Saturday, February 24, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 8

This week’s writing prompt, Heirloom, is one that I am really excited about. In my husband’s family is a dresser that has been passed from generation to generation. It is known to have been in the family since at least 1891. That is a lot of history!

It was first owned by Johann August Determan and his wife, Mary (Luchtel) Determan, my husband’s great-grandparents. Johann was born 11 September 1867 in Clinton County, Iowa to Bernhard Clemens Determan and Marie Anna (Sander) Determan. Bernhard and Marie Anna had emigrated to the United States from Germany, arriving in New Orleans on 7 January 1845. Six members of the Determan clan were aboard the Ship Leontine, which had departed from Bremen, Germany. These families farmed in Clinton County, Iowa.

Mary Luchtel was born 17 June 1873 in Dyersville, Iowa to Herman Bernard Luchtel and Sophia (Grote) Luchtel, both of whom were born in the United States. Mary and Johann married in Breda, Iowa on 27 January 1891 when Mary was just 17 years old. Johann was 23 at the time. The couple went on to have 10 children. In the 1900 census, taken in April of that year, the family was living in Kniest Township, Carroll County, Iowa. By then they had been married 9 years and had 6 children: Caroline, Mary, Frank, Laura, Elizabeth and Edward (who died in September of 1900). They were living on a farm that they owned. Four additional children, Clement, Theresa (my husband’s grandmother), Martha and Joseph, were born in Iowa between 1901 and 1907.

In 1908, when Theresa was 5, the family decided to homestead in the Butte area of Nebraska. They traveled by train with their possessions, including the above-referenced dresser along with some farm machinery and animals. They completed the distance of about 300 miles in one day. But Johann died on 18 March 1910 in Butte at the age of 42, leaving Mary alone with their children. She continued to work the farm with her sons and hired help until 1918, and then she moved back to Iowa. The 5 oldest children married in Butte, and they remained in Nebraska with son Frank working the farm. Mary left with the 4 youngest ones, bringing the dresser and her other possessions back to Iowa.

In the meantime, Johann’s sister Maria Elizabeth died in Breda, Iowa in 1913. She had been married to Bernard Clemens Schulte, and they had 12 children. Sometime between 1918 and the beginning of 1920, Bernard married Mary (Lutchel) Determan. They were together by the 1920 Iowa census, along with 3 of Bernard’s children and 4 of Mary’s children.

Mary Determan Schulte
and Theresa Wolterman
When Mary died in 1955, the dresser went to her daughter Theresa (Determan) Wolterman, and from her to Theresa’s daughter Jeanette (Wolterman) Krebs. Jeanette was the mother of twins and only had one chest of drawers. Jeanette then passed the chest to her daughter Kay (Krebs) Bailey as she had two boys and could use it for them.

In 2011 Kay offered to bring the chest from Illinois to a family reunion as she no longer had a need for it. Interested family members put their names in a hat, with the understanding that the lucky winner had a vehicle large enough to take it home with them. We were fortunate to end up with the dresser, and we in turn gave it to my father-in-law as he had expressed an interest in it but was unable to attend the reunion.

Determan dresser
He refinished the piece, repairing some parts that had been damaged over the years, and gave the dresser back to us to be given to our son and his wife in Springfield, Virginia. The dresser has seen a lot of miles, and no doubt would have a lot of stories to tell. It is great to have a tangible item that connects 5 generations over more than 127 years!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 7

Skipping weeks 5 and 6 due to the Family History Writing Challenge, today I turn my attention back to the 52 Ancestors challenge. The writing prompt for this week was Valentine, appropriately. I don’t have any old Valentine’s Day cards in my possession, nor do I know off the top of my head about any births or marriages which took place on February 14th. But I do have four men in my family tree named Valentin, and one who was named Valentinus.

Valentin is the Spanish form of Valentino, from the Latin name Valentinus. The Latin name comes from an old Roman family name originating as a nickname from the adjective valens, meaning the healthy, the strong. Valentinus is the original form of Valentine. It is no surprise that the person most associated with this name is St. Valentine.

As an aside, in 2016 Valentin was ranked 65th out of the top 100 most popular names for boys in Switzerland. For purposes of this post, I am going to focus on three of the Swiss Valentin males as they are all in the same family line.

Switzerland Cantons

Valentin and Claudia
Valentin Kübler, my 3rd cousin 3 times removed, was born on 17 May 1899 in Büsserach, Canton Solothurn, Switzerland. On 26 July 1924 he married Claudia Josefina Schonbachler in Einsiedeln, Canton Schwyz, Switzerland. The distance between those two towns is 141.6 km, and Einsiedeln is where Claudia was born. The distance makes you wonder how the two met.

