Saturday, August 8, 2020

The James Thomas Smith Family - Part 7


Della Catherine (Smith) Taylor

Born Nov 5, 1880 – Died Oct 17 1975

Md.  22 March 1913

and Husband 

Fleming Letcher Taylor

Born April 8, 1876 – Died March 6, 1960

         Della Catherine Smith, born 5 November 1880, was the daughter of James Thomas and Sarah (Sanders) Smith.  She married Fleming Letcher Taylor, March 22, 1913, at Select, Ohio County, Kentucky.  She was thirty-two and he was thirty-eight.  He was the son of James Martin Taylor and Kitty Ann Leach.

          This couple had four children:  two sons, Jewel D.;  Eldred S. Taylor; and two daughters, Evelyn Taylor and Valois Taylor.


          Excerpt from Grandmother’s tape recording about Aunt Della’s family:

           “Della always got up and got breakfast, and always got up and built a fire in the fire place.  That little bitty thing.  And then she would come wake up everybody and tell them breakfast was ready.  She would have a great big bread pan full of buttermilk biscuits baked, and ham and eggs and all, and put them on the table.  She was an angel all her life.”

           Jerri: “And didn’t you say she got her buckets and went to milk?”  GM:  “Yes.”

          Jerri:  “How come she wound up with all the work?”

           Grandmother:  “I guess we…all the rest of us was kind of lazy.   (Laughter).   We had our chores, too, but not as many as she did.  But she never complained.” 

           Jerri:   “And did she do the washing? “

          Grandmother:  “Yes, but we all helped with that – but Della did the ironing.  I never ironed a thing in my life until I was married.  I didn’t know anything.  But we would carry the wood in and build a fire around the kettle, and keep the fire going, and carried her water to rinse in.  We had a big spring of water right there by the shade tree.

          “Della always done the ironing, and Ma did the sewing.  Everything was starched and ironed as slick as a ribbon, and Della was the one that done it.  And on them old flat irons, where they would get black on them.  GM:  Yes, but we helped.  But she did all the ironing.”

          Excerpt from Evelyn Elmore’s letter to me – July 25, 2010:

          “Yes, Mother was the oldest child and was named for Great Grandma Fidella (Porter) Sanders (and aunt Caddie Stinchfield – her name was Della Catherine (Smith) Taylor.

           (Actually she was named for both grandmothers – Fidella (Porter) Sanders and for Catherine “Kitty Ann” (Jenkins) Smith, I believe, which was the custom at the time.  The oldest daughters were usually named for their two grandmothers, and the oldest son was named for his two grandfathers).

          “Grandma Fidella came and got mother when she was born and kept her almost 2-1/2 years til Uncle Charley was born.  (She was spoiled – by her two uncles and the Sanders).  So they told Grandma to get Della’s (mother) clothes ready – Grandpa was coming to get her (so she could watch her Baby Brother and rock the cradle, if or when he cried.  She said Della kicked and screamed for Grandma Sanders as she was handed up to Grandpa Jimmy on a horse. So…Mother said she cared for each child as they came along.  Next was Aunt Lizzie – Bettie - (“Auntie” to us and Retha and Darrell).  Then Uncle Ellis, then Aunt Eva, then Aunt Ella and then Uncle Harb, (Ollie Perry died at four years old).  Then came Aunt Fannie Mae.

          “Mother got her horse and went to Select (pronounced SEE-lect per Grandmother Cox- JB) after grocery’s, etc.  Grandmother “Sarah” had typhoid fever – was in the parlor – away from the family.  She went into a coma for about two days and nights and Mrs. Raley would set by her bed day and night and take wet cotton and keep her lips damp – no response – and Grandpa was worried sick.  They would keep the children in the yard a lot.” 


          Tape of July 22, 1978:  Grandmother: “I’ll tell you, your Aunt Della could cook biscuits.  Yes, she could, and my Aunt Josie could too.  Aunt Josie cooked like grandma.”


          When we visited Ohio County in 1975, we visited Aunt Della. I never shall forget her.  She was a nursing home, and when my dad and I walked into her room, she held up her arms for a hug, and said, “Oh, Gilbert, I thought you would never come.”  She was so happy to see him and tears were in both their eyes.  (My dad was later to say that he wouldn’t take anything for that trip to Kentucky!)  The next month he bought a new station wagon and took my mother, his mother, and his three sisters, and they all went back together.  My grandmother said it was the first time she had ever been back home with all of her children.

          Aunt Della and grandmother had a nice visit, although Aunt Della died on the last morning of their visit.  They went by to tell her goodbye, only to learn that she had passed away during the night.  The girls (Eula Mae, Retha and Darrell) thought it best not to tell her for fear it would upset her so terribly and spoil the trip, so they waited until they got back to Summerfield to tell her.  And she accepted it very well as she was so thankful to have seen all her brothers and sisters once more – Uncle Harb, Uncle Ellis, Aunt Ella and Aunt Della, who ranged in age from 78 to 95.  Aunt Della was ninety five when she passed away.

Obituary was carried in The Ohio County, News, Thursday, October 23, 1975:

                                             Mrs. Della Taylor


BEAVER DAM – Mrs. Della Taylor, 94, died Friday, October 17, Ohio County Rest Home, Beaver Dam.


          Mrs. Taylor was born in Ohio County, November 5, 1880, and was a member of Bald Knob United Methodist Church.  Her husband, Letcher Taylor, preceded her in death in 1960. 


          Survivors include two daughters, Valois Shuffett and Evelyn Elmore, both of Louisville; eight grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; two brothers, Harb and Ellis Smith, both of Cromwell, and two sisters, Mrs. Ella Stewart, Cromwell, and Mrs. Eva Cox, Troup, Texas. 


