Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tombstone Tuesday - J.W. Mills

J.W. Mills
born in
Bainbridge, NY
Dec. 27, 1819
Died in
Smithland, Ky
Dec. 26, 1865

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 10 August 2017.

James W. Mills married Miss Julia Ann Katz 11 November 1840.[1] They are found on the 1850 and 1860 Livingston County census records. J.W. Mills was listed as a merchant in 1860.[2] Following the death of J.W. Mills in 1865, his widow, Julia, and children moved to Paducah, where they were enumerated on the 1870 census.[3]

Julia Ann (Katz) Mills died in Memphis in 1882 and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Paducah. [4]

[1] Joyce McCandless Woodyard. Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Records Including Marriages of Freedmen Vol. II (Aug 1839-Dec 1871), (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1994) 11.
[2] 1860 Livingston County, KY census, Roll M653_382, p. 275, Ancestry.com.
[3] 1870 McCracken County, KY census, Paducah, Roll M593_487, p. 182B, Ancestry.com.
[4] Find A Grave Memorial #84224462, Julia Ann Mills.

Published 31 July 2018, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Story of William and Martha Rebecca Lewis

About 1839 William Lewis and Martha Rebecca Vaughn pledged their love for each other "for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health."  Like many promises, this one was broken. Their marriage likely started out all right, but perhaps too many children and the  hardships of life  wore them down.

They had lived in Bedford County, Tennessee since the time of their marriage about 1839. About 1853 they moved to Crittenden County, Kentucky.  In January of 1854, William and Martha bought 100 acres of land on the waters of Claylick Creek and set about rearing their growing family, which consisted of John, James, Richard, William, Rebecca Jane and Herod, all of whom were born in Tennessee, and Mary E. "Lennie" and Sarah C., who were born in Kentucky.[1]  Lennie was my great-great-grandmother.

Life was no easier for the Lewis family in Crittenden County.  John, the oldest Lewis son, was mustered into Co. E, 48th IL Infantry on the 14th of September 1861 and died at Shiloh in Tennessee on the 5th of April 1862.[2] His brother, James, also enlisted in Co. E., 48th IL Infantry. So, two sons were off fighting in the war. William had already mortgaged his land and crops and a judgment had been placed against him for non-payment.[3]  He was not in good shape financially and add the worry over the loss of his oldest son to that burden. Perhaps it was too much for him. He abandoned his wife and children in 1863[4] and left Kentucky.

The 1870 Posey County, Indiana census shows William Lewis, age 52 and born in Tennessee, as head of household. Other family members were Charlot [sic] B. Lewis, age 29 and also born Tennessee; Charlie Lewis, age 6 and born Indiana; America Lewis, age 2 born Indiana and Florence A. Belt, age 11 and born Kentucky.[5]

Charlot Lewis was born Charlotte Green in Rutherford County, Tennessee and married John Summers Belt 28 July 1854 Crittenden County.[6]  Two children, Florence and Sarah E. were born to this union, but only Florence survived infancy.  The couple divorced in 1859[7] and Charlotte and her daughter Florence were living with the Isaac F. Sisco family in 1860.[8] Charlotte was listed as Charlotte Green.  The next time we find William Lewis and Charlotte is when they were living as a family in Posey County in 1870.

While William was living in Posey County, his wife, Martha Rebecca, was dealing with her own hardships in Crittenden County. The second oldest son, James Lewis, was home on leave from the army in 1864 and while on the street in Marion, he was shot and killed by a bushwhacker or ex-confederate soldier simply because he was a "yanky soldier." [9] Martha Rebecca had depended on James for support of the family after William Lewis abandoned the family. In 1873, she listed her only property as one horse and 10 acres of land, which was later sold. [10] She applied for a mother's pension based the military service and financial support of her son, James.

