Category Archives: Family Stories

Capt. D. T. Bligh – Famous Detective From Louisville Kentucky

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Sunday, March 2, 1890

Capt. Delos T. Bligh, the veteran Chief of Louisville’s detective force, is dead.  The melancholy event occurred last evening at his residence, 1024 Seventh Street.  The immediate cause of death was organic disease of the heart, although, since he first became ill, he had suffered with dropsy.

Capt. Bligh’s illness dates some five months back, and he has been growing gradually weaker ever since.  He had not been out of the house for three months, but during that time had rallied frequently, sufficiently to create strong hopes in the breasts of his family that he would eventually recover, despite his advanced age.  He had, however, told Capt. Daly that he would never get well.  He was conscious up to the supreme moment and passed away with a struggle.  He had been growing noticeably weaker during the forenoon and had caused Capt. Daly to be telephoned for.  While conversing with Capt. Daly he exhibited signs of weakness, dozing off after speaking a few words and rallying with an effort.  His eyes would roll, and he gave every evidence of approaching dissolution.  He seemed to realize the fact, and when Capt. Daly left, about 12:30 o’clock, the sufferer said, ‘Good-bye, Jim,’ and feebly waved his hand, his manner and tone indicating that he knew the farewell was for all time.

Had Capt. Bligh lived until the 19th of this month he would have been sixty-seven years old.  He was not a member of any church, but all his family belong to the Broadway Methodist Church, of which Dr. Gilby C. Keller is pastor.  He leaves a widow, Mrs. Kate Bligh, and six daughters, three of whom are married.  All were present at the time of his death, except Mrs. C. P. Williamson, wife of the well-known foundryman of Birmingham, the eldest daughter, who has been summoned by telegraph and will reach this city today.  The next daughter is Mrs. Dr. Wiley Rogers, and the others are Misses Anna and Amy, twins, Miss Lois and Mrs. Nellie Watts, now a resident of Winfield, Kansas.  Miss Anna is a teacher in the Tenth Ward school, Miss Amy in the Ninth Ward, and Miss Lois occupies the position of critic teacher in the Normal School.

Capt. Bligh was an old and honored member of the Masonic fraternity, having been made a Mason in Abraham Lodge, No. 8, of which Judge R. H. Thompson is the present Master, May 28, 1857.  He was made a life member of the lodge October 25, 1872.  As soon as the tidings of his death reached the City Hall, the fire bells were tolled, conveying the sad news to many friends who, anticipating the event, would know to whom this honor was paid.  A detail of officers was made to watch beside the body.  Detectives Daly and Fritsch were on the first part of the night, to be succeeded by Detective Cassin and Officer Leatherman the latter part, with Officer Wash Slater to perform a similar service after daylight this morning.  Maj. Owens will make still further details today.

No funeral arrangements have been made, and none will be made until after the arrival of Mrs. Williamson from Birmingham.  It is probable, however, that it will take place tomorrow afternoon.  It is the desire of the family that the obsequies shall be as quiet as possible, but Capt. Bligh was so universally known, and so popular, that it is likely that this will have to be in a measure abandoned, in order that his friends may testify their appreciation of the worth of the man who, more than any other individual, has been of such great service to the city in ridding it of evil-doers and keeping them away.

The Detective’s Life

Capt. Delos T. Bligh was one of the most notable detectives of this country.  By his sobriquet of ‘Yankee’ Bligh he was known far and near.  To the crooks of the land the mere mention of his name caused a feeling of uneasiness.  The sight of his towering figure and searching eye gave them a frigid sensation.  He knew and had handled nearly all the clever thieves.  Many of the cracksmen, konjacker, bunko steerer, forger, murderer and dark worker in every avenue of crime had felt the power of his hand, and one and all knew his reputation was not the result of fulsome praise or nerveless dread.  The terror of his name alone, in keeping knaves away from the city, was worth all he ever received for his services.

He ranked second in his profession, Allan Pinkerton alone enjoying a more redoubtable position in the estimation of the people they had to deal with.  And this fact arose largely from the latter having at his command a far greater number of assistants.  In many respects Bligh was the equal and in some the superior of the founder of the Chicago detective bureau.  They were great personal friends and always had a high regard for each other.  Whenever Pinkerton wanted anything in Capt. Bligh’s territory, the latter was the man consulted.

The bare recital of all the detective work done by ‘Yankee’ Bligh would furnish a volume as thrilling as the most ingenious weavings of Gaboriau or Du Boisgobey or their rivals in the field of detective fiction.  But Capt. Bligh had one trait that many others in his business lacked.  He never sought notoriety and praise for his achievements.  He was sometimes considered a little too reserved about telling the stories of his arrests and the facts about the captives.  His mind was a storehouse of information about criminals that might have brought him a large pecuniary return had he consented to publish it.  But his he never would.  He kept most he knew to himself or imparted it only to his colleagues and subordinates when the occasion required.  He was always careful not to allow a picture of himself to get into the hands of any one.  He thought it might be reproduced and destroy a part of his effectiveness as a detective.  But, two years ago, feeling that his active service in he field was about closing, he consented to allow his likeness to be published, and the first authentic sketch and portrait of him was given to the Courier-Journal at that time.

The afterward famous detective was born in the Empire State.  It was at the little town of Franklin, Delaware County, New York, March 19, 1823, that he first beheld the light of day.  While he was a mere boy, his parents removed to Meadville, Pennsylvania.  As he grew up he was apprenticed to the trade of bricklaying and became a fair mechanic with the trowel.  But this vocation was not entirely to his liking.  The outdoor work developed a naturally grand constitution, and when he attained manhood his physical strength was equaled by that of few men.  Added to this was an ignorance of such a sensation as fear.  Still, he was very different from most men endowed with attributes.  He was never overbearing or in the remotest degree brutal.  On the contrary, he had a keen sense of right, and never abused the power of his personal strength or official position.

In his youth he read the stories of the great Far West.  He heard the occasional tales of stragglers who had crossed the rolling prairies and slept in the shadows of the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains.  So, when he was nineteen years of age, he packed his carpet-bag and started.  He had very little money.  Up to that time he had never had much he could call his own.  So, he had to work his way.

Reaching Pittsburgh, he halted for a time to replenish his exchequer.  He remained there only a short time.  In the meantime, he had cogitated his plans for the future.  He was scarcely able to decide upon the course he would take, but finally concluded to go to the Rocky Mountains and enter the fur trade at the first round.  But for the chance that caused him to locate in Louisville, he might have become to that craggy land what Kenton and Boone were to Kentucky, what Crockett and Houston were to Texas.

