Looking back at the 1810 Rockcastle County, Kentucky censuses, we find my Isaac Smith, Sr. living among the Middletons and Singletons in the area that is presumably near Skaggs Creek or the Roundstone Fork of the Rockcastle River. Most interestingly, a “Colo Wm Smith” is a neighbor of my Isaac Smith. Let’s take a look at his life.
I’ve recently been able to subscribe to Newspapers.com, an amazing site brought to you by the same folks at Ancestry.com. Let’s dig into their archives and see what we can find.
The bulk of the newspaper articles I have found regarding William are from The Mount Vernon Signal. As far as I know, they still exist today.
I’ll start with what I know about General Smith and build upon that. My research trip to Kentucky yielded that he was from Glade Hollow Fort in Russell Co, VA. He was also a Sheriff of Rockcastle County, and one of his sons, a Thomas J. Smith, was a deputy sheriff. From the census records, I know that he had another son, a George W. Smith.
By most accounts, Gen. Smith is also related to the Fish family by way of a second wife, an Ann Burney Fish. I believe that many of these families were involved in the militias.
The earliest record I can find of Gen. Smith is his marriage record in Lincoln County, Kentucky to Elizabeth Singleton dated 20 Aug 1798. Later, land deeds link him to the area known as “the Roundstone Fork of the Rockcastle River” circa 1805.
The earliest newspaper article I can find on Newspapers.com is from 20 Dec 1901.
So in this article we can find that Gen. William Smith was a father-in-law to a James Terrill and also had a daughter named Annie.
The next article of material relevance is one from 25 Apr 1913.
Many solid statistics aside, we are presented with a rather intriguing fact: William Smith was a Rockcastle County Representative and Kentucky State Senator, as was one of his sons, Elisha Smith! Fantastic! My hopes are that we will be able to find more information about them because of their involvement in the legislature. We are also presented with some additional descendants of William’s. He was the great-grandfather of Alvah Maret and W. J. Newcomb and the 3rd great-grandfather of William H. Fish of the clothing house “Sign of the Fish”. Good stuff.
I was beginning to find the results for a query of “William Smith” in the Mt. Vernon Signal grow sparse and decided to look for the Thomas J. Smith whose name I have observed on the old land deeds. I found a great article written by a W. H. Williams, a late President of Citizens Bank. He too was interested in General Smith.
From 15 Apr 1921:
We are fortunate to have such an account from Mr. Williams. We see that Gen. Smith had a son William M. Smith who went off to Texas during The Civil War. Migration information like this can be a clue to someone’s brick wall. Nice.
There are additional articles on Newspapers.com pertaining to the family of Gen. Smith, but I will not record them here as they can quickly become numerous and time consuming to parse and digest. I believe I will create an additional page as I find new articles and source info for the General’s life and family.
Finally, I will include the contents of the archives of Rockcastle County Library. These words have been salvaged from what appears to be a malfunctioning URL linking to a blank PDF. I have used Google’s cache of the page.
By John Lair
GENERAL WILLIAM SMITH
William Smilh was born March 21, 1778, in Russell County, Virginia. He was too young to take part in The Revolutionary War but after it’s close, when the Indians were still troublesome, he served as a spy along both the Clinch and the Kentucky rivers, settling in 1795 in what was later to be Rockcastle County. His grandson, Col. James Maret, Rockcastle County’s most active early historian, believed that in that year he built the substantial two-story log house in which he lived until his death in 1849. Since he would have been only 22 years of age in 1795 it hardly seems likely that he would have put up a house which would have been a mansion at that time.
Soon after coming to this location he married a daughter of Col. Richard Singleton who served as a major with American forces at the battle of King’s Mountain. They had two children, a son Col. Elisha Smith, and a daughter who married Col. James Terrill, one of the very early settlers in the area. Upon the death of his first wife. General Smith married Ann Fish, daughter of Thomas and Winaford Burney Fish, she having been born in Guilford County, North Carolina, in 1784, later being brought to Kentucky by her parents, in 1791.
There were born to William Smith and his second wife, 5 sons and 3 daughters; George W., Alfred, Elisha, James, Pendleton, Eliza, Glatha and Mary. George W. went to Columbus, Texas, became a lawyer and was a member of the Superior Court under Confederate occupancy. He died of-yellow fever in 1873. At the time of his death he owned 20,000 acres of range land, 10,000 cattle and property in several Texas cities. Alfred became a major during the Civil War and is buried beside his parents in Mt. Vernon’s Elmwood Cemetery. Elisha became a large landowner in the county and was a man of affairs. Nothing is now known concerning James. Pendleton, youngest son of William and Ann Fish Smith, is buried beside his parents. Eliza married George Maret and became the mother of James Maret, frequently mentioned throughout this book. Glatha married Mitchell Maret, brother of George Maret. Information on Mary, the third daughter, is not now available. Some confusion also exists concerning Elisha Smith. Some sources indicate that William Smith had two sons named Elisha, one by each of his two wives, while others show that there was only one Elisha and he was the son of William’s first wife, the Singleton. William Smith was commissioned captain of the first company raised in Rockcastle County for service in the War of 1812 and was the first to leave for the scene of action. This company was part of the Kentucky Battalion of Mounted Volunteers and took up their march on September 18, 1812. Serving under him were two of his brothers-in-law, Thomas and William Fish. Thomas Fish served as a sergeant of the company, while Wllliam Fish enlisted as a private bu tlater became a colonel. Smith, himself,was promoted to General, the first Rockcastle County native to attain that rank.
As a supplement to this most thorough biographical summaries, here is another article taken from the 25 Mar 1921 edition of The Mount Vernon Signal.
I hope you enjoyed this trip through time back to the early 20th century Rockcastle County. Maybe one day I’ll find a descendant of Gen. Smith for yDNA testing. Fingers crossed!
Thanks for reading!