Allin – McElroy Marriage Bond and Consent – Washington County

Know all men by these presents that we, Robert Allin and John Reed, are held and firmly bound unto his Excellency, the Governor of Kentucky, in the sum of fifty pounds current money, to the payment of which well and truly to be made, to the said governor and his successors.  We bind ourselves, our heirs, jointly and severally, firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals and dated this 17th day of August 1797.

The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas there is a marriage shortly intended between the above bound Robert Allin and Polly McElroy, for which a license has issued.  Now if there be no lawful cause to obstruct the said marriage than this obligation to be void or else to remain in full force.

Robert Allin, John Reed

Witness, Henry Hardin

We hereby certify that is with our consent that a marriage license shall issue for Polly McElroy and Robert Allin.  In testimony whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this 7th of August 1797.

James McElroy, Peggy McElroy

Teste.  James Allin, Barbary Allin


The William Walker House – Madison County

William Walker, born in Virginia, November 27, 1769, died August 23, 1841.  Richmond Cemetery, Madison County, Kentucky

Jane Walker, born in Virginia, January 30, 1776, died March 3, 1859.

from Madison County Rediscovered, Lavinia H. Kubiak, 1988

William Walker House, Duncannon Road

When William Walker (1769-1841) married Jane Bates (1776-1839) in 1795, her parents had the first portion of this two-story house built as a wedding present.  the Walker House, also referred to as he J. D. Harris House and as The Cedars, was owned by prominent citizen John D. Harris (1829-1905) until he purchased Blythewood.

The residence was originally constructed in the Federal style and faced southward toward Boone’s Trail.  The central portico and two one-room two-story wings on either side of the original block were added around 1830, creating Greek Revival detail and reorienting the house to face westward toward a new road.

The two-story pedimented portico is supported by four tapering brick pillars.  The central bay of the house, which the portico shelters, is separated visually from the wings by white plaster applied over the exterior brick.  Each window is capped by identical brick jack arches, although the size of the second-central window is triparate, with sidelights flanking the sash.  Sidelights also appear at the central doorway below.  The central passage leads to rooms on either side, each having an interior brick chimney on the gable ends.  The Walker House represents an excellent example of Madison County building which was updated from the Federal to the Greek Revival style.

The William Walker House

A Photo From Johnstown, PA – and a Book By David McCullough

Who has read one or more of the amazing books by David McCullough?  He is, by far, my favorite author.  When I start one of his books I become immersed into whatever time period he is writing.  He captures your attention and holds it so masterfully, even his 1,120 page Truman seems like a short story.  The 85-year-old author has twice received the Pulitzer Prize – for Truman and John Adams – and twice received the National Book Award for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback.

The book I write about today is his first book, The Johnstown Flood, published in 1968.  I read this book last year and was fascinated at the amount of research that went into this project – perhaps that’s why I enjoy his writing!  He somehow finds even the most minute, true details that make a story interesting and those involved come to life as real as you and I.

Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a coal and steel town in 1889.  On the mountain above the town, an old earth dam was rebuilt to create a lake for a summer resort for the rich and famous of that day.  And it was not rebuilt correctly.  It was brought to the attention of those for whom it was built, but they did nothing to make it sturdier.  On May 31, 1889, after much rain, the dam burst, and water rushed down the mountain, gathering speed with every foot it traveled, into Johnstown, killing more than 2,000 people.  An absolute tragedy.

In the June 21, 1889, edition of The News, Newport, Pennsylvania, a letter sent by Rupley Schaeffer to his father was published:

God be praised, I am saved from an awful, watery grave.  It is too awful to describe – words fail me at this time.  How did I ever get out alive?  Only God’s providence saved me, and I was such an unworthy child.  This has changed my whole life.  God has spared me, and I am going to be his and live for and in his service henceforth.  I can’t describe my escape for 14 long hours, through the night on top of buildings, walls gone on every side, men perishing beside me, and I was saved!  The whole town is gone.’

And in the same newspaper, an account written by a comrade tells the story more fully.

