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,

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:

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?"
"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."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

African-American Marriage Records

Beginning in 1866, African-American couples could register their marriages in the county clerk’s office by giving their names and the number of years they had lived together as man and wife. A small fee was required to record the marriage and it is likely that many people could not afford to pay and, thus, their marriages were not recorded. These marriages are found in separate books called "Declarations of Marriages of Negroes and Mulattos" and are located in the county clerks’ offices of each county.

Also, in 1866, African-American couples could have their marriages performed in Kentucky . These marriages are recorded in separate marriage books, which indicate on the cover that they are records for "colored" persons. It wasn’t until much, much later that white and African-American marriages were recorded in the same books. In most "colored" marriage bond books, there is less information on the bride and bridegroom. However, there should be a consent note if either one was a minor.

Prior to 1866, Free Persons of Color might choose to go to a free state to marry. This was what Levi Goins, a resident of Livingston County, Kentucky (later Crittenden County) and Rebecca Harris, did. They crossed the Ohio River and were married in Pope County, Illinois 4 Feb 1835. However, being free and being legally married did not stop Crittenden County authorities from issuing a summons on 20 Oct 1843 for Levi and Rebecca to appear in court to answer a charge of fornication. Crittenden County Circuit Court Order Book A, p. 92, 30 Apr 1844 states the following: "This day ... on motion of the defendants by their attorney and for reasons appearing to the court it is ordered that this suit be dismissed and that the defendants go hence without day [delay] and they be required not to further answer." Somehow I have a vision of the attorney whipping out that marriage certificate and waving it in front of the judge and jury.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

More On Kentucky Marriage Records

I'd like to add a couple of things about using marriage records - the bond and license usually carry the same date. However, the marriage date did not have to be the same. For example, the prospective bridegroom might sign the bond and obtain the license on one day, but the wedding might not have occurred until sometime later. When using published marriage records, be sure the compiler has indicated whether the license or marriage date has been listed.

Many Caldwell County researchers use the online county clerk's office site for an index of county records. The marriage dates used there were taken from the bond books and do not necessarily reflect the actual date of the marriage. The early bond books do not even show the marriage date. That information must come from the marriage register or the original certificates.

Kentucky Marriage Records

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

Marriage records are a favorite source of information among genealogists. Most counties in western Kentucky have marriage records back to the formation of the counties. That isn’t to say the records are complete, because surely some records have disappeared or disintegrated through the years.

Becoming man and wife in early Kentucky occurred only after several requirements had been met. The first thing was to sign a bond at the county clerk’s office at the county courthouse. This bond was a formal binding agreement that all marriage laws would be obeyed and that there was no legal impediment to a marriage between the couple. The sum of money listed on the bond was not paid unless it was found that the couple was not free to marry. The bride did not have to go with the bridegroom to obtain the marriage bond, but a surety, or bondsman, did go along to sign the bond with the bridegroom. Sometimes the bondsman was a relative or friend of either member of the contracting party, but not always.

When the bond was signed, the county clerk issued a marriage license, which was to be taken to any person legally authorized to perform marriages within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The marriage license could be issued in one county and the wedding performed in another county, as long as it was all done within the boundaries of Kentucky. The license was not valid in another state. As a rule, though, the marriage usually occurred in the bride's home county.

In early Kentucky, if either the bride or bridegroom was under the legal marrying age of 21, a parent or guardian had to give consent for the license to be issued. If the bride was of age, it was not uncommon for her to write a little consent note and send it with the bridegroom when he signed the bond. If there is no consent note and you are sure one party was a minor, look at the name of the surety or bondsman. Could a parent of the bride or bridegroom have been present when the bond was signed and perhaps gave verbal consent for the license to be issued?

Once the marriage license was in hand, the bridegroom and bride were ready to stand before a minister, justice of the peace or even the county clerk and say their vows. Whoever officiated at the wedding was supposed to sign the license or write a note, giving the names of the couple and the date of the marriage, and return it to the county clerk’s office. There the information was to be recorded in the Marriage Register. Inclement weather, long distances to the courthouse and procrastination may have delayed or prevented the license from being returned. If you don’t find a returned license or an entry in the Marriage Register, check marriage records of neighboring counties.

