John M. Smith case study #15

Several weeks ago, I posted about finding the gravesite for Ambrose Barlow (son-in-law of John Smith the taylor) in Barren County, but before jumping to a new county, I wanted to go ahead and collect the Court and Tax records from Mercer County for the charts, which I’ve already posted about.

NOW to Barren County!

The Findagrave memorial for Ambrose Barlow is an interesting one. He is listed in the Munford-Crenshaw Cemetery (Memorial ID 142492507), but it turns out he wasn’t buried in this cemetery. What IS there is a plaque or “cenotaph marker” listing “Revolutionary War Soldiers Honored Here by Descendants”. I can see that Ambrose Barlow is listed as being born in 1755 in Virginia and died on March 13, 1839 and was a Sgt. in the Infantry of the Continental Line.

The Findagrave biography section indicates that he is actually buried in the Bush-Barlow Cemetery in Fountain Run, Kentucky and that there is an additional cenotaph marker in the Glasgow Municipal Cemetery. I have not been able to find a Bush-Barlow Cemetery, but there is a Bush Graveyard. It looks like it’s a family cemetery in the middle of a farmer’s field and it contains 6 graves. There is an Ambrose Barlow Bush and an Ambrose P. Bush, but no Ambrose Barlow. I checked the Fountain Run Cemetery, but he is not there either. I suspect that Ambrose was buried in a family cemetery, but there was never a stone or it is missing. If anyone has further information, I’d love to hear it!

The memorial in the Glasgow Municipal Cemetery (Memorial ID 52054966) has a marker on a memorial stone. It states, “In memory of Ambrose Barlow born in Culpepper Co, VA. July 1766 died Aug. 13, 1839.”

So the birth date between the 2 cemeteries differs by 11 years. Which date of birth makes more sense? If Ambrose was born in 1755, then he would have been 21 in 1776 (military service) and 32 when he got married. That seems a bit old for a first marriage, so if this is correct, perhaps there was a first marriage. If Ambrose was born in 1766, then he would have been 10 years old in 1776 and that seems unreasonable for military service. But he would have been 21 when he married Ann Smith.

The plaque in the Glasgow Cemetery is an official plaque on his memorial stone placed by the Edmund Rogers Chapter of the NSDAR. Does that give it more weight? Hmmmm…..I’ve seen the name Edmund Rogers in the deeds for Capt. John Smith… Does that mean anything?

But WAIT! There is another angle for the marker that is a little easier to read.

Looking through the other names on the Munford-Crenshaw cenotaph marker, I see Edmund Rogers listed and JOHN SMITH. Could this be Capt. John Smith? I know that he had land transactions in Barren County. It is difficult to read the plaque, but I believe it says that John Smith was born April 1748 in Virginia and died on Feb 21, 1809 in Kentucky, so no, this is not Captain John Smith because he died in 1825. This John was an ensign in George Rogers Clark’s Regiment. There is no memorial in this cemetery for John Smith, so I decided to take a look for any probate for a John Smith in Barren County.

Barren County Probate Records

When looking at the index for Barren County probate records[1], I see a John Smith will and inventory for 1809 and 1810. Bingo!

The will[2] for John Smith begins with, “In the name of God Amen I John Smith (Taylor) of Mercer County…” Found him! What can I glean from the will?

Barren County Will Book 1 – pg. 117

In the name of God Amen

I John Smith (Taylor) of Mercer County of sound mind and memory do make this my last Will and Testament.

To wit,

I direct that my just debts shall be first paid and that my wife Elizabeth Smith shall have one third part of the money arising from my whole Estate after paying my just Debts I Give to my Daughter Martha and Keziah fifty pounds each to be paid as soon as the same be collected from the sale of my Estate

I Give to my Daughters Mary Elizabeth Susannah and Fanny fifty pounds each they first give my credit for such articles as they have received in part of their different portions

I have Given to my sons Aaron and John and to my Daughter Ann their full portions

I Give to my son Michael all the remainder of my Estate of every kind and sort soever including my out standing debts and do appoint my said son Michael to be Executor of this my Last Will and Testament and I desire that my said Executor shall make a Title to Aaron Smith or his assign for fifty Acres as laid off at the south End of my land and that he also shall carry in to effect the bargain I have made with John Rochester or cancel or alter it or he shall think proper and Make a Title to the land where on I leave if [necessary?] witness my hand and seal 5th June 1806.

John Smith (seal)


Uriah Taylor

Sally Taylor

Arnold Cain

Wyatt Martin

Jas Speed

Barren County to wit, October County Court 1809

The foregoing Instrument in Writing purporting to be the last Will & Testament of John Smith Deceased was produced in Court and Uriah Taylor and Sally Taylor two of the subscribing witnesses being sworn deposeth and saith that the said John Smith died in their presence deliver the said writing for his Will and that they believe him to be in his proper sense and memory when he died the same & thereupon the said Writing was order to be recorded as the true last Will & Testament of the said John Smith Dec’d.

Test: Wm Logan Clk

Lisa’s note: I’m not sure if the marks around Taylor are meant to be commas or parentheses. Here’s an image of what is written in the will book:

Moving forward, rather than noting this man as John Smith (Taylor), I’m going to begin noting him as John Smith (1809) because based on tax records we’ve looked at previously, I believe this is his occupation which is included to tell him apart for the other John Smiths in the area and because none of the other John Smiths died in 1809.

