Saturday, March 15, 2008

Laban S. Hooper and the Lost Hooper Cemetery

This article is presented here with the permission of Lynda Hynan, who has been researching her Laban S. Hooper family of Caldwell County for 20 years. Family tradition has it that Laban was respected and loved by his family, but actual details of his life were few. By being persistent and expanding the research area to include adjoining counties, much new information has been found.
There were no birth records in Kentucky in 1827 when Laban S. Hooper was born on the 21st of February. We knew his birth date, as well as his death date, from the Registration of Veterans’ Graves, which was compiled by the WPA in 1939-40 in Kentucky. This registration, which is available on microfilm from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, states that Laban is buried in the Hooper Cemetery, but no location for that cemetery was given and no one seemed to know where it could be. The general consensus was that it had most likely been lost to time or had been destroyed in the planting of crops.

Also unknown were the names of Laban’s parents. After studying available records on the limited number of correct-age Hooper males, we were convinced Laban most likely was the son of Ennis and Elizabeth (Wood) Hooper. If we were correct, Laban had been reared by his father as his mother had left the family to settle in Marengo County, Alabama with her brothers. Laban was only about seven years old at the time of his parents’ divorce. [See Hooper divorce 1834 in my 12 Jan 2008 blog.]

Ennis had at least three daughters, one of whom, Polly Ann, was seven years older than Laban and probably had a hand in rearing Laban. Very likely there was a special bond between them, as would be evident when Laban had children.

In August of 1850, when he was age 23, Laban was working as a laborer for Charles G. Halstead, who lived near the Cumberland River in Livingston County. Two months later Laban and Elizabeth Marshall crossed the Ohio River to marry in Pope County, Illinois. During the next seven years, three children were born to the young couple, Nannie E., Mary Bell and Laban B. Hooper.

The marriage of Laban and Elizabeth became troubled and, on 26 Mar 1860, Laban filed for divorce in Livingston County and placed his children in the homes of other families. His daughters, Nannie and Mary, were placed with the family of Margaret Russell in Livingston County and his son, Laban B., went to live with the family of his probable older sister, Polly Ann, and her husband, J.H. Fletcher, in Caldwell County. Apparently unhappy with this arrangement, Elizabeth removed the children and moved to Paducah, where she and the three children boarded with the family of J.T. Collier. Even though Laban S. was not living with the family and knew nothing of the new living arrangement, he is listed with Elizabeth and their three children in the Collier boarding house on the 1860 McCracken County census. Perhaps it was to save face or was “wishful thinking” on Elizabeth’s part. Nannie and Mary are also listed in the Russell household on the 1860 Livingston County census and Laban B. is listed with the Fletcher family on the 1860 Caldwell County census. The details of the living situation are revealed in a lawsuit filed by J.T. Collier [J.T. Collier vs Laban Hooper] in Lyon County, Kentucky. Collier sued Laban S. Hooper for boarding the Hooper children. The jury ruled in favor of Laban S. Hooper.

The divorce between Laban S. and Elizabeth Hooper was granted 21 Aug 1861 and a month later he enlisted in Company G, 1st Kentucky Cavalry (CSA) in Hopkinsville. A list of men in this company can be found here:
Laban was not consistently away from home after enlistment, as he was in Caldwell County when he married Margaret A. Pool 13 Nov 1861 and give a deposition in the Collier lawsuit in Lyon County in June 1863, the same month he sold a house and lot in Lyon County. On 28 Sep 1863, Margaret gave birth to a daughter, Laban Ann, making her the second child – one boy and one girl – to bear their father’s name.

Laban S. Hooper returned to service, where he was involved in battles in East Tennessee. He caught a fever, from which he died 15 Feb 1864. As stated above, we knew the date of his death and where he was buried, but the location of the cemetery was unknown. Research on Ennis Hooper showed that his land had probably been sold before his death. Enoch B. Hooper, probable son of Ennis and brother of Laban S. Hooper, owned land in the Scottsburg area and, in 1880 had sold some land near Scottsburg Schoolhouse and running down the center of Sand Lick Road. This seemed a good place to start looking for the Hooper Cemetery.

Richard P Pool, who is a member of the Cemetery Board in Caldwell County and is knowledgeable not only in locating old cemeteries, but also in researching Caldwell County Civil War soldiers, answered our call for help. Using his expertise, Richard located the cemetery near the intersection of Scottsburg and Sand Lick Roads. The current owner had cleared the cemetery revealing three surviving tombstones, including that of Laban S. Hooper. The other two markers are for infants of Laban Ann Hooper and her husband, W.C. Brown. They are Maggie Brown, born 13 Oct 1885, died 21 Jul 1890 and Laban H. Brown, born 20 Nov 1891, died 19 Feb 1892. Sandstones mark the graves of other, unknown persons.

This research project has been exciting because of all the new information found and has also been a lesson in the importance of expanding the boundaries of our research. If the divorce case had not been found in Livingston County and if the lawsuit had not been found in Lyon County, our knowledge of Laban S. Hooper and his family would have been far less. For additional information on this family, please contact Lynda Hynan at

Published 15 March 2008, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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