Map Revelation?

Have you ever looked at something “a million times” and feel like you REALLY know it, but then see something you’ve never considered before when you look at it from a different angle?

I think that John M. Smith is the only ancestor that I have that I know EXACTLY where his land was located.  I don’t just mean which county he was in, but exactly where within the county! Kentucky is a “metes and bounds” state, so when I look at land deeds, I read about hickory trees and stakes with initials carved into them. It’s a real puzzle to put together.

But John M. Smith’s land was partially in Russell County and partially in Wayne County. And there was a creek running through it. And although the land was originally bounded by the Cumberland River (an Ash on the river bank), this river was dammed in 1952 and most of his land is now under Lake Cumberland. But I can still find the location of his land by looking at a map of the county BEFORE the dam was built.

Before the dam:



After the dam:


I can tell exactly where the land was due to the River, Beaver Creek and the county boundary line.

And in the last few weeks, I’ve discovered that John M. Smith can be found in the Wayne County tax records before Russell County was formed. I’m confident it’s the correct man because he is listed in a group with the families of his future sons-in-law during 2 years of taxes that are organized by military district. But he owned no land, so I’m stumped on how to find him before 1826 when the tax lists were alphabetical for the entire county. (Of course, there are multiple John Smiths…)

So last night, I was searching for Wayne County maps for my binder as I build up my Wayne County resources and I found an interesting map from 1914 showing oil deposits.

1914 Wayne County (Munn)

And as I was looking at John M. Smith’s area, for the first time, I noticed how close it was to Clinton County! How had a never noticed that before? Should I be looking in Clinton County as well? I am quite certain that I could find a John Smith in every county of Kentucky, so how would I know if I was looking at the correct man?

Not sure that I’m willing to take that route just yet, but I thought it was interesting to see how seeing a map from a Wayne County point of view instead of a Russell County point of view made me see something I’d never noticed before.

Update: Further research reveals that Clinton County was not formed until 1836 – after John M. had died.


Inch by inch

My John M. Smith (@1775 – 1835) appeared in the records I have found at a most inconvenient time. Russell County was formed in 1826. John bought his first tract of land which was half in Russell County and half in Wayne County in April of 1827. John’s sons were not old enough to appear in tax records at this time and he left no will when he died in 1835. I am certain of 6 children based on land records when they each buy or sell the land that was their part of John’s estate. But how can you move backward in time when the first land owned by a man comes that close to the formation of a new county? Especially with a name like John Smith! I know of no brothers or parents to follow and his children were too young to be listed in any records at this time.

Recently, I found tax records for Wayne County from which John’s part of Russell County was formed. I am pretty confident that my John was in Wayne County in 1826 and 1827 because the tax records for those years are organized by military company and John was listed in between 2 families who would eventually become in-laws. Henry Hardin Payne married John’s daughter, Sarah, in Russell County in 1828. Henry’s father was Philemon Payne. Thomas Simpson married John’s other daughter, Mary Jane, in Russell County in 1838. Thomas’ father was Reuben Simpson Jr and Abington was Thomas’ brother.

1826 Wayne County Taxes

1826 Wayne Co Taxes

1827 Wayne County Taxes

1827 Wayne Co Taxes










Unfortunately, most of the county tax records are arranged “alphabetically” – based on the first letter of the last name. Luckily, Smith and Simpson both start with S! John M. owned no land at this time, but his future in-laws did – and it was on Beaver Creek where John would eventually settle.

Still guessing, but at least it’s a little more of an educated guess. Inching my way backward, I have found:

  • John Smiths listed in 1825, but none of them are close to a Simpson.
  • In 1824, the page is dark with lots of ink bleed through but I can see a John between Abington Simpson and an Edward Smith. It does not look to me like the John is a Smith, but it is so garbled, I can’t be sure.
  • I can not find a likely candidate in 1823.
  • In 1822, John is listed on the page 3 lines above a possible Reuben (hard to read the handwriting) with Abington on the next page.
  • A John Smith (with no land, of course) is nestled nicely around Abington and Reuben Simpson in 1821 and 1820.
  • No John Smith that looks like a match before 1820.

