Family Graveyard Restoration

In the early 1990’s while visiting Guthrie, Landon came upon the old Kimbrough Family Graveyard, now located on another’s property.

“I was really excited to find something my father’s family knew nothing about, but the task at hand was daunting: the gravestones were knocked over, covered with brush and rabbit warrens made walking hazardous.”

Landon surveys the graveyard 1997

Landon surveys the graveyard 1997

When I saw it, I worried about snakes, myself. I hate snakes.

Bob Kimbrough, Landon’s father and his cousin Ben Kimbrough of Clarksville, Tennessee, paid to have the site cleared and the tombstones replaced in their original positions as much as possible. We visited again a few years later and copied down the information about the tombstones and did our best to create a family tree for the people buried there, but that may not appear on the cemetery page. http://www.kimbroughgenealogy.com/kimbrough/cemetery/cemetery.html Feel free to email if you’d like what information we do have.

Robert Landon Kimbrough in the Kimbrough Family Graveyard in Guthrie, KY

Robert Landon “Bob” Kimbrough at the start of the restoration of the Kimbrough Family Graveyard in Hadensville, Todd County, Kentucky

Susan, the current owner of the house and property said that someone had found a tombstone or two down by the creek years ago, but didn’t know where they belonged. I fear that vandals likely displaced or took additional tombstones. It is said that there may have been another older graveyard on the property, or it may have been a slave graveyard. Sadly, other tombstones might have solved some of our family mysteries. The earliest burial date here that can be read is 1830 and the latest 1903.

Thanks Bob, or how we got so interested in Kimbrough genealogy

My late father-in-law, Bob Kimbrough, known as “Lan” to his relatives, took a trip back to his hometown of Guthrie, Kentucky during the early years of our marriage. I have always been interested in history and when I found that this family had an old house there – a plantation house, really – and some older relatives who still lived near there, I was hooked. Why not investigate the Kimbrough genealogy? It seemed sooo much more romantic than my local folks. It didn’t hurt that each time I searched the various genealogy websites I would find hits on the name – many of which turned out to be related.

So began the quest that’s lasted over 15 years: who were the Kimbroughs? Are the McMurrys related to William Wallace? Are the Bollings descended from Pocahontas? Were the Kimbroughs the only plantation owners in Kentucky that didn’t own slaves? As you can imagine, many of the family legends, like the last one, have turned out to be just that – legends. Can’t say it hasn’t been fun.

As I began another round of sorting information today I came upon some pictures that reminded me of Bob’s pivotal part in our search. He passed away on December 13th, 2009, so as we approach this anniversary I thought it apt to write a bit about him, his history and his contribution to the Kimbrough legacy.

Bob was born on 26 March 1919 in Guthrie, Todd County, Kentucky to Keith Keesee  and Mary McMurry Kimbrough. He was the 3rd son of 5 children and spent his growing up years in Guthrie. His mother died when he was not yet 11. He decided, after high school to attend Georgia Tech in faraway Atlanta, encouraged by his aunt and uncle who lived there. He obtained his engineering degree from there and never looked back. He was Army Air Corps ROTC and entered WW II in 1941.

Here are his orders:

Special Orders to Galveston

Monday, 23 June 1941

HEADQUARTERS KENTUCKY MILITARY AREA

436 Post Office Building

Louisville, Kentucky.

June 23, 1941. Special Orders No. 112.

By direction of the President and under authority contained in Public Resolution No. 96, 16th Congress, approved August 27, 1940, second Lieutenant Robert Landon Kimbrough, 0-410941, CA-Res.,(541st CA) Guthrie, Todd, County, Kentucky, is ordered to extended active duty effective June 30, 1941, on which date he will proceed without delay from the place shown after his name to Fort Knox, Kentucky reporting upon arrival to the Commanding General, for temporary duty for the purpose of undergoing final type physical examination. Upon completion of the physical examination, if found physically qualified, he will proceed immediately to Galveston, Texas, reporting upon arrival to the Commanding Officer, for assignment and duty with Harbor Defenses of Galveston.

He will rank from May 20,1941. Unless sooner relieved, he will return to his home from the station where he is then serving.in time to arrive thereat on June 29, 1942, on which date he will stand relieved from active duty. The travel directed is necessary in the military service. FD~1325 P 15-06, 15-02, 15-07, 15-13, 15-01, A 1505-01-2. (Reference War Department letter AG 320.2 (12-27-40) M-A-M, January 3, 1941, Subject:

“Allotment of Reserve officers for Regular Army Inactive Units to be activated June 1, 1941”). (Reqn. #112-1941)

 Bob in 1940s

He shared with us one of the other important related turning points of his life – he was NOT sent to Guadalcanal later in the conflict as his engineering skills were needed elsewhere. Otherwise a lot of our Kimbroughs would not exist. The military continued to be a big part of Bob’s life even after discharge in about 1947  from the Air Force as he maintained membership in the Reserves until the mid 1980’s.

Bob spent his post active military career with the Boeing Company and retired from there. After his retirement he did some traveling and on one of his trips he came upon the old Kimbrough Family Cemetery which was originally on the Kimbrough Plantation in Hadensville, Kentucky,  just outside of Guthrie. His original Kentucky forebears were buried there and he wanted to see that it was preserved for future generations. With support from a cousin, Ben Kimbrough and his nephew John, son of his late brother Charles, Bob crafted a plan to restore what tombstones and sites could be found. We got involved in the last stage of the restoration: taking pictures and documenting the burials – as best we could. Our results are seen on the website http://www.kimbroughgenealogy.com .

