Henderson County, Kentucky
The Trace of Private Lewis Smith, Sr.
By Carolyn L. Warfield
I followed the clues my collateral ancestor left for posterity when no
death certificate existed for him. It made good sense to extract the
land deed Lewis Smith negotiated for burial purposes before his
transition to prove intention as indirect evidence.1
Genealogical conclusions based on indirect evidence can be as solid as
answers found in direct evidence. “Within regular land deeds you can
sometimes find where family plots were located.”3 Civil War
veteran Lewis Smith passed on 27 November 1910,2 however,
Kentucky did not register vital records in local health offices until
1911. The big mystery remains, where is Lewis Smith buried? “A mystery
cannot be answered; it can only be framed by identifying the critical
factors and applying how they have interacted in the past.”4
Lewis Lines (aka Lewis Smith (1825-1910), and my paternal
great-grandfather George Beverly (aka George William Warfield
(1837-1919), were soldiers in different companies of the 118th United
States Colored Regiment. It is conceivable that they knew each other
before and during the war, yet I cannot say truthfully. They both
returned to the Border state locale of Henderson County, Kentucky when
the war ended, and became in-laws when several of their children
”Union commander Stephan A. Burbridge issued General Order No. 34 in
April 1864, extending recruitment to slaves with owner’s authorization.”
5 “Congress allowed slaveholders to file claims against the
Federal government for loss of the slave’s services: $300 for slaves who
enlisted or $100 for slaves who were drafted.”6 In
Henderson, Negroes brought an average of $232.50.7 The
evidence of Lewis Lines being a Private in Company C of the 118th U.S.
Colored Infantry is abstracted among the thousands of Civil War Records
at the Ancestry.com website. Lewis Smith’s discharge document confirms
he “enrolled 24 August 1864 to serve three years; under Captain Charles
B. Randolph, Lines was honorably discharged 6 February 1866, at Whites
Ranch, Texas.8 Through the years, Private Lines
and Private Beverly received service and disability pensions, and chose
the surname of preference based on personal slave experience. Cousin
Bonita Smith-Wood’s great-great grandfather Lewis chose Smith, and my
great-grandfather George chose Warfield. As freedmen, our ancestors
were eager to claim their rights and privileges.
A deed of land purchase was agreed upon and witnessed 16 February 1892
by Jack McGuire (the father of John McGuire) and Lewis Smith, as
“This deed between Jack McGuire, colored Grantor and Louis Smith colored
Grantee, witnessed that Grantor in consideration of ten dollars, the
receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, do hereby transfer and convey
to Grantee, his heirs and assigns the following property: one lot of
land for burial purposes situated on my farm as follows -- thirty feet
on the North side of the present burying ground situated on the West
side of my farm upon which I now reside, beginning at a stake in the
line of the old burying ground North 30 feet to a stake, thence West 30
feet to a stake, thence South 30 feet to a stake in line of old burying
ground, thence East 30 feet to the beginning.
To have and to hold the same, with all the appurtenances thereon to the
Grantee, his heirs and assigns forever, with covenant of General
Warranty, Grantor relinquish all right of homestead and Grantor release
all his contingent right of Dower therein. A lien is retained for unpaid
Witnessed by hand of Grantor this 16 day of February, 1892.
Jack [X] McGuire
Attest C.C. Simpson
This legal instrument was recorded by the Clerk of Henderson County
Court, J. H. Hart on 23 February 1894.”9
Upon examination of this deed, more questions surfaced. Exactly who were
the McGuire’s, and how large is a 30 foot by 30 foot burial site? I
discovered that black farmer and landowner John McGuire, Sr., owned 80
acres below Green River in Section 63 of Precinct 8 in Spottsville,
adjacent to Charles Green, where the McGuire family had set aside a
small area for a cemetery off of Old U.S. Highway 60.10 Moreover,
John McGuire was one of George Beverly’s Union Army comrades in Company
H. of the 118th U.S.C.I. From an informant at the Lansing
municipal cemetery I learned that a grave is 4 feet by 10 inches, a lot
is made up of several graves, and a 30 foot by 30 foot lot would
accommodate about 14 graves. Actually, a 30 foot by 30 foot lot can be
compared to the size of a standard two-car garage with ample storage
space.11 A Deputy Clerk in the Henderson County Clerk’s
Office “was unable to find a plat map for the deed” and told me “not all
property in Henderson County has a plat recorded.”12
The 1910 Federal Census enumerated Lewis Smith at age 85, living in
Spottsville, Henderson, Co., Kentucky, with his third wife Caroline, to
whom he was joined in holy matrimony 2 May 1882.13 The 1921
death certificate for Mrs. Caroline Smith led me straight to the McGuire
Cemetery where she was interred.14 Is Mrs. Smith near the
unmarked grave of Lewis, her husband? Even the Smith’s Ewing son-in-law
and grandson were buried in the McGuire Cemetery. A total
of 15 grave sites comprise the survey county historian James Blue did of
the McGuire cemetery15 however, there is no trace of Lewis
Smith among them. Neither is John McGuire, Sr.’s grave among Mr. Blue’s
findings according to his death certificate 4 April 1916.16
While it seems likely that the clues for Lewis Smith have been
exhausted, this is not true until I search for a “burial permit or
certificate of disposition of remains required before a body can be
buried or cremated.” 17
1 Donn Devine, What Do We Do When There’s No Answer?
Ancestry (January-February, 2009): 62.
2 Mrs. Caroline Smith, Survivor Pension Application
#953689, Certificate #724049, National Archives and Records
Administration, Washington, D.C.
3 Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, Your Guide to Cemetery
Research (Cincinnati, 2002), 57.
4 Gregory F. Treverton, Risks and Riddles, Smithsonian (June,
5 Darrell Meadows, Beyond the Log Cabin, Kentucky’s Abraham
6 Due Compensation? Ancestry (November-December,
7 Growing Feeling for Enlistments and Compensated
Emancipation, New York Times (13 March 1864).
8 Lewis Smith Full Pension File #323908, National Archives
and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
9 1892 Henderson County Kentucky Real Estate Conveyances,
Book 21: 36, 37.
10 An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Henderson County
Kentucky (Philadelphia, 1880), 18; Doris Chaney, 1890 Henderson
County Kentucky Tax List (Henderson, 2002), 157; James Blue, Gone
But Not Forgotten: Cemeteries of Henderson County Kentucky
(Henderson, 1996), 105.
11 Administrator, Mt. Hope Cemetery, Lansing, Michigan.
12 Correspondence dated 2 April 2009 from Henderson County
13 Commonwealth of Kentucky Certificate of Marriage.
14 Commonwealth of Kentucky Certificate of Death #19533.
15 James Blue, Gone but Not Forgotten (Henderson, 1996),
16 Commonwealth of Kentucky Certificate of Death #10527.
17 Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, Your Guide to Cemetery
Research (Cincinnati, 2002), 13.