Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Few Things I Have Learned ...

While traveling on this genealogical journey, here are a few things I have learned:

People tend to list their children from the first-born to the last-born. This holds true when writing their wills or in general conversation.

Not all cemeteries are listed on Find A Grave. For example, I have recorded and photographed several tombstones in a Wilson Family Cemetery in Crittenden County, Kentucky, but, when I tried to submit the information, there is a Wilson Cemetery listed, but not the one I recorded in the Bells Mines community.

Be aware that parts of microfilmed records may be missing.  Part of the 1880 Crittenden County census has not been microfilmed . The missing portion is Piney Precinct and includes approximately 300 families. Those who died from June 1879 through May 1880 are found on the 1880 Mortality Schedule, but not on the original census.

Giving the name of a famous person to a child does not necessarily mean the families are related. Often the name was used to honor a prominent person. Why else would I have Christopher Columbus, Henry Clay and George Washington in my Joyce family? Then there was Lycurgus Mino Joyce, my grandfather, who was named for a prominent resident of Lawrence County, Tennessee, where the Joyce family lived before the Civil War.

At least half of those family legends passed down in your family will turn out to be untrue. The untrue part will be the story of the three brothers who went in different directions. Also, don't believe the story that your ancestor was surely Indian because he/she had high cheek bones. Certain to be false is the story of your ancestor who was an Indian princess.

Be skeptical of the legend that says your ancestor lived on a fine plantation in western Kentucky. There were a lot of farms in this area, but fine plantations were few and far between.

Bottom line - find proof before you put your information into the For Sure category.

What are some of the things you have learned?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Wm. H. Brown



Wm. H. Brown
Dec. 6, 1849
36 years

Buried Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 1 January 2010.

The tombstone of Wm. H. Brown indicates he was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.), a popular fraternal organization. F.L.T. stands for Friendship, Love and Truth.

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

Sunday, July 25, 2010

From Isle of Guernsey to America

It takes a lot of courage to pack up your family, leave your homeland and sail off to a new land. That is exactly what John and Mary Ellis did when they left their home in Isle of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Normandy, in the early years of the 1800s.

There is much we do not know about their life in Isle of Guernsey or their early days in America, but we do know this: They married and had one child, John Ellis Jr., who was born 2 November 1814 before they left their homeland. There is some evidence that their next child, Mary A., was born circa 1818-1819 in New York. By 1820, they had settled in Pope County, Illinois, where John was a carpenter. Estate records for Pope County show a number of claims for coffins John built for deceased persons.

Born to John and Mary in Pope County were Martha (born circa 1824) and James (born 13 October 1825). By late 1828, the Ellis family had moved across the Ohio River to Livingston County, Kentucky, where they bought four acres of land adjoining Salem, the county seat. Salem was a thriving community and John's services as a carpenter were very likely in demand. Born to John and Mary while living near Salem were Bettie (born 1828) and Francis/Fannie (born 1830 and died 1853).

John must not have acquired a very large estate as when he died circa 1834, no mention was made of his death in the county court minutes and no estate administrator was appointed. Very likely his only asset was the land. It wasn't until 1854 that Mary Ellis, widow of John, and her children sold the four acres of land near Salem. The land transaction (Deed Book 2, p. 409) excluded the grave where John Ellis was buried. A tombstone marking John's grave has not been found.

Sometime during the 1840s, Mary moved to Smithland and she can be found on the 1850 census. Her children were marrying and becoming part of a larger community. Her daughter Martha married Jacob V. Scyster and lived in Smithland. Son John, a carpenter, married Susan Watts and also resided in Smithland. Daughter Mary married Joseph Ray Jr. and lived in Livingston County. Son James, a farmer, married (1) Sarah L.A. Jennings and also lived in Livingston County. Daughters Francis and Betty never married.

Mary Ellis died 1 March 1855 and is buried in Smithland Cemetery, where the name on her tombstone is Mary Angel Ellis. It is unknown if Angel is her maiden name or if it is a middle name. Mary's children John, James, Betty, Fannie and Martha are also buried in Smithland Cemetery.

I'll have more on the Ellis family in the future.

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

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Research Tips

I want to share a couple of very helpful websites with you.

Steve Eskew of Crittenden County has captured images of a number of fire insurance maps for several western Kentucky towns and placed them on his website. The original maps can be found in the Crittenden County Historical Museum. These maps show the location of buildings in the business areas of such towns as Crayne, Dycusburg, Shady Grove, Fredonia, Salem and Smithland for the early 1900s.

Another website to check out is the National Center for Health Statistics. Links from this site will take you to any state in the USA to learn the price and where to order birth, death, marriage and divorce records. The beauty of this site is that you can find what you need in one place - no more roaming through many state websites to find out what you need to know.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - J.J. Farley

J.J. Farley
Aug. 10, 1854
Jan. 4, 1920

Buried King Cemetery, which is located at the top of a hill in the middle of a quarry where Hwy. 365 meets Hwy. 60 in the northern part of Crittenden County. Tombstone photographed 1993.

