Thursday, August 31, 2017

Smithland News 1867

At a time when there were few small-town newspapers in Kentucky, local news  was often reported in newspapers in nearby larger cities. For example, you will find news of Livingston County towns reported in the newspapers of Paducah and Louisville so it is wise to check beyond the county lines to find these jewels of information.

On Wednesday, the 14th of August 1867, the death of a Smithland resident was reported in the Louisville, Courier-Journal.  "We are pained to learn of the death of Dr. David Saunders, of Smithland, Ky., one of the oldest and most respectable citizens of Livingston county. He died on Sunday night, the 4th inst.

The following Smithland news items appeared in the Louisville Daily Courier in Louisville, Kentucky on Thursday, 22 August 1867.

Kentucky Items
Smithland Improvement - In spite of the depressing influence of the sand bar which so seriously impairs the navigation of the Ohio at Smithland, the people of that city are "game to the last," and continue to build and improve their pleasant little city.

Mr. A.A. Gratiot [Grayot], the postmaster of Smithland, is building a two story residence, which will be quite an ornament to the place. [1]

Thomas David [Davis], Esq. is making rapid progress with the erection of his new business house on Main street. It will be finished in a few weeks, and will reflect credit upon his taste and public spirit.

Mr. Blount Hodge has been making extensive repairs upon the old Smithland Hotel, and when finished it will be one of the best, most convenient, and most comfortable hotels in lower Kentucky. [Paducah Herald]

An old gentleman by the name of Jesse Thompson, a dealer in fruits, etc, living near Smithland, in Livingston county, had his leg broken on Wednesday last. His horse ran away with his wagon, and he was thrown out, breaking his leg between the ankle and knee. He is quite aged, and his hurt will probably endanger his life.

A little son of Mr. Shull, the Smithland ferryman, had four fingers of his hand cut off by a circular saw on Tuesday last.

Grayot (Dunn) House
1867 - 2009
Smithland, Kentucky

[1] The Grayot home stood next to the old courthouse. Later known as the Dunn home, the house was demolished 1 July 2009  and the new County Office Building was built at that location.

Published 31 August 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday - John A. Sullenger

John A.
May 10, 1864
Mar. 21, 1932
All is Dark Within Our Dwelling
Lonely Are Our Hearts Today
For the One We Loved So Dearly
Has Forever  Passed Away

Buried Watson Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 8 May 2017.

According to his death certificate, John A. Sullenger was born 2 May 1864 in Crittenden County. His parents are listed as Thomas E. Sullenger and Martha Porter, both of whom were born in Crittenden County.[1]

John A. Sullenger married Miss Flora A. Belt 3 December 1891.[2] In 1920, they were living in Williamson County, Illinois with their eight children. Sullenger was a butcher.[3]

[1] Kentucky Death Certificate #8339 (1932),, accessed 25 May 2017.
[2] Brenda Joyce Jerome, Crittenden County, Kentucky Marriages 1887-1899, Vol. III, (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1993) 51.
[3] 1920 Williamson County, Illinois Census, Roll: T625_418; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 158; Image: 409, accessed 25 May 2017.

Published 29 August 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rev. Silas Woodbury - Presbyterian Minister and Teacher

In a letter written from Smithland, Kentucky on the 24th of November 1843, the Rev. A.W. Campbell stated:  "We are in the midst of a most interesting state of things. You remember I organized a Presbyterian Church in this place some time in last March. There were but 8 persons who united with it in the congregation. There was an Episcopal Church, few in number, but raised and sustained by the patience and untiring labors of its clergyman, the Rev. Mr. Ash, and a Methodist Church, revived and enlarged by the piety and zeal of the stationed minister, the Rev. Mr. Temple. From all the information I could obtain, I suppose there were not a hundred professors of religion in all the place. Since that period all the churches have increased. The Presbyterian now numbers 23 members."[1]

The Rev. Campbell went on to say that the Rev. Silas Woodbury of Michigan was willing to accept the charge of the Presbyterian Church in Smithland and had "arrived a day or two since."

