My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography from the book, History of Kentucky, Edition 7 by J. H. Battle, W. H. Perrin and G. C. Kniffin and published by F. A. Battey Publishing Company in 1887.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JOHN GRIFFIN CARLISLE. The family from which the present speaker of our national House of Representatives is descended has, for more than a century past, been prominently identified with the history of Kentucky.

Robert McClure, who was one of the first pioneers, and a companion of the noted Gen. Benjamin Logan, finally fell in border war fare with the Indians, about the year 1794, and was buried by his leader, Logan, near a brook which still bears his name. Two of the brothers of Benjamin Logan married sisters of McClure, and it is a family tradition that he, Robert McClure, married Anne, a sister of the Logans. Thomas M. Green, of Maysville, a distinguished writer, has recently prepared an article concerning the Logan family, in which the name of this Anne Logan does not appear, and, if the omission accords with the facts, the family tradition is unfounded. For our part we think it true, and believe that family traits, characteristics, and circumstances “which lead directly to the door of truth,” attest its verity.

Margaret, a young daughter of Robert McClure, aged sixteen, ran away with and was married to John Carlisle. He, too, was a Kentucky pioneer, of Irish birth, but evidently of English ancestry (for the name is not Hibernian), and was probably, at the date of the elopement, something of a rover. So undiscoverable appears to have been the Gretna Green to which the lovers absconded, and so unknown for years was their future home, that they were long supposed to have been killed or kidnapped by the red men. From this union sprang a family of seven children— three sons and four daughters. The story of it is a leaf from the romance of love, bound in the volume of Western military adventure.

Robert McClure Carlisle, one of the sons, represented Kenton County a number of sessions in the Kentucky Legislature, and was in fact as well as in name, a representative. Another and younger son, Lilburn Logan Carlisle, born in the year 1800, and the father of the statesman who was to become eminent, though admitted to have been a more talented man than his brother, never held office, and never sought it. When young in life, he married a woman younger than himself, sixteen years old—his mother’s age at the time of her runaway. She was a Miss Mary Reynolds, and was of New England descent. They became the parents of eleven children, of whom John Griffin Carlisle was the eldest. He was born September 5, 1835, at the old Carlisle family homestead, situated in what is now Kenton (then Campbell) County, about twenty miles south of Covington.

He was fortunate in his birthplace, in a neighborhood at that time containing more woodland than open country, and presenting— with its limestone understrata and blue-grass soil, its unfelled primeval forests surrounding cultivated fields, its smiling vales and picturesque hills, its plenteous brooks rippling to the near Licking and to the not distant Ohio, and with a sky overhead Italian-like in its azure hue—a scene thoroughly Kentuckian and thoroughly beautiful.

Lilburn Carlisle died prematurely, in May, 1852, leaving the care of his young and large family to his wife and eldest son, then in his seventeenth year. Both were equal to the task. The mother was provident, affectionate, energetic, self-reliant; the son, possessing those traits and others of the highest, stood up, less like a boy than one in his developed manhood, to the discharge of the duties which had unexpectedly devolved upon him, and was unconsciously fitting himself for the splendid performance of higher trusts, upon an ampler theater.

He obtained his education in and near his home. It embraced the ordinary branches of knowledge, as they were then taught in the common schools, with a little superadded French. Not much mental armor for the ordinary scholar, but armor enough for a retentive and powerful mind, which easily masters the outposts of learning, and, having once taken, ever holds them.

Before attaining his majority, Mr. Carlisle removed to Covington, Ky., and began the study of law in the office of the late ex-governor, John W. Stevenson. His student life was from the first extraordinary. After a brief novitiate he obtained license, and commenced active practice.

His appearance at the next ensuing term of the Kenton Circuit Court was to the bar of Covington a surprise and a revelation. He came not as a raw recruit, but as a veteran fully armed. It seemed that he had a fund of knowledge on which to draw, large as those accumulated by the study and experiences of a lifetime. A youth and a beginner, he entered the lists against age and highest forensic standing; his self-poise and remarkable aptitude at once suggested what the occasion required, and when success was attainable he was never unsuccessful. Thus began his remarkable professional career.

