Saturday, January 30, 2010

Among My Favorites

As I do more and more cemetery research online, I have bookmarked several as my favorites. I thought you might like to try them, too.

Fernwood Cemetery database, Henderson, Kentucky

Oak Grove Cemetery database, Paducah, Kentucky

Oak Hill Cemetery database, Evansville, Indiana. I realize this is not a Kentucky cemetery, but many people from western Kentucky moved to Evansville and most often are buried at Oak Hill.

Browning Obituaries, Evansville, Indiana. Obituaries for Kentucky folks are sometimes printed in the Evansville newspaper and, thus, may appear in this database.

Nashville City Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee. I have found several former residents of Livingston County buried here.

Of course, the best of all websites with tombstone information is Find A Grave. If you have never visited this site, please do. Tombstone photos and inscriptions are added daily.

I hope some of these will be of help to you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

William C.C. Jones - Early Teacher

Most Caldwell County researchers have heard of the Princeton Seminary, but many are unaware this school was formerly known as the Caledonia Academy. Information on this old academy comes from an article in the Evansville, Indiana Press of Sunday, 25 October 1936.

On South Seminary Street between West Main and Washington Streets now stands the Methodist Church. But not so many years ago this site was occupied by the Caledonia Academy, one of Western Kentucky's earliest attempts to foster institutions of higher education.

The school was established in 1821. Five years later its name was changed to Princeton Seminary.

One of the most colorful figures in the early history of the institution was William Charles Cavendish Jones, a teacher. Born in Cavendish Square, London, England, Jones was educated at Eton. He was a classmate of Gladstone.

Jones' father was a British cavalry captain. Following the death of Jones' mother, the captain married again. The story is told that when young Jones saw his stepmother wearing his mother's earrings, he pulled them from her ears. Then, knowing a flogging was in store for him, he fled England aboard an American sailing vessel.

It took him three years to reach the States.

Jones taught his first school at Sprout Springs, two miles south of Princeton. Later, he instructed a class in the basements of the Christian and Presbyterian Churches and another at the old Wood settlement near where Cobb, Ky., is now located before going to the Princeton Seminary.

At his death at the age of 81, he was one of Caldwell County's oldest teachers. He had been teaching school for 53 years.

Note: William C.C. Jones married Miss Elizabeth Martin 10 October 1843 in Caldwell County. He appeared on the 1880 Caldwell County census, age 70, but is not on the 1900 census.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Smithland Cemetery

As many times as I have photographed the view from the top of Smithland Cemetery hill, the view constantly amazes me. The white cupola in the distance is the new Livingston County Justice Center. This photograph dates from early December 2009.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Martha F. Chesnut

Martha F. Chesnut

June 20, 1838

April 24, 1913

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 2009. M.A.M. is inscribed at the top of the tombstone. Does anyone know the meaning of this abbreviation?

Martha F. Bellamy, daughter of John Bellamy, was born in Todd County, Kentucky. She married Andrew W. Chesnut 26 May 1856 Todd County. Andrew W. Chesnut was born 6 September 1822 and died 25 July 1892. He is buried at Bellamy-Chesnut Cemetery, Livingston County. Andrew W. and Martha F. Chesnut had five children who died by mid-1892 and all are buried at Bellamy-Chesnut Cemetery.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church

Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, 512 Second Street, Henderson, Kentucky. Photographed January 2010.

The current building for Holy Name dates from 1891 and is located at the corner of Second and Ingram Streets.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Due to the immense amount of spam being sent as comments, I have changed the settings on this blog. Comments from anyone listed as anonymous will be automatically rejected. You will need to have a Google account in order to leave a comment. ALL comments are first reviewed by me and will not appear unless I accept them.

As Dick Eastman wisely said in his newsletter this morning, "If you want to plaster spam all over the place, please do the world a favor and flush yourself down a toilet." Amen.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

With Answers Come Questions - John L. Tolley

Rarely do genealogists find proof that leaves no room for questions. For some time, Tolley family researchers had wondered what happened to John L. Tolley, probably the eldest brother of Rachel Catherine Tolley of Crittenden County, Kentucky. In fact, they weren't completely sure John L. was the brother of Rachel Catherine, but circumstantial evidence pointed that way.

