Friday, July 31, 2009

John Behagg, Smithland Sexton

Tombstone of John Behagg, Smithland Cemetery.

John Behagg never bought or sold land. He never applied for a license to keep a ferry, tavern or coffee house. He was never appointed to appraise an estate or to work on the public roads. He never left a will or had sufficient estate to require an administrator. Very likely his life was one of hard work trying to provide for himself, his wife and his step-children. John Behagg was the sexton, or grave digger, for Smithland, Kentucky in the mid-1800s. While he generated few public records, there is enough information to get a glimpse of his life.

I first ran across Behagg’s name while researching Martha Barner Taylor. Miss Pattie, as she was usually known, died in Nashville in 1869 and her body was brought back for burial in Smithland Cemetery. One of the estate expenses listed was to “Behagg for digging grave, $5.00.” That was enough to make me wonder who “Behagg” was and if this was how he earned his living.

Records on John Behagg were few and far between in Livingston County. However, I found several vouchers in county court minutes for digging graves for paupers and also found that in August 1845, he was appointed to take charge of the courthouse. This was likely for keeping the courthouse clean and orderly.

Census records show that John Behagg was in Livingston County by 1840 and had a number of people in his household, including a female who was of the age to have been his wife. No marriage record for him was found in Livingston County, but there is a marriage for John Behagg and Amanda Leftridge 9 May 1836 in Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana. There were other Behaggs in Evansville, but they didn’t show up for some years after this marriage. However, maybe he was related to some Behaggs in neighboring Warrick County, Indiana. Were John and Amanda living in Indiana at the time of their marriage or did they make a special trip to Evansville to marry?

The Behaggs were still living in Smithland at the time of the 1850 census, along with Amanda and Joseph Leftridge, who were probably the children of Amanda by a former marriage. On the 1860 and 1870 census Livingston County census records, John Behagg is listed with Hester Behagg. I have an idea Amanda and Hester were the same person as on 7 November 1841 in Livingston County, Sarah Lefftrage, daughter of Mrs. Hester Behagg, married James Drewry.

Per Livingston Circuit Court Order Book L, page 260, John Behagg appeared in court on 2 October 1844 and made a declaration for the purpose of becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States. He stated that he was “born in the Kingdom of Great Britain in Huntingfordshire [sic] England. That he left that Kingdom and came to the United States of America in the year 1828 …” According to Circuit Court Order Book M, page 276, on Friday, the 19th of November 1847, John Behagg was declared to be a citizen of the U.S.

Amanda/Hester must have died after she and John appeared on the 1870 census as John married Rebecca Stevenson on the 23rd of October 1872 at the Methodist Church in Smithland. When John obtained the marriage bond (Marriage Bond Book 1, page 4), he stated it was his third marriage and he was sexton of a church. He was 71 years old.  This was the first marriage for his bride, Rebecca, who was 26 years old.

When John Behagg died 2 November 1875, he left no will or estate settlement. However, his grave is marked by a tombstone, now on the ground, in Smithland Cemetery. It states he was 78 years and 3 months old at the time of his death.  Although the age differs from what was shown on the census records, it is surely the same man. There was no other person in Smithland or vicinity with the name Behagg. Nearby is a tombstone for a child of Joseph Leftridge.

So, even with few available records, a small picture of John Behagg has emerged. This proves that no matter what the occupation or social class, every person in town has a story to tell. John Behagg may not have served in public office or been a large landowner, but he was a part of the town and performed a useful service in his job.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Hardin County, Illinois Courthouse

Many western Kentucky couples crossed the Ohio River to marry in one of the Illinois courthouses. Above is the Hardin County, Illinois courthouse in Elizabethtown, which is directly across the Ohio River from Crittenden County.

The photograph was taken on 27 July 2009.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Presley A. Reese

Presley A. Reese
Who was born Nov
24th 1816
departed this life
July 27 1841
Alas my friends
Dry up your tears
I must lie here
Till Christ appears

Presley A. Reese is buried in the cemetery adjoining Union Baptist Church, just off US Hwy 60 in Crittenden County, Kentucky. The tombstone was photographed 17 November 2008.

Presley A. Reese was the son of Elisha and Frances Reese, who are also buried in this cemetery.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Free Seminar 22 August 2009

Special Collections Dept. of Willard Library, 21 First Avenue, Evansville, Indiana is sponsoring a free all day workshop on Saturday, 22 August 2009. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. on the second floor of Willard Library and the workshop sessions are from 9:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Speaker will be Ron Darrah and the program is "Tree Roots: Using Obscure Genealogical Sources."

