Monday, March 31, 2008

Robert C. Slaughter Petition for Pardon

Confederate Amnesty File of Robert C. Slaughter, Webster County, Kentucky: Aiding the Rebellion. Papers filed May 10, 1854 & same day Pardoned by order of the President:

“Attorney General please make out a full pardon for Robert C. Slaughter within named, order[?] to take effect, if in your opinion that may be, on the 30th day of April 1864. A. Lincoln. May 10, 1864."

Louisville, Ky May 2nd 1864
His Excellency A. Lincoln
President of the United States

Mr. President
Inclosed you will please find copy of Information filed against Robert C. Slaughter by the District Attorney for the District of Kentucky in the District Court. Also copy of Slaughter’s plea & exhibits. The Court has not active in the premises, but intimated that he did not think the case was one of the Cares[?] Contemplated by your proclation[?]. I am clearly of the opinion that Slaughter’s case is embraced in your proclamation. I know his to be a meritorious case and have determined to appeal directly to you in his behalf. As a general rule I have no Confidence whatsoever in rebels either before or after taking oaths. And I have less confidence in those who do not take up arms in the rebellion but remain at home aiding it in every possible manner - that I have in those who go out and fight - There are however exceptions and I know Slaughter to be one who has not only done all that is set up in his pleas but he has gone further he has given information to the Federals of the whereabouts of the enemy. He has but a few days since been arrested and abused by the rebels - There is no question but that he has in good faith returned to his allegiance. This proceeding has doubtless been instituted at the suggestion of the purchase of his land Sold after his return to Kentucky from the rebel army - the same the notes were executed for that are sought to be confiscated. Slaughter has been at his home since last decr. was one year ago. His conduct has uniformly been that of a true and loyal citizen. He has by his conduct and conversation won the confidence and esteem of all the Union men in his community. And incurred the displeasure of all rebels. If his case does not come within the proclamation I certainly [illegible] appeal directly to the clemency of Your Excellency and I do most earnestly ask that you grant him a pardon. And I do hereby vouch for his faithful observance of his oath. I am Mr. President Very Respectfully Your Obedient Servant, J.M. Shackelford.

Oath of Allegiance: I Robert C. Slaughter of Webster County in the state of Kentucky do solemnly swear in the presence of Almighty God that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will, in like manner abide by and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, midified[?], or held void by Congress, or by the decision of the Supreme Court; and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all Proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion ... so help me God. [signed] Robt. C.
Slaughter. 30 April 1864.

United States of America District Court for the District of Kentucky. The United States against Robert C. Slaughter. The defendant Robert C. Slaughter comes and for plea to information filed against him ... the deft. having been a captain in the rebel army, was a prisoner of war at Camp Chase, having been captured by the Federals at the battle of Fort Donelson. That on the -- day of Novr 1862 he was exchanged. That at the time of his exchange he persistently refused to again take up arms against the United States Government and that he did then and there abandon the rebel army and the rebel cause. That on the -- day of Decr 1862 in pursuance with a proclamation of Major Gen. Rosencrans then commanding the Dept. of the Cumberland the deft. voluntarily came in and surrendered himself to the military authorities of the United States at Russellville Kentucky and took the oath of allegiance to the United States Government. He did return to his home in Webster County where he has since continued to reside. He states that at no time since the battle of Fort Donelson has he been in arms against the Federal Government Nor has he aided the rebellion in any way whatever.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fires in Princeton

Through the years there have been a number of terrible fires in Caldwell County, Kentucky. During the latter part of the 1800s the business section of Princeton was especially hard hit.

In April 1889, fire destroyed the following businesses in Princeton: the Opera House, including the Knights of Pythias Hall; Kevil & Brown, dry goods; J.A. Stegar & Co., clothing; A.C. Myers & Son, general merchants; Kaufman & Goldnamer, dry goods; Mrs. Boyd, millinery; J.E. Griffith’s photograph gallery. Several lawyers’ and doctors’offices also burnt. The loss was estimated at $60,000 with little insurance to cover the loss.

On 7 July 1893, in the very early morning hours a fire destroyed the Kevil corner, with the loss being estimated at $10,000. The fire was thought to have been of an incendiary origin or of “spontaneous combustion.”

