Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Value of Researching Deeds

I've been preaching about the value of using deeds in genealogical research for a long time, but I know some of you haven't yet made the plunge into those big, heavy volumes in the county clerk's office. Maybe it is time to talk about why these records are so valuable. Here are just a few reasons:

1.  The maiden name of married women can sometimes be found in deeds. In a Caldwell County, Kentucky deed (Book E, page 77), we learn the maiden name of  Logan Armstrong's wife, Polly, when the heirs of Job Dean conveyed land in 1826.  Or was Polly the widow of Job Dean, as Nanakat suggests? We know that Logan Armstrong married Mary Dean 21 June 1804 Livingston County, but it doesn't say if she was a widow or not. Nanakat builds a strong case for her being the widow. Thanks, Nanakat!

2.  Deeds sometimes tell the current location of former residents. In a Caldwell County deed (Book E, page 211), we learn the maiden names of Andrew Dunn's wife, Betsey,  and Vincent Anderson's wife, Sarah, when the heirs of John Jenkins dec'd sold  land on Eddy Creek in 1826. This deed is doubly valuable as the heirs were no longer Kentucky residents, having moved to Alabama. In a 1914 Crittenden County deed (Book 33, page 296), the children and grandchildren, heirs of Martin Gahagan dec'd, are listed. Several of the heirs were from Crittenden County, but another one lived in Eldorado, Illinois, another in Denver, Colorado and the guardian of two others lived in Oak Hill, Kansas.

3. Property divisions often name the heirs of an estate. This is especially important if the parent died intestate. The heirs of  George Towry are named in an 1838 Caldwell County deed (Book I, page 71). Another example is the Crittenden County deed (Book C, page 614) of 1854 whereby Margaret Stallions conveyed land to her children, the heirs of Josiah Stallions deceased.  Josiah left no will so the names of his heirs is important.  Sometimes all of the names of heirs are not listed, but we can determine how many heirs there were by the wording in the deed. For example,  an 1857 Caldwell County deed (Book S, page 332) mentions Nancy Cooksey, formerly Nancy Young, daughter and heir of James Young, but does not name the other heirs. However, the deed states she has "an undivided interest of one ninth as one of the heirs of James Young dec'd."  From this we know there were, indeed, other heirs of James Young.

4.  The relationship between a parent and children is often shown in deeds. Again, this is especially important if the parent left no will. In 1819, Zachariah Chandler of Caldwell County, in consideration of his son Josiah Chandler Jr's bond to the father and $1000, conveyed  200 acres of land on Lick Creek. Also, the son promised to care for the father the remainder of his life.

In order to be a thorough researcher, you should include deeds in your research plan.

Published 28 Feb 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - H.L. Sullivan

H.L. Sullivan
Nov. 25, 1837
Oct. 3, 1919
Buried Green's Chapel Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 6 February 2013.
According to his death certificate (#31864), Hamilton Lindsey Sullivan was the son of Thomas Sullivan and Eleanor Adams, both born in North Carolina. The 1850 Davidson County, North Carolina census, however, shows H.L. Sullivan in the household of John L. or S. and Eleanor Sullivan. By 1860, H.L. was a miner living in the Bells Mines area of Crittenden County.
H.L. Sullivan wrote his will 23 March 1914 and named his wife Nancy Roe Sullivan and his children W.R. and Albert L. Sullivan, M.E. Sullivan Burnett and Joseph L. Sullivan as his heirs. His will can be found in Crittenden County Will Book 1, page 532.

Published 26 Feb 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Odds & Ends Book Sale

To see what is available, go here:   Odds and Ends Book Sale

Published 25 February 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fredonia Valley Heritage Society

Although the Fredonia Valley Heritage Society of Caldwell County, Kentucky is young compared to other area historical and genealogical societies, they are operating at full speed. Organized in September 2007, they incorporated in April 2011 and have already published a book, The History of the Fredonia Valley, which resulted in the  Society winning the Thomas D. Clark Award of Excellence given by the Kentucky Historical Society. In addition to winning an award for this book, they sold out, selling close to 1000 copies.

The Society meets the first Thursday night of odd numbered months (January, March, May, July, September and November) at 7 pm. Meeting locations vary, depending on what facility is available. The November meeting is the annual potluck Thanksgiving dinner.  Dues are $15 per calendar year for an individual or $25 for a family. Officers are as follows:
President - Pam Faughn
Vice President - Linda Bennett
Secretary - Maggie Gammon
Treasurer - Dot Rogers
Board Members - Donnie Boone and Martha Bynum

The City of Fredonia has given the Society permission to use a room at City Hall as their Heritage Room and they are in the process of purchasing books, setting up family files and setting up the room for research. They hope to have it open to the public within the next few months.

