Saturday, September 3, 2011



            I WISH TO SAY THAT IN ’60, ’61, ’62 AND ’63, Alexander helped James work on the farm.  John raised large and valuable crops of tobacco on William’s new land, and Joseph was at school or teaching.

            John’s good wife who was so dear to all her relatives and their infant son both died in February, 182.

            We finished getting that very large crop of tobacco hat John raised, ready to ship the last of December, 1863.

            I will now show you the exodus of the “lone Smith family”, as they went out of the old home never to be reunited there.  Jane, Priscilla, Alexander, John, James, Margaret, Joseph, Matilda, Lucinda and I all made our homes with mother.

            Mother said in the last days of December, ’63, that she would try to have us all at home to dinner on New Year’s day, 1864.  She bought a turkey and two fine chickens which Priscilla and Margaret roasted for this feast.  William and Phoebe were at this dinner.  Joseph and Lucinda came home from their schools to be with us; and all mother’s children, except Eliza, were with her on that day.  The roads were so bad that she could not get there.

            On the 2nd day of January, ’64, William took a contact to build a tone bridge not far from home, and Joseph and Lucinda went back to their schools.  John and Matilda were getting ready to go to Kansas, as he desired to improve his land there.  Matilda very much desired to go with him to keep house for him, and mother thought best for her to go, as he was so lonely without his wife.  And Mr. and Mrs. Creesy were so glad she was going with John.

            Mrs. Creesy came to our place and brought and gave to John a very fine bed and lots of bed clothes and some dishes and solid silver spoons that were intended for Jennie.  Mother gave Matilda a bed, dishes, etc. and all was “bustle” at the old home for a long time.

            Hark!  Listen! The blast of Civil War is blowing most fearfully now.  The prisoners of the Union army are being starved and tortured to death in the Rebel prison pens of Andersonville and Libbie, while their prisoners are growing fat in Uncle Sam’s prisons.

            The war is just awful now!  Good old Abraham Lincoln is making one of his last calls for volunteers.  Good, rich men are enlisting, and men with good pay – different occupations, and wise men in every situation in this great Country, are joining the “Boys in Blue” on thirteen dollars per month.  (But this is not what they are going for.)

            The excitement is just awful as they are responding to their Country’s call – and going by thousands!  Every patriotic woman in these days is saying to her husband, brother, son or lover:

                                        “Pick up your gun and go, John,
                                         Pick up your gun and go;
                                         And I’ll pick up the spade and hoe, John,
                                         And I’ll pick up the spade and hoe.”

            And they did pick them up and used them truly.  Our sister Priscilla was an expert in the use of them.

            On the 2nd of February, 1864, William left his bridge building and enlisted.  At the same time Joseph and all his grown boy scholars left his school without finishing the term, and enlisted.  William and Joseph joined Co. K-39, Reg. O.V.V.I. – 17-Army Corps, in General Sherman’s army.  In this Company, also was our brother-in-law, William E. McGee, and a cousin of mother, John Hamilton, who now lives in Chicago.

            These were soon in the thickest of the fighting and were among those in “Sherman’s March to the Sea.”  They were all wounded on the 22nd of July, during three days fighting before Atlanta.  They were in many other hard battles, and waded through the Everglades of Florida.

            I will now leave them in the army until the close of the war, and tell you what others of the “lone Smith family” are doing.

            John and Matilda started to Kansas in the 29th of February, 1864.  John began to improve his land, and Matilda kept house for him, and also at the same time, taught school in a new log German church, on Lyons Creek.

            John was soon called out to fight Indians in the Kansas state troops.  These calls would be only for a few weeks and then he would go back to his farm.  While he was gone, Matilda would sew for some fine people in Junction City, by names of Clark and Rockwell – until John would go after her to go home.

            All this time, brother Alexander, James and our “to be” brother-in-law, Phillip Roe, all belonged to Company D. 148 Re. O.N.G. and in May they were all called out of the state, to City Point, Virginia, to guard the U.S. Ordinance Barges there.