Valentin and Claudia resided in Büsserach, and that is where they had their six children. Two boys and three girls were born before their youngest son, Valentin Anton, arrived in 1944. He is my 4th cousin 2 times removed. Valentin died in Breitenbach, a town located near Büsserach, in 1979. Claudia died in Büsserach in 1996.

Büsserach, Switzerland 
Although Valentin Anton died in 2001, many of his family members are still living so I will be somewhat vague in their details. Valentin Anton and his wife had two boys and one girl, but did not name either of their sons Valentin. One of their sons, my 5th cousin once removed, named his youngest son Valentin, which makes young Valentin my 6th cousin.

Naming patterns in families are always interesting. Wouldn't it be great to have a name that is synonymous with the Saint of Love?


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 14

At this point I have exhausted every avenue that I can think of, and that has been suggested to me, in attempting to find out who were the parents of Thompson Hightower. I will continue to watch for DNA matches that might point me to another person researching this family, as well as check online resources as information in constantly added.

But I feel that my next step is to hire a genealogist who specializes in Kenton County/Campbell County genealogy to see if he or she knows of resources that I have missed. Thanks to the postings this month on my blog, I can point the genealogist here so that my efforts won’t be duplicated.

Elizabeth Hightower
Thus I will be ending my writings on the Family History Writing Challenge for this year, and will instead resume my 52 Ancestors posts. But I’ll leave you with this intriguing piece that I found at the Kenton County Public Library. An article dated 22 July 1870 on page 1 of the Cincinnati Daily Gazette discussed the case of the Commonwealth vs. Richard Harris in which Harris had been accused of raping Mrs. Elizabeth Hightower. Thompson Hightower died in 1866. Is this his widow, Elizabeth? There was another Hightower named Rolla living in Kenton County at the same time, and his wife was also named Elizabeth, so it could have been her as well.

It is a noteworthy case in that the acting mayor allowed the “introduction of a negro woman as testimony for the prosecution.” It is believed to be the first instance of the court in Covington allowing a negro to testify in a case that involved a white person. The testimony resulted in the accused going free. It would be interesting to see if any other articles exist on this case.

For now, I am stepping away from the Hightower brick wall I have been banging my head against.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 13

Thompson Hightower
The previous posts have illustrated the extent to which I have tried to find information about the parents of Thompson Hightower. It does not include all the online avenues that I have utilized, nor the trip I took to Richmond, Virginia back in 2014 as that trip involved looking at Hightowers and affiliated family lines from George Hightower, Jr. back. Thompson was born in Kentucky, so until I can ascertain if or how they are related to Thompson, it makes no sense to cover that information here.

As I stated on the beginning of this writing challenge, I am confident of the direct tie between myself and Thompson Hightower. It is getting beyond him that is the problem. My brother and I have taken DNA tests, and I am hopeful that someday a George Hightower, Jr. (or any Hightower, for that matter) descendant will reach out to me as a match. Until then, here is summary of what I know.

Thompson Hightower was born in Campbell County (which became Kenton County in 1840), Kentucky around 1815. He remained in the Covington area until his death from cholera in 1866.

George Hightower was born in Virginia in 1770, but moved to Kentucky with his wife Frances and children, Mary Polly and Austin, by 1800. By the 1830 census he was living in Adams County, Illinois with his wife. He sold his land in Kentucky to his son Austin in March of 1836. What is odd is that the deed indicates that both George and Austin are residents of Campbell County. That could have been an error on the recording clerk’s part. There were no other George Hightowers living in Campbell County at that time, and none that show up on the 1830 census for Campbell County.

Austin then sold the land to a non-family member in October of 1838. By the 1840 census, Austin was also living in Adams County, Illinois with his wife and children. George, Mary Polly and Austin, along with their spouses, all died in Adams County and are buried in the Denson Pioneer Cemetery in Ursa.

If George moved his family in 1830, Thompson would have only been 15 years of age. Would they have left him behind in the Covington area? Or if he went with them and is indeed the one male ages 15 thru 19 on that census record, would he have gone back to Covington on his own as an adult when all of his family remained in Adams County? That doesn’t seem likely to me.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 12

A suggestion given to me by members of the Tri-State Genealogy Connection on Facebook when I asked for assistance regarding my Hightower broken branch was to go to the Campbell County Clerk’s Office in Alexandria, Kentucky. As the Campbell County Historical Society is also located in Alexandria, I decided to visit both places last July.

