28 March 2010

Anna Sanders McBrayer & The Missing Tombstone

Compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber 2010

Yes for the moment Anna Sanders McBrayer's tombstone is classified as missing. It proves the extreme importance and value of all those volunteer hours to document row by row readings of cemeteries and the power of the photograph.

In the late 1960's I was utilizing polaroid film. It was in the early years of my genealogical quests and I did not date the photograph. But we estimate that it was taken between 1968 - 1974. I clearly remember standing in Sexton Cemetery on Pigeon Roost, Boyd County, Kentucky when I took the picture of the stone. We commented that someday it would be nice to repair the stone as it lay on the ground. We were visiting from out of state and time ticked on.

In the mid 1970's the Kentucky Historical Society organized a state wide cemetery reading project. Evelyn Scyphers Jackson spear headed the project in Boyd County, Kentucky. She and her volunteers did a row by row reading of cemeteries in Boyd County, Kentucky. Her field notes for Sexton Cemetery are dated 1976 with updates dated 1977. Anna Sanders McBrayer's tombstone appears on the list. Thus the tombstone was still in the cemetery in 1976.

Working in the genealogy department of the Boyd County Library, in 1999, I created a master cemetery database with the goal to put it on line to assist patrons. With the wonderful help of Michael Fleming and Carol Lovitt we entered all of the recorded cemetery data from the 1970's project. That alone was a daunting task. Anna Sanders McBrayer's entry from the 1977 reading is in the database.

In 2004, as part of the Boyd County Fiscal Court Cemetery Board, we were facing another daunting and now ongoing task. With the advent of digital photography I was able to start photographing each and every stone in cemeteries without the cost of film development. One of the first cemeteries to be digitized was Sexton Cemetery. You now can access the Master database online at the Boyd County Library or visit the library to view any of the digitized cemeteries at the computer stations located in the genealogy department.

While I explained to anyone that listened the importance of updating the cemetery database including new burials, I also pointed out the importance of the new project because of damaged or lost stones. Never did I dream that the lost tombstone would involve my children's 3rd great grandmother.

With recent new genealogical discoveries about the McBrayer family, I turned to the digitized 2004 Sexton Cemetery photographs to provide a descendant a copy. Anna is not there! Thus between 1977 and 2004 something may have happened to the stone. My team methodically shot each stone in the cemetery but mistakes do happen. The cemetery lays on a point surrounded by woods. It is maintained by boys incarcerated at the Hack Estep Home each summer. Thus the stone may have been moved or because it was broken grass and time could have embedded it. It is time to pay the cemetery another visit, taking along a probe, BarPak and base frame. I am optimistic that we will find the stone.

Anna aka Anne and Annie in records was born 6 March 1807 in Kentucky. She was the daughter of Jacob and Sarah Sanders. Anna married James R. McBrayer 7 July 1823 in Floyd County, Kentucky. Sometime between 1839 and 1842 they settled in Lawrence County, Kentucky. In 1844 they purchased land from William C. Carter on what is known as Four Mile. The deed is filed in Carter County, Kentucky. The land is now part of Boyd County, Kentucky.

The McBrayer's had at least 10 children. Three of her sons served in the Civil War. William Parks McBrayer was with Company G, 45th Mounted Infantry and Solomon served in Company D of the 39th Kentucky Infantry along with brother Lewis Parker McBrayer. In August 1863 her husband, James R. McBrayer signed the Oath of Allegiance stating that he would support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of Kentucky and would not give aid to the Rebellion or against the government.

The family moved to Rowan County, Kentucky after 1875. James R. died 5 January 1880. He is buried in what is called Hoggtown Cemetery aka Turner Cemetery. Hoggtown became a part of Elliottville. The family states that Anna was on a visit in Boyd County when she died 25 April 1889 and because the wagon trip would be long & the roads were muddy, she was buried in the county where she died.

This pioneering lady was a child during the War of 1812, saw the formation of 3 separate counties, survived the Civil War and raised 10 children.












21 March 2010

Imaginary Walls and Barricades: Blake - Cunningham Study

Compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
March 2010

Time and time again patrons and clients will stipulate that an individual and/or family resided in a given county, town and state. It conjures visions of barb wire around the county and flood walls at the river that allow no access to get to the other side.

When Edna Blake Merritt died 11 May 1922 at Barboursville, Cabell County, West Virginia The Huntington Advertiser wrote that "she lived in that vicinity during her ENTIRE life." Edna was born 14 December 1848 and this article stated that she lived all 73 years in the same area.

Edna was the daughter of John W. Blake and wife Nancy Kinnard who had married 01 January 1846 in Cabell County. Cut and dry, right? It appears to be clean, concise information verified with a West Virginia death certificate and the marriage record of her parents.