According to Martha Rebecca, her husband provided no support to their family after he abandoned them. She stated he died "about August 1872" at the age of 57.[11]  William's place of death and burial are unknown.  He was enumerated on the 1870  Posey County, Indiana census, but is found in no other records in that county or adjoining counties. One researcher suggested he died in Hardin County, Illinois, directly across the Ohio River from Crittenden County. A courthouse fire in 1884 destroyed almost all records, including death records, prior to that year. A search of newspaper items in the pertinent time period revealed no death information for William Lewis.  A search of census records for 1880 and later was made for Charlotte, Charlie/Charles and America Lewis or Belt or Green but nothing was found. Charlotte's daughter, Florence, later lived and died in Crittenden County. Her obituary and death record both state she was born in Indiana.  Her death record gives her parents' names as John Belt and Charlotte Green.[12] No siblings are listed among survivors on her obituary.[13] If not for the 1870 Posey County census, I would never have known Charlotte, Charlie and America ever existed.

Martha Rebecca Lewis died 14 March 1897 and is buried at Chapel Hill Cemetery in Crittenden County.

 The story of this family is not finished as there are many unanswered questions. Writing what I do know helps me see what I must find out. I would like to hear from anyone who descends from William and Martha Rebecca Lewis or William and Charlotte Green Belt. Please contact me through this blog.

[1] 1860 Crittenden County, Kentucky census, Marion, Roll M653_363, p. 301, dwelling 1, family 1, household of William Lewis, Ancestry.com.
[2] Illinois Adjutant General's Report,  http://www.archive.org.stream/reportofadjutant03illi1#page/469/mode/1up
[3] Crittenden County, Kentucky Deed Book D:405, 9 July 1856, William Lewis to James H. Maxwell; also Deed Book F:519, 26 July 1862, William Lewis to D. & R.H. Woods.
[4] Declaration for an Original Pension of a Mother, No. 299.777, Declaration of Martha Lewis, 11 December 1882.
[5] 1870 Posey County, Indiana census, Mt. Vernon, Black Twp., Roll M593_352, p. 197A,  household of William Lewis, dwelling 19, family 19, Ancestry.com.
[6] Brenda Joyce Jerome. Crittenden County, Kentucky Marriage Record, Vol. 1 1842-1865 and Abstracts of Wills  Book 1 1842-1924, (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1990) 50.
[7] John Belt vs Charlotte Belt, Divorce, Filed 28 April 1859, Crittenden County Case File #192, Kentucky Dept for Libraries and Archives.
[8] 1860 Crittenden County, Kentucky census, W. half of county, Roll M653_363, p. 353, family of Isaac F. Sisco, dwelling 371, family 371, Ancestry.com.
[9] Declaration for an Original Pension of a Mother, No. 299.777 of Martha Lewis, mother of James Lewis, testimony of H.C. Hill, 11 December 1886.
[10] Declaration for an Original Pension of a Mother, No. 299.777, Schedule of Property 1866 - 1873, by D. Woods, Clerk of Crittenden County Court.
[11] Declaration for an Original Pension of a Mother, No. 299.777, Declaration of Martha Lewis, 11 December 1882.
[12] Kentucky Death Certificate #9494, Florence Bell Asher, died 8 March 1941 Crittenden County, Ancestry.com.
[13] "Mrs. F.B. Asher Buried at Dunn Springs," obituary of Mrs. Florence Belle Asher, Crittenden Press 14 March 1941.

Published 26 July 2018, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,  http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Spotlight on: Oakley Croft

Oakley Croft
Jan. 6, 1928
Aug. 28, 1966

Buried Salem Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 9 May 2018. Note the Masonic emblem at the top of the tombstone.

Oakley's full name was Enoch Jerry Oakley Croft. He was the son of Herman R. Croft and Nettie C. Vaughn and was a lifelong resident of Salem. He worked with his father in the Salem Feed Mill.

A graduate of Salem High School, he was only 38 years old at the time of his death.

He was my mother's younger brother.

