Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Smith Questions

So, where do I go from here?  What are the questions I want to answer about the Smiths?

Who were John A.’s parents?  No idea.  I need a copy of John A.’s will—it exists, but I haven’t seen it.  Not that it lists his parents, but it might give me some clues.  I don’t even know what part of Virginia he came from.  My brother supplied a sample of yDNA but no connections with Smiths yet.

Was Mary E. a Williams, and if so, who were her parents?  On the death certificate of her son, Alexander Jackson Smith, his mother was listed as Mary E. Williams and his father as John Smith.  Was she related to Minor?  It appears not—another researcher I have corresponded with has seen the family Bible of Minor Williams’s family—no Mary listed among siblings.

What happened to Sarah, Martha and Willis?  Probably died young but don’t know for sure. 

Who is the father of Moses?  John A. Smith was alive and bought land in Pike Co., AL, in Sept. 1849 but he died before Nov. 1850 when Mary E. was listed as head of household on the census.  Mary could have been pregnant with Moses when John died.  Interesting note:  It appears that Alexander Jackson Smith and Moses Calvin Smith married sisters, Mary Ann Charlotte Briggs (or Breggs) and Nancy Ann Mathilda Briggs. 

Why does the name Willis carry down through the family?  Any significance to the fact that Cynthia’s son is a Willis, her daughter Amanda named a son Willis, and Stephen and Fannie had a son named Willis?  Jackson is another name that repeats from Alexander Jackson Smith, Stephen’s brother, to John Jackson, Stephen’s son.  Do the names Willis and Jackson go back even further? 

Was Cynthia “married” to Jordan Lindsey?  My guess is that Cynthia had children by a Lindsey, perhaps Jordan.  She didn’t feel free to name her children Lindsey when Jordan’s wife was still alive but by 1870 both Jordan and his wife Elizabeth were dead, and Cynthia could freely use the surname Lindsey.  With all justice to Cynthia, going by the name Smithy makes her sound like a madam.  

Who was the father of Elizabeth Simmons?  According to family trees on, Luke Russell Simmons’ wife’s name was Priscilla.  Was she Priscilla Soles?  Some have listed Priscilla Hargette as his wife but haven’t seemed to notice that Priscilla Hargette died in 1811 before many of the Simmons children were born. 

Why the migration from North Carolina to Alabama?  My cousins in Alabama have written a book about the descendants of Elisha Mansell, Sr. called Pages from the Past.  In the book they relate two theories about the emigration of the Mansells from North Carolina to Alabama. 1) They had made their living from the tar and turpentine derived from pine trees that had become less plentiful in North Carolina. Or, 2) Indians were being rounded up for the Trail of Tears and as several Mansell men had married Indian wives, they decided to remove themselves to Alabama.  The Smiths moved to Pike Co. from Coffee Co. sometime between 1865 and 1868 when Stephen and Frances marry in Pike Co.  I don’t know why.  The Smiths followed the Mansells to Lauderdale Co. in the 1870s.

How are our Mansells related to the Mansells in Marion Co., AL (Elvis’s family)?  Why did the family sometimes use the name Mansfield?  My cousins have a theory that our Mansells stopped off to see the Mansells in Marion County on their way to Lauderdale County in the 1870s but didn’t feel welcome as the Mansells in Marion County had been Union sympathizers.  No one knows if Mansfield was an alias or just an alternative spelling.

Did Elizabeth Simmons come to Oklahoma and then return to Lauderdale County with Joanne Mansel Webb’s family to be buried at Mt. Olive, Waterloo?  Where is she buried?  Family tradition says 1) under the cedar tree, 2) under an unmarked pile of rocks, 3) where Margaret & William Mansell’s headstones were incorrectly laid, or 4) did she really die in Oklahoma?

Who is the father of Frances?  William Cotton or someone else?  How will we ever know?  Could she be Elizabeth’s granddaughter, child of one of her sons?  If so, why did she ever use the name Cotton?

How did Frances die?  In a Rogers County, Oklahoma, county history book, one of the Smith grandchildren stated that she fell into a well and drowned.  That was never a story I heard growing up.  If I remember anything, it is that Fannie died of “female trouble.”

Where were the Smiths in 1900?  Hiding in a cave??  According to family tradition, Stephen’s Civil War pension record, and applications for tribal membership, the family came to Indian Territory about 1893-1894. The youngest child, Weaver, was said to have been born in Catoosa, Indian Territory, in 1895.  The family is living in Collinsville in 1910.

Is there any truth to the story of Cherokee heritage in our family?  Probably moot, as it is apparent we can’t connect to anyone on the rolls. Will we ever know?  My DNA shows up 98% European.  Maybe the 2% Uncertain is native American!!

As these questions are answered, more will have to be asked.  It’s a never ending quest.

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