Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Advertisement for Copher's Restaurant, Marion, Kentucky
Crittenden Press, 22 November 1900

How does this compare to your Thanksgiving menu?

Published 27 November 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - John B. Martin

John B.
1844 - 1917

Buried Pilot Knob Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 9 April 2014.

According to Kentucky death certificate #32553 (1917), John Bazel Martin was born 1846 in Arkansas and died 22 September 1917 Crittenden County, Kentucky. His parents were Nathan Martin, born Henderson County, Kentucky, and -- Stinson, born Evansville, Indiana. The 1860 Henderson County census shows John B. Martin, age 17,  living in the household of Nathan and Cynthia Martin in District No. 1 in Henderson.

J.B. Martin married Susan E. Deen 19 March 1884 Henderson County. They appear together on the 1910 Crittenden County census and Susan is shown living with her children on Kevil Street, Marion, Kentucky on the 1920 Crittenden County census.

Published 25 November 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Choosing Jurors

Before taking office, every sheriff and deputy sheriff had to take an oath or affirmation that he would summon jurors in his county without favor or affection and would not tell anyone, with the exception of the court clerk, the names of the jurymen chosen by the three jury commissioners.

The laws of the Commonwealth determined who was qualified to serve as jurors. The Grand Jury consisted of white males over the age of 21 who were citizens and housekeepers of the county in which they was called to serve. The jury commissioners selected not less than 32 citizens who met the qualifications and from those 32 citizens, 16 were selected to serve as grand jurors

 "No civil officer, surveyor or a highway, owner of a grist mill, tavern-keeper, or vender of ardent spirits by license, shall be competent to serve as a grand juror." [1]

 Members of the grand jury were paid $1.00 per day for the first two days and fifty cents for each additional day they served. Failure to attend as a grand juror without reasonable cause resulted in a fine of not less than $10.

The following oath shall be administered to the grand jury: "You do swear that you will diligently inquire of and present all treasons, felonies, misdemeanors and breaches of the penal laws, which shall have been committed or done within the limits of jurisdiction of this county, of which you have knowledge or may receive information."[2]

Petit juries consisted of 12 persons who were free, white citizens, at least 21 years old, housekeeper and, also, sober, temperate, discreet and of good demeanor. Excluded from serving on a petit jury were civil officers, physicians, surgeons, attorneys  and ministers. A petit juror was paid $1.00 for each day of attendance in court. [3]

The following oath shall be administered to petit jurors: "You do swear that you will well and truly try the issue between ---, plaintiff, and ---, defendant, and a true verdict give, according to the evidence unless dismissed by the court or withdrawn by the parties."[4]

The following men were selected as a petit jury for November 1850, Hon. H.O. Brown, Judge. The list was located in a box labeled Livingston County Clerk's Office County Court Records, Box 1840-1938 (Various Loose County Records).

[1] The Revised Statutes of Kentucky Approved and Adopted by the General Assembly, 1851 and 1852, and in force from July 1, 1852, (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co.) 1867, Chapter 55 Article I, Section I:75.
[2]  The Revised Statutes of Kentucky, 1851 and 1852, Chapter 55, Article I, Section VI:76.
[3]  The Revised Statutes of Kentucky, 1851 and 1852,  Chapter 55, Article III, Section II:77.
[4]  The Revised Statutes of Kentucky, 1851 and 1852, Chapter 55, Article III, Section XIII:78.

Published 20 November 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - J.H. and Mary F. Curnel

J.H. Curnel
Apr. 4, 1840
Apr. 10, 1912
Mary F.
His Wife
Apr. 2, 1840
Mar. 2, 1932

Buried Deer Creek Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 7 November 2014.

According to Kentucky death certificate #9500 (1912), J.H. Curnel was born 2 April 1838 and died 10 April 1912. His parents are listed as James Curnel and Francis Hawkun, both born in Tennessee.

Mary F. Curnel was the daughter of my 3rd great-grandparents, Logan Croft and Mary Ann Lucas. Her death certificate #5474 (1932) gives her birth date as 2 April 1841 and her death date as 3 March 1932.

