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Henry F. Smith


Posted By: Steven Showers (email)
Date: 2/11/2012 at 11:13:09

Born: ca. 1791, Pennsylvania
Died: 30 Oct. 1863, Fayette County, Iowa; this date is given on his gravestone in the West Union Cemetery (block 3, lot 12)
Married: 1st?) Nancy (b. ca. 1796, age 54 in 1850); 2nd? Agnes (b. ca. 1815 - d. 4 Jan. 1882) married between 1854 and 1856, likely in Iowa. In their household for the 1856 census there is an Emma Linderman, age15, and she seems to be the daughter of Agnes from an earlier marriage.
Children, known names (there seem to be others whose names are not known):
Barbara (b. 1815, Bedford Co., Pa., d. 1906 – years according to her tombstone in the West Union Cemetery - married to Samuel Rickel by 1835; her daughter Sophronia “Phroney” A. Rickel, b. ca. 1839 in Ohio, was living with Henry’s family in Iowa in the 1850 census)
Son ? (born before 1820 as noted in the presumed 1820 and 1830 censuses)
Daughter ? (born before 1820 as noted in the presumed 1820 and 1830 censuses)
Nathaniel C. (b. ca, 1821, Pennsylvania),
Josiah C. (b. 23 April, 1823, Bedford County, Pa.- see his biography on this website),
Henry C. (b. ca. 1827, PA or Ohio ?),
Jacob F. (b. ca. 1828, PA),
Daughter ? (born 1825-30),
Joshua (b. ca. 1833, Ohio),
Samuel (b. ca. 1835, Ohio),
There is also an A.E. Smith, b. ca 1844 in Pennsylvania in the family, and if this birth state is accurate, he is likely a nephew/cousin who came west to join his relatives.

One of the last records concerning the life of Henry F. Smith tells us the first thing we learn about his adult life. On 27 May 1898 the "West Union Gazette" in Fayette County, Iowa printed a front page list of veterans graves in the West Union Cemetery which would be decorated for the upcoming Memorial Day celebration. H.F. Smith, who was buried there in 1863, is listed as one of five who had served in the War of 1812. This service adds a bit to our understanding of why his son Josiah C. Smith might have chosen to enlist in the Civil War as he followed in his father’s footsteps as a patriot. Indeed, Josiah who was buried in the same cemetery in 1875, is also listed as a veteran on the same page of the newspaper for his volunteering in the 38th Iowa Infantry Regiment in the Civil War.

Henry’s military service is also confirmed in the book "Biographies and Portraits of the Progressive Men of Iowa" (1899) where it reports that community leader Henry Rickel is the son of Samuel Rickel and Barbara Smith, who was the daughter of Henry F. Smith, a veteran of the War of 1812 from Bedford Co., Pa. (pg 328). Barbara is described as being of German and English descent, although the text does not identify which parent belongs with each ethnicity. The connection of Barbara with the rest of the family is important since it seems that as Henry’s family moved west to Ohio and then Sangamon County, Illinois, Barbara and Samuel Rickel moved with them, and all ended up in West Union, Iowa. Barbara and husband Samuel are both recorded as born in Bedford Co., Pa., so this places Henry there as well. Henry’s son Josiah also recorded Bedford as his birth county (in his Civil War discharge), which confirms the location for Henry.

There appears to be only one company raised in Bedford County for the War of 1812, and a Henry Smith who seems to be our ancestor is named as a private in its ranks. Chapter XII of the "History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties" provides the record of this unit’s service:

"Soon after the declaration of war by the United States against England, in the summer of 1812, recruiting for soldiers to take the field, under the orders of the general government, was commenced in the counties of Bedford and Somerset. As a result, Capt. Solomon Sparks’ company, of Bedford county, and Capts. Hoff’s and Jonathan Rhoads’ companies, of Somerset, were organized. It is well known that the companies commanded by Capts. Sparks and Hoff marched through the wilderness to the Canadian frontier and, there performed efficient service…

