Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 129

A very full day today. We left Berea before 8am heading west for two sites Anne wanted to see. By 9am we were in Danville and saw Centre College. It is a small liberal arts school begun in 1820 for well-to-do families. Several of our ancestors are graduates - not because they were well to do but because it was one of the few in Kentucky. All the buildings are brick and well maintained on this small campus. No good signage which is annoying. From Danville, we coasted through the rolling hills of Kentucky towards New Hope and New Haven. It is a very Catholic area of the state which plays host to several priories and a monastery of Trappist monks (our destination). Anne had done some reading on Thomas Merton who had lived at the monastery and was curious to see this location. It is peaceful and quiet - reminiscent of my stay in upstate New York. The monastery supports itself through retreats and the making/selling of food products (fudge, cheese and fruitcake).

Finally we headed towards Breckinridge County arriving just before 2pm at the court house in Hardinsburg. Big thrill - we had crossed into the central time zone so gained an hour of research time. The archives ladies were very helpful as we delved into the Holts, Steretts, Bowmers, Stephens and DeHavens. So many lines to trace but we found good information on nearly everyone.

For me, the best information was finding that Judge Joseph Holt's home near Stephensport, KY was actually constructed by his parents - John W and Eleanor Stephens Holt, our 4 g grandparents. The house, recently rescued from ruin, has 3 stories of brick, metal and lumber and was constructed by slave labor in the 1830s. Joseph Holt inherited the house. He was Lincoln's Judge Advocate General and the house became a stop on the Underground Railway before and during the Civil War. Abutting the Holt land was that of Capt. Richard Stephens. His land grant (new sources today say 90,000 acres) extended along the Ohio River from just below Louisville to the Cloverport area. It is Richard's daughter Eleanor who married her neighbor John Holt.
We also found information on the Sterett family including this picture of John, our other 4 g grandfather on the Bowmer side. John purchased and traded land near the Ohio river. In 1822, he was taxed as a joint holder of 4,000 acres with Joseph Allen. In the same year he purchased an additional 9,000 acres. Much of the land was deeded or sold to his children leaving him with approximately 500 acres in Hancock County just over the county line from where I am in Breckinridge County. His home, called Walnut Hill, commanded a panoramic view of the Ohio River. The house stayed in the Sterett family until the 1960s. We hope to find the exact location of the property when we search out John and Sarah DeHaven Holt's graves on Saturday (probably on what was a portion of the old homestead).
Tomorrow- back to the courthouse for wills and marriage bonds. We hope to get to Cloverport to look for Bowmers and various graves.

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