Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ouch! Affray in Caldwell County 1817

Black's Law Dictionary (Sixth Edition)  defines an affray as combat between two or more persons and differs from a riot or duel in that it was not premeditated. We would probably just call it a fight today, but no matter what you call it, Thomas Shelby and Phillip Holeman meant business when they met one day in May many years ago. We know this from an affidavit signed by  William R. Asher and filed in the county court. The original affidavit can be found in a box marked "Notes 1827-1870" in the Caldwell County Clerk's Office in Princeton, Kentucky.

"Commonwealth of Kentucky Caldwell County
Personally appeared before me James Morse an acting Justice of the peace in and for the county aforesaid William Asher and made oath that he was present when an affray took place between Thomas Shelby & Phillip Holeman by fighting together some time in May 1817 and that in said affray Phillip Holeman did loose a part of One of his ears by a bite or otherwise  Sworn and subscribed to before me this 26th July 1819. "William R. Asher.   James Morse."

Published 26 June 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - Charles Christopher Haynes

Charles Christopher
1852 - 1943

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 2 November 2011.

According to Kentucky death certificate #27800 (1942), Charles Christopher Haynes was born 11 May 1852 Kentucky and died 18 December 1942 Smithland. He was the son of Mill P. Haynes and Elizabeth Lake  Charles C. Haynes was listed as a retired druggist. He appears on the 1940 Livingston County census with his wife, Lou, and on the 1930 Marshall County, Kentucky census. In 1910, he and his wife lived in McCracken County, Kentucky.

Published 24 June 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Gretna Green

There really was a place called Gretna Green. It was a town in southern Scotland that became popular as a destination for underage residents from England to run off and unite themselves in matrimony. The phrase "Gretna Green" later became popular as a term for any town where runaway couples went to marry, usually because of having fewer restrictions.

Numerous sections of the United States had their own Gretna Greens and it is beneficial for genealogists  to know the locations when searching for marriage records.  For example, Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Illinois was one such Gretna Green for those living in western Kentucky and southwestern Indiana. The marriage record books of Pope and Hardin County, Illinois are full of marriages of western Kentucky folks. Still another Gretna Green for those living in western Kentucky and southeastern Illinois was Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana.

Under the headline of "Evansville Becomes the Gretna Green for a Couple of Kentuckians" in the 15 March 1885 issue of the Evansville Journal, an account is given of John Phillips and Amanda Driver of Sebree, Webster County, Kentucky running off to Evansville after the father of the bride refused to give permission for the couple to marry. Not to be foiled in their plans, the bridegroom made all arrangements for the ceremony at the St. Cloud Hotel in Evansville. "There in the parlors of the hotel in the presence of the guests of the house, the two lovers were made one, and notwithstanding the vow of her father that his daughter should never become Mrs. John Phillips, she is now the happy wife of that gentleman ... This evening the newly married couple will return to the place from whence they fled, and the wrath of the irate father will be showered on their heads, after which all will go well, as usual in such similar cases."

I hope it turned out as well as predicted in the news article.

Published 19 June 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - William Hamilton

Here lies the body of
William Hamilton
Departed this life 
Oct. 27, 1800
Aged 50 yrs.

Buried Livingston Presbyterian Church Cemetery, near Fredonia, Caldwell County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 15 March 2013.  This cemetery is on private property near the site of the church and across the Marion Road from the former location of the old town of Centreville, once the seat of justice of Livingston County, Kentucky.

Published 17 June 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Research Tip - What's in a Name?

Naming a newborn child after a well-know person has been a common practice through the years. My own family includes George Washington and Andrew Jackson.  No, they weren't the former presidents of the United States. Their last name was Joyce. I don't know why George Washington was chosen as a name for one child, but the mother of these two babies was from Davidson County, Tennessee, where Andrew Jackson lived, and that may have played a part in adopting his name for the other child. Whatever the reason, you have to admit their names are impressive.

Then there was their brother and my ancestor, Lycurgus Mino Joyce. Not a name found very often - unless you lived in Lawrence County, Tennessee in the mid-1800s. And the Joyces did.  Apparently, my ancestor, James P. Joyce thought so highly of a local business man, Lycurgus Mino Bentley, that he named his youngest son after him. He didn't use his full name very often, preferring to be called L. Mino.

A name seen more often in Kentucky was Linn Boyd. Who was he that caused so many parents to give their children his name? Well, Linn Boyd (1800-1859) began his political career in Kentucky, having served in the House of Representatives from Calloway County. Later he moved to Trigg County. He was speaker of the United States House of Representatives 1851-1855. It makes you wonder if parents thought good fortune would come to children toting around the name of a famous person.

