Thursday, July 31, 2008

Life of Miss Pattie J. Barner

  Copyright on photo and text by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG  
 May not copy without written consent
After you have researched a family for a long time, do you ever feel like you really and truly know them; you would recognize them if they stepped into your life today? I’ve been researching the Barner family of Smithland, Livingston County, Kentucky and that’s the way I feel about them, especially Pattie J. Barner - or Miss Pattie, as she was often called. I'm not related in any way to the Barner family, but I am very interested in all of the early Smithland families. Pattie's father, Sterling M. Barner, was a prominent steamboat pilot for many years, but that was before Miss Pattie was born. After he moved to Smithland about 1840, he went into business with his brother, Benjamin Barner, who was a prominent merchant and landowner.
Benjamin Barner never married so when Sterling’s family moved to Smithland, they lived with him. Their house still stands on Charlotte Street in Smithland, just one block back from the confluence of the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers. The other family members were her mother, Sarah J. West, and the Barner children, Joseph, the oldest, Mary and then Pattie. There was also a baby who was born and died the same day in 1855. There will be more on the Barner family - their joys and their tragedies - at a later date. Now, about Pattie.
As a member of a prominent family, Pattie’s life was far different than that of the majority of young ladies in Livingston County. She lived “in town” and as a town resident, she saw the activity along the river front as steamboats delivered travelers and goods to this busy little town. There were slaves to help with housework. Most likely, Pattie and her family were part of the lively social scene during the years prior to the Civil War.
For at least part of her life, Pattie was educated at a boarding school in Louisville and her clothing was of the best quality. At the age of 19, she married Benjamin Waller Taylor, who was born in Florida Territory, but whose family had lived in Henderson, Kentucky for a number of years. How they met is unknown, but they married 26th of March 1868 in Smithland. Miss Pattie was now a young matron with a husband.
It wasn’t long before Pattie was pregnant. She had a son, Sterling Barner Taylor, born in May 1869. Sadly, Pattie did not survive childbirth either. She passed away 12 May 1869 at the age of 20 years, one month and ten days. She was buried high on a hill in Smithland Cemetery near the gravesites of her Barner relatives. The picture at the top of this page is of Pattie’s tombstone. Click on the picture for an enlarged view.
By 1870, Sarah Barner, widow, had taken her grandson, Sterling B. Taylor, and was staying with her sister in Logan County, Kentucky. Sterling would stay there for a number of years, but also spent some time with his father, B. Waller Taylor, who had moved back to Henderson, where he lived with his family. At some point, B. Waller moved to Evansville, Indiana, where he was an agent for a shoe company. B. Waller did not remarry until 1892, when, at the age of 53, he married Ruth Tunnock in Evansville, who was many years his junior. They had three children before B. Waller died in 1901. He is buried in Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson, Kentucky.
Sterling B. Taylor attended Bethel College, graduated from the Starling Medical College in 1890 and practiced medicine in Columbus, Ohio. In an article from the Ohio State Journal in 1908, it is stated that Dr. Sterling B. Taylor, while searching in an old trunk which had been the property of his grandfather, Capt. Sterling M. Barner, he found a letter written by Andrew Jackson in 1828, a deed to property in Illinois and a letter written by his mother when she was age 16. It also states that his mother died when he was an infant. The trunk had remained undisturbed in an attic in Dr. Taylor’s former home in Russellville, Kentucky for many years.
Dr. Sterling B. Taylor, a well-known physician, was a surgeon for the Ohio National Guard. He was also active in political circles in Columbus. Sterling’s first marriage ended in divorce after the birth of two sons, Emerson and Harold. On 23 October 1908, Sterling married Miss Mayme Pickett of Bellaire, Ohio. They had no issue. Sterling Taylor died in Florida in the 1940s.
In a future article, I’d like to tell you what I have learned about the rest of the Barner family.
Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Register, page 259.
1840 - 1860 Livingston County, Kentucky census records
1870 - 1880 Logan County, Kentucky census records
1900 - 1930 Franklin County, Ohio census records
Henderson County, Kentucky 1850 - 1870 census records
Vanderburgh County, Indiana Marriage Book 16, page 357
Evansville, Indiana 1899 - 1901 City Directories
“Letter Written by Andrew Jackson,” Duluth News Tribune reprinted from Ohio State Journal 5 July 1908, accessed on 11 July 2008
William Alexander Taylor. Centennial History of Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio (Chicago-Columbus: The S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1909), accessed 11 July 2008 at
Estate file of Benjamin Barner, Livingston County Clerk’s Office, Smithland, Kentucky

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