Family Stories

James Madison Kephart 1879 Will – Henry County

Dutch Tract Cemetery, Pleasureville, Henry County, Kentucky

Last week Ritchey and I had company from Kentucky – good friends from Danville.  There was no time for genealogy!  But we are back on track today. 

We will visit the Dutch Tract Cemetery in Henry County, Kentucky.  It is also known as Pleasureville Cemetery, for the small town where it is located.  The Dutch settlers came to Kentucky from New Amsterdam, New York; New Jersey; and Conewago, Pennsylvania.  They settled in Jefferson County, Henry County and Mercer County in Kentucky in the 1780’s.  A group of genealogists, descended from these settlers, started a reunion for these descendants, which met in Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky, in 2005.  And every couple of years they have returned.  I was fortunate to attend the 2019 reunion.  We visited cemeteries, ate, went to great programs concerning the Dutch families and immigration to Kentucky, ate, went on a tour to Louisville where a historical marker was unveiled, ate, and just had a marvelous time!

James Madison Kephart was born March 1, 1818, in Henry County, Kentucky.  His parents were Jacob B. Kephart, III, born November 18, 1789, in Jefferson County, Kentucky, died July 20, 1870, in Henry County, and Elizabeth Swift, born January 15, 1792, in Kentucky, died before 1850, in Henry County.  James Madison was their first-born child.  Jacob and Elizabeth Kephart are buried in the Kephart family cemetery, a few miles away from Pleasureville.

March 19, 1844, in Henry County, J. M. married Lavinia Adams.  The couple had six children:

  1. Sarah Elizabeth Kephart, November 14, 1847 – December 12, 1923.
  2. Mary Catherine Kephart, May 27, 1849 – August 9, 1923.
  3. George Kephart, 1850-
  4. Joseph A. Kephart, 1851-
  5. John W. Kephart, September 5, 1852 – February 9, 1894.
  6. James H. Kephart, 1854-

Sons George and James were not in any census record I could find.  Sarah, Mary, Joseph and John were living with their father and step-mother in the 1860 census.

Lavinia Adams Kephart was born about 1824 in Henry County.  She was the daughter of John L. Adams and Sarah James.  She died July 4, 1854, possibly after the birth of son James?

J. M. married Elizabeth Banta February 27, 1855.  The couple had one son, George C. Kephart, born January 13, 1854.  Elizabeth died before 1859. 

After the death of his second wife, J. M. Kephart married Elizabeth A. McGuire, August 1, 1859.  Elizabeth was the daughter of Aaron McGuire and Nancy Skidmore, born February 13, 1834, in Trimble County.  The couple had seven children:

  1. Lavinia Bell Kephart, June 22, 1860 – October 19, 1927.
  2. Charles W. Kephart, 1863.
  3. James Edwin Kephart, 1865.
  4. William T. Kephart, March 1867.
  5. Mount Joy Kephart, March 19, 1868 – January 19, 1953.
  6. Bertha Alice Kephart, July 18, 1870 – April 25, 1953.
  7. Lee Nora Kephart, 1872 – April 25, 1953.

These seven children were listed in the 1870-1880 census for Henry County.

Kephart Monument in Dutch Tract Cemetery
J. M. Kephart, March 1, 1818 – December 13, 1895

James Madison Kephart died December 13, 1895, at the age of 77 years.

Will of James Madison Kephart

Henry County Will Book 15, Page 227

I, J. M. Kephart, of sound mind and disposing memory, make this my last will and testament.

First.  I direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid.

Second.  All the residue of my estate, both real and personal, I give to my wife, Elizabeth Kephart, for and during her natural life, but in the event she should again marry, it is my will that she then shall take only one third of my estate to be held by her as dower therein.

Third.  Should my said wife choose to again marry it is my desire and will after she has been assigned her one third interest as above provided, that the remainder of my said estate shall be equally divided among all my children except as hereinafter provided.

Fourth.  Should my said wife remain my widow until her death, then I will and direct that all of the property that she took under this will be equally divided among all of my said children except as hereinafter stated.

Fifth.  I have given to my daughters Elizabeth, Katharine and Bell, each one hundred and fifty dollars, with which I direct that each of them shall be charged in the distribution of my said estate after which they are to have an equal share with the other of all of my said property.

Sixth.  It is my will that my said wife, Elizabeth Kephart, shall be executrix of this will and that she be permitted by the court so to act without any surety being demanded of her.  In witness whereof I have signed this instrument and published and declared the same as my last will and testament.

J. M. Kephart

The above-named J. M. Kephart, at New Castle, Henry County, Kentucky, on the 24th day of September 1879, signed and sealed this instrument and published and declared the same to be his last will and we, the undersigned, at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other, have hereunto subscribed our names as attesting witnesses hereto – M. B. Luckett, C. G. Loudeuback

Henry County Court – March 2, 1896

The foregoing instrument of writing purporting to be the last will and testament of J. M. Kephart, deceased, was this day offered for probate, which was duly proven by the oaths of C. G. Loudeuback and M. B. Luckett, the two attesting witnesses thereto, to be the last will of said decedent.  Whereupon the same was adjudged and declared by the court to be the last will of said J. M. Kephart, deceased, and ordered to be filed and recorded as such, which is now done accordingly.

Attest.  M. J. Jones, Clerk, Henry County Court

Elizabeth, his wife, February 13, 1834 – March 26, 1901

Elizabeth Kephart lived another six years, dying at the age of 67 years.

5 replies »

  1. My name is Peggy Kephart Morrow. My 3rd Great Grandfather was Andrew Taylor Kephart, born in 1821 in Kentucky as per his gravestone and 1850, 1860, 1870 census. From about 1850 until his death in 1877, he lived in Cherokee County, NC. I’ve been searching for his parents for over 35 years. I have speculated his parents may be from a Kephart/Swift relationship. I have no documentation to support this claim nor any parentage claim for that matter, other than Swifts and Kepharts married and had a family around the time of Andrew’s birth.

    Has anyone from this family had their DNA done? If so, I would like to compare it with mine, my two brothers and several cousins to see if there is a remote match. Or if you can send me a direction to search other places.

    Thank you,

    My connection to the Dutch in Kentucky is through my mother’s ancestors — Ryker, DeMarest, Smock.

Any thoughts?

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