Thursday, October 31, 2019

Bastardy Case and Name Change

On the 18th day of September 1827 Eliza Bruff made oath before a Justice of the Peace in Livingston County, Kentucky, that she had been delivered of a female bastard child on September 14th,  1826 at the home of Hazle Leorns. [1]  She charged that Allen Hodge, labourer of the same county, had gotten her with child.[2]

In discharge of the warrant and, with William Pippin as his security, Hodge made arrangements for the support and maintenance of the child. Hodge agreed to pay notes of $25 yearly in 1829, 1830 and 1831 and also paid in hand to Eliza $29 and a note for $25 in 1828. The money was to be paid upon the condition that Eliza would agreed that the prosecution for bastardy would be dropped and would do everything within her power to have same dismissed. If she did so and the child lived, Hodge would pay the sums of money. If this did not happen, the notes would be void.  Each party agreed to keep the agreement.

The details of this agreement are not mentioned when it was recorded in the county court minutes. It stated only "by written agreement of the parties filed here in Open Court, same is ordered to be dismissed." [3]

Allen Hodge died before 8 November 1836 when Joseph Watts was appointed guardian to Julia Allen  Hodge, "heir of Allen Hodge, dec'd."[4]  

Eliza Bruff, who had charged  Hodge with fathering her child, was deceased by 6 Dec 1841 when "Cassander Bruff, heir and infant  of Eliza Bruff dec'd, being over 14 years of age appeared in Open Court and made choice of Jeremiah Crammer as for [sic] her guardian. " [5]  If Cassander was over age 14, she was born before 1827. Remember Eliza's child by Allen Hodge was born in September 1826.

Cassander/Cassandra  took the Hodge name as when she married Jeremiah Crammer just three days after Jeremiah was appointed her guardian, she gave her name as Cassandra Hodge.[6] No further record of Jeremiah and Cassander/Cassandra Crammer has been found, but the Hodge name continues in Livingston County today.

Jeremiah Crammer chosen guardian of Cassander Bruff
6 December 1841

Return of Marriage of Jeremiah Crammer and Cassandra Hodge
9 December 1841

Click on above documents for an enlarged view

[1] This surname is all but illegible. It could be Corn.
[2] Livingston County Clerk's Loose Papers (1827), Livingston County Clerk's Office, Smithland, Kentucky. Warrant served on Allen Hodge 19 Sep 1827.
[3] Livingston County Order Book G, p. 276,  1 Oct 1827.
[4] Livingston County Order Book I, p. 35, 8 Nov 1836.
[5] Livingston County Order Book I, p. 360,  6 Dec 1841.
[6] Kentucky, County Marriage Records, 1783-1965, Jeremiah Crammer married Cassandra Hodge 9 Dec 1841 Livingston County, Kentucky.

Published 31 Oct 2019, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, October 24, 2019

J.E. and Nancy Wilson of Smithland, Kentucky

J.E. Wilson
Born Octr 22
Died March 18th
Unveil thy bosom faithful lamp
Take this new treasure to thy trust
And Give these sacred relics room
To slumber in the silent dust

Consort of
J.E. Wilson
Born Jany 1st
Died April 16th
We laid beneath the grave's cold sod
Thy frame so lately ached with pain
But soon the joyful trump of God
Shall call it back to life again

Buried Smithland Cemetery, Livingston County, Kentucky. Tombstones photographed 30 August 2018.

The above J.E. [John E.] Wilson has often been confused with my ancestor, also named John E. Wilson, who lived on Crooked Creek in what is now Crittenden County. Until 1842, when Crittenden County was created from Livingston County, both men lived in Livingston County and both were married to women named Nancy. However, there are many differences between them. My ancestor lived in the part of Livingston County that is now Crittenden County and died 1853 in Crittenden County. The other John E. Wilson lived in Smithland and is buried in Smithland Cemetery.

J.E. Wilson, who is buried in Smithland Cemetery, shows up in Livingston County by 18 March 1830 when he married Nancy Hagey, daughter of John and Catherine Hagey.[1]

John E. Wilson obtained a license to keep a tavern at his house in Smithland for one year in July 1831[2] and, in 1836, he was granted a license for a tavern on Lot #7 at the corner of Mill and Front Streets, along the river front in Smithland.[3] There is no indication that Wilson's taverns were in the same location.

