Genealogy Ramblings

2017 Maryland to Kentucky and Beyond Genealogy Conference

How many of you have ancestors that moved to Kentucky from Maryland during the 1785-1810 immigration of families to the counties of Washington, Marion and Nelson – and, also, Scott County and Breckinridge County, as I have recently discovered?  Are you attending the 2017 Maryland to Kentucky and Beyond, Genealogy Conference in Owensboro, Kentucky, next weekend?  Ritchey and I will be there!  We will be in the vendor section, talking about genealogy and selling my CDs to those who are interested.

Holy Cross Catholic Church

In 1785 sixty families gathered in the Pottinger’s Creek area of Washington County (later to become Marion County).  Basil Hayden, Clement Johnson, Joseph Clark, James Dant, Philip Miles, among others, were those early settlers.  Holy Cross Church is the oldest Catholic church west of the Allegheny Mountains, built in 1792.

St. Charles Catholic Church

Some of these groups of families settled along Hardin’s Creek in 1786, worshiped in the home of Henry Hagan, until the first church was built in 1806 – my home parish of St. Charles Church located in St. Mary’s in Marion County, originally Washington County.  John Lancaster, James Elder, William and Andrew Mudd, Thomas and Ignatius Medley, Bennett Rhodes, and others made this area their home – and many of their descendants still live there today.

St. Francis Catholic Church

Also in 1786, a group of Maryland settlers intended to share the Pottinger’s Creek settlement.  They took flatboats down the Ohio River and landed at Maysville, known as Limestone at that time.  They found such beautiful land east of the river, in what was Woodford Count, later Scott, they decided to travel no further.  The first church was built in 1794, St. Francis.  It is the second oldest parish in the state.  The present church was built in 1820 at a cost of $3,600.  Names of those early settlers were Jenkins, Gough, Leak, Combs, Tarleton, Worland, Greenwell, and James.

St. Rose Catholic Church

In 1787 Philip Miles, Thomas Hill, Henry Cambron, Joseph and James Carrico, Thomas Hamilton, Basil Montgomery, many members of the Smith family, and others came to Cartwright’s Creek.  In 1798, they built a church known as St. Ann’s – and this is where many of the older members are buried.  The church was abandoned once St. Rose Church was built in 1806.  There is nothing in the field where St. Ann’s Church and Cemetery used to be.  This is the area most of my ancestors settled in – Montgomery, Carrico, Dillehay, Smith, Cambron and others – lived from those very early days until my grandmother died in 1986.  Such a rich heritage concentrated in one county – since my father’s ancestors also lived in Washington County from 1860.

Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church

The Rolling Fork settlement – today in Calvary, Marion County – was established in 1798.  Leonard Hamilton, Robert Abell, Clement and Ignatius Buckman, John Raley and others left their marks here.  Ignatius Buckman was killed by Indians and was the first buried where Holy Name of Mary Cemetery is now.  The older portion of the cemetery is on a small knoll, at the back of the church.  The newer portion is across the small road that leads back to the cemetery, a nice, flat area with many gravestones.

Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral

Captain James Rapier, with his sons Charles and William, settled on southeast of what is now Bardstown, on Beach Fork of Salt River (Poplar Neck).  A few years later Thomas Gwynn, Anthony Sanders and Nehemiah Webb (originally a Quaker) settled close by.  The home of Thomas Gwynn, now the site of the Nazareth Community of the Sisters of Charity, was used for church services until St. Joseph Church was built in 1798 in what is now St. Joseph Cemetery.  The cathedral was built in 1816.  McManus, Reynolds, Howard, Lancaster, members of the Hayden family and William McQuown were early settlers.  Thomas Howard lived in the vicinity where St. Thomas Church is now located.  His home was used for church, and in 1810 he willed the farm to the church.    In 1812 St. Thomas Church was established.  Many old settlers are buried in this cemetery.

St. Thomas Catholic Church

The Cox’s Creek settlement in Nelson County was begun about 1792.  Some of my ancestors came to this area – Gardiner, Elder, Montgomery – along with Thomas Higdon, Richard Jarboe, Valentine Thompson, Hezekiah Luckett and Charles Wathen.  This is the oldest parish in Nelson County, located in Fairfield.  Unfortunately we have not visited this church and cemetery.

