SMITH-WHITEHILL FAMILY HISTORY
OBTAINED FROM NINETY FIVE HANDWRITTEN PAGES BY
THE HONORABLE JOHN QUINCY SMITH OF OAKLAND, OHIO
CONGRESSMAN FROM OHIO,
SENATOR OF OHIO,
COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS,
CONSUL GENERAL TO MONTREAL,
AND PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF THE INTERMEDIATE PENITENTIARY OF
TRANSCRIBED BY PENELOPE MOTT THOMPSON,
WIFE OF THE AUTHOR’S GREAT GREAT-GRANDSON,
WILLIAM PATRICK THOMPSON
Edited and prepared for the web by John O'Neall,
John Quincy Smith's 1 cousin, 3 times removed.
The first ancestor on my father’s side of whom I have any information, was George Smith of Virginia. He was the grandfather of my grandfather. The information I have of him is very meager. He is said to have been addicted to hunting and removed from some locality on the eastern shore of the state, possibly with a view of indulging in his favorite pastime towards the Blue Ridge Mountains. He finally settled in Powhatan County and became a successful planter and acquired a considerable estate of lands lying in Powhatan and Chesterfield Counties. His estate was situated within a mile or two of the James River about 20 miles above Richmond. There is no record of exacting so far as I know of the date of his birth or death. But he was probably born towards the close of the 17th century and I suppose he died before the middle of the eighteenth. I suppose this is so because I never knew any of his great grandchildren who had ever seen him or had learned much in regard to him from their parents: from which I presume he did not live to be an old man. The maiden name of his wife is unknown, and, so far as we know he never had but one child - THOMAS SMITH, my great grandfather. Thomas Smith, I infer, from the fact that my grandfather, who was his son by a third marriage, was born in 1757, must have been born early in the eighteenth century, but the year is lost. He lived, however, until after the birth of my father in 1783. He must have died soon after as I think my father had no recollection of him.
Thomas Smith resided on a farm in Powhatan County near the little settlement known as Manakintown, and which at an early day was settled by French Huguenots, and it is the tradition in the family that the French language was still in common in that neighborhood when my grandfather removed to Ohio in 1798.
Thomas Smith was married three times. It is believed (Since hunting the above, I have been told that there is a belief among settlers of the Kentucky members of his family that George Smith had another son than Thomas, but his name was George and that he removed to Pennsylvania. I don’t know the authority for this belief.) [Page 2]  that his first wife was a Miss Rapien. She was the mother of one son and one daughter. The son’s name was George and the daughter’s name was Judith. George Rapien Smith married a Miss Guerrant, a daughter of his father’s third wife by her first husband. He was the father of General George M. Smith of Missouri, the founder of the city of Sedalia, and a man of much distinction in that state. After the breaking out of the war, General Smith was under the necessity of leaving Missouri because of his sincere pioneering hostility to the rebellion. He paid several visits to his friends in Ohio with his two daughters. He was a man of intelligence and much force of character and grew towards the close of his life quite wealthy.
Judith Smith, Thomas Smith's daughter by his first marriage, married a Mr. Guerrant, son of his father's third wife by her first husband, and a brother of the wife her brother George Rapien. Aunt Judith Guerrant had two daughters: Mrs. Lord and Mrs. Martin. After the death of his first wife, Thomas Smith married a Miss Stovall by whom he had two children - a son and daughter. The son's name was George Stovall Smith. His mother insisted on giving him that name because it was her father's. To distinguish the brothers the older George was thereafter called "Mill Pond George". This name was given to him, as I have heard, because his mother's father owned a mill. GEORGE STOVALL SMITH married Francis Sandefer and removed to Jessamine Co. KY about 1780 and was the father of a very large family of children many of whose descendants still reside in that portion of Kentucky.
The daughter of Thomas Smith by his second marriage was named Elizabeth. She became the wife of Rev. Philip Gatch, and was the ancestor of the large family of Gatches who have resided so long in the neighborhood of Milford in Clermont County. The late Judge Philip B., serving of the United States Court for the western district of Ohio, was his grandson.
[Page 3] After the death of his second wife, Thomas Smith married a Mrs. Guerrant, a widow who had several children. One of Mrs. Guerrant's daughters by her first husband was the mother of Cousin "Billy Bryant". Her maiden name was Magdalene Trabue. As I have already stated, one of her sons by her first marriage married Judith Smith, the eldest daughter of her last husband, and one of her daughters married George Rapien Smith, the eldest son of Thomas Smith. One of her daughters by her first marriage was the grandmother of late John G. Miller and his sister, Mrs. Ware of Columbus, and one of them was the mother of Col. John Mosley of Jessamine Co. Kentucky. . I believe one of her sons, Davis Guerrant, was an officer in the Revolutionary War and was with Washington at Valley Forge.
Thomas Smith was the father by his third marriage of one son and one daughter, James Smith, my grandfather, and Martha, afterwards the wife of Peter Sublett of Virginia. Mr. Sublett was a member of a French family of that name which had settled in that region. Mr. and Mrs. Sublett raised a large family of children. Many of the descendants of whom I believe still reside in that part of Virginia. As late as 1843  three of ... were William, Peter and Thomas were still living and were visited by my Uncle George J. Smith, his son James M and my brother James G (George - PMT)  . Mrs. Sublett was always spoken of by my father, his brothers and sisters with great respect and affection. In 1850, we were visited by Tom Sublett who was a son of her cousin William. He was a bright good looking young man.
My grandfather, the Reverend James Smith, was born on his father’s farm in Powhatan County, Virginia September 17, 1757. He was the [Page 4] youngest son of his parents and received the home farm with a number of negroes by inheritance. My grandfather and mother appeared to have resided with him until they died, but date of deaths is not known to me. In addition to the farm in Powhatan County, his father gave him a deed to 1200 acres of land in Lincoln County, Kentucky. His father also secured to be deeded to my father soon after his birth 1000 acres of land in the same county. These deeds, which I have often seen, were signed by the Governor Garrett and I suppose the title was good, but after my grandfather’s death a dispute arose in regard to the title. My father made one or two trips to Kentucky for the purpose of defending his and his father’s title, but the distance was so great and money so scarce that it was thought better to abandon the land to the other claimants rather than to defend title they possessed by a controversy in courts.
My grandfather was married March 9, 1779 to Elizabeth Porter. She belonged to one of the families of French Hugenots [sic] who had settled in that neighborhood soon after the revocation of the Edict of Nantz [sic]. She was the daughter of John and Sarah Porter. Her mother’s maiden name was Watkins. . She was born Dec. l, 1762 and was only little more than 16 years old at the time of her marriage. She had four brothers: John, Thomas, Dutoy, and Isase and three sisters. One of her brothers, John, married a Polly Clay, a sister of Henry Clay. One of them, Uncle Tom Porter was still living when my Uncle George, James M. and my brother James visited Virginia in 1843. One of her sisters, Phebe, married John Sublett, a brother I think of Peter Sublett who married my grandfather’s sister, Martha. This sister did not live long. and her husband, Uncle John Sublett, removed to Ohio with my grandfather and lived with the family until his death in 1815. My grandmother’s sister Margaret married William Maxey. They settled near Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. John Maxey, Brunet Maxey and Powhatan Maxey, at one time Mayor of Nashville, and their sons. They also had several daughters. My grandmother’s sister Sally married a Mr. Cheatwood. I knew nothing of her family.
[Page 5] One of my grandmother’s uncles (1 am not certain that she had any other uncles), Col. Hal Watkins, married the widow Clay, the mother of Henry Clay. They removed to Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky where they kept a tavern. On one of my father’s trips to Kentucky he stayed all night at Col Watkins’ Farm and made himself known as a son of one of his nieces and on account of the relationship was only charged half price for his night's entertainment. The old gentleman excused himself for accepting anything by pleading hard times and poverty.
My grandfather must have been well educated for the time in which he lived. When he was a young man he taught school and from old copy books and what were called "cyphering" books that used to be at my father’s, which have a great deal of his writing in them, I judge he must have taught school for a good while. I am under the impression that he taught before and after he was married, and that at one time my grandmother was one of his scholars. He also taught school after his elder children were larger enough to attend probably for a good many years. Aunt Magdalene, his sixth child, went to school to him. In the old cyphering books that I have mentioned, that accorded the arithmetical calculations of his children, there were many evidences that he was their teacher. I do not know the character of the school he taught. Uncle Ned (a slave - PMT) once told me that at one time Henry Clay, as a little boy, was one of his scholars and boarder at his house. He said he had often "rastled" with young Clay.
He wrote a most beautiful hand and his composition in his Journals furnished proof. I think he was not only a well educated man, but that he had read enough of the best literature to have a just task as to what was required in English composition.
His father and he appear to have been prominent members of the Methodist Church when the Methodist Church was first established in Virginia, though previously the family had been members of the Episcopal church.
[Page 6] In 1780 a conference of the Methodists was held at their house. The bounds of the conference lands to have witness were Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. My grandfather’s brothers, George Rapien and George Stovall were both of them Baptist ministers, and my grandfather became a Methodist preacher. It is not certainly known whether he ever was a preacher occupying a pastoral relationship; but it is known that he frequently preached and traveled on Journeys for weeks at a time preaching from place to place. It is said that on one of their expeditions when he had been absent from home for, probably, some weeks, my grandmother rode on horse back thirty miles to meet him at one of his appointments. He probably never committed his sermons to writing as it was not the habit of early Methodist preachers in this country to write their sermons and among his writings no sermon has been found so far as I know. His brothers were both of them large heavy men. He was a tall slender man. He was about six feet in height. The Rev. William Rapien, who was afterwards a leading Methodist minister in the Miami Country, told my Aunt Goode that he had heard her father preach, and that his manner in the pulpit was very solemn and exceedingly impressive. He was not in full sympathy with the form of government of the Methodist Church and seceded from the regular organization under the head of a talented preacher by the name of James O’Kelly, and joined what was called the "Republican Methodist Church." I think however there was no matter of doctrine upon which he differed with the regular Methodist Episcopals and he continued to preach to Methodist congregations. It was his intention to have reunited with the Methodist Episcopal Church if his life had been prolonged.
My grandfather was a slave holder by inheritance, but his feeling [Page 7] in regard to the institution of slavery was that of intense dislike. From an early period he wished to leave Virginia because it was a slave state. His mind turned towards the territory north out of the Ohio as his future home, and the home of his family. Slavery had been excluded from that territory by the Ordinance of 1787. For some years, however, after the passage of the Ordinance, hostilities with the Indians continued in the Northwestern territory and he was deterred from taking steps towards removal on account of the danger to his family from the Indians. Hostilities with the Indian tribes were brought to a close by General Wayne’s victory over them in the battle of the Rapids in October 1794. I was told by the late Mrs. Ruth Seving, a daughter of the Rev. Philip Gatch, that my grandfather and her father had often spoken of emigrating to this country as soon as they could do so with safety. She said that she distinctly remembered one night late in the fall of 1794 when my grandfather arrived at her father’s home about midnight. He brought the news to her father that Gen Wayne had whipped the Indians in a great battle and that they were serving for peace. He had received his first intelligence in the afternoon and immediately mounted his horse and rode to Mr. Gatches (I think about 30 miles) to convey the news to him and make arrangements for the removal of their families to Ohio.
In 1785 my grandfather had visited Kentucky when .his Brother George Stovall was then living, but he had never crossed the Ohio. He made the trip to Kentucky in 1785 by way of the Cumberland Gap. On this trip he was accompanied by his Brother "Millpond" George.
In the autumn of 1795 he again made a trip to the west accompanied by his brother-in-law Thomas Porter. The special object of this journey was to examine the country north west of the Ohio. This journey was made by [Page 8] the Kanawha river route. He and his companions floated down the Kanawha and Ohio on a flat boat to Kennedy’s Bottom in Kentucky. He then writes his brother and other friends in Kentucky and from his brother’s continued his journey to Ohio, crossing the river at Cincinnati. From Cincinnati he went to Hamilton and from there down the Great Miami to its mouth. He was so much pleased with the country that he made another visit to Ohio in the autumn of 1798. Either before he made this visit or after his return, but probably after, he traded his farm in Virginia for a tract of 1666 2/3 acres of land on the east side of the Little Miami at the mouth of Caesar’s Creek. He also obtained in some way, but I never knew whether by purchase, inheritance, or in part payment from his farm in Virginia, a tract of 500 acres of land on the waters of Paint Creek in Fayette County, Ohio. It is not certainly known whether he had effected his tract for the land at the mouth of Caesars Creek prior to his journey to Ohio in 1797. He appears not to have seen that particular land, but in his journal he speaks of bargaining with a surveyor to survey the land. On this trip he crossed the Ohio at Augusta (KY) and passed through Brown and Clermont Counties to Milford, and from there through Deerfield passing near or through the site of Lebanon to the neighborhood of Ridgeville, and thence to Waynesville. From Waynesville he went to the site of the old Indian Form on the Miami River a few miles north of where Xenia now stands. His trip northward terminated at this point. He returned to Milford and from there went to Chillicothe and from Chillicothe to the Ohio River. On this trip he was accompanied by a Mr.Sowell. On each of his journeys to the west my grandfather kept a careful and pretty full record in the shape of a journal. This journal, of which the original is now (1886)in the possession of his great grandson, [Page 9] James H. Hurin, (of Wyoming, Ohio-PMT) is of much merit. (Journal copies have been made and portions of it have been published). It is written in a easy, flowing style containing many passages of much haughty, and expressives in a strong manner my grandfather’s feelings in regard to religion and his strong dislike of slavery. But, perhaps the most remarkable characteristic it portrays is the accuracy of his observations on the country through which he passed. When it is considered that his journeys through Ohio, both during his first and second trips, were made thereafter in unbroken forests it is, in my judgement [sic], very remarkable that his conception of the character of the country through which he passed should have been so accurate. I have spent my whole life in the Miami Valley and am familiar with about every neighborhood through which my grandfather passed on his visits to this country, and I would scarcely know when to find in his account of Ohio any substantial error. I have seen printed books, of considerable pretensions, describing the same country at a later date than the period of his visit which were full of erroneous matter. But I can scarcely conceive it possible that any man could have heartily travelled through that portion of Ohio as early as 1795-1797 and given a more correct account or have formed a more accurate general impression of the country, than that formed by my grandfather.
He left his home on the last trip journey of exploration on August 31 and reached home on the 12 day of November. If he had not done so already, between his return and the following autumn he effected a trade of his farm in Virginia, containing, I think, about 700 aces of land, for the survey owned by Major John Harris at the mouth of Caesars Creek on the Little Miami. This survey was number 528 and was supposed to contain 1666 2/3 acres, but it was afterwards ascertained to contain about 200 acres more.
Between the date of the return of my grandfather in November 1797 and the autumn of the next year he and his brother-in-law, Rev. Philip Gatch. completed their preparation for the arrival of their families to Ohio. Each of them was a bitter hater of the institution of slavery and looked forward with keen apprehension to the day that it would produce great evils to the people of Virginia. But each one of them was the owner of a number of slaves. Mr. Gatch’s slaves had been manumitted some years before and before leaving Virginia Grandfather’s were all manumitted, and provision made for the proper care of the most helpless.
Finally all the arrangements were perfected, and the families started about the 26th of September 1798. The company was a large one. My grandfather’s family consisted of himself and wife and eight children, and two negro boys, former slaves, who accompanied them. One of them was married Ned and the other Caesar. I shall have frequent occasion to mention Uncle Ned as he was always affectionately called by the grandchildren of his old master and mistress. Caesar was a young boy when my grandmother was raised and who lived in the family portions of the time until his death in 1816. In addition to those I have named, the family was accompanied by Uncle John Sublett whose wife was Phebe Porter, my grandmother’s sister. I do not know how long she had been dead at (before) the time of the (his) removal. Uncle John Sublett was a mechanic and made himself very useful by his handicraft in making chairs, tables, spinning wheels and implements in the new country when such things were difficult to obtain. After the removal of the family to Warren County. he built a log work shop a few yards southwest of the southwest corner of the brick house built by my father in 1826 and now occupied by Cyrus Smith. He was also noted for his fondness for and success in fishing and hunting. At that time the woods were full of geese and the Little Miami was full of fish. He killed great quantities of deer and turkeys and [Page 11] occasionally a hare. Mr. Sublett also trapped or attempted to trap wolves. One of his traps for collecting wolves was located on the hill beyond the hollow south of the residence. One deer he killed dropped 400 pounds and he shot a turkey that was so fat that when it fell to the ground it burst open. We caught turkeys by trotting them into a pen. They would get into the pen by creeping under a pole and then become confused and be unable to force their way out.