In the afternoon, with four associates, we spent time playing checkers in the hotel, the streets being flooded.  At 4:30 we were startled by a shrill whistle.  Thinking a fire was the cause we looked out of the window.  Great masses of people were rushing through the water in the street, which had been there all day, and still we thought the alarm a fire.

‘All of a sudden, the roar of the water burst upon our ears, and in an instant more the streets were filled with debris.  Great houses and business blocks began to topple and crack and go down as if they were toy block houses.

‘People on the streets were drowning on all sides.  One of our company started downstairs, and, alas, was drowned.  The other four, including myself, started upstairs, for the water was fast rising as if by magic.

‘When we got on the roof we could see whole blocks swept away.  Hundreds of people were floating by, clinging to roofs of houses, rafts, timbers or anything they could get hold of.

‘The hotel began to tremble, and we made our way to an adjoining roof.  Soon afterward part of the hotel went down.  The brick structures seemed to fare worse than frame buildings, as the latter would float, and the brick would crush and crumble into masses of ruins.

We finally climbed into a room of the last building mentioned, and remained there all night, in company with 116 other people, among the number being a crazy man.  His wife and family had all been drowned only a few hours before, and he was a raving maniac.

‘And what a night!  Sleep, yes, I did a little, but every now and then a building near by would crash in, and we would all jump, fearing that at last our time had come.

‘Finally, morning came.  In company with one of my associates, we climbed across the tops of houses, built a raft and poled ourselves ashore to the hillside.  I don’t know how the others escaped.  This was 7 o’clock Saturday morning.’

As in all tragedies, some we ready to take advantage and make extra cash.  Sixteen days later in The Pittsburgh Dispatch was an ad that read:

The Horror of the Keystone State

The most correct and finest finished photographs of the principal views of the great Johnstown flood are contained in the set presented with every purchase of not less than $5 at Kaufmanns’ this week.’

On the same page this ad ran six times in the same column!

And the following from the same page:

Excursion to Johnstown

‘To accommodate those who desire to view the ruins at Johnstown, the B & O Railroad Co. will run a special train on Tuesday, June 18, leaving Pittsburgh at 7 a.m., stopping at Hazelwood, Glenwood, Braddock, McKeesport, West Newton and Connellsville, arriving at Johnstown at 12:30 noon and leave Johnstown on return trip at 5 p.m.  The rate from Pittsburgh and all points named above will be $2.35 for the round trip.

‘Those who desire to go on this excursion should provide themselves with lunch baskets, as provisions cannot be procured at Johnstown.’

Recently I found a photo of a young woman – taken by G. M. Greene in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  After reading Mr. McCullough’s book, I couldn’t help but think – did this woman survive the flood?  Did she perish?  Let’s try to date this photo and make a timeline.

The woman in this photo wears a perfect example of a late 1880’s dress.  The sleeves are very tight, with a ‘cap’ or jockey’ on the upper arms.  The pleated skirt hangs straight, not flared, but still with plenty of material for easy walking.  The hairstyle is high on the forehead, close to the head at the sides with no hair worn in front of the ears.

Now let’s look at the card and printed information – G. M. Greene, Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  The black background of the card was seen from 1884-1895.  The small, plain text of the photograph’s name and city date 1870-1883.

But the back of the card, with its full coverage advertisement – G. M. Greene, No. 127 Franklin Street, opposite the M. E. Stone Church, Johnstown, PA – has a narrower time period – 1887-1890.  We know the flood occurred on May 31, 1889.  It was quite likely this photo was made a year or two before that date.  How I wish we knew this young woman’s name, but most importantly, did she survive the flood to relate the experience to her children and grandchildren?  I doubt we will ever know.

George Green’s parents were Isaac and Elizabeth Green.  Isaac Greene built the first house in Blairsville, PA, finishing it by noon of the same day, complete with stove and bits of furniture, thus winning the lot in a contest held by the owner of the lots.  In 1861 George married Jennie Davidson; they were divorced in 1880.  The couple had one daughter, Minnie, 1862-1884.

