Friday, October 4, 2013

Attention -- New Orleans Natives -- Your Help is Needed

I'm in the middle of a quest -- a picture quest - and I need the help of the good folks in New Orleans. I'm working on an article about one of New Orleans leading citizens from the late 1800s and early 1900s - Miss Belle Randolph Van Horn.

Belle was born in 1861 in Alabama, the daughter of Thaddeus Damascus Van Horn and Margaretta Law-Van Horn, and died in New Orleans in 1946. She was a graduate of Tulane University (with three degrees including a Masters in 1910), an early leader in the New Orleans woman suffrage movement and the Woman Christian Temperance Union, life long school teacher in New Orleans public school system, and local-state member/office holder in the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

I plan to publish her fascinating history here on this blog and hopefully in the NOLA Times Picayune real soon and it will really be neat to have a picture of my Aunt Belle to go with her fascinating history.

If you have any knowledge of my Aunt Belle, during her time as a NOLA school teacher, or have a picture of her, please contact me at the address in the masthead.

I want to honor this New Orleans historical figure and a picture of one of the more fascinating figures of that city would definitely be the final piece to honor a remarkable life.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Rev Elijah Witt and Hannah Clark Photo Retouches

OK, I am going to admit something right now in public on my blog to the zillions of readers who inhabit this space from time to time - I am a junkie.

There I said it. Now I feel better. Oh wait I didn't tell you what kind did I?

I am a family history "picture" junkie. Now that's better and I'm glad that is now out in the open. I'm told it is a good thing to air these sort of things out.

Now on a serious note, I have always received great pleasure in seeing and collecting pictures of my family, cousins and such. I never worry about an original or that sort of thing, but the electronic kind work just for me.

But the real treat is a picture of an ancestor. Now that is the ultimate family history experience. These are the people who are responsible for me being here. Their DNA is in me and  they have touched my life like no other ever can.

In the 35 years I have been doing research I have put a premium on locating a picture of my ancestors and I get to brag a bit, I have done quite well. If you would like to see some of my handy work, you can view the collection in my public family tree at Ancestry at

I have pictures of all four of my grand parents, all eight of my great grandparents, seven of my 16 great-great grandparents, and the ultimate prize five of my 32 great-great-great grandparents.

My latest two 3rd great grandparent picture acquisitions came as a result of my public tree and a leaf hint at Ancestry. In February 2011 I got one of those cute little leafs at Ancestry. When I opened that bad boy up and saw the hint I had tears in my eyes. For the first time ever I was seeing a picture of my 3rd great grandparents Rev. Elijah Witt and Hannah Clark-Witt. Wow, was I ever blown away. I knew there had to be a story here so I wrote the person who posted the photo Angela Beth Jameson. She responded with the following:

The Witt/Clark families are in my husband's ancestry and my father-in-law is in possession of the Witt Family Bible, which has a publishing date of 1849. Elijah and Hannah Witt are my husband's 3rd great grandparents, as well. The picture was inside the Bible, along with handwritten information about births, marriages and deaths of immediate family members, starting with the marriage of Elijah Witt and Hannah Clark. The Bible is very old and falling apart, so I have to be very careful with it.

This is what is written in the Bible under the Marriages heading (spelling/grammar faithful to the writing):

Elijah Witt and Hannah Clark was marriade Oct the 19th-1848

Rachel E. Witt daughter of Elijah & Hannah Witt was marriad to Mike Custer Sept the 10th 1868 (Rachel Elizabeth)

MA Witt Maride to AE Dobbs December the 30-1879 (Mary Agnes)

Marthy An Witt was mariade to JS Brown Nov 17-1880 (Martha Ann and James Stevens Brown---this is my husband's line)

JC Witt Son of E and H Witt was marriad to Henrettah Lang 1882 (Not 100% sure of spouses name---ink is faded)(John Christopher Witt)

SF Witt daughter of E and H Witt was marriad to CW Bush nov 15-1883 (Sarah Forest)

Under the Births heading:

Elijah Witt was born Dec the 15th 1824

Hannah Clark was born August the 7th-1830

Rachel Elizabeth Witt was born january the 26th-1850

Nancy Michael Witt was born January 28-1852

John Christopher Witt was born February the 8th 1854

Mary Agnes Witt was born Sept the 16th-1856

Marthy An Witt was born july the 22 1860

The infant was born Feb the 24 (?not sure it's a 4) 1865

(Note: After closer inspection and looking at death dates, I believe the death date is supposed to be Feb 2 and what I couldn't make out was a scratch out mark...and the year is 1863, not 1865. There is a crease right at the top of that number, as well as an ink spot, which is why I thought it was a 5. Hopefully, I am correct with a 3!)
Hannah (unreadable) Witt was born January 26-1864

(Note: I think the middle name for Hannah (daughter) is Rebeccah, but I'm not 100%.)
Sarah Forest Witt (no date)

Under the Deaths heading:

Nancy Michail Witt Departed this life Sept the 30th-1861 She was The daughter of Elijah & Hannah Witt

The infant daughter of Elijah & Hannah Witt Departed This life February the 2nd 1863

Mr. E. Witt Died Dec. 30, 1898

Then there is the picture Rev Elijah Witt and Hannah Clark-Witt. It is in pretty good shape considering its age. Here is that lovely picture below.

Rev. Elijah Witt and Hannah Clark-Witt of Tennessee/Texas. Picture courtesy of Angela Beth Jameson and family.

Angela wrote:

The picture is on a cardboard that is stamped "Cabinet Portrait""T.B. Latham, Court Square, Union City, Tenn." There is no date on the picture.

As you can see it needed some work and since I'm handy at photo digital restoration I went to work on the picture and also made singles of them. So here for the first time are the digitally restored singles of Elijah and Hannah.

Rev. Elijah Witt of Tennessee digitally restored by Larry Van Horn

Hannah Clark-Witt of North Carolina digitally restored by Larry Van Horn

Rev. Elijah Witt was a Methodist minister who was born 15 December 1824 in Henry County, Tennessee, to Rev John D. Witt (1802-1851) and Rachel Meek (1802-1827). He died 30 December 1898 in Center Point, Kerr County, Texas and is buried in the Center Point Cemetery.

3rd great grandfather Elijah married Hannah Clark who was born 7 Aug 1830 in Anson County, North Carolina, to Christopher Clark (1791-1853) and Elizabeth Wilson (1789- ). She died 8 Jul 1908 in Center Point, Kerr County, Texas and is also buried in the Center Point Cemetery.

They were married 19 Oct 1848 in Henry County, Tennessee.