He had various contrivances for taking fish, among others what was called a "pot." This he placed at the head of a ripple in the river below the "bud" in the Miami: opposite to the tract of land owned by the family. There was a ford in the river at that point which has always been called the "fish pot ford." It was at this ford that Harrison’s army crossed the Little Miami in ‘17. Uncle John’s services for taking geese and fish for the family must have been very valuable. He also took fun having animals. I think he occasionally captures an otter once on an occasion he caught a beaver. The only beaver I ever heard of in that neighborhood. He weighed the beaver and Uncle George (Smith) and they weighed exactly the same, but I do not remember the weight. Uncle John I think occasionally drank enough liquor to produce intoxication, but he must have been a very kind hearted man, from the affectionate terms in which he was always spoken of by the family. I have spoken of him in this place so particularly because I may not find so suitable an opportunity of describing his character again, and because he was for so many years an important member of my grandmother’s family. He had one son, but he remained in Virginia, and it is said that he and his father had some disagreement, but I do not know the nature of it. Uncle John Sublett died at my grandmother’s in 1845.
I do not know how many members there were in Uncle Philip Gatch’s family. They had eight children, and possibly other persons especially attached to the family accompanied it to Ohio. A friend of Mr. Gatches, Abraham Bauson, and his family were of the party, and a poor man named Seward (always pronounced in our family Sorde?) removed to Ohio with my grandfather and Mr. Gatch. He afterwards lived in a log cabin near the "Elm Spring" at the foot of the hill below the old homestead on the Miami. He was the father of the wife of Joel Drake who lived near the Olive Branch Church on the Lebanon and Wilmington Road, a mile or two east of the river.
The company consisting of thirty six persons white and colored, came by the Kanawaha route, the same I presume that was taken by Rev. James Smith on his 2nd trip to the west in 1795. The journey was made by [Page 12] land, on horseback, and in wagons to a point on the Kanawha river near the foot of the Gauley Mountain. The train consisted of the wagons, two of them drawn by four horses each and one by five, a stage drawn by four horses each and a lighter carriage drawn by two. These horses were used for the saddle. The journey must have been very tedious and fatiguing. The road was very cruel and the hills not only long and steep, but rough and dangerous. In going down the mountains, the wagons were locked by cutting poles and running them between the spokes of the wheels and under the beds of the wagons. Perhaps logs were chained to the rear and dragged behind to retard the too rapid descent. In very sidling places in the road, poles were cut and fastened under the wagon beds in such a way as to balance the wagons to prevent them from upsetting. The Chesapeake and Ohio railroad now runs in many places in sight of this old road. In passing over the railroad a few years ago, in sight of this old road, in imagination I could see the slow and painful procession of my great grandfather's family, and company, as they crossed those rough mountains eighty four years before. The women and small children of whom there were many rode in what was called the "stage wagon" and the lighter carriage. Uncle Ned, who was at the time twenty years old drove one of the wagons. At night the company camped near wood and water, which I think could always be found.
When the company reached the Kanawha river they embarked in two flatboats and floated down the river to its mouth - the females and children and a portion of their property. The remainder of the company came by land. Another boat was secured, into which the remainder of the goods were placed. Uncle Gatch's oldest son, Uncle Gatch, my father, Uncle John, Uncle John Sublett,. Uncle Ned, Candice Gatch and perhaps others taking the horses came the rest of the way by land. They came by Chillicothe and Williamsburg. I think they travelled down the river on the north bank, and probably kept within communicating distance of the remainder of the party who descended the Ohio in the boats.
The river at the time was very low and there was a good deal of difficulty in getting the boats over the bars. One of them was "stov in" and abandoned. They, however, arrived at Columbia near the mouth of the Little Miami safely and in [Page 13] good health on the 7 of November having been six weeks on the way.
At the time the boat landed, Mr. Halsey, who afterwards married my Aunt Sally was standing on the banks of the river and saw the family for the first time. It is said that he was so much attracted by the appearance of Aunt Sally that he determined to become acquainted with her with a view of making her his wife. At Columbia the families separated. Mr. Gatch and his family went to the land he purchased on the east fork of the Miami near where the village of Milford now stands. As there were no improvements on the land owned by my grandfather in Warren County he took a house at what was called "Middletown Station", about half way between Columbia and Newtown. Noted on paper: ( the house is said to have stood on the banks of the river two or three hundred feet east of the end of the present bridge over the Little Miami near the junction of the Little Miami and Batavia railroads). Here the family remained until December 25, 1800 when they removed to the old homestead near the mouth of Caesar’s Creek.
During the time he lived in Middletown, I suppose grandfather raised one or more crops, as he is said to have contracted the fever of which he died by going into the river to place flax for retting. The house in which the family lived in Middletown and in which Uncle George J. Smith was born and in which his father died, was standing in 1835 when it was visited by my father and mother, Uncle and Aunt Goode and Uncle George.
During grandfather’s residence at Middletown, he contracted with a man named Benjamin Weeks to build a house and clear, as I have heard, two acres of land where Cyrus Smith now lives. For doing this, Weeks, was to receive 35 acres of land. He also sold 110 acres of land off the south end of his tract to Thomas Golden who either came with the family from Virginia or near the same time.
The house Weeks built was not completed during grandfather’s life.
In July 1800 he was taken violently ill with bilious fever and died on the 28th day of the same month, aged not quite 43 years. The locality in which he resided was probably a very unwholesome one. As I understand that the inhabitants, were of recent years living in that vicinity, had suffered very much from chills and fevers. But he is said to have been a strong, healthy man, and he was in the prime of his life. A belief has always been entertained in the family that, notwithstanding the fever that seized him was formidable and dangerous, his death was nurtured, if not made certain by the barbarous requirements of the physician who attended him. His sickness occurred during the very hottest weather of the year. The house was a log cabin in the river bottom. It was small and the house of a large family. To be seriously sick under those circumstances must necessarily have been not without danger. But it is said that the Doctor required the doors and the windows to be kept closed, that he kept him heavily covered with blankets while he was suffering from a raging fever, and even forbade him the comfort of a cool draught of water. His children did not like to speak of the medical treatment he had received, but Uncle John, towards the end of his life, and to speak with bitter emphasis of the requirements of the Dr. who attended his father in his last illness. He thought his father was murdered by malpractice, and I have no doubt that his opinion was correct.
I have already said so much about my grandfather that I hope his character will be appreciated by his descendants who are to be born hereafter. But I must add a few more words about him.
Of course his library was comprised of a 1imited number of books. How many he had I do not know his books were divided among his children. He seems. as might be expected. to have been my family’s early acquaintance with the sacred scriptures. I have in my library [Page 15] several volumes which he owned. One of them is Mr. Mosley’s Commentaries on the New Testament. in three volumes, an other is "Guthries Grammar of Geography". This latter book was published more than 100 years ago, and is still a most interesting compilation of geographical, historical and statistical information. Uncle John I know had, and used to read with great interest "Prideus’ Connection between the old and the new Testaments." It was a very large book and I believe is still regarded as a standard work. Aunt Magdalene had of her father’s books. 2 volumes of sermons by Rev. Devareax Jarret and the American magazine. I think I have see several other books that belonged to my grandfather, but what they were or how many of them there were I cannot remember. Of course. he was not what would now be called a good scholar. But his journal shows that he took an extraordinary interest in the scenery through which he passed, the phenomena he interpreted, and the archealogical [sic] remains he found in the Miami Valley. His. imagination enabled him to predict, with almost prophetic vision. the future civilization of Ohio while it was yet a wilderness. On the whole, I think it can be no doubt that he had a strong intellectual appetite and eagerly sought the increase of knowledge and found much delight in serious studies.
The impression he left on the minds of his children [sic] and was never espoused as long as they lived was that he was a remarkable man. This may not amount to much in the way of evidence, as were [sic] the older ones were young when he died, but he seems to have left on all the persons I have known who remember him an impression not unlike that left in the minds of his children. Is has been said, with how much truth I know not, he had been selected by many leading citizens as a suitable person to represent Hamilton County in the convention. that was to be called to [Page 16] form the first constitution of this state.
My grandfather was buried in the graveyard on the farm of Uncle Philip Gatch at Milford. In consequence of the distance, the funeral procession did not reach the place of interment until after night. He was followed to his grave by my grandmother, a weak pale young woman with nine children, the youngest one an infant. She and they were left
to endure the hard struggle of 1ife in this wilderness bereft of him who, of the whole family seemed the only one fitted to meet the difficulties which lay in front and around them.
About 1867 my grandfather’s remains were removed to Miami Cemetery near Waynesville by George Sublett and Philip Smith, and my grandmother’s remains near the same time were removed from the graveyard at the homestead near the mouth of the Caesar’s Creek and after the long separation all that remains of them lie side by side.
At the time of Grandfather’s death, Grandmother lacked about four months of being 38 years old. She was the mother of ten children, nine of whom were there living. Her eldest child was born (I presume) in 1780. His name was Thomas. He died in infancy. The 2nd child was named Sarah Watkins (or Sally). She was born Dec 25,1781. The third child was my father, Thomas, born June 9,1783. The fourth was John Wesley born Feb. 13 1785. The fifth was Elizabeth born January 9, 1787. The 6th was Magdalene born June 3, 1789. The seventh was Martha born Sept 1, 1791. The 8th Judith born 1794. The ninth Cynthia was born 1796. These children were all born in the old homestead in Powhatan County Virginia. The 10th child was George James born at Middletown (Station) Hamilton County Ohio May 22nd, 1799. Many facts in regard to the children who survived my grandfather will appear as my story progresses. But in addition, I design appending some more particular account of each of them and their families.
[Page 17] I am not aware of any incident that occurred in the family worth relating after the death of Grandfather, until their removal to the permanent home near the mouth of Caesars Creek. This removal was made about Christmas of 1800. The house built by Mr. Weeks had by that time been made ready for occupancy, though not completed. It was a log house built of blue ash logs cut near the sight of the house. The shingles were made from a black walnut tree which grew about halfway down the hill. The stump of this tree remained standing for more than eighty years when it was split up to make relics. Portions of it were as sound as the day it was cut. After the old house was torn down about 1830 the logs were used to build a stable which stood until recently. Many of them were perfectly sound more than 80 years after they were put into the walls of my grandmother’s house. They were hung on slats with wooden pins riveted into the shingles in a hole made by a sneale augur. The fireplaces and chimney were of stone, but at the time when the house was first occupied, I think the chimney was built up as high as the arch over the fireplace. The floor was made of punch ions or split logs with the flat side surfaced. There was, I think, only one doorway, and the first winter there was no door but a blanket or quilt was used instead. The house was situated a few yards north of where the east end of Cyrus Smith’s house now stands. It consisted of one room and a loft over it. I should say from the dim recollection of my childhood, it was 20 by 82 feet. It was “chinked and lumbered" after the usual manner - that is, the cracks between the logs were filled with split pieces of timber and then plastered over with mortar. At first, I suppose, there was no stairway, but a ladder led to the room over the house. The house was very much changed afterwards. The chimney was carried up to the usual height. A "lean-to" addition of weatherboarded frame was made on the north side containing two small bed rooms, in one of which was a little fireplace, and a small kitchen was built on the end, but separated by a hallway probably 7-8 feet wide from the large house. There was no direct communication between the main part of the house and the kitchen. To get from one to the other often it was necessary to go out of doors. The door into the kitchen was in the hallway.
[Page 18] My grandmother occupied, with some of the children, the large room in the main part of the house, for a bedroom. It was also used for the family sitting room. The fireplace both in that room and in the kitchen was probably five or six feet wide with high arches. Into these
fireplaces for warmth and cooking huge logs, cut nearby were piled. The cooking was done over the fire in pots and skillets. I have never heard anything about any stable being built at the time of removal. But the first stable and corn crib was situated on the point south west about 50
yards from the house. I remember on that stood some forty to fifty yards from the house in a north east direction. It was of logs with room for three or four horses and a loft for hay, or oats, or fodder over head. But I suppose it was not built until after some years. During the War of 1812, Mr. Galther built a log barn of considerable size on the front north west of the house with a bank stable on the south side. The smokehouse which was probably not built for a year or two sat southeast of the house and probably at a distance of forty yards. A very excellent stone smoke house was built probably about 1825, near the north corner of the old kitchen. The water used for some years was obtained from springs. One of them was nearly half way down the hill. One was in the hollow north of and near the house. I think the quality of this water was not regarded as good as that on the hillside. There was afterwards an excellent well of water obtained just south of the old kitchen which is the same well now used by the family of my cousin Cyrus.
At the time of removal there was no road up the hill and the ascent was much through the hollow girth of the house and between the house and the graveyard.
The only cleared land was, a small spot at the foot of the hill and an acre or two just south of the house where Cyrus Smith’s garden now is. It contained only about two acres and [Page 19] still had logs and bushes scattered on it.
My impression is that my grandmother had several horses and cows and also some sheep and hogs, but whether they were removed when the family first moved to their new abode, I do not know. The woods at that time were full of weeds and bushes and the stock was largely left to pull a living as it could in the woods. In the spring of the year, and the latter part of winter, cattle hound on green twigs.. There was usually a great deal of mast in the woods and the hogs lived largely on it and in the fall and winter grew very fat on it. A wild prairie grew in great abundance, and is said to have been excellent food for stock.
Near the residence was a fine grove of sugar trees or rock maples, as I ever saw and the family men from the start enabled to supply themselves plentifully with sugar. The trees were first boxed with an axe and then tapped with a grisslet? and wild turkey quills were used at first to convey the sap into wooden troughs afterwards a half width augur was used for tapping and a shield made of elder was used instead of the turkey quills. The sap was boiled down in kettles and pots hung over two logs between which the fire was built. Afterwards kettles were placed in furnaces for boiling sugar water.
At the time of my grandfather’s death my father was a little over seventeen years old. Uncle John was about fifteen. They were good boys to work, however, and with the assistance of Uncle John Sublett, Uncle Ned (former slave), and cousins they seemed to have made rapid progress in clearing land, and in a few years had quite a farm. Uncle Ned returned to Virginia where he married and remained probably for some years. He afterwards moved to Kentucky and, his wife having died, he fell in love with a Mulatto woman named Bon who was a slave. She was sold by her master and was taken south. Whether this was before or after the marriage to Uncle Ned I do not know. [Page 20] He followed her and purchased her of her new master for $700. I think her master permitted her to go and live with Uncle Ned. And aid him in making money to pay for herself. They lived at Natchez. Uncle Ned got a horse and Aunt Bon washed and labored. They made money rapidly and soon paid the money. Aunt Bon had four children by a former husband. All their children except one had been taken from her and told to go south. We never heard from them afterwards. She was an able woman and descriptions of the awful agony she had endured from the loss of her children was very affecting. Mrs. Stowe herself could not describe the horrors of slavery more vividly or touchingly than Aunt Bon did with the recital of her own experiences. Uncle Ned had also purchased his first wife and paid $300 for her. When she died, her death relieved him from any further obligation to pay the balance that his contract with her master required him to pay. Uncle Ned and Aunt Bon removed from Natchez to Lexington, Kentucky and about 1824 came to Ohio and purchased a farm on the south side and two miles east of the mouth of Caesar Creek. This farm Uncle Ned and Aunt Bon comfortably improved and lived on until they died. He took the family name and was known throughout the country as Ned Smith. Aunt Bon was a very energetic woman and notable cook. She was always a very important person on the occasion of a marriage in the Smith family or other event that caused any large assembly of relatives or friends. They were loyal as long as they lived to the children and grandchildren of Ned’s old master. They were particularly pleased to receive visits, which they frequently did, from any of us, and on such occasions Aunt Bon would bring all her culinary skills, her whitest table cloths and nicest dishes in to requisition, I think I have never enjoyed more elegant feasts than she would give on such occasions.
They were thoroughly honest and kind hearted people and were universally respected. They were members of the Baptist Church. Uncle Ned died in 1849 aged about 72 years old and Aunt Bon in 1850 at 57. They were buried in the [Page 21] family graveyard on the farm now owned by Cyrus Smith with the graves of the old masters children and grandchildren.
The labor and deprivation that were the lot the earlier settlers of this portion of the country can hardly be estimated. There was of country little to sell and money was exceedingly scarce. I remember hearing my father say the first conceivable money he ever had was $50 which he received for five beavers. He said he regarded it as a very large sum. But this must have been many years after the removal to Warren County. I do not see how any produce could have been sold from the farmer for several years except probably a little flax weed and I doubt whether during the first years the total sales of products amounted to $100. The furs Uncle John Sublett and the four boys took may have brought in a little money. The utensils and implements used must have been of a very primitive character. The clothing worn by the family was made from wool that was grown on the flock of sheep they produced. It was spun, died and then woven by my grandmother and her daughters. They also raised flax which the men folks retted, soaked, and hackled. My grandmother and her daughters spun and wove it into course linen. I think they have also spun and wove cotton, but about this I am uncertain. I have often seen the wheel on which my grandmother spun flax. I believe she was very adept in spinning. She told my mother that she both spun and wove the yarn of which her wedding dress was made. It was a mixture of silk and wool or silk and cotton and was very fine. Hides were tanned on the shores in little tan yards, and made into shoes by the shoemakers who went from house to house.
