Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Hard-Knock Life

Four months ago I was stuck with a brick wall in my tree, unable to identify the parents of my 2nd-great-grandmother Mary Alice Cain and her brother Harl. A major development was the addition of the US Social Security Applications and Claims Index by Ancestry in July, which revealed the name of my 3rd-great-grandmother to be Jane Flatt (later confirmed by census and marriage records to be Nancy Jane Flatt). Since July I have learned quite a lot about Nancy Jane's family, their lives in Jackson and Overton County, Tennessee and eventual move to Metcalfe County, Kentucky.
Library of Congress, "Sophy and the baby in the tenement." 1910.
In the 1870 US Census, 15-year old Nancy Jane was living in the household of John W. Rose, a neighbor of a farm where her father was working as a sharecropper. Three years later, Nancy Jane's father, Pleasant Flatt, died a pauper in the Metcalfe County poor house. She was left as an 18-year old, without parents, and responsibility to help care for four surviving sisters. It appears Nancy Jane was avoiding service of process in 1874 and 1875. I have not yet checked the Barren County order books to see if she appears in the records there. Clearly she had to grow up fast, without much of a stable childhood.

Nancy Jane Flatt reappears in the Metcalfe County Court order book in January 1878, when she was found to be a pauper, and ordered to stay in the Metcalfe County poor house. She would have been about 23 years old, and probably 8 months pregnant with my 2nd-great-grandmother Mary Alice Cain. I am assuming she was not married. It is tough reading she was "in a destitute condition without any means of support and unable to labor for same." But perhaps being ordered to the poor house saved the life of Mary Alice.
Source: Ancestry, image 527 of 656. Metcalfe County, KY Order Books.
Mary Alice was born on 3 February 1878. Other documents list her place of birth as Glasgow, Barren County. I think it is very possible she was born in the Metcalfe County Poor House.

On 15 April 1878, the Court found that Nancy Jane and Mary Sally were able to labor and were dismissed from the Poor House. I don't know who Mary Sally was, but perhaps Nancy Jane only needed a safe place to deliver her daughter, and by April maybe she had another place to go and work.
Source: Ancestry, image 542 of 656. Metcalfe County, KY Order Books.
In November 1878, the superintendent of the Poor House submitted his expenses to the court for approval. Nancy Jane Flatt was listed as having been cared for in the poor house for 13 weeks, 5 days. None of the other Flatt sisters appear in the county records at this time, so they must have either been living with their step-mother Nancy D. Flatt or found other homes to live in.
Source: Ancestry, image 570 of 656. Metcalfe County, KY Order Books.

A year later, on 16 June 1879, Nancy Jane's son Harl Cain was born. It does not appear that she returned to the poor house in Metcalfe County in 1879, so the documentation about his birth in Glasgow, Barren County might be correct. She would have been 24, with two small children to care for. I still have very little clues on the potential identity of the father. Both of her children went by the last name Cain.

In the term ending November 1879, a doctor named A. B. Marcum was provided $32 in expenses for attending to paupers at the poor house. The name Flatt is on this line. It isn't clear if this was for Nancy Jane.
Source: Ancestry, image 616 of 656. Metcalfe County, KY Order Books.
Some of Nancy Jane's sisters married their way out of their situation. Martha E. Flatt and Benjamin Jeffries appear together in the 1880 US Census in LaFayette, Metcalfe County with a nine-month old daughter Mary F. Jeffries. Youngest sister Mary F. Flatt married Henry Tobe Piper on 15 March 1883 in Metcalfe County. Cansada Flatt married Peter Floyd Tackett on 14 March 1888 in Metcalfe County.

While I still do not know the whereabouts of Nancy Jane and her children in 1879-1883, this new information on her experiences in the Metcalfe County poor house sheds additional light on what must have been a very tough childhood and early adulthood.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Pauper in the Poor House

This month I have received a number of documents that have helped fill in the gaps into the life of my 3rd-great-grandmother Nancy Jane Flatt, her siblings, and her father, Pleasant Flatt. I owe a huge amount of thanks to the researchers at the Kentucky State Archives, and to fellow researcher Linda who has helped uncover this family's story in so many ways. The latest finds come from the Kentucky Wills and Probate Records database on Ancestry, which contains a scanned copy of Metcalfe County Order Books 1-4. The documents show that Nancy Jane's family was dirt poor, so poor they were declared paupers by the Metcalfe County Court in 1873.

