Category Archives: Kentucky

Martin Miller & Catherine Whitmer, Muhlenberg County, KY

Last week, I posted a transcription of the will of Martin Miller, who lived in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. I just realized that I have never shared the family information for this couple, who have hundreds if not thousands of descendants.

Martin Miller was the son of Jacob Miller and probably his wife Sarah (MNU), who lived first in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, where Martin was born on 6 July 1785, and then soon after migrated to Botetourt County, Virginia, where Sarah died sometimes after 1800.

In Virginia, the family of John and Catherine (MNU) Whitmer, who had migrated from Frederick County, Maryland, lived near by. Both families were of German background.

On 13 June 1807, Martin apparently married a young lady named Polly Cressoe, daughter of Mathias Cressoe, so she was underage when she married. However, either a betrothal happened but no marriage or else Polly died very soon because on 8 January 1808, Martin Miller married Catherine Whitmer, daughter of John and Catherine from Maryland.

Martin’s father, Jacob, and his father-in-law, John, and he himself were all farmers. Land was getting expensive in Botetourt County and about 1812, the Millers and the Whitmers decided to migrate west. However, Martin’s father, step-mother and most of his siblings and half siblings all settled in Franklin County, Tennessee. Martin, for whatever reason, decided to travel with his extended family of in-laws to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.

Martin must have like Kentucky, as he spent the rest of his life there, living in the German community with many friends and relatives. He died on 5 May 1863 and is buried at Old Shiloh Cemetery. His wife, Catherine, was born in Frederick County, Maryland on 10 September 1783 and predeceased her husband by 15 months, passing away on 21 February 1862. She is buried next to her husband at Old Shiloh Cemetery.


Old Shiloh Cemetery
Source: My own collection

Martin and Catherine had a large family of eight children:

  1. John, born 18 May 1810, probably Botetourt County, Virginia; died after 1880, probably Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; married Celia Stewart, c1838. She was born c1821, Kentucky; died after 1880, probably Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
  2. Jacob, born 2 November 1811, probably Botetourt County, Virginia; died after 1870, probably Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; married Lucinda Kittinger, 25 November 1833, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. She was born c1812, Virginia; died after 1870, probably Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
  3. Sarah, born 27 February 1813, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died June 1881, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; unmarried.
  4. Michael, born 20 February 1815, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died 24 October 1880, Hopkins County, Texas; married Elizabeth Hendricks, c1837, probably Simpson County, Kentucky. She was born 3 March 1818, probably Warren County, Kentucky; died 21 October 1875, Hopkins County, Texas.
  5. Rebecca, born 23 March 1816, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died 25 January 1896, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; married John Phillips, 21 September 1859, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. He was born 19 February 1808, Virginia; died 30 January 1870, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
  6. David, born 10 November 1820, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died 8 April 1864, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; married Martha Jane Hendricks, c1841, probably Simpson County, Kentucky. She was born 9 December 1821, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died 21 August 1886, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky
  7. Catherine, born 26 September 1822, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died c1848, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; married Lewis Stewart, c1847. He was born c1825, Kentucky; died 25 August 1894, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
  8. Martin, born 24 April 1827, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died 23 January 1866, Hopkins County, Texas; married Bethany Kittinger, 24 October 1843, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. She was born c1824, Virginia; died 25 February 1915, probably Bell County or Milam County, Texas.

My husband’s line of descent is:

  1. Martin Miller
  2. Michael Miller
  3. Louisa Miller
  4. Minnie Mae Williams
  5. Pearl Lillian Brasher
  6. Edward Earl Stufflebean
  7. David Lee Stufflebean

Many of Martin’s and Catherine’s descendants still live in western Kentucky.  Please leave a comment if you are a cousin. 🙂

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #11: Early Kentucky Death Records

I have to admit I began my family history research with a bit of a spoiled view because my mother’s family was from New England, home to many fabulous genealogical collections.

On the other hand, my husband’s family were mostly Southerners who lived on the frontier or in places where records weren’t kept or else they managed to find places where records were kept, but they all burned. Finding vital records in the 1800s can be next to impossible.

However, there are a few exceptions. One of them is the collection of Kentucky death records kept from 1852-1856 and then from 1858 to 1859 in Cumberland County. Cumberland, by the way, is not unique in holding these records.

It was actually Kentucky law at the time to begin recording deaths and affiliated information generated by someone’s passing.

I lucked out with Joseph Riddle, who was courteous enough to pass away in late 1856 rather than waiting until 1857, as the death records for that year are missing.

The information contained in these registers equals many New England records. Additionally, black deaths, both slave and free, were also recorded. When a slave passed away, his or her owner’s name was recorded in place of parents’ names.

If you are new to Kentucky research, check to see what vital records are extant for your own counties of interest.

Here is a sample of the Cumberland County register covering September 1856:


Line 12 – Joseph Riddle

The left side of the deaths register lists Joseph’s name, his color, his age (77 years), sex, occupation (farmer), condition (married or single), date of death (4 September 1856) and cause of death, which in this case I am unable to read.

