Tag Archives: War of 1812

James Madison Colson – War of 1812 Veteran – Bell County

In memory of James Madison Colson, member of the 54th Knox County Regiment in War of 1812.   Born (1770-1775) died (1845-1846).  Amelia Tinsley Colson, born (1774-1800) died (1845-1846).  And their unknown grandson.  Middlesboro Cemetery, Bell County, Kentucky.

I believe James Madison Colson was born in North Carolina.

Moved from their home place on Cannon Creek on July 16, 1973.

In 1812 Knox County comprised most of the areas today in the counties of Harlan, Bell, Whitley and Laurel.

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!

 

 

John M. Jordan – At the Battle of New Orleans

Mt. Hebron Methodist Cemetery is located just over the county line from Mercer to Anderson, on US127.  Ritchey and I visited in May of last year.  One gravestone of interest is that of John M. Jordan.  He has a gravestone put there by his family, and a military one that was added at a later time.  John Jordan was an Ensign in Captain George McAfee’s Company in the War of 1812.  He was in the group of Kentuckians who fought in the Battle of New Orleans.  Gabriel Slaughter, a Mercer Countian, was the Lieutenant-Colonel.  The Quartermaster General did not deliver promised supplies to his regiment, and private funds were used to purchase boats for the trip down the Mississippi River.  Many soldiers had no weapons, and of the few guns in their possession, many of them would not fire.  Despite all obstacles, including being outnumbered, Andrew Jackson’s forces were successful.  Units from Kentucky and Tennessee, including Slaughter’s regiment, bore the brunt of the British attack.  Fortunately, John Jordan was one of those who survived the battle and returned home to his family.

In Mercer County, on March 2, 1820, John Jordan married Marillis Breckinridge, daughter of James Doak Breckinridge and Emily Driskill.  John and Marillis lived in north Mercer County, in the portion that was made into Anderson County in 1827.

From the 1850 Anderson County census we find John Jordan, 60, farmer, $2600, born in Virginia.  Wife Marillis is 47, born in Kentucky.  Children listed are Elizabeth, 24; Emily, 23; James, 21; John, 19; Mary, 16; Philip, 15; William, 13; and Susan, 11.  Two older children were married by 1850 – Garrett and Louisa.

The children’s marriages are as follows:

  • Garrett Jordan married Agnes Weatherford – February 3, 1845. Bond, David Weatherford.
  • James Smithy married Elouisa Jordan – December 8, 1848. Father, John M. Jordan.
  • Jefferson Leathers married Emily Jane Jordan – March 25, 1851. Consent by father, John Jordan.
  • Zachariah Lyen married Elizabeth Jordan – April 22, 1851.
  • John D. Jordan, 22, married Almeda F. Walker, 17 – December 15, 1853.
  • James P. Jordan, 24, married Margaret Beauchamp, 22 – June 14, 1855.
  • William E. Jordan, 21, married Sarah Mothershead, 19 – January 12, 1858.
  • Henry B. Walker, 26, married Susan M. Jordan, 22 – October 1, 1860.
  • Philip H. Jordan married Fannie Carpenter, 24 – June 22, 1867.

Garrett’s marriage bond was from Mercer County, the remaining were from Anderson County.

After his marriage in December of 1853, John D. Jordan lived long enough to have one son.  He died August 11, 1855, in Lawrenceburg – a victim of the cholera epidemic occurring that summer.  From August 7 to the 23rd cholera raged, taking 29 victims.  John Jordan’s wife, Almeda, died on the 20th, nine days after her husband.  Being so young, he left no will.  In order Book F, page 83 of the Anderson County Court records, dated October 8, 1855, I found the following:

‘On the motion of James P. Jordan, letters of administration granted him upon the estate of John D. Jordan, deceased, who took oath and with Armistead Miller and John M. Jordan, his securities, who were approved by the court, executed covenant, according to law, and on his further motion James M. Settles, G. W. Matthews and John F. Mill (any two of whom first sworn may act) he and they are hereby appointed appraisers of said estate, who will report to this court.’

