Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Verdict Is In

Photo Credit:
By now I'm sure you've figured out that the man who was accused in this shooting is in our family tree. For those in my generation, Thomas Probert is our gg-grandfather. He would have been Norine's grandfather had he lived long enough to meet her. This story, like the man himself, has many interesting twists and turns. Thomas was indicted for killing Jacob K. Spears in Paris, Bourbon Co., Kentucky. The fact that he killed Spears is not in dispute. The question is, was it self-defense? What were the underlying conditions of the time?

This was a BIG trial. People in the town packed the court room. The victim, Jacob Spears, was a member of a wealthy, influential Bourbon who ran a distillery and apparently coined the term "bourbon." In future posts, I'll fill you in on the details of the trial, the prosecutors, the defense team and the Spears family.

I hate to disappoint you, but the jury could not decide. The Louisville Daily Courier reported it with this announcement.

The jury was dismissed and Thomas Probert was free pending posting bail in the sum of $2500 in 1856 dollars! I haven't been able to find out whether or not Thomas got out on bail, but I assume he did. His defense team sought and eventually got a change of venue.

I haven't been able to get much information between the "hung jury" and the retrial, but I hope to go to Paris and research their newspapers that have not yet been digitized. However, I know that Thomas was retried in Lexington and this time there was a different outcome.

The Louisville Daily Courier reported on 14 February 1859 that the jury rendered a verdict of acquittal after being out for one hour. What's even more amazing to me is that on 2 February 1859, Thomas, a widower whose first wife died in childbirth, married Catherine Richardson of Paris, Bourbon Co., Kentucky. By 1860, they had relocated a short distance to Mt. Sterling, Montgomery Co., Kentucky.

There's more to tell, and over the next month, I hope you'll follow along and get to know this complicated man. There is much to admire.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

You Be the Jury - Guilty or Not Guilty Part 2

Yesterday I described a trial from 1852 as described in a newspaper article. The Killing of J. H. Spears was published by the Louisville Courier Journal on April 29, 1856, p.1. If you haven't read it yet, go to yesterday's post before you read the rest of the article. For those who have, here is some additional information.

Note: The Allen Revolver used in the killing may have looked something like this:

The Trial 

There was a very large crowd in attendance upon the trial, which lasted from Wednesday until Friday evening, the case being continued each night until 11:00 or 12:00 o’clock. The lawyers for the prosecution were Hon. Richard Hawes, R.W. Woolley, Richard H. and Robert Hanson and Capt. W.E. Simms; for the defense, Hon. Garrett Davis, Col. T.T. Martin, and W.W. Alexander. The judge committed him for further trial on Thursday, but the question of bail was argued by Davis, Alexander, Woolley and Simms until the next evening. Judge Samuel refused to allow him bail.

The case was conducted with great power and force. The speeches were very eloquent and able and that of Capt. Simms was particularly moving. His voice faltered and he shed tears in its delivery. He described the deceased as his most particular associate and his best friend – one who he deemed incapable in any but the noblest of actions – cut down in the prime of his life when health, happiness, etc. were before him. The favorite and eldest son of an old man who leant upon him for support, and his widowed sister’s idol.

Mr. Spears was a single man about 30 years of age of fine manly form and address, was at one time a resident of Louisville, Mississippi and the Eastern cities, as agent of the large mercantile and manufacturing house of his father in Paris, and, by his genial manners, drew around him a host of young associates who will deeply sympathize with his large and influential relations in Bourbon, at his sad and untimely fate. The Citizen says he was buried by Odd Fellows and followed to the grave by an immense concourse.

OK - so now you know the victim was very popular, well-thought of, and influential in the community? Do you want to change your vote? Guilty or not guilty?

Monday, January 6, 2014

You Be the Jury -- Guilty or Not Guilty?

