished.

If the courthouse had been burned it is probably that all the county records would have been destroyed, as there are no fireproof vaults.

It is suspected that some person interested in the destruction of documents on file in the courthouse is responsible for the fire.

The fire burned a hole about two feet wide and five feet long, through the floor and ceiling; the damage was not large.

Evidences of incendiarism were many. Bob Asher, a negro, was to have been tried today for the murder of another negro, but the trial was postponed.

Mike Beverly, grocer, against whom there are now three indictments for house burning, was also on the docket for trial.

The grand jury is in session and indictments probably will be returned in connection with this case of arson."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Board for Certification of Genealogists

Recently a couple of people have asked me what you must do to become a certified genealogist. It isn't a matter of attending a few classes or writing a single paper, it is more of a process that demonstrates your abilities in collecting information, analyzing that information and then writing a report based on what was found and not found.

I recommend two things:
1. Attend as many seminars and conferences as possible. This includes national conferences (sponsored by the National Genealogical Society and the Federation of Genealogical Societies) as well as regional and local seminars. The national conferences usually have a number of lectures on certification. It is possible to learn something at each conference or seminar you attend.

2. Read everything on the website of the Board for Certification of Genealogists at http://www.bcgcertification.org/index.html Especially helpful are the sections on Skillbuilding and Test Your Skills.

When you decide you are ready to apply, contact the BCG. They will send you everything you need to prepare and submit your portfolio. You have a year to complete it. The work in your portfolio allows you to show the quality of work you do in your particular area of expertise.

Attaining certification for me was a personal goal - to prove I could do it and to lend validity to the work I do. It costs nothing to check out the website above and test your skills.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dycusburg.com

For news and historical articles on Dycusburg, Crittenden County, Kentucky, check Matthew Patton's site: http://dycusburg.blogspot.com/ Lots of good info here.




Saturday, November 3, 2007

Livingston County, Kentucky Apprenticeships 1807-1808

Children who had no one to provide for their care were often apprenticed, or "bound out," to someone in the community to learn a trade. Also, parents could appear in county court and request that their child or children be apprenticed. Usually males were apprenticed until they were 21 years of age and females until they were age 18. An apprentice could be removed from his master’s care if it was determined that the master was not providing sufficient care or was mistreating the child. In these cases, the child was usually apprenticed to a different master. The following records were abstracted from County Court Order Book C, Livingston County Clerk’s Office, Smithland, Kentucky.

2 Feb 1807: William Thompson, an orphan that is 16 years old the 8th day of next August, agreed to be bound until he is 21 years old to Jonathan Ramsey, who agrees to furnish William, at the expiration of his apprenticeship, with three new suits of Cloaths, an $80 horse, a new saddle and bridel, $40 in money and six months Schooling and to learn him the farming business.

2 Feb 1807: Jno. Gehen, an orphant 16 years old the 3rd day of last June and by his own consent, bound to Micajah Phelps to learn the hatters trade.

3 Feb 1807: Littlebury Gay, with his own consent, bound to James H. Stevenson to learn the farming business until he is 21 year old; supposed to be 15 years old the 10th day of last December.

22 Jun 1807: James Johnson and Matthew Johnson bound to Micajah Phelps to learn the hatters trade, James being 13 years old the 15th Jan last & Matthew being 9 years the 3rd Mar last.

27 Oct 1807: James Moss, orphan boy who has insufficient estate for his maintenance, is bound to Edward Head to learn the tanners trade until he is 21 years old.

4 Apr 1808: Joseph Dunnam by his own and mothers consent ordered to be bound to Geo. Lumpkin blacksmith five years from this time.

4 Apr 1808: James Salisbury, a poor orphan, bound to John Craig hatter 13 years from this time.

3 Oct 1808: Summons issued against John Ware and that he bring John Young, apprentice boy, to the next court to shew cause why sd. boy shall not be taken from him for improper treatment.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Manufacturing Schedules - 1850


The population schedules are the census records most familiar to researchers. However, there are other census records that can be useful. Most of us are familiar with the mortality schedules, which list the names of all those persons who died between between 1 June (before the census year) and 31 May (during the census year). Other schedules that can be very helpful are the agricultural schedules and the manufacturing schedules.

Manufacturing schedules are available for 1820 and 1850 - 1880. The 1820, 1850 and 1860 manufacturing schedules list the name of the manufacturer; the nature of the business; the amount of capital invested; the types, amounts and values of the products produced annually; the type of power or machinery used; the number of males and females employed and the average monthly cost of the labor by the employees. Small manufacturing operations that produced less than $500 worth of goods or material were not included in the manufacturing schedules.

