Spotlight on: Simon Stacy

In my John M. Smith case study document, I mentioned that Simon Stacy seems to show up pretty often in my Smith family as a witness or neighbor, so I put together a timeline of what I can find for Simon. I don’t have a good connection for the Smith and Stacy family other than the fact that they were neighbors, but as soon as I start researching a person, I figure I might as well create a document with what I’ve found.

I usually begin with a timeline and then, expand on it if I find a connection. In the timeline phase, I do not add “citation” information as endnotes. Instead, I just give the information within the document. Unless stated otherwise, everything is from FamilySearch. This is my own “shorthand”, so here’s how I read it. The fourth bullet states “Pulaski Co Deeds 2:50 [31]. This would be found in Pulaski County (Kentucky) Deed Book 2, page 50 which is found on image 30 in the FamilySearch digital file. (All numbers inside square brackets indicate the image number.) If an item is not found on FamilySearch, it is usually found on Ancestry and I give that image number as well.

I do have this timeline in my Google Drive and that is where any updates will be made. You can access that file here. **As I have continued to do research, this timeline has been updated. See the timeline for the most up-to-date information. BUT, let me also say that for the 1834 deed, I discovered that there were actually 2 more tracts of land in the deed! (See the timeline for this new information.) The only way I discovered this information was to transcribe the entire deed. I usually do this for every deed, but since this wasn’t my direct line….lesson learned!

  • 1792 – Wilkes County, NC Marriage bonds, 1778-1868, vol P-V [994] Bond for Simon Stacy with Thomas Ferguson for marriage to Elizabeth Hulme
  • 1803 – Pulaski Co Tax List [148] 200 acres on Fishing Creek entered in the name of John Hutson
  • 1805 – Pulaski Co Tax List [218] 200 acres on Fishing Creek entered in the name of Hudson
  • 1807 – Pulaski Co Deeds 2:50 [31] – Henry and Elizabeth Francis to Simon Stacy 200 acres on Fishing Creek.
  • 1810 census – Pulaski County, Ancestry image 15
  • 1820 census – Pulaski County, Ancestry image 17
  • 1830 – Possibly found in the Pulaski County census – Ancestry [91] – oldest male age 60-69
  • 1831 – Pulaski Co. tax list [680] – 200 acres on Fishing Cr (James and Charles Stacy just above Simon – Peter Stacy on previous page)
  • 1833 – Pulaski Co. tax list [781] – Charles and unreadable Stacy
  • 1833 – Russell Co. tax list p31 [213] – (Same page as John M.) 286 + 100 + 42 + 200 (Pulaski Co – Fishing Cr)
  • 1833 – Pulaski Co. Deed Book 7-II:917 [162] – Simon and Elizabeth Stacy to Lovell H Dogan 193 acres on Fishing Creek (19 Oct)
  • 1833 – Pulaski Co. Deed Book 7-II:920 [163] – Simon Stacy to Charles Hays (no wife mentioned) 7 acres on Fishing Creek (21 Oct)
  • 1834 – Russell Co. Deed Book B:492 [398] – Thomas Harrison of Mercer Co to Simon Stacy of Russell – $2500
    • 300 acres on the south side of Cumberland, below the mouth of Beaver Creek
    • 35 acres adjoining (Mentions John M Smith’s corner)
    • When I first started looking for a possible connection between John Smith and Simon Stacy, my ears really perked up when I saw this deed from a man in Mercer County to Simon. I started by looking for Simon in the Russell County tax lists. I found him in 1835 and then started working backward. When I couldn’t find him in Russell County any earlier than 1833, I began searching the tax lists for all of the other counties that I had been researching in this series. If only I had taken the time to really look at the tax records for Simon, I would have seen that he had land in Pulaski County and would have searched that county first. It would have saved me a tremendous amount of time. Lesson learned: don’t just collect the records…take the time to read them!
  • 1835 – Russell Co. tax list p30 [255] (Same page as John M. Smith) – 286 + 86 + 42.5
  • 1838 – Russell Co. Deed Book C:265 [585] – William and Sarah Patterson to Simon Stacy, two 50-acre tracts on the South side of Cumberland River in Russell and Wayne Co
  • 1840 census – Russell County, p40 – age 70-79
  • 1845 (March) – Russell Co. Deed Book D:422 [229] – Simon Stacy sells slaves to Peter Stacy. Witnesses: Martin Stacy and Robert Davis
  • 1845 (8 Dec) – Russell Co. Administrator Bonds v1, image 70 – Elijah Coffey, Jonathan Williams, Robert Sweaney and Walton Coffey – $3000 bond for the estate of Simon Stacy
  • 1845 (8 Dec) – Russell Co. Court Orders v2:199 [400]
    • On the motion Elijah Coffey the administrator of the estate of Simon Stacy deceased was granted to him he having taken the oath as required by law as such and executed and acknowledged bond as such in the penal sum of three thousand dollars with Johnathan Williams Walton Coffey and Robert C Sweany as his securities conditioned as the law directs
    • On the motion of Elijah Coffey administrator of the estate of Simon Stacy deceased It is ordered that Tyre J Marcum George A. Smith Edmund Cook and Garnett A Dorrel or any three of them who being first duly sworn do appraise the slaves if any and personal estate of said decedant and make report to this court
  • I would love to know where Simon and Elizabeth are/were buried. Probably moved when Lake Cumberland was being created…
  • 1846 – Russell Co. Deed Book E:143 [386] – Peter Stacy (of Polk Co, Missouri) sells his interest in the land of his father, Simon Stacy, dec’d to William Herriford
  • 1846 – Russell Co. Court Orders 2:218 [410]
    • An Inventory and appraisment of the estate of Simon Stacy dec’d was this returned for Elijah Coffey his administrator which was ordered to be filed
    • A List of sales of the personal estate of Simon Stacy dec’d was this day returned and ordered to be filed

How Findagrave Led Me Wrong

John M. Smith case study #2

While researching the family of John M. Smith, I came across a puzzle for his daughter, Mary Jane. My group sheet indicated that she had married Thomas Simpson on November 8, 1838 in Russell County[1]. I had Thomas’ parents as Reuben Simpson, Jr. and Martha Merrill or Merritt.