Wilson was also active in the community and was a Smithland town trustee in 1841 when a parcel of land was conveyed by Benjamin and Sterling M. Barner to the Smithland town trustees.[4]
John E. Wilson wrote his last will and testament 23 March 1850.[5] In  his will, he left one-third of his estate to his wife, Nancy, and, at Nancy's death, it was to go to his daughter, Ann Elizabeth Wilson. John E.'s brother, Henley, was appointed executor of the estate.

Note the date of death and compare it with the death date on his tombstone. Obviously, one of these dates is incorrect, but which one?  A check of the yearly tax lists shows that Wilson appears on the 1848 and 1849 tax lists, but, in 1850, Henley Wilson, Executor of J.E. Wilson dec'd, is listed with one town lot worth $5000.[6]  So, it is obvious John E. Wilson died 1849-1850 and that is as close as we may get to his actual death date.  It is of interest, too, that Nancy Wilson's death date is given as just one month after her husband's. Did they die of the same disease?

There are some unanswered questions about this couple. More research is definitely needed.

[1] Joyce M. Woodyard. Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Records, Vol. 1 (Oct 1799-July 1839), (n.p., 1992), 105. John and Catherine Hagey signed a consent note permitting their daughter, Nancy, to marry John E. Wilson.
[2] Livingston County, Kentucky Court Order Book H, p. 41, 4 July 1831.
[3] Ibid, p. 325, 4 April 1836.
[4] Livingston County, Kentucky Deed Book GG, p. 61, 19 May 1841, recorded 20 May 1841.  Benjamin and Sterling M. Barner  to William Gordon, Gideon A. Haydock, John E. Wilson, John C. McGraw and William Smith, town trustees..
[5] Livingston County, Kentucky Will Book B, p. 127, dated 23 March 1850 and recorded 1 April 1850.
[6] 1848, 1849, 1850 Livingston County, Kentucky Tax Lists. On the 1850 list Henley Wilson, Exec. of J.E. Wilson dec'd, was shown with 1 town lot worth $5000, the same as was listed for John E. Wilson in 1848 and 1849.

Published 24 Oct 2019, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Smithland Cemetery Tour Book Available Now

Walking/Driving Tour Book of Smithland Cemetery is available now for a $5.00 donation or $6.00 if mailed. A number of  tombstones in this historic cemetery are featured with photographs. The book is available at the Log Cabin research center in Smithland or at Smithland City Hall. It can be ordered, also, by mail from the Livingston County Historical and Genealogical Society at PO Box 138, Smithland, Kentucky 42081. For more information on this book, contact the Society at 270-928-4656 week days between the hours of 1-4 p.m. or  Katherine Boswell at 270-928-4495.

Published 20 Oct 2019, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Road From James Ford's Ferry 1829

When residents wanted to open a new road or change an existing road, an application was made to the county court. Three or more men were appointed to view the road and report the advantages and disadvantages to the court.  If approved, the court would issue summons to the land owners to give testimony regarding why or why not the road should be approved. If approved, the court would order the road work to be done.   These road orders are usually recorded in the county court order books and some counties also have these transactions recorded in separate road order books.  The road orders are a good way to learn the names of neighbors. Yes, the James Ford mentioned below is the same man who operated Ford's Ferry Ohio in what was then Livingston County, but would now be in Crittenden County. John E. Wilson lived on the waters of Crooked Creek and was my 4th great grandfather.

On Monday, the 2nd day of November 1829, James Ford made a motion to the Livingston County Court  that George Witherspoon, Joseph Mercer, Dempsey Jerrald, John E. Wilson and Henry Shouse, or any three of them,  be appointed to lay out and mark a way for a road  from James Ford's ferry on the Ohio River to intersect the road leading from Centreville.[1]