For the purpose of this article, only the following information has been listed: name of manufacturer, type of business, number of employees and the average monthly cost of labor by the employees. Abstracted from Kentucky Manufacturing Schedules, M1528, roll 32, Kentucky Dept for Libaries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.


Crittenden County
District No. 1
David Bowland - Saddlery - 2 employees - monthly cost of labor $30

W. Carneyhand - Saddlery - 3 employees - monthly cost of labor $50

William H. Rochester - Blacksmith - 3 employees - monthly cost of labor $100

William E. Parker[?] - Distillery - 5 employees - monthly cost of labor $60

Gideon D. Cobb - Iron - 100 employees - monthly cost of labor $1500

William B. Clement - Mill - 3 employees - monthly cost of labor $30

Littleton Owen - Wool Carding - 2 employees - monthly cost of labor $40

District No. 2
John Bell - Coal - 60 employees - monthly cost of labor $1020

Joel Lamb - Tannery - 1 employee - monthly cost of labor $25

William H. Hurt - Milling - 3 employees - monthly cost of labor $60

Joseph McDowell - Milling - 3 employees - monthly cost of labor $60

William P. Alexander - Tannery - 1 employee - monthly cost of labor $25

Allen Butler - Milling - 4 employees - monthly cost of labor $50

Livingston County
T.W. Davis & Co - Furnace - 75 employees - monthly cost of labot $750

Henry Groves[?] - Tannery - 2 employees - mnthly cost of labor $30

Samuel Barnett - Tannery - 2 employees - monthly cost of labor $30

William Gordon - Steam Saw Mill - 8 employees - monthly cost of labor $120

John Hutson - Water Saw Mill - 3 employees - cost of labor $72.50 for 6 mo.

R.S. Boyd - Blacksmiths Shopp - 2 employees - monthly cost of labor $50

Forman & Foster - Carding Machine - 1 employee - monthly cost of labor $20

Williams & Hagy - lumber business - 1 employee - monthly cost of labor $50

L.R. Cheek - Tinnering - 1 employee - monthly cost of labor $50

William Smith - Stone Shop - 2 employees - monthly cost of labor $67

Thomas J. Phillips - Steam Saw Mill - 8 employees - monthly cost of labor $112

P.H. Conant - Tannery - 8 employees - monthly cost of labor $500

Starr & White - Furnace [no other information]




Sunday, October 28, 2007

Emancipations - Hopkins County, Kentucky 1846 - 1848

In Kentucky, slaves could be emancipated by a last will and testament or through the county court. It was not unusual for special conditions to be set forth in a will for slaves to be set free. For example, the testator of a will might stipulate that the slaves were not to be emancipated until the slaves reached a certain age, or a number of years after his death or the death of his spouse. Note the date on the Baker will. The following entries have been abstracted from County Court Order Book 8 (1846 - 1848), Hopkins County clerk’s office, Madisonville, Kentucky.

14 Dec 1846, p. 45Whereas Richd. Baker, late of this county dec’d, by his last will and Testament of record in the clerk’s office emancipated his slaves male & female ten in number & their future increase said emancipation to take effect at the death of the wife of decesent [sic] and whereas it appears that the wife hath been dead several years and the slaves have not received certificates of their freedom ... on the motion of Lucy one of the slaves named in said will, ordered that the clerk issue to her a certificate of her freedom. Lucy is of the following description Light or mulatto color, 45 years of age ordinary form, 5 feet 5 inches high.

I Richard Baker of Hopkins County & State of Kentucky do make my last will & Testament as follows (viz) I give & bequeath to my beloved wife during her natural life all my estate both real & personal of every kind & description At the death of my wife it is my will & I hereby positvely direct that all slaves namely tom Lucy Milly Jack Affa Malinda Matilda Kitty Ann & Sela and the future increase of the said Lucy Milly Affa Malinda Matilda Kitty Ann & Sela are to be free to all intents & purposed in the same manner as if they were free born. At the death of my said wife I give & bequeath to my nephew James Baker son of Elijah Baker all my landed estate with it appenturances to him & his heirs or assigns forever also one bed & furniture At the death of my said wife I give & bequeath to my nephew Richard Baker son of James Baker or his heirs all my estate not herein otherwise especially disposed of after the payment of all my just debts I hereby nominate consititute & appoint William Tear Executor of this my last will & Testament In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name & affixed my seal this 26th day of December 1825.
Richard (X his mark) Baker

