Monday, July 24, 2017

Has My Prussia Origins Theory Gone Up in Smoke?

My maternal grandparents, Gustav Lange and Wilhelmina Schalin, considered themselves German, wrote to their siblings in German, read a German Bible, and spoke German in their home until their eldest daughter came home from her first day of school in tears because she could not speak English. However, only Gustav Lange lived in Germany, briefly, for five years from 1906 through 1911 when he worked in Essen in order to send money home and save for his passage to Canada. At this time I do not know from where in Germany our Lange or Schalin ancestors originated

The Lange-Ludwig grandparents of my grandfather, Gustav Lange, were born near present day Lodz, Poland, in the 1840s and moved to the Volyn Oblast in Ukraine in the early 1880s. The paternal ancestors of my grandmother, Wilhelmina Schalin, lived in the Greater Poland Voivodeship, about halfway between Poznan and Lodz since at least the 1790s. They moved to the Volyn Oblast in Ukraine between 1861 and 1863. I know nothing of Wilhelmina Schalin's mother beyond her name.

Migrations of the Lange (red circles) and Schalin (green squares) families;
created using Google Maps

But from where did the Lange and Schalin families originate? I assumed Germany since Grandma and Grandpa Lange spoke German as their native language, but I wanted to know more. I spent a lot of time delving into the history of Poland and Ukraine. I learned the area of Poland where the Lange and Schalin families lived was known as South Prussia after 1793 and the Second Partition of Poland by Prussia and Russia. So perhaps they were from Prussia.

When Ancestry unveiled its genetic communities, I looked at them for all the Lange-Schalin DNA tests I administered.

Lange-Schalin relatives I have DNA tested (red outline); created
using Microsoft Powerpoint

On the day after genetic communities were launched, we all shared at least one genetic community and it was Northern Germans, which included Prussia. But as Ancestry has continued to refine the genetic communities, the picture has gotten muddier. As of 30 June 2017, the genetic communities are now:

Genetic communities of the Lange relatives' DNA tests; created using
Microsoft Excel

It appears as if some genetic communities were refined and some of my Lange relatives lost some or all of genetic communities and new ones were added.

Map of Northern Germans genetic community; courtesy of

Northern Germans was the genetic community we all shared when Ancestry launched its genetic communities though it does not reflect the eastern migration of hundreds of thousands of Germans to current day Russia, Poland, and Ukraine.

Germans, Netherlanders, Belgians & Luxembourgians Ancestry genetic
community; courtesy of
The Germans, Netherlanders, Belgians & and Luxembourgians was a new genetic community and likely a refinement. It has a great deal of overlap with Northern Germans but extends more westward, which does not support my Prussia origins theory.

Northern (yellow) and southern (red) origins of Germans in the Midwest
Ancestry genetic community; courtesy of

Germans in the Midwest originated from both northern and southern Germany. So it could still support my Prussia theory.

And the problem...

German origins of the Germans from Baden-Wurttemberg in the Dakotas
Ancestry genetic community; courtesy of

There is no way, Germans from Baden-Wurttemberg may be considered northern Germans from the area that was once Prussia. So at this point my thinking is the genetic communities are interesting but not helpful. Pretty much what I have found ethnicity estimates to be. Sometimes they make sense; sometimes they don't.

On the settings page of each DNA test is a privacy section. That section states the following about ethnicity:

"Show the participant's complete ethnicity profile to their DNA matches. This means the participant's DNA matches will see both the participant's full ethnicity estimate and all the Genetic Communities. (If left unselected, the participant's DNA matches will only see the portion of the participant's ethnicity estimate and the Genetic Communities they share in common.)"

I have not selected this for any of the tests I administer, but I changed this setting from my test and my mother's test to select it. Then went to Mom's match from the home page of my DNA test. I could see all of her ethnicity estimates but not her genetic communities. And I should have been able to see them. So there is still work for Ancestry to do in this area.

Monday, July 17, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Rediscovering John Muir (1905-1978)

John Muir was born on 24 November 1905 in Hamilton, Scotland, to James Muir and his first wife, Janet Lees Syme. James was a coal miner and grandson of my three times great grandfather, Robert Muir (c1800-1869). James and Janet had two more sons -- Hugh Syme in 1908 and Thomas in 1910.

When Thomas was three months old, the family boarded the Allan Line's RMS Pretorian on 31 December 1910 in Glasgow and arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, on 11 January 1911. Their destination was Mystic, Iowa, to join James' brother, John, and his uncle, also named James Muir, who was my great great grandfather. Mystic was in the Walnut Valley area of Appanoose County and was described as "one continuous mining camp." The Mystic coal seam was on the surface and drift mines were opened and abandoned so often the place looked like a honeycomb.

Mystic, Iowa, in 1909; photograph source unknown

Less than two years after the family's arrival in Mystic, James' wife, Janet died on 29 September 1912. She was buried in a local cemetery two days later. James decided to return to Scotland and traveled to New York with his three young sons, boarding the Anchor Line's SS Cameronia bound for Glasgow. They arrived in Scotland on 11 May 1913.

James joined the Gordon Highlanders regiment in 1914 but was released within 90 days. He remarried in 1927 and died in 1967. His eldest son, John, returned to the United States at the age of 20, arriving in New York on 16 January 1926. He was an iron molder and was headed to Detroit for work. On 19 January 1926 he declared his intention to become a U.S. citizen at the district court in Detroit.

He must have traveled back to Scotland some time after settling in Michigan because on 20 October 1928 he and his brother, Hugh, boarded the Anchor Line's RMS Transylvania in Glasgow.[1] He returned to Scotland the next year as well, returning aboard the Anchor-Donaldson Line's SS Leticia. He arrived in Quebec on 31 August 1929 and crossed the U.S. border on 3 September. His appearance was described as being 5' 7" tall, of medium build with brown hair and green eyes. He lived at the YMCA in Detroit and worked as a clerk.

Detroit skyline as seen from Windsor, Canada, in 1929; photograph courtesy
of the National Photo Collection held by the Library of Congress

When the 1930 census was enumerated, John lived at 80 Vernon Street in Mount Clemens, Michigan. He rented a room from the Alore family and worked as a laborer in a refrigerator factory.

On 4 February 1933 John married Roselyn K. Malcolm in Detroit. She was the daughter of William and Margaret (McCartney) Malcolm, and was a bookkeeper. She was born in Queens, New York, to Scottish immigrants. The year after their marriage, the couple lived in Buffalo, New York, at 995 Lafayette Avenue. Eventually, they settled in Hamburg, New York.

John Muir died in April 1978; Roselyn died on 8 August 1989. They had two sons.

I rediscovered John Muir because of a DNA match who had two people in his family tree -- himself and his father, who was deceased. Using the death date and place of the father, I was able to find an obituary, which included his parents' names and then an obituary for his father's mother, Roselyn K. (Malcolm) Muir. Once I knew her maiden name, I found the marriage license and realized I already had her husband, John Muir (1905-1978), in my tree but had had not yet spent time researching him after he returned to Scotland with his father and brothers in 1913.

[1] I am suspicious about this UK outward bound passenger record as his brother Hugh's age is listed as being older than John rather than being three years younger.

"Not Likely to Become an Efficient Soldier"
Anchor Line: Scottish Ships for Scottish Passenger

Monday, July 10, 2017

Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Smith Siblings and His Children

Continued from Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Smith/Campbell Parents.

Father and mother with four children moved from Gennings Creek, Tennessee[1], to the headwater of Little Barren (then Green County, Kentucky) in the fall of 1805. Afterwards changed to Barren County and now in 1867 it is Metcalfe County formed in 1860 where he bought land and continued to reside until his death on 8 January 1845.

Josiah Campbell Smith (1796-1843)
Josiah C. Smith was the first born living child of father and mother. He was named for grandfather Campbell and was a wheelwright by trade and a Baptist by profession. A good and holy man, married Barbara Morehead, lived and died in the same neighborhood of my father and raised eight children -- five boys and three girls.

