Friday, April 28, 2017

OTWELL Estates

Edna OTWELL > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John F. OTWELL > William OTWELL & his father Francis OTWELL

Estate appraisals can give incite on how a family lived. Both William and Francis were farmers living on the 150 acre farm in Scott County when they died.  Both were holding notes on numerous friends and family members.  From the lists, it appears William spent some money on furniture and bedding.  We also learn that Francis was harvesting wool and had a loom.

Here are the items in William OTWELL’s estate appraisal 1858:

Dozen juniper chairs, a juniper rocking chair, a dozen split bottom chairs, a card table, a settee, 3 steel beds with bedding (steel or iron beds were new in the 1850s), a dining table trifle gun (a table with a compartment to hide a gun), breakfast table with safe, bureau with clock, rocking chair, wardrobe, cooking stove

Household Goods
A looking glass, a bowl & pitcher, 10 blankets, bed sheet & bedding, feather bed, cupboard ware, silverware, bedding for trundle bed, wash stand, fire irons/tongs/shovel, cooking utensils, grindstone, one lot of carpeting, two lots of other sundries

Farm Products and Animals
Seven fleeces of wool, one lot of leather, bushel of clover/timothy seed, lumber, one lot of wheat in the chaff at 40 cents per bushel, 12 hogs, oxen, an ox cart with log chain, 5 cows at $30 per head, 3 heifers at $18 per head, a steer, 5 calves, one lot of sheep, 6 horses and 1 yearling filly

Planted in field
30 acres corn, 20 acres oats, 5 acres wheat

A carriage, a four horse wagon, swingletrees

$11.53 Cash (about $323 in 2017), a check from son-in-law in the amount of $557.66 (over 15K in 2017), IOU Notes totaling almost $2000.00 (equivalent to over 56K in 2017), slaves (more about that at the end of this post).

Here are items in estate of William's father Francis OTWELL 1839:

2 chest & cupboards, 9 chairs, 9 split bottom chairs, 2 breakfast & dining tables, cupboard, bed and bedstand, a trundle bed and stand, 2 beds, table, large desk, 2 bedsteads, 5 cradles

Household Goods
tea kettle, kettle, silver soup spoon and tea spoon, 4 table cloths, 3 canisters with lids, carpet, chamber pot, loom and equipage (wheel, hooks, thread), brush for wool, wool bands, wool, black wool, 2 rugs, cooking utensils, buckets, 3 chests with contents, cupboardware, silver tumblers, 5 kettles, pot, candlesticks

Farm Items and Animals
3 rakes, 4 hemp hooks, brushes, , 2 axes, ox yoke, pair of andirons, chains, 2 buckets, 4 pairs of sheep shears, saw whetstone, saddlebags, 1 lot irons, 3 spades, old barrels, 5 hogsheads (casks for wine making), grindstone, 7 plows, 7 shovel plows, mowing laythe, 1 harrow, 5 meal bags, 2 lathes, ox cart, ox yoke, log chains, large box, cutting iron, hemp break, , 1 lot barrels, pitch fork, 29 geese, 37 hogs, 8 lassos, cow & calf, 2 steers, 7 yearling calves, 32 sheep, 6 horses, 2 lots leather, 2 lots of flax, 1 lot linen, 1 lot hempseed, 1 lot rye, 40 bushels of wheat, pork, 2000 hemp, old bacon, pork, soap, hay, 1 lot sugar crocks

In the Field
5 stacks hay, 1 stack fodder, 1 stack rye

2 doubletrees, 7 saddles, 6 bridles, wagon, 2 singletrees, 4 lots of hames

 $92.00 Cash (equivalent to about $2,300 in 2017), IOU Notes totaling almost $2500.00 (over 63K in 2017), a shot gun and equipage, slaves (see next section)


When we first became aware of slave ownership in our family history, it was very difficult to accept. This will be the first time some of you hear about this. So, I have split the slave information into this section to allow people to decide if they want to read about it. After years of researching our history, I have come to terms with it by understanding that this was the norm in early America. I am not proud of this information, but you have to take the good with the bad. If any of our ancestors made different choices, we may not be here today.

Keep in mind that the first OTWELL to come to Jamestown Colony (1623) came as an indentured servant in order to pay for his passage to the New World. Within 2 generations, the American OTWELLs were slave owners. The last OTWELL slave owner in our tree was John Franklin OTWELL. Slaves were also owned by our GARTH and TAYLOR ancestors.