Pleasant Flatt appeared on the delinquent list for Metcalfe County in 1871, owing $300.
Source: Ancestry, image 229 of 656. Metcalfe County, KY Order Books.
On the delinquent non-resident land list for the following year (published by the court in January 1873), Pleasant and Sampson Flatt appear.
Source: Ancestry, image 275 of 656. Metcalfe County, KY Order Books.
By May 1873, the Metcalfe County Court declared Pleasant Flatt to be a pauper and ordered the poor house to take charge of him.
Source: Ancestry, image 291 of 656. Metcalfe County, KY Order Books.
Pleasant was still alive at least through 6 October 1873, as the court provided costs for a doctor to attend to Pleasant in the poor house.
Source: Ancestry, image 307 of 656. Metcalfe County, KY Order Books.

On 22 December 1873, the Court provided $24 to William Cummins to make coffins for Pleasant Flatt and Lucy Emily Ellen Flatt, paupers of Metcalfe County. I think this was Margaret Ellen Flatt. She would have been 16 years old. The other Flatt siblings survived, and appear in later records. Pleasant was around 53 years old.
Source: Ancestry, image 315 of 656. Metcalfe County, KY Order Books.
William and Sampson Flatt appear on the list of delinquent taxpayers in 1874 in Metcalfe County. I don't know if this William is Pleasant's son from his first marriage to Lucinda McCormick, or a related Flatt cousin. William B. Flatt was living in neighboring Adair County by 1872, so think these two are from a related line, but I do not know yet how they are connected.

The death of her father would have put 18-year old Nancy Jane Flatt into the role of looking out for her younger sisters: 15-year old Susanna, 13-year old Martha, 11-year old Cansada and 8-year old Mary. Her step-mother Nancy D. Flatt had her own young children to care for at this time: Verlotta, Joanna, Sarah, James and Mary. As I posted earlier in the week, Nancy D. Flatt was fighting her own legal battles at this time to retain land. She may not have been able to care for the Flatt children along with her own.

There are more pages to go through in the Metcalfe County Order Books, but I have already found a few more entries for Nancy Jane. These will be featured in the next post.

Additional item in the Metcalfe County court orders: In October 1875, J. B. Russell brought a claim seeking reimbursement for housing Pleasant Flatt and two of his daughters in 1873. The court rejected this claim.
Source: Ancestry, image 434 of 656. Metcalfe County, KY Order Book.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Greetings

Source: NYPL Digital Collection. Postcard, 1909.
Sending out Thanksgiving greetings to family, friends, and readers far and wide. We're spending the holiday at home this year, with a great dinner planned for my parents and sister. I am running in the 40th Alexandria Turkey Trot in the morning, hoping to set a new post-40 personal best in the 5 mile run.

For those who are traveling, have a safe trip and enjoy a great weekend!

Wordless Wednesday - 1885

Photo by Peter Henry Emerson, 1885. J. Paul Getty Museum.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Petition in Equity

Another package of Metcalfe County court records arrived in the mail yesterday from the Kentucky State Archives. The package contained three equity cases, two brought by Nancy D. Flatt, widow of Pleasant Flatt, and a case brought by my 3rd-great-grandmother Nancy Jane Flatt. The cases were filed against two lawyers, James A. Rousseau and Owens Miller. Nancy D. Flatt's case included Benjamin Myers, Sheriff of Metcalfe County, as a party. The third case was brought by Nancy D. Flatt against George Price, the lawyer in the Flatt v Masters case.
Source: KY State Archives. Metcalfe County Court records.

