Frequently Asked Questions

Church Records Database
Where did Reckoning find the information in this database? In the 1930s, Father John A. Lyons and a small group of priests began a decades-long project translating early church records from their original Latin, typing up information found in hand-written registers. The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine College has housed these records since Lyons’ death in 1984, and in 1986 granted The Filson Historical Society permission to photocopy the collection and make it available to the public.

Reckoning’s staff has only just begun indexing the information found within these records. As funding permits, we will add additional data from this collection and similar records kept by other churches across Kentucky. If you or your congregation would like to support this work with a donation, you can do so here.

Each baptismal entry in the database contains information on the name(s), birth date, gender, parentage, and sponsors of the baptized individual, as well as the name of their enslaver(s) and the enslaver(s) of their parents and sponsors at the time of the baptism. In addition, each christening record includes the church’s name, location (county), the officiating priest, and whether the person baptized was enslaved by an agent of the church.

Handwritten changes, additions, and notations made by transcribers have been preserved within the church record transcripts.

— dash/strike
Used to indicate missing information, such as a name.
Aug 9 1861 Joseph Vincent, son of Henry, servant of — Boone, & Anna, servant of — Adams, born Feb. 5, 1861. Spon: Martha Joanna Adams.

Born, date of birth




Signature; the priest who signed the baptismal record.

Spon, Spons 
Sponsor, godparent, witness

Agent of the Church

One who is authorized to act as a representative for the church, such as a priest or deacon.


Alternate and Presumed Names

Enslaved people were often known by multiple names over a lifetime, as it was common for enslavers to rename the enslaved people they had acquired. Alternate and presumed names frequently reflect the surname of the enslaver or previous enslaver of a person or their parents. The private names the enslaved used among themselves were largely unrecorded in official records, which were mainly created by and for slaveholders.


Alternate First/Last Name

See Alternate and Presumed Names


Child’s Name

The Christian name of the person being baptized, usually an infant in Catholic baptisms.


Page #

The page number where the record can be found in the original document


Presumed Last Name

See Alternate and Presumed Names


Servant of

Enslaved by



Godparent, witness

Still have questions?