Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Jacob C. Smith...

Some family names seem almost impossible to research; such as Johnson, Smith or Jones…I have all three.  My father’s great grandmother was Mary Ann Smith – growing up I heard her name as Polly Smith or Schmidt or Mary Ann Schmidt.  Eventually, I found her name really was Mary Ann Smith and that she was the daughter of Jacob C. Smith…now the real research was to follow.

Jacob Smith's grave - Taken by Lowell & Bonnie Johnson
Eleanor Wilson Smith - Taken by Lowell & Bonnie Johnson
New Market Church & Jacob Smith Memorial - Taken by Lowell & Bonnie Johnson
It is funny that I have exact dates on Jacob Cunningham Smith but no notion of who his parents were or where he was born exactly.  I have the dates from his gravestone which is at the New Market Presbyterian Cemetery, New Market, Jefferson Co., TN.   (He was b. 15 Oct 1801 in VA d. 4 May 1848 Union, Sullivan Co., TN) I know that he married Eleanor Wilson on 12 Feb 1824 and that they had five children.  I don’t know who Eleanor’s parents were either but she was born 10 Dec 1803 in TN and died 15 Nov 1834 in Jefferson Co., TN and is buried at the same cemetery as her husband.  Their children were:
  • Amanda Alvira b. 17 Dec 1824 New Market, Jefferson Co., TN d. ?
  • Sumner W.  b. 28 May 1826 New Market, Jefferson Co., TN d. 1863 in AL or AR
  • John James b. 1 Mar 1828 New Market, Jefferson Co., TN d. Jul 1874 Gaylesville, Cherokee Co., AL
  • Mary Ann b. 16 Apr 1830 New Market, Jefferson Co., TN d. 14 Mar 1916 Kirkman, Shelby Co., IA
  • Margaret E. b. 7 Jan 1833 New Market, Jefferson Co., TN d. ?

A little over a year after Eleanor’s death, Jacob married a widow – Catherine Kelly Moser Jarnigan.   Her husband William Calvin Jarnigan died on 26 July 1833 and their son (William Calvin Jarnigan was born 7 Nov 1833 in TN d. 30 Apr 1920 Jefferson Co., TN.)  Catherine married Jacob on 4 Feb 1836 in Jefferson Co., TN.  They were parents of the following children:
  • Francis Morgan b. 14 Sept 1839 Jefferson Co., TN
  • Edward Hamilton b. 8 Jan 1843 Jefferson Co., TN d. 19 Jan 1892
  • Sarah Eleanor b. 14 Dec 1844 New Market, Jefferson Co., TN d. 26 Jul 1850 New Market, Jefferson Co., TN
  • Jacob Cunningham, Jr b. 19 Jul 1846 Jefferson Co., TN d. 10 Aug 1911 Jackson, Madison Co., TN
  • Catherine Kelly b. 17 Jun 1848 Jefferson Co., TN d. 23 Jul 1850 Jefferson Co., TN
  • Nicholas Keffer b. 19 Jan 1851 New Market, Jefferson Co., TN d. 25 Mar 1929 Memphis, Shelby Co., TN
  • Emma Regina b. 29 Jun 1852 New Market, Jefferson Co., TN d. 3 Jan 1912 Horry Co., SC
  • Hugh Calvin b. 4 Dec 1854 Jefferson Co., TN d. 13 Mar 1939 Evanston, Cook Co., IL

Catherine Kelley Moser Smith  - taken by Lowell & Bonnie Johnson
Catherine Kelley Moser died on 25 Jul 1857 in Jefferson Co., TN and she too is buried at New Market Presbyterian Cemetery, New Market, Jefferson Co., TN.    Almost a year later, Jacob married July Arants on 5 Jul 1858 and she was born 17 Dec 1824 in TN and d. bef 1870.  His last marriage was too a Sarah whose name appears with his in the 1870 census.  She was born about 1836.

There are few clues about Jacob’s place of birth.  Virginia is a common location that covered two modern day states (Virginia and West Virginia).  He is close enough to the Virginia border that it might not be all that far away.  I suspect that his middle name of Cunningham has some significance…but I don’t know what that might be.  I was contacted recently and told that he was a carpenter and had some furniture that someone was looking in to.  But…there is little information on him.  Few of his known 14 children stayed in the New Market area…in fact only his stepson is buried at New Market alongside his Jacob’s two daughters who died young.  Since there are some new databases, I will probably try to follow up on some of his children again – but Smiths from TN are very plentiful.
Jacob C. Smith - Owned by Lowell & Bonnie Johnson

One thing I am fortunate to have is a photograph of him.  Several years ago, while we were visiting some Johnson cousins in North Dakota they showed me some wonderful tin types of Mary Ann Smith and Washington Abraham Smith, my great great grandparents.  They had never noticed it before, but at the bottom of the box of that held those two old tintypes was another tintype of an older man who we believe to be Jacob Cunningham Smith.  So…who knows – perhaps someday I will be able to smash through that Smith brick wall and perhaps even that of Eleanor Wilson.  


  1. Carmen,

    We communicated on Jacob Smith a few years ago and I have kept at it off and on. I ran across your blog just today.

    Jacob's middle name is indeed Cunningham according to N Keff Smith's death certificate.

    I believe from Inman family data that Eleanor's parents were likely Daniel Wilson (1782-1810) and Hannah Ritchie Inman. Daniel's sister Eleanor (for whom I assume Elaenor was named) married Hannah's brother William Hardin Inman. There is lots of history available on the Inman's but the Wilson parents are unclear.

    From various census records for Sullinan County TN Jacob's fourth wife was clearly Sarah Launa Crumley, the widow of Jacob Leander Vance. The Vance family connection is pretty stong, as Catherine Kelly Moser's mother was Sarah Vance who married Philip Moser. I do not at this point believe the basic story about Philip Moser and Sarah Vance meeting in Scotland and emigrating. While I have not found specific documentation it seems very clear she was part of the Vance family that migrated up the Shenandoah Valley and that she was the daugter of John Vance and Sarah Marquis. There are many connections in family names that lead to this conclusion.

    As to Jacob Smith's origin the last clue I have is N Keff Smith's name which is actually Nicholas Keffer Smith. There is a Nicholas Keffer who lived in Woodstock, Shenandoah County Virginia and according to some family tree reports was married to a Mary M Smith.

    I think it is possible that Nicholas Keffer Smith was named for him and, given the Smith connection, that Nicholas Keffer was his uncle. My supposition is that Jacob was born in Shenandoah or Frederick counties and migrated probably to Sullivan County around 1805-10 when significant migattions took place.

    1. Scudder - please drop me an email. I can't seem to find your email address. I would love to catch up and compare notes again!

  2. Polly Ann's Father was Jacob Carol Smith Mother was Loudicia Celia Taylor.Jacobs Father was John Smith of N.Carolina Mother was RebeccavCelia Brown.

  3. Bobby...not sure we are talking about the same Polly/Mary Smith. My ancestor married Washington Abraham Johnson and they moved to Kirkman, IA within a few years of going north in 1862.