Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Update on the H.F. Given Tomb

Recent research has turned up new information on William Smith and H. Staub, the builders of the H.F. Given Tomb  in Smithland Cemetery. Because William Smith and H.F. Given were both from Smithland, I thought Given ordered the tomb built because he was familiar with Smith's work. He may very well have been familiar with Smith's work, but there was probably another factor involved in the decision to choose Smith to build the tomb.  That factor is often the most important and has to do with money.

It seems that William Smith was indebted to various business men, including H.F. Given, and owed three mortgages that may or may not have been satisfied before he moved to Port Gibson, Mississippi.  In 1855, William Smith mortgaged 90 pieces of rough marble and 50 pieces of dressed marble to H.F. Given, T.C. Leech & Bros. and W.P. Fowler to guarantee a debt of $600, most of which was owed Given.[1]

The next year, Smith mortgaged his household furnishings to Given Haynes and Co. to guarantee the payment of another debt. [2] And, finally, Smith mortgaged a lot in the Sanders Addition in Smithland "upon which is a brick dwelling now occupied by Smith."[3] By this time, Smith  owed debts totaling $2026.60. Smith must have moved his family to Mississippi shortly after this date in 1858 as they appear on the 1860 Claiborne County, Mississippi census. Perhaps Given decided to have Smith build a tomb to satisfy payment of the debt.

While researching another family, something turned up on H. Staub, who worked for or was in the stone carving business with William Smith in Port Gibson, Mississippi. He was in Smithland before appearing with the Smith family in Mississippi. In 1857, he filed his intention to become a citizen of the United States.[4]   He stated he came to the United States "on or about the 20th of April 1854 from the canton of Zurich in the  Republic of Switzerland ..."[5]  He signed the petition Henry Staub. He also appears on the 1857 Livingston County tax list.

Wm. Smith & H. Staub  Port Gibson, Mississippi
Front lower right corner of H.F. Given tomb
(click on photo for an enlarged view)

I learned two things from this research:  (1)  William Smith was indebted to H.F. Given before he moved to Mississippi  and that may have played a part in Smith building the Given tomb and (2) Henry Staub was in Smithland before he showed up on the 1860 Claiborne County, Mississippi census and very likely knew both the Smith and Given families. The world now seems like a smaller place.

Published 7 September 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

[1] Livingston County, Kentucky Deed Book 2:496, 42 Jan 1855.
[2] Livingston County, Kentucky Deed Book 3:129,  8 Feb 1856.
[3] Livingston County, Kentucky Deed Book 4:90,  1 Nov 1858.
[4] Livingston County, Kentucky Circuit Court Order Book O:354, 5 Jan 1857,
[5] Ibid.

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