Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Catherine Ann “Kitty” (Jenkins) Smith

Catherine Ann “Kitty” (Jenkins) Smith
February 1831 – December 28, 1902

Catherine Ann, called “Kitty Ann” by her parents and friends, was the daughter of  Benjamin Shacklett Jenkins and Elizabeth Tichenor Humphrey.   Her paternal grand- parents were John S. Jenkins and Sarah Quick Shacklett of Meade County, Kentucky; her maternal grandparents were Abijah Humphrey and Catherine “Katy” Emerson, from Cumberland County, Kentucky.

She married Thomas Smith, Jr. in 1848 on Christmas Day in Meade County, Kentucky.  Both were seventeen years old, and both their fathers had to sign a “consent” form to give to the county clerk.  The consent was necessary to verify the parents’ permission and approval of the marriage.

When Kitty Ann’s parents moved from Meade to Ohio County in about 1857, after the birth of James Thomas Smith in December 1856, the young couple also moved there.  The death certificate of James Thomas Smith documents that he was born in Meade County.

As mentioned, this couple had five children: Benjamin Franklin; Eliza Elizabeth; Sarah “Sallie” Catherine; James Thomas, and John Fulton.  Kitty Ann was six months pregnant with her last child, John Fulton, when her husband was captured.  He didn’t live to return home to see his little son. 


Life dealt Kitty Ann Jenkins, 31, who was six months pregnant, a hard blow when her husband was captured by Rebels on New Year's Day at Borah's Ferry on Green River in 1862.  Thomas and his squad of home guards were captured and carried off by Rebels to a prison in Maryland.  Kitty Ann was left with five children to raise and also a farm to run, to try to survive throughout the rest of the war. It was the greatest trial of her life to be separated from her husband and pregnant with their fifth child.

In that day and time, when a father died with minor children, the law specified that a guardian must be appointed, other than the mother, which was usually a relative or perhaps a close friend.  Said guardian had to make timely reports to the Court once a year as to any disposition made of any monies, such as for clothing, room and board, etc. for his wards.  Abe Bilbro, a friend of Kitty Ann’s father, was appointed guardian over all four children.  None of Abraham Bilbro’s records and reports to the court have been researched.


On December 22, 1862, it was ordered that H. L. Iler, J. P. Taylor and James A. Stevens be appointed appraisers of the Thomas Smith Estate, and that any two of them could act, to peruse the Estate of said decedent as prescribed by law, and report to the county court. 

During the February 1863 term of court, an inventory and an appraisement list of the assets of Thomas Smith was recorded in Book H, Page 455, as follows:

An Inventory of the Property of Thomas Smith, Deceased
Made on the 9th of January 1863

1 Auger                                                                      $ 0.40
1 3-quarter Auger & drawing knife                           0.15
1/3 of a cross cut saw                                                               1.00
1 clevis                                                                             .35
1 Scythe                                                                           .75
1 hoe                                                                                .75
1 hoe                                                                                .25
1 Basket                                                                           .10
1 Flat iron                                                                       .50
2 Sheep                                                                          3.00
6 Shoats                                                                         6.00

Kitty Ann purchased all of the above items, except two – J. H. Arnold purchased 1/3 of a cross-cut saw for 75 cents and J. J. Leach purchased the Scythe at a cost of 75 cents.

H. L. Iler and James A. Stevens signed the report to the Court as the Appraisers and J. J. Leach and Catherine Smith, signed as Administrators.  Reports from the guardian continued to be made until the minors reached the legal age, but none are available here.

On February 1, 1863, B. S. Jenkins (Kitty’s father), Wm. M. Anglea, (a blacksmith and neighbor of Kitty’s father); A. P. Montague (a leading merchant in Cromwell until his death); and Jabich Williams filed a report to the court as claimants against the estate and agreed to whatever settlement the court would make.  Two of them may have been partners with Thomas in a crosscut saw, and Thomas may have been farming crops on the halves on land owned by one of the claimants, since it did not appear Thomas owned any land.  Montague may have let him buy seed and supplies on an account at his store.  

Tax records would show the value and number of hogs, sheep, ox and wagons he owned.

In March 1865, J. J. Leach and Catherine Smith were appointed Administrators to the settlement of Thomas Smith, deceased, who died intestate.  Administration was filed during the February 1865 Term of court, and was filed and approved in the settlement book; approved and filed for record in the March Term 1865. Records mentioned that the Settlement Book “B” was in the courthouse basement.  Settlement proceedings apparently carried on throughout the war until 1865.


Grandmother told me her grandmother had a hard life – she had little or no money when her husband was captured, and there was not much she could do except try to go forward. And try to keep her children healthy.  Her parents and brothers probably helped her as much as they could.  They ate from their garden, and part of the hogs she grew were butchered so they would have ham, bacon and sausage to eat. She may have raised one or two hogs to sell or to use in bartering for other things her family needed.  Her sheep furnished her with wool for their needs.  Very little of anything was made for sale.

My aunt, Elizabeth Sandefur, whom we called “Auntie,” told me that Kitty Ann grew one acre of cotton every year.  Even for one acre, it took a great deal of back-breaking work to plant, weed, tend and pick.  Cotton planting began in early spring and she plowed the rows herself using her ox and a heavy plow.  Grandmother said she could plow as good as a man.  All the children old enough helped and picked the cotton and stuffed it into their small bags.  Each was expected to do their share. Picking started in late August. The cotton provided cloth, which she carded, spun and wove herself.
Auntie said that every evening after the regular day’s work was done, Kitty Ann gave each of her children a cup and they picked the tiny black cotton seeds out of the fluffy white cotton with their fingers and put them in their cups.  The seeds were stored in a container for the next year.  Picking out seeds was a tedious task, but an easy one.  Most likely she saved only enough seeds to use for planting the next year; probably none was for sale to a market.  It is reported that it took all day long for one person to pick the seeds out of cotton to get ten pounds done.