Appearances can be deceiving.

Genealogy should not be just about filling in names and dates. It should be about what the individual and family did with that life. Starting a chronology into the life of Edna Blake took some twists and turns. In fact, I find 9 year old Edna living with her father John and another wife Frances in Clay township, Gallia County, Ohio in 1860. She had two brothers Albert and Frederick Blake that were never mentioned in her obituary. The Blake family had no barrier crossing the Ohio River.

Further research shows that John Blake's second marriage to Frances Cunningham, 22nd November 1853 was announced in the Ironton Register which is in Lawrence County, Ohio. Frances, born 1836 in Virginia, also had a step mother , Rhoda Snapp Kilbourne Cunningham when she was about the same age as Edna.

Edna's geographical bounds broadened yet again when John and Frances Cunningham Blake took the family to Indianapolis where they appear in the 1870 census. Her father worked as a bookkeeper and a hack driver if you believe two separate entries that appear in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana for that census year. Edna, now 21 years old, lists her occupation as a seamstress. This snapshot of her life changes the simplicity of the obituary written about her.

Since this blog is about Eastern Kentucky, we will give the family yet another geographical move. Edna's father and step mother moved to Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky in 1880. Edna was back in West Virginia by 1874 and in 1880 is found in Barboursville with husband Joseph A. Merritt and three children Fannie, John B and Erwin all born in West Virginia. If a researcher only reviewed Cabell County records, the 1880 census showing Edna, her husband and children, all born in West Virginia, would lead you to believe the obituary saying she lived there her entire life.

John and Frances Cunningham Blake crossed the Big Sandy River returning to Cabell County, West Virginia, in their later years. Once again a glimpse suggests the family unit might have been in the same area for over 70 years. We now know differently.

Don't get wrapped up in barbed wire, narrow boundaries and the written word as gospel. Follow the trail, walk the path and enjoy the journey.

15 March 2010

African American Research in North Eastern Kentucky

By Teresa Martin Klaiber

The last episode of Who Do You Think You Are highlighted African American Research. There were slave owners in north eastern Kentucky, though not the large numbers found in southern states, the large land holders names are well known in our area.

In 2004, Boyd County Kentucky Monographs I [available on cd] was published, containing several articles to help researchers of African American genealogy. A good example of tracking individuals is to follow William Hampton's slaves Isabella and Lucy. Isabella became Isabelle Fox residing in Catlettsburg in 1870. Lucy, also a Hampton slave, married Henry Williams a Mulatto.

Alexander Mead was a slave of Benjamin Mead in Greenup County. In a newspaper interview he tells of gaining his liberty "by buying it with his heals." He most likely crossed the river near Ironton and made his way north from there.

While the television program did not have time to go in depth into all records available for research, it did provide excellent guidelines. The Boyd County tax records beginning in 1860 are of assistance in our area. Beginning in 1865 the tax contain a list of all "Free Persons of Color." Some of these people migrated to the area from other counties. Alec [Alex] Botts moved to Catlettsburg from Bath County, Kentucky and became a well known barber. He bought his wife, Mary out of slavery.

Kentucky legislature created an act for marriage records commonly known as Freedmen registers. There was a separate book prepared for recording these marriages in 1866. The first recorded marriage in Boyd County Register 1-1-A was for James Spurlock born in Floyd County to Martha Russell born in Lawrence County, Kentucky. [Monographs I gives a complete list of the marriages in 1-1-A.]

By 1877 the tax list now labeled "Colored Tax Payers" has grown immensely. The majority of the people on the list live either in the town of Catlettsburg or Ashland. Only a few families have settled out in the county.

Sadly much has been wiped from history. Only a few that survived after slavery are in marked graves in Boyd County. Most graves were marked with field stone. The Eastham's buried slaves in graves in Fields Cemetery, marked only by stone. John Eastham had 5 slaves depleted to 1 in 1865 at the end of the Civil War. Oral history states that besides sales in Catlettsburg, there was an auction block at the point [junction of 60 and Midland Trail] across from where Kyova Mall is located [2010]. Old Catlettsburg Cemetery does contain a few marked graves of those people who stayed in the area after slavery.

Monographs I includes the tax records, and the television show outlined deeds and estate papers. Besides emancipation records, researchers can find many disputes recorded in County Order and Circuit Court records in north eastern Kentucky that will help researchers.

09 March 2010

Tombstone Tuesday Pollard Church Cemetery


Pollard Church Cemetery
Blackburn Avenue
Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky

aka Old Union Cemetery
aka Pleasant Springs Cemetery

162 identified graves + many unidentified.