The marks around “Taylor” are the same marks that I see in a deed around the words “to wit”. Many transcriptions that I read have “(to wit)”. But in more modern transcriptions, I see commas.

And now, back to what I can learn from the will:

  • His wife is Elizabeth
  • He has daughters: Ann, Mary, Elizabeth, Susannah, Fanny, Martha and Keziah
  • He has sons: Aaron, John and Michael
  • “I have given to my sons Aaron and John and to my daughter Ann their full portions”
    • Based on the Group Sheet I have put together for John Smith (1809), these 3 may be the 3 oldest children.
    • Does “full portion” mean land? Money?
    • I know that Ann was married to Ambrose Barlow
  • Everything else goes to son: Michael. Michael to be the executor.
    • I have no birth or marriage information for Michael.
    • Does this mean Michael was the oldest? Or the child that lived nearest?
  • Michael is to give Aaron a title for 50 acres “as laid off at the south end of my land and shall carry into effect the bargain I have made with John Rochester”
    • Where is this land? Mercer or Barren County?
  • Written June 5, 1806, produced in the Barren County Court October 1809 session.
  • Witnesses to the will: Uriah Taylor, Sally Taylor, Arnold Cain, Wyatt Martin, James Speed.
    • A quick search for Uriah Taylor reveals that he married Sally Smith, daughter of Zachariah Smith, who gave permission[3] on June 28, 1793. I suspect that Zachariah Smith and John Smith may have been brothers. That would make Uriah and Sally Taylor John’s niece and nephew, but that relationship is not proven.

There were two inventories taken for John Smith – one in Mercer County and one in Barren County. These[4] provide additional information.

  • The Barren County inventory includes farm animals, farming tools, and various pieces of furniture, among other things, which seems to indicate that he had a home in Barren County.
  • The inventory was submitted on Dec. 19, 1809 by Harden Trigg, James Franklin and Dan Curd.
  • But on the very next page (page 131), there is also an inventory from Mercer County. There are only 2 animals and a corner cupboard. This inventory was collected by John Miziner, William Threlkild and Lawrence Garr.
  • On page 132, there is an entry that says, “Barren County, To wit, October Term 1809, ordered that Jesse Smith John Mison William Threllkill & Lawrence Garr or any three of them…do appraise in current money the personal estate and slaves, if any, of John Smith deceased which property is remaining in the County thereof to the County Court of Barren”
    • Jesse Smith was the son of Zachariah Smith
    • John’s daughter, Mary, was married to John Garr, so Lawrence Garr was probably related through him.

The estate was settled on March 18, 1822[5]. This is a reminder to me that you can find records for an estate many years after the time of death!

Now, to update the chart based on the will, inventory, and marriage records:

My theory is that John Smith (1809) is the father of John M. Smith.
If true, that would make Elizabeth Arbuckle the wife of John M. Smith.


  • How much land did John have left when he died? Where was it?
  • Did Michael (or anyone else) pay taxes on the land in 1810 or 1811?
  • The plaque in the Munford-Crenshaw cemetery indicates that John was an Ensign in George Rogers Clark’s Illinois Regiment. What else can I find?
  • Are there other records in Barren County that would give me additional clues?

So where am I with all of this at this point? I think I’m down to one most likely option.

1) I believe John Smith who married Elizabeth Arbuckle is the son of John Smith (1809)

2) I found no records tying John Smith who married Sally McDaniel to the Danville area, so I don’t believe he is John M. Smith

3) John Smith (1809) had a son named John. I believe he is the father of #1.

4) Captain John Smith did not have a son named John in his will, so I don’t believe he was the father of John M. Smith.

5) John Smith who died in 1812 cannot be John M. Smith because he died too soon.

6) John and Elizabeth Smith who were probated together in 1820 did have a son named John, but so far, I have found very few records for this John Smith.

7) If John M. Smith were the son of Colonel John Smith, I feel like that information would have been passed on in the family lore – at least to Oscar Smith’s generation.

So where to turn next? Research is going to have to turn to the children of John Smith (1809) to see what I can find. But before I do that, I feel like this would be a good time to take a look at DNA to see if this theory is even possible.

Next week: My DNA matches


  1. John Smith & Elizabeth Arbuckle – (son of John Taylor Smith)
  2. John Smith & Sally McDaniel – no information found
  3. John Smith (1809) – updated – (Could be the father of John M. Smith)
  4. Captain John Smith(not the father of John M. Smith)
  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)
  7. Colonel John Smith

[1] Barren County, Kentucky, General Index to Deeds, p318, FamilySearch film #4818751, image 337.

[2] Barren County, Kentucky, Will Book 1, p117, FamilySearch film #4818752, image 73.

[3] Mercer County, Kentucky, Marriages, Loose Papers, FamilySearch film #4705523, image 799.

[4] Barren County, Kentucky, Will Book 1, p130, FamilySearch film #4818752, image 80.

[5] Barren County, Kentucky, Will Book 2, p150, FamilySearch film #4818752, image 374.