"From original rolls and the volume above referred to, it has been ascertained that the members of Capts. Sparks’, Hoff’s and Rhoads’companies were as follows:
Names borne upon the "Pay Roll of Captain Solomon Sparks’ company of Riflemen, attached to the Second Regiment of Riflemen, commanded by Colonel William Piper, in the service of the United States, from the State of Pennsylvania, Brigadier General Adamson Tannehill commanding, commencing the 25th of September and ending the 24th of November, 1812 (both days included)."
Captain: Solomon Sparks.
Lieutenant: James Piper.
Ensign: David Fletcher.
1st sergeant: Joseph Armstrong. 2d sergeant: John Paxton. 3d sergeant: James Wilson. 4th sergeant: Philip Steckman.
1st corporal: John Mortimore. 2d corporal: James Sparks. 3d corporal: Volluntine (Valentine?) Steckman. 4th corporal: William Wilson.
Fifer: Solomon Whetstone.
Drummer: Samuel Lysinger.
Privates: Henry Stover, David Piper, Solomon Holler, James England, Henry Clinger, Frederick Young, John Steckman, Jacob Phillips, Philip Carn, Robert Hamilton, Joseph Morris, Joseph Sparks, John Hinish, David Swartz, Peter Barndollar, Reason Donaldson, Henry Wassing, Joshua Pickering, Samuel McCasling, Achor Henry, Daniel Casner, Samuel Smith, Edward Means, Jacob Casner, Jacob Runard, Abraham Sparks, Joseph Means, Henry Richey, Elijah Morris, Joseph Sparks, Sr., William Cook, Abel Griffith, James Gardner, Evan Griffith, Henry Smith, John Deal, David Runard and William McCarty, a total of fifty-one men.

"The pay-roll further indicates that the pay per month for officers and enlisted men was as follows: Captain, $40; lieutenant, $30; ensign, $20; sergeants, $8; corporals and musicians, $7.33; privates, $6.66. Prior to the date of this muster for pay, however, and while at Meadville, Pennsylvania (October 21, 1812), en route for the seat of war on the northern frontier, an appraisement of arms, etc., carried by the members of the company was made. By scanning the results of this "appraisement" it appears that the captain, lieutenant and ensign, as well as the two musicians, carried rifles the same as the non-commissioned officers and privates. The most valuable weapon was owned by Samuel Smith. It was valued at $25. Capt. Sparks came next with one worth $23, while Solomon Holler shouldered a weapon worth but $8. The pouch and horn carried by each man were rated in value at from 75 cents to $2.50."

In 1851 James Sparks named above as a corporal applied for a military pension based on his service in the company with Henry, and his papers give a short description of the service of the company commanded by Capt. Solomon Sparks; he volunteered in Bedford County at Bloody Run (less than 15 miles from Colerain township where our Henry seems to have lived) on or about Sept. 1, 1812, for 6 months and was “dismissed from the service at Black Rock on the Niagra River to find winter quarters some time in December, 1812, being absent from his home about 4 months.” Added to this application is a sworn statement by David Fletcher and Joseph Sparks who stated “that the above Declaration is true according to the best of their knowledge and Belief they having been volunteers in the Same Company with him and that they marched with him to Black Rock and wear [sic] Compeled to seek winter quarters.” On Dec. 17, 1851, James Sparks submitted another sworn statement to the effect that he had been “honourably discharged at Black Rock, but never received any written or printed discharge;” Samuel Smith and David Fletcher, the veterans who had served with him, had already received bounty land based on their service. John Sparks, Justice of the Peace, signed as witness. Eventually James Sparks was granted 40 acres, and then on March 24, 1855, he applied for additional land under the provisions of the act of March 3, 1855 and gave his age as 64, a resident of Bedford County. He provided the same information about his service as he had in his application of 1851. James Bedford, Justice of the Peace, signed as a witness along with Solomon Hollar and John Mortimer; the latter made his “X” as his mark. James Sparks was thus granted an additional tract of 120 acres. Like these men, Henry might have also received bounty land out in Iowa for his service.