Campbell County Historical Society
It made sense to me to begin with the historical society as I felt like the volunteers there could give me guidance on what records and documents would be available to me at the clerk’s office. A wonderful woman assisted me at the society, which is housed at the beautiful old courthouse. As the building is no longer functioning in that capacity, it was nice to see that it still serves a useful purpose in the community.

Pouring through old books, family histories and documents I found no references to any Hightowers, or Hopper family members for that matter. I did photograph some information about early Baptist churches in the area in case that information would later be helpful.

Heading over to the Campbell County Clerk’s Office, I had a bit more success. While there was no one to give me any guidance in the facility, I had free reign of the old documents and books. As I mentioned in an earlier post, which can be found here, this office is where I was able to see the actual marriage bond between Thompson Hightower and his wife as opposed to a transcription of it. Seeing the actual document led me to the realization that Elizabeth Hopper’s father was in fact not deceased at the time of her marriage as I had assumed. That information will enable me to follow a different trail in researching him at some point.

George Hightower land purchase 1810
As property deeds are housed in this office - and indexed, thank goodness - I pulled and made copies of every deed that involved a Hightower or a Hopper. There were none for Thompson as he most likely would have been in Kenton County at the time he would have been of age to purchase land. However, there were quite a few transactions for George Hightower. If I can ever prove that he is my 4th great-grandfather, then I will spend some time deciphering where his land was located when he lived in Campbell County.

At the end of the day, though, there were no records that linked Thompson to George. Just as I thought I had begun to climb that brick wall, reality brought me crashing back to the ground with a resounding thud.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 11

Kenton County Public Library
In May of 2016 I traveled to the Kenton County Public Library in Covington in search of additional information about Thompson Hightower. Or any of the Hightowers, for that matter. I was cautiously optimistic as I had learned that the library had a "file" on the Hightower name.

I discussed my dilemma on finding Thompson's parents with the librarian, and she reiterated what I already knew - there would be no birth or death record for Thompson. She pulled the Hightower file for me. I noticed that it was painfully thin as she handed it to me.

Hightower file
Inside was a two page letter dated 1989 from a woman in Sacramento, California who was researching Austin Hightower, and his father George Hightower. She had written to the Kenton County Library inquiring as to whether the library had “a Family Surname File that contains the surname Hightower”. How ironic that I should be in the library 27 years later asking for the same information, only to find said Surname File containing her letter. Unfortunately that is all that the file contained, except for the library’s letter in response listing Hightower marriages in Campbell County. Those marriage records are now readily available online.

A review of early Kenton County history books yielded no new information about my Hightower family. Basically what the librarian said to me is, it is obvious that Thompson Hightower lived in this area along with George and other Hightower families as they appear in tax and census records as well as some will indexes. She felt that undoubtedly they were all related. But how? Therein lies the rub.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 10

In 2015 I traveled to Salt Lake City with a small group of genealogists for a week of research at the Holy Grail of genealogy, the Family History Library. The world’s largest genealogical library is the undertaking of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Open to the general public at no charge, the library holds genealogical records from over 110 countries and territories, and its collection includes over 2 million rolls of microfilmed records onsite. Additionally there are hundreds of thousands of microfiche, books, periodicals and electronic resources at the library. Volunteers at the library are available to help with your search.

My main focus for the visit was Thompson Hightower, with the goal being to find a link between him and George Hightower, Jr. At the time of my visit microfilms at the library were available for circulation, meaning I could have a copy shipped to a local LDS Family History Center. I decided to focus on items that were not available for circulation but instead could only be viewed at the library in Salt Lake City. (The microfilm policy changed in September of 2017, and they are no longer shipping microfilms as their goal is to have all their films digitized and available online by the end of 2020. To date, 1.5 of the 2.4 million rolls of microfilm have been digitized.)

The library had a good selection of books from Campbell and Kenton counties in Kentucky, so I spend a lot of time pulling them from the shelves and searching for any reference to Hightowers. The only thing that I found after all of my hunting was a listing for Thompson in the Linden Grove Cemetery book of interments. That was helpful because it gave me a month and year that Thompson died. Before this all I knew is that he appeared the 1866 Covington City Directory, but I found no evidence of him in directories or census records after that. The interment book further indicated that his daughter Marjorie had died in 1865, and that he was buried in the same plot as her.
Linden Grove Cemetery interments
It was time to sit down with one of the volunteers at the library to seek help. Before it was all said and done, several volunteers weighed in on my brick wall, and the only thing any of them came up with on Thompson Hightower was the Find A Grave memorial. I had come full circle.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 9

Another avenue that might provide a link between Thompson Hightower and George Hightower, Jr. is the existence of probate records or a will. Probate records are court records created after an individual’s death regarding the division of the estate to the heirs or creditors, and also the care of dependents. This process normally takes place when there is not a will, but sometimes even with a will the estate can go into probate. To begin the probate process, a petition must be filed with the court. Typically this is done by one of the heirs of the deceased. It often includes names, relationships, and residences of the heirs.

