by Rocky Macy
This week's column focuses on the pioneering SMITH family of Southwest City, MO. Information has been supplied by Dudley R. SMITH of St. Louis, Dr. and Mrs. George W. BLANKENSHIP of Neosho, and Lucy (Mrs. Ted) SMITH of Southwest City. This brief history of the early generations is dedicated with love to Lucy's grandchildren: Heidi, Tiffany, Justin, and Reed SMITH - from Uncle Rocky.
It was in the early spring of 1867 when Dr. Benjamin Franklin SMITH bundled his family into the covered wagon for the long trek from Ohio to the Missouri Ozarks. The travelers stopped at Neosho for two months, but then decided to move on southward. Late in the evening they made camp on an abandoned farmstead one mile north of the present site of Southwest City. A charred fireplace and chimney were all that remained for the farmhouse that had apparently burned during the Civil War. As the SMITHs prepared their camp, an unlucky prairie chicken flew up and landed on the chimney - just in time to be the main course at supper! The family later built their home on the site.
Dr. SMITH was born in Ross County, OH, on 25 Aug 1820. His father, George SMITH, a native of Delaware, died in Ross County in 1884 at the age of 94. Dr. SMITH graduated from Starling Medical School in Columbus, OH, in 1850, and practice medicine in Williamsport, OH, and later in McDonald County.
Rhoda (or Rhody) BETTS, a daughter of Thomas BETTS, became Dr. SMITH's first wife in December of 1845. She died a few years later, leaving the doctor with two small children, Rusilla and Cynthia.
Sarah RADCLIFF, daughter of Benjamin RADCLIFF and Sarah FLORENCE, became the second Mrs. SMITH on 26 Oct 1852. Six children were born to this union: Mary R. (3 Oct 1853 - 4 Nov 1867); Laura S. (14 Oct 1855 - 15 Aug 1911, married Dwight E. HAVENS); George Washington (26 Jan 1858 - 24 Mar 1929, married 1. Cynthia Ann SHIELDS, and 2. Jessie Wagonseller ZUMBRUNEN); Benjamin Franklin (17 Mar 1861 - 6 Jan 1908, married Margaret Louise SHERMAN); William F. (27 Feb 1863 - 9 Mar 1910, married Ada VERMILLIAN); and, Sarah "Sallie" Radcliff (28 Sep 1866 - ?, married Dr, C.A. GRAY). Sarah RADCLIFF SMITH, the doctor's second wife, was gored to death by a cow on 1 Sep 1868.
Dr. SMITH married Matilda B. RADCLIFF, a sister to his second wife, on 4 Mar 1869. She was born on 11 May 1838 and died on 11 June 1917. Their five children were: James Bennett (14 Aug 1871 - 1941, married Nona RAY); Patrick Henry (12 Jan 1873 - 15 Jan 1931 , married Carman Roxie TRUAX); Jennie R. (11 Nov 1874 - ?, married E.G. CROXDALE); Harriett G. (ca. 1876 - ?, married Oliver W. KILLAM); and, John D. (12 Mar 1878 - 1962).
George Washington and Cynthia SHIELDS SMITH were the parents of Mary Edith "Mayme" SMITH who married Calvin Blaine BLANKENSHIP. Dr. Benjamin Franklin SMITH, Jr. and his wife, Margaret, provided the other Dr. SMITH with five grandchildren. They included: Fannie Radcliff who married John A. BOYD; Ruby Elizabeth who became Mrs. Earl Cleveland HOLLAR; Sherman A., the husband of Eureka LEGG; Benjamin Franklin who married Stella G. WALTERS; and Dudley Reeves who married Helen Anna MILDE.
William Florence SMITH and Ada Belle VERMILLIAN SMITH were the parents of Mildred, wife of Ellsworth MOORE; Benjamin Franklin "Frank" who married Iris Zeta MILLER; Roscoe Vermillian, the husband of Pearl Pozy PEARSON; Ed F. who married Grace B. STEVENSON; Mabel, the wife of James E. CONARD; Pauline; and, Willie Jewel.
Dr. C.A. GRAY and his wife, Sarah, added four grandchildren to the list. They were Mable, Harry, Lucille, and Carey.
Patrick Henry and Carman Roxie TRUAX SMITH were the parents of ten children. Eight are listed here: Delina, the wife of Luther WILLIAMS; Vera, who married Bill COLLINS; Gorda Barbara; Ada Louise, the wife of Al SINGER; Jennie Mae who became Mrs. Robert Lewis SHORT; Theodore Roosevelt "Ted", who married Lucy CLARK; Robert Jackson "Jack", husband of Jo Ann STEVENSON, and Harry Franklin.
Oliver W. and Hattie Gorda SMITH KILLIAM had the following children: Winfried Henry "Hank"; Louise, who married John G. HURD; and Radcliffe who married Sue _____.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin SMITH, SR., died on 27 Dec 1892 and is buried at the Southwest City Cemetery. Although he has been gone nearly a century, the spirit of that rugged pioneer remains with his numerous descendants who populate our beautiful Ozarks.