The search for the family of Henry in Bedford County, PA., has produced one very strong candidate. This is with the Smiths of Colerain Township, where a Henry Smith, jr. in the 1820 census fits fairly well with our Henry. Henry is listed in the 26-44 age group (which matches our man), but so is his wife, which does not quite fit Nancy’s 1850 census age information (according to this she would have been 24 in 1820), but this is fairly close and could have been a mistake by the recorder or the person giving the data (or that Nancy was his wife from a later marriage). There is one son under age 10, and although we do not know of a son this age, it is possible there was one who was not with the family in 1850 when we learn of family names, or he had died in the intervening three decades. There is another male in the household in the 26-44 range, and he is indicated as not yet a naturalized citizen, so he is likely an immigrant boarder and/or farm hand. For female children, there are two under 10, and one of these fits Barbara born ca. 1815. The other could be a daughter who later married and her connection has been lost to the family. Other Smiths who seem to be related are the next door neighbor Henry (senior) who is in the over 45 category, and Frederick the other next door neighbor who is married and in the 16 to 26 category.

Other information about this Henry, jr. from Colerain adds a bit more weight. The will of Henry senior was probated in 1835, and it names his children: Frederick (executor), Henry, jr., Louise, John (deceased), Peter, Sarah, Barbara, Adam, Eve, Eleanor, and another daughter deceased whose son is Jacob Rosenberg. The fact that this Henry has a sister named Barbara suggests a connection with our Henry who named his daughter Barbara. Since Henry, jr. is older than Frederick, it would seem that Henry should have been the executor, but if Henry was out in Ohio as our Henry was, then the office would have fallen to one of the sons who stayed in Colerain. Thus in several ways this man in Colerain fits our Henry. Also, a Josiah Smith died in Bedford County in 1813, and this could be Henry’s grandfather, and the namesake of our Josiah. Naming children after relatives seems to have been a common practice in this family since the name Henry was given to three of Henry’s grandsons. The “F” initial could also refer to Frederick, which was a name with the family in Colerain.

One other Pennsylvania reference to a Henry F. Smith occurs on 12 June 1826 when the new Kensington bank in Philadelphia was incorporated by the state governor John Andrew Schultz. Among those listed as supporters of the new venture is a Henry F. Smith who purchased two shares of the 2589 sold. Since shares could be bought by anyone across the state, there is nothing to prohibit our Henry from being among those who subscribed to the charter, but the firm identity of this Henry is not yet established.

The birth states for sons Nathaniel through Jacob show that Henry stayed in Pennsylvania through 1828, but by 1832 he had moved the family west to Ohio where Joshua and Samuel were born, and daughter Barbara and Samuel Rickel show up as a married couple by 1835 in Richland County, Ohio where their son Henry was born. Based on the hypothesis that most of the family stayed together in their various moves until winding up together in Iowa, the discovery of a Henry Smith in Richland County in the 1830 census seems to locate our Henry. The numbers tell the story. Henry is correctly listed in the 30-39 bracket, and the wife is also 30-39 (which fits with Nancy as well). Two boys are under 5, which is exactly what it should be for Jacob C. and Henry F.. In the 5 to 9 bracket are another two boys which fits for Nathaniel and Josiah C., and there is one boy 10 to 14 which matches Henry’s 1820 census for the unnamed boy who had then been under 10. For the girls, there is one under 5 whose name has not come down to us and who is deceased or married away from the family by 1850 when names are given for everyone in the census. Finally, there are two girls in the 10-14 group which fits exactly with the two girls under 10 in Henry’s 1820 census. Barbara was about 14-15 at the time of the 1830 census, and her sister could have been a bit younger born ca. 1819. So this Henry in Richland is likely our man.

By the next decade there must have been another move to Menard Co., Illinois since Henry’s oldest named son Nathaniel married there in Menard County in 1844 at age 23 and later lived in Sangamon County. It is likely Nathaniel stayed with the family until his marriage (another common pattern, and this family showed a strong tendency to stick together), so the Smiths must have arrived in Illinois by the early 1840s. Barbara and Samuel Rickel made the move to Sangamon County in 1839, residing in Springfield for several years in the same county as their Smith relatives and then moving on to Galena, Illinois (hometown of Ulysses S. Grant).