The tobacco warehouse of Powell & Hollingsworth caught fire on 20 April 1896 and destroyed 900,000 pounds of tobacco. The loss was reputed to be $40,000.

In September of 1898, the block of buildings on Main street, known as the Bank Hotel, was destroyed by fire. The total loss was $50,000. Four business houses and the hotel property were destroyed. Insurance covered about three-quarters of the loss.

In spite of the numerous fires, buildings were rebuilt and business continued.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Livingston County, Kentucky Ferry Licenses 1800 - 1808

Kentucky became a state in 1792 and just seven years later Livingston County was formed from Christian County, making these the earliest ferry licenses granted in the new county. The ferries across the Ohio River were to Indiana Territory, from which Illinois Territory would be created in 1809. The state of Illinois would not be created until several years later. Some of the ferries across the Cumberland River would today be in Lyon County, which, in 1854, was formed from Caldwell County, which had been created from Livingston in 1809. The following information has been abstracted from Livingston County Court Order Books A, B and C and original county court papers, Livingston County Clerk's Office, Smithland, Kentucky.

26 Mar 1800: Charles Stewart, agent for David Walker permitted to keep a ferry across the Cumberland river at Eddyville and he is allowed 12 1/2 cents for man and horse and 6 1/4 cents for horse alone.

24 Aug 1800: Richard Miles entered into bond with William Mitchusson, his security, in the penalty of 20 pounds and is permitted to keep ferry across the Ohio River at his own house.

24 Aug 1800: James Lusk permitted to keep ferry at his own house across the Ohio River.

5 May 1801: Thomas Gist permitted to keep Tavern at his ferry in Smithland.

7 Jul 1801: James Lusk permitted to keep ferry across the Ohio at his own house at the usual rates and ordered that he keep a good and sufficient boat and good attendance.

2 Feb 1802: Abraham Stokes permitted to keep ferry at his house across Cumberland river.

2 Feb 1802: Gideon D. Cobb obtained license to keep ferry at his own house on Cumberland River.

7 Mar 1803: Robert Kirk permitted to keep a ferry across the Ohio at the mouth of Hurricain Creek.

6 Dec 1803: Wiley Davis permitted to keep a ferry across the Cumberland River from his own land in Eddyville. Joseph McMahan permitted to keep tavern at the ferry of Wiley Davis at the town of Eddyville with Joseph being the ferrykeeper.

2 Jan 1804: Essix Capshaw permitted to keep ferry across Cumberland River at the mouth of Sugar Creek.

3 Jan 1804: Jonathan Burk permitted to keep a ferry across the Ohio at his own house.

7 May 1804: Samuel Burton permitted to keep a ferry across the Cumberland River at his own house.

6 Nov 1804: Richard Forgison permitted to keep ferry from his landing below the mouth of Cumberland across to the island in the Ohio River.

1 Apr 1805: Ferry granted to Richard Forgison below mouth of Cumberland River discontinued.

1 Jul 1805: William Gillihan permitted to keep a ferry at his own house across the Cumberland River at rates of 12 1/2 cents for man and horse and 6 1/4 cents for foot man or led horse.

1 Jul 1805: Richard Forgison granted ferry across from his landing on this side of the Ohio to the Island in the Ohio opposite the mouth of Cumberland and from said Island to the pond above the mouth of Cumberland at 25 cents each for man and horse.

7 Oct 1805: Tilman Powers granted a ferry across Cumberland River at the mouth of Sugar Creek.

6 Jan 1806: Wm. C. Rodgers granted a ferry across the Ohio on his land at the lower end of Hurricain Island.

9 Oct 1806: Wm. Karr granted a ferry on his own land across the Ohio at the place commonly known by the name of Miles ferry.

1 Dec 1806: John Crosswhite granted a ferry across the Cumberland River at the mouth of Clay lick.

6 Jan 1807: James Johnston wishes to establish a ferry on his own land 200 yards above the mouth of Camp Creek which is opposed by George Flin ... motion continued.

27 Jul 1807: Wm. Boggs granted a ferry across Cumberland at the upper end of Bisswells Mount.

4 Apr 1808:Richard Fergerson is desirous of establishing a ferry across the Cumberland river from his landing on the south side across to the point.