The nearest mill was at. Milford. For some time, perhaps two or three years, only corn bread, I think, was used in the family and a good deal of that was made of grated meal. Salt was very scarce and costly. My father used to go through the woods to Chillicothe on horseback for salt. Uncle Ned once told me that he and father one year ki11ed more hogs and carried the meat on horseback to Columbia and exchanged it for salt, giving a pound of pork for a pound of salt. Indian [Page 22] hunters who sometimes are camped in the neighborhood wou1d give Grandmother a saddle of raisins for a tin cup or two of salt. There was no fruit except the wild fruit of the woods. Wild grapes grew in plenty. They were small and sour, but we thought to make excellent pies. The children became so fond of them sour grape pies that they regarded them as excellent even in their old age. There were one, two or three persimmon trees in the neighborhood and pawpaws grew in abundance. There were no apples for a number of years. Uncle George could c1early remember the first app1e he ever saw. My father brought it to him from Kentucky and he thought, as long as he lived, that it was the best app1e he ever ate.
It is proper for me to say now that the attachment my father felt for Uncle George was more than the usual brotherly affection. It was the love of a Father and brother combined. He was intensely interested in his success as long as he lived, and I think he was very proud of him. I used to think he was quite as much interested in Uncle George and his family as he was in himself and his own family. He would frequently make excuses, as I thought, to go to Lebanon on some trifling errand when his main object was to see Uncle George's fami1y and, though he often received visits from them, their visits seemed to give him extraordinary p1easure. He thought his father's death while Uncle George was an infant, impowered the responsibility and duty on him of receiving and giving him every educational advantage that was in his power. I am not sure that I can know one brother so deeply interested in another. This extraordinary friendship lasted til the last moment of his life.
Grandmother's house was a1ways open to her children and grandchildren. As her children married off and the number of grandchildren increased it became a favorite place of most for a1l of them. The older ones of those who are still living are very fond of returning to the old homestead, and recalling localities of different bui1dlngs and other objects of interest to them, and repeating the stories of the life of Grandmother's family 65-70 years ago.
The first marriage among my grandmother's chi1dren was that of my Aunt [Page 23] Sally, (Sarah Watkins). She married on the 25th of December 1800 to Ichabod B. Ha1sey. Mr. Halsey was a man of utmost respectability, an emigrant from New Jersey and owner of a large farm about one mile north of Lebanon. He was for many years a prominent and leading citizen of Warren County. They were married by the Rev. John Smith a Baptist minister and merchant residing in Columbia. This gentleman was very prominent in the early history of Ohio. He is reported to have possessed talents of a high order. He was one of the first senators in Congress from Ohio, but being accused of complicity in the mischieviations, of Aaron Burr, he was under the necessity of resigning his seat and pushed out of office.
On the 9 of January 1807 my Aunt Elizabeth (Betsy) married Burwell Goode. Mr. Goode was of a Virginia family many members of which have been prominent both in that state and in this. He owns a fine farm about one mile east of Waynesville on which he lived until his death in 1852. He was a man of strong characteristics and for many years was one of the most prominent citizens of that part of Warren County. He was a very ardent, devoted member of the Methodist Church at Waynesville , and did much to establish and maintain it for a great many years than any other member.
The third marriage in my grandmother’s family was that of Aunt Magdalene to Robert Sale. Mr. Sale belonged to a Virginia family, some members of which removed out at an early day. The family of Mr. Sale was regarded as an excellent one, and I have heard Grandmother regarded this
marriage with great favor. They were married by Mr. Sales’ brother, the Rev. John Sales who resides in Greene County at the time. For many years Mr. Sale was one of the ablest and most influential preachers with the Methodist Church in Southern Ohio. The marriage of Aunt Magdalene occurred Nov. 10, 1808.
[Page 24] My Uncle John was married Feb 2, 1815 to Sarah Evans, granddaughter of Jerimiah Evans and celebrated Quaker preacher of New Jersey, the daughter of John Evans and a niece of "Uncle Joseph Evans" who was one of the early settlers in the neighborhood of Dunberry, north of Lebanon. Uncle John and his wife at first took up their residence on the portion of grandfather’s land that was assigned to him in the division, on the north side of Caesar’s Creek. They remained there until 1827. In the mean time he had purchased a portion of the parcels of land set apart to Aunt Cynthia and Uncle George on the south side of the creek and in the year moved onto a beautiful spot south of the creek where he lived until his death in 1843. Aunt Sally died Oct. 30, 1830.
On the 11th of January 1816, my Aunt Martha was married to William O’Neall by Rev. Bennett Maxey. Mr. O’Neall was the son of Abijah O’Neall, one of the very early settlers on the neighborhood who lived just opposite Waynesville on the east side of the Little Miami. Abijah
O’Neall was a leading member and one of the founders of the Friends Church at Waynesville. He is reported to have been an unusually intelligent and gentlemanly man. His house was ; long noted for its hospitality. He was an emigrant from South Carolina, and was a member of the Quaker Church, I think, who left the state because of their dislike of slavery.
William O’Neall, "Uncle Billy" as he was always affectionately called, and Aunt Patsy took up their residence in a log cabin on the farm now owned and near the present residence of their son George T. O’Neall. They lived on that farm until 1837 when they removed to the farm on which their son Abijah P. [Porter - JON]  O’Neall now lives. They resided on that farm during the remainder of their lives. Aunt Martha died Jan 18, 1873 and Uncle William July 18 1874. Uncle William O’Neall was an energetic business man and acquired [Page 25] a fine estate but his weaker characteristic was his hospitable and benevolent disposition. He lived to a very old age and his heart seemed to grow more tender and more loving with every succeeding year. My Aunt Martha was a very delicate woman and had been the haughty among her mother’s daughters. Perhaps it was because of her frail health, but I always thought my father’s affection for Aunt Patsy was warmer than for any of his other sisters. But this a new impression in which I may have been mistaken.
My father was married by Rev. Abbott Goddard to Mary Whitehill on the 6th of Feb 1817.
Aunt Judith was married by the Rev John Sale to Hiram Brown on the 29th of March 1817. Hiram Brown was the son of Judge Ignatius Brown of Warren County and a brother of Milton Brown who afterwards removed to Tennessee and became a noted lawyer and politician. As a member of Congress he offered the Joint resolution under which Texas was admitted into the Union. He was also a brother to Asahed Brown long a member of the Lebanon Bar. After Mr. Brown married my Aunt he studied law and removed to Indianapolis where he became a successful and prominent lawyer. He was noted as a fine and very humorous conversationalist. He died about 1853. Aunt Judith died Jan 27. 1859.
On the 9th of April 1822 Uncle George ( b. 22 May 1799; d. 18 April 1878 - ninth and last child of Rev. James Smith) was married to Hannah Whitehill Freeman, widow of Thomas Freeman. daughter of Joseph and Mary Whitehill.
THE WHITEHILL FAMILY
Having brought my record of the Smith family down to the marriages of my Father to Mary Whitehill and Uncle George to Hannah Whitehill, it is proper to give such facts as I am acquainted with in the history of the family of my Mother and Aunt.
The Whitehill family was originally from Scotland, but at what period it is not known. They emigrated to the north of Ireland, probably not far from Londondary. It is tradition that the name was derived from a hill in Scotland : that was known at one time as the "Whitehill." I do not know in what part of Scotland this hill is located, but the family lived near it. There are two other traditions in respect to the family that I will give for what they are worth. My Aunt Jane, my mother’s oldest sister, told me that in her childhood she had seen a picture in her Uncle John Whitehill’s house that she was told was the Coat of Arms of the Family of the Earl of Stair and that in some way, that she did not recollect, the Whitehills were
descendants from that family. If this were true, I suppose the Whitehill family must have been distantly connected with the celebrated Sir John Hamilton, the author of the Glencoe Massacre (1692-PMT) and, also to the heroine of Sir Walter Scott’s, "Bride of Lammermoor".
The other legend is that after the family removed to Ireland there came a rumor to them that a witch in Scotland had declared that a young heiress to a Scotch estate would never be married until she was sought in marriage by a suitor whose horse was shod with silver shoes. Thereupon a young Mr. Whitehill went over to Scotland, and having his horse shod with shoes made of silver rode to the house where the young lady lived. He managed to time his visit so as to reach her residence in the dusk of the evening. On the plea that he was a belated hunter he begged a night’s lodging. As he was [Page 27] well dressed and good looking young man, of gentlemanly manners, he was kindly received and hospitably entertained. A servant took he horse to the stable, and while grooming him discovered that his shoes were of silver. As all of the servants about the place knew of the witch’s prediction, the rumor spread among them, and, of course it soon came to the ears of their young mistress that the predestined suitor and husband had at last arrived. I suppose that she must have found the young gentleman to her liking for, the story goes, that he successfully prepared his suit for her hand.
The first one of the Whitehills whose name I have learned was James Whitehill of Lancaster County Pennsylvania. I am inclined to the belief that his father emigrated to this country from Ireland and James may have been born in this country. But of this I am not certain. It is certain however that he was living on Pequea Creek, about seven miles east of Lancaster as early as about 1720. He was born Feb 2 1700. In the "History of Lancaster County" published in 1844, "the Whitehills" are included among the list of earliest settlers of Donegal Township, a township said to have been settled chiefly by Irish, and of which the civil organization was effected in 1722. From this it would seem that more than one person by the name must have been living in Donegal Township as early as 1722, or earlier. From this I infer that my great grandfather must have been the first immigrant of the family and that he had other sons than James.
My great grandfather James Whitehill was born in 1700 and about 1725 married Rachel Criswell. They lived. I think on Pequea Creek about 7 miles east of Lancaster on a very fine farm of several hundred acres of land. Some years ago in passing through [Page 28] Lancaster County on my way to New York, I stopped off at the city of Lancaster, and in company with A Herr Smith, at the time. the member of Congress from the district visited, as I suppose the neighborhood in which my great grandfather lived. But I have since learned that the old homestead was some miles further up the creek than I then supposed. I have no doubt that I saw the land he owned and probably the spot on which he lived but the farms in the neighborhood have been cut up into small farms, and so many of them had been owned by Whitehills that it was impossible to identify the home of my great grandfather, and afterwards the home of my grandfather, and the birthplace of my mother, without consulting the land records of the County. This unfortunately I have not time to do.
The following is a list of children of my great grandparents James and Rachel Criswell Whitehill as taken from the family register of my grandfather by my cousin Judge James M Smith and now in his possession:
James was born Jan 6 1725 married June 1751, died 1791
John was born Dec 1729 married August 13 1755, died 1815
Joan was born June 23 1731, died March 4 1752
Elizabeth was born July 5 1733 married Nov 1752
Robert was born July 14 1735 married Feb 12 17-
Sarah was born June 19 1737 married March 13 1760
Rachel born June 18 1739 married June 18 1773
Margaret born July 1 1771 Jan 1 1764 died Feb 14 1777
Davis May 27 1743 married April 3 1770
JOSEPH Aug 2 1746 married May 20 1780 - 1994 THOMPSONS...
Name missing - born Dec 13 1749 married Oct 19 1769
James Whitehill I think must have been a very prosperous man. He owned a great deal of land. My grandfather Joseph [Page 29] was the youngest son and as I have understood received the home farm containing about 400 acres as his share of this father’s property. There were many children and the fact that so large a farm in one of the most beautiful and fertile counties in the Union was thought not too much for the share of one child, would indicate that James Whitehill was a man of large wealth.
The Whitehills were Scotch Presbyterians of the most rigid character, and a large portion of their descendants even to the present time are adherents of Presbyterianism. From a number of passages in McMartin’s "History of the American People" referring to one of the brothers of my grandfather, who was a leading member of the legislature of Pennsylvania soon after the Revolutionary war, as well as anecdotes of our own hand of the family, the faith of the Whitehills during the last century must have partaken largely of the strict theology of the Scotch covenants.
James Whitehill, my great grandfather died Feb 2, 1766; his wife, Rachel (Criswell) Whitehill survived him nearly 30 years. They were buried apparently in the same grave in the graveyard at Pequea and a large marble stone marked the grave. The inscription on this stone was still dicipherable in 1853, and was in the following lines and figures, as stated in a letter to James M. Smith by George W. Wants, postmaster at Pequea.
the Body of
who departed this life the 2nd day of Feb 1766, aged 66 years
My glass is run, my work is done And I lie under ground
Entombed in clay,
until the day
I hear the trumpet sound
And then I’ll rise, for paradise
Upon my savior’s score
And then to be, to view and see
His glory, evermore
Also what was mortal of Rachel
The wife of James Whitehill
Who departed this life June 29 1795
in the 86th year of her age
Alongside the remains of his father and mother were buried the remains of John Whitehill their 2nd son and his wife. Before speaking particularly of my own grandfather I will mention a few facts in regard to some of his brothers.
In 1774 the several boroughs and townships of Lancaster County elected delegates from their local militia bodies to a convention held in Philadelphia of the military organization of the eastern province which convened to take action in view of the stirring events occurring at that time in Massachusetts. John Whitehill and Joseph Whitehill were elected as privates, delegates to that convention from Salisbury Township ("History of Lancaster County"). The John Whitehill been referred was the 2nd son of James Whitehill,
And Joseph Whitehill was my grandfather, his fifth and youngest son.
I have already referred to the fact stated in the "McMartins History of the American people" that a Mr. Whitehill, I think John, was a [Page 31] prominent member of the state legislature.
In 1787 John Whitehill was elected one of five delegates to the State Convention to which was submitted for ratification the Federal Constitution in which he was one of the leaders of the anti-federalists. In the years next succeeding, he was three times elected a member of the General Assembly (History of Lancaster County). John Whitehill also represented the Lancaster District in Congress from 1803-1807. He died in 1815 aged 86 years. My Aunt Jane Whitehill who was about 17 years old when her father removed from Pennsylvania often spoke to me of her Uncle John whom she knew and remembered well. She always spoke of him as being a very wise and kind man. On one occasion she accompanied him and his wife and son to a party in a sleigh - the son, whose name I have forgotten, being the driver. The young man drank so much wine that on the way home he either upset the sleigh or allowed the horses to turn off. At the time his father said nothing. But a day or two after she overheard her uncle inform him in such an impressionable manner that it was fastened on her mind for life. The particular point of his rebuke was that he foolishly and wickedly took too much wine when he was driving a sleigh that his mother was to ride in, and possibly endangering her life.
James Whitehill, a nephew of John, beside being, I think a member of the General Assembly was a representative in Congress from the Lancaster District from 1813 to 1814 when he resigned. He was also Judge of a County Court and a General of Militia. He died at Strasburg in Lancaster County March 5 1822 at about 97 years of age. [Page 32] When I was in Strasburg in 1877 I was shown his house, as I suppose, which was still known as the "Judge Whitehill House."
Robert Whitehill, the third son of my great grandfather was a representative in Congress from 1805 to 1813, in which year he died aged about 78 years. My impression is that he lived in Cumberland County and represented a different district from the one represented by his brothers James and John and nephew James. I am under the impression that Robert Whitehill accumulated the largest fortune of any of the brothers. I have heard that he owned a large and valuable tract of land in the immediate vicinity of Louisville, KY. I think he also had a large property in Champaign County, Ohio which descended to his daughter Mrs. McBeth, the mother of several prominent farmers who afterwards lived in that county. Mrs. McBeth was the grandmother of the distinguished sculptor now of New York, J.Q.A. Ward.
Davis Whitehill removed to the western part of Pennsylvania and I think my grandfather never had any communication with him after they left Pennsylvania. I have an indistinct impression, also, that he and my grandfather had some business difficulty. But I do not know whether this impression is correct or not, and, if correct, I know nothing of the nature of the misunderstanding.
It was the wish of my great grandfather that his youngest son should be educated for a presbyterian preacher, and I think he prosecuted his studies for some time with the view of entering into the ministry. But for some reason, which I had heard but have forgotten, the intention was abandoned. It was not, however, I think because of any lack of faith in the doctrines of his church. I think he remained throughout his life a member of the presbyterian church of the straightest sect.
As I have said, he inherited the home farm. If he had been a good business man and let other operations than farming alone he should have become, if not a wealthy, a very independent man. But he seems to have been a very poor business man or a very unfortunate one. He was, I think, appointed a collector of taxes, and employed a deputy who defaulted to a considerable amount for which my grandfather was responsible. He sold his farm at a sacrifice to make good the defalcation of his assistant. He then set up a country store in which he was not successful. I do not think he became a very poor man in the sense of coming to want, but his fortune was swept away and he determined to remove to Ohio.