What is interesting is that we have information for 2 estates spanning almost 20 years: Francis (1839) and William (1858). Prior to the Civil War, it was illegal to buy slaves from outside of Kentucky. The only way one could get a slave was to purchase them from existing Kentucky slave population. Additionally, it was frowned upon for gentlemen to sell their slaves - probably why William's will stipulated that his slaves were not to be sold. In comparing the estates, we find that a few of the younger people on the 1839 list appeared on the 1858 list. We also find that when the estate was split in 1858, women and their young children were kept together.

Francis’ list (1839) included 3 adult males (Jacob, Nathan and Mathew), 2 adult women with their infant children (Casey with William and Lucinda with William) and 10 children (Robert, Harry, Sam, Jefferson, Julia, Sarah, Emily, Elizabeth, Jenny and Mary). No ages were given.

William’s estate (1858) included a list of slaves with their ages. The heirs each received one slave and the remaining were grouped according to their value so that each heir received the same portion of the estate. The sons (both farmers) were willed adult men while the daughters were willed children.
  • Our ancestor John Franklin was willed Harry (21 years old). Note that Harry was one of the 10 children in Francis’ 1839 estate. John F. also received the group consisting of George, Samuel (12), Mary and Albert (9).
  • Thomas was willed Randall (21) and received the group of Elijah (33), Lucinda (40) with her 2 children (Austin and Alexander). Note that Lucinda appeared on Francis’ 1839 list.
  • Martha was willed Lewis (8) and received the group Leah (44) with children Isaac, Elizabeth and Harvey
  • Emily was willed 2 children (Billy and Dinah) and received the group Jacob (14), Fanny (21) and her 2 children (Martha and Isabel)
  • Mary Ann was willed a child named Frank and received the group Abraham (23), Rachel and her 2 children
  • Sarah Jane was willed a child named Jo and received the group Nathan (50), Hannah (17) and Henry (8). Nathan was on Francis’ 1839 list.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

William OTWELL (1798-1858)

William OTWELL's "Mark"
Edna OTWELL-SIM > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL > John Franklin OTWELL > William OTWELL

William Otwell was born in Scott County, Kentucky on April 11, 1798.  His father was Francis (Frank) Otwell and his mother was unknown.  The old census reports only recorded the head of the family and did not list the names of the spouse and children.  We do know there were many children.  One brother was named Parker and a sister was named Mary Ann.

William married Quintilla Garth around 1821 in Scott County.  They had at least six children which included John Franklin, Thomas, Martha, Emily, Mary Ann and Sarah Jane.

On the 1810 and 1820 Censuses William was still in Scott County living with his parents.  He moved to Fayette County, Kentucky after the 1820 Census with his wife and lived on 100 acres of land.  Their first child, John Franklin, was born there in 1821.  William appeared on the 1830 census in Fayette with his wife, children, and 17 slaves.

In 1839 after his father's death, his family moved back to Scott County to the Frank Otwell Farm which was 150 acres located on the north-west side of the Leesburgh and Lexington Road (now known as Paris Pike).  He was listed as a purchaser of items from his father's estate records.  He was a farmer and he remained in Scott County the rest of his life.

In 1849, William was involved in a civil lawsuit OTWELL vs COOK in which precedence was set in the use of IOUs to offset other IOUs.

On the 1850 Census he was listed with his wife and four daughters.  The 1850 Slave Schedule recorded he was the owner of 21 slaves.

In June 1857 William made out his will and signed with an "X" leaving his estate to his children.  On January 12, 1858 William changed his executor from his son, John Franklin, to two non-family members.  In May 1858 his will was presented to the Scott County Court for disbursement.

William Otwell died May 18, 1858 at the age of 60.  He was buried in the Georgetown Cemetery in Scott County, Kentucky.
OTWELL Monument at Georgetown Cemetery
Photo courtesy of laribel from
Close up of text on monument
Photo courtesy of Ben T. CALVERT of
Visit his on-line memorial:

Read more about the OTWELL Estates.

The Frank Otwell Farm

In the will of William Otwell, the Frank Otwell Farm consisting of 150 acres was to be divided equally to William's daughters, Martha Dorsey, Mary Otwell and Sarah Jane Otwell.

