Saturday, June 6, 2015

John B. and Christina W. Smith

John Benjamine Smith was born 25 November 1815 in North Carolina. His parents were Frederick and Elizabeth Lineberry Smith.

John married Christina Charlotte Walk, daughter of Johann Joseph Alexander and Elizabeth Goss Walk. Together, they had at least 11 children. They are:
  • Martha Elizabeth Smith, born 1843
  • Webster Smith, born 1845
  • Lawrance Smith, born 1845
  • Caroline Lucetta Smith, born 1846
  • John Reuben Smith, born 1850
  • Joseph Coke Smith, born 1851
  • William J. Smith, born 1854
  • Constantine A. Smith, born 1856
  • Benjamin Alford Smith, born 1859
  • Louisa V. Smith, born 1862
  • Frederick F. Smith, born 1863
I couldn't help but notice that the children stopped before the end of the Civil War. I decided to look for military service for John. I thought I found him in the 35th North Carolina Infantry, but that man died in the War, and I know from John's tombstone that John lived until 1895.
Clipping from 1860 Census
John still could have enlisted in the War, but I haven't found him in the service rolls yet in North Carolina, but maybe I've been looking in the wrong state. I do know, sometime between 1860 and 1870, the family moved from Davidson County, North Carolina to Carroll County, Virginia. I've been trying to pinpoint the exact timeframe of their move, and I think I have a pretty good idea of when that happened.

As far as I can tell from census records, all of John and Christina's children were born in North Carolina, so that means the family would have moved sometime after 1863. So, I thought, maybe John enlisted in the War after moving to Virginia. This would have put their move between 1863 and 1865. In my mind though, I imagine moving to another state during the Civil War, even within the South, would have been incredibly dangerous. 

Or maybe the family moved to Virginia after the War since it would have been too risky to move with so many young children during such a turbulent time. This would have put their move between 1865 and 1870. This would mean John probably did not serve during the Civil War. He would have been rather old compared to the 20-something year olds that often enlisted, but I won't be convinced until I check the Virginia records a little more.

The last thing I will say about this family is how I love the work ethic that they seemed to have according to the census records.  In the census clipping above, you see how John had $800 of Real Estate and $400 of Personal Estate in North Carolina as a farmer. Just 10 years and an entire Civil War later, he's moved to another state and he's not much worse off for it.
Clipping from 1870 Census
Most farmers that didn't move lost most of the value of their property after the War. John went from $800 down to just $600 during this time. That's pretty impressive on its own. When you consider he was starting over from scratch with a new farm in a new state in a country still trying to rebuild, it is truly an incredible story. I think I would have liked to have known this man very much.

  • 1850 Davidson County, North Carolina U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1860 Salem, Davidson County, North Carolina U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1870 Fancy Gap, Carroll County, Virginia U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Tombstone, John B. Smith (as posted by Dan Stevenson on Find A Grave)

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