Russell County, Kentucky, Marriages v1 p15

I was working on my John M. Smith case study and was updating the sources for his children when I decided to dig in a little more on Mary Jane’s family to see if I could find anything on Solomon, her brother, because Russell County Deed Book D p200[2] had indicated that Thomas and Mary Jane Simpson were his legal representatives. I found that I had connected her Ancestry page to a Findagrave listing[3], but the listing didn’t quite match the information that I had. The Findagrave memorial has Thomas Simpson’s wife listed as Mary Ann Copenhaver, but her birth and death dates matched the information that I had in my records for Mary Jane Smith.

In Thomas’ bio, it said that Thomas had married Sarah Ray in 1842 and then Mary Ann (Copenhaver) Turner in 1845. My Mary Jane Smith had married Thomas Simpson in Russell County in 1838.

There was no photo of the gravestone, so I could not confirm if the stone had Mary Ann or Mary Jane. While at my library on a different mission, I decided to take a look at any books that might contain information to help. I found Cemeteries of Wayne County, Kentucky[4] which showed that the stone says “Mary J.” with the same dates that were given on Findagrave. Perhaps there was more than one Thomas Simpson?

Cemeteries of Wayne County, Kentucky

I went to FamilySearch and did a search for Thomas Simpson and Mary Ann Copenhaver. I did find the marriage record as well as the record for the marriage with Sarah Ray on the same page[5]. But that didn’t really help me. So I began working on collecting records for Thomas Simpson. What I found was confusing to me. (See the Thomas Simpson timeline I’m working on.)

The Findagrave listing for Thomas and Mary Ann had one son connected – William Andrew Simpson.

William was married to Louisa Shearer, which I also had in my records for Thomas and Mary Jane’s family. William’s memorial[6] had one sibling connected – Martha E. Simpson Bell. The only information I had in my group sheet for Martha was an approximate date of birth.

Clicking on MARTHA’s memorial[7], I saw an obituary transcription – yay! The last line of the obituary said, “Daughter of Thomas & Mary Ann Copenhaver Turner Simpson / Wife of Ira Garner Bell” – boo! So what was going on?

I looked to see if I had all of the census records for Thomas Simpson. While updating those, I found the 1880 Wayne County census for Garner and Martha E. Bell. They were living with Thomas Simpson!  But the 1850, 1860 and 1870 census records all had Thomas with wife Mary Jane. How could Martha be the daughter of Mary Ann Copenhaver if she was listed in the 1850 and 1860 census with Thomas and Mary Jane?

1850 – Russell County, Kentucky, Federal Census, District 2, Ancestry image 21

  • Thomas Sympson – age 37
  • Mary J Sympson – age 37
  • Lucinda Abbot – age 16
  • John R Sympson – age 10
  • William A Sympson – age 8
  • Lauretta E Sympson – age 7
  • Martha E Sympson – age 5

1860 – Wayne County, Kentucky, Federal Census, Not Stated, Ancestry image 186

  • Thomas Simpson – age 47
  • Mary J Simpson – age 47
  • John R Simpson – age 20
  • William A Simpson – age 19
  • Lauretta E Simpson – age 17
  • Martha E Simpson – age 15
  • Mary E Simpson – age 10

1870 – Wayne County, Kentucky, Federal Census, Mullen, Ancestry image 14

  • Thomas Simpson – age 57
  • Mary J Simpson – age 57
  • Mary E Simpson – age 19

1870 – Wayne County, Kentucky, Federal Census, Mullen, Ancestry image 14 (listed directly after Thomas and Mary J.)

  • Garner Bell – age 24
  • Martha E Bell – age 26
  • William T Bell – age 6/12

1880 – Wayne County, Kentucky, Federal Census, Mullentown, ED 107, Ancestry image 4

  • Thomas Simpson – age 67
  • Garner Bell – age 36
  • Martha E. Bell – age 36
  • Thomas R Bell – age 11
  • William W Bell – age 3

Could there be more than one Thomas Simpson with a daughter named Martha? Looking closely at the 1880 census, I could see Thomas (with the Bell family) at the top of the page. The next entry was for William and Louisa (Shearer) Simpson. Thomas and Mary Jane Simpson’s son, William, had married Louisa Shearer in 1860[8]. This just seemed like too much to be a coincidence.

I started thinking….what are the sources for Mary Ann Copenhaver being the wife of Thomas Simpson who was buried in the Simpson Cemetery in Wayne County listed as the mother of William and Martha? I had the Findagrave Memorial for Thomas Simpson and the obituary for Martha Simpson Bell.

Looking back at the obituary given on Findagrave, it said –

Wayne County Outlook

18 Mar 1915

Mrs. Martha Simpson Bell, aged 70, wife of Garner Bell, died at her home near Alex last Friday.

Deceased was a daughter of the late Thomas Simpson and was married to Mr. Bell on Oct. 2, 1868, from which union two sons were born, both of whom survive her.

She was badly hurt when their house was blown down in the cyclone two years ago and has been in bad health since.

The remains were buried at the family burying ground Sunday. Daughter of Thomas & Mary Ann Copenhaver Turner Simpson / Wife of Ira Garner Bell

As I looked at that last line, I thought that it didn’t have the same sentence structure that you would normally see in an obituary. Could it something that the transcriber added? Could I find the actual obituary in the newspaper?