            I will leave them there until the next August and tell what others of the “lone Smith family” are doing.

            But I must draw your attention to the fact that all my father’s sons – and all our five brothers, are wearing U. S. Uniforms and fighting under the Stars and Stripes.  These are FIVE brothers, and direct descendants of Colonel James Smith, who was one of FIVE brothers who fought in the army of Kin William III.  This is my most interesting No. FIVE.

            About the first of March, 1864, I went to Marietta to take teaches’ examination, and received a high marked certificate to teach school in Washington County.

            When I was in the old court house being examined at noon, a sweet little girl tripped into the room and asked the board of examiners to let her speak to Miss Frances E. Smith.  She was ten years old and beautifully dressed, and an “angel of Mercy” to me; for she brought me a fine warm dinner, with a bowl of the best soup I ever tasted.  This was Miss Carrie, daughter of Colonel A.L. Haskin and wife.

            Here on this trip, I spent all the money, and more too, that I had earned on the late “tobacco job.”  Mrs. Haskin and Carrie helped me select a nice hat and dress, and a lot of prints and ginghams to make into dresses in which to teach my first school.  I got a lot of stuff for white aprons, and a lot of goods for Lucinda and Margaret.

            I was very happy with good luck at examination and knowing I had a very easy little school to teach, four miles from Cutler – where “Cinda” taught during winter term.

            I commenced teaching this school that last week in March, and spent my eighteenth birthday (on the 11th of April) in he school room.  The school house was close to the railroad track, and thousands of soldiers were often to be seen passing on the railroad.

            These soldiers would often throw beautifully illustrated papers and magazines off to me with “for the teacher” penciled on them.  And the children would run and pick them up and look at the pictures with me.

            After Alexander and James left home for the war, on May 1, ’64, our sister Priscilla “picked up the spade and hoe” (also an ax and all other farming implements), and managed the farm while all our brothers were in the army.  She hired old men and two good boys to help her part of the time.  It was hard for her to get good help, as all the able bodied men in our community were now in the army; but she stayed closely with her job, and she made lots of money in those days, as prices for everything were high.

            Mother, Jane, Priscilla and Margaret are all that are at the old home now; but Lucinda and I go home every Friday evening and stay until Monday morning.  Lucinda is teaching over on “South Land” in a good community – among the “Quakers or Friends.”  Her school is near mine, and we meet every Friday evening at the railroad and walk home together.  We are so happy to meet as we are very fond of each other, and ever have been.  She has ever been a great comfort to me, helping me in my studies, and so kin to help me in every way in every thing.  Our heats beat together s we sympathize with each other in our school work; and we mourn together as we talk about her dear twin mate, Matilda, from whom we never were separated before.  And then we mourn for all our five brothers who have lately left us.

            And now, this is glad Friday evening, ad we are going home to see mother, Jane and Maggie.  But I forgot to say that Priscilla is still there.  She s, of course, out on the farm, s\using her “spade and hoe”, very rapidly; and she may ask us to help her, if we go near where she is.  But we are not going, as we are “Ohio school mama’s” now, and wearing our pretty dresses, white aprons, high-buttoned shoes and gold watches; and last, but not least, our hoop skirts – the crinoline of 1863 and 1864.  I tell you we are a fine looking couple!

            Let me whisper:  “we are writing to the ‘boys in blue’.”  We, like all patriotic young ladies of this great nation, are very busy all the time, as we belong to “The Christian Commission”, and we have no time to dream under summer trees – not even to wait long enough to catch the fragrance of the sweet Hawthorne blossoms that our grandmothers delighted to hear love confessions under.

            O no!  We must hurry up and pick lint and make bandages to send to the army.  We do this every Saturday afternoon.  I am treasurer of our Society in Cutler, and we collect lots of money to send the army, and we pick barrels full of lint.  Mother has given us nearly all of her nearly worn out bleached table linen to cut up and pick into lint.  We send them barrels of sauerkraut, and Priscilla and her farmer boys raise lots of cabbage for this purpose.