05 March 2010

Ambrose Milton McGuire Wore Many Hats

Compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber
March 2010


My curiosity about Ambrose M. McGuire began when I stumbled across the following Portsmouth Daily Times article 29 May 1896:

"Ambrose M. McGuire, of Grayson, Ky., will publish the life and confessions of James DeWitt, who was recently hung in Carter county for the murder of his wife, Elizabeth. Such literature should be given a wide berth, as there can't be anything entertaining or instructive about it. V. W. X."
This could be a small historical jewel. Many handbills, pamphlets and booklets were locally published after tragedy struck an area here in Eastern Kentucky. Ballads especially tell the local stories and lore. I knew of no such ballad for the the DeWitt Murder. Much has been written about the Dewitt Murder and the last hanging in Carter County, Kentucky in local histories. So I called George Wolfford who had done a wonderful page in one of his publications concerning the Dewitt murder and included a picture of James DeWitt's hanging. Did he know of a publication by Ambrose McGuire? How was Ambrose McGuire involved? It has been some years since Wolfford did research concerning the Dewitt affair and did not remember a booklet or pamphlet nor was he aware of Ambrose Milton McGuire's involvement.

That one little article left me with so many questions. The Dewitt case is well known but no one mentioned Ambrose. A quick look at the 1900 Federal Census shows A. M. McGuire, age 40 a Lawyer along with his wife Jennie and 8 children. This made sense but I could not let it drop. If McGuire was the lawyer involved with either the Dewitt divorce or murder trial why on earth was everyone mum about it? If a lawyer published a piece I should have found an entry in the Library of Congress, OCLC, local libraries. I found no cataloged publication by Ambrose McGuire.

In 1880 Ambrose was 20 years old working on a farm, and living with his parents William and Elizabeth in Carter County. He was not in Law School. I located a Lawyers & Client Bulletin for May 1895, just a few months prior to the Dewitt murder that listed only one lawyer in Grayson: H. D. Gregory. Area newspaper ads indicated that Botts and Poage were also conducting law in that area. But no Ambrose McGuire.

By 1902 Ambrose McGuire is selling Singer Sewing Machines in Grayson. He states in his ad in the Carter Bugle 17 Jan 1902 that he has been selling the machines for 3 years. Thus 3 years after the Dewitt murder and the announcement that he is going to publish the Dewitt case he has changed occupations.



Something had dramatically changed in McGuire's life. Nearly giving up on the idea of a book publication I turned to our local library and the Evelyn S. Jackson Vertical File Collection. There I found several grainy, old copied pages of what appears to be a large newspaper article. Not an original, not dated, no name of where published but it does include a portrait of the murderer. James Powers pointed out that the layout looks like it was copied from someone's scrapbook. It was probably given to ESJ for her files. By now I have involved all the library staff and we do concur that this is an article not a publication as I envisioned. But it does seem to indicate that McGuire was involved with the events of the Dewitt case.

"MET HIS DOOM! ...Jas. DeWitt...Sheriff Castle Sprung the Lever...HIS FULL BIOGRAPHY AND CONFESSION....James DeWitt was swung into eternity at 12:35 this afternoon."
Thus while we don't have the author I now can ascertain this was written 21 May 1896. The article goes into detail about how DeWitt met his wife and how they had moved back and forth from Rowan County to Carter County during their marriage. Several columns into the article is found the following testimony supposedly given directly from DeWitt:

"...Grayson...I had gone to see about my divorce suit. She [Elizabeth nee DeWitt daughter of William DeWitt*] threatened my life and followed me to town. She had a talk with me in the road near A. M. McGuire's..."
The article continues and is clipped in several pieces on the copy available. Finally mid section of the "scraps" is the following:

"The following is the life and confession of James DeWitt, who was hanged today, at Grayson. The statements herein were made by him in April, 1896 in the jail at Grayson, in the presence of A. M. McGuire, Charles Scott and others, and is the only authentic confession of DeWitt."

At this writing I have gone through every available local microfilm copy to identify where this particular article was printed without success. There were many articles in papers across the United States that announced the hanging but none contained the photograph nor the confessions as written in this particular piece.

There is no indication that Ambrose McGuire attended law school, at this writing. Ambrose did attend a large local reunion in Olive Hill, Kentucky in September 1904 where he was "cut" by George Ash "as a result of an old grudge." That little tidbit made the Mt. Sterling Advocate. In 1906 Ambrose and his wife Jennie received a loan from Singer Sewing Machine. He mortgaged two small tracts of land for the funds [Carter County Deed book Z-68]. Ambrose is still selling Sewing machines in Carter County in 1910 but has a new wife Estelena along with 3 more children. The census enumerator put down that he had been married 4 times.

