26 February 2010

Richard & Elijah Adams part of Local History

Compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber

Over the past several years the Adams family has crossed my desk, involved in different venues, more than a few times.

Richard and Elijah Adams were sons of Pleasant Adams [1803-1884] who died in Carter County, Kentucky. Pleasant had a total of 16 children and many descendants. At least 14 of them were alive and able to attend his funeral along with their families.

Richard Adams [b. 3 Jan 1829 in what was then Lawrence County, KY] married Sarah Elizabeth Devore 1 July 1855 in Carter County and settled in Flatwoods, Greenup County which became Boyd County in 1860. That alone is a mouth full.

Caught in the swirl of the Civil War, trying to establish a living farming, Richard Adams became indebted to William M. Baldwin. In a petition of equity filed in Greenup County, Kentucky one Alfred Hastings had been granted a judgment against Baldwin. In order to avoid sale of Baldwin's property, the sheriff had made arrangements for a settlement. The problem was that William M. Baldwin had been within the lines of the Rebel Government "voluntarily" for some time. Thus the county turned to Adams, who was indebted to Baldwin, to meet the judgment of Hastings. No further action seems to have occurred and Richard settled into a life in Flatwoods, Boyd County.

Richard's 1/2 brother Elijah was only 13 years old [b. 26 January 1849] and still living in Carter County during the court battle. Elijah would grow up and stay in Carter County for many years. He was residing with his father, Pleasant in 1880 but we can assume that the family communicated with Richard Adams family. After Richard's wife died in 1871, he had married Margaret Crooks and the family resided in Upper Ashland.

Much as been written about the murder of the Gibbons children in Ashland, Kentucky, Christmas Eve, 1881 that would become known nationally as the Ashland Tragedy. Three men were arrested. The accused [Ellis, Neal, Craft] were transported to Maysville. On 11 January they were returned to Ashland where the Grand Jury had already been appointed. Among the 16 on the Grand Jury sat Richard Adams. The Jury sat for 5 long days before returning an indictment for conspiracy and murder on Neal and Craft. The Grand Jury was dismissed and another appointed for Ellis a week later.

The papers went wild, the residents far and wide talked and were enraged. Without a doubt the Adams family had much to talk about. Ellis was lynched. As time moved forward National Guard came from Louisville to Catlettsburg to protect Craft and Neal. There was a change of venue to Carter County which upset the people more. There was a delay and the prisoners were to be taken to Lexington for their own protection. The people were furious. The steamboat Granite State commanded by Capt. William Kirker would take the prisoners and National Guard on their journey 1 November, 1882.

A train arrived in Catlettsburg bearing two hundred men and boys from Ashland some with old shotguns and pistols. They demanded the surrender of the prisoners and were refused. The Guard dragged a cannon on board and started down river. It is said a telegram notified Ashland that the Granite State had left and would soon be passing Ashland. Citizens gathered on Front Street and along the bank of the Ohio River. Among those watching was Richard Adams.

Richard gave his testimony of what he saw that day in the 16 November 1882 Ashland Daily Newspaper:

"A number, perhaps twenty-five or thirty, went on the ferry-boat, but some ten or fifteen came back off the boat before she pushed out. the ferry-boat pushed out, but she did not go very fast. The steamer whistled. I saw no signal from the ferry-boat. I was on an elevated place and could see both boats, and was not excited. The steamer had almost passed the ferry-boat, which ran out a piece with the bow down the river. The boats were 150 to 260 yards apart. I heard two or three reports of small guns, then a volley from the steamer, which drove everything from the bow of the ferry-boat back, and for a while the smoke was so thick that I could not see the ferry-boat. The next volley fired by the military was on the people standing where Col. Reppert was killed. I got down on my knees in the ditch and as I raised up another volley was fired. I then heard some one say there was a man dead. I saw Mrs. Serey after she was wounded. I did not see Col. Reppert until after the second volley was fired. Half the balls seemed to strike the bow of the ferry-boat."
When the smoked cleared 21 had either died or were injured. Col. Lewis W. Reppert who Richard Adams spoke of was shot through the heart and died that day. He was buried in Ashland, Cemetery. Mrs. Jackson Serey was shot in the shoulder and breast and struggled with her wounds for some time.

Was Elijah Adams in Ashland when these awful events happened? He certainly had first hand information from his brother. Elijah Adams has been credited with writing what is probably the first version of a ballad, Ashland Tragedy. The ballad does not include the story of the fateful day with the Granite State. Ballad historians continue to debate who wrote what. One story says that Elijah got his story from James Hunter "a resident of Ashland." Actually I find James Hunter residing in Carter County. It is more likely that Elijah Adams got most of his information from his own brother.

At least one account states that Elijah Adams was "sometimes called Professor Adams" stating that he had taught school in his day. Census records show him as a farmer and even as a grocery store salesman but if he taught school, other than music,I have not located a record as of this writing.