Silas Woodbury was born 20 March 1798[2] in Massachusetts, educated at Middlebury College and after graduating about 1822, settled in New York City as a teacher. Later he entered Lane Seminary and was licensed to preach in 1833. He entered upon home missionary work in Michigan before moving to Smithland.[3]   A member of the Green River Presbytery reported, "The Rev. Silas Woodbury, from the State of Michigan, was received into the Presbytery."[4]

Woodbury's  stay in Smithland was of short duration, arriving in late 1843 and leaving after September 1849.  During that time, he officiated at nine weddings in Smithland after receiving a license to "perform the rites of matrimony" from the county court on 7 October 1844.[5]

In addition to his duties as a Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Woodbury continued to teach. During his tenure in Smithland, he rented the "tavern house"  and conducted a "female school " there.[6]  Located in the old Bell Tavern, it was more commonly known as the Gower House. This may have been the earliest recorded established school in Smithland.

In 1847, The Ladies Association of Smithland provided the funds for the purchase of the eastern part of lot #83 at the corner of Court and Charlotte Streets for the purpose of erecting a house of worship for the Presbyterian Church.  The Rev. Woodbury was to hold the lot until trustees of the church were chosen and then he was to transfer the lot to them.[7] 

Two  years later, lot #83 was conveyed to Peter H. Conant, Robert T. Leeper, Woolington Robinson, Thomas Leeper and Wm. Yoncom, trustees of the Presbyterian Church. No record has been found to indicate how long the Presbyterian Church was in operation in Smithland, but today lot #83 does not have a structure on it.

The Rev. Woodbury left Smithland  by the 23rd of September 1850, when he was enumerated on the Bedford County, Tennessee census. His occupation was given as "principal F. Academy." [8]

Silas Woodbury died  11 February 1873 and was buried at Willow Mount Cemetery, Shelbyville, Tennessee. [9] His will was dated 1 October 1868 and probated in April 1873. Named in the will are his wife, Sarah K., son S. Henry Woodbury and daughter Mary E. Woodbury.  [10]   Sarah King Woodbury died 15 April 1886 and was also buried at Willow Mount Cemetery.[11]

[1] "Revival in Smithland, Ky.," Christian Observer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Vol. XXII, No. 50, Friday, 15 December 1843, p. 1.
[2]  Silas Woodbury, Find A Grave Memorial #82319359,  accessed 28 July 2017.
[3] :Eminent Educators Deceased in 1873,"  The American Educational Monthly, Vol. XI, (New York: J.W. Schermerhorn & Co., 1874), 100, Google Books, accessed 2 August 2017.
[4] "The Green River Presbytery," Christian Observer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Vol. XXIII, No. 27, Friday, 5 July 1844
[5] Livingston County, Kentucky Court Order Book I:461.
[6] Letter  from Benjamin Barner of Smithland to Jehu Wells of Spartanburg Dist., South Carolina, who had inherited the Gower House from Henry Wells, dated 10 October 1844.
[7] Livingston County, Kentucky Deed Book HH:477.
[8] 1850 Bedford County, Tennessee census, Dist. 7, dwelling 42, household 42, Silas Woodbury and Mary [sic] Woodbury,, accessed 2 August 2017. No ages are given for either of them.
[9] Find A Grave Memorial #82319359, Silas Woodbury.
[10] Helen C. and Timothy R. Marsh. Bedford County, Tennessee Wills & Vital Records from Newspapers, (Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1996) 21.
[11] Find A Grave Memorial #82319506, Sarah King Woodbury, accessed 28 July 2017.

Published 24 August 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday - Georgie L. Ramage

Georgie L.
Apr. 6, 1913
Mar. 14, 1943

Zula L.
Oct. 14, 1910
Gone But Not Forgotten

Buried Alsobrook Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 2016.