‘Ordered that James P. Jordan be appointed guardian of James A. Jordan, infant child of John D. Jordan, deceased, under 14 years, who took oath and with Armistead Miller and John M. Jordan as his securities, approved by the court, executed covenant according to law.’

John left one son, James A., named for his brother.

In the 1860 census for Anderson County we find James P. Jordan, 31, farmer, with personal estate of $3,635.  His wife, Margaret, is 27.  Their young son, Thomas Jefferson, is 1.  James A., the son of his deceased brother John, is living with them, aged 6, with a personal estate of $4,000 – the inheritance from his father.

Mary A., daughter of John & Marillis Jordan, born February 21, 1833, died December 22, 1856.  Mt. Hebron Methodist Cemetery, Anderson County, Kentucky.

Daughter Mary died in 1856 at the age of 33, of consumption.  She never married.

Marillis, wife of John Jordan, and daughter of James Breckinridge, born February 7, 1802, died April 10, 1857(?).

Marillis died April 10, 185?.  Since her gravestone broke, and has been repaired, it is difficult to read the year.  I checked all available death records for Anderson County, 1853-59, but did not see her listed.  Perhaps she died while visiting?  It is possible the information did not get added to the death records.

The name Amaryllis is occasionally given to girls – perhaps Marillis was a shortened version?  Two of her children, Garret and Elizabeth named children after their mother.  And perhaps daughter Mary A.’s middle name was Amaryllis.

The Civil War brought the family into its midst.  Son James P. Jordan enlisted with the Confederate Army.  He was Captain of Company F, 5th Kentucky Cavalry.  He died June 7, 1863.  In Order Book F, page 423, father John M. Jordan is ‘appointed guardian of James Jordan, infant, under 14 years of age, of James P. Jordan, deceased.’  It further says that ‘Margaret Jordan, widow of same, appearing in court and waving her right to administer.’

John M. Jordan, born April 1789, died October 29, 1868.

John Jordan lived until 1868 before passing away at the age of 79.  His will, found in Will Book B, pages 18-19, in Anderson County, lists nine of his ten children, or their descendants.  Daughter Mary, is the only one not listed since she left no descendants.

Will Book B, 1868.  Pages 18-19

I, John M. Jordan, of Anderson County, Kentucky, being of sound mind and memory

And being desirous to arrange my worldly matters, do hereby publish this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all others.  It is my wish that after my death, my funeral expenses, together with all my just debts, be first paid.  I wish my land to be sold to the highest bidder on a credit of one and two years, in equal payments, and the proceeds thereof, together with all my means left after the payment of my debts, be equally divided among my children and grand-children in in the following proportions.

To the wife and children of my son Garrett, one-ninth.

To my daughter Louisa Smithy, one-ninth and the note I hold on her husband James Smithy is to constitute a part of her ninth.

To my daughter Elizabeth Lyen, one-ninth.

To my daughter Emily Leathers, one-ninth.

To my daughter Susan Walker, one-ninth.

To my two grandsons, the sons of James P. Jordan, one-ninth.

To my son, Philip H. Jordan, one-ninth.

To my grandson, the son of John Jordan, one-ninth.

To the wife and children of my son William, one-ninth, to be managed by my son William as their trustee.

I hereby appoint my son-in-law, Jefferson Leathers, guardian of my grandsons, the sons of James P. Jordan.  I also appoint my son-in-law, Henry Walker, guardian of my grandson, the son of John Jordan.  I hereby appoint my sons Philip H. and William Jordan my Executors, to execute this will, and empower them to convey my lands by deed with general warranty to the purchasers thereof.  Upon the payment of the purchase money, or if they shall think proper they may convey the same provisions to the payment of the purchase money by reserving a lien upon the same for the purchase money.  In witness whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name this 8th day of May 1867.

John M. Jordan

Witness, W. E. Bell, Johnathan Loll

State of Kentucky – I, James M. Posey, Clerk of the Anderson County Court, certify that at a Fall Term of said Court, held on Monday, December 7th, 1868, the foregoing writing purporting to be the last will and testament of John M. Jordan, deceased, was produced in Court and proved by the oath of W. E. Bell, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto, who also proved the signature and attestation of Jonathan Loll, the other subscribing witness and ordered to be recorded, which is accordingly done.  Given under my hand this 17th day of December 1868.

Margaret Jordan, widow of James P., married W. G. Driskill, January 21, 1869, at W. E. Jordan’s (her brother-in-law).  In the 1870 census they are both listed as 32.  Phillip, age 9, lives with them, under the name Driskill.  Since the couple had been married just over a year, this was the younger son of Margaret’s first husband, James P. – named for his father, James Phillip Jordan.  Elizabeth, 8/12, listed is the daughter of William and Margaret.  James A. Jordan, son of John and Almeda is living with his uncle, Phillip Jordan and wife, Fannie, in 1870, in Mercer County, along with Thomas Jefferson Jordan, oldest son of James P. and Margaret, who was born May 15, 1859.

I found no additional information on deaths of the family in later records.

Matthew Harris Jouett’s Portrait of Governor Isaac Shelby

One section of the Hall of Governors at the Kentucky History Center.  Governor Isaac Shelby is at the top, far left.

Last week Ritchey and I visited the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort.  This was not so much a research trip as a photography session!  In a previous blog I wrote about Matthew Harris Jouett – the Mercer County native that became a famous portrait painter shortly after fighting in the War of 1812.  Isaac Shelby, the first governor of Kentucky, was one of his subjects, and the portrait painted in 1820 hangs in the Hall of Governors of the history center.

Governor Isaac Shelby, 1750-1826

This is Governor Isaac Shelby’s portrait, by Jouett.  Since it hangs in the upper section it was rather difficult to get a good shot, without having glare from the lights.  I think it a very good portrait by someone with very little formal training (Matthew Jouett studied with Gilbert Stuart for one year in Boston).  The tie and cravat, with its multitude of ruffles, are interesting, but it is the face of Governor Shelby that captures our attention.  He looks a very no-nonsense man – which I’m sure he was.  There was no time for nonsense in those very early days of Kentucky, creating our state and keeping his citizens safe from Indian raids.  This was after fighting the Indians earlier in Virginia and the Revolutionary War!

Isaac Shelby was governor from 1792-1796.  He served a second term in 1812-1816, during the War of 1812.  It was believed that no one else could lead us through to victory.  Shelby actually led troops during the war, and was not always in the state.  He gave battle beside William Henry Harrison, Commander of the American Northwest Army, and Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.

Shelby was known as the old Indian fighter.  He lived near Danville at his home called ‘Traveler’s Rest.’  He was escorted from Danville to Lexington, for his inauguration, by a detachment of Lexington horse troops – to his lodging at the Sheaf of Wheat Inn.  This was before Frankfort became the state capital.

In his autobiography Shelby wrote only one line about his terms as governor, since he felt his military career was more important.  But governorship and wars were not what Isaac Shelby truly wanted to do.  He wanted to be a farmer and raise good cattle, living in the spot where he had pitched a tent at the age of twenty-five, in the wilderness of Kentucky!

The Life of Lucy Neville Blakemore Bragg

I’ve never been as interested in the life of a woman before meeting Lucy Neville Blakemore Bragg – metaphorically speaking.  We met at her gravestone in Vanceburg, Lewis County, Kentucky, two years ago.  Lucy died 156 years ago – but what a life she lived.  And the most important dates and information are on her stone for all to know a part of her story.

Lucy was the daughter of Thomas Blakemore and Ann Gibbs Neville, born in Frederick County, Virginia, April 8, 1764.  She married Thomas Bragg – a captain during the Revolutionary War.  They eventually moved their family to Lewis County, Kentucky.  Thomas Bragg died October 14, 1820.  Lucy lived on for another 42 years.

Lucy began life as a British subject, the daughter of Thomas Blakemore and Ann Gibbs Neville, born April 8, 1764, giving allegiance to King George III, and being a loyal subject until the war.  Her father and at least one brother fought during the Revolution, as well as her future husband, Captain Thomas Bragg, whom she married September 20, 1781.

