Thursday, April 25, 2013

H.F. Given Tomb

H.F. Given  Family Tomb
Smithland Cemetery

One of the most elaborate and beautiful monuments in Smithland Cemetery in Livingston County, Kentucky is the H.F. Given Family Tomb. According to Deed Book 4, page 522, dated 19 July 1860, H.F. Given purchased "a certain piece of ground in the Smithland Cemetery 32 feet wide and 65 feet long" from the Smithland Town Trustees.
It is believed that the first person interred here was Adaline Haynes Given, first wife of Henry F. Given. According to the inscription on the front middle panel of the tomb, she died in New Orleans 9 January 1860. Perhaps the plot was purchased for the tomb because of her death, but what about the earlier burial dates on the tomb? According to inscriptions, Dickson Given died 7 January 1830, his brother, Joseph R. Given, died 13 October 1832 and their sister, Mary Given Whyte, 4 October 1832.
Alexander Adamson was a stone carver in Caldwell County during the 1830s. John J. Hayden was an employee of Adamson and after Adamson's death in the mid-1830s, Hayden presented a claim for payment from Adamson's estate: "November 21th 1834  To finishing ... and lettering a large tomb stone for Dickson Givin  charge $14.00." Where was that tombstone erected? Was there a Given family cemetery, perhaps near Salem, where Dickson lived for many years? If such a cemetery existed, I feel Joseph R. and his wife, Elizabeth, and Mary Given Whyte probably were also buried there. Perhaps when the H.F. Given Family Tomb was built, these early tombstones were removed and memorials to them were placed on the tomb.
Let me tell you what I have learned about the tomb itself. On the lower right corner, near the base, are the names of the stone carvers. The inscription reads, "Wm. Smith & H. Staub  Port Gibson Mississippi." It seemed strange that Mississippi people would carve a tomb for people from Smithland until I learned that Wm. Smith was formerly of Smithland and married Ellen Scyster there in 1835. By 1860, the Wm. Smith family had settled in Port Gibson, Claiborne County, Mississippi. Guess who was living in their household that year? Yep, H. Staub, stone carver.  Wm. and Ellen Smith continued to live in Port Gibson through 1880, but H. Staub disappeared after the 1860 census. 
This tells me the tomb was likely carved during the 1860s, perhaps shortly after the plot in Smithland Cemetery was purchased by H.F. Given. It also tells me that the quality of Wm. Smith's work was familiar to H.F. Given and that is why he engaged him to do the tomb. Quite possibly the tomb was shipped, perhaps in pieces, to Smithland by steamboat.
There are still things I would like to know, specifically was there a Given Family Cemetery and where was it located, so I will keep on searching.
Published 25 April 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Mary J. and B.T. Hicklin

Mary J.
Wife of
B.T. Hicklin
Dec. 9, 1916
Aged 73 yrs.
Our mother is gone
but the influence of
her Christ like life
lingers as a benediction
Buried Green's Chapel Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstones photographed 6 February 2013.
According to death certificate #29391, Mary J. Truitt Hicklin was born 19 Dec 1845 near Marion, Kentucky. Her parents are listed as Thomas N. and Permelia M. Truitt.  Mary J. Truitt married Benjamin T. Hicklin 15 February 1865 Crittenden County. Benjamin T. Hicklin is buried beside his wife.
Benjamin T.
Aug. 19, 1833
Jan. 7, 1887
Published 23 April 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bits and Pieces Add Up ... Marene Dannell

In 1998, while I was publishing The Western Kentucky Journal, a lady from Arizona called me and offered to share a family record from the Wheeler and Dannell Bible she owned.  Among the entries in the Bible record are the following: "Charles Mareene Levingston Dannell was born 26th Febr. 1817. Charles Mareen L. Dannell died the 24 of Sept. 1860."

