Monday, August 29, 2016

John H. Smith of Smithland

Sometime before 1830 John H. Smith and his wife, Rhoda, moved to Livingston County, Kentucky.  The following year, John H. Smith purchased lot #22 on Front Street in Smithland.[1] This lot is located in the middle of the block between Level and Maiden Streets and was an ideal location for a business. There is no indication, however, that Smith had a business there or the type of business it might have been..

Smith became a part of the activity of Smithland and, on 1 Oct 1832,[2] he was appointed captain of the group of men who routinely patrolled to make sure the town was quiet and no one, especially slaves, was out without a good reason.

John H. Smith did not stay in Smithland.  He and his family are found on the 1840 Pope County, Illinois census, but apparently returned to Smithland after that census. In April 1844, the children of John H. Smith purchased the lower half of lot #31 in Smithland as a result of a decree (John Shers vs Elizabeth and Eliza Simpson) from Livingston Circuit Court.[3]  Named as children of John H. Smith were C.W. Smith, Malinda H. Cook and husband Elbert Cook, John B. Smith, Wm. B. Smith and Mary Smith.

From her tombstone in Smithland Cemetery, we know the wife of John H. Smith was named Rhoda, but we do not yet know her maiden name.

Rhoda W.
Consort of
J.H. Smith
Born July 15, 1790
Died July 18, 1849

John H. Smith married Mrs. Elizabeth Green, former wife of Richard A. Green, 23 June 1850.[4] The marriage was not happy and "whereas unhappy differences" existed between them, they agreed to live apart . Elizabeth could live wherever she wanted and do whatever she chose as if she were a femme sole and John agreed to not bother her or claim any of her assets, including her dower interest in the estate of her former husband.[5]

John H. Smith died testate in 1856. In his will he named only his daughter, Mary, leaving her town lots in Smithland and all household and kitchen furniture.

J.H. Smith
Dec. 16, 1785
Feb. 26, 1856

[1] Livingston County Deed Book CC, p. 327, 28 Oct 1831, Given and Campbell to Smith.
[2] Livingston County Court Order Book H, p. 97,  1 Oct 1832. Other patrollers were John Byrne, Wm. D. McCloud, David B. Sanders and Ora Drury.
[3] Livingston County Deed Book HH, p. 423, 3 Apr 1844, Henry W. Bigham Commissioner to children of John H. Smith.
[4] Joyce McCandless Woodyard. Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Records Including Marriages of Freedmen, Vol II (Aug 1839-Dec 1871), p. 61.
[5] Livingston County Deed Book 2, pp 99-100, agreement with J.H. and Elizabeth P. Smith and R.W. Coleman (as trustee).

Published 29 August 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Friday, August 26, 2016

Progress is Being Made

During a recent visit to Smithland Cemetery in Livingston County, I was pleased to see that the tombstones of two members of the Barner family have been put back on their bases and look wonderful! 

As you may recall, I am partial to the Barner family and they have been the subject of several blog posts.  The monuments for Pattie and Mary E., daughters of Sterling M. and Sarah J. Barner, have been broken for many years and were on the ground.

Both of these young women died at the age of 20 when they were barely old enough to have sampled what the world had to offer.   Mary E. "Mollie," the older daughter, died 30 November 1862 at the age of 20 years, one month and eight days.  Pattie, who was estranged from her husband and had recently  given birth to a son, S.B. Taylor, died 12 May 1869 at the age of 20 years, nine months and 10 days.  Pattie and Mollie both died in Nashville and their remains were transported to Smithland for burial.

 I doubt that anyone knows when the first burial occurred here, but it was well before 1850. Of the historical places left in Smithland, the cemetery is one that is meaningful to many people. The  past whispers to us in the breeze from  the magnolia trees and in the epitaphs carved on the tombstones of those who lived here years ago.

The work being done to restore the monuments in Smithland Cemetery is important. If we don't take care of these reminders of our past, we will lose touch with who we were.  You can help with the restoration of this cemetery by sending a tax deductible donation  to Smithland Cemetery Fund, Smithland City Hall, 310 Wilson Avenue, Smithland, KY 42081.

Mary E. Barner 


Pattie Barner Taylor


Published 26 August  2016,  Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Oysters, Oysters, Oysters!

One would not think it likely that oysters would be a hot item on the menus in western Kentucky at the turn of the 19th century, but they were.  Some oysters were not the eating kind, but of the eating kind, raw oysters were considered a delicacy. What made them popular in western Kentucky?  Was it because they were considered to be an aphrodisiac?  I doubt it. I think it was something new and different that caught on. Oysters were served in almost every restaurant and they were the mainstay of many church suppers as well as private dinners.

