Hendersons of Olive Hill, Kentucky

Detail from "Kentucky - Topographic Map Index 1926," from the Perry-Castañeda Library Maps Collection at the University of Texas

“Kentucky – Topographic Map Index 1926” (detail), Perry-Castañeda Maps Collection, University of Texas Libraries

My genealogy efforts have largely been on hold over the last year. In addition to running my own consulting business, I was elected to local office and have been an active on the board of a nonprofit that supports schools here in Western Massachusetts.

While I was busy with these activities, my dad kept asking, “Have you done any genealogy recently?” I always had to respond, “No, I haven’t had time.” I hate that answer.

All of the activities that have been keeping me busy finally wore me down last week. I came down with a bad cold and spent three days in bed. That down time gave me the opportunity to start on a new genealogy research project.

My dad has been asking in particular about our ancestor Phoebe Bare. (Her given name is variously spelled Phebe, Pheobe, and Phoeba. Her surname has been recorded in official documents as Bare and Bear. For the sake of clarity, I’m going to go with Phoebe Bare, at least for now.)

Phoebe is my 3x grandmother. If you Google her, you will find photographs, as well as some family history websites that claim she was Native American, possibly Cherokee. I’m not convinced at this point, but my research is just beginning. I will post material here in the future about her background.

I know the names of her parents, as well as the name of her spouse (Robert Jasper Henderson, Jr). Early in my bed-ridden research about her, I quickly found out that her husband’s ancestors founded the town of Olive Hill, Kentucky (shown in the center of the map above). Because she and her husband lived in that area before moving to West Virginia, my hunch was that a little research into her husband’s family would probably turn up a lot of great information — both about the Henderson family and about the community of Olive Hill itself. My hope is that such information will provide rich context for research into Phoebe’s family.

The research process this far

While I was sick, I downloaded the latest edition of RootsMagic, and began adding information to my database about the Henderson family in Olive Hill. I went back through a few decades worth of census records, adding information about all of Robert’s extended family members I could find. This task took a while to complete, since it was common for his relatives to have a dozen or more children each.

After looking documenting all of these people and the sources I used to find them, I did a broader search online to find other information about the family. I included key details found in this search in my database, too, but was careful to note the quality of the data. Many of the latter details are just leads at this point; I don’t see them as facts, but as hints or “proto-facts” that need to be vetted through more thorough research.

Next steps

Now that I feel better and am back at work — and continuing my other activities — the question I keep asking myself is, “How am I going to keep this thing going?” I’ll post updates here.


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