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How Lost are your Ancestors?

Tips by Jeannette Holland Austin

books It seems that finding some ancestors is only a dream. Let us face facts, everyone does not create records of themselves. They don't purchase land, pay taxes, register their marriages or file estate records. Some people avoided census takers, or were missed because they resided at a county border or near the frontier. So, what to do? Here are some suggestions. First search the tax digests for likely counties. These digests are never alphabetical. Do not forget to look for defaulters for this may be a clue of when they left the area. Another place to search is the Minutes of the Inferior Court where mention is made of road overseers, commissioners of various public offices, etc. Also, check the Superior Court records looking for law suits.

Simon Kenton, a Brave Irishman to Kentucky

Kenton's Station Simon Kenton, the companion of Daniel Boone, came to Kentucky in 1771 and was of Irish parentage. His father was born in County Donegal. Another Irish companion was Michael Stoner. While still a minor, Kenton fled from his state because he believed he had killed a rival for the hand of a fair Virginia damsel. Simon Kenton record said that in 1775 he located in the Upper and Lower Blue Licks where there was an abundance of game, and he considered it a paradise. When in Kentucky, assumed the name of Simon Butler. He was known for his many deeds of personal bravery; indeed, it was asserted by many that he was the greatest Indian fighter the country ever produced. In 1782, upon hearing that the man he had struck down with his fist was still alive, he resumed his name, and in 1795 served as major under General Anthony Wayne. He founded the Kenton Station and Maysville, and planted the first corn raised in the state north of Kentucky river. Michael Stoner, one of his companions and Thomas Kennedy, another Irishman, built a cabin and made some improvements on Stoners fork of Licking river, in Bourbon county in 1774. Source: Early Irish Settlers in Kentucky by Edward Fitzpatrick, Louisville, Kentucky.

Colonel John Campbell, Irish Presbyterian

During 1773, the first survey made of Louisville was made by Captain Thomas Bullitt; his associates were John Fitzpatrick, James, George and Robert McAfee. Dr. John Connolly owned two thousand acres of land in Louisville in 1773. Colonel John Campbell, a native of Ireland and a resident of Louisville about this time, was afterward a member of the first State Constitutional Convention, held in Danville in 1797. A proud full-blooded Irishman in this region was Colonel Campbell. He was Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives and after wards a member of Congress. He was often a delegate to the Presbyterian Synods in Kentucky and was always spoken of as an Irishman, without any prefix, though he was born in the province of Ulster. Colonel Campbell was a faithful patriot, and being a large landowner, sent for many of his countrymen to come to Louisville, which was another cause for swelling the early Irish immigration to Kentucky.

General George Rogers Clark

George Rogers Clark With General Clark came to Louisville, in 1778, John Haggin and John Montgomery, and both were captains in his command. They landed at Corn Island, in the Ohio river, at the head of the falls, opposite where Louisville now stands. In 1782 there lived in Louisville, with their families: John MacManus, Hugh Cochran, John Doyle, John Caghey, John Cunningham, Michael Humble, John Handley, Andrew Hines, Thomas McCarty, Thomas Purcell, James Sullivan, James Brown and John McCarland, and most of these came with Clark. That was a pretty good Irish settlement for those days when a man who went out to plough corn was obliged to take his rifle along to defend himself against hostile Indians. Source: Conquest of the Northwest Territory by George Rogers Clark and his associates.

Patrick Joyes, Irishman, of Louisville

In 1784, Patrick Joyes settled in Louisville and left many descendants in Jefferson County. He was a man of education, speaking French, Spanish and other tongues fluently, so that at least one Irishman was of polished intellect in the early settlement of the city.

The Irish in Jefferson County

There were Irishmen in Kentucky long before the exploration of Daniel Boone. Colonel George Croghan, an Irishman, wrote in his journal June 1, 1765, "We arrived within a mile of the falls of the Ohio (Louisville) where we encamped after coming 50 miles this day." Colonel Croghan was a connected by marriage to General George Rogers Clark, who reduced the British possessions in the entire Northwest and made it first possible for the United States to acquire this territory. If General Clark was not an Irishman himself, his records show that he had many Irishmen with him as soldiers. His sister married William Croghan.