Jefferson Jay Farley was the son of Gatesfield Farley and his second wife, Susan King. Gatesfield Farley, who was born about 1808 in Georgia, came to what is today Crittenden County before 1820.

J.J. Farley married (1) Mary Boon 12 August 1879 and (2) Jennie Skinner 2 July 1884 and (3) Alice Clark 1903. All three marriages were in Webster County, Kentucky. J.J. Farley had the following known children: Susie, Annie, William Henry and James B. Farley.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Heading West

Not all of the folks who left western Kentucky migrated to Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas or Texas. Some took different paths and ended up far from their old homes. One such family was that of David Wilson.

David Wilson was born between 1810 and 1815, probably in the part of Livingston County, Kentucky that is today Crittenden County. His father, Robert Wilson, had migrated from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina with several brothers by 1803. They settled in the northern part of present-day Crittenden County.

David Wilson married Charlotte Postlewait on the 4th of August 1830 in Livingston County and they had the following children: Caroline C., Rachel Priscilla; James M. and Charlotte Rebecca.

Because David Wilson died as a young man, he generated few records. Much of what we know about David, including his death date and the names of his children, comes from two Crittenden County Circuit Court case bundles, both of which can be found at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. In bundle #46, Charlotte Wilson states she was the widow of David Wilson, who died on the 6th day of October 1841. The children of this marriage are named as co-defendants when Samuel Nunn filed a cross bill. The suit was filed because of a dispute over some land formerly belonging to David Wilson. Charlotte claimed she had never relinquished her dower right in the land and was now "poor and needy." From the deposition of Richard Postlewait in this case on 27 March 1845, we learn that he was 59 years of age and was the father of Charlotte Wilson.

From case bundle #171, we learn that David Postlewait was the brother of Charlotte and she was born in October or November of 1814.

Charlotte (Postlewait) Wilson married, as her second husband, William Smith on 15 December 1845 in Crittenden County. Then Charlotte started migrating. In 1850, Charlotte and William Smith were living in Gallatin County, Illinois. She had three children, Andrew S., Thomas J. and William Smith, by the second marriage. I don't know if William died or if they divorced, but Charlotte married a third time in Gallatin County in 1856 to Joseph Grayson. The fate of Joseph Grayson is also unknown but Charlotte Grayson appears as head of household with son, James (Wilson) and her Smith children on the 1860 Benton County, Iowa census. Also living in her household was her father, Richard Postlewait, age 74 and born in Maryland.

Other members of Charlotte's Postlewait family had settled in Benton County prior to 1860. Her daughter, Caroline C. Wilson, had married John E. Guinn 16 June 1849 in Iowa County, Iowa and can be found on the census records in Benton County in 1860 and 1870 and in Carroll County, Iowa in 1880. In 1870, Charlotte's son, Andrew Smith, was living with the Guinn family.

I don't find Charlotte after the 1860 census. She may have died or she may have moved on to another place. I do know that her daughter, Caroline C. Guinn, moved to Nebraska before 1900, when she appears on the census in Omaha, Douglas County. The whereabouts of the other children of Charlotte are unknown. I'm adding them to my "More Work Needed" list. That list just gets longer and longer, but isn't it fun when people go in unexpected directions, forcing you to learn to research in new areas?

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

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kentucky Events of 1873

Have you ever used Collins' History of Kentucky to learn what was happening in Kentucky during a given year? Volume 2 of this important resource contains events through 1873 in all parts of the Commonwealth. All sorts of events that might have impacted your ancestors' lives can be found in this book. It is available in many genealogical and local history collections of Kentucky libraries. I access it at Willard Library in Evansville, Indiana.

Below are some of the events I think might have affected my ancestors and their neighbors in 1873:

Jan. 7: Western Lunatic Asylum at Hopkinsville now has 326 patients of whom 14 pay from $3 to $7 per week. For want of room, it refused admission during 1872 to 106 lunatics.

Feb. 4: Legislature allows $2 for each wolf and $1 for each red fox, grey fox and wild cat killed within the state.

Feb. 6: The population of this state now exceeds 1,500,000.

Feb. 13: 3 men convicted of petit larceny in the circuit court at Cadiz, Trigg Co. and punished in the jail by whipping with 10 stripes each.

Mar. 15: Paducah derived over $7000 and Henderson about $2000 from liquor licenses in 1872.

Apr. 2: Death at Louisville, aged 53, of Judge John E. Newman, born Spencer Co. Nov. 19, 1819, practiced law at Smithland until 1850.

Apr. 10: Licenses to saloons for retailing liquor cost $250 in Hopkinsville and $200 in Henderson.

Apr. 14: 20,000 tons of Lyon Co. iron ore sold to parties at Brazil, Ind. to be shipped by rail via Louisville.

Jul. 9: 47 deaths from cholera at Franklin, Simpson Co. since the disease first appeared Jun. 21.

Jul. 15: 9 deaths from cholera at Elizabethtown, Hardin Co. since Jul. 11. A number of other deaths, also, at Paducah and Bowling Green.

