This post is part of the Donohoo Descendancy Project. Caroline (Green) Donohoo was the wife of Michael Donohoo, son of Patrick and Sarah (Thornbury) Donohoo.


 

Caroline Green Donohoo left few records of her own, as with most women of her time. Her story has emerged from the documents of those in her life: her husband, children and even former slaves. She managed a large household of eleven children plus many slaves and helped her husband run a tavern hotel. By all accounts she was well beloved by those around her because of her generosity and kindness.


Caroline Green was born in 1817 in Kentucky, likely in or near Bardstown, the daughter of Geo. Green. In October of 1836, nineteen-year-old Caroline married twenty-five-year-old Michael Donohoo [1, 2].The couple would welcome eleven children (five sons, six daughters) into their family over the next twenty-five years. Michael bought significant amounts of property throughout the 1840s and 1850s, including the Bardstown Hotel [3, 4], a well-reputed way station for travelers [5]. Caroline, for her part, was noted as “extremely hard to beat for gentility and cleverness” as hostess by visitors to the tavern. [6] Caroline’s father, Geo Green, lived at the hotel with the family during his elderly years [7].

Caroline lost three of her daughters before they reached adulthood. On 22 August 1859, sixteen-year-old Emma succumbed to typhoid fever [8, 9]. Less than a year later, on 7 May 1860, thirteen-year-old Alice J. died of consumption [10, 11]. The next year, Caroline gave birth to her last child, the eleventh, another daughter they name Carrie [12, 13]. Carrie died a mere two years later on 8 December 1863. The girls are buried side by side in the St. Joseph Cemetery [14]. How Caroline’s mother-heart must have ached to bury three daughters in the space of four short years!

Michael owned several slaves who helped him run the tavern and hotel. In 1850, he owned seven slaves, increasing to nine slaves by 1860 [15, 16]. One of his slaves was Harriet Mathers Walters, “tall and commanding in figure, of a light brown complexion and the embodiment of energy. She weighed over two hundred pounds and possessed unusual strength for a woman.”

In one instance, Michael reprimanded Harriet harshly for serving a late breakfast. She, feeling the reprimand was unjust, threw a rolling pin at her master. He threatened to sell her for this offense, and nearly went through with the sale, except for the adamant refusal of his wife, Caroline:

“The day of the sale arrived, and the negro-traders were on hand. Among the buyers was a vicious-looking fellow by the name of MacDonald. When [Harriet] was put up for sale, the bidding started off at five hundred dollars, and after a spirited contest, she was knocked down to MacDonald for one thousand dollars. At this juncture, [Caroline,] the mistress of the home, who had been a silent observer of the sale, stepped forward and said to the master: “Mike, Harriet can’t leave this home; she belongs to me. Mother gave her to me when we were both children; we have grown up together, and, notwithstanding she has a bad temper, she is honest and industrious, and I am not going to let her go.” “But,” said the master, “she has been sold, hence we must let her go.”

“Her mistress, who weighed only about one hundred and twenty pounds, drew herself to her full height and said, “I don’t care anything about that; she’ll never leave this home.” The kindness and firmness of this little woman enabled [Harriet] to remain with her children until [they] were emancipated.” [17]

One of Harriet’s eight children, Alexander, was born in the back of the kitchen of the Donohoo Hotel in 1858. After his rise to success as a high bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Bishop Alexander Walters recalled the character of his mistress, Caroline:

“Bishop Alexander Walters, who is the high bishop of this section of America, for the Connectional Council of the A.M.E. church, now in session here, was during his childhood a slave on a Kentucky plantation. But dame fortune smiled on him and gave him one of the kindest mistresses he could wish for.”
“He was born on the plantation of Mrs. Caroline Donohoo, at Bardstown, 1858, and until 1868 remained her slave until the civil war released him from bondage. After his release his mistress placed him in a school where he took up the first steps to the great work he is now doing.”

