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The Corn Stalk Militia of Kentucky

Not often does one run across a new genealogical source. We tend to focus on the familiar ones like census records, vital records, court records, pension records, and cemetery records. But how many of us have consulted or even heard of the records of the “Corn Stalk” Militia in Kentucky?

I, for one, did not know that such an organization even existed. I came across a reference to it while preparing for an upcoming research trip by reviewing the holdings of the genealogy collections in the Louisville and Taylorsville, Kentucky libraries.

The Militia was active from 1792-1811, or from statehood until the onset of the War of 1812. It was created to meet the need for a military establishment on the frontier. It was called the “Corn Stalk” Militia because regimental musters were held in October each year. The troops had no firearms for drills and often used corn stalks in the place of guns.

Free males between the ages of 18 and 45 were liable for militia duty. My Reed family lived in Shelby County, Kentucky during the years of the Militia. Our men would have been eligible to serve in the militia during the years of its existence.

I decided to investigate what records of the militia might be available. On Family Search, I located a digitized book about the Militia. The author, G. Glenn Clift of the Kentucky Historical Society, included a fine index of militia officers. In it, I found the names of several Reads, Reeds, and Reids. It includes names from my own family tree including Caleb Reed and his sons Thomas and John.

Were these militia officers my family members?

The answer will take more investigation. The indexed men served in different ranks from various regiments. I will need to see which Reed militiamen served in Shelby County where my family lived.

If I can make the case that men on the roster were my family members, I can look for records of military actions by their units. These accounts would add some wonderful information to my family story.






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