“One day they were sitting around picking out cotton seeds,” Auntie told me, and one of the boys looked out the window and said, “Look mama, the Rebels are coming.”  And sure enough they were coming down the road and into their yard. 

With all the men and boys gone off to war, Kitty Ann Smith had learned to plow her land with her ox until the Rebels came and raided her farm.  They barged inside the house and demanded her money.  She told them she didn’t have any; however, she was sitting in her rocking chair with little rolls of dark colored quilt scraps in her lap, where she had hidden her money in the rolls.  The soldiers then raided her farm, taking with them her only ox and wagon and all her blue geese.  They went upstairs looking for money and tore the feather mattresses and pillows apart and threw them out the windows, scattering feathers everywhere.  They emptied her cellar of food, and took all the corn and grain stored in the barn. Perhaps she later had to borrow a horse from her family members to raise a garden and a patch of grain and corn to feed the farm animals.  It was almost as difficult for the women left at home during wartime as it was for the soldiers who left their families and went off to fight.

After being a widow for nearly five years, Kitty Ann, at age 36, married a second time to James Willeby, on July 4, 1867, as recorded in Book J, page 361, Ohio County marriage records.  She was dealt still another hard blow when she learned that James Willeby was already married, and therefore, was a bigamist.  She had the marriage annulled within a month.

About six years later, on October 20, 1873, she was married for a third time, at age 42, to Franklin Williams as recorded in Book S, page 394 of the county marriage records.  He had a number of children and for some reason the marriage did not work out.  My grandmother told me she remembered her mother telling her about seeing him come down the road with all his children and his things loaded in his wagon.  He nodded his head as he went by the Smith’s home.


Kitty Ann’s brother, Benjamin Fulton Jenkins, became a popular ordained minister, very well-known and respected in several counties.  He and his wife, Elizabeth, had been married fourteen years, when their last child was born.  What should have been a happy event turned sad when Elizabeth died from complications of the birth.  She was only thirty-three when she passed away on October 17, 1882, at her home in Cromwell, one day after giving birth to Broadus Smith Jenkins.  “Bettie” as she was known was buried at the Arnold Cemetery, not far from Bald Knob Church

My grandmother told me that when Elizabeth died, Benjamin asked his sister, Kitty Ann, then 51, to look after the baby for a while, because he had other little children at home.  Kitty cared for him until he was almost two years old, when Benjamin married Nancy Emmaline Miller in 1884 and came after his little son, whom he had named Broadus Smith. It was said that Kitty Ann missed the baby terribly and was never quite the same afterwards.


On May 13, 1887, Kitty A. Williams (at age 56) and Eliza E. Smith sold to James T. Smith, “30 acres of land which we now live a stone on the original corner of James T. Smith.”  He was thirty-one.

On September 8, 1896 Mrs. K. A. Williams and E. E. Smith of Ohio County, Kentucky gave a deed to C. T. Smith of Ohio County, Kentucky, containing 20-1/2 acres, for a consideration of $50.00.  Said land was described as:
“A tract of land lying in Ohio Co. Ky. joining J. T. Smith’s, L. D. Taylor’s and Elvis Sanderfur’s land:  Beginning at South East corner, thence W 87 poles to E. P. Sanderfur’s line, to a stone; thence N. 38 poles to a red oak; thence E. 87 poles to a stone; thence S. 6 E. 38 poles to a stone at the beginning, containing 20-1/2 acres, more or less.”

C. T. Smith, who purchased this land, was probably Charles Thomas, the oldest son of James T. Smith.

Kitty A. "Williams", age 69, was listed in the 1900 census living at Cromwell, Ohio County with her daughter, Eliza E. Keown,  age 46, and Eliza's husband, Joseph Keown, age 47 - all born Kentucky, parents all born Kentucky.

Kitty was listed on the same census pages as Charles and Fidella Sanders and also James W. Cox and his second wife, Rebecca Patterson.  Kitty Ann reported that she was the mother of five children, four of whom were living.  (The youngest, John Fulton, had died in 1897 in Jacksonport, Jackson County, Arkansas.)


Kitty Ann Smith, age 71, died a few days after Christmas on December 28, 1902, at her home. Her daughter, Eliza was living with her.
The Hartford Herald, dated January 7, 1903, page 2, column 4, under Select, says:

"Mrs. Kitty Smith, better known as "Aunt Kitty" died the 28th of December ult. of old age and diseases incident thereto, and was buried at the graveyard near Luther Rogers the 29th."  (the next day).

My grandmother, Eva Caroline (Smith) Cox, however, said the paper got the cemetery wrong, and that her grandmother was buried at the Brickhouse Cemetery.  She should know.


Grandmother’s “Day Book” also lists the death of Eliza (Smith) Keown as August 22, 1905.  Eliza Elizabeth, daughter of Kitty Ann and sister of James Thomas Smith, lived all her life with her mother.  After Eliza married Joseph, he moved right in and they continued to live with her mother.   Evelyn Elmore told me that the marriage did not work out and by the date of her death in 1905, Eliza and Joseph were separated.

Thanks to Janice Brown for this wonderful article.

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