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

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Letter to Her Son

Miriam Ophelia (Lewis) Ross, was my maternal uncle's mother-in-law. Mrs. Ross was known to her friends and family as Ophelia. She was born on 13 October 1901 in Pamlico County, North Carolina, to David Marcus Lewis and Delphia "Delpha" Mae Popperwill. At the time of her birth, Ophelia's father was a farm laborer but by 1910 he rented a farm and worked it on his own account. The family lived at Lowland, a small unincorporated community on the Pamlico Sound and one of the more remote communities in a county that is still rural today. Lowland is three feet above sea level, hence its name.

Miriam Ophelia Lewis and Coolidge Martin Ross;
courtesy of Cathy Brewer

Ophelia married Coolidge Martin Ross on 13 June 1920 in Pamlico County. They had six children and one is still living.  Their youngest daughter, Iva Mae Ross, was born on 11 April 1931, and married my Mom's brother, Herbert Paul Lange, on 4 April, 1952, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where Aunt Iva went to live and work after she graduated from high school. Her new husband served in the U.S. Coast Guard.

The daughter of Coolidge and Ophelia's son, Coolidge Martin Ross, Jr., is also interested in her family history and active on Last summer she posted a letter Ophelia wrote to her son, Junior, and that letter wrote about the fatal illness of another uncle. So interesting to learn about this very sad time in our family from another point of view.

Page 1 of a letter from Miriam Ophelia (Lewis) Ross to her son, Coolidge Martin
Ross, Jr.; courtesy of Cathy Brewer


Dear Jr. and Family,

Hope all are well and keeping warm. It's sure cold down here. And has been quite a long time it seems. Try to keep one room warm. Our pump has frozen up twice already. You can imagine how cold it is in our kitchen in the morning. But we are doing fine.

Iva and Paul (this is what Ophelia called my uncle, Herbert) are in Florida. Went last week Paul's sister and her husband were both in the hospital at the same time, But Ruth is back home but not well. That's why they went to help Ruth out. Her husband is still in the hospital as far as I know. Iva said they would be back in about two weeks. That Paul's two sisters was going to take turns to be with Ruth until she is able to take over.

Not any of the children were home at Christmas but came down after. Carol did come up a little while on Christmas evening. You told me before long you were coming to see me. I keep looking for you but didn't see you. Hope you and the family wasn't sick. Have any of you had the flu? Sure hope you don't.

I still have my shingles but don't have any pain now but the itching and burning comes and goes. I will be glad when they clear up. But? How is Andy is he making good in school? Don't seem like he is twenty years old. Tell him hello from us. Have you still got a nice garden? How are Cathy and her family? Doing fine I hope. Hope Frosty and wife are getting along nicely.

Well I guess I'll close for now. Don't know if you can read it all or not but maybe some of it. Say hello to Cathy for me. Write us a line and let us know how all are.

I think of you all,

Love Mother

An explanation of the people mentioned in the letter is warranted.

Ross Family

Ross Family created using Microsoft Powerpoint

Carol Delmer Ross was their eldest child and is mentioned in the letter as stopping by to visit Christmas evening. Coolidge Martin Ross, Jr., who was called Junior by his parents, was the recipient of the letter. He lived in Georgia. And Aunt Iva is Uncle Herbert's wife. Andy, Cathy and Frosty are three of Junior's children.

Lange Family

Lange family tree created using Microsoft Powerpoint

Ruth Lange, married Robert Riffle Meek. It was the second marriage for both of them and Uncle Bob was 20 years her senior. He died of spinal meningitis on 27 January 1981, 15 days after Ophelia wrote the letter transcribed above. Aunt Millie and my Mom, Dorothy, are the two sisters mentioned in the letter. And Uncle Herbert is referred to as Paul in the letter. Herbert, Millie, Mom and their spouses lived in North Carolina. Aunt Ruth moved to New Bern, near where Aunt Millie, Uncle Marvin, and my parents made their home shortly after Uncle Bob's death.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

From 4-Star Resorts to Coal Mines

Pete and I weren't able to join my youngest brother and his wife for our annual Memorial Weekend get-away as we are working hard to get our house ready to sell. We have extensively remodeled our home over the past 13 years, but after Mom died in 2014, I lost my motivation and never really got everything put back together after the last project. So this holiday weekend, I thought back to our most recent trip and decided to share with you memories of our 2015 Memorial Day trip to southern West Virginia. Taking a long weekend trip with my youngest brother and his wife is a family tradition which began in 2010.

It was my turn to pick a destination. In my never-ending quest to get my youngest brother interested in family history, I decided we should go to southern West Virginia where our great grandfather, Robert Muir (1875-1956), worked as a miner from at least 1920 through the early 1940s. We would tour a coal mine, drive through McDowell and Wyoming counties where he lived and worked, and hopefully photograph his grave and that of his son, Robert Muir, Jr. (1912-1959). My brother requested we add a tour of the Congressional Government Relocation Facility, better known as "The Bunker." It was a Cold War era underground facility to house Congress during a nuclear attack so the government would continue to function. So we were spending Memorial Day weekend underground!

We arrived in Beckley, West Virginia, on Saturday and met my brother and his wife there for dinner, which was our best meal of the trip.

Dinner on the 304 Chop House patio; personal collection

Sunday morning we drove to the White Sulphur Springs Valley and toured the Bunker, the grounds of the Greenbrier resort, and ate lunch at the hotel's restaurant, Draper's. We drove back to Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and toured the museum, miners' housing, and went underground into the drift mine.

Front entrance of the Greenbrier; personal collection
Down in the drift mine; personal collection

We ate dinner at Tamarack, West Virginia's economic development project for arts and crafts. The cafeteria is staffed by chefs from the Greenbrier.

Tamarack arts and crafts facility; courtesy of Wikipedia

On Monday we drove south through Wyoming and McDowell counties, where nothing is flat and the valleys are narrow and pinched together with only room for a creek, railroad tracks, and a road, which would have been a great racing road course! We found the cemetery, which was huge and mountainous (of course). However, we did not find the graves of our ancestors. The records for 1950s burials were burned several years ago. We drove through Welch, West Virginia, the county seat, which is practically a ghost town now, but once was one of the fastest-growing cities in West Virginia. The decline of the coal industry has wreaked havoc on the economy. While we were there yet another mining company announced large layoffs.

Welch, West Virginia on a Sunday afternoon, 1946; courtesy of Wikipedia
Same street on a Sunday afternoon, 2015; personal collection

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the trip was learning about the West Virginia Mine War, which occurred in 1920 and 1921. It is still the largest labor action in our Nation's history. There was certainly the need for unions in that era of barely regulated capitalism.

I don't think I made much progress getting my youngest brother interested in genealogy or our family history. But I haven't given up yet!

If you are interested in looking at the photographs of the rest of our trip, you may want to review my album on Facebook: 2015 Southern West Virginia Photo Album. There is a county historical society, which has been quite helpful in my research.

Memorial Day Traditions
Project Greek Island: The Bunker
Welch County Courthouse: Then and Now
Welch, West Virginia: The Nation's Coal Bin
West Virginia Mine Wars