Elijah Adams would become well known for yet another tragic ballad and story. In 1892 Lottie Yates was murdered in Carter County by her estranged husband Austin Porter. Yet another mob scene in Eastern Kentucky ensued and Porter was hung from a bridge. Elijah Adams wrote the Ballad of Lottie Yates. When Elijah Adams died 11 January 1916 in Mason County, West Virginia his talent for music was finally acknowledged on his death certificate with a simple entry under occupation "Music teacher."

Elijah's brother Richard lived for a little over two more years and died 8 April 1918 at Oakview in Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky.

21 February 2010

Greenville Morgan Witten Murder


Greenville Morgan Witten was born in Tazewell County, Virginia 24 July 1830 to Thomas and Mary Polly Lackey Witten. The Witten's made sure their two sons were educated. Green's younger brother enlisted in the Confederate Army and was killed in action.

Greenville M. Witten migrated to Floyd County, Kentucky where his father had done business for many years. He began his career in the mercantile industry, expanded into timber and then along with cousin Joseph Davidson purchased large land grants in Floyd and surrounding counties.

In 1854 G. M. Witten became an early commissioner of the Big Sandy Valley Railroad Company and in 1873 helped create a rail system. The rails ran from the mouth of the Big Sandy River, in Boyd County, to the property of the Great Western Mining and Manufacturing Company in Lawrence County, Kentucky [Peach Bottom] with a goal to reach the Virginia state line. The name of this enterprise was called the Chatteroi Railway Company.

Genealogists tend to list him only briefly, as he left no descendants and never married. While he had money and land he preferred to board in rooming houses and hotels. Green M. Witten was community minded, belonged to several organizations and while living in Prestonsburg had been the Second Master of the Zebulon Masonic Lodge on two different occasions prior to moving to Boyd County, Kentucky.

Money wise, Greenville Witten also became a banker along with his cousin. Having learned the banking trade in Floyd County, together, they opened the bank of Witten & Davidson in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. Witten quickly took the reins of the business settling into life in the river town. He had friends far and wide and was said to have carried large amounts of cash on his person. He quickly became involved in Catlettsburg affairs holding the office of police judge and mayor. He retired from banking in 1882 but remained a Catlettsburg resident.

From these small tidbits we can assume that Witten was a strong character. His death made many major newspapers:

"Marion, Oh. 23 March 1896. CATLETTSBURG MYSTERY. Wealthy and Prominent man disappears from home. Catlettsburg, KY. G. M. Witten, ex-mayor, ex-police judge and retired banker has been missing since March 14. The river and Catlett Creek have been dredged in vain and inquiries sent to all parts of the country, but no trace of the wealthy man can be found. He is prominently connected here and no expense is being spared to solve the mystery of his disappearance for which no cause can be learned. He had about $5,000 on his person when last seen here."

"Daily Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. 25 March 1896. It is now believed that Judge G. M. Witten, who mysteriously disappeared from his home at Catlettsburg, was murdered. The City Council has offered a reward of $50.00 for his body, dead or alive and $200.00 for his murderers in case he was killed."

"Climax, Richmond KY 26 Mar 1896. Ex-Mayor Witten still missing. Catlettsburg, KY. No clew [as spelled] has yet been brought to light as to the whereabouts of ex-Mayor G. M. Witten, who disappeared March 14. The citizens of Catlettsburg have raised $300 to be added to the $250 offered by the city council, making $550."

"Climax, Richmond, KY 1 April 1896. The Reward is Increased. Catlettsburg, Ky. Gov. Bradley passed through this city en route to Frankfort and notified Mayor Hopkins that he would offer a reward of $500.00 for the arrest and conviction of the murderer of Judge Witten. This makes a total of $1,000. offered for the arrest and conviction of the murderer. No trace has been found of the missing judge."

"New York Times 2 May 1896. The body of ex-mayor G. M. Witten of Catlettsburg, KY. was found in the river yesterday. Mr. Witten disappeared several weeks ago, and there have been rumors of foul play. He was known all over Kentucky, and was a member of several secret organizations."

"Daily Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. 2 May 1896. Found at Last. The body of Ex-Mayor Witten of Catlettsburg Recovered. The body of ex-mayor Greene M. Witten, who disappeared from Catlettsburg on the 14th of March, was found yesterday morning in the Ohio River just below that city. On his person was found- 2 $1,000 United States bonds, 2 $500. United States bonds, 4 $100 bills. And $2.65 in change, besides his gold watch and chain, rings, etc. When last seen he was trying to get change for a $100 bill and it is supposed by many that he was murdered for this and thrown into the river, his murderer being ignorant of the other large sums in his possession. One of his arms was broken and there were other evidences of injury to the body. There will be a rigid investigation."


