Sunday, November 20, 2011

Winchester News: Wayne County, KY

The following was located online at Google Books. It details the case of of Wayne County's WINCHESTER family, namely, Catherine Hill, a spouse of Douglas Winchester. No connection has yet been made between myself and this particular family.

The American ballot box in the mid-nineteenth century
By Richard Franklin Bensel

Andrew Hill voted in the 1859 Kentucky congressional election at the
Parmleysville Precinct in Wayne County. His mother, Katherine Winchester,
was asked how old Andrew had been when he voted in that election; her
testimony again indicates just how complicated such a question could be-
come in antebellum Kentucky. 31 In opening the questioning, counsel asked
whether she was “the same person that is usually called Katherine Hill by
your neighbors.” Answering in the affirmative, she added that her “son was
born the 20th day of March. I am no scholar and don’t recollect the year
in which he was born, but to the best of my knowledge he was twenty-one
years of age the 20th day of last March [1859]. I was married in my sixteenth
year, and my oldest son was born in my seventeenth year, and he, my oldest
son, will be twenty-five years old the 16th of February next [1860]. I have a
daughter only between the said oldest and the said Andrew Hill, and their
age is in the Bible. She will be twenty-four years old the 10th day of next
May [1860].” Apparently, Andrew’s birth was not recorded in the Bible,
otherwise, his age would have been immediately substantiated. When asked
how old she was, as a way of verifying the date of her marriage and the birth
of her oldest son, she answered that her “mother told me that I was married
in my sixteenth [year] and had a child in my seventeenth year and my oldest
child will be twenty-five the 16th of next month. I don’t know how old I am;
count it yourself.” She was then asked how she knew the age of her oldest
child. To this, she responded, “Well, I just kept his age along by what my
mother told me of my own age.” After proceeding in this way for a bit, the
questioning then returned to Andrew. His mother again confirmed that he
“will be twenty-two next March agreeably to what little I know about it.”

Katherine had had eleven children, all of whom were still living. She had
been married twice before she wed Douglas Winchester, her current husband.
Her first marriage was to a Joseph Owens, who “took another woman and
went off.” She had had one child by him. Her second marriage was to an
Andy Bultram, by whom she had borne six children before he died. Between
Bultram’s death and her marriage to Douglas Winchester, she had borne four
children out of wedlock; these were her youngest. Her union with Winchester,
now three years and counting, had been childless. When asked why her son
went “by the name of Hill” when, by her account, she had been married
to Bultram when he was born, she said, “Because people just call him that.
All my boys go by the name of Hill. I was a Hill before my first marriage.”
In closing, she was asked whether he had “not run away so
soon as he had voted.” His mother replied, “No, Sir; he has not run away;
the last I heard of him, he was living on the lands of [Joseph] Dolan, with
his brother-in-law, in this county.” Although the election judges would have
not had the opportunity to question Andrew’s mother – because women
almost never went anywhere near the polling place on election day – it is
fairly clear that neither she nor her son knew how old he was. The extensive
questioning of her family history was an attempt to triangulate his date
of birth by referencing the ages of her other children and the dates of her
marriages. While her evidence must have been mildly titillating to a Victorian
audience and painfully revealing for her, her testimony left Andrew’s age just
as mysterious when she had finished as it had been before she began.

Another witness, John Lewallen, could corroborate much of Katherine
Hill’s account. Lewallen began by addressing her age: “I suppose she is some-
where near forty; this is only guess work.... Her oldest child’s name is Bailey;
I am of opinion he was born in 1834; this is also guess work; I do not know
the month or day of the month.... Her second child’s name is Ceily; she was
born in 1838.... The next one is named Andrew, and I think he was born
in the spring of 1840. After this I moved from the place where I was then
living, and lived about fourteen or fifteen miles from Mrs. Hill, and I do
not know when the balance of her children were born.” After saying that
she had first taken up with a man named Owens, he stated, “I don’t know
whether he left before or after the child was born; I heard that they had
parted several times, and then they would live together again.”He didn’t
know how long it was before she began living with [Bultram] but said that
it “was a right smart while.” However, there were two Bultrams involved
with Hill: “It was talked that she cohabited with a William [Bultram] a short
time after Owens left; this was not Andrew [Bultram], the reputed father of
Andrew Hill.... after she commenced living with [Bultram] she had children
pretty fast.” Lewallen’s account would have made Andrew under age at the
time of the election. 32

Even more titillating was the testimony presented as an attempt to impeach
Katherine Hill’s character. The mildest criticism was offered by Andrew
Lewallen: “I am acquainted with her; I never heard tell of her being sworn
until since the last election. If she was mad at me I would fear her, but if she
was friendly with me, I should not be afraid.... I heard three of my neighbor
women say that she had told a barefaced lie on them. These are all the reasons
I have for saying that I would not believe her on oath.” 33 John Lewallen was
much more damning. Asked whether he was “acquainted with the general
moral character of Catherine Hill, “ he replied, “Yes, sir; I am; and it is not
good.” Asked whether he would believe “her on oath if she had anything at
stake” (e.g., possible prosecution of her son for underage voting), Lewallen
answered, “I would not like to.” When asked whether “her character [has]
been ever since she was a girl that of a prostitute and bad whore, ready for
every call,” Lewallen agreed, “That is her character.” 34

