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January 23, 2014

Traces of Laurel: W.R. Ramsey II

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The subject of this week’s column – W. R. Ramsey – was well-known in Laurel County for his law expertise.  Ramsey’s father was W. R. Ramsey Sr., and his mother was Julia Randall, daughter of Judge William H. Randall.  W. R. Ramsey, Sr., died when his children were young which meant that W. R. Ramsey, II was, as Charles Kellogg puts it, “left to his own resources to gain a livelihood.”

According to Kellogg, Ramsey “obtained the rudiments of his education at the Laurel Seminary, but when only thirteen years of age he left the school of his native county to accept a clerkship in the pension office at Lexington, which position he held until he had accumulated sufficient means to enable him to take a course of study at the State College and Kentucky University.”  Later he attended law school at the University of Michigan, worked for a law firm there for a while and graduated around 1882.  He came back to Kentucky and formed a partnership with his grandfather, but after Judge Randall’s death in 1884 he practiced alone.

Thirteen seems early to obtain a clerkship anywhere, even in the 1880s, so he probably had some help from his grandfather, Judge Randall, with whom Julia and her children seemed to have lived after Ramsey, Sr. died, or perhaps until Julia remarried to J. T. Brown in 1875.  She died in 1880 and is buried in the Randall Cemetery at the end of East First Street.  If the father of her children is buried there, no record exists of his grave.

Census reports show that W. R. Ramsey, II, was born ca. 1867 and was still living at the time Kellogg wrote his “Glimpses of London and Her People” in 1895.  Kellogg does not mention a marriage for W. R., II, and I can find no record of one in Laurel County. 

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