"Daily Public Ledger, 4 May 1896. The Coroner's Jury at Catlettsburg returned a verdict declaring that the late ex-mayor Witten was killed and his body thrown into the river. The thief and murderer got about $100 and left nearly $4,000 on Witten's person."


Greenville Morgan Witten was laid to rest in Section A, Catlettsburg Cemetery, Boyd County, Kentucky.

"Newark Daily Advocate 17 May 1896. Arrested In Indian Territory. Ashland, KY., May 16. It is stated by parties in touch with the officers that Aaron Fickle, the railroad engineer wanted at Catlettsburg fo the alleged murder of ex-police judge G. M. Witten, has been located at Kreb, I. T., and will be arrested as soon as the proper steps toward securing his removal from the nation can be arranged."

Armed with this piece of information, I searched the Circuit Court Records of Boyd County, Kentucky and found no entry for Aaron Fickle until the 14 September 1896 Term where the Commonwealth vs. Aaron Fickle and ordered an alias Bench Warrant. An alias writ is usually a secondary writ issued for a cause that had been issued earlier without effect. I went back, yet found no other entries in the Boyd Circuit Court. I followed the bench warrant forward, term by term by term for 6 long years. A new alias bench warrant was issued at each term during those six years for Aaron Fickle with no returns.

Aaron Fickle had not been a resident of Boyd County, Kentucky. In 1880 he was single, residing in Indianapolis, Indiana with occupation listed as railroad engineer. Single, born in Ohio, as with most rail road workers he moved around. He was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and on at least two occasions 1883 and 1887 withdrew from one division moving to another according to journals.

Krebs, Indian Territory is located in Oklahoma and was part of the Choctaw Nation and home of the Osage Coal and Mining Company. They had a good depot and rails by the late 1880's as well as newspapers from circa 1899 according to the Library of Congress. It was considered Indian Territory from 1890-1907. The territorial Marshal should have received the bench warrant. At least 4 different US Marshal's held positions in Indian Territory, Southern District during this time frame. The bench warrant would have directed any Sheriff, coroner, jailer, constable, Marshal or policeman to arrest the person and bring him before the issuing Circuit Court in the state where the warrant was written. I have found no indication in local records that Fickle was actually returned to Catlettsburg for trial.

Aaron Fickle does not appear on the 1900 Federal Census nor the Oklahoma Territorial Census records. He was born in Ohio and may be the Aaron Fickle who resided with his family in Perry County, Ohio in 1870.












13 February 2010

Greenup County Genealogy Conference

Greenup County Genealogy Conference.
"Providing The Keys To Your Past"
March 26 & 27, 2010.
Greenbo Lake State Resort Park.

The 2010 Greenup County Genealogy Conference sounds loaded with information and fun. Greenbo Lake State Resort Park has a beautiful lodge with serene views.

Speakers include, Dr. Dennis, West, Thomas Adkins, Dr. Marshall Myers, James Powers, Pam Pauly and Candy Adkinson.

Two days, great speakers and best of all the registration fee is only $10.00 per person. And rumor has it there are welcome gifts for the first 50 to register!

Information on the agenda, biographies of speakers and the Greenup County Genealogy Society are available at their website. You are just a click away.

[Note: for Firefox users links at the site will not work suggest changing to IE]

11 February 2010

Murder, Newspapers and Lies - Elliott County, Kentucky

The Associated Press had beginnings in 1848. By 1891 newspapers got their source of news from many different outlets. Once an article was released it was repeated over and over again. In print it must be true! Integrity did not seem to be an issue. Newspapers grabbed at colorful stories and ran with them.

I first saw this article in the Climax published at Richmond in Madison County, Kentucky 27 May 1891. Later I discovered the same article "word for word" in the Williamsport, Pennsylvania Daily Republican, 23 May 1891. It appeared the same day in New York in The Sun.

"A Horrible Crime. Inhuman Conduct of Two Brothers in Kentucky Who are Swiftly Punished. By Associated Press: Louisville, May 22. A story of brutal murder, and swift vengeance ...Sandy Hook, a mountain town near Ashland, in Eastern Kentucky. Near Sandy Hook, Kentucky, Maud Fleenor died recently from being thrown by her horse, and outraged by George and John Wilcox, brothers, who had been suitors. She had promised to marry Amos Queen, who had met her while she was teaching school near Sandy Hook, and about three weeks ago started to visit a friend near where she had taught.

The Wilcoxes were passing the road she traveled saw her passing, hid in the bushes, scared her ...horse, ran away, she was thrown and both legs broken.