The Wayne County Outlook is not available on Chronicling America or on The Library of Congress website did not have any location with a digital version of the paper. So I turned to my friends on Facebook. Did anyone know where there might be a copy of the paper that I could write to? And an angel answered me that the Wayne County Library had digitized versions of the paper and included the link! Two minutes later and I had found the obituary![9] And……the last line was NOT part of the actual obituary.

From the Wayne County Outlook, Monticello, Kentucky published 18 Mar 1915, p2.

So now, I have to assume that the owner of the memorial is adding information that hasn’t been proven. But how many other people are using it as proof in THEIR research? Lesson learned – always verify other people’s sources!

[1] Russell County, Kentucky, Marriages v1, p15, FamilySearch film #5686089, image 28.

[2] Russell County, Kentucky, Deed Book D, p200, FamilySearch film #007895641, image 118.

[3] Findagrave Memorial ID 67815762 – Mary Ann “Polly” Copenhaver Simpson, 4 Mar 1813 – 4 May 1879

[4] Coffey, Bennie, and Juanita Coffey. 1982. Cemeteries of Wayne County, Kentucky. [Place of publication not identified]: B. & J. Coffey. p831, accessed at the Allen County Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 21 Oct 2020.

[5] Wayne Co, KY, Marriage Bonds 1834 – 1846, p54, FamilySearch film #005773126, image 261

[6] Findagrave Memorial ID 67815745 – William Andrew Simpson, Dec 1840 – 1902

[7] Findagrave Memorial ID 58014218 – Martha E. Simpson Bell, 8 Sep 1844 – 13 Mar 1915

[8] Wayne Co, Kentucky, Marriage Bonds 1859-67, p133, FamilySearch film #5773127, image 84.


John M. Smith Case Study #1

Starting at the end

John M. Smith passed away in early September, 1835, in Russell County, Kentucky. John, a Justice of the Peace[1], was listed as “present” at the 1835 July 12th Russell County Court Session[2], but at a court session held on Sept 14, sons George A and Elias Smith asked for an appraisal of John’s estate.[3] Both George A and Elias are named in the Administrator Bond[4], also dated on Sept 14. Andrew Meadows and John Cook Jr were the securities. (Click the link for Andrew Meadows to see the timeline I have on Google Drive.)

It is often helpful to understand the relationships of the men providing securities for any document, if possible.

  • Andrew Meadows was Elias’ father-in-law.[5] Elias married Elizabeth Meadows in Russell County on 23 Jan 1834.[6]
  • George A Smith was married to Talitha Ellis.[7] John Cook Jr was married to Talitha’s sister, Elizabeth[8], making George and John brothers-in-law. One additional Ellis daughter, Nancy, married a Cook son, Edward. All of the Cook boys were sons of John Cook and Mary Green[9]. This is a family I have never taken the time to research, but I probably should at least begin a timeline.

John M’s estate inventory was taken on 1 Oct 1835 by Charles Stacy, William Ellis, Simon Stacy, and Peter Ellis.[10]

  • Peter Ellis was George A’s father-in-law[11] and William was Peter’s son.
  • I have not determined the relationship between the Smiths and the Stacy family, but their names appear often within the family documents and it may simply be that they were close neighbors.

The children of John M. Smith

This is a screen shot of my group sheet. (1/8/21) The reference numbers are not reflected in the endnotes for this case study.

John had at least 6 children: Sarah, George A, Elias, Jane, Benjamin, and Solomon. Looking at the Family Group Sheet, there could easily be at least 1 other child born between George and Elias. In fact, there could be several other children with the age spread of the children, but deed records after the death of John M. prove that there were no additional living children.

