Kentucky Genealogy Trip 2023 – 56 Cemeteries, 35 Counties, 7,546 Photographs, 4,418 Miles

Just wanted to tell you a bit about our March/April journey to Kentucky – 25 days of genealogy heaven!  A little bit of history.  About ten or fifteen years ago Ritchey and I started visiting cemeteries and taking photos in cemeteries to use for the blog.  This led to taking photos of all stones in a few cemeteries, especially those where many of my family members were buried.  Our search widened from the surrounding counties where we lived to eastern and western Kentucky, along with those in our central Kentucky area.  At some point I set the goal of visiting every county in Kentucky – all 120 – and taking photographs in at least one cemetery in each county.  Particularly after we retired there was more time to devote to this endeavor. 

Several cemeteries in east and west parts of the state had much tree damage to recent storms. Most gravestones were not affected. This is Pilot Knob Cemetery in Simpson County, Kentucky.

After moving to Rudyard, Michigan, in March of 2020, and Covid on rampage, there was no time to return to Kentucky for genealogy research.

Atop the hill at Dils Cemetery in Pike County.

When we left Kentucky there were 28 counties we had not visited, 23 in eastern Kentucky and 5 in the western part of the state.  For a year or more I planned a trip to Kentucky, not only to visit the 28 counties, but to research at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort, and in several other counties.  At first I thought – am I too old to visit 4-6 cemeteries a day, walking uphill (in the eastern part of the state), for seven straight days?  Well, I am happy to report I am not, made it through with flying colors.  And, of course, we got to visit family and dear friends along the way!  As I said, the first week was cemeteries in eastern Kentucky.  The second was a research week in central Kentucky – a bit easier on the knees – followed by a week of cemeteries in western Kentucky, with research at a couple of counties. 

Octagon Hall, Simpson County, Kentucky

We did visit Octagon Hall in Simpson County. This had always been on my list but we seemed to run out of time on other visits to the area. The hall was begun in 1847 and finished in 1859 by Andrew Jackson Caldwell. Octagon Hall is regarded as one of the most haunted places in the south. Due to Caldwell’s first wife dying of typhoid, their daughter dying from burns received while cooking in the summer kitchen and an infant son also dying in the house would leave anyone to think the house may be haunted. During the Civil War Confederates marched to the house from Bowling Green to escape General Grant and his soldiers. Many wounded died from lack of medicines. The wounded who lived were left when the Confederate army marched to Nashville, all were killed by Northern soldiers when they arrived.

Driving along a small road in Leslie County with the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River running beside us!

We came back to central Kentucky and stayed at my sister’s for Easter weekend – two new great nephews to meet!  She has nine grandchildren, so it was a wonderfully fun day, lots of good food and many, many hugs!  

Columbia, First settlement in Hamilton County. In this vicinity Major Benjamin Stites and 26 men and women from New Jersey founded the town of Columbia, November 18, 1788. Major Stites, intending to establish a great city, had purchased in the previous year 20,000 acres of land at the mouth of the Little Miami River. Columbia was typical of many of the early wilderness settlements. It consisted of a cluster of log houses protected from Indian attack by a stockade and strategically placed blockhouses. Beyond the town to the east the pioneers planted their crops on the fertile river bottoms of the Little Miami, still known as Turkey Bottom.

We drove to Cincinnati that evening for a few days of shopping, and visited the oldest cemetery in the city .

A very old bridge we drove across to visit a cemetery.

We were ever so happy to get back to our rural home in northern Michigan.  After 26 days most of the snow had melted – creeks were running and little ponds everywhere.  Very unusual weather conditions.  Usually we have snow until the first of May.

Leodicy Amburgey, December 25, 1854 – August 12, 1931.

One of my favorite cemeteries was Carr Fork Memorial Cemetery in Knott County. All cemeteries in eastern Kentucky were at a 45 degree angle up a hill, and this one was no different. The most remarkable part of this cemetery was the number of gravestones with photos on the stone. And the photos are amazing. Many I have found are faded, parts cracked and broken. These photos are beautiful, you can see the patterns in women’s dresses and make out every detail of their face.