The Audubon Genius

John James AudubonJohn James Audubon was born in Louisiana near New Orleans. For several years he resided in France where he enjoyed every luxury. after wards, he spent many years traveling through the forest, hunting, and studying the birds. He said his first recollections were of his home in the South, where he would lie among the flowers and listen to the songs of the mocking birds. While yet a boy he gathered bird nests, eggs, curious stones, and moss. His first start was to kill and stuff the birds, but this hobby failed to satisfy him because their plumage was not bright like that of the live birds. Instead, he commenced drawing pictures of the birds. He was married to a young lady in Pennsylvania and brought her down the Ohio River in a flat-bottomed float called an "ark" This was their wedding trip. In Louisville, he entered into the trade business, but when the competition become too strong, he and his partner shipped their goods to Henderson or Hendersonville.A few years later he returned to Henderson when he, with several partners, attempted to operate a steam mill; but the place was not suitable, every one concerned lost his money. Audubon let the region with his sick wife, gun, drawings and dog. Audubon spent most of his time in Kentucky, rambling in the wilds, and persons in both Louisville and Henderson have often spoken of seeing him come in with his great quota of game. He said Kentucky was a "sort of promised land for all sorts of wandering adventurers." Audubon traveled many thousands of miles to make his drawings, sometimes living only on fruits and roots. At time he had to quit this work for a while and turn dancing master or artist to procure funds. After Audubon had traveled, studied, written, and made many hundred drawings, rats got into his box and cut up all his papers; for a while he was almost heartbroken and could scarcely eat or sleep. Finally, with true courage, he said, "I will make more drawings and make them better than any the rats cut up." So he persevered and, with the aid of his wife, who encouraged and inspired him in his great work, and gladly gave of her salary as a teacher to defray expenses, he at last went to Europe to arrange for its publication. Ultimately, Audobon was made a member of the Royal Society at Edinburgh, concerning which he wrote his faithful wife, "So, poor Audubon, if not rich, thou wilt be honored at least and held in high esteem among men." In another letter he said, "I have run the gantlet of Europe and may be proud of two things; I am considered the first ornithological painter and the first practical naturalist of America." His Birds of America contains pictures of one thousand sixty-five birds, natural size.

Newspaper Notes

"The Louisville (Kentucky) Advertiser of the 16th instant says, that Ebenezer Christopher died in Louisville on the 14th, of woulds received of Randall W. Smith, at the time he shot and killed Dr. Brown. Smith, it is said, has been apprehended near St. Louis. Mr. Christopher was a worthy man, and father-in-law of Smith." Source: The Southern Recorder Milledgeville, Georgia, December 26, 1826.

Oatland House and Race Course


A splendid oil painting of the Oakland House and Race Course by Robert Grammer and Augustus A. Von Smith completed in 1840 hangs in the J. B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

1890 Cyclone Almost Swept the City Away

Market StreetBaxter Park
tobacco warehousesUnion Depot

Fort Knox

Fort KnoxThe site upon which Fort Knox sits covers 100,000 acres of land. Fort Knox has been active since 1918 and was named after Henry Knox, a Revolutionary War Soldier general and the first secretary of war. It is the site of the U. S. Gold Depository surrounded by a high iron fence.

Gilbert Imlay of Louisville, Kentucky

Gilbert Imlay, the first Kentucky novelist, was born in New Jersey, about 1755. He was captain of a company in the Revolutionary War. Afterwards, he went West, reaching the Falls of the Ohio River (Louisville, in 1784). In the little river town he worked under George May as a commissioner for laying out lands in the back settlements. Imlay had not been a Kentuckian many months before he had obtained patents for thousand acres of land, all of which he subsequently lost. It is not certainly known how long he remained in Kentucky before going to London in 1792, but it was about eight years. His first edition of his Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America was published in Loondon. This work is made up of a series of descriptive letters which the author wrote from Kentucky to an English friend. The second edition of 1793, and the third edition of 1797, reproduced John Filson's Kentucky and Thomas Hutchins's History, together with much new material. While a resident of Kentucky Gilbert Imlay wrote the first Kentucky novel, entitled The Emigrants, or the History of an Expatriated Family, being a Delineation of English Manners drawn from Real Characters. (written in America, by G. Imlay, Esq. (London, 1793, 3 vols.; Dublin, 1794, 1 vol.). Source: Bibliography. London Monthly Review (August, 1793); Kentuckians in History and Literature, by John Wilson Townsend (New York, 1907); Dictionary of National Biography; biographies of Shelley, Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft.