William S. Smith was the eldest son. He has been married three times. His first was Polly Acres; his second, Sally Gooden; his third, Lucinda Morehead. John M. Smith was the second son. He married Lucy Harvey, daughter of Austin Harvey. Rebecca Smith was the eldest daughter and married Josiah Murphy. Susannah Smith was the second daughter and is not yet married. Elvira Smith married Joseph Wright Parks. David C. Smith married Martha Gooden. George W. Smith married Mary Ann Bradhauser. James Grouch Smith married Judy Quick.

William Street Smith (between 1801 and 1810-before 1844)[1]
William Street Smith was the second son of my father and mother. He married Leah Chandler. His first son was named Thomas Chandler Smith and his oldest daughter was named Elisa. His second oldest daughter was named Frances.

My brother, William S. Smith moved to Indiana, stayed a year or two and came back to Kentucky. Then moved to Illinois and came back to Kentucky sick. He died in Marrowbone[2] with consumption. His widow married Thomas Morris and moved to the state of Illinois.

Susannah M. Smith (about 1801-after 1870)
Susannah M. Smith was the name of my eldest sister. She was named for Grandmother Campbell and married Jacob Lemon. They lived on the dividing ridge of Little Barren and the Cumberland river in Metcalfe County about one mile from father's old dwelling place and have raised a large family of children.

Their oldest is named James G. Lemon and he married Elizabeth Branstetter. The second son was named William Smith for his Grandfather Smith and he married first a Miss Huffman and second Miss Williams. The eldest daughter was named Elizabeth and married Lewis Williams. George Lemon married Marissa Branstetter. Margaret Lemon was named for my mother and is not yet married. Barbara Lemon married Granville Williams. Nancy Cropper Lemon is not yet married. Jonathan Stamper Lemon married Susetta Amyx and Josiah, the youngest child, married Meta Vaughn. When I was at their house last summer  (1875), they had one child.

Frances Smith (about 1803-before 1870)
Frances Smith, my second eldest sister, married Archibald Ferguson. They had eight children -- four girls and four boys. Their oldest named Margaret Campbell for my mother. She is not yet married. Joseph Ferguson, their second child and oldest son, is a Methodist preacher and married Louisa Branstetter. Sally Ferguson married Ely V. Ovens, a Baptist preacher. William Ferguson died when he was young. Nancy Ferguson married James Amyx. They are both dead, leaving only one child, a daughter named Mary Frances. John Ferguson married Jermia Resslar. Mary Ferguson died unmarried. Alfred Ferguson married Mary Smith.

John Campbell Smith (1806-1888)
John C. Smith, the writer of this memorandum, married Ruth Parke. His eldest daughter Margaret Campbell married Samuel R. Tolls. She died childless. After her death, Tolls married a second wife, a Miss Betty Childress. They have three children, all girls named as follows: Lelah Florence, Sally Bell and Althea.

My second born and oldest son is named William Fletcher. He is a house carpenter and married Harriet Ballinger. They have six children named as follows: Lucinda, Florence, Ida, Susan, Clarence and Minnie.

Jane Douglas Smith, my second daughter, married Francis Dollins. They have four living children named as follows: Frank Price, he is blind; Norah; John; and Mary Edd.

Lucinda Cropper Smith, my third daughter, died when she was about three years and a month old.

My fourth was born dead and not named. My first wife also died a few days after and I was left a widower with three living children: Margaret, Fletcher and Jane.

My second wife' name is Lucinda Parke, youngest own sister to my first wife. Our oldest or first child was a son named Americius Vespucia. He died before he was two years old.

Our second child was a daughter named Elisabeth George. She married John H. Beals. They have two children named Calidonia and Isaac Campbell.

Our third child is a son named David Bristow and he will be seventeen years old the sixteen day of August 1875, the year I am now writing.

I am now seventy years and two days old and have only four children living, two sons and two daughters. Fletcher and Jane, my first wife's children, and Elisabeth and David, my second wife's children.

David Campbell Smith (1809-1870)
David C. Smith, my brother and fourth son of father and mother, married Susan Parke, his first wife. By her he had four sons named William Washington, Joseph Westley, John Linsy, and Jeremiah Stamper. William married Miss Hattie Hardy, daughter of Lt. Governor Hardy. Joseph married Miss Ella Revice of Missouri. John married Betty Dollins and died in time of the last war.[3] Stamper died about the same time and their mother, my brother's wife, also died in the in the time of the war and left my brother, David, a widower. He afterwards married Mattie Murphy. She had two children, a son and a daughter named Henry Street and Susan Campbell. They are living with their brother, William, being orphans, their father and mother both dead.

David Campbell Smith; courtesy of Ancestry user

Elizabeth Street Smith (1812-1868)
Elizabeth Street Smith, my sister and third daughter of father and mother, married Leven Hartland. She died in Illinois, leaving six children, three boys and three girls named as follows: George Barton, Huldah, William, Mary, Sarah, and John. Their father, Leven, is a Methodist preacher and has a second wife and lives in Illinois.

Nancy Jones Smith (1816-after 1880)
Nancy Jones Smith, my sister and fourth of father and mother's children, married William Douglas Parke, who is now dead, leaving her a widow with about nine children named as follows: Margaret, William, Joseph, Ruth, Bell, Robert, Lizzie, Marion, and Phebe.

Jeremiah Moulton Smith (1810-1870)
Jeremiah Moulton Smith, my brother and fifth son of father and mother, married Pervania Clarke, daughter of Henry Clarke of Virginia. Jeremiah died in Illinois and left his wife a widow with six children named as follows: Cassandra, Nathaniel, Ann, William, Sarah, and Emma.

George Washington Smith (about 1828-1855)
George Washington Smith, my youngest brother and sixth son of father and mother, married Margaret Neal of Allen County. They are both dead, leaving two orphan children, both girls named Elnora Pitts and Melicia Green. Elnora is dead and Melicia is married to William Richey and now lives in Metcalfe County, Kentucky.

And now in the year 1876, I have but one sister living and no brothers. Myself and Nancy are all that are left upon the land of the living of my father and mother's eleven children.

John Campbell Smith was born on 19 March 1806 in Barren County, Kentucky. He was a second generation Kentuckian as his grandparents had migrated west after the Revolutionary War. He is also the great grandson of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell (1714-1799), my five times great grandfather. Between 1848 and 1876, John wrote about his memories of his family. The document is the property of David S. Peden and was scanned using optical character recognition technology and then edited by Jack A. Laswell, Sr. I am indebted to them for making the electronic version available to other descendants of the Campbell, Enos, Mitchell, Shropshire, Smith, and Street families.

[1] According to the will of William Smith, his father, which was written in 1884, William Street Smith was already deceased.

[2] Marrowbone is an undesignated Census place in Cumberland County, Kentucky.

[3] I believe he was referring to the Civil War

Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Smith/Campbell Parents
Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Smith Aunts and Uncles
Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Campbell Aunts and Uncles
Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Grandparents
Robert Mitchell, the Elder
Kidnapped by Indians

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Falls Church, Virginia: Occupied by the Enemy

Last summer I went to the historic Episcopal church in Falls Church, Virginia, to photograph the New York memorial stone for the Honor Roll Project, managed by Heather Wilkinson Rojo, author of Nutfield Genealogy.  I was also curious to learn why Union soldiers from New York were buried in a cemetery in Virginia, which was part of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. I discovered Falls Church was occupied for most of the war by Union troops and its citizens lived under difficult conditions.

Falls Church was occupied by the U.S. 2nd Cavalry on 19 June 1861. A few days later Thaddeus Lowe brought a balloon to Taylor's Tavern and made three ascents to monitor rebel army movements around Fairfax Courthouse. In mid July 35,000 union troops marched through Falls Church on their way to the first Battle of Bull Run (Battle of Manassas if you are from the South), where the federal troops were routed, retreating back to Arlington Heights. After the battle, they patrolled and picketed around Falls Church.

In late August and early September Confederate officers Longstreet and Stuart occupied Munson's Hill (about three miles southeast of Falls Church) and Falls Church. It is believed Longstreet established his headquarters in the town. There were daily battles between the enemy forces in the peach orchards on the eastern slope of Munson's Hill. Thaddeus Lowe ascended from Ball's cross roads (present day Ballston) with union soldiers, who directed artillery fire using signal flags from the air.