          Funeral services were at 2 p.m., Sunday, October 19, at 2 p.m., Danks Funeral Home, with the Rev. Malcolm Couch, pastor of Liberty United Methodist Church, officiating.  Burial was in Liberty Church Cemetery.


              "Letcher Taylor Dies at Age 83"                               

   "Letcher Taylor, 83, died at 3 a.m., Sunday at his home in the Mt. Pleasant community.  He was the son of Dow and Gabriella Ford Taylor.  He was a member of the Woodmen of the World.


    He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Della Smith Taylor; two daughters, Mrs. Evelyn Elmore and Mrs. Valois Shuffette, both of Louisville; two sons, Jewell Taylor, Beaver Dam; Eldred Taylor, Terre Haute, Ind., and nine grandchildren.

    Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. Monday at the Liberty Methodist Church, conducted by the pastor, Rev. William Perkins.  Burial was in the church cemetery. 

    Pallbearers were Kenneth Baize, Samuel Crowder, John Iler, Arthur Crabb, Charles Smith and Roy Stewart."

          Another obituary in The Ohio County News, Hartford, KY dated March 11, 1960, was almost identical to the one above,   However, it did mention that he was a native of Ohio County and that Casebier Funeral Home, Beaver Dam, was in charge of the arrangements.

           My dad remembered when he was about ten of riding his horse to his Uncle Letcher's grist mill to have corn ground for his grandfather, James Thomas Smith and Sarah (Sanders).  Letcher married their daughter, Della Catherine.


Della and Letcher:

Thanks to Janice Brown.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The James Thomas Smith Family - Part 6

Catherine Ann “Kitty” Jenkins

February 1831 – December 28, 1902

         Catherine Ann Jenkins was the daughter of Benjamin S. Jenkins (1804-1874) and Elizabeth Tichenor Humphrey (1804-1877).  Ben Shacklett Jenkins, born 1804 in Meade (Hardin) County, Kentucky married Elizabeth T. Humphrey in 1829.  They met when she came from Burkesvillle, Kentucky for a visit with her uncle, George Humphrey, who had married Benjamin’s sister, Barbara Jenkins."

         Catherine Ann (Kitty) Jenkins was named after her grandmother, Catherine Emerson of Cumberland County, Kentucky, daughter of John Emerson, R. S. soldier and War of 1812. Catherine Emerson married (1) Abijah Humphrey, January 5, 1801 in Green Co. KY (now Cumberland Co. KY); she married second Henry Maynard about 1809.

         Kitty Ann was born in Meade County, Kentucky in February 1831, and died December 28, 1902 in Ohio County, Kentucky.  She married Thomas Smith (Jr.) on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1848.   

        They moved to Ohio County, Kentucky with Kitty Ann's parents about 1855. Benjamin Shacklett Jenkins was living in Meade County when the 1850 census was taken; but living in Ohio County in the 1860 census (to be found under name of "Jinkins" instead of "Jenkins".  He apparently moved his family from Meade to Ohio County about 1855-1856.


        Life dealt Kitty Ann (Jenkins) Smith, 31, who was pregnant, a hard blow when her husband was captured by the Rebels on New Year's Day at Borah's Ferry in 1862 when Thomas and his squad were captured and carried off by Rebels to a prison in Maryland.  Thomas died and she was left with five children to raise, and also a farm to run, to try to survive throughout the rest of the war.

        On July 4, 1867, Kitty Ann, at age 36, married a second time to James Willaby, Book J, p. 361, Ohio Co. Mg. records.  She was dealt still another hard blow when she learned that James Willaby was already married, and therefore, was a bigamist.  She had the marriage annulled within a month.

         On October 20, 1873, she was married for a third time, at age 42 to Franklin Williams as recorded in Book S, p. 394.  He had a number of children and for some reason the marriage did not work out.  My grandmother told me she remembered seeing him come down the road with all his children and his things loaded in his wagon.  She said she felt sorry for him.  This would have been in the 1890s, I think.

         Land Sale:  Book 7, p. 439, Ohio Co. KY May 13, 1887 - Kitty A. Williams (at age 56) and Eliza E. Smith to James T. Smith, 30 acres of land which we now live a stone on the original corner of James T. Smith.  James T. Smith was then 31 years of age.

         Kitty A. "Williams" was listed in the 1900 census at Cromwell, Ohio Co., KY with her daughter, Eliza E. Keown,  age 46, and Eliza's husband, Joseph Keown, age 47,  all born Kentucky.

         (Kitty Ann (Jenkins) Smith Williams was listed on the same census pages (1900) as Charles and Fidella Sanders and also James W. Cox and his second wife, Rebecca Patterson).  Kitty Ann said she was the mother of five children, four of whom were living.  The youngest, John Fulton, had died in 1897.


       The Hartford Herald, dated January 7, 1903, under Select, says:

           "Mrs. Kitty Smith, better known as "Aunt Kitty" died the 28th ult. of old age and diseases incident thereto, and was buried at the graveyard near Luther Rogers the 29th." 

At her death, she was 71 years of age.  My grandmother said the paper got the cemetery wrong, and that her grandmother was buried at the Brickhouse Cemetery.

         Grandmother's Day Book gives the husband of Sallie Smith as Grant Young, and his death as occurring on September 25, 1928.

         The obituary of Sallie C. Smith (tho paper says Sallie E. Smith) lists a surviving sister, Eliza McIntyre of Frankfort, KY.)  Someone had given the wrong information and the paper was in error. This should have been the “daughter” not “sister” of Sallie C. Smith.

          Grandmother's Day Book lists death of Eliza Smith Keown as August 22, 1905 (which I took to be Eliza Elizabeth Smith, daughter of  Kittie Ann. JB)  It turned out that Eliza McIntyre was Sallie’s daughter, not her sister, still living in Frankfort in 1930. 