It must have been while they were in Springfield that the extended family came into contact with Abraham Lincoln. Henry Rickel related the story of his parents’ involvement with Lincoln in a case to recover money as reported in the 6 Feb. 1909 edition of the "Cedar Rapids Gazette." This is noted in the book "Honest Abe: A Study in Integrity Based on the early Life of Abraham Lincoln" by Alonzo and John Rothschild:

"My father (Samuel Rickel) had a claim against a man of the name of Townsend, to the amount of fifteen hundred dollars or more; and he learned one day that he was about to leave the county, and had a drove of cattle, and was on the way to Oregon. My father went to Mr. Lincoln, secured an attachment, Mr. Lincoln furnishing the bond, and there was a vigorous contest of the matter. I remember the evening after the trial my father came home, and my mother (Barbara Smith) asked him how it came out. His reply was: 'I came out ahead of course because I had Abe for my lawyer.'

"My mother seemed to have a pretty poor opinion of lawyers in general, and she said: 'I suppose the lawyers will take most of it.'

"My father replied, 'Why, mother, what do you suppose Abe charged me?'

"She mentioned a very large sum. My father said: 'You are greatly mistaken. He said to me,
"Mr. Rickel, I will only charge you twenty-five, and if you think that is too much, I will make it less."'"

Henry Rickel’s recollections about his parents and Lincoln are all the more significant since he became a leading lawyer in West Union, mayor of the city, and state legislator representing the county, and there is also the possibility he was following in the legal footsteps of his grandfather Henry (see below).

The main story of what we know of Henry F. Smith begins in 1848 when he became one of the early pioneers in Fayette County, Iowa according to "A History of Fayette County" (pg. 487). It is possible that Henry received land in Iowa as a bounty for his service in the War of 1812 since these grants became available at this time (as noted above for James Sparks and others). He arrived early in the area of what would later become West Union, Iowa where he built a cabin in the southwest corner of section 9 of the recently surveyed area.

At this early date the locale was called “Knob Prairie” and the text also identifies two of his sons, Henry junior and Jacob F. who were with him and stayed through the winter of 1848-9. The sons made themselves useful in emergency involving their neighbor Lorenzo Dutton by tracking down some lost oxen that had wandered off for a week in a historically heavy snow storm in November. Dutton had tried to do it himself and had barely made it back to his cabin alive while suffering from frost bite to his feet and hands, and so the Smith boys pitched in to help their neighbor in his time of need.

One might ask what led Henry F. Smith to head west circa age 56 and settle in a new land where people were sparse, bears still roamed the countryside, and the few dwellings that had been erected were simple log cabins. But looking back over the decades to 1830, it is clear Henry moved his family repeatedly as the frontier moved west and new opportunities for land became available. Now in 1848 Iowa was the new frontier, and in their region there was no court house, no jail, no schools, no county officials, probably no bridges, and no laid out roads. It was not until 2 Oct. 1849 that the first white child was born in the area that was later to be called West Union township. The county had not yet been organized since the region had been part of the Winnebago Reservation until 1848, so it was wide open for growth as farmers from Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and other parts headed west. It is likely Henry came for the opportunities (possibly enhanced by a military bounty for land as noted earlier), and either brought his wife and younger children along, or they arrived soon after since by the 1850 census some of the family were living in Henry’s household. At the time there were just about 290 white families in Fayette County, one family to every 8-9 square miles. Only 6000 acres of the 83,000 acres in the county were being farmed in 1850.

The household included Henry himself (now age 58, a farmer born in Pennsylvania with $100 {?} in property), his wife Nancy Smith (age 54 and born in Pennsylvania), Jacob (22, a farmer b. in PA. with $400 in property), Joshua (17, a farmer born in Ohio), and Samuel (15, b. in Ohio). Perhaps the first in the Rickel family to arrive was Barbara’s daughter Sophronia who must have made the move with her grandfather Henry as she is also listed in his household for the 1850 census (age 11, b. in Oh., mistakenly identified as a Smith, but corrected to Rickel in other sources). Phroney later married Amos White of West Union in 1856, and the 1860 census for West Union shows that Henry Smith’s other Rickel grandchildren through Barbara were Elizabeth (married Newell S. Fisk from Wolf Creek, Wisconsin), Esther, Alice, and Emma. The Rickels had first arrived in Boardman Township, Clayton Co, Iowa where Samuel is listed in the census with the family (including Sophronia who must have been included as a family member although she was with her grandfather Henry in Fayette Co.).