They were the parents of seven children:

1. Rachel Elizabeth Witt (1850-1948) married Michael Custer.
2. Nancy Mitchell Witt (1852-1861)
3. John Christopher Witt (1854-1925), a private in the Texas Ranger Frontier Battalion married Henrietta Elizabeth Lange. These are my second great grandparents.
4. Mary Agnes Witt (1856-1953) married Adam Everett Dobbs.
5. Martha Ann Witt 91860-1938) married James Steven Brown.
6. Infant Witt (1863-1863)
7. Sarah Forrest Witt (1864-1949) married Columbus Washington Bush.

So if you are related to any of the above, I would love to hear from you. Maybe you haven some pictures you can share with me.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Was William Witt’s Wife Mildred Daux?

Speaking of William Witt (who was suppose to be a French Huguenot, see my previous post), I have seen Daux as the maiden name of his wife for as long as I have been in genealogy. One of my Witt cousins even passed along in a personal letter to me in 1981 that William Witt's wife was Mildred Daux (I've also seen Elizabeth). Since Walter Daux only had two daughters (see below) and there were no other Daux's in the area, where did Elizabeth/Mildred Daux come from? Thin air!

Again to quote Bob Baird on his website at :

"His wife has variously been claimed to be a woman named Mary, Elizabeth Daux, and Mildred Daux. The fact is that we have not one single record of her – her name appears in no records, and therefore any name we assign to her is pure speculation.
"It is extremely unlikely that she was a Daux. We know that Walter Daux had only two children, the daughters Anne and Susannah – one of whom was William Witt’s mother. He had no sons and there is no sign of anyone else named Daux in the area."
You can get the full story at the link above. While you are prowling around also check out Bob's material on the Daux family at the links below:
The family of Walter Daux, father-in-law of John Witt I (Some Thoughts on Walter Daux) :-
 In Search of the Ancestry of Walter Daux is a similar paper but adds some information on a brief search for his father Richard Daux in England. :-

Attention: Witt Family Researchers: Do you have Guillaume Witt the Huguenot in your family tree? Read On Please!

When I first started doing genealogy back in the 1970s, a great grand Aunt - Edna Witt Bless shared her (our) Witt genealogy with me. I was a newbee at genealogy and really didn't have a clue what the heck I was doing in my new hobby. Since Aunt Edna was a big wig in the Huguenot Society (National Society Secretary-Treasure) ,I just new I had hit a Witt family genealogical gold mine thanks to her family research.

Well as time went along I began to doubt this whole Huguenot thing as I dug deeper into her research.

But I was not the only one who had doubts. Robert W. Baird has really dug into this Witt family myth and published a research analysis on "Were the Witts Huguenots?" online on his wonderful website Bob's Genealogy Filing Cabinet ( If you have this Huguenot myth in your Witt family tree right now (and a ton of Witt trees at Ancestry do), please use the click thru link above to Bob's website and get the straight skinny. Do yourself and your family a favor and get rid of this myth once and for all.

So how did this all happen? To quote Bob, "The founder of this Huguenot Society, Mary Latham Norton, was a descendant of William Witt who apparently assumed that William Witt was a Huguenot and an otherwise undocumented settler of the Manakin settlement. She relentlessly promoted that view in the society’s documents and in a number of other publications. She was, however, unaware of the Witt records in Henrico and Charles City County and thus did not realize that John Witt of Charles City County was the immigrant and that his sons were born in Virginia. Nonetheless, the Huguenot Society persisted until quite recently in listing “Jean” and “Guillaume” Witt among the “authenticated founders” of the Manakin settlement, claiming that they arrived in Virginia about 1700 from France. Although the Huguenot Society has abandoned this stance it remains a very difficult myth to dispel, despite the fact that there is not a shred of evidence to support it."

"Were the Witts Huguenots? Probably not. They were almost certainly English citizens, born in England, and members of the Church of England."

Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten the word as William Witt was still included in a 2008 publication as an acceptable ancestor for membership in the Huguenot Society per a recent Google search on this subject.

Finally, as it turns out, I did get my Huguenot ancestor - old Nicolas Martiau, my 13th great grandfather, the Father of Yorktown, Virginia.

Naval action between the Huguenot fleet and the French Royal fleet, aided by English and Dutch ships, during the Capture of RĂ© island

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dr. Lonnie Clark Redus , MD

Dr. Lonnie Clark Redus, 93, of Amarillo died Friday, May 17, 2013.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in First Baptist Church, 1300 S. Tyler St., with Dr. Howard K. Batson and the Rev. Reed Redus officiating. Burial will be in Llano Cemetery. Arrangements are by Cox Funeral Home, 4180 Canyon Drive.

Dr. Redus was born March 26, 1920, in Dallas to Lonnie and Ruth Redus. He graduated from Forest Avenue High School in Dallas before attending Southern Methodist University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree. He served his country in the Army Air Corps in the South Pacific before being honorably discharged as a Major. During his service, his plane was shot down over the China Sea. Upon his discharge, he married Elvena Wilkey on July 7, 1946, in Braman, Okla.

He then attended Southwestern Medical School, where he obtained his M.D. He did his residency at University of Oklahoma Hospital. He practiced medicine in Weatherford, Okla., for 12 years. Together they moved to Amarillo in 1963 where he practiced medicine until 1986.

Dr. Redus loved his Lord and his family with all of his heart. He was a member of First Baptist Church for 50 years where he sang in the sanctuary choir for many years. He loved woodworking and continued working with power saws even after he had lost his sight. He loved to travel with his wife and family in their motorhome. He was an avid reader and enjoyed books on tape after losing his sight. He also loved to fish and had the opportunity to travel with his friends and fish all over the country.

Dr. Redus was an accomplished musician. He played with S.M.U. Mustang band. He had a great love for jazz music and put himself through college playing the string bass in jazz bands.
He was preceded in death by a son, Dr. Ronald Clark Redus, in 2006.

Survivors include wife, Elvena Redus of Amarillo; a son, Mark Redus of Amarillo; a daughter, Jana Gibbs and husband Duncan of Peachtree City, Ga.; a daughter-in-law, Pam Redus of Amarillo; a sister, Hazel Laverne LeFevre of Gainsville, Fla.; nine grandchildren, Mary Ann Leinen and husband Derek, Ronald Clark Redus II and wife Kasey, Rebecca Redus Smith and husband Ben, David Gibbs, 1st. Lt. Bryan Gibbs and wife Jenna, Michael Gibbs and wife Katelyn, Reed Redus and wife Amy, Cpt. Riley Redus and wife Rebekah and Desaray Jimenez; nine great-grandchildren, Reagan, Brooks and Grant Leinen, Audrey and Asa Redus, Noah and Emmarie Redus and Sierra and Ella Redus.
The family suggests memorials be to First Baptist Church Music Ministry or Audio-Visual Library.

