Friday, July 10, 2015

Don't Skip the Remarks!

When Kentucky county assessors were given instructions on recording births under the Sutton Act of 1852, no one told them to add extra information. To be honest, most assessors did only what was required, if that, but now and then one would add a note that makes a genealogist send a prayer upwards for the thoughtfulness of that long-deceased assessor.

If you read the vital statistics on, do not be satisfied with just reading their index as they have neglected to record the information listed in that category called "Remarks." If you are reading the vital statistics on microfilm, you will need to scroll over to the far right side. It is there that you find the good stuff - the tidbits of information the assessor didn't have to add, but he did. The following examples come from Henderson Vital Statistics of the 1850s.

That extra information may be something as simple as identifying a man as the "Slave of E.G. Sugg of Arkansas." Pretty simple, isn't it? But if you didn't know E.G. Sugg lived in Arkansas, it becomes pretty important.

Or how about this one for Minerva, who was born alive on 7 Aug 1852 and was probably a slave of F.H. Dallam: "Born on the Ohio River in a skiff while moving from Livingston County to Henderson, Ky." I knew F.H. Dallam had moved his family from Livingston County between 1850 and 1855, but this gives me a better date for his removal to Henderson.

Here's another one: John, a black child owned by William S. Holloway, was born 12 Dec 1856 with "Six fingers on each hand."  You won't find that on any census.

The one that tickles me most is the record of the birth of a son born 22 June 1858 to John Southerland and Lucy Lane. Under "Remarks," it simply states: "Weighed 40 pounds."  Whew! I have no other comment except to suggest that you read that column called "Remarks."

 Published 10 July 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

No comments: