Saturday, August 20, 2011


(While researching the Underground Railroad in Cutler, OH, Henry Burke was given a copy of a long letter from Frances Smith Payne to her family, copies of which had been passed down through the family until he received this one, which we will serialize in our blog, from a family who purchased a 160-acre farm in Cutler.)
            I had intended to write this “History of the Lone Smith Family” in the years of 1877 and 1878, when mother gave me the history of her ancestors.  I have been too busy ever since then to think of writing it, and for the last years I had entirely given up writing it, as I felt that all my nephews and nieces were so occupied in the rapid ways of life now, that they would hardly take the time even to read the “Love stories of their Grandmothers..”

            Then, one cold day in January, 1912, I thought I would amuse myself looking over the histories of my father’s and mother’s ancestors; and immediately I began writing about them, thinking it my duty to leave this history to all my relatives, as no one else can do this.  I always enjoyed knowing what I do about them.
                                                                        Frances Smith Payne
Watseka, Illinois                                                                                
February 22, 1912

* * * * * * * * * * *

This manuscript was turned over to me for publication by my cousin, Dr. A. Howard Smith.

I am the daughter of John Morrison Smith who was of the first generation of the “Lone Smith Family” born in America.  His history is included among the twelve children of James and Margaret Smith. Many of the incidents here recorded were told to me, in my childhood, by my father.

                                                                        Alice M. Smith Handsaker
2840 S. E. Thirty-First Avenue
Portland, Oregon
December, 1939

Chapter I


In the Highlands of Scotland, in the reign of William and Mary, there lived five brothers by the name of Smith, and one of these is our parental ancestor.  King William III was William, Prince of Orange, who had married Mary, the oldest daughter of King James II of England. William and Mary’s title to the Crown of England was acknowledged in 1697.  William III had an army during the wars of those times, and these five Smith brothers, of whom were commissioned officers, were all in his army.
One of the five, whose name was James, was a Colonel in this army.  I think my father told me he was the youngest of the five.  He was married in England, to a very fine English lady, and he and his wife were quite old when married, yet they had five sons.  He of course was old when he left the army, and it was several years after this that he married this lady who was twenty years younger than himself at that time.

 “My father always told me that he went to Ireland as a surgeon in the English army.”  Alice M. Smith Handsaker

His youngest son, our grandfather, James Smith, was born in Scotland on the 11th of May, 1733.  He lived seventy-seven years, and he was our grandfather.  He left Scotland on account of the wars, and went into the north of Ireland to live in County Armagh.  There he became acquainted with a beautiful girl who also was born in Scotland.  Her name was Jane Alexander, and she was our grandmother.

I will first tell you why I call ourselves “The Lone Smith Family.”  My father told me repeatedly that he had no living relatives by the name of Smith, only his own children.  He had one sister, Jane Smith, nearly three years older than he.  I cannot give date of her birth, but am sure I can give date of my father’s birth correctly.  His name was James Smith, born in County Armath, Ireland, on the 5th day of April, 1792.  But I see that I have forgotten to tell you that my grandfather married Jane Alexander before my father’s only sister and my father were born.

Well, no wonder I forgot it!  As they came very nearly never getting married; in which case, if they had never married, I would not be sitting over a register in a beautiful upstairs room in the city of Watseka, Illinois, trying to fulfill my promise to leave this history of all the Smiths to our descendants.  For nearly all those ancestors mentioned were killed in those old wars; and my father was the only Smith left of his family name.

Father’s sister, Jane Smith, married a soldier in the regular British army.  His name was George Young, and they had four children.  But my father lost track of them before he died.  We can never find any Smith, outside of our family, who are related to us.  All of you please remember this!

 Now I wish to tell you a real, true love story, as my father told it to me when I was a little girl, about our grandfather, James Smith and our grandmother, Jane Alexander.

 Grandfather was fifty-seven years old and grandmother was thirty-seven when they were married.  And as I remember, they were about four years married when my father was born, on April 5, 1792.  The “Love Story” is beautiful, and both my father and grandfather loved to tell it.  How shall I tell it to you?  I am not good at telling love stories!  However, I will do my best.

In County Armath, on Erin’s green isle, lived a man by the name of James Smith, who was thirty-seven years of age, and a Scottish Highlander by birth.  He was tall, well built and handsome, with beautiful, bright, black eyes and hair.  He had served some time in the regular British army, which gave him a fine walk and address; and he was a fine scholar, as his tutors in Scotland were Presbyterians of fine education and very strict in their religious duties.  He was in good circumstances and enjoyed life and good health.

