Friday, January 30, 2009

Five Fallacies in Genealogy

Most of us come into genealogy with some preconceived notions about research. Those who are interested in improving their skills and being a responsible researcher soon learn there are fallacies we must discard. Below are five of those fallacies I have encountered.

1. Having high cheek bones indicates you are probably Native American. Wrong! Having Native American ancestry may be fashionable, but this belief is about as accurate as stating that having ten fingers means we can type.

2. Sharing a surname means we are related. Wrong! Some people really do believe this and gather names the same way we gather leaves in the fall. It doesn’t seem to matter that names may have been changed through the years. Sound research is the only way to know if we are or are not related.

3. Our southern ancestors all favored the Confederacy. Yep. Just like everyone who lived in the south lived on plantations and owned slaves. What about all those men who traveled north to enlist in a Union regiment? That’s what my coal miner/preacher Joyce ancestor from Tennessee did.

4. Our northern ancestors all favored the Union. You betcha! See No. 3. Many men living in southern Indiana and southern Illinois crossed the Ohio River to enlist in a CSA regiment in Kentucky. Living north of the Ohio River didn’t mean your heart wasn’t on the other side of the river.

5. Citing your sources really isn’t necessary. Wrong! Go on believing that and you will guarantee yourself a seat at the bottom of the genealogical researcher’s totem pole. Not citing your sources ranks up there with taking credit for material not your own. If the material did not originate with you, you can not take credit for it. Be a responsible researcher and give credit where it belongs.

Can you think of others?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Smithland Cemetery

Photographed 16 January 2009, Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Kentucky

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Richard and Julia Weston

Julia A.
Wife of
R.C. Weston
Died Oct. 28, 1854
31 Years

Richard C. Weston
Aug. 4, 1815
May 1, 1881

Julia A. and Richard C. Weston are both buried in Smithland Cemetery beside their two sons, Arthur, who died in 1849 at the age of 5 years, and Richard, who died as an infant in 1851. Richard's tombstone was photographed in November 2008 and Julia's was photographed in January 2009.

Richard Weston was born in Nashville, Tennessee, married (1) Julia Hickman 13 October 1839 in Livingston County, (2) Pernecia A. White 15 December 1853 and (3) Eunice --. Among his known children are Arthur, Mary, Clementine, Isabelle, Richard, Ellen, Julia Ann, William M., James L., Minnie, and Emma. This family lived in Smithland until after 1870, when they moved to Paducah, Kentucky.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Livingston County Lunacy Records 1875 - 1879

When considered mentally unstable in Kentucky, the person was usually brought before the county court and a jury of local residents determined the condition of the person’s mind. No special medical knowledge was necessary to serve on this jury, but an attorney was appointed to protect the rights of the person suspected of being mentally ill. The jury met to review the circumstances of the case and a determination was made whether the person was mentally unstable. Accounts of these lunacy hearings are usually recorded in the county court order books. However, several months ago, I attempted to find a specific lunacy hearing in Crittenden County said to have been held in county court in the 1870s and found none recorded in the county court records. To date, no Crittenden County lunacy records prior to 1906 have been found.

The following Livingston County lunacy records have been abstracted from County Court Order Book O (1875 - 1880), Livingston County Clerk’s Office, Smithland, Kentucky. In each case, the person was ordered to Western Lunatic Asylum, Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

[entry removed]

Samuel L. Sterling showed marked peculiarities when he was 8 or 9 years old but that about 4 years ago he had a sun stroke and became unmistakably insane, since which time he has partially lucid intervals of from 3 to 6 weeks duration. The cause of his lunacy is unknown. He was born in Livingston County, has no estate. His mother is living, but his father is dead. He is capable of laboring in part but that is when he is under the supervision of a capable person. He has no estate. 20 January 1876. [pages 98, 590]

James F. Powell has not been destitute of mind from infancy, he first lost his mind about the first of March 1877, the probable cause of his first derangement was excessive use of strong medicine, the cause of his present insanity is unknown. He is about 37 or 38 years old, was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, has been married but is now divorced. He lives in this county but has no estate. His mother is alive and lives in this county and has no estate. His father is dead. [page 232]

