Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Crittenden County, Kentucky Emancipations

Slaves in Kentucky could be emancipated by the owner petitioning the county court or being set free through a  provision in the owner's last will and testament. To guarantee the former slave would not become a charge upon the county, a bond with security was signed by a responsible local citizen. The following handwritten emancipation papers are located in the loose county court papers, Crittenden County Clerk's Office.

Know all men ... we John S. Elder, Harvey W. Bigham & George T. Mayes are held & firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal sum of $1000  ... 11th day of December 1843. The condition  is such that whereas the above named court have this day  ordered a certificate of freedom to be granted to Sethe a man of Color emancipated by the last will & testament of James Elder. Should Sethe never become chargeable upon any County of the Commonwealth this obligation to be void ... [signed] John S. Elder, H.W. Bigham, G.T. Mayes.

Know all men ... we H.M. Witherspoon, Wm. B. Hickman, U.G. Witherspoon and James R. Hanks are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal sum of $500 ... this 11th day of Octr. 1847. The condition  is such that whereas George Witherspoon late of Crittenden County now deceased in his last Will and testament declared that his slave named Sam should be liberated and set free at the Octr. term of the Crittenden County Court. Now whereas the sd. Court has this day directed that Certificate of Emancipation shall issue to sd. slave ... if Sam shall never become chargeable to the County then this bond is to become of no effect ... [signed] H.M. Witherspoon, W.B. Hickman, U.G. Witherspoon, J.R. Hanks.   Attest: R.L. Bigham.

Know all men ... we Green C. Reece and W.H. Husband & H.R.D. Coleman are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal Sum of $500 for the payment of which ...  bind ourselves our heirs  executors &c  ... this 10th day of April 1848. The condition is such that whereas Elisha Reece dec'd by his last will and testament (which was this day proven & ordered to Record by the County Court) hath set free and Emancipated his Negro Boy Cyrus aged about fifty years  Now if  Cyrus shall not become chargeable to any county in this Commonwealth then ... this shall become null and void ... [signed] G.C. Reese, W.H. Husbands, H.R.D. Coleman.

Know all men ... we Manerva and W. Wagar are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal sum of $500 ... this 11th day of March 1861. The condition is such that whereas Manerva has been Emancipated and set free Now should Manerva never become a charge upon any County in the Commonwealth for her support and maintenance then this obligation shall be void ... [signed] Manerva (X her mark), W. Wagar.

Know all men ... we King and F.D. Wyatt are held and firmly bound unto the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the penal sum of $500 ... this 11th day of March 1861.  King has been emancipated and set free ... should King never become a charge upon any county in the Commonwealth for his support and maintenance then this obligation shall be void ... [signed] King (X) his mark, F.D. Wyatt. Wit: Berry S. Young  clerk.

Published 28 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas!

Published 25 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Lyon County, Kentucky Paupers 1880

In the earliest days of Kentucky, the goal of dealing with  paupers was to keep them from becoming a charge upon the county.  Prior to the establishment of county poorhouses, local residents bid on the care of each  individual pauper and cared for the pauper, usually in the resident's home.

In 1821  "An Act authorising the county courts to erect houses for the accommodation of their Poor" was approved.[1]  The county court was also given the power to appoint a fit person to superintend those who were in the poorhouse and to receive a reasonable fee for his services. Those wishing to be in charge at the poorhouse farm, placed a bid with the lowest bidder becoming the "winner."  No experience was required, but there were periodic reviews.

The order sending paupers to the poorhouses is often recorded in the county court order book (court minutes).  In addition, you might find a list of poorhouse inmates on the census records.  Lyon County poorhouse paupers can be found on the 1880 Lyon County, Kentucky census .[2]  The head of the household was J.W. Warfield, Supervisor of the Poor House. The inmates of the poorhouse  on the 21st of June 1880 were:

Sam Dyer, Black, Male, age 89, born Virginia, parents born Virginia.

Jas. Lady, White, Male, age 70, birthplace illegible, father born Virginia, mother born North Carolina.

Geo. Moneymaker, White, Male, age 37, born Kentucky, parents' birthplaces not given.

Fanny Oliver, White, Female, age 35, born Kentucky, parents born Kentucky.

Rilla Goins, White, Female, age 19, born Kentucky, parents born Kentucky.

Lilly Goins, White, Female, age 12, born Kentucky, parents born Kentucky.

Nancy Oliver, White, Female, age 4, born Kentucky, parents born Kentucky.