He was married to Mary Kennedy about the year 1780. He was at the time about 39 years of age. My grandmother Whitehill, like my grandmother Smith, was only about 16 years old at the time of her marriage. She was the daughter of Thomas Kennedy and Rachel Caleb. We know very little about her family. Her father and, I presume, [Page 34] her mother were buried in the Seider? graveyard in Lancaster County. The stone over my grandmother father’s grave was standing about 1820, but in 1848 it could not be found and the graveyard was in pieces and not a vestige of a grave to be found. At least so Mr. Wants (postmaster-PMT) wrote to James M Smith. My grandmother had one sister Ann, who married a cousin of her own name. She had two children that dies in infancy, and her husband dying, she went to live with my grandmother and continued to live with Uncle Joseph and Aunt Jane until her death which occurred on the Dayton Road three miles north of Lebanon in the winter of 1834-35. I think at the time of her death she was about 74 years old. She was a very quiet unobtrusive old lady, and spent most of her time in the latter years of her life in knitting and reading her bible. She was always called by her nephew and nieces and their husbands "Aunt" and spoken of as Aunt " Canady" as they pronounced her name.
The following is the list of children born to my grandfather and grandmother Whitehill:
James b April 21 1781d Lancaster City PA June 18 probably 1802
Jane b June 11 1783, d Springfield OH Feb 15 1865
Rachel b Feb 15 1785 d Columbus OH April 27 1856
Joseph b Dec 7 1786 d Columbus OH Nov4 1861
Mary b Oct 19 1788 d on the old Smith homestead in Warren City Ohio Aug 28 1849
Hannah b nov28 1790 d Lebanon, OH Nov 26 1866
Susannah b Oct 20 1792 dies near Centerville Montgomery City Ohio Jan 13 1873
Thomas b Nov 25 1794 d July 18 1816 near Lebanon
Rebecca b Oct 21 1798 d. at Centerville Montgomery County Ohio April 13 1838
Juliann b June 20 1801 died near Fincastle, VA? Jan 1813
Grandfather Whitehill having met with the financial misfortune above alluded to, started about June 1800 to remove his family to Ohio. I think when he started he expected to settle in the vicinity of Chillicothe. My sister informs me that before the family left Pennsylvania our Uncle John visited Ohio and was so much pleased with the country about Chillicothe that point was determined on was the locality to which they would remove. They crossed the Susquehanna at Harrisburg and must have travelled south through the valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny intending to cross the Allegheny ranges by the.. Kanawha (river PMT) route. Why this route was chosen rather than that by way of Pittsburg I do not know. By the time they reached the neighborhood of Fincastle in Botetourt County (VA)-PMT), my grandfather became disheartened at the idea of going into as new a country as Ohio then was with so large a family of children, of whom so many were young girls. He determined to stop and remain at that vicinity a few years until his children grew up. I think he rented a farm from a gentleman whose name was Martin McFurin. Captain McFurin belonged to one of the principle families of this country. He had been taken a prisoner by the Indians when about ten years old and lived with them in Ohio until he was returned? to his family after the treaty of peace between England and France at the close of what is called the "French and Indian War." At the time of removal to Virginia, the family consisted of Grandfather, Grandmother and nine children. James the oldest was in his 20th year. Rebecca the youngest was about two years old. Juliann (b June 20 1801,died Fincastle January 1813-PMT) was born, I think, the year following the removal to Virginia.
I think my Uncle James had been given a pretty good education, but [Page 36] in consequence of Grandfather's financial difficulties, and probably because the schools in the neighborhood in which they lived were poor, the other members of the family had received a limited school education. My mother could read very well and had ciphered as far as "Practice" in Dilanthers? Arithmetics. But she never went to school after she was eleven years old. Some of the younger children had some schooling in Virginia, but my mother, and I think the children who were older than she, some went to school after they left Pennsylvania. I suppose the school privilege in that part of Virginia at that time was of the poorest lot. The principle teacher to whom the younger children went to school in Virginia was a man named Jones. He was very intelligent and when drunk called himself "The roaring, snoring Jones."
About a year after the family removed to Virginia, Uncle James returned to Pennsylvania to arrange some unsettled business of his father. His business detained him a long time. While in Pennsylvania and I think in the summer or fall of 1802 while riding with some friends, his horse stumbled and threw him over his head in such a way as to dislocate his neck. He lived about three days after the accident, but could neither speak nor move. I suspect that his death completely broke my grandfather down, and that he soon afterwards seriously thought of carrying out his intention of removing to Ohio.
Notwithstanding the circumstances of the Whitehill family while in Virginia were not prosperous. I do not understand that they were indigent. They rented the land on which they lived, but they always possessed a good supply of his stock. They formed very intimate social relations with a number of the best families of Fincastle and its vicinity. Besides the McFerrin(urin) family they were very intimate with the family of Mr. Henry, [Page 37] a leading merchant of Fincastle, a friend named Byle, and the family of Gen James Breckenridge. General Breckenridge was leader of the Federal party in the state of Virginia, one of the founding members of the University of Virginia, and a member of Congress from the Fincastle district from 1809-1817. If the young ladies of the Whitehill family failed to obtain the advantages of good school educations, they had what was of scarcely less importance, the advantage of constant association with amicable and cultivated people. They also had access, possibly through the kindness of their friends, to many good books which they read quality to their advantage. The kindly feelings between them and their old friends in Virginia in even long separation did not sour, and occasional visits between them soon increased, and returned even to old age.
My grandfather died March 30,1808. My grandmother died March 22, 1800. Aunt Juliann died in January 1813. I believe my grandfather's last sickness was lung trouble of some kind. Grandmother died suddenly of heart disease, and Aunt Julianne,. I think of brain fever. They were all buried in the Presbyterian Graveyard in Fincastle. As I understand, Uncle Joseph had a monument erected over their graves between 1840 and 1850.
During the War of 1812. Uncle Joseph was a very ardent Republican and lieutenant of a company of Militia of which Capt. Kyle was the commanding officer. The company was called out and sent to Norfolk, to resist a threatened attack of the British at that place. I think the service of Capt. Byle's company lasted several months. During a part of the time the Captain was sick and Uncle Joseph was in command.
At one on the Congressional elections that occurred during the war, probably in 1814, General Breckenridge was the candidate of the Federalists and Capt. Martin McFerrin was the Republican candidate. The contest was a very heated one. Both of the candidates [Page 38] were personal friends of the Whitehill family. but Uncle Joseph espoused the cause of the Republican candidate with all the energy of a very ardent nature. At that time the laws of Virginia required voters to be land owners. Uncle Joseph. therefore, could not vote but he canvassed for Capt McFerrin very actively. Gen Breckenridge was elected by a very few votes. Uncle Joseph was so much chagrined by the result of the election and the fact he could not vote, that he swore - he some times indulged in very strong language that he would leave the state.
Col John Rice, a neighbor and friend of the Whitehill family,. had removed to Ohio a year or two, I think, before. They were living on a farm that Col Rice rented about two miles north of Waynesville on the Dayton Road. I think the farm is now owned by Mr Wes Haynes. The Whitehills had kept up communication with the family of Col Rice and received from them such encouraging accounts of the Miami Country that they made preparation for removal to Ohio in the fall of 1815. Accordingly,. they left Fincastle on the 17th of Nov 1815 with Col Rice's as their objective point. They came by the Kanawha route and over the same road as far as the foot of Gauley Mountain that Grandfather Smith's family had travelled on their removal to Ohio 17 years before. The Whitehills, however, did not come any portion of the way by water. They crossed the Ohio at Point Pleasant and from thence came by Chillicothe and Wilmington and along the road that is now the southern boundary of my farm (Richard Thomas Thompson's farm, brother of William Patrick Thompson; State Route 73/Smith Road, Wilmington, Ohio, as of 1994, PMT).
The party consisted of Uncle Joseph, Uncle Thomas, and their six sisters and Aunt Kennedy, belonging to the Whitehill family. They were accompanied by the family of a Mrs. Greenwood and her son-in-law by the name of Gherry. The Greenwoods settled in Greene County.
I have often heard my mother say that the morning they started, a great congregation of friends assembled to bid them farewell. There were many tears shed. The associations of fifteen years at that period of life when the warmest friendships are commonly forever, were being severed. Some of their friends went with them a whole day’s journey. The household goods such as clothing, bedding and often articles supposed to be most necessary in a new country were loaded into a large "Carolina" wagon. The lid was bound down in the middle as it was thought such a lid kept the load in better place in going over hilly roads than a straight bottomed lid. A canvas cover was stitched over the top on bows. Some of the articles they brought with them were absurd. Among-others there was a large iron kettle. One of the neighbors brought, the morning they left, a present of enough steel to make plow share, and insisted that Uncle Joseph should accept it for fear that no steel for the purpose could be obtained In Ohio. I have now a pair of enormously heavy andirons that were brought with them. They were made of rough wrought iron and owned by my
mother’s grandmother 150 years ago. They may have been retained from their associations.
They brought seven horses, I think. One of them, a bay mare named "Lucy" or "Luce," was used as a female riding horse exclusively. Luce lived I think until she was about 27 years old, and kept by Uncle Joseph as long as she lived. I remember her distinctly and had ridden her often. Uncle Joseph, who was fond of his sister’s children and liked joking them that he had brought my Mother from Virginia tied to Old Luce’s tail. The girls would ride Luce "turn about". Two or three of them and Aunt Kennedy usually rode in the front end of the wagon, but they [Page 40] walked up and down the mountains and rough portions of the road.
The team consisted of six horses, but I believe when the road was good, one horse was taken out of the team and used as a saddle horse in addition to "Luci." Uncle Joseph was an admirable horse man and a notable driver. The road was probably better than it was at the time of my grandfather Smith’s removal, but it was still very hard, and it was necessary to resort to all the contrivances I have mentioned to keep the wagon from upsetting and going too fast.
The family carried a tent and camped out. I think they did not sleep in a house until they reached Col Rice’s above Waynesville. The women slept in the tent and the men in the wagon.
My impression is that they did not reach Co1 Rice’s until nearly Christmas. They had got such a late start that they were very apprehensive that the weather would turn very cold before they got through. The autumn, however, proved to be a very fine one on such a journey. I think there was no rain during the whole trip and but one light fall of snow which they encountered not far from Chillicothe. Fortunately every member of the family enjoyed perfect health during the entire trip, and no serious accident happened to delay them.
I have often heard my mother speak of her sensations when they arrived at the top of the hill east of Waynesville. She and some of her sisters were walking and they stopped and gazed on the valley and the little village on the opposite side of the river. Their long journey was about concluded and they were looking on scenery for the first time with which she was to be so long familiar and from a spot very near that in which all that was mortal of her reposes. It was after dark when they reached Col Rice’s, but they were [Page 41] received with great hospitality. They country lying on the divide between the Scioto and Little Miami rivers, even as late as 1815, was mainly in a state of nature, and the road was nearly a track cut out of the woods. Between the Miami rivers the improvements were more numerous. My mother and her sisters slept the first night at Col Rice’s in the upper room. She used to say long before day they awoke and talked until time to rise. While they were talking, chickens began to crow and they were delighted to find that could hear them in several different directions from which they argued that the country could not be so sparsely settled as they had supposed.
Uncle Joseph had been informed before he left Virginia that Col Rice intended to remove about the time of his arrival to Cincinnati to engage in keeping a hotel. He had written to him to rent for him the farm on which he resided. But Col Rice did not get his letter before the farm was rented to some other man. He was not to have possession of it until the following spring. Col Rice’s family went to Cincinnati and Uncle Joseph and his family lived in the house during the first winter. He had a fine team and soon found employment in thrashing a large crop of wheat - tramping it out with horses and in hauling flour to Cincinnati. My mother was invited by Mrs. Rice to spend the winter with her family in Cincinnati. My father had been acquainted with Col Rice when he lived near Waynesville. He made several trips to Cincinnati that winter and would call to see his friends, Col and Mrs. Rice. It was at their house he saw and became acquainted with my mother.
During the winter Uncle Joseph rented a very fine farm in Turtle Creek bottom about two miles below Lebanon. It was then or soon afterward owned by [Page 42] William James. The house stood two or three hundred yards from the Cincinnati turnpike on the right. The old road, I think, ran close to the house. So Father was frequently under the necessity of passing by the door on his trips to and from Cincinnati, it was very easy and no doubt very pleasant to call and make himself better acquainted with my mother. The consequence was that some time during the summer, probably in August of 1816, he was enabled to introduce his mother at a camp meeting near Lebanon to the woman he expected to make his wife and the marriage took place on the 6th of February 1817 in the house on the James farm. My Aunt Susan was my mother’s bridesmaid. My father’s grooms man was John Tate, a gentleman living on Jonahs Run in the neighborhood of the Jonahs Run Baptist Church. Mr. Tate, I think, had been a fellow officer in a militia company with my father and he respected him very much. I am not aware that Mr. Tate had any acquaintance with my mother’s family previous to her marriage. But the following Christmas he and my Aunt Susan were married.
On the 18th of July 1816, Uncle Thomas Whitehill died of consumption and was buried in the graveyard at Lebanon. About the year 1804 the land grandfather had owned at the mouth of Caesar’s Creek was divided among his children then living. The division was made by duly authorized commissioners.
My grandmother had waived her own right and the whole tract was divided into shares which differed in the number of acres they contained, but were supposed to be of equal value by the commissioners. I think there were 180 acres in the tract on which the house was located. This was, perhaps, the smallest of the nine parcels, but it was the only one in which there were any improvements, except, perhaps, [Page 43] the tract lying adjoining on the north, in which there may have been clearer land but no buildings. After the lands were divided in parcels lots were cast to determine the ownership of each tract. The home farm on which my grandmother and her unmarried children lived fell to the ownership of Aunt Elizabeth Goode. Uncle George received as his portion the parcel immediately on the north, and on which I think there were a few acres of cleared land. The portion that fell to my father was situated on the south side of the creek about a mile east of its mouth. It was wholly in the woods (it is now owned by the family of the late Wm Gruberne).
My father was the eldest son and had been from the death of her husband the main reliance of my grandmother. She intended making her home with him for the remainder of her life. Not only she but Uncle George who was a child and one or two of the younger of my aunts were dependent to some extent on my Father's labor and management for the procurement of family supplies. Uncle John was a very industrious and efficient man. but he was younger than father and probably, even if he had received the home place as his share. would hardly have filled in the family the place that had been filled by father. But, however, that naught have been, neither Father nor Uncle John received the homestead or land adjoining it. Aunt Betsy was living on the farm, a very fine one, owned by her husband. They did not need the home place at all. Under the law, Grandmother was entitled to have her down interest set apart so as to include the homestead. But she waived that right and consequence was that she was wholly dependent on her children for a home. Under these circumstances, as the best thing that could be done, Father tracted the portion [Page 44] that was awarded to him to Uncle and Aunt Goode for the home tract that was awarded to Aunt Goode. In order to effect this exchange, however, I think he was compelled to clear ten acres of land-on his portion and give either a horse or a considerable sum of money in addition to Uncle Burwell. My grandmother always thought that after having, by his own labor largely improved the home place, and been her most efficient helper in maintaining the family and assisting her to raise and educate her younger children. it was very hard that he should be compelled to incur a large expense to enable him to maintain the relation he had further to maintain, and which she wished him to still maintain, towards herself and the younger children. But there was no help for it and Father and Uncle Burwell effected an exchange of portions on the terms I have stated. Consequent1y, at the time of Father's marriage he was the owner in fee simple of about 180 acres of excellent land, and of which I suppose something like Caesars and c1earer. After the death of Aunt Cynthia, he and Uncle John bought and divided between them her interest. After Uncle George became of age they purchased and divided between them his portion.
At the time of the marriage of my Father and Mother, the fami1y consisted of his mother. Aunt Judith, Aunt Cynthia, and Uncle George. Grandmother had a1ways been a small feeble woman and at that time was wasting away with a slow consumption. In a little more than a year, Aunt Judith was married and in … Aunt Cynthia died. At the time Unc1e George was in his 18th year. About a year afterwards he began the study of the law with the celebrated Thomas cousin. He still regarded my Father's as "home" [Page 45] for several years, but usually resided in Lebanon.
Such was the home to which my mother was taken on horseback the day after her marriage.
Grandmother lived nearly eight years after my Father and Mother were married, but she immediately surrendered to my Mother the control over the leadership in the town. She continued to be honored member not only of my Father’s family, but of her larger family of children and grandchildren. She visited her children’s family frequently. At home she occupied the warmest work by the fireside, sewing and knitting for her little grandchildren.
I have said in the preface to this history, that I believe myself to be the descendent of two very superior women. To vindicate the Justice of this opinion, I will here give some of the reasons I have for entertaining such an opinion of my grandmother, Elizabeth Porter Smith.
In attempting to make any just estimate of a human life or of the personal character of an individual, I suppose the proper way is to consider the results achieved by the use of the means possessed and under the circumstances by which the individual was surrounded. This is the rule to apply in Judging of the character and capacity of a statesman or a warrior, and it is just as applicable on estimating the character of any other description of person. If this rule be applied to my grandmother, under all the circumstances of difficulty and embarrassment under which she labored, I think it must be conceded that her life was one of the rarest heroism and most triumphant success. I suppose she never regarded herself either as a hero or a conqueror, but if she was [Page 46] not, who is?