Stopped Here By Accident

However, young Bligh’s home was never nearer to the Occident than in the city beside the Ohio Falls.  When the boat on which he took passage at Pittsburgh reached Louisville it had to lay up, because of low water preventing navigation.  The first morning he walked up the levee into the city that was destined to become the scene of his later triumphs, he little thought he would make it his home.  Still less did he anticipate the course he afterward pursued in his life.  But that day he learned it would be a long wait before he could get further west.  The only means of travel was by water.  He could not live on nothing, so he sought work and found it, as a hod-carrier on the old Louisville Theater, the erection of which had just been begun on the site of the present Courier-Journal building, at Fourth and Green Streets.  For a few weeks he climbed the ladder literally, bearing upon his broad shoulders the bricks and mortar for the Thespian temple.  Then he metaphorically climbed the ladder of life one notch by receiving a promotion to the somewhat more exalted place at the top of the walls.  He served as a brick-layer until the structure was completed.  By this time, he had become attached to Louisville.  He liked the people and they took well to the herculean young stranger whom chance had thrown among them.

When the United States threw the mantle of protection over the struggling Lone Star State, then smarting under the Mexican yoke, and war was declared, among the first to answer the call for troops was the Louisville Legion.  Young Bligh was in the van.  In May 1846, he enlisted in Company A, and a few days later went with it to help the Texans whip the greasers.  Over the Rio Grande the Kentuckians went, to plant the stars and stripes above the cactus-covered Mexican soil.  Private Bligh was a great favorite with his comrades.  His presence seemed to make the bivouacs on the parched soil more endurable and the sharp marches less fatiguing.  But he was not destined to stay with his company till the moment of triumph arrived, when Gen. Scott entered the City of Mexico at the head of the United States soldiery.  At Bareta, nine miles from the mouth of the Rio Grande, he had his left arm broken, but he remained with his company.  When the great battle of Monterey occurred, young Bligh entered the fray with his arm still in the sling.  In the engagement it was again injured, and that time so badly that he never again was able to use it as effectively as he had before.  The surgeon ordered him home and he arrived here in November 1846, after an absence of six months.  It was a few weeks later that he entered first upon the duties of the vocation that brought him into prominence.  Mayor Kaye sent for him and appointed him a deputy under Capt. William A. Ronald, then City Marshall.

At that time the entire police force consisted of sixteen Deputy Marshalls, two for each of the eight wards into which the city was divided.  He remained in that position for several years, and then resigned to take the place of a private policemen at the theater he had helped to build.  In 1856 he was again appointed to a place on the Louisville police force, this time by Mayor Barbee.  He was soon made a day watchman-at-large and was the first officer of that character Louisville had.  Later he was joined in the same capacity by Joe Jeans and still later by Capt. Jack Gallagher.  For a long time, Capt. Bligh watched the river front, where all travelers arrived and departed from, before the days of the iron horse.  Here he became acquainted, at least by sight, with all the crooks who traveled up and down the Ohio River.

He had developed remarkable aptitude for his work.  While he had not himself given it any thought when he first began police duty, he was possessed of almost unequalled natural gifts as a detective.  His memory of names, faces and facts were extraordinary, and this was of invaluable assistance to him.  Many are the anecdotes related in criminal and police circles about his recollection.  It has been frequently asserted, and most of his confreres still stoutly asseverate that if he saw a man once and had reason to bear him in mind, as he would in the case of a crook, he never forgot him.  No matter what the circumstances, he would know him again wherever he saw him.  But the only disadvantage he had was that the rule worked both ways.  If ever a crook had dealings with Capt. Bligh, he, too, remembered the detective.  It was next to impossible for him to disguise himself.  He stood six feet one inch tall and weighed usually from 240 to 250 pounds.  Whatever else he might do, he could not disguise the form.  Capt. Bligh was fully aware that the value of disguise existed principally in the imagination of ‘Old Sleuth’ romances.  The best detectives of all time have put little stress upon the assistance of disguises.  Capt. Bligh scarcely gave them a consideration.  He depended largely upon his mind.  He studied criminal life from personal observation.  So diligent was he in this regard that he mastered the details of the methods pursued by each actor in the drama of crime.

When a regular detective force was established in this city Capt. Bligh was one of the four men who composed it.  He was made Chief Detective and had remained in that capacity through every change political or municipal ever since.  When the clashings of Mayoralty or other contests made every other officer in the department quake for his head, Capt. Bligh remained unconcerned, and, with the best of men being decapitated all about him, he always remained in his position undisturbed.  It was a tribute every Mayor had to pay the man’s genius, his value to the public, that none ever thought of displacing him.  He formerly made frequent trips to all parts of the country but had ceased to do so of late years.  Nearly forty-four years ago Capt. Bligh first became a public officer.  The last term of service had extended over a continuous period of thirty-four years, and altogether he had devoted about forty-three years of his life to the vocation of public peace officer and detective.

Capt. Bligh was twice married, and his domestic relations were always of the most felicitous nature.  The great hunter of criminals had a dual side to his character.  Away from home he was ever the alert, shrewd detective, dispassionately and cleverly doing his duty.  At home he was simply the man, wrapped up in the love of and for his wife and children.  He was largely endowed with a love for domesticity, and not the least praiseworthy of his characteristics was the manner that characterized his every act as husband and father.  He ten children, all daughters, five by his first marriage and five by his second.  His first wife was Miss Cassandra Davis, a native of Virginia, who, however, with her parents, resided in Louisville at the time of her marriage to Capt. Bligh, about forty-five years ago.  Three of the daughters who blessed this union are dead.  The other two are Mrs. Emma Rogers, wife of Dr. Wiley Rogers, the well-known druggist, and Mrs. Mary H. Williamson, wife of Mr. Charles P. Williamson, head of the Williamson Iron Company, of Birmingham, Alabama.  Their mother died in 1858, at the age of thirty-three years.

Capt. Bligh’s second marriage took place in 1859, when Miss Kate Ovington, of this city, became his wife.  Four of their daughters and Mrs. Bligh survive the noted detective.  The daughters are Misses Amy, Anna and Lois Bligh and Mrs. Nellie Watts, who, until recently, lived here, but now resides in Kansas.

Some of His Famous Cases

To attempt to enumerate the famous cases in which Capt. Bligh played a part would involve the criminal history of this section of the country.  On many occasions he would probably have lost his life had he not been ever watchful in handling criminals.  On only one occasion did he find it necessary, however, to take a human life.  That was when, a few years ago, in the purest self-defense, he shot an infuriated Chinaman, who was charging on a crowd with an uplifted hatchet.  Had he not fired his life would beyond doubt have been taken by the unrestrainable Celestial.  Capt. Bligh was very promptly acquitted and fully exonerated both by the courts and public opinion.

One of the notable arrest he made was in company with Detective Gallagher, when George Shepherd, one of the Younger gang, was caught.  The Youngers, Shepherd and two other members of the band of outlaws, named Cummings and Samuels, had robbed the bank at Russellville and killed the cashier.  This was in 1866.  A few months later Capt. Bligh located Shepherd in Nelson County.  Taking Detective Gallagher with him he went to arrest him.  Shepherd was found in a little cross-road grocery, armed to the teeth.  As Bligh and Gallagher walked into the store Shepherd saw them.  He threw a hand back to each hip, where a couple of revolvers adorned his cartridge belt.  But before he could draw either pistol the two detectives were upon him.  He struggled hard, and it looked several times as if the only way to save their own lives was to kill the desperado.  Here was where Capt. Bligh’s physical strength served him well.  Shepherd was subdued and disarmed.  But for Capt. Bligh’s strength human blood would almost certainly have paid the penalty of an attempt to arrest the outlaw, who seemed to rather court death than submit to arrest.