It was known that John L. Tolley had two daughters - one who died early and the other, Emma, born 1870 in Illinois. She married and divorced Dr. Thomas W. Cottrell of Pope County, Illinois and later John Logan Buckman of Franklin County, Illinois. But what happened to her father, John L. Tolley?

Then, a discovery was made. While searching Crittenden County newspapers on Chronicling America, David Sullivan of Denver, Colorado, great great grandson of Rachel Catherine Tolley, found a genealogical gem. In the 24 June 1909 issue of the Crittenden Record-Press, Sullivan found the obituary of John L. Tolley. The obituary reads as follows: [The names are spelled as they appeared.]

"John L. Tolly, the nonagenarian, uncle of James Tolly, who visited his nephew here last winter, died Sunday, June 13, at Thompsonville, Ill., where he was visiting another nephew, John Tinsley. He made his home with his daughter, Mrs. J.W. Sutton of Macedonia, Ill., but had gone away for a visit, died away from home and was buried there.

"Mr. Tolly was one of the first settlers on the site where the city of Marion now stands and was one of the men to cut the timber away before the site was actually located. This was prior to 1840, or about 70 years ago.

"Mr. Tolly was an interesting conversationalist and had a wonderful memory of incidents of the forties, fifties and sixties, and is remembered by many of our people, who will learn of his sudden death with much regret. He was born in 1817 and was in his 93rd year."

The earlier visit referred to in the obituary was mentioned in the 27 August 1908 issue of the Record-Press. At that time, John L. Tolley, a former Marion resident, was visiting his nephew, James Tolley, "it being the first visit since 1852." According to the article, "he was born in Eddyville 19 March 1817 and came to Marion when the town plat was being cleared off to locate the county seat. He and his uncle cut the trees which stood as a dense forest where Marion now stands ... Mr. Tolley's wife was a Miss Johnson. She died five years ago at Macedonia, Ill., where they have been living."

These articles provided new information, such as the third marriage of John L. Tolley's daughter, Emma, but they didn't answer all questions. Was James Tolley, John L.'s nephew, the James Henry Tolley of Marion, Kentucky? If so, then was James Henry's father, Joseph Tolley, the brother of John L.? Was John L., indeed the brother of David Sullivan's great-great grandmother, Rachel Catherine Tolley? Sullivan believes she was, but continues to search for additional information. If you can help, contact him at

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Herman and Nettie Croft

Herman R.
1896 - 1970

Nettie C.
1897 - 1958

Buried Salem Cemetery, Salem, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed January 2010.

Herman Reeves Croft, son of James Newton Croft and Josephine Adaline Bebout, was born 12 September 1896 in Crittenden County, Kentucky. Nettie Clementine Vaughn was born 28 April 1897 and died 13 February 1958. She was the youngest daughter of David Vaughn and Margaret C. Riley. Herman Croft and Nettie Vaughn married 31 July 1915 Crittenden County. They were my grandparents.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Smithland, Kentucky in 1835

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

Genealogy is more than collecting names and dates. To understand what kind of life our ancestors lived, we need to put them in context of events occurring not only in the local area, but also nationally. As I am working on a project on Smithland, Kentucky, I decided to see what life was like for residents in 1835.

A variety of sources was checked with much of it found online. Using Google, I did a search on the weather in 1835 and learned about the cold wave in January. That's also the way I learned about politics, Halley's Comet, and the cholera epidemic. While Google might not have anything specific on your ancestor, you are almost sure to find data on events that impacted his life.

Other sources were used too. Livingston County court minutes revealed to whom and when tavern and ferry licenses were granted. Previous research in circuit court records revealed the details of the death of Dr. Louis Sanders.

By 1835, Smithland, Kentucky was a thriving river town. Steamboats were a common sight as they rolled along the Cumberland and Ohio Rivers, stopping to disembark passengers and to load and unload freight. Although Smithland was located far from a metropolis, news of the world came from visitors and newspapers delivered to local residents.

Businesses, including taverns, lined Front or Water Street. The Bell Tavern, operated by Stanley P. Gower, offered spirits as well as lodging for travelers. Gower purchased Bell Tavern the next year, it became known as the Gower House and it still stands today.

Gower House in 2009

Just down the street was the tavern of Thomas McCormick, a native of Ireland. David W. Patterson also kept a tavern at his dwelling house at the corner of Water and Court Streets.

