John M. Smith case study #3

While working on the post about John M’s children, I wanted to be thorough and indicate where they were originally buried and where they may have been moved to due to the construction of Lake Cumberland. For some reason, in the back of my mind I was thinking that I had read somewhere that the family cemetery was in Smith Bottom, but I couldn’t find anything about it in my notes.

I had a notation in my notes about a Rootsweb message board listing[1] that said: “I do know that Elias Smith and Elizabeth Meadows Smith were both buried down in the “Lulu” area of Russell County prior to Lake Cumberland being built.” So was Smith Bottom anywhere near Lulu? I found a map with Lula on it. This map is from the United States enumeration district maps for the twelfth through the sixteenth US censuses found on FamilySearch[2]. If you find this map on FamilySearch, but sure to use the Tools in the upper right corner to invert the image which will make it a white page with black “text”.

It may be hard to read, but it is very near Beaver Creek.

John M. Smith owned several tracts of land. Some of the deeds[3] give the description of being “on the south side of Cumberland River” while others specifically mention the mouth of Beaver Creek[4] [5] [6] [7].

To create the next map, I used Photoshop to combine 2 Highway and Transportation maps from Russell and Wayne Counties and then added the red circle to show the area where John M’s land was located. These maps are located on the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Website and take a lot of searching to find. The Russell County map can currently be found here and the Wayne County map can be found here. Both maps are from 1937, which was before the formation of Lake Cumberland.

Now compare the first to the map I created showing where John M’s land was located. Look at the shape of the river loop in Russell County in both maps.

I know it’s difficult to read, so click here to open the image in Google Drive. If you compare the locations of Lula and Clyde (northeast of Lula), you can see that Lula is included in the area I that I have found John M’s land to be.

After doing a Google search for ““Smiths Bottom” Kentucky Cemetery”, I found a website that included index cards compiled by Robert Rennick of Morehead State while working on a book of Kentucky place names[8]. Out of 274 index cards for Russell County, one card was compiled for Smiths Bottom which indicated that it was located around the mouth of Beaver Creek. The interviews that are referenced on the card can also be found on the Morehead State website, but I was unable to find the interview with Jim Burchett.

So if Elias and Elizabeth were buried in the Lula area, would that have been at a church cemetery or a family cemetery? And is it likely that other family members were buried there as well?

Searching the Morehead State site, I found that there was a church called “Smiths Chapel” in the area[9] – but did they have a cemetery?

It’s now under the Lake, so how can I find that out? Many of the interviews that are referenced in these documents are available online, but some are not. Of course, the ones I’m most interested in aren’t available on this website! Stay tuned to find out how this question turned into a totally new research question for me! (Reference 11 – Mary Weaver of Somerset, Kentucky, interviews on May 23, 1979. Find this interview. Not found in Pulaski County interviews. (No Pulaski County interviews) Tab 14)

By the way, I believe the William G. Smith who was the first postmaster at the Lula post office may have been the son of Elias Smith and Elizabeth Meadows. In the 1880 census, he and his family were living in the Rowena area, which you can see on the first map just west of Lula. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised to find that he had a daughter named Lula, but so far, I have not been able to locate him after the 1880 census.

William’s wife, Matilda Gilespie, passed away in 1888 and is buried in the Bethesda Cemetery in Wayne County, Kentucky[10]. One of his daughters, Ida, passed away on 18 February 1895 and was buried in the same cemetery in Wayne County[11]. This makes me think that William must have been in the area at least until 1895, making him a likely candidate for being the postmaster of the Lula Post Office.

[1] accessed 4 Jan 2021.

[2] “United States Enumeration District Maps for the Twelfth through the Sixteenth US Censuses, 1900-1940,” images, FamilySearch ( : 20 June 2014), Roll 23, Kentucky, Henry-Woodford 1900-1940 > image 188 of 882; citing NARA microfilm publication A3378 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2003).

[3] Russell County, Kentucky, Deed Book A, p132, FamilySearch film #7896967, image 75.

[4] Kentucky Land Grants, Book V p514, FamilySearch film #272854

[5] Kentucky Land Grants, Book V p515, FamilySearch film #272854

[6] Kentucky Land Grants, Book B-2 p296, FamilySearch film #272857

[7] Russell County, Kentucky, Deed Book B, p501, FamilySearch film #7896967, image 402.

[8]Rennick, Robert M., “Russell County – Place Names” (2016). Robert M. Rennick Manuscript Collection. 136., p240.

[9], p8.

[10] Findagrave Memorial ID 66270935 – Matilda Smith, 1 Feb 1843 – 17 Jul 1888.

[11] Findagrave Memorial ID 66270751 – Ida Smith, 29 May 1877 – 18 Feb 1895.