County Court Day in Kentucky brought many folks to town to transact business and visit with friends. What better time to serve this popular food?  In 1905, the Ladies Aid Society provided food at a reasonable cost.[1]

Crittenden Record  10 February 1905

When the Marion Methodist Church held an oyster supper in the church basement on 22 November 1921, their menu included "Oyster Soup and Crackers, Fried Oysters, Celery, Pickles, Salad."[2] If you didn't like oysters, you were out of luck.

Mr. J.H. Orme, a pharmacist in Marion, entertained some of his friends at a "six course"  dinner in 1906.[3] He, too, favored oysters on his menu: "First, oyster cocktail, salad, olives and crackers; Second, birds on toast with French peas and scalloped oysters; Third, turkey with oyster dressing, creamed potatoes, hot biscuits and coffee; Fourth, pumpkin tarts, stuffed and pickled peaches; Fifth, brick ice cream and cakes." The sixth course was not given.  Among his guests were W.D. Baird, G.C. Gray, H.K. Woods, S. Gugenheim, T.H.R. Haase, T.J. Yandell, W.H. McElroy, G.M. Crider, S.M. Jenkins, W.G. Clifton, T.H. Cochran, R.L. Orme, H.L. Cook, Earnest Carnahan and, of course, J.H. Orme, the host. I wonder who did the cooking. I bet it wasn't Mr. Orme.

The next month, Mrs. Tresler entertained the Marion Musical Club. "The refreshments were served in two courses. The First Course consisted of hot chocolate, salmon salad, scalloped oysters and sandwiches and the Second Course consisted of ice cream and cake."[4]

This post is to show what our Crittenden County ancestors were eating  100 years ago. While oysters might be served on special occasions in the area today, I doubt you can find them on any restaurant menu in Marion. 

[1] "Hot Oyster Soup and Hot Coffee," advertisement, Crittenden Record, 10 February 1905, p. 8.
[2] "Oyster Supper," Crittenden Press, 18 November 1921, p. 5.
[3] "Mr. J.H. Orme Entertained," Crittenden Record, 7 December 1906, p. 1.
[4] "Mrs. Trisler Entertains the Marion Musical Club," Crittenden Press, 31 January 1907, p. 1.

Published 23 August 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Crittenden County Marriages 1900-1910

The Crittenden County Genealogical Society has published Crittenden County Marriages 1900-1910 and it is ready for delivery.  The book can be ordered from the following address:

Crittenden County Genealogical Society, PO Box 61, Marion, KY 42064. 

It may also be picked up in person at the Crittenden County Historical Museum, 124 E. Bellville St. in Marion between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm Wednesday through Saturday.

The cost is $15 plus $5 postage if you want the book mailed to you.

Published 18 August 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - James W. Brantley

James W. Brantley
Nov. 14, 1836
Feb. 3, 1857

Buried Crowell Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 23 September 2015.

James W. Brantley is enumerated in the household of Nathan and Angeline Brantley on the 1850 Crittenden County census. James W. Brantley was age 13 on the census and was not yet 21 when he died.

Published 16 August 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Restoring Smithland Cemetery

Smithland Cemetery is one of the historic treasures of Livingston County. With tombstones dating well before 1850, there are burials for steamboat captains, county officials, veterans of several wars and the ordinary citizens of this small, river town.  The cemetery is very large and has many monuments that require care - from being set upright again to broken stones being repaired.  A number of monuments have already been repaired, but many more need to be done.  When I visited the cemetery recently, workmen from Henry & Henry Monument Company were at work.

At work in Smithland Cemetery 

One of the tombstones that has been set up right again is that of Sallie Worten, (1857-1893). Until recently, this monument had fallen over and was face down on the ground.

Tombstone of Sallie Worten on the ground in 2015.

Tombstone of Sallie Worten upright again August 2016

David Boswell, William Mahan, Billy Downs, Herschel Evans and James Lane of the Smithland Cemetery Advisory Committee  are in charge of the efforts to restore this historical graveyard.   The committee provides guidance and assistance in the operation and funding of the cemetery. Smithland Cemetery is owned by the City of  Smithland, but is maintained and operated from a separate city account funded only from charitable donations.[1]

The City of Smithland could use some assistance in funding this work.  We can help by sending a tax deductible donation to the Smithland Cemetery Fund, Smithland City Hall, 310 Wilson Avenue, Smithland, KY 42081. This historic cemetery needs our help.

[1] J. David Boswell, "Appreciating the Beautiful and Historic Smithland Cemetery," Livingston Ledger, 16 June 2016, p. 8.

Published 14 August 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Livingston County, Kentucky Guardians 1859

A guardian was appointed when a person was unable to act for himself or was under the age of 21 years. At the age of 14, a minor could choose his own guardian. If under the age of 14, the county court appointed the guardian.  The sources are listed at the end of each entry. For example, L/485 refers to County Court Order Book L, page 485.

