Thursday, October 30, 2014

Preston Grace, Builder of Livingston County Courthouse

Even though his fame stems from building the original Livingston County courthouse which opened in 1845, Preston Grace was not a native of that county. He was born in 1799 in South Carolina and moved to Caldwell County, Kentucky with his family. There he married Jane Kilgore 27 Mar 1819.

It is possible he may have fathered at least one child before his marriage.  On the 29th of July 1819, Mary Freeman charged Grace with being the father of her male child, who was born "24th of April last at the house of Daniel Warmsdorf" in Livingston County.[1] Grace was ordered to appear in court; his attorney appeared for him and Grace was acquitted.  Nevertheless, Milton Bluford Grace and James Madison Grace were both born ca 1818/1819 and at least one of them had a close family connection to Preston Grace. Milton B. Grace  was listed as an heir of Preston Grace when Preston's Smithland town lots were being distributed in 1858.[2] Milton B. Grace married Orilla/Ursilla Cook, daughter of John Cook of Livingston County.

Preston Grace appeared in Smithland on the 1849 tax list and then appeared on the 1850 Livingston County census.  By 1853, he was a trustee of the First Baptist Church of Smithland when he and other trustees purchased lot #24 upon which the church was subsequently built.

Preston Grace died 27 April 1855 and is buried, along with at least two of his children, in Smithland Cemetery. It is unknown, however, if Grace was still living in Smithland or if he, like Milton B. Grace, had moved to Paducah. The 169-year-old Grace tombstone is impressive and sits beside the road, about half way up the hill.

Grace Family Tombstone

Mary Sophronia 
Daughter of 
P. & Jane Grace
Sept. 30, 1825
Aged 2 yrs  3 mo.
and 3 days

 Preston Grace
July 3, 1799
April 27, 1855

Buried next to the Grace tombstone is the monument for Edward D. Grace, who was born Sept. 19, 1823 and died Jan. 21, 1845.

[1] Deposition of Mary Freeman, Bastardy Bonds, Caldwell County, Kentucky Clerk's Office, accessed  August 2011.
[2] Commissioner to M.B. Grace, heir of Preston Grace, McCracken County, Kentucky Deed Book K:559-560, 5 April 1858.

Published 30 October 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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