FOUR: there's lots of good smiths in the sea
"SFA" stands for the Smith Family Archives, assembled and transcribed over many years by Leanna Lois Claudia Smith, daughter of Alonzo; her great-nieces Mellie Morris Smith (daughter of Herbert Gustavus) and Gertrude Fairchild Smith (daughter of Maurice Leigh); and great-great-niece Mildred Aileen Nash (neé Mellie Agnes Smith: daughter of Francis See).
"DSN" stands for correspondence with Doris Smith Norman, webmaster of the site http://users.moscow.com/dnorman/, excerpts from which are represented below as ~archl, ~arch2, ~arch3, and ~arch/ancestors, plus ~smith/jerome and ~smith/eugene.
Internet sources are indicated by tildes (e.g. ~internet). A complete list can be found on the Sources page. Due to the transient nature of Internet entries, only a few hyperlinks will be provided to outside webpages; such as ~a (www.ancestry.com), ~f (www.familysearch.org), ~g (www.findagrave.com), and ~w (www.worldvitalrecords.com). The United States Federal Census records for 1850 through 1940 cited below are available at ~a (except for 1890's, which was badly damaged in a 1921 fire and later quietly destroyed).
S-2 Alonzo and Ellen
● "Alonso and Ella"
Alonzo C. Smith was born on Feb. 6, 1828, in Cincinnati; a few sources say Feb. 26th, but none venture a guess as to what his middle initial stood for—presumably not "See." If his brother Jerome's second son was his namesake, Alonzo's middle name might have been Claud(e); indeed his own daughter had "Claudia" as one of her two middle names.
The first three decades of Alonzo's life are a blank. Presumably he resided with his parents in Clermont County OH (Goshen Township in 1830, Miami Township in 1840); less certain is whether he accompanied them to Clinton County's Vernon Township in 1845, when Alonzo would have been seventeen. His son M. L. Smith's biography in 1917’s History of Champaign County, Ohio: Its People, Industries and Institutions, Volume II (~champaign/1917-II) states that "Alonzo Smith's first trade was that of a buggy maker, which he followed, for the most part, in Cincinnati"; but we have no other indication where he was living or what he was doing until Dec. 25, 1858, when he signed the Land Record described at the end of Chapter S-1B. Despite using every variation and abbreviation imaginable, the present author has been unable find Alonzo in any 1850 census; remote possibilities are an "A. E. Smith" and "A. H. Smith," both born circa 1827 and living in Hamilton County:
Cincinnati 7th Ward, dwelling-house 1179 ("boarding-house" in the left margin)
* A. E. Smith (aged 23), cabinetmaker, born in Ohio
* Elizabeth Smith (aged 18), born in Virginia
District 69, Miami Township, Hamilton County, dwelling-house 525
* A. Graff (aged 36), harnessmaker, born in Germany
* Eliza Graff (aged 45), born in Connecticut
* A. H. Smith (aged 23), carpenter, born in Ohio
* Emma Smith (aged 14), Ohio-born, attending school
* Mary McClenon (aged 11), Ohio-born, attending school
Either case would involve the middle initial's being mistranscribed. The first case suggests an early marriage that ended before 1858; in the second, Emma Smith's presence would probably be coincidental.
Less than five months after the Smiths sold their land in Clinton County, a newspaper squib reported: "Married—SMITH WEIKLE—at Middletown, O. on Thursday morning, May 10th  by Rev. D. Whitmer, Mr. Alonso C. Smith [sic] to Miss Ella M. Weikle." The bride's name was actually Ellen Margaret Wikel; she was born in Middletown, Butler County OH on Feb. 8, 1840, the daughter of Samuel Wikel and Leah Upp from Chapter P-3. We may deduce that Alonzo either lived in Middletown or at least frequented the town prior to his and Ellen's marriage.
