Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Than Just a Courthouse

When was a courthouse more than just a courthouse?

Courthouses were not always used only for storing public records and holding court. Sometimes they were used  to hold "preachings" or for meetings of fraternal organizations.

When the Livingston County courthouse was built, John Behag, who was caretaker of the courthouse, was permitted to the "let the courthouse for public worships or other useful purposes at the discretion of any one of the magistrates." In addition, "Rev. John Black, on  behalf of the Masonic Brethren of Smithland, were granted leave to occupy the Grand Jury Room as their Lodge room."  [County Court Order Book J, pages 44 and 46, 8 August 1845]

On 11 June 1860, The Independent Order of Oddfellows of Marion Lodge No. 144 was allowed to use and rent the North Room of the Crittenden County courthouse (upstairs) for the term of two years. The room was used also as a court room. [County Court Order Book 2, page 421]

Caldwell County often permitted organizations to use rooms in the courthouse.  The jailer was ordered to open the courthouse to the Campbellites for preachings whenever they desired. [County Court Order Book F, page 377, 20 March 1843].

 On 29 April 1844,  the Female Union Society in Caldwell County was granted the use of the courthouse on "Wednesday next" for the celebration of May Day. [County Court Order Book F, page 444] 

On Tuesday, 20 April 1852, Joshua Gore, the Caldwell County jailer, was ordered to have the doors and windows of the courthouse repaired and to "keep same locked up, unless in the time of preaching, courts and public speaking." The upstairs of the courthouse was to be used by the Sons of Temperance for their meetings "upon the condition they keep the same safe and in good condition and make all necessary repairs that the Grand Division of the Sons of Temperance of this State have the use of the same ... for the purpose of convocation." [County Court Order Book H, page 106]

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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Clarissa M. Clay

Clarissa M.
1796 - 1885

Buried Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 7 August 2010. Note the classic style of the tombstone with the handshake, a symbol for matrimony. One sleeve cuff appears to be for a male and the other for a female.

Clarissa M. Berry was born in Virginia and  married James W. Clay, who was also born in Virginia. They are enumerated on the 1850 Henderson County census. On the 1880 census, Clarissa was living with her daughter, Sarah Lambert, on Elm Street in Henderson.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Crittenden County, Kentucky Guardians 1885

A guardian was appointed to care for a person and manage his assets. The person being cared for was most often a minor, but might also be a person deemed incapable of managing his own affairs due to mental incapacity. The county court appointed guardians, but once the minor was 14 years old, he could choose his own guardian.

The following entries were abstracted from Crittenden County, Kentucky Guardian Bond Book 1883 - 1901 as found in the Crittenden County Clerk's Office, Marion, Kentucky. Additional information is often found in the county court order books [court minutes].

J.L. Sisco was appointed guardian of Martha F. Conger 12 January 1885.

C.C. Woodall was appointed guardian of Pleasant and Linnie Woodall 14 January 1885.

J.N. Truitt (as committee) was appointed guardian of John Hogard, an imbecile, 16 January 1885.

C.C. Woodall was appointed guardian of John and Robert Hill 21 January 1885.

Richard H. Lewis was appointed guardian of his minor children 9 February 1885. [Court Order Book 8, page 2: Children were Nellie F., William, Juda Ann, Richard H. and Eddie Lewis.]

S.N. Marvel was appointed guardian of Thos. M. Phillips and H.L. Linn 14 February 1885.

J.T. Hodge was appointed guardian of Willis C. Linn 21 February 1885.

A.J. Donakey was appointed guardian of Nannie J. Coleman 9 April 1885.

M.F. Drennan was appointed guardian of Nannie and John H. Beckner 4 August 1885.

H.A. Haynes was appointed guardian of Thomas Logan Pickens 4 August 1885.

On 10 August 1885, J.C. Long was appointed guardian of Henry, Thomas and Phillip Lynn, all being over age 14 and heirs of N.J. and Franky Lynn. J.C. Long resigned 14 September 1885.

J.W. Lynn was appointed guardian of Henry, Thomas and Phillip Lynn 14 September 1885.

