Saturday, August 27, 2011

Research Tip - Kentucky Probate Records Online

Many Kentucky probate records have been put online at These records are free and you can browse by county. The available records include will indices, administrator bond books, appraisement/inventory/sale books, order books. The records can be printed either by whole page or part of a page. If printing by the entire page, you may need to later enlarge the page in order to read it easily.

To access the records, go to Under Browse by location, click on USA, Canada and Mexico. Scroll down and click on Kentucky, Probate Records 1797-1977. Then click on Browse through 623,942 images. A list of Kentucky counties will appear. Click on your county of interest.

Not all probates for all counties are available, but this is a good start. is making it easier to do research from a distance.

This Research Tip was provided by Lucinda Wilcoxen.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Common School Report - Caldwell County, Kentucky 1907

The following report of the common schools in Caldwell County, Kentucky is abstracted from the Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kentucky, 1907.

The schools in Caldwell county are doing as well as can be expected under existing circumstances, but they are not yet what we would like to see them. We have built three new houses during the past year and furnished and repaired several others. There are not more than a half-dozen district libraries in the county, but we are going to make a special effort to create an interest in this direction. In District. No. 54, there is a nice library of 100 volumes of good literature. This is the best in the county outside Princeton and Fredonia. Of the 67 white and colored schools there are 11 first-class, 17 second and 39 third-class schools. In these second and third-class districts, with the exception of very few instances, not one cent is raised toward supplementing the salary and extending the school term, consequently these schools are taught by young, inexperienced boys and girls. These teachers are doing their best, and are anxious to become better qualified and often speak of wanting to attend school if the salary were sufficient to do so.

A number of teachers attended the Western State Normal last spring. We believe that half of the teaching force in Caldwell County will enter school at the close of the term. In a few years Normal trained teachers will be in demand, and all who wish to remain in the profession are waking up to a realization of the fact that they much be better qualified in order that they may be able to hold good paying positions. We need more pay and greater requirements. Better salaries mean better qualifications and better teachers. The minimum price should be $40 per month and the educational standard raised in proportion to the increase in salary.

We are sorry to state there is not a graded school in the county. We trust that the next Legislature will bring about some important changes in the school system. It is almost impossible to get trustees to serve. Most of the "Boards" are appointed as the elected trustees rarely ever qualify.

Nannie R. Catlett, Co. Supt.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Delia Hutchinson Wilson

Delia Hutchinson
Wife of George Martin
Nov. 21, 1861 June 12, 1935

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 29 October 2010.

The death certificate for Delia Hutchinson Wilson contains very little information other than her birth and death dates. Her father is listed as Mr. Hutchinson and her mother is not listed.

Delia Hutchinson married George Martin Wilson, who was born 17 October 1841 and died 1 November 1931. He is buried in Wilson Cemetery, off Highway 453, Livingston County beside his first wife, Millie. He was the son of Charles Wilson, born Sweden, and Martha Walker, born Livingston County.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Courthouse Nominated to National Register

Published 21 August 2011, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,
The 166-year-old Livingston County courthouse has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The application will go before the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board on the 6th of September 2011. If approved, it will have passed the first step toward being placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which is the nation’s official list of historic and archaeological resources deemed worthy of preservation.
The Livingston County courthouse was designed by Preston Grace of Princeton, Kentucky and was built in 1845. It has been remodeled several times, but still maintains the graceful dignity of its early years. Since its birth, it has been the center of the county's business activities and the place to obtain a marriage license or record a deed or will. In September, however, business in the courthouse will cease and move next door to the new County Office Building.
By being placed on the National Register, it is being acknowledged that the courthouse is worthy of recognition. It is hoped that it will continue to be used for activities for many years to come.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Historic St. Vincent's Academy

The following information has been abstracted from an article, "St. Vincent Academy is Historic Kentucky School," published in the Evansville (Indiana) Press, Sunday, 9 February 1936.

Five miles north of Morganfield in Union County, hidden from the highway by towering trees and shrubs, stands the oldest secondary educational institution in western Kentucky. It is St. Vincent Academy, founded in 1820 by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

Prior to 1881, Sisters of the Academy sponsored a small school for boys across the road from the academy. In 1881, the boys' school was closed because of small attendance. It was reopened in 1914 and is September 1923, for the first time in the history of St. Vincent's, 22 boys were enrolled in the academy proper. Francis Murphy was the first graduate of this group.