Signed sealed published &
declared in the presence of
Sam Woodson
Elijah Grace
Kentucky Hopkins County May County Court 1826
The foregoing Instrument of writing was exhibited into Court & presented to be the last will & testament of Richard Baker dec’d by the oaths of Sam Woodson & Elijah Grace subscribing witnesses thereto & ordered to be recorded [Will Book 2, p 238]

Inventory of slaves of Richard Baker:
Tom $600
Lucy & child $450
Milly & child $450
boy Jack $300
girl Affa $175
girl Tilday $175
girl Malindy $175
girl Cathean $120
girl Seala $120
[Will Book B, pp 253-254]


3 July 1848, p 248A deed of Emancipation from Wm. H. Ramsey & John Medlock being duly authorized by Samuel Compton to Comptons slave Peter was this day produced in Court by the said Ramsey & Medlock and acknowledged by them to be their act & deed. Whereupon it is ordered that the clerk of this court issue to Peter (who is ascertained to be of the following description Viz aged about 37 years about 5 feet 7 inches high yellow color his head a little bald stout built) a certificate of his freedom accordingly upon his executing bond with security in the penalty of $1000 conditioned that Peter shall not become a charge upon any county in this Commonwealth. And thereupon Peer executed bond with John M. Galbraith, John Medlock & David Hicklin his securities.

4 Dec 1848, p. 285
It appearing that Richard Ashley, a free man of color, who has Indenture of Apprenticeship for two children of color, one a boy named Dick about 11 of yellow color & the other a girl named Mary about 9 years of age yellow color, both children of Levina, a free woman of color & it being proved to the court that said children are entitled to their freedom at the expiration of their apprenticeship & Ashley being desirous to remove said children out of this state, leave given him to do so.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Being in Style

Genealogy isn’t just a list of names and dates. To really study genealogy and understand how our ancestors lived, we need to study the social and cultural aspects of the time period too, including what clothing fashions were in style.

Clothing fashions, of course, were not necessarily the same in rural areas as they were in metropolitian areas. My great-grandmother was born in 1877 in Crittenden County, Kentucky and married when she was just 18 years old. Between 1896 and 1917, she had twelve children. She led a full life - full of hard work, rearing a family and attending church on Sunday. I’m sure high fashion was not high on the priority list in her life, or in the lives of most of her neighbors.

That wasn’t the case, though, for young ladies who lived in the larger city of Henderson, Kentucky. In 1908, "Merry Widow" hats arrived and were all the rage.

The Henderson Daily Gleaner reported on 5 April 1908 that "Scores of pretty young girls and blushing widows were seen on the streets yesterday bedecked with ‘Merry Widow’ hats in screaming colors. The new hats are really things of beauty, especially when worn by the young maidens, and within a few days it will be difficult for two women to pass each other on a sidewalk of reasonable width, for the ‘Merry Widow’ hats are the broadest that ever shaded a pretty face."

Three days later it was reported in Paducah, Kentucky that the deacons of the First Baptist Church proposed to bar the "Merry Widow" hats and passed a resolution compelling women to remove them in church.

The Gleaner wasn’t finished with news of those hats as it was reported later that month that "Merry Widow" hats massed in a solid bank in the foremost rows of St. John’s Catholic Church in St. Louis, Missouri prevented a panic among the worshipers at Easter service by hiding from the congregation a dangerous blaze on the altar, which was extinguished by the priest and altar boys. Paper flowers were ignited by candles on the altar and while the fire burned fiercely, those in the church remained with bowed heads in prayer, the flames blocked by the wide-spreading Easter creations resting atop the heads of the ladies who were sitting under the sanctuary rail, where they could not see the fire.

"Merry Widow" hats weren’t in fashion very long, but they did provide a topic of conversation while they lasted.

Published 26 October 2007, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,  http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Using Deeds in Genealogical Research

Do you use deeds in your genealogical research? If not, you may be neglecting an important resource.

Being a child of Virginia and having similar records, most areas of Kentucky use the "metes and bounds" system of surveying. Only the Jackson Purchase area uses the township, range and section system. While not as exact as the system used in the Purchase area, deeds in the rest of Kentucky can provide some very valuable information. In addition to land conveyances, you will find bills of sale, divisions of estates, mortgages, powers of attorney and almost any other transaction you can imagine recorded in the deed books.