Quincy Public Library
Many resources for researching probates records are available online. But of course George Hightower does not appear in any of them. I visited Quincy, Illinois, which is the county seat of Adams County last year on the way back from visiting my in-laws in Iowa. I met with a local history librarian at the Quincy Public Library to discuss my Hightower family from the area. Ursa, where the Hightowers lived, is just 10 miles north of Quincy. The librarian was helpful, letting me know which websites to look at in the library, and showing me the local books which might be of assistance.

Unfortunately, I found no new information on any of the Hightower families. Before I totally give up finding any leads in Adams County I will need to contact the Adams County Clerk of the Circuit Courts office in Quincy. They have court records dating back to 1825, and probate records back to 1826. In this day and age of the computer, it is easy for genealogists to forget that not everything is online, nor has every document been indexed and placed neatly into a book for us to find at a library.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 8

As I wrote on day 4 of the challenge, which can be viewed here, the marriage bond between Thompson Hightower and his intended bride, Elizabeth Hopper, did not list the parents of either the groom-to-be or the bride-to-be. It only referenced Elizabeth’s uncle J.P Piner, who posted the bond. The bond did provide one other clue, however. It indicated that the couple was married on 20 December 1838 by William Hume.

William was born in Campbell County, Kentucky in 1786. He served in the War of 1812, and then married Elizabeth Aldridge. Soon after his marriage he converted to Christianity, and became a member of the Baptist Church at Bank Lick. His religious zeal lead to him becoming an ordained minister. He ministered for forty years, many of which were spent at the Baptist Churches at Bank Lick and Crews Creek.

Bank Lick Baptist Church was established in 1801 at the home of William DeCoursey along the Licking River just south of the mouth of Bank Lick Creek. Bank Lick Creek empties into the Licking River, 5 miles from its confluence with the Ohio River. In 1802 they obtained land and erected a log building as their meeting house.
Bank Lick Creek
William was chosen deacon for the church in November of 1812, and was ordained in 9 May 1818. In the summer of the same year, the church expanded to the Crews Creek settlement, about 5 miles south, where they began a church in January 1819. In 1829 a new meeting house for Bank Lick was erected on the site of the old one.

Many preachers would pastor as many as three or four churches at the same time. In the 19th century services were only held once a month, and churchgoers would travel by horseback or horse-drawn carriage or wagon to attend. Early church meetinghouses were located near a water source so that the animals could be watered. Meetings were held at residences through the settlements around the church.

It is possible that the Hightower family eventually worshipped at the First Baptist Church in Covington as it was established in 1838. However, the records of its early existence have been lost.

The Baptist churches in Kentucky have no central repository for their records. Each congregation had a clerk who took care of the local records. Many clerks considered the papers to be their own property and so the records were not left at the church when the clerk left or died.

It appears unlikely that I will be able to find any Baptist church documentation on any of the Hightower family, much less baptism information for Thompson Hightower - which would have listed the names of his parents. It is also possible that the Hightowers were not even Baptist, but instead that was the faith of Elizabeth Hopper, and thus why they were married by a Baptist minister.

Campbell County Historical Society
inside Campbell
County Courthouse
A visit to the Campbell County Historical Society in Alexandria, Virginia yielded no information about the Hightower or Hopper families, and nothing on early Baptist church records either. The proof I needed was not found here.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 7

In looking at whether or not George Hightower, Jr. could possibly be the father of Thompson, it helps to establish where George was living in relationship to Thompson. First, here is some background on George. He was born 31 March 1770 in Amelia County, Virginia to George Hightower, Sr. and Susannah (Thorn) Hightower. The Hightower and Thorn families are well-documented as they are both early settlers in what would later become the State of Virginia. These families came from England and settled in an area that was not yet the United States.

There are records for a Joshua Hightower in North Farnham Parish, in the late 1600s. North Farnham Parish was located in the general area of what would become Richmond in 1737. The Parish records date back to 1663, and it is in those records that the Hightower, Thorn and other related families are listed.

George Hightower, Sr. and his wife Susannah sold their land in Amelia County in 1771, and in 1776 purchased 715 acres of land adjacent to Hightower relatives in Lunenburg County. By 1787 they sold this property and moved to Campbell County, Virginia. Susannah died there in 1797.