Ten days later, George Witherspoon, John E. Wilson and Joseph Mercer made their report on the prospective road.
                "We the undersigned after being duly sworn, commenced to view & mark out a way for a road from Jas. Fords Ferry opposite the rock & cave, on the Ohio river, which was marked as follows: viz, At or near Barker's old landing, with the old way through a military survey of land, belonging to Mr. Singleton, living in Virginia, thence through the land belonging to the heirs of Joseph Morris of the state of Mississippi, thence through John Wider's Mr. Owen's, & then intersecting the Salem road, & keeping sd. road until it passes the house of Joseph Mercer, & through land belonging to Mary Mercer, thence through the land belonging to George Witherspoon, & by  Witherspoon's house, thence through Boling Thompson's, Jas. Hillhouse's, James Thompson's of Virginia, David Elder's, John E. Wilson's & by Wilson's house, David Mcleskey's, Richard Cruce's and Robt. Woodsides, and intersecting with the road leading from Centreville to Ford's old  Ferry, where Barker's old road did formerly.  The conveniences are these:  A nearer, and we think a better way for a road from Centreville to the Salt Works, than any other.  It is, for the most part, a dry ridge way, and yet tolerably well supplied with spring & stock water.  Another is that Crooked Creek where it crosses, is fordable, when it is not where the road from Centreville to Ford's old Ferry crosses it.  Another, that there is a Waggon makers Shop on this way.  Under existing circumstances, we do not think there is any inconvenience arising from the opening of this road, either to the public or individuals.  [signed] George Witherspoon, Jno. E. Wilson, Joseph Mercer."[2]

[1] Livingston County, Kentucky Court Order Book G, p. 393.
[2] Livingston County, Kentucky Clerk's Court Misc. Papers 1829-1830-1831,  County Clerk's Office, Smithland, Kentucky.

Published 17 Oct 2019, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Caldwell County Couples Eloped to Clarksville

Through the years, various towns  became popular  for "runaway" couples to go to marry. These places were usually out of state, where the marriage laws might be different from those in Kentucky. In pre-1900, some couples from Caldwell County, Kentucky went to Clarksville, Montgomery County, Tennessee to "tie the knot." The following marriage notices were abstracted from various area newspapers.

Married - At the Southern Hotel on Wed. morning, 9th inst., by Rev. A.D. Sears, Mr. J.C. Pace and Miss S.C. Ballard, all of Caldwell County, Ky.   Also at the Southern Hotel on Wed., morning, the 9th inst., by Rev. A.D. Sears, Mr. J.L. Ballard and Miss J.L. Blakley, both of Caldwell County. [Clarksville Weekly Chronicle, Sat., 12 Oct 1878, p. 3]

Squire Caldwell was called to the Northington House this morning to marry an eloping couple from near Blue Spring Church, in Caldwell County, Kentucky. The Squire performed the ceremony with all the dignity of a Reverend, and made James l. Merrick and Miss Emma Merrick man and wife, they being attended by Miss Julia Sanders and C.L. Armstrong.  [Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, Wed., 12 Dec 1888, p. 4]

W.J. East and Miss Bettie Towery, of Caldwell County, Ky were united in marriage at the Northington Hotel by Esq. Z. Smith. This was a runaway couple, who selected this place to have their vows consummated. [The Nashville Tennessean, Sat., 10 Oct 1891, p. 4]

Mr. Fred Heppel Jr. and Miss Birch Cummins, of Caldwell County, Ky, were married in the parlor of the Arlington Hotel this morning, Z. Smith, Esq. officiating. The party was accompanied by the young lady's brother. [Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle Weekly, Fri., 12 Feb 1892, p. 5]

J.R. Chandler and Miss M.A. Farmer, accompanied by two young friends, eloped  from their homes in Caldwell County, Ky to this city [Clarksville] on horseback. They were married in one of the corridors of the courthouse today by Squire Z. Smith. They will return by the overland route and when they reach their destination will have ridden about 100 miles horseback in order to outwit their parents, as they were both under age required by the laws of Kentucky to marry. [Cincinnati Enquirer, Sun., 31 May 1896, p. 25]

Albert Pugh and Miss Maud Johnson eloped from Caldwell County, Ky and were married in this city [Clarksville] this morning at 7:30 o'clock. They drove in a hack overland all night to outwit their parents. [Nashville Tennessean, Thur., 8 Oct 1896, p. 3]

Published 10 Oct 2019, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Finding My Roots in the Unusual Families of the Holland Brothers in Early Caldwell County, Kentucky

Growing up in the industrial Midwest in the 1970’s so many of my friends could say they were of a  particular European ancestry. They knew that because their names were Cavatelli or Waznitski and their grandmothers made the best marinara or pierogis. My name is Holland and both of my grandmothers cooked “down home.” When my friends asked me what my European ethnicity was I answered boldly, “Kentucky!” and we all laughed. More recently, a few years after losing both my aged parents I became interested in where they came from—where I came from. Without any knowledge of genealogical research, I got online for some do-it-yourself, instant genealogy as is the current craze. Thus began the adventure.