Upon reviewing the documents, it looks like Nancy D. Flatt filed a petition in equity on 28 January 1884 against Rousseau, Miller and Myers to overturn a judgment that was issued against her on 8 December 1883. Rousseau and Miller won a judgment for $1000 against Nancy, and received an execution order instructing Myers, Sheriff of Metcalfe County, to seize her property and put it up for sale. Nancy filed the petition with the court, stating the land (80 acres in Metcalfe County) was a homestead and was of less value than $1000. She claimed by law the land was exempt from levy or sale. She also said Rousseau and Miller knew this but proceeded to have Myers and his deputy advertise the land for sale in January 1884. Nancy said if the court did not grant the injunction to halt the sale, she would suffer irreparable injury. The petition was filed by her attorney, George Price.

The Court granted Nancy's injunction against Rousseau and Miller. The case was continued to at least the May 1884 term. The file doesn't show how the case was resolved, but it does appear that Nancy was able to hold onto her land.

The second case in the file involved Nancy Jane Flatt, who was last seen in Metcalfe County Court papers on the run from service of process in 1874-1875. Her equity petition was also brought against Rousseau and Miller. It looks like the Court ruled in favor of the two attorneys and discharged the action on 10 May 1885. By this time, Nancy would have been married to Pleasant Morgan, living in neighboring Barren County, Kentucky. It is curious that Nancy's petition was made in her maiden name. Unfortunately this doesn't provide a lead on the identity of my 3rd-great-grandfather, but it does show that Nancy Jane was still in the Metcalfe-Barren County vicinity between 1874-1885.

The final case in the file was brought by Nancy D. Flatt against her lawyer, George Price. It looks like her land was seized again in 1891, as she sought to overturn a forced sale that was made by Sheriff R. G. Gallaway on 27 April 1891. I can't tell when the case was originally filed, but Price filed an answer in November 1891. The case went to trial in May 1892. The Court ruled that Nancy D. Flatt was entitled to relief. The forced sale was overturned, and Nancy recovered her legal costs from Price.

According to the Kentucky State Archives, there are three other Metcalfe County Court cases involving Nancy D. Flatt which are currently missing (or out of order) from the case box. One is Commonwealth v Nancy Flatt, I am hopeful that case will be found in the Archives as it sounds like it might have more explanation on why Rousseau and Miller were executing a judgment against Nancy's land.

Some additional information for those who may stumble on this entry wanting to know more about the other parties in these cases.

James Alexander Rousseau was born on 19 January 1827. He was a veteran of the Mexican War and a prominent lawyer in Metcalfe County. He has a

Owens Miller was born on 7 January 1844 in Adair County, Kentucky. In the 1870 Census, he appears as a 26 year old lawyer and resident in the household of County Court Judge Samuel Shannon.

George R. Price was born around 1837-1838 and was another prominent lawyer in Edmonton, Metcalfe County, Kentucky. He is easily found in the 1870 and 1880 Censuses in Metcalfe County.

Nancy Dowell Hubbard Flatt died on 13 August 1899 in Metcalfe County, Kentucky. It looks like she assigned her land to her daughter Joanna Hubbard King. There are a few land deeds in the Metcalfe County land record index for Nancy D. Flatt. I have ordered these just to confirm, but I do not think the land is associated with Pleasant Flatt. I think this may have been land inherited from her father, Harrison Dowell, which could be one reason why she fought so hard through the courts to retain the property.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Celebrating the joining of two families together

This past weekend we celebrated the marriage of Allison's brother Brian and his lovely bride Lauren in Lexington, South Carolina. It was a great time and we enjoyed catching up with family and meeting new friends.
Photo by Patrick Jones.
Allison & I before the ceremony. Photo by D. Havens.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Travel Tuesday - Street art in New Orleans

Last month, my wife and sister visited New Orleans with their college roommates for a girls' weekend. While there, they were able to see some of the locations of significance for our family connections to the city, including Frenchmen Street and the historic French Market. They know I like street art, this is a selection of paintings and murals they saw while in the city.
Photo by A. Jones, Street art in New Orleans.
Photo by A. Jones, Doorway in New Orleans
Photo by A. Jones, New Orleans, Oct 2015.