Thomas and Lucy Bragg were in Lewis County before 1810, when they appeared in the census of that year.  This is twenty-seven years after the war, Lucy was 46 years of age.  In 1819 Thomas Bragg petitioned the court to open a tavern at his home in Vanceburg, and after his death in 1820, Lucy continued to keep the tavern.

In the 1850 census Lucy is head of her household, aged 86 years.  With her lives her son-in-law, Alexander Bruce, who married her daughter Amanda (who is deceased by this time).  Also in the household are two grandsons, children of Alexander and Amanda – Thomas J., 28, a boatman, and his new wife, Mary, 20; and Henry C., 26, also a boatman, and his new wife, Mary, 20.  Vanceburg sits right on the river and I’m sure many in the town and county worked on the water.  In the 1860 census Lucy is 96, Mary Bragg, 18, living with her – probably a great-granddaughter.

And she was living life to the very end.  In February of 1862, nine months before her death, she changed her will in favor of her grandson, Henry C. Bruce, in stead of grandson Horatio W. Bruce.  At first I thought there must have been a tiff in the family, but read that Horatio W. Bruce moved to Louisville, and perhaps Lucy decided Henry, living in the county, would keep the land and slaves in the family.  Just a guess.

Going from a British subject to a citizen of the United States, Lucy Blakemore Bragg lived through sixteen presidents!  From our first president, George Washington, down the line to Abraham Lincoln.  What an amount of history this woman experienced!  She lived through four major wars – Revolutionary War, 1775-1783; War of 1812, 1812-1815; Mexican War, 1846-1848; and the first two years of the Civil War. 

Think of the amount of changes and events that came about in her lifetime – a new country that was given ‘certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ – Lewis and Clark explored the Louisiana Purchase – the steamboat was invented – the city of Washington was burned by British troops in 1814 – James Monroe proclaimed his doctrine of manifest destiny – the California gold rush – the slavery issue is debated – the country grew from the original 13 states to 34 – the South secedes from the Union and the Civil War begins.  And that’s just to name a few.

Lucy outlived her husband, Thomas Bragg, by 42 years.  She outlived all but two of her children and they died within three years – John in 1863 and Harriet in 1865. 

How I would love to sit and talk with this woman!  What interesting things she could tell us about the infant days of our country and the way it changed in the ensuing 80 years!

Lewis County, Kentucky Will Book F, Pages 270-271

In the name of God, amen.

I Lucy Bragg, of Lewis County, State of Kentucky, knowing the uncertainty of life, the certainty of death, being frail in body though sound in mind, do make the following disposition of a part of my property.  I give to my grandson, Henry C. Bruce, of Blackrock Bottom, my Negro woman Minerva, her three children, or more if she has more children, and all their increase.  Also I give to my said grandson Henry C. Bruce a piece of land adjoining the town of Vanceburg and bounded on the north by the town of Vanceburg, on the east

by the state road, on the south by the lands belonging to the heirs of my late husband at my death, and on the west by the land of W. C. Halbert; said parcel of land namely bequeathed to Henry C. Bruce is the same land heretofore claimed by my grandson H. W. Bruce, and I ever give and bequeath said land and slaves or other to said H. W. Bruce in any former will I may have made heretofore I hereby revoke said will as far as it gives any property of any kind to said H. W. Bruce and all gifts or bequests heretofore made by me to said H. W. Bruce are hereby changed and said property of every kind thus given or bequeathed to said H. W. Bruce is hereby given to my grandson Henry C. Bruce, hereby revoking all former wills and testaments so far as may conflict with this.

In testimony hereby I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 14th day of February A.D. 1862.

Lucy Bragg

Signed, sealed, declared, published and delivered in presence of the undersigned who witnessed this in the presence and at the request of Mrs. Lucy Bragg:  W. C. Harnett, R. F. Waring

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.  Vanceburg Cemetery, Lewis County, Kentucky.

 

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!

Remember the Raisin!!