Published 24 July 2018, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 19, 2018

George and Nancy Ashby Family - Caldwell County, Kentucky

When Stephen Ashby wrote his will [1] in 1828 in Caldwell County, Kentucky, he stated he wanted his slaves George and Nancy to be free.  George and Nancy took the surname of their former owner and they, along with their four children, George, Sabra, Henry and Sandford Ashby, appear on the 1850 Caldwell County census.[2]

Another record surfaced which adds more information about this family.[3] At a meeting of the county court at the court house in Princeton, on the 9th of January 1857, the following is recorded:  "This day John Ashby appeared in open Court and made oath the following children of George Ashby and Nancy Ashby, who have [been] emancipated by the last will and testament of Stephen Ashby Deceased, now of record in this office, in Will Book A, page 433 and dated 9th March 1828, have been born since the manumission of the sd. George and Nancy, said children and grand children, are of the following ages and description,  Viz :   
George about 24 years of age, dark complexion, about 6 feet 2 inches high

Henry about 20 years of age, yellow complexion, about 5 feet 10 or 11 inches high

Sandford about 17 years of age, dark complexion, about 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high

Sabra about 2 years of age, bright complexion, about 5 feet 5 inches high,  her two children, Nancy Katharine, about 2 years old, of bright complexion. And Mary Magdalene, born August 23rd 1856, all of whom being born of  free parents, are hereby declared free, which is ordered to be certified to all whom it may concern.

[1] Caldwell County, Kentucky Will Book A:433, Stephen Ashby, dated 9 March 1828; proven 17 January 1831.
[2] 1850 Caldwell County, Kentucky census, Dist. 2, Roll M432_194, p. 360A, George and Nancy Ashby, dwelling 279, family 279,  Ancestry.com.
[3] Caldwell County, Kentucky County Court Order Book H:484,  9 January 1857.

Published 19 July 2018, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Susie Elizabeth Ramage 1856 - 1925

Wife of
Apr. 8, 1856
Mar. 12, 1925
68 Yrs  11ms
4 dys.

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Smithland, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 24 November 2011.

Susan Elizabeth Dunlap was born 8 April 1856 Livingston County to Robert A. Dunlap and Mary Ann Compton.[1]  Susan E. Dunlap married Andrew J. Ramage  3 September 1873 in Livingston County. Consent for the license to be issued was given by the bride's guardian, George G. Rappolee.[2]

Susan E. and A.J. Ramage had the following children: Hallie[3], Nettie,[4] Fannie[5] and Isadore Ramage[6].

Andrew J. Ramage died 29 October 1891[7] and, on 2 May 1894, Mrs. S.E. Ramage married S.O. Lackey in Livingston County.[8]

[1] Kentucky Birth Records 1847-1911, Livingston County, Ancestry.com.
[2] Livingston County, KY Bond Book, pp 99-100; also Marriage Register p. 326.
[3] Kentucky Death Certificate #20427, Hallie Ramage Neikirk, Ancestry.com.
[4] Kentucky Death Certificate #64-21230, Nettie Ramage Harper, died 21 August 1964 McCracken County, KY.
[5] 1900 Livingston County, KY Census, p. 3, E.D. 0053, Ancestry.com.
[6] California Death Index 1940-1997m Isadore Ramage, died Los Angeles 6 December 1954, Ancestry.com.
[7] Find A Grave Memorial #3742670, Andrew Jackson Ramage.
[8] Livingston County, KY Marriage Bond Book 7 (1889-1894), p. 339.

Published 17 July 2018, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Three Generations of Hodges

Mention the name Blount Hodge to a genealogist familiar with Livingston County, Kentucky records and  you will likely receive a big smile in return. That is because Blount Hodge lived life to the fullest and left a legacy of going against the norm during his lifetime (1801 - 1877). There are all sorts of stories told about Blount Hodge, but in this blog I am trying to stick to what can be proven.

Hodge was twice married. His first marriage was to Ann Eliza Phillips, daughter of Mark Phillips, in 1823.[1] Then, on 22 October 1834 he married Mrs. Elizabeth P. (Rice) Bigham, widow of Robert C. Bigham. [2] Several children were born to Blount and Elizabeth P. Hodge, including Blount Hodge Jr., who died at age 14, and James Campbell Hodge, who was a lawyer in Smithland.

