That Elusive Maiden Name – My Great-Grandmother was a ?

Ellen Lyons Smith - My Great-Great-Grandmother - Proof!

In the generally male dominated world of genealogy, it is much easier to find a long lost great-great-grandfather than it is to find an even more lost great-great-grandmother. Other than a marriage certificate, a woman’s maiden name is listed very rarely.  Once married, it can seem that the bride had no life before that time.  It is imperative that genealogists don’t give in to that unknown and
just, well, give up!  Pieces of information can be found in sometimes unusual places.

My mother has always bemoaned her middle name – Lyons.  I love that her name is so different.  As many Catherine’s as there are in the family, at least her middle name makes her unique!  Her mother always said she was named for one of her great-grandmothers – it was a family name.  Since I had found her other great-grandmothers I knew which one it had to be.  John Smith married Ellen Lyons – there was no proof, just my assumption.  There was no marriage certificate for them in Washington County, Kentucky, so I was sure they were married in Marion County.  In the 1860 census for this county John is listed with the children – Ellen had died in September of 1859 due to childbirth. Unfortunately the marriage records for Marion County – along with the courthouse! –  were burned during the Civil War.  Shame on you General John Hunt Morgan!   You have made genealogy research so difficult for so many!  A few years later I realized John and Ellen had lived in my home parish of St. Charles Church.  Some years previous to my discovery, when the parish removed a few trees from the cemetery, Ellen’s gravestone was destroyed in the process.  I have the information from the stone from a list made years before.  When I found out the parish had some old baptismal records I looked through them and sure enough, several of John and Ellen’s children were listed.   In the baptismal record of their son John Richard Smith his parents are listed as John and Ellen Lyons Smith.  At long last I had found my proof!  Funny how it was right under my nose for years!

Genealogy Ramblings – Family Stories – Fact or Fiction?

I’m sure every genealogist has heard some rather unbelievable family stories over the years.  But before you are ready to throw them out, examine them once again to see if there could be some truth lurking behind the fantastic stories!  A prime example on my dad’s side of the family – my aunt always asserted that we were related to Billy the Kid.  Aunt Catherine could never give me more details than that one simple fact.  She did know the story came from her dad’s side of the family.  I smiled politely and listened – then dismissed the notion as nonsense.  Wasn’t I surprised years later to find the name of Pap’s great-grandmother – Arena Kidd!  She married Tillotson Ross.  They named their son William, probably called him Billy.

As stories are handed down from generation to generation they get turned around a bit, a little embellishment added here and there.  But if you look closely enough there’s generally a kernel of truth hidden somewhere in the middle!  And it sometimes turns out to be a gem!

Early Obituaries

Springfield City Cemetery

In my opinion, obituaries today are far to bland and boring.  Yes, they give names and dates, and even though those are very important, they give nothing to the reader of the deceased’s life or character.  Obituaries of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are far more interesting.  They tend to make people come alive – you can picture these people in your mind – it makes you want to know and love them.

The following is from The Springfield Sun from the year 1916.  Benjamin Edwards was a son of Jonathon Joseph Edwards (who is buried in the Linton Cemetery) and grandson of Edward Barber Edwards – one of the early settlers who moved to Kentucky from Loudoun County, Virginia.  Edward married Nancy Linton, a daughter of Captain John.

The Springfield Sun,  February 1916

Death Claims Several of the Best Known Citizens of the County During the Past Week


News of the death of Ben Edwards, which was circulated this morning, came as a shock to many friends in Washington County who had know and liked him for many years.  Mr. Edwards had been in bad health for several years and for some time had been practically confined to his room at the home of Edgar Linton where he lived, but it was not generally known that he was in danger of immediate death.  Death came in the early hours of Wednesday morning.  The funeral service was conducted at the Methodist church, of which Mr. Edwards was a member, this afternoon and the remains interred on Cemetery Hill.  In the absence of Mr. Coward, the Pastor, Mr. Lawson conducted the service.

Mr. Edwards was one of the best known men of the county.  He was born here seventy years ago and had spent his entire life in this county where he engaged in farming.  He was straightforward and honest and had the respect of all who knew him.  Mr. Edwards married many years ago and was preceded to the grave several years ago by his wife, Mrs. Lucy Edwards.  The nearest of kin surviving are cousins.  His grandfather moved to this county from Virginia one hundred years ago this year, and settled in the house where Mr. Edwards died.  He is the last member of the Edwards family.

Linton Descendant Worried About Site

This is my favorite picture of my grandmother!  She was featured in her hometown newspaper because of her concern for the Linton Cemetery.  She took great pride in being a Linton descendant.  Her mother was Frances Barber Linton, daughter of Edward Edwards Linton and Catherine Elizabeth Taylor Linton – both descendants of the Captain!  There are a few errors in the article that I will address at another time.

The Springfield Sun – 1982

Mary Alice Montgomery CarricoBut there’s no need for concern
Linton descendant worried about site

by John Bramel, Editor

It is an 88-year-old mind bearing memories of things more than two centuries old.