Henry junior, who was present in Iowa for the winter of 1848-9, is absent from his father’s 1850 census and for good reason. It seems young Henry had accompanied his father for the move west, but once this part of the family was settled in Iowa, he left, perhaps following the winter of 1848-9, to join his older adult siblings living together on a farm near Mechanicsburg, Sangamon County, Illinois. This could have been the family property before their parents left with the younger siblings for Iowa, and these older adult brothers apparently stayed behind to keep the farm running until the family was established further west. The oldest sibling present and named as the head of the household is N.C. Smith (Nathaniel C, b. ca. 1821 in PA.) with his wife Nancy Davidson (b. ca. 1827 Ohio. – they had married 11 August 1844 in Menard Co., Illinois). Next on the list is a young woman, 15 year old Margaret Davidson, Nancy’s sibling who is now living with her sister and in-laws. Following her are Henry Smith who had returned from Iowa (listed as age 23 and born in Ohio), and my direct ancestor Josiah Smith (age 27, b. in PA). The household is rounded out with Wm. Jack (age 60, and born in Kentucky). His presence is unclear, but perhaps he is a maternal relative.

Back out in Iowa in the area that had yet to be named Fayette County, Henry senior became a leader for the tiny but growing population which needed people who would step forward to help establish the community. The county history reports he attempted early on to bring civilization to the area: “The first religious meeting was held in 1849, at the house of Henry F. Smith, Esq., which stood near the present site of George N. Rosier's barn. Rev. John Hinman was the clergyman, but the precise date is lost… The first church was built by the Methodist society in 1853, on Lot 15, Block 19, in West Union.”

There is a story told about these religious meetings at Henry’s home. According to "Stories of Early Fayette County History," the situation called for people to be flexible in their method of attending the services as noted in the anecdote “The Iliff Family Goes to Church”:

"The pioneers liked to go to church very much. They did not go to show their new spring bonnets, but desired to worship God earnestly and sincerely.

"One fine day in September, 1849, Mr. Benjamin Iliff decided he would go to West Union and attend church which was being held in Mr. Smith's cabin. Since Mr. Iliff did not think it safe to leave his wife and two small children at home alone, with the nearest neighbor four miles away, he took them with him in his wagon drawn by two strong oxen. The oxen were slow and Mr. Iliff knew it would be a long time before they would be back to care for his horses, milk his cows, and feed the young cattle, so he decided to take all his stock with him. He hitched the oxen to the wagon in which he placed his family on some nice clean straw. Then he tied his horse, Old Nance, to the wagon and away they went with all the cows and young cattle following. While the family enjoyed the church services, the stock ate the abundant prairie grass; then, when church was over, Mr. Iliff milked his cows, and returned home with his family and stock."

Perhaps it was Henry’s mature years that gave him the wisdom and/or the respect of his neighbors that brought him the title “esquire,” but this term applied to Henry is significant since it typically is used for a lawyer. Was Henry a lawyer?

One indication of this is an early action by Henry which demonstrates he was interested in careful behavior after a death which suggests an interest in law and perhaps a lawyer’s background. The county history reports an incident soon after he arrived when in June of 1849 there was a local tragedy:
"They (several local men) were fishing with a seine or net, it seems, and after setting it the next morning, it was suggested that one of the party should go up stream and beat down with a pole to drive the fish into the net. One after another declined to go because they could not swim, until young (William) Rosier said he would go - he could swim. He went, they said, and in wading down stream stepped into a hole, sunk and never rose. They threw a rail toward him, but he did not rise. Instead of making an effort to get him out, his companions started off to find a man to help, and it was some time before his body was recovered, which was done by dragging with the seine. They put his body in his wagon and drove home to his cabin, but Henry Smith followed, had the body brought back to his house (as they said they were intending to dig a hole near his cabin and bury him there), where he received a decent burial."
One might read more in Henry’s motives to become involved in this situation since it is likely he was quietly investigating the circumstances of the man’s death because the story raised some questions. He did not allow the supposed witnesses to bury the body but had the body brought to a place where it could be examined in preparation for the formal burial. Indeed, a major motive for a murder soon was presented by the deceased man’s brother, George Rosier, who said that William had saved several hundred dollars in gold and silver which he might have carried in a money belt, and the money was missing after his death. One of the alleged witnesses by the name of Ryan was seen that fall wearing a money belt filled with gold and silver. Speculation in the community about what happened created three possible scenarios. Rosier could have been wearing the belt when he drowned as it pulled him under, and after the body was recovered, the belt was removed by one or all of those present. Secondly, he could have been murdered for the money and it was made to look like an accident. Thirdly, and this was what most believed, after he died someone of the group of witnesses such as Ryan saw an opportunity to enter William’s cabin and removed the money which was known to be there. When the cabin was later torn down, a hiding place was found between the logs, but there was nothing inside the chamber. In any case, no one was brought to trial. Henry, however, was soon given several positions of responsibility for the new county, perhaps for the leadership he showed here as well as in other civic actions, and indeed, perhaps for his legal training.

