Family Stories

William Henry Tilton and Elvira Washington Bratton – Robertson County

Today our research takes us to Robertson County, one of the smallest of the 120 counties of Kentucky.  The county was formed in 1867, taking land from Bracken, Harrison, Mason and Nicholas counties.  Robertson County contains 100 square miles of land and is home to approximately 2,200 souls.  Gallatin County contains one less square mile of land, making Robertson the second smallest county.

Mt. Olivet Cemetery is in the county seat by the same name.  Our interest today is for the gravestones of W. H. Tilton and Elivira Tilton.  William Henry Tilton was born March 19, 1841, in what was then Bracken County, to Jesse Lum Tilton and Rachel Elizabeth Ashcraft.  He suffered and died from influenza January 9, 1916 – two years before the Spanish Influenza outbreak.

But let us go back to the 1850 census of Bracken County.  Jesse L. was 45, a farmer, wife Rachel was 42.  Six children were listed with their parents – Margaret A., 21; John W., 16; Mary E., 12; William H., 9; Mary J., 7; and Ephraim E., 2.  In 1860 the three older children had left the household, the last three ten years older, except that Mary was listed as Nancy J.

William Henry Tilton married Sarah I. McDowell February 28, 1864, in Nicholas County.  Bondsman was Joseph McDowell, possibly Sarah’s father.

According to the 1870 census, Robertson County at this date, William was 29, Sarah was 24, and three children were living with them – Leroy C., 5; Luther T., 3; and Theodore G., 8/12.  One more child was born to the couple in 1872, a daughter Ina.  It was during or shortly after the birth of this child that Sarah died.

February 12, 1874, William Henry married Elvira Washington Bratton, at the home of James Bratton, with Henry Norton Johnston, Charles Lytle, John Nelson Bratton, Abbott Asbury and others present.

Elmira must have been busy with four children already in the household, and a dozen more that would be added over roughly the next twenty years.  Two daughters died in infancy.

A list of the children with known spouses.

Children of William Henry Tilton and Sarah Isabell McDowell:

  1. Leroy C. Tilton, 1865-1950, married March 1, 1888, Ida B. Bentley.
  2. Luther Timothy Tilton, 1866-1943.
  3. Theodore G. Tilton, 1870-?
  4. Ina P. Tilton, 1872-?, married March 18, 1897, William Meadows.

Children of William Henry Tilton and Elmira Washington Bratton:

  1. Sarah Isabell Tilton, 1876-1955, married December 13, 1893, William Henry Claypoole.
  2. Edna Frances Tilton, 1878-1918, married November 29, 1899, Nelson Asbury Jett.
  3. Elma Tilton, twin, 1880-1880.
  4. Elmo Daisy Tilton, twin, 1880-1962, married February 9, 1898, John N. Buckner.
  5. Jesse James Tilton, 1882-1927, married Margaret C. Heckner.
  6. Marvin Goodby Tilton, 1884-1954, married Edna Grace Cozine.
  7. Emma Grace Tilton, 1886-1955, married May 14, 1902, Orville McDowell.
  8. Leila Tilton, 1889-1889.
  9. Ruth Welbourne Tilton, 1892-1970.
  10. John Lloyd Tilton, 189-1964, married Amanda Jett.

William Henry Tilton was judge of Robertson County and a successful farmer.  The following notice mentions his crops and stock.


The Courier Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Tuesday, August 3, 1909

Diversified Crops

[Mt. Olivet Tribune Democrat.]

Squire W. H. Tilton, one of Robertson’s wealthiest farmers, says he owes his success in farming to diversifying his crops – always planting a little of everything.  This year he has good wheat while many have none, and he also has good crops of tobacco, corn, hay, etc.  Year in and year out he has an abundance of bread-stuffs for family use and always a plenty of provender for stock.  It rarely happens that he hasn’t a considerable surplus of both, which always find ready sale at top-notch market prices.  His farm is always well stocked with horses, cattle, sheep and hogs.  He never makes any one product a principal crop; therefore, he always has something to sell, and for which there is always a demand at a fair profit for time and labor expended.  By the exercise of keen business foresight and correct business methods he makes the farm pay a handsome profit every year.

William Henry Tilton died January 9, 1916, from influenza.

W. H. Tilton, 1841-1916.  Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Robertson County, Kentucky.

There were no copies of the Mt. Olivet Tribune Democrat in my newspaper subscription, making it difficult to find more information on the family.  William’s will was found and gave interesting information.  His daughter Ruth was not well, unmarried, and William Henry left her additional funds to secure her future.  At the end of the will his wife and children were named, daughters with their married names.  This validated the marriage records found in the clerk’s office.