She had been left a widow at the early age of 38 years in the wildest of a wilderness country with nine children, the greater number of whom were too young for self support. She was with this large family compelled to take up her abode in a unfinished log cabin far distant from any of her friends and in an almost entirely unsettled neighborhood where there were no mills, or roads or Churches, or schools. She had an abundance of land, but nearly every acre of it was covered with a heavy growth of timber. She had some live stock, but no money. Her health was not good. Neither she nor her older daughters had been accustomed in Virginia to cook, to wash, or milk, or even make beds. She had been used to have such work done by servants. Now what did she accomplish?
The time after her removal to Caesar’s Creek, just 24 years. She raised all of her children to be men and women. She gave her children every advantage that was possible. She obtained for them the best social advantages that could be obtained in the country at that time, as is proved by the fact each one of her eight children who lived to be married, married men who were the equals in respectability and character of any other persons in Warren County. At the time of her death they were all known and honored men and women. Her youngest son was coming into notice as a most promising lawyer, and the very year of her death he was elected a representative in the General Assembly. I think he was the first Justice of the state who ever held that office. In a little over four years, young as he was, he was elected a President Judge of the Common Pleas Court - an office he filled with great honor for 17 years of his life. Her house was for many years noted for its hospitality. It was an appointed place for public preaching, and it was always a home for the early Methodist [Page 47] preachers in their journeys from one preaching place to another. In about 1814 at her instigation, I presume, the first Methodist church that was ever built in Wayne Township was built on the land near the mouth of Caesar’s Creek, and, on the portion of land assigned to Uncle John.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, she seems to have been a person of very great and interesting manners who never sought attention to herself, and of whom few anecdotes or striking personal characteristics are related. To perform her duty in the most unobtrusive way seems to have been the practice of her life. I judge, however, from few circumstances that I have heard related, that she completely maintained her ascendency in her family, and kept very strict guard over the conduct and associations of her children.
I have heard, for instance, that she required that the suitors for her daughters should, while on visit to her house, be guests of the family in the true sense of the word and do their courting in the most open and honorable manner. Her daughters and their beaux were not permitted to sit up after the remainder of the family had gone to bed as was a custom in the country or to have secret or clandestine meetings. I have heard, on what I esteem good authority, that my Aunt Sally and her husband, Mr. Halsey, never had but one conversation before they were engaged to be married that was not conducted in the room in the presence of my grandmother or some other member of the family.
My Aunt Jane Whitehill was one of the wisest women and best and most discriminating judges of character and conduct I know. She was well acquainted with my grandmother during the latter years of her life and placed a very high estimate on her character and conduct. She once told me that she, and I think my grandmother [Page 48] "was made of finer clay than other women" and my mother with whom she made her home for nearly eight years used to say that during all that period Grandmother never said or did anything to offend or hurt her feelings. Grandmother lived 24 years after the death of her husband.
Grandmother’s descendants have grown to be very numerous. Many of them are persons of great worth and excellence of character. Many of them have far better educations. They all live under circumstances of a more favorable character. No one of them has ever been charged with greater responsibility. But it is not likely that any one of us all, when combined, will have discharged that have, or may, devolve on us more faithfully or more to our credit than this ancestress discharged hers.
In the spring of 1817 my father and mother began their active married life. I do not know that the marriage made any change in the way the family lived, except that Mother assumed the management of the household affairs. Father had long been the sole manager of the farm. About that time Aunt Cynthia made an extended visit to Kentucky and soon after her return she was taken sick and died. Uncle George was probably in school or meeting in the Clerk’s Office at Lebanon or Wilmington. Upon the expiration of Aunt Cynthia’s visit to Kentucky, Uncle George went after her. Aunt Judith made her home at Father’s until she was married in the following March.
My brother Joseph Whitehill (Smith - PMT) was born April 20 1818. He was the first child born in the old homestead. James George [Page 49] was born Aug 20 1819. My sister Martha Sublett was born Feb 25 1821, she died Sept 22 1822. Her death was a very severe blow to my Father. She was said to be a beautiful and attractive child, and many years after I heard him say that among all his children he thought Martha was the brightest. Thomas Clark was born Jan 26 1823 and died June 17, 1824. I was born in the old house Nov 5 1824. (Died 12.30.1901 - PMT) During the years between the marriage of my parents and my birth, though the times were very hard, and prices of produce were low, I think my Father had been steadily improving his condition. Every year he managed to have a few more acres of cleaner land. And I think he had, at the time of my birth, about concluded the payment for that portion of the lands of Aunt Cynthia and Uncle George that he had purchased. I think he owned at that time about 370 acres of land of which more than 100 acres must have been cleaned. Nearly all his cleaned land was either river bottom or what was known a "second" bottom. This new bottom land was of almost inconceivable fertility. It was farmed in corn year after year for many years without either clovering or manuering, without perceivable diminuation [sic] of fertility. The principle product that Father relied on for making money when I was born and [Page 50] as long as he lived was pork. He had no difficulty counting year after year on the rich alluvial near bottom land, great crops of corn and he found the easiest way to market it was by feeding it to hogs and driving the hogs when fatter to Cincinnati for sale. This he found a lucrative business. He paid but little attention to raising horses or cattle or sheep however the few horses he needed for farm work, and the cows for milk for the family and enough sheep to furnish the wool required to make the family clothing. I rarely knew him to sell a horse, never a sheep or a pound of wool, and only occasionally a few cattle. He never raised large crops of wheat. though sometimes he was able to spare two or three hundred bushels. He did, however, obtain a little vat for sale, and for many years would make a large quantity of maple sugar and molasses which he would sell at a high price. He usually made two or three trips during the summer and fall to Cincinnati with a load of marketing, mainly of sugar, bacon, lard, corn, and sweet potatoes. About my ninth year I went with him on two of those trips. He would be gone from home four days reaching Cincinnati in the afternoon of the second day and down to the Fifth Street Market - where the Fountain is now - back up our wagon on the north side of the street, unhitch the horses and fasten them to the front of the wagon and [Page 51] feed them in a trough fastened to the pole of the wagon. He would then spend the remainder of the afternoon in visiting the river and other places of interest. At night we would sleep in the wagon, and in the morning set out our load and purchase such supplies as were needed at home, and then load up with goods for the Lebanon Merchants, and near noon would start home which in winter reach the evening of the next day.
From this accounting it will be seen that my Father was at the time of my birth, and afterwards, a prosperous and well to do farmer. We lived quite as well and I tend to think better than most of our neighbors. Our house was famous for its hospitality. It was the old homestead of the family and there was a large circle of family friends and relations who were always made heartily welcome, and I think a week rarely passed that we did not have visitors, and sometimes numbers at a time who would remain several days. The burden this imposed must have sometimes severely taxed my parents, but I never heard any complaint and our guests were invariably treated with the utmost cordiality.
It was in the old house and in such a family and such a house that I was born on the fifth day of November 1824. I was a very puny, weakly baby. Sometime before my birth my mother had gone into a show at Waynesville when, in some way, she was frightened by an elephant, and when I was boron there was a birth mark of an elephant with an uplifted trunk on my right thigh. It was quite black and soon turned into a sore which threatened my life. It was necessary to keep the leg tightly bandaged from the toes to the hip for about a year and a half. Fortunately when I was about eighteen months old I was cured by an accident. I was thrown out of a little wagon and in falling my sore leg caught in the standard of the wagon in such a way that it tore open the sore spot in horrible manner. But from that time it began to improve and soon got entirely well. It has never since given me trouble. In addition to this, my mother was compelled to wean me when I was about eight months old, and from that time I was fed on with mush and milk. I remember a little skillet with three legs with a round bottom and hollering about a grate that was used to make mush for me for several years. I think it was a gift from Aunt Bon, an also beloved woman who was the wife of one my grandfather’s slaves. The skillet got broken in some way, and I have always regretted its loss.
Though my parents scarcely had hope for two years that I could live, I continued to improve though until I was twenty five years old, I never was strong or healthy. I can hardly remember a time that I felt really sick. I was easily tired and though very fond of play, most of the boys my own age could beat me in any game that required either strength or agility. This and to run.
I suppose from the fact I was so delicate when I was very young, I was or thought I was, a favorite with most of whom I came in contact. I thought I received more attention from my uncle and aunts and especially from my older female cousins, than other boys in our connection of my own age. I may be mistaken about this, but I shall always feel grateful to Mother Goode, Martha, Mary and Cynthia Halsey, Eliza Brown, and Susan Seaman for the belief they created in my mind that I had more than the usual curiosity regard they gave to the other boys.
The summer after I was born, my parents began to prepare to build a new house. They burned a brick kiln and made other preparations and during the succeeding summer, the house, an excellent brick one was built. Mr. Stovile of Lebanon was the contractor for the brick and stone work. Mr. Steel and Mr. Matthews did the carpentering. Most of the lumber used was cut from logs at a neighboring mill. The prime lumber needed for doors, window sashes and e (etc-PMT) was brought from Cincinnati. and was cut from logs that were floated down from the Allegheny River.
My parents made great efforts to get the house [Page 54] completed before winter, as the old house was becoming uncomfortable. It was, however, Christmas Day before the new house was so far along as to permit the family to move in. Fortunately the autumn was fine and late: but immediately after Christmas winter set in with great severity. At the time of the removal the house was far from completed. Some of it was plastered for four or five years. The carpenter did not get through until the next summer, woodwork was not painted, except perhaps a first coat, until after the house was plastered about 1820. We would now think that living in an unplastered house would be very unpleasant, but my father’s house, at the time of which I speak, was no doubt far more comfortable, as well as convenient, than the old log house they had left or resided than three fourths, if not nine tenths, of the houses in which the people of Warren County were then living. In all events, I think my parents did not regard it as a special hardship to live in such a house until they were able to complete it. The new house cost, in addition to all the labor performed by my father in the way of preparation and assistance of the workmen - which must have been to the value of several hundred dollars - and not including anything for boarding and materials furnished by him such as stone, lumber, lime (which was burnt on the farm) and e(etc.-) PMT) in money to about $1000. This at that time was regarded as a large sum of money: and my father was so fearful that he would become financially embarrassed that in order to prevent any possibility of the kind. he sold ninety acres [Page 55] of his land to Thomas Hale in opposition to the opinion and wish of my mother who thought that there would be no difficulty in making enough In five years to discharge any debt that they might incur in the construction of the house. But Father in business matters was much more tenacious and conservative than Mother and in this case, as the court proved, her judgement was the better one, as about that time the country began to recover from the long depression in business and prices of produce that followed the War of 1812. If they had retained the land they sold. they would have soon been able to payoff all their indebtedness and would have been able, thereafter, to have made money more rapidly than they did. My mother always regarded the sale of that land to Mr. Hale as the greatest business mistake my Father ever made. But his judgement in business matters was easily at fault and she made no serious opposition to his doing as he thought best.
The brick for the new house, as I have said, was burnt in 1825, the year after I was born. Other preparations for building also were begun. My brother William was born on the 14th of March 1826 (died Henry County, Ohio July 18, 1867-PMT) and the house was erected that year. In addition to the usual family, all the hands engaged in the building were boarded. During that summer William was a young baby and I was probably quite as much trouble as he, from my long sickness. The help my Mother had in the house in addition perhaps to occasional assistance, was a girl about seventeen years old whom she had raised named Hannah Dawson, and Sally Bowman, a bright, smart little girl of ten or twelve years old [Page 56] she had taken to raise. The period during which my parents were preparing to build and building must have been an extremely laborious time for my Mother. To add to the burden resting upon her long before the house was finished, or so far as they did finish it that year, Hannah Dawson eloped with Joseph Hale and was married to him in Kentucky. The elopement and a horseback ride by night through a heavy rain to Covington was entirely unnecessary as she could have been married at home just as well. She was an orphan girl and could have chosen her own guardian: and, so far as I know, no one wished to prevent her marriage with Mr. Hale. Of course the loss of Hannah added an additional burden to my already over burdened Mother. But she went through it all keenly and courageously, stimulated by the strong desire to live in a convenient and comfortable house where she might rear her children, enjoy the society of her friends and keep the evening of her life under more agreeable circumstances that those which had hither to surrounded her.
Perhaps I may as well give here some accounts of the respective character and peculiar characteristics of my Father and Mother.
My Father was about five feet ten or eleven inches in height. His complexion was dark, but not very dark. His hair, which was a fine as silk, was nearly black and was inclined to curl during or on the approach of rain. It seemed as true in its indication of rain as a barometer. His eyes were dark hazel. His beard was large and full in front. He wore a hat of No.7 3/8 from which I judge his head measured twenty three inches in circumference. His weight was from 150-160 pounds. [Page 57] From some cause, which I never knew or have forgotten, the sight of his left eye was very imperfect and he often sat with it closed. I think it had been so from his boyhood. He walked with the toes of his feet wider apart than usual. He was very sociable with people of every kind and was a universal favorite with the neighbors and all family friends, but was usually grave and serious and very rarely indulged in jokes. I think I never heard him laugh aloud a dozen times in my life. His conversation was always pure in every respect. I never heard him relate a vulgar anecdote or use a profane expletive. When he was vexed about any matter, he expressed his feeling by using the word "Fie"! "Fie"! or "Fie Upon It!" He was more apt to look upon the melancholy than the cheerful side of any condition of things. It oppressed him exceedingly to hear of any misconduct of any of his children, nephews, nieces, any of the neighbor or their children. Most of the neighbors were like himself, early settlers, and if he would hear of one of their children doing any dishonorable or unworthy act, he would be very sad for a day. He lost his teeth when he was a comparatively young man, they did not decay, but been wounded by accumulation of tarter, and finally came out. I think both of his brothers and all of his sisters lost their teeth in the same way. If they had had the tarter removed they might have saved the teeth many years longer. But there were no dentists in the country then and no efforts were made by them to have the deposits removed.
The family (SMITH) had removed from Virginia when he was fifteen years old, and he never had any schooling after the removal. His education was confined to reading writing and arithmetic. I think that he could not have had any particular capacity for figures. He calculated fairly well with a slate and pencil in his hand, but seemed almost unable to do small sums in his head. When I was a very small boy, when we were walking or working together he would often stop and ask me what a certain number of bushels of wheat or corn, or a certain amount of bacon or lard [Page 58] or pork would amount to at a given price per bushel or pound. Fortunately, I had no difficulty in giving the correct answer to his question. He wrote a plain hand, but seemed to dislike writing and usually requested my Mother or one of my elder brothers to write such letters as our limited family correspondence required. In business matters he was the soul of honesty. I feel entirely certain that he never defrauded, attempted, or desired to defraud any human being out of a cent. It always seemed to me that if he has anything to sell he under rather than over represented its value to anyone wishing to purchase. In estimating the yield of his crops, or the weight of his hogs, or the value of anything he had, he preferred the lowest estimates. On crops, I am sure, was quite as good as our neighbors, but My Father always made his estimates at a much lower figure that they did. He depreciated law suits, and would much prefer to suffer an injury than to resort to the law for redress. He always advised others to compromise difficulties if at all practicable.
He had little if any musical capacity and what little he had seemed to be cultivated. I only remember of his singing the hymn beginning, "on Jordan’s stormy banks I stand." Some verses of his Father beginning,” For fertile fields and pleasant plain, when liberty and freedom reigns we left our native land," or "on rivers deep and mountains high far to the west I bend my way." And a song in which the lines occur: The son of Slhnomock? shall never complain." I presume he could sing these pieces fairly well as my Mother who was a pretty good judge of music always seemed to like to hear him sing them.
My Father was throughout his life a very hard working man. He seemed to have a great dread of poverty, and often used to say that a family should make great efforts to avoid the helplessness of poverty. He thought it was easy by industry and frugality for people to keep in good circumstances, but that to him when once very poor it was very hard to begin to accumulate a competence. I think he had no special or strong desire to become rich, but that he looked upon indigence almost with a feeling of horror.