In The Photographic Times, a monthly magazine edited by Walter E. Woodbury, Volume XXVII, page 186, is an obituary for our photographer.  It says, ‘George Miles Greene, the veteran photographer of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, passed away Wednesday, July 17, 1895, aged 65 years.  He will be remembered by members of our profession as a man of sterling character and business ability.  He built up a large practice in Johnstown before the great flood, when, like hundreds of the business houses in that city, his beautiful studio was swept away, and, like a matchbox on the troubled ocean, was carried down the raging Conemaugh River.  After the flood he again followed his beloved calling and built a fine ground-floor studio.  On July 1, 1894, owing to ill health, he sold out to the Boston Art Co., who now are in full possession of the business.  He was a great sufferer form sciatic rheumatism for five years and was a marvel of endurance and patience.  He leaves no wife or children to mourn his absence.’

Today at the corner of Franklin St. and Locust Street in Johnstown, the Franklin Street United Methodist Church – the beautiful old stone church – still stands.  Across Locust Street is the US Post Office, and across Franklin Street is Cambria County Central Park Complex, a variety of shops, and where G. M. Greene’s photography studio was located in 1889.  Across Locust Street at the last of the four corners is a central park with benches and a fountain.  It is also where the local farmer’s market is held.   Four blocks away, close to the Walnut Street Bridge that crosses the Conemaugh River is the Johnstown Flood Museum.  One day Ritchey and I will visit the town and museum, and we will continue this story.  And in the meantime, pick up a David McCullough book and transpose yourself into another era of history.

1829/1830 Marriage Returns By Jesse Head – Mercer County

The Rev. Jesse Head married Abraham Lincoln’s parents, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks in Washington County, June 12, 1806.  He later moved to Mercer County.

I do hereby certify that by virtue of a license issued from the Clerk’s Office for Mercer County, I solemnized the rites of Matrimony on the 31st of December 1829, between John Vandever and Mary Vanfleet, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Methodist Society, given under my hand the date above shown.

Jesse Head, EMS

The marriage bond for John Vandever and Mary Vanfleet was issued December 30, 1829, with bondsman William Terhune.  The bride’s mother was Nancy Vanfleet, testified by Joseph Lester.

I do hereby certify that by virtue of a license issued from the Clerk’s Office for Mercer County, I solemnized the rites of Matrimony on the 7th January 1830, the rite of Matrimony between Wesley Bishop and Lucretia Higgins, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Methodist Society, given under my hand the date above shown.

Jesse Head, EMS

The marriage bond for Wesley Bishop and Lucretia Higgins was issued January 4, 1830, with bondsman Hiram Higgins, who states that he believes the bride is twenty-one.  The groom’s father was Veachel Bishop.  Consent was written by the bride, testified by Daniel Turner, Isaac bishop and H. N. Horine.

I do hereby certify that by virtue of a license issued from the Clerk’s Office of Mercer county, I solemnized the rites of Matrimony on the 21st of January 1830, between John Coulter and Lucinda Steel, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Methodist Society, given under my hand the date above.

Jesse Head, EMS

The marriage bond for John Coulter and Lucinda Steel was issued January 15, 1830, with bondsman Valentine Steel.


John W. and Sarah Rollins and Daughter Sarah

Nothing has left me more puzzled in research on a family, and still have found so much information.  Three gravestones stand in Calhoun Cemetery in McLean County.  My husband Ritchey visited his sister earlier in the month and stopped by the cemetery to photograph several of the stones.  John W. Rollins, his daughter Sarah Rollins, and wife Sarah Rollins are buried in a row, the daughter between her parents.

In the 1850 census of McLean County John was 50, a millwright, born in Pennsylvania.  Wife Sarah was 48, born in Kentucky; daughter Sarah was 8.

A millwright, in the 19th century, was a specialized carpenter who designed and constructed mills.  They had a working knowledge of driveshafts, bearings, gearings and mechanical bells.  They executed every type of engineering operation in the construction of mills – designed the patterns of the water wheel systems, carved the gear mechanisms and erected the mill machines.  Since this was such a specialized job I’m sure they stayed busy.  In the 1864 IRS schedules John W. Rollins income was $1,195 – only six men in the county had higher incomes.  He paid a 5% tax of $59.75.