 On 20 September 1886 [sic] at the request of John C. Spring, J.F. Flanery was appointed guardian for Willie, John W. and Sarah Deler Springs, minor heirs of Lydia A. Springs, formerly Lydia A. Yates. [Court Order Book 8, page 235]

Joseph Joyce (colored) was appointed guardian of Thomas Joyce (colored) 29 September 1885.

T.L. Wright was appointed guardian of J.H. Preston 1 October 1885.

R.L. Moore was appointed guardian of Ada M. and Emma R. Bier, both of whom were over the age of 14 years and were the minors children of Henry A. and Annie M. Bier, 9 November 1885. Mrs. Annie M. Thurmond, formerly Bier, departed this life 24 June 1885. [Court Order Book 8, page 112]

R.N. Walker was appointed guardian for Ada and Robert Robinson, both under age 14 and minors of Wylie R. Robinson dec'd, 30 November 1885.

Jno. W. Blue Jr. was appointed guardian of Gus and Lillian Higginbotham 14 December 1885.

G.W. Moore was appointed guardian for Lizzie Harris, who is over the age of 14 years, 30 December 1885.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - John W. Jones

John W. Jones
in Boone Co., Ky
Oct. 29, 1835
July 25, 1854

Buried Pythian Ridge Cemetery, Sturgis, Union County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 10 March 2010.

Jno. W. Jones is enumerated in the household headed by Eliza Jones on the 1850 Union County census. The will of Gustavis V. Jones, recorded January 1853 in Union County Will Book C, p. 163, mentions John W. Jones as a child and also mentions land in Boone County.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Life and Death of T.S. Croft (1821 - 1899)

The following sketch appeared in the 20 July 1899 issue of the Crittenden Press, Marion, Kentucky and was accessed via Chronicling America.

We here present a splendid picture of the late Thomas S. Croft, whose death was announced in the Press two weeks ago. As he was a pioneer citizen of the county, our local annuals would be incomplete without this picture and brief sketch.

T.S. Croft was born in Christian county, Sept. 25, 1821, and was a son of Martin and Fannie (Sullivan) Croft. His parents were born in South Carolina, and his father was a soldier of 1812.

In 1806 Martin Croft came West and settled in Christian county, Ky., near where the town of Crofton stands. In 1826 he moved to Livingston county, settling near Salem, later he moved to the Hurricane country, where he resided until his death, September 15, 1834. His wife survived him twelve years, dying November 20, 1846.

Thomas S. Croft was one of a family of nine children, of whom but two are now living, F.H. Croft and Mrs. Josiah Stalions. Thomas Croft remained at home until he was sixteen years old, and then began farming for himself. He later taught school for five terms in his home district. The first farm he owned comprised sixty acres. He was a tireless farmer; full of energy and thrift, he began early in his career to manifest the qualities of success, in industry and good judgment in his work. The country in that section was then sparsely settled, land was cheap, and Mr. Croft began to invest little by little in the fine lands of that section. Besides farming at different periods he engaged in saw milling and rehandling tobacco. In all of these he was successful, and as his acres began to broaden, he turned his attention to stock raising and for years was perhaps more extensively engaged in this business than any other man in the county.

When his children became grown, Mr. Croft owned about 5000 acres of land, and the greater portion of this he divided among them, giving each one several hundred acres.

He was married to Miss Elmira Wright, daughter of Thomas and Mildred Wright, of Tennessee, Oct. 14, 1847, and eleven children were born, of whom the following are living: Mildred, wife of G.B. Crawford; Mrs. N.J. Yates; P.B. Croft; Mary S., wife of Dr. J.O. Dixon; Elmira, wife of W.E. Dowell, and Buckner Croft, all of whom are citizens of this county.

He was active in the establishment of the Hurricane camp meeting and for a number of years contributed to its maintenance. He made a handsome donation to the Christian church at Marion.

Mr. Croft was a member of the Christian church at Salem. He has taken a lively interest in church matters for several years, and has contributed liberally to several churches.

He was buried on the Croft farm near Tolu, Rev. Robt. Johnson conducting the funeral services in the presence of a large crowd of the friends of the family.

Mr. Croft began life a poor man, and died perhaps the wealthiest man in the county. He left by will his property all to his wife, to be divided among the children at her death, though he made handsome provisions for his children as they became of age.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Missouri Soldiers' Records

Many of us with roots in western Kentucky also have an ancestor who wandered off to Missouri. The Missouri State Archives has a great searchable database with digital images that might be helpful to  you.