I recently came across a case in the newspaper. The incident took place in Paris, Bourbon Co., Kentucky. I'm going to post the article exactly as it was printed. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to decide if the Defendant is Guilty or Not Guilty. I'm telling you up front that convincing arguments can be made either way.Tell me what your verdict would be by either posting on the comments below or on facebook where you will also see this posted. No excuses -- guilty or not guilty.

In the next couple of days, I will post how the jury ruled. Enjoy!

The Case 

We saw a gentleman yesterday who was in Paris during the preliminary trial of Thos. H. Probert for the killing of J. H. Spears, and as we and others have published partial accounts of the affair, we will deem it but proper to give the important testimony. On Sunday, eight days before the occurrence, Probert rode up to a fishing frolic and Spears frightened his horse. Probert told him not to show his backside. Spears followed him up, and asked why he spoke to him so. Probert said his horse was wild, and as he was unwell, he didn’t wish to be thrown, and he meant what he said. Spears said he was a better man than Probert and could whip him and insisted on a fist fight. Probert declined, saying he didn’t wish to mar the enjoyment of the party and would rather postpone it. Spears afterwards told witnesses that he had sent a man to prepare arms; that he intended to call upon Probert, and if anything occurred, murder him.  Probert was informed of this, and advised by witness to absent himself from house; that Spears was intoxicated and might carry his threat into execution.

That night, Spears visited Probert and was told that he was absent. On Friday Probert went to Cincinnati and returned on Monday evening. That evening (Monday) Spears, accompanied by a friend, went as far down the railroad as Cynthiana. Probert was informed by Spear’s friends that he got into the baggage car at Cynthiana and advised to go in and make up their difficulty, but he said he didn’t wish to see him, and upon arriving at the depot at Paris, immediately repaired to his bar-room. (Probert had been the baker for the hotel and had acted as bar keeper for two or three months) soon after, Spears came out of the car intoxicated and assisted by his friend, went down in the saloon of the Bourbon House. His friend remarked to Probert, “I have brought you a customer,“ and Spears called for something to drink. Probert set out the liquor and Spears asked him to drink with them several times. Probert declined. Spears asked him if it was because of their difficulty, or if he didn’t wish to drink.  He said it was the latter. Spears then threw the liquor in Probert’s face.  Probert asked him if knew what he was doing. Spears said he did, and at the same time Probert picked up the pistol, and Spears drew back the glass and the pistol fired, and the glass was thrown at the same moment.

Spears received one ball in the neck, one in the face and one in the side of the head, and two struck the ceiling. The tumbler knocked down a cigar box, and broke a pane of glass in the window. The only persons present were Spears’ friend and the two young Messrs. Thurston and the landlords of the hotel. Spears lived in a state of insensibility for three hours. The pistol was an Allen’s revolver, and had lain in the same place from which Probert drew it when he fired, behind the water tank, during his absence in Cincinnati.

Spears was proven to have been very drunk in going from the cars, and walked between two friends, who braced him by the arms to prevent his staggering or falling. But Mr. Thurston said he walked alone when in the saloon. Spears was not armed, but his friend ran out of the room when the fight commenced, and said they were both shooting and one or the other must be killed. Probert was not on good terms with Spear’s friend. Probert came out and desired to go to jail, and his friends secreted him until the Sheriff could arrive to prevent Spear’s friends from mobbing him who seemed to be afraid he might leave.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Texas First Families!

It's been six months. I could say something trite about how busy I've been, but it's true. I'm fully taking advantage of being retired.

About 18 months ago, I was able to make the link between my gg-grandfather, Thomas H. Probert, and his father, William E. Probert. One of the interesting discoveries was that he was a "Fife Major" (literally playing a flute-like instrument called a fife) in the War for Texas Independence in 1837. He was 47 years old when he left his wife and children and headed to Texas along with more than 100 other volunteers from Lexington, Kentucky. Here are a few posts related to his story:

It became apparent that if I was willing to document this relationship that my family could qualify for "Texas First Families." I know from experience that compiling one of these applications requires you to really organize the information you have and "fill in the blanks" if you find missing information. I was up to the challenge.