Thanks to Janice Brown for this post.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

The James Thomas Smith Family - Part 5

Thomas Smith, (Jr).

About 1830 – November 16, 1862

        Thomas Smith, Jr. was born about 1831, probably in Meade County, Kentucky, and died November 16, 1862 and died in Annapolis, a Maryland Prison Hospital, during the Civil War.  (We don’t really know what his middle name was, but he may have been named for his father, Thomas Franklin Smith, so I have used “Jr.” for clarity.  He married Catherine Ann "Kitty” Jenkins on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1848.  Both of their parents gave consent for them to be married, which meant that both were under the age of eighteen. 

        According to the Meade Co. marriage records, the father of Thomas F. Smith had to give consent for his son, which probably meant he was under the age of 21 when they married on Christmas Eve 1848.

        They moved Ohio County Kentucky with Kitty Ann's parents. Benjamin Shacklett Jenkins was living in Meade County when the 1850 census was taken; but living in Ohio County in the 1860 census (to be found under name of "Jinkins" instead of "Jenkins".  He apparently moved his family from Meade to Ohio County about 1855-1856.


        My grandmother and Auntie told me that Thomas Smith, their grandfather, was the only one in the family who was ever in the army.  He served in the Cromwell Home Guards when it was first formed early during the Civil War, on the Union side.  He was captured by Rebels on New Year’s Day 1962 at Borah’s Ferry with a squad of home guards, who were carried to a Maryland prison.  He was later paroled because he was sick, and was unable to return home by foot, so his Leach friend went to get him a wagon to bring him back home, but upon his return when he got back to the prison with the wagon, he found that Thomas Smith had died two days before.  

        When the men from Cromwell went after him and arrived at the prison, they found he had died two days before and they had already buried him.  But his wife, “Kitty Ann” was expecting for them to come home in the wagon with him, and she had made him his favorite pie – a cherry pie.

Thomas Smith, Jr., Cromwell Home Guardsman 

Captured by Rebels at Borah’s Ferry,

Ohio County, KY – New Year’s Day, 1862

          Thomas Smith, the subject of this study in my family history, begins in Meade County, Kentucky in 1849, where I first found documented record of Thomas’ marriage to Catherine Ann “Kitty Ann” Jenkins.  They were married by George H. Hicks, M.G., on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1848.  Further documentation was found in the “consent” records wherein Benjamin Shacklett Jenkins, father of Kitty Ann, gave his consent to Mr. Fairleigh, the county clerk, requesting him to issue a license for his daughter to unite her in marriage to Thomas Smith.  Likewise, Thomas F. Smith, father of Thomas, Jr., gave consent for his son to be joined in matrimony with Kitty Ann Jenkins.  This was recorded in the Meade County, Kentucky Marriage Bonds Consent notes.  Both were required to have the consent of their parents because they were under age to marry.

In the 1850 Meade County census records, Thomas Smith, age 19, farmer, born Kentucky, is listed with his wife, Catherine, also age 19, born Kentucky and their new baby, a son, six months old. They were listed in Household No. 382-383 in the Kentucky  District.  Living next door in No.381-382 was Kitty Ann’s parents, Benjamin S. Jenkins and Elizabeth, and three of their younger children:  John, 17; Sarah, 14; Fulton, 8, and John Jenkins, 80, born Pennsylvania, father of Benjamin Shacklett Jenkins.  

So in 1850, Thomas (Jr.) and Kitty Ann had a new son they named Benjamin.  Later we know this child’s name was Benjamin Franklin, and it is my belief that he was named after both grandfathers.  We don’t really know what the middle initial of Thomas Smith’s father’s name stood for.  But on the consent paper, his middle initial appears to be “F” although some think it is a “J.”  However, it was the custom of the times to name the first son after both grandfathers and the first daughter after both grandmothers, and I believe that is what they did, and that the “F” initial stands for “Franklin.”  Following this tradition, they named their first daughter Eliza Elizabeth after both grandmothers – Eliza (Grant) and Elizabeth (Humphrey).  Two other children were born in Meade County – Sarah Catherine “Sallie,” and James Thomas.  The youngest son, John Fulton Smith was born in Ohio County on May 18, 1862.  His father had been captured by the time of his birth. 

Between 1855 and 1857, Thomas and Kitty Ann moved with Kitty Ann’s parents to Ohio County, Kentucky.  They settled near Cromwell, a small village, located on the banks of the Green River, where they were found in the 1860 census, living in Household #668.  Nearby were Kitty Ann’s parents living in Household #657.  Kitty Ann’s brother John Jenkins, who had married Janetta Smith, sister of Thomas, was living next door to his parents. 

Neighbors living on either side of Thomas and Kitty Ann Smith were the two families of Alfred Young, and a widow, Margaret Beacham and her children; and on the other side were the two families of Jefferson Cox and R. J. B. Plummer. 

Living close by, in household number 658, was Thomas Smith’s sister, Janetta, who had married John H. Jenkins on September 15, 1855 in Meade Co., Kentucky.  Janetta was also the daughter of Thomas F. Smith and Eliza S. B. “Louisa” Grant. Thus, all of the children of these two couples became double cousins. At that time, John and Janetta had four children: Elizabeth E., James Thomas, Eliza J. and Mary A.  So, the Jenkins and Smith households were close knit families. 

Thomas and Kitty Ann Smith, both 29, had been married eleven years in 1860, and they were working hard and trying to raise their young children.  He owned no real estate, although the value of his personal property was listed as $259.  No doubt, he was trying to save enough money to buy his own land.  Thomas, like all his nearby friends and neighbors, was a farmer.  


