Monday, August 30, 2010

Ancestor Bio - Margaret E. Ramsey Taylor

Margaret E. Ramsey was born on 15 Nov 1840 in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. She was the first of three children born to Thomas Ramsey, Jr. and Rhoda Ann Lavender. Her brother, Joseph Love, was born on 29 May 1842 and her sister, Harriett L. was born 19 May 1844. During at least part of Margaret's childhood the family lived in Mt. Vernon on the corner of Main and Richmond Streets and her father ran a blacksmith shop behind the house. (Today the property is a parking lot.) Thomas and Rhoda Ann both died while their children were young. The date of Rhoda Ann's death is not known but it was before 1850 as she was not listed with Thomas and the children in that census. The date of Thomas' death is also not known but he disappears from the Rockcastle County Tax List after 1851. So, by the time Margaret was 12 years old, Joe was 10 and Harriett was 8, they were orphaned.  

Rhoda Ann had two sons, William Thomas and Jerome Burke Lair from her first marriage to Stephen Bradford Lair. Stephen had died when the boys were young and Rhoda Ann married Thomas Ramsey when they were 10 and 8 years old. We don't know for sure who cared for the young Ramsey children after their father's death. By 1860, Margaret was married but Joseph (age 18) and Harriett (age 16) were living with their half-brother, Tom Lair, and his family so Tom may have taken responsibility for them from the beginning. It's also possible that Jerome cared for them for at least a while. Margaret was certainly close to her half-brothers as she gave one of her sons the middle name Burke and a daughter the middle name Lair. 

Margaret married James Francis "Jim" Taylor on 11 Oct 1855 in Rockcastle County when she was just shy of 15 years old. Even though it wasn't uncommon for girls to marry at such a young age at that time, you have to wonder if the loss of her parents pushed her to marry a little earlier than she might have otherwise.

Margaret and Jim had eleven children. Some researchers have mistakenly given Jim a previous wife and made her the mother of oldest son, Willliam Thomas. The confusion comes from Tom's birth record showing he was born on 11 Aug 1856 to parents James Taylor and Elizabeth Ramsey. The people who list Elizabeth Ramsey as Jim's 1st wife say that Jim and Margaret were married on 11 Oct 1856 (instead of 1855). The set of records where their marriage is recorded was certified by the Rockcastle County Clerk on 7 Jul 1856 which means they could not have been married after that date. So there is no doubt that Jim and Margaret were married in 1855 and Tom was born 10 months later.  And then there is the fact that Jim's father was named William and Margaret's was named Thomas so it appears Tom was named for both of his grandfathers. Margaret was listed in the 1880 census with a middle initial E. It could be that her name was Margaret Elizabeth (or even Elizabeth Margaret) or it could be that the clerk recording Tom's mother simply made a mistake.Regardless. I'm convinced that Margaret was Tom's mother.

The other ten children born to Margaret and Jim were: Josiah Love born 20 Dec 1858, Martha Ann born 10 Jun 1861, John Cook born 25 Dec 1863, Rhoda Nell born 19 Apr 1866, Margaret Lula born 31 May 1868, Robert Burke born 14 Aug 1870, Milton J. born 17 Feb 1872, Alford born 7 May 1875, Susan born 6 Aug 1877 and Nancy Lair born 4 Nov 1880.

Margaret and Jim lived in Rockcastle County during their entire marriage and all of their children were born there. They barely eked out a living on their farm between Mt. Vernon and Renfro Valley but today that property is prime real estate near I-75. The arrow between Wendy's and KFC in the picture below shows were their house was located. The main road at that time was in that location and a piece of it still exists. Several other business are located on this strip of the old farm and US 25 runs through the middle of it.

Clipped from GoogleMaps
Margaret died on 23 Jun 1892 and was buried in what is now called the Ramsey Taylor Cemetery. The cemetery was most likely located on their farm (although I haven't yet done the deed research to prove that). If the cemetery property was not part of their farm then it definitely adjoined their farm. 

It is unknown when either of these pictures of Margaret were taken but this one surely wasn't taken too long before she died. The hard life she had was definitely written on her face - she was only 51 years old when she died.  

Margaret was my 2nd great-grandmother. Click the link above for sources and additional information about her family. The 1st photo of Margaret is courtesy of the late G. F. Thompson and the 2nd is courtesy of W. H. Taylor, both great-grandsons of Margaret and Jim. 


  1. I enjoyed reading this article about your ancestors, who lived near a route we travel frequently. I have always thought Rockcastle is a wonderful name for a county. It is beautiful there, but it is hard for me imagine trying to make a living in those mountains.

  2. Nicely done Linda, what do you know about the ancestry of the Lairs??

  3. Thanks ladies.

    Carol, I don't much about Stephen Bradford Lair but you've got mail.