Before you use the deed books, check the grantor and grantee indices. The grantor is the seller of the property and the grantee is the buyer or receiver of the property. Sometimes the indices are in separate books. Sometimes they are in the same book, with the grantors listed on one page and the grantees on the facing page. Surnames are listed in semi-alpha order, with surnames beginning with A listed together, Bs are together, and so on through the alphabet. To the left side of the names is the year of the transaction with the book and page number on right side of the name.

Once you find your person listed, write down the year, book and page number. Go to the listed deed book, turn to the appropriate page and the transaction should be there. In abstracting the entry, be sure to give the names of the grantor and grantee, date of the transaction and the date it was recorded, plus a brief description of the property. If the entry is for a bill of sale of a slave, you will want to list the name and any other information given. If the entry is for the division of property among heirs, be sure to list all the names of the heirs and from whom the property was inherited.

If the entry is for a power of attorney, make a note for the reason the attorney was being appointed. This may lead you to another record of importance. For example, if it mentions that the attorney is to conduct business in another state, this might indicate a former residence of the grantor.

If the entry was for the conveyance of land from one party to another, give a brief description of the land from the beginning point and give the name of the watercourse, number of acres and any names of any persons owning adjoining land.

Before the Civil War, many western Kentucky counties recorded mortgages in the deed books. At first glance, it will appear that the grantor is selling a great deal of property, perhaps including his growing crop in the field and household and kitchen furniture. If, however, the entry contains the following phrase, "the condition is such that ...," this is most likely a mortgage, even though the word is not used. Sometime after the Civil War, mortgages began to be recorded in separate books. In Crittenden County, mortgages begin in 1870. The year may be different in other counties.

One of the best reasons to use deeds is to separate families according to the watercourse on which they lived. It is helpful to know if families of the same name were living in the same area, perhaps indicating a relationship. My ancestor, John E. Wilson, is found in early Livingston County, but on Crooked Creek that is today in Crittenden County. No other Wilson family lived in that area. There was a John M. Wilson who lived in the Piney Fork area and Jeremiah, Robert, David, and James Wilson all lived in the Bells Mines area. After separating the families by the watercouse on which they lived, it was determined they were separate families and probably not related.

A thorough researcher will check every available record, including deeds, in order to learn as much as possible.

On a lighter note, try this for fun:
http://www.dedge.com/flash/hangman

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Courthouse Lawn Band Concerts

A few years ago, a gazebo was built in the yard of the courthouse fronting on Main Street (U.S. Hwy 60) in Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Music concerts have been held there and featured music appealing to a variety of tastes. However, this is not the only time music has been made on the courthouse lawn.

Years ago band concerts were held on the county courthouse lawn and were very popular. I have an old photo postcard, undated, showing the Marion Silver Cornet Band lined up beside the courthouse. In addition to cornets, some members held tubas, trumbones and even a drum. Shown are 12 men, each wearing a dark uniform with braid trim. The men are not identified.

According to a picture and article, under the headline of "Way Back When," in the 18 January 1968 issue of The Crittenden Press, band concerts were also popular in 1910. Identified as members of the band that year were the following men: Douglas Clement, Jim Hicklin, Ollie Tucker, Bandmaster Mr. Lawson, Ashley Kemp, Jim Travis, Harry Hammond, William Rochester, Medley Cannon, Walter Guess, W.E. Potter, Carey Henry, Noble Hill, Jeffrey Travis, Dugan Ramage, Ira Sutherland and Lee Easley.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Book and Sale Book

The next volume of Caldwell County, Kentucky marriages is finished and it is currently being indexed. This volume will cover 1874 - 1884 and includes marriages for white and African American couples. Right now it appears the book will contain approximately 200 pages. The price and date of availability have not been determined, but I'll post that info here as soon as I know.

In anticipation of the new book, the following book is being offered at a reduced price:

Caldwell County, Kentucky Marriages 1866 - 1873 ... On Sale for $20
Soft cover, 157 pages, regular price $26 Postage is included in the price.

The sale price for this book is good until 15 November 2007.

Order from Brenda Joyce Jerome, PO Box 325, Newburgh, IN 47629-0325.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Caldwell County, Kentucky Justices 1811

The county court was composed of the local Justices of the peace in early Kentucky. Among other duties, the county court was responsible for the appointment of administrators and appraisors of estates, guardians, officials for county elections and overseers of roads; granting of tavern and coffeehouse licenses; recording ear marks of stock and proving wills. The justices occupied a place of prominence in the county.

The following is a list of Justices of the peace in Caldwell County, Kentucky in 1811 and was found among loose county court papers, Caldwell County clerk's office, Princeton, Kentucky.