Ancestors of the Sizemores in Southeastern Kentucky – George “All” Sizemore, 1750-1822, and Agnes Shepherd Sizemore, 1750-1839. Ancestors of my son-in-law and my grandchldren.

Let me give you a few numbers.  We visited 56 cemeteries in 35 counties, took 7,546 photographs and drove 4,418 miles.  I have an immense amount of photos and information to share with you. 

One page from my notebook with plans for our trip. You can see that some cemeteries were changed along the way. I keep a running total of how long it takes getting between cemeteries, where we will stay, possible restaurants, etc. Yes, I am a little crazy about this!

Cemetery, County, Number of Photos Taken

Ashland Cemetery, Boyd County – 109, Jackson Cemetery, Breathitt County – 207, Grayson Memorial Cemtery, Carter County – 68, Old Grayson Cemetery, Carter Carter – 195, Columbia Baptist Cemeter, Cincinnatti, Ohio – 327, Macedonia Church Cemtery, Clay County – 267, Old Marion Cemetery, Crittenden County – 122, Elliott County Memory Gardens, Elliott County – 114, Davidson Memorial Gardens, Floyd County – 179, Mt. Zion Methodist Church, Greenup County – 139, Resthaven Cemetery, Harlan County – 132, Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson County – 437, Odd Fellows Cemetery, Hopkins County – 256, Old Richland Cemetery, Hopkins County – 121, Johnson County Memorial Cemetery, Johnson County – 102, Mayo Cemetery, Johnson County – 23, Carr Fork Memorial Cemetery, Knott County – 111, Pine Hill Cemetery, Lawrence County – 201, Riverview Cemetery, Lee County – 188, Napier-Sizemore-Begley Cemetery, Leslie County – 77, Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Leslie County – 28, Maggard Cemetery, Letcher County – 224, Buffalo Springs Cemetery, Lincoln County – 314, Ann Hummer Cemetery, Logan County – 162, Auburn Cemetery, Logan County- 32, Field Stones, Logan County – 19, Herndon & Beauchamp Cemetery, Logan County – 64, Kennerly Chapel Cemetery, Logan County -164, Linton Farm Cemetery, Logan County – 212, Littlejohn Cemetery, Logan County – 64, Maple Grove Cemetery, Logan County – 134, Orndorff Morgan Cemetery, Logan County – 158, Red River Cemetery, Logan County – 365, Small Cemetery off 100, Logan County – 23, William Duncan Cemetery, Logan County – 79, Earl May Cemetery, Magoffin County – 99, Warfield Cemetery, Martin County – 78, Ginter Cemetery, Menifee County – 106, Salyer Cemetery, Morgan County – 100, Old Greenville Cemetery, Muhlenberg County – 255, Shepherd Cemetery, Owsley County – 112, Combs Cemetery, Perry County – 19, Dils Cemetery, Pike County – 174, Elmwood Cemetery, Rockcastle County – 247, Lee Cemetery, Rowan County – 155, New Salem Cemetery, Simpson County – 23, Octagon House Cemetery, Simpson County – 10, Pilot Knob Cemetery, Simpson County – 137, Pleasant View Cemetery, Simpson County – 22, Old Highland Cemetery, Union County – 86, Evergreen Cemetery, Washington County – 54, Linton Cemetery, Washington County – 12, Old Onton Cemetery, Webster County – 131, Onton Cemetery, Webster County- 46, Evans Cemetery, Wolfe County – 141, Hazel Green Cemetery, Wolfe County – 154.

9 replies »

  1. Oh my gosh, what a trip! I too love to visit cemeteries and take photos, but I’ll never come close to this! I have ancestors who stopped in Kentucky for a spell when they migrated from Maryland to Missouri. I’ve not yet visited Kentucky, but I can see from all your photos that it’s a beautiful state. I will make it there one of these days.

  2. I am envious of your commitment as well as your ability to do this!!! You have done a wonderful job. Are you still willing to do private research? What is your hourly rate? Perhaps you could email me when convenient.

  3. I recently submitted a lengthen comment in response to your post entitled “Woosley Family of Butler County”. If you will send me a copy of my response, I would like to review it and possibly make a few editorial changes.

    Thank you,
    Royce Woosley rwoosley@email.wcu.edu

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