  1. Sarah “Sally” Smith
    • Possibly born between 1800-1804.
    • She married Henry Hardin Payne (1794 – 1873) in Russell County, Kentucky on 3 Feb 1828.[12] [13]
    • In 1830, Henry Payne can be found in the federal census in Wayne County[14], which is the county just to the south of Russell County.
    • Sarah’s youngest daughter, Nancy, was born in July 1834[15] in Kentucky.[16]
    • Henry remarried to Sally Vandever, on 21 Feb 1839 in Casey County, Kentucky.[17] Based on this, Sarah died between July 1834 and early 1939. Henry and his family can be found in the 1840 federal census in Daviess County.[18]
    • On 7 Aug 1840, Henry Payne, of Daviess County, Missouri, appointed his brother, Asa, to be his “true and lawful attorney”.[19] He wanted to make sure that his children – Elizabeth, Reuben, Rachel, and Nancy – received their portions from the estates of two of his brothers-in-law – Solomon and Benjamin Smith.
  2. George A. Smith
    • Born 24 June 1805.[20]
    • George A. can be found in the Russell County tax lists beginning in 1831.
    • George married Talitha Ellis, probably around 1834 based on the date of birth of their oldest child.
    • I have found no record of a will in the Russell County Will records of 1879-1955 or Administrator Bonds (1727 – 1990) on FamilySearch.
    • George and Talitha are not listed in the book, Russell County Cemeteries, compiled by the Russell County Historical Society, but they are listed on page 134 of Russell County, Kentucky, cemetery records by Irma Shepherd.
    • According to Findagrave, Talitha died on 24 Apr 1875[21] at the age of 58 and George died on 22 Apr 1890.[22] I believe they were originally buried in southern Russell County, but that cemetery, along with many others, was moved when the Cumberland River was dammed to create Lake Cumberland. They are now buried in Jamestown Cemetery in Russell County.
George A. and Talitha Ellis Smith stones – Jamestown Cemetery
  1. Elias Smith
    • Born 9 Feb 1810.[23] The biography of his grandson, Oscar Smith, indicates that he was born in Danville, Kentucky.
    • Elias married Elizabeth Meadows on 23 Jan 1834 in Russell County.[24]
    • Eventually, Elias purchased all of the land that John M. Smith had owned in Russell County from his siblings.
    • According to Findagrave, Elias died on 21 July 1853 in Russell County[25]. His brother-in-law, James H. Meadows, became the guardian for his children. Elias was originally buried in the Smith Cemetery[26] but Elias’s stone is also now located in Jamestown Cemetery.
    • Elizabeth lived another 40 years and died on 16 Mar 1893.[27]
    • A note from the old Rootsweb KYRUSSEL message board dated 18 Feb 2005 states,
      “I wish that I could make the connection of William and Elias. I do know that Elias Smith and Elizabeth Meadows Smith were both buried down in the “Lulu” area of Russell County prior to Lake Cumberland being built. Before the dam was built and the area was flooded, the family cemetery was moved and they are now buried in the Jamestown City Cemetery. As far as Elias being affluent, and owning a lot of land, his father-in-law, Andrew Carson Meadows was at one time one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest man in Russell County, according to the Census records. I just can’t seem to find out where Elias came from.”
      Lulu (Lula) was located right along the Russell/Wayne County boundary where John M. Smith’s land was located.
  1. Mary Jane Smith
    • Born 14 March 1813.[28]
    • She married Thomas Simpson in Russell County on 8 Nov 1838.[29]
    • Thomas and Jane can be found in the 1850 Federal Census[30] in Russell County and the 1860[31] and 1870[32] Federal census in Wayne County.
    • Mary J. Simpson is listed in the 1880 Mortality Schedule from Wayne County.[33] She died in May 1879 from a “Discesed Liver”.
    • There is a Findagrave listing for Mary Ann “Polly” Simpson[34] in the Simpson Cemetery of Wayne County, Kentucky, but the memorial has her maiden name listed as Copenhaver. Thomas Simpson’s memorial states that he married Sarah Ray in 1842 and Mary Ann Copenhaver in 1845. Clearly, there are some discrepancies here, but the book, “Cemeteries of Wayne County, Kentucky” lists her stone as Mary J. Simpson, not Mary Ann.[35]
    • My next post will discuss this discrepancy.
  2. Benjamin Smith
    • Benjamin first appears in the Russell County tax list in 1836[36] directly after George A. Smith. If Benjamin had recently turned 21, his date of birth would have been around 1815.
    • In 1838, Mary Jane Smith and Benjamin Smith sold their shares of their father’s land to their brother, Elias.[37]
    • His final tax records was found in the 1840 list between Elias and George A.[38]
    • During the October term of the Russell County Court[39], Elias Smith was the administrator for the estate of Benjamin Smith and executed a bond in the amount of $1100.[40] Seeing the difference in Benjamin’s bond amount versus his brother, Solomon, I wonder if he had some property that I haven’t found.
  3. Solomon Smith
    • Solomon is not listed an any of the Russell County tax lists for the appropriate time period. If he died in 1840 before turning 21, he would have been born around 1820.
    • During the September term of the Russell County Court[41], “George A Smith the administrator of the estate of Solomon Smith dec’d” executed bond in the amount of $220.[42]
    • In 1842, Thomas Simpson and Mary Jane “late Mary Jane Smith, legal heirs & representatives of Solomon Smith, dec’d” sold their undivided ¼ interest from Solomon’s estate to George A. Smith.[43]
    • [44]I have not found any tax records for a Solomon Smith in Wayne or Russell County. That combined with the low amount on the administrator bond makes me think he was quite young when he died.

George A. and Elias were the estate administrators for their father.[45] In 1838, Mary Jane Smith and Benjamin Smith “two of the children and heirs of John M Smith deceased”, sold their shares of John’s land to their brother, Elias[46]. Sarah (Smith) Payne passed away before 1841 and her children were listed as heirs of John M. Smith in all future deeds between family members. In August of 1847, all of the surviving siblings sold their shares of Solomon’s estate to Elias.[47]

There may have been an additional son, John B. Smith. In the February 1833 Court Session for Russell County, John M Smith was appointed the administrator for the estate of John B. Smith.[48] [49] An executor bond was also created, but each word was struck out.[50] I’ve been told that an executor’s bond was issued if the deceased had a will and an administrator’s bond if there was no will. I have not been able to connect this bond to a specific John Smith. I have never found any other provable document for a John B. Smith.

The only confirmed census record for John M. Smith is the 1830 census taken in Russell County.[51] In that census we see:
• 1 male 10-14: Solomon?
• 4 males 20-29: Benjamin?, Elias (age 20), George A. (age 25) and John B?
• 1 male 50-59: John M.
• 1 female 15-19: Mary Jane (age 17)
• 1 female 20-29: ?
• 1 female 50-59: Mrs. John M. Smith – unknown

Because I see 2 unknown people in the census, one male and one female both in the 20-29 age group, I wonder if this could be an unknown married son or daughter with their spouse? I also notice that there seems to be an entry for John M’s wife, but that has not been confirmed.

John M’s daughter, Sarah is listed with her husband, Henry Payne in Wayne County, Kentucky[52]:
• 1 male 20-29: Henry Hardin Payne
• 2 females under 5: Elizabeth (age 2) and unknown daughter
• 1 female 20-29: Sarah (Smith) Payne
• 1 female 60-69: Perhaps Henry’s mother – Rachel Wilson Payne, but Henry’s father, Philemon Payne, lived until 1833 so that seems unlikely.

[1] Russell County, Kentucky, Court Orders Book 2, p145, FamilySearch film #008193577, image 100.

[2] Russell County, Kentucky, Court Orders Book 2, p369, FamilySearch film #008193577, image 213.

[3] Russell County, Kentucky, Court Orders Book 2, p374, FamilySearch film #8193577, image 215.

[4] Russell County, Kentucky, Administrators Bonds, v1 no page number, FamilySearch film #4820016, image 24.

