A Caroline Chronicles Update: A Research Journey Through the Louisville Daily Journal

By Tony Curtis

Just when you think that you have gathered all of the available information on the Caroline Chronicles (read all the documents on Early Access) you stumble across a digitized collection of the Louisville Daily Journal on archive.org. I am particularly interested in how news of the Blanche Levi murder was revealed to the public and how the ensuing case was covered by a prominent Louisville newspaper. And what did a deep dive into this collection uncover about the Caroline Chronicles? I invite you—our readers—to join me on this research trip!

The Levi family appears at various points in the newspaper from August 1862 until September 1863. Willis Levi—a steamboat engineer—first appears listed as a survivor of the Steamer Acacia disaster on August 30, 1862:

Louisville Daily Journal, August 30, 1862

Louisville Daily Journal, August 30, 1862

And again with his brother Elias Levi in an auctioneer advertisement on January 30, 1863:

Louisville Daily Journal, January 30, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, January 30, 1863

The Levi’s are being mentioned regularly with this advertisement for their auctioning services, and Elias is even covered anonymously through a printed Jefferson County Sheriff’s advertisement for the sale of John West(ly)—Caroline’s husband. We see the original in the Jefferson County Court books in previously discovered documents. Elias Levi bought John West(ly), aged 25, on April 27, 1863 for $245:

Louisville Daily Journal, April 18, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 18, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 28, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 28, 1863

But what about the death of Blanche Levi—daughter of Willis and Anne Levi? The first mention of the death of Blanche occurs in the April 22, 1863 obituaries, her death occurring one day earlier. The obituary is brief, giving her age, when the funeral will occur, and a brief bible verse:

Louisville Daily Journal, April 22, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, April 22, 1863

The newspaper then falls silent for ten days. Not one mention of Blanche, the Levis, or Caroline—until May 2, 1863, when the newspaper prints, “For two weeks past we have withheld giving publicity to one of the most horrible and treacherous deeds ever committed in this city, in order to give the officers ample time to ferret out the guilty parties.” They announce “the wretch”—Caroline—was arrested and faced arraignment that same morning. Showing the inherent racial bias of society, the newspaper supposes that Caroline could not have committed without accomplice, stating, “It was believed that the girl had been instigated to this deed by some fiend in human shape, but diligent investigation has been made, and no accessory has as yet been discovered. There is something very mysterious about the crime, from the fact that no cause whatever had been given to the girl to prompt her to wreak her vengeance in this horrible crime. If she has an accomplice we sincerely trust that the wretch will be brought to justice.”

Louisville Daily Journal, May 2, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 2, 1863

This article also references Caroline’s status, they define her as “a contraband negro, from Tennessee, in the employ of Mr. Willis Levy.” Much like the previously discovered documents, Caroline’s status is constantly in flux. On May 2, 1863, the “Police Proceedings” section—the Civil War-era police blotter—announced “Caroline, a slave of James Deman, charged with poisoning a child of Willis Levi. The slave being too sick to be brought into court, the witnesses were recognized to go before the grand jury of the Circuit Court.” This gives us more insight into Caroline’s status, but it is also contradictory information. What was Caroline’s status—self-emancipated woman, contraband, slave, or a free woman of color (f.w.c.)? I am afraid newspaper coverage does not clarify Caroline’s status and as we concluded in prior research, her status remains inconclusive. It is unknown as to what the newspaper means by “too sick”.

Louisville Daily Journal, May 4, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 4, 1863

On May 6, 1863, the grand jury of the Jefferson Circuit Court returned an indictment against “Caroline (a slave)”.

Louisville Daily Journal, May 7, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, May 7, 1863

The June 10, 1863 Louisville Daily Journal announces the “Commonwealth vs Caroline (a slave)” case for trial as a part of the June 1863 docket of the Jefferson Circuit Court—the trial to be held on Wednesday, June 17, 1863.

Louisville Daily Journal, June 10, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, June 10, 1863

Further mention of Caroline’s case does not appear until June 19, 1863, when a guilty verdict is announced: “The negro woman who poisoned the family of Mr. Levi, of this city, some months since, from the effects of which one of his children, a sweet little girl, died, was yesterday convicted of murder in the first degree in the court now in session here. She will doubtless be hung.”

Louisville Daily Journal, June 19, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, June 19, 1863

The next mention of Caroline is not until August 14, 1863—almost two months later—announcing when she is to be hanged “at the corner of Eighteenth and Broadway streets” in Louisville. And again on September 8, 1863, following a month long respite.

Louisville Daily Journal, August 14, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, August 14, 1863

On September 11, 1863, Caroline is granted a second respite “for a few days” by Governor Thomas E. Bramlette “on account of some newly discovered testimony which may have some bearing on her case.”

Louisville Daily Journal, September 11, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, September 11, 1863

And the new evidence convinced Governor Bramlette in favor of executive clemency, as the final mention of Caroline occurs on September 25, 1863, under the headline “Pardoned.”

Louisville Daily Journal, September 25, 1863

Louisville Daily Journal, September 25, 1863

So what have we learned from the Louisville Daily Journal coverage? The Levis were active members in the Louisville business community. We have more concrete dates on the death of Blanche Levi and the chronology of Caroline’s case. We know that the newspaper purposefully withheld any coverage of the case to allow for time to investigate the facts of the case and to arrest any suspects. The newspaper coverage further complicates Caroline’s status for us—Caroline inhabited many different worlds depending on time and place. We also learn that there is no additional coverage of “one of the most horrible and treacherous deeds ever committed in this city”—no editorials, no letters to the editor . . . Nothing. So once again, a set of research questions has led us to more research questions—some of the questions remain, others have been developed. The search continues and we will update you as new evidence is uncovered.

Tony Curtis is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

Marginalized Victims: Women and the Preservation of Honor in Civil War Kentucky

JURY, n. A number of persons appointed by a court to assist the attorneys in preventing law from degenerating into justice. – Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

***

By Matthew C. Hulbert

In July 1863, a Gallatin County man named Frank Story overpowered Jane Kelly, a local white woman. (This racial distinction is important because had Kelly been African American, a trial record would probably not exist.) He abducted his victim with one purpose in mind: “to have carnal knowledge with her.” Details are few and far between of the attack itself—but we do know that Story’s advances were unwanted (hence the abduction) and that he failed to complete his above stated purpose before being interrupted by multiple witnesses, who turned out to be children. A Grand Jury swiftly convened in Gallatin County and indicted Story for attempted rape (read the full document in Early Access). Not long after, a trial jury convicted him of a lesser charge; rather than attempted rape, these jurors found Story guilty of assault and battery and sentenced him to a measly four months in prison and a $100 fine.

Oftentimes we find examples in the CWG-K archive wherein a trial jury is compelled for one reason or another to produce a certain verdict and then immediately requests that the governor use his executive power to override the original decision. Put another way, the jury does what they feel the letter of the law obligated them to do before turning to the chief executive of the Commonwealth to ensure that justice is meted out. (The same jurors convicting Caroline Dennant of infanticide and then requesting her pardon is one such illustration.) In this case, a petition was sent to Governor Thomas Bramlette; it was signed by all twelve of the jurors who convicted Story along with the sheriff of Gallatin County, the attorney who prosecuted the case, and numerous other officeholders and private citizens. Given that Story’s sentence seems so short and the nature of his transgression so violent; contemporary readers might jump to the conclusion that the jurors were compelled to lessen his charges on a legal technicality. They might also assume that the governor, Thomas Bramlette—himself a former judge with a fire and brimstone reputation—will set things right based on the petition. Unfortunately for Jane Kelly, those assumptions would be wrong. The petitioners actually believed that her attempted rapist had been the party robbed of justice.

According to the petition, which was spearheaded by Thomas Ritchey, the trial jury refused to convict Story of attempted rape based on the testimony of children—despite the fact that the Grand Jury had used the same testimony to indict. Moreover, the men writing on Story’s behalf believed Bramlette should grant a full pardon because 1) Story was only fifteen years old at the time of the crime; and, 2) because his father had been away in the Union army and as a result “had not that Control over his Son & could not govern his conduct as he would like to have done.” In other words, at fifteen years of age, Frank Story could not be expected to control himself in the manner of an adult and thus should not have been held responsible for attempting to rape Jane Kelly.

As past readers of the CWG-K blog will note, the law in Kentucky generally failed to take a consistent stance on the convicting and sentencing of minors. For instance, William Spencer, himself fifteen years old, was initially sentenced to 3.5 years in the state pen for stealing a pair of used trousers before having the punishment commuted to one month. Also recall the case of Graham Akin, a fourteen year old from Danville who was convicted of attempted homicide but only fined $50. So, it really should not surprise anyone that Kentuckians in 1863-64 tried to use Frank Story’s age to get him out of an already truncated prison sentence. Nor should it stun you to learn that Thomas Bramlette did, in fact, exercise clemency—freeing Story halfway through his prison term and remitting the $100 fine.

Kentucky’s legal system in the 1860s had little idea how to define childhood and thus struggled mightily to sentence minors. That much has been established already. The more revealing line of inquiry raised by the Story-Lane encounter has to do with the way male jurors and court officers reconciled their own conceptions of self-honor with gender, age, and the weight of one’s word. Unlike in the aforementioned case of William Spencer—who was convicted based on the testimony of an adult male victim/witness and received a relatively harsh sentence—the main witnesses against Frank Story were a mix of minor and adult, but neither was the magic combination of adult male. So on one hand, the jurors in The Commonwealth vs. Frank Story would have been willing to punish children as adults under certain circumstances, while not considering the testimony of children on equal terms with that of an adult (even when the defendant himself was a child).

What jumps out here is that the testimony of Jane Kelly hadn’t mattered from the start. The petition specifically stated that, “His [Story’s] guilt was proven by children only” (my emphasis). This wasn’t a case of accidental oversight—it’s where the honor component comes into the story. Despite her being both an adult and a firsthand witness to the crime, Kelly’s word wasn’t valued enough to land a full conviction. Not because male jurors believed she was untrustworthy—because a female voice was never supposed to be an integral part of the process at all.