During 2012, the Society commemorated the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. According to the Kentucky Historical Society's War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, "approximately 60 percent of the war's total casualties were Kentuckians. Kentucky suffered more casualties than any other state combined." The Fredonia Valley Heritage Society compiled a tri-fold brochure about the War of 1812 and Kentucky's significance in that war and distributed it at several different events. They also won 1st place in Fredonia's Annual Parade with their War of 1812 themed float.

The Society dedicated a new monument placed at the Wilson-Blair One Room School and Museum to honor two Civil War veterans in November 2012. The tombstones of these African-American soldiers, Monroe Crider and Henry Rice, were discovered and relocated to the Wilson-Blair African-American School and Museum.

Plans for the future include the 2nd annual "Walk Through Fredonia's Past," a ghost walk through the local cemetery. It is tentatively scheduled for April 27.  The Society also plans to publish a book of the artwork of John F. Rice, who was born in the Fredonia Valley in 1882 and lived there until his death in 1960. As a young man, he served as a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune in France prior to World War I. His family owned the Rice Brothers Tobacco Factory, which was burned by the Night Riders in 1906. Mr. Rice served as President of the Fredonia Valley Bank 1928-1937. His art work reflects his love for the Fredonia Valley and includes art from his time in France and other locations.

If you are interested in joining the Fredonia Valley Heritage Society or wish to purchase a copy of the John F. Rice book, contact Pam Faughn at

Published 23 Feb 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Research Tip - Feme Sole vs Feme Covert

You have probably come across the words feme sole and feme covert while reading Kentucky deeds. Do you know the difference between the two phrases?

According to Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, a feme sole refers to a single woman, including those who have been married, but whose marriages have been dissolved by death or divorce, or women who are judicially separated from their husbands.

Feme covert is the opposite and refers to a married woman.

Published 21 Feb 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - William and Martha Wilson


William Wilson
1836 - 1916
Martha A. His Wife
1841 - 1916
Buried Pythian Ridge Cemetery, Sturgis, Union County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 3 December 2012.
According to his death certificate, William Wilson, a merchant, was born 7 November 1839 Illinois and died 24 August 1916. He was the son of John Wilson, born Oxford, England and Matilda Brackett, born St. Clair County, Illinois.
The death certificate of Martha A. Wilson shows that she was born 1 January 1841 Caseyville, Kentucky and died 22 June 1916. Her father was Dr. Jno. Collins, born Fairfax County, Virginia.  William Wilson and Martha A. Collins married in Union County 15 January 1861.
Published 19 Feb 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Crooked Creek Church 1835 - 2013

One hundred and seventy eight years ago,  before Crittenden County was created from Livingston County, land just off Fords Ferry Road was sold by Bethany Presbyterian Church to a group who wished to start a Baptist Church.  This Baptist Church became known as Crooked Creek Missionary Baptist Church.  The first building was of log construction. The current building was constructed in 1869 for under $1000 and was dedicated in 1870.

People move away and times change. With change comes loss of things once holding a place of importance in our lives. Unfortunately, this is what happened to Crooked Creek Church. Due to declining attendance, the church held its last service on 6 January 2013.

Adjoining the church is a good sized cemetery with tombstones dating back to the 1800s. Among the names inscribed on the tombstones are the following: Conger, Fritts, King, Williams, Horning, Gilbert, Worley, Hollamon, Grisson, Hughes, Clark, Vaughn, Slaton and Wilson. Many of these names will be found in the records of South Carolina or Tennessee before they migrated to Kentucky in search of less expensive land and a brighter future.

My ancestor, John E. Wilson, who died in 1853, lies beneath the soil in the older section of Crooked Creek Cemetery. Buried beside him is his son, Rev. Claiborne Wilson, who died in 1849 at the age of 39 of "New Monia." Other family members are buried nearby.

It's a sad day when any of the old churches close its doors, but especially sad when a church is as old and historic as Crooked Creek.