Capt. Bligh and Gallagher also worked out the clues and traced down the famous counterfeiter Pete McCarthy, the most renowned maker of the queer that ever infested the Central United States.  He was located and did his work at an old frame house, at Twenty-Ninth and Bank Streets, and there he was caught.

Another gang of counterfeiters that had been flooding the country with base coin was broken up by Capt. Bligh about 1866.  It was known as the ‘Dago band’ and had their headquarters on Second Street, near Main.  The plan was to make the money here and ‘shove’ it in all other parts of the country.  Capt. Bligh worked a long time, tracing the counterfeiters to the seat of manufacture, and captured the whole band at one bold stroke.  They were all sent to the penitentiary for long terms.

Brice McPhun, the Calcutta, forger, who had mulcted his victims in India for a quarter of a million, was also captured in this city by Capt. Bligh and Detective, now Maj. William Owens.  The failure of the Calcutta officer to bring one paper allowed McPhun to go free on a technicality, habeas corpus being the means of his release.

When Stephen A. Douglas was stumping the country in his presidential canvass, in 1860, Capt. Bligh captured a whole busload of English pickpockets, who were following the campaign speakers, fleecing the people.  Again in 1876, when Hayes was here, he repeated the operation, only this time the pickpockets were of all nationalities.

The consequence of such achievements as continuously marked his public career was to make thieves shun Louisville as the one place in the country where their most dangerous foe was.  ‘Don’t go to Louisville,’ they would say to any ‘pal’ who had never been here, ‘that “Yankee” Bligh will nab you, sure.  He is the toughest fly cop in the country and can’t square him.’

D. T. Bligh, born March 19, 1823, died March 1, 1890.  Kate Ovington, wife of Delos T. Bligh, born June 29, 1836, died May 26, 1912.  Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky.

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Monday, May 27, 1912

The Allison Family of Muhlenberg County

The Record, Greenville, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky

Thursday, October 19, 1911

The Allison Family

Some weeks ago, Young E. Allison, who is an associate editor of the Insurance Field, a trade journal of prominence, was in Greenville on a visit to relatives.  Mr. Allison is a son of Young E. Allison, Sr., who was born and reared in Muhlenberg County.

Samuel Allison, the father of Young E. Allison, Sr., was born in Ireland and came, with his parents to this country and located in North Carolina.  In after years he came to Tennessee and there married Margaret Dixon, and in 1801 they came to Muhlenberg County and located about four miles west of Greenville, near where the Friendship Church now stands.  At this place Samuel Allison and his wife lived, died and were buried.  Samuel Allison died in 1827, his wife in 1834.  To Samuel and Margaret Dixon Allison were born and reared five sons and one daughter.

Charles M., the oldest son, born 1796; died 1815.

William Dixon, the second son, born 1798; died 1860.

Young E., the third son, born 1801; died 1874.

John A., the fourth son, born 1803; died 1875.

Samuel H., the fifth son, born 1805; date of death unknown to writer.

Nancy R., born 1810; died 1864.

Samuel Allison, Sr., was said to be a man of rare wit and humor.  It is said that in the last years of his life he had a spell of sickness during which, at one time, he was thought to be dying.  His friends gathered around him and while some of there were bending down watching him, he made a sudden loud puff at them which at once dispelled their grief.

John A. Allison, a son of Samuel Allison, lived and died in Muhlenberg County.  He was married in 1825 to Fanny Watkins, who was born in 1803 and died in 1887.  She was a daughter of James Watkins, of English descent.  They settled about two and one-half miles west of Greenville, where they lived and died.

John A. Allison, born February 3, 1803, died April 2, 1875.  Old Liberty Cemetery, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky

They were buried at the old Liberty Church burying ground.

Frances Allison, born October 20, 1803, died October 26, 1887.  Old Liberty Cemetery, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.

To John A. and Fanny Watkins Allison were born and reared four sons and one daughter.

James W., the oldest son, was born in 1826 and died in 1870.  In 1849 he married Laura A. Martin, a daughter of Hutson Martin.  They remained in Muhlenberg County until 1855, when they moved to Missouri, where James Allison and several of his children died, after which his wife came back to Kentucky, where she now survives in Greenville at the age of eighty-five.  She brought back with her two children, a son, B. F. Allison, now residing in Oakland, California, a daughter, Annie, who afterwards married and in a short time died in 1890.

Finis M., the second son of John Allison, was born in 1829 and died in Greenville, Kentucky, in 1886.  When young he was made a deputy clerk under Charles F. Wing and served several years.  He also studied law.  In 1865 he came to Greenville and commenced the practice of law.  In 1867 he was elected to the State Senate, afterwards was appointed Tobacco Inspector and then appointed United States Commissioner, afterwards practiced law until his death.  He was married in 1849 to Julia A. Burks, a daughter of Foster James, of Butler County; she died during the year 1900; to them were born and reared six children, three sons and three daughters, Finis, John and James; Lucy, Alice and Naomi.  Finis became a doctor and preacher and died in the western part of the state.  John was a prominent lawyer and practiced law in Greenville, where he died in 1903.  James went to Chicago, where he died in 1898.  Lucy married Joseph Frazler and went to Texas.  Two daughters are now living in Greenville, Mrs. Alice Stokes and Mrs. Naomi Lovell.

Samuel H., the third son of John Allison, born 1832, left the state in early manhood and died in Wisconsin in 1855.

William, the fourth son of John Allison, born 1839, died at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 1875.

Annie L., daughter of John Allison, born in 1835, married Britton Davis in 1859 and died in 1886.  To them were born five children, three of whom died in early life.  Two daughters survive in the county, Mrs. Belle Duvall and Mrs. Pearl Elkins.

John A. Allison was a good citizen, of moral habits, and a man of good sense and information.  He was of jovial temperament; it seemed to him great good to get a crowd of people around him and tell anecdotes and jokes.  He was full of wit and of quick discernment; he was a rather timid and bashful man.  We have heard him say that he always disliked to approach a crowd of people, that his hands seemed to be greatly in his way and he did not know what to do with them.