7 Nov 1808: James Murray granted a ferry across Cumberland river at the mouth of Eddy Creek.

7 Nov 1808: William E. Philips & Jesse Handley granted a ferry across the Ohio river, they owning the land on this side at the lower end of the Trade water island. Philips & Handley permitted to mark and cut out a road from their ferry from the lower point of the island to intersect the saline road at any place between Flynns ferry & house and barn provided they cut it out at their own expense which is then to be established a public road.

7 Nov 1808: Ferry granted to Jesse Handley across the Tradewater, he owning the land on this side of the upper end of the Tradewater Island

Published 27 March 2008, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Caring for the Mentally Unsound

If you lived in Kentucky during the mid-1850s, you had three choices if you needed to obtain care for a mentally unsound person: The family could provide care, the person could be committed to the local insane asylum or care could be provided by a local resident, who had "won" by placing the lowest bid to the court.

If the person was committed to the asylum, most likely he or she would be sent to the Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville, which had opened in September 1854. Before care could be provided at the asylum or by a local resident, however, the prospective patient had to first go into court and have a jury of local residents - ordinary farmers and possibly neighbors - judge the condition of the patient’s mind.

Such was what happened to Elizabeth Land of Livingston County, Kentucky, whose case was presented in Livingston Circuit Court on Tuesday, the 18th of December 1855. The details are found in Circuit Court Order Book P, pages 226 and 227.

The attorney for the Commonwealth reported that he had been informed that Elizabeth Land of Livingston County was of unsound mind; that she was 17 years of age and had no estate, but she did have a poor sister living in or near Paducah.

J.B. Husbands was appointed to represent Elizabeth, who was brought into court. A jury was present to decide Elizabeth’s fate. On this jury were Samuel Moxley, W.T. Hurley, William Gregory, Thos. Edmonds, C.C. Sullivant, W.T. Champion, William Canada, W.F. Champion, John Hankins, J.N. Paul, Wiley Spell and R.J. Robinson.

We don’t know what evidence was presented, but we do know the outcome. Having heard the evidence, the Jury returned the following verdict. "We of the Jury do find in this cause and say that sd. Elizabeth Land is of unsound mind and a lunatic. Has been partially but not entirely destitute of mind from her infancy or early youth from a cause natural or if otherwise unknown to us; she was born in North Carolina about the year 1838; she now resides in Livingston County, Ky; was brought into this state by her father some 12 or 14 years since & that she was not brought into this state for the purpose of becoming a charge upon the Commonwealth; she has no estate of any kind ... both of her parents are dead, one having died before Elizabeth was brought to Kentucky and the other since; neither of her parents left any estate of any kind whatsoever; she is nearly blind & entirely incapable of laboring & earning part of her support and we also find from the evidence that Elizabeth Land has heretofore & in the year 1852 in Livingston County by verdict and judgment of Livingston Circuit Court been found a lunatic; she is not in as good a condition physically now as at the time of the original inquest but had no estate then or now, her mind is much the same as at the time of the inquest." [signed] W.F. Champion, foreman of the jury. Ordered that James Snow continue to take charge of and provide for her suitable diet, clothing, etc. and that the allowance of $50 per annum be continued."

No record has been found to indicate what happened to Elizabeth after 1855, but we can be sure she did not live a pampered life on just $50 a year.

Friday, March 21, 2008

John H. Going's Petition for Free Papers 1847

Copyright by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
May not copy without written consent

Being free in Kentucky did not guarantee a person of color the same rights and privileges as a white person. Their movements were often restricted to the area where they were known. Traveling outside their immediate area and sometimes even in their own area required papers identifying them as free.

Several free men of color, all carrying the surname of Going settled in Livingston County prior to 1820. They lived in the part of Livingston County that would become Crittenden County in 1842. One of those men, John "Jack" Goin, was born about 1787. In 1847, Going wanted to visit Mississippi to claim his portion of his brother’s estate. The following petition was filed Wednesday, 26 May 1847 and is found in Crittenden Circuit Court Order Book A, pages 308, 312 and 322. Although called John H. Going in the circuit court sessions, he is listed as Jack Going in the order book index.