John Mercer
David James
Bennett Langston
Arthur H. Davis
Josiah Whitnell
Jesse Williams
Alexr. Stevenson
John Bradley
Nehemiah Cravens
Matthew Lyon
Washington Thompson
David Osburn
William Duncan
William Anderson
Given under my hand Decr. 14th 1811. Jno. H. Phelps, Clk.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Randolph - Thornberry Marriage Contract 1844

When a couple decided to marry and had a previous marriage behind them, it was - and still is - common to sign a marriage contract to protect the assets they brought with them to the new marriage. For example, if a widow owned property inherited from her deceased husband or father, she might wish to designate what would happen to that property in the event of her death. The prospective bridegroom might do the same thing. To make sure their wishes were known, they could sign a marriage contract and have it recorded in the county deed books. The following marriage contract has been transcribed from Union County, Kentucky Deed Book H, pp 227-228. John Randolph and Mrs. Rebecca Thornberry, widow of Daniel Thornberry, married 8 August 1844, according to Union County, Kentucky Marriage Book BB, pp 266 and 354.
Whereas a marriage is shortly to be solemnized between John Randolph and Rebecca Thornberry, both residents of the county of Union & Commonwealth of Kentucky and they are both the owners of property and respecting of which they have mutually come to the following arrangement (to wit) The said Rebecca is the equitable owner of of [sic] a tract of land in the County & Commonwealth aforesaid on the waters of lost creek containing 100 acres for which she holds a title bond on her brother Alexander G. Ray - she is by the last will and Testament of her deceased father John Ray entitled to the undivided third part in another tract of land in the County Commonwealth & water Course aforesaid containing 156 acres and also has cash & cash notes on hand to the amount of $100 also beads [sic] & beding loom and a variety of other articles of personal property the title of which is not to pass & be vested in Randolph by the marriage, but Randolph is to have the use and enjoyment of the personal property during the natural lives of himself and Rebecca and Randolph, for and in consideration of the premises as well as the sum of $1.00, covenants and agrees that Rebecca shall have the sole and absolute right at all times to dispose of said property by last will and Testament as she may think proper and in case the same should not be disposed of that way before her death the same shall descend to the legal heirs of Rebecca in the same way as if she had remained a femme sole and it is further agreed by Randolph that in case Rebecca should be the survivor, Rebecca shall receive one equal eighth part of his whole estate that he has now at this time on hand death of slaves losses and un avoidable accidents excepted she is to have the distributable share of one of Randolphs heirs not calculating any advancements that Randolph has made any of his children and also first deducting the sum of $1000, being the amount of some specific legacies that Randolph intends to dispose of to some colateral heirs acquired property hereafter Rebecca is to receive the one eighth part thereof - and in consideration of the foregoing consideration, Rebecca after receiving back her property before named and the one eighth part, she doth hereby release all claim ... of dower in Randolphs estate if she should be the survivor. 5th day of August 1844. [signed] John Randolph, Rebecca Thornberry

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Apprenticeship Records for Persons of Color

After the Civil War, many children of color had no relatives willing or able to provide for their support. It was not unusual for these children to be bound as apprentices to their former masters. By an act of the General Assembly, the Judge of the County Court was empowered to bind out orphans and poor children. The master was to provide sufficient diet, wearing apparel, washing, lodging, medical attention and had to treat the child with humanity. At the expiration of the apprenticeship, which was usually at the age of 21 years for males or 18 years for females, the master was to provide the apprentice with a new suit of clothing and a sum of money. If, however, the apprentice was taught to read and write, the master was not obligated to pay the sum of money ($50 to females or $100 to males.). The following entries have been abstracted from original apprenticeship bonds and also from the book, Indentures of Apprenticeship 1845 - 1886, Caldwell County Clerk’s Office, Princeton, Kentucky.


Nellie, a girl of color aged 9 years, is bound as an apprentice unto Stephen M. Miller until she arrives at the age of 18 years to learn the trade, art and business of a housekeeper. 21 Jan 1867

Fannie, a girl of color aged 8 years, a daughter of Henry and Jane Cook (colored) is bound as an apprentice to A.S. Brewer until she arrives at the age of 18 years to learn the trade, art and business of a housekeeper. 21 Jan 1867

Daniel Harris, a 9 year old boy of color, is bound as an apprentice to W.B. Harris to learn the art, trade and mystery of a farmer until he is 21 years of age. 26 Jan 1867

