Sunday, October 31, 2010

Preservation of Livingston County Court House

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

The Livingston County Historical and Genealogical Society and its Preservation Committee hosted "Haunting Tales From Our Past" on 29 October 2010 at the Livingston County, Kentucky court house in Smithland. Attendees were greeted by musicians as they entered the lawn of the 165-year-old building. Upstairs  the beautiful old court room was festive in seasonal decorations.  Almost every seat was filled as storytellers related the colorful history of the area.

Court room showing judge's bench

Court room showing murals on back walls

Justice Bill Cunningham of the Kentucky Supreme Court - Henry Bennett and the Night Riders
Brenda Joyce Jerome, C.G. - Murder of Lewis Sanders and Murder in the Gower House
Stuart Peek, local attorney - Smithland's role in the Civil War
Carroll Walker, Livingston County Clerk - local ghost stories
Faye Teitloff, local historian -  Jefferson's nephews and murders on the bluff
Linda Defew, writer - murder at Little Heaven

The event was to inform  the public of the movement to preserve the old courthouse and the adjoining county clerks' offices. Donations to the Livingston County Historical and Genealogical Society [Preservation Committee], PO Box 138, Smithland, Kentucky 42081 are being accepted and will be appreciated.

Court room showing jurors' chairs and spectators' benches

I feel a personal attachment to this court house as my ancestors settled here very early. This building is where they obtained their marriage licenses, registered their deeds and had their wills probated. This beautiful structure has seen many floods and wars. Throughout each event, it was a beacon of hope when the world did not always seem normal or even sane.

No visit to Smithland is complete without a drive through Smithland Cemetery. I've photographed the cemetery in the morning and early afternoon in every season. This was the first time I had photographed it in late afternoon, shortly before dusk.

Smithland Cemetery shortly before dusk 29 October 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Visit to Bells Mines

One of my favorite areas of western Kentucky is the Bells Mines neighborhood of northern Crittenden County.  It was settled in the early 1800s and settlers from North Carolina and Virginia and South Carolina took up land and reared their families in these hills.  Then, coal was discovered and miners from England and Germany and other countries came, bringing their customs, beliefs and dreams.

Marker at former site of Bells Mines Church

The hills were dotted with homes, often with family cemeteries located within walking distance.  Many folks attended Bells Mines Cumberland Presbyterian Church or Greens Chapel Methodist Church.  Both churches are gone now - first Greens Chapel and more recently, Bells Mines,  but the adjoining cemeteries remain  in use.  

Bells Mines Cemetery
15 October 2010

Even with the houses and barns gone, it is easy to imagine what this thriving community was like.  In its heyday, there were farms and schools and churches. The mines were active and coal was loaded on boats to be shipped to distant places. Babies were born, young couples married and old people died, surrounded  by their family and friends.

Then, the mines closed and people began to move away.  In the 1950s Alcoa purchased over  11,000 acres of land on both sides of the Crittenden - Union county line, including Bells Mines, with the intention of building an aluminum smelter.  Families relocated, leaving the land to return to a natural state, but the projected plant was never built.

On a recent afternoon, the trees were alive with color. Bells Mines Cemetery seemed almost desolate with some  tombstones fallen and others weathered so they were unreadable. Nothing, though, hides the beauty of the area and it is easy to see what drew those early settlers here.  

Bells Mines Church Road
15 October 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Mary C. Weller

In Memory of Our Dear Mother
Mary C. Weller

Born in Albemarle
Co., Va
Mar. 6, 1802
Died at Princeton, Ky
Aug. 30, 1848

Buried Cedar Hill Cemetery, Princeton, Caldwell County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 10 October 2009.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

History of Fredonia Valley Available Soon

It is not too late to order "The History of the Fredonia Valley," which is being published by the Fredonia Valley Heritage Society.  The price is currently still $35, but  will increase to $40 on November 10th.  There is an additional $6 if the book needs to be mailed.  Orders can be sent to Fredonia Valley Heritage Society, P. O. Box 256, Fredonia, KY  42411. 

The book will have 552 pages, hardback, and includes an area within a six mile radius of Fredonia, Caldwell County, Kentucky.  Covered in the book are the early settlement of the area, the history of Fredonia, the history of other small communities in the Fredonia Valley, churches, schools, homes, memories of growing up in Fredonia, farming and agriculture, barns, tobacco in the valley, people, places, and events, organizations, past and present businesses, memorials and tributes, and family histories.  

