Monday, June 30, 2008

KGS Seminar Planned for 2 August 2008

The Kentucky Genealogical Society will host their annual seminar on 2 August 2008 at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, 100 West Broadway, Frankfort, Kentucky. Tom Kanon of the Tennessee State Library and Brandon Sloane of the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs will speak on Researching Your War of 1812 Ancestors - History and Genealogy. This topic is of special interest as we approach the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.

Limited seating is available so it is wise to register early. The registration is $30 per person if payment is postmarked by 26 July 2008. After that date, the fee is $35 per person. Registration does include a box lunch. Checks should be made payable to Kentucky Genealogical Society and please mail them to PO Box 153, Frankfort, KY 40602-0153.

Caldwell County Delinquent Tax List - 1857

The following was transcribed from the original delinquent tax lists, Caldwell County Clerk's Office, Princeton, Kentucky. Men were sometimes released from the payment of poll tax when they became infirm and aged.

A list of Delinquents as returned by Thomas W. Pickering Sheriff of polls for the year 1857.

Joseph Ashley - dead and insolvent
Macey Bond - charged twice
Barnes, Bartus - gone to Christian
Brelsford, H.H. - gone to Kansas
Brelsford, J.M. - gone to Kansas
Crow, Moses - released from Poll Tax
Champion, William - gone to Tennessee
Creekmoor, John - released from Poll Tax
French, Joseph B. - dead and insolvent
Garrett, Jesse - gone to Lyon County
Gore, Eleazer - dead and insolvent
George, James - Released
Hale, Nathan - released
Howell, J.R. - gone to Hopkins
Jenkins, Thomas - blind & released
Jenkins, T.J. - gone to Lyon
Jordan, James - released
Jones, Joseph - released
Lewis, Benjamin - Dead and insolvent
Marquiss, J.P. - gone to Trigg
McCormick, P. - gone to Lyon
Mills, Nathan - runaway
Noland, Larkin - dead and insolvent
Northern, John - released
Oliver, William E. - gone to Trigg
Oliver, James - gone to Lyon
Phelps, Henry - unknown
Robertson, J.L. - gone to Kansas
Robertson, James - gone to Crittenden
Stevens, Elijah - blind
Sigler, Sandford - gone to Missouri
Starling, Israel - gone to Missouri
Stone, W.H. - gone to Missouri
Thurmand, James M. - not found
Walker, G.A. - gone to Missouri
Williams, John M. - runaway
Newsom, Freeman

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Subscription School 1861

Schooling was not always required and it was not free. The following item was found in the estate settlement papers of Francis Davis, widow of Terrell Davis. Francis Davis died 1 January 1862 in Crittenden County, Kentucky.

February 7, 1861
Stephen L. Worley agrees to teach a three months School at for [sic] one dollar and twenty five cents a scholar per month. The branches he agrees to teach are arithmetic, Elementary Algebra, Natural philosophy, English grammar, reading, writing, Spelling &c.

He also binds himself to attend to the duties devolving upon him to the best of his abilities. We the undersigners obligate ourselves to pay the Sum annext to our respective names.

The Names of the subscribers
G.W. Winders $3.00
I.C. Lucus
Francis S. Davis $6.00
C.C. Cook $2.62 pd. 3.00
Timothy Winders S.B. note
J.J. Arflax paid 1.50
Wm. Flanary paid 1.00
Wm. Barnes paid
W.H. Harmon
John Conditt
James Allison 3.00
R.P. Hughes 1.50
C.S. Grubs S. By Note
F.M. Conditt by note 3.00
Harriet Dickson 3.00

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sale of Runaway Slave - 1863

Runaway slaves who were caught in the southern states often faced a future more uncertain that the one from which they had escaped. By virtue of an act of the Legislature of Kentucky, approved 2 March 1863, an attempt was made to locate the owner by advertising in the newspaper. If no one laid claim to the runaway, the slave was sold to the highest bidder at the courthouse door. The following comes from a packet marked “Order of Sale - Slave Ben, June 8, 1863” and was found in loose county court papers, Crittenden County Clerk’s Office, Marion, Kentucky.