Lonnie's Redus lineage is as follows:

1. Dr. Lonnie Clark Redus
2. Lonnie John Redus - Ruth Lee Cromer
3. James William Jefferson Redus - Josephine Lenorah Worthy
4. Thomas Jefferson Redus - Srah C. Robinson
5. Thomas Jefferson Maples Redus - Hester A. Howard
6. Thomas Redus - Rachel Maples
7. Private James Redus III - Martha Wilson (Rev War Ancestor)
8. James Readus II - Catherine Parsons

Thank you for your service cousin and now you can rest in peace in the Lord's arms. Your work here is done.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fearless Females: The Life and Times of an American Rev War Heroine - Mary Sheffield-Dunn

Copyright 2013 by Family Roots and Branches, a division of Teak Publishing. Reproduction of this and any other article on this blog is permitted as long as full credit is given to the author and source (Larry Van Horn's Family Blog)
I love a good family story and the one told in this post is one of the best I have found in many years of research. First I wish she was a direct line ancestor, but since she isn't I still get to claim her as my own  -- my 5th great grand aunt.

Some of the material has been passed around among my Sheffield cousins on Ancestry via our trees so I do not claim to be the originator of any this material. I will provide it here in case others who are related have not picked up on it yet. There is also some new material I have uncovered below from an old Smith family history book that I have not seen circulated before. IMHO she was truly a remarkable woman, patriot, mother, and is an inspiration to us all.


Mary Sheffield is the daughter of John Sheffield (Moore Co) and Hannah Melton (some say it might be Smith but based on DNA testing I believe it is Melton). She was born 17 Dec 1759 in Moore County, NC and died 11 May 1862 in Anson County, NC. Mary is buried in he Bennett Cemetery, Wadesboro, Anson County, NC next to her husband Isaac Dunn. Her Find-A-Grave Memorial can be seen by click here.

She is buried near the log house where she lived for much of her 103 years. A massive boulder adorned with a D.A.R. plaque memorializes the life of this remarkable woman known throughout the area as "Grandmother Dunn."

She was a well respected nurse and a midwife at the outbreak of the war when she promptly joined with her husband Isaac, to aid the American cause. At times, she could be found by Isaac's side while he fought in Colonel Thomas Wade's regiment.

Rest in Peace Aunt Mary.


Source: Mary Allen Huntley, The Charlotte Observer, Sunday, December 27, 1931, Section Three, Page 5.

Mary Sheffield-Dunn marker in Bennett Cemetery (Photo courtesy of Ron Ruiter and Ron's Road Trips Blog)
           An event long planned reached its culmination on December 2 when a tablet was dedicated to one of Anson county’s pioneer women, Mary Sheffield Dunn. On Highway number 20 two and a half miles east of Wadesboro stands an antebellum house, the home of William and Susannah Dunn Bennett; a short distance in the rear is a beautiful wooded knoll, well elevated above the field and rod and on the crest two stones mark the burial place of a husband and wife who established here a home in the early days of this country.

            Side by side in this quiet spot sleep generations of Bennetts and old tombstones keep their silent vigil, reminding those who pay an occasional visit and the passerby that it is appointed unto man once to die. Unlike most old burying grounds, this one has always had care and attention and is still used by some lines of the Bennett family as the last resting place of their loved ones. This accounts for its well kept condition.

            This is truly God’s acre, guarded by this huge granite boulder placed as though He Himself chose to mark the resting place of these His children. Flowers grow and bloom upon the graves, while from the trees overhead the wood winds breathe low threnodies and cast their peaceful shadow as if to sanctify the place. Such was the setting where occurred the unveiling.

            The beautiful bronze table has been welded onto the boulder and two large American flags were draped over a section concealing the tablet; evergreens banked the base and sides of the bounder and a large laurel wreath, a testimony of approval and gratitude, was placed directly under the tablet by Judge Barrington T. Hill. A representative crowd from the county had gathered and at 2:30 assembly was sounded on the bugle by Scout Charles Ross, after which Mrs. Benjamin Ingram, regent, called upon Mr. Caligan of the Presbyterian church to make the invocation; the flag salute was led by members of the C. A. R.  chapter, followed by a few, well chosen remarks of the regent expressing her thanks to all who had contributed to the success  of the occasion, and voicing the joy that she and her chapter shared in this patriotic service. At this point two attractive little girls, descendants of Grandmother Dunn, Sheffield, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Liles, and Sarah Dabney, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. T. B. Little, pulled the cords which disclosed the tablet. Two more charming children could not have been chose for the part, and very gracefully did they recognize the applause of the audience.
         The inscription follows:

            This Marker is dedicated to Mary Sheffield Dunn, 1759-1862; whose patriotic services and kindly ministries to the sick and unfortunate during the Revolutionary war merit the homage of countless descendants and deserve the grateful recognition of succeeding generations. Erected by Thomas Wade chapter, D. A. R., Wadesboro, N. C., 1931.

            The regent expressed the regret of Mr. Frank Dunlap at being detained in Raleigh and unable to fill his part on the program. She then presented Clark of Court, R. E. Little who read an interesting sketch expressing the appreciation of the descendants for the honor done their ancestor, whose strong traits of character, untiring energy and high ideals of service enriched this community. He commended the Thomas Wade chapter for their splendid work in preserving history. Mrs. Mary B. Little, daughter of Col. R. T. Bennett, told of her plans to form an organization of the Bennetts and to hold a reunion in the spring of 1932. She exhibited the canteen (which she owns) of Rev. William Bennett, chaplain of Wade’s Minute Men – Continental Army, also a lovely teapot which was owned by Grandmother Dunn and from which she poured her tea; this belongs to Mrs. Francis Liles.

            The connections of the Bennett family are past numbering and many have brought honor and esteem upon the name. This county would be less rich, were it not for the sturdy virtues of the Bennett off springs. Perhaps none have to a larger extent enjoyed the confidence of the public than one whom the older people of today love and remember, Col. R. T. Bennett, the great-grandson of Mary Dunn, able jurist, superior court judge, member of congress. All these places of honor he adorned as one of his gifts and nature could, but the one which pulled the tightest around his heart was the one his valor, courage, and powers of leadership won for him, colonel of the 14th N. C. Regiment, C. S. A. He loved the cause with his whole heart and his men as devotedly, those ties of friendship made between leader and men were never broken, save by death. Time and again he was honored by his fellow men, but it never exceeded his gratitude.

