Biography of William C. Smith
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WILLIAM C. SMITH. Among those of Howell County, Missouri, who have successfully followed the ” primitive occupation of man” may be mentioned William C. Smith, whose active, energetic and useful life has won him an abundance of this world’s goods, and has placed him among the foremost agriculturists and stockraisers of his section. He was born in Overton County, Tennessee, in 1820, a son of George and Nancy (Winningham) Smith, natives of the Old North State, but who were married and resided in Overton County, Tennessee, where the father’s death occurred when the subject of this sketch was a lad. In 1871 Mrs. Smith came to Howell County, Missouri, and was here called from life about 1880, having long been a worthy member of the Christian Church. The paternal grandfather, who also bore the name of George Smith, was a very early settler of Overton County, Tennessee, and was there engaged in farming until his death. He had five sons, all of whom became farmers, and are now dead: David, Richard, William, John and George. The maternal grandfather, Adam Winningham, was born in North Carolina, and died in Overton County, Tennessee, in 1847, having been a very early settler and a successful farmer and slave owner of that section. He reared a family of five sons and seven daughters, all of whom married and reared families of their own.
The subject of this sketch was the third of thirteen children born to his parents: Adam, who went into the Confederate service from Georgia, and has not been heard of since; John became a Federal soldier of the Third Kentucky, and is deceased; William C.; Campbell, who resides in Overton County, Tennessee; Brant was also a soldier in the Federal Army, Third Kentucky, and is now dead; George was killed at Dalton, Ga., a member of the Third Kentucky, United States Army; Willis was also killed at Dalton, a member of the same Regiment as his brother; Wiley, also a member of the Third Kentucky, was killed at Chickamauga; Henry Clay, also a member of the Third Kentucky, died in Kentucky; Eliza resides in Howell County, Missouri; Virginia became the wife of Joel Hines, and both are dead; Andrew J. died in Howell County, and Marion also died here.
On a farm in his native State the subject of this sketch was reared, but his schooling amounted to but about forty-five days. He was married in Overton County in 1842 to Mary C., daughter of Matthew and Dica Reynolds, of Overton County, who came from North Carolina and died in Tennessee. Mrs. Smith was born in Overton County and died in Howell County in 1879, a member of the Christian Church. She and Mr. Smith named their children as follows: George H. was in the Third Kentucky Regiment for over four years during the war and was wounded at Kenesaw Mountain; Lean is the wife of David Godsey; Clementine is the wife of Benjamin Stone, of Overton County; Angeline died young; Isabella is the wife of Alfred Besheer; Spencer died young; Shannon died young; Grant; and Mary Jane, who also died young. In October, 1861, Mr. Smith, with six brothers and one son, joined Company H, Third Kentucky Infantry, and took part in many bloody struggles as a part of the Army of the Cumberland. He was at Mill Springs, Kentucky, Murfreesboro, Shiloh, Corinth, Chattanooga, Perryville, Cumberland Gap, in the engagements from Dalton to Atlanta, then back to Franklin, Tennessee; thence to Nashville, and was mustered out at Jeffersonville, Indiana Mr. Smith was in the hospital for six months with rheumatism, but when on active duty was principally employed in driving an ambulance. Out of the seven brothers and one son that fought for their country only the father and son survived. After the war he returned to his family almost unknown to his children, and in 1872 came with them to Howell County, Missouri, and has since lived on his present farm of 320 acres, which is situated in Hutton Valley, and comprises some of the finest land of which the county can boast. He started twice in life with-out means, and after a long and hard struggle with adversity found himself on a prosperous financial sea, and as soon as circumstances would permit surrounded his family with every comfort. While he was participating in the war his wife and other children supported themselves as best they could, and were robbed and plundered of their provisions by both armies nearly as fast as they were produced, and many times they were on the point of starvation. At the time of the husband and father’s return from the war they were so reduced by hardships and starvation that they were unable to recognize him. The history of this family is quite remarkable, for eight sons participated in the war, and all but one were Union soldiers. Six of them lost their lives on the battlefield and in camp, and the fate of the one who was in the Confederate Army remains a mystery to this day. Formerly a Whig in politics, Mr. Smith has been a stanch Republican since the war, and is a member of Andrew J. Smith Post at Willow Springs, Missouri, and for over fifty years has been a member of the Christian Church.
His brother, Andrew J. Smith, came to Missouri about forty years ago, and was one of the very first settlers of Hutton Valley. After serving for some time in the State Militia he early in 1865 joined Company F, Eleventh Missouri Infantry, with which he served until February, 1866. The old soldiers remembered him when the G. A. R. post was formed at Willow Springs, and it was named in his honor. He died in 1882, having been an honest, upright and successful farmer. and a useful, law-abiding citizen.