Once I got online I found that despite some wild speculation here and there, most of my lines were fairly  well-documented for several generations with only a very few recent dead-ends. Of course the worst dead-end was the one from which I get my name, Holland.
I knew that I descended from Archibald E. Holland of Caldwell County, that he was born around 1835 and that he married Caroline Cash but I couldn’t get past him to his parents. I couldn’t find any record indicating who they were. After many months of searching I finally found this in the Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 1849, on Google Books,

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, That the names of William Johnston, Francis M. Washburn and Archibald E. Dobbins, infant children, of Caldwell county, be and they are hereby changed to William Holland, Frances M. Holland and Archibald E. Holland, they having been heretofore legitimated and made capable of inheriting from John Holland.
Approved February 13, 1849”

I was elated for now I knew that benevolent John Holland had obviously adopted three orphans and he changed their names to his, one of them was my ancestor Archibald. At least that was my thinking until I found this from the previous year concerning John Holland’s brother James,

“AN ACT for the benefit of the children of James Holland, of Caldwell county.
[in left margin]  Legitimating children 

Whereas, it is represented to the present General Assembly, that James Holland, of Caldwell county, has had five illegitimate children by a woman named Walston, living in said county, and that he is desirous to adopt and legitimate the same. Therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, That Lawson Walston, Angelina Walston, John Walston, Alexander Walston and William Walston, shall assume, and be called by the names of Lawson Holland, Angelina Holland, John Holland, Alexander Holland and William Holland, that being the name of their father; and that they, and each of them, are hereby made the legitimate children of the said James Holland, their father, in the same manner as if they had been born in lawful wedlock.

Approved February 26, 1848”

The language in this Act on behalf of the children of James Holland made it very clear, these were not adoptions. It made me take a second look at the Act regarding my Archibald. Although its wording is much more brief, upon second glance the words “heretofore legitimated” now stood out. Now I knew that my ancestor Archibald E. Holland was born as Archibald E. Dobbins, the illegitimate son of John Holland and an unknown Ms. Dobbins.

On the one hand it was great that I had made these discoveries but on the other I was shocked and in disbelief. I had read on this very blog that “research long enough and you are bound to run into an illegitimate child in your family,” but these two Holland brothers were not the norm, they were a scandal. This looked more like Paducah than Princeton. Over a 17-year period, James Holland had five illegitimate children with one Ms. Penelope Walston. Over a ten year period, his brother John Holland had three illegitimate sons, each by a different mother. I thought such behavior by two brothers in early 19th century Caldwell County would have resulted in their being run out of town on a rail or at least forced into shotgun marriages.

Yet there is no known record indicating that either Holland brother ever married or lived with the mothers of these children. Furthermore, to my surprise, there is no indication that any of these people were treated as pariahs. John & James Holland lived-out their lives in Caldwell County. James Holland never did marry Penelope but in 1856 he married someone else. Single-mother Penelope Walston was present in both the 1840 & 1850 censuses. Their children grew up and took spouses. Over time a few of the Walston/Hollands moved away into Illinois but some stayed put.  My Archibald’s father, John Holland, was a lifelong bachelor, at 73 years old in the 1880 census he wasn’t listed as divorced or widowed but as still “single.” His son Archibald married Caroline Cash and they raised a family. Both of his other sons, Francis Marion Washburn/Holland & William Johnston/Holland, also married.

But my search was not complete. Now that I had found the father of Archibald E. Dobbins/Holland, I still  needed to find his mother, “Ms. Dobbins.” In the 1840 census of Caldwell County there was a head-of-household named Catharine Dobbyns, alone but for one, male child, 5 thru 9 years old. This was promising but how could I know for sure that this male child, indicated by only a tally-mark, was my Archibald? Since those older censuses don’t name every member of the household they normally aren’t very helpful but this record was extraordinary.

When I first saw it I literally jumped to my feet. The immediate next door neighbor of Catharine Dobbyns on one side was head-of-household Penelope Walston and her five children. But that wasn’t all. On Catharine’s other side lived an Elizabeth Woods. I still don’t know much about her but I do know that she had Holland associations. Specifically, 20 years later in 1860 she lived in the household of Archibald’s father and lifelong bachelor, John Holland. Very curious. And as if all that wasn’t too coincidental, the name directly below these three women in 1840 was a young Wm. Gore. He was John Holland’s nephew and his full name was William Holland Gore. Because of these neighbors with known Holland associations I am certain that Catharine Dobbyns was my Archibald’s mother and that the tally-mark was Archibald.