Munson's Hill; drawing courtesy of Wikipedia

As September turned in October, rebel troops left the area for their winter camp near Centreville and federal troops re-occupied Falls Church. During the winter of 1861-82, union troops and engineers built several forts -- Buffalo, Munson, Ramsay, and Taylor -- on the hills in and around the town. Entrenchments were also built facing the south and west of Falls Church.

On 20 November 1861, Gen. McClellan held a "grand review," which was attended by President Lincoln near Falls Church. After the event, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe was so stirred with emotion she wrote the words we now sing for the Battle Hymn of the Republic.[1]

The Union Army and home guard occupied Falls Church for the remainder of the war. The Old Episcopal Church, which was built in 1769 was used during one period as a stable. However, I think perhaps it was used as hospital directly after the First Battle of Bull Run as Manassas and Falls Church were connected by railroads. That may be why the 23 men from New York units are buried in the church cemetery. Most of the men served with the 20th New York State Militia, which only served for three months at the beginning of the Civil War.

The church now known as the Old Episcopal Church during the Civil War;
photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Old Episcopal Church in 2016; personal collection

[1] The music is from John Brown's Body, originally known as John Brown's Song, a marching song about abolitionist John Brown and popular with Union troops during the Civil War.

Honor Roll: Falls Church, Virginia, New York Memorial Stone
Honor Roll Project

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Francis Meadows, Jr., Revolutionary Soldier and British Prisoner

My double first cousin's daughter, Rachel, once mentioned to me she knew little about her father's family history. We decided to DNA test her and see where her matches led. At the time she tested, she also gave me what information she knew about her paternal ancestors; and I began researching them, confining myself to online sources only. I was able to go back to her three times grandparents pretty easily as they were kind enough not to move too much after migrating to what became West Virginia from the Old Dominion. Along the way, I "met" Francis Meadows (1754-1836), her five times great grandfather.

Francis Meadows was born about 1754 in Augusta County, Virginia, to Josiah Francis Meadows and Mary Kesiah Bell (or Ball). His parents lived at the top of a mountain where Big Meadows is located. Aficionados of the Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park, or the Skyline Drive, typically look forward to a visit to the campground and lodge there. By 1780 he moved to Rockingham County and by 1798 he married Frances Bush. Between 1799 and 1808 the Meadows family migrated west to newly formed Monroe County, which is just west of the Appalachian mountains. Francis and his wife had 16 children, 12 of them sons. Francis died at the age of 82 on 20 November 1836 and was interred at the Peterstown Cemetery, which is now located in Giles County, West Virginia. His grave was marked with a stone originally. Ancestors installed a veterans memorial marker at his grave on Thanksgiving Day 2009.

The headstones of Francis Meadows and his wife; photograph courtesy of
Find A Grave volunteer, Oscar Meadows


At a Court of Quarter Session held for the County of Monroe on the 15th day of August 1820.

On this 15th day of August 1820 personally appeared in open Court, being a Court of Record for said County, Francis Meadows, aged about 66 years, resident in the said County, who first being duly sworn according to law doth on his oath declare that he served in the Revolutionary War as follows:

That he enlisted about the month of February 1777 in the county of Augusta for three years as a private soldier under Captain David Laird, who was afterwards cashiered (he returned to serve during the war) and the men who were under said Laird as he believes were placed under Captain Nathaniel Lamb of the 10th Virginia Regiment commanded by Col. Green and General Wheaton's Brigade, Virginia Line or Continental Line at enlistment. That he served in the Light Infantry two summers commanded by General Wate and that he served about three years and about three months and was taken prisoner by Lord Cornwallis at Charleston, S.C. Remained prisoner about 14 or 15 days, then made his escape to Albermarle County, Virginia, Reported himself to Col. Woods, who had command of the barracks in said county, who gave him a furlough until his company would be exchanged, who were also taken prisoners, which exchange did not take place until the close of the war, to the best of his knowledge. That he made a declaration before the said County Court of Monroe on the 16th day of June 1818 and that he has received from the Secretary of the Department of War a pension certificate dated 19th day of January 1819, numbered 6013.

And I do solemnly swear that I was a resident citizen of the United States on the 18th day of March 1818 and that I have not since that time by gift sale, or in any manner disposed of my property or any part thereof with intent thereby so to diminish as to bring myself within the provisions of an act of Congress entitled 'An act to provide for certain persons engaged in the Land and Naval Services of the United States in the Revolutionary War' passed on the 18th day of March 1818 and that I have not nor has any persons in trust for me, any property, or securities, contracts or debts dire to me nor have any income other that what is contained in the schedule hereunto annexed and by me subscribed to wit:

Two yearling colts, one colt two years old, four cows and two calves, 12 sheep, 14 hogs, 12 geese, three small pots, and six pairs of hooks, one bushel kettle, one half bushel, oven, one seng[1] hoe, two old axes, one hand saw and drawing knife, one plow, one plain J Coopers compass, one trowel, three bed stands, 7 pewter plates, one dish and basin, nine iron spoons, one set of knives and forks, one old rifle gun, one old loom, and two reeds, three peggons and one pail, one old washing tub, one big wheel, one pan cords, one new spinning wheel, one old wheel, one old looking glass, five old chairs, one old chest, one cut reel and churn, two bottles, one tin pan, two augers, two gimblets, six tin cups, three old reep hooks, one round shave, three bills, 124 acres of land which I bought of Henry Maddy, lying in Monroe County $105.00 cents which is coming to me, to be paid in trade in three years from this time I owe to Henry Maddy $100.00 cents for which my property is now under execution. I am not able to work, owing to a severe rupture. I have a wife who is very frail and not able to work. I have sixteen children (12 of them sons) who had all left me, but six of whom are under the age of 14 years."

From the pension files of Francis Meadows; courtesy of


The 10th Virginia Regiment was raised on 28 December 1775 in western Virginia for service in the Continental Army. The regiment would see action in the Battle of Brandywine, Battle of Germantown, Battle of Monmouth, and the Siege of Charleston. Most of the regiment was captured in Charleston, South Carolina on 12 May 1780, by the British. The 10th Virginia Regiment was formally disbanded on 15 November 1783.

As Private Francis Meadows enlisted in February 1777, he saw action in all of the battles mentioned above.

[1] Seng is probably wild ginseng.

In addition to the typical genealogical sources, such as wills, estate appraisals, deeds, tax rolls, census documents, military and vital records, I found the following sources helpful in my research:

Haga, Pauline"Prisoner of War Receives Marker" The Hinton News, 24 March 2009, page 6 (accessed 20 June 2017)
Morton, Oren B. A History of Monroe County, West Virginia, (Dayton, VA: Ruebush-Elkins Company, 1916) pages 17-67, 129-147 (accessed on 29 June 2017
Wayland, John W. Virginia Valley Records, (Strasburg, VA: Shenandoah Publishing Company, 1930), pages 88-89 and 115 (accessed 17 December 2016)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Smith/Campbell Parents

Continued from Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Smith Aunts and Uncles.

I have given a short traditional account of all Grandfather and Grandmother Campbell's children that I know except one, and that is my mother. Her name, as I have before stated, was Margaret. She is yet living and a more affectionate mother, according to my judgment, never did live in any land or country. We used to have a tradition that the thirtieth chapter of Proverbs would delineate the character of all males, each verse answering to the day of the month the person was born. So in like manner the thirty-first chapter was called the female verses. My mother being born the fifteenth day of the month of course we would have a look at the fifteenth verse to know what sort of a woman she was and indeed I think it contains as good a history of her life as can be written in as few words, it reads as follows:

"She riseth also while it is jet night, and giveth meat to her household and a portion to her maidens." 

