The Smiths

Most people know a Smith or two. Given the name’s familiarity, most make no presumption of relationship when two people have the same last name of Smith as they might with say, Kyzer.

The 2010, US Census reports Smith being the most common name in the US with almost 2.5 millions Americans identifying with the surname. According to the 1902 book, Origin and history of the name Smith, Smith means to strike with a hammer. Thus individuals in early English times working in trades such as blacksmith, goldsmith, coppersmith or shoesmith came to be known as a “smith”. Some early explorers to the Americas were Smiths, be it by trade or name only, who knows. Many Native Americans chose to use Smith as their name when dealing with the colonists. Some German Americans took the name Smith in order to assimilate into their communities with less stereotyping. Smiths, Smiths everywhere…..

David H. Smith was my maternal 2x Great Grandfather. There is a paper trail of Smiths before him, but a lot with the given name of William and well, you know how that goes. Those before David are classified as hypotheses.

My hypothesis about David’s parents is that his father was William Thornton Smith. William was born in Virginia. He married Grace Bryant in 1813, in Georgia. Grace was born in Washington County, Virginia. They had 10, +/-1, children. My 2xGGfather, David, was their 4th oldest son.

David was born September 27, 1823, according to his headstone. A newspaper article from The Albany Patriot reports that David married Hannah Moreland on November 3, 1846. Moreland family bible records indicate Hannah was born August 6, 1832. Hannah would have been 14 when they married, David 23.

David and Hannah Smith had 4 children. One son, William T. Smith, born in 1847, and 3 daughters. Missouri, born in 1850, Paulina, born in 1851, and Melvina, born in 1854. Hannah died sometime between the birth of Melvina and the 1860 US Census. There are not records to support David remarrying.

David and his son, William, served in the Confederate Army along with David’s older brother, Obediah. Obediah’s name being a tad more unique yields more results when searching for records. Searching for David and William’s service records is a bit trickier. There are quite a few Smiths with those given names from Georgia. Civil War research isn’t my speciality but written proof handed down through generations will do the trick! A letter found in my Mother’s possessions gives David permission in 1864, to travel to William’s funeral. Without this letter, “William T. Smith” would have become one of many with similar names and truly just a guess a to which was my William. William died on November 27, 1864, in Augusta, GA, at the age of 17 from pneumonia. He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta. The back side of the Quarter Master’s letter gives his burial location.

The bearer D.H. Smith to ______ for this department is on a visit to GA hospital #3 to attend funeral of his son who died last night. You will please take this pass to inform my camp of teamsters and __________ until 10pm this Monday the 29th November at which time he will report back or be considered a deserter. Quarter Master for State Georgia

Again given the number of David Smith’s from Georgia, Grandpa David’s actual discharge information from his service in the Confederacy is not known. However, another document found in my Mother’s possession was an Oath of Allegiance to the US Constitution with David’s signature. He would have needed this document to vote. Thankfully it was saved. If only it hadn’t remained folded for 100+ years. David died on April 26, 1894.

Back home in Dooly County, daughter, Missouri married Hiram Lewis in 1871. At some point between 1880 and 1885, Missouri and Hiram moved to Florida. The trail fizzles out after 1885. Family records indicate they had no children.

David’s daughter, Melvina, my Great Grandmother, married Charles Worth Reynolds on October 27, 1875. My Grandmother, Ida Smith Reynolds, was the youngest of their 9 children. Family records indicate she had a twin. Absence of the twin’s name would suggest her twin died at birth. Melvina died when my Grandmother was 9 months old on December 27, 1894.

Paulina married her brother-in-law 2 years after her Melvina’s death. Aunt “Plyma”, as some called her, had no children. She raised her sister’s children as her own. Ida referred to her as both “Mother” and “Aunt Plyma”. Paulina, the last of David Smith’s line, died in Dooly County, GA on November 27, 1924.

My Grandmother, Ida, grew up with no Smith cousins. The Smith name ended with her Mother’s generation. My Mother however grew up with a robust group of Reynolds cousins. All sharing the Smith DNA. The Smith DNA is a bit diluted in my generation’s blood. The hunt will continue to determine what type of “Smith” runs in our veins.

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