Mary Baynes lost her mind on or about the first of March 1878; it is hereditary in her family and has been aggravated in her case by her anxiety upon religious subjects. She is about 38 years old , was born and has lived all her life in this county. She is a married woman, the wife of Rufus Baynes and is the mother of 4 living minor children. Her husband owns about 125 acres worth about $600 but owes about $150 purchase money. He also owns about $300 worth of personal property. Her parents are dead and she is incapable of laboring in whole or in part for her support. 29 August 1878. [page 387]

Mary E. Council lost her mind on or about the 15th of August 1878 and the jury is unable to tell the cause of her lunacy. She is about 26 years old, was born and partly raised in Livingston County. She lived in Tennessee a number of years and removed to this county again about 11 years ago. She is a married woman, but wife of W.L. Council. Her husband has no estate and is unable to pay her expenses at the asylum. Her mother is dead and her father lives in Pope County, Illinois and is a poor man. 26 September 1878 . [page 403]

William Henry Hosick lost his mind at about 4 years of age, he is now about age 17, and it began with epileptic fits. He was born and now lives in Livingston County. He has no estate whatever. His mother is dead and his father lives in Livingston County. 31 March 1879. [page 470]

Charlie Hosick lost his mind about 2 years since, now being about 11 years old. He was born and now lives in Livingston County. His mother is dead and his father, who lives in Livingston County, has no estate, nor does Charlie. 31 March 1879. [page 471]

Edward Champion lost his mind 7 or 8 years ago, now being 17 or 18 years of age, and it was caused by fits. He was born in Livingston County and has no estate. His father is dead or gone to parts unknown and his mother lives in Livingston County but has no estate. 31 March 1879. [page 473]

Frances Dowden (of color) declared a lunatic 10 July 1879. “We the Jury find that the defendant Frances Dowden is a Lunatic, but she being an utter stranger here and unable to give the information herself, we cannot say concerning her birthplace, parentage, residence or means of support, but we do not think from her appearance that she is capable of laboring in any part for her support and we Judge by her looks that she is perhaps 25 years old and the preponderance of her evidence is that she came from Todd County Kentucky.” [page 512]

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lyon County, Kentucky Guardian Bonds 1860

The following list of guardians has been abstracted from Lyon County Guardian List Book, microfilm roll #7002714, Kentucky Dept for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Archibald Martin was appointed guardian of Mary J. Hughey 3 March 1860. Settlement made 21 April 1861, ward married and settled up December 1871.

James H. Leech was appointed guardian of Sarah B. Hughey, Thomas B. Hughey, William R. Hughey and Coleman Hughey 3 March 1860.

Silas D. Collie was appointed guardian of Jane Holloway 26 March 1860.

Aquilla Baldwin was appointed guardian of Rebecca Bowling 9 May 1860.

W.W. Hollowman was appointed guardian of Eliza Ann Moore 12 July 1860.

Tho. J. Cobb was appointed guardian of David M. Guess and Joel Guess 22 October 1860. On 25 March 1861, the guardian stated no estate had come into his hands.

James Coleman was appointed guardian of Simon Wright 23 October 1860.

James Coleman was appointed guardian of John C. Coleman 23 October 1860.

F.P. Langston was appointed guardian of James G. Langston and Helan E. Langston 21 Novebmer 1860. On 22 April 1861, the guardian stated no estate had come into his hands.

Mrs. Sarah Glenn was appointed guardian of James C. Glenn, Martha L. Glenn, Thomas C. Glenn and Danl. A. Glenn 21 November 1860.

Isaac Rucker was appointed guardian of Isaac G. Marshall, Reuben R. Marshall, James Marshall and Gideon Marshall 10 December 1860.

