William Maddox
1804 ~ 1885

I wish we had a photo of William.  The days of the rough-and-ready frontiersmen ended after his father's time.  Our ancestor became an innkeeper and gentleman farmer, had a good home on the Ohio River and a proper carriage, and then moved to Illinois where he had a very fine victorian home that is still there today. 

   They called him Billy, according to a relative and included in the Barton Papers at the Pendleton Co., KY, library.  But he always listed himself as William, the proper thing for a businessman to do.  He was born in Fleming Co., KY,  January 25, 1804, according to his death certificate, but January 8, 1805 according to the Family Bible (see father John Maddox).

     He was a child during the War of 1812.  His father died in 1825 when he was 21.  At his father's estate sale
, he bought a bull for $8.12, and $2.06-3/4 worth of corn.  

    That year he first appeared in the Lewis Co., KY, tax list as one taxable white male 21+ and one horse valued at $35.  Also in that tax list was brother Thomas with one horse valued at $35, and father John Maddox with one horse valued at $60.  His father had died a few months earlier, but the taxes were still listed in his name.

     On March 12, 1826, William obtained a license to marry Nancy Brandenburg.  The day before, Hezekiah and Rachael Maddox Griffith's daughter, Frances, got a license to marry Jacob Stricklett Jr.  Frances was William's niece.  Did they have a double wedding?  Daughter Sophia was born in 1829, probably named after someone in Nancy's German family.

    There was talk of going to the new Ohio Territory, so with their father now deceased, William and his siblings took their mother across the Ohio River a little way into southern Ohio and settled in Clermont Co., OH near Chillothe, a former Indian village. 

William was born in Fleming Co., KY (lower right corner), then his father moved to Lewis Co. a little north where he died.  William married there and then movedf up to Clermont Co., IL, then back down to Kentucky where he settled in Bracken County.

All these Maddoxes are listed in the census of 1830 there.    While there, William's son John (named after his father)  and daughter Mary Ann were born.

     Perhaps things weren't as good there as they had expected.  So William's mother and siblings moved farther north into Illinois while William moved back to Kentucky where he settled in Bracken Co.  This is where his inlaws ~ the Brandenburgs and Hughbanks ~ had moved to after leaving Lewis Co.

William's land is located about a mile southeast of Foster's Landing on the Ohio River.  Today it can be seen by turning west off State Hwy. 9(AA) onto Kennon Rd. just before Holts Creek which borders his land on the south.  Kennon Rd. borders it on the north.  To see the south border, go west onto Holts Creek Rd. and walk toward the creek.   Isn't it beautiful?

His land bordered that of his father-in-law John Brandenburg, his brother-in-law Patterson Brandenburg, and his brother-in-law James Hughbanks.  It was 92 acres.

    Son William Jr. was born in 1834, my great grandfather Samson Sanford was born in 1835, and son Foster was born in 1837.

     His taxes in 1837 were $644 for the acreage and unknown number of horses.  In 1838 they were $460 for the acreage and $180 for three horses.  In 1839 they were $552 for the acreage and $150 for his three horses. 

     Daughters Sophrona was born in 1838 and Anne Eliza in 1839.

     In 1841, a William M. Maddox was appointed administrator of the estate of Hurley M. Maddox in adjoining Pendleton Co.  This settlement involved the Fugate family, and I do not believe this was our William.  I think this William was a son of Luke Mattox in Pendleton Co.

          In 1843, William's father-in-law, John Brandenburg, died and was buried on his land.  William's mother-in-law, Catherine Cummins Brandenburg, moved into William's home.  In April that year, William's son, Absalom, was born.  He was named after his wife's  brother, a guide and trail blazer associated with Daniel Boone.  But tragedy hit the following year, for little Absalom in August ~ only one year and four months old.  He was laid to rest next to his maternal grandfather Brandenburg.

    Though one never gets over the death of a child, William and Nancy were somewhat comforted with the birth of Benjamin in 1844 (named after William's brother) and Frances in 1846.

     Finally in 1847, either William finished making payments on his 92 acres, or the man who sold him the land finally recorded the deed.  Israel Foster, a land investor, sold all the land around Foster's Landing including to the Maddoxes, the Brandenburgs and the Hughbanks.  William's fourth son, born in 1837, was named after Israel Foster.

