The Kimbrough Brothers*

“ It takes two men to make one brother.”    – Israel Zangwill

One of the first items of information that we found on the Kimbroughs of Todd County, Kentucky was the will of Meredith Kimbrough, 1794 – 1831. Meredith and his wife, Sarah “Sally” Garth Gaines were married in 1817 in Albemarle County, Virginia soon after the marriage of Thomas Winston Kimbrough and Sally’s sister Susan Garth Gaines. They had no children that survived and Meredith is buried in the Kimbrough Family Cemetery in Hadensville.

Meredith’s will contained some interesting clues to the family of origin of T.W.K., our oldest known ancestor to date.

will crop

Transcription:  <As to my worldly substance I will and positively ordain that all my just debts be paid it is my desire that my beloved wife, Sally Kimbrough, be and remain in quit and peaseble (sic) possession of the whole of my estate personal and real after the pament (sic) of my just debts for her > benefit during her mortal life or widowhood at the death of my wife I will to my brother’s children out of my estate as follows:

To Meredith G. Kimbrough, son of Thos. W. Kimbrough five hundred dollars.

To William L. Kimbrough, son as aforesaid one hundred dollars

To Meredith Kimbrough son of William Kimbrough one hundred dollars

To James Kimbrough, son of Nelson Kimbrough, one hundred dollars

To Thomas Kimbrough, son of James Kimbrough, one hundred dollars

I will that the balance of my estate be equally divided among by Brother Thos. W. Kimbrough’s children. I appoint my brother Thos. W. Kimbrough, my executor and will that what I have left to my Brother’s children remain in the hands of my executor until they become of Lawful age.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the 25th day of June 1831.

Signed: Meredith D. Kimbrough

<Todd County, KY, Will Book C, pages 182 & 183>

So, this tells us that at the time of the writing of this will, Thomas had at least 4 brothers, two sons, and  three nephews. Brothers generally means sons of the same mother or father or both, but to complicate matters, can mean a close associate. We are going on the assumption that these named brothers are blood relations as we have so few clues.

Meredith Kimbrough Tombstone
Meredith Kimbrough Tombstone sited in the Kimbrough Family Cemetery in Hadensville, Kentucky

Meredith appears to have been quite close to Thomas – they married sisters and Thomas and Susan sold property in Virginia to Meredith for $1. It is believed that Meredith and Sally moved to Kentucky to be near Thomas and Susan, perhaps because he knew he was dying. Sally remarried in 1836 to Anderson Miller. *This post is republished due to computer kerfuffles

Back To Texas

Back To Texas

When daughters are on the way from home, be it for the afternoon or a lifetime, a loving mother will disguise her agony with trifles… A mother must ask and be told – Do you have your handkerchief? Is your nose still running? … For a mother not to trot behind a daughter with those questions and concerns is to send a toddling child into the snow with no mittens.

On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon by  Kaye Gibbons

How can one write about a family that seems as though a dark cloud follows them? When first we began researching in Texas for the sons of Thomas Winston Kimbrough who had moved there we had no idea what we would find. It appeared at first glance that the young Kimbrough men had done well for themselves. Both had extensive holdings and a number of slaves each. As I learned more about the families, tragedies began to emerge. Charles Livingston Kimbrough – C.L. – was the youngest son born (1834) to Susan Garth Gaines and Thomas Winston Kimbrough. He lived with or near his parents in Hadensville, Kentucky until he married Mary T. Cromwell of nearby Logan county. C.L. and M.G. “Garth” <his brother> Kimbrough filed a marriage bond for $1250. in September of 1855.

First, a bit about Mary. Her early life appears to have been tumultuous. According to the population census, she and her sister Margaret were living in Montgomery County Tennessee in August of 1850 with their aunt and uncle, Edward and Tennessee Williamson Haskins. In October they are enumerated in Robertson County Tennessee as part of the household of Thomas Williamson, age 61, likely their grandfather. While researching Mary for this post I found that her cousin, Nannie Haskins (Williams), had written a diary that had been curated and edited by personnel at Austin Peay College in Clarksville Tennessee. The diary focuses on her time in the Civil War and gives a dramatic picture of Clarksville during the war and reconstruction. See: The Diary of Nannie Haskins Williams: A Southern Woman’s Story of Rebellion and Reconstruction, 1863-1890

Soon after their marriage Charles and Mary moved to Palatine in Anderson County Texas. It’s possible they were encouraged by Charles’ brother George, or G.D., as he was called. C.L. and G.D. are shown as founding members of the Masonic Tyre Lodge that was granted a charter in 1856, about ten years after this small northwest Anderson County community was settled. G.D. and his wife Mary appear near C.L. and Mary in the 1860 census. Soon after their arrival in Texas C.L. and Mary started their family. They farmed in Anderson County and appeared to prosper. One of the children, Alex, born in 1860, doesn’t appear in later documents and likely died as a young child.