In 1850s and 1860s, southern men liked to believe their lives were structured around a paternalistic, hyper-masculine code of honor in which dependents—women and children—required their protection. At the same time, within the gendered confines of this system those same women were not considered competent enough as witnesses to describe to their would-be protectors from what or from whom they actually required defense. Therein, at least in theory, women were fundamentally no different than their children. With this in mind, Jane Kelly was only supposed to play the role of damsel in distress and then of grateful ward. But the logistics of the crime and subsequent trial didn’t work out that way. No men could take the stand to testify, so it was either a woman or children whose voices would have to be lent authority in court. Faced with this decision, the jurors begrudgingly chose to prioritize the children’s testimony, which kept Jane Kelly in her proper role.

What this hiccup in the system ultimately confirms is that the “code of honor” undergirding it was never actually based on protecting dependents. It was designed to appear that way to advance a patriarchal agenda. As such, it was laden with loopholes designed to give men a way to protect themselves and their status/authority first, even at the expense of a sexual assault victim like Jane Kelly.

 

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

A “Secret Inquisition” in Kentucky: General Stephen Burbridge, Abraham Lincoln, and Union War Policy

by Matthew C. Hulbert

At 4 p.m. on November 9, 1864, Governor Thomas E. Bramlette received an urgent letter from prominent Lexington political general and attorney John B. Huston. The message alarmed Kentucky’s chief executive, to say the very least. According to Huston, Union soldiers had arrived at his home shortly after midnight, arrested him in front of his wife and daughter, and had further plans to expel him “into the Rebel lines.” Huston freely admitted to Bramlette that he’d been campaigning for George McClellan in the upcoming presidential contest of 1864—but also noted that he had every right to do so as a “free man” and as a supporter of the Union “without conditions.” His detention and impending excommunication from Union territory, Huston concluded, had come on the orders of General Stephen Burbridge, commander of the District of Kentucky, in an effort to squelch pro-McClellan voices on the eve of the hotly-contested election.

Lacking the authority to free Huston from the custody of a federal commander, Bramlette immediately telegraphed President Lincoln. “General John B. Huston, a loyal man and prominent citizen” the wire read, “was arrested and yesterday started off by General Burbridge to be sent beyond our lines by way of Catlettsburg, for no other offense than opposition to your re-election … you are doubtless re-elected, but surely cannot sanction this ostracism of loyal men who honestly oppose you.” Lincoln responded almost immediately, signature sarcasm included: “I can scarcely believe that General John B. Huston has been arrested for no other offense than opposition to my re-election, if that had been deemed sufficient cause of arrest, should have heard of more than one arrest in Kentucky on election day.”

bramlette to lincolnLincoln sent an order to Burbridge ordering Huston’s release and assured Bramlette that the general had not yet been—and would not be—shipped south. As it turned out, Burbridge had also arrested Colonel Frank Wolford and Bramlette’s own Lieutenant Governor, Richard T. Jacob. “Lieutenant Governor Jacob is at Catlettsburg, and Colonel Wolford at Covington, both under arrest, and, by order of the Secret Inquisition, ordered into the rebel lines,” Bramlette fumed to Lincoln. “Will you either order their release at once, or a suspension of the order until you receive my communication of this date?” Lincoln’s response to this second request lacked the force of the first:

Yours of to-day is received. It seems that Lieutenant Governor Jacob and Colonel Wolford are stationary at present. General Suddarth and Mr. Hodges are here, and the Secretary of War and myself are trying to devise means of pacification and harmony for Kentucky, which we hope to effect soon, now that the passion induced by the exciting subject of the election is passing off. A. Lincoln

This wasn’t enough for the governor; the public outrage Burbridge had fomented with his crackdown on civil liberties was bad for Kentucky and bad for the war effort. Bramlette wired Lincoln again. “If the Headquarters of the Commandant in Kentucky were at Frankfort, where a free interchange of views could be had, it would avoid the evils which have resulted from Burbridge’s weakness.” “But,” he continued, “he [Burbridge] and I cannot hold personal converse after his bad conduct within the last few weeks. Our intercourse must be restricted to official correspondence in writing. It would therefore much facilitate matters to have some commandant with whom I could act on terms of social courtesy and equality.” In other words, Bramlette wanted Lincoln to replace Burbridge—and he wanted it done immediately.

Lincoln refused. Not because the president was loath to playing musical chairs with his top military commanders. McDowell, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, and McClellan (twice) were collective proof enough of that. Rather, Lincoln denied the removal request because at the end of the day, he was a wartime president, and he needed commanders in place who were willing to take bold action—even if those actions occasionally fell between the cracks of civil liberty or even flirted with illegality. Bramlette was no doubt disappointed to learn this hard lesson about Lincoln’s wartime priorities.

Months later, following the spectacular failure of a strategy for stamping out guerrilla violence (that involved executing POWs believed to be irregular combatants and ended up creating new bushwhackers faster than it could hang them), Major General Stephen Burbridge was stripped of his authority and never again reinstated to command. In this, he learned a hard lesson of his own: Lincoln was only willing to look past “secret inquisitions” or to bend the rules for the generals who orchestrated them if it brought the Union closer to ultimate victory. Burbridge failed—and thus took his place among the McDowells and Popes of the Union high command.

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

SOURCES: Thomas E. Bramlette, 1864, “Message to the General Assembly of Kentucky,” Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA).

Between the Rock and the Hard Place: Sources on Guerrilla Violence in CWG-K

Click here to view this Subject Guide in the new Civil War Governors interface.


On June 14, 1864, John T. Smith penned a letter to Kentucky governor Thomas E. Bramlette. According to Smith, the County Court of Logan County had selected him to serve as a special messenger. His task: hashing out a solution for Logan County’s guerrilla infestation. “Our object,” Smith wrote, “is to fall upon some plan so as to have a company to act against Guerillas … the condition of most of us is such that we can not be spared long at a time from our families and therefore can not with propriety volunteer regularly and devote our whole time to the Service but we can raise a sufficient number to keep off guerillas and robbers by taking turn about with each others.”

Stationing troops in the area—an oft-used solution for localized outbreaks of irregular violence in Kentucky—wouldn’t do in this case; outside soldiers, the Logan County contingent argued, “are unacquainted with the country and its citizens and can do but little in catching guerillas who are well acquainted with both people and country.” Put another way, guerrillas had home field advantage against regular troops and it would take an insider to catch an insider. Smith and his comrades were willing to use their own intimate knowledge of Logan County to hunt pro-Confederate bushwhackers (on a part-time basis), so long as Governor Bramlette would provide them with supplies, firearms, and the state’s permission to wield them with lethal force.

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the postscript of Smith’s letter. It reads as follows:

P.S. We are troubled by all sorts of Guerillas. Since writing the above, I learn that a squad of federal guerillas or negro Soldiers from Clarksville Tenn. came into the neighborhood of Voleny last night (the place visited by rebel guerillas two nights before) and stripped the citizens of their negroes and horses. It is a perfect outrage upon our country. The Federal Soldiers at Clarksville are so busy recruiting negroes that they pay no more attention to guerillas and robbers than if they belonged to the same class of individuals. If we are permitted to raise our company give us instruction what is to be done with negro guerillas. I think we can raise from 150 to 200 men a portion of whom can always be in motion and when necessary all can act.

Aside from Smith’s views on black enlistment, this addendum reveals the extent to which Logan County residents were caught between a gray rock and a blue hard place: pro-Confederate guerrillas would raid a neighborhood and take what food and horseflesh they needed to operate in the bush. Then a group of Unionist guerrillas—sometimes even black Unionist guerrillas—would come through the same neighborhood, accusing the residents of having willingly supplied the Confederates. This cycle could repeat itself ad infinitum (and often in the reverse order), with local citizens trapped in the middle. And it was anything but limited to Logan County — this was a state-wide problem.

So if you’re interested in finding out how Governor Bramlette, private citizens like John Smith, and/or Kentucky’s military forces waged war against irregular combatants, check out this subject guide on Guerrilla Warfare — but be advised that it only represents the tip of the iceberg.

***

SUBJECT GUIDE: Guerrilla Warfare

KYR-0001-001-0008Thomas E. Bramlette, Proclamation by the Governor, Jan. 4, 1864

It is in the power of persons whose sympathies are with the rebellion to prevent guerrilla raids, almost invariably, by furnishing to Military Officers of the United States or State of Kentucky, the information which experience has proved them to be, as a general thing, possessed of.

If all would unite, as is their duty, in putting down guerrillas, we should soon cease to be troubled with their raids. A neglect to afford all assistance and information which may aid in defeating the designs of marauding parties, can but be construed as a culpable and active assistance to our enemies.

I, therefore, request that the various Military Commandants in the State of Kentucky will, in every instance where a loyal citizen is taken off by bands of guerrillas, immediately arrest at least five of the most prominent and active rebel sympathizers in the vicinity of such outrage for every loyal man taken by guerrillas. These sympathizers should be held as hostages for the safe and speedy return of the loyal citizens. Where there are disloyal relatives of guerrillas, they should be the chief sufferers. Let them learn that if they refuse to exert themselves actively for the assistance and protection of the loyal, they must expect to reap the just fruits of their complicity with the enemies of our State and people.