The newlywedded Smiths settled in Greene County, east of Dayton and south of Springfield. (Click on the thumbnail to the left to see an 1875 map of the county, and here to see a Wikipedia map.) Their home for many years was in Caesar's Creek Township near Paintersville, about eight miles southeast of Xenia. The township's only village, Paintersville had been laid out in 1840; four decades later it would have a population of about 150. "The village is on the line of the proposed Columbus and Cincinnati Narrow Gauge Railroad," ~history/greene remarked in 1881. "A number of new buildings are in process of erection, and should the road be completed, an era of prosperity will dawn on the inhabitants of the town and vicinity."† Which makes you wonder what sort of era they were living in up to that point.
Alonzo's brother Lucian and their mother Susannah had also moved to Paintersville by 1860; but that year's census finds Alonzo, Wife & Recently Born Son living not with them but in the Conklin home:
* Carpenter Conklin (aged 29), blacksmith, $460 in real estate
* Mary Conklin (aged 24)
* Anna J. Conklin (aged 6)
* James A. Conklin (aged 4)
* Tunis H. Conklin (aged 2)
* Alonza [sic] Smith (aged 30), "waggon maker," $500 in real estate, $800 in personal estate
* Ellen Smith (aged 20), married within the past year
* Gustavus Smith (aged two months)
Carpenter Conklin (born c.1831) hailed from a Dutchess County NY family whose genealogy is traced by ~conklin. This webgen excludes his first two children by Mary Mullen (born Dec.1835) but gives them eight more born in the 1860s and '70s—surely an incentive for Alonzo and Ellen to get a place of their own.
A June 1863 "Consolidated List of all persons... subject to do military duty" in Caesar's Creek Township, found at ~a, shows 35-year-old Alonzo, occupation wagoner, listed two names down from "Burral" Smith (with whom niece Mary Lafferty boarded in 1860). One webgen roster of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry's 154th Regiment (~oge-154th) includes Alonzo C. Smith in Company H along with his brother Lucian, Carpenter Conklin, two other Conklins, and Elijah S. Coat[e]; but Alonzo does not appear in the 154th's official roster (~ohio/154th, which confirms "Lucien" Smith as first lieutenant and Carpenter Conklin as sergeant); nor is Alonzo in ~a's 1890 Civil War Veterans Schedule.
By the 1870 census, Alonzo's family lived next door to his brother Lucian's near the Spring Valley post office:
* Alonzo C. Smith (aged 42), wagonmaker, $700 in real estate and $400 in personal estate
* Ellen M. Smith (aged 30), keeping house
* Gustavus [sloppily written, transcribed as "Guraliaone"] Smith (aged 10), at school
* Harrold [sic] Smith (aged 9), at school
* Meaurice [sic: also sloppily written, transcribed as "Mannie"] Smith (aged 7), at school
* Samuel Smith (aged 4)
* Lucian Smith (aged four months)
* Susana [sic] Smith (aged 68), Delaware-born (unlike the others, all Ohio natives), occupation "assists keeping house"
Although Alonzo's brother Lucian was by then a physician with $10,000 in real estate, Alonzo's household had almost twice as many children and most of them younger than Lucian's; which would seem the likeliest incentive for Susannah Smith to move in with them as Assistant Housekeeper. This may also explain why her 1820 sampler (described in Chapter S-1) was inherited by Alonzo's descendants rather than Lucian's.
~f's original Greene County OH Register of Deaths, a white widow
named "Smith, Susanah" [sic] died of paralysis aged 74 on Sep. 24,
1876 in Jefferson Township, just to
the east of Paintersville in Caesar's Creek Township.
~f entry, Susannah
Lafferty Smith died Sep. 28, 1876: ten days short of her 75th
birthday and nineteen before Alonzo's only daughter—Leanna Lois Claudia Smith—was born on
Oct. 17th. We can only speculate as to any significance why the SFA (of which Leanna was the first compiler)
neglected to record Susannah's death date or burial location, while mixing her
up with her sister Mary Lafferty who died in 1883; and whether Susannah's
passing away was a factor in
Alonzo's family leaving Greene County a couple of years afterward.