"To the Honorable Judge of the Crittenden Circuit Court ... Your Petitioner John H. Going, a man of color a resident of this County would Respectfully [say] to your Honor that he has lived where he now does & its neighbourhood for near thirty five years that he is very well Known to many persons of the County & he hopes & believes favourably Known that he is a free man & has been so since his birth altho his color is dark & might be taken as prima facie evidence that he was a slave. That his Mother was named Agnis an Indian by blood his father a free man of color. He would further represent to your Honor that he has a brother by the name of Thomas Going of the County of Claibourne & state of Mississippi - that he has been dead some years & died without children leaving him as he understands one of his heirs that the Estate is valuable & time enough has elapsed since his death for its full & entire settlement ... and he now desires to go to sd. state of Mississippi & claim his wrights But he finds some difficulty in travelling because of his collor. He therefore humbly & Respectfully petitions & asks your Honor to permit him to introduce in Court proof of his freedom & have it certified to all whom it may concern so that he shall be able to pass & attend to his business."

Two days later, John H. Going filed the depositions of Thomas S. Phillips and Ira Nunn. Phillips stated that he had been acquainted with Going for about 30 years and during that time he had resided as a free man of color and not born a slave. It was reported that he was of Indian and Negro blood or parentage [and] from information he had a brother by the name of Thomas Going who was an eminent Physician and died in Mississippi and affiant [Going] had an uncle who was a Physician who once practiced medicine in copartnership with Thos. Going.

Ira Nunn stated in his deposition that he had known Going for 30 years and that he was raised in the same county in Georgia as Going. He also stated Going had always been considered & recognized by his neighbors as a free man of color.

The following circuit court entry is dated Saturday, 29 May 1847: "It appearing from the petition and the Depositions that the petitioner has for the last 30 years been acknowledged and recognized in the community ... to be a free man of color & that he was born free considered of African & Indian blood [and] it is therefore considered that Going be recognized and considered to be a free man of color and entitled under the laws of this commonwealth to all the privileges such persons are entitled."

John H. Going is listed on the 1850 and 1860 Crittenden County census records as a wagonmaker born in Georgia. In 1867, L.J. Crabtree submitted a claim to the Crittenden County Court for "hauling Jack Goins a pauper from Bells Mines to Marion .... $5.00" The reason for this claim is unknown, as are the date and place of John Goins' death.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Crittenden County, Kentucky Road Report 1868

One of the functions of the county court was to hear petitions from local residents regarding the establishment of new roads. After the petition was received, commissioners were appointed to determine the feasibility of such a road and, finally, owners of the land on which the road was proposed, must give consent for the project.

The following report was for a proposed new road through Bells Mines in the northern part of Crittenden County. The Tradewater River is the dividing line between Crittenden and Union Counties. Stephen Rutherford, one of the commissioners, lived in this area and his old family cemetery is located in a small wooded area just off present-day Hwy 365, near the local office of Kimball International Inc., the current owners of this land. John T. Black also lived in this area and is buried in the Newcom-Black Cemetery across Hwy 365 from the Rutherford Cemetery.

"Bells Mines, August 1868.
Your Commissioners would respectfully report to the Honorable County Court that they met at Mr. Thos. Harlands on the Marion and Morganfield Road near to Bells Mines, Ky. and near to or at the corner of S. Rutherfords field fence, thence running along an old neighborhood Road out side of Mr. S. Rutherfords fence and on his land near his line, for about a half mile. Then leaving his land, and running on or through Mr. G.W. Trapnells land along or near to the same old neighborhood road about half a mile down to Tradewater, about 75 yards above Bells old Tip.

And your Commissioners would further report that to have a Public Road established along the above described route, crossing Tradewater at or near to Bells Tip and intersecting the Road from thare to Caseyville (via Caseys Mines) will save in distance about one half and we do believe it will incur no material disadvantage to the community, but will be of an advantage to the travelling community and citizens especially. Yours Respectfully, L.M. Lowry, Stephen Rutherford, Commissioners. Attest: John T. Black, J.P.C.C. [Justice of the Peace Crittenden County]

And your Commissioners would further recommend to have the Road that leads from the Newcom ford, on Tradewater to Bells Mines annexed to the new road as they will be in 150 yards of each other, where they intersect the Marion and Morganfield Road. And we further Recommend that you would appoint Mr. John Braden for Surveyor of Road from the Newcom ford on Tradewater to Bells Tip on Tradewater. This is the most direct way from the Miners shaft & Company mines to Bells Mines & Caseys Mines & Caseyville.

I Stephen Rutherford give my consent for the establishing of the foregoing Public Road this Augst 8th 1868. Stephen Rutherford.