Death came to visit the family in the summer of 1858, claiming daughter Sarah, aged 16.  I could find no death records for McLean County, although most counties in Kentucky did keep sporadic records at that time.

Sarah A., daughter of John W. & Sarah Rollins, born December 24, 1841, died July 8, 1858.  Calhoun Cemetery, McLean County, Kentucky.

You can tell by her gravestone how much this young woman was loved.  A garland of flowers and leaves surround what at one time was her photograph.  Over the last one hundred and sixty years the rain and weather have reduced it to something unrecognizable.  A two-stanza verse is now very faint.

John Rollins, born January 18, 1800, died December 22, 1869.

In December of 1869 John Rollins came down with pneumonia.  It proved fatal; he died just before Christmas.  At the top of his gravestone is the square and the compass, sign of a Freemason.

Sarah Rollins, born September 10, 1809, died May 28, 1871.

Sarah lasted a year and a half before dying at the age of 62.  Was it from sadness losing her husband and daughter?  Her stone has a star, a symbol of divine guidance.

Did John and Sarah have other children?  In the 1860 census the two are listed in the census.  I could not find them in the 1840 census

Neither John or Sarah left a will – perhaps because there was no one to leave anything to except each other?  On February 8, 1870, S. J. Boyd, attorney, was appointed administrator for John.  Louis L. Moore, William Noland and C. G. Smallhouse were appointed appraisers of his estate.  The interesting items from this appraisement were a clock, one lot of books valued at $15, a Masonic chest for $10, 2 maps at $5, various tools used in his trade.  Property set aside for the benefit of his widow included ‘two bedsteads and bedding, all the carpet in the house, cooking stove and utensils, the Bible, kitchen items, all the wearing apparel’.

Sarah bought several things at the sale – a clock, bureau, the Masonic chest.

When Sarah died in May 1871, less than a year after her husband, her appraisement and sale was held on July 29th and 31st 1871, everything was sold – including a gold watch for $70, the family Bible, all beds and other furniture.  And no one with the last Rollins purchased a thing.  Sarah’s appraisement included $528.50, $66 in silver, $2 in gold, a ladies’ gold watch and chain for $50, locket and earrings for $10.  It makes me think there were no other children, no one to inherit.  The sale total was $442.63.  Too sad.  If anyone knows of other children I would love to have that information.

Amsden-Sanders Plot In Versailles Cemetery – Woodford County

  James P. Amsden, January 15, 1847 – October 29, 1906.  Versailles Cemetery, Woodford County, Kentucky.

These beautiful gravestones are located in the Versailles Cemetery in Woodford County, Kentucky.  They are two of eight, all family members.  In addition to James and Laura Sanders Amsden, the following are buried in this plot:

  • Son, John Sanders Amsden, October 13, 1883 – February 21, 1899
  • Laura’s daughter by a previous marriage, Margaret (Pearl) Voorhies, wife of James B. Haggin, June 13, 1869 – June 8, 1965;
  • Daughter, Jean Amsden, wife of William M. Haupt, February 5, 1880 – September 28, 1966;
  • Son-in-law, William M. Haupt, April 1, 1880 – September 26, 1957;
  • Laura’s parents, Margaret H. Sanders, September 4, 1804 – Jun 13, 1878 and Col. Lewis H. Sanders, 1796-1864, on one stone;
  • Laura’s brother, Lewis Sanders, born in Franklin County, Kentucky, November 7, 1826, died July 2, 1871.

In the 1850 census of Woodford County we find James P. Amsden, 3 years of age, living with his parents, John Amsden, 41, jailer, born in Massachusetts, and Lucretia, 35, born in New York.  John L, 6; and Laura B., 1, are siblings.  In 1860 the family is living in a boarding house, and father John is a merchant.  Two other children, Mary, 9; and Charles E., 6; make up the household.  Young daughter Laura is not listed.  I feel she must have died sometime between 1850 and 1860.  In 1870, John Amsden is a banker, son John is a salesman and son James a clerk in a bank.  No other children are listed.