So could there be a potential 1820 census for John Smith in Wayne County? Yes, but only if I’m able to keep an open mind…

John should be about 45-50 years old in 1820. He should have around 4-5 boys and 2 girls at this time. I know that there are probably additional children who died before John died. At least 2 sons died before 1840 – but they received land when John died, so I know a little bit about them – but not the years they were born. I do not know when John’s wife died, but I have never seen a deed or a census record in which she was alive.

I can once again use the future in-laws as a finding aid. These images are the bottom of one page and the top of the next.

Page 1Page 2

Looking for my “normal suspects”, starting on the first page above, I see Abington and Reubin Simpson Sr and on the next page, I see 2 John Smiths followed by Reubin Simpson Jr. The top John Smith does not have enough children and the bottom John has too many girls.  (The 3 is the beginning of the females.) I don’t see a woman who is old enough to be John’s wife, so I’m wondering if perhaps his wife has passed away and some family members are living with him to help raise the children? Or if some of the youngest girls passed away before the next census.

So these are certainly possibilities, but what will my next step be? I’ve looked for all court records with a John Smith in Wayne County and I find none. Records for the others I’ve been following are only records for roadwork. I can’t think of any other records that can help me know for SURE that I have the correct John.

I think I’ll try looking for land records for the Paynes and the Simpsons. Perhaps John was a witness for a deed. Other future in-laws in the county at this time are Peter Ellis and Andrew Meadows, so I’ll look for their land records as well. I’m also going to try to research a couple of Smith names that I’ve seen near John in the tax records – Christian, James and Edward/Edmund. Perhaps these men are brothers that can give me some clues. These are not names that I recognize from my research in other potential counties, but they did own land in Wayne County, so I will try to find deeds for these men to see what I can discover. I could also try to go through the tax records again to create a list of names who live on Beaver Creek. Perhaps those are deeds to look for as well.

I do feel like this path is much more likely than any other path I’ve tried for John, so for now, I’ll rejoice in the records that I’ve found and try to think “outside of the box” for my next step.  Any ideas you’d like to share would be appreciated!

My head’s in a cloud…

I’ve been working on condensing all of my genealogy files into a central location that I can access from anywhere – in other words, I’ve been trying to put everything out on “the cloud”. Now, I’m no slouch when it comes to technology, but my goodness, I’m about ready to throw in the towel on this idea! And it all comes down to 2 basic things….storage space and the ability to access and update my files on my iPad or iPhone as well as any computer I happen to be using.

Here’s my dilemma. I have long been a user of Dropbox, and I love it because of the automatic syncing.  But my Dropbox has been taken over by my home business. I actually have 2 accounts – the business account is massive and the other account – which was originally created for my genealogy stuff – is pretty small. Plus, I have to keep the business Dropbox synced on my laptop, so to access files on the other account, I need to sign in online – not really what I’m looking for. And even though I have my iPad Dropbox account set to read my genealogy Dropbox files, I can’t edit files easily without opening them in different apps that don’t automatically save the changes in Dropbox. Too much of a hassle. I have pages and pages of apps that different people have recommended, but they don’t seem to keep the files updated the way that I’d expect them to. I’m looking for EASY – not more apps!

So, I’ve spent the last week putting every scanned file that I have into my Google Drive. My thinking was that I would put images into Google Drive, but put spreadsheets and word processing files into another cloud service because I’m not comfortable with the fact that editing a Word document in Google Drive means converting it to Google Docs. My formatting gets changed and on the iPad, you can’t see – not to mention add or edit – any of the footnotes. (Update – As I’ve continued to work o this project, I see that I am not totally correct. I CAN edit files in Word as long as I’m on a computer. But I can’t see any of the Word files in the “Docs” app on my iPad that connects to my Google Drive. They don’t even show up in the list of files. I can only see Google Docs files.I was so happy to discover that I could still edit files in Word on my laptop that I’ll have to think about what I want to do. Just keep the Word files and not convert them to Docs? Convert something to Docs before I take my iPad to the library so that I can see the files? I don’t want to have multiple copies always wondering if I’ve updated correctly….still thinking this through.)That’s a pretty important thing in genealogy research. Can I live without seeing footnotes on the iPad version? Probably. Will that feature be updated in the future? Most likely. Am I willing to take the total dive into Google Docs for all of my genealogy work? My mind says “yes”, but my heart is just not sure. It would mean uploading all of my Word documents, converting them to Google Docs and then deleting the Word docs – since I only want to keep the updated stuff.  No more, “which version is the most recent?” for me! And I would no longer be working in Word or Excel, but in Docs and Sheets. Hmmm….