            Following this the sketch of the life of Mary Dunn was ready by a four times great-granddaughter, and follows in full. She acknowledges her indebtedness to Gen. W. A. Smith’s book, The Family Tree, to Mr. R. R. Bennett for personal recollections, and to Mrs. Mary B. Little and Dr. J. H. Bennett for information gathered from their fathers.

            Anson county, rich in historical spots, personages, and traditions has been slow in giving public recognition to these and many are unknown to the present generation, despite the fact that this is the chief aim of our historical organizations. I am happy to greet you on this long planned for and much talked about occasion to unveil this tablet marking the burial place and commemorating the life and services of one of the pioneer mothers,

            Grandmother Dunn, whose life and labors blessed this land in the yesteryear's and whose ideals  and principles live on in her countless descendants. Strange as it may seem, it took one from a distant country to awake and arouse our conscience to this neglect and to stir within us a determination to make safe for all times the name of Grandmother Dunn, and this one was Mrs. J. G. Boylin, “Cousin Bert” as she was affectionately called by so many.  Born with a love of history, an intense interest in humanity and events, and full of patriotism bequeathed from her illustrious forebears, she came to this country, the pretty bride of Mr. Charles Ingram, the great-grandson of this good woman, and into the very home where the last years of her life were spent. It seems an unusual commingling of fate that it should thus have happened.

            “Cousin Bert” heard eagerly the thrilling events in the life of Grandmother Dunn, from the lips of her own grand-daughter, Nancy B. Ingram, and assembled dates and data, familiarizing herself with the country history, and when largely through her influence and helpfulness, the Thomas Wade D.A.R. chapter was organized she was chosen regent, and those of us who were associated with her bare testimony that her chief objective is being fulfilled this day. I like to think and I verily believe that her spirit hovers over us, and she shares our job and pride, may she also be conscious that today we not alone mark the grave of this worthy ancestor, but pay a tribute of love and appreciation to her, whose wonderfully sweet spirit, unselfishness and patriotism gave us the impetus for this work.

            Mary Sheffield, the daughter of Joanna Sheffield, was born either in England or Scotland in 1759 and her parents soon after came to this country and settled in Moore county. Her mother’s maiden name was Joanna Smith, her father’s given name has been lost to history. In 1796 she married Isaac Dunn, the son of Bartholomew and Ruth Dunn, and soon afterward moved to Anson county.

            Their first home was built near where the present barn on this plantation stands. It was a large log cabin with a loft, close by the house stood a large log smokehouse, the repository for good eats and her medicines, and nearby under a walnut tree was the cider press.

            This plantation belonged to Neville Bennett, who had come from Maryland and had married a Miss Dumas, a woman said to have weighed 400 pounds. The chair she used is reported to still be in existence, owned by some descendant in Montgomery county, as that section of then Anson county was her birthplace. 

            Soon after Neville settled here, his brother William left Maryland to join him, with his wife, who was a Miss Huckster, and two children Elizabeth and William, an infant son. The trip proved too much for h is wife and she died and was buried in Virginia. William arrived at his brother’s home and gave his two children into their care and rearing, as they had no children of their own. One child, Susannah, was born to Isaac and Mary Dunn, and she in her teens became the wife of this William Bennett, the mother of 13 children, the forebears of the countless Bennett descendants.

            Isaac Dunn and his young wife reached Anson county during those stormy days following the battle of Alamance, the spirit expressed in that well nigh immortal petition to His Excellency Governor Tryon could not be subdued, and that great principle that “taxation without representation should always be associated” was uppermost in the thought and acts of the patriots.

            They had waited hopelessly for redress, they were now ready to fight, and, if need be, die to secure their rights. Isaac and his wife caught the dauntless spirit of those patriots and threw themselves with all their energy into the fight against the Tories. He joined one of the companies of Captain Thomas Wade’s Minute Men and judging from the many encounters and traditions left to us, there was no patriot more zealous for the cause, nor more aggressive in the fight for freedom.

            So offensive was he to the Tories that he became the target of their attacks. The Tories scouting around through the country, spying on the patriots and trying to force them to lay down their arms and take the oath of allegiance to the king, made more than one visit to the home of Isaac Dunn. They were determined to rid the country of him and when on one occasion they reached there to find the door barred they opened fire, shooting holes through the door, which Mr. Roland Bennett, her great grandson, recalls having many times stuck his fingers through, and years later removed this door.

            Again they came searching for him, but the quick wits of Grandmother Dunn had hurried him into a place of hiding, and failing to find him, they demanded to know his whereabouts, receiving no answer a Tory raised his saber and struck her a blow across her head that only the hickory splints in her bonnet prevented from being a fatal blow. A scar on her forehead was evidence of this encounter as long as she lived.

            Grandmother Dunn was an expert horsewoman and always kept a fiery steed for her own use, and ‘tis said rode after she was past 90 years of age. Another story comes down to us that she and her husband were being pursued by Tories, they snatched their baby girl, mounted their horses and set off to find a hiding place; fearing lest they should be overtaken, and Isaac realizing that he would be killed if captured and perhaps the baby stolen or killed, threw the child to its mother as the horses galloped at full speed. The child landed safely in its mother’s arms and they successfully eluded their pursuers.

            Grandmother Dunn, scarcely more than a child in size, and weighing less than 100 pounds, was a pretty little woman, fair complexion, neat figure, kindly in her dealings, and a great lover of children.

            This picture is left to us by those who knew her. ‘Tis said that she always had something kind to say about everyone and once upon a time when someone challenged her to find something good to say about the devil replied, “Well, it can be said of him that he minds his own business.”

            She seems to have inherited and acquired a wonderful acquaintance of the medicinal value of herbs and roots, and as there were few doctors among the colonists, and one in this community, she became the physician for a large section of the county. In her own kitchen, she extracted the juices from all the various herbs and roots grown in her garden and gathered in the woods far and wide, and those she made into stimulating tonics, antidotes for poison, antiseptic washes, soothing syrups, medicine to ally fever and cure stomach disturbances, and salves for wounds and sores.

            Perhaps her best known remedy was “Grandmother Dunn salve” and the formula I’m told is still being used in the county. Heart leaves, sweet gum and mutton suet stewed into a salve.

            Her fame spread beyond her own community, she was called to go to Salisbury to minister to a sick man, whose illness had failed to yield to the medical doctor, the trip was made on horseback as all her visits were. We wish that the length of time required for the trip and the outcome of the patient’s illness had been left to us.

            She was attendant at the birth of scores of the babies born during her lifetime, and the late Mr. W. O. Bennett, used to recall the memory of her riding her horse in a swift gallop to his mother’s home in 1840, when she was past 80 years of age, and how some hours later she came out to tell her grandsons and granddaughters that a baby brother, Risden Tyler, had been born.

