Saturday, February 28, 2015

How Are We Related?

My brother, Tom, asked me to remind him how we are related to Thomas Probert. My brother, Dan, asked me what was it about Thomas that made me want to write about him? In addition, he wanted to know how I decide which ancestor to write about. Good questions -- especially for extended family who may be reading this blog -- and I appreciate all of you.

To answer Tom's question, Thomas Probert is our paternal gg-grandfather. Here is a chart that shows this relationship. If you recall, Thomas was married twice. We are descended through Mary Elizabeth Diamond who died, as did her baby, shortly after the birth of her first son. The cause of death is listed as "consumption," or what we now know as tuberculosis.

After being found not guilty in the killing of Jacob Spears, Thomas married a second time to "Kate" Richardson. The new family moved to Mt. Sterling and started a new life. This past month, I focused on Thomas' and Kate's life in Mt. Sterling, Montgomery Co., Kentucky. Our cousin, Barbara Kaiser Pharo, is a direct descendant of Kate. This second chart would apply to her.

To answer Dan's question, I am always trying to discover information about our ancestors. Some are easier to research than others. For example, Thomas left quite a paper trail as the result of working in a government position. He was also featured in numerous newspaper articles as a result of the killing of Jacob Spears. Ancestors who served in the military are also great subjects because they, or their widows, often filed for a pension. You can order copies of their pensions from the National Archives. These records often provide great documentation as the widow, for instance, had to prove their marriage and the births of all of their children. These can be a gold mine.

So I go where the evidence leads me. Although I have written about our Wainright ancestors in the past, I submitted an application to become a Daughter of the American Revolution, I really had to tighten up some of the information I had to make the case that Vincent Wainwright, Minute Man from New Jersey, was a direct ancestor. My application was approved. The Wainright/Wainwright line is going to be the focus of my next writings because I found so additional information on their lives in Cincinnati along the Ohio River.

I appreciate all of you who read these posts. You, my readers, really do keep me motivated to continue. Thanks for following along.

February 2015

Friday, February 27, 2015

One More Sign of the Times

In researching the life and times of Thomas Probert and family, I often uncovered little surprises in the dusty boxes stored at the Kentucky Archives. They gave me valuable clues about the conditions within the town of Mt. Sterling in the 1870s. Here is one of my favorite discoveries.

Cynthia Jones and Jane Martin were indicted in December 1875 for "keeping a bawdy house." The indictment lists the specific charges:

The said Cynthia Jones and Jane Martin did . . . unlawfully keep a bawdy house by permitting divers persons, both men and women, to assemble in and about their house for the purpose of cohabiting together and having sexual intercourse and did knowingly permit said persons to have carnal sexual intercourse with each other in and about their house, they, the said Cynthia Jones and Jane Martin being at the time occupiers and controllers of the said house and in possession of the same.

But then for the really fun stuff. It seems as if the witnesses and accusers were all men. Hmmm...

Witnesses: Wm. Yocom, Thos. Howard, Joseph Anderson, Labe Wood, Will Lee, Peter Hall, Will Wood, Taylor Hal, John Thomas, Bob Jameson and John Garnett. It sounds like they were beneficiaries of the services provided, so I can't help but wonder what their motivation would be for wanting to witness against these women.

With this story I end, for now, my trip back in time to Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky -- a town I've grown to love.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thomas Cannot Be Put in a Box

I could have told you a lot more. I could have told you about how Thomas purchased four mules that he got from Mrs. Smith, that he uses in his team, plus two cows and two mares; or about the time Thomas was a witness in the defense of James Harvie who had been assaulted as he left a "lager beer house." Perhaps I could have discussed the taxes Thomas had to pay on his possessions, including property and a gold watch.

But I am afraid I would bore you with the details. I am in the possession of a LOT more documentation about Thomas and his very public life. Suffice it to say that our ancestor was multi-dimensional. He cannot be "put in a box" and easily defined.

Perhaps this is why I am so fascinated with Thomas. He is a product of his upbringing, his times and the cultural influences of living in Kentucky during the Civil War. He was an entrepreneur and did whatever he could to support his family. He was a member of the Odd Fellows and a political force who served as a jailer during very difficult times. He lived in a time when half of the population of his town was enslaved and later freed. His town was overrun alternately by Union and Confederate troops. And most significantly, only four of his nine children survived to adulthood -- all girls.