I recently bought a new laptop for my son who is starting his senior year in college. He has never had a new laptop, he’s always had the hand-me-down laptops from his older brother. When we bought the laptop, we had to make the decision about the Office package he would have. We could have Office 2013 for one price – good forever, but on one laptop only and no updates for new features. If I know anything about software, it’s that updates are coming more often! Or he could get Office 365 for a student and have the automatic updates for 4 years and he could install it on up to 5 devices. (Just let me say that it is MUCH cheaper to get Office 365 as a student! Around $80 for 4 years compared to $100 a year for non-students. YIKES!) But with Office 365, everything is cloud based. Nothing to install. That’s the wave of the future and I can see that for sure! Why would I not be willing to use Google Docs to do the same type of thing – but for free?

Still uncertain, I’m looking at other options. I’ve had SkyDrive on my laptop for a long time and I have quite a few genealogy files on there. In fact, it has become my collection point during this organization process. My thinking has been that everything new I collect needs to be in one place so I can get in the habit of using my cloud storage and so that I can stop wondering if I’ve collected everything off of my various flashdrives.

For quite awhile, I’ve been expecting that the SkyDrive label in my Explorer list would automatically change names to OneDrive since that change was made by the company, but it hasn’t and today I have a big mystery on my hands! I have 2 different Outlook email accounts, 1 for personal email and 1 for genealogy email. They each have their own OneDrive account, but neither of them is the SkyDrive account on my computer! I have no idea how to access this SkyDrive account from a different computer and now I’m worried that if the SkyDrive DID automatically update to something else, everything will be gone. The scramble is on. Move everything to OneDrive?

So I opened the OneDrive app on my iPad and I can see all of the files attached to one of my Outlook emails. So far, so good. I can see that I have a nice set of genealogy notes on there that I must have saved awhile back. When I clicked on one of the sets of notes, it opened with the Microsoft Word app that I have on my iPad. Good! I like using Word – it’s what I’m used to and I should be able to keep all my formatting and I can see the footnotes on my iPad! But wait, while I can READ all of my notes in the Word app, I cannot WRITE or EDIT anything without the Office 365 account. Screeching halt! There’s no way that I’m going to pay that much money for an updated version of Microsoft Office while I’m perfectly happy with my 2010 version just so I can access and update files on my iPad. Especially while I have free access to something very similar using Google. Find an app that will open the file – sure. But does it automatically save the update in OneDrive – not that I can find. It would mean re-uploading and that’s something I’d rather avoid because I know that’s where my weakness is. I’m going for the KISS method, for sure and while I thought OneDrive was going to be the answer, I think I’m ruling that out.

But what about storage space? Is there a possibility that I could eventually use up all of the space that I’m giving with a Google Drive account? Probably. But you know what? Gmail is free – I can have all of the Gmail addresses that I want! To try this out, I set up a new Gmail account using a specific surname thinking that I could set up 4 accounts if I wanted – one for each grandparent’s line. Voila! 15 gb of storage! And I have a feeling that the amount of free storage given for email accounts will increase over time, but we’ll see. The biggest drawback to this method – I’d have to sign into a specific account to see those records. But that’s a problem for another day…

So what have I learned? I can’t continue to use flashdrives as my genealogy storage. They are too easy to lose and I’m sure I’ll experience a failure sooner or later. If I wasn’t worried about computer crashes or accessibility, I’d just keep everything on my laptop. That would be the easiest solution by far. To back up files, I like using flashdrives, but my “addiction” to them has turned my genealogy life into chaos. . Keeping files in the cloud makes the most sense. Training myself to ONLY work on with the files from the cloud will be the priority. No more, “I’ll put this on my flashdrive for now and find the proper place for it later”!

I’m so glad I decided to take today to figure out which cloud storage works best on my iPad, because THAT has been eye-opening. It has become the deciding factor as I want to become more portable in my genealogy work. Google Drive is the winner for me, but with reservations. We’ll see how this “experiment” works over time!


