Tag Archives: Mercer County Kentucky

The Second John McMurtry and His Will

In pulling a will to use for today’s blog I did a second take when I read the name John McMurtry.  If you recall, I wrote a blog for John McMurtry’s will June 18, 2016.  Needless to say I had to re-read what I had written.  The John McMurtry of the 2016 blog lived in Mercer County, in the far east central part of the county, near where Shaker Village is located today.  He owned a mill at the junction of the Dix (originally Dick’s) and Kentucky rivers.

The will I share with you today is for John McMurtry who lived near Cove Spring.  This spring is located in the extreme south central part of Mercer County, at the border of Mercer and Boyle counties on US 127, south of Harrodsburg.  When his will was written, in 1780, it was Kentucky County – or as he wrote it – Caintuckey County.  By the time the will  was probated in 1783, his property was part of Lincoln County.  At that time Mercer County was part of Lincoln.  In the will John McMurtry mentions, but doesn’t name, his father.  Sons James, Alexander, Samuel and William.  Other children are mentioned, but not named.  His wife’s name was Mary. 

I believe the two John McMurtry’s are cousins.  In the September 1907 Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, it says that, ‘A cousin, William McMurtry, accompanied Captain John McMurtry.’ (the first mentioned).  It is very likely the second John McMurtry was a son of this William.  Another coincidence are the three men who witnessed this second will – John Hutton, James Hutton and William McMurtry.  The first John McMurtry married Mary Todd Hutton.  Both families, McMurtry and Hutton, were from Rockbridge County, Virginia.  Quite easy for the two families to intermarry.

Lincoln County Will Book 1, Pages 35-36

In the name of God, amen.  I, John McMurtry, of Caintuckey County in the state of Virginia, being in perfect health praised be God, do make this my last will and testament as followeth.  I allow father his hundred acres of land in the southeast corner of my survey – with the spring called William McMurtry’s Spring.  I give my son James one hundred and fifty acres of land with the buffer spring joining his grandfather’s line and extending along the south line of my survey, and a good mare bought with the money

at Holston for him.  And to my son Alexander I give the Cove Spring with a hundred and fifty acres of land, joining the north line of my survey.  And to my son Samuel I give an improvement towards the west line with one hundred and fifty acres of land, joining the west line.  And to my son William I give the little spring with the remainder of the land.  And to my wife, Mary, I give a full privilege of my son William’s land and all its conveyances during her lifetime, tho not to hinder him of a privilege of water and woodland when he comes of age, and for the movable assets I leave to my wife to school and support the children with and to distribute as she sees proper.  In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the 7th day of July and in the year of our Lord 1780.

Sealed and declared by the above named John McMurty, for and as his last will and testament in the presence of us, John Hutton, James Hutton, William McMurtry.

At a Court held for Lincoln County the 18 February 1783

This instrument of writing was exhibited in Court as the last will and testament of John McMurtry, deceased, and proved by the oaths of James Hutton and William McMurtry, an ordered to be recorded.

Teste.  William May


Watson Gibson Obituary

Watson Gibson, October 15, 1829 – October 23, 1914.  Martha J. Gibson, November 9, 1833 – December 27, 1892.  Shawnee Run Baptist Cemetery, Mercer County, Kentucky.

The Harrodsburg Herald, Mercer County, Kentucky

Friday, October 30, 1914

After many months illness Mr. Watt Gibson, aged eighty-five years. died last Saturday night at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Lucy Welch, who had so faithfully cared for her aged father in the last days and very helpless condition. “Uncle” Watt had been a faithful member of the Baptist church at Burgin for years. The funeral was conducted at Shawnee Run Monday at 11 o’clock by Brother W. D. Moore, followed by burial in the adjacent cemetery.



Matthew Harris Jouett – Kentucky Portrait Painter

Last weekend my son, Linton, and I had a day together in Louisville.  He lives in Indianapolis, not the ends of the earth, but not an easy day trip.  When our weekend was planned I told Ritchey and Kate he was mine on Saturday, but I would share him with the rest of the family on Sunday!  We had a huge family dinner and Julian had quite a day with Uncle Linton.