Photo by A. Jones. New Orleans, Oct 2015.
Photo by A. Jones. New Orleans, Oct 2015.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cross-examination and counterclaims

Continuing with the deposition of Pleasant Flatt in February 1873, after the questions from Flatt's attorney, Masters' lawyer countered. "You state in answer to one of the questions on direct examination that the defendant refused to permit you to get water from the barrel at his home. Now is it not a fact that his refusal was occasioned on account of the obscene language used by your children when he came for water and their indecent conduct while there?"

Flatt answered "I do not know anything about the language used by the children."

In 1872, Masters would have been about 34. From this undated photo via Ancestry, he was likely an intimidating figure as owner of the land where the Flatt family worked. There is not more information on what might have caused Masters to claim the girls were using "obscene language" but I can guess some of it may have been instigated by comments from Masters toward the young girls.
Porter F. Masters, undated photo via

Next question: "Is it not a fact that you went to the field when the corn was raised with a sack on several occasions and gathered corn and apples to your own use without the knowledge and consent of Masters?"

Flatt responded "Masters' cow destroyed three rows of corn near my house and I gathered them and no more."

Question: "Is it not a fact that the reason you did not cultivate the tobacco you speak of was that the plants failed and on that account you and the defendant agreed to cultivate the ground in corn that you had intended to put in tobacco?

Answer: "That was not the reason that we did not sow tobacco we could have got plants to set the crop and it was may wish to do so."

Question: "Was the ground you intended to cultivate in tobacco planted in corn and cultivated by you and Masters?"

Answer: "It was."

Question: "Did you assist in the cultivation of the corn during the crop season?"

Answer: "I did from the time we commenced until we got through."

Question: "What are your feelings toward Masters. Are they kind?"

Answer: "I cannot feel towards Masters as I would like to, but I have forgiven him and hope the Lord has."

This brought the deposition to a close.

The next paper in the file shows that Porter Masters intended to take depositions on 26 March 1873 as evidence on his behalf. He served notice on Flatt. Sometime after March 1873 and before December 1873, Pleasant Flatt died. He would have been about 52 or 53 years old. The case file includes a note from the court for an "order of revivor" filed in February 1874 for the case to continue to be prosecuted by the public administrator of Metcalfe County.
KY State Archives. Flatt v Masters.
Masters filed a counterclaim, saying Flatt's assertions were untrue and Flatt was indebted to Masters for $33.80 in pork, 10 cords of wood worth $15. It looks like Masters pursued Flatt's children to depose them (and others associated with them) for evidence in the case. It does not appear that Masters went after Flatt's widow, Nancy D. Hubbard Flatt.

From Friday's post, Nancy Jane, Margaret Ellen, Martha Flatt and associates John Flatt, Dock Simmons, Marion Stephens, Joseph Russell and Sampson Washington Flatt were sought by the sheriff of Mercalfe County in November 1874. Service was executed on then 14 year old Martha Flatt on 5 December 1874. The others were not found.

The next documents in the file show the arrest warrants for 15-year old Martha Flatt and Dock Simmons, dated 4 June 1875 for contempt of court. Dock Simmons signed the acknowledgment of service on 5 June 1875 (he would have been about 26-27 years old based on census records). The sheriff was not able to find Martha Flatt on 7 June 1875.

It looks like Masters even tried to summons Nancy Jane's half-brother William Flatt, who was living in neighboring Adair County at the time.

The papers in the case may have been out of order. The next set in the file covers the answer of Porter Masters. He agreed that he had entered into a contract with Flatt to cultivate a crop together. Masters argued Flatt refused to assist in gathering the corn and in cultivating the crops. "At the busiest season Plaintiff wholly abandoned the crop and this Defendant did all the work which was necessary in its cultivation and harvest."

Masters asserted Flatt did not perform "a single hours work" with the wheat and also denied the claims that the land cleared by Flatt would have produced tobacco worth $200. He denied the other claims made by Flatt about their contract. Masters said he furnished water during the crop season. He also said "the conduct of Plaintiff's children was very obscene when they came to get water."