I Hiram Smith agent for George Trapnall give my consent for the establishing of the foregoing Public Road this Augst 10th 1868. Hiram Smith agent for George Trapnall."

Filed 13 Oct 1868.

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,

Thursday, March 13, 2008

RootsWeb Moves to Domain

A recent announcement tells us that The Generation Network, which has hosted RootsWeb for several years, has decided to move RootsWeb onto the domain next week. RootsWeb will remain free, as it has been since the beginning and, according to the announcement, you will not need to change your bookmarks. You can read the details here:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Foiled Marriage

It has been popular for couples living along the Ohio River in western Kentucky to go across the river to marry in the Illinois counties of Gallatin (Shawneetown), Hardin or Pope. At one time, there was no waiting period and an underage couple could marry if they had a consent note from the parents. This changed in 1905, when a statute was passed in Illinois that forbade the issuing of licenses to non-resident minors, even with a consent note.

The following article is from the 29 Jan 1908 issue of the Henderson Daily Gleaner and illustrates the results when an underage prospective bride met a diligent officer of the law.

Sturgis, Ky. Jan. 27 - Officer W.H. Taylor experienced a lively chase after [meeting] John Tutt, aged 26, and Ellen Pruitt, aged 13, both of Sullivan, Ky., who were matrimonially inclined. The couple had driven to Shawneetown, Ill. with John Loving, the liveryman of Sullivan, but on reaching there, on account of the youthful appearance of the would-be bride, the clerk refused them a license. They at once started for Elizabethtown, Ill., and had just driven into Caseyville, Ky., where they expected to take a boat when Officer Taylor put an end to their blissful expectations by taking the child in charge and returning her to her parents.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Fowler Family of Caldwell County

Some time ago I came across an intriguing document in a file marked "Miscellaneous Bonds" in the Caldwell County Clerk’s Office at the courthouse in Princeton. It states: "Know all men by these presents that I have this day taken Gincy Fowler daughter of J W Fowler decd and bind myself to Provide for Educate and use her in all respects as tho she was my Lawful child This I agree to do provided she marries with my approbation. Witness my hand this Feb 25th A D 1852." [signed] R.B. Snelling. James C. Weller, clerk of the Caldwell County Court, certified that this bond from R.B. Snelling to H. Tandy was produced in his office and acknowledged by Snelling to be his act and deed.

As this bond is a little unusual, what could have happpened to generate it? A little checking provided the answers.

The 1850 Caldwell County census, page 742, shows Gincy Fowler, age 6 and born in Kentucky, living with Henry Tandy and family. No J.W. Fowler appears on the 1850 census so he must have died prior to that year. In my book, Caldwell County, Kentucky Marriages 1833 - 1853, there is a marriage for Rodger B. Snelling and Miss Elvira Fowler on 20 April 1843. Giving consent for the bride was her father, J.W. Fowler. Bingo! This tells us two things: R.B. Snelling had married Elvira Fowler, daughter of J.W. Fowler and therefore a sister to young Gincy Fowler. Also, J.W. Fowler was still living in 1843. Now we know he died between 1843 and 1850.

A search in earlier marriages shows that Joseph W. Fowler married Gincy Gray 8 September 1825 in Caldwell County and the will of Godfrey Fowler (Book A, p. 282, written 22 Dec 1816) identifies Joseph as his son.

Years ago, at the annual seminar of the Kentucky Genealogical Society in Frankfort, I bought a beat-up, falling-apart book from a used book vendor. The book is Annals of the Fowler Family and it was written by Mrs. James Joyce Arthur of Austin, Texas in 1901. There is no index, but a table of contents shows chapters on various branches of the family, including that of Godfrey Fowler Jr, who moved to Caldwell County about 1806. It was this book that provided the answers to my questions.

Because the author provided so much information obtained directly from the people involved, I want to include some of it here. Mrs. Arthur states that Joseph Wright Fowler and his twin brother, John Hopkins Fowler, who went to Texas, were the eldest sons of Godfrey Fowler Jr. and wife Clara Wright. Joseph W. and John H. were born 23 Dec 1796, possibly in Smith County, TN. Joseph W. married Ginsey Gray, who was born 26 April 1804 and died 25 March 1844. Joseph W. also died in 1844. They had nine children, including Elvira, who with her husband, Mr. Snelling, moved to Platte County, MO, returned to Kentucky and then went to California.