Early Kentucky marriage bonds rarely contained personal information, but later on you will find the exact ages of the couple and their birthplaces and residences. Sometimes the birthplaces of their parents will also be listed. The time period when this additional information first appeared in the marriage bond books varies from county to county. It wasn’t until November 1898 that the additional information was listed in Crittenden County, while Caldwell County marriage bonds contain the additional information before 1860.

Tribute to John W. Conway

Newspapers are a wonderful source of information. Especially valuable are obituaries or tributes to people who died where there were no local newspapers. The following tribute for a Union County, Kentucky resident was printed in the 14 January 1904 issue of the Crittenden Press, which was published weekly at Marion, Kentucky. The tribute is very long and has been abstracted for use here.

Thursday evening, Dec. 17th, 1903, at 7:45 o’clock, at my old home, Father fell asleep in Jesus.

The Lord blessed Father with noble ancestors. He was of Welsh descent. For generations back our ancestor have been good and noble people. I have heard grandfather John Conway say that his ancestor fought under Oliver Cromwell. Grandfather had five brothers, I think, who fought through the revolutionary war. I heard him say he was the youngest son, and was 11 when the battle of Yorktown was fought, and saw Cornwallis’ army as Washington and Lafayette marched them through his father’ plantation. They lived in Fauquier county, Virginia.

Grandfather was a good man, used to preach sometimes. Nearly 110 years ago he with his wife, newly married, and an old family servant and her child crossed the Allegheny mountains on horseback and came to the wilds of Kentucky - finally settling in Trimble County, Kentucky, in the hills 3 miles south of Madison, Indiana. There on a small, rather unproductive farm he raised a large family, five sons and two daughters, named William, Polly, John, Peter, Thomas, James, Mary. In 1812 he buried his wife and two small children in the same grave. He was left in a howling wilderness with seven small children, the oldest 16. No stores, no factories, no steamboats then.

It was in 1812 my mother saw the first steamboat that came down the Ohio river (a sorry affair). Grandfather had to raise flax, spin and weave the flax for clothing. Deer were abundant and he used their skins for pants and shoes, and raccoon skins for hats.

One of these seven children came to Union County, Kentucky and settled near Morganfield, Thomas Conway, the father of John W. Conway, the subject of this tribute. His mother was Cornelia Connell. My father was born Oct. 14, 1844. He was the only son of a large family. Grandfather was well known by the former citizens of Union County, and they showed to him their high regard in many ways. He was elected sheriff of the county several times and represented the people for three terms in the State Legislature.
He was a firm Baptist and a man of noble mould.

In 1870 father was happily married to Miss Barbara Ann Davenport, a daughter of Abram Davenport. Twelve children blessed this delightful union. All of the children (but two infants) and the loving mother survive the death of father. Their names are as follows: T.A. Conway, a minister; Dr. Jno. W. Conway; Berry L. Conway; Mrs. Oth McMurry; children at home: Maggie, Bettie, Hugh, Barbara, Joe and Hal. All are christians but Hal, and he is young.

Papa loved the farm. Well do I remember reading him James Whitcomb Riley’s famous poem on the Clover. He loved his stock - cattle, hogs and horses. How lonesome Bettie, his horse, looks; the pigeons he fed each morning and that lighted on his shoulders, oh! how lonesome; his favorite dog seems to have given up as he lies and waits for his master. His life on earth is over. We miss him and our hearts are torn and bleeding, but the will of God be done.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Robert Fowler Family of Crittenden County, Kentucky

A few years after their marriage in Logan County, Kentucky on 1 Feb 1841, Robert Fowler and Cynthia Caroline Ragsdale Fowler moved to Crittenden County. Robert opened a tailor shop and the young couple settled into their lives in the new town of Marion. Three sons, Gustavus, Henry A. and Wiley P., were added to the family - Gustavus in 1842, Henry A. in 1843 and Wiley P. about 1848.

Robert Fowler was involved in the activities of Marion and was chosen as a patroller within the town limits in 1846, 1847, 1848 and 1849. Several men in each district within a county were appointed to patrol their specific district, usually at night, to make sure that slaves were not venturing away from their owners’ homes without permission or a pass. Slaves caught without a pass were often dealt with severely.

By 1845, Robert had acquired two town lots in Marion and acquired two more lots within the next four years. Robert did not live to see his children grow up as he died 22 Nov 1849 at the age of 35 years. He was buried in Old Marion Cemetery, which is located on the corner of Moore Street and US Highway 60 in Marion. Buried next to Robert is his son, Henry A., who had died 28 Dec 1846. Caroline Fowler waived her right by law as Robert’s widow to administer his estate. Francis Ford was appointed administrator and began the process of settling Robert’s tangled business affairs.