In 1820, Sisters Angela Spinks, Frances Gardiner and Cecily O'Brien were sent by their superiors to organize a school in Union County on a farm set aside for use of the Sacred Heart Church. They made the journey of some 150 miles on horseback through what was then a wilderness. Their equipment consisted only of what they could tied in three aprons and carry in their arms.

Hardships of that journey were many and the three pioneers met discouragement when they arrived at the log cabin farm house only to find it occupied by a family that refused to move. The three educators spent their first night on what was later to become the academy farm in a poultry house.

Once established in the primitive log cabin, it fell to the lot of Cecily O'Brien and Frances Gardiner to teach the "large" class of five students. The following year the sisters were joined by three more instructors. A log cabin lean-to was added to the cabin. The school started to grow.

By 1842, there were 35 students. To keep pace with the growing enrollment, cabin after cabin was built. In 1852 or 1853, the academy's land totaled some 400 acres, including the property on which the old Sacred Heart Church stood. Construction was started in that year on a new brick academy building. For years the old Sacred Heart Church was used as a recreational hall. A second floor was added to the building and it was to this portion of the school that students were "sentenced" for misdemeanors. Punishment usually consisted of mending clothes or memorizing columns of words from a dictionary.

Perhaps one the best word pictures of the school in the 1850s was left by the wife of General John A. Logan of Civil War fame, in her book, "Reminiscences of a Soldier's Wife." She tells how students were coached in manners, or how to enter a parlor and meet guests without being awkward; of sewing all her own clothes, and of the Sister Superior's journeys to Louisville by boat to buy material for graduation costumes and of graduation exercises under the trees on the lawn.

The school was now housed completely in brick buildings. It had its own light plant, its own power plant, orchard, truck garden, dairy and bakery. The enrollment in 1936 was around 135 pupils.

St. Vincent's Academy was in operation until 1967.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - James B. and Catharine F. Ferguson

Memory of
James B. Ferguson
Born April 9th 1788
Died Novr. 14th 1832
Death what a solemn word to all
What mortal things are men
We just arise and soon we fall
To mix with earth again

Memory of
Catharine Haydock
Born March 25th
Died October 5th

Buried in Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Kentucky. Tombstones photographed 15 April 2011.

James B. Ferguson married Catharine F. Given 12 January 1832 Livingston County, Kentucky. James died that same year and, on 18 June 1834, Joseph Haydock obtained a bond and license to marry the widow, Catharine Given Ferguson.

James B. Ferguson left a will, which is recorded in Livingston County Will Book A, page 113. Heirs to his estate were his nephew, James Ferguson; brothers, Wm. and Anthony Ferguson (received land in Hambleton [sic] County, Ohio) and his wife Katharine. Very likely James B. Ferguson was a a riverman or ferryman as the inventory of his estate lists four keelboats.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Lost" 1803 Marriage Recovered

Copyright on text and photographs by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
May not copy without written consent

Recently an original 1803 Livingston County, Kentucky marriage record appeared for sale on eBay. It was purchased and will be returned to the county clerk's office, from which it apparently disappeared many years ago. At least two compilations of Livingston County marriages have been published - one in 1992 and another about 1961. The following marriage did not appear in either publication.

This is to Licene and permit you to Join in the Matrimony
Agreeable to the forms and Customs and forms of the Society
you belong Robert Hays and Selah Rolston and this
Shall be your Authority for So doing Given under my hand at
the Court House this 24th day May 1803
Test. Enoch Prince C.L.C.


This is to Certify that Robert Hays and Sealah Rolston were this day Lawfully Married by me this May the 26th 1803. Jas. Lusk
Robt. Hays Marrige Lisene.

There are gaps in the early Livingston County marriage records and there may be other original records floating around. In 2003, several original records were recovered and returned to the courthouse. It is believed the recently-found record was with the 2003-recovered records as both batches had "Livingston Co, Ky" printed on them in the same handwriting. Folks, be on the lookout for any original courthouse records. If you see them, please help return them to where they belong.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Crittenden County Fair in 1936

The 2nd annual Crittenden County, Kentucky Fair was scheduled to begin on the 24th of September, 1936. Running three days, the last day (26 September) was designated as Homecoming Day for the entire county. It was held at Foster's Tobacco Warehouse on the northeast side of Marion, where there was plenty of room for exhibits and shelter from sun, rain and wind.