The Civil War – or whatever it was called in Texas – arrived on March 2, 1861. It was the 25th Anniversary of Mexican Independence and Texas voted to secede from the Union. Anderson County citizens voted 1500 to 7 in favor of secession. The Kimbroughs were likely in the majority as slaves were a large part of their workforce.

Conscription came soon after and likely to avoid being forced to join the Confederate Army C.L. and G.D. enlisted in the 20th Texas Cavalry, Bass’ Regiment, in 1862. Records show that they both joined up on the same day – March 1, 1862. They each received a $50. Bounty and reported, with their own horses and guns, at Camp Bass, Texas about 80 miles from home, on the 10th of March. They were some of the first enlistees. The Twentieth Texas Cavalry was assigned to the Trans-Mississippi Department and served almost entirely in the Indian Territory where it was confronted by Union forces. At times, it was the only non-Indian Confederate unit operating in the Indian Territory. The Twentieth Cavalry took part in more than thirty various engagements throughout the war in both the Indian Territory and Arkansas, the latter where it served on occasion. Although the enlistment was to last for a year it is unclear how long they served.

The war ended in Spring, 1865. Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. The Civil War was officially over. The Twentieth Texas Cavalry Regiment was included in the surrender of Confederate Indian troops at Doaksville in the Indian Territory. Communication was challenging at the time so many of the outlying districts, for example in Indian Territory where the 20th Cavalry was said to have fought, so skirmishes continued for a time after the official surrender. It’s unknown when they stopped fighting or if the Kimbrough men were still a part of the unit.

C.L. died in August of that year. Did he die of possible wounds or from another cause? Where was he buried? We have yet to determine. What we do know is that he left a will naming his wife Mary as his executrix, and named two children, Thomas L. and Maggie H. as his heirs, with a provision for any additional children born after the will was drawn. The will was written in March of 1862 and Mary was named as executrix several times in the document. For what is likely a legal reason, she was not named by the court to fill that role.

A year after C L.’s death, in August of 1866, Mary filed a petition in the county court requesting homestead and maintenance for her and her now 3 children. Charles Livingston Kimbrough II had been born in 1865. Mary stated that her late husband, despite owning land was very far in debt and she was unable to feed or clothe herself and her children without the sale of estate items. It is difficult to know how Mary was surviving during that time, although her brother-in-law, G.D., who had been named will administrator by the court, still lived nearby.

Attempts by the court to obtain information about the estate to enable closure, were not heeded as late as 1871. G.D. moved to Victoria County, Texas, as did Mary’s father A.H. Cromwell. Mary’s whereabouts are unknown at this point, although it’s likely she returned to Kentucky/Tennessee. G.D. dies in Victoria County without resolving the probate issues.

Riverboat scene

A few years ago I came across a “Mrs. Kimbrough” mentioned in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana paper. The article referred to an accident called the “Fashion disaster” by the media. Unable to figure out who this Mrs. Kimbrough was with a quick search I decided she was likely another branch of the family, so saved the article to read more another day.

When I returned to research this article, I became more and more distressed by what I read. When I learned that this Mrs. Kimbrough was traveling to Palatine, Texas, and returned to Hadensville later, I figured I must have one of “our” Kimbroughs. The story comes together like this:

Mrs. Kimbrough was traveling with her 3 children after Christmas. One could imagine that they were laden with presents and tired after a family visit. They likely boarded the steamboat Fashion at Vicksburg or somewhere south of there and continued south to Baton Rouge. The Fashion carried both cabin passengers numbering around 100, deck passengers from 150 to 200, and about 2600 bales of cotton. It is reasonable to assume they were among the cabin passengers. The children would have been 10, 7 and 3 years old.

It did not seem to be a time for a pleasant river voyage. The Baton Rouge Tri-Weekly Gazette and Comet reported at the time that “We have had bitter cold weather in this vicinity for the past few days. Dark, dismal, rainy, drizzly and freezing, were the compound we have been enjoying by way of variety, and as a contrast to the beautiful and blithesome season which the God of Nature had so unsparingly blessed us with, previously.”

