Thursday, October 24, 2013

Life Story Told in Obituary

Old newspapers with wonderful obituaries rank high on my list of favorite things. Wonderful obituaries are the ones that give details of the decedent's life that you might not know from just searching public records. The following obituary for Mrs. Harriet Williamson  falls into the category of Wonderful. Although Mrs. Williamson lived in Cairo, Alexander County, Illinois, she was a former resident of Livingston County, Kentucky and, thus, her obituary appeared in the Paducah Sun on 9 February 1905.

Death At Cairo
Mrs. Harriet Williamson, Formerly of Smithland
Her Husband Formerly Owned the Boat Store at Cairo and was a Prominent Man

Cairo, Ill., Feb. 9 - Mrs. Harriet Williamson, aged 74 years, died yesterday afternoon at 5:15 o'clock at her home, 611 Washington avenue, after an illness of more than a year with a complication of diseases.

Mrs. Williamson was born in Hopkinsville, Ky., September 4, 1830. Her maiden name was  Wood. On October 7, 1845, she married John B. Smith, of Smithland, Ky. He died February 6, 1855. On May 11, 1856, she was united in marriage to Capt. G.D. Williamson at Smithland, where they resided until 1859 when he came to Cairo and established the boat store on Ohio street in partnership with the late E.P. Haynes. The latter retired from the business in the early 70s and Capt. Williamson conducted the business until his death in 1893. Mrs. Williamson came to Cairo in 1860.

The deceased is survived by two brothers, W.T. Wood of Bloomington, Ill., and R.G. Wood if Whiting, Kan.; a step-daughter, Mrs. Walton W. Wright, of Memphis, and an adopted daughter, Mrs. Fred E. Allen of Fort Dodge, Ia.

A remarkable coincidence in the life of Mrs. Williamson and her second husband was that the first husband of the former died on the same day as the first wife of the latter. Funeral services were conducted over the remains of both in the old church at Smithland where they were both married. One sermon was preached over the remains of both and they were laid to rest in the same burial ground.

According to Kentucky Vital Statistics (Livingston County), 1855, John B. Smith, first husband of Harriet Wood Smith, died of consumption at the age of 32. The first wife of George D. Williamson was Mina McCawley, daughter of James McCawley of Smithland. She was age 29 when she died. John B. Smith has a tombstone in Smithland Cemetery, but Mina McCawley Williamson has no tombstone.

Published 24 October 2013, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have been doing some research on my ancestry and have hit a significant dead end on my great-great grandmother named Anna Isabel ( nicknamed "Belle") Smith who apparently was born in Livingston County Kentucky about 1848 and she was married in Livingston County in April 1864 to my great-great grandfather, Daniel James (D.J.) Ernst. I don't believe Daniel James Ernst was ever a resident of Kentucky, but did conduct significant taxable business in Henderson County, KY and Livingston County, KY ( Smithland in particular) in the mid 1860's; however, I think he probably lived in Evansville, Indiana in the mid 1860's. By the time of 1870 Federal Census, the couple was clearly residing in Evansville, Indiana where both lived for the remainder of their lives.

Belle Smith's KY-born father is reported as being named John Smith on her 1917 Indiana death certificate; unfortunately mother's name is shown as "Unknown". I have unsuccessfully searched all possible sources and leads on the website and struck out on any publicly available info on the web. I believe the John Smith who was married to Harriette Wood is the father of Anna Isabel Smith born 1848 before the death of John in 1855.

If you can be of any assistance in locating any KY records on Belle (went by Isabel on her marriage certificate) Smith's parents in your database, I would be very grateful.

Thanks so much for your consideration of my request.

God Bless,
Kenny Schmidt