                                [close-up, 1840 US Census, Caldwell County, KY, p. 44] Click on census
                                              for an enlarged view.

During my research I was able to go 2 generations beyond Archibald E. Holland, my original dead-end. I had come up with a family that looks like this:

1.1 WM. HOLLAND b. 1774 SC, d. 1843, m. Mrs. Elizabeth Holland (unk. maiden name), b. 1782,  VA.
         2.1 Elizabeth Mary Holland, b. 1800, KY, m. Mastin Gore, Sr.
         2.2 James Holland, b. 1804, KY, children with Ms. Penelope Walston, m. 
                Mrs. Mahala (Gray)  Fox
         2.3 JOHN HOLLAND, b. 1806, KY, with Ms. Catherine Dobbins
                  3.1 ARCHIBALD E. DOBBINS/HOLLAND, m. Caroline Cash

I had only a few bits of evidence holding this family structure together but that too would soon change. After my discoveries I contacted a distant cousin I had never known but had only recently met online to tell him the news. I learned that both he and others had been stopped at Archibald for a long time. Fortunately, he shared with me some old letters he had from the late Mrs. Madge (Whitford) Holland of Princeton and the late Scarlett Gale McDonald of Eddyville. Those two had frequent access to records in the local courthouse and had written about some of their finds. In their old correspondence they described records that substantiate my family as shown above. Things like “William died in 1843…land divided up between wife Elizabeth and sons, James & John” and that “James deeded his land back to his mother for 1.00 for her life.” That daughter Elizabeth [Holland] Gore died and her children’s guardianship documents “signed in 1843” included the signatures of her “brothers James and John Holland.” I am indebted to both of these early Holland researchers for their work.

What I found might disturb some of my “cousins” and it will get some tongues wagging. I’m not  ashamed of it and I’m obviously not hiding it.  After all, it is part of the public record. However, I’m still unsure of exactly what I’ve uncovered. I can speculate but I am left with many questions. I would especially like to learn more about the mothers, how their lives played-out and what became of them. Whatever the full meaning of these records actually was, it seems that the lives led by my ancestors and relatives were tolerated within the community.   

David Holland
Akron, OH

Anyone with questions or with knowledge to share may contact me at 

John Holland’s Children
Acts of The General Assembly of the Commonwealth Of Kentucky: Passed at December Session, 1848.  Frankfort, KY. Publ. by A. G. HODGES & Co.—State Printers, 1849, p. 62. (Available on Google Books)

James Holland’s Children
Acts of The General Assembly of the Commonwealth Of Kentucky: Passed at December Session, 1847.  Frankfort, KY. Publ. by A. G. HODGES & Co.—State Printers, 1848, p. 304. (Available on Google Books)

Quote from:
Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, “Livingston County Bastardy Case 1812,” Jan. 2, 2008.

Published 3 Oct 2019, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday - Claud and Linnie Guess

Claud M. Guess
Dec. 25, 1882
July 15, 1943

Linnie Nunn Guess
Feb. 2, 1882
Dec. 6, 1951

Buried Repton Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky. Tombstone photographed 6 June 2014.

Claud M. Guess registered for the military draft for World War I on 12 September 1918. At that time he listed his occupation as blacksmith. His nearest relative was his wife, Linnie, who lived at R. #1, Marion, Crittenden County. His physical description was as follows:  short, stout, gray eyes and light colored hair.[1]

The 1940 census shows Claud and Linnie Guess, plus two children, living in Shady Grove on Hwy Ky 120.[2]

According to his death certificate, Claud Malcomb Guess was born in Crittenden County to Fielding Guess and Rebecca Brantley, both of whom were also born in Crittenden County. His occupation was listed as a plumber.[3]

The death date of Linnie Guess is given as 5 December 1951 on her death certificate. She was a teacher in county schools. Her parents were William Ira Nunn and Mary A. Thurmond.[4] 

[1] U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Claud M. Guess,
[2] 1940 Crittenden County, Kentucky census, Roll m-t0627-01297, p. 9B, E.D. 285, Claud M. Guess family,
[3] Kentucky Death Record #15063 (1943), Claud Malcomb Guess,
[4] Kentucky Death Record #51-24206 (1951), Linnie Guess,

Published 1 Oct 2019, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,