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Smith Mystery


Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along – cue the Mission Impossible music!):

1)  We all have “elusive ancestors” that we cannot find a name for, or one that absolutely eludes us, but we know some details about their spouse and/or children.

2)  Tell us about one of them – how are you related?  What do you know about them? Where did they live? etc.

I’ve written a lot about my Crawford brick wall along with several other challenging lines. However, I don’t believe I written much about my SMITH brick lines.

I have at least three Smith lines in my tree:

  • Martha Smith (1815-1871) wife of Nelson G. Crawford
  • Martha’s mother-in-law, Sarah “Sallie” Smith (1770-1856)
  • Possibly Mary Ann Smith (abt 1762 – after 1830), wife of John Ricketts — IF my RICKETTS lineage is correct

I think I know the given name of Martha’s mother — but that is strictly based on a memory. I’ve had the privilege of visiting the West Lebanon cemetery in Warren County, Indiana at least twice and probably three times. On the first or second trip, I remember standing in front of Nelson and Martha Crawford’s stone. When I turned around, there was a stone for Hannah Smith across the isle from Nelson and Martha. On our most recent trip to that cemetery, the stone for Hannah Smith was missing. Since there was a stack of stones against a tree, it looked like some visitors had knocked over quite a few stones. I even managed to capture those visitors on ‘film’. (Note the two deer near the tree with stones stacked at its base.)

After that last trip, I wanted to verify that I hadn’t imagined Hannah Smith’s stone. Thus, I dug out my copy of Warren County, Indiana Cemetery Inscriptions, Volume II by Rosella Jenkins to see if Hannah Smith’s stone was listed. I found her on page 87, the same page as Nelson and Martha Crawford. Since the West Lebanon Cemetery starts on page 80 with page 84 indicating that the following pages are ‘near Stack No. 3 and Stack No. 2’, the Hannah Smith stone on page 87 would be in in the section near Stack No. 3 and Stack No. 2.

Since my first trip to this cemetery was before the standards for taking pictures of tombstones changed, my photo of the stone was created using a procedure taught by many genealogy societies at the time: shaving cream. Since I don’t want to encourage anyone to use this method, I don’t usually share pictures obtained during that time period. However, my picture of the missing stone may be one of the few that exist.

I haven’t actively tried to research Hannah for a long time. Besides the information from her tombstone, her daughter, Martha’s marriage in 1833 may place Hannah in Warren County at that time. The work of Warren County historian, Walter Salts, may contain helpful information. Researching his files will require a trip to Danville, Illinois.

Even though I haven’t been able to find any evidence to support my belief of a relationship between Hannah Smith and Martha Crawford, I have learned some lessons from this research.

  • Books are still needed. With the stone now missing, the book is one of the few records that it ever existed.
  • Standards can change. Thus, I must stay connected with other genealogists and genealogical societies so that I will be aware of those changes.
  • Not everything is on the Internet. The research records collected by previous genealogists may hold the answer. These are often found in archives and local historical or genealogical societies

One thought on “Smith Mystery

  1. You are correct about the importance of books. If you are lucky enough to be researching an area where a person or society transcribed gravestone epitaphs, that might be the only source to prove the burial place for someone whose stone is either illegible or gone.

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