“It appearing to the Satisfaction of the court that a runaway Slave calling himself Ben now in the possession or custody of J.W. Adams Jailer of Crittenden County has been legally advertised and has not been claimed by the owner thereof, It is therefore ordered that the Sheriff of Crittenden County after having duly advertised the time terms and place of sale at least twenty days at three public places in said county the Court House being one expose to sale in accordance with the law .... after having caused said Slave to be valued as lands sold under execution are required to be valued to the highest bidder on a credit of twelve months the purchaser to give Bond with good surety to the Commonwealth ... “

“By virtue of the within order I did on the 13th day of July 1863 at the front door of the Court House in Marion, it being County Court day for Crittenden County, offer for Sale on a credit of twelve months after advertising as the Law directs, Ben the within named Slave to the highest bidder ... and J.W. Adams bid the sum of two hundred and eighty one dollars and no person bidding more the said Slave was struck off and sold to Adams. This 13th day of July 1863.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George H. Phillips of Crittenden County

Sometimes research turns up such conflicting information that it is difficult to know what is right and what is not. The following death notice appeared in the Tuesday, 2 Jan 1854 issue of the Paducah Daily Democrat:
“Died. In Crittenden county, Ky., on the 27th Nov., 1853, Mr. George H. Phillips, aged 52 years. The deceased was a native of North Carolina, and resided for many years in Mississippi and Louisiana, but for the last few years in Crittenden county, Ky. He leaves many relatives and friends to mourn his loss.”

I believe this George H. Phillips was a brother to Thomas S. Phillips, who was part of a group of people who migrated to old Livingston County (now Crittenden County) from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

George H. married Fanny Black Price, daughter of James Price, in Livingston County on 4 September 1824. Fanny was age 18 at the time of their marriage. I don’t find them on the 1830 or 1840 Livingston County census - in fact, I don’t find them in on any Kentucky census after their marriage. However, there is a George H. Phillips on the 1830 White County, Illinois census and on the 1840 Amite County, Mississippi census. Whether these men are all the same person, I do not know yet.

On 13 November 1843 in Crittenden County, John Price was appointed guardian for Ann Phillips, Jane Phillips and Samuel Phillips, the heirs of George H. Phillips & Fanny, his wife, late Fanny Price deceased. At first glance, it appears that both George H. and Fanny Price Phillips have died, but that isn’t necessarily so. If you read this entry, which appears in Crittenden County Court Order Book 1, page 27, very carefully, you will see that it says “Fanny late Fanny Price deceased.” It does not say that George H. is deceased. So, if a guardian was being appointed for the children and the father was still alive, perhaps the children had inherited property from someone else, perhaps a grandparent.

In Livingston County, Kentucky Will Book 2, page 48, the will of James Price Sr. is recorded. Among the legatees was his daughter Fanny P. Phillips. This should be the wife of George H. Phillips. The will was dated 2 October 1835 and was proven in court 4 July 1836.

George H. Phillips does not appear on the 1850 Crittenden County census, but Sarah J. and Sam Phillips, both born in Illinois, were living in the household of Thomas S. and Mary Phillips.

On 3 November 1852, George H. Phillips married Juda W. Lane in Crittenden County. He was age 51, a widower, born Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. She was age 26 and was born in Smith County, Tennessee. Bondsman was Thomas S. Phillips.

Then, just a year later, George H. Phillips, age 52, died, according to the Paducah newspaper. Juda married William Shely 20 July 1854, but appears alone on the 1860 Crittenden County census.

The 12 August 1931 issue of the Crittenden Press had a lengthy sketch on the Phillips family. It was written by James F. Price, the well known Presbyterian minister of Crittenden County. In this sketch, he states that George H. Phillips was a son of John Phillips and a brother of Thomas Stewart Philips. He also says that “George H. Phillips was born November 14, 1801. He married Miss Ibba Price, a sister of John Price, of Cave Spring, and aunt of Rev. James F. Price. They had one daughter, Miss Jennie Phillips. They moved to Iowa. Miss Jennie married in that state. Nothing further is known of them.”