Will of William Henry Tilton

Robertson County Will Book 1, Pages 408-410

I, W. H. Tilton, of Mt. Olivet, Robertson County, Kentucky, being of sound mind and disposing memory, do make, declare and publish this my last will and testament as follows:

First Clause.  At my demise I desire that my estate, real personal and mixed, wheresoever located and situated, pass to my heirs-at-law as the law now directs and that my wife take of my property as is provided by law for surviving window, and this clause of my will subject only to the next clause, and limitations, and the special bequest therein made.

Second Clause.  I specially devise to my daughter, Ruth W. Tilton, ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in U.S. government bonds, which said bonds are now at the Bank of Maysville, in Maysville, Kentucky, and to her in trust only, she to receive the income from same for and during her natural life, and at her death said bond to then pass as a part of my estate, and in the manner set out I clause one of this will, that is, to my then living heirs as the law of descent and distribution directs.  I do not mean to limit the said Ruth W. Tilton to this bequest, but that she share in the residue of my property, share and share like with my other heirs, and in addition thereto, this special bequest is made to her because of her affliction, and I am desirous of her providing securely for her a support.

Third clause.  I designate my sons-in-law, Dr. N. A. Jett and W. H. Claypoole trustees, to act jointly, and to take charge of the aforesaid bonds and to see to it that my daughter, Ruth W. Tilton, receives the income from same, and I desire that they be permitted to act without bond, and that they make no charges for their services.

Fourth clause.  In addition to the special $10,000.00


nequest to my daughter Ruth W. Tilton, I specially devise to her $1,700 in stock of the Farmers and Traders Bank of Mt. Olivet, Kentucky, in trust as aforesaid, to be taken over by my herein named trustees and subject to all the conditions set out in clause 2, and to pass at her death to my heirs as above provided.

My heirs-at-law are as follows:  my wife, Elvira W. Tilton, and the following who are my children:  L. C. Tilton, L. T. Tilton, T. G. Tilton, J. P. Meadows, S. I. Claypoole, E. F. Jett, E. D. Buckner, E. G. McDowell, J. J. Tilton, M. G. Tilton, Ruth W. Tilton and John L. Tilton.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name, this the 31st day of March 1913.

                                                                                              W. H. Tilton

We the undersigned witnesses witnessed the signature of W. H. Tilton to the foregoing writing, he having signed same in our presence, and we at his request hereby subscribe our names in his presence, and in the presence of each other, this the 31st day of March 1913.

                                                                                                M. M. Gordley, Robert Buckler


I make the following change in clause three (3) of my will, to wit:  I direct that the trustees therein named jointly receive for their service 10% (ten per centum) each year of the annual income from the trust estate in their hands.  Given under my hand this June 27, 1914.

                                                                      W. H. Tilton

We the undersigned attest the signature of W. H. Tilton to the foregoing instrument; signed same in our presence, and we at his request sign our name in his presence and in the presence of each



June 27, 1914

                                Chambers Perry, Robert Buckler

State of Kentucky, County of Robertson

I, John T. Brown, Clerk of the County Court for the county and state aforesaid, do certify that the foregoing instrument of writing purporting to be the last will and testament of W. H. Tilton, deceased, was produced at the regular term of said court, read and proven by the oaths of M. M. Gordly and Robert Buckler, the two attesting witnesses thereto, and the codicil to said instrument was also proven by the oaths of Chambers Perry and Robert Buckler, the attesting witnesses thereto, and probated and ordered to be recorded as and for the last will and testament of W. H. Tilton, deceased, whereupon the same, together with this certificate, has been duly recorded.

Witness my hand this 19th day of January 1916

John T. Brown, Clerk

Dr. Jessie J. Tilton died in Spokane, Washington, in February 1927.  The following notice gives a bit more information about his father – that he was a judge of Robertson County.

The Courier Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Wednesday, February 23, 1927

Dr. Jesse J. Tilton, a native of Robertson County, died several days ago at his home at Spokane, Washington, according to a message received by relatives in Nicholas County.  Dr. Tilton was the son of the late Judge W. H. Tilton of Robertson County.  He was a graduate of the Louisville Medical College and shortly after his graduation, moved to Spokane.  He is survived by his mother, Mrs. Elvira W. Tilton, Mt. Olivet.

Elvira W. Tilton, 1857-1935.

Elmira Washington Bratton Tilton lived almost another twenty years before passing away March 8, 1935, at the age of 78.  No obituary was found.  Her parents, listed on her death certificate, were James Bratton and Emily Asbury.

3 replies »

  1. Thank you so much. Three generations of my mother’s family! John L. Tilton was my mother’s father. I have a lot of details but the newspapers were lacking.

      • Hello,

        I just ran across this but i am also a Tilton descendant and wondered if someone could assist me. The information that I have found is my family descended from Robert Dorsey Tilton and he was a non slave owner. My 4th great grandfather’s name was Edward Tilton and they were from Flemingsburg.

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