The schedule is as follows:

  • 9:00 - 9:45 a.m. Dying to Help Out: Probate Records for Genealogists
  • 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. School Days: A Great Records Source
  • 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Lunch (Order Lunch or On Your Own)
  • 1:00 to 1:45 p.m. Special Census Schedules: Going Beyond the General Population Rolls
  • 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. Show Me the Money: Work, Jobs and Our Ancestors

  • Vendors will be displaying and selling books and supplies in the library park. For more information, including ordering lunch, call 812-425-4309 or email Please make reservations for each individual session that you plan to attend.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Wordless Wednesday - Crooked Creek Church

    Crooked Creek Baptist Church is located about 1 ½ miles from Marion in Crittenden County. The site was originally the location of a Presbyterian Church and was sold to the Baptists in 1835. The current building dates from the 1870s. The older portion of the cemetery adjoins the church with the newer portion being across the driveway. Services are still conducted in the church.

    The above photograph was taken 24 June 2009.

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    Tombstone Tuesday - Nancy G. Guill

    Nancy G.
    Wife of
    L.A. Guill
    Feb. 24, 1856
    Nov. 21, 1921
    Gone but not

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

    According to her death certificate (#24672), Nancy G. Guill was the daughter of Wayman and Nannie Dalton. Nancy’s husband, L.A. Guill, was born 24 February 1857 and died 6 September 1935.

    Friday, July 17, 2009

    News From Uniontown, Kentucky 1894

    You never know where you will find news of your town. The following Uniontown, Union County, Kentucky news was transcribed from the Evansville, Indiana Courier, Friday, 18 May 1894

    Murry Cromwell, a prominent young man of Spring Grove, this county, died suddenly Monday evening under mysterious circumstances. He died of poison, whether self-administered or not is not positively known. He was about 21 years old, an orphan, and made his home with his grandfather, Hon. Jas. Blue.

    Fred Snodgrass returned Monday from the state college at Lexington, where he has been a student for several months.

    Mr. H. Thomas, of New Harmony, Ind., left Monday for his home after six years faithful service as miller in the ill-fated city roller mills.

    Mr. J.F. Roberts, in true Chicago style, has rebuilt the blacksmith shop destroyed by fire Saturday morning. His shop was uninsured as were also some valuable tools which were lost, and his friends, conscious of his inestimable worth, have assisted him to retrieve in a measure his heavy loss. It is now ready for occupancy.

    Mr. Ben J. Chapman has recently sold to Philomen Richards, of Boxville, his farm of 200 acres, upon which he has resided for the past 12 years, for the sum of $75 per acre. This is one of the best improved and located farms of the county, being nearly midway between Morganfield and Uniontown on the Ohio Valley railroad. Mr. Chapman is to give possession January 1, 1895, when he will remove to one of the towns in the county.

    Mr. Rudy of Henderson spent Sunday in town.

    Mrs. Otto Anderson, of Hopkinsville, one of the most charming of last winter’s brides, is the guest of her parents, Judge and Mrs. John Gip Berry.

    The ladies of the Baptist church will give a strawberry supper next Friday evening in the city hall. Twenty gallons of berries, as many ices and a proportionate number of cakes will be prepared.

    Mrs. J.T. Jenkins went to Sturgis Tuesday to visit her sister, Mrs. E.H. Wathen.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Wordless Wednesday - Court Street, Smithland

    Court Street, Smithland, Kentucky. The first photo is looking from the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers toward the old Livingston County courthouse. The second photo is from US 60 looking toward the rivers. The old Masonic Lodge is on the left. Photos taken on a Saturday morning in 2009.

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Tombstone Tuesday - Elijah T. Mitchusson

    E. Turner
    Nov. 24, 1883
    Dec. 28, 1911

    Buried Lot 1394, Space 2, Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson, Kentucky. Woodmen of the World emblem. Photographed 6 June 2009.

    Elijah Turner Mitchusson was the son of William W. Mitchusson and Addie Sellars, who moved to Cincinnati from Henderson in the 1920s. E. Turner Mitchusson was the descendant of two pioneer Kentucky families – the Mitchussons being from Caldwell County and the Sellars being early settlers of Henderson County.

    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    Livingston County, Kentucky Tavern Licenses 1860-1862

    Taverns played an important part in the social life of early Kentucky counties. Patrons visited with local residents and gathered news from travelers. Taverns in Livingston County were usually located in towns or at crossroads. The county court granted tavern licenses to those who vowed they would keep an orderly house, would not sell or give liquor to anyone who was intoxicated or to a minor. The following information has been abstracted from Tavern Keeper Bonds 1853 – 1894, found in the Livingston County Clerk’s Office, Smithland, Kentucky.

    W.B. Green was granted a license to keep a tavern in Salem 4 January 1860.

    William Pippin was granted a license to keep a tavern in Salem 18 January 1860.

    John S. Leffler was granted a license to keep a tavern in Smithland 12 April 1860.

    John Ross was granted a license to keep a tavern at Ross’ Ferry 3 December 1860.

    William Pippin’s tavern license was renewed 9 January 1861.

    Alfred Browning was granted a license to keep a tavern in Salem 23 January 1862.

