Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Jul 26

The Freed Families of New Jasper: The Smiths (Part III)

Posted on July 26, 2019 at 1:19 PM by Melissa Dalton

The last couple of weeks, we have discussed how Noah Spears, a slave owner from Paris, Kentucky (in Bourbon County) bought several families of slaves as to ensure the families stayed together. Spears emancipated his slaves, and bought roughly 400 acres of land in New Jasper Township (near Stringtown) for the families to settle. The family we will highlight this week is the Smiths.

We learned a bit about David and Emily Blackburn, the parents of Harriet, Katy, and Hannah. Harriet was the oldest of the three daughters, and was born in 1829. She married Greenup Smith in 1850 in Paris, Kentucky, and according to the 1900 Census, they had a total of twelve children, but only one survived to adulthood – James W. Smith.

Harriet and Greenup Smith were emancipated by Noah Spears on June 21, 1861, as were the rest of Spears’ slaves (Fig 1). The Smiths came to Greene County, along with the rest of the slaves freed by Spears, shortly thereafter. Greenup and Harriet Smith were deeded two tracts of land upon arrival, along with Needham and Laura Curl. The first, transferred in 1862, was part of Military Survey No. 1240 and totaled 80.5 acres (Fig 2). The second tract, transferred in 1863, was part of Military Survey No. 1995 and totaled 49 ¾ acres, but Smith was conveyed 30 of those acres (with Curl getting the remainder) (Fig 3). In 1879, Greenup Smith and Edward Ferguson were deeded an additional 100 acres, for the benefit of their wives and children (to include Hannah Brooks’ children) (Fig 4).

Fig 1. Emancipation Record for Harriet and Greenup Smith (JPG)
Fig 1. Emancipation Record for Harriet and Greenup Smith, back (JPG)
Fig 1. Emancipation Record for Harriet and Greenup Smith (image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions)

Fig 2. Deed Record Vol 40, p 400 (JPG)
Fig 2. Deed Record Vol 40, p 400 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 3. Deed Record Vol 41, p 350 (JPG)
Fig 3. Deed Record Vol 41, p 350 (Greene County Archives)

Fig 4. Deed Record Vol 60, p 117 (JPG)
Fig 4. Deed Record Vol 60, p 118 (JPG)
Fig 4. Deed Record 60, p 117-118 (Greene County Archives)

Greenup worked as a farmer all his life, and the family was well-known and respected in the region, and were active in their church. They also remained close with their family. There is rarely a notice in the paper without the mention of a family member. One notice in particular is the transfer of real estate to the Xenia city board of education in 1894 by all members of the Blackburn family, including the Smiths, Fergusons, and Brooks (Fig 5). Another mention in the paper is the celebration of Greenup and Harriet’s Gold Wedding anniversary in 1900 (Fig 6). In early 1901, Greenup became ill with the flu, but it turned to pneumonia. His illness was very serious and he never recovered. He died on May 31, 1901 at his home (Fig 7).

Fig 5. Transfer of Real Estate Notice in Xenia Daily Gazette, dated June 15, 1894 (JPG)
Fig 5. Transfer of Real Estate Notice in Xenia Daily Gazette, dated June 15, 1894 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 6. Notice of Golden Anniversary of Harriet and Greenup Smith in Xenia Daily Gazette, dated March
Fig 6. Notice of Golden Anniversary of Harriet and Greenup Smith in Xenia Daily Gazette, dated March 27, 1900 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 7. Death Notice of Greenup Smith in the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 31, 1901 (JPG)
Fig 7. Death Notice of Greenup Smith in the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 31, 1901 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Their son, James, married Clara Stewart in 1876, and they had one child (Fig 8). The couple took up residence on the property of his parents on East Market Street. James first worked as a farmer, but worked other jobs as well. He was in the Pullman car service, worked for Eavey & Co., and was a guard at a work house. However, in 1896, James entered the Army as a First Lieutenant of Co. C., Ninth Battalion, and fought in the Spanish-American War. In 1898, James was promoted to the rank of Captain in the 48th O.V.I., and served in the Philippines for two years. Capt. James W. Smith mustered out in 1901.

Fig 8. Marriage Record of James Smith and Clara Stewart (JPG)
Fig 8. Marriage Record of James Smith and Clara Stewart (Greene County Archives)

James was active in his community, and was a member of the Masonic Lodge and commander of the Charles A. Young Command, Spanish-American War Veterans group. In May 1905, while playing pool with a friend, James suffered a ruptured blood vessel, which killed him almost instantly. He was only 50 years old (Fig 9).

Fig 9. Death Notice of Capt. James W. Smith in the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 4, 1905 (JPG)
Fig 9. Death Notice of Capt. James W. Smith in the Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 4, 1905 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Harriet survived her husband and son by more than a decade. After James passed, his wife, Clara, moved in with her mother-in-law. Harriet fell ill in early 1916 and passed away on July 8, 1916 at the age of 86 (Fig 10). At the time of her death, she was the oldest member of the Married Ladies’ Afternoon Club (Fig 11).

Fig 10. Death Certificate of Harriet Smith (JPG)
Fig 10. Death Certificate of Harriet Smith (FamilySearch.org)

Fig 11. Death Notice of Harriet Smith in Xenia Daily Gazette, dated July 11, 1916 (JPG)
Fig 11. Death Notice of Harriet Smith in Xenia Daily Gazette, dated July 11, 1916 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Next week we will finish this story with a look into the Brooks family, so stay tuned!

Until Next Time…

Sources:
Ancestry.com
Cowan Auctions, Cincinnati location (https://www.cowanauctions.com/lot/bourbon-county-kentucky-two-slave-manumissions-1859-incl-slaves-owned-by-bourbon-distiller-noah-spears-891062)
FamilySearch.org
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com

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