Samuel Allison, Sr., settled in a neighborhood with other pioneer settlers who raised families that grew up with the Allisons.  These families were that of Henry Black, Jerry Langley, Matthew Rice, Kennard Hay and Richard Reynolds, all of whom were good men.  The young men that grew up in the same neighborhood with the Allison boys were Wiley, Kincheon and Charles Hay; Henry, Felix and Nathan Black; John, Thomas and George Reynolds; William, Wesley and Sylvanus Langley; Reson, William and Claborne Rice; all these sons of pioneers became prominent men.  Out of the sixteen mentioned, ten became professional men.  There is no other neighborhood in the county that has produced a better set of men than were produced in the Sam Allison neighborhood.  The Black boys grew up and left the county.  Felix Black became a prominent Methodist preacher and located in Cincinnati.  Henry Black became a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher and located in Illinois.  Nathan became a lawyer of distinction and located in western Kentucky.  Wesley and Sylvanus Langley went south.  William remained in the county.  John Reynolds located at Hopkinsville, Kentucky.  Thomas became a Methodist preacher and located in Louisiana.  George went to Illinois.  Wiley Hay remained in the county and became a prominent man.  Kincheon became a Baptist preacher and located in Illinois.  Charles became a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher and located in the western part of Kentucky.  Dixon, Young and Samuel Allison located in Henderson County, Kentucky, where Dixon became the Circuit clerk and Young the County Clerk, which offices they held for many years.  They all raised families, the history of whom we are not informed.

Reson Rice, who married Louise Black, remained in the county and settled near the old Black homestead.  He was a man of fine sense and information, but he had an awkward appearance and movement, and in a common way was not a glib talker.  Upon one occasion he had a lawsuit of some interest and acted as his own attorney in the case, having studied law some but had never practiced; as he assumed his case the judge and lawyers seemed to be amused as if they expected some fun, as Rice was a little slow in getting off.  But as the case proceeded Rice began to handle it with considerable skill, and when he made his speech he straightened up and with the fire of his unexpected eloquence astonished the whole outfit and won his case.  He was afterwards regarded as a man of ability.

In the conclusion of this article we shall add that all these sons of pioneers mentioned would gather at the old log school house in the neighborhood of Samuel Allison, where they learned their first lessons from Kennard Hay, a school teacher.  The school house was also used for religious worship, and was called Hickory Withe, and there they would carry on debating societies every year and by practice some of them became good speakers and in after years became distinguished as speakers.  These sons of the pioneer families of the Samuel Allison neighborhood have long since disappeared from the walks of life.

After the death of Samuel Allison and his wife, the old homestead passed into the hands of John Staples who reared a large family on it, where he built a horse mill which was run for years.  At this old horse mill John A. Allison, Reson Rice and John Staples would often meet and discuss history, religion and politics; they were all well posted in such matters.  After the Staples family had abandoned the Allison homestead it passed into different hands and is now owned by one William McWirter.

Missourian with Kentucky Ties – Marriage and Death

The Washington Herald, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, June 24, 1908

James W. Zevely Weds

Former Washingtonian Takes Miss Janie Clay as Bride

Mexico, Missouri, June 23 – Miss Janie Clay, the only daughter of Col. and Mrs. Green Clay, of Mexico, and James William Zevely, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, were married at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church here tonight.  The ceremony was performed by Rev. Leslie M. Potter, of Kirkwood, Missouri, and was witnessed by about 200 guests, many of whom were from other states.

Miss Clay is a tall, slender blonde of pronounced beautify, a graduate of an Eastern college, and an expert horsewoman.

She is a member of an old Southern family, and her father, Col. Green Clay, has served in the Missouri senate on two different occasions.

Mr. Zevely was special agent of Indian Affairs for the Interior Department under ex-Gov. Francis, and was reappointed.  He also served as Missouri State Librarian.  He is now a practicing attorney of Muskogee.

Among the guests were Samuel G. Blythe, of Washington, and Louis Seibold, of The New York World.

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Sunday, December 22, 1912

A great number of newspapers in Oklahoma and the adjoining states have been boosting Col. J. W. Zevely, of this city, for the position of Secretary of the Interior.  Col. Zevely is a Missourian, but is by marriage a Kentuckian, having married, some four years ago, Miss Clay, daughter of Green Clay, from Paris, Kentucky, and Mexico, and a niece of Ezekiel Clay, one of the best-known men in the Bluegrass.

Mrs. Zevely and the Colonel spend much of their time in Kentucky, and Mrs. Zevely never lets a summer go by without making a visit to her Kentucky relatives.  As Miss Janie Clay she was as well known as any of the Kentucky girls, and was always counted as one of the ‘fair daughters of Bourbon County.’

Besides having married a Kentucky, Col. Zevely has been for years the law partner of James M. Givens, born and reared in western Kentucky, and is perhaps closer to him, personally and politically, than any man living.

William Clay Zevely, January 29, 1911 – May 7, 1922.  ‘A perfect soul asleep.’  Paris Cemetery, Bourbon County, Kentucky.

The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

Monday, May 8, 1922

Col. J. W. Zevely’s Son Dead

Funeral Tomorrow at Paris, Ky., Grandson of Senator Clay

William Clay Zevely, son of Col. J. W. Zevely, 2029 Connecticut Avenue, died yesterday at the Children’s Hospital, where he had undergone an operation for mastoiditis.  Col. And Mrs. Zevely will leave with the body at 4:35 this afternoon for Paris, Kentucky, where the funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon.  Interment will be at Runnymede, the old homestead near Paris of Mrs. Zevely’s father, the late Senator Green Clay, of Mexico, Missouri.

The Zevely’s are both natives of Missouri, but they have homes at Muskogee, Oklahoma, and in Washington.

James William Zevely, October 8, 1861 – June 10, 1927.  Paris Cemetery, Bourbon County, Kentucky.

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Sunday, June 12, 1927

Buried In Paris

Attorney to Harry F. Sinclair Dies at Home in East Hampton, L. I.

New York, June 11 – Funeral services for Col. James W. Zevely, 66 years old, will be held at Paris, Kentucky, it was learned today.  Colonel Zevely, personal attorney to Harry F. Sinclair, died at his home in East Hampton, Long Island, last night.  Burial will be beside the body of his son, Billy, 10, who died three years ago.  Mrs. Zevely, a daughter, Miss Jane Clay Zevely, and Earl W. Sinclair were at his bedside when Colonel Zevely died.  Mr. Sinclair arrived after his death.

The body is to be placed aboard Mr. Sinclair’s private car, Sinco, and is to leave for New York City tonight.  The car is to leave Now York tomorrow morning for Kentucky.  Mrs. Zevely and her daughter, Harry F. Sinclair and his brother are to accompany the body to Paris.

Born in Linn, Missouri, he received his education in the public schools, the Christian Brothers’ College in St. Louis and the University of Virginia.  Following his graduation from the Virginia University he was appointed Missouri State Librarian.  He began his activity in politics in 1888, when he was elected secretary of the Missouri Democratic Committee.

Colonel Zevely was admitted to the bar and practiced law in Muskogee, Oklahoma, from 1902 until 1917.  From Oklahoma he went to Washington, later coming to New York.