The Wilcoxes picked her up unconscious, revived her, drew straws as to which she should be compelled to marry, bore her to a cabin, and demanded that she agree to marry John, to whose lot she fell. She refused, and fainted. They tried to set her legs and kept her a prisoner in the cabin. When found by her brother and fiance, she said the Wilcoxes did it and died soon after. The examination showed that she had been chained to the cabin wall and also had been outraged. The Wilcoxes were captured and confessed, whereupon they were shot to death by the brother and lover. They explained in their confession that they chained the girl because she had attempted to escape. Miss Fleenor was the daughter of a prominent citizen of Richmond, Virginia, who moved to Sandy Hook, some years ago, and died there. She was only 21 years old, a church member, and a Sunday School teacher."
Yet another smaller article with a different version appeared in the Hickman Courier, Hickman, Kentucky on 5 June 1891 and repeated as far away as McCook, Nebraska the same day.

"One of the most fiendish crimes ever known in Kentucky, is reported from Sandy Hook the county seat of Elliott. A young school teacher was thrown from a horse, frightened by two Wilcox brothers, each of whom the girl had refused to marry. With a leg and arm broken she was chained to a deserted cabin, where she was kept a prisoner since the middle of April, and slowly dying was made the victim of her captors' lust. Last Tuesday a posse headed by her brother, found the girl, who died fifteen minutes later. The Wilcox brothers were captured, confessed and were promptly shot to death."
Being a researcher, I am familiar with the Wilcox surname in northeastern Kentucky. But I could not place the suggested two brothers in any given family unit in the correct time frame in Elliott or surrounding counties. George and John Wilcox appear on a list of Kentucky lynchings produced for a Kentucky genweb project giving the lynching date of 20 May 1891. The list was derived from various websites and notations.

Search as I might I could not establish a Maud Fleenor [or variant spellings as some articles also spelled the surname as Fleener] born about 1870 in Virginia who had migrated to Elliott County. Nor could I locate any Amos Queen, the right age to marry a 21 year old fiance.

Why hadn't the local available papers picked up on this? Unfortunately issues of the Big Sandy News are unavailable for this time frame. After all this was horrendous and the news had spread to other states. Why did it take 3 weeks or even more to publish that the girl was even missing?

Finally I located the repeated story in the 26 May 1891 Stanford Semi Weekly with an added little bit of so called information: "...the whole section was searching for her in vain until late week, when her brother-in-law found her in the loathsome den..."

Then on 27 July 1891 two months after the crime was said to have been committed, the Grey River Argus published the story with yet different information. Mind you this newspaper was published in New Zealand! This New Zealand paper stated that Maud Fleener was 21, "...who was on a visit here from Richmond, Virginia. Miss Fleener, who was reputed wealthy had three admirers - namely John and Henry Wilcox and Amos Queen...When Miss Fleener started to visit her friends she weighed 9st 8lb. when found she weighed only 5st 5lb...the post-mortem examination showed she had been subjected to extraordinary violence...when apprehended [Wilcox'] ...made the following confession in writing...asked 'What are you going to do with us?' In reply Amos Queen stepped forward and raising his repeating rifle, blew out the brains of both scoundrels."

Even with these changes the results were the same. I could not place John and Henry as brothers in any Eastern Kentucky Wilcox family that are dead by the end of May 1891 nor could I locate Maud in Virginia with Fleener/Fleenor families in the Richmond area.


Eastern Kentucky is a hotbed of ballad makers. Such a tragedy surely would have a ballad to match. I have used ballads in genealogical research concerning Eastern Kentucky several times, but this time I have been unable to locate even the whisper of a tune concerning a tragedy from Elliott County that had any information similar to that contained in the articles.

Some of the Elliott County records were destroyed in a courthouse fire in 1957. School census records do not begin until much later. I tucked the articles away until recently I decided to scour the Mt. Sterling Advocate, which had been founded the prior year, and found a small tiny explanation concerning the affair dated 26 May 1891.

"Friday's issue of the Courier-Journal contained an article from some black-hearted liar claiming to be from Louisa, giving an account of an outrage said to have been committed near Sandy Hook in Elliott county - the details of which are too horribly infamous to be read without a shudder. The slanderous villain who wrote the article in question is beneath the contempt of decent men. Commonwealth Attorney, M. M. Redwine, of Sandy Hook, is in the city attending Circuit Court, and says he knows every man and woman in the county, and no such parties as those named lived there. He pronounces it a base falsehood from beginning to end. No paper, however, careful it may be, can fail to be caught now and then by some such outrageous liar."
Did this [form of] retraction make any other newspaper? Not that I could locate. Matthew Marian Redwine had been a prominent resident of Elliott county for many years. He was the county Prosecuting Attorney when the 1880 Federal Census was taken. At that time he resided in Martinsburg aka Sandy Hook. By the time of this so called story he was Kentucky Commonwealth Attorney. He died in Sandy Hook in 1946.

To further give the reader a visual of the area Matthew Marian Redwine was referencing, I located a description of Sandy Hook in the 27 March 1891 Hazel Green Herald [Wolfe County, Kentucky]. "Sandy Hook or Martinsburg...contains about 175 inhabitants, one dr., six lawyers, three ministers..." Redwine stated he knew "every man and woman in the county" which is easy to understand with his position and the size of the area.

