Monday, November 30, 2009

Chronicling America

I don't get excited about too many genealogy websites, but Chronicling America, sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, is an exception. This project is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) and is especially exciting as it is a free site and can be accessed from the comfort of your home. You can browse through issues or search by a specific name and time period.

Available newspapers of special interest to western Kentucky genealogists are the Crittenden Press (1886 - 1906), the Hickman Courier (1900-1908), the Hopkinsville Kentuckian (1894-1910) and several Paducah newspapers (1896-1906). If you research a county other that the four named here, don't discount the value of searching these newspapers. Newspapers often covered adjoining towns and counties. For example, the area around Salem in Livingston County was routinely covered by the Crittenden Press and the Paducah newspapers usually covered events around Smithland in Livingston County and Eddyville in Lyon County.

The addition of these small town newspapers is a tremendous resource for genealogists. Check them out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Miracle Word Church - Salem, Kentucky

Miracle Word Church, 100 West Main Street (U.S. 60), Salem, Livingston County, Kentucky. For many years, this building housed Matlock Memorial Christian Church, where my parents and grandparents were members. Photographed Fall of 2009.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Checklist for Citing Sources

We have all been cautioned to "cite your sources," but do you remember to do it? If you don't, maybe the following checklist will be helpful in reminding you to do this necessary task.

1. Have I listed a source for each fact not of common knowledge?

2. Have I used the proper format for the source, therefore providing a clear path so other researchers can find that source? Did I include the title of the book or article, name of author, date of publication and the name of the publishing company? If it was an original source, did I include the book title and page number and location of the record (i.e. Caldwell County, Kentucky Will Book B, p. 25, Caldwell County Clerk's Office, Princeton, Kentucky) It is also helpful to add the date the source was checked just in case that book or record gets moved or lost.

3. Have I acknowledged the work done by others? Have I unfairly passed off the work of other researchers as my own? If John Jones shared his research with me, including material I did not have, do I list him as the researcher?

4. Have I included original sources in my search for information? Thorough research includes an exhaustive search in a variety of records, not just online material.

5. Am I aware of the difference between oral tradition and facts? If Aunt Mary tells me Grandpa Jones died in 1899 and she saw the date listed in a Bible, did I list Aunt Mary as the source rather than the Bible I have not seen? Oral tradition can provide new avenues in our research, but should not be labeled as fact unless proven.

Citing sources should become a habit and is the mark of a good genealogist.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - James Crane

James Crane
Dec. 9, 1833
Jan. 11, 1873
He has gone from our midst
The dear husband and father of our home
And our once happy hearts
Are cheerless and lone

Buried at Uniontown Cemetery, Union County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 21 June 2009.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

First Missionary Baptist Church

First Missionary Baptist Church, 20 South Elm Street, Henderson, Kentucky.

The church was founded from the First Baptist Church, when African American worshipers formed their own congregation in 1845.

Photographed 18 November 2009. Note the steeple of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the background.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Capture of the Alice Dean


Western Kentucky genealogists and historians are familiar with John Hunt Morgan and his activities on land during the Civil War. Fewer of us are familiar, though, with his capture and destruction of the steamboat Alice Dean. The following account is found in the Henderson Reporter of Thursday, 16 July 1863.

From Captain James H. Pepper, who was in command of the Alice Dean at the time she was captured and burnt by the rebels under John Hunt Morgan, and who arrived in this city yesterday, we learn particulars of the occurrence.

The Alice Dean was on her way from Mound City to Cincinnati and when, on Tuesday last, near Brandenburg, Kentucky, Capt. Pepper discovered the steamer McCombs lying near the shore, apparently in distress, making signals for him to bring his boat alongside. As the Alice Dean came up, in obedience to the summons, Capt. Pepper discovered that the McCombs was in possession of rebel troops, who evidently intended to board and capture his boat as soon as she came within reach, but all his efforts to get his boat again underway, and escape, were unavailing. She was immediately boarded by a large force of rebels, and himself, officers and crew placed under arrest, the soldiers in the meantime helping themselves to such valuables as came within their reach. When Capt. Pepper found that it would be impossible to escape with his boat, he ran to the office with the intention of secreting the money there belonging to the boat, the silverware &c, but he found himself confronted by a number of soldiers, who leveled their guns and ordered him to desist.

The rebel commander, General Morgan, informed Capt. Pepper that a large number of his troops had arrived at Brandenburg; that he wanted to take them across the river; that having no boats of any kind of his own, he was compelled to take possession of the Alice Dean to be used for that purpose and that as soon as his men and their horses and equipment, artillery &c were safely on the Indiana side of the river, she would be released and allowed to proceed on her way.

There were but few stores on the Alice Dean at the time she was captured, which were taken possession of by the rebels.