Alone Sells, White, Female, age 1, born Kentucky, parents born Kentucky.

[1] Digest of the Statute Laws of Kentucky, Vol. II, (1834) p. 1325, referencing  Session Acts, p. 385.
[2] 1880 Lyon County, Kentucky Census, Eddyville, Page 8C, E.D. 141, image 0018,, accessed 27 September 2016. 

Published 22 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - William H. and Mary E. Duke

William H. Duke
1841 - 1900
Mary E. Duke
1843 - 1925

Buried Cedar Hill Cemetery, Princeton, Caldwell County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 8 June 2015.

William H. Duke married Miss Mary E. Wigginton 3 September 1863 in Caldwell County.

The last appearance of William H. and Mary E. Duke together on a census was on the 1880 Caldwell County census in Enumerator District 158. William H. Duke was the enumerator in that district. Listed in the household were Wm. H. Duke, age 38; M.E. Duke, age 37, and their daughter, Charlie, age 18.

After William H. Duke's death, his widow continued to live in Princeton. In 1900 she lived on North Jefferson  Street. Included in her household were her daughter and son-in-law, Charlie and Edward D. Barnett, and their son, Edward.  They moved to the Bronx, New York before 1920 and are found in Bronx Assembly District 5, that year.

Published 20 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Patrick Duffie Naturalization 1858

In 1858, naturalization petitions could be filed in any Kentucky court, but are usually found in the county court or circuit court order books (minutes)  in western Kentucky. Information includes the name of the petitioner, his place of birth, when he arrived in the United States and his intention to become a citizen.

The following naturalization record for Patrick Duffie can be found in Crittenden County, Kentucky Court Order Book 2, p. 308, 13 September 1858.

"This day Patrick Duffie personally appeared in open Court and produced a Certificate from the Clerk of the Crittenden Circuit Court duly authenticated showing that he had on the 26th day of July 1856 in the Crittenden Circuit Court made the Necessary Declaration of his intention to become a citizen of the United States of America and having declared on Oath that he will support the Constitution of the United States and that he doth absolutely and entirely Renounce and abjord[?] all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince potentate state or sovereignty whatever and Particularly Victoria Queen of England & Ireland whereof he was last a subject and having produced to the Court satisfactory evidence of his having resided in the United States five years at least and in this state one year at least  & that during that time he has behaved as a Man of Good Moral Character attached to the principles of the constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same Whereupon the said Patrick Duffie is declared to be and is hereby admitted a citizen of the United States."

Click on petition to enlarge

Published 15 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - Harvey and Sidney Minner

Harvey Minner
1877 - 1923

Sidney Minner
1871 - 1915

Brothers Harvey and Sidney Minner are buried in Love Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Their tombstone was photographed 7 November 2014.

According to Kentucky Death Certificate #10406, Harve Minner was born 19 July 1877, but his World War I Draft Registration gives his birth date as 19 August 1877 and his full name is listed as Harve Edrington Minner and his occupation as Post Master, Sheridan, Kentucky.  His sister, Sue Yates, was given as his closest relative. He died 27 April 1923.

Sidney Minner's Kentucky Death Certificate #9351 gives his date of birth as 26 January 1871 and death date as 30 April 1915.

The 1910 Crittenden County census shows Harve and Sidney Minner living on the Princeton-Wallace Ferry Road in the household headed by their older sister, Sue Yates, who was the widow of R.H. Yates.[1]

[1] Brenda Joyce Jerome, Crittenden County, KY Marriage Records Vol. II 1866-1886, (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery), 1991:160.

Published 13 December  2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tombstone for Mary Ann Wolstenholme Smith

When my great-grandmother,Mary Ann Wolstenholme Smith, died in 1933, our country was  at the lowest point of the Great Depression.  Money was scarce and placing a tombstone on Mary Ann's grave was out of the question. Fortunately, my dad, who was 20 years old when his grandmother died, attended her funeral, remembered where she was buried and passed along that information  when I became interested in genealogy. It is one thing to know where someone is buried and another thing to have that burial spot identified for future generations.

Mary Ann lived with her children, rotating  from one household to another. She told stories to my dad and his siblings about growing up in Davidson County, Tennessee, but either Mary Ann or my dad "fluffed up" the stories of her background. Census records show her family lived a simple life. Whatever the circumstances were, my dad spoke highly of her and she was an important part of the family.

