26 November 2011

A Name and Story behind the face; Bethany Slusher Barnett

I wrote about this lovely young lady a long time ago when I first received a copy of this photo from a gracious cousin, in We Have a Face. At the time all I knew is that she was the mother of Laura Alice Barnett Conner, but we did not know her name. Recently I've been working on finding out who this lady was along with a couple other cousins. I now have a story to tell.

According to her death certificate in Texas Bethany Barnett was born 4 August 1856. Her parents were unknown. She died 23 Nov 1945. The informant on her death certificate was her son Wilford Barnett. She was a widow by this time.

The family reported to me that her husband and Laura's father was Sam Barnett. I did find Sam's death certificate in Texas as well. He was born in Kentucky on 17 May 1850, parents unknown. He died 30 Aug 1937. The informant on his death certificate was his wife Bethany Barnett.

At around the same time as I found both death certificates I also found their graves. I found this on Find-A-Grave. They are buried at Old Fellow Cemetery, Georgetown, Williamson County, TX. The photo is posted there courtesy of John Christeson. Their headstone information corresponds with their death certificates, but unfortunately neither certificate gives us any parents names.

Up to this point I only had the word of family that Sam Barnett was the father of Laura Alice Barnett, that is until I found Laura and William Conner's marriage certificate, where S. J. Barnett gave his permission for his young daughter to marry William. They were married by the justice of the peace on 30 Aug 1890 in Webster County, Missouri.

Then I found the record that linked them all together. I found a birth record in Menifee, KY for an Alice Barnett born 30 Dec 1875 to a Samuel Barnett and Bethana Slusher. Father was born in Floyd Co., KY and mother in Breathitt Co., KY. This was the proof I was looking for. Then I began to search for the families in this area.

Now I was looking for the parents of Sam Barnett and of Bethany/Bethinia Slusher, but before I did that I wanted to complete the family history by finding them in the 1880 census. I found them in Jeffersonville, Montgomery, KY. Sam is age 30 and Beatheney is 23. They have a son, Henderson age 7, daughter Alice age 4, and baby boy Wesley 8 mo. This means that Sam and Bethany have were likely married before 1873.

Other than Laura and William's marriage the Barnett's seem to have strong roots in KY. So I focused my search in KY and was reward well. Next was an explosion of records. Knowing the Bethany's maiden name was Slusher I began searching for her in the 1870 census. My assumption was that she was married shortly after the 1870 census and that I would hopefully find her with her family, and I did. They are living in Menifee, KY. Which is where Sam and Bethany's daughter Alice was born. I'm certain this is her family. She is 14 years old and that matches very closely to her death certificate that puts her birth in 1856. Her father's name is G. R. Slusher and her mother is Ibby.

I then found them in 1860 in Breathitt, KY. This time her parents names are clarified as Gradner Slusher and Isabella Slusher both age 23. They have three children, Phoebee age 6 Nathina (I believe this is a misspelling on the part of the census taker, as the age is consistent with Bethany) age 2 and Shylvana age 1. Everyone except Shylvana is listed as born in Floyd, KY and Shylvana was born in Breathitt, KY. Also on either side of the family are two other Slusher families. One is Phillip Slusher age 52, likely Gardners father? The other is John Slusher age 26, likely a brother?

Then I found the marriage record of Gardner Slusher and Isabella Prater on 27 Sept 1855 in Floyd Co., KY. This record is very hard to read, but by blowing up on my computer I was able to make out the names. Now I have Isabella's maiden name. But I've not yet researched her family. I wanted to find out more about the Slusher's as I believed that the Phillip Slusher living next door to them was likely his father, the age was right.

Then I began a search of Gardner Slusher and sure enough I found him the in 1850 census in Floyd Co., KY in the house of Phillip Slusher and Mary. Likely I suspected, Phillip is likely his father and Mary his mother, though this is hard to prove from the census records as relationships are not listed at this point. Also in the house is a John Slusher that corresponds in age to the John Slusher living next door to them in 1860. It's not proof, but considering the connections and repeated places I believe that Phillip and Mary Slusher are the parents of Gardner Slusher the husband Isabella Pratter the parents of Bethany Slusher.

Even in all of this research though I have found no mention or proof of the family being Native American like the family swears they are. According to the family Bethany Slusher was 100% Native American. So far these are the only records I have found to establish this family. However, it is interesting to note that William Conner married Laura Alice Barnett the daughter of Bethany and Sam Barnett in Missouri. Up until this point the Slusher and Barnett family lived exclusively, from what I can tell, in KY. Why they move? William and Laura were married in 1890 which is too late for the Trial of Tears, and during the Trail of Tears the are definitely well rooted into their communities around Floyd, Breathitt and Menifee Counties, KY. These counties are not next to each other, but near by. Why then did they suddenly move to MO in the late 1800's. Were they able to avoid the Trail of Tears, but truly were Native American and were forced to move later? We may never know, but I will always keep searching. I will admit that Bethany Slusher Barnett does appear to be Native American. I will also add that I have search Dawes Application and the Dawes rolls to find none of these family member on them. If they were in fact Native American it appears at this point that they never registered on the rolls. Though we do know that William and Laura did go to OK at a later date, but it was too late for them to have registered either, and I know from my research of the Conner that they never register for Native American rights.

My search will continue, but this is where I am at this time on the Conner, Slusher, Barnett and Prater families.