Tag Archives: biographies

How Reliable Are Old Biographies?

Some say that many family biographies are unreliable, such as those written for the Kentucky – A History of the State volumes – or any biographical works.  I believe any biography gives you a starting place.  It’s up to you to go to the original records and check the facts!  This biography was chosen since Ritchey and I visited Vanceburg Cemetery in Lewis County – we have photos of several of the gravestones for some named below.  Footnotes are given for the original sources, although the numbering system is a little different with WordPress!

Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, Battle & Kniffin, 1888

Lewis County

Henry C. Bruce was born in Lewis County, Kentucky, January 16, 1824[1], and is a son of Alexander Bruce, a native of Garrard County, Kentucky, was born September 5, 1796.  He was educated at Transylvania College, Lexington, Kentucky, studied law in his native county, and began the practice of his profession in Vanceburg in 1819.  In the latter year he married Miss Amanda Bragg, daughter of Thomas Bragg, of Lewis County.  Alexander Bruce was a Whig in politics and was a leading lawyer of the Vanceburg bar.  In 1825 he was elected to the Lower House of the State Legislature, when the political issue was upon the Old and New Court.  Mr. Bruce was an advocate of the Old Court party.  He was the father of seven children, all of whom are living.  He died in Vanceburg in 1851[2], being at that time the first candidate for county judge under the new constitution.  His wife survived him about one year[3].

Alexander Bruce died April 18, 1851, aged 53 years, 7 months and 13 days.  Vanceburg Cemetery, Lewis County, Kentucky.

Amanda M. Bruce died May 20, 1852, aged 49 years, 2 months and 6 days.

John Bruce, grandfather of Henry C., was a native of Virginia and was one of the pioneers of Garrard County, Kentucky.  He was a son of one of the Refugee Highlander soldiers who escaped after the Battle of Culloden Moor in 1745 and took passage for America.  He was also a Revolutionary soldier[4].  Thomas Bragg, the maternal grandfather of our subject, was a native of Fauquier County, Virginia, and located in Vanceburg, Kentucky, about 1800.  He also was a soldier of the Revolution and died in 1820, his wife surviving him until 1863, when she died at the advanced age of ninety-nine[5].

Lucy Blakemore, born in Frederick County, Virginia, April 8, 1764, married Thomas Bragg, September 20, 1781, and died in Lewis County, Kentucky, November 1, 1862, aged 98 years, 6 months and 23 days.

Henry C. Bruce passed his early life in steamboating[6] on the Ohio River.  In 1850 he married Mary Conner[7], daughter of Major William Conner, of Greenup County, Kentucky.  In 1870 he engaged in the mercantile business with his present partner, Mr. Rugles.  He is the father of seven children, viz: Sidney, Mary, Thomas, Samuel, William, John and Elsie[8].  His wife died in 1867, and in 1871 he married Miss Cassandra Caines[9], of Lewis County, a daughter of Charles Caines.  He had six children by his first wife and one by the latter.  In 1881 Mr. Bruce was nominated by acclamation for Senator and was elected the following August.  After the expiration of his term he again resumed his business pursuits.   He is an energetic business man, and is the owner of large city and farming property.

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[1] According to the 1850 Lewis County Census Henry Clay Bruce, 26, and his new wife, Mary, 20, are living with his grandmother, Lucy Blakemore Bragg, 86.  Henry is listed as a boatman.  His mother, Amanda Bruce, also lives in the household, along with son Thomas J. Bruce, 28, and his wife, Mary, 20.

[2] Gravestone in Vanceburg Cemetery reads ‘Alexander Bruce died April 18, 1851, aged 53 years, 7 months and 13 days.’

[3] Gravestone in Vanceburg Cemetery reads ‘Amanda M. Bruce died May 20, 1852, aged 49 years, 2 months and 6 days.’

[4] Andrew Davis Bruce Sons of the American Revolution application from May 21, 1956.  Also, buried in the Bruce Cemetery in Garrard County – John Bruce, Revolutionary Soldier, born April 30, 1748, died April 13, 1827.  Elizabeth Clay Bruce, wife of John, born January 13, 1755, no death date.

[5] Gravestone in Vanceburg Cemetery reads ‘Lucy Blakemore, born in Frederick County, Virginia, April 8, 1764, married Thomas Bragg, September 20, 1781, and died in Lewis County, Kentucky, November 1, 1862, aged 98 years, 6 months and 23 days.’

[6] See footnote 1.