The book has been delivered to the publisher and should be available for Christmas giving.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Preservation of Livingston County, Kentucky Court House

The Livingston County Historical and Genealogical Society and its Preservation Committee are planning a Halloween event at the Livingston County  Court House in Smithland on Friday, 29 October 2010. The theme is "Haunting Tales From the Past."  The evening will begin with music at 5 p.m., followed by stories of the Night Riders, murders and Civil War activities in Smithland and other stories of the area.  Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham will be on hand for a book signing. The Livingston County High School FFA will have food available for purchase.

Livingston County, Kentucky Court House 2008
Built 1845

The new Livingston County Justice Center opened in 2009 and a new County Office Building, which will contain the county clerk's office, is currently being constructed next to the old Court House.  When this happens, the old Court House will be empty for the first time since it was built in 1845.  The purpose of this Halloween event is to make residents aware of the movement to preserve  the Court House  and adjoining  old clerks' offices (built circa 1853) and provide the opportunity to contribute to the future of the Court House.  This is the perfect way to have a family-friendly good time and support the preservation movement.

New County Office Building
Under Construction September 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Levi and Frank Pippin

Levi Pippin
Co. D
8 U.S.C.H.A.

Frank Pippin
Born Feb. 20, 1874
Jan. 5, 1907
Gone but not

Levi and Frank Pippin are buried next to each other at Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Kentucky. Both tombstones  were photographed 2 October 2010.

According to the 1900 Livingston County, Kentucky census, Levi Pippin was born September 1841 Kentucky.  Listed in the Levi Pippin household was Frank Pippin, who was a porter on a steamboat. Note the Masonic symbol at the top of his tombstone.

Levi Pippin served in Co. D, 8th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery during the Civil War. Note that his tombstone is one provided by the U.S. government.

Levi and Frank Pippin were part of the African American community in Smithland.

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Who Or What Do You Blame?

Can you identify person or event that started you on this search for family information? Did you pick up researching where a relative had left off?  Did your interest stem from your child's school project on genealogy?  If you have been researching many years, it may be hard to pinpoint one reason for this  journey.

I place the blame for my passion for genealogy on the family storytellers and also on being a naturally nosy person. As  a child, I grew up hearing stories about my relatives.  It was inexpensive entertainment and there was an abundance of characters. When my dad told the story of how Hugh Wolstenholme crossed the mountains and "washed his hands in the clouds," I wanted to know which mountains he crossed.  How old was he when he crossed those mountains and where was he coming from?

When my grandmother told me the story of being dressed all in blue when she married my grandfather in 1902, did she mean even her underwear was blue?  And why blue - why not pink or yellow or green?

Who was the mysterious "Temus" Joyce and how was he related to my great-grandfather, James Pinkney Joyce?

Did my Joyce family really leave Lawrence County, Tennessee during the early days of the Civil War because they didn't believe in slavery? And did they really turn their wagon around  at night so it would appear they were heading south instead of north? Was this done because my great-grandfather was trying to avoid being drafted and having to fight against his older brother who remained in Tennessee?

Why did none of my close relatives in Livingston and Crittenden counties, Kentucky fight for the South during the Civil War? A few served on the side of the North, but most of them didn't fight at all and none favored the South. Were they opposed to slavery or in favor of states' rights or what? 

Through research, I've learned a few answers, but enough questions remain unanswered to keep me researching the next 30 years - at least I hope so.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Scyster Family

Wife of
J.V. Scyster
Oct. 6, 1869

Robert E.
Infant son of
Jacob V. & Martha
Nov. 9, 1854
June 16, 1855

Daughter of
J.V. & Martha
June 5, 1861
Died July 4, 1862

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Kentucky. Tombstones photographed 17 June 2010.

Jacob V. Scyster, who was born  1823 Livingston County, and Martha Ellis, daughter of John and Mary Ellis, were  married about 1849. To them were born Mary E., who married Capt. John Hamilton Throop; John E. Scyster, who later lived in Carmi, Illinois and Fannie and Robert E. Scyster, both of whom died as infants.