Cromwell Home Guard Organized


In west central Kentucky after Lincoln’s call for troops, men and boys living near Cromwell and elsewhere in Ohio County, put down their plows and picked up their guns to defend their homes.  The Cromwell Home Guards were organized in June 1861. At that time, Thomas was about thirty years old; his brother-in-law, Ben F. Jenkins was nineteen, and his brother-in-law, John H. Jenkins was twenty-eight.  They joined up along with many of their friends, including Leonard Thomas Cox and his father, Thomas Jefferson Cox, their near neighbors.  As members of the Guard, they were anxious to help protect their own family members and homes, and indeed, the homes all over the county, against Confederate raiders. 

The Cromwell Home Guards guarded ferries, constructed bridges, and sabotaged and destroyed Rebel obstructions.  The guards became an important source of information to Union troops about the enemy forces.  One of their most significant jobs was keeping Union troops informed about the size and moves of Confederate forces in the area.  The home guards from Cromwell were also a constant menace to active Confederate couriers in the area, who often carried supplies, messages and intelligence of updated strength and disposition. The Cromwell Home Guards took pride in their jobs to try to foil the Rebel ambitions, and they became recognized by Union leaders for their daring and courage in west central Kentucky. 

Less than a year after Thomas Smith became a member of the Cromwell Home Guard, he was taken prisoner with a squad of other guardsmen, while on duty near Borah’s Ferry on New Year’s Day 1862, in Ohio County.  He was carried off and put in a Confederate prison in Maryland, and later was to be exchanged at Aiken’s Landing, Virginia.  But before he could get home, he became sick, and was put in a hospital at Annapolis, Maryland, where he died.  He did not live to get home to see his youngest child, John Fulton, who was born after Thomas’ capture and imprisonment. 


          One day when I went to visit my grandmother, I asked her if she remembered her Grandmother Smith, Kitty Ann (Jenkins).  She looked at me quizzically and said, “Why, of course I do!”  She described to me what a hard life Kitty Ann had after her husband, Thomas Smith, was captured by the Rebels on New Year’s Day and carried off.  She was left with five small children, one a baby, whose father never got to see him before he died while a prisoner in Maryland during the Civil War.  

With all the men and boys gone off to war, my grandmother told me that Kitty Ann Smith learned to plow her land with her ox until the Rebels came and raided her farm, taking with them her only ox and wagon and all her blue geese.  They went upstairs looking for money and tore the feather mattresses apart and threw them out the windows, scattering feathers everywhere.  Perhaps she later had to borrow a horse from her family members to raise a garden and a patch of grain and corn to feed the farm animals.  It was almost as difficult for the women left at home during wartime as it was for the soldiers who left their families and went off to fight. 

My subsequent research of Thomas Smith’s military records at the National Archives and Kitty Ann’s pension application to the pension office in Washington, D.C. verified the family tradition that Thomas was a member of the Home Guard when he was taken prisoner by Confederate troops January 1, 1862, at a point between Borah’s Ferry on Green River and Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky.  He and his friend, James A. Stevens, who were guarding the ferry together, were captured and carried off by the Confederates.  James A. Stevens and Thomas Smith were later paroled from prison at Aiken’s Landing, below Dutch Gap on the James River, Virginia, on September 14, 1862, as of Company E., 15th Kentucky.  Thomas later died in a prison hospital at Annapolis, Maryland, November 16, 1862, while waiting to be sent home.

One day my grandmother told me this story about her grandfather, Thomas Smith: 

“My grandfather Thomas Smith was of Welsh descent.  He was the        only one who was ever in the Army.  He was captured in the Civil War.  When he was paroled, they went after him because he was sick.  But when they got there, he had died and they had already buried him.  Of course, my grand-mother was expecting them to come home in the wagon with him, and she had made him his favorite pie – a cherry pie.”  

James Axley Stevens, captured along with Thomas Smith on New Year’s Day, 1862, survived the war and returned home to Ohio County.  Born in 1817, he was the son of Henry Stevens and Hannah Bennett, both of whom are said to have come to Ohio County, from Montgomery County, Maryland. 

The Stevens and Smith families appear to be closely connected and some of the families may have intermarried.  Almost five years later, on the 21st day of October, 1869, Thomas Smith’s friend, James A. Stevens, gave an affidavit, along with several others, on behalf of and for the benefit of Kitty Ann, when she was trying to obtain a widow’s pension.  In this affidavit, James declared and made oath: 

          “that he and Thomas Smith were both members of Capt. William H. Porter’s Company of Home Guards, and that on the 1st day of January, a squad of the company were guarding Borah’s Ferry on Green River by order of Colonel McHenry of the 17th, who was then at Hartford, and the Rebels then held Bowling Green and the ferry way between those points, and that the squad was captured by the Rebels, and affiant and Smith were retained in custody until 15th Sept. 1862 when they were paroled and sent to Annapolis, Md.  Smith was sick at the time they were paroled, and Thomas was sent to a hospital and died there of diahrrea (sic) which disease he caught while a captive.” 

          Kitty Ann (Jenkins) Smith, then age 32, was never to see her husband again. She was left with a small farm near Cromwell and the duty of raising their five young children, ranging in age from six months to eleven years.  She eventually obtained a widow’s pension by a special Act of Congress.  It took a special Act because her husband was in the Home Guards, and not a soldier in the regular U. S. Army.  But, because the Home Guard militia had been ordered out by Col. John McHenry of the 17th Kentucky Regiment, Thomas Smith’s duty at Borah’s Ferry was considered to be active war service.  She was granted a pension of $8.00 per month as shown in the Special Act of Congress below: 

CHAP. CDXXIV. — An Act granting a Pension to Kitty A. Smith: 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Interior be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to place upon the pension roll,  subject to the provisions and limitations of the pension laws, the name of Kitty A. Smith, widow  of  Thomas  Smith,  late  a  private  in  the Ohio county, Kentucky, home guards,  and  pay  her  a  pension  at  the  rate of eight dollars per month from the passage of this act.  