A woman who is one of the oldest surviving relatives of a Revolutionary War captain worries about the plot of Washington County land that contains his remains.

“I pray that whoever owns the land now will take care of it,” says Mrs. Rue Carrico.  A Springfield woman whose ankles and body are bent with age, Mrs. Carrico’s spirit is alive and well in the tone of her voice and the gleam in her eyes.

And her spirit soars in the cause she bears now – protection of a gravesite.

She is the great, great granddaughter of Captain John Linton.

Mrs. Carrico’s information about her ancestor is based mostly on oral history passed along by family members.

Sallie Keene’s information is based on extensive research.  She and her husband, Milton, are both of Springfield and descendants of Captain John Linton.  Sallie Keene is a distant relative of Mrs. Carrico.

Here is the information about the captain provided by both women.

John Linton was born in 1750.  He earned the military title during the Revolutionary War.

“There’s no question about that,” says Sallie Keene.  “We have several relatives who are members of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) through him.”

Although both women believe, it cannot be substantiated that Captain John Linton did indeed participate in the funeral of the nation’s first president

“It’s always been handed down in our family that he was in the Masonic honor guard that was part of George Washington’s funeral,” says Sallie Keene.

At the time of George Washington’s funeral, in 1799, John Linton and his wife, Ann Mason, lived in Virginia.

However, there is a deed purchase dated 1816.  Apparently because of his participation in the war, John Linton was able to purchase 2,000 acres of land for about $2 an acre.

It was located a few miles northeast of Springfield.

“They came here in either 1816 or 1818,” Sallie Keene says.  “They might have purchased the land while they still lived in Virginia.  An oath that he gave at the clerk’s office (in Springfield) saying that he did bring slaves from Virginia is dated 1818.”

At that time oaths were required.  Slave owners had to declare they had not intent to sell.

If he did arrive in 1818, Captain John Linton was about 68 years old when he got here.  He raised tobacco and hemp with slave labor, like many other farmers here at that time.

Many of John and Ann Mason Linton’s children came to Kentucky with them.  One daughter, Susan Linton Edwards, broke her leg while traveling through the Cumberland Gap.

There were at least 11 children:  Elizabeth, John Hancock, Catherine, Lewis, William, Mary, Susan, Martha, Nancy, Benjamin, and Moses, who was a famous doctor who lived in Missouri.

Sallie Keene says John Linton was Presbyterian, as were most of his children, except Moses.  Moses became a Catholic, and he was one of the founders of the Holy Name Society.

Captain John Linton, the man who experienced the birth of a nation, lived to the ripe old age of 86.  He died in 1836, about thirty years before the war that would split the nation.

John Linton is buried on the Kentucky land he purchased.  The grave along with its stone is still there now, surrounded by a black, wrought-iron fence, a few miles northeast of Springfield, just west of KY 555.

The plot appears to be on a hill that is higher than most of the surrounding landscape.  Rolling green farmland is visible for miles.

Wind sweeps the hill and chisels the inscriptions on the stones in the plot.  But Captain John Linton’s stone stands there still, and a briar barrier provides further protection from intruders.

It is the plot that Mrs. Rue Carrico worries about so much.

She doesn’t need to worry.

The land is now owned by Reed Spaulding.  He remembers that his grandfather who also owned the land promised descendants of Captain John Linton that the small graveyard wouldn’t be destroyed.

And although he has never talked with Linton descendants about the subject, he too feels bound by the promise.

“I wouldn’t do anything to anybody’s cemetery.”

So, in a sense, Captain John Linton survives Today.

Inscription under picture of graveyard – “The inscription on Captain John Linton’s stone, at left, says:  “In memory of John Linton, who departed this life December 4, 1836, In the 86th year of his age.”  The stone at right bears the name of William Moran, who married a daughter of Captain John Linton.  J.S. Moran, editor emeritus of The Springfield Sun, is a great, great grandson of Linton.  At 94, Moran might be the oldest surviving relative of the captain’s.  Other 19th century stones in the plot belong to William Linton and his wife, Eliza, and to John Edwards and his wife, Millie.”

Inscription under picture of John Linton: ” This photograph of Captain John Linton was reproduced from a tintype owned by the late Louis Linton of Russellville.”

Inscription under picture of Alice Carrico: ” While growing up, Mrs. Rue Carrico, shown above, heard stories about her ancestor who brought the family lineage into Kentucky, Captain John Linton.  Mrs. Carrico’s mother’s maiden name was Frances Linton, and her grandfather’s name was Edward Linton, direct links to a past two centuries old.”