Faced with rearing two young sons, Caroline did not remain a widow very long. She married Henry C. Wheeler 15 Sep 1850 in Crittenden County.

The estate of Robert Fowler was insufficient to pay his debts. On 13 Apr 1852, H.C. Wheeler was appointed guardian ad litem for Gustavus and Wiley P. Fowler, heirs of Robert Fowler, in a law suit in which Francis Ford sued Caroline and her sons to sell the lot on which Robert’s tailor shop was located and also the lot north of the "mansion."

Little is known of Caroline and her sons until 26 Oct 1863, when Wiley P., Caroline’s younger son, was mustered into Co. B, 48th Kentucky Volunteer Mounted Infantry (Union). The 48th was composed mainly of men from the counties of western Kentucky and whose purpose was to prevent raids and roust guerillas out of the state.

On the 7th of Aug 1864, Captain Hiett, with 35 men from Companies B and C, 48th Kentucky Volunteer Mounted Infantry, was attacked at Salem, Livingston County, Kentucky by 300 Confederates and guerillas. Two soldiers were killed, one of them being Wiley P. Fowler.

Wiley P.’s body was removed to Crittenden County, where it was laid to rest in the John Wheeler Cemetery, just off Highway 506. He was 18 years old.

Caroline and Henry C. Wheeler and Caroline’s son, Gus Fowler, continued to live in Crittenden County. On 13 Apr 1871, Henry C. Wheeler died and was buried in the John Wheeler Cemetery.

Caroline Ragsdale Fowler Wheeler married as her third husband, Randolph Noe, on 31 Dec 1874. She was only 49 years old, but had already lost two husbands and two sons.

By this time, Crittenden County was changing. The population was slightly less than 9400 in 1870 and more and more people were leaving - going West, some to Indian Territory, some to Missouri or Texas and still others toward California.

After working as a dry goods salesman in Marion, Gus became a salesman in a grocery store belonging to a relative in Union County, Kentucky. After the Civil War began, the relative sold the business and Gus returned to Crittenden County, where he married Miss Jennie/Jane McKane in March of 1867. One daughter, Ida L. Fowler, was born to them.

Gus was involved in rebuilding the Crittenden County courthouse, which had been damaged during the Civil War. After completing this project, he was involved in cutting away timber to clear a route for a contemplated railroad.

In 1870, Gus and Jane Fowler, along with their daughter, Ida, were living with her mother, Elizabeth, in Caldwell County, Kentucky. Because of ill health, Gus left Kentucky and headed toward Colorado, leaving his wife and daughter in Caldwell County. By 1877, he had moved on to California and, in 1880, appeared on the El Dorado County, California census. He was listed as a miner, single and a boarder in the village of Shingle Springs.

It is not known if Gus and Jane divorced or if they simply lived separately, but Jane married Gabriel L. Spinks on 9 Feb 1888 in Henderson County, Kentucky. The marriage record does not indicate if Jane was divorced or widowed.

Gabby and Jane Spinks, along with Ida, who had married William R. Short, and Wm. and Leonard Short were all living together in Princeton, Caldwell County, Kentucky.

William R. and Ida L. Short and their family continued to live in Caldwell County until sometime before 1920, when they moved to St. Louis.

Logan County Genealogical Society, Inc. Logan County, Kentucky Marriages 1790-1865, (Russellville, KY: privately printed, 1985), 32.
Crittenden County Genealogical Society. Crittenden County Kentucky Cemeteries, Vol V., (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 2006), 6.
Ibid., Vol. 1, 274.
Crittenden County, Kentucky County Court Order Book 1:319, 14 Jan 1850.
Brenda Joyce Jerome. Crittenden County, KY Marriage Records Vol. 1 and Abstracts of Wills Book 1, (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1990), 30.
Kentucky Adjutant General's Report
Historical Souvenir of El Dorado, California With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent Men & Pioneers. (Oakland, Calif: P. Sioli, 1883), 318.
Henderson County, Kentucky Marriage Book 20:607.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Fall Seminar

The Tri-State Genealogical Society will have their annual fall seminar on Saturday, 20 October 2007 at the Holiday Inn Conference Center, Hwy 41 North at Lynch Road, Evansville, Indiana. Registration and browsing of vendors' tables will be from 8 to 9 am. and will be followed by Opening Remarks . The speaker is Lloyd Hosman, who will talk on Newspaper Research, Making the Most Out of Census Research (1880-1910), Indiana Research and Using the IGI and Other Mormon Resources.