This marvelous tale of Larkin Nicholls Akers during the War of 1812 is discussed in Otto Rothert’s 1913 book, A History of Muhlenberg County.  I have an original copy, which was dedicated ‘To the memory of the Pioneers of Muhlenberg, who by their resolute deeds and heroic lives made possible the achievements of a later day, this History of Our Own Times and of theirs is dedicated.’  This book was given by Bettie J. Earns, to her mother, Effie Earns McNary, on January 1, 1914.  When looking at county history books it is always best to find the early ones.  The people that wrote these early books – 1870’s through 1930’s – generally knew the people they were writing about, or knew them through their parents or an older generation.

Today I want to share information with you about Larkin N. Akers.  He is listed as a hero of the War of 1812, and is buried in Old Liberty Cemetery in Muhlenberg County.  His gravestone has been painted to represent the flag of our country, the one he served so well.  I have not seen anything similar.

Larkin Nichols Akers, born 1794, Shelby County, Kentucky, died 1865, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.  War of 1812 – Private.  Old Liberty Cemetery, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.

From the book –

A century has passed since the War of 1812 began.  It is said that for many years after this war accounts of daring deeds performed by Muhlenberg men were told by the soldiers who participated in some of the battles.  With the exception of a few, all of these old stories, although handed down for a generation or two, are now forgotten.  Most of the men who saw service in the second war with England passed away before the close of the Civil War.  George Penrod, who died January 22, 1892, at the age of about one hundred, was the last of the Muhlenberg veterans of 1812.

Practically all that is now told in local traditions of this war forms part of the story of the life of eight well-known local men:  Larkin N. Akers, who ran the gantlet after the battle of the River Raisin; Charles Fox Wing and Mosely Collins Drake, who took part in the battle of the Thames; Ephraim M. Brank, Alney McLean, Isaac Davis, Joseph C. Reynolds, and Michael Severs, who took part in the battle of New Orleans.

Larkin Nicholls Akers came to Greenville about twenty-five years after his miraculous escape at River Raisin.  He was a private in a company organized in Central Kentucky, where he lived at the time he enlisted.  The famous massacre of River Raisin took place in Michigan on January 23, 1813, and was one of the most cruel and bloody acts recorded in all our history.  The American forces, mainly Kentuckians, after fighting a fierce battle against a superior number of British soldiers and their Indian allies, surrendered under promise of protection from the Indians.  But the British made no attempt to carry out their promise.  On the contrary, they encouraged the bloodthirsty Indians by offering them pay for all the scalps they would bring in.  The unprotected and defenseless American prisoners, who were crowded into a few cold houses and pens, were soon in the hands of the merciless savages.  Some of them were killed outright or cruelly burned to death; a number were scalped alive.  Many were tortured in various ways, some by being compelled to run the gantlet.  In the confusion not many made their escape.  But of those few who ran the gantlet and came out alive, Larkin N. Akers was one.

Akers often told the sad story of his River Raisin experience to his family and friends while sitting around the fireside or while working in his tailor shop in Greenville.  The treatment he received during that massacre was almost beyond human endurance.  His body was virtually covered with scars.  Up to the time of his death, which occurred in July 1865, he frequently suffered intense pain from a fractured skull and other wounds inflicted by the Indians.

This surgeon’s affidavit was made in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on February 23, 1828.  It says that Larkin N. Akers was a Private in the Company of Captain Thomas Lewis in the 13th Regiment of the United States Infantry, and is rendered incapable of performing the duty of a Soldier.  It continues that on May 5, 1813, ‘being engaged in a fight with the British and Indians, at or near a place called the Rapids of Miami, in the district or territory of Michigan, he received four wounds in his head, seemingly with a tomahawk.’  He was considered three-fourths disabled from obtaining his subsistence by manual labor.

Larkin N. Akers married Sally Harrison, who was related to General William Henry Harrison.  Mr. and Mrs. L. N. Akers were the parents of five children:  Anna Akers, who married John A. Stembridge; Jane Akers, who married William Lindsey; Matilda Akers, who after the death of her first husband, David Donevan, married Joseph Randall, both of whom lived in Hopkinsville; Thomas Akers, who married Lera Boswell, of Princeton; Sarah Catherine Akers, who married Charles W. Lovell, of Muhlenberg.