John M. Smith case study #12

At the end of last Monday’s post where I was going through Mercer County probate records, I talked about needing to make a decision. I could continue researching my original John Smith trio (John (Taylor) Smith, John Smith Jr. and Captain John Smith) who I had found in the 1800 tax list, or I could do more research for John and Elizabeth Smith who had their inventories taken together in 1820 even though John had died around 1815. I had found quite a bit on Captain John Smith and I had a decent start on John and Elizabeth’s chart, so I decided to focus a little bit on John (Taylor) Smith’s chart before he got left in the dust.

I notice that there is just one name in the family section and that is Ambrose Barlow. In 1790, John had “sold” 50 acres to Ambrose[1], but the amount paid for the land was not given and John’s wife was not included in the transaction. I would have expected the wife to have been privately asked if the sale was agreed to by her. Perhaps the land was given to Ambrose because he was related in some way.

On Sept. 1, 1782, Zachariah Smith was granted 880 acres in Mercer County on Harrod’s Run[2] and on Sept. 18, 1790, Zachariah sold or gave 243 acres to John Smith.[3] No monetary amount was given in the deed and no wife was mentioned. The land transaction from Zachariah to John occurred on the same day as the transaction between John and Ambrose. Those lack of compensation and wives’ names made me wonder if Zachariah, John and Ambrose could be family. The name, Ambrose Barlow, is fairly unique – at least, waaaayyy more unique than John Smith! So I decided to look into Ambrose to see if I could figure out the connection between these men which could give me more information on John (Taylor) Smith.

Ambrose Barlow

I went to FamilySearch and did a search for historical records for Ambrose Barlow in Mercer County between 1780 – 1800.

The very first record in the list is for Ambrose Barlow, groom, married in Mercer County on April 30, 1787 to Ann Smith. John Smith gave his permission for Ann to be married to Ambrose. This confirms that Ambrose was the son-in-law of a John Smith, but is it John (Taylor) Smith? I want to do a real quick check of the land records that I have noted in John’s chart.

The land that began with Zachariah was located on Harrod’s Run and additional deeds from John (Taylor) Smith show that his land was also on the waters of Harrod’s Run. So based on these things, we know that Ambrose Barlow’s father-in-law was John Smith and it makes sense that the John Smith who owned land on Harrod’s Run would be that John Smith.

Marriage Records

What if I do a search for John Smith and look at all of the marriage records where John Smith was the father? All of these would be potential children for John Taylor Smith.

Mercer County marriages with John Smith giving consent

Ambrose BarlowAnn SmithJohn Smith[4] (consent)Peter Huffman Jesse SmithJames Taylor30 Apr 1787
John GarrMary SmithJohn Smith[5] (consent)Ambrose BarlowAaron Smith16 Sep 1794
Jacob FryElizabeth SmithJohn Smith[6] (consent)Aaron Smith John Smith JrJesse Smith18 May 1797
Thomas HannaMargaret SmithJohn Smith[7] (consent)Polly Smith J.H. DavisJoseph Davis16 Mar 1797
John ArbuckleSusannah SmithJohn Smith[8] (consent)Michael SmithJohn Smith21 Feb 1801
Thomas DokeFanny SmithJohn Smith[9] (consent)Aaron SmithMichael Smith31 Dec 1804

Pretty interesting! I see Ambrose Barlow, Aaron Smith, Michael Smith, and John Smith (Jr) in quite a few of these documents! I noted Aaron Smith and Michael Smith mentioned in deeds in the chart I’ve been keeping for John Taylor Smith.

And recall one of the first John Smith charts I put together:

Because of the name Aaron Smith on this marriage permission, the times that Aaron Smith appears in the Mercer County marriage permissions chart, and the John Arbuckle marriage to Susannah Smith, I believe that John Smith, husband of Elizabeth Arbuckle, probably belongs in this family group as well.  Could this be my John M. Smith? I’m going to add Elizabeth Arbuckle as a potential daughter-in-law for John Taylor Smith in the updated charts at the end of this post.

But another VERY interesting thing that I see in my search for Ambrose Barlow is his Findagrave listing[10], for a cemetery… Barren County, Kentucky. Another Barren County connection? Recall that Captain John Smith had a couple of deeds that involved land in Barren County.

So I’m off to Barren County, Kentucky!