She was a great flax spinner. I have heard her say she spun twenty outs one day when she was a girl and got beat at that time. I think the girl that beat her was named Polly Rotten. She was considered by some the fastest spinner in the neighborhood and my mother fastest by others. So a day was set for them to spin and the result was my mother got beat by a few threads. I have frequently gone to bed and left my mother spinning and awoke and heard the wheel. If I opened my eyes and looked I would there see my mother in the silent watch of the night like an angelic form sitting, turning the wheel. I do not mean to convey that my mother never slept or that she sat up all night, but that she was a very industrious woman and quite an early riser. She would emphatically rise while it was yet night and give meat to her hands and furnished abundance of clothing for her family, and bed clothing, and everything needful about a house in the way of cloth, such as she could make. She even made cloth and my father took it to the fulling mill and had it fulled[1] to make the male portion of her family big coats, as they were called. Besides this she would make flax and linen and sell it to the merchants for fine goods to dress the female portion of her household.

A woman and spinning wheel in the early 19th century;
courtesy of the Library of Congress

If a member of her family was sick, she was always ready to do what she could to make them well. If they came home hungry, she never thought it hard to cook them a meal. If they came home late in the night hungry and fatigued, she did not insult them saying, as some do, it is too late to go cooking now and you might come home sooner or been here at meal time, none of this sort of talk. It was all kindness and if we said, "Mother, we are sorry to trouble you to get up in the night to go cooking for us," she would reply, "It is not any trouble. If I had known you were coming I would have had it ready for you by the time you got here." If we cut or mashed a finger, she did not say go and get a rag and tie it up yourself, but she would say, "Sit down here and let me tie it up." In fact she was always ready to administer to their wants whether by day or by night. But perhaps we may say more about mother in another place after we speak of father's family.

And last but not least, my father, William Smith, the second son of my grandfather.

I know but little of his history in the early part of his life, but that he was brought up to hard labor and without the benefit of even a common English education. I think it probable that he never went to school, but if he did it was for a short time for I have heard mother say she learned him to spell after they were married and I can recollect when it was with great difficulty that he could read at all. But he persevered in trying to learn at every leisure moment until he could read the scriptures very well, a blessing which he praised very highly and was a source of great joy and comfort to him in his declining years. For the few last years of his life, scarcely a day passed over him but what a portion of it was spent in searching and reading the scriptures. In truth the Bible was his rich treasure.

According to the best data I can get, he was married to my mother in the year 1794 or 1795 in Mercer County, Kentucky.[2] They were both poor and commenced housekeeping in a cabin without a chimney. They had no land of their own. Their best axe was a tomahawk; their table furniture consisted of a butcher knife and forks made of cane. Their only bed was a coarse tick stuffed with straw. They had a tolerable supply of wearing cloths, but when that was said all was said. In respect of property, I think they could well have taken up those beautiful lines of the poet and adopted them as their own:

"No foot of land do I possess or cottage in the wilderness, a poor wayfaring man."[3]

This looks like a poor beginning at housekeeping for a newly married pair especially to those who know nothing of the hardships and trials to which our forefathers were accustomed in the first settling of this rich and happy land that we now inhabit. They were poor I admit, but they had a proverb to this effect, "that a bad beginning makes a good ending." Whether it turned out to be true, in their case I have no doubt. It was calculated to stimulate and comfort them in their poverty and penniless situation. Although they were at that time in poverty's value and destitute of religion without hope and without God in the world, yet I thank God while I write these lines, I believe they were honest and carried in their own bosoms that noble principle that they have so often taught me together with the rest of their children to live honestly with all men, never to lay your hand upon anything that is not your own, be a gentleman, etc.

How long they lived in Mercer after they were married, I am at this time unable to say, but they moved to Tennessee and settled on Gennings Creek[4], where I have been informed he learned to read when herding his horses and settled upon the rich cane[5] that grew in great abundance in that country. How many children they had at that time I cannot tell, but I have heard my oldest brother tell of the sport for the boys of the day. Besides this they would try their activity by seeing which could jump over the highest pile of cane whilst burning.

An engraving of Arundinaria gigantea, or river cane, in Louisiana; courtesy
of Bio-Diversity

This is almost all I know of their success in Tennessee except whilst they lived there father killed a great many deer and turkeys, shot a bear or two; had a dreadful encounter with a wolf, which I have heard him relate as follows: He had some beautiful young hogs that slept in different beds some distance from the house in which he lived. The wolves in that country were also very plentiful and they made no scruples in visiting hog beds and sheep folds whenever an opportunity offered. They generally left at least one hog less every time they paid a visit. It was not long until they commenced their ravages upon my father's hogs. Going one morning and finding one half flayed alive, he concluded to watch for the intruder and give him the best fight he could. Accordingly, the next morning two hours before daybreak (being very cold in the dead of winter and snow frozen on the ground) he stationed himself at the root of a large tree with his dog and gun, anxiously awaiting the approach of his adversary. The weather was so intensely cold in the dead of winter, the frost sparkling on the snow caused his dog's teeth to clatter together at his side; whilst he himself was so affected with the cold that it almost forced upon him the belief that he should be compelled to decamp for a warmer climate. But still in profound silence he waited and waited and waited on. Not a voice was heard amid the thick clusters of cane and towering forest that surrounded him to break the stillness of the morning.

At length the eastern horizon began to grow brighter, day was evidently breaking, thoughts of giving over the hunt were again entertained. But at this moment his dog sprang to his feet, raised his bristles, and fetch a whine as much as to say the enemy approaches. The direction of the wolf's approach pointed out by the dog and strong solicitations given by him to bring on the attack, but being forbidden it was not long until the wolf was plainly seen. Slowly and cautiously approaching. The fierce appearance and wishful looks of the dog to engage with the wolf, but in a low voice he forbade him. By this time the parties concerned were within about eight yards distance of each other. A small opening intervened so that a fair shot could be obtained. It occurred to the mind of my father that then was his best chance. He cocked his gun, raised it to his face, took sight and fired. At the crack of the gun, the wolf fell seized the bullet hole with his teeth and round and round he whirled. Permission was then given to the dog to execute his office, which was done with a spirit and fierceness scarcely ever surpassed. The gun was again loaded and discharged at the wolf, but with no better effect than the first. The fight with the dog and wolf still continued amongst the thick canebrake. Crack after crack went the rifle for six times one after the other as fast as it could be loaded. Although several balls had penetrated the body of the wolf, he still resumed his station and gave battle.

Canis lupus lycaon, or eastern timber wolf; photograph courtesy of

My mother, hearing the reports of the gun and the barking of the dog, set out with her little fist dog[6] in order to learn the cause of all this. Her fist no sooner came in sight of the contending parties than he rushed forward as though he would in an instant entirely destroy the wolf from off the earth. The first pass the wolf made at him, he was thrown several feet up into the air among the cane tops. When his feet struck the ground, he made no further tarry among them, but without any apology left for home as fast as his legs would carry him, resolving as I suppose never again to have anything to do with a wolf. For mother said so long as he lived he would run and howl from that wolf skin whenever it was presented or thrown out where he could see it. But [father's] old dog was made of sterner stuff. He stood his ground and fought valiantly until father loaded his gun the seventh time with two balls and taking aim at the wolf's head, he pulled the trigger. This time was the finishing stroke. The balls entered the animal's head and he fell at the dog's feet, growled and died.

Having related the wolf tale killed by my father, I will now speak of another wolf scrape in which my mother was the chief actor. My father being from home one dark, cloudy night and the sheep penned close to the house in order to protect them from the wolves, as was common. Late in the night the wolves commenced howling and coming closer to the sheep pen. A gun must be fired to drive away the wolves or the sheep would be destroyed. Mother had never been accustomed to handling a gun and her children too small. She was greatly perplexed how to save the sheep. At length she resolved to try her hand with the gun. She arose and with trembling hands took the gun from the rack, sat down and fired. The howl of the wolves were hushed and she retired to bed. But on reflection, she remembered that the muzzle of the gun was pointed toward the sheep pen. When morning light appeared, her fears were relieved. The sheep were all alive and unhurt.

John Campbell Smith was born on 19 March 1806 in Barren County, Kentucky. He was a second generation Kentuckian as his grandparents had migrated west after the Revolutionary War. He is also the great grandson of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell (1714-1799), my five times great grandfather. Between 1848 and 1876, John wrote about his memories of his family. The document is the property of David S. Peden and was scanned using optical character recognition technology and then edited by Jack A. Laswell, Sr. I am indebted to them for making the electronic version available to other descendants of the Campbell, Enos, Mitchell, Shropshire, Smith, and Street families.

