Back on July 8, 1876, on page four, the Spirit of the South newspaper (Rockingham, North Carolina) printed a small and humorous article that had been in several newspapers across the country:
Thirty years ago, a young man entered the city of New York in an almost penniless condition, and without a single acquaintance in the great wilderness of houses. To-day, his name is known wherever humanity dwells. It is spoken in every hamlet, is heard in every city, and is as familiar to the worker in the mines as his brother in the mills, and where language is known and ideas expressed, the name of this penniless, unknown and uncouth lad of thirty years ago is uttered. It was John Smith.
Many genealogists have had the pleasure of tracking down a John Smith at some point, and I’m sure there are many who have a John Smith as their brick wall. And for years (decades) in my husband’s family, John B Smith has been a brick wall. Until two months ago.
I honestly cannot for the life of me figure out how I found John B. Up until December no one was sure where he was buried, where he had died, when he had died, etc. I wrote about him back in July of 2012 and now I can give further info on him!!!!
While I can’t remember how I came across it, my first discovery was John B’s place of burial and headstone! (click here to go to his memorial on Find a Grave)
According to his headstone in Mount Olivet United Methodist Church Cemetery in Hunts Mill, Chesterfield County, South Carolina, John B Smith was born in 1822 in Brunswick County, North Carolina to parents William and Henrietta Smith. John B died on November 2, 1898 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina.
BUT, I had to check to make sure that was really him, right? A quick search, and some speed-reading convinced me I had found the elusive John B Smith, husband of Harriet Grant, father of nine children (possibly ten, but one needs confirmation).
According to the Estate Records, Cases 638-757, 1865-1927; Chesterfield County, South Carolina Wills and Probate Records (1670-1980) on Ancestry:
John B Smith, case #640
That John B Smith died intestate at his home in said county and state on the 2nd Nov 1898 having a small personal estate of about the value of Fifty-five dollars… (5 Nov 1898)
Guardian Bond papers found in John B’s estate file mention the names of Daniel Labon Grant, Annie Jane Grant, and Loyal (actually Lowell) Tate Grant, the children of Henry Harrison Grant and Sarah Thomas. Henry was the son of Jeremiah Grant and grandson of Malachi Grant. As far as is known, Harriet Grant is the daughter of Malachi (I just need something as absolute to prove it to myself). Also mentioned in the Guardian Bond are DB (Daniel Baity-sp?) and Flora A Grant. DB happens to also be a son of Jeremiah Grant.
I can’t pretend to know why those guardian papers were in John B Smith’s estate file, as his name does not appear on any of them. There is mention of claims to Jeremiah Grant’s estate in regards to the children, so I did go through his papers to see if John B’s name appears anywhere. No luck.
ANYWAY, if the Grants appearing in John B Smith’s estate papers isn’t proof enough, considering he married a Grant who is related to those Grants, then I don’t know how else to convince a person. And let’s not forget to mention the estate of John B’s brother-in-law.
Moving back to John B’s parents, William and Henrietta Smith. After I had posted found information on the John B Smith Descendants Facebook page, another Smith descendant took off with finding more information. Isabelle posted:
Looks like William Smith was born c. 1789 and Henrietta was born c. 1795 bith in NC. The 1860 census shows them in North West District, Brunswick Co. William Smith b 1843 and Martha J. Wallace b 1844 are listed in the same house.
An Update on John B. Smith's parents and siblings:
As far as I've been able to find out so far, William and Henrietta Smith had the following children:
1) Christina Smith (born circa 1815)
- married Henry Wallace
2) Ann E. Smith (born circa 1820)
3) John B. Smith (1822- 2 Nov 1898)
- married Harriet Grant
4) Robert Smith (born circa 1829)
5) Elizabeth Ann Smith (Nov 1830 - 23 Apr 1914)
- married William Rothwell Skipper (10 Feb 1827 - 27 Nov 1910)
6) Morris (Mores/Moore) Smith (born circa 1833)
7) Joseph Smith (born circa 1835)
8) Martha Ann Smith (1838- 1 Feb 1918)
- married Joseph Champion (born circa 1832)
Tracing the boys and the eldest daughter is proving difficult, but I did find further information on Elizabeth Ann Smith Skipper and Martha Ann Smith Champion.
Elizabeth and William Skipper were parents to:
James Tucker Skipper (b 1853)
Rebecca Jane Skipper (1855-1929)
- married Noah Wellington Alford
William Albert Skipper (b 1857)
Sarah Jane Skipper (26 Mar 1859 - 26 Jul 1945)
- married Nathaniel Byrd
John William Skipper (1862 - 22 Jul 1879)
Isadora Skipper (1868 - Jun 1958)
- married William Franklin Alford
Charles Henry Skipper (28 Feb 1870 - 29 Jul 1926)
Rosa Lee Skipper (1875 - 21 Jan 1914)
- married (?) Potter
Martha and Joseph Champion were parents to:
Henrietta Champion (b 1855)
Humphrey Isaac Champion (15 Oct 1857 - 13 Jun 1934)
- married Ida Malpass (22 Nov 1872 - 15 Apr 1911)
- Six (6) children
Alice Catherine Champion (b 1859)
- married David James Byrd
Joseph Howard Champion (b 1863)
- married Martha Harris
- at least Two (2) children
Martha Jane Champion (1865 - 12 Sep 1938)
- married S. C. Griffin
Ellen Henrietta Champion (11 Apr 1867 - 24 May 1927)
- married Emmet Eli Parker (28 Mar 1870 - 23 Sep 1950)
- at least Three (3) children
Atlas Grandy Champion (10 Sep 1870 - 2 Jun 1962)
- married Mary Catherine Wood (4 Feb 1877 - 30 Jul 1947)
- Eight (8) children
Isabelle and I have spoken twice about all of this, and we both agreed that we need more valid sources. However this is a start and hopefully it will help us go back further.
Because now the Smith brick wall is William Smith.