Emily Rudy was appointed guardian of Wm. G. Rudy, Julia A. Rudy, Nannie Rudy and Sarah A. Rudy 18 December 1860.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Crittenden County, Kentucky

Green's Chapel Road, near Green's Chapel Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky May 1990.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - John L. and Mary M. Elder

John L.
1853 - 1934

Mary M.
1870 - 1943

Buried Salem Cemetery, Salem, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 18 January 2009.

John L. Elder was the son of George W. Elder and Mary Ann Leach, according to John L.'s death certificate. He died in Paducah, Kentucky 4 July 1934 at the age of 81 years, 5 months and 24 days.

Mary M. Elder, the daughter of James Cullen, was born 14 January 1870 Webster County, Kentucky and died in Paducah 3 January 1943.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rambling Thoughts

In case you have just joined us, you might want to take a look at my sister blog here: Rambling Thoughts ... Out of My Mind

Rambling Thoughts is a variety of thoughts and ideas on life and the world around me - with a dash of genealogy thrown in now and then. Come and share the journey!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Demographics of Smithland 1830 - 1840

For some time I have been working on a special project on the town of Smithland, from its earliest establishment to about the time of the Civil War. Calling it a history project isn’t entirely accurate, nor is calling it a genealogy project. It is a mixture of both. When it is completed, I plan do a Power Point presentation for my local genealogical society.

The project began with research of some of the early families, but it soon snowballed into much more. When I research a family, invariably the project expands to include all the neighbors, where they originated, who and where they married and died and their religion. Because people settled in a particular place for a particular reason, using these sources helps me to know as much as possible about the neighborhood in which my family lived. I’m not satisfied to know that something happened, I want to know why it happened. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it does not, but it’s always fun to try.

To get the desired results, I use a variety of records - census, deeds and mortgages, tavern and coffee house bonds, tax lists - anything that will shed some light on the target subjects.

One of the things I wanted to know about Smithland was the type and age of the business people. I thought that younger people were more likely to be passing through the area if Smithland turned out not to be their ideal location. It also made sense to me that older people were more apt to settle for a long time in Smithland. Finding a new frontier would not be as appealing to older persons. Basically, my goals were to learn who these people were, when they came to Smithland and whether they stayed or moved away.

Keep in mind that I like numbers, statistics and arranging items in order. Using the 1830 and 1840 Livingston County federal census records, I arranged every person in town by age category. These two census records were used because this time period was the heyday of Smithland. What do you think I learned? What was the median age of the population of Smithland?

It really isn’t surprising. In 1830, the median age was between 20 and 30 years old. The next largest category was under the age of 5. It fits, doesn’t it? Young people have children.

In 1840, the median age was also between 20 and 30 years of age. What happened to those listed in that age category on the 1830 census? Well, the next largest group, 71 persons total, were between the ages of 30 and 40. While not proven, I have a hunch that some of those between the ages of 20 and 30 in 1830 stayed in Smithland and were 10 years older in 1840. I also learned that in 1840, there were 20 free persons of colour and 397 slaves. This contrasts to 4 free persons of colour and 290 slaves on the 1830 census.

While this type of research might not appeal to others, I find that it helps me understand my subject just a little bit more.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Union County Church

[St. John's?] Episcopal Church, Uniontown, Kentucky circa 1910. The church no longer exists.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - John Lamb

John Lamb
Mar. 24 1848
in the 46 yr of
his Age

Buried in the John Lamb Cemetery, on private property off Green’s Chapel Road in Crittenden County, not far from the Union County line. Photographed November 1991.

Also buried here is Medora J. Lamb, daughter of J.M. and J.E. Lamb, Oct. 24, 1857 - Dec. 19, 1862. There are a number of graves marked by sandstones.

