1856-1859, 1861, 1893

Source Background

The records on this set of pages come from LDS microfilm #216839, which includes vital statistics for Rockcastle, Rowan and Russell counties. It is part of a series filmed in the 1950's from records in the custody of the Kentucky Historical Society. An identical introductory essay is inserted at the beginning of each county's segment of the microfilm. I would like to post the entire essay on a separate page, but since I don't know if it is copyrighted, I will just briefly summarize it here.

In 1852, the Kentucky legislature passed a law requiring County Clerks to submit in January of each year a list of all the births, deaths, and marriages which had taken place in their counties during the preceding year. These lists were prepared by merging separate reports compiled by clergymen, doctors, midwives, and undertakers, and turned in to the County Clerks by Jan 10. The County Clerk copied the reports into forms supplied by the state, kept one copy in the County Courthouse, and gave one copy to the tax assessor, who turned it in to the State Auditor.

Some events were recorded in several counties, apparently when the clergyman or birth attendant submitted a list to more than one County Clerk.

In 1861, the law was repealed under wartime pressure, and statewide registration of vital statistics did not recommence until 1911 (from an act passed in 1910.) Compliance was incomplete for 1860 and 1861; the Rowan County microfilm includes records from 1861 but not 1860.

In the 1920's, the Kentucky Historical Society started collecting these old records to preserve them from destruction. (I don't know where the original lists are now, but they are not in the county courthouses. I assume they are either at the State Archives, or at the Historical Society.)

For some reason not explained in the essay, the microfilms also include records from a few scattered later years. For Rowan County, those years were 1893, plus marriages from 1906. These later records are still obviously annual reports submitted to the state, since they are one-record-per-line reports, usually signed and attested as a "true copy" by the County Clerk at the end.

The original lists are in the order that the clerk copied the separate lists submitted at year's end by doctors and midwives. Thus, neighbors tend to be entered in clumps. For those who are interested in seeing the original order without consulting the microfilm, I've made the unsorted list available in PDF (Acrobat) and RTF (Rich Text Format) formats.

Transcription Notes

These html transcriptions are sorted alphabetically by "families", essentially, father then mother then birthdate, with variations in spelling ignored. A second version is provided with the families sorted by the mother's name. Where a parent was entered with the wrong surname, I have alphabetized it under the correct name, since that is probably the name you will be searching for, even though the entry is recorded with the text in the original document

When a child's given name was long (e.g., Breckenridge), the clerk sometimes omitted the surname from the Child column. In these cases, as well as the cases where the child's name column said only "No name", I have entered the father's surname in brackets in the child column.

To save space, I have omitted the Sex, Color, and Alive or Dead columns. I have made a note (f) or (m) in the Name of Child column where the gender is not apparent from the name. For Color, I have split the record into separate lists for Black and White. Mixed-race children are entered in the White list with a note in the last column. Those births with "dead" in the vitality column are marked here with (stillb) in the Name of Child column. Most of them are unnamed, but the entry can still be useful, e.g., the mother's maiden name may be the only surviving evidence of a marriage.

For 1856 through 1858, when the County Clerk was E. H. Logan, the column for Place of Birth was usually filled in with the creek or river that the family lived near, and I have copied this column.

For 1859, there was a different clerk, who always put "Rowan County" in the Place of Birth column, but the register form had additional columns for the place of birth of the parents, so for that year I have used the Place of Birth column in this listing to hold the parents' rather than the child's birthplace. The 1861 and 1893 registers follow the same pattern.

I have tried to enter the text exactly as it appears in the record, including misspellings and other errors. For example, the name listed on these pages as "Atiknson" is spelled that way on the record; I have intentionally not amended it to "Atkinson". The county clerk was himself making copies from lists submitted by doctors and midwives, so some errors occurred when he misread the submitter's handwriting, e.g., "Abr" is in one case entered for "Alex", and in a few cases he apparently lost his place and entered the mother on the wrong line, or the wrong set of parents for a child. Where the error was substantial and I know the correct name (e.g., "Dunaway" entered for "Downing"), I have made a note in the Remarks column. Some letters, however, were very difficult to distinguish. The clerk, for example, made "I" and "J" identical when used as a stand-alone initial. Unless I know the name from other sources, I've had to make a random guess. And I'm sure all of you are familiar with the string of "waves" that cannot be reliably divided into m, n, i, u, r, etc. I welcome any corrections; where the error is in my reading, I will correct the transcription; where it is in the original, I will make a note in the Remarks column, except for minor spelling errors easily inferred by the reader.

Since the list is fairly long (400 births), and web browsers take a long time to format long tables, I have broken each list into four web pages to make browsing for specific surnames faster. If you intend to print or save the whole list, though, you may prefer to take the time to load it as a single page.

Black Births 1856-1859, 1861

White Births Sorted by Father

Entire List    A through D    E through I    J through N    O through Z

White Births Sorted by Mother

Entire List    A through D    E through I    J through N    O through Z

This page is designed and maintained by Teri Pettit. Permission is granted to copy any information, images, or links from this page, so long as it is not used for commercial purposes.

The titling font used in the Rowan County banner boxes is 26 point Adobe Caslon Semibold Italic, with capitals in Adobe Caslon Semibold Italic Swash.

Last updated on June 30, 1999.