Approved, March 3, 1873.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The James Thomas Smith Family - Part 4


Jan 4, 1861 – Nov 20 1931

In this section Janice Brown refers to Mildred Bolton, who was a granddaughter of Sarah (Sanders) Smith and James Thomas Smith and daughter of Fannie Mae Smith & Everett Presley Taylor.  The July 22 tape is Mildred Bolton talking.

The reference to Ma & Pa is a reference to Janice Brown's great-grandparents, the parents of Eva Caroline (Smith) Cox.

The March 7 tape is G. O., Gilbert Own Cox, talking. He refers to "they" and that is a reference to Sarah (Sanders) Smith her husband, James Thomas Smith.  In this tape there is a reference to Della and Ma and this is a reference to Della Taylor and Janice's great-grandmother.


Sarah Sanders was born January 4, 1861 at Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana.  She was the daughter of Charles and Fidella (Porter) Sanders.  Her father was born in Stoke-Upon-Trent, Staffordshire, England.  Her mother born in Spencer County, Indiana.

Sarah, age 19, married James Thomas Smith, New Year's Day, January 1, 1880 at the home of her parents, Charles Sanders and Fidella (Porter) Sanders, who lived two miles from Select.  This couple had nine children:  Della Catherine, Charles Thomas, Mary Elizabeth, Ellis James, Eva Caroline, Ella Jennie, Ollie Perry, Harb X., and Fannie Mae Smith.


Mildred Bolton:  “I remember what my dad said, when my grandmother Smith passed away.  He said to my mother:  “If ever God needed an angel, he took her.  I have been in this family all this time; I have never seen her angry…I have never heard her say one cross word to anyone…or one word about anyone.  If she couldn’t say good things, she just didn’t talk.”  Mildred said, “I thought that was pretty good from her son-in-law.”  

July 22, 1978 - Grandmother told about her mother taking the hairpins out of her hair when they were coming home from church in the wagon, jostling over the bumps and ruts in the dirt road, so her hairpins wouldn’t drop out and get lost. Hairpins were at a premium and she didn’t have enough hairpins and didn’t want to lose them.”

Grandmother told about her mother’s cooking.  “She baked different kinds of cakes.  Sometimes they were good, and sometimes they weren’t too good.  But I did think her vanilla cake…with vanilla flavoring was good.  I can’t remember all the cakes she baked.  And she baked a pink layered and had it stacked high.  And sometimes in different colored layers.  She loved to bake pies.  She made good pumpkin pies.”

“And she used to make a cherry cobbler in a big pan.  Cherries and dough, and then more cherries and dough.  She filled it up.  They were good cherries.  Right off the  tree.  And she made peach cobblers and apple cobblers.  Oh, I couldn’t name it.”

“Pa and Ma always thought a lot of your Daddy.  They loved your Daddy.  Because he helped them.  And he was always laughing and talking. They always loved for him to come.  Good natured.  They always liked for him to come and stay all night, and watch him eat.  They just enjoyed that.  And he always did carry on about her cherry cobbler.  He really did.  He was welcome at everybody’s.”

Daddy told this:  “You know what I remember?  She had a big cherry tree by the kitchen door – black cherries.  And the jay birds got in that cherry tree all the time.  And I would get up there and fight with them jaybirds and eat cherries.  And I would always pick enough before I come down, and she would make a great big old…I’m talking about a bread pan…full of cherry cobbler.  And that was the best cherry cobbler I ever ate in my life.”

March 7, 1977 tape:  (A later story about the cherry tree was told by G.O.):   “They had a big cherry tree.  I told you about that.  Had black cherries on it, growing right by the kitchen door.  And my grandmother made her own soap and it was lye soap, and she would throw the dishwater out on that old cherry tree.  Every time she finished washing the dishes, she would throw the dish water up on the body of that tree, and it would run down to the bottom of it, and that was the biggest, healthiest cherry tree I have ever seen in my life.  It got up so high that the limbs would grow out over the roof of the house, and the shingles.  And boy, those were the best cherries you have ever eat. She would make those cherry cobblers out of them.  And I would get up there and fill my stomach up with ripe cherries right off of that tree and then pick enough cherries to make a cobbler, and fight the jay birds.  Because they were all in there after them.

“When we were back in Kentucky, we always went to my grandfather Smith’s house.  Jim Smith.  His name was James, but everybody called him Jim.  And he kept everything up.  If it was raining, he still kept you busy.  You would go to the barn and shell corn, or you would work on the harness, or you would clean the stalls.  There was something to do all the time.  If nothing else, they had a big old keg or two of rusty nails.  I never have forgot…a lot of them were square nails.  And you would take a hammer and straighten those nails out.  There was never a minute that you was there that you didn’t get up of a morning and…except Sunday, that was a day of rest…you were going to work all day.  By the time you got through with one thing, he would have something else figured out.  He had that going all the time.  And there wasn’t much you could do about it…because he kept his eye on you and you didn’t hide out on him.  If you did, he would soon find you.  He would know right where you was.  He knew.”

“One time when we were back there, we stayed about four months on a visit.  I guess you could call it a visit.  Papa was out at Burkburnett working in the oil field, because when we left Louisiana, he lost his job with the Gulf Oil Company when they struck.  They ran the soldiers in there because World War I was going on, and it broke the strike.  After they broke the strike, they brought a lot of scabs in and none of the men that struck ever got their jobs back.  So we went to Kentucky.  And he went with us, but then he left and went to Burkburnett and went to work out there.  So we stayed with Grandpa and Grandma for about four months, until Papa sent for us to come to Burkburnett.

