So much of my personal history is wrapped up in Kings County, New Brunswick. As a child I visited the family farm on Golden Grove Road every summer, with my parents… and the occasional Christmas too. I love that farm, which is now owned by my Aunt Beatrice and my cousin Mandy. I have warm memories of playing cards and watching Matlock with Gramma and hiking to Blueberry Hill with a bucket in hand (for berries) and an eye out for wildlife, from porcupines to skunks, deer and moose to coyotes. Grampa & Gramma purchased that farm in 1951 and it was just a short distance away to where Gramma spent her childhood at home (Lakeside NB) and Church (Smithtown NB).
Smithtown is the resting place of a great many of my New Brunswick ancestors. Four of my United Empire Loyalist ancestral families settled in the Smithtown/French Village area: James Isaiah & Joanna (Davis) Smith, Richard & Jemima (Budd) Bull, James & Martha Curry (Sherwood) Beyea, and Andrew Sherwood (whose wife, Martha Curry, died in NY in 1778).
Yes the Smith’s of Smithtown had something to do with the naming of the town, as you might have guessed. The name of Smithtown was not named directly after J. Isaiah Smith, as I first had thought, but after the town where he was born and likely grew up: Smithtown, New York, which is on the North end of Long Island.
On 24 October 1802, Richard Smith was born. He was the grandson of UEL Isaiah Smith on his father, James’, side and grandson of UEL Richard Bull on his mother, Elizabeth Bull’s, side.
As a young boy Richard likely worked hard helping his father and brothers clear land, hunt, farm, and prepare in advanced for the cold winters. Before he was born Richards two grandfathers and his maternal grandmother passed away. He only had Granny Joanna Smith left and I can imagine her telling great tales of what it was like to live through the American Revolution and leave for Loyalist lands. Richard would have heard stories from his parents as well but they were both under age 11 when they sailed to Saint John Harbour in 1783.
Things changed for Richard the day after his 13th birthday. On that day (25 Ocotber 1815) his 5 year old sister, Phoebe died. The reason for her demise is uncertain, but we do know that 3 weeks later Richards 2 year old sister, Margaret, also died. There are many possibilities for the cause of deaths, but it was likely one of the many contagious diseases of the time (typhus, cholera, yellow fever etc).
Two years later Richards mother, Elizabeth, died from complications of childbirth. This occurred two days after Christmas in 1817. Richards little brother, Joseph Edmund Smith, survived, most likely with the help of a wet-nurse and went on to live to the age of seventy-one. Richard was 15 when he lost his mother.
Richard had seven other siblings who also lived well into old age: James, Mary, Elizabeth, Joanna, Isaiah, Jemima & John. It is interesting to note that three of the Smith siblings married Beyea siblings. I am also a descendant of Richard’s older sister Mary Smith who married James Beyea on 4 February 1816 (just months after her two little sisters died). The oldest Smith child, James, married Rachel Beyea on 8 October 1821. Richard, in fact, married his brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s little sister, Phoebe Beyea on 25 January 1826. Both of the Beyea girls married their Smith fiances under the direction of Reverend James Cookson.
Richard and Phoebe were born 3 days apart, October 24th (Richard) and October 27th (Phoebe) in 1802. They went on to have 7 children: Elizabeth in 1826, James in 1827, Richard Jr in 1830, Andrew Beyea in 1831, John in 1833, Joseph in 1835 and Phoebe in 1835.
1835 was a tumultuous year for Richards family. On the 5th of March their youngest son Joseph Leslie Smith was born. Phoebe must have gotten pregnant again right away because sometime in December Phoebe goes into labour for the final time and dies during childbirth. The tiny baby, likely premature, dies as well. They named the baby Phoebe after her mother and together they are buried at the United Baptist Cemetery in Smithtown, NB. And to top it off, sometime during that year of 1835 their two year old son, John, died as well. Richard gained a son, lost a son, lost a daughter and lost his wife… all in one year.
But life continues on for Richard and his family. After the trying year of 1835 Richard marries again. This time to Mary Blair. No children came from the union and I have yet to find a wedding date, but I do know there is a 13 year gap between the first wife and third wife that we know nothing about. That 3rd wife is Margaret Belding.
Richard must have been a determined worker for he is listed as a farmer, Innkeeper, and blacksmith with a lime kiln on the farm. He was the proprietor of Smith’s Tavern & Inn and had all manner of interesting guests, no doubt. One legend claims that in the early years of 1850, Acadian Monsieur Thibodeau returned to his original Acadian farm with his son. The land was now Richards. When he first received the land there was still an Acadian building on the site. Richard may have built onto it or used it as a barn/shed. Monsieur Thibodeau was not asking for his land back, instead their only desire was to locate a grand old ash tree. During the Acadian expulsion, in their haste, they had hid their family treasures into an old ash tree, with a plan to come back for it. The expulsion was from 1755-1763, almost 100 years earlier. Monsieur Thibodeau must have been very young at the time of the expulsion, but more likely he was a descendant hoping to come back and claim the family treasure. Regardless of the concern he must have had, Richard was most accommodating and welcomed the Acadians into his Inn (which was located at the turn of the river in Smithtown). According to the legend the tree full of treasure was never found.
Around the same time that the Acadians were visiting, Richards family was dealt another blow. In April 1851 his 19 year old son, Andrew Beyea Smith, drowned while steam driving logs up the Hammond River. Later that calendar year the Census takers came around. Richard (48) was living with his 3rd wife Margaret (32), three of his children from his first marriage, James (23), Elizabeth (22) & Joseph (17), and little one year old Elvira, the first child of Richard & Margaret. Richard’s only other surviving child was Richard Jr. who was likely married by this time to Eleanor Jane Wilson.
In the 1851 Agricultural portion of the census Richard has one employed female “hand” (likely to help with the Inn), 19 acres of cleared land and 285 acres uncleared. He has 1 horse, 5 “milch” cows, 2 oxen, 7 other “neat” cattle, 16 sheep and 1 pig.
By the time the next census rolled around in 1861, Richards children with Phoebe had began their own families but his young family with Margaret had continued to grow. Besides Elvira there was also William, Margaret, and Charles, along with one extra resident living in their home. With the success of the Inn it seems that Richard & Margaret needed some help to keep things running smoothly. Jane Hapsel, age 13, is listed as their Domestic Servant (this cannot be the same unnamed female employee in the 1851 agricultural census). Also, everyone in the household is listed as Baptists.
In 1871 Richard is 68 years old and his four youngest children are still living at home. The last three, William, Margaret & Charles are listed as “in school”. All are Baptists EXCEPT Richards wife Margaret, who lists the Church of England as her religion. Within the next ten years, before the 1881 Census, Margaret dies and is buried in the cemetery of St.Andrew’s Anglican Church in French Village, NB (the closest community to Smithtown).
Religion must have been a hot topic. Did Margaret turn from Baptist to Anglican between 1861-1871 or did the 1861 census list her religion incorrectly? Who knows. However, I’m certain it caused some interesting discussions over the dinner table. It is a testament to Richards character that he would allow his wife the liberty to choose her house of faith.
By the time the next census rolls around, in 1881, Richard is 78 years old and widowed. He is living with his son William and daughter-in-law Addie. Richard and Addie are Calvinist Baptists, William is listed as Unitarian (the cause of more dinner debates, no doubt!).
Richard died on 6 January 1890 at the age of 87. He is buried in the United Baptist Cemetery, Smithtown NB, alongside Phoebe & Phoebe, his first wife and their infant daughter, who perished together fifty-five years earlier in the devastating year of 1835.