Tuesday evening Capt. Pepper received an order to prepare supper for 50 men, which, he informed the officer bearing the order, it was impossible as he had no provisions. The next morning a similar order was received and a like answer returned.
Capt. Pepper and his crew were engaged about 2 days in ferrying the rebels and their equipment across the river, during the whole of which time they had not a mouthful to eat, nor were they allowed to take any rest.

After all the rebel troops had been ferried across the river, Capt. Pepper received the following order:
"Indiana, U.S., July 2.
Capt. Pepper: Sir, in keeping with order from my superior officer, Major General John H. Morgan, I hereby order you to move your crew from your boat, Alice Dean, together with all your individual property as I am ordered to burn your boat. I am, sir, respectfully, Your obedient servant, Jas. W. Mitchel, Captain and Provost Marshal. Second Brigade, Morgan's Div. C.S.A."

Capt. Mitchel very politely informed Capt. Pepper that he could take from the boat such articles as he desired. Capt. Pepper placed the silverware belonging to the boat and a few other articles in a satchel and then went ashore, when his men were drawn up in line in front of the rebel soldiers. Capt. Mitchel told his men they could go on the boat and take such articles as they desired as he intended to burn her. Capt. Pepper asked the same privilege for the crew as a compensation for the labor they had performed for the rebel General, which was readily granted. They all helped themselves to bed clothing and such things as could be removed when the noble vessel, the finest on the Ohio River, was fired by the rebel Captain, and in a short time all that remained of the beautiful, finely furnished and fast running Alice Dean was a charred and smoking hull.

The Alice Dean was valued at $60,000 and was not insured against the vicissitudes of war.

Added note: Way's Packet Directory, 1848 - 1994, p. 12 states that a steamer of the same name was built in 1864 and ran the Cincinnati - Memphis route With Capt. Pepper commanding. After only three trips, the second Alice Dean hit the bank in March 1864 and sank.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - A. Barret Dade

A. Barret Dade
1865 – 1923
Erected By Friends,
Horsemen and Breeders
Of the United States
And Canada

A. Barret Dade is buried at Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson, Kentucky. His tombstone was photographed 10 November 2009.

Barret Dade, a native of Virginia, died of pneumonia in New Orleans 11 January 1923. Dade was survived by a wife, mother, brother and sister, all of Henderson. A resident of Henderson, he was a director of the Green River Jockey Club, which built and operated Dade race park between Henderson and Evansville, Indiana. Dade Park was named in honor of A. Barret Dade when it was built in 1922. Today it is known as Ellis Park.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Brick Wall Starts to Crumble

Tombstone of C. Wilson, Crooked Creek Cemetery

One of my brick walls for a long time has been the family of Rev. Claibourne Wilson of Crittenden County, Kentucky. I have no trouble researching Claibourne, but his family has been a different matter.

Claibourne, the son of John E. Wilson and a Miss McVay, was born 16 September 1809 probably in Tennessee and died 12 February 1849. According to his obituary in the Baptist Banner, Claibourne was taken ill shortly after giving a sermon at Piney Creek Church. His illness was so sudden that he could not go home, being taken instead to "Brother Crane's, who lived near the meetinghouse." After twelve days, he passed away of "New Monia," leaving a widow, the former Martha Brown, and four children, Frances, John E., Thomas B. and Felix Ann Wilson. Claibourne was buried at Crooked Creek Cemetery.

A little over a month after Claibourne's death, his daughter Frances, usually called Franky, married Henry H. Cannon. The marriage didn't last long, though. Franky left her husband and, in 1850, Henry Cannon filed for divorce. It was stated in one of the divorce depositions that Franky "in company with her mother & others" left Kentucky and went to Missouri. The divorce was granted to Henry and all the rights of a single person were restored to him.

Claibourne's sons, John E. and Thomas B., are found on the 1860 Carroll County, Missouri census. John E. had married Sarah Woodard in 1853 in Carroll County and by 1860 had the following children: George C., age 4; Mary M., age 2 and Charles M, age eight months. Thomas B. Wilson was unmarried and living with his brother's family, also. By 1870, this whole family had disappeared.

Also, what happened to Martha Brown Wilson and her daughters Franky and Felix Ann? No marriages for them have been found and they do not appear using the surname Wilson on the 1860 Carroll County census.

I had decided there is a very large place somewhere known as "parts unknown" and that is where all of my elusive ancestors settled. I put this family aside again and planned to check on them later.

Maybe one last look might turn up something. Sometimes later is better and, in this case, it was! Using, I did a search for the John E. Wilson family on any 1870 census and there he was - listed as J.E. Wilson in Otoe County, Nebraska. Who would've thought he went to Nebraska! His wife is not listed so maybe she died, but children G.C., M.H. (ok, so it's not M.M.) and C.M. are with him and they are of the right ages and their birthplaces are correct. By 1880, J.E. Wilson has remarried, left Otoe County and was living with his wife, Mary E., in Butler County, Nebraska.