Go to Soldiers' Records: War of 1812 - World War I. Scroll to the bottom and fill in the blanks for Name and Conflict. Then click Search. If there is a listing for your person, click on View Image.

Don't you wish more state archives would make military records available?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - William B. Nation

William B.                         Eva V.
    1863 - 1919                       1869 - 1901

Buried at Pilot Knob Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 25 August 2010.

William B. Nation Jr., the son of William Nation Sr. and Eliza J. Springer, was born 24 May 1863 in Tennessee and died 22 December 1919 Crittenden County, according to his Kentucky death certificate #31893 (1919).

 He married Miss Eva V. Orr 30 December 1885 in Crittenden County and they had two children, Pleasant and Fannie. Eva died 1 November 1901 and, according to her obituary in the 19 December 1901 issue of the Crittenden Press, she left a loving mother, devoted husband, two little children, two brothers and three sisters. Her last words were "Blessed Jesus."

On 19 April 1904 William B. Nation married Mrs. Bettie Martin at Marion. William B. and Bettie  had the following children: Georgia and William D.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tombstone Symbols of Fraternal Organizations

Strolling through cemeteries in western Kentucky will reveal a number of tombstones in the shape of a cut off tree trunk and with a plaque-like emblem, which identifies the deceased as a member of the fraternal organization, Woodmen of the World. This organization provides life insurance for a small fee and originally provided  a free tombstone when a member died. That practice was discontinued during the 1920s, although some members continued to erect similar tombstones for some time. This organization continues to operate today and is especially popular in western Kentucky, southeastern Illinois and southwestern Indiana.

The tombstone of Ervin Davis (1894-1918) in Crooked Creek Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky has a W.O.W. tombstone and plaque with the words "Dum Tacet Clamet." This translates to "Though Silent, He Speaks."

Another Woodmen of the World monument is that of John N. Lawrey (1857-1906) in Fernwood Cemetery in Henderson, Kentucky.  The plaque on his tombstone is somewhat different than others I have seen.

In Pilot Knob Cemetery, Crittenden County, can be found the tombstone of James T. Hodge (1845-1894) with the initials "A.O.U.W." This signifies that he was a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the first fraternal group to offer death benefit life insurance to its members. The organization no longer exists. The organization had a several objectives, one of which was "to unite into one brotherhood all persons employed in the mechanical arts." Another objective was "to establish libraries, provide for lectures and other means of education."

Seen slightly less often is a tombstone with the initials, "F.C.B", which stand for Friendship, Charity and Benevolence and indicates the deceased was a member of the Knights of Pythias. This fraternal organization was founded in 1864. In addition to believing in a supreme being, members had to be 18 or older and could not be a gambler or involved in drugs or alcohol. Members also could not be a Communist or advocate the overthrow of the government. This tombstone is found in the Pythian Ridge Cemetery, Sturgis, Union County, Kentucky.

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

Thursday, September 9, 2010

School Census Records

School census records can help fill in the gaps caused by the missing 1890 federal census. They usually begin in 1885 and record the names and birthdates, along with the names of parents, guardians or others responsible for children between the ages of 6 and 20 years, even if married.

School census records are found either in the County Board of Education or in the county clerk's office. Most often they are loose papers folded and filed by year. The census records in Livingston County, Kentucky are in bound volumes in the county clerk's office and cover the years 1898-1913. There are separate volumes for white and African American children.
The following school census is for District No. B (Colored) in Livingston County in 1899:

Thomas Jameson in charge of Cozlia, born June 4, 1879, lives Carrsville.

Fannie Jameson in charge of Francis, born Sept. 18, 1881, and Lenie, born Jan. 19, 1884, lives Carrsville.

Joseph Barnes in charge of Richard, born Sept. 28, 1886 and Lenard, born April 18, 1889, lives Carrsville.

Bettie Pringle in charge of Lottie, born Mar. 26, 1890, lives Carrsville.

Mollie Pringle in charge of Lona, born May 8, 1889, and Lloyd, born June 4, 1892, lives Carrsville.