            She was an excellent cook and her knowledge of proper food and their preparation and her ideas of sanitation were conducive to the good health of her family and her many patients. ‘Tis said she always wore white in the summer and indigo blue in winter, and the style of making was never changed. She was not unmindful of the need that women have always felt for toilet articles and she was an adept at extracting and combing the delicate odors of the rose, lilac, lavender, rosemary, and sweet spices into perfumery; and making cosmetics to beautify the complextion (sic) and soften the skin; and dyes and tonics to hide the gray hairs and promote growth.

            Isaac Dunn by trade was a hewer and would take his own negroes and hired white men and go wherever the call came to fell a forest, on one and perhaps other occasions, he went as far away as Alabama.

            After his death in 1836 Grandmother Dunn’s house was moved and annexed to her daughter’s Susannah Bennett. There she lived until after the death of her daughter after her youngest granddaughter Nancy married Benjamin Ingram and established their home at the mountain in Lilesville township, she went there to spend the remaining years of her life, given every comfort and loved devotedly by these grandchildren.

            Her room was the front room on the left of the present house and is still designated by the owners as “Grandmother Dunn’s room.” Here she received the visits of her numberless kin and countless acquaintances who had shared her healing and kindness, and whose gratitude led them to seek her.

            To the friends and grandchildren she never tired of relating the thrilling experiences of her life which covered three wars, the Revolution, War of 1812, and the Mexican war, and was projected into the Civil war for more than a year, the anxiety of which bore heavily upon her.

            She lived to see five of her own generations and among this many saying treasured, was the one uttered when told that her great-great-great granddaughter had given birth to a daughter—“Arise daughter and go to thy daughter for thy daughter’s daughter has a daughter.”

            While not a member of any church, she was a firm believer in God, a universalist in faith, and a great student of the Bible, many times had she read it through, and knowing the scriptures, she had striven to live up to its requirements  and claim its many [note: missing text in original] confined to her bed and chair and attended by her faithful servants, Charlotte and Martha, surrounded by loved ones she died May 11, 1862. One of her great-granddaughters, Mrs. Charlotte B Dunlap, a girl of 12 years, recalled looking at the corpse, and how horrified she was to see her dressed in an aged yellow dress, and then the story was told her, how 40 years before she was sick unto death, and her burial clothes were made ready. After she recovered she packed these away and gave orders that when the end came she should be dressed in these.

            And now, it is particularly fitting that this chapter which numbers among its membership many of her descendants and whose first regent was the wife of her great-grandson, should pay this honor to her memory and commemorate her life service in this tablet, attached to this boulder, which the Creator Himself placed h ere as impregnable and imperishable as her principles and ideals in life. May her many fine traits of character, her loyalty, heroism, unselfishness, and unfeigned faith in her God live on in this and succeeding generations.

            Mr. J. F. Allen, chairman of the board of county commissioners, graciously accepted the tablet in the name of the people of Anson county, and expressed their pride in this laudable work, after which Mr. Hammaker of the Episcopal church pronounced the benediction.
Two captions under photographs:

           The only living great grandchild of Mary Sheffield Dunn, Roland Risden Bennett, born, 1850, son of Risden Bennett. Children — Sarah Dabney Little, Caroline Hill and Sheffield Liles.

Tablet to memory of “Grandmother Dunn,” on huge bolder on graveyard near Wadesboro, recently unveiled and two little descendants of “Grandmother Dunn,” who unveiled the tablet—Sarah Dabney, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. T. B. Little, great-granddaughter of Col. R. T. Bennett and Sheffield, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Liles, great granddaughter of Nancy B. Ingram.

Tombstone of Isaac Dunn
Tombstone of Mary Sheffield-Dunn

           And then there is this remarkable account of her life from the William Alexander Smith. Family tree book: genealogical and biographical, listing the relatives of General William Smith and of W. Thomas Smith, page 22.


           Mary Sheffield became the wife of Isaac Dunn. She was the most noted and notable woman of Anson County. She was very fair and comely. Her elegant form was proportioned after the Grecian model of womanly perfection as seen in sculpture. Wiser than most people in her day and generation she was thoroughly acquainted with the medicinal quality of herbs and roots, nature's remedy for the ills of man and beast.

           Known far and wide as a doctor, she went her rounds as a practicing physician. She did not prescribe mineral medicaments but used herbs: wormwood for vermifuge; fever-few for tonic; balsam for wounds and sores; hoarhound for coughs and colds; snake root for a cathartic; sotherwood, a near specific for that terrrble disease diphtheria; rue for a narcotic. Rue was sometimes called "Herb of Grace" because it afforded relief from remedies for the various ills to which flesh is heir. A famous salve for healing old chronic sores, known as "Grandmother Dunn's Salve", she made of heart leaves, sweet gum and mutton suet. This salve was famous in her day and since. Spice wood, spice bush, for fevers, vermifuge; hornseed for ergot; coltsfoot, snake root, Indian wild ginger, bearberry, foxberry, snake head, sometimes called turtle head, mother's wort or feather feet; devil's bit or bitter grass; all of these she used as stomach tonics; devil's bite for a diuretic; smilax, sarsaparilla for rheumatism; pepper wort as an antiseptic; partridge berry, an anodyne which she probably got from the Indians as it was a famous Indian remedy, cand!e berry, a species of spice or cloves, brake or female fern, used for tapeworm; Indian turnip, dragon turnip, pepper turnip, remedy for asthma, croup etc.; ladies' slipper, ladies' smock and bleeding heart, antispasmodic; dog's bane or ipecac, monk's hood, wolf's bane, a cathartic; she sought blazing star, gay feather in meadows and damp places, which she prescribed as a diuretic; willow water flag, remedy for toothache; heartease for skin diseases; blow root to regulate the pulse, and hundreds of other indigenous herbs with medicinal properties familiar to this learned woman.

           A scientific cook, she used thyme, sage and other herbs in preparation of food suitable for her patients. She also prepared perfumery from lavender, rosemary, roses, sweet spices and other sweet smelling herbs and flowers. We always associate lavender with dainty, refined ladies. Cosmetics for beautifying the complexion and improving the skin came under manipulating hands.

           More than all, she was famed as an accoucher, her services being in great demand over a wide scope of the country. She named an infant daughter of her grandson, L. D. Bennett, after herself, Mary, and, like Anna, the prophetess, "She blessed the child". As the spirit of Elijah descended upon Elisha, the spirit of Mary Sheffield was bestowed in large measures upon her great grandchild, Mary Bennett. With the blessing came the gifted insight of reading characters of men, resembling, in this respect, "Napoleon the Great". With the blessing came the ability of foretelling coming events. With the blessing came hauteur and high notions which would have been termed arrogance but for her sunny smile — that noblesse oblige so graciously worn upon all occasions and which won the hearts of those who knew her.