 Near his home in Scotland lived a wealthy nobleman by the name of James Alexander, who had married a fine lady by the name of Hannah Reiney.  They had five sons and one daughter, Jane Alexander, all of who wee born in the Highlands of Scotland.  James Alexander called his daughter, Jane, his “bonny sweet little Highland lassie.”  She was beautiful, with rich, dark brown hair and clear, pink and white complexion, small, delicate hands and a very fine, slender form.  She had a noble bearing, being reared in luxury, and highly educated by those strict old Scotch Presbyterians.

They lived in a large stone castle and entertained many distinguished visitors there.  Officers of the British army and grand old and young gentlemen and ladies of rank from England and Scotland came to his fine castle of weeks at a time.  They were all grandly treated there, and the young people and fine balls in the large entertainment hall of the castle.

My grandfather was always a distinguished guest on those grand occasions.  There he met many fine ladies and gentlemen, and they had garden parties and outdoor sports on the large and beautiful grounds surrounding the old historical “Castle Landeck” which he had purchased a few years before for a home.  When he died he gave each of his five sons a grist mill, and his wife, Hannah, and his daughter, Jane, each a large farm and a store on each farm.

He was a very strict Presbyterian until he was on his deathbed; and there he told all his family and the many friends around him in the castle that he was no more a Presbyterian but a Methodist.  And he begged them all to unite with the Methodist Church, as he “had learned to believe in free grace through Christ.”

Now I have told you all I can about my great grandparents on both my grandfather’s and my grandmother, Jane Alexander’s side.  But you see, I have not yet told you that “love story” as to how my grandfather, James Smith, wooed and won James Alexander’s “bonny little Highland lassie.”  He loved her first as a sweet little child whom he petted and caressed, and he told her stories of his life in the British army and of his great commanding officers, etc.  He gave her many beautiful toys which she prized greatly.

When she was seventeen years old he realized that she was not a child any longer.  But he loved her company still more as the happy years passed swiftly by, as they rambled over the castle grounds and sat by babbling brooks, cool grottos and under fragrant Hawthorne trees when in full bloom.  There he told her the “old, old story” of his love.  She had not realized until then that she was more than a child pet of his.  What do you guess she said to him?  It was this:

“Dear James, I know you are the best and most charming man I have ever known, and none of my many boy friends are dear to me as you are!  But remember, James, that you are twenty years older than I, and I cannot as yet leave my dear father and mother and my five brothers, of whom are younger than I, and all need my tender care and affection.  Even all the Irish servants in the castle need my love and care.  Even all our maids say they cannot work if I am not there to cheer them.”

He still kept going to the castle and took her so many fine books to read during the following nineteen years.  He took her the choicest of his many beautiful flowers and a coral necklace; and later a long pearl neck chain which she afterwards decided to wear as his chains.  So twenty years of devotion to each other passed when he said to her,

“There are not quite so many years difference in our ages now as nineteen years ago when I asked you to be my bride; for you are a woman of thirty-seven now and I am still young.  And I have fully decided that if I do not marry you, I will never wed any other woman.  And now, at fifty-seven, I need your care and affection.”

She replied, “I have lately been thinking as you do on this subject and have fully decided never to wed any many but you, James.”

So they killed the “fatted calf” - - that they had been fattening for years and years - and made a grand feast in the romantic old castle.  Many old and tried friends of their younger days and all their faithful Irish servants were there with all their funny jests and happy faces.  And the Presbyterian minister was invited over to the old castle, and pronounced them man and wife.  And I am so glad he did!  Or I could not be sitting upstairs this cold day, telling his old, old “love story” to my many nephews and nieces and to my grand nephews and nieces.  I am sure you also are all very glad; as not one of you would be here to read this romance.

I guess you will now think that truly we are all creatures of circumstances from the cradle to the grave.  Just look for one moment and think of such a thing as one man being true and devoted to one woman for twenty years, and one woman loving only that same man for twenty years!  How does this look, compared with the love stories of today, as I read them in the daily Chicago newspapers?