A sidebar opens up another story. There was a girl named Maud[e] Sidney Fleenor in Eastern Kentucky. She was born about the year the above story took place and would have been an infant when the above horrible crime is said to have taken place. She was the daughter of George W. Fleenor born 1842 in Washington County, Virginia who died Six years after the above written news articles. Maud S. is found on the 1900 Federal Census in Harlan County, Kentucky along with her mother Maggie [Margaret Anderson Fleenor], sister Lizzie L and brother Bird Fleenor. Bird Fleenor would become a Harlan County Sheriff. Byrd/Bird Fleenor was killed from a gunshot wound 8 July 1933 involving mine labor disputes.

Bird/Byrd Fleenor's son Lee Fleenor was jailed in Harlan County, Kentucky in July 1938 charged with shooting the convicted slayer of his father. Lee Fleenor was a county deputy sheriff and was said to have wounded Charlie Reno in the abdomen, neck and shoulder. But the story becomes even more confusing. Fleenor had been convicted the year his father was killed on charges of slaying Deputy Sheriff B. Gross. He had been pardoned. Reno had been convicted of killing Bird Fleenor and was pardoned after serving four years of an eight year sentence. A miners strike in 1939 would make news in Time Magazine.

As I finish writing this story I can't help but wonder what kind of person could perpetuate such a horrible lie concerning Maud Fleenor. Why were these particular names utilized if creating a horrendous story?

10 February 2010

In Search of Catlett Burial Ground

From time to time I hope to include posts from fellow Eastern Kentucky Researchers. Today's post is from fellow researcher Stan Champers. He has dedicated several years on a quest to honor the Catlett family.

IN SEARCH OF CATLETT BURIAL GROUND
by Stan Champers
Retired Journalist

Few played a more prominent role in the earliest days of northeastern Kentucky's settlement than the Catlett family. But there is no monument to these pioneers. Even their graves are unmarked.

Thanks to references in local histories, we've always known that Alexander and Horatio Gates Catlett, father and son, were interred in the Catlett family burial ground in the county seat of Boyd that bears the family's name.

The precise location is unknown, a sad commentary considering the richness of the Catlett history.

In the 1790's when this area was still part of Mason County, Ky., Alexander Catlett of Virginia began buying up property from the heirs of Col. Charles Smith, a prominent figure from Clarke County, Va., acquaintance of General Washington, and veteran of the French and Indian War. For his military service, Colonel Smith received land as part of the John Savage Grants and his allotment took in all that today is encompassed by the community of Catlettsburg.

There is some question as to whether Smith or any of his heirs ever set foot on their Kentucky acreage. No such doubt exists with respect to Alexander Catlett, who moved in as soon as he had title to the land.

The property lies at the confluence of the Big Sandy River and the Ohio River, a hugely startegic position in the ever increasing flow of westward migration.

Catlett erected a tavern near the banks of the Ohio, and farther up the incline, in about 1806, built a cabin for his family. The cabin exists even today and is on the National Historic Register as the nucleus of a much larger home in Catlettsburg once occupied by Col. Laban T. Moore, a local attorney who served in the U.S. Senate, but better known as "Beechmore," home of the Patton family.

The tavern, or inn, has long since passed from the scene, but in its day was a widely known stopping off place for travelers, including some personages of national repute like Henry Clay.

Alexander Catlett died in 1823 at a time when Greenup County had been formed from Mason but before Boyd had been formed from Greenup, and was buried near the cabin he built for his family.

His son Horatio, in the early years of the community that grew on this site, became prominent as a property owner, a man of influence, and the town's first postmaster. It was actually for Horatio that the city was named.

In the 1840's however, Haratio's fortunes dwindled, and in hopes of improving them, he moved with his wife and children to the vicinity of St. Joseph, Missouri. The change didn't have much of the desired effect.

About 1847 or '48, Horatio Catlett took leave of his family and returned to Catlettsburg to check on his properties, but on arriving in the community was told that he had failed to pay his taxes and no longer had any property. Local references suggest that upon hearing this news, Horatio flew into a rage, and dropped dead on the spot.

All that time, there were still people in the community who had been acquainted with Alexander Catlett and knew where he was buried. With Horatio's wife and children in Missouri, the only thing to do was bury him next to his father -- in the Catlett Burial Ground.

Interest in the unmarked graves developed following publication of a column I wrote for a local newspaper, in which I suggested that finding them would add significantly to the appreciation of local history.

Teresa Klaiber was one of those who expressed an interest in the project, and for her part, began examining old deeds and maps for clues to the burial ground's location.

According to one of our references, the graves were very near Laban Moore's barn. Now, where was the barn? On one of the old maps, Teresa found it, clearly marked at a spot just south and slightly east of the Patton home and the Catlett cabin it embraces.

