Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Research Plan: Hancock County, Kentucky

As I mentioned before, I have decided to start researching a specific area each month to put together a comprehensive research plan. This way, if I get an unexpected opportunity to stop in the area, I'm prepared for my trip. Since it was the thought of an unplanned trip to Hancock County, Kentucky started me on this goal, I though it fitting to choose it for my first location.

In the interest of brevity, I have not shared my complete research plan here, but instead an overview. The research plan in my files has more detail including specific items I want to research at each place, hours of operation and directions.

The shaded county is Hancock. Map generated by DIY Maps.


Hancock County was formed in 1829 from portions of Ohio, Daviess and Breckinridge Counties. It was named in honor of John Hancock, first signer of the Declaration of Independence. It is located on the Kentucky-Indiana border, which explains why some of my ancestors bounced back and forth between the two states.

President Abraham Lincoln won his first case in what is now Hancock County. Accused of operating a ferry without a license, he argued for himself and was acquitted. It was the encouragement of Justice of the Peace Samuel Pate that led Lincoln to begin a career in law.

Hawesville, the county seat, has the second oldest courthouse in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Construction began in 1865 and completed two years later. The exterior has been restored to its original condition.


The Hancock County Archives is located in the old courthouse and is the first county-funded archives in the state. It was begun in 1981. Court records from 1829 are available, including county, circuit and district courts; marriages; divorces; lawsuits; deeds; cases and more. The archives also has family histories and files, census records, cemetery records, local histories and other items of interest to family historians.

This is definitely something I want to check out when I visit. It will help me to fill in blanks I have in marriage records and possibly turn up court cases and deeds involving my ancestors.

I'm especially interested in the marriage records because it will give me the opportunity to check out the family legend of my many married 2nd great grandmother Eva Mae Sanders Boling Cooper. From what I've been told, she was first married to a much older man, was widowed and then married my 2nd great grandfather Lora D Boling. After his death, she supposedly remarried 6 more times, outliving all of her husbands. I've only been able to prove two husbands so far, my 2nd great grandfather and her final husband Andrew Cooper.

The Genealogical Society of Hancock County is in the archives so I can knock out two birds with one stone on a visit.


During the Civil War, Hawesville was a hotbed for Confederate sympathies. The city was even fired on by Union troops at least one time during the war. The city was also site of a gunfight in 1859 and a bombing in 1860. Many of the buildings involved are still standing today.

Hancock County Museum

The museum is located in the old railroad station. The building was built in 1902 and served as a station on the railroad until 1959. It also served as city hall for 16 years. After sitting vacant for several years, the Hancock County Historical Society purchased the building, restored it, and opened it as a museum in 1988. It is only open one after a week April through October, but special tours are available upon request.

Historic Buildings

There are several historical buildings in Hancock County, many of which my ancestors probably were in at some point. The Hawes Building dates back to 1889 and for over half of the 20th century was the location of the department store. The Allen Building was home to the local pharmacy until the 1950s. The Nunn building was built in 1885 and served as the local bank until the 1940s. The Taylor-Masonic Building has been home to a drug store, telephone company and farm equipment and hardware store.

Boling Cemetery

Boling Cemetery is the final resting place for a number of my ancestors including my 4th great grandparents John and Elizabeth (Phillips) Boling. Nearly every name I've found in transcriptions for this cemetery is someone related. Based on the death dates, the cemetery dates back to the mid 1800s.

Boling Chapel Cemetery

Another resting place for Bolings is Boling Chapel Cemetery. Also in the cemetery are relatives in the Sanders, Quisenberry and McManaway lines. It appears to be newer than the other cemetery with the earliest burial from 1900.

Sanders Cemetery

Many of my Sanders ancestors rest in Sanders Cemetery, including my 3rd great grandfather Delaney Husbury Sanders and his parents, my 4th great grandparents, Delaney T and Angeline (McManaway) Sanders. There are also Bolings and Quisenberrys buried there.

Other Cemeteries

While I don't recognize the names as being part of my tree at this time, there are Bolings, Sanders and McManaways buried in other Hancock County cemeteries. These include Dunn Cemetery, Blackford Cemetery, Beatty Cemetery, Memory Gardens Cemetery, Newton Springs Cemetery, Roseville Cemetery, Serenity Hills Cemetery and Utility Cemetery. I plan to photograph these graves in case I later figure out the connection.

Hancock County Public Library

While the library website didn't shed a lot of light on what they have, I assume they probably have material on Hancock County and its residents. They may also have directories. For that reason, the library is on the list.

Other Locations

While it may not be possible, I would like to try to locate where my ancestors lived. It's possible that their homes are still standing. I'm hoping that between census records and other records I may find while there, I can pinpoint where they are.

1 comment:

  1. Did you get to check it out? I'm related to the only Burns at Boling Chapel, but her maiden name is Boling. Sudie C.