"The land given to my daughters is undivided and deeded to them and lies in Scott County, State of Kentucky.  If this land should fall short of 150 acres as described, I wish that it should be made up out of my estate to Martha, Mary and Sarah Jane."

Martha Otwell Dorsey quickly bought out her sisters' properties.  Mary and Sarah Jane moved to Georgetown, KY and both were deceased within a few years.

In 1878, Martha's husband, Benjamin Dorsey, willed the property to their "daughter Fannie Cromwell Dorsey and children".  In 1916, Fannie wanted to sell the property and divide the proceeds between herself and her older children.  The problem was she had several very young children. The family went to the Kentucky Court of Appeals and in Brock vs Brock, the court decided that all of the children were entitled to the proceeds even if they were born after Benjamin's death.  The property was sold outside the family.
Location of former OTWELL farm
From Google Earth, 2016
From the on-line HISTORY site:
Kentucky was granted statehood in 1792, becoming the first U.S. state west of the Appalachian Mountains. Frontiersman Daniel Boone was one of Kentucky's most prominent explorers and many immigrants followed the trail he blazed through the Cumberland Gap, known as the Wilderness Road. Although it sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War, the population was deeply divided, and many Kentucky residents fought for the North. Known primarily as an agricultural area into the 20th century, Kentucky is also a major U.S. coal producer and site of the military bases Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. It is also known as the home of the legendary Kentucky Derby horse race and bluegrass music, pioneered by Kentucky native Bill Monroe.

Flag of Kentucky

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Elizabeth MCCLANE-TAYLOR (1789-1867)

Back of Pleasant Retreat, Fayette County, KY
(Note 4 chimneys, all brick home)
From Kentucky Digital Library
Photo by Carolyn Murray-WOOLEY, 1975

Elizabeth MCCLANE was born 2 May 1789 and was the daughter of James MCCLANE according to her marriage record.  We have found no additional documents for Elizabeth prior to their marriage.
  • The MCCLANE surname was in the transcription of the marriage record listed in Kentucky Marriage Records Volume II 1810-1814.  That lists Wm MCCLANE and Wm GUILLIAM as bondsmen and James MCCLANE as father to the bride.  GUILLIAM is the maiden name of Stark's mother and Wm was likely a relation.  Bondsmen were usually uncles.
  • Many on-line sources state that an alternative spelling is MCCLAIN.
  • There was a James MCCLAIN who was killed by Indians at Dudley's Defeat.  We have found no documents to link to this line - more research is needed. 
On 22 January 1810, 21 year old Elizabeth MCCLANE married 24 year old farmer Stark TAYLOR in Fayette Co., Kentucky.  In 1813, they built their home named Pleasant Retreat (see photo).
Imagine Elizabeth rearing 16 children there!: Sarah Ann MCMURTRY, James, Richardson, Harrison, Eliza J. SATTERWHITE, Julia DIXON, Mary H. OTWELL (our ancestor), Andrew, Benjamin, Martha R. WHEELER, Anna, Catherine SMITH, Susan FITZGERALD, Berlin, Frank and Frances MCCLELLAND. 

Names of family members were not listed in censuses prior to 1850.  We do have 1810 through 1840 censuses for Stark.  1850 is the first census in which Elizabeth is listed.

Louisville Evening Bulletin, page 2, 29 April 1857
Found on Fulton Postcards
Stark died in 1859.  Executors of the will were Elizabeth and sons Richardson and Frank. Pleasant Retreat was sold at auction that year.

From The Millennial Harbinger by Alexander CAMPBELL, Wm. Kimbrough PENDLETON, Charles LOUIS, pg. 354 (from Correspondence dated 28 Apr 1859, Louisville, Kentucky to Bro. CAMPBELL)
“…On Tuesday, in the forenoon, I preached the funeral of old Brother Stark TAYLOR, of Fayette county, one of my old neighbors. He died the Lord’s day previous. My companion and former associate, Bro. Wm. CONN went with me from Georgetown to the funeral. I truly sympathized with his aged companion, Sister TAYLOR, and her sorrowing children, and gave them all the comfort I could from the word of God. After addressing a large audience, we then followed his body to the grave, and saw it placed in its long home....Affectionately your Brother, T.M. ALLEN
Elizabeth appears as head of household in the 1860 census still in Fayette Co.  She is listed as a 72 year old farmer with real estate valued at $24,000 and a personal property of $13,000.  Several of her children and their spouses lived in her household.