“Grandpa Smith had a big two-story barn, and all the hay had to be put up in the loft of that barn.  It had a hole cut at each manger in the stalls where you put the hay down through that hole into the hayrack down in the stall.  It was my job to go up there every night and feed them horses hay.  I had to fill that manger up, down through that hole.  Well, one night, I was fishing in a little pond.  Aunt Josie had three poles set out.  And she had helped me get some fishing worms.  We fished till dark and then went to the house and I didn’t put the hay out. 

“When we got through eating supper, my grandpa asked me if I had fed the horses their hay because we always give them some corn before we give them some hay.  And he knew how many ears to tell you to put in where they eat…built like a box, but the hay manger was over to the side.  And just the minute he said it, well, I remembered that I hadn’t put any hay out.  It was already dark.  So I didn’t say a word…I just got up and took off to the barn.  And when I got up there in that loft, it was dark, and a lot of that hay had slipped and fell down in there and had those holes hid and I thought I was on the floor and the next thing I knew, I had fell through one of those holes and fell into the hay manger.

“It hurt and knocked the breath out of me, but I got back up there and finished putting out the rest of the hay.  So when I come to the house, of course, they all seen that something was wrong with me, and they wanted to know what had happened, and I told them I had fell out of the loft.  And what they thought of …the ladder went up beside the runways that went through the barn.  They had a driveway all the way through that barn, with stables on both sides.  And they thought I had fell out…off that ladder that went up there where you crawled into the loft.  Because it had two big doors up there that stayed open nearly all the time…swinging doors that you could throw back and put the hay up there, and then in the wintertime you closed it up…to keep the rain out.

“But there was something to do all the time.  Feed the chickens, gather up the eggs.  Build the hen nests.  I could just sit here and tell you…there was something all the time.  For everybody.  Or work in the garden.  Hoeing weeds.  Everybody had a hoe.  Suckering tobacco that was the money crop.  Boy, you really worked in that tobacco.  When he sold that tobacco in the fall, he carried it down to Cromwell, and put it on the boat and carried it to Owensboro and sold it, and when he came back, we met the boat that he came back on, and he brought everything with him that he was going to use the next year…two barrels of brown sugar.  I never will forget that.  The stuff we were going to get for Christmas.  Coffee, pepper, salt, stuff like that.  Flour.  Bought flour by the barrel, because they didn’t grow much wheat there.  Bought it by the barrel. Knocked the lid out of it, and it set over in the corner.  Had a cloth over the top of it, and a sifter in it, and you went over there and got what flour you wanted, and sifted it right there on the side of that…and about that much of that flour would still be left in there.

“Had a coffee mill, and you roasted the coffee beans in the oven on the stove.  Then take it out and grind it.  Had a big old coffee mill on the wall.  And you roasted the coffee beans, and stirred them all the time they were roasting.  And a wood stove to do it on.  And you can imagine how hot it got.  And the stove had a warmer on top that went up, and you kept that full of food up there.  Stuff that was left from dinner, and you warmed it for supper.  You couldn’t believe what it was like.  You had to live it to really know.

“But we had good times, too.  Sometimes we would go squirrel hunting and sometimes we would go rabbit hunting.  And I did love to squirrel hunt.  And we would get on a horse and ride down through the woods and there were so many squirrels that you could hunt off your horse.  Grandpa even had one horse that he could shoot a squirrel off of…and the horse wouldn’t jump. 

“Most of the time we would just ride down through a big strip of woods to the Chancellor place and when we seen a squirrel, he got down and rolled him out.

“But that tobacco was something.  You had to worm it.  Pick the worms off.  With your hands.  Little old speckled worms, and you stepped on them.  And they had a big old horn.  When I was a little bitty baby, my mother gimme a tobacco worm to play with…put it in a pasteboard box and I would sit and look at it in that box, crawling around, and it would keep it from getting away, too.

“And you had to go pick them peaches.  And boy, I ate enough of them.  They had one tree that I just loved.  It was a little bitty one, and when they were ripe you could just break them open with one hand and eating a half would just make a good bite.  It was an Indian Cling peach and it didn’t get very ripe until way up in the fall.  And they had pear trees, too.

“Didn’t you hear Uncle Ellis asking me about getting out there in those trees when he had those…I can’t remember what kind of tree it was.  Not apricots.  Anyway, I asked him if he remembered me getting out there and eating all those.  And he said, “Yes, and did I get on to you?”  And boy he did.  He got all over me.

“Oh yes, I will tell you something else we had to do.  Those horses had to be curried and brushed, and their collars cleaned off…because the sweat would build up on leather collars, and when you brought a horse in of a night, and put him up and feed him, when you got through, you brushed his shoulders and curried him and rubbed him down with a big old stiff brush.  And fed him, and then you went and got that collar and cleaned all that caked dirt and sweat off of it.  And he had a collar pad that went on the horse, and you had to clean that, too.”

“Well, you did everything the hard way.  You had to.  There wasn’t any machinery or anything like there is now.  Lord, they dragged the roads with an old scraper…just a big old triangle of logs, and the front one was hewed out and had a steel blade bolted to it.  And that was the way they smoothed the roads.  And instead of paying the road tax, you could go and work on the road two days…and that would take care of your tax.  So nearly everybody did that.  Some didn’t.  Some paid their tax, but it was hard work.  Pulled that scraper with horses.  Go up one side of the road and down the other, and drag that dirt up into the ruts where the wagons cut ruts, and smoothed them out.”


 Mildred:  “I have never eaten after anyone who could make biscuits…Grandma could make the best biscuits…they were that big around, and she never had…used…any milk.  I guess they were sour dough, I don’t know.  But when I was a little kid and I would go to grandma’s she would always cook what I liked. And it was those biscuits. And she would get this sugar-cured bacon and she would cook some of that…and I loved her fried corn.”