● Their Six Children
All six of Alonzo and Ellen's children were born in Paintersville OH or its vicinity:
* Herbert Gustavus Smith:
born Apr. 22, 1860; called "Gus"
* Harold Edward Smith: born July 19, 1861; called "Hal"
* Maurice Leigh Smith: born Dec. 3, 1862; his first name was pronounced (and sometimes written) as Morris; more often called "M.L."
* Samuel R. Smith: born Mar. 26, 1866; called "Sam"
* Lucian Clarence Smith: born Feb. 1, 1870; called "Clarence"
* Leanna Lois Claudia Smith: born Oct. 17, 1876; called "Leanna"
● Mingo, Urbana, and Oak Dale
Son M.L.'s 1917 biography reported that "after his marriage [Alonzo] located at Paintersville, Greene county, Ohio, where he followed his trade until 1878, in which year he came to Champaign county, locating on a farm north of Urbana, farming there on rented land until he bought a farm south of Urbana, where he spent the rest of his life."
The SFA agrees that Alonzo, Ellen and children upped stakes in 1878 and moved approximately 45 miles north—driving their cattle up the road and encountering no traffic. The Smiths settled in Salem Township, Champaign County OH; the nearest town was Mingo in neighboring Wayne Township. (Click on the thumbnail to the left to see an 1875 map of the county; click here to see a Wikipedia map.) Today Mingo remains an unincorporated community, though with a post office and zip code of its own.
The 1880 census presents us with:
* Alonzo C. Smith (aged 52), farmer, father born in New Jersey, mother in Delaware
* Ellen M. Smith (aged 40), housekeeping, parents born in Pennsylvania
* Herbert G. Smith (aged 20), works on farm
* Harrold E. [sic] Smith (aged 19), ditto
* Maurice L. Smith (aged 18), ditto
* Samuel T. [sic] Smith (aged 14), ditto
* Lucian C. Smith (aged 10)
* Leana C. [sic] Smith (aged 3)
All the children are shown as having attended school that year—even little Leanna. A contemporary glimpse of life on the Smith farm can be found in M.L.'s Feb. 1, 1885 letter to brother Gus in Chapter S-3.
Urbana, the metropolis of Champaign County, is about ten miles southwest of Mingo. In 1940 it was described as "an even-paced country town set in a rich farming and cattle-raising district, and inhabited by conservative descendants of Scotch-Irish settlers from Kentucky and the Carolinas. On Saturday night farmers and townfolk alike park their automobiles around Monument Square and spend the evening gossiping with neighbors and trading with merchants along Main Street... The rolling land near Urbana, with its flocks of sheep, its acres of corn and wheat, and its peaceful little creeks, represents agricultural Ohio in its most peaceful aspect."‡ (Unmentioned in M.L.'s 1885-86 letters is the family's preferred method of travel to Urbana: whether riding on horseback, driving a buggy or wagon, or perhaps catching the train in Mingo.)
Oak Dale Cemetery on Urbana's Patrick Avenue is the burial place of frontiersman
Simon Kenton, sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward, Ohio Governor Joseph Vance, and
Rear Admiral Joseph P. Fyffe—along with several members of the Smith family.
here to see a 2008 photo, courtesy of
Candy, of the tombstone shared by Alonzo, Ellen, and their sons Sam and
Clarence, in Section 61—Lot 3.)
● One of God's Quiet Noblemen
An obituary in the SFA reads:
Alonzo C. Smith was born in Cincinnati, Ohio February 6, 1828 and died April 11, 1899, aged 71 years, 2 months and 5 days. He was married to Ellen M. Wikel May 10, 1859. Two sons have preceded him to the better land. Three sons and a daughter with their mother remain to mourn him but they sorrow not as those without hope for he was one of God's quiet noblemen, and they remember the promise "To him that is faithful in that which is least shall be given abundance"... He was converted and joined the Methodist E[piscopal] Church 27 years ago.