The Kentucky Advocate, Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Wednesday, April 18, 1928

Left Good Estate

Associated Press

New York, April 17 – Col. James W. Zevely, attorney from 1917 for the Sinclair Consolidated Oil Corporation and attorney for Harry F. Sinclair, who thought so much of the Colonel that he named the pride of his stables Zev, left

His entire estate when he died last June 10, to his wife and daughter.

Janie C. Zevely and Jane C. Zevely, who live at No. 1107 Fifth Avenue, share equally in the Zevely holdings, which may exceed $500,000, it was estimated yesterday.  Daniel F. Cohalan of No. 43 Cedar Street, attorney for Mrs. Zevely, was named executor in the will, drawn November 12, 1924, and filed for probate yesterday.

Col. Zevely entered the Teapot Dome spotlight when his ‘loan’ of $25,000 to Albert B. Fall, then Secretary of the Interior became public.  He died in his home at East Hampton, Long Island, and his body was transported in a special train under the guidance of his friend Sinclair to Paris, Kentucky, where burial took place beside the grave of a son, James W. Zevely.

Janie Clay Zevely, February 22, 1886 – October 16, 1976.  Paris Cemetery, Bourbon County, Kentucky.

Thomas Kyle – Minister and Revolutionary War Veteran

A few days ago I published some Mercer County marriage returns by a Rev. Thomas Kyle.  I have found that he was also a Revolutionary War soldier, and is buried in the Old Mud Cemetery, along with many other veterans.  Thomas Kyle was a son of James Kyle and Mary McArthur, of Pennsylvania.  At the young age of seventeen he joined the Revolutionary army and fought in many battles.  He came to Kentucky about 1800.  The following is his request for pension for his military service.

State of Kentucky – Mercer County Court

On this 6th day of May 1833 personally appeared in open court Thomas Kyle, Sr., a resident citizen and clergyman in Mercer County and State of Kentucky, aged seventy-five years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declarations in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June the 7th 1832.

That he left home in July 1775, then in his seventeenth year, and entered the army at Bunker Hill and in a very short time thereafter we fought the battle, this was his own voluntary act, he belongs to no particular detachment in this battle, he then remained with the main army until the Battle of Long Island when I became detached to General Putnam and rode as an express for him until the Battle of White Springs, after which we were driven out of the York State and through the Jersey State across the Delaware into Pennsylvania, when we received reinforcements and re-crossed the Delaware and came up with the Hessians at Trenton and defeated them with dreadful loss, and in a few days after we defeated the British at Princeton from which place we marched to Kingston and tore up the bridge and got to Somerset that night and the next morning we drew rations the first that we had got for three days.  General Washington then went into winter quarters with the main army at Morristown and Putnam with his detachment at Princeton.  Then I returned home to rest and get some clothing.  And in the winter of 1777, I volunteered for a militia tour under my friend and acquaintance Captain James Gibson of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and marched to Philadelphia and got our arms repaired and from thence we marched to Princeton and I saw General Putnam whose headquarters was in a Stockton brick house, and remained with him upwards of

four months when we were honorably discharged by General Putnam from his brigade, and we returned home.  The British having come around and landed at the head of Elkton and marched in the direction of Brandywine.  I without delay joined the detachment of General Armstrong and marched and we met the enemy at Brandywine when we were defeated.  I remained with the army until after the Battle of Germantown, both which battles were fought in 1777, after which I returned home, and in the year aforesaid, I cannot recollect the month, I joined Captain Crouch’s Company of volunteers and served a militia tour of three months during this tour we were marched to a place called White March Mills above Germantown, from this place we marched under General Irvine and attacked the British at Chestnut Hill and were defeated with the loss of General Irvine taken prisoner and 15 or 20 killed and wounded and we retreated into this country and our tour of three months having expired we were discharged at Lancaster in Pennsylvania and returned home.  And in the year 1778 or 9, I cannot recollect which, I volunteered with Captains Brady and Campleton and marched up the western branch of the Susquehanna, when the Indians had broke out and were committing murders and depredations upon the inhabitants and succeeded in rescuing the inhabitants.  During this time we suffered very much being exposed to all kinds of weather.  Again in the year 1779 I volunteered and under Captain Campleton a tour of three months our principal station was at Wallace Mills.  We marched up the eastern branch of the Susquehanna and acted as security and spies against the Indians and built stockades and block houses and gathered in the inhabitants.  He states that he would have had sufficient evidence of his service during the War of the Revolution, but he met with the

loss of having his house burned up together with money and papers he will recollect of having his discharges filed away in his desk, and that he has no documentary evidence of his service.  He hereby relinquishes every other claim whatever to a pension except this present and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.

Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.

Thomas Kyle

We, Jesse Head, a clergyman residing in Mercer County, and Peter Huff, residing in the same county and state, do hereby certify that we are well acquainted with Thomas Kyle, a faithful and pious clergyman, who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration that we believe him to be the age he states himself to be in his declaration, and we do know that he is respected and believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a brave and faithful soldier of the Revolution.

Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.

Jesse Head, Peter Huff

Mercer County May County Court 1833

And the said Court do hereby declare this a pension after the investigation of the matter and after putting the interrogation prescribed by the War Department that the above named application was a Revolutionary soldier and served as he states and that the Court further certifies that it appears to them that Jesse Head, who has signed the preceding certificate is a clergyman resident in Mercer County and that Peter Huff, who has also signed the same is a resident citizen in said county and is a credible person and that their statement is entitled to credit, and we do further certify that Thomas Kyle, the applicant for a pension herein, and Jesse Head, a clergyman, and Peter Huff, severally came into Court and swore to the statements by them respectively subscribed.

I, Thomas Allin Jr., Clerk of the Mercer County Court, do hereby certify that the foregoing contains the original proceedings of the said Court in the matter of the application of Thomas Kyle for a pension.

In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal of office this 6th day of May 1833.  Thomas Allin, Jr., Clerk Mercer County Court


Statement shewing the service of Thomas Kyle, Mercer County Kentucky

Entered July 1775, private, given one year of service.  Fought during the battles of bunker Hill, Long Island, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown.

Thomas Kyle, Private, General Putnam’s Brigade, Pennsylvania Line, Revolutionary War.  1757-1846.  Bunker Hill, Trenton, Germantown.  Old Mud Cemetery, Mercer County, Kentucky.

Martha Southard Jolly – 100+ Years of Age

When Ritchey and I visited Oakland Cemetery in Johnson County, Iowa, about fifteen years ago, we were mainly interested in his Hertz and Leuenberger families.  But there was one stone that caught my eye – that of Martha Jolly who died at the age of 100 years, almost 101!  It was first the name that drew my attention, since Ritchey’s grandfather was a Jolly.  In fact, his grandmother, Esther Hertz Jolly, is buried in Oakland Cemetery.  Since we knew very little about the Jolly family at that time I thought perhaps this may be useful in our research at a later time.  Then when I saw the dates I knew this woman would have an interesting story to tell – whether it was part of Ritchey’s family, or not.  She is not related.