James, a boy of color who is age 9, is bound unto J.B. Crider to learn the art, trade and mystery of a farmer until he reaches the age of 21 years. 31 Jan 1867

Charles, age 11 and a boy of color, bound as an apprentice to J.B. Crider to learn the art, trade and mystery of a farmer until Charles reaches the age of 21 years. 31 Jan 1867

Jemimah, who is age 8, is bound to Wm. H. Perre to learn the art, trade and mystery of a housekeeper until she reaches the age of 18 years. 4 Feb 1867

Ellen Wilson, who is 5 years and 6 months old and a girl of color, is bound as an apprentice to James Wilson to learn the trade and business of a housekeeper until she arrives at the age of 18 years. 6 Feb 1867

Frank Wilson, 14 year old boy of color, is bound unto Josiah Harris to learn the art, trade and business of a farmer until he is 21 years old. 6 Feb 1867

Milton, a boy of color who is age 7 years, is bound as an apprentice to J.E. Kevil to learn the business of a farmer until he arrives at the age of 21 years. 18 Feb 1867

Matilda, a 5 year old girl of color, is bound unto James B. Kevil to learn the business of housekeeping until she arrives at the age of 18 years. 18 Feb 1867

Winston, a boy of color 7 years of age, is bound unto Josiah Harris to learn the business of a farmer until he reaches the age of 21 years. 18 Feb 1867

Cornelia Frances, a girl of color and who is aged 4 years old, is bound to J.F. Wilkerson to learn the art, trade and mystery of a housekeeper until she reaches the age of 18 years. 9 Mar 1867

Lucinda, 7 year old girl of color, is bound unto David Wilkerson to learn the art, trade and mystery of housekeeping until she is 18 years of age. 9 Mar 1867

Huldah M., a 9 year old girl of color, is bound unto David Wilkerson to learn the art, trade and mystery of housekeeping until she arrives at the age of 18 years. 9 Mar 1867

Columbus, who is about age 8, has neither father or mother, is bound as an apprentice to H.J. Davis until Columbus is age 21 to learn the art, trade and mystery of a farmer. 20 Apr 1867

Sophia, a girl of color about 12 years of age, is bound unto E.P. McGoodwin until she is age 18 to learn the business of a housekeeper. 31 May 1867

Tom, a boy of color and who is age 11 years, is bound to W.L. Pollard to learn the trade and business of a farmer until he reaches the age of 21 years. 13 Jun 1867

Vic, a girl of color who is 5 years of age, is bound unto W.L. Pollard to learn the trade and business of a housekeeper until she is 18 years of age. 13 Jun 1867

Henry Talbot, who is about age 17, is bound unto Benjamin F. Brown to learn the art, trade and mystery of a farmer. 12 Aug 1867

Joe Willis, a boy of color age 14 years last March, is bound unto D.G. Hollowell until he is age 21 to learn the business of a farmer. 18 Aug 1867

Puss Gracey, girl of color who is 9 1/2 years of age, has no parents and since Wm. Childers has custody and control of her, sd. girl is bound to him until she is age 18 years to learn the art, trade and mystery of a housekeeper. 21 Oct 1867

Logan Groom, a boy of color, is apprenticed to J.B. Groom to learn the art, trade and business of a farmer until he reaches the age of 21 years. 7 Dec 1867

Scott Groom, boy of color, apprenticed to J.B. Groom to learn the art, trade and business of a farmer until the boy shall arrive at the age of 21 years. The apprentice is destitute of any means whatever or anyone to raise or provide for him. 7 Dec 1867

Martha, a girl of color age 7 years and who has no parents to raise her up in moral causes and to provide for her, is apprenticed to F.D. Wyatt until she is age 18 to learn the business of a housekeeper. 17 Feb 1868

Victoria Baker, age 4 years and 2 months and a girl of color, is bound to F.A. Baker until she is age 18 years to learn the business of a housekeeper. 20 Feb 1868

Cobb Baker, a boy of color and age 7 years, is apprenticed to S.M. Baker until he is age 21 to learn the business of farming. 3 Mar 1868

Mariah Baker, a girl of color, has no person or relations calculated to raise her up in moral causes and no means of support, is apprenticed to S.M. Baker to learn the business of a housekeeper. 3 Mar 1868

John Holly, a boy of color, by written consent of his mother, Jane Holly, is bound unto J.T. Dunning until he is age 21 years to learn the business of farming. "This is to certify that I give my concent for Mr. J.T. Dunning to have my Son John bound to him in accordance with the laws of our State." Oct. 11th 1868 [signed] Jane Holly (X her mark) of coller. Witness: Jefferson Pruet. 12 Oct 1868

