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 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

For news and historical articles on Dycusburg, Crittenden County, Kentucky, check Matthew Patton's site: 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]