Jefferson's Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy

By Boynton Merrill Jr. | Go to book overview

32
THE AFTEREFFECTS

In Livingston County the crime had a profound effect on the surviving members of the Lewis family, as has been shown. As for the other citizens, a few of them found their lives changed, as well. One such person was Dickson Given, the assistant circuit judge. Given was deeply disturbed by the way the county court handled the affairs of the Lewis orphans. The court had clearly acted within the provisions of the law regarding orphans, and Colonel Lewis had voluntarily relinquished three of his grandchildren into the court's care, but, nevertheless, the plight of the Lewis children made Given fearful for the future of his own children if he should die. One legal step that could be taken to prevent orphans from falling under the jurisdiction of the county court was for a person to make specific provision for the guardianship of his own children in a will.1 Given took this step and wrote his will in 1816, when he was thirty-two years of age. It was unusual at that time for a will to be written except when death appeared imminent, but Given, if he did not anticipate death, feared it for his children's sake. He lived fourteen years after writing these provisions into his bequest:

Frankfort 12 th July 1816

In the name of God Amen. I Dickson Given of the County of Liv-
ingston and State of Kentucky now on a lengthy journey and sound
in mind, memory, etc. but knowing the uncertainty of human life.
If I never should return from sd. journey to Philadelphia make this
my last will and testament.…|Three routine provisions deleted].

4th. I wish my ever beloved Brother Joseph R. Given, my present
partner and only brother, to be my executor to take charge of all
my earthly efects and I wish him not to be bound in any security. I
further wish him, in case my beloved wife should ever marry again,
a thing I think likely as she is yet young, to take charge of my
children and put them out to school and not suffer them to live
with a step father, as step fathers are so apt to abuse children. I
wish here to observe, for fear my ever dear wife may think this
hard as she has suffered many pains and fatigues in raising those
children, that I have the utmost confidence in her and, if I should
never see her more, I will here observe that I believe I have been

-322-

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Jefferson's Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Constructing Jefferson's Nephews ix
  • Preface xxv
  • Preface to First Edition xxix
  • Acknowledgments xxx
  • 1: Colonial Days 3
  • 2: The Fight for Freedom 12
  • 3: A Colonel in the Militia 20
  • 4: Prosperity 29
  • 5: The Virginia Planter 38
  • 6: The Shipwreck of the Fortunes 44
  • 7: Craven Peyton, Thomas Jefferson, and the Hendersons 55
  • 8: Jefferson and the Lewises 71
  • 9: The Plan to Emigrate 84
  • 10: The Trip to Kentucky 97
  • 11: The Land and Towns 111
  • 12: Houses and Crops 123
  • 13: The Smithland Neighbors 134
  • 14: Issues in West Kentucky, 1808 143
  • 15: The County Court 151
  • 16: The Year of Trouble, 1809 163
  • 17: Lilburne Enters Public Life 175
  • 18: The Church in West Kentucky 189
  • 19: The Presbyterian Lewises 203
  • 20: Insecurity 215
  • 21: Community Affairs, 1810 226
  • 22: Slavery in Livingston 234
  • 23: Tremors in the Dynasty 240
  • 24: Annus Mirabilis 248
  • 25: The Murder 256
  • 26: After the Murder 266
  • 27: The First Grand Jury 274
  • 28: The True Bill 285
  • 29: The Graveyard 293
  • 30: The Orphans 303
  • 31: During the War 312
  • 32: The Aftereffects 322
  • 33: The Epilogue 329
  • Appendix 1 - Notes on Lewis Genealogy 339
  • Appendix 2 - The Colle Sale 348
  • Appendix 3 - The Interview with Matilda 351
  • Appendix 4 - Medical Notes 353
  • Appendix 5 - Lilburne Lewis's Estate 359
  • Index 441
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