In 2008 or 2009, I made a large family history album for Christmas for Grandmerry and Granddaddy Jack (James Berdine Pittman and Merry Louise Thomas Pittman). This album made its way back to me after their deaths, and it is stored in my little family archive.
The next year, I made another album for the Smith side of my family, for Granny and Grandpa (Kenneth Judson Smith and Dorothy Margaret Ratcliffe Smith).
Grandpa studied it, noticed a few typos (ie, Malissa Webb Thompson was born in 1853, not 1953 as my typing fingers erred). But he also came up with questions, comments, stories, and wrote them all down and hand delivered them to me when he came to visit in Boone. We talked about many of the stories, and I answered a lot of questions (at least, the ones that I could) that he had after viewing the album. I will answer those questions here another day, but for now am sharing his note.
[WFS left school in the 6th grade.]
Walter Fletcher Smith:
Made 3 “fortunes” in his lifetime:
1. First, a Livery Co. (taxi) serving in part local + state politicians. His stables burned down, killing all horses, etc. He had no insurance! This was probably in the 1920’s.
2. Second, he built a trucking company, hauling construction material (mostly), for roads, bldg. Etc. K.J. Smith, Sn. Often drove the trucks in the early 1930’s. As the depression tightened construction decreased and he (WFS) was forced to consider bankruptcy, which he avoided by giving all assets to Cecil Kelly (Rhyllis’ husband)- his son-in-law. Cecil agreed to transfer all assets back when the situation improved. However, when that time came Cecil refused to do so, leaving WFS broke once again, or so it was thought. But WFS had a small amount of liquid assets that gained buying-power as real estate prices tumbled.
3. He bought land, farms, and eventually 2 hotels (small ones) on Fayetteville St. (Raleigh). I think he might have owned a third, but later sold it to obtain cash. (I don’t know)
I (KJS, Jr) worked as night clerk at one – New Central Hotel – a short time in 1949-50. The other hotel was the Richmond, a block away right beside the police station, catercornered [sic] from the Sir Walter Hotel. World War II pulled the economy up during the early 40’s, and after 1945 prices + salaries rose, benefiting everyone, especially those who bought property at the low point, as WFS did. When he died in 1966 his estate was divided three ways: Wife (Alma Herndon), Rhyllis, and KJS, Sn. After taxes and costs were paid, each received about one third. KJS, Sn got also an additional amount via a life insurance policy. As Alma + Rhyllis wanted money, KJS, Sn. Took his share in property (land, farm, etc). But he died a few months later of heart failure, almost exactly one year after his father’s death. Irene received his estate, preserved most of it, which then grew until the time of her death in 1993.
The estate then was equally divided between KJS, Jr. and Betty Brannan. Over the past 17 years the estate’s value has accelerated rapidly mainly because of high increases in real estate prices.
Malissa W. Thompson born in 1853, not 1953. [correcting a typo from the album]
Wesley Owen Smith died in 1863. Was he killed in the Civil War? Apparently he was a Capt. With 40 men. A Jacob Sorrell was the estate administrator. Is this man either of those two on your pedigree chart?
Where exactly is Edenwood on Old Stage Rd? Was the house ever church property; i.e. did Sihon Smith actually own it?
Lillie Strickland’s complete name is Clara Lillian Strickland
Crump J. Strickland was a child of Lillie + A.P.
Lt. Swan Thompson served on the staff of Col. Joel Lane and Col. John Hinton in the N.C. Militia. Joel Lane sold some of his land for the capitol of NC, to the State. He is generally regarded to be an important + major figure in the foundation of Raleigh as the Capitol City. I know nothing about John Hinton, do you?
After Pearl died, W.F. Smith married Alma Herndon (a nurse). No children.
Lewis Patrick Sorrell had two brothers- Judson and Adolphus. Judson had a son named Victor who became the head coach (football) at N.C. State.
Pear Sorrell had 3 brothers and 3 sisters:
Luther Alma – never married
Earnest Lydia – never married
Horace Effie – married Robert Nichols
After Pearl died LPS married Mary Ragsdale (of Durham, NC). They had 6 children:
L.P. Sorrell, Jr. By phone conversation (4/1988), LPS, Jr provided all of the above information. I wrote it down as he talked. He knew of me by name, but he is very likely dead now. So… LPS, Sn. Had 13 children. Some of these are buried at Leesville Baptist Church. He was pleased I called. I have a picture of LPS, Sn’s house (2nd one), but I don’t think it’s still around (Leesville).
Kenneth J. Smith (KJS son of WFS):
KJS was 11 years old when his mother Pearl died. After that he was shuffled about to various aunts and a boarding school in Cary. At 18 years he entered NC State Univ. for a short stay in engineering. As the depression grew more severe he worked for his father as a truck driver and doing other jobs that came along. In 1926 he joined the Raleigh Fire Dept. and rose rapidly to captain’s rank, all the while building his own house. Perhaps because of the depression he became interested in labor problems and union activity. He became president of the Raleigh Central Labor Union. In 1940 he was elected president of the State Council of Fire Fighters and Board Member of the North Carolina State Federation of Labor, and an officer in the State Federation of Labor. Also, with this came a position of Associate Editor of the N.C. Federationist (Labor publication).
Then came World War II and the draft. He served his country when called, even with failing health. Strenuous activity, á la military, revealed angina that worsened as time moved on. Returning home he joined the post office, as a less physical occupation. Even so his condition advanced, further restricting his activities, and pushing retirement in 1966 and death in 1967. He was 60 years old and semi-invalid.
Irene went to work for the State in Revenue Dept. about 1943 and stayed until retirement about 1968. She had 5 brothers and 3 sisters:
*Staley – farmer, 2 children (I think)
Homer – bootlegger, alcoholic. Committed suicide while young over a woman.
Crump – best of the lot. Wrote a book The Storage Battery. Formed his own company – Strickland Electric Co. in Columbus, Ohio. Learned to fly. Early proponent of auto seat belts. Fought with the Federal Gov: IRS. Fought with Society about SIN (he was against it), particularly in Charlotte, NC.
Brad – industrial tobacco buyer. Drinker
Simpson – salesman: beer, crackers, autos. Married 5 times, died young, 60 years old. No children. Drinker, woman chaser.
Mable – Farmers wife, two children. Cancer early.
Alice – Went to Charlotte, never saw her again.
Julie – One child. Died of cancer. She drank too much when young. She had a hard life. So too did her child, Jean Ray (a girl).
*All grew up as very poor farm children with Irene