[5] Pierce, Sarah Frances Jarvis, b. 1892. 1962. Meadows family : descendants of James and Jane Meadows. P23 of Downloadable version found on FamilySearch –

[6] Russell County, Kentucky, Marriage Register v1, page 12, FamilySearch film #5686089, image 27.

[7] No marriage record found, but Russell County, Kentucky, Deed Book G, 25 indicates that Talitha was the wife of George A Smith and that she was daughter of Peter Ellis, dec’d, FamilySearch film #8193570, image 345.

[8] Ancestry, Kentucky, Compiled Marriages, 1802-1850 (Wayne County, Kentucky). Married 31 Oct 1821.

[9] “Edmund Cook Letter 1 and 2” images shared on Ancestry on 21 Dec 2013 by srf58. The document indicates, “This is a letter taken from The Wayne County Outlook in Monticello, Kentucky. Letter dated 14 Oct 1897. (Accessed 10 Jan 2021)

[10] Russell County, Kentucky, Will Book 1 p171-173, FamilySearch film #4820020, image 106-107.

[11] Russell County, Kentucky, Deed Book G, p25-26, FamilySearch film #008193570, images 345, 346.

[12] Roy, Emogene McFarland. 1988. Russell County, Kentucky, bonds, marriages, and consent notes, 1826-1854. [Russell Springs, Ky.] (Rt. 4, Box 80, Russell Springs 42642): E.M. Roy. Page 42.

[13] Sanders, Carol L. 1988. Newly discovered Russell Co., Kentucky marriage records, 1826-1869. [Blue Ash, Ohio] (9679 Waxwing Dr., Blue Ash 45241): C.L. Sanders. Page 20.

[14] US Federal Census for 1830, Wayne County, Kentucky, p44, Ancestry: Kentucky > Wayne > Not Stated > image 87.

[15] Findagrave memorial #20300543 – Nancy S. Payne Foley, July 1834 – Dec 1908.

[16] Daviess County, Missouri, District 27, 1850 Federal census, p26, Henry H. Payne.

[17] Casey County, Kentucky, Marriages, v1, page 45, FamilySearch film #4263468, image 30.

[18]US Federal Census for 1840 Gallatin, Daviess County, Missouri, p4, Ancestry: Missouri > Daviess > Gallatin > image 17.

[19] Russell County, Kentucky, Deed Book D, p170-171, FamilySearch film #7895641, image 103.

[20] Findagrave – George Augustus Smith – ID 57321862, Jamestown Cemetery.

[21] Findagrave – Tallitha Ellis Smith – ID 57321858, Jamestown Cemetery.

[22] Findagrave – George Augustus Smith – ID 57321862, Jamestown Cemetery.

[23] Findagrave – Elias Smith –  ID 82119958, Jamestown Cemetery.

[24] Russell County, Kentucky, Marriage Book 1, p12, FamilySearch film #5686089, image 27.

[25] Findagrave – Elias Smith – ID 82119958, Jamestown Cemetery.

[26] Graves of the Lake Cumberland Basin by Asher L. Young, 1974, p17. Available on FamilySearch (accessed 8 Jan 2021)

[27] Findagrave – Elizabeth Meadows Smith – ID 82120123, Jamestown Cemetery.

[28] Coffey, Bennie, and Juanita Coffey. 1982. Cemeteries of Wayne County, Kentucky. [Place of publication not identified]: B. & J. Coffey. p831

[29] Russell County, Kentucky, Marriage Book 1, p15, FamilySearch film #5686089, image 28.

[30] Ancestry, 1850 US Federal Census, Kentucky > Russell > District 2 > image 21.

[31] Ancestry, 1860 US Federal Census, Kentucky > Wayne > Not Stated > image 186.

[32] Ancestry, 1870 US Federal Census, Kentucky > Wayne > Mullen > image 14.

[33] Wayne County, Kentucky, 1880 Federal Census Mortality Schedule, Ancestry, image 4.

[34]Findagrave – Mary Ann “Polly” Copenhaver Simpson – ID 67815762, Simpson Cemetery.

[35] Coffey, Bennie, and Juanita Coffey. 1982. Cemeteries of Wayne County, Kentucky. [Place of publication not identified]: B. & J. Coffey. p831

[36] Russell County, Kentucky, 1836 Tax List, p33, FamilySearch film #007834502, image 300.

[37] Russell County, Kentucky, Deed Book C, p267, FamilySearch film #007896967, image 586.

[38] Russell County, Kentucky, 1840 Tax List, p13, FamilySearch film #007834502, image 449.

[39] Russell County, Kentucky, Court Orders, v3, p25, FamilySearch film #008193577, image 313.

[40] Russell County, Kentucky, Administrator bonds, v1 no page number, FamilySearch film #4820016, image 45.

[41] Russell County, Kentucky, Court Orders, v3, p17-18, FamilySearch film #008193577, image 309.

[42] Russell County, Kentucky, Administrator bonds, v1 no page number, FamilySearch film #4820016, image 43.

[43] Russell County, Kentucky, Deed Book D, p200, FamilySearch film #007895641, image 118.


[45] Russell County, Kentucky, Administrator bonds, v1 no page number, FamilySearch film #4820016, image 20.

[46] Russell County, Kentucky, Deed Book C, p367, FamilySearch film #7896967, image 586. Note: the page numbers where written incorrectly and then corrected directly above the original page number.

[47] Russell County, Kentucky, Deed Book E, p206-209, FamilySearch film #7895641, image 418-419.

[48] Russell County, Kentucky, Court Orders v2, p270, FamilySearch film #8193577, image 163.

[49] Russell County, Kentucky, Administrator bonds, v1 no page number, FamilySearch film #4820016, image 9.

[50] Russell County, Kentucky, Executor bonds, v1 no page number, FamilySearch film #4820019, image 8.