My Father was very fond of reading, but owing to the scarcity of books, and the fact that his time was so constantly engaged in labor, he was not a general reader. The books that he mostly read were the bible, Wesleys and Dr. Adam Clarks commentaries on the bible and other religious books. I think he had also Rollins Ancient history and during the latter years of his life, I think he read or heard my Mother read Homer? History of England. I think he never cared much for poetry. I remember one winter my Mother read aloud to him some of Shakespeare’s plays, but I think he did not care much for them. He was, however, exceedingly fond of reading biographies and newspapers. He too, I remember, the Western Star, the Western Christian Advocate, and the weekly National Intelligencer published by Gales and Seatmin in Washington. Uncle John took, the weekly Cincinnati Liberty Hale and Gazette and some of his children took the Saturday Evening Post of Philadelphia. The families exchanged papers so that [Page 60] we were pretty well supplied with newspaper reading material. My Father had read almost every word, I think, for some years that was printed in the Washington and Cincinnati papers which we received. I think he cared but little for the Saturday Evening Post which was mainly filled with stories. He had a strong inclination for politics and took a deep interest in the discussions of political matters in Congress and in the State legislature. He was a very ardent Whig and a warm admirer of Mr. Clay. The conversation around our fireside from my earliest recollection largely related to political questions - such as banks, tariffs, internal improvement and e (et cetera-PMT). When a presidential election approached his interest in the success of his favorite candidate became intense. He would not only attend the public meetings, but would visit neighbors whom he desired to influence either to vote as he thought right or eager for them to not fail to attend the election. I have a dim recollection of going with him just before the election of 1828 to see several men who were at work on a mill dam, who proposed to vote for General Jackson. He talked a long time with them trying to persuade them to vote for Mr. Adams. I remember distinctly that I thought they were very foolish not to think they ought to vote as he wished them to. This was when I was four years old. But I think he never liked Mr. Adams as well as he did Mr. Clay. In 1825 he had attended a public dinner given in Lebanon to Governor DeWitt Clinton of New [Page 61] York. Mr. Clay (who was the secretary of state) was at the dinner and made a speech. I think he must have captured my Father completely, as I believe he hereafter thought he had no equal in the Union. As the election of 1832 came his interest in Mr. Clay’s success became exceedingly ardent. Young as I was, his earnest respect and , enthusiasm so affected me that, I begged hard to go to the election as I wished to see how a president was elected. He consented and I rode to Waynesville behind one of my brothers and watched the tickets going in to the box all day. There was a commotion which took place at one table a day or two before the election that made an impression on my mind. A man by the name of Zephenia Burnes was at work for us, who was a Jackson man. My Father had been urging him to vote for Mr. Clay. But that day Burnes stated positively that if he should go to the election he would vote for General Jackson, but that he did not mean to go as he could not afford to lose his days wages. My Father told him that that must not stop him, that he would pay him his day’s wages and lend him a horse to ride. Burns still intimating that he would not go. Father insisted that it was his duty as a citizen to go and vote in accordance with the best opinion he could form, and concluded by telling him that if he would go and vote for General Jackson though he regretted that he thought he ought to do that - that he would give him a bushel of sweet potatoes, pay him for his day’s [Page 62] work and lend him a horse to ride. I think he was annoyed when Burns declined all those propositions. The defeat of Mr. Clay was a hard blow to him. But he did not lose his interest in public affairs as long as he lived. He supported General Harrison in 1826 and 1840 with great earnestness, but I think he did not esteem him as a great statesman. He died during the sitting of Congress in extra session in 1841. His interest was so keen in what was being done that he bad the debates in Congress read in full to him almost to the day of his death. He was especially interested in the passage of the bill to charter a United States bank. The bill passed several days before he died, but it was not known whether President Tyler would approve of it, and for some days there was a period of anxious suspense. The evening my Father died he motioned to Uncle George to hold his ear close to his mouth to catch one of his last whispered words - an inquiry whether he had heard if the president had signed the Bank bill. I think it would have added a pang to his death to have been told that the bill had been vetoed. Fortunately, we had not yet received the news. Just as his interest was in politics, I suppose he never for a moment thought of aspiring to any office. I believe many years before his death, he was for a very brief period a justice of the peace. He had also been an officer of the Militia and had risen to the rank of Major, and was commonly known as "the Major" or "Major Smith." I think my Father must have been a very benevolent man. [Page 63] He almost always was being imposed on by people borrowing small sums of money which they never returned. And I never knew a beggar to solicit aloud without recovering a donation. I had however known him to stop and give money to a crippled boy or other distressed person who was not asking aloud. There were few things which pleased him, however, as much as to see a person making a heroic effort to overcome some adverse circumstances or fulfill moral obligations. I think none of his relatives had a larger measure of his approbation that George Sale. He said George had done his duty nobley by his mother and sisters, and was a fine fellow because he had unselfishly done all that he could to aid his mother.
The general impression made on me by my Father was that he was a very wise as well a good man. I could see that in book knowledge he was not equal to many others, but in all matters of morals, of right and wrong, and as a just judge of good conduct I never knew any who excelled him. He seemed to have an instinctive perception whether a man was a good or bad man. He was a very clever as well as a discriminating judge of character and appeared never to doubt that the impression he formed of anyone after a brief acquaintance was the correct one. He possessed in a remarkable degree the faculty of remembering people whom he had never seen. My Mother told me she never knew but one man to claim his acquaintance that he did not recognize and he persistently insisted that he had never before seen that man for no reason in the world except he did not recollect him [Page 64] and because he did not remember him, he thought he must be an imposter. My Father was a very ardent in his patriotism. He thought that Geo. Washington was the greatest and noblest character of whom he had ever read or heard. He envisioned that the establishment of a republican government in this country was the most noteable event of which history had left as any record. He regarded the Constitution of the United States as the greatest achievement of statesmanship. He warmly admired Mr. Jefferson and during the War of 1812 was a strong supporter of the policy of Mr. Madison’s administration. He was an admirer of Napoleon, and one of the few books he was very familiar with was Sir Walter Scott’s Life of Napoleon and another, Dr. Barry Omercis "Voice from St. Helena" or "Napoleon in Exile." He took a warm interest in public improvements and advocated the canal system of Ohio. He favored the construction of the Cumberland Road and other improvements by Congress. In short, he was a full believer in Mr. Clay’s ideas.
He was almost enthusiastic when he heard of the will of Mr. Smithson (Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D. C. - PMT) leaving a large sum of money to the United States for the purpose of extending the boundaries of knowledge. He died long before the government made any use of the bequest, but he looked forward to its accomplishing great things. He also was deeply interested in Stephen Girard’s will providing for founding of a college in Philadelphia. I think he rejoiced in the bequest more because he thought they would add to the seriousness and honor of the country than merely from the good [Page 65] they would do. He was one of the original conservators of the Little Miami Railroad, but did not live to see it built. Every mile of new canal, or turnpike or railroad he seemed to think added to our national glory and was destined to add to the respect of this country throughout the world.
He felt his own lack of education and earnestly desired that his children should have more advantages than he had had. He sent James Smith to college and maintained him there until he graduated, and I think, he intended to allow me to obtain a college education. Joseph my oldest brother did not develop any special desire for an education until after he was grown up, and my Father charged him for a farmer. But Joseph afterwards expressing a strong desire to obtain an education he was sent to Oxford. He was taken sick there and died in less than a year. My Father’s death and the failure of my brother James’ health joined to the hard times of 1841,1842, and 1843 prevented my Mother from giving to us younger children the educational advantages that we would have otherwise obtained.
My Father died August 1841 of cancer of the stomach. He was only sick a few weeks but his suffering was very severe. He had long been a member of the Methodist church, but had never made any loud profession of his religion. He had a very exaltive idea of the character required of a professing christian and I [Page 66] think always doubted until he came to die whether his sins were forgiven. But all the clouds were happily cleared from his vision, and he died in the triumphant belief that his everlasting safety was secured. I think he never heartily liked the polity of the Methodist Church. He thought its organization was too aristocratic. This notion I suppose he inherited from his Father who was a follower on this subject of Mr. James O’Kelly?
From this imperfect account of my Father I hope my children and grandchildren may be able to form a conception of him not far from the truth. In relating these incidents of my early life I shall have occasion to mention him no doubt frequently and thus throw additional light on his character.
My Mother outlived my Father about eight years: and I ought to be able to portray her persona and character more distinctly than I am my Father’s. But in this I shall probably fail. The very affection a son feels for his mother, the ten thousand remembrances which are very dear to him, but may seem small and indicating but little matters, will hardly allow him to draw a very distinct or conceivable picture. The things that we recollect most distinctly about our mothers are the small, but constant manifestations of personal love. I presume the heart of every son who has had a worthy mother is full of such recollections, and any extended notes of such prised manifestations of a mother’s 1ove to men hardly help others much in forming a true estimate of her [Page 67] character. I shall, therefore, avoid saying many things about my Mother that to me are the most interesting of all, but which I prefer to keep sacred in my own heart.
My Grandfather Whitehill removed from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to Bottetourt (Botetourt - present day - PMT) County Virginia when my Mother was about eleven years old and after that she never went to school. I think she never went to school very much in Pennsylvania. But she was an excellent reader and wrote a fair hand and could cipher as far as "practice" in Dillanthes Arithmetic. Unlike my Father, however, she had a natural talent for Arithmetic and could calculate an account or solve almost any of the common problems in arithmetic readily and correctly. She could make mental calculations of questions of considerable difficulty easily. When we children gave out words to spell, who could spell very correctly, but her manuscript shows many errors in spelling. I think this is no unusual thing in persons who practice writing but little. The letters I have seen of her writing, barring inaccuracies, are composed in excellent tone and with style evidently formed from reading the best english classical authors. She was, indeed, from girlhood a great and, I think, a very discriminating reader in spite of her limited opportunities. She had read at the time of her marriage, a large number of the best books. 1 cannot give a catalog of them. But, I think, she had read Adison, Goldsmith, Cooper, Milton, and Scott pretty thoroughly. She was able to repeat passages of the Lady of the Lake as long as she lived from her first reading. [Page 68] She had read Humes History of England as thoroughly that she could recite accurately the history of many events related by Humes though she had not seen the book for years. I think she had read Thompsons scales and Campballs poems also. But whether she had read all these books before her marriage or some of them afterwards, I am not certain. But ever since my recollection, she was much in the habit of enlivening her conversation by some apt quotation or literary reference. As long as she lived, she was a voracious reader. Though for the greater portion of her married life, she was under the necessity of doing a great deal of work and had quite a large family of children. She would and did find time to read a great deal. Indeed, probably the most marvelous thing about my Mother was that In addition to attending to more family duty than anyone woman ought to be required to do, she found time and apparantly ample time to visit and receive the visits of her friends, to visit frequently all classes of her neighbors, to go to see and assist in every care of sickness and distress in the neighborhood, and yet read more in a year than almost any other woman I ever knew. She was fond of argumentative controversy, on almost any subject, and her knowledge was sufficiently extensive to enable her to maintain her side of the argument with style, if not conclusive success. These contests of wit were always conducted on her part without the slightest asperity and never left any irritation whatever. It was in such conflicts however [Page 69] that she manifested the superiority of her information. She was especially fond of the discussion of scriptural questions such as baptism, per sick and for ordination. She was a cursed in the presbyterian faith, but after her marriage, my father being a Methodist and no Presbyterian church being in the vicinity, she joined the Methodist. Though, I think, to the end of her life she had more sympathy with the doctrines and modes of worship of the presbyterians than the Methodists. She always insisted, however, that the points of difference between the various evangelical churches were none of them so important or vital as to make it of much consequence what church anyone belonged to, provided he or she lived up to the essential principles of christianity - which was found in all the churches. Never was one doctrine of the Methodist church which is not believed by the presbyterians that she believed in - Doctrine of Christian perfectability, and would quote many passages in proof such as ,"Job was a perfect and an upright man." But I suspect that she didn’t think that Job a perfect man required anything more than a constant, never ending desire to do right. Probably as the doctrine qualified in her mind, even presbyterians would kindly have disagreed with her.
[Page 70] Unfortunately my Father and Mother as well as my elder brother Joseph and James none of them ever had their portraits taken. I regret this exceedingly. After the labor of many years our recollection of our friends must become more or less faint, if not in several particulars incorrect. I think I remember my parents and elder brothers very distinctly in most particulars. When I dream of them they look just as they did in life, but when I try to recall the appearance of their teeth or other small particulars my recollection is not as clear as I could wish. My Mother was rather below these above the average height of women. She was, since my recollection, a rather heavy woman, weighing. I suppose, from 160-170 pounds. From not being as tall as her sisters she had the appearance of being heavier perhaps than she was. Her complexion was very fair. Her eyes were deep blue and large. Her hair was a light brown and turned gray early in life. She wore a cap for many years and a braid of false hair about the color hers was originally by which she preserved the natural appearance of her hair. Her hair more down on her forehead I think, than usual. Her face was large and wide. Her forehead was square. Her mouth was quite large and as she grew older her own teeth were more on one side than the other. Her nose was quite large and stood out squarely and firmly. I think she was never regarded as a pretty woman. But her face was inspiring and attractive. I think my Father did not fall in love with her on account of her beauty, but because he formed a very high estimate of her mind and character. This estimate never changed. From a thousand little circumstances, which I hardly noticed at the time, I know that he must have thought, as long as he lived, that she was superior to other women. He was fond of hearing her talk. I remember that when my brother William and I were little boys and slept in the trundle bed, I would often wake up in the morning before anyone about the house was up and hear Mother talking to Father. I think they almost invariably had a long conversation in the [Page 71] winter time, at best, before they arose or disturbed any of the rest of the family. In their talks which I overheard, my Mother had the most to say, but I always thought from the occasional remarks of my Father that he was deeply interested in what she was saying.
She took a very keen interest in political questions and eagerly had very important speech about any question that she found in the newspapers. The National Intelligence, in addition to publishing the leading speeches, especially on the Whig side, that were made in Congress, also published a pretty full condensed report of the current proceedings. My Mother as well as my Father read these reports in full. She would read a great deal aloud. She possessed the faculty of reading and knitting at the same time, and would often read aloud for hours at a time while she was busily flying her needles. I think some of our neighbors, who may not have been very intelligent, thought her knowledge of political affairs very wonderful. During the election contest of 1826 I heard a democrat with whom my father was talking tell him that he thought my Mother would make a better president than Gen Harrison. I could see that the remark pleased my Father. After her death an old neighbor who had removed to the west many years before, returned on a visit, and in speaking of my mother to his sister, as she told me, said that he always regarded her as the wisest woman he knew, and the only one he ever saw that he thought was fit for president of the United States. These opinions perhaps were expressed by comparatively ignorant men (!-PMT), but many years after her death both my Uncle George Smith and my cousin Smith Halsey told me that they regarded my mother as a woman of very high order of intellect. I think each of them placed her ahead in that respect of anyone they had ever known. They were very competent judges of character. Smith Halsey added that any superiority that my Father possessed was largely the result of the stimulating influence of my Mother.
[Page 72] My mother’s benevolence, I think, was only bounded by her means. There were in the neighborhood a number of very poor families and frequent cases of sickness occurred among them. Some of those people were very trifling and my mother had little respect for them, but this did not deter her from doing all she could to alleviate their distress. I remember going with her when I was not more than four years old several times to see sick children. She would always take something along that she thought the family needed. One rainy Sunday in the winter of 1828-1829, I suppose in the month of January, we had been on a long, muddy road to see a sick child whose parents lived in a house crudely constructed of slabs. As we were returning she told me to stop and listen, we heard the cannons that were being fired at Cincinnati on the arrival of Gen Jackson in that city on his way to Washington to assume the presidential office. My Father was in Cincinnati in a hotel in the upper part of the city, but he did not hear the cannons that we heard nearly forty miles away. He heard, however, of the General’s arrival and called on him at his hotel. He often spoke of his shaking the hands of those who visited him with a strong emphatic grasp and looking them fully in the face. He thought his manners indicated a great resolution and a firmness of character.
My Mother’s opinions on nearly every subject was very decided. Her principles of morality were very rigid, but she was lenient in her judgements about individual infringements of her moral code. She gave full weight to strong temptation and human frailty, in estimating acts which she strongly disapproved , and would always try and see any good there was in the conduct of a person who was guilty of moral transgression. I think she had in an unusua1 degree the respect of her nephews and nieces and was consu1ted by them very often and fully about their private affairs. They always found in her a ready listener and a kind and discreet adviser. I remember that she very frequently would preach a little sermon on the evils of interference or other bad habits when there were young men at our house, but she would do so without the appearance of giving personal advice, though I knew she meant it for the benefit of some particular individual. I have always thought her admonitions on that subject were probably very useful in preventing her sons and nephews from forming the habit of cheating or indulgence or other forms of vice.
She had an ardent, personal desire that her children should have the benefit of good educations. I think her own lack of early educational advantages was a never ending source of vexation, and she was willing to endure any labor, or deprivation, that her children should be educated. I remember once I read to her some pieces that I greatly admired - probably by Mrs. Segourney. She told me that she believed the only reason that prevented here from being as good a writer as Mrs. Segourney (or who ever the author was) was the fact that she had not received a good education.
She was always stimulating as to make every effort to acquire knowledge. When we were not in school she would read to us, as well as induce us in every way she could, to read ourselves, and would talk to us much about the books we were reading. She had read a good many novels of the better sort herself and thought the reading of good novels very useful. She frequently quoted as an authority on manners or morals or conversation something she had seen in a novel that had struck her fancy. A book called, "Think I to Myself," that she attributed to William Wist of Virginia, no longer the Atty Gen of the United Stated, she thought was very full of wisdom. During the latter part of her life, I believe she read most of Sir Walter Scott’s novels and some of Dickens. Robinson Caruso was a favorite with her.