The story of Thomas has not yet been completed -- but I hope you, like me, have a better understanding of this man I am proud to call my ancestor.

Submitted by Kathleen Jones Hellmann Reed
February, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Thomas Probert - Gone But Not Forgotten

Seven years after Thomas' death, this story appeared in the Mt. Sterling Sentinel:

I love that Thomas and Judge Elliott thought to put a bottle of whiskey in a wall of the new court house as it was being rebuilt in 1870.

Of course, I had to find out a little more about the whisky produced by Howard Barnes & Co. The Mt. Sterling Sentinel published this article in their April 22, 1869 edition.

Sounds like they picked a good brand.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Happened to Kate? (The Final Chapter)

I wish that I could tell you that Kate had the opportunity to enjoy her retirement, kick her feet up, and enjoy a glass of wine. (Oh, wait -- that's me!) Instead she continued to experience loss. From  the 1900 Census, we know that Maggie Story, one of her step-grandchildren, was 26-years old, single, and also living with her.  Maggie died in Kate's home at the age of 28 after a lengthy illness. Pictured is Maggie Story's obituary. Apparently, she suffered from a "protracted illness." I don't even want to count up the number of children and grandchildren Kate lost in her life.

But Kate's death was on the horizon. Her obituary provides us with a LOT of information.

Transcription: Probert -- Kate Probert, relic of Thomas Probert, deceased, departed this life on Sunday night the 10th instant, at 11 0’clock, aged 65 years. Funeral service was conducted at her home on Sycamore Street on Tuesday afternoon at 2 o’clock by her pastor. J. R. Hobbs of the Baptist church, and her remains were buried in Machpelah cemetery. Mrs. Probert had been a member of the Baptist church for many years and of the Mt. Sterling Baptist church since its organization in 1870, and as a Christian and church working woman, she was consistent in living and faithful in the discharge of religious duties. As a neighbor, friend, mother, step-mother and grand-mother, she was absolutely free from prejudice and favoritism and her endeavor was to be kind and just to all. She had been sick for more than eight years and such Christian fortitude in pain and sorrow has never been surpassed. The home will be lonely without  her, but the evidence she left of trustfulness and the Christian life will be sufficient to impress the living that she is in that home provided for her through Christ and where she abides others may attain through repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Mrs. Probert leaves two daughters, Mrs. C.C. Coleman of Cincinnati, and Mrs. Maud Casey, of this city, and three grandchildren, Katie Mae and Ida Gorman and Georgia Casey. Mrs. Probert’s husband was an Odd Fellow and she gave evidence of their watchfulness and care for a brothers’ widow.

Mt. Sterling Advocate
March 23, 1905
Obituary for Catherine Richardson Probert

We know from the obituary that Kate had been ill for eight years previous to her death and that the illness must have resulted in quite a bit of pain. She was long-time member of the Baptist church and a charter member of the Mt. Sterling Baptist church. She is described as a "church working woman" who obviously was engaged in her church.

Kate was the mother of six biological children. Only two lived to be adults. Her two daughters were widowed young, and she took on the care of multiple grandchildren and one step-grandchild. Thomas was lucky to find such a life partner. And may I add that she is the gg-grandmother of my cousin, Barbara Kaiser Pharo. What a legacy Kate left.

Photo Credit: First Baptist Church
West Main Street
Courtesy of Lee Hoffman

Monday, February 23, 2015

What Happened to Kate? - Part 3

I do not know how Kate was able to support herself and her children after Thomas' death -- at least initially. Three years after she purchased her home on North Maysville, she is listed in the 1880 Census as "keeping house." Unfortunately, we do not have the benefit of an 1890 Census, so we have to rely on other documents.

In 1893 after living in the Maysville home for 16 years, Kate sold her home in 1893.What's interesting about this sale is that the owners include Kate, but also her adult daughters Mary Lou and Maude, and Maude's husband James Casey.

The sale included the following:
It is understood between Mrs. Kate Probert, Mrs Mary Lou Gorman and Mrs. Maud Casey and her husband James Casey that the said three thousand dollars is to be paid to T. F. Rogers to be invested by him under the direction of Mrs. Kate Probert in real estate, bank stock, bonds, or building . . ." It is designated that these assets, including interest, is for her use during her natural life, then to be divided equally among her two daughters.