Why attend a seminar in Indiana if you live or research in western Kentucky? There is something to be learned at every seminar, workshop or lecture - no matter if it is in Indiana, Kentucky or any other state. The bonus is seeing what the vendors have for sale. This seminar always has vendors representing Indiana societies plus Willard Library has a table chock full of duplicate books covering almost all areas of the country and at a low price. Ye Olde Genealogy Shoppe of Indianapolis brings loads of books and charts and forms for every possible need. I'll be there with my books and often McDowell Publications of Utica, KY is represented. It's fun to see people, learn what's new in genealogical research, hear interesting speakers, and see if you win a door prize.

The cost is $25 if paid by 16 Oct 2007 or $30 after that or at the door. Checks should be payable to Tri-State Genealogical Society and mailed to Connie Conrad, 1014 E. Blackford Ave., Evansville, IN 47711. If you go, stop by my table and say "Hi."

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Pleasant Grove School Students 1920

Pleasant Grove School District. 2 - Crittenden County, Kentucky.

Vernie R. Summers, Teacher
I.L.F. Paris, Supt. J.R. Croft, Trustee
Dolcie Watson
May Croft
Eickle Curnel
Julian Love
Louis Croft
Lockett Love
Opal Bebout
Loy Sweat
Lenah Bebout
Agnes Millikan
Olcie Croft
Velda Little
Cyble Millikan
Edith Bebout
Crawford Bebout
Vernon Croft
Orlin Lone
Loyd Croft
Givens Bebout
Ford Bebout
Eskel Dainels
H. Ruddel Barnes
Emma Belt
Mary Davidson
Birtie Millikan
Ernest Davidson
Duglas Croft
Alley Croft
Lenora Belt
Venard Ingrem
Annie Cook
Okha Little
Dee Croft
Rhea Croft
Prentis Croft
Roy Curnel
Lucile Love
Willie Little
Macie Corn
Ica Croft
Lois Little
Ruby Bebout
Ona Croft
Ethel Croft
Ercie Croft
Ivan Garnett
Orvin Croft
Louise Love
Viva Bebout
Josie Cook
William Barnes
Zula Little
Vera Madry
Georgie Croft
Beulah Millikan
Edgar Croft
Ralph Barnes
Beulah Belt
Ollie Lynn
This little booklet was found among my mother's things after her death. Since she was only one year old in 1920, I suspect one of her many Croft or Bebout cousins shared it with her. Listed here is Lena(h) Bebout, my mother's friend, cousin and sister-in-law. Aunt Lena died at the age of 97 in Crittenden County just a year ago.

Livingston County, Kentucky Petition - 1814

Common Wealth of Kentucky
Livingstone County --

To the Worshipfull Court at Salem: We your petitioners consider it much to the advantage of Travellers to turn the road betwixt Mr. Gaskings and Mr. Cowserts about two miles distance, It will be about half a mile Higher, and will afford Water for the accommodation of travellers which is not to be had on the old road. We hope you will take the Case under Your Serious Consideration and grant our petition as far as you think proper -

Signed by Us this 13th May 1814,
David Robison
Daniel Hazle
W. Harris
James Strickland
John Cowsert
William Powers
John Titsworth
W.H. Robison
Wm. Hodge
Thadeus Gasking
James Russell
Martin Duncan
Demcy Cofield
John Champion
John Gehen
Jas. H. Stephenson
Thomas Clark
Jas. Hodge
Thos. Cowzert
Robt. Cowzert
James Robison
William Stephenson
Jno. Young
Andw. G. McRery
Source: Livingston County Loose County Clerk's Papers 1811-1814, Box 3, Livingston County Clerk's Office, Smithland, Kentucky.
A blog is new to me. After discontinuing publication of my Western Kentucky Journal, I miss playing with words. Hence, this blog. I plan to share thoughts and tips on genealogy, news of approaching seminars, and the publication of new books on western Kentucky. I hope you will join me and, if you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know.