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by Holly Timm
[originally published 7 October 1987]
Harlan Daily Enterprise Penny Pincher]
Many of the Helton families in southeast Kentucky can trace their roots back to John Helton who was born about 1764 and died about 1830. In the early 1790's, John and his first wife settled in Kentucky for a few years. They then apparently moved south to Hawkins County, Tenn., where his first wife died.

By 1809, John had returned to what was to become Harlan County 10 years later. He either brought with him or married here about 1808 his second wife, Barbara, who was born about 1786 in Ohio. Barbara died in the mid 1850's, perhaps at Wallins Creek.

John brought several of his children by his first wife with him on his return to Kentucky including Shadrach who was born about 1785 in Virginia. About 1810, Shadrach married Mary Brock. Mary was born about 1793 in North Carolina and was the daughter of another of Harlan's earliest settlers, Jesse Brock.

Shadrach and Mary are believed to have had 14 children many of whose descendants live yet along the Cumberland River in Harlan and Bell County. Others of his family spread out across the nation to Ohio, Kansas, West Virginia and elsewhere.

Their oldest daughter Sarah was born about 1810. She married Zachariah B. Saylor, son of John and Mary Hoskins Saylor. This family left Harlan about 1855, moving first to Laurel County and then, by 1860, to Franklin County, Kansas.

Their son, Elisha Helton, was born about 1812. He married Julia Ann Jackson in 1835 and they had at least three children: John, who married Matilda Green; Elizabeth Jane who first married William B. Coldiron and then married Samuel Simpson; and Nancy who married Larkin Howard.

Susan Helton was born about 1814. She and her husband Edward Napier settled in Clay County. By 1890 they had nine children: Elizabeth who married John Brown; Mary who married Henry Brown; Adron, John, Jacob, Catharine, Susan and Shadrach. In 1890 all but one child was still living in Kentucky. Shadrach was said to be some where in West Virginia.

John Helton was born about 1817. He married Catharine Howard, but he appears to have died prior to the 1860 census without any surviving children.

Shadrach Helton, Jr. was born about 1820. He married Hester Brock, daughter of Hiram and Elizabeth Saylor Brock. They had at least seven children including Polly, who married Leonard Simpson; Wilburn, who married Mary Napier first and then Sarah Taylor; Hiram, who married Minerva J. Lankford; Ewell, who married Elizabeth Farley and second to Nancy Noe; George, who married Celia Creech; Sarah, who married Thomas Shackleford; and Elizabeth, who married Calvin Howard.

Born either just before or shortly after Shadrach was his sister, Mary, who married Levi Saylor, brother of Zachariah mentioned above. They had Gilbert, who married Levina Howard; Elizabeth, who married Elihu Lee; Malinda, who married William Lawson; Hetty; Mary, who married James Shackleford; Lovey, who married William A. Lee; and Joicy, who married William's brother James Lee. Most of these families also remained in southeast Kentucky, although by 1890 Elihu and Elizabeth Lee were living in Ohio.

Jesse Helton was born about 1823. He married Catherine Brock, sister of Hester, mentioned above. Jesse and Catherine divorced in 1868 and he married Rebecca Jackson, who had been married to Ephraim Simpson. Jesse had nine children, all by Catherine: Matilda, who married Green Saylor and then Thomas J. Asher; Calvin, who was killed in the Civil War; Elizabeth; Shadrach, who first married Lucrecia Saylor and then married his step-sister Sarah daughter of Ephraim and Rebecca Simpson; Hiram B., who married Serena Osborne; Levi, who married Hetty Gross; Sarah Ann, married Zachariah Saylor and Nancy Caroline and Speed F. Helton.

Hetty Helton was born about 1825. She married first to Benjamin F. Jackson and then to George McQueen. Hetty and Benjamin living in Owsley County, but some of their children moved south into Clay County. Many members of this family moved west to Arkansas.

Stokley Helton was born about 1827. He also lived in the Owsley County area where he married Orranah Johnson. The had three known children: Rosa Bell, who married Charles Robinson; Sirilda, who married John Holt; and Elender, who married Elkanah Dees.

Elijah Helton was born about 1829. He married Nancy Caroline Stepp. They also lived in Owsley County briefly in the 1850's, but spent most of their lives in Harlan County where many of their descendants still live. They had seven children: Stokely, Robert, Orlena, Jospehine, Martha Jane, Alafair and Matilda.

The rest of Shadrach and Mary's children were Robert, born about 1831; James, born about 1834; Elizabeth, born about 1837 and who married John W. Howard; a daughter named Polly, who according to deed records, married a Wilder and "removed from this county and probably from this state" leaving children and heirs unknown.

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last edited 05 Jun 2008