Letter to William Linton Lewis

William Linton Lewis is a nephew of Captain John Linton (his sister Catherine Linton married Joseph Lewis).  He came to Kentucky before his uncle, and perhaps it was his stories of this new land that encouraged Captain John to make the move!  This (and several other letters to WLL) are contained at Duke University in a horsehair trunk.  It was many years finding this information, and many more until Ritchey and I finally made it to Durham, NC.  Our daughter went to Duke University one summer to Brightleaf Music Festival when she was fourteen.  She was chosen as one of ten, out of four hundred, to perform at the talent show.  While we were there I made it to the library and had a small amount of time to make copies.  Eventually I would love to go back and spend more time there!  Here is one of the letters:

Written to William Linton Lewis, Nelson County, Kentucky

 Loudoun County, Virginia

8th August, 1818

Dear Sir,

On the 24th July I received your favour of the 16th June which found us all enjoying good health thanks be to god for his goodness and hope these lines may find you and all friends in that country enjoying the same.  I have been in a very bad state of health some few weeks past, but have recovered my health again.  Your Father is as healthy as he ever was in his life – your brother John talks of moving out this fall with your Uncle John Linton and family and expects to start to Kentucky some time next month.  Mary Duncan is living at the same place by reason of the man disappointing her that bargained with her for her land.  Charles Duncan is living on the place where William Moran moved from and is acting as Constable.  Stephen is well pleased with his master but Joe do not like his.  We had a very cool spring, but the hottest summer that I ever experienced.  There has been a great deal of damage in small grane by the hale this summer, but has been as good crops made as commonly is.  Your father had a rye shock burnt by the lightning close to the house; we have heard of several people being killed by lightning in this county, but none that you knew.  Crops of corn is thought to be remarkably good generally through this county.  We understood from your letters you did not like as well as you expected which appears to make your Father very uneasy on your account.

 People has been very healthy in these parts this year, but we heard of a great many dying with the heat.

 Polly Smith is highly pleased with your letter and is happy to think you are traveling on the road that leads to happiness.  Also joins your Father and myself in love to you and Family.

All those you named in your letter was happy to year of your welfair and desires to be remembered to you and family.

To conclude, your Friend, and will wither til Death

                  Barbara Barrington

 NB  Elisha Timms is living near your cousins in Wood County.  He likes his removal tolerable well.  He now is here.  V. desires to be remembered to you and wife.

Captain John is mentioned as leaving ‘for Kentucky some time next month’.  He arrived in Washington County November 5th, 1818.  If he left in early September it took them about two months to travel from Virginia to Kentucky.  I sometimes wonder if they were concerned about being on the road if winter came early.  If you put Leesburg, VA, and Springfield, KY, into mapquest, you come up with a distance of 569 miles and a travel time almost 9 hours.  It took approximately 60 days for the Linton family to make the same distance, traveling roughly ten miles a day – on horseback, in wagons, probably some walking.  That makes a jaunt back to Virginia via interstate seem like a walk in the park!

Baptisms From St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church – Sample

O’Daniel 1857 Imelda Rose O’Daniel, d/o Walter and Susan Wheatley O’Daniel, born 19 Oct 1856, sponsor Margaret C. Hamilton, baptized at St. Charles 05 Mar 1857 05 Mar 1857 Baptism
Mattingly 1857 Edward Mattingly, s/o Alban and Sarah Jane Rhodes Mattingly, born 06 Jul 1856, sponsor Harriett Teresa Rhodes, baptized at St. Charles 09 May 1857 09 May 1857 Baptism
Smith 1857 John Richard Smith, s/o John and Eleanor Lyon Smith, born 13 Mar 1857, sponsor Elizabeth Ann Smith, baptized at St. Charles 10 May 1857 10 May 1857 Baptism
Hamilton 1857 Benedict Ernest Hamilton, s/o Benedict J. and Mary Ellen Wheatley Hamilton, born 05 Mar 1857, sponsor Emily Wheatley, baptized at St. Charles 15 Apr 1857 15 Apr 1857 Baptism

Captain John Linton?

His Son, Benjamin Franklin LintonFor many years, many descendants have considered this the picture of “Captain John Linton”.  Alas, recent research into the history of photography in America, and of the men’s dress for their photographs, has convinced me that the man in the picture could not have been Captain John.  (The photo was in the family pictures that I inherited, and therefore at least would have been one of his male descendants.  But not him.) Captain John died in 1836, and photography did not reach America until 1839 in the form of the Daguerreotype process.

I have the book Dressed for the Photographer, Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840-1900 by Joan Severa – a wonderful help in trying to date old photos.  The style of suit is similar to the decade of the 1850’s.  The Captain had three sons that lived in this time period – Moses, Benjamin Franklin and William (the youngest).  We can eliminate William since he would have been sixty years of age.  Moses would have been 82 in 1854 when he died and Benjamin would have been 77.  Since I have three of the exact same photos in my possession I would have to surmise that the picture is of Benjamin – since they would have come from his daughters that married into the Edwards family, and therefore handed down the line to my great-grandmother.  One of his descendants from Logan County, Kentucky, also has the very same picture.  He always considered this a photo of the Captain.

Other reasons helped to persuade me, but I considered the timing as to photography by itself as a sufficient basis for my conclusion — reluctant as I was to reach it.  Nevertheless, this still gives us a picture of a member of Captain John’s family.  The photo certainly generates in the viewer an image that, by virtue of a family resemblance, could well be a generalized idea of what Captain John really did look like.