Family Stories

Cullins Family of Smiths Grove – Warren County

Today we stay in Warren County for more research, but moving from Bowling Green to Smiths Grove, which is in the far north-eastern part of the county.  In 1880 the population was 388 – today less than twice that amount in 140 years – 798 souls.  There is a cemetery, by the same name where Ritchey and I stopped in our October 2016 genealogy tour.  In looking through the photos this morning one particularly drew my attention.

At rest.  Jennie E., wife of J. C. Cullins, born October 7, 1845, died September 21, 1876. 

The verse at bottom is very faint but it starts out, ‘Dearest Jennie, I will try . . .’  This poor, broken-hearted husband was devastated at the loss of his wife.  But the carving at the top of the stone is even more gut-wrenching.  The gravestone, in the shadow of a willow tree, with the husband’s hand resting on the stone, his other hand holding that of his little girl.  Two little boys on the other side missing their mother.  After research I found that this carving was particular to this family.  When the wife died, she left two sons, Henry and Joseph, and one daughter, Georgia.

Let’s begin at the beginning.

Eliza Jane ‘Jennie’ Smith was born October 7, 1845, in the Smiths Grove area to Henry D. Smith and wife Elizabeth Ann Ray.  Henry was a farmer, as were most men in the area.  In the 1850 census of Warren County Henry is listed as 38, his wife, Elizabeth, was 31.  Three children have been born to the couple – Thomas J., 7; Eliza J., 5; and McLean, 6/12.  In 1860 there were the same family members in the household.  If other children were born to this couple they must have died at an early age.

Joseph C. Cullins was born March 22, 1837, in Georgia (as per census records).  When the war broke out, he was living in Mississippi and enlisted in Company F of the 31 Regiment of Mississippi Volunteers as a Private, in Birmingham, Alabama.  

The records show he was promoted to 1st Sergeant June 23, 1862, and August 31, 1862, was elected Second Lieutenant. 

In a letter written December 28, 1862, at Camp near Grenada, Mississippi, Joseph Cullins tenders his resignation:

‘Sir, I hereby respectfully tender my immediate and unconditional resignation as 2nd Lieutenant of Company F, 31st Regiment, Mississippi Volunteers.  Respectfully, J. C. Cullins, 2nd Lieutenant, Co. F, 31st Regiment, Mississippi Volunteers.’

A surgeon of the 31st. Regiment, a Mr. Blackwell states the following:

‘I hereby certify that I have carefully examined the 2nd Lieutenant, J. C. Cullins, of Company F, 31st Regiment, Mississippi Volunteers, and find him incapable of performing his duties as such because of Chronic Diarrhea, attended with frequent attacks of irritative bowel.  It is my opinion, from the history of the camp, that the disability originated as a sequence to an attack of measles, contracted while in the camp of instruction at Saltillo, Mississippi, in March last.  I do not believe that he will be able, during the term of his enlistment, if ever, to perform the duties of his office, and therefore, respectfully, recommend his resignation be accepted.’  

Was this condition something that he suffered with the rest of his life?  There was nothing more to be found.

Eventually Joseph C. Cullins made his way to Smiths Grove in Warren County, Kentucky.  He married Miss Jennie E. Smith January 2, 1866, at her father’s. Their short ten years together must have been happy ones as they produced three children. 

  1. Georgia Cullins, June 18, 1870 – August 2, 1888.
  2. Henry Smith Cullins, 1873-1950.
  3. Joseph C. Cullins, 1875-1931.

According to the 1876 Death Records for Warren County, Eliza Cullins, 31, female, married, farmer’s wife, died September 21, 1876, of consumption, parents H. and A. E. Smith, all born in Kentucky.

There is no census that shows these three children living with their parents.  But in the 1880 census we find Joseph, 43, living with Mary Elizabeth Shobe Jones (many Shobe’s are buried in Smith Grove Cemetery), 35, with children George, 8; Henry, 7; and Joseph, 4.  Within the next four years Joseph and Mary have two daughters, Sarah, born in 1881, and Elizabeth, born in 1884.  The couple were married April 4, 1878.

Joseph C. Cullins died November 13, 1897; wife Mary lived another 20 years.  They are buried in Smith Grove, but I have no photos of their stone.

I did find an obituary of son Henry Smith Culllins.

The Park City Daily News, Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky

Wednesday, May 3, 1950

Henry S. Cullins – Burial services for Henry S. Cullins, 77, Smiths Grove native who died in Burbank, California, last week, are scheduled for Smiths Grove Cemetery at 10:30 a.m. Friday.  Mr. Cullins was born at Smiths Grove March 3, 1873, son of the late Joseph C. and Jennie Smith Cullins, pioneer residents of this section.  He was a nephew of the late Col. Thomas J. Smith, Sr., City.  He was a cousin of Col. Thomas J. Smith, Jr., Cooper R. Smith, Mrs. Elizabeth Duvall and Mrs. Mackie Bennett, all of this city, and Ramsey Rasdall, Smiths Grove.  His wife, Mrs. Nell Grider Cullins, died in California in May of 1839 and was buried at Smiths Grove.  The only immediate survivor is one sister, Mrs. Sallie Adkins, San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The body is to arrive at Smiths Grove at 5 a.m. Friday.  Mr. Cullins had maintained a home at San Fernando, California, for several years.  Death occurred at Burbank hospital April 25.

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