Family Stories

Old Writings From Great-Grandmother Frances


A few days ago I posted a picture of my great-grandparents – Robert E. Lee Montgomery and Frances Barber Linton – and their children in front of their home in Washington County, Kentucky.  I thought today I would share a few of the treasures from her genealogy records.

Grandmother Frances was born August 13, 1867 – just after the Civil War.  By the time she was 20 she was living in a much different era than the sadness and death of the war.  It was by no means forgotten, but people were getting on with their lives and coming to a new age in the United States.

The photo above shows a listing of the family of Edward Barber Edwards and Nancy Linton – Grandmother Frances’ great-grandparents.  Edward Edwards, son of Jonathan Edwards and Sarah Barber, was from Maryland.  Nancy Linton, the daughter of Captain John Linton and Ann Nancy Mason, was born in Loudoun County, Virginia.  Susan Clark Edwards, daughter of Edward and Nancy Edwards, is the line through which my great-grandmother descends.  She married John Cotton Taylor (on this sheet his middle name is listed as Compton, but that is incorrect – even my great-grandmother didn’t have all the answers!).  Their eldest daughter, Catherine, was Frances’ mother.  Catherine married Edward Edwards Linton (a grandson of Captain John Linton and Ann Nancy Mason).  So my great-grandmother Frances is descended from the captain through both her mother and her father.  How complicated can it get?

Grandmother Frances wrote the different family lines on sheets of paper – and I feel fortunate to have a piece of her to hold in my hands!

And just a note on the yellow paper – LaSalle Extension University was primarily a distance learning university based in Chicago, Illinois, and begun in 1908.  LaSalle was a pioneer in this mode of education and boasted an enrollment of 10,000 students in 1911!  The school focused on business and vocational training.  My grandmother, Alice, was 18 that year – was she taking a course?  The other children were too young for such a thing.  I do know that my grandmother attended Saint Catharine Academy, now Saint Catharine College, just outside of Springfield in Washington County, but this was while she was in high school.  Another mystery!


This next photo is of an original record kept all these many years.  It reads, ‘Due to John Pirtle, thirteen dollars and seventy five cents for value received.  Witness my hand the 24th day of November 1819 – Thomas Hagan, his mark.

I’m not exactly sure what this is.  And I’m not sure who Thomas Hagan or John Pirtle are.  On the back there is a notation of Edwards to Pirtle – but part is torn away.  Perhaps this was a debt owed that was signed over to Mr. Pirtle?  Even thought I can’t say for sure what this is, just being almost 200 years old makes it interesting!


Until tonight I had never paid much attention to this scrap of paper.  On first glance one would think it a penmanship lesson.  But a closer look reveals it must be much more than that.  The letters are in the old script from years ago.  This very much resembles the handwriting from the very old wills and court records.  But notice there is a symbol beneath each letter.  It must be a code – but a code for what?  The paper is very old, and on the back you can make out the faint bleed of the ink through the paper.  There are stains on the front and back – especially on each end – and you can tell the paper has been folded many times.


Ritchey and I watched a program about the American Revolution that talked of the great spy ring that was used during the war, and that many ordinary people, including women, were part of this undertaking.  John Linton was a captain in the Loudoun Militia.  Could he have been part of this spy ring – this group of people who were quite important in bringing about independence for our country?  Was this the purpose of this little scrap of paper?  I suppose we will never know for sure, but it certainly makes a great story!

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