The County of Breckinridge was formed in 1799, but eight years previously, when a portion of Hardin County, it was settled by Leonard Wheatley, and soon followed by Richard Mattingly, Elias Rhodes, Barton Mattingly, Ignatius Coomes, William McGary and others.  Richard Mattingly’s house was used as a church until 1811, when St. Anthony was built.  Just found out about the Breckinridge settlement during my research – another to add to our list to visit!

There are many more settlers who came from Maryland to Kentucky in those early years.  It would be impossible to name them all.  This conference first began in 1990 when it was held at Nazareth, Kentucky.  In 1992, it was held in St. Mary’s at St. Charles Church; in 1994 in Cape Girardeau, Perry County, Missouri; and back in 1996 at St. Charles – the first time Ritchey and I attended.  In 1998, Owensboro, Kentucky, was the location, and we attended again.  In 2000 the gathering was held at Leonardtown, in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.  2002 found the conference at St. Catharine Motherhouse in Washington County, which we attended; 2004 in Hannibal, Missouri.  2008 at the St. Thomas Farm in Bardstown; back in Leonardtown in 2010.  The last reunion was held at St. Catharine College in Washington County in 2014 – which was my first time to attend as a vendor.  This has been such a wonderful group of people!  I’ve made so many friends and found much information for my families!  If you have any family members that originated from Maryland, especially the counties of Charles, St. Mary and Prince Edward, you may want to come.  Perhaps I will see you there?

11 replies »

  1. My family was one of the families that traveled from Maryland to Washington/Marion County. I would love to travel to this reunion but I am not able to due to health reasons. Is there any way I can get information about the conference and some information about what happened there. I am so interested to hear stories. I believe my family settled in the Rolling Fork Settlement.

    Sheila Abell Shontz |

  2. Thanks for posting this set of beautiful and interesting photos.

    I grew up in Lebanon and have visited almost all of these old churches. The most beautiful church of all, however, is still St, Augustine in downtown Lebanon.

    Evan Parrott


  3. I so thoroughly enjoy your comments that I hate to complain. The church pictured is St Thomas Catholic Church located just outside Bardstown. It is a copy of the Paca Street Seminary Chapel in Baltimore which is where Bishop Flaget, the first Bishop of Bardstown, was a seminarian before he was ordained a priest. He was the founder, along with Fr David, of the first seminary in “the west” as he founded St Thomas Seminary as they came down the Ohio River on a flatboat before they got to St Thomas Farm. St Thomas is a beautiful church. St Michael Church is in Fairfield.

  4. What venue will this event take place next week in Owensboro? It would be a nice little trip and a chance to go to Moonlight Barbecue afterwards.

  5. I love this post. As you are aware, my family heritage has deep and vast roots in Marion County. The Hamiltons, Thomas and Leonard, you mention are my grandfathers. They settled there from Maryland. Countless ancestors, strong Catholics, are buried in Catholic churchyard cemeteries. One of the stained glass windows in the St. Charles church was given by one of my great grandfathers.

  6. I have a book on Thomas Hill and descendants by John David Hill. Published by John P. Morton and Company in Louisville Ky. It starts with the arrival from England to Maryland, the story of Philip Miles and Thomas Hill traveling down the Ohio river to ky. on flatboats and being attacked by Indians. The book ends with my father, Richard J. Adams.

  7. Hello. My name is Kevin Webb, great-great-great grandson of Nehemiah Webb. Though not originally from Maryland, when Nehemiah converted to Catholicism (from Quaker), he followed the Catholics who migrated from Maryland to Nelson/Washington counties Kentucky. In Bardstown,he sold his home to Rev. John David as the foundation of Bethlehem Academy and was instrumental in building St. Joseph’s Cathedral. In Washington County, Nehemiah married Mary Waller, who’s family did come from Maryland. At the time Nehemiah was building a grist mill for her father, John Waller. I’m a descendant of Nehemiah and his third wife Clotilda Edelen (Nehemiah Webb – Benedict J. Webb – Ignatius R. Webb – Paul B Webb Sr – Paul B Webb Jr). I’m just now coming across this link and I’m so disappointed to had missed the reunion. I’m in the process of working on my family genealogy and would love to be linked into a network such as this to share information/learn more about my family and the history of Maryland-Kentucky.

  8. Enjoyed reading this, my mom was Mildred Frances Dunn, had a g uncle named Hayden Leander Dunn, one of her g grandmothers was a Morrison, they were there late 1700’s. Fun to wonder where and how they connect. They were in the Carroll, Henry, etc area.

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