Gincey, the youngest child of Joseph W. Fowler, was born 7 March 1844 in Princeton, making her less than a month old when her mother died and only slightly older when her father died. Gincey married in Yreka, CA to William S.R. Taylor. She appears on the 1880 San Francisco Census in District 12. She was still living in 1899, when she wrote the author of Annals of the Fowler Family and stated that with her sister and brother-in-law, she moved from Kentucky for California. "We left St. Joseph, Mo. with ox teams, crossed the continent, and arrived in Yreka, Cal. in November 1852." So, that document or bond I found in the Caldwell County Clerk's Office must have been generated because Gincey was shortly to leave for California with her sister's family.

Another member of this family was Judge Wiley P. Fowler, who was born in Smith County, TN in 1799 and died in Paducah, KY in 1880. He is buried in Smithland Cemetery, Livingston County. Many of you will recognize the name of Wiley P. Fowler, a well-respected judge in Livingston County.

Miss Mattie Fowler of Paducah, KY stated in 1899 that she had been told her Uncle Joe (Joseph Wright Fowler) was a man of considerable wealth; that he owned the finest imported cattle of that day in Kentucky and imported silkworms at great expense just for the pleasure of seeing them spin.

Caldwell County has produced many prominent families and this Fowler family must be included among them.

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

Saturday, March 8, 2008

New Blog on Books

I have started a blog listing my books that are currently in print. Click on the link to Western Kentucky Books under Favorite Books at the top of the blue section on the right side of this page or go to

Slowly but surely, I'll get the back issues of the Western Kentucky Journal listed too.

Several people have asked what I am working on now. Welllll, I have a couple of things started, both on Crittenden County, but life has a way of taking me off in different directions and since I no longer recognize deadlines, the completion date for either project remains a mystery. When I know, you will know.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hugh McVay - Kentucky Pioneer

Caldwell County can count a number of Revolutionary War veterans among the county’s earliest settlers. One such man was Hugh McVay. On the 29th day of August 1832, Hugh McVay, age 90, appeared in the Caldwell County court and gave a declaration regarding his military service.

McVay first entered the service of the United States in Caswell County, North Carolina about 1778 as a volunteer in the militia and served three months against the Tories. Following his discharge, he went to Lawrence [Laurens] County, South Carolina, in the frontier, where his brother lived, and volunteered for three more months of service. Later he returned to Caswell County, North Carolina and was drafted into service of the militia for nine months. After the expiration of this tour, he was discharged, but was again called into service. In all, he served four tours against the Tories, British and Indians.

McVay stated he was born 18 April 1741 in Richmond County, Virginia on the Rappahannock River. When young he moved to Lunenburg County and then to Hallifax County and lived there until about the time of the Revolution. He then moved to Caswell County, North Carolina, where he entered the service at age 35. After the war he moved to South Carolina and lived there about 23 years and moved to Tennessee a while, and then moved to this county [Caldwell], where he has lived upwards of 20 years. He is now extremely old, has no record of his age, having lost it in the time of the Revolution, and "keeps his age now by his memory." In his present neighborhood he is known to Arnold Jacob, Henry Machen, Thos. Hill, Tho. Jackson, Wm. Ford, Rev. Jas. W. Mansfield and many others could testify as to his character for veracity and their belief of his services as a soldier of the Revolution.

Hugh McVay was married to Martha Langston and some descendants believe Martha, or "Patty" as she was usually known, was his second wife. McVay received a land grant on Crooked Creek in Livingston County, Kentucky (present day Crittenden County) in 1806, but, before 1815, he moved to Caldwell County, where he bought land on Skinframe and Livingston creeks.

Hugh and Patty McVay had a number of children, but only a few of them moved to Kentucky. A son, Jordan McVay, married Isabella Cruise in Livingston County in 1815. Jordan, who was born 3 Apr 1781 and died 8 Sep 1826, is buried at Hill Cemetery just off Hwy 91 in Caldwell County. Another son, Kinson, lived in Caldwell County for a while before moving to Tennessee. Still another son, Pleasant, received a land grant on Hoods Creek in what is today Crittenden County in 1806, but died young without issue.