Her discovery narrowed the search considerably. while we still haven't actually pinpointed the graves, we know they lie in an area not much bigger than a good-sized back yard.

We've been making overtures for assistance that would lead to marking of the grave sites. I have contacted the Kentucky Heritage Commission and outlined our project for city officials in Catlettsburg, believing the town would be a beneficiary of the graves' discovery.

We welcome comments and ideas. the effort to finally bring due recognition to these pioneers is still very much a "work in progress."


08 February 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - The "Bethlehem" Star


Over the past decade there has been a renewed interest in the stone cutters and carvers that were masters at their trades and artists who dedicated their talents to honor the dead. Digitizing and recording the cemeteries of Boyd County over the past 10 years I have become increasingly aware of many unique individual stones. But none have made me more curious than the ones that I have come to dub the "Bethlehem Star" or the "Cookie Cutter" tombstones for lack of a better description.

My first encounter with the handmade stone was many years ago in our own Klaiber Cemetery. The stones are all identical in height and shape. They stand in hand poured bases which are inscribed "At Rest" or "Gone but Not Forgotten." Each stone has an identical cookie cutter stamped 7 point star. The placement of the birth and death dates are in an unusual arrangement. There is no doubt that all these stones were made by the same person.

Among my travels I have encountered the stones in Coalton Cemetery, Lawson Cemetery on Strait Creek, Sexton Cemetery on Pigeon Roost and even Catlettsburg Cemetery. Most of the stones are for those deceased in the 1930's. The earliest, I have discovered to date, is for two year old Ida Sexton in 1904 in Sexton Cemetery at Pigeon Roost.

The example above is the grave of Joe Deskins 10 July 1916 - 7 July 1929, in section O of Catlettsburg Cemetery, Catlettsburg, Boyd County, Kentucky.

There is always more to a story. Did the person who made these stones charge less than the professional carvers? Were these donated stones given out of neighborly love? Did the maker devise the star stamp or utilize one similar to those wonderful cookie cutters in collections today?

Treasure Chest Thursday - Sexton Spinning Wheel


Pregnant with my first child in 1971, Julina Leoto Sexton Horton Klaiber said she was "heiring me" her mother's spinning wheel. I was in the early stages of my genealogical journey. Julina told me her mother had brought it from Virginia to Kentucky with her. Over the years the spinning wheel would move with us from Ohio to New Jersey, back to Ohio before finally returning to Boyd County, Kentucky & the farm where it had been a functional household item. As tiny boys, my sons all learned how to get a rhythm with the pedal to make the wheel go round. A spinning lesson in New Jersey added to my appreciation of pioneer ingenuity.


Julina Leoto Sexton Horton Klaiber lived to 100 years of age and was buried in Klaiber Cemetery in 1978. She was born 30 June 1877 in Boyd County, Kentucky to Henry Powell Sexton and wife Julina McCormack Sexton. One day my mother-in-law produced a picture of Henry Powell & Julina McCormack Sexton. What a serendipty moment. Not only was I able to see these wonderful ancestors, I was looking at Julina using the spinning wheel while her husband was carding the wool. A look at the Carter County, Kentucky tax records for the late 1850's show that the Sexton's did own their own sheep.



Like most family stories there are few questions remaining. "Mamaw" [Julina Sexton Klaiber] had stated that her mother brought the spinning wheel from Virginia. Genealogical documentation shows that her mother was born and raised in eastern Kentucky. Julina McCormack was born in Lawrence County, Kentucky, Christmas Day 1836, the daughter of Lorenzo Dow McCormack and wife Emily Brumfield. Her parents were from Giles County, Virginia having settled in Lawrence County by 1833. Julina's husband Henry Powell Sexton was born in Virginia 24 April 1835. His father Marcus Sexton had migrated through Pound Gap into Letcher County and the family migrated northward to a portion of Carter County that would become Boyd County, Kentucky.

The photograph is easy to date. The child in the photograph is Julina Lorraine Sexton born 15 August 1907, daughter of Henry Powell Sexton [II] and wife Katherine Allen. By her size the photograph appears to be taken about 1909. Henry Powell Sexton [I] died 24 September 1912. His wife Julina McCormack Sexton died 14 January 1914. Both are buried in Sexton Cemetery, Pigeon Roost, Boyd County, Kentucky. The information I have gathered about the small wheel is that it was manufactured in the 1800's and may have been called a "Naomi."

07 February 2010

Boyd County, Kentucky Poor House 1870

In 2004 Boyd County, Kentucky Monographs I was published and includes an article "Boyd County Poor Folks." This two part article contains the history of the Boyd County Poor House from its inception in early 1870.

Like all historical research new documents have recently surfaced concerning the Poor House. From time to time I will share findings. The following includes some of the first people that were to be residents of the home, which was located on Poor House Road, now Long Branch Road, Boyd County, Kentucky.

I have preserved the spelling of this two page court document but took the liberty of adding periods for easier reading.