[no apprenticeship bonds for 1869]

Josephine Gresham, a girl of color who is 4 years and 1 month of age, has no parents or anyone to raise her up in moral courses and it appearing that Samuel Gresham was the former owner and now has her under his charge, Josephine is bound to Samuel Gresham to learn the trade of housekeeping until she is age 18. 17 Jan 1870

Martha Gresham, a girl of color age 6 years, is bound to Samuel Gresham to learn the business of housekeeping until she is age 18. She has no parents or anyone to raise her up in moral courses. 17 Jan 1870

Cynthia Gresham, a girl of color who is age 8 years and 8 months, has no parents to raise her up in moral courses and is bound to Samuel Gresham, her former owner and who now has charge and control of her, to learn the business of housekeeping until she is 18 years of age. 17 Jan 1870

Lucy Stone, colored orphan 12 years and one month of age, and Charles Stone, age 13 years and 3 months, have no parents or kindred to raise them up in moral courses and have no property. They are bound to Mrs. Martha Stone - Lucy to learn the business of housekeeping and Charles to learn the business of farming. 16 Jul 1870

On motion of R.M. Calvert, and it appearing that Dan Pearce, age 11 years, and Hugh Calvert, age 8 years, infants of color, have no parents to raise them up in moral courses and that R.M. Calvert is a suitable person to have custody of said infants, it is ordered that they be apprenticed to him until they are age 21 to learn the business of farming. 15 Aug 1870

John Wesley Eison, a boy of color aged about 13 years, is bound as an apprentice to E.D. Townsend to learn the business of farming until he is 21 years of age. 20 Apr 1871

Julia, a girl of color aged 8 years, and Henry, a boy of color age 5 years, are bound to George Lucas - Julia until she is age 18 and Henry until he is age 21. 18 Dec 1871

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Weighing the Evidence

Sometimes you are faced with conflicting pieces of "evidence" for genealogical data. How do you determine which is more apt to be correct?

Here’s the guideline I use:
First hand information recorded at the time of the event carries more weight. For example, if a birth appears on a birth certificate, it is likely to be more accurate than a birth date recorded on a death certificate. The date on the death certificate was recorded long after the event occurred. That is not to say the date is incorrect on the death certificate; you just have to treat it with caution and be open to other sources of information.

In oral history, if the person telling the event was actually there when the event occured, it is more likely to be correct than if the event is being told by someone who was not there. Keep in mind, however, that the memories of all of us dim with the passing years.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Alternative Birth Records

The earliest birth records in Kentucky date from 1852, when the Sutton Law requested that each county keep a list of these Vital Statistics. One copy of the list was to remain in the county and the original copy was to be sent to Frankfort.

Compliance with the law varied from county to county as recording this information added to the burden of work for the county official, but most counties have at least a few birth records from 1852 to1859 or 1860. The law was rescinded during the Civil War and re-instated in the 1870’s.

From the 1870’s forward, there are a few years of records, mainly in mid-1870s and in the 1890s. Larger libraries may have these early birth records on microfilm and many of them have been published. A statewide registration of birth records was instituted in 1911.

If you have had no luck with the early birth records, there are other places to check for the needed information.

1. Family Bible record. Note whether the color of ink is different for the different entries. If it is, most likely the entries were made at different times, indicating more accurate recordings. If the ink is all the same color and the entries are in the same handwriting, it is likely the information was recorded at one time, possibly when the Bible was first acquired. Time dims our memories and mistakes are more likely to be made.

2. Tombstone records. As the information was given by someone other than the person in question and was usually given in a time of stress, the dates could be incorrect, but they should be close.

3. Indenture of Apprenticeship. If your ancestor was "bound out" as an apprentice to learn a trade, check the Indentures of Apprenticeship books to see if his birth date or age is given. This same information should be found in the county court minutes.

4. Death certificate. In 1911, Kentucky required death certificates. As in tombstone records, the dates may be off, but they should be close.

5. School census records. Most western Kentucky counties should have school census records dating from the 1890s on past 1930 or so. These records list the name of the child, parent or guardian responsible for the child and his age and/or birthdate. The school census records are usually located in the county clerk’s office or the county board of education. Lyon County’s school census records are earlier than other counties with those records beginning in 1885.

6. Guardianship records (bond). If a guardian was appointed for your ancestor, it was not uncommon to list his/her birthdate on bond. These guardianship records are found in books titled Guardian Bonds, located in the county clerk’s office.