The three community roles we know he accepted came as the county was being organized. The first occurred in the summer of 1850. According to the county history, on 26 August 1850 at the first recorded meeting of the county supervisors, their region was divided into four road districts, and Henry F. Smith was named as supervisor of District 1 for the NE quarter of the county centered on West Union. Creation of a road system for the county was important for its growth, and thus it was on the agenda for first meeting. Henry’s second appointment, again by the supervisors, came on 8 Oct. 1850 when he was selected as one of the three election judges to oversee the first voting for the greater West Union Township. These elections were held on the third Monday in November in 1850 for all the townships in the county with enough population to organize.

Perhaps Henry’s most significant position in the community was his role as the first Justice of the Peace for the area of West Union, but it is unclear if he was appointed or elected. The office of Justice of the Peace has a long history, going back in English law to Richard I in 1195. In modern times such officials were typically appointed or elected from the citizens of the jurisdiction in which they served, and were usually not required to have a formal legal education in order to qualify for the office which typically presided over a court that hears misdemeanor cases, minor civil actions, and other petty criminal infractions. The Justice of the Peace could perform civil marriages and may also have authority over cases involving small debts, landlord and tenant disputes, or other small claims court proceedings. The county history notes such a case came early for Henry:
"The first law suit (in West Union) was before Henry F. Smith, Justice of the Peace, in 1851. George Stansbury had sold some dressed hogs to Daniel Cook. Cook, in turn, had sold one-half of one of them to M. V. Burdick, who had discovered a suspicious spot on the neck of the dead animal, and returned it to Cook as being "diseased meat." Cook wanted Stansbury to take it back; but he refused, stoutly alleging that the meat was good. Cook thereupon commenced suit, which was duly tried before Justice Smith, and created considerable excitement in the little hamlet. The Justice decided that there was "no cause of action." It was afterwards discovered that the hog had been killed by a gun shot, and the suspicious spot that had caused this trouble was occasioned by the bullet, which lodged in the neck of the animal.

It is tantalizing to think that Henry was appointed as Justice of the Peace because he was a lawyer, and the wording of his ruling uses judicial language. If he was an attorney, this is especially significant since the family had their connection of the farm in Sangamon County, Illinois which was the center of Abraham Lincoln’s law practice. If Henry practiced law in Sangamon, he must have known or heard of Lincoln. The only record of Lincoln with a Henry Smith concerns a man of this name from Macon County, Illinois for whom Lincoln acted as an attorney for his bankruptcy in March 1842. Macon is the county just to the east of Sangamon, so there is a geographic connection but no direct link yet found other than the case involving Samuel and Barbara Rickel. However, if Henry was a lawyer, one might ask why his son-in law Samuel did not use his father-in-law to represent him in the case noted above. Also, Barbara’s low opinion of lawyers does not seem to fit with her apparent respect for her father (she named a son Henry and also trusted her daughter to her father’s care in Iowa in 1850). The answer to these questions might be that Henry was not available to represent his son-in-law, and Barbara’s attitude could even be a reflection of her father’s attitude since Henry himself could have had a low opinion of members of his profession. The evidence to date is inconclusive for Henry being a lawyer.