I put together an application and waited for the review committee to request additional information. (I've never submitted a lineage application without the reviewers wanting clarification or more documentation). Imagine my surprise when this beautiful certificate arrived in the mail six weeks later. I must be getting good at this. Based on this, I know that I could also apply for the Daughters of the Republic of Texas -- maybe a 2014 project.

Yesterday I also submitted an application for the Daughters of the American Revolution. Vincent Wainright was our family's "patriot" through the Jones/Wainright line. Vincent served as a "Minuteman" in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War. It could be months before I know the outcome of that one.

So I hope the drought is over. I have a lot of information recently discovered from newspapers about Thomas Probert, our gg-grandfather from Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. I look forward to sharing it all with you.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ian's Preschool Graduation

It seems hard to believe, but my "super-great, special extra, grandson #1" aka Ian, graduated from preschool on May 19th. This weekend he will celebrate his 5th birthday. Where has the time gone? I'm not ready for kindergarten -- but I know he is.

Ian and friend

Ian has attended the same preschool since he was an infant. The staff is very caring and competent and he has flourished there. The church held a lovely ceremony that featured two musicians from Tennessee who were top-notch performers. The graduates entertained us with two songs including "This Little Light of Mine." Bill and I were privileged to attend and be a part of the day.

Roland and Andrew

The only downside was that grandson #2, Andrew, was not feeling well. He snuggled into his parents doing everything he could to feel better. Grandma Kathy can't help but look at this picture and want to hold him.

His teachers warned us -- in no time at all, we will be attending their high school graduations. Believe me, I can wait.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bill's 77th Birthday!

"Congratulations on making it to a day neither one of us thought you would live to see."
                                                                              My husband's cardiologist when Bill turned 70.

Anyone that knows Bill knows that he has definitely beat the odds. He had his first heart attack when he was 42. He's had several since resulting in two triple-bypass surgeries and one double stent insertion. Among family and friends, we often joke about Bill "threatening" to be dead and never following through. He just keeps on rollin' . . .

I met Bill 32 years ago this month when I was a divorced, single parent of a not-quite-three year old daughter. The fact that we've been married for 26 years was definitely NOT in the cards. Who knows how these things happen.

We've had a wonderful life together. We've had the opportunity to camp our way from coast to coast of this beautiful country and Canada and travel overseas several times to Europe and once to Israel. We are very compatible travelers and wish we could do more. We spent 30 years sailing on weekends and had a  wonderful group of  friends who shared this passion with us. In recent years, we've replaced that hobby with  cycling along the Little Miami Bike Trail. Bill has logged almost 6000 miles on his "comfort" bike.

Bill is supported by several men friends including the members of C.A.K.E.S. (Coffee and Kibitzing Every Sunday) and his "Monday Lunch Group." I've never encountered such a caring group of men.

I have to admit that I'm in an unusually reflective mood as we reach this milestone. There are so many things I could discuss -- Bill's daughter in Tennessee, Liz, Roland and the two wonderful grandsons we have, the three dogs we've shared (Scruffy, Anchor and Zippy), but something else is on my mind this year.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter told me that her son, Ian, was asked in Sunday School to draw a picture of someone he loved. He explained to his parents that despite loving them, he had chosen to draw a picture of Grandpa Bill because Grandpa Bill had given him some yellow trucks. These trucks were vintage die cast trucks, probably from the 50s. Ian loves his trucks -- and needless to say, Grandpa Bill loved hearing the story. So it made me think of one of my favorite pictures.

Ian and Bill walking into Heather's wedding, July 2011
So happy birthday, Bill. I know you are loving your life right now. Just keep on rollin' . . .


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Settlers and Builders of Ohio

Since I became interested in genealogy 13 years ago, I've taken advantage of several opportunities to document my ancestors. In addition to blogging, one of the ways I have done this is by submitting my findings to various lineage groups sponsored by the Hamilton County Genealogical Society and the Ohio Genealogical Society.

