Thursday, December 27, 2007
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
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
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
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
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.
Friday, December 7, 2007
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]
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]
Monday, December 3, 2007
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
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
CC Chain Carrier [used in land surveying]
CM Chain Marker [used in land surveying]
JP Justice of the Peace
Jr. or Junr Junior
MG Minister of the Gospel
O.R. Ordered recorded
Sr. or Senr Senior