           With the blessing, the great grandame bestowed the knowledge of herbs and their medicinal qualities: that love of roses possessed by "this dreamer of dreams"; that graceful carriage and queenly walk. With the blessing came that artistic preparation of food and that orderly housekeeping for which she was famed. With the blessing came the skill in needlework, in tapestry work and painting in oil, both landscape and portrait. Mary Bennett inherited all of this and more. Mary Sheffield Dunn was a Universalist in her religious belief, grounding her belief upon the "Universality of the Atonement." "For, as by one man's disobedience all men were constituted sinners, so by the obedience of one shall all men be made righteous and that not of your selves — it is the gift of God." Again "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." God is infinitely wise and good and holy — and created man in his own image for man's good and it is incompatible with the All Wise and good God to condemn His creatures to everlasting punishment. Thus she argued and it is said she was so thoroughly conversant with the scriptures she could maintain her position against all parties.

           She became the wife of Isaac Dunn in 1776, the year of the Declaration of Independence. Independence was to be won only after a terrible struggle of seven long years. Embracing the Patriot Cause, a member of Captain Thomas Wade's Company, Isaac Dunn and his young wife had to endure the enmity of the Tories. In Anson County there were many honorable men who from infancy were taught the Divine right of kings and non-resistance. Kings could do no wrong and it was high treason to resist the authority of the Crown. These were loyalists at heart and verily believed it right to harass, plunder, pillage and devastate the property and homes of the American patriots who dared to resist tha king's authority. These loyalists, called Tories, formed themselves into bands, organized under military officers, and went from settlement to settlement and from house to house in pursuit of the patriots, the enemies of King George III, God's vice-regent on earth. By night and by day they proceeded to wreak vengeance on the patriots.

           At set of sun information was received by Isaac Dunn at his home that a band of these Tories was approaching. Hastily he saddled a horse for his wife and one for himself, snatched up their baby, mounted and fled.

           "Weel mounted on this gray mare, Meg, A better never lifted leg. And scarcely he Meggie rallied. When out the hellish legion sallied. "

           The Tories were hot foot on his track behind him. Seeing he would be overtaken and probably killed, while riding at a sweeping gallop, he tossed his baby into the arms of its mother and made his escape. Neither the mother nor the baby were harmed. It was Isaac Dunn they were pursuing with murderous intent because Captain Wade's company three weeks before had retorted upon them, burning, pillaging, and destroying their homes. Those were fearful days, when brother fought brother, father fought son and devil take the hindmost. The patriots were in the large majority and won. Often it was "Escape for thy life, look not back behind thee."

           Mary Sheffield Dunn was a superb horsewoman and sat her horse elegantly and stately. As she was not slothful in business, so also she contributed to the necessity of the saints and was given to hospitality. Blessed with health and strength she went in and out before this people and came to the age of 104 years and died. Truly she lived a life of service to humanity. Thus passed from earth to Paradise a benefactress of her country.

           "Whose life was a song, God wrote the words. Which she set to music; The refrain was glad, or sad — at her pleasure. Her life work of service evidenced the Measure."

           It can be said of her as of Abraham, "She died in a good old age and full of years."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ancestry Trees Image Not John Sheffield Sr.

There is an image circulating among various trees on that has an image attached that is suppose to be John Sheffield Sr. (1727-1796), see image below. Being suspicous of such claims (the dress didn't seem right for the period being claimed) I used Google to find out the real story behind the portrait of this portrait.

First, it is NOT an image of John Sheffield Sr, father of John Sheffield Jr the Rev War soldier.

IT is a portrait of John Sheffield, son of Everett and Rebecca Sheffield, who was born April 26, 1837 in Alabama and died April 29, 1862 at the Battle of Shiloh. He married Elizabeth J. Sims in Itawamba County on July 10, 1858. The original image was posted to the online photo archives of the Itawamba Historical Society (

Come on folks. We really need to do a better job when we are doing our genealogy research.

John Sheffield Rev War Service

There is quite a bit of misinformation on the various trees on the Internet and at Ancestry regarding the Rev War Service of John Sheffield Sr (1727-1796). John Sr did not serve in the Rev War, his son John Jr did serve. The DAR is no longer accpeting any apps for John Sr as a Rev War soldier.

You can learn more about this using the DAR GRS database located at Under the ancestor link search for John Sheffield.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

One of my Smith Brick Walls has Tumbled Down! Part 1

I love it when patience and perseverance can finally achieve success in knocking down an ancestral brickwall.

My 3rd great grandparents on my maternal line was John J. Smith and Nancy Ann Burns.

Years ago my Mom related a story to me how she went to the Family History Center in San Antonio to try and find some information on her Smith line. The man who was running the center that day told her, "Don't bother to research your Smith family, you will never get anywhere with it. They are just too hard to research."

Well the last laugh is on him. Not only have I done well on that line but it now goes back to a Rev War soldier. I feel like doing the "told you so" dance.

Here is the family History of my John J. Smith and Nancy Ann Burns.

John J. Smith (Find-A-Grave Memorial #5372276) was born in Fairfax County, VA on 18 Jun 1800 (per his tombstone)

On 15 Jan 1826, he married his first wife Margaret Kite (b. ca 1806 Rockingham County, VA), daughter of Benjamin Kite. They were married in Rockingham County. Their marriage bond was posted on 10 Jan 1826 and Abraham Brubaker was the bondsman. The exact date of death for Margaret is uncertain, but most of our family genealogy believe she is the mother of Van Buren Smith who was born on 21 Sep 1834; d. 21 Feb 1938 in Karnes Co, TX at the age of 103, and the evidence tends to support that. I believe she may have died in childbirth. Van Burn married Nancy Jane Shockley and he served with the Confederacy during the Civil War ( Co. D, Baylor's Regiment (2nd Arizona brigade) Texas Calvary of the Confederate Army. Date of enlistment October 6, 1862 at Bastrop Co, TX. Discharge date of 1865).

There were two other known children to this marriage: Alfred Fletcher Smith (b. 1 Jul 1829 Rockingham Co, VA; d. 16 Oct 1916 in Texas) who married Elizabeth Ann Griggs, and Jane Smith (b. ca 1830, no additional info on her is known).

The 1830 census taken in Rockingham County, VA, does list John and his family as follows:

Under 5: 2
10-14: 1
15-19: 1
20-29: 1
30-39: 1

Under 5: 1
5-9: 1
10-14: 2
20-29: 1

I'm not totally sure who the extra people are in the household at this point, so we may have children in the household that have never been identified.