            Lucinda and I also have to write many letters to William and Joseph and to Alexander and James and to John and Matilda.  But most of this she leaves to me to do, as she and Margaret each have three or four of “the boys in blue” to write to all the time.

            Lucinda has one unnamed correspondent, by assumed name of “Harry Lee.”  His letters she lets me read and we have lots of fun over those. We laughed over this once when I was looking at he send him my love and lots of kisses every time she writes to him: and he sends his back to me.  And oh, those letters would “make an army mule laugh!”  He kept his name a secret from us until the war was over, and he came to see her.  He proved to be a neighbor boy by name of Wallace Johnson, who lived in Amesville, Ohio, and we had lots of fun over their long correspondence.  This was a very common thing for the Union soldiers to do, to pass away lonely hours in camp.

            I wrote to just one of the “the boys in blue”; but I want to tell you the kind of boys that Margaret and Lucinda were writing to.  And no wonder it took tow or four such to suit their taste.  Theirs were the fellow “that marched on foot and carried knapsacks on their backs, and waded through mud and swamps to their knees.”

            Mine was a dashing young, black-eyed orderly sergeant, who wore a suit of deep blue, cavalry uniform.  He had a bright sword dangling at his side, and rode a prancing, fine steed that obeyed every command of its gallant rider, who also, part of the time, was Color Barer of the 9th Reg. Missouri Cavalry.  And he hoisted the first U. S. flag that had been run up, for a long time, in Southwest Missouri on the “Price Raid.”

            To me he was more than “those old knights, clad in armor” that were so gallant to their “fair ladies.”  I have that sword now, and I kept that historic flag until eight years ago, when we were moving, and someone stole it and other old relics from me.

            In those days, Priscilla, Margaret or Lucinda, every time they could be spared from home, would go to Marietta and stay awhile with Colonel A. L. Haskin’s wife, while he was in he army, and help her care for her little sons, Seward and Sumner.

            My little friend, Carrie Haskin, spent much of this summer of ’64, as Old Home with mother and our sisters.  Mother was very fond of her, and called her “her other little girl”, and they all wanted her there for company.  Mother would of ten forget and call her “Fannie”, to Carrie’s delight.  As she thought me all right, she liked it and would always answer to this name, and never reminded mother of her mistake.  She came with Margret to the last day of my school, and we a fine time and enjoyed the buggy ride home together.

            While teaching this school, I boarded “around”; and late in June of this term, I was boarding with a very good, old couple who were always known as “Uncle Collins and Aunt Sally Beebe.”  They now had eight sons in the Union army, and we talked much of these, and of my five brothers, and of ten read letters from all of these to each other.
            Once “Aunt Sally” to mother, “Mrs. Smith, we have done all we can to put down this cruel rebellion, as we have each given them all we have.”  Dear old ladies!  How they loved their soldier boys!

            While with them, one night I dreamed this about my brother, James, who was all right at this time, at City Point, Virginia.  I thought I saw him in our old home, and he was deathly pale and his left let was cut off below the knee.  I talked to him quite awhile, as in bygone days.

            He said, “Fannie, I am o sorry my leg is gone!  What shall I do?  I feel so bad, and I cannot work or fight any more!”

            I said, “Oh, James, if you can just superintend the farm and keep things going, we will be so happy with you, and we can get along all right with Priscilla’s help.”

            Here the dream ended and I woke up in great mental distress.  I told all of this to Mr. and Mrs. Beebe at the breakfast table, and it made them very sad.  They often spoke to me of this in after years, as the sadness of the dream more than came true.

            I did think to omit what I am now about to relate, to spare you the sorrow of this “war story.”  As I am writing a history of the “lone Smith family”, I cannot help causing you the sorrow of learning the sad, sad fate of one of its bravest members, and the fourth James Smith – a direct descendant from our great-grandfather, James Smith, who was one of FIVE brothers who fought in King William III’s army.

            As I have said, my school closed about the last of June, ’64.  I went home then, and mother, Jane, Priscilla, Margaret, Lucinda and I were in the old home, and with us, three railroad boarders and two good boys that Priscilla had hired to help her work on the farm.