Jacob V. Scyster married Barbara Morrison in Illinois in 1872. They had two children, Flora Walton Scyster and Capt. James Von Scyster.

Jacob V. Scyster celebrated his 90th birthday in 1913 and, according to a newspaper account, was at that time known as the "oldest man in Smithland."

Published 12 October 2010, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In the News - Caldwell County, Kentucky 1888

News of smaller communities was often reported in the newspaper of a nearby large town. The following news items were originally published in the Princeton Banner [Caldwell County, Kentucky]of 14 January 1888 and reprinted  in the Paducah Daily News of Monday, 16 January 1888.

Rev. A.E. Debo, of the Farmersville neighborhood, died last night from the effect of a paralytic stroke received some time since.

The Harmony neighborhood was shocked last week by the tragic death of Mrs. Frank Ladd of that community. In returning from a spring Mrs. Ladd had occasion to pass near where her son and a Mr. Baily were cutting a tree, when near them the tree started to fall. Mrs. Ladd ran to get out of the way, but misunderstanding the direction given by the men, went the wrong way and was struck by the falling tree and killed almost instantly.

The trial of Jim Gatewood at Eddyville last week resulted in a hung jury. Gatewood was released under bond of $3,000. Gatewood , it will be remembered, is the man who killed W.J. Bigwood in Lyon County about a year ago, and who was kept a prisoner here in Caldwell County jail until the recent term of the Lyon circuit court convened a few weeks ago.

Last Monday night "Uncle Tommy" Lighton, a well known character among railroaders and a track walker for the N.N. & M.V. railroad, who was accustomed to taking his whiskey at all hours both day and night, got up at a late hour for his usual midnight "pull" at his bottle. He made the mistake of getting hold of a pint bottle containing diluted carbolic acid. A long and vigorous "pull" at the contents was made before "Uncle Tommy" was made aware of his mistake. His sufferings were frightful. Medical assistance was immediately called in. "Uncle Tommy" is much improved and getting on as well as can be expected. His condition is yet considered critical and his fiery draught may yet prove the last and fatal one for him.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Renouncement of Will Provisions

When a man made provisions for his wife in his will, she did not have to accept the provisions. Perhaps what  he intended her to have was less than one-third of the total value. In cases such as this, the wife might notify the court to renounce the provisions made for her. Once she renounced the provisions made by the will, she could accept her dower right of one-third of the value of her late husband's property. This is what Susan Ellen Dallam of Caldwell County, Kentucky did following the death of her  husband, Charles B. Dallam,  who left a will in Caldwell County Will Book B, page 94 and which was proven in county court 17 January 1848.

Susan’s renouncement states as follows:
“To the honourable County Court of Caldwell County, whereas my husband Charles B. Dallam lately departed this life in this County leaving a last will and testament which has been duly proven and admitted to record before your honourable body at your last January term 1848 and whereas my said husband made certain provisions for me in said will which is herein referred to, but for reasons satisfactory to myself, and which were not (I am satisfied) anticipated by my husband, I have determined and hereby declare that I will not take or accept the provisions made for me by said will, or any part thereof, and I hereby  renounce all benefit which I might claim by said will.

In testimony whereof I have hereto signed my name and affixed my seal this the 21st day of February 1848. [signed] Susan Ellen Dallam. Signed, sealed &c in the presence of us. Attest  T.L. McNary, Jas. Blue.”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Hattie B. and William O. Boos

Hattie B.  
   Aug. 8, 1883    
   Jan. 1, 1938    

William O.
        Feb. 9, 1873         
 June 24, 1933

Buried Koe Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky. Photographed and submitted by Marty K. Hodge of Marion, Kentucky.

Hattie Belle Boos was the daughter of Marion Holloway and Maria Martin. William Boos was born in Illinois and was the son of George O. Boos and Mary Blatter, who married 24 March 1859 Pope County, Illinois.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Research Sites

Here are a couple of sites you might want to check out.

Quickly becoming one of my favorite free sites for genealogy is FamilySearch

This is sponsored by the LDS Church and is now a favorite with genealogists. I have been using it for some time and have been pleased with the results when I type in the names of my ancestors.

If you have Indiana ancestors, a site to check out is Indiana National Guard 1898-1940  This is a searchable database.

Happy Hunting!