Progress Report

In my last post, I stated that I was pausing all record collection until I got my files, piles, folders and binders organized for at least 1 ancestor – John M. Smith. That project is going well, but I hit a wall when it came to the digital records.  Oh, I’ve been working on it, but I’m at a point where I’m paralyzed with fear!

I’ve written before about my love affair with flash drives: Confession of a Flash Addict. And I still haven’t been able to break the habit! Well, my problem is the great fear of deleting something that’s had information added that I didn’t add to the “master” file because I didn’t happen to have the “master flash” with me at that moment. So I’ve decided that using “THE CLOUD” as my master file has got to be the answer.  I can’t think of too many places I would be that I don’t have internet access except in my car and in certain hotels. In those cases, I’ll have to take only the files that I’ll be working on and put them on a flash drive and then replace all of the files in the cloud after a trip – and then delete them from the flash drive. If I’m missing a file that I need, then I’ll just have to find the nearest McDonald’s or Starbucks, get the file and then be back on my way.

So I’m taking a step – I’ve decided that during this organization phase,  as I put a file out on Sky Drive (I guess this is now actually called One Drive), I will find copies of that file on each flash drive and delete it.  I would never have the time to go through each file to compare, so I’m going to have to live with the consequences of my actions and choose the file that I think is most complete and get rid of the rest. Yes, get rid of them! That’s the only way to know that the file that I’m working on has all of the updated information.

Now, I’m not too worried about most of my files, but I know I’ve done more work on my Stephens family and my Smith family than any other family. So those notes and group sheets will be compared.  But everything else, I’m taking on faith. I’ve already started the process. All of my digital notes files have been uploaded except for Smiths and Stephens.  John M. Smith’s notes have been extensively updated as I’ve been going through organizing piles, so those are already on the cloud. I don’t believe I’ve updated any other Smith notes except John M, so the other family members should be easy to do a quick comparison and then upload and delete from the flash.  The Stephens family notes will have to wait for awhile, so those will remain on the flash.

Now I do have a small confession to make.  Yesterday was my birthday, so I did take a trip to the library and I collected a few tax records and deeds. Those have been properly labeled and today, will be uploaded directly to the cloud and then deleted from the flash that I had to put them on at the library. These records are for “possible connections”, so for the most part, they don’t affect any of the notes files I’ve got going with the exception of some expanded tax information that I didn’t have before. That info was added to my newly updated and uploaded master notes for John M. Smith.

So on with the organization! Or should I say, on with the deleting! (YIKES!)

Stop! Do Not Pass Go!

Have you ever decided to put all new research on hold until you get what you have organized? How many hours do I have to spend trying to figure out what I have and what I want to do next before I decide that it would not be wise to add more piles of goodies to my stacks? I think I’m there.

I’ve finished my last year of teaching and now I will be working full time with my husband on our business. So I’ve been doing all kinds of organizing in the house – stuff I’ve wanted to do for years, but haven’t taken the time to do – and my office is looking great. But when I realized that I had a free day after working all week-end, I decided to have a day at the library. I thought I’d take the morning to gather my materials before taking off so I’d know exactly what I wanted to look for. It did not take me long to see that my files LOOK organized – nice neat piles and lovely binders and folders – but if I wanted to find my most recent print outs from my last trip to the library, I was lost.

So I’m taking a day (as if I could get this done in a day!) to organize one ancestor – John M. Smith. I’ve got to stop making new group sheets for potential family members and instead, find all the ones I’ve already filled out and written little notes on and get all of the information into 1 “master” group sheet! No more post-it notes stuck to the group sheets – I’ve got to make that information more permanent on the sheet. I have 2 different computers now so I think I’m going to use OneDrive so that when I need to add information, I’ll know exactly where the file is and I’ll be able to access it from either computer or my iPad.  I’ve done a lot of work using Dropbox in the past, but now that is being “taken over” with business stuff and I’d really like to keep it separate, so I’ll be working to migrate stuff to OneDrive while trying to weed out duplicate files at the same time.

