Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A French Family in Old Smithland

Smithland, Kentucky had become a melting pot of nationalities by 1850. The population consisted of people from England, Ireland, Germany, Italy and France.  Very likely the commerce on the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers played a part in drawing people from other countries to Smithland. Many of the immigrant families were assimilated into the general population. A few stopped in Smithland only briefly before  settling elsewhere.

One of the foreign-born settlers who came to Smithland was Jean Lewis Alexander Colinet of Paris, France. He stopped briefly in Perry County, Tennessee[1] before moving to Smithland by 1851.[2] The 1850 Livingston County census shows a John Colleny, age 35 born France, but he appears on only that one record. There is no indication his name was a variation of Colinet or if he and Alexander were related.

Alexander Colinet was allowed to keep a tavern with the privilege of selling spirituous liquor at his house  in Old Smithland on 3 October 1853.[3] Old Smithland was settled circa 1798 and has been described as about three miles below the mouth of the Cumberland River, which is the location of present-day Smithland.

In June 1854, Alexander Colinet's daughter, Louise, purchased 400 acres of land for $3000 on the Ohio River from W.P. and Sarah S. Fowler. [4] Less than three months later, Louise sold four or five acres of this land back to Sarah S. Fowler.  The land is described as "just above the town of Old Smithland ..."[5] Thus far, the fate of the remainder of the 400 acres purchased by Louise Colinet in 1854 is unknown. As far as can be determined, Louise was the only known child of Alexander Colinet in Kentucky.

This 400 acres of land was attributed to Alexander Colinet on the 1853 and 1854 Livingston County tax lists. It was listed as the property of  Etienne Girard thereafter.

Etienne Girard and Wiley P. Fowler were present when Alexander Colinet died on the 13th of August 1854.[6] Mrs. Coltilde Colinet, widow of Alexander, relinquished her right to administer on her husband's estate and Etienne Girard was appointed in her place. William Canady, George W. Roberson and Young Rucker, or any two of them, were appointed to appraise the personal estate and slaves, if any, of Colinet.[7] 

Even though Alexander Colinet had only been in Livingston County about three years, his estate inventory showed a fairly extensive list of farming utensils plus a few more unusual items -  1/2 barrel each of French brandy and whiskey, a wooden boat, one ream of wrapping paper. Also listed was a cabbage patch valued at $5.00 and a potato patch valued at $10.00, 100 chickens, 10 head of hogs and three milch cows & calfs [sic].

On 26 September 1854, Louise Colinet married Etienne Girard at Madame Colinet's in Livingston County.[8]   The couple moved to Paducah after their marriage and their first child, Clotilde Gerard, was born there 8 August 1856.[9] They had at least three more children.  Louise's mother, Clotilde Colinet, moved to Paducah with them and is listed as age 47 and born in Belgium on the 1860 McCracken County census.  A lot more information has been found on Louise and Etienne Girard, including their connections to royalty, but I will save that for another post. Watch for it!

[1] Deposition of Etienne Girard 23 Dec 1854, Livingston County Circuit Court Order Book O, pp 68-60 regarding his acquaintance with Colinet of Paris. W.P. Fowler also gave a deposition at the same time.
[2] Livingston County Tax List of Alexander Colinet marks  the first appearance of Colinet in Livingston County.
[3] Livingston County Court Order Book L, p. 163.
[4] Livingston County Deed Book 2, p. 424.
[5] Livingston County Deed Book 2, p. 491.
[6] Livingston County Circuit Court Order Book O, pp 68-69.
[7] Livingston County Court Order Book L, p. 209, 16 Sep 1854.
[8] Joyce McCandless Woodyard, Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Records Including Marriages of Freedmen  Vol. II (August 1839-December 1871), (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1994), 83.
[9] Kentucky, Birth Records 1847-1911, McCracken County,, accessed 6 Dec 2010.

Published 21 September 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy  Blog, http:/

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