It was in Campbell County that George Hightower, Jr. married Frances Ann Hall on 3 February 1796. Their daughter Mary Polly b. 1797 and son Austin b. 1799 were born in this location. Mary Polly’s marriage record lists George Hightower as her father. Austin is buried in the same pioneer cemetery in Ursa, Illinois as George and Frances, so he is most likely their son.

By 1800 both George Sr. and George Jr. are listed in the tax records in Jessamine County, Kentucky. Jessamine County was formed in 1799 from Fayette County, one of the three original counties founded by Virginia on 30 June 1780. (The other two were Jefferson and Lincoln.) The State of Kentucky separated from Virginia in 1792. It is possible that the men did not move but it was simply that their county name was changed.

By the 1810 census, George Jr. was in Campbell County, Kentucky. This record indicates there were 3 males under the age of 10, 4 females under the age of 10, and 1 female aged 10 thru 15 in addition to the adult male and female in the house. Mary Polly would have been about 13 in 1810, and Austin would have been about 11. Who are the other children?

The 1820 census shows George Hightower, Jr. in Covington, Campbell County, Kentucky. It also lists 2 males under age 10, 3 males ages 10-15, 1 male 45 and over, 1 female under 10, 3 females 10-15, 1 female 16-25 and 1 female 45 and over. It is possible that their daughter Mary Polly and her children were living with them. She was married in 1815 and since her first husband died young, she could be the 1 female 16-25 who appears here. Austin did not marry until 1823, so you would think that he would show up as a male 16-25.

By 1830 George and Frances were living in Adams County, Illinois. The census for that year indicates a male 15-19, a female 15-19, and a female 20-29 in addition to George and Frances. It would be very interesting to know what brought them to the small community of Ursa. Their daughter Mary Polly and her second husband did not move to Ursa until about 1850, and their son Austin moved there with his family around 1840.

Many Hightower family trees online list these additional children with George and Frances as the parents: Rolla b. 1802 in Kentucky, Richard b. 1812 in Kentucky, Archibald b. 1814 in Kentucky, and of course Thompson b. 1815 in Kentucky. I have found no proof of parentage on any of these boys. I do know, however, that they all lived in Campbell County (which became Kenton County).

Any of the older teens or young adults on the George Hightower, Jr.’s census records could be boarders, servants or laborers, of course. Since these early census records that do not list names of people in the household, they are of somewhat limited use.

But what the records do indicate is that George and Frances Hightower were living in Campbell County at the time of Thompson’s birth around 1815. Thompson could be one of the males under the age of 10 in their 1820 census, and he could be the 15-19 year old male in their 1830 census from Adams County, Illinois.

But is he?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 6

The best way to obtain the information about an ancestor's parents is by looking at birth and/or death certificates. Sometimes the application for marriage can be helpful, especially if the bride was underage or if a bond was posted. From census records, it is believed that Thompson Hightower was born around 1815 in Kentucky. As mentioned earlier, up until 1840, he lived in what was then Campbell County. From 1840 on, the area became Kenton County.

Kentucky did not begin statewide registration of births until a law was passed requiring it in 1852. However the law was repealed in 1862 so compliance was sketchy until 1911 when a new law was passed. Consequently, no birth records exist in Campbell County before 1852, and many records between 1852 and 1911 are missing. Since he was born about 1815, no birth record exists for Thompson.

Campbell County Marriage Book
Marriage records were recorded as early as 1795 in the state. As indicated in the previous post, I have secured the 1838 marriage bond for Thompson and Elizabeth Hopper. Because Thompson was over the age of 21, his parents are not listed on the bond.

Death records in Kentucky began the same year as birth records - 1852. They also have the same fate as birth records in that many between 1852 and 1911 are missing. Thompson died in 1866, so that is most likely why I have been unable to locate death information on him in Kenton County.

The State of Kentucky was not going to make it easy for me find the answers I need. Too bad Thompson isn’t around so I could just pose the question, “Who’s your daddy?”

Monday, February 5, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 5

Today I want to recap my lineage back to Thompson Hightower.

Kimberly Kubler to my father, LeRoy C. Kubler. Source: my birth certificate

LeRoy C. Kubler to his mother, Lillian Hungler. Sources: LeRoy’s birth certificate; marriage certificate; death certificate; 1920 and 1930 censuses; his father’s death notice

Lillian Hungler to her father, Albert M. Hungler. Sources: Lillian’s birth record and marriage record; 1900 census

Albert M. Hungler to his mother, Anna Hightower. Sources: Albert’s marriage record to second wife Matilda Stritzinger in 1906; 1870 and 1880 censuses; Albert’s death certificate

Anna Hightower to her father, Thompson Hightower. Sources: 1850 and 1860 censuses

A working theory is that Thompson Hightower, b. 1815, was the youngest son of George Hightower, Jr. and Frances Ann (Hall) Hightower. There are literally hundreds of family trees online that have Thompson placed in this family, along with Mary Polly b. 1797, Austin b. 1799, Rolla b. 1802, Richard b. 1812, and Archibald b. 1814.