With Henry senior established in Fayette, soon his older sons left Illinois and joined their father with the rest of the family in Iowa. In the state census for 1852 the entire family is living side by side in West Union in four homes. There is H.F. Smith, aka Henry senior, with a total of 3 males and 2 females in the home. The four others with him would be wife Nancy, granddaughter Phrony, and the two youngest sons Joshua and Samuel. The very next household is that of Josiah with 1 male (himself) and 2 females who are his wife Matilda and infant daughter Emma. The third dwelling is that of Henry junior with 1 male and 2 females who are his wife Margarite Kimes (married 12 Feb. 1851 in Sangamon County) and daughter Edmonia born in 1851 back in Illinois. The fourth home in the group is that of Nathaniel C. with 3 males and two females. These include his wife Nancy, sister-in-law Margaret Davidson, and son Franklin. The third male is not clear, but it would not be Jacob F., about age 24, since there is only one adult male present. A teenage A.E. Smith appears in the Smith family’s 1850 census, which might be he. Jacob F. is likely to have set up his own household somewhere. Each of the four heads of households is listed as having one voter present (the adult male), and three of the four, excluding Henry senior, are each noted as having one militia age male in the home. At 60 Henry was beyond the age for militia service. It is this grouping together that confirms the family relationship of father and sons.

The next we learn of Henry and family is the 1854 Iowa census which seems to miss several of the family. The home of Henry senior is now just himself and one female. Since he is remarried by 1856, it is likely Nancy died by this time, and the female could be his granddaughter Phrony, now about age 15, and they are still listed as living in West Union. Both Joshua, age 21, and Samuel age 19 are elsewhere. The household of Nathaniel (C.) is also in the town as well with 2 males and 2 females. This is probably the same four people as his 1852 census minus a male who perhaps became an adult and moved out. The homes of Henry junior and Josiah seem to have been missed. However, there is additional information for this same period. The county history notes, “At the close of 1854, Philip Herzog sold his interest in the Red Empire Cabinet and Chair Factory, on the east side of the (West Union) square, to W. T. Perry, who, with Nathaniel C. Smith, Herzog's partner, enlarged the business…. In the Fall of 1854, William Wells made a sale of lots in his addition to West Union. Dr. Fuller bought two for $90, and C. A. Newcomb two for $85. April 20, 1855, F. Dayton sold at auction sixteen lots in Block 17. Henry Smith bought one on which was a house, for $110. Twelve of the lots sold at prices ranging from $33 to $67.” It is not clear if this was Henry senior or junior, but since the text usually referred to senior with his “F.” middle initial, this is possibly the son. However, Henry senior could have bought the house as a home for his new wife.

Henry’s new wife is listed in the 1856 state census which now names everyone in the household rather than just the head of the family. Henry is noted as living in Iowa seven years which fits generally with an arrival in late 1848-9. In his home in West Union are two new people, Agnes Smith, age 41 and born in Pennsylvania, and Emma Linderman, age 15, also from PA. There is the possibility that Agnes is a child of Henry with a birth ca. 1815, but the presence of Emma Linderman in the house seems to suggest this is Agnes’ daughter from a previous marriage, and Agnes is now Mrs. Smith. In the West Union Cemetery there is a stone of a Nancy C. Smith in Block 3, Lot 12 where Henry and Agnes are buried, so this could be the grave of his earlier wife. There is a record of what happened to Nancy, but given the state of medical care in the 19th century, many people died before they reached old age, and she could have been one of these unfortunate people. Agnes’ census data includes the point that she had been in Iowa for 2 years, so it would seem Henry remarried quickly to a window who needed a husband. Young Emma’s entry shows she lived in the state but one year, which probably means her mother sent for her after she remarried. The state agriculture information for Henry’s farming activities includes the notes that he sold one hog for $8.00 and four cattle for $115.00.

The three older brothers are also found the 1856 census. N.C. Smith (Nathaniel) is in nearby Clermont Township just northeast of West Union. He has the same four people that were likely listed in 1854 census including his sister-in-law Margaret Davidson who is a good marker for identifying him with the N.C. Smith in Sangamon County back in 1850. H.C. Smith (Henry junior) is named in the Illyria Township just southeast of West Union. His family has grown since 1854 with the addition of two year old son W. H. (William Henry). Living right beside him is his older brother, my Josiah, with wife M.A, daughter E.L., and a new son, age 1, and also named W.H (William Henry). It would seem the name William Henry has a significant family connection for it to be used twice in households side by side. Of course, the use of Henry is obvious, but the William is not, and leads to speculation that it refers to some relative, perhaps the father of their mother Nancy, or the missing older brother. The census notes that all three brothers had lived in Iowa for 4 years which fits well with their having left Illinois in 1851-2. Josiah’s record also has the addition of the products his farm produced (probably requested by the state for an understanding of how the economy was progressing – see Josiah’s biography).

