Looking Back: James Payne Mitchell

Published 10:30 am Friday, May 15, 2020

(The gravestone photo and research for this article was compiled by local genealogist Carolyn Crabtree.)

James Payne Mitchell was and was a lawyer one of the first justices of the peace in Boyle County.

He was qualified as a Justice of the Peace by Squire Taylor in Marion County, before Boyle County was formed in 1842. He administered the oath of office to the other 12 original justices on March 2, 1842, in Danville.

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The first 13 justices were appointed by Governor Robert P. Letcher.

James P. also was a judge of Boyle County Court and a member of the state legislature. He was a politician and supporter of the Democratic Party.

He served in the War of 1812 as a private in Captain Archibald Bilbo’s Company. His wife Ann Payne was listed as his widow on the War of 1813 Widow Application for the service.

James P. was a prominent farmer and a large landowner. Census records show James P. was worth between $14,000 and $15,000.


Lived in Mitchellsburg

Born January 9, 1794, in Mitchellsburg, James P. was first married in 1815 to Sarah Hamner in Mercer County. She died in October 26, 1865.

James P. and his second wife, Ann Jane Magoffin, daughter of Beriah Magoffin Sr. and Jane McAfee, were married July 9, 1868, in Harrodsburg. She was listed as James P.’s widow on the War of 1812 Widow Application for his service in the war.

The 1850 Boyle County Census show the following grandchildren were living with James Payne and his wife, Sarah Mitchell:

James M. Briscoe, Keturah M. Briscoe, Emily W. Briscoe, James Smith, Jacob B. Smith and Sarah G. Smith. Also, living with them were Ansel Minor, 16, and Keziah Lee Mitchell, 36. Martha Mitchell, Robert H. C. Mitchell, James H. Mitchell, and Lewis D. Mitchell were still at home.

The 1860 Boyle County Census show James P. Mitchell’s household was occupied with James E. Mitchell, 6 months old, born in Kentucky, son of Lewis and Sarah E. Mitchell, also listed with family; Emily Briscoe, 18, and Sarah J. Smith, 10, and James and Sarah are grandchildren, and born in Kentucky.


Gave spring to town


James P. died May 26, 1874, in his home in Mitchellsburg.

James P.’s will shows he deeded a spring, known as the Mill Springs in Mitchellsburg, to the public use of the town of Mitchellsburg. Along with the springs he deeded a small lot to enclose the springs to be under the care of a town Board of Trustees that would be organized for the government of the town.

James P’s second wife, Ann Jane, received land and a dwelling house in which they lived during her life. She received 100 acres of knobs, all the household and kitchen furniture, any books she wanted, a horse and rockaway, two cows and calves, and two sheep. She also was given $5,000.

His first wife, Sarah Hamner, was born December 16, 1794, in Virginia. She died October 26, 1865. Both are buried in the Mitchell Cemetery on Ky. 34 near Mitchellsburg.

They had 10 children:

  • Parthenia Smith (1815-1842) who married Jeremiah Briscoe (1811-1850) in Mercer County.
  • Narcissa Bilbo (1817-1867) who married Colonel Beverly Dickerson Williams (1822-1907). He was born in Perryville and died in Pulaski County, Arkansas.
  • Elizabeth E. (1819-1903), who married Colonel John Lewis Bailey (1814-1894).
  • Margaret B., born in 1820, and married Valentine C. Lasley, born in 1824.
  • Susan H. (1821-1849), who married John L. Bolling in Boyd County.
  • Martha Jane, born 1828 and died before 1880 who married Milton J. Durham (1824-1911).
  • Robert Henry Clay (1829-1917), who married Sarah Logan Caldwell


  • James H. (1832-1850).
  • Lewis D. (1835-1861) who married Sarah Ellen Ewing (1840-1908).
  • Sarah E. (1841-1840, who married a Smith.



Johnathan Edwards

The photograph that appeared in the Looking Back column May 8 was incorrectly identified.

The photograph was Jonathan Edwards, a Presbyterian minister.