John M. Smith case study #17

Based on all of the research that I’ve done so far, my theory is that John Smith (the Taylor), who I label as John Smith (1809), is the father of John M. Smith. I know that John Smith (1809) was the father of John Smith who married Elizabeth Arbuckle.

Moving on to a new county is hard. Hard for me to stay disciplined and not make too many assumptions. It means starting research “from scratch”. Deeds, taxes, court records…all of it. I need to start new charts to collect information until I can confidently combine charts into their correct lineup. But I also want to be smart. I often find myself collecting information for John Smiths just for the sake of collecting. Because of the sheer number of John Smiths in Kentucky, I can’t fall into this rabbit hole for too long.

A lot of this information is from documents that I have been collecting over time. But I have never organized it using this format, so I’m hoping to be able to discover new clues and to weed through the various John Smiths to see if any of them line up with John M. Smith.

Let’s start with a quick reminder on the will of John Smith (1809):

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.

Here is a portion of my family group sheet for John Smith (1809). These are the children of John and Elizabeth.

Why would John Smith (1809) move to Barren County? Recall that Capt. John Smith also had a couple of land transactions in Barren County. (Captain John Smith’s chart)

Prior to Kentucky statehood, Virginia had reserved all the land in Kentucky south of Green River for soldiers who needed payment for their service in the Revolutionary War. Until 1797, no person could enter a survey within this area except for a soldier. Around this time, Kentucky enacted new legislation opening up this land to “any persons possessed of family and over twenty-one years of age.”[1] These people were entitled to 100-200 acres of land but must have been a bona fide settler on the land for one year before they came into possession. As the land was surveyed, they became known as the Grants South of Green River. Barren County falls in this area. Among the list of grants for Barren County are Michael Smith, John Smith, and John Arbuckle.

Barren County in the area South of the Green River (the yellow area is the Green River Watershed – not related to the land grants)

Military District which later became the area South of the Green River

What is my goal for Barren County? Can I connect M. Smith to John Smith (1809)? How many family members can be found in Barren County? If the children are not in Barren County, can I track where they are? I need to look for

  • John Smith (d. 1809)
  • Michael Smith
  • Aaron Smith (wife, Rebecca)
  • John (M) Smith (wife, Elizabeth)
  • Ambrose Barlow (wife, Sarah Ann)
  • John Garr (wife, Mary)
  • Jacob Fry (wife, Elizabeth) – according to FamilySearch, Jacob died in 1808. No source.
  • John Arbuckle (wife, Susannah)
  • Thomas Doke (wife Fanny)
  • John Saunders (wife, Martha)
  • Maybe Uriah Taylor (wife Sally, dau. of Zach)

When I began researching Barren County, I started with tax lists to see if I could discover how much land John Smith (1809) had when he died and who started paying the taxes for that land after he passed away.

I began looking for John Smith and any potential children in the tax records around 1808-1810. In this chart, I am not listing anyone with no land to save space.

Of course, the name John Smith jumped out at me. But why would his land be taxed in his name after 1809? I thought perhaps the land shifted from John Smith (1809) to John Smith, the son. But after examining additional tax records, I believe this John Smith is the son-in-law of Francis Lattimore who died in Barren County in 1817. (I am labeling him as John Smith “153” because of the amount of land he had in these records.) Francis Lattimore was also a recipient of land through the Grants South of Green River. This John Smith was one of the executors of the Lattimore estate[2]. There are many deeds which deal with the division of the land among the various families after Francis passed away. I probably did not find them all because of concentrating only on John Smith. But once I started putting information in the chart, I was able to connect other records that I had already collected. Note: The “Notes” section contains notes that I was writing while trying to connect this John Smith to other records. I’m leaving them for anyone who might happen to be researching this John Smith.

Bottom line – I have not found any specific deed for land in Barren County that I can tie back to John Smith (1809) and I am still puzzled by the land records for John in Mercer County.

If I start with 243 acres and subtract all of the sold land, I end up with 4 acres. However, I can find no record of Ambrose Barlow selling his 50 acres. Did that land go back to John Smith? I recently purchased the book, “Kentucky Ancestry” by Roseann Reinemuth Hogan. In the book, she discusses various types of grants and deeds and she states, “Deeds were not necessary when land was sold, given, or devised via a will, to a son, daughter, or spouse. Deeds could be, and were, made to relatives for “love and affection” but were not always recorded. If heirs kept the property, they could retain ownership for generations without having a deed made.” So it may be that I will never solve this particular puzzle, but I will be keeping my eyes open.

Another question: why did Aaron Smith pay for land purchased by Frederick Dayhoff?

I would love to solve this because of a specific line in the 1809 will, “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”.

Where was this land? Was the 50 acres that was given to Ambrose Barlow the same land that was to be given to Aaron Smith? In 1806, John Smith (1809) sold 89 acres “it being the tract of land whereon the said Smith now lives” on Harrod’s Run to John Rochester.

So I will research Aaron Smith to see what I can find for him.

I am beginning a “Barren County Records Collection Sheet”. In this document, I will keep track of any document I can find for members of this family. I have gone through through Deed Books, the Surveyor Book, Court Records, and Will Records, but it is (as always) a work in progress.

Barren County Collections Sheet

And so, the search continues. I will continue to make posts about my search, but I don’t know that they will be weekly. As the weather gets nicer, there is more work to be done in the yard, and our business has been getting increasingly busy in the last month. I am just not able to spend as much time researching as I did over the winter.

So I’m going to say once again…I’d love to hear from anyone researching the family of John M. Smith!


[1] Jillson’s Kentucky Land Grants, page 9

[2] Francis Lattimore will – Barren County, Kentucky, Will Book 1, p430-435, FamilySearch film #4818752, image 231.