I found the following land sale transactions dated 20 Aug 1831 in Page County, VA:

Book A, p. 99-20 Aug 1831 -- Between John J. Smith and Margaret his wife (Grantors) of Page County [to] Benjamin Rudle/Biedler of the County foresaid...consideration of Thirty dollars...a certain lot of land lying and being in County of Page on the North side of Cub Run...the same being part of a larger survey in the name of John Smith 20 acres 1 Rood and 11 poles by survey made the 29th May 1826...and part of said survey is conveyed unto Jacob Fultz Jun. of 10 Acres 1 Rood and 34 poles..
Wit: none John J. Smith, Recorded: 24 Oct 1831 Maragaret (x) Smith
Book A, p.100-20 Aug 1831, Maragaret Smith the wife of John J. Smith released Dower right to above land. William Bradley and Jacob Strole, Recorded: 20 Aug 1831

Book A, p.100-20 Aug 1831 -- Between John J. Smith and Maragaret his wife (Grantors) of County Page [to] Simeon Lucas of the aforeside county...consideration of Five Hundred and Thirty Dollars...tract of land lying and being on the North side of the Shenandoah River and is part of the lands of which Reuben & Benjamin Kite dec'd died seized and possessed...Lot No. ____ in the division and the same that was assigned said Margaret a daughter and heir of said Benjamin Kite dec' a line between Jonathan Crofft and John Short...containing fifty acres more or less...
Wit: none John J. Smith, Recorded: 17 Jan 1832 Maragaret (x) Smith
Book A, p.100-20 Aug 1831, Maragaret Smith the wife of John J. Smith released Dower right to the above land. William Bradley and Jacob Strole, Recorded: 20 Aug 1831

Book A, p. 102-20 Aug 1831 -- Between John J. Smith and Margaret his wife (Grantors) of Page County [to] Jacob Foltz Jr. of the County foresaid...consideration of thirty Dollars...a certain lot of land lying and being in County of Page on the North side of Cub Run the land being part of a survey in the name of John Smith called 20 acres 1 Rood and 11 poles by surveying the 29th May 1826...containing ten acres one rood and 34 poles...
Wit: none John J. Smith, Recorded: 24 Oct 1831 Maragaret (x) Smith
Book A, p.102-20 Aug 1831, Maragaret Smith the wife of John J. Smith released Dower right to above land. William Bradley and Jacob Strole Recorded: 20 Aug 1831

On 4 Nov 1832 -- John J. and Benjamin Beedle patented 400 acres on Cubb Run in Rockingham County, VA (Source: Land Office Grants No 81, 1832-1833, pg 424 (Reel 147))

Very shortly after Margaret's death, John obtained another marriage bond on 5 Dec 1834. This time he was marrying Nancy Ann Burns (Find-A-Grave Memorial #5372246). The bondsman was Cherubim Harshman and permission was given by bride's mother, Mary Burns for her daughter to marry. (Note: This would indicate her father had died by this time.) The bond and marriage took place in Page County, VA and on 11 Dec 1834 they were married.

Nancy Ann Burns (b.18 Jun 1810 in Shenandoah County VA, per her tombstone) was the daughter of Daniel Burns (c1780-1832) and Mary Kite (ca 1782-1851).

Sometime between 1834 and 1838 we believe the family traveled west to Missouri. There maybe evidence that this occurred around 1835 as we see a John J. Smith buying land from the federal government. He purchased two parcels of land (40 acres each) in Marion County, Missouri, north of St. Louis on 13 Oct 1835. We also see who we believe to be his brother Joseph Smith buying land on the same day (two 40 acre parcels). One the 21 Oct 1835, we once again see John J. buying two more 80 acre parcels for a grand total of 240 acres total) in Marion County.

At some point I believe he left Marion County and went to Warren County, Missouri, just west of St. Louis. For sure, we see him buying land in Warren County, Missouri, in Oct 1840 (two lots totaling 120 acres) and again in Aug 1852 (40 more acres) from the federal government. I have him living in the Camp Branch area of Warren County on the 1840 census. In 1850 it was known as District 99.

During this time John J and Nancy Ann's family continued to grow. They had the following known children:

John B. Smith (my 2nd great grandfather) b. May 1838 Warren Co, MO; d. 22 May 1917 Bastrop Co, TX, married Elizabeth A. Carr.

Lucinda Smith b. ca 1841 Warren Co, MO; d. 28 Jan 1874 Bastrop Co, TX married Rufus Ingram

Sophronia Ann Smith b. 8 Mar 1842 Warren Co, MO; d. 30 Sep 1889 Bastrop Co, TX married George Washington Corbell.

Samuel Cope Smith, Sr. b. 26 Jun 1846 Warren Co, MO; d. 10 Nov 1890 Bastrop Co, TX married Fannie Isadora Essay Bashford.

Andrew Jones Smith b. 26 Sep 1848 Warren Co, MO; d. 16 Sep 1927 Bastrop Co, TX married Mattie G. Rosses

Lavinia Smith b. Aug 1849 Warren Co, MO: d. 9 Feb 1940 Bastrop Co, TX married Peter Yoast Sr.

Bascom Sherman Smith b. 20 Aug 1850; d. 2 Aug 1897 Bastrop Co, TX never married.

I believe that the family left Missouri sometime around 1852-1853 and settled in Bastrop County, Texas. I see John J. on the 1860/1870/1880 federal census population schedules for those years.

John died on 6 Jan 1882 and is buried in the Smith Cemetery in Red Rock, Bastrop County, Texas.

This is the a letter from a friend and the obituary of John J. Smith printed in the Bastrop Advertiser on Saturday, January 14, 1882. The question marks are mine.

The news of the death of Mr. John J. Smith, whose obituary appears elsewhere in today's Advertiser, will be sad news to his numerous friends.  Mrs. Smith was an old citizen of the county, an honest, respected christian gentleman, who had passed the three score years allotted to man, reaching even beyond four score, and by his pious and God-like walk, earned the plaudit, "Well done good and faithful servant." Peace to his ashes.

 At his residence in Bastrop County, on the 6th, John J. Smith, in the 82nd year of age.  The deceased was born in Fairfax, Virginia June 18th, 1800, where he lived to the prime of his manhood.  From there he emigrated to the state of Missouri in 1837 (?) and settled in the county of Montgomery (?), where he lived until his removal to Texas in 1853.  In the fall of that year he settled on Lentz Branch, where he resided until a few years ago when he settled in the String Prairies, near this place.