This is like a fresh beginning and there is much work to be done, but at least I know in which direction to go. The lesson here is don't give up, put your material aside for a while, and then come back to take another look. Sometimes it pays off.

Friday, November 13, 2009


After being out of print for almost 10 years, the following book is being reprinted:

Livingston County, Kentucky
Deed Books D - E 1818 - 1822
Miscellaneous Loose Papers 1799 - 1804

148 pages with full name and location indices, soft cover
$27.00 postage paid.

Not only will you find land conveyances, but also mortgages, a few apprenticeships and estate divisions (naming heirs). The miscellaneous loose papers include bonds, road petitions, road orders, estate appraisements and sales, depositions and undated land entries. During this time period, Livingston County also included the area now in Crittenden County.

The book should be available by early January 2010. Order now to reserve a copy.

This is a limited publication and will be the last printing of this book. Order from:
Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
PO Box 325
Newburgh, IN 47629-0325

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remember Our Veterans

We pause on Veteran’s Day to reflect on the contributions and sacrifices made by veterans of all wars. Let us not forget those who fought a losing battle. One such veteran was Richard Digman, a veteran of the Civil War who is buried in Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson, Kentucky. The obituary appeared in the Henderson Gleaner, Sunday, 7 January 1917.

Richard Digman, aged 82, formerly of this city, died at the Confederate Home in Peewee Valley.

He was well known here by many of the older citizens, he having been a resident of Henderson since 1866, and for many years up to the time he went to the Confederate Home, successfully engaged in the business of a brick contractor. Quite a number of the residences and business houses here are specimens of his handiwork.

He served in the Confederate army under Gen. Joe Lewis. He was in Gen. Buckner’s bodyguard at Fort Donelson and escaped with Gen. Forrest at the surrender. He also served with gallantry and bravery under Gen. Albert Sidney Johnson; was in the battle of Shiloh, and other engagements of historical note. He was in the raid of Gen. John H. Morgan through Ohio and Indiana, and was with others captured at Portsmouth, Ohio, and taken to Fort Douglas. After 18 months imprisonment, he was exchanged at Amherst Court House.

In 1870, he married Miss Mollie B. Jeffers, a half sister of Mr. R.C. Blackwell, of this city. Two daughters were born to this union – one of whom survives. He was a loyal friend and a good citizen.

The remains will probably be brought here Sunday and the interment will be on the family lot in Fernwood Cemetery

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Ann M. Flournoy

Ann M. Flournoy
Born in
Powhatan Co, Va
in 1787
in Princeton, Ky
Jan. 2, 1873
Aged 86 years

Buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Princeton, Caldwell County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 10 October 2009. Click on tombstone for an enlarged view.

Ann M. Flournoy is named as a child in the will of David Flournoy (Caldwell County Will Book A, p. 435, dated 5 June 1825). Ann M. Flournoy left a will (Caldwell County Will Book B, p. 274), in which she names her sister Mariah L. McNary and brother-in- law, Thomas L. McNary, and their children Ann E. McNary, Mary L. McNary, Hugh F. McNary, Walter Scott McNary.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Willard Library

I've mentioned Willard Library of Evansville, Indiana a number of times on this blog. Special Collections, where the genealogy collection can be found, is located on the 2nd floor. The library is open Monday - Tuesday, 9:00 am to 8:00 pm; Wednesday - Friday, 9:00 am - 5:30 pm; Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm and Sunday 1:00 - 5:00 pm. This is not just a local library; they have a great deal of material on other states, including Kentucky.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Researching Steamboats on the Ohio River

The past few months I have become very interested in steamboating on the Ohio River. I like looking at pictures of steamboats, reading about them and learning about the types of cargo they carried. Steamboating was big business in this area. Evansville, which is practically next door to where I live, was the home base for a number of steamboats back when steamboats were a major source of transportation.

If you are familiar with Jefferson’s Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy by Boynton Merrill, Jr., you will recall that the steamboat New Orleans was launched in March 1811 at Pittsburgh. It is stated in Jefferson’s Nephews that the steamboat had “some features of a sailing craft … was painted the improbable color of sky blue. These odd features, along with her paddle wheel and belching smoke stack, guaranteed that she was the most curious if not the most frightening apparition that had ever come down the Ohio.” You can imagine how suspicious people were of this new mode of transportation.

It wasn’t long, though, before steamboats were common, going up and down the Ohio, carrying cargo and passengers to larger cities, where they disembarked to visit friends, do business or to simply enjoy some leisure time. The steamboat opened up the world to those living in rural areas.