Masters asked for a judgment against Flatt in the sum of $48.80 and other proper relief.

It is not clear from the case file how the action was resolved.

There are three other cases in the State Archives involving Flatt's widow Nancy D. Flatt, including one against George Price, the lawyer in the case against Porter Masters. I need to order these copies to see if there are other references to Nancy Jane and her siblings.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Beginning of the End for Pleasant

In February 1870, my 4th-great-grandfather Pleasant Flatt was beginning a new life with 3rd wife Nancy Dowell Hubbard in Metcalfe County, Kentucky. Pleasant had moved his family north from Overton County, Tennessee to East Fork, Metcalfe County, combining the Flatt family with five children from Nancy's first marriage to James W. Hubbard. Three weeks after their marriage, on 23 February 1870, the couple signed a promisory note with wealthy farmer Frederick J. Miller for $138.37. It is not clear what the loan was made for.

Pleasant and Nancy did not pay the debt, and by April 1870, Miller took Pleasant and Nancy to court. The files collected at the Kentucky State Archives by fellow researcher Linda include a copy of the summons to the Sheriff of Metcalfe County commanding Pleasant and Nancy D. Flatt to appear before the Court on the first day of the June term, 1870. The summons was executed on 20 May 1870. I do not know how the case was resolved, but it does appear that Pleasant was not well off. The case foreshadows another more substantial case in the State Archives filed by Pleasant Flatt against Porter Masters on 27 June 1872.

Flatt sued Masters, stating in June 1872, Masters "unlawfully assaulted beat, bruised and broke Plaintiff's jaw bone with rocks, sticks buckets and staves." Flatt sought $1000 in damages.

The case file includes a deposition from John G. Flint, taken 26 March 1873. He was 22 years old and had worked on Masters' farm in 1872. Flint stated that Flatt and Masters were partners, and during 1872 he overheard the two men agree to a contract around the 1st of May 1872. In the contract, the men agreed to cultivate corn on land that they had originally expected to cultivate tobacco. Flint stated that Masters had separately agreed with him to take Masters' place in the partnership with Flatt, and Flatt objected to this. Flint wanted Masters' land for tobacco, Flatt wanted the land for corn.

KY State Archives, Flatt v Masters.

Flatt claimed that Porter Masters entered into a contract in 1872 to cultivate a crop together. Masters would provide the land and all the necessary implements, Flatt would provide the labor. The agreement was to cultivate 25 acres of corn, and Flatt would receive one fourth of the corn as compensation. Flatt said they agreed to cultivate "by their joint labor about seven acres in tobacco, 3 acres of which was cleared at the time of the making of the contract and of which Plaintiff was to receive one fourth of all the tobacco grown." Flatt also stated they agreed to clear the remaining four acres in tobacco, and Flatt was to receive one third of all the tobacco grown. Flatt would also take care of the wheat growing on Masters' farm and receive one fourth of the all the wheat grown. Masters was to furnish good pasture for his milk cow during the year and haul water necessary for Flatt and his family.

Flatt wrote that he did cultivate the 25 acres of corn, which made 7 barrels of corn per acre (175 barrels, 43 and 3/4 barrels of corn belonged to Flatt under the contract). When Flatt delivered the corn, he said Masters refused to let him have anything, "driving him from the field with threats and curses." Flatt said the corn was reasonably worth $150 per barrel or $66.62. Flatt claimed to raise 35 bushels of wheat, and Masters refused to allow him his share.

Flatt stated after they had cleared the 4 acres of land for tobacco "with great labor," Masters refused to plant the 4 acres with tobacco. Flatt argued that if the tobacco had been grown on the 7 total acres as contracted, it would have been worth $200. Masters did not provide the pasture for the cow or water, which meant Flatt had to "carry water for about one mile for the use of himself and family." Flatt's complaint was filed by Edmonson, Kentucky lawyer George Price.