J.H. and Mary F. Curnel last appear together on the 1910 Crittenden County census.  At that time they were living on Irma Road.

Published 18 November 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ferry Licenses

Kentucky is blessed with many streams and rivers and where you have streams and rivers, there must be a way to cross them. From the earliest days of the Commonwealth, the need for ferries was recognized and, in order to make the ferries operate efficiently, there had to be regulations.

Laws of Kentucky of 1799 [1] outlines the rules for a successful ferry system.

The county courts were empowered to establish ferries across the rivers or creeks within their boundaries. In order to establish the ferry, the land owners on both sides of the watercourse must have a month's notice that the application was to be made for the ferry.

The rates of the ferries were fixed by the courts at the time the ferry was established. The rates covered the following: every coach, waggon, chariot and the driver, every two- and four-wheeled chaise, carriage, phaeton and driver, every hogshead of tobacco and all livestock.

If the county court thought it beneficial that a tavern be kept at the ferry, they could license the ferry keeper to keep a tavern without a fee for the license. The ferry keeper had to post bond with security, but did not have to pay a fee for the license.

All ferries were to furnish the necessary boats and ferry-men within six months after the establishment of the ferry. If they did not, the ferry was discontinued.

The following has been abstracted from loose bundles marked "Ferry Bonds" in the Caldwell County Clerk's Office, Princeton, Kentucky. Ferry licenses are recorded in the county court order books also.

Bond:  17 May 1841. A ferry hath been established from the lands of Milton Dudley in Caldwell County on the Tennessee River to the opposite shore at the place where Morse's old ferry was. If M. Dudley shall at all times keep good & sufficient boats for the transportation of passengers and carriages and other personal property across the river at that place, giving immediate passage ... when required, this obligation to be void. [signed] A.H. Dudley & David W. McGoodwin, his securities.

[1]  Laws of Kentucky. (Lexington, KY: Printed by John Bradford) 1799, Chapter XC, pp 245-247.

Published 13 November 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Too Young to Serve But Old Enough to Die

He wasn't old enough to enlist, but he did. Morgan Smith was 15, or, at most, 16 years old when he enrolled in the 48th Kentucky Infantry (USA)  at Fords Ferry, Kentucky on 10 August 1863. During the Civil War men between the ages of 18 and 20 were supposed to have parental permission to enlist, but there is no record of a parent giving permission. Morgan's parents, Morgan and Sarah (Holder) Smith, were living in separate households in Eddyville, Lyon County, Kentucky in 1860 and disappeared thereafter so maybe there was no one to give permission.

The 48th Kentucky  was organized at Princeton, Kentucky 26 October 1863 and Morgan was present, but just one month later, on 24 November 1863, he was dead of disease.[1] He never left Princeton and he never saw action.

Morgan was just one of many young men who promised to serve faithfully against all enemies during that terrible war and lost his life before he could fulfill that promise.  Reddick Smith, his older brother, was my great-grandfather and also served in the Civil War, enlisting first in the 131st Illinois Infantry and later in the 6th Illinois Cavalry.

 Published 11 November 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

[1] Morgan Smith, Co. D, 48 Regt. Kentucky Infantry Company Muster Roll, National Archives, Washington, D.C.  

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Memories of Uncle Bob Heath - Part III

This is the conclusion of the memories of Uncle Bob Heath (born 1815) of Crittenden County, Kentucky, as published in the 21 May 1908 issue of the Crittenden Record-Press.

"Revs. Jiles and Flynn preached at the Old Camp Creek Church when he was a boy. He remembers Dr. Cutler of Mattoon and Stewart of Old Salem. These men led the medical profession in their day and esteemed because of their education and knowledge. These doctors believed in the old fashioned practice of bleeding for most ailments.

"Uncle Bob has distinct recollection of the notorious James Ford. He remembers buying goods from Ford while he had a store at Ford's ferry. In person Ford is described as a very large man with a red face.

"Uncle Bob says he has heard many legends and tales of the old river band of outlaws ... their rendezvous at Cave-in-Rock; of headless men and bleaching bones, and all the horrors of river piracy.