"In compliance with this order I have collected the fawling persons and conveyed them to the por hous & placed them in charge of John Higins who was in possession of said home. I collected on the 14 day of Sept 1870 taken Emgine Harlis James Harlis & Clery Harlis in posesian & upon the 15 day taken Sarah Walker and Mary Thomson in charge and delivered them all to the por hous on the same day. I demanded on the 6 day of Sept 1870 Elizabeth Blankinship to go to por hous. She refused to go and famly wold not let her go. I did on the 14 day of Sept 1870 demand Robert Reed. He refused to go and James Smith refused to let him go. Said if the county would not pay him he wold keep him any how. I demanded Bevin Trail Sept 16 1870 & A. Tomson said he was to keep him till next cort of clames so I left him there. & upon 22 day Sept 1870 I imployed Thomas Colinsworth to convey Margret & Elizabeth Colinsworth to por hous which he don and upon the 23 day I demanded Sally Sammons & children to go to por hous. They refused to go. Said she knew nothing about it. She is able to seport her self & children and will do it. So I let her alone. this is all I know of that is on the county that is liable to go to por hous this Sept 26 1870. J. C. Eastham, sheriff of Boyd County, KY. I also demanded Ned Noris Sept 15. He refused to go. J. C. Eastham."

John Higgins was the first appointed superintendent. The court compensated him and he was paid a salary of $1.00 a day. Emmaline Harlis with children James & Clara were residing with Larkin Warner and family when the census was taken in October, 1870. So while the above states that the sheriff delivered them to the poor house, the Harlis family did not remain long.

Ned Norris, 82 years old, a black gentleman born in Virginia [along with Evaline age 77, black; Susan; Polly and Charles L. Mulatto's] was living in Cannonsburg, Boyd County in October, 1870. This appears to be Ned [cited page 30 Boyd County, Kentucky Monographs I ] an emancipated slave of Thomas H. Poage that made application for support to the Boyd County Court in late June 1864 stating that he was a pauper. In 1865 Free Persons of Color were listed on the tax list. Ned Norris along with 3 other Norris surnames appear as being free.



05 February 2010

Shephard Letter 1858 Ashland Boyd Co., KY

Original source documents are every researchers dream and some come from unlikely places. A recent seller on Ebay has posted an original 19 January 1858 letter under the catagory of historical autographs. In the Ebay description, the seller states "Pre-CW letter...T.L. Shepard writes to his Gramama about his child..." {Note: Clicking on the title of this post will take you to the Ebay item.}

The seller has scanned page 1 overlaying the other page[s] but the first page of the letter says a lot to someone who carefully reviews the material. "Ashland, Ky Jan 19th 1858 Dear Gramma I suppose you think that I have forgoten you But I have not bee it far from me. I confess that I have been negligent. We are all well. Mattie is growing very fast and she is as fit as a little pig. She can run all over the house and she can say Pound ?? tolerbly plain. Ellman and myself are going to school to Mr. Tomelson. I have been going to school ever since I came home. We have five schools in town...I suppose you have heard that old Jack Dickson run over by the cars in the tunnel a few months ago"

The letter continues on the following page which is partially covered in the scan "and he was hurt so bad that he died in..."

In these short lines, without the availability of reviewing all material contained in the letter, I have ascertained that the writer is probably a sibling of Ellman since both are in school and that Mattie is another younger child possibly in the household.

Before delving into the historical information provided about Ashland, Kentucky in those few lines, I decided to do a quick search for the Shephard family knowing that the surname in Eastern Kentucky is spelled in a variety of ways including Shepherd and Shepard.

Two years after the writing of the letter in Ashland, Kentucky, the 1860 Federal Census lists Elman L. Shephard age 11 born Ohio and a brother Franklin Shephard age 16 born Ohio [could an F. Be misread as a T.?] in Addison, Gallia County, Ohio in the home of James Maddy age 68 and wife Elizabeth 64, Mary Maddy 25 and Charles V. Maddy 24, all born Ohio. Franklin Shephard is also listed in the house of Luther Shephard age 47 born Ohio and wife Elizabeth 38 born Ohio, Elizabeth age 3 [1857] born KY and Mary born Ohio age 1. The birth of Elizabeth indicates that this family had been in Kentucky and is probably traveling back and forth along the Ohio River between Gallia County, Ohio and Boyd County, Kentucky. Rereading the entry, the author appears to have traveled when writing "I have been going to school ever since I came home..."

Gallia County, Ohio marriage records state that Luther Shephard married Elizabeth Maddy 4 March 1841. And true to the quick observation, that the family is moving along the ribbon of the Ohio River, Luther returned to Ashland in just a short time after the 1860 Federal Census. He is witness at the wedding of John Gosslen to Mary Jane Corbett in Ashland, Kentucky on 15 June 1863. From Family Lineage Investigation files, on hand, this blogger knows that Mary Jane was born in Gallia County, Ohio, the daughter of William and Susan __ McBrayer Corbett. Luther Shepherd is residing in his own home in Ashland when he hosted the marriage of Milton Nelson to Julia Wilson on 9 March 1864.