            One of us always stayed all night with Phoebe, all the time brother William was in the Civil War.  On the ninth of August, I stayed over night with Phoebe, and the morning of the 10th, I happened to stay and eat breakfast with her – in which case she always walked half way home with me.  And if her chores were done, and I had helped her to do them, she would go home with me, and talk to mother about the boys in the army.

            This morning we walked slowly and were busy talking.  We had gone but a few steps when Phoebe said to me:

            “Fannie, look, there is thy mother, sitting by the roadside with her poor old hands to her face, weeping!”

            We ran then, and Phoebe said, “Oh mother, what is the matter with thee?”

            She choked and could not answer.  We sat down and put our arms around the poor, frail, little body and waited.

            Then she said, “Phoebe, we have heard bad news from the army.  William or James has been killed – we do not know which one, as yet.  Dr. Harsha and B. D. Caruthers came to our house at daybreak to tell us this.  They received a telegram from Captain William Dawson to this effect, last evening at 11. P.m., from City Point.  But the doctor’s wire was not working right, and he and Mr. Caruthers are gone on a hand-care to Big to catch the message right.  Just now they have started.  They thought best not to disturb us until they had learned all facts in the matte.  But as they were sure one was dead, the thought best to inform us before starting to Big Run, since it would take them about all day to get in touch with and facts from Captain Dawson, so far way from us as City pint, Virginia.”

            The message Dr. Harsha caught at Cutler had the name of “William”, “Captain”, mixed with “James Smith”, so he could not understand it.  But we all felt sure it was James, as it came from City Point.

            We could hardly persuade mother to go home, and the agony of those hours till our friends returned, I cannot tell you.

            Phoebe went back to her house and locked the door, and went with mother and me to the house.  There everything was sorrow and gloom, and very soon many of good neighbors came in to learn the sad facts, as all were very fond of James.  In fact, he was a great favorite in our community, and mother hoped he would care for her and the farm in her old age.  And they had made arrangements for him to do this, as he had had the care of the farm ever since father’s death in 1859.

            At 3 p.m., August 10th, Dr. Harsha and Mr. Caruthers returned with all the sad facts – James was dead.  Captain Dawson had ordered his body to be embalmed, and he would forward it to Cutler by U. S. Express, as soon as possible.

            At this time, brother Alexander was very sick in a hospital at Bermuda – Hindered, near City Point.  He was not in the explosion that killed James - the facts of which are these:  The Union army was getting very successful at this time, and their Ordinance Barges were very full, lying at City Point.  And the enemy got someone secretly to throw a torpedo into the Barges to destroy them and the tens of thousands of Union troops encamped, and on guard there.  They were successful, and the explosion was terrific.  It shook the earth and could be heard for miles.  The shock alone killed hundreds.  One of these was M. E. Clark of Marietta, whose body came through with the body of our brother, James.

            Captain Dawson, William Moore and brother James “messed” together all the time, and Mr. Moore and James marched at the front of the Company, being the tallest men in Company D.

            Men’s bodies were torn to atoms; and legs, hands, arms, hands feet, etc., could be found everywhere, and parts of bodies in tree tops, far off.  No one has ever known how many were killed there.  Guns, grape-shot and canisters covered the ground for miles.  It was an awful sight for Captain Dawson and all other survivors to look upon, and to hunt their dead among.

            Captain Dawson and William Moore knew that James was on guard near an outside chimney in a big, old building, and started to look for him right after the explosion.  They found him at his post, nearly dead – as a heavy timber form a building struck him on the back of his head.

             We tried to talk to them, and they made him understand what had happened and he said:

            “Tell mother”, and again said, “mother.”

            And this was all.  With the word, “mother”, spoken in a whisper, he went:

                     “Across to that strange country, the Beyond;
                     And yet, not strange, for it has grown to be
                     The home of those of whom I am so fond,
                     They make it seem familiar and most dear,
                     As journeying friends bring distant regions near.”

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