At about 3:30 in the afternoon sparks from the wood fired boiler ignited the bales of cotton that were packed tightly around the deck of the steamer. Carrying cotton and passengers was common practice for river transport, despite fires and other accidents that created loss of life on a regular basis. In 1865 The Sultana, built at Cincinnati in 1863, exploded near New Orleans while carrying Union prisoners released from Confederate prison camps. 1,700 were killed in the worst disaster in steamboat history.

The Fashion’s cargo of cotton began burning despite efforts to suppress the fire. The blaze aided by windy conditions spread rapidly within 5 minutes and panic ensued. Newspaper accounts report a great number of passengers jumped into the water to avoid the flames. One report stated that a woman threw her 3 children into the river and jumped in after them to avoid the flames. Was that our Mary?

Another reported anecdote spoke of the body of a child being brought down to Baton Rouge by a crew member in the Fashion’s yawl. The Daily Advocate of Baton Rouge reported that Mrs. Kimbrough had lost two of her children and that she waited with the body in the expectation of hearing of her remaining child. “The body of the child was taken to the Central house where it was dressed by kind hands for burial.”

This clipping Of Mary’s letter tells the last of the story as far as we know.

Baton Rouge Tri Weekly Gazette and Comet, Saturday Jan 19, 1867

It has been a challenge for me to put all this together as the horror seemed overwhelming. Despite my efforts to learn more about Mary and any surviving children I’ve found nothing of substance, including how she may have coped – or not – after this tragedy. Even 150 years later, the pain shows through.

A Father’s Mystery and an Artist

A Father’s Mystery and an Artist

Sometimes it’s difficult to write blogs that are close to the heart. I have been struggling with a particular tragedy – or rather a series of them – that befell one of the Kimbrough families. In process of research, as always, I found yet another story, also tragic, but not quite as heartrending as my original subject. I’ll recount it first, in hopes of gaining courage to write the other. In both cases perhaps the overriding tragedy is that unlike other Kimbroughs, neither of these families have descendants so it is unlikely they will be written about unless I do. I must thank cousin Martha for getting me to dig deeper into this family and their lives.

The promising young businessman and man about town

The tale starts out well. Kate Stacker, the socially prominent sister of Clay Stacker, Sr, a Clarksville, Tennessee businessman, married Landen Frank Kimbrough in May of 1874.  She was described in the local paper as “one of the loveliest of Clarksville’s young ladies” and her groom as “one of our most industrious and promising young business men”. They were married in the local Episcopal Church, followed by a gathering at the bride’s mother’s home. Male friends gave a reception for them at a local hotel because, as reported by the newspaper: “If they are compelled to lose Land from their sad single circle, they are determined to show that they rejoice in his good fortune, and bear him no malice for leaving them in the vale of bachelorhood”. Gotta’ love the flowery language of the time. Stay tuned for more. Their future looks bright by all accounts.

Landen Frank, or L.F. as he was commonly known, was born in 1852 as part of the large family of Kimbroughs headed by Merideth Garth and Mildred Ann Maria Terry Kimbrough. He had been educated at Kentucky University in Lexington and returned to the Clarksville area to go into business, rather than to farm. He had two older brothers, Tom, who became a physician and married a girl from Nashville, and Judge, who seemed fated to be the farmer. Business was a logical choice.

His early accomplishments appear numerous. In 1872, many of the young men came together and founded the Clarksville Hook and Ladder Company, an all volunteer fire department. In June 1872 L.F. is elected the Secretary of the Hook and Ladder Company.

He is reported to be a clerk in the local Clarksville bank early in 1873. He is named as a bookkeeper at the First National Bank in June of 1877 when he appears with Kate in a description of an anticipated visit to the “Eastern resorts of pleasure”.  He is also described in a partnership,  Beaumont & Kimbrough, an insurance brokerage in a discussion of a fire in April of that year. Two jobs, perhaps? His partner appears to have been quite a bit older, a director at the bank and a prominent member of the business community concerned with tobacco.

1877 proved to be a pivotal year in the life of L.F., Kate and their newborn son, Frank Richmond. In July of that year, Landen is thanked in the local paper by conventioneers who had stayed at his home. His wife isn’t mentioned, and thanks are extended to his mother and his “interesting little sisters”. Alternately, the business partnership was seemingly ill-fated as it was dissolved in August of 1877 – just three years after L.F. had married and settled in Clarksville with his wife.