[51] Ancestry, 1830 US Federal Census, Kentucky > Russell > Not Stated > Image 35.

[52] Ancestry, 1830 US Federal Census, Kentucky > Wayne > Not Stated > image 87.

Why Did I Think That?

I have been searching for information on John M. Smith’s family for over 20 years. I have collected TONS of documents for men named John Smith. So many documents that I can’t always be sure who is who. So I decided to stop collecting and looking for the “magic document” that makes the connection for me. I need to come up with a different way to make the connection. All the webinars I’ve watched and articles I’ve read…surely I have learned new strategies to help with this! I can’t take anything for granted. If there’s a book or website with the history of a person I’m interested in, what are their sources? If there are twenty different family trees on Ancestry that give a parent for an individual, where’s the proof?

I have a theory for the parents and spouse of John M. Smith that I have been working on for a few years. But one day, I thought to myself – how did I get here? How did I come to this theory? Have I been wasting my time researching these people? So I started creating a Word document to recreate my thought process and clues that I’ve been following.

Once I decided to put everything on the blog, I wanted to show not only the records that I am following, but also the method I use to keep track of the information. That helped me to think in terms of showing my process to people who know nothing about the research I’ve been doing. For example, if I had to turn everything over to a family member to carry on my research, would they have any idea what I was talking about? So this is also my opportunity to take a fresh look at everything and make sure it is organized and accessible. And I’ll tell you now that this “case study” is long. Really long. I’m breaking it down into multiple posts. If nothing else, this is going to help me really think things through for the documents I’ve been collecting.

But part of the problem for me is that every time I read through what I’ve written, I add a fact here or there. And once the post is made on the blog, adding information won’t update the citation numbering correctly. So I’m thinking that if I do decide to go back and add anything to a post, I will have to give the citation information directly after the addition. I suppose I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

Also, the endnotes are not full blown, proper citations. I’ve always struggled with the idea of having the “perfect” citations. I’m too much of a perfectionist and the thought of the amount of work that goes into creating those citations overwhelms me. My endnotes give me all the information I need in order to find a record again. Although, if a website does provide a citation, I often copy it and use that. If I found information in a book, then I found the book listing on and then used their citation creation tool and then added a page number at the end. But I find that when I go back and look at THOSE citations, it takes me a little while to get to the “nugget” – how do I find it again? So I use my own citation methods. Most of my research is done through the “main” genealogy websites – Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findagrave, Fold3, and It may be lazy, but this is the way I keep my information while I am researching. I try to always include the Location, Book, Volume Number and Page Number. If it was found on FamilySearch, then I give the film number and the image number. For example: Russell County, Kentucky, Court Orders Book 2, p145, FamilySearch film #008193577, image 100. In my shorthand, any number given in square brackets is an image number. I use this shorthand a lot when I’m compiling a timeline or list of documents.

I’m happy to share all of my research with anyone who is also researching a John Smith so I am trying to give my source for every detail I have. Even if the ancestor you are researching it isn’t one of these men, I hope that reading through this “case study” will be helpful and I’d like to hear strategies that have worked for you in your search.

But if you are looking at the same men I am, I hope you will let me know. I would love to have someone (or a bunch of someones – the “I Research John Smith support group”!) who will bounce ideas back and forth and give opinions on how a document might help in the search. If there is no “magic document”, can we dig in to look at hints to help piece together a good hypothesis? Maybe you have a document that I don’t have that will tie families together. Can we work together to think of new places to search? Can we just lament over the struggles of searching for THE most common name in genealogy research? Seriously!

What are my goals?

  1. To confirm that I have a source for every detail that I’ve collected over time.
  2. To have all of my thought processes available in one location.
  3. To attract other researchers who are also researching the same family lines.
  4. To pull together all of the research that I have done on collateral lines so that it is easily found again in relation to my John M. Smith research. These collateral family documents are not nearly as organized in my digital files as my direct line information is.
  5. To transfer some “in process” documents to Google Drive so that they are available for anyone to look at, but in a format that is easy for me to update. These will mostly include charts and timelines. These documents will only be editable by me, but I believe that anyone would be able to comment on them, which could be a great way to start a collaboration.

So it all starts tomorrow. I keep editing and re-editing these first several posts and I just need to get on with it! (Full disclosure – my first “deadline” for making my first post was originally August 1, 2020 then September 1…you get the drift!) I hope to post pretty consistently with 1-2 posts per week, but we know how the best laid plans go in this day and age!

I hope to hear from fellow researchers for this line!

Ringing in 2021!

Happy New Year!

As is always the case on January 1, thoughts turn to resolutions. Well, I’ve been around long enough to know that resolutions rarely last, so I’m not going to make any grand plans for what I hope to accomplish this year – especially after 2020 showed that the best laid plans can go right out the window at a moments notice! But there are a few things I hope to do a better job with this year.

Blog – I sincerely hope to spend more time with this blog. Last spring (yikes!) I started working on a super-documented case study for John M. Smith. I’ve been researching him for years, (ok, so I’m obsessed with John…) but how did I come to the conclusions that I have been researching? I have been following a specific theory, but I could no longer remember how I came to that theory. Was I wasting my time? I decided to type everything out and to make sure I had a source for every piece of information that I had found. That document became a much longer piece than I ever dreamed, so I’m planning to break it down and post it here on the blog over a period of time. Last fall, I thought I’d start adding the posts so that they would be ready to publish on a regular basis, but I soon ran into an issue with all of the endnotes. I’m trying to come up with a good way to provide all of my information to anyone who might want to see it in such a way that it can be easily updated on the blog.

I was working on this document just about every day until suddenly, this fall, our business had an explosion of new work and I haven’t been able to do ANY genealogy research since then! The end-of-year work deadlines are complete, so while I’m happy for the new business, I sure hope I can jump back into this research! Having it laid out the way I have will be a real test as to how a document like this can help me quickly get back into the swing of research after a significant time break.

