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    A Smith Family Odyssey, A Southern Family and its Relations Through Six Generations, is about a family that originated, as far as our records tell us, in North Carolina in the mid 1700's. This book follows that family to Georgia, then to Texas and ultimately to New Mexico. It begins with a James Smith I (died 1745), followed by James Smith II (1725-1799), Nathan Smith (1750-1816), Nathan Foster Smith (1800-1866), John Augustus Smith (1828-1897) and concludes with Mittie Olivia Smith (1867-1947), who married David Gabriel Grantham. A Table of Ancestors and a Family Tree may be accessed from the menu above. In addition, charts showing the immediate family of each ancestor may be accessed by clicking on the name of that individual in the narrative that follows.


        Chapter One opens with the story of the first of the Smith family, James I, and his son James Smith II. The close relationship of the Smiths with a family of Fosters, notably William Shepherd Foster, is examined. And since the Fosters originated in Accomack County, on the eastern shore of Virginia, it is likely that the Smith did also. This chapter details the living conditions  in Craven County, North Carolina, just south of New Bern, where they arrived before 1729.
    Chapter Two is a summary of the early history of Georgia, to which the Smiths and Fosters emigrated in the early 1770's. It examines relations with the native Indians and the successive cessions of land which made settlement possible, particularly the area north of Savanna that became Wilkes County, Georgia. Contemporary accounts of that area are quoted.
    Chapter Three relates the Smiths family's move to Wilkes County, identifies the land where they settled and includes and account of the lives of settlers. The coming of the American Revolution to Georgia and the effects of the war on Wilkes County are examined, including James Smith's son Nathan's participation in the Battle of Kettle Creek in that county.
    Chapter Four is devoted to James Smith II and his family in post-Revolutionary Georgia. Agricultural methods, housing, social interaction and religion are all discussed. James Smith's Will and the distribution of his estate are considered, and the lives of his children are summarized.
    Chapter Five provides a detailed look at the life of James' son Nathan Smith. The book discusses Nathan's marriage to Sarah Foster, his friendship with a family of Rices (who also emigrated from Craven County, North Carolina), the development of Wilkes County after the turn of the century, and the religious revivals held during that period. Nathan Smith's Will and details concerning his estate are set out. Finally, Nathan and Sarah's children are identified and their lives discussed.
    Chapter Six describes the westward movement that opened up central and western Georgia and states farther west to settlement by a new generation of farmers, one of whom was Nathan Smith's son, Nathan Foster Smith. The book discusses the various treaties by which Indian lands were acquired for settlement and the ultimate resettlement of most Indian tribes west of the Mississippi. The reasons for the westward movement are examined, and the paths the emigrants followed to their new homes are located.
    Chapter Seven takes up the story of Nathan Smith's son, Nathan Foster Smith. His move west from Wilkes County to Newton County, Georgia, and his marriage to Catherine Evans and other events of his life are recounted. The narrative then follows the family's move farther west to Alabama and ultimately to Arkansas, where both parents died. A final section summarizes the lives of their children.
    Chapter Eight tells the story of Nathan Foster Smith's wife, Catherine Evans, and her forbears. On her mother's side, Catherine was descended from a Shackleford family, which had its roots in Tidewater Virginia and later moved to the area immediately north of Augusta Georgia. One member of the Shackleford family, Isabelle Wedderburn, is a descendant of an ancient Scottish family whose ancestry goes back to the fifteenth century. The Shacklefords were also united with a well known Garnett family, which hailed originally in Gloucester County, Virginia. A family tree of Catherine Evans forbears is set out below. (Click here)
    In Chapter Nine we examine life in antebellum Georgia, which includes an account of southern antipathy toward industry and its emphasis on rural life.  The growth of Georgia's railroad system, which was needed to transport cotton from central Georgia to Savannah and Charleston, is detailed.  The chapter also includes a discussion of the character of the farming population, a section on Georgia schools and a description of the lives led by ordinary farm families, including their food, clothing, recreation, and the temperance movement. Small town life is also examined. A final section treats the subject of religion and revival meetings.
    Chapter Ten.  Nathan Foster Smith's oldest son, John Augustus Smith, married Susan Jane Thompson.  This chapter tells the interesting history of Susan's forbears, who are shown in the family tree appended below (Click here). Susan's ancestors include the well known Benning family,  descendants of French Huguenots who settled in in Manakin-Town near Richmond, Virginia, after fleeing persecution in France. After emigrating to Georgia, Susan's Benning ancestors intermarried with the equally well known Cobb family. The chapter also follows Susan's father's family, the Thompsons, and her mother's family, the Vickers. The history of these families is told as well as the genealogy.
    Since John Augustus Smith and his wife, Susan Jane, set out for Texas immediately after their marriage, Chapter Eleven is devoted to a review of Texas history and social conditions in that state at the time of their arrival, including agriculture, other occupations and religion.
    In Chapter Twelve we follow John Augustus and Susan Jane Smith as they travel from Georgia to their new home in Tyler, Smith County, Texas. (Appendix F reproduces the log of a wagon train that took the same route at nearly the same time (1857). Conditions in the town of Tyler are examined, and the advent of the Civil War in Texas is considered. The chapter relates John's brief military service and his life, and that of his family, during the ensuing war and reconstruction years.
    Chapter Thirteen reviews the career and family life of John Augustus Smith. Because his occupation was the repair and maintenance of cotton gins, the development of the cotton gin is explained, and the growth of the railroad system in Texas is also related. This chapter then identifies the children born to John and Susan Jane and tells something of their lives.
    In 1888 John and Susan Jane Smith moved from Tyler to Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas. Chapter Fourteen tells of that move and of the meeting of their sixth child, Mittie Olivia, with David Gabriel (D.G.) Grantham, a resident of that city. Their courtship and marriage are then related, and a section of the chapter is devoted to a history of the Grantham family. (The history of that family is the subject of my book, The Granthams, Seven Generations of American Frontiersmen, which is described elsewhere in this web site. (Click here to go to the Grantham page.)
    Chapter Fifteen, which concludes the book, recounts the story of the lives of Mittie Olivia Smith Grantham, her husband and their family. It includes an account of their life in Corsicana, where D.G. was a lawyer, their move to Carlsbad, New Mexico in 1906, a description of the area of southern New Mexico where they settled and their life together as leading citizens of that town. Each of their children is identified and their lives briefly described. D. G. and Mittie's second child, Mary Aline Grantham was my mother.


Appendix A    Smith Family Documents and Letters
Appendix B    Ancestors of Sarah Foster
Appendix C    Ancestors of Catherine Evans
Appendix D    Presentment Issue March 1780 by Richmond County, Georgia, Grand Jury
Appendix E    Ancestors of Susan Jane Thompson
Appendix F    Log of Wagon Train Trip from Georgia to Louisiana
Appendix G    Ancestors of David Gabriel Grantham

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