No….wait! It’s easy to take off as soon as you get a new hint. I have a few more record types to look through for Mercer County. And a big set of records would be the Court Records. And here, I give a huge SIGH…

Mercer County Court Records

The Mercer County Court Records that are currently available online are a project and a half. There are 7 different sets of records – County Court, District Court, Circuit Court….Order books, Record books, Judgements, Minute Books… Sounds like a great opportunity to discover lots of details! BUT, many of the books have no index, at least not online. And if they do have an index, it isn’t an every name index – just the names for the main subjects (which would leave out witnesses, etc.) So I approached this set with a bit of trepidation. To consider going through the microfilms page by page is one strategy, but I have to give a shout out to the wonderful people who compile abstracts of records like this and publish them in books. In this case, Michael Cook has published 2 books with abstracts of Mercer County records focusing on Court Records and Marriage Records[11]. These books are LIFE SAVERS! Michael Cook has abstracted the first 3 volumes of the County Court records. In the books, every person’s name in a record is in all caps, so over time, I have been paging through the book looking for the name “John Smith”. And I believe that every time I go through a section of the book, I find a new mention that I didn’t notice before (or possibly didn’t make a connections for so I didn’t write it down.) I will be making a list of every mention of a John Smith (and any other name that jumps out at me as relevant) and then use the same approach that I used with land records to try to figure out which record goes with which John Smith. This is an ongoing project because the book is quite long and I haven’t focused on it the way that should have because I knew the microfilms were available online. But you can’t skim through the microfilms as easily as you can these abstracts.

A few things that I’ve determined based on Court Records I’ve been able to find so far:

  • It appears that John Taylor Smith, Zachariah Smith and Adam Smith are related.
  • John Taylor Smith does not appear at all in the Mercer County, Kentucky Court Orders volume 1 which covers 1786-1790. This may indicate that John was not in Mercer County before he obtained land from Zachariah.
  • Captain John Smith was involved in the estates of David Woods, John Harbison and Matthew Jeffries and therefore, might be researched further to see if those are a result of family relationships as well.
  • I believe Captain John Smith was sometimes referred to a “the lesser” to indicate the difference between Captain John Smith and Colonel John Smith.

Click on the links in the Scoreboard at the end of this post to see the most up-to-date charts with the court records I’ve been able to assign.

I still have more to do in the Court Records, but really, I wonder if I’m going to find anything that directly links people together. I do want to go back and do a little researching in Lincoln County before Mercer County was formed. And I want to try to figure out the relationships between Captain John Smith and Matthew Jeffries, David Woods and John Harbison, but that could take quite a while.

One John Smith I haven’t talked about yet is Colonel John Smith, so he will be the topic next Monday. There may be an additional post later this week if I find anything new in Lincoln County research.


  1. John Smith & Elizabeth Arbuckle – (son of John Taylor Smith)
  2. John Smith & Sally McDaniel
  3. John Taylor Smith updated
  4. Captain John Smith(not the father of John M. Smith)updated
  5. John Smith (d. 1812) – (cannot be John M. Smith)
  6. John Smith (d. 1815) and Elizabeth (d. 1820) – (not John M. Smith, not John Smith and Elizabeth Arbuckle)

[1] Mercer County, Kentucky, Deed Book 1, p221, FamilySearch film #7896914, image 118.

[2] Kentucky Land Grants, Book 1, p638, obtained from the Kentucky Secretary of State Land Records site,, preemption warrant #147 (accessed 8 Mar, 2021)

[3] Mercer County, Kentucky, Deed Book 1, p222, FamilySearch film #7896914, image 119.

[4] Mercer County, Kentucky, Marriages, Loose Papers, FamilySearch film #4705523, image 94.

[5] Mercer County, Kentucky, Marriages, Loose Papers, FamilySearch film #4705523, image 1059.

[6] Mercer County, Kentucky, Marriages, Loose Papers, FamilySearch film #4705524, image 307.

[7] Mercer County, Kentucky, Marriages, Loose Papers, FamilySearch film #4705524, image 291.

[8] Mercer County, Kentucky, Marriages, Loose Papers, FamilySearch film #4705525, image 709.

[9] Mercer County, Kentucky, Marriages, Loose Papers, FamilySearch film #4705526, image 51.

[10] Findagrave Memorial ID 142492507 – Ambrose Barlow.

[11] “Mercer County, Kentucky records”, Michael L. Cook, ACPL 976.901 M53CO v.1 and v.2.