But the book that she read most and quoted most frequently was the Bible. I think she especially loved the historical part of the Old Testament which would often refer to in her argumentation contests. Sometimes she would use a fact related in the Bible in an amusing way. [Page 74] She had a fine historical imagination. The great characters of history were to her mind merely superior men and women with passions and? like our own. She had a sort of telescopic vision which brought the distant near. She liked to read of acts of heroism, but her ideal of a hero was very exacting. My Father thought Napoleon was a great man. Mother conceded his genius, but thought he was mean for deserting Josephina an deserved to fall. For such men as Morris and Cromwell and Washington, she felt unbounded admiration. She greatly admired the poetry of Milton, but condemned him as not being a good husband and hence she thought while he was a great poet, he was not really a great and good man.
She had one experience which, I suppose, is not uncommon among Smith women. She largely absorbed from her children the education they were receiving. My older brothers were unusually intelligent and were informed young men. They went to good schools and studied many things of which my Mother knew nothing. James graduated at Miami University in 1840. Joseph was a student at the same institution when he was taken sick. He had previously spent a year at school in Columbus. With them Mother was always talking about their studies, about what they read, about their discussions in their Literary Societies. They became her teachers, as she had been theirs in former years. I think she was quite as apt a scholar as either of them had been. She did not, of course, learn from their mouth technical knowledge, but acquired ideas, principles, generalizations. As her children approached maturity, our house became an arena for debate, for controversy sometimes, for violent dispute upon all sorts of questions. We were a contentious set, and I think she enjoyed the contentious as much as any of us. She was naturally an intellectual gladiator, and a keen ingenious argument or [Page 75] a triumphant reply gave her great gratification. I have known other women who seemed to never take their second intellectual growth from their companionship with their children during the periods that their minds were rapidly expanding. but I think I never knew one who absorbed so much in this way as my Mother.
It must not be supposed from anything I have said that she lacked either warmth or delicacy of feeling. She had a larger brain and it demanded exercise. but her heart was so tender, her sympathy was so ready that we all instinctively flew to her in all our troubles. I think this was not only true of her own children, but that it was true with her nephews and nieces; and no applicant for her advice or sympathy or assistance was ever turned away.
I may as well in this place give some accounts of my deceased brothers, Joseph, James and William who all lived to be men.
Joseph was the eldest of the family. In a family living in a new country on a partially improved farm and in a hard working family, the eldest son, I suppose, soon comes to be regarded as a very important assistant to his Father. And probably without any intention of the sort, too much is required of him. Joseph at all events, was for many years the most efficient one of our Father’s sons. There are many things that he could be relied on to do at an earlier age than any of the rest of us. He soon learned to manage and drive horses, and because he could be trusted with more safety with horses than James, he must quit school to plow when the season came for plowing, or stay at home when there was hauling to do. Being the oldest and strongest also he was our leader and even in his boyhood acquired a confidence in himself and in his ability to manage [Page 76] that neither James nor I ever possessed. When he was about 18 years old Father lost his health and was compelled to surrender to Joseph the entire management of the work on the farm. He was at the time Father was taken sick at school in Columbus, and came home with a raging thirst for education. His schooling had been so interfered with, by the demands on his time, before he went to Columbus, that he had fallen behind James in his studies. He being more efficient on the farm than James, and the latter being the better scholar, my Father had determined that the proper thing to do would be to give James an education with a view of making a professional man of him, and making Joseph a farmer. I think he never dreamed that this would be distasteful to Joseph. But it proved to be a plan that was very repugnant to him. However, when Father was taken sick, Joseph without being sent for came home at once, assumed the management and was the leader in all our farm work for some years. But while he said little of anything about it, I knew he had a burning desire to get an education. He had inherited all my Mother’s taste for mathematics and argumentation, and in both he, for his opportunities became an adept. I slept with him, or in the same room with him, from his 18th to his 22nd year. During all that time he was a constant as well as a hard worker on the farm, but besides reading all he could during the day time, it was his custom to read lying in bed until a late hour at night. When he was reading anything of special interest he often read until long after midnight. He had purchased some books of his own, but he became a subscriber to a Library in Waynesville, in which there were about 300 volumes. During the four years I have named, his reading must have covered a very wide range.
[Page 77] About that time there was a debating club organized in Waynesville as a moot legislature. The most intelligent and ambitious men in the village and vicinity joined the Society. Joseph became one of the most prominent members and took a leading part in the debates. The questions disputed some of the most important questions of public policy which at that time occupied the attention of our state legislature and of Congress. It was kept up, I think, two winters. Nearly every week Joseph would deliver a carefully prepared speech on the subject under consideration. Occasionally, when the question was one of interest he would throw' all his energy into the speech. I often went with him and was very much impressed with his speeches. I heard him make one speech more than an hour long, that I thought then and still think was a remarkable speech for so young a man to make. He was very tall and slender with a large head and bright blue eyes which looked brighter when he was excited. He had a slight droop in one shoulder, but his figure was otherwise very graceful - more so than any other of our parents’ sons. His voice was as clear as a bell and very powerful. I was too young, I suppose, to be much of a judge of speeches: But James who was in college at the time, once, while on a visit at home, heard one of Joseph’s speeches and my Mother later told him that he expressed great surprise to her about it. He said among all students at Oxford there was no one who could make as good a speech. Many years after Emmor Bailey, who was an intelligent judge, told me that there was no doubt that if Joseph had lived he would have become a remarkably able public speaker. He had, I think, but little humor and more appealed to the feelings of his auditors, but relied on convincing their judgements by a clear statement [Page 78] of the question or controversy and applying to it strictly logical reasoning.
There was one important quality he possessed I think in an eminent degree. Certainly none of the rest of the family possessed it in anything like the same degree except William, who strongly resembled him in that particular. Joseph was a born leader, bold, self-reliant, fearless. In a harvest field, at a barn raising, in a debating society or in a frolic he assumed the leadership as his born right and no one ever pretended to oppose him. When he was only 18 years old he was elected the Lieutenant of a Military Company.
This natural talent for leadership with his undoubted mental capacity and his ambition which was far stronger than that of any of his brothers, I have always thought would have made him, if he had had a very prominent name even during the Civil War. He would have been just 43 years old when the war broke out, neither too young nor too old to have taken a prominent part either in the public councils or in the field. That he would have taken a part with decisive energy I have no doubt.
On the graduation of James and the partial recovery of Father’s health, Joseph went to Oxford in 1840 with the hope and determination at last of getting an education he had so longed for. But in two or three months he was seized with a violent cold which settled in his lungs and terminated, much the practice that was then in vogue of bleeding and physicing, in a rapid consumption. He died on the 27 of September 1841 at a little over 23 years of age. I suppose he had weakened his constitution by hard work, by exposure, and especially by reading as much in bed after working hard all day.
I think in childhood my Brother James did not enjoy such good health and was not as stout a boy as Joseph. He had when he was about 12 years old a severe attack of inf1ammatory rheumatism. He was not fond of working with horses and when either of them had to stop going to school by the presence of work, it was usually Joseph. In consequence of this by the time the boys were twelve or fourteen years old, James was ahead of Joseph in school. He learned with great facility and always stood at the head [Page 79] of the school. Father was desirous that one of his older boys should receive an education and become a lawyer and James George being the better scholar, his mind hurried to him as the proper one. About 1831 a niece of Uncle Burwell Goode was married to a midshipman in the Navy. He was home on leave of absence and was induced to teach a winter at school in the neighborhood of Uncle Burwell’s. Mr Gillett, afterwards a distinguished Methodist preacher in Indiana, was a man of good a squirements and the school he taught was very superior to those which had been previously taught in the country around Waynesville. James boarded at Uncle Burwell’s and went to Mr. Gillett’s school where he made very rapid progress. He went to school the next winter in the same place to Chency Pile, a Quaker, who had the expectation of being a superior instructor though he was not so intelligent or well educated as Mr. Gillett. About a year or two afterwards, James went to school in Lebanon, and I think remained there boarding in Uncle George’s family for a year or two. He commenced the study of Latin in Lebanon. He afterwards went to school a summer at Waynesville to a very fine scholar. Dasvis Burson, a graduate of Brown University. I think it was with Mr. Burson he began to study Greek. During the winter of 1837-1838 he went to school in Columbus and in April of that year he went to Oxford where he remained until he graduated in 1840. When he went to Oxford he entered the sophomore class, but was behind in his Greek, which he was permitted to bring up by extra study. This he did and he obtained such a standing in his studies that three or four years after he was selected by the faculty as one of three or four out of a class of more than forty as entitled to a degree of Master of Arts.
While at Oxford, he was a member of the Union Literary Society [Page 80] and became so superior as a speaker and debater that he was chosen by his society as their champion in a contest with the Erodelphian Society. But in consequence of an attack of sickness and consequent failure of adequate preparation, he never regarded his effort as on that occasion as especially auditable. But at the time, during the Junior year, I believe, all the members of the class were required to deliver a public address. He chose for his subject, "Influence of Literation on Government." At the conclusion of his address the venerable Dr. Bishop, the president of the University, arose from his seat in the midst of the congregation and amid profound silence walked up into the pulpit and shook James warmly by the hand. He had never before given such a reach of approbation to the effort of any student.
While at Oxford he was one of ten young gentlemen who founded the "Beta Theta Pi" society. This society I understand has become one of the leading secret literary societies in colleges throughout the United States. Upon his graduation Father, Mother, Joseph, and one or two of our cousins went to Oxford to witness the ceremonies of the commencement. In consequence of ill health, James was excused from making a graduating speech. But I think no young man ever left Miami University with a more enviable reputation.
He came home with impaired health, from excessive study, but expected after a few months rest and recuperation to begin the study of the law. But about Christmas, Joseph came home with the attack of sickness from which he never recovered. In the spring, however, James went to Columbus, at Uncle Joseph’s request, to aid him in the State Treasurer’s Office, and especially to accompany him in trips that he had to make to payoff contractors on the Miami and Wausau?Maumee canals, which were being constructed. Joseph’s health gradually becoming sorry and Father being taken down with his final sickness, James came home. Father died August 1841 and Joseph September 27, 1841. James was appointed administrator of the estate, made a sale of the personal property and shaping up the business as far as he was able, concluded to spend the winter in the south in the hope that a southern climate would rest on his health. In company with cousin George E. Smith who was also threatened with consumption. he started sometime in November on horseback. They spent a week or two visiting relatives In Kentucky, the children and grandchildren of George Stovall Smith and from that neighborhood they went to the Mammoth Cave then to Nashville. As they passed through Nashville, they visited the Maxey family. While at Dr. John Maxey’s, James had a severe hemorrage [sic] of the lungs. I think they were detained at Nashville some time, but getting better, they proceeded on their journey to Pensacola, Florida, passing on their route Montgomery, Alabama. They spent the winter at Pensacola boarding in the family of Captain Williams. In the spring they sold their horses and went by sea to New Orleans. From New Orleans they came by steamboat to Cincinnati, reaching home about the 12th of April.
James came home with his health somewhat improved, but the weather turned very wet and chilly and he took cold, and was very sick for a long time. He gave up all ideas of studying law. His health gradually but very slowly improved, but he never fully recovered. In the course of a year or two he was able to do more work, and continued to work on the farm as long as he 1ived. In 1849 a few days after Mother died (8-17-1849-PMT) during a fearful epidemic of cholera and dysentery that prevailed in the neighborhood, James was taken sick and only lived a few days, and died 9-16-1849.
[Page 82] I think my Brother James possessed one of the most evenly balanced minds of any person I ever knew. His talents, I think, were not remarkable in any especial direction. So far as I know, he had no strong or passionate desire for any particular kind of knowledge. He had not the boldness, the gift of authority and the eager ambition of Joseph. But he pursued many different studies with apparently equal interest. His temper and judgement were more equable, his taste more refined. He had more humor than any other of our Mother’s children, except sister Mary possibly. In that respect he was all, I suspect, rather deficient. All of us except the two younger children were utterly devoid of musical talent.
James had a liking for refined reasoning. He could see both sides of a question and would suggest difficulties to opinions that he most found? He talked well on almost every question, and his conversation was at one instructive, suggestive, and agreeable. He would often settle a controversy by a simple common sense remark. He was by far the most popular of us all. Everyone seemed instinctively to like and trust him.
I (John Quincy - born 11-5-1824-PMT) was about five years younger than James, and for many years he was in an important sense my tutor. I think I was a favorite with him. At least he seemed to take great pleasure in talking to me on questions of importance that he wished me to have some knowledge of. When ever he came home from school he would talk to me by the hour of those things that he had learned that he thought he could help me understand. He talked much about moral principles, and about what was right and wrong in human conduct. He would discuss questions on both sides, such as "whether it is ever right to do wrong that good may come of it". Looking back to those conversations, which took place fifty years ago, I am inclined to think that James did more to stir my mind [Page 83] into activity than any other person except my Mother. He had all our Father’s love for moderation of statement and dislike of exaggeration. In an argument he always gave full insight to the reasons advanced by his adversary, and if he was convinced that he was wrong would possibly acknowledge his defeat. He was too candid to claim a victory that he did not think he had fairly won.
Speaking generally of my two older brothers, I think James partook more of the nature of Father and Joseph more of the nature of Mother.
Father and Mother, Joseph and James were originally interred in the family graveyard on our farm. But about 1867 their remains with those of our sister Martha and brother Thomas were removed to the cemetery near Waynesville.
William was about 16 months younger than I was. But he was a very healthy, large child, while I was small and unhealthy. I cannot remember when he was not as large or larger than I was. He grew to be a much larger man. He was nearly six feet in height and weighed considerably over two hundred pounds during the latter years of his life. Both in his physical and mental constitution, he strongly resembled the Whitehills. He had all the boldness and gift of authority I had spoken of in Joseph. He was imperious in his disposition and his temper was hot. He learned with great capacity, especially mathematics and the natural sciences. He had a strong task for geology and anatomy. This last study he never pursued to any extent, but he had picked up a good deal of knowledge about it. My Father used to say that he ought to be a physician, and I think that that profession would have been very congenial to his task.
In consequence of Father’s death, James’ sickness and the terribly hard times from 1840-1846, just at the time William and I should have been in school, he got nothing better than a common school education, except a few months at a small academy that was started about that time in Waynesville. But he was very fond of reading. He never cared very much for either poetry or novels. His reading was comprised of newspapers, to history and scientific works mainly. One of the books that he positively admired was Napier’s, "Jerusalem War." Of all our family he was the most aristocratic in his theories. He thought the ignorant, degraded, lazy man hardly ought to have any political rights. He made a wide distinction between such men and the capable, [Page 84] intelligent and industrious. He was free to express in strong language his contempt for the former class. I think he had a good deal of Carlyle’s feeling in the favor of successful men. The man who could do the most, accomplish the largest result was his hero, and he readily accorded his homage to him. This was his theory in the abstract. But it was theory only. If there was a poor, trifling, worthless man in the neighborhood he would denounce him to his face, abuse him, heap on him all manner of contemptuous expressions. But such men all loved him as they loved none of the rest of us, because they knew that his talk was talk only: that in time of trouble, sickness and want he would rush to their assistance as no one else wou1d do. In times of sickness among such people, he would go to see them and his very presence gave assurance that everything would be done for their relief that was possible. He would assume command in the sick room, take a sick child out of its mother’s arms, direct that this and that and the other thing should be done. He would send for the Doctor, administer the medicine, direct the preparation of food, and before leaving minutely instruct the family what they must do. In all this he would be so imperious that no one would think of disputing his authority, or disregarding his injunctions. In an hour he would bring order when there was disorder, activity when there was sloth, cleanliness when there was dirt, attraction when there was negligence. He never hesitated about what should be done. His decision was instantaneous and it was not to be disputed. He was ready to assume any responsibility.
One of our cousins had been literally choked to death by quinsy (peritonsillar abcess - PMT) very suddenly. Some years after Cousin Sarah Smith had a violent attack of the same disease. William and Mary went to see her and found her as William thought, in an alarming condition, and very liable to choke. He immediately left the room and when Mary went to hunt him, after a few minutes, she found him in the kitchen where he had a goose quill prepared very carefully and was sharpening his knife. Mary asked him what he was doing, he said that he feared Sarah would choke to death like Thomas Tate: but that he meant to be prepared if the worst came to the worst, to cut into her windpipe below the swelling and insert that quill for her to breathe through until other means of relief could be found. He knew the operation of the tracheotomy in the hands of a skilled surgeon is dangerous, but he was actively willing to take the responsibility of performing the operation himself if it became apparent to him that there was no other way to save life. This was not braggadocio, but a serious deliberate situation that he would have carried into execution without asking the advice of any body if the event that he feared had required it.
In the division of our property William took the lower half of the home farm and Edwin the upper - they buying Mary’s interest. Seven years after he traded with Edwin for a half section of land that had fallen to him in the division of lands our father had purchased in the southwest part of the state. Edwin took the house farm and William (child # 6, PMT) went to reside on his land in Henry County, Ohio and was engaged until his death in leaving it improved.