Taverns weren't the only businesses in Smithland. Henry Wells and Benjamin Barner were commission merchants and did a brisk business storing and shipping goods. Other businesses were the Olive, Martin and Company Warehouse and the Smithland Dock Company, William Gordon, President.

As Smithland is located at the junction of two rivers, ferries were often busy transporting people and stock to the Illinois side of the rivers. Laws regulated the operation of these ferries with each ferry keeper posting an annual bond to promise he would keep a good, safe boat and would charge the fees set by the court.

Dr. Gustavus A. Brown, a native of Virginia, had been owner of a ferry in Smithland for some time. In January of 1835 he renewed his bond to keep a ferry across the Cumberland River from Smithland to the Point and and also across the Ohio River from the Point to Cumberland Island. Shortly thereafter, Brown was charged with not keeping his ferry according to the law and the county court decided the ferry should be discontinued. Three months later, the town trustees were allowed to establish a ferry from Smithland across the Cumberland River to the opposite shore. Robert Harrison Jr. also kept a ferry across the Cumberland River.

An epidemic of cholera, while not as severe as the one in 1833, hit nearby Russellville in Logan County in 1835 and surely would have been of concern to residents of Smithland. Most likely they had not forgotten that over 500 people had died during a two month period in the summer of 1833 in Lexington, Kentucky. With no water sanitation or filtering system, contaminated water was the perfect venue to spread cholera throughout the area.

February 1835 brought a cold wave to the southern part of the United States. It must have been miserable for local residents as Smithland sits high on a bluff and the slightest wintertime breeze can bring a chill to even the most hearty soul. The temperature that winter dipped down to 20 degrees below zero in some parts of Kentucky.

One sure way to get heated up, though, was to become embroiled in a discussion on the latest political events. In late January of 1835, President Andrew Jackson became the first president to escape an assassination attempt when an unemployed house painter twice attempted to shoot Jackson, but the guns misfired both times. No matter, though, as the president used his walking cane to club the would-be assassin. Convinced his political opponents were behind the attack, Jackson was thereafter paranoid about his safety. This event must have been of interest to Sterling M. Barner of Nashville, who was a friend of Jackson and who would later move to Smithland to go into business with his brother, Benjamin Barner.

Another event likely of interest to Smithland residents in 1835 was Halley's Comet, which is only visible every 75-76 years. Can't you see people standing on the river front and watching as the comet passed overhead? Wouldn't it be interesting to know what they were thinking?

The year 1835 ended with the shooting death of Dr. Louis Sanders by Townsend Ashton following Christmas festivities at the home of Thomas McCormick. This event was covered in this blog of 7 June 2008.

The events mentioned here are just a portion of what was going on in the world during one year. Knowing what events occurred helps me to better understand my ancestors.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lincoln Visited Morganfield 1840

According to an article in the Evansville Press on Sunday, 26 April 1936, the only political speech Abraham Lincoln made in Kentucky was back in 1840, when Tyler and Harrison were running for President. Remember the slogan, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too?"

Lincoln, who was doing some political stumping in southern Illinois, was called upon to cross the river and speak in Union County, Kentucky. Most of the county turned out to hear his speech. As with most political gatherings, entertainment was provided too. When a cannon was exploded in Lincoln's honor, something went wrong and George Riddle, who was in charge of entertainment, was injured. It is said that later, during the War Between the States, Riddle, who had been captured, wrote Lincoln, saying "I entertained you in 1840. I can't say I like your brand of entertainment as well." Lincoln pardoned him.

George Riddle, who was born in 1802, is said to have been the first person born within what later became the city limits of Morganfield. This, of course, was before Union County was formed out of Henderson County.

Uncle Bob Heath, who lived in what is now Crittenden County, recalled the political rally at Morganfield. According to his recollections, printed in the 21 May 1908 issue of the Crittenden Record-Press, " ... it was one of the jolliest times of his life, a log cabin with coon skins nailed on its walls, was rolled around on wheels, while hard cider was dispensed generously."

Published 14 January 2010, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Clifton B. Gass

Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 18 November 2009.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy 101 Award

Cathy Palm of In Deeds and Linda McCauley of Documenting the Details both nominated the Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog for the Happy 101 Award - Thanks!

By accepting this award, I am supposed to name 10 things that make me happy. Since this is a genealogy blog, my 10 things will deal with genealogy.