According to his death certificate,  Georgie Leon Ramage was the son of Aaron Elva Ramage and Minnie Hardin, both of whom were born in Kentucky. His wife was listed as Zula Love Ramage.[1]

Following Georgie Leon's death, Zula married Albert G. Hook on 7 October 1950.[2] Her parents are listed as Andrew Jackson Maxfield and Ora Love.

Zula Maxfield Ramage Hook died 21 January 2003 and is buried in McMurry Chapel Cemetery,  Bayou, Livingston County beside her husband, Albert G. Hook (1912 - 1989).[3]

[1] Kentucky Death Certificate #7045 of Georgie Leon Ramage,, accessed 21 June 2017.
[2]  Ohio, County Marriages, 1774-1993, Lake County, Ohio,, online database, accessed 21 June 2017.
[3] Find A Grave, Zula Hook, Memorial #125315259, accessed 21 June 2017.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Civilian Conservation Corps Program

Kay Rippelmeyer will present a program on the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky and Indiana, 1933-1942 in the Browning Gallery of Willard Library on Saturday, 26 August 2017,  from 9:30 to 11:30 am. 

The Great Depression left many families in need of assistance. One of several government-sponsored programs designed to provide a means of support was the CCC. Originally intended for unmarried, unemployed men between the ages of 18 and 25,  the men lived in camps and built roads, national and state parks.  Ms. Rippelmeyer will explain the organization, work projects, sports and educational missions. She has also prepared a list of camps in Kentucky and Indiana to share in addition to other research sources.

I am especially interested in this program as my father enrolled in the CCC shortly after finishing high school, as did many other young men of this area. 

Reservations, while not required are suggested, can be made  Here 

Published 16 August 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Letter from California 1855

When a person under the age of 21  years planned to marry, it was necessary for a parent or guardian to give consent for the license to be issued. Most of these consent notes are brief and to the point, but occasionally a consent note surpasses  "ordinary" and gives us a glimpse into the personality of the writer.  An example of this is the letter below.   On the 3rd of September 1855, Willis L.  Hobby, who was temporarily in Grass Valley, California, wrote his son, William M. Hobby of Caldwell County, Kentucky about William's intended marriage. 

"Grass Valley California   September the 3 - 1855   William M. Hobby:
Dear Sun I have Jest recived your compliments and vary unexpectedley had I thought of being addrest on A Subject of Such magnitude as yours and having but few moments to reflect I shall bee at great loss for the form of my letter however I feel willing to gratify you as fare as I can consistent with my feelings and intrest.  William you have complied with your duty as an obedient Sun to me being your Father, and I feel willing as a Father to comply with my duty to the child.  William in the first place I feel it my duty to ask you some important questions.  The first question I ask have you give your Self time for [illegible] and Sober reflection in regard to this matter; also have you taken into considderation the great responsibillity which involvs upon the head of the family and also the Solom oath that is binding through life.  William I never intend to make or brake matches and if you think you had rather ingay A retyard life exersise your one free will and if you do well it will bee well for you and if not dont reflect on me. William let the result bee as it may  I hope you will Stay with my children till I return  I will start home the 15 of November next if I live and able to travel.  William Studdy your intrest and act in accordance is all that I can say at present  I will do no more  I remain your  Father     Willis L. Hobby"[1]

William M. Hobby and his bride, Lucinda Crow, were married  the 8th of November 1855[2] and Willis L. Hobby did return to Caldwell County, but probably not in time for his son's wedding.   

Keep in mind that gold was discovered in California in 1848 and many men left their families behind to travel by sea or overland to California in hopes of making their fortune. The 1850 Nevada County, California shows a number of men living in Grass Valley who listed their occupation as "miner."   Apparently, Willis L. Hobby did not find a fortune as he was back in Caldwell County in time to be enumerated on the 1860 census.[3]

[1] Letter from Willis L. Hobby, Grass Valley, California, to his son, William M. Hobby, Caldwell County, Kentucky, filed with original marriage records (1855), Caldwell County Clerk's Office, Princeton, Kentucky.
[2] Brenda Joyce Jerome. Caldwell County, Kentucky Marriages 1854-1865, (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1997) 11.
[3] 1860 Caldwell County, Kentucky Census, Farmersville Subdivision, page 133, dwelling #990, family #990, family of W.L. Hobby,, accessed 29 July 2017.

