James R. Smith
by Ruth L. Hester
James R. Smith was born in 1862 to Wiley D. Smith Civil War Soldier and Melissa Coleman Smith, dau of Richard and Rachel Coleman.
His father, Wiley was badly wounded and died in a Chattanooga hospital . His mother with three other children , Lemuel, Charlie and Mary to raise had to do "day work" on other peoples farms.(Back then there was no welfare, no food stamps) The oldest son was blind and she left him babysitting.
James Richard vowed to make something of himself as soon as he was old enough to work and that he did. When Alabama Power Company was being founded he was one of it's first and most generous stock holders. Then came Andala, a sewing factory to hire women who had never had such opportunities in the south before. James invested. Other things equally important, James invested. Soon he was investing in land to give each of his children a place of their own with a house on it. He was a merchant, a post master and foremost, a stockbroker.
But all was not rosy for this couple. James and Elizabeth saw six of their children die young. Baby George was attacked by a wild hog while sitting on his " pallet" at the "wash place" and killed . Alma a beautiful brunette and only seventeen, died with what we now guess was acute appendicitis. Then they didn't even know there were appendix in people. Gid Smith was employed by Andala Company and was tricked into an open elevator shaft from which the elevator had been sent to the basement while this was on fifth floor. It was an April fool's prank on April 1, 1930. He fell five stories onto the top of the elevator and died instantly. Ida Smith Sowell , and Annie Smith Lanier died in their twenties both leaving small children and Calvin died in 1931 leaving eight children. James and Elizabeth were not independently successful in life but jointly successful. She was always helping him keep down expenses and when he bought her her first wood stove she thought it excessively extravagant and was slow to give up the fireplace utensils.
James R. Smith became ill and after a few months of suffering he closed his eyes in death on a cool December
morning in 1949 leaving Elizabeth to live with her only living daughter, Lula Lanier, for another fourteen years .
They are both resting among their children on Smith Row in Bethel.
Ruth L. Hester
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