John M. Smith cast study #11

I went to FamilySearch and looked at the Mercer County, Kentucky, General Index to Wills, 1786-1946[1] to see if there were any records for John Smith. There seem to be a few candidates:

  • 1812 – John Smith Guardian Account (Wills 5:28)
  • 1820 – Elizabeth Smith Inventory (Wills 6:295)
  • 1820 – John Smith Inventory (Wills 6:296)
  • 1822 – John Smith Account (Wills 7:69)
  • 1825 – John Smith Will (Wills 8:1)
  • 1831 – John Smith Settlement Account (Wills 9:448)

Because I was hoping to find some family connections, I went straight to the only will[2] for a John Smith.

In the name of God Amen I John Smyth of Mercer County Kentucky being weak in body but of sound mind and disposing memory do make and ordain this as my last will and Testament in manner and memory do make and ordain this as my last will and Testament in manner and form following To wit I give and divise to my grand son John Rodes Smith the plantation and Tract of Land where on I formerly lived after that part which I shall hereafter give to my daughter Nancy Woods But it is my wish and desire that my son Harvey Smith should have in addition to what I have heretofore given him the use and benefit of the said farm during his natural life and at his death to be enjoyed by my said Grand son his heirs and assigns forever I give and devise to my daughter Nancy Woods who has intermarried with John Woods the following Land (To wit) all that part of the tract on which I formerly lived lying on the East side of a line to begin at the south East corner of my settlement two cherry trees and to run South to Robert Mosbys line also my Negroe boy Wells in addition to those heretofore given to her and her heirs forever I give and devise to my daughter Magdaline Britt who intermarried with John Britt the following Land (to wit) all that part of the Robertson tract on the North including the farm on which the said Britt now lives also the following slaves (viz) Anthony Winney and her child Alexander? And their future increase in addition to those formerly given to her and her heirs forever I give and devise to my daughter Harriet Mosby the following Land to wit all that part of the Robertson tract on the south including the farm on which she now lives also my Negroe man Simon my alderman chesnut sorrel mare and my riding horse Also my Negroe girl Isabella and her future increase to her and her heirs forever I give to my Grand son John Miller my Negroe boy named Bill and my mountain leader mare and saddle & bridle to him and his heirs forever It is my wish and desire that my Executors take into their possession all the money that may be on hand and immediately divide the same Equally Between Buckner Miller and my three daughters Magdaline Britt Nancy Woods and Harriot Mosby also collect the money due on notes Bonds etc and where collected divide the same Equally Between Buckner Miller Magdaline Britt Nancy Woods and Harriet Mosby as aforesaid And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my friends Edward Worthington Buckner Miller and James Tilford Executors of this my last will and Testament hereby revoking all other or former wills by me heretofore made In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 12th day of April 1825

Signed sealed and declared as the last will and Testament of John Smith in presence of us

William Leonard                                                               John Smyth (seal)

Robert Mosby

Francis Lewis

Mercer County Sct May County court 1825

                The foregoing last will and Testament of John Smyth Deceased was this day produced into court and proved by the oaths of Robert Mosby by William Lewis and Francis Lewis three subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be Recorded

Attest Thomas Allen CC

Based on this will, I now know:

  • John had a grandson named John Rodes Smith. This grandson received “the plantation” so I should be able to follow the land records in order to tell this John (Rodes) Smith from other John Smiths.
  • There is an additional grandson – John Miller
  • John had daughters: Nancy Wood who has “intermarried with John Woods”, Magdaline Britt who “intermarried with John Britt” and Harriet Mosby (no husband named, but a Robert Mosby witnessed the will). I can now add daughters and sons-in-law to the appropriate chart.
  • John had son: Harvey Smith – this allows me to add an additional deed record to the correct John Smith. A deed in which personal property is given to a son named Harvey. Mercer County Deed Book 11 p226.
  • John gave money to be equally divided between Buckner Miller (father of John Miller?), Magdaline Britt, Nancy Woods and Harriet Mosby. I’d assume that since money was given to daughters, but also to Buckner Miller, there is probably a deceased daughter who was married to Buckner Miller.
  • Executors: Edward Worthington, Buckner Miller and James Tilford
  • Will witnesses: William Leonard, Robert Mosby and Francis Lewis. Looking at the charts I have so far, I see that Robert Mosby is listed as a neighbor of Captain John Smith.
  • Regarding land, John mentions Robert Mosby’s line/border and the “Robertson tract”.
  • If I can find the marriage records for the children, this could help me locate additional locations that might be worth researching. I will add this to the “To Do” box.

Based on the family members I already have in my chart, I can see that this is clearly Capt. John Smith with son-in-law Buckner Miller. So now I have an approximate date of death to add to the chart along with the new family information. The will was written on April 12, 1825 and the will was produced in a May 1825 court session. I made a note in my “To Do” box to follow up with court records. Interestingly, no wife was mentioned, so I assume that Martha had died before John. The will record reference is also added to the chart. Notice that no son named John Smith was mentioned. While it is possible that John Rodes Smith could be the son of an un-named son, it seems more likely that he is the son of Harvey. I should follow up on that just to make sure. So, I don’t believe this was the father of John M. Smith, but I have to continue to collect records for this John Smith so that I can tell him apart from other John Smiths.

I cannot neglect that fact that I now have an additional John Smith – John Rodes Smith. That means I need a new chart.

What can I discover in the other John Smith probate records?