    C.A. Berry was granted a license to keep a tavern in Salem 23 January 1862.

    Joseph Bridges was granted a license to keep a tavern at the framed Tavern House 1 April 1862.

    John Ross’ tavern license was renewed 7 April 1862.

    Tilor Elliott was granted a license to keep a tavern in Smithland 5 May 1862.

    John S. Leffler’s tavern license was renewed at the American House 6 August 1862.

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Masonic Lodge 1860

    Masonic Lodge, Court Street, Smithland, Kentucky. Photograph was taken 1 July 2009.

    On the 30th of August 1860, James W. Cade and his wife, Helen, sold part of lot #49 for “Smithland Lodge No. 138, Free and Accepted Masons, their heirs and assigns forever …” This deed is recorded in Livingston County Deed Book 4, page 551.

    The establishment date of Lodge No. 138 is unknown, but it was by 1858. See List of Lodge #138 Members in 1858 Prior to 1860 they had met in the Gower House on Water or Front Street.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Wordless Wednesday - Union Baptist Church

    Union Missionary Baptist Church, the first Baptist church in present-day Crittenden County, was created from Old Salem Baptist Church in 1810. A large cemetery adjoins the church. Union Baptist Church is located off U.S. 60 between Marion in Crittenden County and Salem in Livingston County.

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009

    Tombstone Tuesday - Thomas McCormick

    In memory
    Thomas McCormick
    A native of Ireland
    Sept. 10, 1797
    August 8, 1853

    Buried in Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Kentucky beside his wife and two sons. The tombstone, which is lying on the ground, was photographed 1 July 2009.

    Thomas McCormick arrived in Livingston County before 1819, when he married Elizabeth Kellam. He kept a tavern in his home in Smithland and was also a county judge. Thomas and Elizabeth McCormick had four known children: Elizabeth K., who married Gustavus Hodge; Thomas J., who married a lady named Sarah; John D. (1820-1823) and Wallis (1829-1842).

    Elizabeth Kellam was first married to Mason Lillard and had one daughter, Jane W. Lillard, who married Dr. David B. Sanders.

    Update on Thomas McCormick, 16 August 2009: From Livingston County, Kentucky Circuit Court rough bundles, 1823, Kentucky Dept for Libraries and Archives, Accession No. A1989-203: "In pursuance of an Act of Congress to establish a uniform rule of naturalization, Thomas McCormick makes the following registry for the purpose of being naturalized ... he migrated from Ireland; previous to his migration he was a subject of George the 3rd King of Great Britain, Ireland &c. That he landed in the United States in the year 1816. He has resided in sd. county of Livingston ... since the 2nd day of Decr 1816 ... his age is 25 years, his business and profession is a merchant and it is his bona fide intention to become a citizen of the United States ... 4th March 1823." Thomas McCormick.

    Sunday, July 5, 2009

    Emancipation of A Slave 1815

    Slaves were set free in Kentucky by the last will and testament of the slave owner or through the county court. The slave owner posted bond with security to guarantee that the slave had means for support and maintenance and would not become a charge upon the county. The following document was filed in Livingston County Court in December 1815 and was found in Box 4, Loose County Clerk’s Papers in the Livingston County Clerk’s Office, Smithland, Kentucky. It is also recorded in Deed Book C, page 127. Note the different spellings of surnames.

    “I Jesse Lam do hereby emancipate and set free my negro woman slave named Nancy aged about Thirty one years from thence forward to act and be as other free persons of colour given under my hand and seal this 18th day of December 1815. [signed] Jesse Lamb

    Know all men by these presents that we Jesse Lam and Phillip Conrad are held and firmly bound unto the commonwealth of Kentucky or to the Justices of the county court of Livingston County now setting and their successors in office to Keep Nancy a negroe woman by the said Lam this emancipated forever clear from being or becoming a county charge given under our hands this 18th day of December 1815.” [signed] Jesse Lamb, Phillip Coonrod.”

    Saturday, July 4, 2009

    Happy Birthday, America

    On this anniversary of America's birthday, I would like to honor my ancestors who were patriots and/or soldiers in the Revolutionary War:

    Thomas Joyce VA (d. 1780)

    George Joyce VA (1754 - 1835)

    William Rand NC (1747/50 - aft 1810)

    Absalom Bostick NC (1730s - ca 1803)

    Jeremiah Lucas SC (d 1811)

    Benjamin Bebout NJ (1758 - 1857)

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    Demolition of Dunn House

    The top photo, dated April 2009, is of the Dunn House, built by the Grayot family about 1867, in Smithland, Kentucky. This home, which has stood empty for about 20 years, was demolished today, leaving one less landmark in this very old, historic town. The new Livingston County office building is to be built on this spot.

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

    Wordless Wednesday - Dyer Hill Church

    Dyer Hill Missionary Baptist Church is located near US 60 between Burna and Smithland in Livingston County, Kentucky. A cemetery adjoins the church.