"Uncle Bob thinks that the Civil War is too recent to be of much interest. He says that a lot of Federal gunboats were always busy flying up and down the Ohio river, many loud noises, reports of guns, and human voices being almost continuously heard.

"Uncle Bob feels that the ninety three years he has lived is a rare privilege for which he is thankful to God. The progress of the world during that time has been a wonder of wonders ... still finds much in this world to enjoy and be happy about, but he is patiently awaiting the flight of his spirit to the future world."

According to his obituary, which appeared in the 9 March 1911 issue of the Crittenden Press, Uncle Bob Heath died at his home in Weston 5 March at the age of 97 years. He is buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery.

Published 8 November 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Memories of Uncle Bob Heath - Part II

Uncle Bob tells us two stories of Crittenden County boys. The first is about Davy Lamb "who was taken by the Black Hawk Indians in the early days. Lamb's parents lived between Weston and Tradewater. Davy Lamb was held captive by the Indians for seven years. When he was liberated he returned to his parents. He was noted all of his life as a great hunter and woodsman."

The other boy was Silas S. Walker, who ran away from home at the age of 14 years and went down the river to New Orleans. "There he found friends among the American soldiers who were preparing to go to the Mexican war. Somehow he eluded the scrutiny of the officers and accompanied the army that was sent against Mexico. At the battle of Resaca Dela Palma, so the story goes, young Walker grabbed a gun from a dying soldier and helped charge the Mexicans. The poor little fellow was barefooted, the ground was rough,  but the boy acted with bravery and determination ... It is not known how long Walker stayed in Mexico, but he finally came back to Crittenden County.

"Uncle Bob has vivid recollections of the wild excitement about the gold discovery in California in 1848. The Baker brothers, John Flanary, Bill Barnes, Phineas Newcomb and Jonathan Postlethwaite were among the gold seekers from this vicinity. Postlethwaite never returned. He is though to have met death in the great desert.

"Uncle Bob says the first steam boat he ever saw was the old 'Caldonia.' He saw it land at Weston. This was way back in the thirties. He says that at this time the Ohio River was a great highway for emigration. Emigrants came down chiefly in boats of their own manufacture."

Part III of Memories of Uncle Bob Heath will appear here in a couple of days.

Published 6 November 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Big Bang of the 1840 Election Campaign

Uncle Bob Heath shared his memories of the 1840 political campaign in the  21 May 1908 issue of the Crittenden Record-Press. He described it like this:

"The first man Uncle Bob ever voted for was Martin Van Buren in 1836. He plainly remembers the 'hard cider' campaign of 1840. In that year he attended a great political rally at Morganfield, Union County. He says it was one of the jolliest times of his life, a log cabin with coon skins nailed on its walls was rolled around on wheels, while hard cider was dispensed generously. At the conclusion of the great affair, the one single cannon of the town of Morganfield was brought and heavily loaded. A negro slave was commanded to light the fuse - sad to relate, the good old cannon was so heavily loaded that it burst into pieces."

Let's back up and tell you a little about Uncle Bob. In the above article, he was described as the "patriarch of the O'possum Ridge vicinity, who celebrated his birthday a few days earlier. He was born May 15, 1815, just a few months after the Battle of New Orleans and while James Madison was President of the United States. Henry Clay and Daniel Webster were young men and Daniel Boone was still living. The city of Chicago was not half as large as the present town of Marion.

"Uncle Bob's father, Rylan Heath, was a native of North Carolina. After the year 1800 young Rylan made a trip down south. While in Georgia he became acquainted with a young lady named Anna Gilbert with whom he soon fell in love and married. In 1809, Rylan immigrated to Kentucky and settled about three miles of the present side of Marion [Crittenden County]. A few years later he removed to what is now the Mt. Zion vicinity. His nearest neighbors, Tom Wilson and Thomas Hughes, were two or three miles away."

Watch for Uncle Bob Heath's Memories, Part II on Thursday.

Published 4 November 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,