There are some discrepencies in the information in the Phillips sketch and in the death notice. I never found George H. in Louisiana. Price places George H. in Iowa and with only one daughter, Miss Jennie. I found no mention of Jennie, but find three other children, Ann, Jane and Samuel, in the county court minutes. Could Jennie have been a nickname for Sarah Jane?

I’m not sure yet how this research project will turn out, but I clearly need to do more work on this family. My next source will be tax lists to see when George H. Phillips appears and when he disappears. After that, I need to check deeds to see if he ever owned land and, if so, where it was located. I do believe there was just one George H. Phillips, but additional research will tell me if this is right or not.

Isn’t it interesting how one little piece of information can open all sorts of avenues in your research?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fillmore County, Kentucky - Almost

Recently I came across several interesting items in old issues of the Paducah, Kentucky newspapers. The following tidbit is taken from the 16 January 1854 issue of the Paducah Daily Democrat.

“The act that passsed the Senate of Kentucky dividing Caldwell county and making a new county, called Fillmore, with Eddyville as the county seat, has also passed the House of Representatives, with an amendment changing the name to Lyon county.”

Why was this new county almost named Fillmore? Can someone shed some light on this?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dr. Gustavus A. Brown of Smithland

I hope to do a biographical sketch periodically on some of the early residents of Livingston County. The first sketch is on Dr. Gustavus A. Brown, who only lived in Smithland for a short time, but even before he moved to Smithland, he made a name for himself in the area.

On 20 May 1811, Gustavus A. Brown gave notice that he intended to apply to the Livingston County Court to establish a town in the point above the mouth of the Cumberland River, at the confluence of the Cumberland and Ohio rivers. He stated that both rivers were navigable, timber was present for ship building and everything necessary for the erection of houses was present. Just two months later, Brown had established his town of Westwood with Lilbourn Lewis, John Daniel, James Gamble and Robert and Cullen Cook as town trustees.

This land on which Westwood was situated had been patented to Gustavus Brown’s father, William Brown of Alexandria, Virginia, as part of a military grant through the newly formed Land Office in 1784. In fact, this tract of land was the first entry filed in the Virginia Military District, which was opened that year for veterans of the Virginia Continental Line. Kentucky did not become a state until 1792 and Livingston County was created in 1798/99 so this land was in Virginia when the land was entered. Gustavus Brown inherited this land by virtue of his father’s will of 1791.

It is unknown if Brown realized any profit from the land he inherited from his father, but we do know from Livingston County land records that a portion of the land was lost due to non-payment of taxes in 1824.

In April of 1831, Brown swore in county court that he did not move to Kentucky with the intention of selling the slaves who came with him. Very likely he arrived in Livingston County not long before that time. It didn’t take long for him to become part of the lively social and business scene in Smithland. In 1832 at Stanley P. Gower’s Hotel, he attended a meeting of merchants, planters and others interested in establishing a national hospital for “the accomodation of boatmen and others who navigate” the Ohio River and its tributaries. Brown was appointed to the committee to prepare a report on the project.

Following the shooting death of Lewis Sanders by Townsend Ashton on Christmas Day 1835, Gustavus Brown was charged with aiding and abetting Ashton in the murder. He was acquitted, as was Ashton. [See my blog of 7 June 2008]

In April of 1838, An event occurred that would end the life of Gustavus Brown. The 18 Apr 1838 issue of the Nashville Whig reports the following: “We learn from S.B. passengers from Smithland that a most dreadful and fatal affray took place at Gower’s tavern in that place on Wednesday night last. Dr. G.A. Brown, an old resident of Smithland, being inebriated at the supper table, the landlady requested another boarder by the name of Clark to assist him to his room. On hearing this, Brown commenced abusing Mrs. Gower, and Clark thereupon forced him to his room, on reaching which, B. drew a pistol and shot C. through the body, immediately below the ribs. C. then plunged a dirk into the heart of B. and left him a lifeless corpse upon the floor. Clark was still alive at the last accounts, though with but little hope of recovery.”