[1] Fulling is a step in cloth making which involves cleansing the cloth of oils, dirt, and other impurities, and making it thicker. The thickening process matted fibers together to give the cloth strength and increase waterproofing.

[2] From other secondary sources, the year was 1793.

[3] From John Wesley's (1703-1791) Pilgrim Hymn.

[4] Jennings Creek now in Jackson County, Tennessee. 

[5] In the early 19th century vast canebrakes covered portions of the southeast United States. Canebrakes were comprised of Arundinaria gigantea, an American relative of Asian bamboo. The plants were used for clay pipe stems, fishing poles, baskets, chairs and other furniture.

[6] This might mean a feist dog, a small hunting dog, descended from terriers brought over by working-class immigrants. They probably included crosses between the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Manchester Terrier, and the now extinct white English Terrier. They were used as ratters and were about 10 inches tall at the shoulder and weighed between 15 and 30 pounds.

Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Smith Aunts and Uncles
Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Campbell Aunts and Uncles
Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Grandparents
Robert Mitchell, the Elder
Kidnapped by Indians

Monday, June 26, 2017

Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Smith Aunts and Uncles

Continued from Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Campbell Aunts and Uncles

I believe Grandmother and Grandfather [Smith] had nine children, three boys and six girls.

Jeremiah Molton Smith (before 1765-after 1817)
Uncle Jeremiah Molton Smith I believe was the oldest. He had two wives, the first bore him seven or eight children and his last wife three. Two or three of his first wife's children got killed in a flax patch, the lag of a tree falling on them and wounded another making him a cripple for life. His name was William Forbis Smith. He married Miss Rickett and I think they have five children. Uncle Jeremiah's oldest daughter's name was Betsy and she married David Cruise. The next named Polly and the next Anna. She married James Parke, the eldest son of Joseph Parke, my wife's father. The next oldest girl's name was Peggy. She married a man by the name of Courtney. The names of the children of uncle's last wife are Susannah, Elvira, and George. After Uncle's death, which took place soon after Grandfather Smith's, his last wife married a second time to a man by the name of Absolum Smith. The last I heard of them they were living in the State of Tennessee.

Thomas Smith (1765-unkinown)
Uncle Thomas Smith was younger than my father[1] and he moved to Missouri and was a Methodist class leader. His children's names are not recollected except Jerry, Bill and Thomas.

Luraner Mary Smith (1774-unknown)
Aunt Luraner married John Taylor, a stout raw-boned man. They raised a large family and I cannot distinctly remember the children's names except George. They had a good farm in Casey County, Kentucky, but Uncle John had a quarrel with a man and being very strong struck the man with his fist and killed him. There upon he left that county and died shortly after with fever. Aunt Luraner went partially deranged as I have been informed.

Dicey Smith (1785-unknown)
Aunt Disy [Dicey] married John Laswell. Their children's names are as follows: Ally married Joshua Davis; Betsey married Jo Welch; William married Sally Welch first and second Elender Parks; Nancy married Daniel Propes; Moses marred Mariah Rickits; Luraner married John Reeves; Andrew married Billy Crewes; John Ahart married Lucinda Kessler; Ellen married Elexus Campbell; Polly married John Dickson. Uncle John has gone to his long home, but Aunt Disy still remains upon the land of the living. She is a very large woman and a midwife. I saw her at my sister's since I commenced this essay in the winter of 1848. She is a member of the Christian Church (commonly called Campbellites.)

Jane "Jinny" Smith (1787-unknown)
Aunt Jinny married Jo Con and the last I knew of them they were keeping a tavern on the Wabash.

Frances "Fanky" Smith (1789-unknown)
Aunt Franky Smith married Samuel Lafferty and second John Ausbin and their Joseph Parke. They have all gone to try the realities of eternity and she is a widow at this time. She never had any children by her first and second husbands but by her third she has five living besides some have died. The children's names are as follows: Thomas, Timothy, Shipton, Charles, Jo Right, and Martha Seaper. Aunt is a Methodist and I think a very good woman. She is living on the water of Marrowbone in Monroe County.

John Campbell Smith was born on 19 March 1806 in Barren County, Kentucky. He was a second generation Kentuckian as his grandparents had migrated west after the Revolutionary War. He is also the great grandson of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell (1714-1799), my five times great grandfather. Between 1848 and 1876, John wrote about his memories of his family. The document is the property of David S. Peden and was scanned using optical character recognition technology and then edited by Jack A. Laswell, Sr. I am indebted to them for making the electronic version available to other descendants of the Campbell, Enos, Mitchell, Shropshire, Smith, and Street families.

[1] If the marriage record has the correct year of birth Thomas is older than his brother William "Whole America" Smith.

Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Campbell Aunts and Uncles

Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Grandparents
Robert Mitchell, the Elder
Kidnapped by Indians

Monday, June 19, 2017

Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Campbell Aunts and Uncles

Continued from Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Grandparents

We will now state according to our best recollection what we know and have seen of my own uncles and aunts on mother's side of the house.

John Campbell (about 1765-unknown)
I think Uncle John Campbell was the oldest son. He had two wives, his first[1] had several children by my uncle and then took up or was married to another man. The last I heard of her she was residing in Lexington, Kentucky. I have seen some of her children and as they are my own cousins, the sons and daughters of mother's brother, I will speak of them.

Their names are as follows: Josiah, Robert, Martin, Susannah, and Betsy. These are all I remember now. I have been at Cousin Josiah Campbell's house. He had a wife and several children but I have forgotten their names.

Cousin Robert was a shoe and boot maker and was the man I learned my trade with. His wife was a very pretty woman; their children were Smithanna, Hester Ann, William, and the rest are not recollected. His wife's name was Betsy Smith, the daughter of John Smith, a hatter living in Columbia, Adair County.

Engraving of a painting by H. R. Ichter; this may be purchased from
FineArt America in several media

Cousin Martin, I think was bound to some trade but before he was twenty-one, he left and was not heard of for a long time. I think it was about the year 1828; he was living within about fifty miles of New Orleans engaged in the sugar making trade and was very wealthy.

Cousin Susannah or Sooky as they all called her was a very small and beautiful woman. She married James Overstreet, an extraordinary high man, and a hatter by trade. He fell down once and Uncle Philip Shuck [2] said he looked like about three panels of new fence.

Cousin Betsy married William Tucker. He was a man of common size.

Uncle John's second wife was a very pleasant woman and greatly beloved. We called her Aunt Becky.

One of her sons was named John and he was a very ingenious man, somewhat about my age. When he was a boy, he sent me a top or whirligig, which pleased me very much.

Uncle John was the man I was named for. He was a great hand to sing and I heard him sing a song that was called "soar apple tree." He said he had seen the day when he could sit down and sing from sun up to sun down and never sing the same song over. I can just remember the little fur hat he gave me for my name, or because I was his namesake. I think he also gave me a calico coat as was common in his day.

He used to partake of intoxicating draught, but I think before his death he left it off and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. This is 1847 and he has been gone from the shores of time several years and we trust he is happy and that sooner or later we shall see him in that bright world above where sickness, sorrow, pain and death can never come.

Besides Uncle John there were of my grandfather Campbell's children, David and Robert, males; Molly, Betsy, Susannah (or Zannah as they called her), Margaret and Frances, females.

David Daniel Campbell (about 1785-unknown)
Uncle David married his cousin Betsy Campbell. They had six children that lived to be grown four daughters and two sons: Sarah, Susan and Polly had black hair but Lucinda had red hair. None but one of them ever married. But both boys married. Elexus married Ellen Laswell my mother's sister's daughter. I have forgotten whom Thomas the youngest son married, but I think she was a girl of some property.