Flatt's deposition was taken on 6 February 1873 at the home of Marion Stephenson in Metcalfe County. He claimed to be in very bad health. In 1872, he and his family lived on the land of Porter Masters (they originally moved there in December 1871). Flatt said that he worked from the 10th of February 1872 until the 1st of May clearing the land on Masters' farm. "As the weather was so bad, I could not work I will say 45 days in all." They also had to carry water from a cave "about one fourth of a mile from my house."

The next part of the deposition references his children. His attorney Price asked Flatt if he lost any time in the crop season. Flatt responded that he lost 8 days around the first of June, "but I had my children at work to make up the time which they did and on the eleventh day of June, Masters beat me so I lost two weeks but I had six of my daughters in the crop most all the time to make up my lost time."

Among Flatt's six daughters working in the field in June 1872 were my 3rd-great-grandmother Nancy Jane (age 17) and her sisters Margaret Ellen (age 15), Susanna (age 14), Martha (age 12), Cansada (age 10) and Mary (age 7). I can only imagine the conditions they worked in during the spring and summer months.
Cornfield at Sunset by John William Inchbold (1860) via Google

The next post will cover the cross-examination of Pleasant and counterclaims by Porter Masters.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thinking of Paris

Photo by Patrick Jones. 21 Sep 2011.

On the run from the law

Earlier in the month I was looking for traces of information on my 3rd-great-grandmother, Nancy Jane Flatt, hoping to find her and her young children in the 1880 US Census living in or near Metcalfe County, Kentucky. While I have not yet found this information, I did receive a surprise package in the mail yesterday which provides a closing chapter to the story on Nancy Jane's father, Pleasant Flatt.

Pleasant appears to have been involved in a nasty court case with a Metcalfe County land owner named Porter Masters beginning around 1871-1872. Nancy Jane, and several of her siblings (along with others who I have yet to uncover their connection to the Flatt family), were sought by the Metcalfe County Court for depositions in the case.
Pleasant Flatt v Porter Masters case file, KY State Archives

It appears Nancy and several of her sisters were evading service of process in May 1874. She would have been about 19 or 20 years old then. The Sheriff was not able to find Nancy Jane, but was able to serve her sister Martha, who was 14.
Source: KY State Archives.
By June 1875, the Court issued an arrest warrant for Martha Flatt and Dock Simmons. Nancy Jane's name is struck out, perhaps because she could not be found in the County.
Source: KY State Archives.

Huge thanks go to fellow researcher Linda, who visited the Kentucky State Archives and sent me a copy of this information. I will have a more thorough description of this case over the weekend, there's quite a bit to go through.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day 2015

A photo and a brief note of thanks, to those veterans in my family for their service to this country, and to those who served with them. I posted the photo below back in April 2012, but it is a great one so I'm posting it again. The photo shows my grandfather Leo Morris Reid, with fellow Air Force pilots during training in Merced, California between August and October 1944.
Leo Reid (2nd from left, leaning on the wing)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mappy Monday - East Tennessee, 1862

This is Civil War-era field map of East Tennessee was auctioned in 2009 (via Case Antiques Auctions & Appraisals). The map was likely made around 1862, and shows the area where the primary action took place in the John Thornhill case.
1862 field map of East Tennessee, via Case Antiques
The area of Jefferson County appears in the bottom left, between the Holston and French Broad Rivers.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Surprise...FOIA records from the VA

Over a year ago I submitted a FOIA request to the VA for a copy of the pension file for Harl Cain, who served in the First Battery, US Field Artillery from 1901-1904. In October 2014, I wrote about the exchange with the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, and my inquiry to the VA Regional Office in Baltimore. I had not received a response from this inquiry, and honestly I had given up on receiving anything further from the VA. Yesterday a box arrived via UPS from the VA Baltimore Office, containing an inch-thick file of records on the pension file of Harl Cain. This was quite a surprise.