I have two main reasons for doing this. First of all, it forces me to improve as a genealogist. I must submit my records for peer review -- and I can assure you it is not always an easy process. Often one of the reviewers will request supporting documentation. In some cases, I've been forced to explore records previously unknown to me. However, once accepted, I had a real feeling of accomplishment that I had preserved my family's history for those who come after me.

Secondly, both organizations preserve my application and supporting documentation. Should something happen to me and all of my documentation be destroyed, it is good to know that all Hamilton County records are being preserved at the Cincinnati History Library and Archives and that those submitted to the Ohio Genealogical Society are preserved at their library.

So far I have had ancestors accepted into three Hamilton County lineage groups: Century Families, Settlers and Builders and First Families, and three Ohio Genealogical Society lineage groups: Century Families, Settlers and Builders, and Civil War. I would still like to submit three more ancestors for the Civil War group and an application for First Families to OGS. If I get really brave, I may even try to submit to the Daughters of the American Revolution because we should qualify through our Wainright line. I'm most proud of our First Families award because I had to prove that we had direct ancestors living in Cincinnati or Hamilton County before December 31, 1820. William and Ruth Wainright and their son, Britton, qualified.

One thing I know for sure -- I am a descendant of a very diverse English, Irish, German and Welsh family including one who fought in the Revolutionary War (Vincent Wainwright) and one who arrived from Germany as recent as 1881 (August Vonderheide). I am proud to know them all.

Monday, April 1, 2013

When I'm 64 -- Today!

When I'm Sixty-Four
Credit to The Beatles

December 2012
Photo Credit: Nephew Mark Jones

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine?

If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

oo oo oo oo oo oo oo oooo
You'll be older too, (ah ah ah ah ah)
And if you say the word,
I could stay with you.

I could be handy mending a fuse
When your lights have gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride.

Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck, and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view.
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, Wasting Away.

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?


Today I'm 64!!! In some ways it seems hard to believe, in other ways -- no big deal. As I type this, I'm in my favorite recliner, in my lovely home, Zippy in my lap and Bill on his computer next to me. These are happy and peaceful times for me. I got to spend yesterday, Easter, with my wonderful Jones family and my wonderful daughter, husband and grandsons. Andrew delighted all of us with taking his first steps consistently. Ian, "Super-Great, Special-Extra Grandson #1" warmed my heart as only he can do. Spring weather and days of bicycling are on the horizon. I'm taking an online course on genetics offered free by MIT challenging and stretching this old brain in ways I couldn't have imagined.

So I want to give thanks for my husband, my daughter and all of my wonderful family and friends who are the reason for the joy, peace and gratitude I have for the life I've been privileged to live.
And that's no April Fools . . .

Kath at 64

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Picture-Perfect Christmas

I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family. We just added Tyler Michael Jones to the clan on December 22nd. Because of distance, several families and their children were not able to attend this year, but I know they feel the love. Don and Frani hosted the annual Christmas Eve celebration. Although we couldn't all be there, we were delighted that so many of our grandchildren could attend. Here is the 2012 picture.

Roland is holding Andrew, Melissa is holding John, Mark is holding Ben and Santa Don has Ian, Mae and Savannah on his lap.

There I too many pictures from Christmas this year to share in any kind of meaningful way -- so I made a few collages.
Andrew Meets Santa

Andrew on Christmas Morning

Santa in upper-left hand corner with Savannah, Mae, Ian and John (facing Santa).

These collages contain only half the pictures I took that day. I apologize for the obvious omission of adults. But Christmas for me this year was all about the blessing of the Jones grandchildren (or g-grandchildren of my parents). And for them, I am grateful. They light up our lives.

My blessings, Andrew and Ian 2012

Welcome to the family Tyler Michael Jones
Born December 22, 2012
Son of Brian and Shannon