Do you have a Joel Grace in your family?  Joel Grace was an early Baptist minister in Livingston and Crittenden counties and died 27 January 1864 at the age of 63. He was ordained in 1835 and served a number of churches. If there is a Joel Grace in your family don't be surprised if the family was Baptist.

Names may be clues leading us to more information about our families. At the very least, they are fun to wonder about and speculate why those particular names were chosen.

Published 12 June 2014 Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - Thomas R. and Sarah Simpson

Thomas R.
Died July 4, 1912

Sarah Catherine
Died Mar. 21, 1917

Buried Repton Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 6 June 2014.

Thomas R. Simpson, born in Christian County, Kentucky, was the son of Alexander Simpson and Becka Gray, according to Thomas' death certificate #16803. He first married Louisa Lizinbee in 1857 and later married Mrs. Sarah Ann (Burton) Elliott in 1870.  Sarah, born 14 July 1832, was the daughter of Ben Burton and Manerva Thurmond. Her death certificate #14246  lists her death date as 19 March 1916.

Repton Cemetery Road

Published 10 June 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Midnight Madness June 16-20, 2014

Willard Library, 21 First Avenue, Evansville, Indiana is sponsoring their annual Midnight Madness 16-20 June.  Special Collections (second floor) will open at 9 a.m. Monday-Friday and close at midnight Monday-Thursday.

Just a sample of scheduled classes:
Beginning Genealogy
Evansville Catholic Church Records
Tombstone Art & Epitaphs
Finding Ancestors Using Land and Connected Records
The Coroner's Office and Your Research
Wedding Traditions and Customs
Individualized German Research
Why Did They Go there
Researching Old Newspapers

Eddie Wildt, owner of Evansville Bindery, is scheduled to give advice on printing your family history. Terry Prall, professional genealogist and lecturer, will give five programs: Why Did I Ever Get Started? Using City Directories to Fill in Blanks, Different Ways to Record Getting Hitched and Mining Family Histories & Genealogies.

To cap off the week, Harold Morgan, historian and publisher, will speak on Evansville's Own P-47 Thunderbolt (underneath the history of Evansville's role in winning World War II through aviation) on Saturday morning, 21 June.

For more information, contact Willard Library at 812-425-4309 or email  Reservations are requested and may be made    Here 

Published 8 June 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Soldiers' Reunion 1899

Recently I came across an intriguing article in the 12 August 1899 issue of the Paducah Sun. It mentioned a soldiers' reunion to be held in Princeton, Caldwell County, Kentucky 16-18 August 1899. A total of 20,000 people were expected to attend, including "some of the leading generals and officers of the civil war."

The first day of the reunion was to be devoted mainly to the ladies and children, but no details were given. The latter half of the second day and the third day were to feature prominent speakers. Again, no details were given. Princeton was to be "decorated with thousands of flags and above the court house gate an immense flag will float one hundred feet high." Kentucky Governor William Bradley and his staff were to attend, along with other prominent people from various parts of the country."

Nothing more was found about the reunion in the Paducah newspaper, but a short article in the Evansville Courier on 18 August 1899 gave a few more details.

"A reunion of the blue and gray veterans of several Kentucky counties was held in the city [Princeton] today, the chief exercises being held at the fair grounds. In the morning there was an industrial parade. More veterans in attendance wore the blue that wore the gray.

"At the speaking Judge Marlow of this city welcomed the visitors and Lawyer Headley of Madisonville responded on behalf of the county. The general response was given by Captain C.J. Murphy of Evansville. After his address a wheel of flowers more than two feet in diameter was given him by the ladies' choral society."

Reunions of Civil War veterans were popular at the turn of the century. A large reunion was held in Evansville not long after the one in Princeton. Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone has a photograph taken at the Princeton reunion?

Published 5 June 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - Rebecca Smith

Mar. 5, 1850
Apr. 13, 1935
A loving mother
and a faithful

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 26 April 2013.

According to her death certificate, Rebecca Smith, an African American lady, was the widow of Amos Smith. She was born in Livingston County and was the daughter of George Hurley and Matilda Dumas. The 1880 Livingston County census shows Amos and Rebecca Smith, along with their children, George, Howard, Maud, Maggie and Eva, living in Smithland. Sometime after 1880, the family moved to Paducah, where Amos died in 1908 and Rebecca died in 1935.

Published 3 June 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,