Tape March 7, 1977:  Grandmother, when asked if they had ice back in that day... answered:   “No, but we could go and get ice.  We kept ice when mother was sick with typhoid fever.  We didn’t have any electricity…we didn’t have anything like that.  We couldn’t keep ice.   The only way you could keep ice was to dig a hole and put it in sawdust and wrap it and bury it.  It seems to me they went to Beaver Dam after it.  Beaver Dam or Cromwell, I don’t know which.  It might have kept a week, I guess, or maybe longer.”

About making soap:  GM:  “Of course she made her own soap.  She made soap out of lye and ashes and I don’t know what else.  And it was a pretty, white soap.  Laundry soap.  Well, we had an ash hopper and you poured ashes in there and poured water over it and had lye, and boiled it in an iron pot.  And take it and put it on and…grease in it.  Poured it in a scaffold and poured it in and fixed it, and some of it was pretty, and cut in blocks to wash clothes with.  And she had some to be real white, and that was good, and we washed our hair in it.  It had to make in a kettle, Jerri, and then cut it out in squares.  Just cakes of soap."

“Della always done the ironing, and Ma did the sewing.” 


Sunday, July 26, 2020

The James Thomas Smith Family - Part 3

In this section Janice Brown continues to talk about G.O. Cox, her grandfather, and his memory of his grandfather, James Thomas Smith.  The reference to Jeri was a family nickname for Janice Brown and J. B. is Janice Brown.  Jen and Jennifer is the same person. Amy is Janice's daughter.

My father, G.O. Cox tells about his grandfather, James Thomas Smith, taking a wagon load of apples to sell at the coal miner’s company store:

“Well, we took a wagon load of apples down to the Broadway Mines and was going to peddle them out.  Got ‘em all loaded up, and got up before daylight and eat breakfast, got the horses harnessed up, and took that load of apples down there and was going to go…they had company houses in big long rows, and we were going to go from house to house and sell those apples.  But…when we got down there, well somebody told them about it at the company store, which was a great big store where all the miners had to trade. 

“And, so a man come down there and told us we couldn’t sell those apples…at those houses.  That if we wanted to sell those apples, to bring them down to the store and they would buy them.  We drove down to the store…and the porch was way up high…had a great big old porch on the side of a hill.  Higher than a wagon bed.  And that old storekeeper come out there…I never have forgot it…because he had on an apron.  And he stood there and looked down at those apples, and told Grandpa what he would give him for ‘em…I’ve forgot what it was, it wasn’t but just a little…bit.  And there was five or six men all settin’ on benches around there and…Grandpa looked back at all of them and says, “I’m going to dump these apples out at a certain creek.  I have forgotten the name of it.  And if anybody wants any apples, tell them to come out there and they can get all the apples they want.”  And he gave them horses a click, and said, “Giddap.”  And hit the horses, and we drove off. 

“And, we went about two miles out of the town to a creek there with a big steep bank, and he drove the wagon down there, and pulled it back up where the backend of it would be down real low, and he got out and went back there and pulled the end gate out of that wagon and let all the apples roll out.”

JENNIFER asked:  “Couldn’t he sell them somewhere else?”

G.O.:  “There wasn’t anywhere else to go.  That was a town.  That was all of it.  The mines run it and owned it all.  (Broadway Mines).

J.B.:  “Did you all pick those apples yourself the day before?”

G.O.:  “Well, of course, we did.  We got out in the orchard and went from tree to tree, and picked out good apples, and polished them, and put them on a wagon bed piled with straw.  Why heck.  We had put a lot of work into ‘em.  Everybody picked.  Everybody in the family.  Yes.  Trying to make a little money.”

JEN:  “That was you and your granddaddy.  G.O. “Yes, my grandfather Smith.”

J.B.:    “Grandmother’s daddy…James Thomas Smith.”

AMY:  “That sounds like fun!”  (at that time, my little daughter Amy was nine years old.)

G.O.:  (He remembered something else about the wagon story and selling apples):

“But I was always saying something.  On that same porch that I told you about when we drove up there to sell those apples.  Well, there was always a bunch of loungers sitting around there that wasn’t working.  And mama sent me to the store one day for something.  But when I walked up them big high steps and got up on that porch, well, one old man turned around to me and said, “Hello, Stoebuck.”  And I said, “Hello, Homemade.”  And just went right on in the store. 

JEN:  “What does Stoebuck mean? 

G.O.:  (chuckling) “ It was just a name he had for me.  But I have never forgotten it.”

JEN:  “Because you called him, Homemade?”

G.O.:  “Because I called him “Homemade” and all of them guys just like to have fell off the benches.  And then I heard my Daddy tell my Mother a few days later, that everybody in that mine went to calling that guy, “Homemade.”  And that liked to have tickled them to death, you know.  And I guess it embarrassed him.”


J.B.:  “Well, listen, Daddy, tell Jennifer about your first train ride…from Broadway Mines to Beaver Dam…how cold the depot was.”

G.O.: “Well, honey, we got up way before daylight…had to do down there to catch the train.”

JEN:  “How old were you?”

G.O.: “I don’t recall.  But I wasn’t very old.  Because I had never started to school.  I would say I was about five years old, probably.  Maybe not that old.  But we had to bundle up.  And we got down to the depot, and there wasn’t any fire or anything.  And we’d go outside and look…and see if we could see the headlight coming on the train…there was a big cut through the side of that hill…and they would stand and listen to see if they could hear the whistle. (Laughing).  And you had to start a fire in the (wood) stove.  But it was cold, and only a few little sticks of kindling, and it was real slow to burn, and take off.  And we would warm our hands, and then put our gloves back on.  I had on a pair of mittens.  Didn’t have any fingers.  Just a thumb, and a string around my neck to keep from losing them.  Finally the train come.  And the headlights was shining.  Boy, and it pulled in with all that noise, and steam and everything.  Boy, I thought that was something.  Got on that train, and we didn’t get started until we was stopping and getting off in Beaver Dam.  (Laughing). About six or seven miles.”