The quest for information to know more about the folks who were buried in the cemetery really drove a lot of the research for a while. We have yet to find out where Thomas Winston Kimbrough and his brothers were raised…but we have hope! I’m sorry that Bob won’t be around to celebrate with us when the brick wall is finally breached, but I’ll imagine him laughing.

RLK on front porch of his childhood home in Guthrie, Kentucky in 2001

Courthouses and Historical Societies

After our trip to Washington DC we spent a busy two days visiting the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society as well as their courthouse and a return to Louisa county and the courthouse there. Both courthouses had the records very available, which was nice, but I missed that wonderful woman from Logan County Genealogical Society who helped soooo much at that courthouse! Landon performed yeoman service in copying lots of very difficult to copy record pages as well as photographing lots of other items and documents. It was more difficult in Louisa as photographs weren’t allowed for some reason. No copies of indexes, either, which made it difficult to pull all of the items we wanted in the limited time we had. His family <that’s who we’re researching, after all> would be proud of his effort! Now we’re feeling like we have lots of information but no concrete ideas or trails to follow. We’ve decided to focus on the William Kimbroughs and see where that gets us.  Taking time to sort and timeline some of the new information and review what we already have will be helpful, I trust.

During our time in Charlottesville at the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society we found a great deal on the Garth family, that is prominent there. The librarian, Margaret O’Bryant, was incredibly helpful and really knows the area! We keep running into various documents by Rosalie Edith Davis who wrote The Garth Family, a very comprehensive book. We will order one when we get home.

We moved off the Kimbrough theme a bit as we looked for more information about Richard Gaines and Thomas Garth in Albemarle County. Richard Gaines married Ann Garth, daughter of Thomas and they were the parents of Susan Gaines, wife of “our” Thomas Winston Kimbrough. Susan’s sister married Meredith Kimbrough, Thomas’ brother. Richard Gaines was a carpenter and did a lot of work for Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Garth served as Jefferson’s business manager and may have fulfilled some other offices for him while Jefferson was away from Monticello. We made a point to visit Monticello for that reason and have found several references to Garth and Gaines in the Jefferson papers and other historical documents. Helps history come alive!

Continuing to travel and gather information makes it difficult to post, but as we travel back to the west I hope to update both my information and this blog. We will stop in Salt Lake City, with an eye to clarifying some findings and perhaps gaining even more information, as we ran out of time at the Albemarle Courthouse.

Virginia is for genealogists!

28 May 2012

While sitting in the library in Hanover Courthouse, VA, week before last paging through books, a man came in to talk to the librarians and I overheard him say:  “You ladies have been so helpful to me but I STILL can’t find my 6th great-grandfather William Kimbrough in the cemetery!” <WHAT?!!> Needless to say, I struck up a conversation with this fellow and we exchanged information. Not sure if there is a connection, but what a coincidence…anybody read the book Psychic Roots? Hanover County has a large number of Kimbroughs, as does its neighbor, Louisa. Both were the same county in early history so keeping track of dates and locations is important.

We spent time with Elaine Taylor, Museum Director of the Sargent Museum and Jim Artz, Mayor of Louisa, in the Louisa County Historical Society http://www.louisacountyhistoricalsociety.org/ – a great place with very helpful people and lots of resources – and found some interesting will information.

Thanks to Elaine we found evidence that William Kimbrough (ca 1765 – ca 1851) of Louisa freed all of his slaves upon his death and decreed in his will that they were transported to non-slave states. An unusual act in these times, I imagine. I believe that this is the same William who is shown in the 1850 Louisa County census as living with Celia Cosby, a mulatto woman and her child. He is 85 at the time of the census. There are numerous Kimbroughs and Winstons in Louisa County and we plan a trip to the courthouse and the public library as soon as we can manage. This likely means a return to VA after we visit Washington, DC.

Other than ruling out a number of folks and getting a bit more information, the trip to the Library of Virginia was inconclusive. I did find out about some databases they have online that I can access with my LVA library card.

So far, I’m feeling frustrated. Wish me luck!

Furthering the search

For a number of years we have been working on our brick wall in the Kimbrough line. Who is the father of Thomas Winston Kimbrough – born 1796 in Virginia, died 1868 in Kentucky. This has been a longstanding family mystery and better genealogists than I have tried to solve the puzzle. I have hope ONLY because I have access to so many more resources now, thanks to the internet and the fact that we can and will travel to Virginia this spring.

In preparation for  this trip I have begun to search every repository I can find: Library of Virginia, FHL, ancestry, etc. etc. to try to make some inroads and develop a hypothesis or two about who, when and where. I have the when and a couple ideas about where. It’s frustrating to run into records gaps – there are many – from colonial times, but there are also a lot of folks who have documented various records. It’s tempting to believe many of the “trees” that I have reviewed, but I have found so much misinformation that I’m skeptical. When I solve this I want my evidence to be as solid as possible. I’m learning a lot as I work this problem and am grateful to so many for their time and help.

As a “give back” I plan to post all of the research on www.kimbroughgenealogy.com – whether it applies to this particular family or not. I’ve already amassed scores of references to many Kimbroughs, Kembros, Kimbros, and a few other surnames that may be of help to others. The copies of the Kimbro-Kimbrough Quarterlies that we have will be posted there. Stay tuned if you’re interested. I’ll post on our trip, beginning in May, and share what I’m learning.