On the 7th of May 1838, a writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Dr. G.A. Brown was produced in open court, but continued to the next term. Again, the will was presented, this time by his slaves, who were to be freed by the provisions of the will. The heirs of Brown objected and had the will set aside. The case went to the Court of Appeals, which decided the will was to be accepted and recorded.

The burial place of Gustavus A. Brown is unknown. Many of the early inhabitants of Smithland are buried in Smithland Cemetery. If Brown is buried there, his resting place is unmarked.

Brenda Joyce Jerome. Livingston County, Kentucky Estate Records 1799-1842, (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 2004), 130.

"Establishment of Town of Westwood, Livingston Co., KY," Western Kentucky Journal Vol 1, No. 3 (Summer 1994), 23.

Copyright on text and photographs
By Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Union County Court Docket 1892

You never know where information will be found. Western Kentucky newspapers are wonderful sources of information, even for events occurring outside the area. The following items on Union County, Kentucky were found in the 25 Feb 1892 issue of the Green River Republican in Butler County, Kentucky.

“The cession [sic] of the Circuit Court which convened at Morganfield [Union County] last Monday has the bloodiest docket ever known in that county. In fact it is unsurpassed by any in the state for several years, except those lawless counties in the mountains.

To the Morganfield Sun, whose editor deeply deplores the dark record of his county, but makes no effort to conceal facts, we are indebted for a brief summary of the criminal docket, which embraces the names of six persons on trial for taking human life: R.Y. Thomas - Mr. Thomas is indicted for manslaughter and trial is set for next Tuesday. Some years ago while Mr. Thomas was editor of a paper at Caseyville, a young man named Elmore became offended by an editorial which was rather of a personal nature; when the two men met a combat ensued in which Elmore was killed and Thomas crippled for life. This case was tried last February, but the jury hung.

Tom David - David is a colored man and is under indictment for the killing of George Carral, another Negro, on Dec. 24th 1890. His trial is set for today.

Ben Catlett - Ben is charged with killing Joe Johnson, at Flournoy on Oct. 25, 1891. Both are Negroes. He is not yet indicted.

Millard Hicks - This man was constable of one of the Union county precincts, and is charged with killing a Negro, Sam Cook, on Dec. 1, 1891[?]. Hicks had gone to where a crowd of Negroes were supposed to be shooting craps on Sunday. Witnesses differ as to all that occurred, but Cook was killed by Hicks.

Henry Talley - Indicted for the murder of Wm. Rice, Dec, 8, 1888. Trial set for today.

Mollie Coffman - This is a white woman and she is charged with the murder of her own child, only a few days old. The crime was committed in Uniontown sometime in December.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Deaths Listed in County Court Claims

In my blog of 7 Jan 2008, I mentioned that deaths are sometimes found in the list of claims presented at least once a year to the county court. Included are claims for coffins or burials for paupers or for holding inquests over the body of decedents and were presented to the county court for payment. Although the names of the decedents are not always given, it is one more place to search for the account of a death and should not be overlooked.

In Hopkins County, Kentucky, the claims were presented to the county court in May. The following claims are from Hopkins County Court Order Book 14, 30 May 1865: G.L. & H.C. Bourland, holding inquest &c over slave of Green, $5; C.J. Franklin, making Coffin &c for pauper, $6; Benj. Gilmor, holding inquest over & coffin for unknown person, $10; R. Gooch, coffin for pauper, $6; D.M., Randolph and Geo. B. Hawkins, for digging grave for unknown persons killed by Guerrillas, $10; Joshua Rice for coffin for R. Cheek’s child, a pauper, $6; same for J.W. Moore’s Coffin, $6; T.S. Roberts for coffin for John Franklin, killed by Guerrillas, $7; same for Louis Franklin for same, $7.