A daughter, given name unknown, married my ancestor, John E. Wilson, by 1806 probably in Tennessee and died before Wilson’s second marriage in 1816. Children born to John E. Wilson and Miss McVay were Manerva, Claibourne, Martha "Patsy" and Letty Keziah. In 1826, Hugh McVay began disposing of his property. He conveyed a slave to his son Kenson; a slave to his daughter Sally P Pool and to his four Wilson grandchildren (Letty Keziah Wilson, Minerva Wilson McCluskey, Claibourn Wilson and Martha "Patsy" Wilson) he left household items, a slave and land. In none of the deeds involving his grandchildren, did he ever name their mother. Although I descend from John E. Wilson’s second wife, Harriet Brooks, I would love to have proof of the name of his first wife.

Hugh McVay died 24 September 1834, probably in Caldwell County. His burial place is unknown.

Published 5 March 2008, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Monday, March 3, 2008

Interesting Websites

The following websites may be of interest to you:

History through the eyes of those who lived it

Cherokee Trail of Tears: Other Paths

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Webster County News 1925

As stated in the 6 February 2008 blog, news items are often found in the newspaper of a nearby county or state. The following Webster County, Kentucky items are found in the Evansville Courier & Journal (Evansville, Indiana) on Sunday, 13 September 1925.

Clay News
Clay, Ky., Sept. 12 - Mr. and Mrs. Orville Nall announce the arrival Saturday of a baby boy and have named it Allen Smith.

Robert Langston, who has been very sick with malaria fever, is able to be out.

Misses Eda and Sadie Freedberg have entered school at St. Vincent, which is near Morganfield.

John L. Townsend has sold his interest in the hardware business to his partner, Mr. Charles L. Mitchell, who entered in full charge this week.

Mr. and Mrs. Arch Pemberton have moved here from Dixon, where Mr. Pemberton was engaged in the restaurant business.

Emery Hudson, a traffic policeman on the Detroit force, is at home visiting relatives and friends.

Virgil Pritchell and family have returned to their home in Bowling Green after a visit with relatives here.

Mr. and Mrs. Alta Skinner are here from Indianapolis to visit their parents, Mr. and Mrs. James T. Skinner, and other relatives and friends.

Mr. Emery Villines has purchased a barber shop at Providence.

Miss Nell Brown Hammack, sister of Mr. N.C. Hammack, is staying with him and Mrs. Hammack to attend school this year.

A reunion of the Johnson family was held at Measles Springs last Sunday and a number of relatives from Indiana were present.

Miss Hazel Love left Monday morning for Louisville to enter the conservatory of music.

J.B. Blackwell returned home in Winter Haven, Fla. Monday after coming to attend the funeral of his nephew, Carville Vaughn, last week. His son, Kenneth, went home with him to make his home.

Miss Marjorie Jenkins left Sunday for Morganfield, where she has a position in the schools there.

Providence News
The many friends of Raymond Dorris and Miss Emma Holloman of this town were much suprised at the announcement that they had been married since May 17. Soon after her marriage, Mrs. Dorris was graduated from the local high school.

A commercial department has been added to the Providence high school under the management of Miss Robbie Thomas, late candidate for county clerk.

W.C. Petty, Ellis Leeper, Cleve Cannaday and Walter Hooe, the "big four" of the Providence Gun club, attended a shooting match at Uniontown this week and returned home laden with spoils of the contest.

Providence friends have received announcement of the birth of a daughter, Bernice Esther, at Seattle, Wash., to Mr. and Mrs. L.A. Reynolds of this place who are spending the summer there with Mrs. Reynolds' parents.

Everett and Roy Jennings of Chicago, who have been visiting their mother here, have returned home.

T.B. Hunter and family have moved into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Grady Benjamin on Main street.

New Blog

Brenda Underdown, who writes a historical column in the Crittenden Press, has just started a new blog on Crittenden County, Kentucky. You can visit her blog at httt://

You will want to add this blog to your list of favorites.

Disfigured Ear

You can never be sure what will show up in the Kentucky county court records. The following is found in Livingston County Court Order Book D, page 128, 26 February 1810. What purpose do you suppose this father had in mind in having this information recorded?

"Be it remembered on this day Christopher Haynes came into court and presented his infant son named William Bryant Haynes who has by accident been disfigured in the under part of his right ear which is ordered to be recorded."