Following the death of Elizabeth P. Hodge in 1864, Blount began a relationship with Almira Wynder, his African-American housekeeper, resulting in the birth of at least two daughters.  Blount wrote his last will and testament in 1874 and added a codicil to the will just two days later.[3]  To his son, James C. Hodge, he left only $5, having previously given him money and real estate. Blount stressed that his son was to have no more and expressed the belief that his son was "fixing up plans to thwart and destroy this will & I hope to God the County Court ... will scout all such subterfuges if any should be attempted."

Almira Wynder had three daughters, Lucy Wynder, Almira Hodge Jr. and Lillian St. Clair Hodge, the latter two  acknowledged by Blount as his daughters.  To Lucy Wynder he left a house and lot on Charlotte Street, a lot on Main Street and 63 acres of land. He directed his executors to sell the property and use the money from the sale in schooling Lucy. Blount left 700-800 acres of land valued at $8,000 - $10,000 plus  other property to Almira Hodge Jr. and Lillian St. Clair Hodge.

As if this will was not already unusual, Blount went on the say that "there has been an attempt to take my life with Stricnine." He said he believed he knew who did it and believed they might try to destroy his will.

Whew!  Strong words.  When I first read this will, I thought maybe he was paranoid and just thought someone was trying to poison him. Then, I came across a newspaper article published a few months before Blount Hodge died.  It stated that Blount Hodge of Smithland, "who was poisoned a short time ago we learn  is out of danger... Mr. Hodge has but one legitimate child, Mr. James Hodge, a lawyer of Smithland. For years the old gentleman has been living with a negro woman, and has a family of children by her. Not long since he made his will, leaving the large bulk of his property to the negro, and little or nothing to his son James. This woman, when she drank or pretended to drink the poison with Hodge, was instantly affected by it, and commenced screaming and declared she was poisoned, while it was nearly three hours before the poison took effect on Hodge. The woman at once charged James with poisoning her and his father and satisfied the old man of the fact."[4]

Were they poisoned or not?  I will let you decide, but I did not find a court case regarding a case of poisoning and/or a contested will. The unusual happenings did not stop with the death of Blount Hodge in 1874.  Remember he had a son, James Campbell Hodge, who was a lawyer in Smithland.

James C. Hodge was good friends with Capt. John W. Bush, a veteran of the Union Army during the Civil War and also a lawyer in Smithland.  Hodge was returning from Paducah on board the steamer, Royal, in 1906. He had just stepped ashore from the gang plank, turned to speak to his son, also named Blount Hodge, when he threw up his hands and fell  dead to the ground.  His friend, Capt. Bush, who had been ill for about two months but was on the mend, died instantly upon hearing the news of his friend's death.[5]

One more event involving the Hodge family that made the news. Blount Hodge, the son of James C. Hodge and grandson of the older Blount Hodge, was involved in a "shooting affray" in Smithland in 1905. The ingredients in this "affray" included  river pilot Blount Hodge, Dr. F.G. LaRue and LaRue's "handsome young wife."  [6]  The shooting began in front of Grayot's drug store. After the first shot, which hit the victim over the eye, Hodge ran down the street with Dr. LaRue in close pursuit. Two more shots followed, one striking in back of his ear and the other hitting his leg at the hip.   Dr. LaRue surrendered, gave up his pistol, and said, "I have shot a man down on front street who wrecked my home." The description of this "affray" brings up a really vivid picture in my mind!

Blount Hodge later served in World War II, where he piloted seagoing Navy vessels from Evansville, Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico. He settled in Seattle, Washington and died there 16 September 1950, age 71.[7]                

[1] Joyce M. Woodyard. Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Records, Vol. 1 (Oct 1799-July 1839), (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1992) 72. Marriage bond dated 9 December 1823; no marriage return.
[2] Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Records, Vol. 1, p. 133. 
[3] Livingston County, Kentucky Will Book C, p. 19, dated 13 August 1874 and codicil dated 15 August 1874.
[4]The Hickman Courier, Hickman, Kentucky, Sat., 28 February 1874, p. 3, originally published in the Paducah Kentuckian.
[5] "Lawyer Friends of Smithland Died the Same Day," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 17 November 1906, Chronicling America, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
[6] "Shooting Affray," Crittenden Press, Thurs., 16 February 1905, p. 1.
[7] "Captain Hodge, Livingston Native, Dies in Seattle," The Paducah Sun, Sunday, 17 September 1950, p. 4.

