Friday, September 6, 2013

Hannah Fowler By Janice Holt Giles - Signed Copy Score!

I couldn't believe my luck when I stumbled across a signed copy of Hannah Fowler by Janice Holt Giles on eBay - it is the 1977 Avon paperback edition (love love LOVE the cover art - that 70's cover art gets me every time!) and is signed not only by Janice but also her husband Henry.

If you are interested in fiction set in Kentucky, you MUST read Janice Holt Giles - her books are all great, but Hannah Fowler in particular is spectacular. :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ambrose Coffee - Mention In Boone by Cameron Judd

From the novel Boone by Cameron Judd:

"Meanwhile, Ambrose Coffee had just undergone an experience he would thereafter remember as a miracle. He had been lying atop a wall of the unroofed blockhouse, watching the negotiations, when the fight suddenly broke out. He was a fine target for hidden Indian marksmen, and came tumbling down suddenly into the blockhouse, his clothing shredded by bullets. Springing up, he looked about for the expected gushes of blood and found none. Not a single ball had struck him, every one of them merely cutting his clothes and breezing right past his skin."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ambrose Coffee - 1805 Land Dispute Deposition

From Fayette County Records book Volume 1, page 214. Courtesy of the Lexington Public Library. Click image to enlarge.

Text reads:

Deposition of AMBROSE COFFEE (taken on July 5, 1805, before JEREMIAH DAVIS and JAMES TURLEY at house of WILLIAM MEGOWAN in Montgomery County) "I first came to Boonesborough in February of 1777. In March of the same year I learned of Boone's Creek on the north side of the Kentucky river and it was called Boone's creek then."

Book Review - A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard


It's no surprise that A Midwife's Tale: The Life Of Martha Ballard, Based On Her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich won the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 - it's a staggering work that must have been a huge challenge to complete. The actual diary of Martha Ballard is more along the lines of a daybook than a long form journal, yet Ulrich was able to extract the larger stories from it by comparing Martha's own remarks to other historical references from the time.

She uses the journal not just to look at the life and personality of Martha Ballard, which is interesting in its own right, but also to explore the functioning of society at large - especially the role of women and families - in a small post-revolutionary war town in Maine. The modern reader does not really expect to encounter premarital sex, babies born out of wedlock, husbands thrown into debtor's prison, or the brutal mass murder of an entire neighboring family - but the diary has all of those things, and more.

I had a really hard time putting this book down - I found it completely fascinating and very well written. The PBS series American Experience did a film version, I haven't seen it yet but I'm hoping to soon!

The Mystery of Ailsey Coffee - Wife Of Ambrose Coffee, KY Pioneer

Try as I might, I have not had any luck finding any source records about the wife of my ancestor Ambrose Coffee. There is some information on various online family trees about her, but no way of knowing where the information about her actually came from - including the biggies! Her name, her birth year, her birth place, her death year... I'm not finding any source for any of those things. Talk about frustrating!

So, I decided to gather together all of this information here in one spot, along with a fairly desperate plea for help - please Internet, send someone who knows something concrete my way!! My email address is - I'm interested in anything that might lead to some record of her, or some mention of her in a family book or family bible - ANYTHING. Drop me a line! :)

Information found online about Ailsey Coffee - Wife of Ambrose Coffee, Boonesborough Settler & Kentucky Pioneer
(Updated 2-24-13 - as of now, no source records...)

Name: Ailsey or Ailseys - Maiden Name Unknown
(My guess is Ailsey is the correct name - it seems that it was passed down through the family, as Ailsey and also as Alcey. I think Ailseys is a misspelling that has been repeated - but of course, I could be wrong.)

Birth Year: between 1755 and 1759

Place of Birth: Russell County, VA - or Fayette County, KY - or Ireland

Death Year: 1824

Place of Death - Slate Creek, Montgomery County, KY

Marriage Year - about 1781 or 1782

Ambrose Coffee - Land Suit Depositions

From And The Battle Began Like Claps Of Thunder - The Siege of Boonesboro - 1778 As Told By The Pioneers (click image to enlarge)

Deposition of Ambrose Coffee in 1809, Madison County, KY Deed Book Letter I, pp.92ff. - Land Suit of Henry Banta

"I was born in the city of Dublin in Ireland and from the best accounts that I have received of my parents, I was between 12 and 13 years of age when I came to America."

Ambrose Coffee's deposition for Ben Harrison, Clark County, Kentucky Depositions, Kentucky State Archives Microfilm Reel #259295, p. 378

Deposeth: that in the year Eighty (1780) he was at this place in company with Col. Richard Callaway... "then I and Callaway returned from this place to Boonsborough and some time in the said year Eighty myself and Pembleton (Pemberton) Rollins came hunting in these woods, and happened to come by the spring and camped all night and Rollins asked me if I noad (knowed) who claimed this place. My answer to him was that I was informed by Colo Richard Callaway that it belonged to Ben Harrison. The place was very much taken with cain (cane)... in the morning we went to get our horses... and so went from this place to Boonsborough...

Ambrose Coffee - 1779 Land Claim

From Kentucky Land Office website: (click image to enlarge)


We do hereby certify that Henry Field assignee of Ambrose Coffer [Coffee] is entitled to Four hundred acres of land in the district of Kentucky on account of the sd [said] Coffee residing in the country ever since the year 1775 and improving the land in the year 1777 lying on the waters of Licking on the Road that leads from Boon[e]sborough to the Salt Springs and that the said Henry Field, assignee, is also entitled to the preemption of one thousand acres of land adjoining his said settlement. Given under our hands at Harodsburgh this 4th day of November 1779.

Willm Fleming - Stephen Trigg - Edmund Lyne