Most of our day together was spent at bookstores, record shops, eating and talking.  Beforehand I searched for those rare and used bookstores and the first we visited was A Book By Its Cover on Dartmouth.  When we turned in it was a residential area.  We searched again and came up with the same place.  Linton called, and, yes, we were in front of the business!  The gentleman told us most of his business is online, but he welcomes those who want to come and peruse.  And he had one room of Kentucky history and county histories – I was in heaven!

One book I found was Matthew Harris Jouett – Kentucky Portrait Painter (1787-1827) by E. A. Jonas.  The book is in excellent condition, being No. 264 of 500 copies of the first edition.  About forty of his portraits are reproduced in the book.  Being a Mercer County resident and having a little knowledgeable about the history of our county, I recognized the last name as the same as the wife of Thomas Allin, our first county clerk.  Thomas Allin married Mary Jouett on February 16, 1789, at the home of her brother, Captain John Jouett, Jr.  Their parents were John Jouett, Sr., and Mourning Harris.  Captain John Jouett, Jr., better known as ‘Jack’, was the father of Matthew Harris Jouett.  Matthew was born in 1787, two years before his aunt’s marriage.

After a local education, Matthew’s father sent him to Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, to be educated as a lawyer.  He studied and became a lawyer, but his free time was spent painting.  In 1812 he married Miss Margaret Allen of Fayette County.

He could not continue his law profession, gave up his business and started painting portraits as his livelihood.  His father was not happy, and that is an understatement.  The War of 1812 changed everyone’s lives, and Matthew Jouett volunteered his services and served valiantly.  He enlisted in Captain Robert Crockett’s Company, Third Mounted Regiment, Kentucky Volunteers, Colonel Allen commanding.  July 13, 1814, he was appointed paymaster, with the rank of captain of the 28th United States Infantry by President Madison.  At the battle of the River Raisin the payrolls and papers, in his care as paymaster, fell into enemy hands and were never recovered.  He found himself in debt to the War Department for $6,000.  That doesn’t sound like a huge sum today, but it would be about a million dollars.  This was not due to negligence or lack of prudence, just a fortune of war.  He was determined to pay the money back – and he did so through painting portraits.  His father was furious and called him a ‘sign-painter’, never realizing how great his talent truly was.

Matthew Jouett went to Boston in 1817 and studied for a year with Gilbert Stuart – who painted the famous George Washington portrait.  Back in Kentucky Matthew painted assiduously.  Those who sat for him sound like a Who’s Who of history – Henry Clay, Judge John Rowan, Andrew Jackson, Hon. George M. Bibb, Mr. Justice Thomas Todd, Captain Robeson DeHart, Colonel Edmund Taylor, Sr., General LaFayette, Hon. John Brown, Hon. Robert S. Todd, George Rogers Clark and many, many others.  It is said that in the ten years of his career he produced over 400 portraits – and there could be more.  In 1964, at an auction in Lexington, a gentleman bought a portrait of a child for $22 – and afterwards found out it was a Matthew Jouett painting, worth $1600-$2000!

Matthew Jouett died after a short illness, August 10, 1827, in his fortieth year and at the top of his professional success.  It is said he accomplished as much in ten years as many others were able to do only in a lifetime.  His fame as a great painter truly began at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.  His paintings were given the best place in the gallery by the Hanging Committee because of their recognized merit.  In 1928 fifty to sixty of Matthew Jouett’s portraits were exhibited at the J B Speed Museum in Louisville.  Some of his work is in the Hall of Governors at the Kentucky History Center, and I believe one hangs in a New York museum.

Matthew and his wife are buried in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.  I think there’s another road trip to plan – to the cemetery, J B Speed Museum in Louisville, and the old state house in Frankfort where the life-size portrait of General LaFayette hangs!  I will keep you updated!