“The bishop never tires of praising his kind and thoughtful mistress for placing him in a school where he could elevate himself and later elevate his countrymen. At that time, the country was in an unsettled state and he says that he would not be living at the present day if he had not been placed out of harm’s way. He says a prayer every day for his kind old mistress.” [18]

Caroline’s husband, Michael Donohoo died of heart disease on the 8th of August 1876 [19]. In his last will and testament, he left everything “to my beloved wife Caroline Donohoo to use enjoy and dispose of as she may desire for ever.” [20] By the 1880 census, Caroline lived in a household with six of her grown children, five sons and one daughter [21]. The last known mention of Caroline Donohoo in the records of her family was in her seventy-fourth year in the society newspaper column: “Bardstown, April 3. [1891]- ‎(Special.)‎- Messrs. Howard and Ansel Donohoo, of St. Louis, are the guests of their mother, Mrs. Caroline Donohoo.” [22]

Even without records of her own to tell her story, it is clear that Caroline Green Donohoo was a woman of kindness, strength, and generosity; she was an anchor to her family.


 

Sources & Research Notes:

Learn more about the merited life of Bishop Alexander Walters:

His autobiography: http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/walters/walters.html

Newspaper interview: “Has Risen from Slave to Bishop.” Sunday, August 14, 1910. Evansville Courier and Press (Evansville, IN). Page 2. Accessed at GenealogyBank.com on 16 March 2015.

[1] Nelson County Kentucky marriages, bonds, consents and ministers’ returns. compiled by Lillian Ockerman … [et al.]. Ockerman, Lillian, Nelson County Genealogical Society (Bardstown, Kentucky), Nelson County Genealogy Roundtable (Bardstown, Kentucky). Bardstown, Kentucky : Nelson County Genealogical Society (Kentucky), [198-?]-2006. Family History Library 976.9495 V2. Includes index for each volume. Contents v. 4. 1833-1848
[2] “Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797-1954,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/V65Q-G6L :accessed 18 December 2014), Michael Donohoo and Caroline Green, 07 Oct 1836; citing p. , Nelson, Kentucky, United States, Madison County Courthouse, Richmond; FHL microfilm 481,488.
[3] Nelson County, Kentucky deeds, 1785-1904; index, 1785-1947, 1785-1947. Kentucky. County Court ‎(Nelson County)‎. Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. Microfilm of originals at Bardstown, Kentucky. Family History Library Film 0482724: Grantee index 1785-1893.
[4] Nelson County, Kentucky deeds, 1785-1904; index, 1785-1947, 1785-1947. Kentucky. County Court ‎(Nelson County)‎. Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. Microfilm of originals at Bardstown, Kentucky. Family History Library Film 0482726: Grantor index 1785-1893.
[5] Historic Nelson County, its towns and people. Sarah Borders Smith. Bardstown, Kentucky : GBA/Delmar, 1983. vi, 488 p. : ill. Updated ed. of 2 works previously published as: Historic Bardstown, Nelson County, 1968: and Historic Nelson County, 1971. Family History Library 976.9495 H2. Page 92-94.
[6] “Our Trip.” The Lebanon post,August 23, 1854. Repository:University of Kentucky. Accessed at Kentucky Digital Library: http://kdl.kyvl.org on 23 December 2014.
[7] M. Donohoo, District 1, Nelson, Kentucky. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules ‎[database on-line]‎. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls.
[8] Emma Donohoo. 1860 U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 ‎[database on-line]‎. Nelson County, Kentucky. Ancestry.com. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
[9] Emma Donohoo. Nelson County, Kentucky cemeteries. Schroeder, Margaret Johnson, Nelson County Genealogy Roundtable ‎(Bardstown, Kentucky)‎. Bardstown, Kentucky : Nelson County Genealogy Roundtable, c1985-. v. 1. Northeastern section — v. 2. South Western section including the Abbey of Gethsemani — v. 3. Northwestern section including Nazareth & St. Thomas — v. 4. Central section including Bardstown and St. Joseph cemeteries. Family History Library 976.9495 V3n. Page 8.