James P. Amsden married Laura E. (Sanders) Voohries, June 3, 1879, in Louisville.  B. M. Messick performed the ceremony and witnesses were Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Tevis and F. W. Ferguson.  One year later in the 1880 census baby Jean has been born; Pearl Voohries, 10, was living with the family.  Pearl is Laura Sanders’ daughter from a previous marriage.  She married George T. Voohries, and must have divorced him since he lived until 1913, but he maintained a good relationship with his daughter, and was at Pearl’s home when he died.  He was a Confederate veteran.  In 1900 James and Laura have only one child living with them, Jean, aged 20.  Margaret Pearl had married by this date.

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Tuesday, October 30, 1906

Laura L. Sanders, wife of James P. Amsden, November 18, 1844 – February 25, 1929.

The Owensboro Messenger, Daviess County, Kentucky

Tuesday, February 26, 1929


1791 Will of Daniel Brewer – Mercer County

Daniel Brewer, Pvt, Molyan’s Dragoons PA Line, Revolutionary War, July 5, 1719 – January 15, 1791.  Old Mud Meeting House Cemetery, Mercer County, Kentucky.

Daniel Brewer, a Revolutionary  Soldier, was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, also known as the Old Mud Meeting House.  He is buried in that cemetery, and has a beautiful bronze grave site, along with the other 30 other veterans buried there.

In his will Daniel names eight children, giving their names, as well as his daughters’ husband’s names.  Such a treasure!

Will of Daniel Brewer

Mercer County Will Book 1, Pages 49-50

In the name of God, amen.  I, Daniel Brewer, of the County of Mercer and District of Kentucky, being weak in body but of perfect mind and memory, calling to mind that it is ordered for all men once to die, do make this my last will and testament as follows.  Viz.  I give and bequeath to my eldest son, Abraham Brewer, my Bible and a cow, to him and his heirs forever.

Item.  I give and bequeath to my son, Daniel Brewer, my long gun, to him and his heirs forever.

It is further my will that the remainder of my estate, both real and personal as well as my lands in Pennsylvania, as my personal estate in Kentucky and Pennsylvania, be sold to the best and highest bidder by my executor, hereafter to be named, and the money arising there from

to be divided as followeth (viz.) To my daughter, Leah Stagg, wife of James Stagg, one eighth part to her and her heirs forever.

To my daughter, Susannah Demaree, wife of Samuel Demaree, one eighth part to her and her heirs forever.

To my son, Abraham Brewer, one eighth part to him and his heirs forever.

To my daughter, Rachel Commingo, wife of Henry Commingo, one eighth part to her and her heirs forever.

To my daughter, Mary Demaree, wife of Samuel Demaree, Jr., one eighth part to her and her heirs forever.

To my son, John Brewer, one eighth part to him and his heirs forever.

To my daughter, Phoebe Demaree, wife of Cornelius Demaree, one eighth part to her and her heirs forever.

To my son, Daniel Brewer, one eighth part to him and his heirs forever.

It is also my will that my wearing clothes be considered as excepted above and that my executor divide them equally between my sons, Abraham Brewer, John Brewer and Daniel Brewer, to them and their heirs forever.  It is also my will that my two sons, Abraham Brewer and John Brewer, and Samuel Demaree, Sr., do execute this my last will and testament.  In testimony where of I do here unto set my hand and affix my seal this fifteenth day of January one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one.

Daniel Brewer

Signed, sealed and acknowledged in the presence of us – Peter Demaree, Francis Monfort, John Demaree

At a Court held for Mercer County at the Courthouse on Tuesday, the 22nd day of February 1791

This last will and testament of Daniel Brewer, deceased, was exhibited into Court and proved by the oaths of Peter Demaree and Francis Monfort, two subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded.

Teste. Thomas Allin, CC