Martha Southard, the daughter of Benjamin and Temperance Platt Southard, of Long Island, New York, was born in Dearborn County, Indiana, March 1, 1813.  Benjamin and Temperance had at least three other children, Rebecca, Isaac and Jane.

Martha Southard married Charles Jolly 2 May 1833, having their license issued 26 April 1833, in the County of Dearborn, State of Indiana.  John Godbey, Justice of the Peace, performed the ceremony.  The family lived together in the same county and state until Charles’ death in 1873, a total of one son and seven daughters.  In 1870, Martha’s sister, Jane Southard, 56, lived with them.

William Henry Jolly, only son, was wounded at the Battle of Vicksburg, and died August 31, 1863.  A copy of a letter sent to his family just before his death will appear in another blog.

The daughters were Mary Temperance, Susan J., Rebecca, Sarah, Lydia, Charlesetta and Annabella.

Charles died in 1873 at the age of 70.  By this time daughter Rebecca had married William Martin.  They moved to Johnson County, Iowa, and her mother, Martha, came to live with them.  In the 1880 census for Johnson County is William Miller, 39; wife, Rebecca, 39; their son Harley, 6, born in Iowa; Martha Jolly, 67, listed as mother-in-law; and Charlesetta, 26, sister-in-law, who was a dressmaker.

The following article was published in 1909, when Martha Jolly was 96 years of age.  She lived another 4+ years!

The Iowa City Press, Johnson County, Iowa

Wednesday, April 28, 1909

Old Settlers of Johnson County

Martha Southard Jolly

Living in quiet retirement at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Rebecca Miller, two miles north of Solon, Mrs. Martha Jolly is spending the declining years of her life in peace and content.  This aged lady is remarkable – for her years, and for the experiences through which she has lived.  Grandma Jolly, as she is familiarly called, can lay claim to being the oldest woman in Johnson County.  On March 1, 1909, she rounded her ninety-sixth milestone and her health is such as to warrant the hope that she may live to round out her century.  Except for a slight dimming of the eye and ear and a certain lameness in her joints, she is as well as ever.  Moderation has been her practice for many years, in work, in eating, in all things.  To that and to the good care that is always hers from her daughters’ hands can be attributed her preservation and any longevity.

It is indeed a pleasure and a rare privilege to one of the second or third generation removed, to talk to her and listen to the story of a remarkable life.  Her mind is still keen and bright, so that her story sounds like a revelation to us so far removed in years.  Few people there are who are pioneers of two commonwealths, living for a number of years in each.  Mrs. Jolly is such a person.  From 1875 Iowa has been her home and previously she lived in Indiana, arriving there from Long Island, while it was yet a territory in 1816.

March 1, 1813, Martha Southard was born at Hempstead, Long Island.  James Madison was then president and the War of 1812 was raging.  Her father, Benjamin Southard, was a farmer and wagon maker and had a large family.  Immediately after the war, eastern people began moving ‘out west’ to Ohio and Indiana, and in 1816, Benjamin Southard sold his farm, loaded his family into a wagon and started for the west.  The rough, slow journey over the ‘mountains’ took three weeks – now a matter of a few hours.  A thief robbed him of his money, one of the horses died, the roads were rough and the settlements few and far between, yet he kept on.  Cincinnati was their goal, was then a struggling village of a few hundred people, strung out along the Ohio River.

Hearing of the rich lands in the Whitewater River bottoms of Indiana Territory, the family yet pushed on, finally settling on Farmers Creek, Dearborn County, Indiana.  In reaching this spot, they passed North Bend, Ohio, the home of General William Henry Harrison, long afterward elected president.  But settlers were few on Farmers Creek.  The tired, homesick family found temporary refuge with a settler in his one room log cabin, while Mr. Southard secured his land and erected a rude cabin.  For ten months sixteen children and four grown people lived in that one-room cabin!

The story of those pioneer days of early Indiana are even more the story of a wild frontier life than that which our early Iowans experienced.  This part of Indiana was ‘big woods,’ covered by a heavy growth of mammoth trees.  Bear, wolves, deer and the dreaded panther were its inhabitants, sharing the wilds with these few hardy white settlers and the native red man.  The Indians had not yet forsaken their old haunts.  Indeed, it was just five years before that General Harrison beat Tecumseh so badly at Tippecanoe.  It was over a mile through big woods, over a rough trail, to the Southard’s nearest neighbors.  As time wore on, however, more settlers came in.

Was money common?  Whenever a piece was secured it was carefully hoarded to be used when the very occasional trip to Cincinnati, 30 miles east, was made and the few necessities they could not produce were purchased there.  Such conditions forced the settlers to be practically self-sufficient.  Mr. Southard made rude plows, wagons, spinning wheels, rope machines and kitchen utensils, not only for himself, but for neighbors for miles around.  He and his family spun and wove their own cloth and made it into clothing, tanned leather and made shoes, made them hats and caps, indeed, almost everything they needed.  The forest and the small clearing furnished meat and grain.  As cradles had not yet come into use, wheat was cut with a sickle.  Such was pioneer life in Indiana.

Nor were schools common.  Mrs. Jolly states that she was twenty and married before a three-months’ subscription school was started.  What little education the Southard children could get was at home and at the short occasional private schools.  Martha learned to read from the New Testament – her only reader.  A crude speller and an arithmetic were the only text books for the family.  Books were indeed precious.  No newspapers came into those parts for many long years.

But the Southard children did not grow up ignorant and idle.  What they lacked in schools the parents furnished out of their own minds and experiences.  They were all trained to useful occupations.

The mother trained her daughters to be skilled house-folk – especially with the needle.  ‘Don’t e ashamed to meet anything you have made,’ was her advice often given and much practiced.  It is a pleasure to see Grandma Jolly’s face light up and her eyes sparkle as she talks of her sewing – her specialty – her hobby all her long life.  By twelve, because of the thoroughness of her mother’s methods, she could sew as regularly as a machine of today.  ‘If I saw a piece of work anywhere, I could go home and make it myself,’ she says.  That she has not lost her skill with the needle is shown by her recent achievements – seven quilts, two of them silk ones, which she has cut and pieced since she turned ninety, besides doilies and other things she had made.  One quilt which she made when 95, was exhibited and took first prize in open competition at the Johnson County Fair last fall.  ‘The young people of now-a-days can’t use the needle as we used to,’ is her comment on affairs of today.  Before her eyesight became dim she could knit the finest of lace, one specimen being made of No. 7000 linen thread after she was eighty years old.

