Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Day with a Distant Cousin!

Towards the end of October, I received an email from a gentleman who happens to be my fifth cousin or fourth cousin once removed – or something like that! A distant relative to be sure. He found me through the blog, or rather, his brother found me and told Jesse to contact me!

Jesse is a descendant of John Bray and his second wife, Elizabeth Coones (or Cooney or Coonie or Coonies or Coonis) through their daughter Sophia. I am a descendant of John and his first wife, reported to be Nancy Morgan, through their son Samuel Bray. John and Nancy are my 4th great grandparents.

Anyway, Jesse said he'd like to meet with me sometime. So, since I was headed south and Vevay was more or less on the way, I said I could stop by on the 9th. That also happened to be the only day this week he had free! Great timing, eh?

Me and my cousin, Jesse. November 9, 2010.
The Markland Dam and Ohio River in the background.

We spent a couple of hours at the Switzerland County Library in Vevay comparing information then took a drive to McKay Cemetery where John Bray is buried.

Jesse had a copy of the marriage record of John Bray and Elizabeth but it was difficult to read. The county seat of Gallatin County, Kentucky is Warsaw, which happens to be across the river a short distance east of Vevay. It was a beautiful day (sunshine and 70 degrees! In November!!) and the drive took just a few minutes.

The marriage records were in the office of the County Clerk located in a building behind the courthouse. The earliest marriage records were in a binder whose back had separated so all the pages were loose. Each page had also been laminated. The record for John Bray and Elizabeth is at the bottom of a page numbered 59. Rather than try to make a paper copy, I used my digital camera... (double click on the image to see a larger version).

Elizabeth's last name is in the middle of the fifth line from the bottom...

After examining the full page containing this and two other records, I think her last name is Coonis. The word directly beneath her name is Licens and is written the same way on the other two records on that page. It is definitely not Cooney, which is how it is transcribed in the published book.

At any rate, how it is spelled is probably a moot point, since what Jesse really wants to know is what is her maiden name! Elizabeth would have been about 18 years old and a widow when she married John Bray. There is no record of her first marriage in Gallatin County, Kentucky and we don't know what happened to her husband. John was 12 days shy of being 60 years old when he married Elizabeth. His youngest daughter by his first marriage was 16 years old – but she had been married the year before when only 15 years of age. So, John was an “empty nester” and perhaps didn't like living by himself...

John passed away on June 10, 1832 at age 71 – the three youngest children by his wife Elizabeth, were Amelia, George and Sophia – age 11, 9, and 3, respectively. Elizabeth was married for a third time to Robert Bakes on October 4, 1834. He passed away in 1847. Elizabeth died in 1876. The 1850 and 1870 census records show that she was born in Kentucky about 1798-1800, though Jesse has her birth year as 1802.

After a short visit to the library, Jesse and I stopped at Jewels, a little restaurant on Main Street in Warsaw, for a late lunch. The place was full with no empty tables, but a lady waved us over to her table saying we could join her and her husband. Turns out they were friends of Jesse! A rather nice coincidence. The food was good as was the company.

All in all, it was a delightful day. Thank you, Jesse, for inviting me to visit! It was a pleasure meeting you.


Lori H said...

That's awesome! Glad you had such a wonderful meeting!

Anonymous said...

I see you're headed south - let me know if you get close to Huntsville. I've got 21 coming for Thanksgiving dinner - there's always room for one more if you are interested! Babs