Hollingshead Funeral Home record said Alonzo died of heart failure at 1 p.m. on
Apr. 10th; the courthouse record said cystitis was the cause of death, dated
Apr. 11th. His grandson Francis See Smith was not
quite three years old at the time, and F.S.'s daughter Mellie "can't remember any
mention ever [by F.S.] of Alonzo—doubtful he could remember him, since he was
only a very small boy when his grandfather died."
● The Joy of His Life
Alonzo's widow Ellen headed the following household (at 207 W. Market St., Urbana OH) in the 1900 census:
* Ellen M. Smith (aged 60), six children, four living
* Lino [sic] Smith (aged 23), daughter
* Irene L. Yeazel [sic] (aged 15), niece [daughter of Ellen's sister Lydia Josephine Wikel Yeazell]
The house on West Market Street may have been inherited by Ellen after Samuel Wikel's death in Dec. 1898. Ellen's 12-year-old grandson Francis See Smith was photographed in front of the house in 1908. In the 1904 Urbana directory, Ellen and Leanna were living with son/brother Harold Smith at 520 East Church Street; Hal's wife Minnie is also listed, though she died on Jan. 17, 1903. Ellen stayed on with Hal for the rest of her life, as documented by the 1910 census and 1918 directory.
Ellen Margaret Wikel Smith died of peritonitis on Aug. 28, 1919: having outlasted World War One, during which she reported to her son M.L. (serving as an army doctor at Fort Omaha) that she was enjoying life as usual by cleaning house, eating from her own garden, etc. "I have been in four wars," she wrote in a mini-essay titled "A Patriotic Family":
Remember well the war with Mexico. My uncle went through that war. My Great Grandfather Andrew Snyder, a native of Switzerland, was in the war of Revolution. My Grandfather John Wikel in war of 1812. In Mexico my uncle William. In the Civil War my father, Samuel Wikel, enlisted in the first call of President Lincoln for 75,000 men. I had three uncles in that war and the end is not yet.
The years 1917 and 1918 were harsh for Americans of German heritage. As Sinclair Lewis wrote in Arrowsmith, they "perceived women asserting that all Germans were baby-killers, universities barring the language of Heine, orchestras outlawing the music of Beethoven," etc. Ellen's undated "A Patriotic Family" may have been written in reaction to this; and as shown below, she didn't feel the war was over even after the Armistice. (Her saying she'd been in "four wars" presumably meant the Mexican, Civil, Spanish-American, and First World.)
Ellen lived long enough to congratulate her grandson Francis on his daughter Mellie's first birthday in June 1919; she enclosed a little bag that may have been part of her 1859 wedding outfit. "Letters indicate she was fiercely loyal to her family members," Mellie would say. "The letter to F.S.S. from her re: me indicates she was still very sharp and alert mentally, [though] it was written just prior to her death. F.S.S. often told me she was the one person in his life he probably loved above all others in his earlier years. Said visiting her home was the joy of his life."
June 10, 1919
Dear Grand and Great Grand children
I have wanted to write for some days you have been on my mind. I thank you so much for your letter and baby picture so sweet it is. I hope you are all well and baby growing so she will know her great grandma when she sees her. We have had some very hot weather but everything looks beautiful and with the singing of birds the old world is full of joy. We had and have such pretty peonies and roses now. I have had a spell of Grippe for some time but am getting better slowly. H.E. and Pauline were in Cleveland all last week attending the northern Dental Association. Sometimes they thought the weather was fierce. At home Sunday morn tired out M.L. have [sic] been having mumps Gertrude is [illegible] near well Clarence has [illegible] to Circleville to work for Powell this summer he is senior in high school next yr. Margaret [?gave her friend?] Mellie Agnes a little bag of [illegible] wedding dress 60 yrs ago last 10th of May when I was down at M[iddletown?]. A gentleman that was at the wedding was 91 years old. Only one other one that was there outside of my sister and bro. is living a Mr. Curtis. We are going to have the church redecorated and a new organ. Just think of it. These hard times too. The church will be closed for 2 months now [illegible]. When you find time give my love to everybody you meet and keep a share for yourselves.
