Family Stories

Biography of Major Isaac N. Cardwell

from Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, 1888

Clark County

Major Isaac N. Cardwell, a native of Knox County, Tennessee, was born September 27, 1827.  John Cardwell, his father, was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, in 1790.  He acquired a common-school education in youth, and adopted his father’s vocation in life, farming.  He came to Knox County, Tennessee, in 1812, where he followed agricultural pursuits, living on his father’s farm in that county.  In 1822 he was married to Miss Ara W., daughter of Colonel Thomas Watkins, a wealthy planter, who had a family of eleven children, of whom Ara was the seventh.  In 1831 John Cardwell removed to Jefferson County, Tennessee, where he purchased land and farmed, remaining until 1840, when he came to Breathitt County, Kentucky.  He entered general merchandising, and was Postmaster at Jackson, Breathitt County, from 1844 until 1877.  Mr. and Mrs. Cardwell were the parents of six children, viz.:  John W., William D., Isaac N., Thomas P., Miranda E. (Little) and A. E., the last named two of whom are dead.  John Cardwell served in the War of 1812, and drew a pension for that service during the latter part of his life.  He and Mrs. Cardwell were both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in politics he was a Whig.  He died in 1877, in his eighty-seventh year.

Perrin Cardwell, grandfather of our subject, was also born in Fauquier County, Virginia, and was of English origin.  He emigrated in an early day to Knox County, Tennessee, where he died in 1850, in the ninety-eighth year of his age, leaving a widow, Mrs. Elizabeth (Warsham) Cardwell, and nine children, viz.:  John, William, Daniel, George, Martha (Watkins), Susan (Nutty), Maria (Jourolman) and Louisa (Jourolman).  Perrin Cardwell was in life a wealthy planter and a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Judge Cardwell was educated at the Tennessee University, graduating in 1850.  He read law with Judge Reese at Knoxville, Tennessee, and was admitted to the bar in September, 1850.  He came to Kentucky in 1858, and located at Booneville, the county seat of Owsley County, where he practiced law very successfully until 1861, when he was commissioned by President Lincoln as Major of the Seventh Kentucky Infantry (Federal service).  He served until February 1863, when on account of rheumatism he was compelled to resign.  Returning home he remained in Lexington until the fall of 1864, when he removed to Estill County and opened a law office at Irvine.  He served two terms in the Kentucky Legislature as Representative of that county, in 1872-73 and 1881-82.  He served during the last year of the Mexican War as Orderly Sergeant of Captain John J. Reese’s company of the Fifth Tennessee Infantry.  In 1860, just before the beginning of the late Civil War, he was commissioned by Governor Beriah Magoffin as Colonel of the Militia in Owsley County. In 1884 he left Estill County, and settled in Winchester, Clark County, where he has since been practicing law.

Judge Cardwell has been twice married.  His first wife died in July, 1881, leaving one child, Lena (Fox), of Madison County, Kentucky.  He was next married in Frankfort, in November, 1882, to Miss Jennie Todd, daughter of Harry I. and Jane B. (Davidson) Todd, both Kentuckians.  Mrs. Cardwell is a granddaughter of Governor Crittenden, was born and raised in Frankfort, and is a member of the Presbyterian Church.  Mr. Cardwell, who is not connected with any religious organization, and with no secret organization except the Masonic order, is politically a Republican.  His mother is still living, and is in the eighty-seventh year of her age.

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