Jonathan R. Clements was appointed guardian of Francis U. Clements, infant heir of Jeremiah Clements.  29 Jan 1859. [L/485]

Dicey Malvina Jones, over the age of 14 and the infant heir of Alicey Jones, dec'd, selected R.F.P. Jones as her guardian.  3 Feb 1859.  [L/486]

Enoch Jones was appointed guardian for William and Samuel Evans, under the age of 14 years and the infants heirs of Nancy Evans, dec'd.  7 Feb 1859.  [L/489]

J.H. Alley was appointed guardian of Ann Eliza Alley.  4 Apr 1859 [L/497]

Julia Ann Nichols, infant heir of Needham Nichols dec'd, selected Isaac Rucker as her guardian. Isaac Rucker also appointed guardian of Lewis C. Nichols, Edney K. Nichols, Emily E. Nichols and Isaac W. Nichols, infant heirs of Needham Nichols dec'd, sd. infants being under the age of 14.  16 Apr 1859.  [L/498-499]

William David Ward, over the age 14 years, selected his father, P.P. Ward, as his guardian.  16 Apr 1859.  [L/499]

Angeline Brown, infant over 14 years of age, selected Levi Johnson as her guardian. 11 May 1859. [L/507]

On motion of Elizabeth Jones, heir of William A. Jones dec'd, Jonathan McCandless, her guardian was ruled to execute a new bond as her guardian.  2 Aug 1859.  [L/519]

Margaret Elizabeth Ferrell, over 14 years of age, selected George Ferrell as her guardian.  20 Aug 1859. [L/520]

Mary K. Buchanon and Harriet Buchanon, over the age of 14 and the infant heirs of John Buchanon, selected A.D. Vick as their guardian. A.D. Vick was appointed guardian to Jane Buchanon, Sarah Buchanon and John Buchanon, infant heirs of John Buchanon, sd. heirs being under the age of 14 years.  5 Sep 1859. [L/521]

Lydia Connor, over the age of 14, selected Thomas S. Leech as her guardian.  1 Oct 1859.  [L/525]

Mrs. Kitty Doyal was appointed guardian for Angelina Doyle, Elizabeth Doyle, William Doyle and James Dole, infants under the age of 14 and heirs of Washington Doyal dec'd. Mary Jane Doyal, over 14 years of age, selected Mrs. Kitty Doyal as her guardian.  13 Oct 1859.  [L/527]

Elizabeth Wooldridge, over age 14, chose her father, Edward Wooldridge, as her guardian. Edward Wooldridge was appointed guardian of his children, John Wooldridge, Martha Wooldridge and Louisa Wooldridge, all under the age of 14 years.  8 Nov 1859.  [L/532-533]

Published 10 August 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Monday, August 8, 2016

Judy G. Russell, the Legal Genealogist, to Speak at Willard Library

Judy G. Russell, one of the most popular speakers and bloggers  in the genealogy world will present four lectures in the Browning Gallery at Willard Library in Evansville, Indiana on Saturday, August 20, 2016. I have been reading her blog for several years, but first heard her speak  less than two years ago. While I love reading what she writes, her lectures are always pertinent to my own research and hit home time after time. Am I fan of Judy Russell?  Without a doubt!  

She is a genealogist with a law degree, a board Certified Genealogist and a Certified Genealogical Lecturer. In addition, she is a dynamic speaker. She knows her subjects and shares  information in a thoughtful, but entertaining way.

Reservations are suggested, but not required. All lectures are free and open to the public. They are as follows:

9:30 am - 10:30 am:  The Seanachie: Linking Life Through Storytelling

10:45 am - 11:45 am:  Dowered or Bound Out: Records of Widows and Orphans

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm:  Rogues, Rascals and Rapscallions: The Family Black Sheep

2:15 pm  - 3:15 pm:  Facts, Photos and Fair Use: Copyright Law for Genealogists

To make reservations:   Willard Library Calendar of Events

Published 8 August 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, August 4, 2016

David and Rebecca Scyster of Smithland

According to his tombstone in Smithland Cemetery, David Scyster was born 15 November 1783 in Maryland.  He married Rebecca Evans in Washington County, Maryland on the 23rd of November 1809.[1] About 1817-1818, David and Rebecca Scyster lived in Virginia as the birth place for their daughter, Ellen, is listed as Virginia consistently on the 1850-1880 census records.

The Scyster family moved to Livingston County before 1819 when David Scyster first appears on the tax lists. The first time he is shown with children is 1829, when he is listed with three children.