  • 1812 – John Smith Guardian Account[3] (Wills 5:28)
    • The 1812 record that was indexed as a guardian account is actually an inventory and appraisement. The date given on the inventory was August 15, 1812. The appraisers were John Gabbert, Micah Gabbert and Thomas Egers. The court ordered the inventory to be recorded in the October 1813 Court Session. That is something to look up to see if I can make a connection to a specific John Smith in Mercer County. (I did enjoy reading about the number of pantaloons and stockings he had listed in the inventory! I tend to think of all of my ancestors looking more like Daniel Boone in the wilderness than wearing jackets, pantaloons and stockings!)
    • I don’t yet know who this was, so I started a new chart.
  • 1820 – Elizabeth Smith Inventory[4] (Wills 6:295)
  • 1820 – John Smith Inventory (Willis 6:296)
    • This is an interesting inventory listing in that it is for 2 individuals who were obviously married. Both of the inventories were given by Austin Slaughter, John Slaughter and Abraham Chapline on the same date – August 7, 1820. The administrators of the estates were John Smith and James W. Smith. This will require some more digging!
    • Court records are not available online beyond 1801, (at least none with an index or book of abstracts) so I looked through the Minute Books[5] and found the entries for the Administrators.
  • 1822 – John Smith Account[6] (Wills 7:69)
    • This record is the accounting from John Smith and James W Smith for the estates of John Smith and Elizabeth Smith. Within the accounting are some payments all around $98. They went to Solomon Trower “one of the heirs”, David McEven? (smeared), Sally Smith, John Smith “one of the administrators and heirs”, James Smith ”one of the administrators and heirs”, and James Smith “also executor of Ambrose Smith another heir”. I wonder if these are sons-in-law and children?
      • The will for Ambrose Smith was written January 29, 1820 and was produced in court in April 1820.[7] He mentions his wife and their 5 children, but no names are given. It was written January 29, 1820 and was produced in court in April 1820. He appointed his brother, James W Smith, to be his executor.
    • Searching for a marriage between a Smith female and Solomon Trower revealed an 1805 marriage between Solomon Trower and Nancy Smith in Orange County, Virginia[8]. In the column for the place of birth for the wife, the name John Smith appears. I believe this column was used to indicate the father or whoever gave consent.
  • While looking at this register, I decided to also look for any John Smiths because I know that sooner or later, I’ll be wondering “now where did I see that”? I stopped when the dates became too late to have a child that married in 1805.
  • After the inventory, there is a paragraph that says, “The undersigned being appointed by the County Court of Mercer to Settle the accounts of John Smith & James W Smith admrs of John Smith decd and also admr of Elizabeth Smith Decd have this day proceeded to said settlement It appears to the undersigned that after the death of John Smith by consent of all the Heirs the whole property was left in the hands of Elizabeth Smith until her death we have therefore not found it necessary to Settle separate accs for the two administrators. The foregoing is respectfully reported to the Court as the Statement of the account. We presume the Inventory will Shew the amount with which they are chargeable. We hear no evidence upon this subject the vouchers supporting this acc are also returned
    Given under hands this 26 of April 1822”
    • I decided to take a look at the tax records to see if I could tell when John Smith may have died by finding Elizabeth in the lists. Based on this, I believe John may have died around 1815. As the tax records show no land, there would be no deeds to follow.
    • The chart for this John Smith is updated with the new information.
  • 1831 – John Smith Settlement Account[9] (Wills 9:448)
    • This record is an accounting from Edward Worthington and Buckner Miller. This record goes with Captain John Smith who died in 1825. This will be recorded in the chart at the end of this post.

Now there is a decision to be made. Should I continue to search for records for my original John Smith trio (John Smith Taylor, John Smith Jr. and Captain John Smith) or should I try to find out more about the John and Elizabeth Smith who had the inventories taken in 1820? I have ruled this man out as John M. Smith, but it could potentially be the father of John M. Smith. I should begin a new chart. Because I need a way to identify this John Smith from the other John Smiths, I will list his brother – James W – at the top of the chart instead of a spouse until more information is collected. For now, I will collect records for John and James W Smith.

One name that intrigues me in the John Taylor Smith chart is Ambrose Barlow. That seems to be a pretty unique name (or at least more unique that John Smith!) so should I follow up on him? The court records for Mercer County are a challenge to research – at least from home. There is a “General Index to Suits” but that doesn’t apply to the day-to-day proceedings of the courts. The various court books don’t contain indexes, so I decided to take the easy route and do a quick search for Ambrose Barlow. But sooner or later, it will probably have to be done.

Next week – Ambrose Barlow, Marriage Records and Court Records.


  1. John Smith & Elizabeth Arbuckle – Link
  2. John Smith & Sally McDaniel – Link
  3. John Taylor Smith – Link
  4. Captain John Smith – (not the father of John M. Smith)Link
  5. John Smith (d. 1812) – new (cannot be John M. Smith)Link
  6. John Smith (d. 1815) and Elizabeth (d. 1820) – new (not John M. Smith, not John Smith and Elizabeth Arbuckle)Link
  7. John Rodes Smith – after research, this John Smith has been eliminated, but giving this link to see his chart. Will not continue to have him in the scoreboard.

[1] FamilySearch film #4818856

[2] Mercer County, Kentucky, Will Book 8, p1, FamilySearch film #4818859, image 4.

[3] Mercer County, Kentucky, Will Book 5, p28, FamilySearch film #4818858, image 21.

[4] Mercer County, Kentucky, Will Book 6, p295, FamilySearch film #4818858, image 541.

[5] Mercer County, Kentucky, County Court Minute Books, 1818 – 1823, p102, FamilySearch film 7901429, image 620.

[6] Mercer County, Kentucky, Will Book 7, p69, FamilySearch film #4818859, image 52.

[7] Mercer County, Kentucky, Will Book 6, p226, FamilySearch film #4818858, image 506

[8] Orange County, Virginia, Marriage Register v1, p67, FamilySearch film #4810100, image 201.

[9] Mercer County, Kentucky, Will Book 9, p448, FamilySearch film #4818860, image 33.