The right hand side of the register has additional data:


Line 12 – Joseph Riddle

Next, the names of parents, or slave owner in the case of blacks who were not free, place of birth, residence and place of death are all noted.

This is the only confirmation that William and Happy (Wm. and Hopy) Riddle were Joseph’s parents. The Riddles were known to be living in Montgomery County, Virginia during the Revolutionary War. This entry could be either Smyth or Wythe County, both being misspelled, but I think with the lack of the letter M, that it is probably Wythe County.

Take one more look at the pages in this register. There are two blacks whose deaths are reported. Let’s look at Tyler, the two year old listed two lines above Joseph Riddle. Also, note the death of little Mary Walthall, 5 months old, right above Joseph.


Deaths of Mary Walthall and Tyler, an enslaved toddler

Now, look at page 2:


Parents and Owner

William H. Walthall was the owner of little Tyler, while William H. and Nancy Walthall were the parents of little Mary, both of whom died of scarlet fever on the same day, 28 April 1856.

If my family had ties to the Walthalls or I suspected that William had owned some of my enslaved family, the 1850 and 1860 censuses are available to search as well as property records.

This collection is on Ancestry, but it also has been microfilmed and is at the Family History Library, which is where I accessed it. Actually, Ancestry’s images are cleaner and Joseph’s cause of death – dysentery – can be read, as can Wythe County, VA, his place of birth. The lesson here is to not assume that vital records don’t exist and to check in more than one place to see if one record is more legible than the other!

Ephraim Holland and His Siblings, Scott County, KY

I feel like I am walking around in a vat of honey with it sticking all over the soles of my shoes. The honey represents all the clues to be found about the Holland family and the vat represents all the circles I feel I’ve walked in!

I am ready to review the next set of facts clues about the Holland family. Anthony Holland named his children in his 20 March 1799 will and left them bequests. Yesterday, I noted the marriage of one Francis Holland to Rhoda Rhodes in Bourbon County in 1797. Is Francis in Anthony’s will? Nope, but he is also not found in any other record in Kentucky. The only Francis Holland in the 1800 census is back in Anne Arundel County and he is accounted for. Could this Francis have died soon? Definitely, as Bourbon County was frontier land in the 1790’s. It is also just as possible that he left no children, thus there would be no reason for Anthony to mention him in his will.

The children that were named were, in order that they are mentioned, Ephraim Holland, Ruth Plummer, George W. Holland, Anna Holland, Margaret Penn (wife of Shadrach Penn), Elizabeth Mosby, Henry Holland and William Holland.

There is a lot I don’t know about Ephraim’s siblings. His sister Ruth married Mr. Plummer before 1799. Anthony’s will doesn’t indicate that his children lived elsewhere. George, Joseph and William Plummer are on the 1800 Scott County tax list.

William is still living in 1850, but was a widower living with his son Philemon’s family. At age 82, he was born about 1768, which would be the right age to marry Ruth, who was probably born in the early 1770’s.

I have absolutely no information about George W. Holland. Perhaps a search of Scott County land deeds will shine some light on the matter. George received 110 acres of land, part of the tract his father bought from Moses Bledsoe, plus a slave named Tom, one cow and calf and a bed and some furniture.

Anna Holland is another mystery. I know nothing about her either. She received 50 acres of land from the same Bledsoe tract, a slave named Sall and a feather bed and some furniture.

Margaret Holland married Revolutionary War soldier Shadrach Penn, who was born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, probably about 1788. The old soldier died in 1831, but Margaret applied for a widow’s pension in the 1840’s, which was denied. Joseph Penn, enumerated in Bourbon County in 1840 had a female aged 70-79 years old in the household, but he was aged 30-39. This is probably Margaret living with her son’s family as she is said to have died about 1843.

Elizabeth Holland married Mr. Mosby. There is a John Mosby on the 1800 tax list of Scott County. He is the only Mosby, so this may be Elizabeth’s husband. Elizabeth had already received gifts from her father, perhaps when she married, so she was given 5 pounds sterling, but nothing else.

Henry Holland received a slave named Ben and nothing more. I have no further information about him. There is a Henry Holland in Washington County, Kentucky in 1810, but he is over 45 so too old to be this Henry.

William Holland received the remainder of the Bledsoe tract of land after deducting the portions given to Ruth, George and Anna.

Are you ready for the next twist in this story?

Quagmire Alert #4Supposedly Anthony’s son William died in Harrison County, Kentucky by May 1814. I can’t verify that, but it is a fact that there was an Anthony Holland living in Harrison County in 1820 and that he was over 45 years old. A marriage bond for him is found in Harrison County dated 10 April 1816 to Elizabeth Hogg, apparently a widow who first married a McCall. Both were living for the 1850 and 1860 census. Elizabeth’s probate wasn’t until June 1880 and the Hollands had moved to Smith County, Tennessee. Elizabeth was born about 1793 in Kentucky. Anthony was born about 1783/1784 in – yep, you guessed it – Maryland! Harrison County was formed in 1793 from Bourbon and Scott Counties. Where does this Anthony fit in the big picture? Who knows?

Tomorrow will be a short break of sorts as I will be releasing the slaves of Anthony Holland of Scott County, Kentucky.