I’ve also got to organize print outs and transcriptions. Have I transcribed that deed already? Who knows! Well, it’s all digital, but are the files together? Of course not! I’m going to put all print outs into chronological order by county and make sure it’s all labeled correctlly before I add another print out to my stash. It’s not hard to tell that I’m looking at a tax list, and I have have the year written at the bottom, but no county! I’m sure that at the time I thought I’d label them as soon as I got home.  Never again!

So as I’m organizing these files, I’m thinking about what exactly I’d like to have with me at the library.  I certainly can’ take everything! I would like to grab one binder and go at a moment’s notice. It must be a binder because of the way my brain is wired.  Out of sight – out of mind! I have every single record I’ve ever collected saved in a digital format, but I can’t flip through a flash drive the way that I can flip through a binder. I can’t write notes and questions in the margins or on the back of a digital file – but I can on a paper version in a binder.  The binder method is a must, but what will be in the binder?

  • I absolutely love my notes for an individual – they are quite lengthy! They are written like a timeline with cropped images whenever possible along with my transcriptions or thoughts. Questions that I want to research are in red. So I don’t need actual document printouts, but I’ll definitely have my notes. (Someday, these notes will be re-written as more of a narrative than timeline.)
  • I have a horrible problem remembering family relationships other than my direct line.  So I’ll want group sheets for the main person, his/her parents and in-laws, each child and the grandchildren, if possible. (I have quite a rash of cousins marrying cousins, but I can never seem to remember exactly how they are related.)
  • The research log that I’ve created for that individual. This is an Excel document that has each question I want to research along with a list of websites, books or films that might help me answer that question. Results are recorded as well.
  • A sections for FANs – information I’ve collected on associates and neighbors including any biographies orgroup sheets I’ve put together.
  • Some system for remembering what I’ve collected for potential connections and locations.  I don’t know that I want to keep every print out of a potential tax record or deed, but I need to have some way to keep track of what I’ve collected so I don’t re-collect it.

And now – back to it!!

Kentucky Pioneers – a movie

I haven’t had much time to work on my genealogy research lately – but I have been organizing my genealogy office, so I still feel like I’m getting things done. We had company for the holiday week-end, but everyone has gone now and I’m taking some time to do some genealogy surfing.  I decided to spend some time on Internet Archives and I came across this 10-11 minute educational film from 1941 about the “typical” experiences of a family traveling to Fort Harrod in 1780.  The film is entertaining, but because it was created for school children, it is a very sanitized account of a family traveling during this time period. I did think it had some interesting visuals and it was fun to watch so I thought you might enjoy it as well.

Hope everyone has enjoyed the week-end!


Why didn’t I think of that??

Today was the last day of school (insert happy dance here!) and not only was it the last day of the school year, but it was my last day as an Algebra teacher! Tomorrow is my last day (clean out day!) and then I’m “retiring”. Well, I’m actually going to be working at home with my husband in a business we started about a year ago. But it means a major shift to the routine of my days – some days will be filled beyond belief and other days will be pretty open. THOSE days will be genealogy days, of course!

Tonight, I was in a genealogy mood, but just too physically tired to get out files or go to the library, so I decided to take a “stroll” through my own blog.  I searched for all of the posts I’ve written about a particular ancestor and I was amazed at how much I had written – and how much I had FORGOTTEN that I had written! Lots of ideas for things to research – research plans, books to look for and connections to consider.

So my “tip of the day” is to re-read what you’ve written on your own blog! See what your thought processes were in the past and see what you still need to follow up on!

In Honor of…

Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor ancestors who served the United States in the military. Today, I would like to honor 2 of my great-uncles: Arthur Bennett and Link Bennett. They were my mother’s uncles and they were very dear to her heart.

Arthur 4


Arthur Alexander Bennett (1919 – 2004) who served in the Army during WWII and the Korean War







1943 Arlus Lincoln Pvt Marine CorpsArlus (Albert) Link Bennett (1922 – 2003) who served in the Marines during WWII


FAN list – a 3 way connection?

Andrew Meadows:

There end up being 3 surnames tangled in this mess, so I’m going to try a bit of color with each surname to try to tie things together.

John M. Smith’s 2nd son (that I know of) was Elias Smith – born about 1810. Elias married Elizabeth Meadows in 1834 in Russell County, Kentucky and Andrew Meadows was Elizabeth’s father.