KYR-0001-002-0018Berry S. Young et al. to Thomas E. Bramlette, Feb. 16, 1864

The Undersigned citizens of Crittenden having been informed that by Legislative enactment and by the authority vested in you as Governor of said State that forces are to be Raised for the defense of the state against Guerrilla invasion if such be the fact We would Recommend to your favorable Consideration Lieut F S Loyd of Co H 20th Ky Regt as Col and J N Hughey 1st Sergt Co E 48th Ills Regt ^for Lt Col^ both Recruited from this (Crittenden) County both of them accomplished Gentlemen and Soldiers they Refer you to Col Edward of your Staff By promoting those Young Gentlemen you will greatly oblige the Undersigned and Reward merit gained by gallant service in their countrys cause

Berry S Young clk c c c

James M Steele

W C Carnahan

S L. R. Wilson

Robt F Haynes County Atty,,

J H Walker Clerk

Crittenden Circuit Court

D N Stinson Post Master at Marion Crittenden Co Ky

John N Woods

Alfred Armstrong

James W Wilson —

  1. E. Black

J C Henson

  1. L. Leigh

S U Elder

KYR-0001-004-0996George Shirley and E. Wilty, Affidavit, Jun. 13, 1864

State that John Branstetter an infirm old man of near 70- years has lived many years in this county (formerly Barren County) a respected & good citizen and up to the commencement of this Rebellion a Sober & discreet man- that the Guerrilas Robbed him of a great deal of his property. From the troubles consequent there to & the additional fact we suppose, that his two sons Joined an independent company called the “Metcalfe Tigers” for the purpose of hunting down guerrillas & were exposed to many dangers the Old man took to drink- While in one of his drinking sprees he was induced by some bad men to go into the woods & play a game of cards. The game was played on his land & money was bet & won as appears by the evidence Testimony of a credible witness- who chanced to come upon them & saw the game He has been indicted therefore tried & fined $200- which is the least the law provides in such cases This old man is often delirious & wild wherein these drinking sprees & has to be guarded sometimes We his neighbors & friends are candid in representing that we think this is one of the few cases which demand the interposition of the Governor and ask that his fine be remitted.

KYR-0001-004-1941Z. Wheats to Thomas E. Bramlette, Jun. 19, 1865

I called at your office to-day & left for your consideration, the Petition of Capt. Edwin Terrell of the Independent Ky Scouts. I hope you will grant the prayer of his petition. He is one of the bravest men I ever saw, & has done more to rid Kentucky of Guerrillas than any man I have heard of. The fact is, his little band have been more effective in this service, than some Brigades of Cavalry. His head quarters were in Shelbyville & they gave our town & county protection which we could not have obtained from any other source.

KYR-0001-004-1380Hill and Knott to Thomas E. Bramlette, Dec. 16, 1864

Sir: As you are doubtless aware this portion of our State has long been infested by a gang of Guerrillas whose depredations have been committed almost with impunity, in Spite of the utmost vigilence of the Military, whose efforts to capture or destroy them, they have constantly managed to elude. So frequent and successful have been their forays—characterized by murder robbery and plunder—that their presence has become a cause of extreme terror to the citizens of whatever portion of our community they may mark as their prey. Some three weeks ago they made a raid through a portion of this County murdering some, robbing others, and maltreating in some manner, nearly all with whom they met.

KYR-0002-225-0083M. E. Poynter to Thomas E. Bramlette, Feb. 15, 1865

I trouble you with a line in regard to the recruiting officer for the State Service at this place who professes to have authority— from you to raise a company &c. I refer to W. W. Harper— and as a citizen and a Union man in behalf of the cause—the community, your own good name and of common decency I protest against such an appointment—As badly as this service demands men and as much as we have suffered from guerrillas we as a community had rather Quantrell, would pay an occasional visit than be annoyed by this man in “brief authority”— all the time.

KYR-0001-003-0086E. H. Hobson to Thomas E. Bramlette, Mar. 5, 1864

The 37th Ky Mounted Inft has greatly improved, Since Col C J Hann took command this Regt has recd its Horse equipments and enfield rifles but to make them more efficient would most respectfully Suggest that you arm two or four compns of the regt with Ballard Carbines or muskatoons I am anxious to have the Regt mounted and send them to the Cumberland to protect the Border Counties. the notorious Gurilla Capt Richardson and nine of his men will arrive here to day as Prisoners, they Justly merit and I hope will be punished with death give Col Hansons wishes your favourable consideration.

KYR-0002-022-0062W. M. Allen to Thomas E. Bramlette, Dec. 23, 1864

The last raid resulted in the death of two of our best citizens, and the killing of three of the band, and the wounding of three others of them. It was at first supposed that two of them killed at Jeffersontown were Federal soldiers, taken prisoners by the gurillas but we are all satisfied that they were deserters & gurillas. Our people are now pretty thoroughly aroused, and are anxious to have them pursued and exterminated. When pursued, these cut throats flee to the Salt River hills and scatter about among their friends and cant be found. We know who many of their aiders and abettors are but have no power to punish. The Military Authorities give us but little protection. We want something of our own that will be more efficient. It is proposed by some to raise 100 men in our county at our own expense!

KYR-0002-225-0079John F. Lay to Thomas E. Bramlette, Mar. 11, 1865

I have the Honor to make aplication to you for authority to recruit a Company of State troops to Serve in the State of Ky for the period of twelve months I have Served over three years in the Fedral army and know Cannot remain at Home on account of Gurillas if you will favor me with authority please Send me Some Blank Enlistment papers

KYR-0002-225-0037W. H. H. Faris to Thomas E. Bramlette, Apr. 24, 1864

I have presumed to address your excellency on a matter of some importance. It is the method we should adopt as the most proper for the defence of our state. The two already provided, the state troops and militia, have not proved sufficiently available. It is as much as the state troops can do, to guard the frontier, so, as to prevent the greater inroads of bodies of five hundred men. And sometimes a thousand. While parties of from thirty to forty can slip in between the posts that establishes the military chain along the southern border, effect every species of robbery, and commit any depredations they wish, and pass out again with perfect impunity. This predatory warfare is to be made on Kentucky during the three seasons when the woods are thicker, so they (the guerrillas) can practice it with greater security. This mode of warfare is characterized by the guerilla chieftains as the scouting systems. All this the militia are intended to prevent, but in which they will most signally fail; as they have done as they have done already.
Because there is ^no^ method, no arrangement no anything about them that is calculated to intercept, or overtake one of those flying bands of guerillas that pass through one county, and into another (committing all the mischief they wish) before the one has been, or the other is aware of its approach.

KYR-0001-019-0156Bennett Spearger to D. E. Downing, Aug. 14, 1862

The guerrilla warfare is working its ruin as a cause produces its effect a few yesterday about 2. oclock. P.M. there were 2 Union Men Killed on the Road leading from my house to Thompson Arterberry’s Hamilton and a bout 30 other men came into Tompkinsville yesterday morning a bout 8. oclk a.m. and had Nathaniel Austin and ^a^ young Hefflin Prisenors they shot Austin through the head and lefthis Brains was scatered in the road and they shot Heflin in several places, you are acquaintd ^with^ Austin and Heflin Both neither of them you Know never belong to any army the man who stealthily takes deliborate aim at the husband and Father of a helpless family ^and^ because he is freind to his Country, sends the mesenger of death to drink his life blood and compells the heart stricken widow and helpless Orphans to seek protection and support at the hands of a cold unfeeling world. Could the hands of a cold grave’s dread monster enter claim to such a fiend in any form too horrid to mete out to them there just deserts

SOURCE: John T. Smith to Thomas E. Bramlette, 14 June 1864, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs (KDMA).

The Caroline Chronicles: Curriculum Development Update

On Friday, April 8, instructors and students from the History Club at Hopkinsville Community College visited the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. As part of their experience on the KHS campus, club members became the first group to play out the classroom simulation of The Caroline Chronicles. And we’re thrilled to report that they—and the simulation itself—outperformed even our wildest expectations.

The simulation involves two sides—a defense counsel and a prosecution team—arguing for and against Caroline’s pardon using evidence drawn directly from the primary, secondary, and legal documents used to pen the blog series. The decision-makers in the case are a panel of Pardon Commissioners, who listen to verbal arguments from both the prosecution and the defense, are allowed to question the lead counsels of each side, and then issue a recommendation to the governor. (To ensure fair proceedings, all participants were given access to all of the documents prior to the simulation and then divided into roles randomly before the trial began.) After deliberating privately, Pardon Commissioners must report their recommendation to the rest of the group and offer three justifications based only on the arguments and evidence presented by counsels.

The prosecution at work.

With Jack McCoy-like gusto, the prosecution offered its arguments first, making a strong case for upholding Caroline’s conviction (listed below):

  1. Caroline believed she should have become a free citizen after arriving in Louisville as contraband with Buell’s army. Her service in the Willis Levy house constituted re-enslavement and gave her a strong motive to lash out at her new master’s family.
  1. On a personal level, Willis and Anne Levy had been abusive of Caroline, treating her cruelly, scolding her frequently, and even threatening physical punishment. Aside from her enslavement, this hostility also gave Caroline ample motive to punish Willis and Anne by hurting their only child.
  1. Not only did Caroline have the means to commit the crime—she had easy access to the poison that killed Blanch Levy—she was also seen smiling at the toddler’s corpse on more than one occasion and asked several times when the corpse would be buried. According to the prosecution, this indicated that Caroline was happy to see Blanch dead but also wanted the evidence of her crime buried before an autopsy could expose her guilt.

Following the prosecution’s oral arguments, the Pardon Commissioners threw a potential curve ball; they asked if it was possible that Anne Levy had actually tried to poison her daughter and herself as part of a murder-suicide plot (potentially rooted in lingering post-partum depression). The prosecution quickly replied that no evidence whatsoever existed to support such a conclusion.

The defense organizing its case.

Caroline’s defense counsel then took the floor and gave three core arguments in favor of reasonable doubt existing:

  1. Just as much of the evidence collected points to Willis Levy having accidentally poisoned Blanch as it does Caroline as the killer—and while this doesn’t totally negate any possibility of Caroline’s guilt, it does raise a reasonable doubt.
  1. Next the defense focused on the victim. Blanch Levy was a toddler; toddlers put things—everything—in their mouths. It’s very possible that Caroline was watching Blanch in the yard and that Blanch picked up poison put out by Willis Levy, and ingested the poison accidentally. In other words, the defense added a layer of complexity to the accidental death scenario in which Caroline was not criminally at fault.
  1. Lastly, the defense pointed to the consistency of Caroline’s story in the case record. Throughout the entire process, even following her conviction, Caroline never changed her narrative of Blanch Levy’s death—and in keeping with her purported affection for the child, the defense underscored that Caroline’s smiling at the corpse and her questions about the autopsy could have just as easily stemmed from genuine concern and her traditional role as a female slave on the plantation (tasked with the “work of death”).

The Pardon Commissioners did not have any questions for the defense and subsequently left the courtroom to confer in private chambers.

The panel of Pardon Commissioners listening to verbal arguments.