Blog 2 – I have started shifting all of my Russell County Resources that are currently found at the top of the page to a new blog specifically for those resources. I don’t like how they look at the top of this page and I’d like to have an easier way to quickly update when I find something new and the format on this blog is more complicated than it was when I first started collecting the list. I’ll be launching that soon, even though all of the information has not been copied over yet. This will be a “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” kind of project.

DNA – I have so many books on using DNA in your genealogy. I have website subscriptions and all of my oldest relatives have tested. But my money is virtually wasted because I never do anything with it. This year, I’d like to learn more about DNA painting and how that can help my research.

Photos – I still have a problem with my digital photo organization. When I need to find a specific image for a blog post or to send to a fellow researcher, I cannot easily find the image. I need to work on that.

Facebook – this is more of a wish than a plan. I would love to start a Facebook group for people researching the same Smith families that I do. I would love to use a group like this to share documents and theories to help all members of the group collect and find documents that will help further research goals for everyone. I will have to see how the business load is after this month gets going, but if YOU might be interested in such a group, let’s talk!

So there we go! Have you thought about what you hope to accomplish with your genealogy research in 2021? Whatever your goals, I hope you find great success!

Just Make a Table

Every once in awhile, I’ll come back to my research after several days away. And no matter how good my notes are, it usually takes me a little bit to really get back into it. To get back into the swing, I like to think about the information that I have and how I might organize the information in a new way in order to answer some question, look for patterns, see what information I’m missing, or just get names and locations back into my brain.

Today, I decided to put together a table of 3 generations of Smiths, the year they died and where they were buried.

What might be the next steps for this table? I could add some columns to track whether I have a photo of the cemetery stone or if I have an obituary. I might decide to spend some time in some of the cemeteries that are not in the area I normally research to see if there are other family members buried there or if there are any biographies attached to the Findagrave memorials. I could start working on the next generation. I could begin looking for new resources to help me fill in some of the blanks.

But if nothing else, it puts family names back into my mind and helps me get back on track with my research after a little time away.

Russell County Post Offices

I came across a great source of information about Russell County, Kentucky on the Morehead State website and thought this was very interesting! This paper mentions all kinds of post offices within the county, no matter how short-lived they were. And I had no idea how many post offices were named for wives! A lot of maiden names in the document!!

Click here!

I know I haven’t been posting much lately, but I HAVE been writing, writing, writing! I have a lot in the works, but the more I research, the more great resources I find and the more questions I have! I keep planning to start a series of posts “at the first of the month” but then I come across a great new lead to follow up on! It may not be till the new year, but it’s coming for sure!!

Blessing or Curse?

I’ve been doing a lot of work with Ancestry’s ThruLines. ThruLines takes a look at your DNA matches and their trees. It then looks at information in ALL of the Ancestry trees and attempts to map a path from the DNA match to a “common ancestor” in both trees.

How nice to have this all worked out for you!! But is it really? Is this helping us with our research, or is it multiplying incorrect information?

My 3x great-grandparents are Andrew Scott and Elizabeth Wade. Every tree I have ever seen for Elizabeth Wade has her parents as Joseph Wade and Henrietta Nelson.

When I put together my public tree that would be connected to my DNA results, I decided that I only wanted to add direct ancestors if I had a decent confidence level in the information. So in my private tree, I have Joseph Wade and Henrietta Nelson, but they are not in my public tree. In my private tree, I have 3 pre-1850 census records and 4 Land Grant records – all in the right part of Kentucky. But for Henrietta Nelson – zero. Of course, in this time period, it is difficult to find records for women, so maybe this is a lost cause.

So I decided to take a deeper look at other people’s trees. What do they have that shows that these people were ever a couple?

Looking at ThruLines, it tell me “ThruLines uses Ancestry trees to suggest that (kit name) may be related to 157 DNA matches through Henriette “Ritter” Nelson Callicut.” Wow! 157 DNA matches? That has GOT to make it true, doesn’t it? But I wanted to see what sources all these people have that I don’t have. In ThruLines, there is a dotted line around Henriette because she is not in my public tree. There is also a button that says “Evaluate”. When you click on the green button, you can see the different trees that have Henriette in them.

When I click that button, I can see that there are 27 trees that are linked to DNA matches who ThruLines has connected to Henriette. I believe all of these trees actually have Henriette in their tree. Then there are 13 additional trees that have Henriette, but these trees don’t have a DNA connection. If each of the DNA connected trees have 1 DNA match associated with them – or let’s even say 2 DNA matches, that would be 54 DNA matches. So where do the other 100 or so DNA matches come from? It’s Ancestry searching through the trees of my DNA matches and all other trees – including the 13 none DNA related trees – to find common surnames that MIGHT lead to a common Ancestor. That’s a lot of hypothesizing!

When I look at the list of trees that are revealed after clicking “evaluate”, each one in the list also tells how many records are attached to the common ancestor – in this case, Henriette. And every single tree says the same thing…

ZERO records! EVERY SINGLE ONE! That means that these 40 trees are all taking the name Henriette Nelson Callicut on faith – probably because they are seeing it in so many other trees.

I’m sure that this name comes from some older research and that someone had a reason for adding it to their tree. Maybe a family bible, or a tree that was written down generations ago from someone who actually knew Joseph and Henrietta. But is that the standard we are all taking for our family research now? That someone, somewhere, must have known that this was true?

So now, how many people will add Henrietta to their tree because of what they are seeing in ThruLines? That will increase the number of trees that I see when I click on “evaluate” which will seem to add weight to those trees being true. And maybe they are….but can this ever be proven?