[7] Death certificate of Samuel Ellis Bruce, who died January 7, 1938, gives father as Henry Clay Bruce, and mother, Mary Conner.

[8] Children are listed in the 1870 and 1880 Lewis County census.

[9] Death Certificate of Elsa B. Kline, who died December 26, 1959, gives father as Henry C. Bruce, and mother Cassandra D. Caines.

Thomas Corwin Anderson Biography

Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, Battle & Kniffin, 1888

Montgomery County

Thomas Corwin Anderson, one of the most noted short-horn cattle breeders of the United States, was born August 24, 1845, in Montgomery County, Kentucky, at ‘Side View’ farm, where he now lives, on the turnpike between Paris and Mt. Sterling, and which is one of the most beautiful tracts of land in the Blue Grass region.  He is the only child of John Jay and Margaret (Mitchell) Anderson, both of pioneer families of Kentucky.  His grandfathers were Captains in the War of 1812, and his great-grandfather Anderson a conspicuous officer in the war of the Revolution.  Between fourteen and fifteen years of age the subject of our sketch enlisted in the Federal army, where, by his youthful acts of bravery, quick intelligence, and manly deportment, he soon won the admiration and esteem of officers and men.  He attracted the attention of General Nelson, who suggested that he should receive a military education.  This meeting the approval of his family, he was recommended to the U.S. Naval Academy, and received the appointment through Colonel William H. Wadsworth, Representative in Congress from his district.  he remained at the academy some three years, but, preferring an independent life on a farm to that on the ocean wave, he gave it up, and finished his education at Yale College.  October 12, 1870, he was married to Miss Annie English, of Louisville, Kentucky, daughter of Colonel Sam S. English, a prominent lawyer of that city.  He has two children, handsome, intelligent boys:  English and Jay; the fifth generation who have occupied this farm.  From early childhood Mr. Anderson has been a sufferer from weak lungs, yet he is a man of great energy and nerve.  He is thoroughly informed in regard to his business, and having a library well supplied with herd books, Short-horn histories, etc., no one is better posted in knowledge of pedigrees.  He is very fond of reading, and is a man of varied information.  He is pleasing in manner, exceedingly hospitable, and has many friends.  Mr. Anderson owns the largest individual herd of Short-horn cattle in the United States.

Charles H. Higdon Biography

Charles Higdon, November 11, 1835 – September 26, 1918.  Sara A. Higdon, February 9, 1950 – December 5, 1918.  St. Lawrence Catholic Cemetery, Daviess County, Kentucky.

from Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, Battle & Knifflin, 1883

Daviess County – Knottsville Precinct

Charles H. Higdon, farmer and stock-raiser, was born in this precinct November 11, 1835, and was a son of B. Henson and Henrietta (Milton) Higdon, both natives of Maryland.  He was reared on a farm, and received his education in the common schools of this county.  he was married in 1870 to Sarah A., daughter of John R. Duncan.  Eight children have been born to them, six now living – Charles I., Mary M., Francis K., Elmer L., Henson and an infant son.  Mr. Higdon owns 135 acres of well-improved land.  He and family are members of the Catholic Church.

Theodore Jennings Biography

from Kentucky – A History of the State; Perrin, Battle and Kniffin, 1888

Jefferson County

Theodore Jennings was born in Greencastle, Indiana, June 7, 1850, and is a son of Theodore C. Jennings, a miller, and an early settler of Indiana, who emigrated from Kentucky.  His mother was a daughter of Joel and Mary Yager, natives of Jefferson County, Kentucky.  The subject of this sketch was educated principally in the State University at Bloomington, Indiana.  In 1872 he engaged in a general merchandise business at Utica, Indiana, and in 1876 engaged in the drug business, which he followed until April, 1881, when he sold out and removed to Jeffersonville, and took charge of Lewman and Bros. drug business until 1884, when he came to Louisville, and engaged in the same business with F. Bender, on Shelby and Jefferson streets.  Having read medicine for ten years, he began attending a course of lectures in 1885, at the Louisville Medical College, graduating in 1887, and at once commenced practicing.  His office is at 909 East Jefferson Street, Louisville.  Dr. Jennings was married, in 1872, to Miss Maggie Summers, niece of James and Margaret Hobson, of Utica, Indiana, by whom he has three children: Anna, James and Maggie.  His wife died May 25, 1880.  He was next married, October 11, 1884, to Miss Maud Fogle, a daughter of Ebenezer Fogle, of Marion County.  By this second marriage he has one daughter, Nellie M. Jennings.