JEN:  “Well, how come you took the train ride?  Just for sport?”

G.O.: “(tape is illegible for a few seconds)…and then when we got to Beaver Dam, we rented a horse and buggy and went out to Pa’s farm.  My Grandpa Smith.”

 (JB – I imagine at that time they were living in one of the company houses at the Broadway Mines where Granddaddy worked – and they were going to visit Grandmother’s parents where they lived near Select.)  Shortly after this period of time, they moved to Edgerly, Louisiana and Granddaddy went to work in the oil fields.  They lived with her sister, Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” - (“Auntie” and “Uncle”) to us.  Uncle worked in a store in town.  My daddy started kindergarten or first grade there, I’ve forgotten which, but somewhere Grandmother tells about this, and about dressing Daddy up for the Mardi Gras party at school.  He didn’t have a costume, so she put some soot on his face, and some old clothes, and he went back to school dressed as a tramp.)


Mary Elizabeth (Smith) Sandefur, whom I have always called “Auntie,” told me that their childhood home was a big two-story house, painted white, with pretty wall paper.  The bedrooms were all upstairs and they had one bedroom downstairs.  They had a lot of flowers and the prettiest garden walk with peonies that looked like wax – red and white.  At the end of the garden walk the landscape stair-stepped and they had a grape arbor with a slatted roof top.  Near the grape arbor, there was a limbertwig tree with limbs that dropped down like a willow tree, and hid the privy from the house. (The limbertwig is an apple tree.)

They had a smoke house out behind the house.  She could remember that her father killed sixteen hogs one cold winter day, and there were lots of people there.  They let her walk to Grandma Sander’s house to get a knife to use in the hog-killing.

Auntie said that Grandma Sanders had a summer kitchen where they cooked and canned.
She also said that they had a dog named Old Sport that bit Grandmother once.  He slept in the shade by the chimney and guarded the yard and front gate.  The minute someone neared their property, he began barking and barking.


When we asked about burying their apples, Grandmother said:

“Well, Jerri, they just dug a hole, not too deep, but level almost with the ground, but they went around it, and they put these apples in the center, and they would put straw in there, I think, and then they would build it up high, and throw all that dirt over the apples so they wouldn’t freeze…a lot higher than this table.  And then they put apples in there, and they would put turnips, seems to me like.  I can remember the apples better than anything else.  And you would have to take a hoe and dig a hole right at the bottom of this pit, and reach back in there and get the apples out.  Anytime you wanted them.  And later on, they built a big long box, and put all the straw in there, and put apples in that big long box, and then they covered it with dirt.  It was covered up high.  It was kind of cone-shaped.  It was all the way around, and rain never did get to them.  Yes, Charlie made a long box-maybe as long as this table, and then put straw in it, and then put apples in there.  And then made a big mound of dirt over the top.  And you could open that hole and reach in and dig out.  We would go in there and get apples anytime we wanted them.”  (this is combined from 2 places).

GM June 1982 - telling about the new house (this is also told in another place or two):

GM:  “Oh, Jerri, I don’t think I was but about five or six years old.  But I can remember when they was building that house.  And I can remember helping carry little things from the old house up to the new house.  Just about as far from this house to your daddy’s house.  Maybe not that far.  It wasn’t very far.  And that’s about all I can remember about that.  John Henry Stewart, Roy Stewart’s father (grandmother’s brother in-law, husband of Aunt Ella), helped build it.  He was a carpenter. And my daddy. And I don’t know who else. But they were the main two.” 


“Once when we were all visiting around grandmother’s table, Eula Mae asked:  “Why did you call them “Ma” and “Pa?”   Grandmother told her: “Well, people did back in that day and time.  They called their parents Ma and Pa.  Then after a while, they got to calling them Papa and Mama, and then it was Mother and Daddy.  And then we called our grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa, which I really think is a sweet name.  I really do.  I love the name of Grandma.  And Grandpa.”

“Grandpa had a nickname for Ma.  He always called her, “Duck.”  (chuckling). I don’t know why. “  Darrell said that she read something once that said you called someone that you loved…in England.  It was an endearment…just like someone here would say “Dear.”  Or, “Honey.”   But in England, they would say “Duck.”  Grandmother said they were just used to hearing him call her that.  “I never heard him call her “dear’ …I don’t believe I ever did hear him call her anything but “Duck.”  And I never did ask, I don’t reckon.  I never did know why he called her that.” 

A copy of a Bill of Sale recorded at the Ohio County Courthouse indicates that J. T. Smith, Beaver Dam, of Rural Route 3, sold “27 marked hickory trees standing on his home farm, joining J. W. Taylor and Fletcher Taylor, said trees to be cut within two years from date of this sale.”  The trees were sold for $90 to J. V. Stinson & Company of Owensboro, Kentucky, to be paid by check in twenty days from date, which was signed October 26, 1922.  The witness to this timber contract was E. J. Rhodes.


June 1982 tape:  JB: “ Grandmother, tell me something else.  The obit said your daddy was sick for a long time.  20 years.  What did he have?”

GM:  “Well, he had arthritis for one thing.  And I really don’t know.  He was just in bad health for a long time.  His health just give away.  He had arthritis and it had drawed him over until he couldn’t hardly raise his head up.” 

JB:  “So all the boys had to do the work?”

GM:  “Boys and girls both.  Us girls worked too, Jerri.  We had to!”