About 3 weeks later that same year his brother-in-law, Clay Stacker, Jr., published a notice in the paper that “All persons having claims against L.F. Kimbrough will please present them to me for settlement”.   That is the last we hear of him – L.F. disappears. No further record has been found of him. The only mention of Kimbrough – no initials or any further information – is in a February issue of the papers advising that the “Kimbrough cases” are set for later in the month.  So what happened? Perhaps more information will surface later. For right now, after searching many resources, his whereabouts are unknown. No death record is found in the family bible!

His son, Frank Richmond Kimbrough is born in October 1877. No mention of L.F. is found in the life of his son or his wife, including in their obituaries. In 1880, the census lists Kate Stacker Kimbrough as a widow. She and her two-year-old son are living with her mother and the extended family.

Frank Richmond Kimbrough ca 1900

Twenty years later, Kate had died and Frank, or Richmond as he was often known, had begun his career. After Kate’s death in 1893 he attended school at Sewanee College from 1894 to 1896, and then went to New York City to study at the Art Students League. He was a prominent student and alumni of Sewanee and continued to contribute to the college periodicals with amusing quips and art work.

In September of 1898 he went to England to pursue his art under Sir Hubert Herkomer, the most famous living portrait painter of the time. He lived at the home of his mentor, called Lululuand in Burshey, Hereford, England.

Lululuand, named after Herkomer’s late wife

The building housed Herkomer’s studio and an art school. It was designed in the Romanesque style and was nicknamed the “Bavarian Castle” by Bushey residents. One could imagine that young Kimbrough’s life there was rich with possibilities to meet prominent people and pursue his creativity with a wealth of support.

F. Richmond consistently demonstrated his connection and affection for Sewanee with contributions to the college periodicals.His illustrations are scattered through out the period publications.


Sewanee Athletic Souvenir from 1901


An example of his wit appears in the 1901 Cap and Gown. In a want ad format near the back of the publication appears the following:  “F.R. Kimbrough announces that he will introduce a select party of eligible young men into mazes of London Society. Mr. Kimbrough’s intimacy with Burke’s Peerage renders him eminently qualified for the task”. Was this a poke at the numbers of daughters of social climbing newly rich who were being sent to England to find titled husbands?  In another “ad” he described himself as “Artist and Friend to Celebrities, London, Paris and Sewanee”.

He last visited home beginning Thanksgiving of 1901. In April of 1902 he gave a “studio tea” at the home of (now) General and Mrs. Clay Stacker that was reported to be “an elegant affair and a very novel function in Clarksville society” where he showed some of his work to friends and family. According to the newspaper report his work shown was comprised of book cover designs, oil sketches, pencil sketches and water colors.

He returned to England in time for the Coronation celebration. A souvenir badge from the coronation of King Edward VII, on June 26, 1902 carries the following label: From F. Richmond Kimbrough, associate of Charles Dana Gibson. Artist and friend to celebrities, indeed.

One account reports that F.R. contracted a cold at the Coronation Celebration which led to his pneumonia, but the time doesn’t seem right. The Clarksville paper reports that on the Saturday before Christmas 1902, Kimbrough had gone to Harrow Weald Park, in Middlesex County, the home of Mr. John M. Hughes, where he was an “ever-welcome guest”. On Sunday he was taken ill, and when, on the next day, pneumonia developed, his physician called in a specialist from London, and two trained nurses. On Christmas morning he died. In less than 5 days he had passed. His body was carried home to Burshey, by his friends, who were with him when he died. On December 31, funeral services were held in All Saints’ Church, in the West End of London.

As requested in his will, his remains were put aboard a ship and transported to New York where they were met by his uncle, General Clay Stacker, Mr. and Mrs. B. L. Rice, and fourteen of his college friends and comrades, three of whom came on to Clarksville for the services. The remains were transported by train to Clarksville where another funeral service was held. Not an easy task, but Uncle Clay managed to fulfill Richmond’s wish to be buried in Greenwood Cemetery near his mother, as well as serving as his executor.

ATO Memorial window designed by Hugh Elliot
courtesy Sewanee, University of the South

His will contained a large number of bequests and requests. His estate was considerable despite his age, and in addition to family members both his church and the college received funds. The institutions were requested to construct memorial windows in his honor. One window was placed in the Alpha Tau Omega Chapter House and a window was also placed in the Trinity Church in December of 1903. The picture below is thanks to cousin Martha who started it all.

Trinity Church, Clarksville, Tennessee

He is eulogized, as well, in the Cap and Gown 1903 from Sewanee College.

In his short life, and without the support of his father, Frank Richmond Kimbrough made a rather large mark on the world. In retrospect he may have had a large ego, but appeared to live up to many of his aspirations within the time allotted. It’s interesting to muse on what his descendants might have been like.