Monday, July 31, 2017

God Planned It: Escaping from East Germany

My maternal grandfather's youngest brother was named Friedrich Lange (1905-1988). Unlike his two older brothers, he remained in Poland, married in 1929 a few months after his mother died and had three children. He was drafted into the German Army in 1943; was taken prisoner by Czech partisans in 1944, who turned him over to the Soviet Army; and was held in a Soviet prison until 1949.

Meanwhile, his wife fled German-occupied Poland in early 1945 in advance of the Red Army and made her way, with the children, by wagon, to Zeitz, Germany, where she had family. After V-E day, Germany was divided into four occupation zones under the control of the U.S., Britain, France and the Soviet Union. According to the pact signed in Potsdam, the four occupying countries were to treat Germans in a uniform manner, but this goal was never achieved and each country pursued their own goals and aims. The Soviets required reparations and took factory equipment, even entire factories for their occupation zone. Britain, France and the U.S. focused on economic reconstruction. The Soviets extended Communism to their German zone and collectivized farms. In 1946 the U.S. announced its zone and the British Zone would be merged to form Bizonia -- the start of the German division. The Soviets reacted by announcing Ostmark and suspended all land and air traffic to Berlin. The famous Berlin Airlift, to provide food, coal, and other necessary supplies to the western zones of Berlin ensued.

The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was established on 21 September 1949 and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), a month later.

Soviet occupation zone in red; U.S. and British troops withdrew from purple
area after fighting ceased; heavy black line was the border between what
became East and West Germany; courtesy of Wikipedia

Friedrich Lange and his family found themselves in East Germany. They lived on a small farm until Friedrich's health continued to deteriorate to an extent he could no longer help with the farm work. The government moved the family of five to a one-bedroom apartment in town where they remained until 1956 when they escaped. Their son believed it was a miracle planned by God. 

His mother had been looking for a sign from God letting them know when they should escape. The daughter of a friend, who worked at the bank, had been ordered to report any large withdrawals the family made. When Theofile, Friedrich's wife,  learned the government was monitoring their banking transactions, that was her sign from God it was time. 

When she told her family, it was time to go, they thought she was crazy. Friedrich told her the police would not let them leave together at the same time. Theofile refused to lie to the authorities but she was determined to escape. So she and their son went to the police station to get visas to visit relatives in West Germany. The policeman told them they could not go together unless other family members remained in East Germany. She told them her husband and two daughters were still in the country. So the police gave Theofile and her son visas. 

Theofile sent Friedrich and their daughter to the police station immediately. At the police station they were told they could not leave unless other family members remained in the country. Friedrich was able to say truthfully that his wife, daughter and son were in East Germany. Theofile and her youngest left East Germany on the 6:00 p.m. train and Friedrich and his middle daughter left the next morning. Their eldest daughter was married and wanted to stay in Leipzig where she and her husband lived. As their son said, “God planned it; we were just along for the ride.” 

In West Germany, they went to Wettmershagen where Heinrich and Olga’s families lived. The husband of Heinrich Lange’s daughter got Friedrich's son a job in the Volkswagon factory. Richard Lange’s wife came from Canada to visit. After hearing her talk about Canada, Friedrich and his family decided to settle there permanently. The application process took about six months and they left on 4 August 1957 aboard the Arosa Line’s SS Kulm, an old U.S. Army transport, from Bremerhaven and arrived in Quebec on 15 August 1957. They took a train to Winnipeg to reunite with Friedrich’s siblings, Richard and Heinrich. My grandfather traveled from Maryland to Winnipeg in 1958 or 1959 to see his youngest brother for the first time in 50 years and meet his family. 

I was so fortunate to be contacted by one of Friedrich Lange's grandchildren, who put me in touch with her father. He and his wife shared so much information with me and were so patient with my follow-up questions and constant digging. We shared many laughs together on the phone. I cannot thank them enough.

Left to right: Richard Lange; Theofile (Strohschein) Lange; her son; and a daughter of
Heinrich Lange, another brother of Richard and Friedrich Lange. The photograph was
taken on the front porch of Richard Lange's home in Winnipeg on the day Friedrich
Lange's family arrived in Canada; courtesy of Friedrich Lange's son

Monday, July 24, 2017

Has My Prussia Origins Theory Gone Up in Smoke?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Map of Northern Germans genetic community; courtesy of

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

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

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

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

And the problem...

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Rediscovering John Muir (1905-1978)

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

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

Mystic, Iowa, in 1909; photograph source unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Campbell Smith; courtesy of Ancestry user

UPDATE: This photograph is NOT of David Campbell Smith
(1809-1870), son of William Smith and Margaret Campbell, but
rather of his nephew, also named David Campbell Smith (1829-
1909), son of Josiah Campbell Smith and Barbara Morehead.
This correction was provided by Mark D. Smith, owner of
the original photograph.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Falls Church, Virginia: Occupied by the Enemy

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

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

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

Munson's Hill; drawing courtesy of Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

The Old Episcopal Church in 2016; personal collection

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

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

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

From the pension files of Francis Meadows; courtesy of


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

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

[1] Seng is probably wild ginseng.

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

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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