Mary 2, 1833, Martha Southard was married to Charles Jolly, a native of ‘Jersey’ as these old people called New Jersey, born in 1803.  His grandfather was one of the martyrs of the famous ‘Sugar House,’ the British prison at New York City during the Revolution.  Soon after their marriage they removed to Logan, Dearborn County, where they lived until Mr. Jolly’s death.  Eight children were born to them:  William, the only son, died at Memphis, Tennessee, during the Civil War, a sacrifice to patriotism; Mary, married R. A. Keen, came to Iowa in 1861, lives in Iowa City; Mrs. Rebecca Miller, Solon, Iowa; Mrs. Susan Martin, Iowa City; Mrs. Sally Hays, died at Topeka, Kansas; Mrs. Lydia Matthews, Olathe, Kansas; Etta [Charlesetta], of Chicago; and Mrs. Annabelle Pratt, Summit, South Dakota.  This aged lady has now 22 grandchildren and about 12 great-grandchildren.

In 1873 Charles Jolly died and the old, happy Hoosier home was finally broken up.  The widow came to Iowa, whence most of her daughters had preceded her, and has since made her home with Rebecca.  Although the experiences of pioneer life, such as she knew in Indiana were gone, many changes have occurred in Iowa since she came here in ’75.  It is marvelous to think that such old people are able to grasp new things when they come up.  The modern school books, newspapers, free delivery, the railroad, telegraph, and many, many other things are all newer than Grandma Jolly, yet she is happy and glad to be alive in the 20th century.  May her remaining years be calm, happy ones.

After this article was published in 1909, each year, on the date of her birth, March 1, an article appears mentioning her long life.  In 1910 it was said she ‘celebrated her birthday quietly at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Rebecca Miller.’  In 1911 is mentions she is very active ‘for one of such advanced age and takes a keen interest in current events, being a great reader.’  In 1912, when she was 99 it was mentioned that she ‘was born at Hempstead, Long Island.  She resided in Cincinnati when it was a log village.’

The Daily Times, Tuesday, March 11, 1913

The Des Moines Register, Tuesday, January 13, 1914.

Martha Jolly, born March 1, 1813, died January 12, 1914.  Oakland Cemetery, Johnson County, Iowa.

What a wonderful, long life!



Charles Henry Ritchey – Prairie Farmer

The following biography was written by James Eben Ritchey, Charles Henry Ritchey’s son, and given to his children to hand down through the family.  My husband, Ritchey Brown, is very proud of his plains states heritage.  We were fortunate to visit Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska in 2002.  Charles Henry Ritchey is my Ritchey’s great-grandfather.

Charles Henry Ritchey – Prairie Farmer

Tall, auburn-haired Charles Henry Ritchey won the hand of beautiful Lucinda Amanda Jewell.  Others courted, but it was the six-foot tall, blue-eyed Charles Henry who ‘had a Jewell to keep his house in order.’

Charles Henry, son of Charles Ritchey and Amanda McKee, was born at Rushville, Schuyler County, Illinois, on 14 April 1848.  When Charles Henry was only three years of age, he lost his mother after the birth of her fourth child, Jacob.  Six weeks later his father remarried.  The new step-mother, Martha, cared for the three small children – William McKee, James Sylvester and Charles Henry.

Charles Henry Ritchey and Lucinda A. Jewell were married 4 February 1875, at Rushville, Illinois.  Three children were born at Rushville – Charles Thomas, Mary Emma and James Eben.  When James was but a babe, his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles traveled by covered wagon to Corydon, Iowa.  While in Corydon, Elmer Cross was born.

When James was about four, the entire party journeyed westward to Fillmore County, Nebraska.  They brought a large herd of cattle with them.  Charles Henry’s father-in-law, Thomas W. Jewell, and his uncle, Enoch Jewell, had gone ahead to look for land.  The Jewells bought one hundred sixty acres of land near Strang, Nebraska (two miles west and one mile south).  On the Thomas Jewell farm there was a white, four-room house.  On Charles and Lucinda’s farm there was a sod house.  They lived in the sod house about a year; then Charles Henry built an L-shaped house on the ‘Cobb’ place about one-fourth mile from the soddie.

Ritchey standing behind the gravestone of his great-grandparents.  Thomas W. Jewell, born April 3, 1815, died August 19, 1895.  Zillah Jewell, born March 18, 1823, died September 5, 1907.  Geneva Cemetery, Fillmore County, Nebraska.

Since many settlers were coming to Fillmore County, it was difficult to keep a place.  Another move, about two years later, found them one and one-half miles east of the county ‘poor-farm.’  Their home was on the south side of the road.  While living on the ‘Butler’ place, the family experienced the severe blizzard of 12 January 1888.  The blizzard blew off the top of the barn.  Luckily the children were not in school the day of that awful blizzard.

In 1890, Charles Henry moved his family to Geneva, Nebraska.  Here Edith, Maude, Arthur and Frank were born.  (Frank was born during a very bad blizzard on 8 February 1891).  Maude lived to be nine years of age and passed away with diphtheria.  While very small, Edith died of whooping cough in 1890.  The deaths of those small children were so hard for the family to bear.  The three little ones are buried in Geneva Cemetery.

Children of C. H. & L. Ritchey – Edith, Arthur and Maude.

The older children, Charles, Mary, James and Elmer, attended school at the ‘Ward School’ in the west part of Geneva.  Charles Henry hauled bricks at the brickyard.  James herded cows for another farmer; in exchange for his work, James was allowed to pasture the Ritchey cattle on his employer’s farm.

The Ritchey’s next move was on Highway 81 (one mile east and one-half mile south of Geneva).  Because there was no windmill on that place, they moved in 1898 to a place which had a windmill and a brick house (located one-half mile south and one-half mile west).

In 1894 and 1895 there was a severe drout further west.  Settlers in Perkins County had ‘starved out’ and were returning east.  The destitute travelers ‘borrowed’ the oats and corn of the Fillmore farmers in order to feed their horses and cattle.  The travelers also dug up the potatoes grown by Charles Henry and his family.  That fall Charles Henry and son Charles went to Missouri to shuck corn.  When they returned from Missouri, they brought bushels of apples which were made into apple butter.

Charles Henry and Lucinda continued to farm on rented land near Geneva, but Charles Henry yearned to own a farm of his own.  After the four older children married, Charles and Lucinda had a sale.  They moved to Custer County where they bought a farm in March 1909.  Charles Henry and his youngest son, Frank, continued to farm, but Charles Henry was not well.  Cancer of the stomach and liver claimed his life on 25 October 1912.

Geneva Cemetery

Today Charles Henry and Lucinda, Lucinda’s parents, Thomas W. and Zillah Jewell, and the three little ones lie in the tree-shaded cemetery in Geneva, Nebraska.

All of his life Charles Henry struggled with the elements, while turning the prairie sod into farmland.  At his side was the Jewell he had courted and won – Lucinda.

Charles H. Ritchey, 1848-1912.  Lucinda Ritchey, 1849-1933.

Samuel Haycraft of Hardin County Kentucky

I share with you today a short biography of Samuel Haycraft, a very early citizen of Hardin County, who wrote a history of the county in 1869, which was published by the Woman’s Club of Elizabethtown in 1921.  Mr. Haycraft sounds like someone I would love to meet!  He evidently loved history, lived through a big part of the early history of his county, and thankfully wrote it down for later generations!