In Livingston County Deed Book 3, page 485 (1 September 1857) there is a deed whereby Marene Dannell conveyed to Horace Dean a 12 foot by 20 feet parcel of land for a burying ground for Dean and family. It is the same lot where Dean's father is now buried and is part of the grave yard or burying ground on Dannell's land and situated on the west side of the road leading from Smithland to Salem and about two miles from Jos. Watts's ferry.  Livingston County, Kentucky Cemeteries 1738-1976, published in 1977 by the Livingston County Homemaker Clubs, lists a Dean-Dannell Cemetery. Neither Horace Dean nor Marene Dannell is listed.

Recently I came across two newspaper articles that provide just a bit more information on Mareen Dannell. The first one comes from the Cincinnati Daily Gazette of Thursday, 24 June 1869, accessed 6 March 2013 on GenealogyBank. It discusses the decline in river traffic between Cincinnati and St. Louis and mentions some rivermen. About Dannell, it states: "Marine Dannell was a thorough boatman; he is buried at Smithland, Ky."

The second article is found in the Evansville Courier & Press on Sunday, 21 December 1896. It is an obituary for Mrs. Sarah E. Daniel [sic], "who died yesterday ... at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. John H. Moore, 200 Mary street [Evansville]." It tells of her last illness and names the other survivors and also states this: "Mrs. Daniel was born at Charleston, W. Va. July 4, 1824. She was married January 15, 1842 to Captain Maurice [sic] Daniel, of Smithland, Ky., a well known steamboatman in those day, at which place they made their home until his death in 1860, after which she moved to Evansville."  Sarah is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville.

I feel certain that Marene/Mareen Dannell died in 1860 and it may very well be that he is buried in the Dean-Dannell Cemetery near Smithland.

Published 18 April 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - F.M. and Matilda Culver

F.M. Culver
Sept. 13, 1837
Dec. 5, 1888
Matilda His Wife
Dec. 7, 1841
June 23, 1912
Buried Birdsville Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 8 June 2012.
Francis M. Culver married Matilda Abell 8 December 1859 Livingston County. The marriage record shows he was born in Union County, Kentucky and she was born in Meade County, Kentucky. Matilda's death certificate (#15513) lists her name as Martha and her birth place as Union County.

Published 16 April 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Runaway Horse

Sometimes we forget that it has been but one century since automobiles became part of our daily lives. Prior to that, a horse and buggy provided our transportation. As an illustration of what happens when the past meets the future, the following article from the 24 April 1910 issue of the Henderson Daily Gleaner is presented.

Sebree, Ky., April 23 - What promised to be a serious affair occurred here Thursday when a horse driven by Mrs. W.L. Royster, of near town, became frightened at an automobile driven, as we understand, by Morgan & Heaton, of Henderson, broke loose and ran, completely demolishing both buggy and harness. The horse was finally caught by Mr. Barney Crow, stripped of everything but one strap, and led back to the scene of the wreck.

Dr. Duval, one of our leading physicians, was in the car with the above named gentlemen and knowing the horse, which is a valuable one, and seeing he was frightened, requested the driver to stop, telling him the horse would run, but from some cause he refused and never slowed up until after the horse had broken loose, ran off, and completely wrecked the buggy. The horse was securely hitched to a telephone post, also Mrs. Royster was holding him with both hands. In the excitement of the moment, the lady was supposed not injured, but after reaching home found she had received a fractured or sprained knee from which she is suffering at present. Much excitement prevailed for a time.

Published 13 April 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Attributes of Lyon County

The following description of Lyon County, Kentucky comes from Kentucky Public Documents, History of Counties, Twenty-Second Biennial Report, 1918, as accessed through Google Books.

