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A Reed Family in Early Kentucky

Thomas Reed (1785-1852) was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Kentucky and later settled in Coles County, Illinois. My father’s cousins had done a tremendous amount of genealogical work on his family, but newer sources have become available from home since they compiled their information. This year I have worked to see what I can add to Thomas’ story.

We know he went to Kentucky with his family when he was a boy. The family settled there along Elk Creek by 1792, the year Kentucky became a state. Thomas’ father Caleb appeared on the tax list for Shelby County that year. Thomas was about 7 years old.

Their part of Shelby County was carved out into the new Spencer County about three decades later in 1824 while Thomas still lived there. The search for Thomas in the records thus requires work in both counties.

Working backwards timewise, I began with Spencer County. Family Search has several records from this county available online. I was able to view marriages, the Court Order Book, tax records, probate and guardian records, and Commissioner’s deeds.

From these records I learned that Thomas’ older brother Caleb C. Reed died about 1828, a date we did not know before. The Court Order book and the guardian files told me that Caleb’s wife Prudence (Kirkham) Reed was named guardian of their children.

Thomas and Caleb C., along with their younger brother John, jointly owned a tract of land in Spencer County. They had paid for it in installments. When the time came for them to receive the deed, Caleb C. was dead and so were some of the grantors. Title to the land needed to be sorted out by the Court. The story was told in the Court Order Book and the Commissioner’s Deed book. Thomas, John, and Caleb C.’s children received title to the land.

As I continue my search into Thomas’ life, I will turn next to the Shelby County records. The Reed cousins gave me a history of Shelby County, and I have already reviewed it. Over the next few days, I hope to look at Shelby records like the ones available for Spencer County.

Armed with that information, I will head out on a road trip through Kentucky this summer. I plan to stop in Taylorsville, the county seat of Spencer County, to look at their genealogical holdings. I will also spend some time in the genealogy stacks at the Louisville, Kentucky library.

Doing research in the time of America’s early republic is new territory for me. I want to know all I can about Thomas and his life.

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