Livingston County, Kentucky claims were presented to the county court in October or November. The following are from County Court Order Book G, 3 Oct 1825, page 163: John Davis for Boarding, Burying &c Jacob Bates, $17.50; N.S. Mills for same for Jos. Coe, $42; To Aron Corn for same for H. Byers, $62.

On page 341 of Livingston County Order Book G, 6 Oct 1828, are the following claims: Benjamin Stephens for Nursing & Burying James Wallis a poor old infirm man, $31.75; Samuel Driskill for Burying and Nursing Wm. Cooper who died at the house of said Driskill, $18.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Murder on Christmas Day 1835

At a party on Christmas Eve 1835 in the home of Thomas McCormick in Smithland, Livingston County, Kentucky, Dr. Lewis Sanders made the mistake of stating that 18 year old Townsend Ashton was drunk. The words were spoken before “the ladies,” embarrassing Ashton and setting the scene for Sanders’ murder.

The next morning, Sanders and Ashton met again in Smithland. According to Jeremiah Minker, Sanders and Ashton were standing close together in the door of Olive and Martin’s store, talking loudly and quarreling. Ashton stepped out on the pavement and then Dr. Sanders stepped on to the pavement. Ashton stepped back off of the pavement and said if Sanders did not back off he would shoot him. Sanders “advanced as he wished to get near him, but he shewed no disposition to strike him.” Ashton, who was holding a pistol behind his body, instantly shot Sanders, who fell immediately to the ground. He died a few hours later.

Wm. Rodgers stated he was sitting on a bench on the street when he saw Townsend Ashton step out on the pavement and Sanders also stepped out. Ashton showed Sanders his pistol and said that if he pursued him, he would shoot him. As he stepped into the street, Sanders advanced rather quickly toward him with both hands open and raised when Ashton instantly shot him. Sanders fell in the direction where Ashton stood, probably against him, when Ashton said “There by God Gentleman I told you I would shoot him.”

Ashton was charged with the murder of Dr. Sanders and West Ashton and Dr. Gustavus A. Brown were charged with aiding and abetting him. Dr. Brown was no stranger to controversy and an incident a few years later would result in his own death - but we’ll save that story for another time.

Among depositions taken following Sanders’ death was that of Thomas McCormick, who stated that after the close of the Christmas Eve party, Dr. Gustavus A. Brown, came back for something he had forgotten and when speaking of the controversy between Ashton & Dr. Sanders, Brown observed there must be an apology or there would be bloodshed and that he would be Ashton’s second [in a duel]. If Ashton would not fight, Brown would & spoke harshly of Dr. Sanders for interfering in his practice of medicine. McCormick was convinced Brown hated Lewis Sanders.

D.B. Sanders stated that some time ago Gustavus A. Brown spoke to him of the impropriety of retaining Lewis Sanders with him [as a physician] that D.B. Sanders ought to dispense with him & take Brown into partnership; there was not more business than two could do and that Lewis Sanders should not take his practice and that a third physician could not live here.

Brown posted bond with Henry Wells and Stanley P. Gower, securities, to guarantee his appearance in court to answer the charges of aiding and abetting in a murder.

Townsend Ashton was arraigned and committed to jail to await his trial at the March term of the Livingston Circuit Court. The indictment states: “Townsend Ashton, yeoman, not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and reduced by the instigation of the Devil on the 25th day of December 1835 ... did make an assault with a certain pistol of the value of 5 shillings against Lewis Sanders upon the left temple of the head ... one mortal wound of the breadth of an inch and the depth of 4 inches ... shot at 10 o’clock of the morning and languished until 3 o’clock of the evening when he died.”

The trial lasted six days. After an investigation of the facts and the arguments of counsel, the jury rendered a verdict of Not Guilty, acquitting the prisoner on the grounds of self defense.

Dr. Gustavus A. Brown was also indicted as an accessory, but when Ashton was acquitted, Brown’s acquittal and discharge followed.