Harl was the brother of my 2nd-great-grandmother Mary Alice Cain Read, and was born on 16 June 1879 in Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky. Like his Uncle Robert Foster Flatt did during the Civil War, Harl took the first opportunity to join the Army in 1901 during the Spanish American War. He enlisted on 31 August 1901 at Louisville, Kentucky and was shipped off to Camp Atascadero, California. His company never left California, and Harl decided to stay there too. He was discharged on 30 August 1904, and less than two months later married Anna Elizabeth Schnebele Brautlacht in Siskiyou County, California.

When Harl enlisted in the Army at the age of 22, he provided his sister Mary Alice as the emergency contact, at her address in Glasgow, Kentucky. For physical features, he had blue eyes, dark brown hair, a dark complexion and was nearly 5' 8".

Just to show that records relying on the memory can be misleading, in a 1930 claim for a pension increase, Harl wrote that he married Anna on 16 September 1904. This is an error, according to the marriage certificate from Siskiyou County (which I have), they were married on 16 October 1904. He was also off by a month on the birth dates for his children.

In a 1934 correspondence with the VA Claims Department of California, Harl provided a statement that after leaving Louisville, his unit was stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco.

Curiously, the file includes correspondence from Anna Elizabeth Cain dated 12 June 1939 asking the Pension Office if Harl was drawing a pension for his wife. She says that she "had not lived with him for 14 years and certainly deserves some of it if he is as they are not divorced." Anna was living with her son John Alvin Cain in Mowich, Oregon. She died on 4 July 1947 in Modoc, California, still going by her married name Cain.

Harl later married Leeta V. Gordon in Washoe County, Nevada (this is not listed in the pension file).

The most interesting document in the file related to my present search for information on the father of Harl and Mary Alice Cain, was a clinical record dated 4 March 1953. The record describes Harl's patient history. At the time, he was 74 years old. His past history was recorded as follows: "Occupation: Laborer. Military History: 1901-1904. Denies any illnesses or wounds suffered while in the service. Childhood illnesses: Mumps, measles before the age of 15. Denies any scarlet fever, diphtheria, whooping cough, chicken pox, rheumatic fever, typhoid fever, pneumonia...Habits: Two cigars per day, denies any drinking for the past 35 years. Family History: Father died age 30 accident, mother died age 30 of childbirth. History of his family as known: Married 1904, spouse died 1925. Two children, one died of wounds suffered during WWII, daughter age 43 living and well. Married 1951 present spouse in good health. Inventory by systems essentially negative save for the present illness."

This description contains some errors. Harl's mother, Nancy Jane Flatt, died in 1894, and was either 39 or 40, not 30. His first wife, Anna, had died in 1947, not 1925 (although perhaps they separated in 1925). Harl's son John died in 1951 in San Francisco and is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery.

I think it is likely that Harl's father died about age 30. Nancy Jane remarried in October 1884 to Pleasant Morgan, so if he died between 1880-1884 then he would have been born around 1850-1854. This would have made him fairly close in age to Nancy Jane, who was born about 1855. I still do not have a first name for the mysterious Mr. Cain.

I am glad the pension file finally arrived, the few bits of additional information are useful and provide more clues into the early family life of Harl and Mary Alice Cain in Barren County, Kentucky.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Doing the inventory

Following Wednesday's post on putting the story of "The Notorious Captain Thornhill" into written form, here is an inventory of previous blog posts that have touched on this story or related participants. I am also including a list of reference material which will be used in framing the story.