Jul. 27: 5 deaths of cholera at Lagrange, Oldham Co. in 3 days. Many scattered cases all over Kentucky.

Aug. 1: 12 deaths from cholera in and around Princeton, Caldwell Co. since Jul. 18.

Oct. 20: First snow of the season.

Nov. 7: 7 stores and 1 dwelling, nearly all of the business portion of Moscow, Hickman Co., destroyed by fire.

Nov. 17: Deaths from cholera in Paducah and McCracken Co. from May 23 - Jul. 24 were 180.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Ruth M. Lamb

Ruth M.
Dec. 1, 1827
Jan. 23, 1873

Buried Wilson Family Cemetery, off Green's Chapel Road, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 1993.

Ruth M. Lamb was the daughter of Jeremiah Wilson and Dolly Taylor, who lived not far from the old Bells Mines Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Ruth married James M. Lamb 26 April 1842 Crittenden County. James M. and Ruth M. (Wilson) Lamb are found on the 1850 Crittenden County census and on the 1860 and 1870 Union County census records.

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

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Little Mystery

Sterling M. Barner and his wife, Sarah Jane West, of Smithland, Kentucky had four children. The oldest, a son, Joseph, died of disease during the Civil War. The youngest was either stillborn or died shortly after birth on the 9th of July 1855. The two middle children were daughters, Mary E. and Martha "Pattie."

Both Mary E. and Pattie not only shared the same parents, but both also died at the age of 20 years and 1 month and both died in Nashville, Tennessee, where their parents lived before moving to Smithland.

Mary E., a graduate of Nashville Female Academy, died of typhoid in 1862. Her body was then interred in a vault in Nashville City Cemetery. The following is found in Nashville City Cemetery records:

Volume 5-1862
Number 556
Date: December 2, 1862
Name: Barner, M. E.
Age: 20
Sex: F
Race: W
Residence: Smithland, Ky
Disease: Typhoid Fever
Ave: Curren Vault
Lot: Lot

Whether Mary E. is, indeed, still buried there is questionable as there is also a tombstone for her in the Barner plot in Smithland Cemetery in Livingston County, Kentucky. It reads:

Mary E.
Daughter of
S.M. & S.J.
Died Nov. 30, 1862
20 Y's 1 M's
8 D's

So, is Mary E's body still in the vault in Nashville City Cemetery or was it placed there until it could be transferred to Smithland? Was the tombstone erected in Smithland Cemetery as a memorial rather than to mark her burial place? This was in the early days of the Civil War and transportation might have been an issue in where she was buried. The answers to these questions may never be known, but the circumstances are interesting to contemplate.

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

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Several genealogy books are currently on sale here
until 1 August 2010.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Nancy G. Watts

Nancy G.
Daughter of
D. & C.E. Watts
born May 22
died June 23

Buried Mills Pioneer Cemetery, Highway 723 South near Salem, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 20 March 2010.

A license was issued to David Watts to marry Caroline E. Given 3 December 1834 in Livingston County. By 1850, David, a 38-year-old merchant, was living with his wife, 32-year-old Caroline, and their family in Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky. Caroline Watts died in 1861 and was buried at Oak Grove Cemetery, Paducah. By 1880, David Watts had remarried and was living in New York City.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence Day 2010

On July 2, 1776, the American colonies separated from Great Britain when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of Independence. Two days later on July 4, the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was approved. This is the day we celebrate as a free nation. July 4 became an official holiday in 1783 and a federal holiday in 1941.

Independence Day is traditionally celebrated with family gatherings, picnics and fireworks. When I was a child, there were parades and patriotic speeches. No matter how we celebrate, we should take a moment to reflect on the reason for the holiday and remember the brave men who fought for our freedom.

I am grateful for the following ancestors who participated in the fight to make our country free:

Thomas Joyce of Virginia - Patriot and his son
George Joyce of Virginia and North Carolina - Pensioner
William Rand Jr. of Virginia and North Carolina - Patriot
Absalom Bostick of Virginia and North Carolina - Patriot
Benjamin Bebout of New Jersey and Pennsylvania - Pensioner
Jeremiah Lucas of Virginia and South Carolina - Patriot

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Workshop Scheduled

Willard Library and Tri-State Genealogical Society are sponsoring a free all-day workshop, TreeRoots: Genealogy the Next Level, Saturday, 18 September 2010 in the Special Collections Department (second floor) of Willard Library, 21 First Avenue, Evansville, Indiana. Speaker will be Terry Prall, who will speak on four topics:

  • Using Online Resources to Complement Onsite Research

  • Researching Collateral Ancestors

  • Mining Family Histories and Compiled Genealogies

  • Using City Directories to Fill in the Blanks

  • Registration begins at 8 a.m. on the 18th with the first session beginning at 9 a.m. For reservations, call 812-425-4309 or email

    Vendors will be selling books and supplies in the park outside the library. A box lunch will be available for a fee and must be ordered prior to the workshop.