A catalogue on the fair was financed by advertisements from local merchants and those from adjoining counties. Listed in the catalogue were premiums for livestock, poultry and farm products, numerous entries in the women's department and the graded, independent and rural elementary school and high school department.

A special exhibit was given to county 4-H clubs and a baby show was featured on the closing day. There were also athletic contests and a horse show.

The largest department of the fair was the Farm Department, which consisted of dairy cattle, beef cattle, hogs, sheep, horses, mules, poultry, farm products, apples and dogs. The Women's Department was in charge of Mrs. W.L. Terry and Mrs. A.B. Griffin. This department was divided into fresh vegetables, food, and sewing. Mrs. Guy R. Lamb and Mrs. John C. Bellamy were in charge of the Baby Beauty Show and Dr. T.A. Frazer and Mrs. C.B. Springs were in charge of the Baby Clinic.

Due to a severe drought that summer, it was feared that the fair would have to be cancelled, but members of the executive committee decided that the fair should continue.

P.P. Paris was president and O.M. Shelby, county agent, was vice president of the fair association. The fair was sponsored by the civic clubs, schools of the county and city, and the farm bureau.

The fair has changed somewhat since 1936, but is still an important event to county residents.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - R.C. and Safiner Fritts

Asleep in Jesus

R.C. Fritts

Oct. 18, 1844

June 28, 1926

Safiner His Wife

Aug. 2, 1853
Gone But Not Forgotten

Buried Freedom Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 9 June 2011.

According to his death certificate, Robert C. Fritts was the son of Peter Fritts and __ Williams. He married Miss Jasper S.S. Gregory 28 March 1871 in Crittenden County. Jasper S. Gregory was born in Crittenden County and was the daughter of J.D. Gregory, who was born in Tennessee. Safiner died 9 January 1929, according to her death certificate.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

R.I.P. Kris Manley

Genealogists lost a friend with the passing of Kristine Manley, 63, on 3 August 2011 in Evansville, Indiana. I became acquainted with Kris about 15 years ago when she was researching her husband's Manley family of Crittenden County, Kentucky. Since that time, Kris graduated from the University of Southern Indiana and in recent years was in charge of the family history room of the Spencer County, Indiana Public Library. She was an excellent researcher, a very nice lady and will be missed.

Her obituary can be found here Obituary

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Reminder! Willard Library Seminar

Last call for making reservations to hear J. Mark Lowe at TreeRoots, the workshop planned by Willard Library at 21 First Avenue, Evansville, Indiana on Saturday, 20 August 2011. For information on registration, call 812-425-4309 and ask for Special Collections.

Lowe is a full-time professional genealogist, author and teacher who speaks at seminars and conferences across the country. His lectures are always informative and entertaining.

Session topics include the following:
My Ancestor, the Farmer: Shaping a Profile for Your Rural Ancestor

Finding Your Landless Ancestors

Here Comes the Bride, and There She Goes

Using that Brick Wall as a Foundation

This seminar is free. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. and the first session begins at 9 a.m. A fried chicken lunch will be provided at noon for only $7.00. Those eating lunch should write a check to Ann Farney and send it to Willard Library before 16 August 2011.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Marriage Consent 1890

I collect unusual or poignant marriage consent notes. Some of my favorites are listed Here

Recently I came across a consent note that conjured up a mental image of a young lady who realized the solemnity of the occasion. On the 5th of April 1890, Newton Robinson, along with Rube Woodyard, his surety, obtained a marriage bond for Robinson to marry Eliza Wilson. The marriage bond can be found on page 375 of Marriage Bonds for Freedmen 1866-1896. Inserted in the bond book was a consent note which states the following:

"No 1 April the 5 ... 1890 Birdsville Kentucky. I Do Solenly Promise you Mr. N. Robinson that I Will be your Wife and also have my name called Eliza Robinson yours truely to my entended husband N. Robinson."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Louis Moxley

Louis Moxley
Nov. 13, 1867
Sept. 14, 1925

Buried in Smithland Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 31 May 2011

According to his death certificate, Louis Moxley, black and a shoemaker, was born in Kentucky and was the son of Leo Moxley and Maggie Miles, both of whom were born in Kentucky. The 1910 Livingston County census shows Milly Moxley, age 34, married 12 years with no children, in the household with Louis Moxley, age 44.

Buried beside Louis Moxley is Millie Moxley, who died in McCracken County, Kentucky 14 May 1941, aged about 61 years. Her death certificate lists her parents as Hardy and Mary Sibels. Sibels probably should be Sivels.