Uncle David is still upon the land of the living or was last fall for he then visited my mother and promised to visit her once a year as long as they both lived as long as he is able to travel. I believe both him and all of his house are Presbyterians. When I was at his house (and I have been there twice), he seemed to be a man of God. When he arose in the morning, it seemed his first thoughts were turned to that God who had shielded and protected him through the night. No sooner had the son, that bright luminary of the day gilded the Eastern horizon then the family altar, which had long been erected was resorted to, and although it has been twenty years since my first visit and about eighteen since my last, the scene is yet tolerable fresh in my mind. About middle ways on one side of the house, at the foot of a bed there stood a table upon whose leaf was spread a clean white toilet[1] fringed around the edge; upon this was the family Bible and a book of hymns (or rather I believed they were Psalms). The family was conveniently seated around the room, my eldest brother and myself in among the rest. Aunt Betsy a little nearer the table than any of the rest except Uncle, who was then actually sitting in juxtaposition with the table having the sacred volume in his hands. He commenced and read a portion of God's word. We then mingled our voices together in singing the high praises of God, after which we kneeled before the God of our Fathers whilst Uncle led in prayer. Soon after this breakfast was ready and again God was sought unto for a blessing and after breakfast thanks were returned unto the Great Giver of all good and again at dinner and supper the like blessings of God were sought and thanks returned for his blessings and yet again before he suffered his family to retire to bed; or as Doctor Young would have before their thoughts were suffered to be locked up in health's restorer sweet prayer, supplication and thanksgiving ascended the hill of Salvation. How pleasant it is for a family thus to live, that when death comes, have nothing to do but step over Jordan and swell the praises of the redeemed. Some of them have already since the time of which I speak crossed the river of death. I think about half the family and the rest are swiftly hastening to its swelling billows. A few more battles for my only and venerable uncle and the victory will be gained. A little longer successful fighting and like St. Paul he may exclaim, "I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord and the righteous judge shall give to me and not only me but all those that love his appearing."

Robert Campbell
Uncle Robert Campbell was cut off in the bloom of manhood at about the age of eighteen or twenty years. He served one term in the service of his country in her last struggle against Great Britain and the Creek Indians. I think he reached home and died in a few days. Oh, how uncertain is life; and how true the proverb that says in the midst of life we are in death.

Mary "Molly" Enos Campbell (1772-1864)
Twin of Elizabeth "Betsy" Campbell
And Mollie Campbell married Martin Jones and they had six children, four boys and two girls. The boys were named as follows: Jack or John, Louis, William and Stephen; the girls were Sally and Polly. Uncle Martin Jones was a small man and a cripple. He loved a dram, easily irritated and would fight. I have heard my father tell an anecdote or two about his fighting. He said in the neighborhood where Uncle Martin lived was a stout and overbearing man. This man and uncle fought and Uncle whipped him. Again he had another fight and the man he was fighting had hi down beating him unmercifully and father knowing Uncle had resolved never to holler, "Enough" though to encourage him to arise by hollering to him, "Rise, Martin, Rise." Martin responded feebly, "Too drunk, Billy." And father pulled the man off.

Uncle Martin was a good hunter and loved to joke. When he killed a turkey or a deer, he would be sure to try to have a laugh about it. One day he went out hunting and came in with a fine fat, he said the way he came to kill it was on this rise when he came in sight of the turkeys they were feeding along as is common for turkeys to do. One of them stretched up his neck and looking at him inquired, "Who is there?" Another looking answered, "Oh, it is Davy Campbell. Never mind him." But another looking cried out, "It is Martin, it is Martin," and away they went be he level his rifle and brought one of them down. And again one day he killed a deer and told the following story on his brother, Allen, who was engaged in digging sang.[2] About that time his gun fired and the deer fell.

Uncle Martin's death was somewhat mysterious. My father and he were traveling together when one night Uncle went to a house to get fire whilst father took care of the horses and prepared wood for camping. But Uncle overstayed his time and father went after him and fund him dead in the peach orchard near the house with a chunk of fire near him.

After Uncle Martin's death, Aunt Molly married a second time. Her second husband was named Philip Shook. He was a very large raw-boned Dutchman. He weighted about two hundred pounds, had a very coarse voice, and would eat as much (at least) as two common men. A good many anecdotes could be told on him but one will suffice. Father and he were coming home together one very rainy day. They had ridden some distance without a word being spoken. Father broke the silence, "Well, said he, "Philip my hat leaks." "Oh," said Uncle, "mine don't leak at all; it just pours right through," and broke out in his big laugh. I remember two of their children. They called them Sy and Phil. I suppose they were named Josiah and Philip. I heard from Sy last year. He followed boating up and down the Ohio River. He is said to be in good circumstances and a man of business.

The last I heard of Uncle Shook and his family, they were living in the state of Indiana. Whether Aunt Molly is yet alive or not I cannot tell. Her son William Jones lives in this state ten miles below or rather west of Shakertown. He and his brother Louis lived with my father awhile when they were boys. After they were grown William learned the wheelwright trade, and Louis went to learn the trade of the coppersmith. They were both small men but William was much the smallest and possessed a large share of the spirit of his father. They both met at a gathering somewhere and a fracas took place in which Louis was involved. William instantly drew his coat and exclaimed, "Try Big Dick." This circumstance acquired him the title of "Big Dick" ever after.

Elizabeth "Betsy" Campbell (1772-1864)
Twin of Mary Enos Campbell
Aunt Betsy Campbell was a very handsome woman. She married Allen Jones, a brother of Martin Jones, the first husband of Aunt Molly. I cannot say how many children they had but I will give the names of those I remember. There were two boys, Robert, and Martin and three girls, Nancy was the oldest. The names of the other two I have forgotten, but I know when I was about eight years old my oldest brother and myself were there for the first and last time I saw them. They were two beautiful young girls. There were some younger children than I have named, but how many I cannot say.

Elizabeth "Betsy" (Campbell) Jones; courtesy of, original source unknown

Cousin Robert Jones was a young man the first time I ever say him and the last account I had of him he was living in Missouri. He was a shoe and boot maker and I think learned his trade with Uncle James Jones, of who we will hereafter speak. Cousin Martin was younger than Robert. I sent him a top when I was quite a boy and about the time I was eighteen I went to Columbia, Adair County, Kentucky, there to learn the cordwaining[3] business with Cousin Robert Campbell. After I had been there a month or more Cousin Martin Jones came to Columbia and set in to learn the trade with Cousin Robert Campbell also. But he had not been there very long until his brother Robert came in from Missouri and wished to take him home with him. So Robert being a shoe maker his brother concluded to go to Missouri and learn the trade with his brother. This was a matter of some grief to me for he was a pleasant young man and our affections were knit together, but the nearest ties in this life are often broken. I have not heard of him since.

Nancy Jones the eldest daughter of Aunt Betsy lived at my father's a good many years. She was a remarkably handsome and industrious young lady. She married Enoch Couch. He was a very industrious farmer of Dutch descent. Both Allen and Aunt Betsy were both living in Indiana the last I heard of them.

Susannah "Zannah" Campbell (about 1780-after 1850)

Aunt Zannah, as we were accustomed to call her, but I suppose her right name was Susannah, married Mier Goings, perhaps his name was Jeremiah Goings[4], but I was taught to call him Uncle Mier. I do not recollect ever to have seen Aunt Zannah or any of her children and in fact I am rather of the opinion that she did not have any. I remember Uncle Mier coming to my father's house. I think he was a very active man. At least the most I remember about him was as follows: When he was at my father's, the branch or creek that runs between the house and spring was tolerably flush and the freshets that had been before had not only washed a considerable quantity of drift wood and trash against the old sycamore log that we were accustomed to walk on going to and from the spring. But had actually cut out a broad channel around the root of this old log, so that we were obliged to make an artificial bridge from the bank to the root of the old sycamore in order to get across the branch to the spring. Well, several of us were down there and the question was asked, "Who can jump across the branch to the opposite shore." Uncle Mier was the only man that ventured to try it. He jumped across. I think he had red hair or fair hair. I have heard mother say Aunt Zannah was a handsome woman but I have no recollection of ever seeing her. I think they lived in the state of Indiana and perhaps they are still alive. Be this as it may, there is an affinity between us that seems to twine around my heart and almost irresistibly makes me say while I write this, "Oh, that I could see them. Oh, that I could see them and safely guide them through this life to the Paradise above."