By 1870 Elman Shepherd, is an adult age 21, a preacher born in Ohio living with L. E. Shepherd age 56 a druggist born in Ohio and wife A. M. age 31 born Virginia. Others in the household include Anna 6 born in Kentucky, Lucy 4 Kentucky, Mary 11 born Ohio, Grace 2 born Kentucky and a Mary Wilson age 38, milliner born Virginia. No T. L. or Franklin Shephard.

Luther Shephard's wife appears to differ by 1870. A popular undocumented on-line source states that Elizabeth Maddy Shephard died 19 September 1853. From the 1860 census we now know she was still living but could have died prompting Luther to move back to Ashland by 1863. A clue to A. M. Shepherd is posted in the Ashland Independent 7 September 1882 "Mrs. L. E. Shepherd, of this city, is a sister to the Welshman, Thomas Thompson, 60 who as killed by a train last week near Ironton, Ohio."

By 1880 the family is residing on Third Street, Ashland and Luther is listed as overseer of the poor. Both Luther E. Shepard [1812-1885] and Agnes M. Thompson Shepard [1839-1908] are buried in Ashland Cemetery, Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky.

Historically the Shepard/Sheperd family were in Ashland while still part of Greenup County, Kentucky. The letter was written when the town was in its infancy. Mr. Tomelson cited in the letter was Mr. A. A. Tomlinson "of Ohio" according to early histories of Ashland. He taught in a two room frame building used as the first public schoolhouse.

The death of Dick Dickson tells another story. The first train out of Ashland was 7 November 1857. Daily trains hauled pig iron produced by the area furnaces. The tunnels such as the one at Princess were hand dug and very narrow.

It is this blogger's hope that this wonderful piece of history will finally rest in the hands of family members who will continue to piece together the history from this Ashland, Kentucky letter from a grandchild to a grandmother.

04 February 2010

Boyd County, Kentucky Genealogy


Boyd County, Kentucky is the gateway to Eastern Kentucky Genealogical and Historical Research.


The county is home to the Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society and the quarterly publication Tree Shaker. The Tree Shaker's editor, Jimmie Epling provides readers with a variety of records and family histories for Eastern Kentucky Researchers. Members also share a wealth of information inside its pages. While the internet provides us with a vast amount of material, a subscription to the Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society is a big bang for it's little bucks. Membership is just $10.00 per year. You can join by sending dues to: Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society, Inc., APO Box 1544, Ashland, KY 41105-1544.

Boyd County also houses Eastern Kentucky's largest genealogical holdings at the Boyd County Public Library, 1740 Central Avenue, Ashland, KY. Staff members work daily to digitize and make records available to the public. Besides an archives containing original source material, the collection includes vast microfilm holdings for newspapers and vital records. Bound publications are easy to locate and use and include many other states. During what the staff is terming "spring cleaning" they are expanding their shelves for larger and more Virginia and West Virginia materials. Several databases are available at the web site and Judy Fleming's Boyd County, Kentucky Marriage database continues to grow daily.

The Boyd County Master Cemetery Database has been my pet project for many years. It now has searchable capability & we have turned over the digitized photograph collection to the library as well. They are available for viewing in-house. If your questions are not answered after reviewing The Boyd County Cemetery Location Guide [it was a labor of love!] please feel free to contact me concerning any given county cemetery or individual. Remember if you did not locate a person it may be that they have an unmarked grave. One tip that searchers need to know is that Rose Hill Cemetery is not included in the database at this time.

Boyd County, Kentucky was formed in 1860 [KY county #107] from parts of Greenup, Carter and Lawrence County, KY. With pioneer waterway travel, researchers should also look at records across the Ohio, in Lawrence and Scioto County as well as the Big Sandy River and {West} Virginia connections.

Our County was named for Linn Boyd, Lt Governor of Kentucky who died in 1859 shortly after being elected. Boyd Countie's first appointed sheriff was William Williams. John D. Ross the first judge. The John D. Ross Cemetery has undergone some renovations over the past few years.

The Boyd County seat is in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. Catlettsburg was laid out in 1849 and incorporated as a town in Greenup County in 1858. Boyd County built the first courthouse in 1861. A new Justice Building opened this past year modernizing the visual look of the main part of town.

I invite you to visit my web site about Boyd County Genealogy as well as information concerning Family Lineage Investigations . You will find a complete reading of Klaiber Cemetery as well as a free copy of a 1902-1906 Blacksmith Ledger with many Boyd county family names mentioned. Just follow the links. Want more information about the author of this blog just click! Please feel free to make suggestions for postings for future blog posts at this site. Let's chat and have a cuppa together!