The panel of Pardon Commissioners returned to the courtroom and recommended that Caroline be issued a full pardon by the governor. Their reasoning included that (1) Willis Levy had a track record of carelessly using poison in the general vicinity in which Blanch was killed; (2) the prosecution had failed to properly establish a motive for Caroline to kill Blanch; and, (3) the Pardon Commissioners believed that Caroline did have genuine affection for Blanch and, as a result, that she would have lashed out at Willis and Anne Levy to protest her treatment while not harming the child.

The Pardon Commissioners’ recommendation aligned with the historical results of Caroline’s case; in turn, she was awarded a full pardon. So now the question is: how do you think your class would decide?

If you’re interested in finding out, drop us a line about adopting The Caroline Chronicles curriculum in your classroom. Included are primary and secondary reading assignments, low and high stakes writing assignments with instructor guidelines, and the script for the capstone in-class trial simulation.

The Caroline Chronicles: A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South – PART VI

The Caroline Chronicles:
A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South

Part VI – “Poison, Infanticide, and Female Slave Resistance”

Matthew C. Hulbert

We’ve left it to you to determine—based on what documentation survives—whether or not Caroline’s case warranted a pardon from Governor Thomas E. Bramlette. (In case you missed, she did receive one. Bramlette’s decision not only stayed her execution, but exonerated her completely.) This week, we’ll look more closely at the death of Blanch Levi itself, both victim and manner, to understand where it fit within an older American tradition of gendered assumptions about female slaves and resistance. Doing so will help explain some of the cultural baggage that white prosecutors, jurors, and observers brought with them into an urban, Border South courtroom in 1862–1863.

***

Despite the chronic fear of nineteenth century slaveholders that the morrow’s sunrise might bring with it a rebellion, large-scale slave uprisings didn’t happen often in the antebellum South. Logistically speaking, they were just too hard to pull off. And slaves—especially moving into the 1840s and 1850s—generally knew it.

After weeks or even months of planning, it took just one doubting, would-be rebel—looking to safeguard his or her own individual future by sabotaging those of the group—to inform and bring the conspiracy to a screeching halt. Even when slaves managed to kill their white owners or overseers and escape from immediate bondage, a sustained self-liberation movement (a la Haiti) simply wasn’t a viable option in the United States. Rebellious slaves needed somewhere permanent (and safe) to go. More important still, they had to reach that place, presumably on foot, poorly provisioned, and without the benefit of a well-traveled guide, before being hunted down by well-mounted, well-armed, and ill-intentioned white posses. The Stono Rebellion (South Carolina, 1739) and Nat Turner’s Revolt (Virginia, 1831) are illustrative of this fundamental difficulty. In both instances, insurgents initially managed to spill much blood, but in the end, were corralled and executed en masse.

Of course, this isn’t to say that slaves did not oppose their captivity with violence, only that such violence more frequently took the form of individual, localized acts of resistance. And, if we still subscribe the tenets of “resistance and accommodation” blueprinted by the late Eugene Genovese (and I think we do for the most part, regardless of how fashionable or not it might be to admit it), these acts of resistance were carried out with the basic understanding that they would not ultimately result in freedom. Instead, they would make life in the immediate more bearable. For enslaved women tasked with domestic responsibilities (in other words, for female house slaves as opposed to female field slaves) the nature of their work—as cooks, wet nurses, and nannies—put them in immediate proximity to the food consumed by their white masters and to the offspring of their white masters. As it related to resistance, this literal dual-proximity to matters of white subsistence and reproduction spawned a double-edged arrangement for enslaved women. Poisoning and infanticide gave some women the ability to resist by hitting white masters where it hurt most. On the other side of the coin, however, this relatively untapped potential also affixed to slave women a much broader stigma, or better still, an inherent “tradition of suspicion,” that had a very real ability to influence—or even poison, if you’ll pardon the pun—white perceptions of an individual like Caroline at trial.

For a detailed example of a slaveholder’s poison-related paranoia, we have to look no further than the prolific diarist Mary Chesnut, who recounted the gruesome story of a Dr. Keitt—brother to Lawrence Massillon Keitt, of Brooks-Sumner infamy.

Kate told a wonderful tale which I must set down. Laurence M. Keitt’s brother—a Dr. K that I knew full well was poisoned by his negroes—he was very indulgent. Spoiled them utterly—but was passionate & impulsive. Mr. Taylor, who married an acquaintance of ours, Miss Baker of Sumter, said to him, “Keitt, these negroes are poisoning you. Do not let them know you suspect them unless you take them up instantly, but I advise you to go away at once, say to say–& see if this extraordinary disease will not stop.” He promised. Just after Mr. Taylor left the house a woman brought him a cup of coffee & as he stirred it—it was so evident some white powder was at the bottom of the cup—that in a passion he dashed the cup in her face without drinking it. That night his throat was cut. Afterwards, by their confession it [was] provided they had been giving him calomel for months every morning in his coffee. Thre[e] were hung—but two suspected men escaped because a bother of his believed them honest and guiltless.

Other instances aren’t hard to find. According to historian Deborah Gray White, “as early as 1755 a Charleston slave woman was burned at the stake for poisoning her master.” In 1850, a family of Missourians headed by Wade Moseby was poisoned when a female slave laced their coffee with arsenic. And, two female slaves kept at Fort Riley were accused of poisoning an ordnance sergeant—though interrogation (that bordered on torture) later convinced authorities of the duo’s innocence. Despite their eventual exoneration, the idea was fixed: when unknown or unfamiliar ailments suddenly struck white slave-owners, enslaved cooks would be suspected from the outset.

Cases of infanticide are also fairly common, though the discussion is complicated by the fact that the best-known of them typically involved female slaves killing their own children as a way to not only rob white owners of future labor, but also to spare the children themselves a lifetime of emotional trauma, physical abuse, and involuntary servitude. The plot of Toni Morrison’s Beloved immediately comes to mind. The book is based on the real-life plight of Margaret Garner, a Kentucky slave who fled across the Ohio River in 1856 with several small children in tow. Garner was eventually tracked down by marshals and slave-catchers, but managed to kill one of her youngest daughters with a butcher’s knife before being subdued.

Even so, the record does contain numerous instances of female slaves killing or being accused of killing their adolescent charges. In 1769, White notes that “a special issue of the South Carolina Gazette carried the story of a slave woman who had poisoned her master’s infant daughter.” In 1848, a female slave cook belonging to Joseph Parks was “sent away at once” after being accused of intentionally poisoning a white child. In Tales from the Haunted South, Tiya Miles unpacks the story of Chloe, a female slave at the famed Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana. According to popular lore, Chloe baked oleander into a birthday cake—only meaning to make her master’s children sick—but used too much of the poison and killed multiple members of the family.

Chloe’s story is interesting because it fuses fears of poisoning and of infanticide into a single narrative—the worst case or “double-whammy” scenario for white slaveholders who had created a counter-intuitive system in which their own survival and that of their children frequently depended on the obedience of slaves who despised them. Further still, as Miles eventually sleuths, Chloe was a complete fabrication; an apocryphal ghost created by site owners for the purpose of drumming up commercial notoriety and attracting tourism. (The book, not coincidentally, analyzes the rise of ghost tourism in the South.) For our purposes, however, Chloe’s ahistorical roots are particularly enlightening because they allow us to read backward into the extent to which the aforementioned stigma or “tradition of suspicion” was entrenched in southern culture prior to emancipation: easily deep enough to have been passed down into the present without a hint of doubt from virtually anyone, save for Miles.

None of this is to say that Caroline did not intentionally poison Blanche Levi—nor is it to say that Caroline did not also attempt to poison Anne Levi and simply failed. Murder isn’t an exact science, after all. Unfortunately, given the [lack of] surviving documentation and real evidence, we will probably never know what actually happened on the front lawn of Willis Levi’s home that September morning. But we should at least now have a better understanding of what cultural baggage strode into that Louisville courtroom with Caroline, a female slave charged with infanticide by way of poison. Guilty or not, to say the proverbial deck was stacked against her would constitute a gross understatement.

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

SOURCES: Special thanks to Kristen Epps, Joshua Rothman, and Carole Emberton for suggesting examples of poisoning/infanticide. Woodward & Muhlenberg, The Privary Mary Chesnut, 181-182; Miles, Tales from the Haunted South; White, Ain’t I a Woman?, 79; W. H. Mackey to George, March 26, 1902, in Slaves and Slavery Collection, KHS; Christopher, “Captain Joseph Parks,” 16; “Daring Attempt to Murder,” Liberty Weekly Tribune, April 5, 1850; “Family Poisoned,” Liberty Weekly Tribune, May 3, 1850.

The Caroline Chronicles: A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South – PART IV

The Caroline Chronicles:
A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South

“Part IV – The Decision”

By Matthew C. Hulbert

Over the past three weeks, we’ve recounted the tangled saga of Caroline Dennant, a Tennessee slave brought to Louisville, Kentucky, by Union General Don Carlos Buell’s army as contraband of war. Charged in the death of an infant left in her care, Caroline was eventually convicted of infanticide and sentenced to death by hanging. In addition to a more detailed version of this narrative (Part I, found here), the fundamental arguments for executive clemency and in favor of a pardon for Caroline can be found here (Part III) and here, (Part II).

We also promised to reveal whether or not Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, himself a slave-owner and virulent white supremacist, granted Caroline’s pardon based on the multiple petitions authored on her behalf. The answer is found in an entry to Bramlette’s Executive Journal dated September 24, 1863. Following the remissions of a gambling fine against J. N. Cornell ($200), damages levied against J. M. Harper ($653.94), and an appointment as Notary Public for F. G. Robbins of Jefferson County, this item appeared:

“He Pardoned Caroline (a Slave) sentenced to be hung by the Jefferson Cir Court for Murder.”

caroline_pardonCaroline’s pardon from Bramlette not only released her from impending execution — it overruled the jury’s original guilty verdict and exonerated her of any and all charges. Problematically, at precisely moment Caroline appears to overcome a legal system rigged against both African Americans and women — and maybe doubly so against African American women — she seems to disappear from the historical record. We’re working right now to track her down.