John Lamb married Mary “Polly” Wilson, daughter of Robert and Priscilla Wilson, 5 April 1824 Livingston County, Kentucky. John and Polly Lamb lived on Heath Mountain in the Bells Mines area. The following children are named in the will of John Lamb (recorded in Crittenden County Will Book 1, page 22): James M. Lamb, Samuel B. Lamb, John W. Lamb, George W. Lamb, Mary M. Lamb and Prescilla S. Perkins. Executors of John Lamb’s will were his brothers, William and David Lamb. Polly Lamb died after 1863 and may also be buried in the John Lamb Cemetery.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dixon School, Livingston County, Kentucky 1925

The following are identified:
Back: Alma Crass, teacher
Middle: Frank May, Denny Workman, Kitty Lee Workman, Roberta Clark, Lucille May, unknown, Florella Ramage.
Front: John Workman, James Workman, Alben Ramage.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

News From Fredonia

It is a good idea to expand your newspaper research into adjoining counties as neighborhood news sometimes can be found outside the home county. The following items from a Caldwell County, Kentucky neighborhood were found in the Paducah Evening Sun on Monday, 30 August 1926.

Mr. and Mrs. Guy Ordway entertained Friday evening, August 27, at their home a few miles north of here with a chicken barbeque. There were over 100 guests present. The Crayne String Band furnished music.

Mr. and Mrs. C.S. Wigginton of Evansville were visitors here Thursday.

Rev. and Mrs. Claud Leeper and children, Misses Margaret and Nellie Lee and Claud Kirkpatrick and Mr. Edwin Codding left for their home in Ironton, Mo. Friday. They had been the house guests of Dr. S.M. Leeper and family for some days.

Mrs. J.B. Sory, Mrs. J.E. Hillyard, Miss Dora Young, Miss Juanita Sory and Mr. Ben D. Landes motored to Evansville Friday.

Miss Alice Browning of Evansville was the guest of her sister, Mrs. W.S. Hale and Mr. Hale, some days recently.

Mr. and Mrs. William Moore and Mrs. J.T. Moore of Clay were visitors here Friday.

Rev. and Mrs. L.C. Findley and son Barnard were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. R.B. Ford of Sullivan some days last week.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Out for a Drive, Kentucky Style

This real photo postcard was found among my late mother's pictures. There is no identification except the word "Kentucky" written on the back.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Sidney K. Conner

Mrs. Sidney K. Conner
Dec. 20, 1809
March 14, 1852

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed September 2008.

Very little is known about Mrs. Sidney K. Conner. She does not appear on the 1850 Livingston County census, but Livingston County deaths, which appeared in the Kentucky Register, vol. 57, pp 354-382, shows the following: “Conner, Cidney K., Born Lewis County, Ky., daughter of George N. Davis; died Livingston County, March 14, 1852, age 43.”

The weeping willow tree on her tombstone is the universal symbol of mourning or grief and was popular tombstone art work during the 1800s. This stylized version of the weeping willow tree is not usually found on tombstones in this part of western Kentucky. Very likely the tombstone was ordered from outside the area and shipped to Smithland.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Making Sorghum

The above is a picture of my grandfather, Herman Croft, in the process of making sorghum molasses about 1930 in Livingston County, Kentucky. If you look closely, you can see him feeding the stalks into the mill.

Sorghum, a drought-resistant grass used mainly as a sweetener, originated in Africa, although it is grown in many different countries today. It was probably brought to this country by slaves in the 1850s and became very popular in the southeastern states. Kentucky and Tennessee are the leading producers of sweet sorghum syrup today.

Sorghum grows to a height of over 6 feet and resembles corn, but without the ears, and has seeds on the top.

In the picture above, mules are walking in a circle to turn the mechanism, which crushes the sorghum and produces the syrup, which drips down into a low pan. From there, it is heated in shallow pan and then is collected for packaging in buckets or jars.

My aunt has told me that she and my mother and their older brother stripped the stalks to be fed into the mill to make sorghum. They would stop at their father’s mill near Pleasant Grove Church on their way home from school and, by evening, could strip enough stalks for use the next day. The discarded part was fed to the cattle.

My grandfather used to keep a large goblet of sorghum on the kitchen table. Each morning for breakfast, he would pour the sorghum onto his plate, add dabs of butter and spread the mixture on his biscuits. Sorghum is also used on pancakes, over ice cream or as a sweetener in baking.