7. Obituary. A newspaper obituary will often give the birthdate, as reported by a family member. Again, this is not first-hand information so it may be incorrect.

8. Census. The 1900 census lists the month and year of birth of each person listed.

If none of these records helps in determining the birthdate of your ancestor, you may have to just resign yourself to using an approximate date as taken from pre-1900 census records. Sometimes, when you least expect it, a clue will arise and open the door to new information.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Young Eloping Couple

Western Kentucky couples often traveled to adjoining states to get married, especially when there was opposition to a marriage. Because the marriages occurred outside the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the license had to be obtained in the state in which they married. The following article from the Evansville, Indiana Courier of Friday, 19 July 1895, illustrates once again that newspapers often contain information that is not found in vital records.

When a couple of young Kentucky people take it into their heads to get married, they are like young people everywhere else in the respect that they generally do so. If there is parental objection on either side they simply come to Evansville and have the knot tied here.

It was an eloping couple that alighted from a cab at the Ruston House about 10 o’clock yesterday morning and asked for the use of the hotel parlor for a few minutes. The girl was tall and fair, blonde haired and blue eyed - a pretty creature. The groom-to-be was smooth shaven, dark and rather heavy. He looked like a solid sort of citizen, perhaps 20 years old and probably hailing from the country.

The cabman had driven the couple from the morning Ohio Valley train. They had come past the court house and had stopped there long enough to get the necessary papers. Furthermore, as they had rolled by the office of Justice of the Peace Poole, the cabman had summoned that gentleman to come at once to the Ruston House.

It was a few minutes after 10 o’clock that the little party assembled in the main parlors of the hotel, hushed and expectant. Those in the leading roles had previously announced their name to day clerk McNeeley and he had written them, in a big, sprawley hand, in the register. They were "Americus T. Wooton, Hopkins County, Kentucky," and "Georgie A. Parrish, Hopkins County, Kentucky." Two young men were with the couple, but they did not register. One of them is known to have been a brother of the young woman.
Squire Poole was not slow about reaching the scene. He entered the parlor in a dignified and business-like way, taking up a position in front of the party and asking if everything was "ready." Everything was. The ceremony was promptly performed and the company broke up.

Mr. and Mrs. Wooton, with one or two friends, repaired to the dining room, where quite an elaborate dinner was spread for them. After they had eaten and while Mr. Wooton was enjoying a cigar in the lobby, the clerk approached him and said:
"I trust your marriage has made you altogether happy."
"Well," said Mr. Wooton, "we hope to have some happiness now; we have had very little thus far."
"Opposition to your courtship?"
"Yes"
"And you ducked?"
"That’s what we did."

Mr. Wooton is a well-to-do young farmer of Hopkins County and his bride was brought up in his neighborhood, the daughter of well known and highly respected parents.

Friday, October 12, 2007

An Old Mourning Custom

A group of people in period costumes presented a program on mourning customs at the recent meeting of the Tri-State Genealogical Society in Evansville, IN. It may sound morbid, but it was really very informative and enjoyable. One of the customs mentioned was the wearing of a black arm band in memory of the decedent.

While searching through the loose county court papers in the Caldwell County Clerk’s Office a couple of years ago, I came across a paper that verifies this custom. It is a tribute to Charles B. Dallam, who was the county clerk at the time of his death in December 1847 at the age of 33 years. His remains rest in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Princeton, KY.

"Whereas, in the dispensations of an all-wise and insensible Providence, our Community has sustained a sad and afflicting visitation in the death of Charles B. Dallam, former clerk of this county, a good and worthy citizen; polite and courteous; a Kind and benevolent neighbour; a prompt, efficient and accommodating public officer; a man exemplary in all the relations of life; a gentleman and a Christian; yet suddenly cut off in the meridian of life. And whereas, while we feel it to be our duty humbly to acknowledge the wisdom and justice of the Great Dosposer [sic] of events in sending affliction upon the human family, and making them the subject of mourning, yet we also feel it to be our privilege to express our sorrow for the dead, as well as our Sympathy with the surviving friends and relatives, by some appropriate testimonial of regard for the deceased.

Resolved, therefore that all the members of the bar, officers of the Court of which Charles B. Dallam was clerk at the time of his death, will wear the usual badge of mourning on the left arm for 30 days.

Resolved further, that the foregoing preamble and these resolutions be spread upon the records of the County Court of Caldwell County, of which the deceased was so long an efficient and useful clerk, and that a copy therefore be communicated to his bereaved widow."