The problem is that each of these family trees lists only one source linking Thompson to George Hightower. The source is a Find A Grave memorial for George, who was buried in the Denson Pioneer Cemetery in Ursa, Adams County, Illinois. The Find A Grave website is totally volunteer-driven. People upload information and photos from graves they have visited. The man who originally set up the memorial for George is now deceased, so I have no way of knowing how he came up with the information he listed for George. The online memorial gives quite a bio on George and his wife, Frances Ann. It further indicates that the couple had the following children: Polly b. 3 September 1797, Austin b. 15 December 1799, Rawleigh b. 1802, Richard born 6 August 1812, Archibald b. about 1814, and Thompson b. about 1815.

George and Frances Ann stones in Denson Pioneer Cemetery

The Hightower online memorial is a very tenuous tie, at best. My future posts will illustrate the steps I have taken to prove and/or disprove Thompson’s parentage.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 4

ferry from Covington to Cincinnati
Anna (Hightower) Hungler was covered in yesterday’s post. Moving up the family tree, today her parents will be discussed. Her father, Thompson Hightower was born about 1815, most likely in Campbell County, Kentucky - potentially in Covington. Researching in this particular time period gets a little tricky for several different reasons. Covington was first populated in 1814 and was incorporated as a town in 1815. It was named for General Leonard Wales Covington, a fallen general of the War of 1812. At that time it was part of Campbell County. The population in 1830 was 715 but it began to grow, in large part because of the influx of German immigrants.

By 1834 Covington was raised to a city status, and by 1840 had a population of 2,026. Residents began asking for a new county, and in 1840 Kenton County was formed from part of Campbell County. Named after early pioneer Simon Kenton, the new county contained 163 square miles. The original Kenton county seat was in Independence, a rural area located a good distance from Covington. County officials decided to establish a second county seat in Covington.

Campbell County Courthouse
Thus early records (prior to 1840) are held at the Campbell County Courthouse in Alexandria - or perhaps at the original Campbell County Courthouse in Newport. Records from 1840 forward are in Kenton County - at one of the two county courthouses in Covington or Independence. You begin to see the challenge of researching in this part of Kentucky.

The first record of Thompson Hightower appears in the book Campbell County Marriages 1836-1945. The book lists the bond date, the marriage date, and the name of the bondsman. The entry for Thompson is:
Dec 10 1838 (BD) Thompson HIGHTOWER to Elizabeth HOPPER (niece of J G Piner) MD—20 Dec; married by William HUME.

Further in the book Marriages of Campbell, Boone and Kenton Counties, Kentucky, 1795-1850, the following is listed:
HIGHTOWER, Thompson & Elizabeth HOPPER, 20 Dec. 1838, m by WH, c by Elizabeth's uncle J.P. Piner, bondsman [with whom she lived since about the age of six years], on behalf of her [unnamed] father, Campbell Co., KY.

Another listing appears in Campbell County Marriages:
HIGHTOWER, Thompson to Elizabeth HOPPER- married 20 Dec 1838, bond 10 December 1838, and consent by Elizabeth's uncle, J P Piner, with whom she lived since about the age of six years, on behalf of her father (unnamed) – OK.

A marriage bond can be viewed as an intention to marry. A man who had proposed went to the courthouse with a bondsman, who was often the father or brother of the prospective bride. A bond was posted indicating the man’s intention to marry the woman. The bond was an amount of money (in this case fifty pounds) that the prospective groom would have to pay if the marriage did not take place.

Campbell County Clerk's office
Upon visiting the Campbell County Clerk's office in Alexandria last year, I was able to photograph the actual bond. It provided an important piece of information. Up until that point I had assumed that both of Elizabeth Hopper’s parents were deceased since she was raised by her uncle. But the bond actually indicates that her father gave permission for her to marry. Now I know he was still alive in 1838. Being able to see the actual document as opposed to just an index or summary of the document can be critical.
Hightower-Hopper Marriage Bond

Unfortunately I have been unable to get any further information on Elizabeth’s parentage. Although I know J P Piner is her uncle, I don’t know the relationship. He could have been married to a sister of her mother, or possibly a sister of her father. Without names, and only initials for J P, that remains a mystery. A clue is that in the 1850 census, the household next to the Hightower family is that of James Piner. As there are other Hoppers listed along with James’ family, these may be siblings of Elizabeth. It is a clue that I can continue to work on.
1850 Kenton County Census

The children born from the marriage of Thompson and Anna were discussed in the previous post, which can be found here. In the 1850 census, Thompson’s occupation is listed as “Miller”, and in 1860 he is a “lath sawyer”.