If there ever comes a time when someone does find some relevant information that points to a different wife for Joseph Wade, will that name even appear as a potential name in ThruLines? If 40 trees say Henrietta and 1 tree says something else – even if it has records attached – will that tree even show up? I don’t know.

Looks like I have lots of research ahead!

The Treasure of 2nd cousins

I am now 2 weeks into the “21 Day Extreme DNA Challenge” that Scott Fisher of “Extreme Genes” is hosting on Facebook. I have a rudimentary understanding of how DNA works, but I don’t think I’ve spent very much time really thinking through what it all means and how it can help my research.

If you are new to using DNA to help you figure out your family tree, there are very few relationships that are more helpful than 2nd cousins. According to the Genetic Genealogist (2016), there has NEVER been a single demonstrated case of 2nd cousins or closer who fail to share DNA. It IS possible for 3rd cousins and even 2nd cousins twice removed to share no common DNA with the test taker.

Most people who are not searching for birth parents know who their grandparents are/were. But unless you have been doing family history research, you may not know who your great-grandparents are. You and your 2nd cousin share the same great-grandparents!

But not all 2nd cousin relationships are the same. Second cousins once removed (1 generation before or after the DNA tester) MIGHT share the same great-grandparents. This is the case for all children of full 2nd cousins. But if a 2nd cousin once removed is one generation older than the test taker, then THEY are part of your family through a SIBLING of your great-grandparents. THESE matches can help you find your 2x great-grandparents. These great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents should have census entries that can help you find dates and locations to keep you moving in the right direction for your research. Or if you already have information for your great and great-great-grandparents, finding DNA matches will help to confirm the information. This can be a HUGE help if you have ancestors with common names or if there’s more than 1 person with the same name in the location you are researching.

FamilySearch has a nice chart that you can download for free here.

But what if you don’t KNOW how a cousin is related to you? Then you need to look at the number of centimorgans (cM) you share plus do a little detective work. There are MANY possibilities for relationships based on centimorgans alone, but to keep this simple, let’s just think about 2nd cousins and 2nd cousins once removed.

2nd cousins will share between 41-592 cM with the test taker with the average amount being 229.
2nd cousins once removed will share between 14-353 with an average amount of 122.

You can take a look at this interactive chart showing all of the centimorgan amounts for many, many, MANY relationships on A REALLY cool feature of this interactive chart is that you can enter the number of cMs shared with a match in the box at the top and they will give you percentages for how likely the potential relationships are. Give it a try with 300 cM to get a feel for the information you can get with this tool.

Most of the websites that have DNA information will give you an estimate of a relationship, but don’t take those as gospel. For example, Ancestry never gives you an estimate of a half-relationship or a “removed” relationship.

If you are trying to figure out who a test taker’s great-grandparents are, begin looking at matches that have between 14-592 cM. This should find all of the 2nd cousins and 2nd cousins once removed. But be aware that it will also find other relationships as well. If you have many matches in that range, begin with the matches that are closest to the average amount of 122-229 cM. Focus on the matches that have trees attached to their results and look for surnames that you recognize. Keep good notes – whether it’s online or on paper. Sooner or later you’re going to be saying, “Now where did I see that name?” and you’ll be happy that you took those notes.

So how does it help you to know which of your matches are 2nd cousins?

  1. It can confirm the research that you have been working so hard to collect.
  2. They may have branches of your tree that you have not discovered yet. (Never accept someone else’s information without good documentation! But DO use all information as clues to be followed up on!)
  3. You might find photos or documents in a cousin’s public tree that you’ve never seen before.
  4. If you can communicate with your cousin, you might find that they have more information or photos, etc. that they haven’t put online in their tree.
  5. They may want to work together on researching your family – and it’s pretty fun to have someone to share the highs and lows of family research!

Take a look at your matches now and good luck with your search!

DNA Takeover!

I’ve been absent from the blog for a little while. Part of that is due to the current situation with the virus. You’d think that being in “lock-down” for a few weeks would have given me extra genealogy time, but a great deal of the work for our business has fallen on me while my husband took a 2nd job because business slowed down quite a bit at the beginning of the year. The other (and much happier) reason is that I now have a 3 week old grand-daughter who joyfully occupies a lot of my free time! Her mommy never has to ask twice if she’s looking for a babysitter for an hour or two! Add in some gardening now that the weather has finally straightened up and you can see why I haven’t been thinking about the blog!

But about a week ago, I began working with a group on Facebook for a 21 day “Extreme DNA Challenge”. The group was put together by Scott Fisher of the radio program/podcast “Extreme Genes”. I have enjoyed every minute of what we have done so far and I can’t imagine what is yet to come over the next 2 weeks! My favorite aspect of the group is receiving a video tutorial and then small task to complete each day. Some of the tasks are things we all will be working on for a long time to come, but little bites every day will bring that elephant down! Since everyone in the group is working on the same tasks, I know that questions will be answered quickly and success stories are celebrated by everyone!

And once again, my genealogy ADD has kicked in to take me away from my biographies project and now I’m knee deep in my DNA. And THAT has taken me back to my obsessive focus on John M. Smith. The WONDERFUL news is that I have been able to use the DNA matches for my mother, 2 aunts and 1 of their cousins to confirm my theory that his wife was Elizabeth Arbuckle! I have changed her Ancestry tag from “Theory” to “DNA Connection”. Whew! Which places my John smack in the middle of Mercer County, Kentucky, just as the tiny hint I found years ago had led me.

Elizabeth’s line is pretty “easy” (ok, even I had an eye roll there) to follow back. She explains at least part of the Scottish DNA I see in the kits I manage. So my next task is to focus what I’ve learned and have yet to learn about my DNA matches on John M. Smith’s parents. Again, I have a pretty good lead for him, but I need some DNA connections to help me feel more confident. As we all know, you can find a Smith family on just about every corner!

I hope you all are well and staying safe wherever you are!