So was Caroline actually innocent? In reality, we don’t — and probably never will — know the answer to that question. But luckily for Bramlette, he wasn’t tasked with determining ultimate innocence or guilty; rather, the governor only had to determine if reasonable doubt existed, in which case the execution could not legally be carried out. Considering the circumstantial nature of the case, even in spite of admittedly damning evidence, most of the CWG-K thinks Bramlette made the right call.

This leaves one final question concerning the pardon: what do YOU think? We’ve transcribed all of the surviving materials from the case and invite you to make up your own mind: Caroline Chronicles Documents

***

In the coming weeks, we’ll be analyzing Caroline’s story and the trial from various historical perspectives. Next on tap is a “think essay” about a man named John Wesley who may or may not have been Caroline’s husband and how the process of re-enslavement through contraband and fugitive slave auctions worked in Civil War Louisville. In two weeks, stay tuned for a survey of the cultural stigmas associated with female slave resistance, poison, and infanticide that almost certainly accompanied Caroline and her all-white jury into the courtroom.

The Caroline Chronicles: A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South – PART III

The Caroline Chronicles:
A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South

“Part III – The Defense’s Case”

By Patrick A. Lewis

For those of you who missed previous installments, we’ll begin with a very brief rundown of Caroline’s story to this point. (A full accounting of the events that led to her trial for infanticide is still available here.) In 1862 Caroline Dennant, a Tennessee slave, was brought to Louisville, Kentucky, as war contraband by Don Carlos Buell’s army—she was subsequently arrested as a fugitive slave and placed in the home of Willis and Anne Levy—a few months later, Blanch, the Levy’s toddler-aged daughter died of strychnine poisoning—Caroline was soon after charged with murder, convicted, and sentenced to death. This and last week’s installments are written from the perspective of the prosecution and the defense in the matter of Caroline’s petition for executive clemency (and may or may not reflect our actual positions on her case!).

As the prosecution alleges, there is little the defense can do to refute the circumstantial evidence against Caroline. She had been held to labor as a servant and nurse in the home of the Levys. Willis Levy did acquire, distribute, and store a large amount of strychnine. After the child’s death, Caroline was seen to have facial expressions and otherwise behave in ways to which sinister motives were later assigned by witnesses. While the defense concedes this circumstantial evidence, it entirely rejects the fanciful and conspiratorial theory of the (so-called) crime advanced by the prosecution.

Yet to secure the conviction in the trial at the May 1863 term of the Jefferson Circuit Court, the defense knowingly suppressed the extent to which Willis Levy “spread enough strychnine (or poison) to kill a regiment of men” in and about his premises. Evidence freely offered by the neighbors and family of the Levy family since the time of the trial now begs reconsideration of the case. The defense appeals to the clemency of the executive for a pardon on the following grounds:

One. That having resided in Louisville less than six months before the death of the child Blanch Levy, “in a strange place without any one to advise with” except defense counsel hastily assigned her case and without adequate time to prepare, Caroline was unable to secure witnesses for her defense at the trial.

Two. That the witnesses for the prosecution, namely Anne and Willis Levy, did not testify to the full extent to which Willis Levy spread strychnine about his premises. Only two occasions were established in evidence by Willis Levy, and Caroline could swear to no more. “Your petitioner will now state one important fact which was not developed on the trial, Mr Levy put out the poison on more than two occasions; he put it out many times to kill Dogs & Cats, & it was never taken up, & what became of it no one knows.”

Three. That the testimony of Raymond and Josephine Lynch—neighbors and in-laws to the Levys, uncle and aunt of the deceased Blanch Levy—establishes the true extent of Willis Levy’s indiscriminate and dangerous application of strychnine in and around his and his neighbors’ property. Josephine Lynch swears that “Mr Levy put out the poison every night for a great while I would think a hundred times” over a span of time “from fall to spring.” Moreover, Mrs. Lynch herself had been “very uneasy many time for fear that my children would get some of the poison I alwaise thought Mr Levy was very reckless about throwing out poison.”

Four. That the prosecution argues against accidental ingestion of the poison in the yard from the fact that no pieces of poisoned meat were found in the stomach of the deceased Blanch Levy.

Five. That testimony developed on the trial and that subsequently sworn to by Josephine Lynch establishes that a considerable amount of strychnine was spread in the yard and neighbors’ yards by means other than on meat, including but not limited to on grains designed to kill birds and loosely distributed in and around the privy.

Six. That Mrs. Levy grasped the extent to which her husband had indiscriminately spread poison in and around the Levy house. Immediately after the child’s death Mrs. Levy threw out a “bucket full of parched coffee that was bought from the soldiers,” believing it to be tainted with the poison.

Seven. That if Anne Levy was made sick by coffee on the morning the child died, this was from Willis Levy unwittingly contaminating the household coffee supply with strychnine as part of his campaign to eradicate vermin.

Eight. That if the true extent to which Willis Levy indiscriminately scattered strychnine in and around his own property and that of his neighbors had been known at the time of the trial, Caroline’s conviction would not have been sought by the prosecuting attorney. Louisville City Attorney William G. Reasor attests that “from strong circumstances made known to me since that trial, I feel that Executive clemency will have been worthily bestowed if she be fully pardoned.”

LevyNine. That if the true extent to which Willis Levy indiscriminately and dangerously scattered strychnine in diverse methods and in diverse locations in and around his own property and that of his neighbors had been known at the time of the trial, Caroline’s conviction would not have been secured by the jury. Nine of the gentlemen of the jury who tried her case—L. A. Civill, W. O. Gardner, John Sait, Joseph Griffith, Thomas Schorch, Samuel Ingrem, R. H. Snyder, William K. Allan, and E. P. Neale—have signed a sworn statement asking to overturn the verdict and sentence they rendered.

All this the defense presents as evidence for Caroline’s innocence in the death of the child Blanch Levy. The defense will not—as it believes it has grounds to do—pursue the argument that Caroline’s service in the Levy household was in violation of the Confiscation Act of July 17, 1862, which provides that “all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the government of the United States “shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves” and that “no slave escaping into any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia, from any other State, shall be delivered up, or in any way impeded or hindered of his liberty” regardless of the laws pertaining to enslaved persons and persons of African descent in that state, territory, or district.

The defense reiterates that given the circumstances of the defendant and her insecure position in Louisville, the evidence presented in this petition was unavailable to Caroline and her counsel at the time of the trial.

If all that were introduced in this petition were this new testimony, the defense would feel confident in their expectation of His Excellency’s clemency, but having in hand the sworn statements of the prosecuting attorney and the jury, the defense feels that the pardoning power would be justly used in the case of Caroline. The premises considered, the defense asks that His Excellency Governor Bramlette issue a full and unconditional pardon.

The Caroline Chronicles: A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South – PART I

The Caroline Chronicles:
A Story of Race, Urban Slavery, and Infanticide in the Border South

“Part I: Incidents in the Life of a Contraband”

By Matthew C. Hulbert

Early in the fall of 1862, an African American woman named Caroline Dennant arrived in Louisville. This wasn’t a happy homecoming, for she had no family in the city. Nor was it the endpoint of a successful escape from bondage. Because despite its official pro-Union position, Kentucky remained a slave state that would honor its obligations to the Fugitive Slave Law if at all possible. So at approximately twenty years old, she’d come in with General Don Carlos Buell’s army, from Tennessee, not as a newly-made freeperson, but as contraband. She was homeless, completely alone, and without a penny in her pocket. Even Caroline’s surname had been borrowed from the planter who still technically owned her—and who could, at any moment, arrive in Louisville to claim her as one might any other piece of lost property.

Caroline bannerIn the meantime, Caroline was arrested as a fugitive slave and sent to live in the home of Willis Levy, a river freighter, his wife, Annie, and the couple’s toddling daughter, Blanche. According to Caroline, “for this kindness she was grateful” and “she endeavored to pay for this kindness by being attentive to her duties as a servant … watchful of their interest & in all things to be faithful and trustworthy.” Her duties included cooking for the family, cleaning their small one-story house in a working class Louisville neighborhood, and serving as a nanny for Blanche. As noted by onlookers, Caroline was “a good servant & seemed to love the child … [she] was very fond of Blanche.”

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Caroline’s former master never appeared to drag her back to the plantation. She met, and apparently married, another contraband slave who lived across the street with the family of Raymond Lynch. Lynch had married Annie Levy’s sister and, owing to proximity and familial ties, Caroline’s husband was typically allowed to spend nights with her at the Levy house. Though still a servant—and still trapped in fugitive limbo—it looked as though Caroline had left the worst of slavery behind in Confederate Tennessee. That is, until everything changed in February 1863.

***

Willis Levy was not a well-liked man. In fact, for reasons that will soon become obvious to animal-lovers, he was more or less despised by all of his neighbors and extended family. Luckily for Caroline, work kept him away from home for months at a time—but even this proved not to be long enough. In December 1862, Levy “purchased strychnine for the purpose of killing some cats and pigeons that had been annoying him.” As Caroline watched in the kitchen, he applied the poison to small cubes of beef, even remarking that he’d used enough to “kill a regiment of men,” before throwing the toxic bait under the homes of his neighbors, unbeknownst to them and without their permission. Then Levy poisoned grains of wheat and left them in a tin can in the backyard to attract and kill birds. When he was through, Caroline watched Levy’s wife put the container of poison back in a small, unlocked trunk in the kitchen.

In subsequent weeks, tension rose and the “honeymoon period” seemed to end; Willis and Caroline clashed repeatedly. In one instance, he blamed her for leaving a gate open. As a result, a cow had wandered into the yard and destroyed several small fruit trees. Another time, Caroline threw kitchen trash onto a fence just a few hours after Willis had finished whitewashing it. In the latter case, he reportedly told her “for two cents he would give her a thousand lashes.” The morning following the fence debacle, Willis left for a boat trip to Tennessee. During his absence, Annie Levy also took issue with Caroline’s behavior, this time for wasting candles by staying up late in the evening with her husband.