James C. Miller Biography

from History of Daviess County, Kentucky, Inter-State Publishing Company, 1883

Masonville Precinct

James C. Miller resides on the same farm in Masonville Precinct where his father settled in 1824, and where he was born August 26, 1830.  His father, Fleming Miller, was born in Henrico County, Virginia, November 1, 1791.  He followed teaming until the outbreaking of the War of 1812, when he enlisted in Captain De Val’s company.  After the war, he returned to Virginia and married Elizabeth Ally, and they came to Shelby County, Kentucky, where they had a family of four children, one living – Pleasant J., a tobacco merchant of Owensboro.  The mother died in Shelby County, and Mr. Miller then married Rosa Boswell, and then moved to Daviess County in 1824; soon after his arrival here she died.  He then married Sallie Crawford in 1829, a native of Shelby County, Kentucky.  He died June 28, 1860, and his wife died December 23, 1844.  James C., subject of this sketch, was the oldest of their eight children.  He was married to Amy S. Miller, January 23, 1852.  She was born in Ohio County, Kentucky, and was a daughter of James and A. (Anderson) Miller.  After his marriage, he settled on the old homestead with his father one year; then moved on a farm in Ohio County, Kentucky.  His wife died July 22, 1854, leaving one daughter – Sallie C., born February 27, 1853, now the wife of Dr. J. C. Sutton, residing in Hardinsburg, Breckinridge County, Kentucky.  After his wife died, he returned to Daviess County with his father.  He married Frances Y. Haynes, February 12, 1856.  She was native of Ohio County, Kentucky, born December 20, 1832, and was a daughter of Josiah and Frances Y. (Howard) Haynes.  After his marriage Mr. Miller settled on his farm in Ohio County and remained until 1870, when he returned to Daviess County and settled on a farm, two miles east of Whitesville, in Boston Precinct, where they remained until December 1878, when he purchased the old farmstead farm in Masonville Precinct, where he and family still reside.  Mr. and Mrs. Miller have had seven children, six living – Emma N., born March 14, 1857; Josiah H., born April 12, 1860; Henry C., born June 26, 1862; Fannie R., born July 12, 1866; Mary E., born January 27, 1869, and Amy B., born Jun 11, 1872, all residing with their parents except the eldest son, Josiah H., who is teaching school in Western Kentucky Normal School at South Carrollton.  Mr. and Mrs. James C. Miller are members of the Baptist church at Bethabara, as are all their children.  Mr. Miller is a member of Hodges Lodge, A. F. & A. M., at Whitesville.  He was Justice of the Peace in Ohio County four years; was appointed in Daviess County in 1880, to fill out an unexpired term, and elected in 1882 for whole term.  He was appointed Deputy Sheriff of Daviess County in 1875, and held that office three years.  He has held various other local offices of trust in his precinct.  Mr. Miller owns a fine farm of 165 acres where he resides, 125 under cultivation.  In politics, he is a Democrat.  He is of Irish and German descent.  Mrs. Miller’s family was English and Welsh decent.

Richard Creekmur Biography

from Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, Battle and Kniffin, 1887

Simpson County

Richard Creekmur was born February 29, 1822, in Simpson County, Kentucky, where he grew to manhood and has always resided.  His father, William M. Creekmur, a native of Norfolk County, Virginia, was a soldier in the War of 1812; was long a member of the Regular Baptist Church, and died in Simpson County in 1844, at the age of seventy-two years.  He was a son of Richard Creekmur, of Virginia, who was a soldier in the Revolution.  William M. married Martha, daughter of Jonathan and Martha Balance (died 1847, aged sixty-three years), and from their union sprang Philip, Rilen, Dorcas (See), Mary Stewart, Sallie (May), William M., Richard and Tabitha (Stewart).

In May, 1844, Richard married Eliza, daughter of Philip and Mary (Jones) Gibbs, of Simpson County (born in Campbell County, Virginia, March 2, 1817), and to them were born Martha J. (Bush), Lafayette, Mary E. (deceased), William, Sallie B. (deceased), Emily and Alice (deceased).  In the beginning of their business career, Mr. and Mrs. Creekmur had an even start in the world, and by industry and perseverance have acquired a competency.  They lost five slaves by the late war.  Mr. Creekmur is a farmer, having 106 acres of well improved and productive land in a high state of cultivation.  He is a member of the Primitive Baptist Church, and in politics a Democrat.