I am fascinated by the number of men in Livingston County, Kentucky who worked on the steamboats as pilots, clerks or general laborers. I had heard people say “I can’t find anything on my ancestor. He worked on the river and there is no information on him.” Don’t believe it. There is some information online, but I have found my best sources to be newspaper items in the Evansville newspaper. Titled “River Intelligence,” the daily paper, the Evansville Journal, began reporting the activities of steamboats as far back as the late 1840s. Willard Library in Evansville has three published volumes of abstracts of “River Intelligence” ending in 1875. After 1875, you need to search the Journal for information. Not only is there information on the activities of the steamboats, but also the crews, marriages and deaths of family members, and the types of cargo carried by the steamboats.

I thought all cities of any size on the river that had a newspaper might have newspaper information on steamboats. The Paducah, Kentucky newspaper had a similar column on river news, but it was not as extensive as in the Evansville Journal. The Henderson, Kentucky newspapers carried very little steamboat news, unless it dealt with a disaster. I suspect the Louisville and Cincinnati newspapers did carry a lot of river news.

The other really great source of information is Way’s Packet Directory, 1848 – 1994, compiled by Frederick Way Jr. I bought my copy through, but your local bookstore might be able to special order it for you or your local library might have a copy. The book is arranged in alphabetical order by name of the steamboat, contains the date and place it was built, years in operation and what happened to end its career. For example, the John L. Lowry was built in Cave in Rock, Ill. 1909, the size of its engines and boilers was listed, states that the owner was Capt. John L. Lowry and the boat ran between Evansville and Paducah. It burned at Hamletsburg, Ill, opposite Smithland, Kentucky in June 1911.

Another entry states that the John L. Lowry was rebuilt in Evansville in 1913, sank in a storm in 1919 and returned to activity in a different capacity the next year.

Willard Library has some photographs of steamboats, and you will find some on, but the best place is the Inland Rivers Library in the Rare Books and Special Collections Department of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Ohio. This is the largest collection of river books and photos.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Black Patch War Marker

Marker located on Caldwell County, Kentucky courthouse lawn. Photographed 10 October 2009.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Adaline P. Vanallen


Dear Mother
Adaline P. Vanallen
Born Oct 5th
Died Apr. 6, 1850

Buried Smithland Cemetery
Livingston County

Adaline P. Vanallen was the daughter of Stanley P. Gower. She married James Vanallen 28 June 1821 in Franklin County, Kentucky. By 1827, the Vanallens had moved to Livingston County, where James Vanallen operated a tavern before his death in 1829.

Adaline P. Vanallen is buried next to her grandchildren in the McGraw plot of Smithland Cemetery.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Courthouse for a Church

Undated photograph of Livingston County Courthouse, Smithland, Kentucky

In today’s world, when a large commercial building closes, it is often difficult to find a use for that building. Rather than let the building set and be of no value to the community, the town leaders search for a new use for the edifice.

When Crittenden County was created from Livingston County and the seat of justice was transferred from Salem to Smithland in 1842, the county leaders faced a similar problem. First, though, the court had to decide on a location for the new courthouse in Smithland and they did just that. On the 4th of July 1842, the county court chose out lot #7, which had been deeded to the court by James M. Lillard and wife. Plans were drafted for a two-story, 40 feet by 50 feet building and advertisements for bids for the erection of the building were placed as far as Nashville and Louisville. Until the building was completed, several other buildings were used as temporary courthouses, including the Episcopal Church and the Gower House.

But what could be done with the old courthouse in Salem? The problem was solved when trustees of several churches bought the courthouse from the County Court. The following information can be found in Livingston County Deed Book HH, page 608:

Between James L. Dallam for and on account of the Livingston County Court & Thomas Smith trustee for the Methodist church, William Pippin trustee for the Baptist church, W.B. Greer trustee for the Old Presbyterian church & Presley Gray trustee for the Cumberland Presbyterian church. At the November term 1845 of the Livingston County Court the following order was made, viz: It is ordered by the Court that the Court house & clerks office together with the ground upon which they stand in the town of Salem and belonging to the county be sold to the highest bidder … The sale to be made in the town of Salem before Thomas Smith’s tavern door after having been advertised one month. And it is further ordered that James L. Dallam be appointed a commissioner to make sale of same taking bond payable to himself for the benefit of this court and he will give certificate of purchase &c and whereas on the 17th day of February 1846 Dallam after advertising did openly & publicly offer same for sale ... when and where Thomas Smith for the benefit of the churches aforesaid and to have a house of worship for those denominations of the town of Salem and its neighborhood did bid off and purchase the old courthouse & immediate ground upon which it stands in Salem for the sum of $10, that being the highest bid ... Dallam, agent for said county, doth here grant bargain sell convey & confirm unto Thomas Smith Wm. Pippin W.B. Greer & Presley Gray, trustees & their successors in trust the sd. courthouse & immediate ground upon which it stands ... [signed] Jas. L. Dallam, agent Livingston County Court. Recorded 5 September 1848.

Problems solved. Smithland had a courthouse and the church trustees had a church.