Ambrose Milton McGuire and wife Estelena moved to Scioto County, Ohio where several more children were born. He gives his occupation in 1920 as a Grocery Store Merchant. Moon shining was prevalent in Appalachia during this time and some that ran small stores struggled to make a profit and resorted by stepping over the line. The Portsmouth Times reported 20 February 1924 that Ambrose McGuire also known as L. C. McGuire of Lakeside had been arrested in a raid. The officers claimed they dug up half a dozen full half pints near a hog pen on the McGuire property. Bottles and jugs were also found around the house and barn. The article indicates that he had been arrested before "when moonshine was found in a machine on his place" but he had not been convicted in that case. McGuire did not curtail his dealings for a small article appeared again 12 April 1927 stating that a New Boston Man was under arrest "giving the name of Ambrose McGuire" once again for possession of Moonshine.

Apparently McGuire had enough with the grocery business because he told the census takers in 1930 that he was a farmer living in Vernon Township. Tragedy struck the family in January 1932 when son Reed McGuire was shot and killed at the Buckeye Brick Yard, Scioto Furnace by the watchman. Reed was said to have trespassed along with friends and the law officials stated to Ambrose McGuire that the watchman had fired in self defense.

While his age fluctuates in various census records he celebrated his 74th birthday Anniversary in July 1933. The Portsmouth Times announced that he was the father of 28 children.

Ambrose Milton McGuire died peacefully 7 March 1950 at Wheelersburg, Scioto County, Ohio. His death certificate states that he was a carpenter and house builder. His obituary states he was born 4 July 1859 [Independence Day] in Magoffin County, Kentucky, a son of Will and Elizabeth Coffey McGuire. Besides listing 13 surviving children, Ambrose left 58 grandchildren and 56 great grandchildren. He was buried in Vernon Cemetery.

I will leave the genealogy and debate about his mother's maiden name to descendants doing continued research. Online trees state that William McGuire's wife was Elizabeth Patrick not Elizabeth Coffey.

My journey led me to an article, not a publication, but leaves me still with many questions. Just how involved was Ambrose Milton McGuire in the DeWitt case? Was that particular affair enough to change his course in life? Did he have any law background? What I did find was a man who lived life to his fullest and just a little on the edge.

*James DeWitt was born in Rowan County, Kentucky 7 March 1871 & was said to have lived with his mother in Rowan County, Kentucky until 1888. He married Elizabeth DeWitt daughter of William DeWitt and grand daughter of William Shepherd, according to accounts 18 Jan 1889. Historian Evelyn Jackson stated that "James and William DeWitt were distant relatives."

02 March 2010

Tombstone Tuesday


"...And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting... - Nevermore." Edgar Allan Poe 1845

Ashland Cemetery, Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky February 2010

Photograph copyright by Teresa Martin Klaiber, 2010

01 March 2010

Women's History Month - Remembering Elizabeth Littlejohn Turner Martin

Compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber




March is Women's History Month and there are several suggestions for honoring the sung to unsung women in our history. When this year's "Smile For the Camera" suggestion of "Give Their Face A Place" was suggested I immediately thought about Elizabeth Littlejohn Turner Martin. She had so many hurdles to cross, yet those who were still around to remember her told me of her spirit. This one little grainy snap shot shows her happy and even content.

Elizabeth Littlejohn Turner came into this world 9 January 1854. As her life began, her mother's ended. Elizabeth was born in a house at the edge of the Ohio Canal in Baltimore, Fairfield County, Ohio. Her father, John Cunningham Turner was a strong willed, determined miller, standing in the cold Febraury day wondering how he was going to manage with nine children to care for now that his wife Elizabeth Littlejohn Turner had passed away.

Elizabeth played by the canal bank and when four her father remarried, widow Jennette Ward Poff. Within a very short time, John C. Turner, went to California leaving Elizabeth with her step mother, siblings & half siblings.

When older sister, Caroline Amelia married Henry Goddard Ward, a known horse trainer, Elizabeth traveled to Versailles, Kentucky in the heart of the Bluegrass, Woodford County. She was promptly enrolled in the Kentucky Female Orphan School at Midway [now Midway college, Kentucky's only woman's college]. The goal was to make the students self-supporting. Pupils did the janitor work, started fires, scrubbed floors and washed their own clothing, helped with cooking, learned sewing and milked the cows on campus. Supported by the Christian Church, Elizabeth received religious training and would have a love for the needle and quilting throughout her life.