    Sons Milton and Marion were born in 1848, and daughter Catherine (named after her maternal grandmother) was born the following year.

     William was in the 1850 census of Bracken Co., KY, with his wife, children, and widowed mother-in-law Catharine Brandenburg.

     Things were going well financially for William.  So William went into town at Foster's Landing and obtained a loan to purchase some very nice furniture and fine woodwork for a two-horse buggy. 


 Next, in November 1851, William paid $10 for a license to keep a tavern in the town of Foster.  At that time, taverns were required to be in houses.  There was a very nice tavern up the Ohio River at the next docking point of Augusta that had been built in 1796.  William was confident he could do as well.

    Foster was now a thriving town on the Ohio River, and William would do his part to help the town keep growing while he enhanced his financial standing.  The lot he had in mind to buy was where this road (below) now is along the Ohio riverbank facing the Ohio River.  Nancy liked this location because she was a seamstress and could get more business living right in town.




    But, once again, tragedy hit the family.  A cholera epidemic was headed that way.  Four months after taking out his license for a tavern in a home he had in mind to purchase, William's mother-in-law, Catharine Brandenburg, died.  The worst was not yet over.  Three months after that, William's wife, Nancy, died of the cholera also.  They were both buried in the family cemetery ~ Catharine by her husband and Nancy by her baby Absalom.  William now had 12 motherless children, six under age 13.

     This topographical map shows the Brandenburg Cemetery in the middle at the top of the hill, William's land is the green area south of the hill and creek, and the town of Foster on the Ohio River.  Today's KY Hwy. 9(AA) runs through their land.  It is 30 miles SE of Covington, KY.  The only way to get to the cemetery now that the road out of Foster has been blocked by the new highway, is to climb this very steep 835-foot hill.  The cemetery is part of a private dump now, with only a few headstones remaining ~ all knocked down.

    The 1852 tax list of Bracken Co. showed William still with his 92 acres on Holts Creek now worth $1800, but with an additional 20 acres worth $400.  (Did he inherit that from John and Catharine Brandenburg?  John's deed has never been found.)  He also had a town "lott" worth $3000.  Total value of all real estate:  $5080.  William was close to being a wealthy man.

     The following year, William purchased his lot and house in town for his new tavern.  His dear Nancy never got to enjoy it.  On December 30, William obtained a license to marry widow Nancy McCarty Artt.  Since his land sided with the border to Pendleton County, and she lived in Pendleton County, they probably had known each other for many years by now.

And three months later on March 24, he obtained a clear deed for a half-acre lot in the town of Foster.  The deed mentioned "appurtenances" so apparently there was already a house on the lot.

    This lot today has a railroad and highway running over it.  The deed explains that its side boundary was a stone wall, and the back boardary was an alley.

It was on Front Street and the Ohio River, with First Street along one side.  It was a corner lot. 

    Things were going well financially for William and he was on top of the world.  So five months later on August 27, he invested in the Foster Turnpike Company that would put a plank road SW out of Foster, past his farm, and to the border of Pendleton Co.

     But he apparently did the same as his father, John.  He over-extended himself.  In 1854 he was taken to court for only paying $700 of the required $800 yearly mortgage on his lot in Foster.  Perhaps the person he bought it from wanted in on a good business, and that encouraged his foreclosure.  That same man bought the lot at auction for $800.

     In December 1853, William was also sued by the Turnpike Company for not purchasing the number of stocks he had promised.  What had happened?  Had there been a drought that year or hail creating crop failures?  Why couldn't he meet his obligations as he had planned?

    After this, there are no records of William in Bracken Co.  He had lived in Kentucky 50 years.  A lot had happened since the time of his birth, including Indian uprisings and finally peace.  This sign is up the road about a mile from William's land, and involved Holts Creek on which his land lay.

     It was now time to move on.  William had heard of good things up in the fertile soil of Illinois where his mother and siblings had moved.  Even his older brother, Benjamin, had moved there.  So he packed up and moved to Coles County, which later split off and became Douglas County.  A daughter and two sons married there.  The only ones of his children to stay behind in Kentucky were Sanford and Anne Eliza ho had both married Fryers of Pendleton Co.