Guss Champion, grandfather, in charge of Asley Taylor, born May 26, 1890, lives Carrsville.

Matilda Champion, uncle, in charge of Mary Fitch, born June 20, 1886, lives Carrsville.

Seg Pringle & wife Pearl, uncle, in charge of Charley Fitch, born April 8, 1891, lives Carrsville.

Earnest Barnett, brother, in charge of Amos Barnett, born June 7, 1881, lives Carrsville.

Earnest Barnett in charge of sister, Annie Barnett, born Nov. 25, 1882, lives Carrsville.

Earnest Barnett in charge of sister, Rama Barnett, born June 29, 1888, lives Carrsville.

Earnest Barnett in charge of niece, Edith Barnett, born Jan. 18, 1891, lives Carrsville.

Total number of children in District = 15. Reported by Thos. Jameson, chairman.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - William A. Perrine

to the Memory of
William A. Son of
_eter & Mary Perrin_
Who Departed this life June _
1836 Aged 36 years 10
months & 29 days

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 1 September 2010. The face of the tombstone is flaking and deteriorating badly. It appears to be made of brownstone.

William A. Perrin/Perrine does not appear on any Livingston County census or tax list. The only record found thus far is his tombstone. However, it is possible he was a son of Peter and Mary Perrine, who appear on the 1850 Harrison County, Ohio census. Peter was age 70, a carpenter and born in New York. Mary was age 66 and also born in New York.

Smithland Cemetery has several tombstones for people from states east of Kentucky. They likely worked on the rivers and perhaps died in the marine hospital in Smithland.

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

Sunday, September 5, 2010

TreeRoots: Genealogy the Next Level Workshop

Just a reminder - Willard Library and the Tri-State Genealogical Society will present TreeRoots: Genealogy the Next Level, a free all-day workshop on Saturday, 18 September 2010, from 9 am until 4 p.m. at Willard Library, 21 First Avenue, Evansville, Indiana.

The speaker will be Terry Prall, who will speak on "Using Online Resources to Complement Onsite Researching," "Researching Collateral Ancestors," "Mining Family Histories and Compiled Genealogies" and "Using City Directories to Fill in the Blanks." To make a reservation for each session, contact Willard Library Special Collections at 812-425-4309 .

Book vendors will have items for sale in the park throughout the day. A box lunch is available for a fee.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kentucky Tax Lists

Kentucky tax lists are valuable genealogical sources. Because they were taken yearly, they supplement census records, which were taken every ten years.

Each county in Kentucky was divided into tax districts or precincts with a tax commissioner responsible for making a list of all those required to pay taxes. These lists from each district were combined and a copy was sent to each of the following: the state auditor, the county tax commissioner, the county sheriff and the county clerk. Caldwell County clerk's office still has some of these lists, but they are in delicate condition.

The requirements for tax list information varied depending on the time period, but generally included the names of all free males 21 years or older, number of slaves 16 years or older, number of horses or mares, the amount of property owned and the nearest watercourse or location of a town lot. It was not necessary to own land to be enumerated on the tax lists. For some years, the name(s) of the person who entered, surveyed and patented the land was listed. Also, some years listed the number of children of school age. If the taxed person owned a carriage or watch of gold or silver, that was also indicated. Some years also showed the amount of wheat, tobacco and corn grown.

The age at which a person could be exempt from paying taxes varied from state to state. In Kentucky it was on an individual basis with the exemption being granted by the county court because of infirmity and often combined with age. The following entry appears in Crittenden County Court Order Book 1, page 155, 14 December 1846: "It appearing to the court that Richard Posthlethwaight is aged and infirm, it is ordered that he forever hereafter be released from paying poll tax."

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when using tax lists. If a man suddenly appears on the tax list and you know he had been in the area for some time, he may have just turned 21. If he disappears, but his property is listed under the name of someone else, he probably died. It would be wise to then check for a will or the appointment of an administrator of his estate. If he disappears for one year and returns the following year, check the county court minutes to see if there is mention of "failing to turn in taxable items." This is then followed by a list of his taxable property.

Tax lists are readily available on microfilm in Kentucky libraries and often in genealogical collections in other states. The microfilm is also available for purchase from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives in Frankfort, Kentucky.

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