John Shouse, Christian Minister, was a strong influence at the school. Listening to sermons and visits from ministers were a common event at school. Elizabeth met and married Christian Minister Henry Foster Martin 3 July 1879. Henry Foster Martin, then a minister in Newton, Scott County, Kentucky wrote their marriage ceremony.
"...To you Henry and Lizzie I deem it necessary to say much in regard to your duties in entering upon this holy estate. During the year of your plighted troth, of this hour you have often thought and prayed. You thoroughly know each other. Your love has daily unfolded until it is a perfect flower...in true marriage, the husband and wife lead parallel lives, converging lives, lives moving in an asymptotes curve...at the same time these lives are so mutually inter dependent that the destruction of one is everything but actual death to the other...keeping this in view the yoke of marriage becomes a silken leash which never galls, never provokes resistance...Do you Lizzie, in the presence of God...take Henry...Do you promise by the help of God to be to him, a dutiful and faithful wife, aiding him in his responsible labors as a preacher in God's word and a servant of the church..."
John S. Shouse signed the marriage bond and performed the ceremony.

By 1880 the family which now included little John Shouse Martin, had migrated from the edge of the Bluegrass into Eastern Kentucky, Bath County. A year later the family moved to Farmers, Rowan County, Kentucky where they helped build the new Christian Church. A minister's pay is small and Henry Foster Martin began working as a superintendent at the Freestone Quarries when not behind the pulpit. He entertained his congregation and growing family of 6 children with guitar and dulcimer. Lizzie cared for her children and graciously played hostess to the congregation and town of Farmers.

One can only wonder how Lizzie and her husband handled explanations that they were not related to the John Martin of the well known Martin - Tolliver Feud in 1884. The town marshal of Farmers was handed an order to go to Winchester to get John Martin who had recently been arrested for killing a Tolliver. As the train pulled into the station at Farmers, just a few short doors from the Henry Foster Martin abode, John Martin, shackled and handcuffed, was shot and killed by the Tolliver faction.

Lizzie kept up appearances and by 1900 her husband and son John Shouse Martin were on another adventure. They decided to try their hand at merchandising, calling the company H.F. Martin & Son. With Elizabeth's education, they promptly appointed her as bookkeeper, adding to her already chore filled days. She undoubtedly had more than one conversation pointing out the mounting debts that the new business was incurring while purchasing goods. Among the concerns that they owed money to were Kitchen Whitt & Company and Crum & Fields both of Ashland. The business included merchandise consisting of dry goods, groceries, boots, shoes, notions, china and jewelry. Farmers was a small community and could not support such a concern. It quickly closed leaving the family to pay off the debts.

When Henry Foster Martin died in early 1905, Elizabeth Littlejohn Turner Martin once again squared her shoulders to face new tomorrows. She handled the debts, managed to go camping with family, traveled to Nelson County, Virginia and spent time with her children.

October 10, 1918 Lizzie's 2nd born son Henry Turner Martin wrote from Jellico, Tennessee "...all churches and public gathering places of every kind are closed here because of the flu...we were in a pretty severe train wreck Sat...we did not get a scratch..coming home..." I am sure the family must have felt relief that he was not hurt in the train incident. Home he came to his wife in Carter County, bringing with him the dreaded influenza. The flu developed into Menengitis and Henry Turner Martin died on the 27th. Elizabeth and her family climbed Pine Hill in Morehead for the 2nd time that decade to bury him beside her husband.

In the autumn of her years, among her family, her quilts and her family Elizabeth Littlejohn Turner Martin had a joyous family reunion:

"Ashland, KY., Oct 19, 1933 AP - Mrs. Henry Martin...step-brother, Henry Poff, Fairmont, Ind., were reunited here after a separation of 40 years. when they played together, as school children 60 years ago in Versailles, KY., little did they realize the reunion they had here would be so difficult to bring about...Her step-brother married and settled in Fairmont. He often expressed a desire to see his sister but in the hustle and bustle of living lost complete trace of her. During the past summer, while driving through the Bluegrass section, he made inquiries about her at Versailles without success. Returning home, he acted upon the suggestion of his wife and wrote the school at Midway, which gave him information that led to his finding his sister. The reunion was held here at the home of J. S. Martin..."

Elizabeth settled, in her later years, with daughter Francis Olive Martin Hagaman in St. Albin's, West Virginia. I am told that she enjoyed matching her quilt materials and sewing until the very end. Her life began and ended with challenges. Elizabeth Littlejohn Turner Martin died 3 November 1936 from Meylitis and Encephalitis. The family laid her at rest in Pine Hill Cemetery, Morehead, Rowan County, Kentucky where the "silken leash" of marriage continues to be honored and the tombstone honors their love of God with an open Bible.