     William probably took the same Ohio River to press farther west into the new world and new dreams that his father had over 50 years earlier.  He settled in Illinois and took up farming in Camargo Twp., just north of Sargent Twp. where older brother, Benjamin, had settled.  In 1854 son George was born, and in 1859 son Robert was born.  George might have been named after William's brother.

    William was in the 1860 census of Comargo Twp., Douglas Co., IL, with his second wife Nancy, his step-daughter Sarah Arts, sons George and Robert by his second wife, and children by his first wife ~ Frank, Marion, Milton, and Catherine. 

A month later on August 26, William's aged mother, Elizabeth, now 91 years old, died.  She was buried in the Pleasasnt Grove Cemetery there in southern Douglas County. Tuscola Cemetery in Douglas County which today is behind a large truck stop.

     Two days later, Benjamin F. Maddox, his son, sold to William for $500 a large lot described as the west half of the north half of Block 2 in Kelly's addition to the town of Tuscola.  It must have been purchased when Tuscola was part of Coles County because I have not yet found the original deed where Benjamin bought it in the first place. 

The lot was not far from the Tuscola Cemetery where William had buried his second wife.  William was now 62 years old and giving up farming.  Had he decided to go back into the tavern business or completely retire?

    On June 4, William was included in the 1870 census of Douglas Co.  He was now in the town of Tuscola, a widower, with his son and daughter by his first wife, and his two sons by his second wife. 

   On June 27, William sold his city lot to son Milton F. Maddox for $100.  Perhaps this was actually a mortgage.  And perhaps it was to build himself a nice house on his lot.  Here is the grand victorian-style house on this lot today.  I do not know if William built it, but tend to think so.  The address is 301 S. Niles.

    In February the following year, William married Amanda Rina.  Did he build this house to attract Amanda?  Or had he already had it and was using the ground floor for a tavern as he had back in Kentucky?  By searching tax records and licenses in Douglas Co, we should be able to find out.

     In 1880 William was in the census, now age 75.  He said his father was born in Virginia and his mother in Maryland.  He is the only descendant of John Maddox that I have found to live until the 1880 census when place of birth for parents was first reported.  Amanda, William's wife, was 65.  Daughter Catharine "Kate", named after her grandmother, Catharine Brenfdenburg, was now 30, still single, and living next door with the Meder Pugh family.

     On May 14, William purchased from son-in-law, Milton Fryer, one-fourth of a block in Tuscola, IL.  This is interesting because the deed of June 27, 1870 was to Milton F. Maddox, and the deed in 1880 was to Milton Fryer.  On this same date, he mortgaged it.

   The spring of 1885 William began suffering from Dropsy ~ serious and painful edema.  That summer or fall he became paralyzed, probably from a stroke.  His doctor was Harvey J. Bassett of Tuscola.  On October 19 at 20 minutes before midnight, William Maddox died, age 81, 9 months and 6 days.

     He had a death certificate.  Amanda had no idea who his parents were, so left it blank.  Maybe his children didn't either; many people don't know their grandparents' first names.

    The undertaker was Taggart & Elkin, and burial was three days later at Tuscola Cemetery.  The grave is unmarked, but there are two empty places there next to Nancy Artt Maddox, his 2nd wife, and I am sure that is where he is buried.  Some day I will get permission from the cemetery to carefully remove the grass and then probe for his tombstone.  I'm sure it fell over and eventually was covered with grass.

    His probate file number is 52A.  When I was at the courthouse in 2002, it was either missing or misfiled.  I returned in 2007 and spent hours going through packets of estate settlements thinking it may have been filed in the middle of another one.  I never could find it.  It would certainly answer many questions.  I have not found an obituary yet either.

     By the time William died, his 17 children had spread out over the US, many becoming pioneers in the west.

Sophia & Kate ~ stayed in Douglas Co., while
Sanford, Sophrona & Milton ~ were elsewhere in Illinois
Mary Ann and Ann Eliza ~ stayed back in KY, and ~ possibly also John and Marion
William ~ was in Kansas
Foster ~ was in Colorado
Elizabeth ~ was in Indiana
Benjamin ~ was in California
George and Robert ~ were in Texas      


Mary Ann
Anne Eliza
Benjamin F.
Milton T.
Marion P.
Robert B.