Early in 1857 Mr. Carlisle intermarried with Mary Jane, eldest daughter of the distinguished Maj. John A. Goodson, a soldier under Andrew Jackson, and representative of Kenton County during many years in the Legislature. This lady is known throughout the country for her talent, and esteemed for her virtues. She and her husband are the parents of two sons, William K. Carlisle and Logan Carlisle, both rising lawyers of Wichita, Kas.

Mr. Carlisle’s practice as a lawyer rapidly increased, and secured for him wealth, influence and position. He was soon made the recipient of trusts, and called to the discharge of duties, other than those of the forum. In August, 1859, by common consent of the Democratic party, with which he has always been connected, he was returned a member from Kenton County to the lower branch of the Kentucky Legislature. After serving as such, he withdrew for some time to his practice. In 1865 he embarked into a doubtful and not uneventful contest for the State Senate. He was elected. In 1869 he was re-elected State senator; held the office two years, and resigned to accept the nomination for lieutenant-governor of Kentucky, which had been tendered him. To this office he was elected by a very large majority, and was sworn in, if we remember rightly, on September 5, 1871, the day he completed his thirty-sixth year. He was presiding officer of the Kentucky Senate during two legislative sessions. In 1876, easily defeating a field of candidates, he was elected from the Sixth Kentucky District to the House of Representatives of the United States, and has been re-elected to that body in 1878, 1880, 1882, 1884 and 1886. At the beginning of the XLVIII Congress, December 3, 1883, he was elected Speaker, and at the beginning of the XLIX Congress, in December, 1885, again elected to that office. Such is in brief the unbroken and brilliant record of his political promotions. But accompanying that record, distinguishing, adorning, and imparting to it a charm, an illustration and a power were characteristics of which space will prevent the mention. A few only may be enumerated here.

To Mr. Carlisle, more perhaps than to any other man, is the public indebted for the construction of the Cincinnati Southern Railroad. He was lieutenant-governor of Kentucky at the time a charter was granted it, which the State had long refused to grant, interdicting a right of way to the great thoroughfare over her sacred soil and consecrated mud holes. The passage of the bill authorizing the construction of the work was due to the casting vote of the Speaker, John G. Carlisle.

It then became necessary, in order to enable the trustees to negotiate their bonds, to repeal an unconstitutional proviso. There was a tie vote, and this measure, too, passed by the vote of the speaker, John G. Carlisle. Before Mr. Carlisle became speaker of the House at Washington, he had frequently presided in committees of the whole, sometimes as long as a month at a time, and had served often as speaker pro tern.

His services as chairman of several of the most important of the House committees, the part he has taken in the discussions of the silver question, of that of the bounties to steamships, concerning the supervisors and marshals of elections and of troops at the polls, in that great and comprehensive work, the refunding, at a lower rate of interest, of the National debt, and on that equally momentous issue, the tariff — are too well known to the American public to need recapitulation here.

It would be a work of supererogation, while we are contemplating the acts and scene-shiftings of busy and varied life, to speak much or minutely of living actors. Let time and the end determine. Let the record of final judgments follow the evidence, the arguments and the verdicts. These things have been, must be, and it is fit and proper that they should be. Only the rounded and finished life is the appropriate theme for biography; and there is too much tendency in writings of the present day to forestall the future; to over-kindly laud or maliciously animadvert; to grant what in time will be often withheld, and to withhold what in time will be often granted. But this much we may affirm, that the character of the person here portrayed presents, in itself and of itself, a noble illustration of the glories of American institutions, of American government, and of the possibilities of advancement, open even to the humblest, on that broad road which liberty has paved to success.

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This family biography is one of 150 biographies included in the Kenton County, Kentucky section of the book, The History of Kentucky, Edition 7 published in 1887 by F. A. Battey Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: History of Kentucky, Edition 7

View additional Kenton County, Kentucky family biographies here: Kenton County, Kentucky Biographies

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