They Have a Pecular Way of Doing Things out in Kentucky

drunk manThe Louisville Commercial newspapers reported a pecular robbery when a man was robbed of his clothes. "The most daring robbery that we have heard of lately took place on Saturday night, on the Corydon road, one and a half or two miles below the city. August Bazzot, a Frenchman, who has an enthusiastic admiration for Christmas, and believes it areligious duty to get gloriously drunk on that day, thought it proper to commence his spree on the day before, so that hemight be in proper case for tho annual festival. He succeeded admirably, and, dressed in a suit of new clothes, ho splurged around until after dark, when he started on his winding way, homeward bound. He proceeded, by zigzags, stopping at every saloon hecame to until he had reached a point not far from two miies from tho city. Here he was brought to a halt by a couple of individuals, who demanded his money and such other trifles as he had upon his person." Too drunk to resist, the robbers tppl every article of clothing, except his shirt, and thus disrobed, was turned out in the intense cold weather cold to sober up and reflect. He was found Sunday morning upon tho Corydon Road, about half a mile below the city, nearly frozen to death, his shirt fluttering in the wintry breeze like a distress signal from a vessel. When he reached the point of reflection he found himself minus all his money, his new Sunday suit of store clothes, his new boots and socks and his new hat, all having been stolen from him. Source: The Daily State Journal, Alexandria Virginia, January 2, 1871.

The 1870 Bridge in Louisville

1870 Bridge

Albert Fink was born in Lauterbach, Germany, educated at the Polytechnic School of Darmstadt and immigrated to the United States in 1849. He studied architecture and engineeriing and was employed by the B&O Railroad as well as the L&N Railroad where he was chief engineer. During the War Between the States, Fink repaired damage done to the L&N line by Confederate raiders. He designed and superintended the construction of the first bridge across the Ohio River at Louisville, which opened in 1870. Ultimately he became a vice-president of the L&N.

The Ohio Falls at Louisville

Ohio FallsWilliam Preston was the son of a Revolutionary War Soldier who acquired choice land at the Falls of the Ohio River. He participated in the Mexican War of 1846 to 1848 as a Lieutenant Colonel in the 4th Kentucky Volunteers. He was a delegate to the 1849 Kentucky Constitutional Convention, served in the Kentucky House in 1851 and elected to fill the vacant congressional seat of democrat Humphrey Marshall the following year. In 1858 he received an appointment as U. S. minister to Spain and resigned at the beginning of the War Between the States where he rose the rank of Major-General. He was engaged in the battles of Fort Donelson, Nashville, Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chickamauga.

Soldier's Retreat

Soldier's RetreatColonel Richard Clough Anderson, a native of Virginia and Revolutionary War Soldier came to Louisville in 1784 where he purchased 900 acres of land on Beargrass Creek in Jefferson County and built a large, Georgian-style stone home with surroundinig stone dependencies. The mansion was partially destroyed by lightning in 1840, but razed several years later. Four of the original stone out-buildings still exist. A replica of the main house has been built on the original site using descriptions in family records.


Horse Farms

McGee of Sctland, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri

Kentucky Pioneers

Jefferson County Wills, Estates

George Rodgers Bridge in LouisvilleJefferson County was organized in 1780 and one of the first three counties to be formed out Virginia at the time (the other two being Fayette and Lincoln). The county is named for Thomas Jefferson, who was governor of Virginia at the time. The county seat is Louisville, Kentucky.

Jefferson County Probate Records available to members of Kentucky Pioneers

Digital Images of Jefferson County Wills (1783 to 1813)