- Young John at the Convention (6 Aug 2015)
- Neighbors and Family (29 Jul 2015)
- Another connection in the Civil War pension file of Thomas Thornhill (5 Jul 2015)
- Another in the web of family (1 Jul 2015)
- In support of his kin (29 Jun 2015)
- Another look at the Thornhill and Gass family (27 May 2015)
- Tennessee Supreme Court decision in Rankin v State (31 Dec 2013)
- Supreme Court Case File of Rankin v State (30 Dec 2013)
- Timeline in the case of Captain John Thornhill (3 Nov 2013)
- Testimony on behalf of John Thornhill (31 Oct 2013)
- More on the case against Colonel Parsons (19 Oct 2013)
- Indictment of Colonel Parsons (16 Oct 2013)
- Those Places Thursday - A Corner of Hamblen County (27 Dec 2012)
- A Mother's Pension Application (19 Dec 2012)
- From the Desk of the President, 1866 (21 Nov 2012)
- Pension File of Joseph Jones, Pt 3 (18 Nov 2012)
- Civil War Pension File of Joseph Jones, Pt 2 (16 Nov 2012)
- Military Monday - Civil War Pension of Joseph Jones, Pt 1 (12 Nov 2012)
- Military Monday - The Confederate Pension of Martin V Jones (18 Jun 2012)
- Jones Family in the Civil War, Part 2 (27 Mar 2012)
- Jones Family in the Civil War, Part 1 (8 Mar 2012)
- Sympathy Saturday - A Mother's Pension Denied (25 Feb 2012)
- Military Monday - Captain John Thornhill (20 Feb 2012)
- Tombstone Tuesday - Cpl Francis Marion Jones (31 Jan 2012)

Update 29 Jul 2018

- Testimony of Joseph Jones (5 Oct 2017)
-  Looking into the Riggs case (4 Oct 2017)
Another one from the Tennessee State Library & Archives (2 Oct 2017)

Reference Material:

Oliver Perry Temple's East Tennessee and the Civil War (1899)
Diary of Kate Livingston 1859-1868
News articles via Library of Congress Chronicling America
News articles via
Rankin v State of Tennessee, 78 US 380 (1870)
Tennessee Supreme Court case in Rankin v State
Tennessee Supreme Court case in State of Tennessee v Pleasant Riggs
Civil case file in Jefferson County
Court martial of Joseph Parsons & all (military cases)
US Army Adjunct General files on the Thornhill case (1863-1871)
East Tennessee Convention (1861)
Civil War service records via

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Putting the story into written form

A frequent subject on this blog has been the story of the murder of Captain John Thornhill in June 1865 by former fellow soldiers of the 9th Tennessee Cavalry, Union Army at the end of the Civil War. The subsequent court martial and civil case went up to the US Supreme Court and rocked Jefferson County, Tennessee. While researching this notorious case I have been able to find hundreds of pages of Court documents, depositions, newspaper articles, Army files, letters to the President, pension files, and other fascinating bits of history. There is more than enough source material for a book. With National Novel Writing Month underway and posts from fellow bloggers, I have some inspiration to begin tackling this project.
Source: NYPL Digital Collection. 29 March 1862.

I don't plan to finish this project in November. My first step is to complete an inventory of all the source material, blog posts and related documents I have collected on the Thornhill case. I also need to clean up my list of key participants in the case. I have a chunk of time off coming in December so I am aiming for dedicated writing next month, and to do the organizing this month. This is still a side project while I have other primary obligations and writing to do. But it is a fascinating story and I look forward to seeing it turned into book form.

I have recently been reading Simon Goodman's The Orpheus Clock, which describes the true story of the author's family and the battle to recover the family's stolen art collection from the Nazis after World War II. The book has been quite a dramatic read and additional inspiration to bring the story of the Thornhill case into written form. More to come on this in the near future.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Looking for Nancy Jane

This past weekend, I spent part of my research time going page by page through the 1880 US Census, looking for any trace of my 3rd-great-grandmother Nancy Jane Flatt or her children (my 2nd-great-grandmother Mary Alice Cain or her brother Harl). They should be in Metcalfe or neighboring Barren County in 1880, but I can't find them. I looked through every page for both counties and turned up nothing. I may need to expand the search to the surrounding counties, such as Adair, where Nancy Jane's half-brother William was living with his young family. I may need to put this branch on hold for now, and focus my attention on another side of the tree.
"June" by Ellen Day Hale (about 1893)
Nancy Jane would have been 25 in the 1880 Census. Mary Alice would be 3 years old in the census, Harl should be under one year old. I don't know if Nancy Jane had other children before 1877. I do know that Nancy Jane married Pleasant Morgan in Barren County on 1 October 1884 using her maiden name Flatt. She would have been about 29 by then.