Published 10 August 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday - William B. and Maggie Davidson

William B.
Apr. 2, 1878
Sep. 17, 1944
At Rest

Maggie L.
Wife of W.B.
Sep. 6, 1880
Feb. 8, 1917
Life, Love and Truth

Buried Union Church Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstones photographed 2012.

William Buckner Davidson was born in Kentucky and was the son of Arch Davidson and Lucy Franklin, both of whom were born in Kentucky.[1] William B. Davidson married Maggie, his first wife, about 1903.[2]

Following the death of Maggie, William B. Davidson married Maude Lasher, who is buried at Hampton Cemetery, Livingston County.

[1] Kentucky Death Certificate #20080 (1944) for William Buckner Davidson,, accessed 2 Mar 2017.  His burial place is given as "Old Union Cemetery."
[2] 1910 Livingston County, Kentucky Census, Dist. 7, E.D. 0108,, accessed 2 Mar 2017 shows the first child, Truman, age 6, indicating he was born about 1904.

Published 8 August 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Where's Frank?

There is a bit of a mystery surrounding the husband of Mary Elizabeth Watkins and the father of her son, Fountain. Mary Elizabeth's tombstone in Smithland Cemetery states she was the wife of Frank Nickels and the same name is listed as the father of Fountain Nickels on his tombstone.  

Mary Elizabeth Watkins
Wife of Frank Nickels
Dec. 24, 1845
Oct. 24, 1924

Son of
Frank & Mary E.
Jan. 4, 1866
Mar. 26, 1870

In 1860 Mary E. Watkins is found in the Lyon County, Kentucky household of her father, Washington Watkins[1], but her death certificate identifies her father as Thomas Watkins.[2] In 1870, following the birth and death of her son, Fountain Nickels, Mary E. was living in the household of her brother-in-law and sister, John W. and Sarah (Watkins) Bush in Smithland, Kentucky. Her occupation was given as domestic servant. [3]

The date and location of the marriage of Frank Nickels and Mary E. Watkins are unknown. A search of the marriage records in Lyon, Caldwell, Livingston and Crittenden Counties does not show such a marriage. Was Frank Nickels  part of one of the numerous Nickels  families in the Caldwell and Lyon Counties area or was he from outside the immediate area?

Born at a time when women did not work outside their home, Mary Elizabeth continued to live with the  Bush family in Smithland for many years. She died at the home of her niece and nephew-in-law, Corrie (Bush) and Charles C. Grassham at 105 Fountain Avenue in Paducah in 1924.

[1] 1860 Lyon County, Kentucky Census, Population Schedule, database on-line, page 703,, accessed 26 May 2017.
[2] Kentucky Death Certificate #23389,, accessed 26 May 2017.
[3] 1870 Smithland, Livingston County, Kentucky, Population Schedule, database on-line, page  ,, accessed 26 May 2017.

Published 3 August 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book Sale!

I am weeding out genealogy books from my personal library in order to have room for new books. Take a look and to see if there is anything you like, then email me to make sure it is still available.

Genealogy Books For Sale

Published 2 August 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday - W.B. Sullenger

W.B. Sullenger
Sept. 9, 1854
Dec. 21, 1934

Buried Watson Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 8 May 2017.

According to Kentucky Death Certificate #598 (delayed), Wilson Berry Sullenger was the son of Thomas E. Sullenger and Martha Elizabeth Porter, both of whom were born in Kentucky.

W.B. Sullenger married (1) Miss Sarah White 29 November 1876 in Crittenden County[1] and (2) Miss Sallie Settles 3 February 1885.[2]

[1] Brenda Joyce Jerome, Crittenden County, Kentucky Marriage Records Vol. II 1866-1886, (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1991), 82.
[2] Ibid, 154.

Published 1 August 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,