A few days later, Annie arrived home from a walk with her sister and noticed that a trunk in the kitchen had been moved from its usual spot. She questioned Caroline, who immediately denied having disturbed or opened the trunk. That evening, Annie didn’t sleep well; she “awoke several times during the night & on one occasion had a singularly strangling or suffocating sensation about the lower part of the throat.” Due to her sickness, Annie and Blanche came down late for breakfast, whereupon the former was surprised to find that Caroline had poured her a cup of coffee. The presence of coffee wasn’t in itself unusual. She drank coffee every morning—but this was the first time in the entirely of Caroline’s tenure with the family that she’d poured it for her mistress. Almost immediately, Annie noticed something different about the taste of the coffee but chalked it up to her restless night. Shortly thereafter, she retired for a nap, leaving Blanche in Caroline’s care.

Not long after Annie Levy laid down, Caroline came into the room and said “Miss Anne come out & see Blanche she acts so strangly [sic].” The pair rushed outside to find the toddler “lying on the ground in convulsions … about three feet from the kitchen door.” According to court documents, “the child frothed at the mouth, became livid under the eyes, around the lips & about the finger nails & on the feet.” Blanche died quickly—and “professional men,” likely a mix of doctors and policemen, determined that she’d been killed by a fatal dose of strychnine. An autopsy was performed in which Blanche Levy’s stomach was “bottled, sealed up & carried by two persons to an experienced practical chemist.” The contents of the stomach were analyzed; all tests pointed to strychnine ingestion and accompanying asphyxiation. For final verification, the chemist even fed a bit of the stomach contents to a frog. It died immediately while exhibiting symptoms of strychnine poisoning.

Caroline was charged with murder. At first glance, the pieces seemed to fit together. She’d watched Willis Levy use strychnine before and at least vaguely understood what doses would kill animals of different sizes. She knew where he kept the poison and had easy access to it. This was all circumstantial evidence, to be sure, but black men and women in slave states had been found guilty under far less precarious circumstances. Moreover, her recent clashes with both Willis and Annie Levy constituted clear enough motive for an all-white jury hell-bent on avenging the death of a white child. Within the span of a few months, Caroline Dennant was convicted of infanticide and sentenced to hang from the neck until dead. Her execution was scheduled for the morning of September 11, 1863, roughly one year to the day since she trudged into the city with Buell’s men.

***

This opening salvo of The Chronicles of Caroline represents just the first installment of several to come, penned by myself or fellow CWG-K editor Patrick Lewis. In the coming weeks, we will not only reveal Caroline’s fate as a date with the hangman loomed—we’ll also add contextual commentary. These future installments will address both sides of Caroline’s legal case in deeper detail (that is, we will analyze the cases for and against her); the broader logistics of contraband hiring and fugitive slave keeping in urban settings like Louisville; white-led abolition movements in Kentucky and the social networks that spearheaded them on behalf of fugitives like Caroline Dennant; and, how Caroline’s story—whether she was guilty or not—fits within a much wider, interconnected corpus of academic scholarship and popular mythology concerning slave resistance and rebellion in both the antebellum and the wartime South.

 

Matthew C. Hulbert is an Assistant Editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition.

SOURCES: Affidavit of Mrs. Josephine Lynch, 17 September 1863, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, KY (hereafter KDLA); Caroline Dennant to Thomas E. Bramlette, KDLA; J. G. Barrett to Thomas E. Bramlette, 2 September 1863, KDLA; Affidavit of Raymond Lynch, 19 September 1863, KDLA; Testimony in the Case of Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Caroline (a slave), KDLA; John L. McKee to Thomas E. Bramlette, 3 September 1863, KDLA.

KYR-0001-004-0787 Glossary

Be sure to read the Transcription of this document as well as Part One and Part Two of the analysis.

Atchison, Samuel Ayers. (1810 – 1869) Kentucky native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney and real estate agent. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 22; Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, Louisville, Sixth Ward, p. 13.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0023, KYR-0001-004-0024, KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-2939, KYR-0001-004-2944, KYR-0001-004-3407, KYR-0001-033-0011.


Bacon, Byron. (1835 – 1900) New York native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Practiced in partnership with Martin Bijur after 1864. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 24; Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, Louisville, Sixth Ward, p. 32.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0454, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-2270, KYR-0001-004-3407, KYR-0001-020-0828, KYR-0001-031-0160.


Baker, Charles Samuel. (? – ?) Louisville, Kentucky, saddler. J. D. Campbell’s Louisville Business Directory, For 1864 (Louisville: L. A. Civill, nd.), 103.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Barbour, Catherine. (c. 1805 – ?) Native of France and Louisville, Kentucky, resident. Resided in 1860 with her husband, Constance Barbour, and son, Joseph. Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, District 1, p. 36.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Barbon, John G. (c. 1830 – ?) Native of Spain and Louisville, Kentucky, resident. A laborer by trade. Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, District 1, p. 63.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Beattie, James A. (1832 – 1893) Missouri native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Practiced in partnership with William S. Bodley and Alexander Casseday. Judge Advocate of the Kentucky State Guard. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 30, 344; Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, Louisville, Fifth Ward, p. 62; Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1953 [database on-line via Ancestry.com], Jefferson County, 1893, p. 113.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0439, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-007-0476, KYR-0001-017-0314, KYR-0001-017-0337.


Bender, F. (? – ?) Signatory to Louisville, Kentucky, petition on behalf of William Brockman.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Bijur, Martin. (1833 – 1882) Native of Prussia, Louisville, Kentucky, attorney and politician. Practiced law in partnership with Lewis N. Dembitz until 1864. Practiced law in partnership with Byron Bacon afterwards. Elected as a Republican to the 1865-1867 Kentucky General Assembly. “Death of Hon. Martin Bijur,” Louisville Courier-Journal, May 1, 1882, p. 2; Report of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association, Held at Saratoga Springs, New York, August 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th, 1882 (Philadelphia: George S. Harris & Sons, 1883), 143-4.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-0865, KYR-0001-004-1375, KYR-0001-004-1379, KYR-0001-004-1388, KYR-0001-004-1409, KYR-0001-004-1566, KYR-0001-004-1987, KYR-0001-004-1988, KYR-0001-004-2030, KYR-0001-004-2839, KYR-0001-005-0051, KYR-0001-005-0142, KYR-0001-020-0323, KYR-0002-156-0004.


Bramlette, Thomas Elliott. (1817 – 1875) Twenty-third governor of Kentucky. Clinton County, Kentucky, native. Represented Clinton County in the state legislature in the 1840s. Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit at outset of the war. Resigned office to become colonel of Third Kentucky Volunteer Infantry U.S.A. Resigned commission in 1862 to become U.S. District Attorney for Kentucky. Elected governor in November 1863 over Charles A. Wickliffe and served until 1867. Ross A. Webb, “Thomas E. Bramlette (1863-1867)” in Lowell H. Harrison, ed., Kentucky’s Governors (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004), 93-97.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-001-0001, … [2,258 more at present].


Brockman, William. (c. 1824 – ?) Native of Germany and Louisville, Kentucky, resident. Laborer by trade. Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, District No. 1, p. 60.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0418, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0004-004-0823, KYR-0001-004-3258.


Brown, Jeff. (? – ?) Louisville, Kentucky, and New Albany, Indiana, attorney. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 43.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-0004-0016, KYR-0001-004-0018, KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0159, KYR-0001-004-0425, KYR-0001-004-0439, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1418, KYR-0001-004-1712, KYR-0001-004-2939, KYR-0001-004-2944, KYR-0001-004-3407, KYR-0001-007-0591, KYR-0001-017-0332, KYR-0001-020-0333, KYR-0001-020-0712, KYR-0001-020-1422, KYR-0001-020-1499, KYR-0001-020-1575, KYR-0001-020-1617, KYR-0001-020-1618, KYR-0001-020-1812, KYR-0001-020-1823, KYR-0001-020-2056, KYR-0001-020-2113, KYR-0001-029-0063.


Burkhardt, Henry S. (? – ?) Louisville businessman. Worked in the wholesale grocery and commission merchant business at W. & H. Burkhardt, with William Burkhardt. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 47; J. D. Campbell’s Louisville Business Directory, For 1864 (Louisville: L. A. Civill, nd.),119.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Bush, Samuel S. (1830 – 1877) Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Partner in the firm of Bush & Shivell, along with Henry C. Shivell. Kentucky Marriages, 1797-1865, U. S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database online, Ancestry.com; Edwards’ Annual Directory to the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business Firms, Etc., Etc., in the City of Louisville for 1865-6 (Louisville: Maxwell & Co., 1866), 234.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0439, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1601, KYR-0001-004-2133, KYR-0001-020-0637.


Chrisler, Rudolph. (? – ?) Gave testimony in The Commonwealth v. William Brockman, tried in the Jefferson Circuit Court in 1864.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Clement, Joseph. (c. 1819 – 1882) New Hampshire native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney and magistrate. History of the Ohio Falls Cities and Their Counties, Vol. 1 (Cleveland: L. A. Williams, 1882), 356; Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1953 [database on-line via Ancestry.com], Jefferson County, 1882, p. 7.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0047, KYR-0001-004-0180, KYR-0001-004-0364, KYR-0001-004-0418, KYR-0001-004-0454, KYR-0001-004-0551, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-0920, KYR-0001-004-1193, KYR-0001-004-1418, KYR-0001-004-1957, KYR-0001-004-1968, KYR-0001-004-2270, KYR-0001-0004-2293, KYR-0001-004-2358, KYR-0001-004-2399, KYR-0001-004-2416, KYR-0001-004-2510, KYR-0001-004-2540, KYR-0001-004-2789, KYR-0001-004-2898, KYR-0001-004-3184, KYR-0001-004-3407, KYR-0001-005-0057, KYR-0001-005-0058, KYR-0001-005-0117, KYR-0001-006-0005, KYR-0001-020-0174, KYR-0001-020-0351, KYR-0001-020-1133, KYR-0001-020-1437, KYR-0001-020-1649, KYR-0001-020-1944, KYR-0001-020-2113, KYR-0001-029-0087, KYR-0001-029-0156, KYR-0001-029-0164, KYR-0001-031-0009, KYR-0001-033-0004, KYR-0001-033-0005, KYR-0001-033-0030.