Lewis Davenport agreed, relating that “she lives about three miles from
me; I have known her from six to ten years. He then added, “Her general
character in my neighborhood is that she is a prostitute.” As to her reputation
since her last marriage to Douglas Winchester, Davenport reported, “I don’t know
how long she has been married to her last husband; not more than two
years, I think; since her last marriage I have heard no one say that he had had
intercourse with her, although I think she is believed to still be a prostitute.”
His opinion of her “general character,” based on her sexual history as he
understood it, led Davenport to conclude, “I don’t think I could believe her
on oath.” This was only mildly qualified by his admission that he had “heard
her testify on oath; and I never heard any one say that she was not to be
believed on oath, though I have heard a few persons say they would not
believe her on oath.” 35

Katherine Hill’s sexual behavior was brought into this hearing in order
to impeach her credibility with respect to her family’s history. 36 Even if she
had been viewed by the community as someone who should be believed
under oath, all that she could retrieve from her family’s history were a few
birth dates in the family Bible (none of them pertaining to Andrew) and the
serial appearance and disappearance of the various men with whom she had
cohabited. Did she actually “know” her son’s age? Probably not but, then
again, no one did.

{NOTES: moved to end. text shows inline notes}

31. Her testimony appears in S.R. no 1061: M.D. no 3 (1859): pp. 295, 297-8

32. S.R. no 1063: M.D. no 11 (1859): p. 610. Also contradicting her testimony was
William Dobbs, a farmer familiar with the family, who related. “Andrew Hill came
to my house in July last; I wanted to hire him to work, and asked him his age, as he
looked small; he answered me, as I now recollect, that he was eighteen years of age
(18); his two younger brothers were with him, and I thought them small for plough
boys; I had talked to Katy Hill or Winchester before the boys came to my house, and
she stated that the boys were all under her and that if I hired any of them she must have
half of the pay, and the other half must go to the benefit of the boys to buy clothes,
&c. I am not sure that it was Andrew who answered my question about his age; but
if not him, it was answered for him by one of the others in his presence” (p. 632).

33. S.R. no 1063: M.D. no 11 (1859): pp. 605-6.

34. Ibid., p. 608. After defaming Katherine Hill in this way, it came as no surprise that
Lewallen thought she was not a credible witness: “Any woman that has the reputation
in her neighborhood that she has I cannot believe her on oath.” When asked whether
his “opinion of her ...constitute[d] general character,” he replied that his “own opin-
ion of itself would not amount to general character if the neighborhood were not of
the same opinion.” (p. 610)

35. Davenport had served as an election clerk at one of the precincts in Wayne county.
Ibid., pp. 616-17. William Dobbs concurred: “I know her; she has been living in mu
neighborhood for some time, I suppose about three miles and a half from me; her
general moral character is bad.... From my acquaintance with her general character,
I could not believe her on oath about any matter that I did not know myself to be as she
should state it.... I didn’t know that I ever heard her testify on oath, but I have heard
divers persons say that they would not believe her on oath.” Ibid., p. 633. However,
Dobbs himself was rumored to be a counterfeiter. See the next note.

36. Because most women led relatively private lives, with few public transactions in which
they participated independently of their families or, after marriage, their husbands, the
most signal evidence of their moral character was their sexual reputation. With men,
moral character was more complex. John Goddard, a voter in Monticello, Kentucky,
was asked whether he would agree that “the rumor” as to William Dobbs being in a
“scrape of that sort” (i.e., counterfeiting) “did not amount to general character.” He
replied, “As to general character, my notion is, that it takes several items to make up
one; and although one item might make a part of a general character, I cannot say
that one item would make a general character.” Ibid., p. 648. A woman would not
have enjoyed such a second chance.

Source: Google Books Online
<> Richard Franklin Bensel, "The American ballot box in the mid-nineteenth century" (accessed: 20 Nov 2011)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Research Services

I will do research in Posey, Vanderburgh and Warrick counties in Indiana, as well as surrounding counties. I am currently accepting clients.

I have been doing genealogical research on my own family since 1974. I am very well acquainted with the published and non-published materials available in the counties in which I advertise. I have a lot of experience searching cemeteries, courthouses, local libraries, historical societies, and online databases.

Please contact me for more information.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Death of Claudie Thompson

Mrs. Claudie Isabelle Thompson nee: Carroll, died 13 Feb 1948 in a traffic accident in which she was hit by a city bus while walking to work. She was 75. Surviving her was a daughter, Edna Morris, of Evansville; a son, Albert Morris, of Detroit, MI; sisters Martha (Carroll) Hall, of Evansville; Betty (Carroll) Cavanaugh of Corydon, KY, a brother John Carroll, of Evansville; and a daughter-in-law, Beulah Thompson, of Evansville.

Source: Claudie Isabell Thompson's newspaper article and obituary, "Injuries Fatal To Woman Hit By City Bus: Traffic Death Toll Stands at Four for This Year", The Evansville Press, Evansville, Indiana, 13 February 1948, page 1, column 1. Abstracted here, by Terry Winchester, 21 June 2010.

Online Resources

Below are a couple of the online resources which you can use to locate information on your ancestors. I provide these sources so that you can get as much information as possible before hiring a researcher.

Happy Hunting,


Terry Winchester
Evansville (Vanderburgh County) Indiana
Southern Indiana Research