Sources: Livingston County Circuit Court Equity, Ordinary and Commonwealth Cases August 1836-March1837, Box 33 of 142, Accession #A1986-289, Kentucky Dept for Libraries and Archives.

Nashville Banner and Nashville Whig, 8 Jan 1836,

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Midnight Madness

Willard Library of Evansville, Indiana will host its annual Midnight Madness 16 - 20 June 2008. Special Collections, which houses the genealogy collection, will be open from 9 a.m. to midnight for five days and four nights of research. A number of workshops are planned and are free. Reservations are requested, but are not required. To register or to obtain more information, call 812-425-4309 or email

Workshops include the following: Beginning Genealogy, Floor Tour of the Collection, Digital Photo Albums, Photo Scanning and Editing, Joining the DAR, Searching Old German Newspapers, Newsletters and the Internet, Finding German Origins and Relatives, Why DNA, Touring Willard's Online Resources, Courthouse Research, Scrapbooking: Family Style, So You Think It Doesn't Exist, Publishing Your Family History: Practical Advice, Military Records and Establishing a Home Library for Genealogists. In addition, a one-on-one appointment for help in breaking through brick walls is available. Tuesday night the Red Bank Reunion Band will give a concert in Willard Park.

The entire genealogy collection is open and free for use during the extended hours. This is a great opportunity to spend some quality time in a great research facility.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Breaking Through That Brick Wall

Have you been unable to find your great-great-great grandmother’s parents? Don’t know where your 19th century ancestors lived before settling in Kentucky? Don’t know where to look or what records might solve your problems?

I can’t promise that all of your mysteries will be solved, but if you do a little preparatory work, you might be able to break through that brick wall that is preventing you from really knowing your ancestors.

Here is what I do when I have this problem:

Define the problem. What do you want to know? Don’t try to solve all your questions at once; pick the one of highest priority and concentrate on it. When you have solved the first problem, go to the next one. You are less likely to become overwhelmed this way.

Where are you likely to find the information to solve that problem? If you want to know when your great grandparents married, where will you find that marriage record? Marriages are filed in the county clerks’ offices in Kentucky, but in what county are you likely to find it? Kentucky marriage licenses were good anywhere in the state, but were not legal in another state. If you don’t find the marriage record in the county in which the couple lived, try adjoining counties. If your ancestor lived along the Ohio River, take a look at the marriage records of the Illinois counties on the other side of the river. Western Kentuckians loved to cross the river to marry.

How can you access that all-important record? Do you need to personally visit the county courthouse or can you obtain the record by mail? If you find the marriage online, that’s great, but keep in mind that the actual courthouse record very likely will have additional information. An online list of marriages is no substitute for the original record.

Define your ancestor in history. What was going on in the county, state and country when your ancestor lived? How did those events affect your ancestor’s life? If he was a coal miner in Kentucky, but moved to southern Illinois, was it because a new coal mine had opened in Illinois? Or maybe he moved when a new state was created. Many, many Kentuckians moved to Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas shortly after those states gained statehood.

From the census records, you might know in which state your ancestor was born, but you have no idea which county. How can you find out? Read county histories to learn where others were born in that state. People tend to migrate in a group so if you find one family from a particular county, the chances are good you will find other families from the same county. If your ancestor is shown on a church membership list, check the names and origins of others on that list.

There are several things to keep in mind when doing research:

Not everything on internet is true, although it is getting better.

Do not expect to find your entire lineage online with complete source citations. Names and dates without sources are nothing more than clues.

If your ancestor lived in Kentucky during the Civil War, he did not necessarily serve in the Confederate army. Many men served in the Union army and others did not serve at all.

If you download or copy something you find online, please give credit to the person who put it online. Don’t take credit for work you did not do. On the other hand, you don't want mistakes in someone else's research attributed to you.

It is very easy to judge our ancestors for what they did or did not do. In most cases, they did the best they could do with what they had. Their primary concerns were keeping their family clothed, housed and fed. Aren’t those the same concerns we have today?

Finally, have fun with your research. Facing a brick wall should be considered a challenge and not an end to your genealogical journey.