1. Finding the surname of that female ancestor after many years.
2. Meeting a cousin who is researching one of my families.
3. Receiving a new genealogy book on my area of western Kentucky.
4. Receiving a photograph of an ancestor who, until now, had been faceless.
5. Hearing my children repeat a family story I told them when they were young. Yea! They were listening!
6. Having 3 days for non-stop research at the state archives.
7. Having someone to share my genealogy finds with.
8. Hearing someone say, "Thank you for your help."
9. Finding that elusive marriage record in a neighboring county.
10. Finding a new clue while re-reading research notes of years ago.

I am also supposed to pass the award along to 10 blogs. Ummm. This will require some thought.

Fire Hits Marion - 1876

Fires, whether accidental or deliberate, were a constant threat in an era and locale where buildings were mainly of frame construction. The following account of a fire in Marion, Crittenden County, can be found in the 31 March 1876 issue of the Evansville Journal.

Marion, Ky., March 28, 1876 - Our sleeping citizens were roused up about 2 o'clock last Sunday night by the alarm of fire. The hotel building known as the Douglass Hotel, the largest hotel in town, kept by Mr. N.B. Douglass, proved to be on fire. The cause of the fire is not known, but supposed to be the work of incendiaries. The entire building, which was a large one, was consumed. Mr. Douglass' loss is heavy, probably $2,500. No insurance. The building was owned by Mr. W.C. Carnahan, who had no insurance. Mr. Carnahan's loss is probably $4,000.

The losers besides Messrs. Carnahan and Douglass, are Mr. George Short, who occupied a portion of the building as a photograph gallery. He lost everything but a few clothes. Messrs. Mays & Hammond, who had a lot of carpenter tools and materials in a portion of the building used as a carpenter shop, lost all they had.

Mr. Douglass still proposed to care for the weary and hungry traveler in his new abode, he having moved into the large residence of Mr. Carnahan, which he is fitting up to receive guests. The general public should remember Mr. Douglass in his misfortune and patronize him when they stop in town, for he proposes in the future, as in the past, to maintain the reputation of the popular landlord, which his industry and politeness has won for him in the past.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

First United Methodist Church

A small group formed a Methodist Society in 1805 and, in 2005, the First United Methodist Church celebrated 200 years of heritage in Henderson, Kentucky. Sometime later, the Methodists, along with other congregations, worshipped in the Union Church in Central Park. Still later they built a church at Washington and Elm Streets.

The church is today located at the corner of Third and Green Streets on land formerly owned by John James Audubon and his wife, Lucy. The current church was erected in 1914, after a former building was destroyed by a tornado. Several additions have been made to the building.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

History of Princeton, Kentucky

The following article appeared in the now-defunct Evansville Press, Sunday, 26 January 1936. Things are just a bit different today - the current courthouse was built after this article was written and tobacco is not the important crop it was in the last century.

Princeton, Ky., Jan. 25 - The web of circumstance that brought about the settlement of this town in the closing years of the 18th century goes back 300 years and across a great ocean for its beginning.

It was in 1775 that the American colonies went to war for their independence and William Prince, a descendant of Edward Prince, shouldered his musket and marched off to battle the redcoats. William Prince, promoted to the rank of captain, received from a grateful government gifts of land westward beyond the mountains in the vast wilderness claimed by Virginia.

Sometime between 1781, the year the war ended, and 1797, when Gov. James Garrard appointed him justice of the peace for Christian County, Kentucky, Capt. William Prince, with his wife, Elizabeth, their children, and his brother, Francis, took the Wilderness Road across the Alleghenies to their new home.

According to best available records, Princeton was founded between 1797, when Capt. Prince first appears in Kentucky, and 1799, when tax lists name him as residing on the present site of the town. His house and farm were known simply as "Prince's Place."

Christian County was carved out of Kentucky wilderness in 1796; Livingston County was created in 1798 and, in 1809, another partition gave birth to Caldwell County, of which Princeton is now the county seat.

William Prince deeded the land for a town site and Princeton became a reality. Caldwell County was named for Gen. John Caldwell of the Revolution, a native of Virginia, who moved to Kentucky in 1781 and settled near Danville.

At least two settlers preceded William Prince in the county: John Montgomery, who was killed by Indians on Eddy Creek on March 21, 1792; and Obadiah Roberts, who opened a tavern in Elizabeth, now known as Hopkinsville.