Andrew was born 17 Jun 1791. I can find him in the 1820 census for Wayne County, Kentucky and Andrew’s father, James, is also in Wayne County in 1810. Andrew can be found in each census for Russell County from 1830 – 1870. According to his tombstone, Andrew died in 1873 and is buried in the Jamestown Cemetery in Russell County.

In Feb, 1833, John M. was made the administrator of the estate of John B. Smith.  I have never been able to found a record for “John B Smith” so I have not been able to make a connection to, but I suspect that he may have been one of John M‘s sons. Andrew Meadows is the security of the Administrator Bond. Interestingly, Hiram Rowe is listed on the Executor’s bond the same day, but Hiram’s name is crossed out and Andrew’s name written in on the Administrator’s bond.

On the “potential line” that I’m trying to connect to, there is a Mercer Co, Kentucky Guardian Bond dated Feb, 1833 for a deceased John Smith. I can only see an abstract for the bond (, but it says that there was an orphan, Fanny – a bondsman, John Garr – and a guardian, John League. I have to wonder if the deceased could be John B. Smith? The timeline works – John M. Smith b. abt. 1776, m. abt 1800 could have had a son, John B. Smith who could have been of marrying age before 1833 and had a child. Is it too much of a coincidence that 2 men named John Smith both died in Feb, 1833 and that records for each appear in the exact 2 counties that I’m trying to connnect? The name “John Smith” is so common, maybe I’m trying too hard to make this work? The Garr surname does appear in a Meadows connection, described below. I’ve done just enough research on John League to know that he moved his family to Indiana, so I don’t expect to see his name again, but I will keep it in the back of my mind.

Andrew Meadows was listed as security along with John Cook for George A. and Elias Smith to be the administrators of their father’s (John M. Smith) estate in 1835.

I began filling in children of Andrew Meadows and doing a quick search on each child and found his youngest son, Andrew C. Meadows, married Mary Margaret Gaar in 1852. The 1900 census for the family included mother-in-law, Fitny. I continued to research and found that Fetnah Jane Smith had married Louis Proctor Garr in 1831. They were the parents of Mary Margaret Garr.

Will this link back to the 1833 Smith/Garr guardian bond?

I decided to create a chart to show how these families relate to each other and as I do research I will continue to look for these surnames in each time frame that I examine. I don’t have the break through yet, but here is the chart.  I tried to arrange the names to show who might have the potential to appear at the same time in the right records to help me narrow down what to look for.  Vertical lines show a parent/child relationships. I did not skip generations.

Smith Garr Meadows Chart

The only names I am taking on faith from someone’s un-sourced online tree would be William Smith and Mary Baber. While Fetnah’s mother in this chart would have been 41 years old when giving birth, William would have been almost 60. I see potential for a missing generation there, but I know that this scenerio is not impossible.

So where do I go from here? I’m not sure. I have a nice pension application file for James Meadows, so I will be checking those names and locations to see if I can find a Smith match. And the Garr/Gaar surnames is more unique than Smith or Meadows, so I’ll certainly be watching for that!

I would love to find out more about the John Smith who died in 1833.  I think I’ll be taking a look at the tax and land records of that time to see if that reveals anything. I’m also going to examine more Wayne County records to see if I can extend the Meadows and Smith association. I’m off to the library right now!

Eight Years is a lifetime?

Eight years.  That’s the entire timeline that I have documented for my 4th-great-grandfather, John M. Smith. And he has been my longest running brick wall in all of my genealogy research. I have 11 pages of notes for John, but the only information that I can prove spans an 8 year period from the time right after Russell County was formed until his death in 1835.  That means a significant portion of his life is still to be discovered!

His first proven appearance comes in a land purchase of 100 acres along the Cumberland River in April of 1827 followed by a listing in the tax records for that same year. Where did John come from before this?  Because it is such a common name and because I have no information on siblings, I have not been able to prove a family connection to take me back another generation.

So I’m turning to names in the “other” category.  Names which may or may not be related but which I hope can yield some clue that will help me break down this brick wall. So who do I have and what do I know about them? I’m planning to list each person one at a time in order to do some “quick” research on each man as I write to help keep me from getting distracted!

