William Smith, a pioneer settler of the Lemon Grove community of Hardee County, Florida, was a Confederate soldier and cattleman.
William Smith was born March 12, 1833, Wellborn, Columbia (now Suwannee) County, Florida. He was a son of Isaac Smith (born 1797) and Nancy (Carver) Smith (born 1803), with whom he was enumerated in the 1850 census of Columbia County.
In Columbia County on December 6, 1855, William married Helen M. Jones, born April 6, 1839, Columbia County, Florida. Helen's mother, Anna Mary Jones, born ca. 1810, was widowed by 1850.
The 1850 Columbia County census and slave schedule listed her with four children and ten slaves. Anna's husband was Henry Jones.
On September 24, 1853, a legal advertisement appeared in the
Jacksonville Florida News,
announcing a sale of land in Columbia County, Florida, belonging to the late Martin Hair and held by his the Administratrix of the Estate, his daughter, Anna Mary Jones.
"Will be sold before the Court House door, in the town of Alligator, Columbia county, on the First Monday of November next, agreeable to an order of the Honorable Judge of the Probate Court for said County, the following tracts of land, situated, lying and being in said County, to-wit:
"The N 1/2 of the SE 1/4 and the NE 1/4 of the SW 1/4 of Section 31, and the NW 1/4 of the SW 1/4 of Section 32, in Township No. 1 N of Range No. 17 E, containing one hundred sixty acres of land; sold as the property of Martin Hair, late of said County, deceased. Terms of sale made known on the day of sale.
"ANNA MARY JONES, Administratrix
"Alligator, Sept. 17-9t"
This clearly shows that Anna Mary Jones was the daughter and heir of Martin Hair. It also clearly shows that William Calvin Hair was not her brother, as alleged by the late Park DeVane. Had her brother been William Calvin Hair, he, as the only son, would have been Administrator. Also, military records and others clearly identify William Calvin as "Jr."; junior to his father William Hair. William Hair, Sr., and Martin Hair were closely related and may have been brothers. The above legal ad established Anna Mary Jones as the daughter of Martin Hair and other records clearly establish William Calvin, Molcy Mariah, Mary Amanda and Mariby as the four children of William Hair, Sr.
Soon after their marriage, the Smiths moved to Manatee County, Florida. They crossed the Peace River and settled in the region which became known as Lemon Grove. The family was listed in household 26/26 in the 1860 census of Manatee County. Living with them was Anna Jones, Helen's mother. Neighbors included the families of: Dempsey D. Crews, J. W. Boney, Rowland Williams, James C. Green, William C. Hair (next household), and Isaiah Smith (elder brother of William).
During the Civil War, William Smith served as a private from 1863 until the war's end in 1865 in Capt. F. A. Hendry's Co. A, Munnerlyn's Battalion, C. S. A. A roster of the company, which was in the possession of W. M. Hendry of Fort Myers in August 1907 has Smith's discharge as May 20, 1865. On August 23, 1907, Capt. F. A. Hendry of LaBelle wrote Henry W. Smith of Wauchula, "Your father was a faithful soldier in my old company, a man I could turn to under any and all circumstances.
It should be noted that William was commonly called Capt. Smith. Before the war emancipated them, William had owned several slaves and was an overseer of others. The Slave Schedule for Manatee County of 1860 showed him with 3 slaves: 1 female 21 years old, 1 male 15 years old, 1 female 2 years old. The slaves addressed him as Capt. Smith and the title remained with him for the remainder of his life. (His tombstone has Capt. Wm. Smith.)
William was a cattleman. Manatee County records show that on December 2, 1861 he registered his mark and brand: swallowfork in one ear, two under bits in the other, "WS." On November 2, 1866, he re-registered it as: two under bits in one ear, swallowfork in the other "WS." (The brand was handed down to his son, Henry W. Smith.) William had originally bought cattle to Lemon Grove for William C. Hair on a share-profit basis. 1873 Manatee County tax records listed William Smith with 1,000 cattle, 2 horses, and 30 hogs while William C. Hair also had 1,000 cattle. After moving to Lemon Grove, William Smith had begun setting out citrus and eventually had ten acres. (Harold W. "King Kong" Smith, a grandson, later owned the grove of which a few trees remained in the 1950s.)