David Scyster kept a tavern in Smithland as evidenced by the following entry in the county court minutes: "On motion of David Scyster and it appearing he is a man of good character and will probably keep an orderly house, ordered that license be granted him to keep a tavern at his own house in this county for one year."[2]

In 1835, a curious entry appeared in the court minutes. "Peter Jones was appointed guardian to Ellen Sister [sic], infant heir of David Sister dec'd (at least supposed to be dead from circumstances detailed to the court) Whereupon Jones authorized Wm. Smith,  his security, executed & acknowledged bond payable & conditioned according to law in penalty of $100."[3] David Scyster's daughter, Ellen, married William Smith 7 May 1835 in Smithland. David Scyster (or any variation of that name) does not appear on the Livingston County tax lists 1838-1841. On the surface, it appears that Peter Jones was appointed guardian of Ellen in order to give permission for her marriage to William Smith. A search through county and circuit court records did not reveal any details of the "supposed death" of David Scyster/Sister. 

David and Rebecca Scyster  had at least four children, including the following:
1.  John E. Scyster - born 29 April 1815 and died 22 May 1827.[4]
2.  Ellen Scyster - born ca 1817/1818 Virginia; died after 1880.[5] Married William Smith 7 May 1835 Livingston County.[6]
3.  Jacob V. Scyster - born 2 August 1823 Livingston County; died 6 October 1920 McAlister, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma.[7]
4.  William G. Scyster - born June 1825 Kentucky; died after 1900.[8]

David Scyster appears on the 1830 and 1840 Livingston County census records, however the number of people and their ages do not match those of his children. There are no females listed. If this is true, Rebecca, his wife, was deceased before 1830 and his daughter, Ellen, was living elsewhere. His tombstones shows he died in 1841. Unfortunately, the Rebecca's death date is not shown on her tombstone.

 David Syster
A native of Maryland
Nov. 15, 1783
April 14, 1841

Wife of 
David Syster
Sept. 10, 1791

Buried Smithland Cemetery. Tombstones photographed 8 October 2014.

[1] Maryland Marriages 1667-1900, online database,, accessed 16 June 2016.
[2] Livingston County, Kentucky Court Order Book G:422, Monday, 3 May 1830.
[3] Livingston County, Kentucky Court Order Book H:268, Monday, 4 May 1835.
[4] Livingston County, Kentucky Homemaker Clubs. Livingston County, Kentucky Cemeteries 1738-1976, (n.p.), 1977:335.
[5] Last appears on the 1880  Claiborne County, Mississippi census, age 63, born Virginia.
[6] Joyce M. Woodyard. Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Records Vol. 1 (Oct 1799-July 1839), (n.p.), 1992:136.
[7] Find A Grave Memorial #13840110, online database of graves, accessed 15 June 2016.
[8] Last appears on the 1900 Livingston County census as age 74, widowed, a dry goods salesman.

Published 4 August 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Happy 150th Wedding Anniversary, Reddick and Mary Ann Smith!

On this day 150 years ago, Mary Ann Wolstenholme and Reddick Smith stood before Henry Holt, a justice of the peace, and promised to love, honor and cherish each other for the rest of their lives. There were no guarantees their lives would be easy and hardships were almost certain.

Born in 1842 in Gallatin County, Illinois, Reddick Smith enlisted in Co. F, 131st Illinois Volunteer Infantry. After leaving a hospital in Millikin's Bend, Louisianna without permission, he was captured by the Confederates and sent to Richmond, Virginia before being paroled in July 1863. Later he enlisted in Co. G, 6th Illinois Cavalry and participated in the Battle of Nashville on 15 December 1864. After the war, Reddick left his company in Alabama and returned home to southern Illinois. Yes, he deserted again. The charge of desertion was later removed from his records by the War Department.

Reddick settled in Goodlettsville, Davidson County, where Mary Ann was living. On 2 August 1866, he used a coin and hammered it over a rod to form a ring and placed this ring on Mary Ann's finger.  I wear this ring today. 

Reddick and Mary Ann had 14 children: Rebeckah, Edna, Susannah, Henry Clay, Sarah, Caroline, Mary Beatrice (my grandmother), Francis, Giles, Earl, Morgan, Herman, Edward and an unnamed child who died as an infant. Nine of these children lived to adulthood.

Reddick and Mary Ann stayed in Tennessee until after 1870 and then moved with their three children, Rebeckah, Edna and Susannah,  to Hardin County, Illinois. Except for a brief stay in the state of Washington in the early 1900s, the Smith family remained in Hardin County. Reddick died there 14 April 1913 and Mary Ann died 7 January 1933. Both are buried at Central Cemetery.

Reddick and Mary Ann are among my favorite ancestors and have been the most interesting to research. One of my current projects involves getting a tombstone to mark Mary Ann's grave. 

Published 2 August 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,