Thursday, January 22, 2015

Often Overlooked Records Part III - Bonds, Bonds, Bonds

A person appointed an estate administrator or executor, guardian to a minor or incompetent or granted a license to keep a ferry, tavern or coffeehouse was required to sign a bond to guarantee he would perform the required duties. These bonds are found in the county clerk's office in Kentucky and may appear as loose papers or bound in a book. The information was supposed to be recorded in the county court minutes, but sometimes the entries were omitted or they were incomplete.  Looking at just one rendering of this information is often not sufficient to obtain all of the information. One source may have the most basic information, while another source may contain much more. Rarely will you find any this information online.

The following guardian bond is an example of the information that can be found. It comes from Loose Guardian Bonds (1842) filed in the Caldwell County Clerk's Office, Princeton, Kentucky.

Washington Watkins was appointed guardian for Miss  Delitha Lunnen [Lemmen?] 16 May 1842. Also signing the bond, as his security, was Jesse W. Young. This is good information, but it is the note that is filed with the loose bond that puts this into the "Wow!" category. On 14 May 1842, Delitha wrote a note to the county court stating that she wanted Watkins to be appointed her guardian because "I have neither Farther nor Mother living  my age is about Sixteen."  At the age of 14, minors were considered mature enough to choose their own guardian, but this note gives a more exact age and it states that both of her parents were deceased. The names witnessing her note are important, also. We know that Jesse W. Young was Watkins' security for the guardian bond, but who was Leven T. Olover?

When a minor married, a parent or guardian had to give consent for the license to be issued. If there were no living parents, or even if the father alone was deceased, a guardian was often appointed for that specific purpose.  A check of Caldwell County marriages shows that on the same date the guardian bond was issued, Levin T. Oliver obtained a marriage bond to marry Miss Delitha Lemmen in Caldwell County.[1] Ah ha! Leven was a principle player in this saga.

One record is often insufficient to get the complete picture so help yourself by checking every possible record.

Loose Guardian Bond and note 1842

[1] Brenda Joyce Jerome. Caldwell County, Kentucky Marriage 1833-1853 (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery) 1997: 71.

Published 22 January 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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