Saturday, July 18, 2020

The James Thomas Smith Family - Part 1



            James Thomas Smith was born December 13, 1856 in Meade County, Kentucky, the son of Thomas Smith (Jr.) and Catherine Ann "Kitty" Jenkins, and grandson of Thomas Franklin Smith and Eliza S. B. "Louisa" Grant, and of Benjamin Shacklett Jenkins and Elizabeth Tichenor Humphrey of Meade County.

            He married Sarah Sanders on New Year's Day, January 1, 1880, in Ohio County, Kentucky.  Sarah was the daughter of Charles Sanders and Fidella Porter, and granddaughter of John and Sarah Sanders of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England; and of Felix Walker Porter and Nancy McKim of Spencer County, Indiana.  Sarah Sanders was born on January 4, 1861 at Evansville, Vanderburgh Co. Indiana.

            James Thomas Smith and Sarah Sanders had nine children: Della Catherine; Charles Thomas; Mary Elizabeth; Ellis James; Eva Caroline; Ella Jennie; Ollie Perry; and Harb X. "Hobby" Smith.  The family lived on their farm about two miles from Select, Ohio County, and about eight miles from Beaver Dam.

            In Ohio County, Kentucky the James Thomas Smith families lived in a cluster of relatives, neighbors, friends and in-laws – within “hollering distance” as my grandmother once put it.  They bought land from each other, witnessed each other’s deeds and legal documents, attended the same church congregations where they worshiped, and were ultimately buried near their relatives and friends in the same cemeteries.


            Grandmother Cox said that Thomas Smith was of Welsh descent.  Tracing his roots back to Wales, particularly in view of the commonality of a Welsh surname like Smith, would prove very difficult, probably impossible.  That is especially so because of the Welsh naming patterns and practices.  But it would surely be fun to learn about the Smith social, cultural, religious and economic background of the country in which our Welsh Smith ancestors lived.  As of this date in 2014, however, we have no evidence of when or where our first Welsh emigrant came from.

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            1988 Tape made by Janice Brown (JB) talking with her Grandmother Eva Caroline (Smith) Cox (GM):  

           GM:  “We had about one acre of orchard.  The first barn was great big, and was pretty old.  When it fell in, they built a new barn with a driveway through it for the wagons.  The shed was big and had a drive way through it for the wagons, and it had stalls on both sides and troughs fixed for each stall, and a gate to go in and out and around the barn, and you open it and throw the corn in, and it was fixed that way so the horses couldn’t kick you with their heels when you went around to feed them.

            “The barn had a loft without a banister, and Ellis walked off it one time.  He and our cousin, George Taylor, had gone to church and had come back by the barn.  The loft just had a ladder, and Ellis thought he was stepping down where the ladder was, but in place of that, he just stepped off into air.  It knocked him unconscious, but George didn’t bring him to the house until he revived.  And it left a gray spot on his head where his hair turned grey.  They were young men at the time, old enough to be going with the girls.”

            “The barn was close to the hen house which was down below the house.  There was an apple tree called a “limbertwig” tree and its branches drooped down to the ground, and it hid the privy.

            “The grape arbor was near the orchard, and it had flowers growing on each side of the walk.  We kept that walk swept clean all the time.  The dirt was packed down hard on the path from so many using it all the time.  There were four maple trees in the front by the yard gate.  Yes, we dug up those maple trees and brought them up to the house and set them out in the front yard.  And they grew, and they were so pretty.  They grew tall and were just beautiful.  And each one had a tree that we claimed and watered and took care of.  Planted clear across the front yard.”

            “The orchard had ever kind of tree that you could name…apples, peaches, pears.  Made all kinds of jellies and puhserves (sic).  Oh just everything.  If we wanted sugar, we bought it.   But when they were making syrup, after it was all made…and the last go around, we had apples.  And mother always made the syrup.  And you know, I can’t explain how that…pan that they made it in.  It would be longer than this table.  And on the very last she would put all those apples in there and puhserve em.  And they was really good…with that syrup…and then put it in a stone jar.  But mother always had lots of preserves made with sugar.  But us kids always liked those others.”

            JB:  “Grandmother, did you all ever sell anything that you raised?”

            GM:  “I can’t remember them selling anything.  Except Elberta peaches.  We had a beautiful Elberta peach orchard.  But now that was later on.  The peaches come in about the time I married.  Because the orchard, I think it was three years old.  And we got $3.00 a bushel.  And we thought that was great!  And then my daddy always give everyone of ‘em peaches out of the orchard to put up…all the married kids.”

            We had our own meal, our own flour…we raised wheat, taken it to the grist mill at Beaver Dam.  And we would take our corn to have it ground.  Made all kinds.”

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