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'd...in 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.