In addition to this census information, in 1855 there are also records of federal land sales to Henry and Josiah for tracks side by side in West Union Township. Josiah purchased a federal patent for 80 acres of virgin land, and the paperwork was filed in the Dubuque office, document number 25155. Such documents were issued by the authority of the federal executive branch, and as such they had to carry the president’s name. In this case it was signed on 15 June 1855 in the name of Franklin Pierce, but the document notes it was written for him by his assistant secretary, H. C. Baldwin. On the very same day for the same office, Henry F. Smith was issued a patent for 80 acres also in West Union, document number 26093. These two tracks of land have a common border along 40 acres. Father and son purchased in section 36 of township 94 N (the area of West Union). Josiah owned the northern half of the southeast quarter, and Henry owned the east half of the Southwest quarter. This is yet another confirmation of the close relationship of the Henry F. Smith and his family.

A late notice we have of Henry F. Smith is a negative one of a law suit against him by the county. The record of the suit is obscure, but there is the note that on Christmas Day, 1856, a county judge ordered payment of $25.00 for attorney William McClintock for services in the case of the County of Fayette vs. Henry F. Smith. Somehow Henry ran afoul of the county authorities, and one might guess, based on his earlier actions, that he sometimes took actions where he felt they were needed, and perhaps overstepped his bounds or tread on the toes of the county authorities. It is interesting to note that McClintock was the defense attorney in the first case Henry presided over in 1851 as Justice of the Peace concerning the shot pig, and he had ruled in favor of McClintock’s client who was shown to have no knowledge of the gunshot wound.

Whatever the problem was with the county, Henry was still living in the town of West Union for the 1860 census. He was a farmer of 68 years and had a tidy sum in property valued at $2,250 and personal property amounting to $300. Agnes, now age 45, is with him as well as Emma Linderman who is 18 but still in school, and all three are listed as born in Pennsylvania. And William McClintock, the lawyer who had been paid for representing the county case against Henry, is a neighbor living thirteen households from him. For others in the family, Henry junior has left the county and become a merchant in Liberty Township, Jefferson County, Iowa. He is listed as age 32 and born in Ohio. His family still includes Margaret, Edmonia and William (H), and now has the addition of Elizabeth, age 4. Our Josiah, however, is still in Fayette to the east of West Union in the community of Pleasant Valley. The whereabouts of the other family members is unclear, but it seems they too left for opportunities elsewhere as the west continued to open for settlers.

A search of Iowa death records reveals the end of Henry’s life. He died on 30 Oct 1863 and was buried in the West Union Cemetery. This came when Josiah, his closet son in the area, was away in the Civil War (see his biography). He was 72 years of age at the time of his passing, which in the 19th century was far beyond the 50 year life expectancy. The 1870 census record shows his widow Agnes Smith living alone in West Union. She was then 56 and her real estate was valued at $600 while her personal property was worth $100. The value of her husband’s estate had been reduced since some must have gone in a will to his children. Our Josiah sold two pieces of property in West Union in 1868 and 1870, and these might be from land he inherited. It would seem also that Agnes’s daughter Emma had married by this time since her whereabouts are not clear. Perhaps only Josiah’s family was left in the northeast section of Fayette County where they had begun as pioneers. But Henry’s life was not forgotten since, as note above, in 1898 his enlistment in the War of 1812 was still remembered on the front page of the West Union Gazette. And in the 1930s when the Works Public Administration took on the task of a Graves Registration Survey across the county, Henry’s gave was listed (mistakenly in lot 13) of the West Union Cemetery, and this last official notice of is life provides his age of 72 at the time of his death, and from this we can determine he was born in ca. 1791.


Fayette Biographies maintained by Constance Diamond.
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