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.

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