Published 17 Feb 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Life and Family of John Bayliss

Salem was a bustling town when John Bayliss arrived about 1816. The seat of justice of Livingston County, it was a busy place, especially the county courthouse, which faced what is today US Highway 60. It was but a few years prior to John's arrival that the courthouse was the scene of the most astonishing trial in the history of Livingston County when the nephews of  Thomas Jefferson were tried for the murder of a slave. This trial would have been recounted through the years and, without a doubt, John Bayliss heard all the details shortly after his arrival.
John quickly settled into life in Salem and married Elizabeth Thompson, daughter of local businessman William Thompson, 17 October 1816. They had at least one child before Elizabeth died a few years later. John Bayliss then married Susan Boggs, daughter of William Boggs,  17 September 1823.  John and Susan had several children, including two  who died as infants.  
John Bayliss and William McCroskey entered into partnership to conduct a mercantile business in Salem. At some point, they had a saddler shop, also. Their saddler shop was located catty corner across the public square from the courthouse.
In 1836, John Bayliss  decided to relocate and sold his town lots in Salem, to James Campbell. In this deed, John reserved 10 feet including the graves of his children in the garden ... "and permission to inter his Wife in sd. space" unless he decided to move the corpses later.
John moved to Paducah and formed a partnership with John A. Calhoun. The partnership, while profitable, was dissolved in 1841, the same year John wrote his will. In his will, John named his wife, Susan, his son, William,  and his daughter, Sarah Margaret. Susan was named as executrix.
Because the partnership assets had not been assigned before John died, a law suit ensued which dragged on for several years. It was disclosed in this law suit that Susan Boggs Bayliss' agent, William Kay, who was also John Bayliss' brother-in-law, had dissipated the assets of the Bayliss-Calhoun partnership as well as John's personal assets and there was not enough money to cover the estate debts. The administration of the estate was later turned over to Berry Hodge. Susan, who had suffered a number of losses during the past few years, "lost her mind" and was committed to the Tennessee Lunatic Asylum in Nashville, where she died circa 1843.
William Bayliss, only surviving son of John Bayliss' first marriage, was born 26 July 1817 in Salem. After his father moved to Paducah, William Bayliss and William McCroskey formed a partnership in a dry goods business in Salem.
On the 27th of November 1841, William "being sick and weak but of sound mind and memory" and to restore his health, wrote "I intend starting in a few days to New Orleans and may go to Cuba ... and the possibility that I may never return."  In the will, he mentions a wife, Mary, who was to receive his entire estate. To date, a marriage record for William and Mary has not been found. William did go to Havana, Cuba and  he died there 24 January 1842. There is a tombstone for him in the old, abandoned   Pippin/Butler Cemetery  in Salem. Whether his body is interred there or the stone is simply a memorial to his life is unknown. A large slab stone, it is broken and lies on its side amid downed branches and with myrtle surrounding it.
Sarah Margaret Bayliss, who was born 19 November 1828, was the only surviving child of the marriage of John Bayliss and Susan Boggs. After her father's death, she  moved to Montgomery County, Tennessee where she married J.N. Corbett 19 February 1846. The Corbetts  moved to Nashville and had a number of children.  When William McCroskey of Salem wrote his will 8 June 1856, he devised to "Sarah M. Corbitt, if living, (my old friend and first partner in the merchantile business, John Baylis dec'd daughter), $1000 in cash." Perhaps McCroskey had heard of the dissapation of the assets of John Bayliss. Sarah Margaret Bayliss Corbett died in Nashville 30 January 1900 and is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

The burial places of John Bayliss and his two wives are unknown. Perhaps they are buried in the little cemetery in the Bayliss garden or maybe they are interred in the Pippin/Butler Cemetery. John and Susan Bayliss may even be buried in Paducah.

William Bayliss
born july 26th
died jany. 24
citty of havana
 Photo courtesy of Jerry Bebout
Published 7 Feb 2013 on Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,
Copyright by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - T.D. and Anne Presnell

T.D. Presnell
Jan. 17, 1847
July 5, 1912

Anne Taylor
His Wife
July 20, 1856
Mar. 27, 1922

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 24 November 2011.

The 1850 Livingston County census shows Theodore Presnell in the household of G. and Nancy Presnell. Theodore was age 24 and born North Carolina. Just four households away was the Isaac Taylor family, including Anne, who was age 13.

According to the Kentucky death certificate of Theodore D. Presnell, he was the son of Gabe Presnell and Nancy Ann Wadlington, both born in North Carolina. Theodore's occupation was listed as telephone operator. A descendant states Theodore was the son of Gilbert Presnell.

The Kentucky death certificate of Ann Presnell shows she was born in England and was the daughter of Isaac Taylor and Ann Jakes, who were also born in England.