George C. Keller – Well Known Citizen – Passes Away

George C. Keller, March 11, 1834 – August 28, 1909.  Nannie E. Keller, November 23, 1835 – August 28, 1916.  Spring Hill Cemetery, Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky.

The Harrodsburg Herald, Mercer County, Kentucky

Friday, September 3, 1909

Last Saturday evening Mr. George C. Keller passed away at his home on Chiles Street. The end came unexpectedly at about seven o’clock. He had been in failing health for some time, and had been much broken in the last few weeks, but death was unlooked for at the hour it came. Mr. Keller had been suffering with asthma and during a violent coughing spell broke a blood vessel, and expired in a few moments. His funeral took place at 3 o’clock Monday afternoon at the Methodist church, conducted by Rev. Lon Robinson, and the remains were interred in Spring Hill Cemetery. Mr. Keller was one of the best known citizens in this community, having been in business here most of his life, first in the mercantile business and for the last twenty-five years a member of the staff of the First National Bank. In recognition of his efficient work all the banks in town closed during his funeral. He was one of the oldest members of the Methodist church, being a steward in the congregation, and devoted to church work. He was also a member of Montgomery Lodge of Odd Fellows, and was held in high esteem by everyone. A number of people were here from Danville to attend the funeral which was one of the largest here in many years. Mr. Keller was in his 76th year. He is survived by a wife, who was Miss Nannie Mullins, to whom he was married 51 years ago, and by three children, Mrs. Sam McDowell, of Danville, Mr. George Keller, Jr., of Orlando, Florida, and Mr. Henry Keller of this city.

Sarah J. Thomas Died at 75

Sarah J. Thomas, 1824-1899.  Spring Hill Cemetery, Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky.

The Harrodsburg Herald, Mercer County, Kentucky

Wednesday, July 12, 1899

Mrs. Sarah E. Thomas, aged 75, a highly respected citizen and life-long resident of this place, died, Wednesday morning, July 5th, at four o’clock, at her late home on Factory Street. She had been a sufferer from a complication of diseases for a long time, but bore her sufferings with the true christian fortitude that had marked her long and useful life, and passed peacefully from time into eternity. She was the descendant of an illustrious pioneer family, her grand-parents, who came from Pennsylvania and Maryland, and were relatives of the McAfees, having settled at the Old Fort, here, more than a hundred years ago, while her father and mother were native-born Kentuckians. When a child, she united with the Methodist church and was a faithful and consistent member for 60 years. Over 50 years ago she was united in marriage to Mr. John H. Thomas, of Anderson County, who was also of pioneer descent, and who died about four years ago. Six children, four sons and two daughters, blessed this happy union, all of whom are living, save Robert, who died about ten years ago: Mrs. J. D. Bryant, Miss Margaret Thomas and Mr. John T. Thomas, being residents of this place, while Mr. W. R. Thomas lives in Stockton, Cal., and Mr. James P. Thomas in Hot Springs, Ark. The funeral services were conducted at the residence, Thursday, at 2:30 o’clock p.m., by Dr. W. O. Goodloe, after which a long cortege of sorrowing friends and relatives followed the remains to their last resting place in Spring Hill Cemetery.

Main Street in Harrodsburg – 1904 and 113 Years Later!

Let me introduce you to my town!  Harrodsburg, located in Mercer County, was laid out June 16, 1774, by Captain James Harrod and his band of men.  It was first called Harrodstown, then Oldtown, and finally Harrodsburg.  In the very early years there were Indian attacks, and many settlers were killed.  But the rich and fertile land of the Bluegrass area was too profitable to give up.  As more and more families moved to Mercer County, and the Indians gave way to Ohio and Indiana, life became more peaceful.

In the 130 years since the site was laid out, and this picture was taken, there is no comparison to the log fort and this photo from 1904.  Fort Harrod, and the cabins within, fell into disuse and decay.  This is a photo of a bustling little town!  Power lines dominate the picture, large buildings, churches, horse and buggies, men and women on the streets – with no worry of Indian attacks!  Progress was here.