William in the post war years served on the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners and Board of Public Instruction.
In 1879 the Smith home was burned and a new dwelling was constructed. It was many years later moved by the Rev. Dow Durrance (who had married Nell Smith, a granddaughter of William) to his pasture where it still remains in the pasture (now owned by Willard Durrance, a son of Dow) and is used as a camp house. The original log barn also still stands.
The Smith family was enumerated in precincts 11 & 12, Boney & Locklear, in the 1880 census of Manatee County. Neighbors included the families of: Dempsey D. Crews, Jr., Charles B. Collins, Asa Hogans, Willis Crews, Mary A. D. Smith, David Mahon, William M. Crews, John L. Skipper, James Roberts, Robert Summeralls.
William and Helen Smith were members of New Hope Baptist Church. An official church history gives 1879 as its founding; however, the third annual session of the South Fla. Baptist Association, convened October 20, 1869 at Shiloh Church in Hillsborough County, was represented by New Hope Church of Manatee County, pastor S. L. Cross, and delegates Boney and Crews. New Hope petitioned and was received as a new association member. Whether the church was discontinued for a time and revived in 1879 is undetermined.
On February 5, 1895 William Smith made his last will and testament. William Smith died May 17, 1895. Burial was in New Hope Cemetery. His tombstone contains a Masonic symbol.
On September 3, 1907 Helen M. Smith applied for a Confederate pension as the widow of William Smith of Capt. F. A. Hendry's Company. She gave her post office address as Zolfo, DeSoto County, Florida. E. B. Keen of Arcadia and E. Brooker of Gardner, comrades of William, gave a joint affidavit in Helen's behalf. H. E. Carlton, Clerk of the Circuit Court of DeSoto County, certified the witnesses' affidavit. The Board of County Commissioners of DeSoto County, consisting of R. L. Holzendorf (Chairman), D. S. Williams, C. L. Keene, and D. J. Farabee, recommended that Helen be granted an annuity. Her claim was approved on January 22, 1908, with pay from September 4, 1907 at the rate of $120 per annum, certificate # A12136.
Helen M. Smith died January 25, 1915 and was buried in New Hope Cemetery.
Issue of William and Helen (Jones) Smith:
1. Florida Ann Smith, born Feb. 8, 1857; died May 20, 1887; married on Nov. 26, 1874 David Henry Skipper.
2. Mary Catherine (Kate) Smith, born February 9, 1859; died January 1949; married on Feb. 4, 1876 William Riley Bryan.
3. George Washington Smith, born 1861; married on Dec. 23, 1886 Martha A. Williams.
4. William Harry Smith, born 1863; married (1) Florence Hart on March 1, 1888; (2) Daisy Hart.
5. Adella Pauline Smith, born 1865; died Dec. 28, 1945; married on May 3, 1891Stephen L. Griffin.
6. Isaac N. Smith, born 1869; married on July 27, 1895 Zola Whidden.
7. Virginia L. (Jennie) Smith, born Feb. 26, 1871; died Sept. 25, 1940; married on Aug. 6, 1899 Duncan G. Swann.
8. Donella Smith, born Aug. 12, 1873; died Nov. 24, 1960; married on Nov. 19, 1893 William A. Hull, son of Ezekiel Josiah & Mary (Miller) Hull.
9. Henry Wilson Smith, born Feb. 16, 1876; died March 3, 1937; married on July 30, 1899 Florrie Bailey.
References: Hair family data and Jacksonville Florida News, courtesy of Kyle S. VanLandingham, July 6, 2002; Dorothy Skipper Brown; Iris Smith Hendry; Ouida Smith Roberts; Lou Tyson; Pioneer Florida, Volume 111, page 949; Nancy Van Dyck, "New Hope Baptists Celebrate 100 years," The Herald-Advocate, Nov. 29, 1979; pension application of Helen M. Smith, Florida Archives; New Hope Cemetery; DeSoto County Marriages.
This profile is adapted from the authors profile in South Florida Pioneers 51/52, (Jan./Apr. 1987).