From the following article, we learn that Elizabeth leased out her slaves which was a common practice in Kentucky.
Lexington Observer and Reporter, 26 March 1862
Elizabeth died 6 March 1867 and was buried next to Stark in Lexington Cemetery.

Visit her on-line memorial:

This ends the MCCLANE research.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Items listed on estate appraisals give us an idea of what life was like for our ancestors.  Stark TAYLOR specified "My wife Elizabeth Taylor is to have that portion of the estate to which she would be entitled if I had died intestate, to be held by her in the same manner as she would if I had made no will."  All of the household and farm items, crops, animals and slaves were owned by Stark and Elizabeth had to buy them back at auction.  The estate was then divided into 12 portions and inherited by their living children or the heirs of their dead children (some of the children died before producing heirs).
Items bought by his wife Elizabeth
Stove, all of the furniture in 7 rooms of home, silver ware, cupboard ware, watch, kitchen ware, 21 barrels of salt, 4 cows, 3 rows of apples, brown mare colt, 2 year old brown filly, 1 yoke of oxen, bay buggy mare, 3 hay stacks, 2 oat stacks, 35 acres corn, old buggy, ox cart, 2 horse wagons, box of bees
Household Items
Mills, cider, 21 barrels salt, sausage grinder, brooms, kettles, large tub, pots
Scales, hemp hook, augers, cross cut and hand saw, corn knives, tools, sheep shears, cutter, buckles, rope, irons, drawing knife, side saddle, grind stone, barrels, scrapers, scythes, axes, cradles, nails, box glass, grease, cutting box, rope jack, thrasher, grain sheet, wheat fan, hemp break, 8 plows. 3 small plows, shingles, plank, ox tongs, barrow, forks, cultivator, maul & wedges, hay rake & crow bar, spade & digger, 4 doubletrees, 4 log chains, ox bows, boards, corn sheller, wagon, wagon bed, posts, yokes, bell
Hemp, shelled oats, oats in sheaf, wheat old corn, stack of hay, 27 acres corn, hemp seed, potatoes, 315 bushels of wheat, onions, 13 oats stacks, 6 hemp stacks, 43 stacks of hay, 6 rows of apples
Lambs, 6 hogs, 35 pigs, 6 heifers, 9 cows, 20 calves, bull, 45 sheep, 12 fat cattle, 12 cattle, 9 horses, a mule, 3 yearling steers, mule colt
8 shares in Lexington Newtown Pike


Those retained by Elizabeth TAYLOR: Rachel (34), David (33), Peter (36), Bill (17), Cynthia (24) & her child, Elizabeth (6).
Others that were sold: Henry (25), Aleck (35), Jack (30), Moses (10), Carrie (29), Aaron an old man, Celia (18), Belle (16), Hilda (16), Coraline (18) & her child, Jenni (26) & her child, Maria (8), Esther (4)

Louisville Daily Journal page 3, 10 October1859
Found on Fulton Postcards

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Stark TAYLOR (1786-1859)

Pleasant Retreat, Fayette County, KY
From Kentucky Digital Library
Photo by Carolyn Murray-WOOLEY, 1975
Stark TAYLOR was born 9 September 1786 in Virginia. His unique first name ties him to the GUILLIAM family and it is believed that his parents were William TAYLOR and Hannah GUILLIAM though no birth record exists.

Kentucky became a state in 1792.  Prior, it was considered to be an extension of Virginia.  Since there are no birth records, to say he was born in Virginia means he was born somewhere now known as Virginia or Kentucky.

On 22 January 1810, 24 year old Stark married 21 year old Elizabeth MCCLANE (1789-1867) in Fayette Co., Kentucky.

Stark and Elizabeth had at least 16 children: Sarah Ann MCMURTRY, James, Richardson, Harrison, Eliza J. SATTERWHITE, Julia DIXON, Mary H. OTWELL (our ancestor), Andrew, Benjamin, Martha R. WHEELER, Anna, Catherine SMITH, Susan FITZGERALD, Berlin, Frank and Frances MCCLELLAND. There may have been child #17 named William.

The earliest record we have is the 1810 census in Fayette County. The 1820 census was found in Mercer County, KY under the name Starky TAYLOR. 1830, 1840 and 1850 censuses were also found for Stark Taylor. The 1850 slave schedule showed that they owned 28 slaves ranging from age 2 to 52.