Thomas Frazier was one of Princeton's first business men. He found the Big Spring underneath the town, now used for a sewer, and built a house and brick kiln across from the present side of the Courthouse. Princeton's first hotel was Frazier's Inn, located where the Farmers' National Bank now stands. He built the Commercial Hotel, the town's firs hostelry, in 1818, on the present site of Kevil's Mill.

In the early days, mail came overland from Caseyville, thru Cross Keys [in present day Crittenden County] to Prince's Place. Immense quantities of tobacco were shipped from Hopkinsville thru Princeton to the Ohio River. Warehouses stood at Princeton, Eddyville and Wilson's Place on the Tradewater River. Princeton flourished as a tobacco center.

The hordes of settlers who poured thru the town in the great migration of 1830-1860 going south and west, helped populate the country. Caldwell County, with 4268 persons in 1810, grew to 9022 in 1820, then lost 698 in the next 10 years. But, by 1840 the population reached a new high of 10,365 and continued to grow.

Early life in Princeton presented all the rigors of the frontier. Buffalo and wolves abounded and other game was plentiful. Forests were everywhere and the threat of Indians lingered for a number of years.

Education was one of the early interest of the settlers. In 1817, the Caledonia Academy, a private school for girls, was founded.

When President Andrew Jackson ordered the Cherokee Indian tribes of Georgia and Florida to move to new homes west of the Mississippi, they made their trek northward thru Kentucky. Thirty thousand of them passed thru Princeton. Four thousand died en route.

Princeton's first courthouse was burned during the Civil War by Hyland B. Lyon, a Confederate general. Union troops were using it for a hospital and ammunition base. The court records were carried across the street and saved. The present courthouse was built in 1866.

Today Princeton is a thriving tobacco center. The Eastern Dark-Fired Tobacco Association maintains a large floor. The Illinois Central Railroad has a roundhouse here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - John M. Cook

Erected by
Strangers Rest Lodge
No. 13 of Henderson, Ky.
to the Memory of
Bro. John M. Cook
A Minister of the
M.E. Church
Who died
Jan. 25, 1848
Aged 39 yrs 5 mo.
28 days

Below I.O.O.F. is F.L.T. , the Odd Fellows' symbols for Friendship, Love and Truth. This tombstone is located in Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson, Kentucky and was photographed 1 January 2010.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Several books on Caldwell, Crittenden and Livingston Counties are currently on sale

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Smithland United Methodist Church

Smithland United Methodist Church, located on the corner of Court Street and Wilson Avenue, Smithland, Kentucky. The building dates from the early 1940s. The church was photographed 21 December 2009.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Reasons Why ...

No one lives in total isolation. Events in our neighborhood, our town, our state and our country affect the way we live and define our place in the world. If there is a financial recession, the result may be the loss of our job or our home. If there is a war, we may take sides and fight on one side or the other. This was true years ago and is true today. To understand the lives of our ancestors, we need to know the events - good or bad - they faced.

Did the creation of a new county affect your ancestor? If he was living in Caldwell County in 1820, but is not there in 1830, did he actually move or did he live in the part that became Hickman County in 1821? Where will you find records of this ancestor before and after Hickman was formed?

Did your ancestor disappear in 1833 or 1849 or 1873? Could he have been a victim of one of the cholera epidemics that hit Kentucky?

Maybe your ancestor was in Kentucky in 1840, but, by 1850, he was in California. Was he infected by gold fever and went west to "strike it rich?" How might he have traveled to California? Did he go alone or with others? How was life in California different than life in Kentucky?

Babies are given names for a reason - maybe they were named for a member of the family or maybe they were named for a non-member, but someone your family admired. Was your ancestor one of the many men named Linn Boyd? Was he named for Linn Boyd, Speaker of the House of Representatives from Trigg County 1851 - 1855? Why were so many males named Lorenzo Dow?

The Civil War forced Kentuckians to examine their feelings about slavery and states' rights. How did Kentucky Governor Magoffin stand during the Civil War affect the neutrality of Kentucky? Which side did your ancestor choose? How was his life affected because of his choice?

Did your ancestor mortgage everything he had in 1873, only to lose it all? Was it due to the financial panic that year that caused hard and trying times throughout the state?

Genealogy is more than a list of names and dates. Events near and far affect our life choices and, coupled with our cultural, religious and political beliefs determine how we live our lives. To better understand why our ancestors made certain decisions, we must learn as much as possible about them, including the events they experienced.