I have always felt a certain affinity for Mary Ann and wanted to get a monument to mark her grave. My generation is the last that will remember where she is buried. When we are gone, there will be no one who knows where she is buried. So, at our last Joyce family reunion, I mentioned what I wanted to do. Several cousins spoke up and offered to help.

A little over a month ago the tombstone was set and there will be no doubt where Mary Ann is buried. She rests beside her husband, Reddick Smith, in Central Cemetery in Hardin County, Illinois.  This was very important to me and I feel like Mary Ann and her family are pleased.

Published 8 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy  Blog,

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - Claude & Laura Gill

Claude A.
Dec. 20, 1872
Jan. 5, 1927

Laura S.
Feb. 6, 1881
Oct. 11, 1925

Buried Freedom Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 25 March 2015.

The 1910 census shows Claude and Laura S. Gill living in Crittenden County. They had been married 12 years.  The 1920 Crittenden County census shows them still in that county and gives the further information that Claude's father was born in Virginia and his mother in Kentucky. This contradicts the information given on the 1880 census  of Hardin County, Illinois, which shows Claude living with his parents, James G. Gill and Mary Gill, both born in Kentucky.  Claude and his sister, Maude, were both born in Illinois.  Claude A. Gill died in Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana 5 January 1927.

Published 6 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Margaret Jennings Brayfield 1847 - 1937

Margaret Jennings
Dec. 29, 1847
Jan. 28, 1937

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 2 October 2010.

People are usually buried in a particular location because they have a connection to that place, but sometimes it was simply convenient.

At first glance, it appeared the burial of Margaret Jennings Brayfield in Smithland was going to be a puzzle, but a little research  showed her connection to that cemetery.  

According to various census records, she was born in Tennessee, her father in North Carolina and her mother in South Carolina.  Margaret married John S. Brayfield in McCracken County, Kentucky 22 February 1876.[1] She lived in Paducah, was 27 years old and this was her first marriage.  John S. Brayfield  lived in Evansville, Indiana, was 32 years of age and this was also his first marriage.

By 1880, the couple was living in Evansville with the family of William Jennings (age 78, born North Carolina) and Sarah Jennings (age 70, born South Carolina).  John Brayfield's occupation was listed as a printer on the 1880 census.

On the 1910 Vanderburgh County, Indiana census, John and Margaret Brayfield were living on Lincoln Avenue in Evansville and John was a newspaper reporter.  Their living situation changed by 1920, when they are shown as inmates of the Indiana State Soldiers Home in Tippecanoe County. This facility was established by the work of the Grand Army of the Republic (Union Army veterans of the Civil War) and had opened 1 February 1896. The last time Maggie/Margaret appears on the census was in 1930 when she was an 81-year-old widow still living in the State Soldiers Home.

 Sometime after 1930, she went to Paducah, where she died 28 January 1937.  Her parents are not identified on her death certificate[2]  and the informant was Marvin Scyster, age 41 and a real estate agent. He lived in Paducah, but the 1910 census shows him living with his parents, George D. and Maggie Scyster in Smithland.   So what connection did Marvin Scyster have to Maggie/Margaret Jennings Brayfield?

The 1860 Livingston County census shows W.J. Jennings, age 58, and Sarah J. Jennings, age 53, running a boarding house in Smithland. In their household were Joshua A. Jennings, age 25, and Margaret J., age 11 - probably their children. A salesman, Amon Price, also lived with them.  This has to be the right  Jennings family.

Now we know the Scyster and Jennings families both lived in Smithland at one time. Was that the only connection?  No, it wasn't. The answer is found in a deed[3] whereby a dispute was being settled between James Ellis, son of John Ellis, and W.J. Jennings.  In dispute were several slaves Jennings had given to his daughter, Sarah L.A. Ellis, the wife of James Ellis, before Sarah died.  One more thing - Marvin Scyster's full name was Marvin Ellis Scyster. His mother was Margaret M. Ellis, daughter of James Ellis and Sarah A.L. Jennings. James Ellis and Sarah A.L. Jennings were Marvin's grandparents and his grandmother was a sister to Margaret Jennings Brayfield.  

And that is how Margaret Jennings Brayfield was connected to Marvin Ellis Scyster and this is another reason why I love deeds.

[1] Kentucky, Marriage Records, 1852-1914, McCracken County,, accessed 18 August 2016.

[2] Kentucky Death Certificate #5428 (1937),, accessed 18 August 2016.
[3] Livingston County Deed Book 5:82, dated 3 October 1861.

Published 1 December 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,