In 1813, they built a home called Pleasant Retreat (see photo) at the cross roads of streets now named Newton Pike & Iron Works Road in Lexington, Fayette Co., KY. What a beautiful home in which our ancestor Mary OTWELL grew up.  This house appears on the list of Kentucky Antebellum era homes.

Stark was a hemp farmer and rope manufacturer. Hemp was a big crop in Kentucky prior to the Civil War – with over 50% of rope manufactured in Kentucky. The large hemp barn located on Pleasant Retreat is a 2 story brick barn measuring 40 feet by 50 ft. Slave quarters were on the 2nd floor and the 1st floor was used for hemp seed storage.   During the civil war, this barn was a cannonball foundry. Melted lead was poured into molds and this is how Iron Works Road got its name.

Barn at Pleasant Retreat From Google Maps - Street View
Stark was a member of the Forks of Elkhorn Church.  According to MCADAMS’ Kentucky Pioneer and Court Records, on 9 April 1828, as a Trustee for the Baptist Church of Jesus Christ, Stark inherited ½ acre of land on the waters of Cane Run on behalf of the church from Lydia FORD of Fayette Co.

In 1838-39 Landowners list, he also owned a 320 acre farm on Henry’s Mill Road in Lexington.

21 November 1839, Kentucky Gazette

In 1839, Stark was appointed as a Delegate to the State Convention during a meeting of the Democratic Party in Lexington. Thus, he attended the Democratic Convention at Frankfort on 8 January 1840 to nominate candidates for the upcoming elections.

In March 1840, he was appointed to the Committee of Vigilance for Fayette Co. At the meeting, this committee unanimously resolved to regard General HARRISON an abolitionist and unworthy of the presidential nomination. (HARRISON was elected president in 1841, holding the position for 32 days before dying of pneumonia.)

In 1847, Stark was named one of the Justices of the Peace in Fayette Co.

In the book History of Kentucky, by Lewis and Richard H. COLLINS (page 57), Stark appears as an owner of a captured runaway slave on 5 August 1848.

Stark died of old age on 24 April 1859 at his home; age 73.  Transcriptions of his will (dated 20 Jan 1858) and estate appraisal and auction were found.  Executors of the will were wife Elizabeth and sons Richardson and Frank.  The estate was divided into 12 equal shares (for each of the living children or their heirs). "Mary OTWELL, wife of John OTWELL" received one share.

Stark was buried at Lexington Cemetery.

Pleasant Retreat was sold at auction on 8 October 1859.

Visit his on-line memorial:


Stark's father was William TAYLOR (1769-1819).  We found an 1810 census from Lexington, KY.  Online sources say he was born in Kentucky or Virginia.  He died in Lexington.

Stark's mother was Hannah GUILLIAM (1773-?) (or GUILLUM).  She was the daughter of William GUILLIAM (1753-?) and Elizabeth BOWLER (1753-?) and was born in Kentucky or Virginia.

We recently found a reference in a book stating that Stark's parents were one of the first settlers of Kentucky.  But, we have found little documentation on this family and have decided not to have a separate blog post for them at this time.

This ends the TAYLOR, GUILLIAM and BOWLER research.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mary H. TAYLOR-OTWELL (1824-1890)


Mary H. Taylor was born around 1824 in Fayette County, Kentucky.  Her parents were Stark Taylor and Elizabeth McClane.  She came from a large family of 16 children and lived on a hemp-growing plantation in Fayette County that also included slaves.

On December 19, 1844 she married John Franklin Otwell.  Mary had only one child, Maurice Otwell, who was born in 1845.  Mary was found on the 1850 US Census living with her husband and son.  Her father, Stark Taylor, listed Mary in his will on January 20, 1858.  From 1824-1859 Mary was in Fayette County, Kentucky.

In 1859 Mary moved with her family to West Nissouri, Ontario, Canada.  She was listed on the 1881 Canadian Census.  We found many recordings for her husband, John, who was a market gardener and owned a cannery.  However, we found very little on Mary who remained in the background of her husband's business.  Although she had only one child, her home was filled with her grandchildren.  Her son, Maurice, and his family lived with her before and after his being committed to St. Mary's Insane Asylum in 1889.

After her husband's canning business was sold, the family moved to London, Ontario in 1889.  We do not have any information on Mary's death except the date of July 21, 1890 in London.