My dearly beloved relatives, I must tell you the “love story” is ended.  But I must follow their illustrious descendants on the Smith line down to my own self, and a little farther.  But before I proceed farther, I want to say that the memorandum which my father gave me when a child tells me that one of my grandfather’s brothers had a daughter who married a man by the name of Robert Currey, and they had a large family, either in Scotland or Ireland, I forget which.  Currey was a blacksmith by trade.  We may have many relatives by name of Alexander and Currey, but we have no trace of them now.

The rest of my task is easy, as I have my own memory to guide me and but few short love stories to relate.  My father’s mother died at about fifty-three, and his father as a little over seventy-seven.  I learned the “love story” I have told you when I was a little girl sitting beside the fireplace on winter evenings.  My sister, Matilda, and would sit, one on each side of our father, and he would tell us these stories after all the rest of the family were in bed.  He was so kind and happy, and we delighted to hear these and many other stories.  The old fireplace and hearth are still there in our dear old home and I never see them without those sweet memories coming back to me.

My father came to America in 1818, and lived in Philadelphia.  He was a weaver by trade, and used a fly loom in a large factory in this city for four years.  And in that factory where my mother wound bobbins, father got acquainted with here, and going home from the same church, the Methodist Episcopal.

After locating in Southern Ohio, the Smith family identified themselves with the Quakers, and they ran stations on the Underground Railway.  I distinctly remember my grandmother dressed in Quaker garb.  My father told me many thrilling stories of how he and his brothers took fugitive slaves and rode North with them all night, to the next Underground Railway Station.

One of the interesting experiences of those Underground Railroad days was told to me by my cousin, Omie F. Smith.  A large party of slaves was scheduled to cross the Ohio River from Virginia, and my uncle, William C. Smith, was one of a group of young men who was to meet them and carry them north on their journey toward freedom.  On his way to the rendezvous, a terrific thunder storm came up and he was late in arriving at the place of meeting.  Meanwhile the owners of the slaves had gotten word of the proposed escape of their ‘property’, and they, instead of the slaves, met the party as they attempted to land on the southern side of the river, capturing all of them.  These young men were thrown into prison where they were held until the close of the Civil War.  So it was only by the providential intervention of a thunder storm that Uncle William escaped imprisonment during the entire period of the Civil War.”    Alice M. Smith Handsaker

My mother was a very short, handsome, little Irish lassie, and father fell in love with her at first sight.  He saw her first in church.  She was dressed in a straw colored silk crepe dress with bonnet and slippers to match it; wide ribbon ties on a little poke bonnet, and straw colored bows with buckles to match on her slippers which covered her very small feet.  She carried a large silk, straw colored parasol and a grand large fan to match her whole costume.  Sister Margaret has the parasol and fan, a quilt made of the dress and her cloak.  I have a very small piece of the new material of her dress.

I fear I must tell you one more sweet, short “lover story”, as my father told it to me.  He said on that day when he first saw mother in church that “the Quaker light within” came into him while in church, that “she would ere long be his wife.”  He said that all at once he remembered that his grandfather had married an English lady, and now he said to himself, “I have English, Scotch and Irish blood in my veins; and I truly wonder if I have either English, Scotch or Irish sense enough to court this lovely maiden.  If not, probably if I put all three of them together in the right proportion, I may win her.    But I will risk putting the Irish on top, and if that fails, I will give up.”  But “Pat” spoke within me and said, “Pretend to be rich, James, and use lots of blarney in that Scottish language that you can speak so eloquently and you will surely woo and win the maid” whom his bosom ever held dear.

That day he made sure to overtake her on the street, and he said to her, “I see you belong to the same church that I do.”  And he asked to carry her hymn book and talked to her and learned that she was a bobbin winder in the large factory where he was a weaver.

The sweet little lassie had another lover by name of Donnie O’Connell; but James’ Scottish eloquence, English pride and Irish wit soon drove “poor Donnie”  from the contest, and they had a very proper and happy courtship which lasted for or three years.  I will now give you the exact words of their marriage certificate which is right now in my hands.

“This is to certify that James Smith, and Margaret Morrison were joined together is Holy Matrimony on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-three, by me

                 John West     Wm Thacher    
                 Eliza Thacher, Minister of the Gospel

While researching the Underground Railroad in Cutler, OH, Henry Burke was given a copy of a long letter from Frances Smith Payne to her family, copies of which had been passed down through the family until he received this one, which we will serialize it in our blog, from a family who had purchased a 160-acre farm in Cutler.


No comments:

Post a Comment