Conn, T. Jackson. (c. 1826 – ?) Kentucky native and Jefferson County Court Clerk. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 60; Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, Louisville, Sixth Ward, p. 120.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0018, KYR-0001-004-0133, KYR-0001-004-0439, KYR-0001-004-0660, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1055, KYR-0001-004-1283, KYR-0001-004-2337, KYR-0001-004-2789, KYR-0001-006-0084, KYR-0001-007-0489, KYR-0001-020-1527, KYR-0001-029-0156, KYR-0001-029-0307.


Craig, Edwin S. (c. 1820 – 1882) Commonwealth’s Attorney for the Seventh Judicial District until 1861. Practiced law in partnership with Robert J. Elliott. “Death of Judge E.S. Craig,” Louisville Courier-Journal, May 27, 1882, p. 4; Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 64; Seventh Manuscript Census of the United States (1850), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, Louisville, District Three, p. 94.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0364, KYR-0001-004-0454, KYR-0001-004-0479, KYR-0001-004-0660, KYR-0001-004-0732, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-0843, KYR-0001-004-0957, KYR-0001-004-1957, KYR-0001-004-2192, KYR-0001-004-2404, KYR-0001-020-0134, KYR-0001-020-0552, KYR-0001-020-0554, KYR-0001-020-0869, KYR-0001-029-0239.


Dannecker, Frederick G. (1828 – ?) German native and New Albany, Indiana, attorney. John M. Scott, The Bench and Bar of Chicago (Chicago: American Biographical Publishing Company, 1883), 496-97; Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Indiana, Floyd County, New Albany, Third Ward, p. 8.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0685, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1379, KYR-0001-004-1644, KYR-0001-004-1718, KYR-0001-004-2270, KYR-0001-004-2294, KYR-0001-004-2416, KYR-0001-004-3084, KYR-0001-004-3114, KYR-0001-004-3407.


DeFlour, [unknown]. (? – ?) Gave testimony in The Commonwealth v. William Brockman, tried in the Jefferson Circuit Court in 1864.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Dembitz, Lewis Naphtali. (1833 – 1907) Native of Prussia and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Delegate to the 1860 Republican national convention. Practiced law in partnership with Martin Bijur until 1864. Uncle of future Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis. “Dembitz, Lewis Naphtali” in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. John E. Kleber (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001), 241-42.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-007-0109.


Donheimer, [unknown]. (? – ?) Gave testimony in The Commonwealth v. William Brockman, tried in the Jefferson Circuit Court in 1864.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


von Donhoff, Albert. (1806 – 1882) Native of Berlin, Germany, and Louisville, Kentucky, physician. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 75; “Dr. Albert Von Donhoff: The Unusual Life and Career of a Prussian Nobleman’s Son, and a Brilliant Physician” Louisville Courier-Journal, Nov. 7, 1882, p. 2.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Fields, Moses S. (c. 1828 – ?) Kentucky native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, Louisville, Sixth Ward, p. 119.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-023-0117.


Frend, [unknown]. (? – ?) Gave testimony in The Commonwealth v. William Brockman, tried in the Jefferson Circuit Court in 1864.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Fry, Jack. (1839 – 1870) Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Practiced in partnership with Franklin Gorin in 1865. Edwards’ Annual Directory to the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business Firms, Etc., Etc., in the City of Louisville for 1865-6 (Louisville: Maxwell & Co., 1866), 310; “Jack Fry – Find A Grave Memorial” http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=86941179&ref=acom.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0439, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1957, KYR-0001-004-2944, KYR-0001-020-0333, KYR-0001-020-1579, KYR-0001-023-0117.


Fry, William W. (c. 1798 – 1865) Virginia native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, District 2, p. 18; “W.W. Fry – Find A Grave Memorial” http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=96183143&ref=acom.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0108, KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0180, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-020-0129, KYR-0001-020-0167, KYR-0001-020-1618, KYR-0001-029-0278.


Gailbreath, Joseph P. (? – ?) Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 97.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0024, KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1418, KYR-0001-004-1983, KYR-0001-004-2416, KYR-0001-004-3407, KYR-0001-017-0352, KYR-0001-017-0355, KYR-0001-017-0356, KYR-0001-020-0828.


Gazlay, Addison M. (1818 – 1881) New York native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Practiced in partnership with Franklin Gorin. History of the Ohio Falls Cities and Their Counties, Vol. 1 (Cleveland: L. A. Williams, 1882), 509-10; Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 98.
Associated Documents: KYR-001-004-0115, KYR-0001-004-0364, KYR-0001-004-0439, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1791, KYR-0001-004-1803, KYR-0001-004-1805, KYR-0001-004-1806, KYR-0001-004-3407, KYR-0001-017-0001, KYR-0001-017-0062, KYR-0001-020-0129, KYR-0001-020-1527.


Gibson, Thomas Ware. (? – ?) Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 99.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0267, KYR-0001-004-0439, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1509, KYR-0001-004-1528, KYR-0001-004-1553, KYR-0001-004-1554, KYR-0001-007-0109, KYR-0001-007-0229.


Gorin, Franklin. (1798 – 1877) Barren County, Kentucky, native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Practiced in partnership with Addison M. Gazlay and with Jack Fry in 1865. E. Polk Johnson, A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians: The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities, Vol. III (Chicago and New York: Lewis Publishing, 1912), 1673-74; Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 102; Edwards’ Annual Directory to the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business Firms, Etc., Etc., in the City of Louisville for 1865-6 (Louisville: Maxwell & Co., 1866), 323.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0108, KYR-0001-004-0109, KYR-0001-004-0110, KYR-0001-004-0111, KYR-0001-004-0112, KYR-0001-004-0113, KYR-0001-004-0114, KYR-0001-004-0115, KYR-0001-004-0116, KYR-0001-004-0117, KYR-0001-004-0118, KYR-0001-004-0119, KYR-0001-004-0120, KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0122, KYR-0001-004-0123, KYR-0001-004-0124, KYR-0001-004-0139, KYR-0001-004-0364, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1803, KYR-0001-023-0117, KYR-0002-204-0076, KYR-0002-204-0082.


Griffiths, Thomas J. (c. 1826 – 1884) Native of Wales and Louisville, Kentucky, physician. Practiced in partnership with Benjamin F. Grant. Accompanied an 1861 movement south of Louisville by General William T. Sherman, and provided medical services to the military barracks in Louisville through the end of the war. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 105; “Dr. Thomas J. Griffiths” The Louisville Medical News XVII no. 23 (June 7, 1884): 360-61; Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, Louisville, Eighth Ward, p. 320.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Hanna, John. (? – ?) Louisville, Kentucky, businessman. Partner in Hanna & Co., printers, with Alexander Hanna. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 111.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Harris, James. (? – ?) Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Edwards’ Annual Directory to the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business Firms, Etc., Etc., in the City of Louisville for 1865-6 (Louisville: Maxwell & Co., 1866), 339.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0083, KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1418, KYR-0001-004-1644, KYR-0001-004-1957, KYR-0001-004-2270, KYR-0001-004-2510, KYR-0001-017-0352, KYR-0001-017-0355, KYR-0001-020-1579.


Hoke, William B. (1838 – 1904) Kentucky native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Practiced in partnership with Samuel S. English. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 82, 123; Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Kentucky State Bar Association Held at Covington, Kentucky, June 22-23, 1905 (Louisville: George G. Fetter, 1905), 56; John J. McAffee, Kentucky Politicians: Sketches of Representative Corn-Crackers and Other Miscellany (Louisville: Courier-Journal Job Printing Co., 1886), 92-94.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0682, KYR-0001-004-0683, KYR-0001-004-0684, KYR-0001-004-0685, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1377, KYR-0001-004-2161, KYR-0001-020-1598, KYR-0001-031-0125.


Hornsby, Isham H. (c. 1822 – ?) Kentucky native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 125; Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, Louisville, Sixth Ward, p. 20.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Huber, [unknown]. (? – ?) Gave testimony in The Commonwealth v. William Brockman, tried in the Jefferson Circuit Court in 1864.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Jefferson Circuit Court. Part of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, which also included Bullitt, Oldham, Shelby, and Spencer Counties. Peter B. Muir (1861) and George W. Johnston (1862-1865) were the judges. Edwin S. Craig (1861) and J. R. Dupuy (1862-65) were the Commonwealth’s Attorneys. James P. Chambers was the Circuit Court Clerk.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0003, … [390 more at present].


Kahnt, Charles. (? – ?) Louisville, Kentucky, furniture maker. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 135.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Kramur, Franz. A. (? – ?) Signatory to Louisville, Kentucky, petition on behalf of William Brockman.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Logel, Adolph. (? – 1864) Killed in altercation with William Brockman in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1864.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Louisville, Kentucky. Seat of Jefferson County on the Ohio River. Largest city in Kentucky during the Civil War. “Louisville” in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, ed. John E. Kleber (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1992), 574-8. The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. John E. Kleber (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001).
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-001-0001, … [1,102 more at present].


Mattingly, John N. (? – ?) Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Practiced in partnership with Isaac R. Greene. Edwards’ Annual Directory to the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business Firms, Etc., Etc., in the City of Louisville for 1865-6 (Louisville: Maxwell & Co., 1866), 434, 327.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0180, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-0827, KYR-0001-004-0828, KYR-0001-004-2250, KYR-0001-004-2416, KYR-0001-004-3407, KYR-0001-005-0042.


McDowell, William Preston. (c. 1838 – ?) Kentucky native and Louisville, Kentucky, law clerk. Assisted in raising the Fifteenth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment and was appointed its adjutant. After August 1862, served as aide-de-camp and assistant adjutant general to Major General Lovell H. Rousseau. Wounded in action at the battle of Stones River. Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, Louisville, Fourth Ward, p. 74. Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Kentucky, National Archives and Records Administration, RG94, M397, Roll 284, Fifteenth Infantry, Hu-McE; J.H. Battle, W.H. Perrin, and G.C. Kniffin, The History of Kentucky, Eighth Edition, Part I (Louisville and Chicago: F.A. Battey, 1888), 839-40.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Meriwether, William A. (1825 – ?) Deputy U.S. Marshal from 1861 to 1864 and appointed U.S. Marshal for Kentucky in 1864. J.H. Battle, W.H. Perrin, and G.C. Kniffin, The History of Kentucky, Eighth Edition, Part I (Louisville and Chicago: F.A. Battey, 1888), 847.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-020-0927, KYR-0001-031-0109.