During the Civil War, the vast majority of Kenton County residents remained loyal to the Union. To protect Cincinnati from Southern invasion, a string of fortifications was built in the county. The two major military installations were Fort Mitchell and Fort Wright. To gather additional manpower, 162 companies of Home Guards, State Guards and militia were called into service in Kentucky. Their principal duty was guarding railroads, bridges, locks, etc. There were 60 men in Captain Leonard’s Company Home Guard, and one of them was 47-year-old Thompson Hightower. He enlisted as a Private for the Union on 1 September 1862, and mustered out on 1 October 1862.

In September of 1862, Confederate General Henry Heth led more than 8,000 soldiers into Northern Kentucky in an attempt to capture Cincinnati, a major producer of supplies for the Union war effort, and gain control of the Ohio River valley. Within days, these volunteer Union troops built protective earthworks throughout the Northern Kentucky hills. When the Confederates saw the ring of 12 miles of forts and rifle pits, they withdrew.

Linden Grove Cemetery
In May of 1866 cholera entered New York City, and a national epidemic followed. There was speculation that the trains, with their ability to move people rapidly, caused the epidemic to spread across the nation. Cincinnati reported 2,028 deaths, and considered a focal point of the outbreak to be Newport Barracks. Newport was located right next to Covington. In August of 1866, Thompson died of cholera. He was about 50 years old at the time of his death. He was buried in Linden Grove Cemetery in the same plot as his daughter, Marjorie Frances, who had died in 1865. I visited the cemetery and spoke with the caretaker, and there is no Hightower stone.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 3

In yesterday's post I identified Albert M. Hungler's parents as John Hungler and Anna (Hightower) Hungler. Because I am focusing on the Hightower line, today's post will be about Anna. She was born about 1849 in Covington, Kentucky to Thompson Hightower and Elizabeth (Hopper) Hightower. Anna was the 4th of 8 children born to Thompson and Elizabeth. An older, unnamed sister appeared as a female child under the age of 5 on the 1840 census, but apparently died young as she was not listed on the 1850 census. Marjorie Frances (also known as Missouri) was born about 1842, James R. about 1845, Rolla about 1850, an unknown female was born on 22 November 1852, Alice about 1854, and Belle about 1858. Marjorie died of typhoid fever when she was 23 and James was around 19 when he succumbed to typhoid fever in 1863 while serving in the Union army. No death information on Alice has been located, but she was living with her sister Anna and her family in the 1880 census.

Around 1869 Anna married John Hungler. John was born 20 December 1850 in Cincinnati to Andrew Hungler and Malinda (Harcourt) Hungler. They had two sons, Albert M. and John P., who were covered in the previous post, which can be found here.

In the 1870 census 21-year-old John and 19-year-old Anna were living in Covington with their infant son Albert. But also in the household are the following children: Richard age 14, Annie age 10, Laura age 7, Lucilla age 4. These four children are John’s siblings. His father Andrew died on 3 May 1869 in Covington. Perhaps his mother Malinda was too overcome with grief to take care of her children at that time. But one can only imagine what it must have been like for John and Anna to take on the responsibility of these additional children while dealing with a relatively new marriage and their own child, who was just 7 months old when the census was taken.

By the 1880 census John and Anna are living in Covington with their two boys, Albert and John. Anna’s sister Alice Hightower resides with the family as well.

By 1884, Anna was deceased. She would have been no more than 35 years old. John married Mary Elizabeth Carver, and they went on to have 12 children.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge Day 2

As mentioned in the previous post, Lillian (Hungler) Kubler’s father was Albert M. Hungler. He was born 17 October 1869 in Covington, Kentucky to John Hungler and Anna (Hightower) Hungler. His death certificate lists 17 October 1870 as his year of birth, but as he appears on the July 1870 census in Covington, that date is obviously incorrect. His brother John P. Hungler was born in Covington on 2 November 1876.

Roebling Suspension Bridge
Located across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Covington had a population of just over 24,500 people in 1870. The first successful bridge connecting the two cities was opened in 1866, enabling citizens on both sides of the river to travel without having to be ferried across the river.

Before Albert was 14 years old, sometime between 1880 and 1884, his mother Anna died. No information on her death or burial dates has been located so far, but John Hungler remarried in 1884. John and his second wife, Mary Elizabeth (Carver) Hungler, went on to have an additional 12 children, one of whom was stillborn.