Lyon County
N.W. Utley, Eddyville, Ky.
This county is especially adapted to agriculture and stock raising. For agricultural uses it embraces a great variety of soil. The broad stretch of original prairie lands in the northern part of the county known as the Fredonia Valley is the equal of any portion of the Blue Grass region. The broad alluvial bottoms of Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, of Eddy Creek, Livingston Creek, Clay Lick, Skin Frame, Dry Fork, Long Creek and other smaller streams are of unsurpassed fertility and are pre-eminently suited to raising corn. The uplands and hilly sections produce the finest variety of dark tobacco, and under proper cultivation yield large returns.
In this county nature has been lavish in providing a liberal abundance of natural pasturage and in supplying every section, and almost every farm, with natural ponds, everlasting brooks and purling springs of purest water. This combination renders Lyon one of the leading counties of the State in its adaption for stock raising.
There are unmistakable indications of vast deposits of spar, zinc, and oil in this county, although they are as yet undeveloped. The unlimited quantity and superior quality of iron ore is amply testified to by the fact that during the period of our history immediately preceding the Civil War at this was the greatest iron producing region west of Pittsburgh, and Lyon county was the center and heart of the region. The Hillman irons, produced at the Hillman mills, six miles above Eddyville on the Cumberland river down to 1880, were pronounced superior to the iron produced anywhere else in the country. But the war and ensuing conditions so depressed that industry, and so boosted other sections, that recovery to this date has been impossible. It is in this county and at the Kelly furnace two miles northwest of Eddyville that the method of manufacturing and refining steel known as the Bessemer process was discovered and perfected, the ownership of which was in litigation in both hemispheres for years.
 Published 11 April 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Jane M. Witherspoon

Jane M.
Consort of
H.M. Witherspoon
A tree is growing around the tombstone in Livingston Cemetery, Caldwell County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 15 March 2013.
Gregory Watson, compiler of Caldwell County Ancestors, Vol. 2, page 200 (1998) gives the death date of Jane M. Witherspoon as 7 March 1864, age 55 years.
Hiram M. Witherspoon and Miss Jane M. Armstrong married 8 January 1839 in Caldwell County. Hiram M. Witherspoon died in 1877 and is buried in Mapleview Cemetery, Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky.
Published 9 April 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ben F. Egan's Story

Since beginning my project on the history and people of Smithland, Kentucky,  I've "met" some very interesting people and I am especially drawn to  those who made their living on the rivers. Because Smithland is located at the confluence of two navigable rivers, the Ohio and the Cumberland, it was the perfect spot for steamboat people to work and live. Many of these  men continued living in Smithland long after they were too old to work the rivers, but others moved on to other places.

One steamboat man who has captured my attention probably would not be recognized as one of the "movers and shakers" of Smithland, but he certainly led an interesting life and has a story to tell.  His name was Ben F. Egan, the same man who sent the Citizens Report on the Federal troops to the Confederacy during the Civil War.

The son of Edward Egan and Martha "Patsy" Barner of Logan County, KY Ben was born about 1827 in Smithland.   After Edward's death, Martha  married  15 March 1837 to Henry Wells, a commission merchant of Smithland who had previously been married to Martha's sister, Mayes Barner.

By 1840, Ben was an orphan.  It is believed that Ben went to live with his uncle, Benjamin Barner, in his house on Charlotte Street in Smithland. There he probably  heard stories about life on the river from his Uncle Benjamin and later from Benjamin's brother, Sterling M. Barner, who was a renowned steamboat captain for many years. Ben was well educated, having graduated from St. Mary's College in Marion County, Kentucky.

Ben F. Egan married his cousin, Nettie Miller, 15 May 1852 in Davidson County, Tennessee. Nettie was the daughter of Joseph Miller, a steamboat captain on the Cumberland River. Ben and Nettie moved to Paducah before 1860, but by 1870, they were back in Nashville.  They had three known children -  Frank , born about 1858 Kentucky,  lived in New York City as late as 1930; Kate, or Kittie, was born about 1860 in Kentucky and a child stillborn in 1863.

Ben had firsthand knowledge of two wars. He was a Mexican War veteran, having enlisted in the 4th KY Infantry in Smithland in 1847 and served one year.  He is reputed to have received a pension for this service, but that has not yet been verified. For his services in the Mexican War, he received a tract of land in Iowa from the government. Although not a soldier during the Civil War, Ben was an active witness of Federal troop movements and fortifications in and around Smithland.

In the early 1880s, Ben became convinced his days were numbered and began a round of being admitted to various institutions and hospitals and then going AWOL. He spent time in the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers or hospitals in Leavenworth, Kansas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Dayton, Ohio, St. Louis, Missouri and Evansville, Indiana. At one time he requested admissions to an institution in California, but was rejected.