Miller, Isaac Price. (c. 1818 – ?) Kentucky native and Jefferson County, Kentucky, farmer. Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, District 1, p. 195; Miller-Thum Family Collection, 990PC47, Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Kentucky.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-023-0116, KYR-0001-004-0787.


Miller, John K. (? – ?) Signatory to Louisville, Kentucky, petition on behalf of William Brockman.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.

Oakland House and Race Course. Louisville, Kentucky, horse racing track established in 1832. Saw its heyday in the 1830s and 1840s, and closed in the 1850s. “Oakland Race Course” in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. John E. Kleber (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001), 665.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0309, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0002-036-0045, KYR-0002-036-0046.


Ormsby, Collis. (1817 – 1891) Kentucky native and Louisville, Kentucky, merchant. Owner of the hardware and cutlery business of Collis Ormsby. Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, Louisville, Fifth Ward, p. 208; Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 189; Louisville Daily Journal, Jun. 22, 1861, p. 1.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0002-058-0006, KYR-0002-220-0147, KYR-0002-220-0149, KYR-0002-220-150.


Ormsby, Robert J. (1822 – 1879) Louisville, Kentucky, businessman. Bookkeeper in the hardware and cutlery business of Collis Ormsby. A founding director and stockholder of Cedar Hill and Oakland Railway Company in 1868. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 189; Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky (Frankfort, Ky.: Kentucky Yeoman Office, John H. Harney, Public Printer: 1868), 553-554.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Pope, Alfred Thurston. (1842 – 1891) Kentucky native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Kentucky Death Records, 1852 – 1953 [database online, Ancestry.com], Jefferson County, 1891; J.H. Battle, W.H. Perrin, and G.C. Kniffin, The History of Kentucky, Eighth Edition, Part I (Louisville and Chicago: F.A. Battey, 1888), 877-78.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0439, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-031-0215.


Pope, Hamilton. (1815 – 1894) Louisville, Kentucky native and attorney. Practiced in partnership with John G. Barrett. Commanded Louisville Home Guards that accompanied William T. Sherman on an expedition towards Muldraugh’s Hill in 1861. Thomas Speed, The Union Regiments of Kentucky (Louisville: Courier-Journal Job Printing Company, 1897), 24, 28, 427. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 196.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0139, KYR-0001-004-0364, KYR-0001-004-0439, KYR-0001-004-0448, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-2416, KYR-0001-004-3055, KYR-0001-007-0109, KYR-0001-007-0229, KYR-0001-007-0309, KYR-0001-009-0024, KYR-0001-017-0265, KYR-0001-020-0351, KYR-0001-020-0637, KYR-0001-020-1575, KYR-0001-031-0215, KYR-0001-033-0039, KYR-0002-060-0029, KYR-0002-060-0030, KYR-0002-067-0053, KYR-0002-204-0037, KYR-0002-218-0014, KYR-0002-218-0056, KYR-0002-218-0098, KYR-0003-158-0103.


Ronald, William A. (? – ?) Sheriff of Jefferson County in 1864-65. Stock agent for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. J. D. Campbell’s Louisville Business Directory, For 1864 (Louisville: L. A. Civill, nd.),70; Edwards’ Annual Directory to the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business Firms, Etc., Etc., in the City of Louisville for 1865-6 (Louisville: Maxwell & Co., 1866), 502; Genealogical and Historical Notes on Culpeper County, Virginia (Culpeper, Va.: Raleigh Travers Green, 1900), 90; Louisville Daily Democrat, July 19, 1867, p. 1.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0180, KYR-0001-004-0233, KYR-0001-004-0234, KYR-0001-004-0235, KYR-0001-004-0748, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1070, KYR-0001-004-1332, KYR-0001-004-1379, KYR-0001-004-1600, KYR-0001-004-1966, KYR-0001-004-2030, KYR-0001-004-2399, KYR-0001-004-2511, KYR-0001-004-2878, KYR-0001-005-0051.


Rousseau, Richard Hilaire. (1815 – 1872) Lincoln County, Kentucky, native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Practiced in partnership with his brother, Lovell H. Rousseau. The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. XII (New York: James T. White, 1904), 185; Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 210.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0018, KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0180, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-0841, KYR-0001-007-0109, KYR-0001-020-0712, KYR-0001-023-0117, KYR-0001-034-0050.


Semms, [unknown]. (? – ?) Gave testimony in The Commonwealth v. William Brockman, tried in the Jefferson Circuit Court in 1864.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Sherley, Zachariah Madison. (1811 – 1879) Virginia native and Louisville, Kentucky, businessman. Owned and operated steamboats along the Ohio River, contracting many of them to the United States army during the war. Partner in the ship chandler firm of Sherley, Bell & Co. with Jesse K. Bell and Richard H. Woolfolk. “Sherley, Zachariah Madison ‘Zachary’” in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. John E. Kleber (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001), 814; Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 224.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-007-0552, KYR-0001-020-1812, KYR-0002-205-0045, KYR-0002-207-0095, KYR-0002-207-0147, KYR-0002-209-0130, KYR-0002-220-0130, KYR-0002-221-0999, KYR-0002-221-1000, KYR-0002-221-1001, KYR-0002-221-1009, KYR-0003-158-0595, KYR-0003-158-0714.


Shivell, Henry C. (1841-1869) Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Practiced in partnership with Samuel S. Bush. President of a lead mine along the Kentucky River in Owen County, Kentucky in 1865. Edwards’ Annual Directory to the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business Firms, Etc., Etc., in the City of Louisville for 1865-6 (Louisville: Maxwell & Co., 1866), 529; New Albany Daily Ledger, February 27, 1866, 2; New Albany Daily Ledger, August 5, 1865, 2; The Louisville Daily Journal, April 12, 1867; Daily Courier, July 26, 1866.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0439, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-2155, KYR-0001-007-0381, KYR-0001-007-0432.


Shrader, Augusta. (? – ?) Gave affidavit in The Commonwealth v. William Brockman, tried in the Jefferson Circuit Court in 1864.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Shrader, John. (? – ?) Gave affidavit in The Commonwealth v. William Brockman, tried in the Jefferson Circuit Court in 1864.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Smith, Samuel B. (c. 1800 – 1866) Virginia native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Practiced in partnership with Joshua F. Bullitt. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 46, 230; Eighth Manuscript Census of the United States (1860), Population Schedules, Kentucky, Jefferson County, District One, p. 32; “Death of Samuel B. Smith, esq.—Bar Meeting,” Louisville Courier, Dec. 15, 1866, p. 1.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-007-0476, KYR-0001-020-0327.


Tennessee. Sixteenth state to join the Union in 1796. Shares Kentucky’s southern border. Capital at Nashville.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-002-0001, … [162 more at present].


Wolfe, Nathaniel. (1808 – 1865) Virginia native and Louisville, Kentucky, attorney and politician. Practiced in partnership with Silas N. Hodges. Former Commonwealth’s Attorney and State Senator. Served in the House of Representative of the Kentucky General Assembly from 1859-1863. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 267. “Wolfe, Nathaniel” in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, ed. John E. Kleber (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1992), 962.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0351, KYR-0001-004-0439, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-0811, KYR-0001-017-0194, KYR-0001-017-0358, KYR-0001-017-0375, KYR-0001-017-0384, KYR-0001-020-0323, KYR-0001-020-0863, KYR-0001-020-1244, KYR-0001-020-1437, KYR-0001-023-0109, KYR-0001-029-0097, KYR-0001-031-0202, KYR-0001-033-0010, KYR-0002-050-0008, KYR-0002-207-0142, KYR-0002-218-0044, KYR-0002-218-0349, KYR-0003-158-0241.


Wood, Logan A. (? – ?) Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Practiced in partnership with L. A. Civill. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 267; “Lawyer L.A. Wood,” Louisville Courier-Journal, Dec. 3, 1886, p. 2.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-006-0049, KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0234, KYR-0001-004-0264, KYR-0001-004-0310, KYR-0001-004-0384, KYR-0001-004-0483, KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-004-1057, KYR-0001-004-1260, KYR-0001-004-1458, KYR-0001-004-1644, KYR-0001-004-1957, KYR-0001-004-2161, KYR-0001-004-2293, KYR-0001-004-2294, KYR-0001-004-2416, KYR-0001-004-2867, KYR-0001-004-2927, KYR-0001-004-3168.


Wood, William C. (? – ?) Louisville, Kentucky, attorney. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 267.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0113, KYR-0001-004-0114, KYR-0001-004-0117, KYR-0001-004-0121, KYR-0001-004-0122, KYR-0001-004-0123, KYR-0001-004-0124, KYR-0001-004-0787.


Wood, William F. (? – ?) Louisville, Kentucky, businessman. Partner in the wall paper and window shade business of Wood & Bros. with Charles A. and John B. Wood. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 267; Edwards’ Annual Directory to the Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, Manufacturing Establishments, Business Firms, Etc., Etc., in the City of Louisville for 1865-6 (Louisville: Maxwell & Co., 1866), 602.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787.


Woolfolk, Richard Henry. (1823 – 1885) Kentucky native and Louisville, Kentucky, businessman. Owned and operated steamboats along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Partner in the ship chandler firm of Sherley, Bell & Co. (later Sherley, Woolfolk, & Co.) with Zachariah M. Sherley and Jesse K. Bell. Tanner’s Louisville Directory, and Business Advertiser for 1861 (Louisville: Henry Tanner, 1861), 224, 268; “Capt. Woolfolk Dead,” Louisville Courier-Journal, Jun. 13, 1885, p. 3.
Associated Documents: KYR-0001-004-0787, KYR-0001-007-0552, KYR-0002-207-0095, KYR-0002-207-0147, KYR-0002-209-0026, KYR-0002-220-0130, KYR-0002-221-0999, KYR-0002-221-1000, KYR-0002-221-1001, KYR-0002-221-1009, KYR-0003-158-0595, KYR-0003-158-0714.