[10] Alice J. Donohoo. 1860 U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 ‎[database on-line]‎. Nelson County, Kentucky. Ancestry.com. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
[11] Alice J. Donohoo. Nelson County, Kentucky cemeteries. Schroeder, Margaret Johnson, Nelson County Genealogy Roundtable ‎(Bardstown, Kentucky)‎. Bardstown, Kentucky : Nelson County Genealogy Roundtable, c1985-. v. 1. Northeastern section — v. 2. South Western section including the Abbey of Gethsemani — v. 3. Northwestern section including Nazareth & St. Thomas — v. 4. Central section including Bardstown and St. Joseph cemeteries. Family History Library 976.9495 V3n. Page 8.
[12] “Kentucky Births and Christenings, 1839-1960,” index, FamilySearch ‎(­https­://­familysearch­.­org­/­pal­:/­MM9­.­1­.­1­/­FWVT­-­8J9­ : accessed 15 Oct 2014)‎, Michael Donohoo in entry for Carry Donohoo, 03 Jul 1861; citing NELSON,KENTUCKY, reference ; FHL microfilm unknown. Indexing Batch Number C51781-1

[13] Carry Donohoo, born 3 July 1861. Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Birth Records, 1847-1911 ‎[database on-line]‎. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Kentucky. Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records – Microfilm ‎(1852-1910)‎. Microfilm rolls #994027-994058. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.

[14] Emma, Alice J., Carrie Donohoo. Nelson County, Kentucky cemeteries. Schroeder, Margaret Johnson, Nelson County Genealogy Roundtable ‎(Bardstown, Kentucky)‎. Bardstown, Kentucky : Nelson County Genealogy Roundtable, c1985-. v. 1. Northeastern section — v. 2. South Western section including the Abbey of Gethsemani — v. 3. Northwestern section including Nazareth & St. Thomas — v. 4. Central section including Bardstown and St. Joseph cemeteries. Family History Library 976.9495 V3n. Page 8.

[15] M. Donohoo, District 1, Nelson, Kentucky. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules ‎[database on-line]‎. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1850. M432, 1,009 rolls.

[16] M. Donohoo, District 1, Nelson, Kentucky. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules ‎[database on-line]‎. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls.

[17] Walters, Alexander. My Life and Work. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1917. Page 23-24. Accessed at docsouth.unc.edu on 28 January 2016.
[18] “Has Risen from Slave to Bishop.” Sunday, August 14, 1910. Evansville Courier and Press (Evansville, IN). Page 2. Accessed at GenealogyBank.com on 16 March 2015.
[19] Nelson County, Kentucky, death records : 1852 thru 1857, 1859, 1861, 1874 thru 1878, 1904, 1907. by Frances Terry Ingmire. St. Louis, Missouri : F.T. Ingmire, c1983. Kentucky vital records. Series 3; v. 90. Family History Library 976.9495 V2ing United States & Canada Book. Page 96.
[20] Kentucky Probate Records, 1727-1990,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-20799-20061-37?cc=1875188&wc=M6QD-J3D:173614801,174118601 : accessed 25 December 2014), Nelson > Will records, 1875-1878, Vol. 17 > image 182-183 of 357; county courthouses, Kentucky. Page 291.

[21] United States Census, Year: 1880; Census Place: Bardstown, Nelson, Kentucky; Roll: 435; Family History Film: 1254435; Page: 188D; Enumeration District: 205; Image: 0584. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Original data: Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[22] “Bardstown, April 3.- ‎(Special.)‎” The Courier-Journal ‎(Louisville, Kentucky)‎, Sat, Apr 4, 1891, Page 10. Accessed at newspapers.com on 21 January 2015.