The Story of Uncle Smith Spencer
By Brenda Collins Dillon
Smith Spencer married Mariam Kerns of Anthony's Creek, December 26, 1850, in Greenbrier County,Va( now WV). Most of their children were born in Greenbrier Co. however they reared their family in New Hope(Fenwick) Nicholas County, WV.After their children were grown they came over to where Richwood now is and ran Grandpa Allen's Gristmill, just below where the north and south fork join to form the Cherry River.My earliest memories of when they lived there in a tiny storybook cottage, in a equally tiny flowered bordered yard. It was always neat and clean, opening on the road that lead on up a few yards farther, to the little mill.Between the road and the river, just west of the house were several sugar maples, which offered a plesant shade on a hot summers day.
Uncle Smith was a devout Methodist(the shouting kind) and lived his religion everyday as well as Sunday in all ways but one. He had a very quick temper, which he did not attempt to control, and when things went wrong he would snatch his old battered felt hat from his head and throw it on the ground, and execute on ita war dance that would have done credit to any Comanche Chief, while informing all and sundry in his hearing of the unworthly traits of the condemed object or creature. However, he held no spite, and the next hour would find himgoing about his usual duties, happy and serene.So when a Spencer youngster would fling a tantrum he was often referred to as " having a Smithy"
Uncle Smith was well liked by all his kin and nieghbors, in spite of his uncertain temper, and when a wen (outside tumor) started to developed folks began to worry. It grew and it grew until it reached almost from his knee to his body, and filled the roomy leg of his homemade breeches to overflowing.He was finally taken by horseback over into the "Promise Land" to consult with Dr. Kent Kessler, who decided the tumor must be removed. A few days later Dr. Kessler brought with him another physician, Dr. Houston McClung, from Summersville,WV. and Uncle Smith was laid on a crude plank operating table out under the sugar maple trees, in the presence of a large crowd of male friends and kinfolk.My father, Charles , kept the kettle boiling near to sterilize the instruments. Other nephews aided in various ways, some of the older ones whisped the flies from the operating theater while the assistant (Dr. McClung) administered the chloroformand Dr. Kessler, with sure strokes, peeled out the 33 pound tumor,tied off the feeding blood vessels, and closed the wound. As soon as Uncle Smith was conscious , the two doctors mounted their horses and started their homeward journey of 20 miles, leaving Uncle Smith to the care of Aunt Miram and his relatives.Recovery was swift and Uncle Smith was almost like a young man again. He died in 1908 at the age of 84 years.
Uncle Smith and Aunt Mirim are buried in the Macedonia Church Yard Cemetery , near Fenwick,WV.