He died at Okolona Station (near Florida) on the Wabash Road in Henry County, Ohio, July 12, 1867. I received a telegram from his wife the evening before stating that he was dangerously sick. It was too late to catch any train that evening, but I went to Xenia before day the next morning, and got to his home a little after night. I had to wait in Toledo a good while for a train. I heard the conductor on our train (which was as accommodation) ask the conductor of the incoming train as he passed him to whether he had heard how Mr. Smith was as he passed Okolona. He replied that it was said he could only live a short time. I then told the conductor that I (John Quincy) was William’s brother and was very anxious to get to him before he died. He said that [Page 86] he would go and hurry up his train. And I think he did so because he said "Smith is a great favorite with us all." I reached the house about an hour before he died, but he was delirious. I tried to get him to recognize me but he did not. He had been perfectly conscious until an hour before. The disease of which he died is a very rare one, being a dissolution of the blood. He had had a very hard attack of sickness before removing to Henry County. From this he never fully recovered. After his removal he had frequent attacks of ague and the fall upon he died he had a very severe attack of fever. Then frequent attacks of sickness at last culminated in that from which he died.
The day after the next we brought his remains home. All the next day a great crowd of people hung around the house in silence, in sadness and in tears. Many of them came early in the morning and sat or stood about all day. I think I have never seen on any other occasion such marked expressions of grief as seemed to fill the hearts of those poor people. On inquiry, I found that nearly everyone of them was indebted to him for some especial service, and they seemed to feel like they had lost in him the best friend they ever had. He had only lived among them a few years, but as was his want, he had acquired over them an influence that was very wonderful.
In June 1865 he was married to Virginia Collett, daughter of Daniel and Charity Collett, a most excellent and sensible woman who is still living. They had one child, Mary who survived her Father about two years. She was one exceedingly promising child, and there was lustered on her a boundless store of love, but neither the warmest nor most careful attention could prolong her life. She lies buried by the side of her Father in the cemetery near Waynesville.
I shall have from time to time to mention each of these brothers in relating the story of my own life. But it has seemed to be better to show in our picture, as it were, the boys and young men with whom [Page 87] throughout all the earlier years of my life I was most intimately associated in work and play, in school. and at the fireside. It is fair to suppose that each one of them excited a powerful influence in the development of my own mind and character, and to each one of them I feel deeply indebted.
In speaking of my parents and grandparents and of my brothers no one will understand me as claiming that they were perfect men and women. I make no such claim for any of them, but I think I am not mistaken in believing in each one of them good largely predominated, and that without exception they are people of clear and strong intellects, good and moral purposes, and correct habits of life.
In talking with my Mother in after years I would tell her of things that I remember that had occurred when I was a child. I mentioned a number of things that she said had happened when I was not, more than two years old. They were matters of no importance, but had in some way fastened themselves on my memory. For a good many years I was so delicate that she would often inquire how I felt. I hardly ever felt entirely sick. I was from my earliest recollection subject to occasional attacks of intense headache. The only relief I could get was from sleep. I also suffered occasionally from ear aches. The pain I endured was very severe. I suppose I gained strength after I was three or four. When I was about four years old I began to learn to speak and read. I think I cannot remember when I did not know my letters. I think I went to school a few days when I was about four years old to a Mr. Venable, an uncle of Professor W. H. Venable of Cincinnati. I afterwards went to a Mr. O’Neall, a relation of Uncle Billy O’Neall. But the first teacher to whom I went regularly was James Weeks, a relation, I believe, perhaps a son of the Benjamin Weeks who built the old house. Mr. Weeks was our teacher from time to time for several years. He had lost an eye, but the other was a terror to the children. He [Page 88] kept an assortment of switches always ready and used them freely. I think he never struck me but once and then only a lick or two. But I was desperately afraid of him. Some of the boys he whipped frequently and occasionally unmercifully. He was a passionate man and when angry had no control over himself, In the winter there were some large boys who went to school whom he did not dare to whip, and then, we used to think, that when they angered him he would soon find an opportunity of relieving himself by whipping some of the younger children. He had a stepson, Eli Babb, that he whipped very often and very unjustly. One day he called Eli up to be whipped. He was very mad and had no good reason for his anger. Just as he was ready to begin thrashing Eli, a young man named James Hyde, ran and told him he should not whip Eli. That he did not deserve a whipping and that he whipped him too much and that he must stop it. The larger boys were all on the side of Hyde and Weeks saw that if he punishes he would be beaten. He dissatisfied the school, and I think never resumed it. He was a poor scholar and an ignorant man. He knew nothing of grammar. I think he had never studied geography. He mispronounced many words. He could not do all the lessons in the little Arithmetic - Rikes and Talbots - which were studied in the school. His teaching was comprised of spelling, reading, writing, and arithmetic. Notwithstanding he knew so little I think I must have made a good deal of progress under his tuition. I learned to speak pretty well, read in the “Introduction." and I think read the New Testament through several times, and learned to cipher as far as the "single Rule of Three" in Weeks school. In the summer when the larger boys were required to stay at home, I was one of the best spellers, and was always at the head of the class in spelling. We spelled standing up [Page 89] in rows and "spelled each other down," that is if a scholar missed the word, it was given out to the next scholar. and the next and so on until someone spelled it. The successful speller would then take his place in the line immediately above the one who first missed it. The school house was about a mile from where we lived. It was located in a large tract of woods. In the summer time, when the leaves were on the trees there was no cleared land in sight. There was no coach to it and we often had to walk to school through deep snow. It was built of hewn logs and was probably about 20 feet square. The floor had been made of green planks and had shrunk so as to leave wide holes between the boards. It was covered with clapboards. The chimney was made of very rough stone. The fireplace was six or seven feet wide. Instead of a stone arch over the fireplace there was a hewed log. There were I think four small windows glazed with little frames of glass. The seats were slabs brought from some sawmill, and pieces of proper length were set in each end for legs. I think the seats had never been used but were worn smooth by use. The writing desk was a wide board fastened to long pieces which were driven into a log at the end of the house opposite the fireplace. The children took "turn about" writing. I think I can see the little barefooted tow-headed ragamuffins sitting at the old "writing desk." as we called the long board with their heads down on the desk, with open mouths at work at their pot hooks (an S-shaped stroke in writing as made by children learning to write - PMT 1994 - dictionary).
The fires were built except in the coldest weather, of logs and trash gathered up by the larger boys at noon recess in the woods. In the very coldest weather the parents of the children would haul us wood. The winter school was always large. Larger boys and some young men would come then. During the summer they were required to stay home and work. [Page 90] The teacher was employed by his writing out a proposal to teach a certain length of time for so much a scholar, provided he could get a certain number of subscribers. The normal pay for a scholar for three months was $2.50. If he got twenty scholars subscribed, therefore, his pay was to be $50.00. There were a large number of poor families in the neighborhood who were not able to pay even at this low price, and in order to make up the amount of money the teacher demanded my Father, Uncle John and one or two others would subscribe for more scholars then they had children to send. After the school master was employed and the day set for school to open, word would be sent around and all those who felt unable to aid in paying the teacher were invited to send their children free from charge. They had no hesitation in doing this. On the close of school the teacher would go around and collect his pay.
There were two or three negro families in the neighborhood. The prejudice against blacks was much stronger then than now. The larger number of the families in our neighborhood were immigrants from Virginia and the Carolinas, but I never heard of anyone of them objecting to negro children going to our school. We sat beside the negro boys and played with them, without a suspicion that there was anything improper or degrading in such association. The playground was a little piece of ground on which there happened to be no trees: but we had hundreds of acres which we could use if we wished. Sometimes we would play some running game and we would run through the woods for a long distance. Near the school house a larger oak tree with a very long body had fallen. It gradually tapered toward the top. The little boys would begin trying to jump this log near the top, and it was with all the boys a test of activity who could jump it nearest the butt end. Only the larger and most active boys were able to leap it on the [Page 91] largest place. About the middle of February the large boys would leave school to begin to make sugar, and by the first of April the scholars were only the girls and small boys. There were no regular periods for vacations. Sometimes the schools would last all through the heats of summer and then we might have no school through September, Oct., Nov. On the damp days in the summertime the musketors [sic] swarmed into the house by hundreds and we were bitten fiercefully. A lizzard [sic]often came into the house through some crack, and then a great chase after it began. The girls would scream and get up on the benches. The teachers and the boys would arm themselves with rulers or other weapons and chase it round and round the house until it was killed or escaped. The bite of these lizards was suspected among the children to be very poisonous, but I never heard of anyone being bitten by them.
When I was nine years old the school was taught one summer by Miss Mary Wiseman. She was the first and only female to whom I ever went to school. At this school my brother William and I studied Peter Porleys Geography. I rather think they were the first geographics I ever saw in the school. We became very much interested in this study. I think we never enjoyed anything we were learning more. William, being the younger, was behind me in most of my studies, but in anything in which we started in together, we kept abreast of each other. He had the power of concentrating his mind very c1early and for a long time at a stretch on anything he was studying. After my tenth year, my services at home were required during the summer season, and I went to school in the old log house very 1ittle if any after that.
[Page 92] It was in winter when I usually got to go two or three months, but this short period of instruction was frequent1y interrupted for days at a time by our special or farming work. During the summer of 1832 we had no school at home and I went to school for probably two months with Cheny Pyle, in the neighborhood of Uncle Billy’s. I was less than eight years old and the distance was nearly three miles, But I frequently got my Mother to allow me to stay all night with my cousin, Abijah O’Neall [JQS and Abijah Porter O’Neall were both born in 1924; they were first cousins. JON], who was very near my own age. During that year the cholera broke out about Waynesville and a number of people died. There was a little boy named Rodgers who lived on my way to school, who used often to go with me and almost always returned with me as far as his father’s house, with whom I played, and perhaps we were in the same classes, who was taken sick with cholera and died very suddenly. I think he was in school one day, and the next day word came that he was dead. This sudden death was a great shock to me. But I do not think I was frightened on my own account.
My sister Mary Jane was born on the 8 of January 1828. I remember my Father calling James and me . We were sleeping together in the room over another room, to get up and come see what they had. I beheld with great astonishment a little red faced baby in a cap and long gown 1ying in the crad1e. She was a mystery that I could not understand.
On the 16 of August 1832 my brother Thomas Edwin (Smith, PMT) was born. He was my Mother’s eighth and last child.
Uncle Joseph Whitehil1 was elected sheriff of Warren County in 1826 and filled the office for four years. Neither he nor Aunt Jane ever married and they lived together until his death. While he was sheriff they 1ived in the old jail building which stood near the present Courthouse. When I was about four years old I spent several weeks with them and caught whooping cough which made me very sick. But this did not prevent me from having another attack of probably sympathetic whooping cough - when I removed to Oakland. During this visit to my Uncle’s, I saw the first orange I ever saw. They were brought from New Orleans by John E Dye. one of their near neighbors who was a carpenter. He was in the habit of going south to work at his trade during the winter; on his return that spring he brought his family a box of oranges and pine Apples. Mrs. Dye gave me an orange and a slice of pine Apple. Mr Dye is still living in Lebanon nearly 100 years old.
After Uncle Joseph left the sheriff’s office he removed to a farm he had purchased on the Dayton road three miles north of Lebanon. He was elected in 1830 a representative to the Legislature. Soon after he went to Columbus Aunt Jane, Uncle George and Aunt Hannah came to our house on a visit in a sleigh of Uncle Joseph’s. A young man named James Montgomery was living with Aunt Jane and drove the sleigh. It was arranged that I should go home with her and remain during the winter. It was dark when we reached Lebanon, and probably eight or nine o’clock when we reached Uncle Joseph’s. In some way I got turned around, and all that winter the sun seemed to rise in the west and set in the east. It was the first time I had ever had that sort of an experience, which was very unpleasant to me. That winter was a memorable one with me. The snow lasted and the sleighing was excellent nearly all winter. My aunt had a fine team and we had a great many sleigh rides. It was under her tuition that I learned to read intelligently. But she did not allow me to neglect my books. I was required to learn something every day. She required me to commit verses out of the hymn book. I learned a number of hymns that I could repeat. I acquired a facility in committing that I have always regretted I did not preserve by continued practice. I have ever since believed that any ordinarily sensible child can be taught to committ [sic] to memory with great ease; if they are required to committ [commit He’s consistent with this error, at least.] a few verses every day. The cultivation of the process of giving close attention that this requires is one of the most important advantages of an education; and I think as a means of mental culture children should habitually be required to learn something "by heart," as it is called.
I remained with my aunt all winter. Uncle Joseph would send me presents from Columbus. He sent me in a letter the first silver half dime [Page 94] I ever saw. It was a bright new one. I thought it was the prettiest coin I had ever seen. The small change before that had been what was called eleven penny pieces [?] worth twelve and a half cents, and "pepper my wits" [?] or "picayune" worth six and a fourth cents. Gradually dimes and half dimes took the place of these old and usually much worn coins. He sent me also comic papers and a book that I prize very highly called "The Boys Own Book." It was full of pictures and short stories.
The winter was unusually cold and there was a great scarcity of water. I think my Father and Mother came to see us once. And after they began making sugar at home, Father brought me a large quantity of sugar wax. I was very homesick by this time and cried very hard because he would not take me home with him.
At that time the Dayton road was a great thoroughfare for hauling produce to Cincinnati. The road was lined from morning until night with four, five and six horse trains. A great many of the teamsters had bells on their horses - two or three small bells hung over the top of the horse on each horse. There was a constant jingle from morning til night. This was before the road was turnpiked and when the frost left in the spring, the road was lined with rails and poles that had been used to pry wagons out of the mud. When a team would stall, the driver would wait until the next team would come up, and then they would double up their teams to pull through the bad place, By prying up the wheels and attaching two or more extra horses they would manage to go along. The progress of these great teams was very slow. I suppose that it must have often taken a team ten days to go from Dayton to Cincinnati and return. During the spring of the year [Page 95] when the roads were soft, I think from ten to fifteen barrels of flour was required as a heavy load for a five or a six horse wagon.
My Uncle being elected to the Legislature the following year, I again spent the winter with my aunt. But that winter was an open one and we had little if any sleighing and my recollection of it is less vivid. I may not have remained so long. I believe it was the wish of my Uncle and Aunt that my Father and Mother should allow them to take me to raise. I think my aunt greatly desired it, but Father would not consent. He said he never knew a child to be raised by its grandfather that was not spirited by too much indulgence, and that my Aunt and Uncle would be seen to spoil me. When my Uncle was in the Legislature he sent my aunt a great number of newspapers which she read with great interest. I would get very tired of her everlasting reading when I wanted to talk. The neighbors would frequently come in of an evening to hear the news from her. She seemed always glad to see them and would tell them all what was going on in Congress and the state legislature. They seemed especially anxious to hear whether "Whitehill" or "Jo," as they sometimes called him, had done anything to distinguish himself. I am under the impression that at that Uncle Joseph was exceedingly popular in Warren County, and that Aunt Jane did all she could to confirm the good feeling the people had towards him.
About that time my Aunt had a beau, about whom she laughed as long as she lived. One day a man rode up to the gate in front of the house and hallored. She went to the door, and he asked if Mr. Whitehill was at home. She replied that he was not. He asked her if she was Miss Whitehill and when she told him she was, he requested her to step out to the fence. Supposing he wished to leave some word for Uncle Joseph, she did so. He was a man fifty or sixty years old and spoke …
1.James Whitehill m. Rachel Criswell
2. Joseph m. Mary Kennedy
3. Mary Kennedy Whitehill
4. Thom Edward Smith b. 1783 m Mary Kennedy Whitehill (Lancaster, PA) and had
Joseph Whitehill b. 1818
James George b. 1819
Martha Sublett b. 1821
Thomas F. Clark b. 1823
William b. 3/14/1826 d. 1867
Mary Jane b. 1828 d. 1903
Thomas Edwin b. 1832 d. 1900 and
6 Horace Whitehill Smith m. Mary Evaline Campbell had Irving, Quincy Garfield and
7 Edwin Charles Smith m. Marjorie McReynolds had Horace Whitehill (Bud), Donald and
9 William Patrick Thompson m. Penelope Mott Thompson of Westbury, Long Island, NY and had
10. Hillary and Megan Thompson
CLARIFICATIONS IN DOCUMENT TEXT:
SYMBOL of (information-PMT) = clarifying information added, by Penelope Mott Thompson, transcriber) or JON, John O’Neall, editor
SYMBOL of (?) = represents an uncertainty in deciphering written word
All paragraph structure, spelling, word usage and grammar remains unaltered.
The transcribor wishes to thank the editor, John O'Neall, and his father, Albert Ellis O’Neall, for their help in researching the family and publishing this document. The editor wishes to thank the transcribor for making this excellent document available. ;-) John is a descendant of John Quincy Smith’s sister, Martha. He is JQS’s first cousin, 3 times removed.
Original manuscript remains with W. Patrick Thompson of Cincinnati, Ohio
1. References of the type [Page nn] are to pages in the
written document. (Back.)
2. This date, difficult to decipher, looks like 1893,
but 1843 seems a more likely interpretation.(Back.)
3. Insertions of the form (…-PMT) are clarifications added
4. Additions of the form […-JON] have been made by the
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