Smith History

This letter was written by Robert Graves Smith to his grand neice Jeanne and Lawrence Poulsen.

Farmington, New Mexico
January 29, 1932           

Edward Smith*, my Grandpa, was born near 1776 close to Sussex Courthouse, Sussex County, Virginia, He was married twice and had by his first wife two girls and by his second wife one boy and one girl. He was a man in good circumstances, popular with his neighbors, had a still, and sometimes drank to much. His first two daughters married twins and moved to Mobile,  Alabama.

About the time Pa was sixteen, Grandpa, at a sale, while not to sober, bought a mill. As Pa could not help himself, he had to take in and make good. It had always been a drag, but Pa took and made it pay well.

About 1833 Pa took a notion to see his sisters at Mobile and his cousin , Batt Smith, so he straddled a horse and rode through outlaws and Indians from Petersburg, Virginia, to Mobile, Alabama. He had not been long at his half sisters' before they began to inquire about Grandpa's money matters,  so he took his hat and went to visit cousin Batt Smith, spent a few days  and started home; Cousin Batt Smith being so well-pleased with his visit he gave him 600 dollars in gold to take back with him, but Aunt Martha would not let him leave until he gave her half of it.

In 1838 he married Miss Dorothy Ann Graves (both pure English). To them were born four boys; Edward, 1840; Waverley, 1842; Marion, 1844; Emmett, 1846.

Near this time he started with Uncle Tom _____ to move, landing in Memphis, Tennessee. He settled 20 miles east of Memphis, lived there
four or five years, and then sister Lilla and I were born. While there he took a contract with Peters Bros. for six mile of railroad and then he moved to Tippah County, Mississippi, eight miles south of La Grange, Tennessee, and six miles south of Grand Junction, Tennessee.

He hired a man name of Bob King to oversee the farm and work another contract at Pocahontas, Mississippi, I think with Sam Fate and Bosly, and another at Corinth, Mississippi. By this time he was making money, so in 1858 he took a sixty mile contract alone and finished it in the first of 1860. This contract was near ______, Miss.

Then the Civil War came on. He worked in the Quarter Master's Department at Grand Junction till our troops evacuated the place. Then the Yanks came down there and he remained at home. The soldiers would go out at night and hold up the farmers for what cash they had. Ten of them came one night to hold him up. He shot into them and killed two. They came back with a company of a hundred men and burned him out. (Second Iowa Infantry). He called together about ten men and a few of our slaves and shot the picket guards at night and kept them scared good and plenty.

But before this burning, three or four months, the Yanks were hauling off corn. We had about thirty-five men slaves and about thirty women and children. We raised on an average of one hundred bales of cotton a year. The wagons were being loaded and talk to PA and some of them seemed to like him.

Pa saw the wagons going by and asked the officer where he was going and he said "To Captain Hardy's". Pa said to him:  "If you go there you will take all he has and he has a lot of girls and has a hard time to live", so the officer ordered the wagons to our house to load corn.

The Yanks, after foraging on Pa for two or three times, start over to our neighbor, Captain Hardy. One of the officers seemed to be attracted to Pa and came by to visit him. Pa saw the wagons going by and asked the officer where he was going and he said "To Captain Hardy's". Pa said to him:  "If you go there you will take all he has and he has a lot of girls and has a hard time to live", so the officer ordered the wagons to our house to load corn.

(Six or seven months after this that officer came back to La Grange and started out to visit Pa. Uncle John Graves live about half-way to our place and he told him Pa had been killed. The officer told Uncle John he had read of such men and heard of such but had never seen such a man before and anxious to meet Pa because such a man was was wonderful and a grand humanitarian.)

Our house was bured on the sixth of January and Pa was killed on May 1. As I had no home but had a horse (I was only 14) I was sworn into the army with the rest of the company and was a soldier from February to May.

Soon after this Brother Wave was made Lieutenant Colonel and Ed was made Captain of our old Smith company. When General Forest  went into Memphis, Brother Ed had his horse killed under him. Wave was shot in the shoulder at Richmond, Kentucky. That was his reason for being home at this time.

*Edward Smith, Great, Great, Great Grandfather of Jeanne and Lawrence Poulsen

The above was copied from a letter written to me by my great Uncle, Robert (Graves) Smith. My grandfather was Ed Smith born in 1840.

Lucille Smith Poulsen

(Note: The blank spaces are where names were illegible. Re-typed 1-28-80 by Terry Austin Lefler.)

Notes by Fred Cox:

This letter was written by Robert Graves Smith. Robert's parents were Robert William and Dorothy Anne Graves Smith. Brother Ed was Richard Edward, Wave was John Waverly, Marion was Marion Skipwith and Emmett apparently died young. All except Emmett served in Co. D 18th Miss. Cavalry. John Waverly was once Capt. of Co. D but later Lt. Col. of the regiment.  Robert William was Captain of Co. D.

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Copyright © 1997-2006 by Walter F. Cox, Jr. and Melissa McCoy-Bell. All rights reserved. Individual submissions remain the property of the submitter or author.  In no case is this information to be used for profit.  If copied for personal or library use, this copyright notice must remain attached.
This page was last updatedJanuary 23, 2018