Frances "Franky" Gillespie Campbell (about 1784-unknown)

Aunt Frances, or Aunt Franky, as we called her was, I think the youngest daughter. She married for her first husband James Jones. He was a brother to Martin and Allen Jones, the husbands of Aunt Molly and Aunt Betsy. So we see by this record that three of my Aunts married brothers by the name of Jones. Uncle James was a shoe and boot maker and carried on business in Danville, Kentucky. He was a good workman and might have done will but for the intoxicating bowl, that foul monster, which has been the overthrow of thousands, was no doubt the exciting cause of the suicide of my Uncle. His death was on this wise. He had been for a long time indulging in the inebriating and soul-destroying fluid, and of course had neglected his business, involved himself in debt to some extent and afterwards booting off as it is sometimes called. One night he became restless and got up out of bed, went out of doors, came back again once or twice, sat down by the fire and ate some dried beef. Aunt Franky went to sleep while he was sitting there and when she awoke he was absent. She called him but receiving no answer she waited awhile expecting hime to come in again. But as he did not return she became uneasy and got up to see if she could find him. After having lighted a candle and perceiving he was not in her room, she went into another, perhaps the kitchen. To her great surprise and regret she there saw the form she so much loved suspended by a rope with one end round his neck in a running noose, he hands also tied and feet almost touching the floor. She shrieked. She cried aloud. It was all she could do. Her friends hearing her cries ran to her and cut him down, but alas it was too late. Life had fled apace. His heart had ceased to palpitate and his flesh was almost cold. This was truly a time a mourning, a time of thick gloom and affliction to my Aunt, living as she did some distance from any of her connections and having no children, her only hope in this life as it respected worldly pleasures was cut off.

She however settled up her business in Danville and my father brought her to his house where she resided several years. She was a remarkably small woman, weighing only some ninety odd pounds. She was called by some the "Widow Jones" but most generally speaking she as called "The Little Widow." She was a very pleasant lady, had good use of her needle whereby she could make her support and besides this she had some money let her after settling up Uncle's estate in Danville. How much I am not able to say but I think about two hundred dollars. This she loaned to Cousin Robert Jones and he had moved to the state of Missouri. The last I knew of the case he had not paid her neither principal not interest but it is likely before this time he has paid all the debt for it has been more than twenty years since I have seen either of them.

I suppose I was about fifteen years old when Aunt Franky left off living at father's and went home with Uncle Allen Jones. Since that time Uncle Allen moved to the state of Indiana and she went with him where I learn she has a second time joined in Holy Wedlock. The name of her second husband I have forgotten. He was a man of good circumstances and they were making out very well. But I learn they happened to the misfortune of having their house burned up. How they have prospered since I know not. The last I have heard of them they were living in Danville, Indiana. If Aunt Franky ever had any progeny I have not been informed of it. It is remarkable that the towns of Danville seemed to be the most fatal sport to her happiness. In the town of Danville, Kentucky, she lost in a most heart-rending manner the companion of her youth. In the town of Danville, Indiana, her property, the savings of many hard years of labor which no doubt was expected to make her easy and comfortable in her declining years. She had the fortification to see enveloped in flames. Oh, how uncertain is all our worldly comforts and how important it is not to trust in uncertain riches but to lay up for ourselves bags that wax not old eternal in the heavens.

I have given a short traditional account of all of Grandfather and Grandmother Campbell's children that I know except one, and that is my mother.[5]

John Campbell Smith was born on 19 March 1806 in Barren County, Kentucky. He was a second generation Kentuckian as his grandparents had migrated west after the Revolutionary War. He is also the great grandson of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell (1714-1799), my five times great grandfather. Between 1848 and 1876, John wrote about his memories of his family. The document is the property of David S. Peden and was scanned using optical character recognition technology and then edited by Jack A. Laswell, Sr. I am indebted to them for making the electronic version available to other descendants of the Campbell, Enos, Mitchell, Shropshire, Smith, and Street families.

[1] The definition of toilet 19th century definition was a cloth which covered a dressing table.

[2] Sang is probably wild ginseng.

[3] Cordwainers are shoe makers who make new shoes from new leather.

[4] Jeremiah's surname was variously spelled Goen, Going, Gorn, Grings, Gowen, or Gowin in records.

[5] Margaret "Peggy" Campbell will be the subject of a future blog post.

Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Grandparents
Robert Mitchell, the Elder
Kidnapped by Indians

Monday, June 12, 2017

Family Memories of John Campbell Smith (1806-1888): Grandparents

John Campbell Smith was born on 19 March 1806 in Barren County, Kentucky. He was a second generation Kentuckian as his grandparents had migrated west after the Revolutionary War. He was also the great grandson of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell (1714-1799), my five times great grandfather. Between 1848 and 1876, John wrote about his memories of his family. The document is the property of David S. Peden and was scanned using optical character recognition technology and then edited by Jack A. Laswell, Sr. I am indebted to them for making the electronic version available to other descendants of the Campbell, Enos, Mitchell, Shropshire, Smith, and Street families.

John Campbell Smith's direct ancestors many of which are mentioned in his story;
created using Microsoft Powerpoint

[I] think my great-grandfather Smith was a sailor upon the bosom of the great ocean. My grandmother Smith's maiden name was Street, and either her father or her great-grandfather Smith was a Welshman. For I have heard father tell an ancedote on one or the other of them. He said that his grandfather Smith or Street (I dis-remember which) was a very large Welshman and had a hand as big as a gridiron. He would never strike a man with his fist for fear of killing him; he would slap him with his great big open hand.

I think my grandfather Smith was born somewhere in a ship as she was plowing the briny deep. But my father was born on the James River, under Tobacco [Row] Mountain, Amherst  County, Virginia. I cannot state the precise time my father immigrated to this state but I believe it was about the year of 1792 or 1793. His first arrival or the first county he stopped in was Mercer, where he became acquainted with my mother who was then a blooming girl about fourteen or fifteen years of age. Her name was Margaret Campbell, the daughter of Josiah Campbell. My grandmother Campbell's name was Susannah Mitchell before she was married.

My mother was born in the year of our Lord 1777 in Bedford County, Virginia. The exact time my grandfather Campbell immigrated from Virginia to Kentucky I am unable to say, but it was at a very early date for I have heard my mother say she was a very little girl at the time, so small and so young she could only remember a part of the incidents that took place on the way.

Map of travel route west to Kentucky from various points in the eastern states;
courtesy of Virginia Places

She said at that time the people that moved from Virginia to Kentucky did not move in wagons like they do now for there were no roads at that time that wagons could pass. They had to move on packhorses and frequently the paths were so narrow that it was with difficulty they could get along with their package. But narrow paths were not all the difficulties they had to contend with in their passage from Virginia to the rich and fertile soil of Kentucky. That they had to pass over steep mountains and hills and deep rivers, ill prepared to with no boats for their safe conveyance. Many times they would follow the windings of their little path up the mountains or hills that would become so steep or so slippery that they thought it unsafe for their horses and the little ones to pass over. Sometimes a better and more safe way would be sought out, but when this could not be done they would take off their packs and lead their horses over one by one until they were all over. Then all hands would engage in carrying over the plunder, and again restoring it upon the backs of the beasts or burden. But while they had these difficulties to contend with there were others of a more alarming and dangerous character.

A great portion of the route from the state of Virginia to the great valley of the Mississippi (of which Kentucky was a part) at that time was uninhabited by the white man. The unbroken forest spread its shades forty miles or more in some places unmolested by the removal of a single tree. The sound of an ax had never resided upon most of its hills or its valleys except to clear away a small path and cut a little wood to cook a morsel of food for the hardy pioneers of this western country. This wilderness at that time was possessed by Indians of a savage nature and unfriendly to the white people, frequently killing whole families of immigrants as they were endeavoring to make their way from the eastern states to the far west.[1]

Gateway to the West painted by David Wright and commissioned by the
Cumberland Gap National Park, shows Daniel Boone guiding settlers in 1775.
A 14-foot photographic mural of the painting is on display at the visitors'
center; Giclee reproductions may be purchased from Lord Nelson's Gallery

Owing to this circumstance, it became hazardous for any family to undertake the journey alone and besides this, there were many wild beasts fierce and ferocious that would attack, kill and eat a man. Sometimes a quantity of these animals would collect sufficient in number to destroy a whole family. My grandfather having knowledge of this first did not travel alone but I think about sixty souls in number, consisting of men, women and children after loading their beasts and preparing well as they could for the journey. The men with their guns on their shoulders and the women with their babes in their arms took up a line of march from Bedford County, Virginia, to the much praised and thinly settled state of Kentucky. Where after a long and tedious journey they arrived and settled in Mercer County, where I believe my grandfather and grandmother resided and brought up numerous offspring living in and enjoying all the privileges of the Presbyterian Church.