Testators: Askew, James; Askew, James (2) ; Bacon, Nathaniel, Captain ; Bates, Susan ; Bates, Susanna ; Beard, Charles ; Beard, Sarah ; Blankenbecker, Jacob; Bostwick, Trueman ; Brashear, William Sr. ; Breckinridge, Alexander ; Brendlinger, Conrad ; Brenham, Daniel ; Brinley, Jacob ; Bryan, Joseph; Cecil, Thomas ; Christian, John ; Churchill, Jamesstead ; Clark, Andrew ; Cornelius, William ; Coverton, Priscilla ; Cowen, John ; Crawford, David ; Cummins, William ; Danley, William ; Dickenson, Richard ; Endres, Valentine ; Fleming, Margaret ; Galloway, George ; Gatewood, John ; Geiger, George ; Gobin, Joseph ; Grigg, John ; Haneyman, Charles ; Harding, Henry ; Hawkins, David ; Hite, Abraham ; Hite, Rebecca ; Hodge, William; Hollis, William ; Holt, John ; Hume, John ; Humphries, Joshua ; Hunter, Joseph; Johnston, Dorothy ; Joyes, Patrick ; Kennison, Stephen W. ; Kirby, Samuel ; Leatherman, Frederick ; Lernes, Simeon ; Linn, Ashahel ; Lock, Catherine ; Martin, Rowley ; Mason, Thomas ; McMichael, James ; Meriwether, David Wood ; Meriwether, Patrick ; Meriwether, William Sr. ; Moore, James Francis ; Morgan, David ; Morgan, Elizabeth ; Mundle, John ; Nicholas, John ; Oglesby, Richard ; Oldham, William ; Osborn, William ; Parish, John ; Paul, Peter ;Penn, Chloe ; Peter, Hans ; Plummer, Jeremiah ; Quarterman, James ; Reed, Henry; Rhodes, William ; Seaten, K. B. ; Shake, Christopher; Stewart, James; Stewart, John ; Stewart, Stephen; Stroud, ; Taylor, James ; Thompson, Benajah; Todd, Samuel ; Vaughan, Andrew ; Vaughan, John ; Watson, William ; Watts, James ; Wells, William ; Wright, Samuel; Yenowine, Leonard

Digital Images of Jefferson County Wills (1813 to 1833)