William Creekmur was born in Simpson County, August 1, 1852; married November 9, 1876, Amanda N., daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Capewell) Jennings, of Simpson County (born March 14, 1856), and their union has been favored by the birth of one son, Herschel.  William owns forty-eight acres of first-class land.  He is a member of the Missionary Baptist Church, and in politics a Democrat.

Duncan Family of Jessamine County

In an earlier post I shared photos of the small Duncan Cemetery located on Main Street in Nicholasville.  Today I share more information about the family, from one of the biographies gathered and written by W. H. Perrin, J. H. Battle and G. C. Kniffin, published in 1887.   Biographies were written and accumulated over the state and country during this time period, to save the historical information of local, ordinary people.  I have found these to be useful not only in my Kentucky research, but also in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.  Remember to use these biographies as a beginning point, going back to original research to back up what is written in these biographies from over a century ago. 

To see more photographs of this cemetery go to the Duncan Cemetery blog written in April of this year.

from Kentucky – A History of the State; Perrin, Battle, Kniffin, 1887

Jessamine County

Duncan Family

It has been truly said, ‘Those lives that are without striking incidents are nevertheless worthy of record.’  That portion of history which is denominated biography has particular claims upon the historian, and truth is but a matter of common honesty.  Rev. William Duncan was born in Perthshire, Scotland, January 7, 1630.  He fell a martyr during the religious troubles that afflicted Scotland at the time Charles II was restored to the throne of his ancestors.  Rev. William Duncan had a grandson, William Duncan, who was born in Scotland, April 19, 1690, and settled in the colony of Virginia in the year 1719.  He was married to Ruth Rawley February 11, 1722.

Rawley Duncan, born in Culpeper County, Virginia, November 23, 1724, was the grandfather of the late William Duncan of Jessamine County, who died in 1863, and was born in Jessamine County, January 1, 1788.  William was married to Miss Nancy Blackford, daughter of Benjamin Blackford, in 1813.  The following are the names of his children in their order:  Ryan, born November 6, 1814; Margaret, January 14, 1817; Catherine, July 17, 1819; Sally Ann, October 21, 1821; James B., February 7, 1824; Robert, September 8, 1826; Benjamin S, February 13, 1829; Charles W., April 28, 1831, and Mary D., September 25, 1834.  Robert and Benjamin are the only sons now living.  Mrs. Kate Bourn and Mrs. Sallie Scott, the only daughters.

William and Nancy Blackford Duncan’s stones are the two taller ones in the middle row.  William  Duncan, born January 1, 1788, died September 6, 1863.  Nancy, wife of William Duncan, born December 17, 1791, died June 24, 1860.

Robert Duncan was married to Miss Virginia Nave, youngest daughter of Jonathan Nave, in 1865.  The names of his children are Maggie Florence, Robert Jacob, Lizzie, Miranda and Emma Besueden.  Benjamin S. Duncan was married to Lucy A. Funk, youngest daughter of John Funk, May 22, 1856.  His children are:  Allen B., Carrie B. and John W. Duncan.  Allen B. Duncan married Miss Georgia Proctor, daughter of J. W. Proctor, cashier of the First National Bank of Danville, Kentucky.  Carrie B. Duncan married David Bell, son of Dr. Bell and grandson of the late Judge Robertson, both of Lexington, Kentucky.  J. W. Duncan is not married.

Charles Duncan, the grandfather of Robert and Benjamin, was born at Culpeper C. H., Virginia, October 8, 1762.  He settled in Jessamine County in 1787, where he reared a large family, and died during a visit he made to Washington, Indiana, July 12, 1829.  Sallie A. Duncan, daughter of William and Nancy Duncan, was married to Robert Carlisle, in 1851; he was a native of Fayette County, Kentucky.  His father was Robert Carlisle, who was born in Virginia, and John G. Carlisle is a nephew of Robert Carlisle, Sr.  R. G. Carlisle was a school-teacher in this county about 1850.  He was born in 1820, and his death occurred in 1864.  One child born to Robert G. Carlisle survives, Lizzie G., married to James A. Hulett, of Jessamine County.  Sallie A. Duncan’s second marriage was to Willaby S. Scott, who was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, in 1815, died in 1882, leaving three children, Sallie, Carlisle and Eliza.  Mrs. Scott owns seventy acres of fine land in Nicholasville Precinct.  B. S. Duncan owns 380 acres in the same precinct.