Forever yours till the wars are over
† Taken from pp. 888-889 of R. S. Dills's History of
Greene County, together with Historic Notes on the Northwest, and the State of
Ohio, gleaned from early authors, old maps and manuscripts, private and official
correspondence, and all other authentic sources; published in Dayton by
Odell & Mayer.
‡ The Ohio Guide of the American Guide Series, New York: Oxford University Press, 1940, pp. 589-590.
DSN provided the present author with a photocopy of the original Butler
County Record of Marriage for Alonzo and Ellen (here called "Ellen M. Wikle").
It confirms the wedding took place on May 10, 1859 and record was filed two days later.
● According to the SFA, Alonzo did work at some point as a carpenter; hopefully this notion was not derived from his 1860 landlord's first name.
● One legend has it that Caesar's Creek was named after a slave who, after escaping from the South, lived on the banks of the Greene County creek and was buried beside it. "The old-timers used to hear the wail of the Negro slave 'lift up his rich voice among the hardwoods in Oh mourner, brother, you shall be free, shout to glory, sister, you shall be free.'" Other versions associate the slave Caesar with Simon Kenton or George Rogers Clark or General Benjamin Logan, aiding an escape from (or causing a betrayal to) the Shawnee Indians. Four variant legends can be found at ~caesarscreek.
● The children of Carpenter Conklin and Mary Mullen were: Anna J. Conklin aka Emma J. Conklin (born c.1854), James A. Conklin (born c.1856, died by 1870), Tunis Conklin (born c.1858), Jasper N. Conklin aka Newton J. Conklin (born c.1860-61), Lucian E. Conklin (born c.1862-63: named after Lucian Smith?), Lewis A. Conklin (born c.1866-67), Charles U. [or M.] Conklin (born c.1869), David O. Conklin (born c.1871), Laura M. Conklin (born c.1873), Magie P. [sic] Conklin (born c.1876), Samuel W. Conklin (1878-1954), and George T. Conklin (born c.1880).
● The 1863 Civil War registration roll notably includes a column for "white or colored."
● Between 1870 and 1880 the Conklins moved from Caesar's Creek Township to Port William Village in Liberty Township, Clinton County. Mary Conklin is listed as Carpenter's widow on ~a's 1890 Veterans Schedules. In 1900 she and George (the youngest of her thirteen children, three of whom had died) still lived in Port William Village; by which time Dr. Lucian Smith's family was again their neighbors.
● Only one other Susan/Susannah Smith of similar age was found in Greene County OH's 1870 census—Susan Smith of Bath Township—and her reappearance in the 1900 census would seem to confirm it was Susannah Lafferty Smith who expired in Jefferson Township in Sep. 1876.
● Oak Dale Cemetery (aka Oak Dale: both spaced and spaceless names have been used to the present day) was dedicated on July 19, 1856. "Initially christened "Greenwood", the name soon was changed to Oak Dale principally because of the luxuriant stand of magnificent oak trees on the grounds," states ~oak_dale. Prior to its creation, "burials were made in what today is referred to as the 'Old graveyard' located at the northeast corner of N. Kenton and E. Ward streets. Most bodies were re-interred at Oak Dale and the old cemetery was used as a pasture field and in more recent years as a playground."
● Ellen's death certificate was signed by her sons H.E. as informant and M.L. as physician. Full cause of death was "Peritonitis Traumatic / Accidental." Ellen was buried in Oak Dale on Sep. 1, 1919.
● See ~antigerman for more concerning Ohio's anti-German sentiments and activities during 1917-18.
● Ellen Wikel's sister Lydia Josephine and brother Samuel [Jr.] both died by 1919; so of those who attended Ellen's 1859 wedding to Alonzo Smith, just sister Mary Elizabeth and brother Henry survived—and Henry, in poor shape, only lasted till 1921.
● Ninety years after Ellen wrote her letter, her great-granddaughter Mellie still preserved the "little bag" in the letter's original envelope.
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