On May 7, 1866, he wrote a letter to the editors of The Courier-Journal newspaper.  He speaks of the two political parties in the United States at this time – ‘the Radical Abolition party, led by Sumner, Stevens and those of like ilk;’ and ‘that stripe of the Democratic party that met in Louisville on the 1st of May.’  He then gets to the heart of the matter of standing for saving the Union –

‘Now, if that statement be true, then I belong to no party, for I solemnly repudiate both, and set them down as one discordant party with two wings tending to the same end.  The first wing moving heaven, earth and the lower regions to break up the Union and destroy the Constitution, and the second so lately at it that I am afraid to trust them yet, but have some hope that they may yet wheel into ranks.

‘But I do claim to belong to a class of men, Old-line Whigs and Democrats, who, without regard for party names, stood, and still stand, for the Union; and who are determined to stand at the back of that firm and brave patriot, Andrew Johnson, in support of his reconstruction policy, and in the policy shown in two vetoes and his speech following the fist veto, and who wanted the Union speedily restored and our venerated Constitution preserved.  I contend that it is unworthy of the name of an American citizen to stand higgling about a name when our very foundation is sliding from under us.’

Before the war, in March of 1861, we find Mr. Haycraft as an experienced fruit-grower in Hardin County, giving information and advice on the growth of Northern apples.  Has anyone heard of these?  The Northern Spy, Rambo, Lady Apple, Rhode Island Greening, Summer Scarlet Pearmain, Early Strawberry – to name a few.

Thirty years previous, on the 25th of November, 1831, at a ‘meeting of a number of the citizens of Hardin County, Kentucky, friendly to the American System, and to Henry Clay, was convened at the courthouse in Elizabethtown.’  John L. Helm, Esq., was chair and Samuel Haycraft, secretary.

And It was Samuel Haycraft, an old family friend of Abraham Lincoln, that proposed he return to Kentucky for a campaign swing during the presidential race of 1860.  Lincoln, however, felt that it was unlikely to sway any of the Democratic voters to his ticket.

Samuel Haycraft

In the Samuel Haycraft was born August 14, 1795, in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, in a double, round-log cabin.  His father was Samuel Haycraft, a Revolutionary soldier, and a man of great public and private worth, who settled in Kentucky early in the latter quarter of the eighteenth century.  His mother was Margaret VanMeter, daughter of Jacob VanMeter, and belonged to one of the old and honorable pioneer families of the State.  The subject of this sketch, one of the most remarkable men who ever lived in Elizabethtown, spent nearly seven years of his boyhood in the country schools, the last two chiefly in studying the Latin language.  He was a careful, discriminating, and extensive reader and few men of the country were so thoroughly and universally well informed.  His long public career commenced when he was fourteen years of age.  At that time, in October 1809, he began to write in the office of the County and Circuit Clerk, Major Ben Helm.  The duties of this position he performed, with little variation, until 1816, when he received the appointment of Clerk of both Circuit and County Courts of Hardin County, and held this clerkship, uninterruptedly, until 1857.  He said of himself, ‘That, from the time he entered this office, he was attentive to business, and never neglected it; but, in leisure moments was fond of gay and lively company, particularly of dancing parties, but hardly ever descended to low company or rowdyism, but was a wild, wicked sinner.’  On retiring from this office, in 1851, the court and bar adopted, and placed on record, resolutions in every way flattering to him in his official capacity, as well as social and private relations of life.

He, then, began the practice of law at the Elizabethtown bar; but after four years of legal practice, was again called by the people to fill the vacant clerkship of the Circuit Court, caused by the death of the incumbent.  In 1857 he was elected to represent the people in the State Senate and held this position for four years.  He was, therefore, a member of the Legislature during the most important and critical period of the State’s history.  His record made in that body was most honorable to himself, and, in light of the present, is stamped by a wisdom, foresight, and fearless devotion to just and true principles, of which any man might well be proud.  He was instrumental in enacting some measures beneficial to the general good; and it was through his efforts, mainly, that the Legislation was induced to appropriate even the meager sum it did for the erection of a monument to Daniel Boone.  And, in that body, he was one of the most determined and staunch supporters of the Union.  He was then sixty-seven years of age, and, had lived with his father through the greater part of the life-time of the nation, and now stood in the Senate, gray with time and honor, one of the noblest Romans of them all, every ready to say, “The Union must and shall be preserved.”  But neither in that august body nor among his friends and neighbors at home, was he ever obnoxious in his opinions; on the contrary, however, conciliatory generous and discriminating, claiming only to himself his private opinions, and deeply sympathizing with the troubles of his neighbors and the misfortunes of the times.

He was again elected Clerk of the Circuit Court and retired in 1868, at the age of seventy-three, after an unparalleled service of sixty-five years.

He said of himself that, “On the first Saturday in April 1832, my wife and I were baptized by Elder Warren Cash, who also married us; and, in answer to my mother’s prayers, she lied to see all her children in the church, and to hear her youngest son preach the Gospel.”  For over forty years he was a member of the Baptist Church, a teacher in the Sabbath-schools and observed family prayers twice a day.  For several years he was a Trustee of Georgetown College, to which he made some bequests.  Of himself, he says: “I have occupied the same seat in church for over forty years, and never sit back in the scorner’s place.  On the 29th of October 1818, I was married to Sarah Brown Helm, a daughter of Judge John Helm, of Breckinridge County.  I regard the transaction as the most fortunate move of my life, temporally speaking.”  They had four children: Edgar H., DeSoto, Iowa; Sarah M., wife of S. McMurtry, Hardin County; Louisa Ann, wife of William Dix, Breckinridge County; and Margaret J., wife of C. D. Poston, once Representative in Congress of Arizona.  Mr. Haycraft was a fine public speaker and one of the most interesting conversationalists.  His disposition to joke was inveterate and a vein of humor seemed to underlie the most serious moments in his life.  He was a man of fin address, most genial temperament, courteous manner and splendid personal appearance; and few men of his age showed such high preservation of all the noble elements of manhood.  He stood as a monument of the effects of correct principles and practices of life, both physically and mentally.  Ye he modestly said: “My life has been rather quiet and monotonous, and does not afford much matter for history, especially of an extraordinary character.”

His wife died August 14th, 1878.  They had been married 60 years, lacking two months.  To her he repeatedly paid tribute throughout his career, and she was as much of a character in the town as he was.  A gentle, generous, pious woman of the old generation she was “Aunt Sallie” to the whole community.  Many of us still remember her agreeable peculiarity of always having on hand “sweet cakes” for distribution to the children who came to her house.  She and her husband lived in the fine square colonial brick house that stood on the northeast corner of Main and Poplar Streets, the first brick house erected in Elizabethtown.  It was a house of character, and it was a loss to the town when it was destroyed by fire about 1882.

He followed his wife to the grave in his 84th year on December 22nd, 1878, four months after her death.