And if we go an additional 113 years forward to today, we see a modern, small town, but with a few signs from the first photo.  The brick building on the right side of the street, in the middle of the photo, is still standing.  For many years it was used as the home for the County Clerk’s Office.  Directly across the street is the courthouse, which cannot be seen in either photo.  A new courthouse was built a few years ago, and the county offices were moved to a building on Lexington Avenue.

The yellow house is still there, with a bit of renovation.  In the original photo the Christian Church stands beside it.  The church, which has been rebuilt, is hidden by the tree, but can be see in the above photograph.

I wanted to show you a close up of the old photo.  You will have to imagine that the first two buildings on the right (the church and store front) are now the large Christian Church from the modern photo.  The brick building begins with what was the County Clerk’s Office.

Past the building that housed the clerk’s office is The Kentucky Fudge Company – one of our favorite places to eat!  Studio G is next, with local music and talent.  Several other businesses are located down the street.  The building at the end – blue, with a turret – is the office of Dr. Tammy Hoskins, my optometrist.  You can see this building in the original photo!

Power lines are now underground, giving a nice, neat Main Street appearance.  I love small towns – and I especially love living in one!  Come visit – I’ll show you the replica of Fort Harrod, with the huge Osage orange tree in front, that has been the center of many school photos.  We’ll visit The Kentucky Fudge Company for lunch.  The Harrodsburg Historical Society on Chiles Street is a must for genealogy research.  There are many old cemeteries to visit.  And Shaker Village is just a few miles away – they serve a lovely dinner.


Mercer County Births – 1852-1859

Mercer County Births 1852-1859

  • Absolom H. Leonard, born October 20, 1852, son of John and Jane Deshazer Leonard, Dixville.
  • Catherine J. Leonard, born April 23, 1856, daughter of Jackson and Elizabeth Patterson Leonard, Mt. Pleasant.
  • Mary Jane Leonard, born July 11, 1856, daughter of James H. and Mary Patterson Leonard, Deep Creek.
  • Nancy J. Leonard, born October 5, 1853, daughter of John and Lucinda Sally Leonard, Dixville.
  • Rachel E. Leonard, born April 23, 1856, daughter of Erasmus and Lucinda Gammons Leonard, Graves Mill.
  • Sarah Leonard, born December 1856, daughter of John and Lucinda Sally Leonard, Deep Creek Meeting House.
  • Stephen D. Leonard, born June 15, 1857, son of William and Rhoda Lester Leonard, Dixville.
  • Turner T. Leonard, born September 7, 1858, son of Jackson and Elizabeth Patterson Leonard, Dixville.
  • Frances Lester, born February 19, 1858, daughter of Erasmus and Martha A. Powell Lester, Graves Mill.
  • Rachel B. Lester, born June 4, 1858, daughter of Erasmus and Elizabeth May Lester, Dixville.
  • ? Lester, born December 1852, daughter of Joseph and Martha Brazelton Lester, Harrodsburg.
  • Thomas Levitt, born December 10, 1854, son of John and Ann Kennedy Levitt, Curdsville.
  • Almetta Lewis, born September 1857, daughter of William and Nancy Bailey Lewis, Dixville.
  • Eliza A. Lewis, born October 7, 1857, daughter of Elijah R. and Martha A. Brown Lewis, Dixville.
  • Elizabeth Lewis, born November 15, 1859, daughter of William and Nancy Baily Lewis, Patterson’s Mill.
  • Elizabeth Lewis, born August 9, 1853, daughter of Elijah and Martha Brown Lewis, Duncansville.
  • John Huston Lewis, born April 2, 1852, son of William and Nancy Bailey Lewis, Dixville.
  • Jordan W. Lewis, born September 9, 1853, son of William and Nancy Bailey Lewis, Dixville.
  • Mahala J. Lewis, born October 2, 1855, daughter of William and Nancy Bailey Lewis, Graves’ Mill.
  • ? Lewis, born March 21, 1856, son of Samuel and Nancy Galligher Lewis, B. R. Mill.