And from what I have heard of my grandfather and grandmother Campbell's religion I suppose it was of a genuine character. They had endeavored to train up their children in the way they should go and as far as I have any knowledge on the subject, when they grew old they did not depart from it though some of them grew to a mature age before they embraced religion. There is one history of my grandfather that though nothing thought of in those days would cast a stain or a reproach upon the Christian's character in those days. I allude to the business of making and rending ardent spirits. How far my grandfather was engaged in this I am unable to say, but I think I heard that he had a distillery. I suppose he did not carry on very extensively as he had a farm to cultivate and was also a blacksmith by trade. But be this as it may he was very pious and a strict observer of the Sabbath day and rigidly enjoined it on all his house to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

I am unable at this time to tell the exact age of either my grandfather or grandmother when they departed this life, but they both lived to a good old age. My grandfather left the shores of time first. But his death, as I was told, was sudden and unexpected at that time. Indeed we may say to all human appearance it came upon him like a thief in the night. Oh, how important it is to watch. And with what power should the circumstance of his death bring home to the minds of all his surviving friends the scriptural phraseology of "Watch ye, therefore, for in such an hour as you think act the Son of Man cometh." I am told that he was enjoying as good as health as was common for an old man of his age to enjoy up to the very time of his dissolution. The circumstances of his death took place as follows:

He was standing in his yard conversing with one of his sons-in-law, Philip Shuck.[2] Uncle Philip said he had just turned his head from looking at grandfather, when he heard him make a strange noise. His eyes were again directed toward him and he saw he was falling. Uncle instantly caught hold of him to prevent him falling. He was carried into the house and sat on a chair, but alas, for his friends, his spirit had fled to the God that gave it, leaving the body to be consigned to its mother Earth. Grandmother lived some years after grandfather's death. I think before her death she entirely lost the power of vision, and although she lost the power of seeing with her natural eyes, I trust she did not lose her spiritual eyesight.

But they are gone to the Spirit Land leaving behind a numerous offspring and friends to lament their loss, and though they did mourn and weep for awhile, they did not mourn like those that had no hope. For we believe like as Christ was raised by the glory of the Father even so shall he raise our fathers and brothers who have died in the faith of the gospel of the Son of God and although they cannot come to us, blessed by the name of the Lord, we can go to them.

I think my great-grandfathers Campbell and Mitchell were both Irish and came from Ireland to America in company together[3], and as the Irish are famous for having anecdotes told on them I will here relate as an anecdote that I have heard on them.

When they first came to this country they saw a great many things that they did not know what they were. Among the rest they found (as they thought) some rough coated apples. After having filled their pockets, they commenced eating, but they did not relish them very much for they turned out to be green walnuts. They were I think both weavers by trade. I have heard a story on them somewhat after the following:  A bet or a wager was made on one of them that he could weave out a certain piece of cloth in one day containing some thirty or forty yards. He was about to succeed, but just before the job was completed a hemorrhage from the nose took place and continued with such violence that the Knight of the Shuttle was compelled to desist but no sooner did the one drop the shuttle than the other picked it up and the job was completed within the given time. I do not at this time remember to have heard any of my great uncles or great aunts spoken of except Uncle Bob Mitchell[4]. He was a drinking man and when he would get drunk he would say, "Poor Bob." That is all I know of Uncle Bob. But I fain would indulge a hope that he quit his cups and became a sober man before he launched into a world unknown.


I think Grandfather Smith[5] had one sister. She was a red haired woman. He married Betty Street.[6] Her father was wealthy and [my] brother George has his pocket book at this time. It is a very large neat pocket book quilted with gold. I do not know how many brothers and sisters Grandmother Street had, but I remember to have heard father speak of his Uncle Anthony Street, he was a Baptist and like too many of his brethren of that order, he loved the spirit of the corn. Father used to tell an anecdote on him to this effect. The church would have him tried for getting drunk nearly every Church meeting, but never could turn him out. He was always ready to confess his fault and implore forgiveness, telling them how many drams he drank, sometimes he only drank one dram; sometimes two and sometimes three; and he would try not to get drunk anymore. The conclusion of the trial generally ended in castigation as follows: "Well, Brother Street, if three drams makes you drunk, you must drink but two." (Yes.) "Lad, if two drams make you drunk, you must drink but one." (Yes. Yes.) "And if one dram makes you drunk, you must not drink any." (Yes. Yes. Yes.)

Grandmother Smith was a good old Baptist and a very pious woman, then she used to churn on Sunday and thought no harm of it. She was a midwife and expert on horseback for a woman. She had dark hair, blue eyes, fair skin and weighed nearly two hundred pounds.

Grandfather Smith never attached himself to any branch of the Christian Church. He was a very stout, able-bodied man and a soldier in the Revolutionary War and as true a Whig as ever lived. He gloried in American independence and could delightfully entertain those around him with his songs about Washington and the war. The plainest recollection I have of him now is seeing him at father's house leaning his chair against the bed with his silver locks hanging most to his shoulders singing, "Great Washington, he was the man who led the sons of freedom on." He was burning a plant bed for the purpose of sowing tobacco seed, for he was a farmer, got very warm, went into the house, took a drink, felt unwell, lay down, and in some eight or ten days his mortal existence was closed by the fatal disease called the cold plague.

After Grandfather Smith's death, Grandmother employed an overseer by the name of Bob Lark for some two years. She then employed my brother William S. Street one year after which she suffered the property to be divided between the heirs of the estate and she made her home amongst her children, but mostly at my father's. I was a great favorite of hers in her declining years. When she was old and well stricken in years, she became very childish and she used to think I could trim her nails better for her than anybody else. One time I found great favor in her sight because I discovered the cause of a pain she was laboring under and effected a speedy cure. Again, one time she had been to Mrs. White's and I saw her first and ran and helped her over the fence. Those accidental favors got me the esteem of my grandmother, and should any little girl or boy ever read these lines let me say to you, be always good to old folks especially to your grandmother. Grandmother lived to see her fourth generation. She died at my father's and was buried by the side of grandfather on the premises of grandfather at the time of his death.

Susannah (Mitchell) Campbell was my fifth great aunt and her grandson and author of this family history, John Campbell Smith, was my second cousin four times removed. He was born at the headwaters of Little Barren Creek in Barren County, Kentucky.

[1] Susannah (Mitchell) Campbell's first cousin, Robert Mitchell (1747-1792), also made the journey to Kentucky, but he and his family left with a party of travelers from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. They traveled on the Wilderness Road in 1790. During the journey, Robert's wife, Naomi Shipley, was scalped and died of her injuries, and his daughter Sarah was kidnapped by Indians. (Link below)

[2] "Uncle Philip" was Philip Shuck, Jr., born 1786 in Pennsylvania; died on an unknown date in Davis County, Iowa; second husband of Mary Enos (Campbell) Martin (1772-1875).

[3] Robert Mitchell was from Londonderry, Northern Ireland, before immigrating to Pennsylvania, but his family were of Scots, his ancestors had been "planted" in northern Ireland by English kings.

[4] "Great Uncle Bob" was Robert Harvey Mitchell, born in 1752, Pequea, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; died 1818 in Mercer County, Kentucky; married Mary Witt.

[5] Grandfather Smith was William Smith born about 1746 in Virginia; died 17 May 1817 in Cumberland County, Kentucky; married Elizabeth Street in 1764 in Virginia.

[6] Elizabeth Street was the daughter of Anthony Street and Elizabeth Brockman.

Robert Mitchell, the Elder
Kidnapped by Indians