Another of the good old pioneers of the county is gone; plain and unassuming in manners, a man of sterling integrity; a man of purity of character.  An active member of the M.E. church for more than a quarter of a century, his walk and conduct in all the relations of life proved his faith. 
The deceased was twice married-first time January 25, 1826 and the second time December 11, 1834.  He leaves numerous posterity to mourn his loss.
Full of years, surrounded by many friends and relatives he breathed his last, fully trusting that Savior that he has worshipped for years.  He has gone to the reward of the faithful.   
      A Friend
      Snake Prairie
      January 8, 1882

His wife Nancy Ann Burns-Smith died on 3 Jun 1897 in Snake Prairie and is also buried in the Smith Cemetery.

Another family researcher Eugene Davis of Houston, Texas (descendant of Sophronia Ann Smith and George Washington Corbell) passed along all the stories below regarding our wonderful Smith family especially Gramma Smith. I can not vouch for their validity, but no self respecting family history on this family would be complete without them.

Nancy Ann Smith ("Granma Smith") is notorious in family legend as a "mean, hard woman." When any of his children exhibited willful independence or otherwise misbehaved, my grandfather would say that they "had too much Grandma Smith" in them. Reputedly only five feet tall, one hundred pounds or less, she feared nothing, animal or human. She expected her sons to be as fearless, and would punish them for showing any sige of "cowardice." According to family legend, she always gave birth unattended (my mother told me stories about this, and I heard my grandfather make reference ot her "habit" of giving birth alone).

She was thrifty to the point of miserliness, but her pantry and smokehouse were always well stocked and her family ate better than the neighbors. According to my mother, she invented ways of preserving food that were far ahead of her time. Family legends credit her with wealth, and she allegedly bought a farm for each of her children as a wedding present. The 1880 census supports this: it shows her children on farms adjacent to hers, which was also a part of the legend. According to Mrs. Petty, her sons (and grandsons) were successful businessmen and farmers; some were elected and reelected to public office. One grandson, Will Smith, was owner and president of the Red Rock Bank for years.

In my opinion, the well known "dominating Corbell personality", exhibited by my grandfather and the majority of his children, was not a Corbell trait, but a Smith trait, genetically transmitted by Grandma Smith. Mrs. Petty, who does not try to hide her dislike of the Smiths, said to me, ". . . they were not bad people, they were just dominating," which supports my opinion.

Apparently Grandma Smith was the epitome of the pioneer woman: tough, fearless, capable, frugal, hard-diving, independent. I don't think I would have liked her personally, but as an ancestor, she is one of my favorites.

The Saddlebags of Gold - - - - - - The Smith Family allegedly had two "saddlebags of gold" when they arrived in Missouri. They lived near a river with a wagon trail crossing, and the wagoners were often lawless, violent men. For fear of robbery, the family buried the saddlebags behind the henhouse. When the family needed money, the older boys were send to dig them up. If a stranger asked what they were doing, they were to reply that they were "digging fishing worms". One evening when the family returned from the field they found the area dug up and the coins scattered. At first they feared robbery, but soon realized that feral hogs had rooted up the area, possibly after the leather in the bags. Although tired from a day's work in the field, and without supper, the entire family, including the youngest infant, was put to work recovering the coins from the mud. Grandma Smith hung quilts to conceal the activity from the wagoners camped by the river. She had candle lanterns, but to avoid wasting candles she would allow only one lantern at a time, so the children had to hunt by feel in the dark. Grandma Smith knew exactly how many coins were in the bags, and near daylight they had recovered all but one or two coins. Grandpa Smith went to bed, but Grandma Smith drove the children relentlessly until the last coin was recovered after daylight. The story was told by her children as an example of her derive and determination to protect "her property".

The Feral Hogs - - - -In the fall of the year, feral hogs would come up the river near the Smith homestead in search of acorns and pecans. Feral hogs are dangerous beasts, and can mortally wound a man in a few moments. They will attack if approached too closely, but normally will avoid humans by moving away. By maintaining a cautious distance and patience, Grandma Smith and her sons could gradually "herd" the hogs into a corral trap, where they were butchered and the meat smoked for sale and trade. The corral gate consisted of poles laid horizontally between two posts. The gate took time to close, and once when the boys were attempting to close the gate, the hogs charged them. The boys dropped the poles and jumped up on the corral fence to escape. Grandma Smith ran to the gate, grabbed the dropped poles and drove the hogs back into the corral. After she closed the gate, she whipped her sons mercilessly for "running from the hogs". "I will not", she said, "raise cowards for sons." My mother would always end the story with the chuckling comment "she was so mean even wild hogs were afraid of her," which while not true was in keeping with the legends about Grandma Smith.

Birthing Time - - - - - - - When Grandma Smith's time came, she sent Grandpa Smith and the children to the field. If it was dark, Grandpa Smith and the children waited in the corncrib until daylight. She allegedly had the baby over a tub of warm water; a tub of cold water was kept nearby in case the baby "needed reviving". After the baby was born, she cleaned up, cleaned the baby with butter or lard, and put it to bed. She then put the next meal on the table, and raised a flag to alert Grandpa Smith. When the family came back to the cabin, they sat down and ate. (When Grandma Smith put a meal on the table, you washed up and sat down immediately and ate, without talking. Talk took time from chores.) After Grandpa Smith finished his meal, he would ask about the baby. Despite the start in life, her children were sound, healthy and vigorous except for one, Andrew Smith, who was a deaf mute from mealsed in infance.

Her "Medicine" - - - - - - - - - Opium could be bought openly over the counter until Congress passed the Food and Drug Act (about 1906). Like many other farm women of her time, she became addicted to opium in her later years. Her sons kept her supplied with her "medicine". My mother believed that the addiction was related to childbearing problems, but I do not know how my mother knew this.

The Name Change - - - - - - - - Some of the Charlie Corbell's daughters-in-law like to put on the dog, and they wanted to trace the family history in the expectation, of course, that only great things would be found. At the Corbell family reunion at Xmas, 1940, they asked my grandfather for his help. "No, he said. "You will find out things you don't want to know." They persisted, and finally at the Xmas dinner table he declared, "Grandma Smith told me before she died that their name was Boyd before they came to Texas." I didn't hear this ( I was eating at a table with other children) but my mother heard it, and I heard the adults talking about it later. I don't know if the name change occurred or not ( I have since come to doubt it), but the report of it certainly suppressed any interest in genealogy at that time.

There is one other story that I've heard that Samuel Smith killed Sam Jenkins on election day in Bastrop County, Texas in Smith-Jenkins fued.

So this is the setup piece to introduce you to my 4th great grandparents the Smith family from Fairfax County, Virginia. So in part 2 of my story I will introduce you to John J. Smith's parents, a search that took 34 years to complete.