By the 1900 Census, Kate and her extended family were living on Sycamore Street. In addition to Kate, her household included:

  • Mary Lou Gorman, daughter, age 34, widowed, mother of four children with two living. She is listed as a "trained nurse."
  • Katie Gorman, granddaughter, age 18, at school
  • Ida Gorman, granddaughter, age 11, at school
  • Maud Casey, daughter, age 28, widowed, mother of two children with one living, dressmaker.
  • Maud Casey, granddaughter, age 3
  • Maggie Story, granddaughter, age 26, seamstress

It is surprising that both daughters are widowed at ages 34 and 26 respectively. The other surprise is that Maggie Story is the daughter of Addie, Kate's stepdaughter. And as we shall see in the next post, Kate is ill.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What Happened to Kate? - Part 2

This we know for certain. Shortly after Thomas' death in October, 1876, Kate purchased a home located at this address on North Maysville, next door to the property of George Everett. We also know that the house underwent extensive remodeling and additions were added. What we don't know is whether or not parts of this beautiful structure were part of what she purchased.

Apparently, the Odd Fellows played some role in helping her get on her feet after Thomas died. One of the key members of the Odd Fellows, D.B. Garrison, provided assistance in one way or another for Kate to purchase this home. The total purchase price for this home in February, 1877, was $2700, The house was purchased within three months of Thomas' death.

Three years later, Kate and her daughters Mary Lou and "Maudia" were listed in the 1880 Census. Kate was listed as "keeping house" and the two girls were "at school."

I do know from other records, that Kate must have tried to bring in some income, because the Records of the Montgomery County Circuit Court include several instances where Kate had to sue to recover payment for services rendered.

These four lawsuits sought the recovery of $56.65 in 1877 dollars. It seems incredible that Kate would have to go to court to seek payment, but in looking at other records, this seemed to be common practice. It doesn't say what work she had completed for these clients.

Eventually, her girls would both marry, and this would become the "family home." Kate would live in this home for 16 years.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What Happened to Kate? Part 1

Thomas Probert died of cirrhosis of the liver on October 9, 1876. His widow, Kate, was only 39 years old. I have no knowledge of when Thomas recognized that he was ill and what impact this knowledge may have had on his wife and two young children still at home. However, there are a couple of records that give me a clue.

Nine months before Thomas' death, Kate and Thomas sold their billiard table and its fixtures for $150. Did they need the cash or recognize that there would no longer be any need for these items? Note that in 1876, women did not typically conduct their own business, and Thomas acted as Kate's agent for the sale. It was the end of an era.

Thomas was not able to submit his final request for reimbursement for prisoners kept in his jail. I was able to uncover an invoice submitted in Kate's name at the Kentucky archives. Based on this invoice, it seems as if Thomas only kept prisoners through July, 1876.

The invoice was submitted for reimbursement on December 23, 1876. Kate is noted in the document as the "Administratrix of T.H. Probert, deceased." So how would she support herself and his children now? There are some clues in the paperwork.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Tribute to Thomas

Following Thomas' death, the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) published a tribute to Thomas, their well-loved brother.

The part that is most touching to me is the statement that "he was a devoted friend, a kind and affectionate father, and loving Husband, and in all these relations he will long be remembered by those who know him best."

As much as I know about Thomas, I long to know more. For instance,

  • Since he died of cirrhosis of the liver, was he an alcoholic? How did drinking impact his life or the lives of those around him?
  • He was growing award-winning potatoes a year before his death. How long before his death were his physical abilities impacted?
  • How did he feel about his son-in-law, John Cronin, husband of his daughter, Lucy?
  • Did his younger children have positive relationships with his grandchildren who were close in age?
  • What gave him his greatest joy -- wife, children, grandchildren, friendships?
My siblings and I frequently comment that we'd love to have one more day with our Dad who died too soon at the age of 57. Although I spend a considerable about of time trying to uncover the everyday lives of my ancestors, I count Thomas among the many with whom I'd love to spend a day. Which one of your ancestors would you most like the chance to spend one more day with?