Testators: Abernathy, John; Adams, Isabella; Applegate, Joseph; Arnold, Adam; Arteburn, William; Atcheson, Branham; Augustus, Springer; Austin, Mary ;Ballard, Levin ;Banks, John; Barbour, Thomas ;Beckwith, Upton; Bell, Joseph; Berthoud, James; Blake, James; Blankenbaker, Samuel ; Blankenbaker, Samuel (2) ; Bohannon, Richard ; Bradshaw, John ; Breckinridge, Robert ; Brentlinger, Susanna ; Briscoe, Robert ; Brookhart, Catharine; Brooks, Squire ;Brown, Everington ;Brown, Preston; Brown, Thomas ;Buckner, Ambrose ;Buckner, Haley ;Bucksby, Jacob; Bullitt, Alexander Scott ; Bullitt, Cuthbert ;Bullitt, Mary ;Burks, John ;Burton, Jeremiah; Byers, Nathan ;Calloway, Charles; Cannon, Anna, inventory ;Cavitt, Andrew ;Cawley, James M. ;Cawley, Joshua ;Coleman, Betty ;Coleman, Robert ;Collins, John ;Cox, John ;Crawford, Martha; Croghan, Nicholas ;Croghan, William ;Dawson, James; Delany, Michael ;Denwood, Mary ;Dorsey, Jerusha; Dorsey, Kezin ;Dougherty, William; Duffay, Michael; Dumarsellay, Andrew; Dye, Stephen ;Eastin, Ann ;Edwards, Frederick ;Ellingworth, Thomas ;Elston, Jonathan ;Erickson, James; Farnsby, David ;Farnsby, James; Fenley, Richard; Ferguson, Samuel ;Field, Abner ;Field, Reuben ;Fine, Jacob ;Fitzhugh, D. ;Fitzhugh, Elizabeth; Fontaine, Aaron; Foxwood, William; Frederick, Andrew ;Frederick, Augustus Sr. ;Freeman, Walter ;Fry, Susan; Funk, Jacob ;Gailbreath, Elizabeth, inventory ;Gailbreath, Joseph; Gamble, William ;Garason, John Anthony ;Garay, Bennett ;Gardener, Silas ;Garret, Silas ;Gay, George ;Geiger, Fred, Colonel ;Gill, Thomas; Glass, Sarah ;Godsinger, John ;Grayson, Frederick W. ;Grigg, Thomas; Griggs, William Sr. ;Guger, Frederick; Hall, E. ;Hammond, Login ;Hampton, Ephraim ;Harden, Henry; Harding, Ann ;Harding, Josiah ;Harding, Rebecca ;Harrison, John ;Hart, Jacob ;Hawse, Peter ;Hayse, George ;Headington, Joshua; Henderson, James; Hightower, Abraham; Hikes, Andrew, inventory; Hikes, George ;Hite, Abraham ;Hite, Joseph; Hite, Patsy ;Hoke, George Sr.; Hoke, Leonard ;Hollis, Isabella; Hollis, John; Hollis, Nancy; Holmes, Moses ;;Houston, EliHouston, William;Hundley, John; Jagerlehner, Niklaus; Johnston, Gabriel ;Johnston, John; Jones, Alice ; Jones, Sally; Kalfers, Henry Frederick; Kaye, Frederick Augustus; Kearney, William; Keen, Thomas F. ; Kellar, Joseph; Kellar, Sarah; Keller, William ; Kenneday, Patrick ; Kimmeerhorn, Ann ; King, Thomas; Lampton, Mark; Laurence, Benjamin ;Levey, Samuel Jr. ;Lewellen, Richard ;Lewellen, Samuel; Lewis, George; Love, Mathew ; Love, Nathan ; Luckett, Elizabeth ;Luckett, Molly Ann ;Maple, John ;Markwell, George Sr. ;Marrs, Agnes ;Marrse, John ;Martin, John ;Massie, Henry ;Massie, Nancy ;Masterson, John ;Mathes, James; Maupin, Matilda ; McCahlan, John ; McClanahan, Thomas ;McColloch, Christopher ;McCollum, Barney ;McConnel, James; McConnell, Mary ; McKeown, Morgan; McKinne, Terence ; McMullin, John ; Mercer, Hugh ;Meriwether, E. W. ;Meriwether, James; Miller, Anthony ; Miller, John ;Morris, Patrick ;Morris, Richard ;Newman, Martha ; Norton, Matthew ; Oldham, Samuel ;Oldham, William ;Paldridge, John ;Patten, James; Patterson, John L. ;Payne, Bennet ;Pearce, James; Pendergrast, Mary ;Pets, Catherine, inventory and appraisement ;Phillips, David ;Phillips, Jenkin ;Phillips, Richard ;Pitts, Robert ;Pluckett, Samuel; Pomeroy, Francis ;Pope, Alexander; Pope, John Jr. ;Pope, William ;Porter, William ;Prentice, David ;Preston, William ; Preston, William (2) ;Procter, David M. ;Pryer, James; Puryear, Hezekiah ; Quarterman, Elizabeth ; Quick, Jacob ;Ramsey, Margaret T. ;Ray, David ;Read, James; Reaugh, John ;Reese, Francis ;Reynolds, Charles ;Reynolds, Richard; Rice, Edmund Sr. ;Rice, John; Richards, Samuel ;Richardson, Thomas ;Richardson, William ;Roberts, Thomas ;Rush, Conrad ;Russell, Levi; Sale, Edmund ;Sanyser, Jacob ;Scott, William ;Seabolt, George ;Seaton, James; Settles, Abraham; Shaw, Samuel ;Sherman, Charles ;Shipp, Edmund; Shipp, Edmund Sr.; Shippen, Edward ; Shirley, John ;Shively, Christian ;Shutt, Frederick ;Sisson, Abner ; Skidmore, Paul ; Smith, Daniel ;Smith, John ;Smith, Pleasant ;Sneel, Alexander ;Snell, Christian ; Sparks, William ;Spradling, William ;Stafford, Thomas ;Standiford, James ; Standiford, Nathan ;Steel, Samuel ;Stewart, Mathew ;Stokes, John, inventory ; Stowers, Nicholas ;Stringham, John ;Sullivan, Sarah ;Taylor, Benjamin ;Taylor, Reuben ;Taylor, Richard ;Theobalds, Thomas ;Thompson, John ;Tompkins, Robert ; Tuley, Elizabeth ;Tunstall, James M. ;Tunstall, John ;Turner, Robert ;Tyler, Absalom; Tyler, Edward ;Vance, James; Waggoner, James; Waters, R. J. ;Waters, Richard Jones ; Watson, William ;Weatheringill, John; Weems, John; Weir, Andrew ;Welch, Samuel ;Wells, Samuel ;Welsh, Joseph; Welsh, Mary ;Wheeler, John; Wheeler, John Henson; Whips, Denton ;Whips, George ; White, George ; White, Lee ;White, Mary ;Whitlock, George ;Wilcks, Samuel ;Wilhite, John; Williams, Jeremiah ; Wills, Samuel ;Wilson, Daniel ;Wise, Peter ; Withers, Charles ; Withers, John; Withers, Mary ;Woolfolk, William ;Yewett, Levi ;Zaring, Henry


  • John Rowan Sr., LWT, (1840)

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