His physical description on one admission records describes him as being 5 feet 10 inches tall, being of light complexion and having grey eyes and grey hair. His occupation was given as steamboat captain and his religion as Catholic. His nearest relative was Frank A. Egan of New York City.

An article published December 1896 in the Morning Herald, Lexington, Kentucky newspaper, was titled titled "Going Home to Die." It states the following:
"Captain Ben F. Egan, one of the survivors of the war with Mexico, is a guest at the Phoenix on his way to his home in Nashville, Tenn. He has been at the soldiers home in Dayton, where, he says, he went last October to die. Death did not come as expected, however, and his surroundings were not what he desires his last to be, so he is returning to his old home to be buried by the side of his relatives, all of whom are dead. He says he is not despondent, but does not hope to live many months."  Ben did die, but not for several more years.
In the 11 January 1902 issue of the Paducah Sun, the following was printed: "We regret to learn that Captain Ben F. Egan, the veteran steamboat man, is an inmate of a hospital in Washington, being treated in for an incurable disease. He was a resident of Smithland many years ago and is recollected by our older citizens, and has friends here. The sick man is a Mexican war veteran and was a steamboatman before the war."

Ben F. Egan died 24 February 1908 in the Government Hospital for the Insane in Washington, DC.  He was 81 years old.

 Published 4 April 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,




Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Wilson Cemetery

I first visited this old cemetery in the Bells Mines area of Crittenden County in 1989 and re-visited it several times through the early 1990s. Recently I got a longing to go back to the cemetery and take photos of all the tombstones, something I neglected to do in previous visits. Did I remember how to get there? I knew it was not far down the road from Greens Chapel Cemetery, but how far?  My good friend, Brenda Travis Underdown, who writes Forgotten Passages Blog, and I decided we would try to find it.  We put our memories together and came up with this: We knew we had to cross a little creek and climb a hill and surely the daffodils planted around the tombstones could be seen from a distance. So, we planned a spring visit, using the daffodils as a focal point.  The first attempt was not successful, but yesterday it worked and the daffodils could be seen from a distance.

This cemetery is on land formerly owned by Jeremiah Wilson whose Burial was likely the first in the cemetery. Buried beside him is his wife, Dolly.

Dolly H.
Sept. 11, 1808
Jan. 21, 1892
Nearby are the tombstones of Jeremiah and Dolly's son and daughter-in-law, George P. and Margaret (Crabtree) Wilson.

George P.
June 28, 1830
Nov. 15, 1917
Gone by not forgotten
Margaret A.
Wife of
G.P. Wilson
Mar. 14, 1836
Apr. 11, 1906
The graves of the following children of George P. and Margaret are nearby:  Joseph Robert, June 14, 1860 - July 12, 1874 and William P., February 1, 1856 - May 23, 1858.
Other children of Jeremiah and Dolly are buried here, too.  W.J. Wilson, February 16, 1839 - October 6, 1875 and Joseph Wilson, May 28, 1837 -  September 16, 1871. A daughter of Jeremiah and Dolly rests nearby.
Elizabeth A.
Wife of
J.L. Lamb
Jan. 17, 1865
Aged 22 years
There are many more tombstones in this cemetery and we were fortunate to locate all of those recorded in the 1990s. For a complete list, refer to The Crittenden County Kentucky Cemeteries North Western Section, Volume III, published 2005 and available from the Crittenden County Genealogical Society.
Nearby is the tombstone of James E. Taylor. It was face down on the ground and perhaps had been toppled by a downed tree during a recent ice storm.
James E. Taylor
Oct. 11, 1829
Nov. 13, 1863
The following tombstone is interesting in that it is handcarved and is shaped somewhat like the sandstone tombstones of the 1830s and 1840s in the area.

E. Black
This Life
March 18th
A.D. 1848
Aged 16 mo
5 days
A footstone with her full name sits at the foot of the grave.

One of the most interesting tombstones is that of M.D. We do not know who is buried here.
Published 2 April 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,