James Gilbert: On Dec 31, 1827 a land grant was given to John M. Smith and James Gilbert. The land straddles the Russell County/Wayne County boundary line. I’m unsure why a grant would be given to 2 individuals.  Does this mean it’s likely that they are related? Could James or his wife be related to John’s wife?

The following day, on Jan 1, 1828, another grant was given. In this grant, it says, “granted by the said Commonwealth unto John M Smith & James Gilbert assignee of said Smith who was assignee of Timothy Burgess assignee of Braxton Carter who was assignee of Elijah Hutchison”. So in this grant, John M. had the grant and he sold (I assume) a portion of the grant to James Gilbert but that the original grant was for Elijah Hutchinson who sold to Braxton Carter who sold to Timothy Burgess who sold to John M. Smith.  Timothy Burgess’s line is mentioned as a border of this land.

Doing a very quick search on Ancestry, I found an un-sourced family tree which says that James was born around 1788 and that he married Sally Decker around 1817 in Wayne Co, Kentucky.  The tree indicated that James was born in Wayne County, but it wasn’t formed until 1800, so that assumption is incorrect. In fact, Kentucky wasn’t even a state until 1792.  John Smith was born around 1775 and was married around 1800 based on the age of the oldest child that I am aware of.  Perhaps I should research James’ father – possibly Elijah Gilbert (the only Gilbert I see of the correct age in 1810 Wayne Co census. There is a John Smith in the correct age range on the same census page as Elijah. I will follow up on this.)

I can find James Gilbert listed in the 1820 Wayne County census living next to an Abner Decker. On the Kentucky GenWeb site for Wayne County, there is a transcription that only says “Gilbert, James m. Sally Decker 1817”. The only other Gilbert listed is Richard Gilbert who married Elizabeth Melbourne on 16 Apr 1822. There are several Decker marriages, but James and Sally are one of the earliest listed.  Wayne County was formed in 1800, but the transcribed marriage records begin with 1811.

I find James Gilbert, age 16-25, listed in the 1820 Wayne County census with a wife and a daughter under age 10. (Assuming relationships here.) By 1830, he can be found in Russell County, but both census lists are alphabetical and I cannot tell if he is living near John M. or not.

In 1826, the county boundaries changed and the north western sliver of Wayne County became the south eastern edge of Russell Co, so it’s likely that there was no moving involved between the 1820 census and the 1830 census. In the map below, the white boarder in the center of the map is the area that would become Russell County. This map is off slightly as I know that John’s land was just south of the Cumberland River and that the lower loop of the River was actually in Wayne County.  This is the area where the land grant land was located.


In 1835, James Gilbert and his wife, Elizabeth G. Gilbert (a second wife?) of Spencer County, Kentucky sell their share of the 1827/8 land grant as well as another parcel of land to John M. Smith. John M. died in the fall of 1835.

I can find a James Gilbert in the 1840 Spencer County census, but he is 10 years younger than expected.  In 1850, the census shows that his wife’s name is Elizabeth. By 1860, there is no wife listed, but in 1870, Elizabeth is once again shown.  Perhaps this is another marriage. James is found a final time in the Mortality Schedules indicating that he died in 1879 at the age of 80.  He was listed as a widow. At this time, I have found no probate records for James after doing a quick look at FamilySearch.

As I think through possibilities for gaining information from James Gilbert, I’ve decided to:

1) Search for a marriage record for James Gilbert and Sally Decker to see if there are clues from a bondsman or witness.
2) Search for land transactions for James Gilbert to see if there are any clues to relationships.
3) Continue searching for a will from James Gilbert.
4) Search the tax records for Wayne County to see when Elijah Gilbert died or possibly left the county.
5) I will try to analyze the tax records for Elijah AND the John Smith that I found to see if they arrived in the area around the same time. I’ll need to keep in mind:

  • Wayne County would have been Pulaski County for 1 year just before its formation (1799)
  • Green County from 1793 – 1799.
  • Kentucky became a state in 1792 and at that time, this area was part of Lincoln County.

6) Continue researching Elijah Gilbert to see if I can find a will that might mention a child or grand-children to connect the Gilberts to John M. Smith.

Next time: Andrew Meadows.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 361 other followers