Albert was 24 when he married Catherine Cramer in Cincinnati on 3 July 1894. They were married by John Schornhorft, a Catholic priest, and set up their household in Cincinnati. The children from this union were outlined in the previous post, which can be found here. After Catherine died in 1900, Albert married Matilda Stritzinger and they had 8 children together.

In the 1910 census Albert is listed as being a hostler in a livery barn. A hostler was a barn man responsible for the care of horses in a livery stable. Historically, a livery stable was a place where horses, teams, buggies and wagons were for hire. Horses could also be boarded for short periods of time.

By 1920 his occupation was listed as a chauffeur for a delivery company, and by 1930 he worked for the City of Cincinnati in the street department doing repairs. He was still working at the age of 71 in the 1940 census.

Albert was 83 when he died in Cincinnati of pneumonia and heart disease on 9 February 1953. He is buried in Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Section 36, Lot 848, Grave 1. His second wife Matilda is buried next to him in Grave 2.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Family History Writing Challenge 2018

This is the seventh year in a row that I am participating in the Family History Writing Challenge, and the fourth year that I will be posting my daily writing on this blog. Prior to 2015 I kept it all in a Word document on my computer.

This year I am using the challenge in a slightly different way. Everyone has at least one brick wall that they are struggling to break through, and for me the biggest one is the Hightower family. The search seems as insurmountable as the Great Wall of China, and just as unlikely that I will be able to scale it on my own.

Before I admit defeat and turn what I have over to a paid genealogist, I need to survey all that I have done so that a new person isn’t retracing my same steps. I’m going to use this challenge as the motivation to revisit all my old notes, documents, reports, etc. and establish where I have been so that I understand where I/we need to go.

But I will begin the challenge by covering what I do know so far about the Hightower family. I am confident in my knowledge and documentation of the connection back to my fraternal 3rd great-grandfather, Thompson Hightower. But it is with him and his wife, Elizabeth Hopper, that I run solidly into a brick wall.

In last year’s challenge, which you can find here, I wrote about my dad’s Kubler family. In the February 15th post, I mentioned that my grandfather, Joseph Henry Kubler, married Lillian Marie Hungler in 1912. It is through my grandmother Lillian that the Hightowers appear in my family tree.

Lillian and Alice Hungler
In a departure from previous challenges, I’m going to begin with Lillian and work my way back to Thompson Hightower. Lillian was born to Albert Hungler and Catherine (Cramer) Hungler in Cincinnati, Ohio on 25 October 1895. She was the oldest of four children, though only she and her younger sister Alice lived to adulthood. Lillian was 18 months old when her brother Corry Albert was born, and 3 when twins Alice and Albert came along. It is believed that Albert died as an infant.  Catherine Hungler lost her battle with tuberculosis on 16 April 1900. She was not yet 23 years old.

Albert Hungler found himself a widower at the age of 30 with a 4-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old to rear. So that he could continue to work as a laborer, he and the children moved in with Catherine's parents, Michael and Anna (Willard) Cramer, where they appear in the 1900 census record. As if the grief of losing Catherine weren't enough for the family to deal with, little Corry Albert died of tuberculosis on 10 October 1900. How devastating this must have been for the entire family.

But Albert found love again and married Matilda Stritzinger on 10 May 1906. Albert and Matilda went on to have 8 children. Lillian remained living with her grandparents, while Alice stayed with her dad and his new wife.

Somewhere along the line Lillian met Joseph Kubler, whom she would later marry. It would be interesting to know how they became acquainted as they did not live in the same part of Cincinnati, nor attend the same Catholic church. Joseph was 5 years her senior, and employed as a clerk in a liquor retail house.

St. Lawrence Church
On her application for a marriage license on 23 July 1912, Lillian stated that she was living at 928 Wells Street, which was the home of her grandparents Michael and Anna Cramer. Wells Street is located in the East Price Hill neighborhood. She listed her employment as a saleslady. She further indicated that she was 18 on 22 October 1911, which was inaccurate. In fact, she was just 16 on that date. While it is possible she did not know her birth year, it is more likely she put that on the application in order to avoid the issues that came along with being a minor trying to get married. Or perhaps she had even misrepresented her age when she got a job and had to carry through with the deception when she got married.

Lillian and Joe, 1944
On 24 July 1912, 21-year-old Joseph Kubler was married to 16-year-old Lillian Marie Hungler at St. Lawrence Church. Their daughter Ethel was born in 1913, followed by son LeRoy (my father) in 1917, daughters Mary Jane in 1925 and Gloria in 1930. The couple had been married for 57 years when Joseph died in 1969 of congestive heart failure. Lillian died in 1979 at the age of 83.