Published 12 July 2018, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tombstone Tuesday - Remicka Elizabeth Nation

Remicka Elizabeth
Dec. 4, 1864
Dec. 21, 1950

Buried Deer Creek Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 7 November 2014.

According to her death certificate, Remicka E. Nation was born 3 December 1864 in Crittenden County and lived in Tolu.  Her father was listed as Eph Nation (born Jackson County, Tennessee) and her mother's maiden name was given as Lear. 

Remicka E. Nation was single.

Published 10 July 2018, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,  http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/

Friday, July 6, 2018

Check It Out!

A wrong name on a document can cause all sorts of problems. If you accept only one record for proof of relationship, you may be  creating a brick wall for yourself. For example, if you accept the identity of Betty Gibbs' father on her death certificate, you could be wasting time searching for a man who does not exist.

James M. and Betty T. Gibbs died just two days apart in 1937 and both are buried in Pinckneyville Cemetery, near Salem, in Livingston County, Kentucky.

Betty T.
May 6, 1862 - Dec. 6, 1937

James M.
Oct. 4, 1860 - Dec. 8, 1937

On her death certificate, Frances Elizabeth (Betty) Gibbs is listed as the daughter of James Monroe and Lucinda Jones .[1] What a coincidence that Bettie's husband and her father share the same name.  That is definitely a red flag and begs to be checked out to make sure the name is correct. It didn't take long to determine her father's name was wrong.

The first record checked was a marriage record.  James M. Gibbs married Bettie Taylor in 1880 Crittenden County. [2] Going backward a few years shows the following:  Elizabeth Taylor was living in the household of Calep [sic] and Lucinda Taylor on the 1870 census.[3] Ah ha!  Lucinda is listed as Bettie's mother on Bettie's death certificate, but was Lucinda's maiden name Jones?  Yes!  Caleb W. Taylor married Miss Lucinda K. Jones in 1861 Crittenden County.[4]  So, it appears that even though the name of Bettie Gibbs' father is incorrect on her death certificate, the name of her mother is correct.  She was, in truth, the daughter Caleb Taylor and Lucinda Jones.

To provide additional proof that Bettie's maiden name was Taylor, documents of her children are helpful.  Bettie's maiden name is given as Taylor on the death certificates of two of her children, Dennis C. Gibbs in 1952[5] and Maude E. Tyner in 1915,[6] as well as the marriage record of her son, James O. Gibbs in 1927 in Detroit, Michigan.[7] 

Case closed!  Betty's maiden name was definitely Taylor and not Monroe.

[1] Kentucky Death Certificate #32172, Frances Elizabeth Gibbs, Ancestry.com, accessed 12 Dec 2017.
[2] Brenda Joyce Jerome. Crittenden County, Kentucky Marriage Records, Vol. II  1866-1886, (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1991) 119. Married at Mrs. Taylor's.
[3] 1870 Crittenden County, KY Census, Roll M593_457, p. 452A, Ancestry.com, accessed 12 Dec 2017.
[4] Brenda Joyce Jerome. Crittenden County, KY Marriage Records, Vol. I 1842-1865 and Abstracts of Wills  Book 1 1842-1924, (Evansville, IN: Evansville Bindery, 1990), 89.
[5] Kentucky Death Certificate #52 10560, Dennis C. Gibbs, Ancestry.com, accessed 12 Dec 2017.
[6] Kentucky Death Certificate #15908, Maude E. Tyner, Ancestry.com, accessed 12 Dec 2017.
[7] Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952, Marriage Certificate of James Ollie Gibbs #63 2326, Ancestry.com, accessed 12 Dec 2017.

Published 6 July 2018, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th of July!

Image courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

Published 4 July 2018, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/