I’m continuing on my search for information on John M. Smith (17?? – 1835). Here’s what I know:

  • Russell County Kentucky was formed in Dec/Jan of 1825/26.
  • John Smith “of Russell County” bought 100 acres in April 1827 and appears in the Russell County tax list for the first time.
  • On Dec 31, 1827, John received a land grant along with James Gilbert for a total of 200 acres.  (If anyone knows why “joint” grants were given, I’d love to know! I’ve ordered the land grant films, but I’m impatient!)
  • I have the tax listings for John every year through 1835 when he died.
  • John’s land was partially in Russell County and partially in Wayne County.
  • Two of John’s sons, George and Elias, also appear in the tax lists, giving me approximate dates of birth based on when they appear for the first time.
  • In 1847, the “heirs of John M. Smith” sell all of their shares of land to their brother, Elias.  This deed mentions that the deceased Solomon Smith’s land was one-sixth of the estate. Based on this deed, I know the names of 5 children – George, Elias, Mary Jane, Elizabeth and Solomon.  Was the last sixth for their mother?

I’ve been trying to find where John M. Smith was before Russell County.  Was he in the same area, which was Wayne County before Russell County was formed?  Or did he immigrate from somewhere else?  I have one tiny clue in a great-grandson’s biography, but so far, I have not been able to confirm it. My “Smith Feast” is the fact that there are many John Smith’s in every county that I look at.  Obviously, because this is early 1800’s, I have no census records to see which John Smith might be my John Smith.  My “Smith Famine” is the fact that Solomon Smith does not appear in any tax lists or deeds other than the deed mentioned above.

I decided to look for clues in land and court records.  I currently have films of the first 3 court order books.  I began by using the index to look for records.  As I was scrolling through the film, I happened to stop on a page and John’s name popped out to me.  This was an “Ah-Ha” moment for me – the index didn’t include every mention of a name, only the names of those who initiated something in the court.  Back to the beginning of the film!  I began to read (ok, I skimmed) every page and found many things.

  • John was a Justice of the Peace from 1830 till his death.
  • John was quite often asked to survey the best location for new roads in his part of the county.
  • John was the administrator of the estate of John B. Smith (another “famine” as I cannot find this name anywhere else!)
  • John took in a “poor boy of the county”, John Asberry, who became his son’s apprentice after John died.

I had been focusing on locating anything with John’s name so I was concentrating on files before 1836, but yesterday, I began to skim Book 3 and found two “pleasant” surprises:

  • Sept 1840 – George A. Smith (son of John) became the administrator for the estate of Solomon Smith.  Ah-ha!  A more specific date of death. Because Solomon never appears in the tax records, I am guessing that Solomon was not yet 21 at his death.
  • Oct 1840 – Elias Smith (son of John) became the administrator for the estate of Benjamin Smith. There is more than one Benjamin Smith in Russell County, but I have never researched them because their ages and locations did not match my family.  I went back for a closer look and discovered that this Benjamin does appear in the tax lists, but only once.  In 1840, his is listed between Elias and George.  He owns no land, but does have a horse.  From this record, I am guessing that he had turned 21, and was therefore born around 1819. I believe this is the name for the final sixth of John’s estate!

I’m happy to have found these names and dates, but as usual, I have many more questions.  For my “feast” name – which John Smith is my John Smith? For my “famine” names – who was John’s wife?  I have yet to see her name anywhere, even in deeds.  Who was John B. Smith?  Was he related?  If so, how? Was he from Russell County?  If not, will this be the connection I need to show where John M. came from?  Where can I find more information on the “estates” of John M. Smith, John B. Smith, Solomon and Benjamin Smith?

Today, I will continue reading through Book 3 to see if there is more to glean. I’ve ordered and am greatly anticipating the films for the Kentucky Land Grants and Russell County deeds.  I’ve looked at the deed film before, but now I know that I can’t rely on the index.  And I found an online index that shows that there is an indenture that involves 3 of the siblings – including Benjamin – so I’m anxious to see what I’ll find next! Sadly, Spring Break begins just when I expect these films to arrive. So these mysteries will be swirling in my mind as I lay on the beach. How strange is it that I’m kinda wishing I didn’t have to go???