|Claude Everly Smith|
Claude Everly Smith, son of Elias William Smith, was born February 9, 1876, at Ceralvo, Kentucky.
Ceralvo was laid out on March 10, 1851, on the banks of the beautiful Green River. In 1870, it was a thriving little town with two general stores, a blacksmith shop, a boot and shoe maker, three tobacco warehouses where tobacco was bought and sold, two doctors, a post office, a church and a school. Freight and supplies were brought to Ceralvo by steamboat and transferred by wagon and teams to
, Centertown, and other parts of Hartford .
In dry weather the dirt roads were dusty,
when it rained they were muddy, and in the winter months they were almost
impassable. The ferry across Ohio County Green River at Ceralvo transported people and vehicles
from the side of the river
to the Muhlenberg
County side. Ohio County
Some of Claude Smith's biographies refer to him as "of humble birth." By today's standards it would indeed have been so, but the home of his parents was no more "humble" than were other homes in the community. Most of the citizens were farmers. Claude's father owned his home and the land upon which he lived and raised his large family of children. Homes in that era were without electricity, running water, and refrigeration. It was before the advent of the railroad, and the automobile, telephone, radio, TV, and aeroplane were yet to be invented.
Ceralvo eventually died when new modes of transportation came into use and became widespread, and when educational and employment opportunities in the cities called to its young people. After attending the homecoming at Ceralvo on
August 31, 1958, Claude Smith wrote to his niece Pearl
Smith as follows:
"The town to which I resorted during my youth and young manhood with extreme pleasure is gone and instead there has risen a wilderness, but the tragedy of it you could not realize, for you never knew Ceralvo the home and pride of your father and mother. The school house where I first attended school and last, when I was practically grown, attended a school of select pupils, which is now a church, is the only thing about Ceralvo that remains as it was. ...The cemetery is changed but is so well kept that one can take pride in having known it so long. I located the graves of Grandfather and Grandmother Baker (Andrew W. and Polina F.) ...All in all, it was a rather sad day for me."
Claude Smith's early education was received in a one-room school house. Of it, 75 years later, he said, "The schools today think they are quite progressive, but I was studying physiology, trigonometry, and surveying in primary school in 1894." After the one-room school, he attended special classes at the college level conducted by a university graduate. He began teaching at age 18. There were no degree requirements for teachers, but in order to get a license he was required to take an exam before the
. He became a “traveling schoolmaster,”
teaching for five months in each of seven one-room schools. County Examiner
In 1903, he gave up teaching to become a manager and editor of the Hartford Republican (later The Ohio County News).
He read law while engaged in teaching and later in the office of M. L. Heavrin. He was admitted to the bar in 1898 in
where some years later he began the practice of law. In 1909, Claude Smith was elected
County Attorney and served in that capacity until 1915, when he was elected
Commonwealth Attorney for the counties of Ohio, Daviess, McLean, and Hancock. During his term as Commonwealth Attorney, a
term that extended to 1922, he was instrumental in prosecuting and bringing to
an end the activities of a group known as “possum hunters.” (See Exhibit G) Hartford
Some time during the 1960’s, Mr. Smith’s fellow lawyers in Owansboro gave a luncheon (or dinner) to honor him, their “nestor.” In his response to the honor paid him, he said, in part, regarding the “possum hunters”:
“Soon after these bands of marauders began their nefarious operations, the victims of the onslaughts came to counsel with me to devise ways of apprehending the participants and to prosecute them. Our first step was to establish their identity, as they were either disguised, unknown or not identifiable by the victims in the darkness of the night when the raids were perpetuated. Our investigation soon resulted in a witness whose evidence was sufficient to submit to the Grand Jury. This was done in June 1915 and indictments were returned accusing the marauders of confederating and banding themselves together for the purpose of intimidating, alarming, injuring and disturbing another person.
“Not long after the indictments were returned, those indicated had the word passed on to me that if I did not ‘let up’ they would ‘get me.’ I told their emissaries that I was certain they would not accost me in the daytime and if they came at night I would be ready for them; that if they came after I had retired, I would have a double-barrel shotgun standing against the wall by the side of my bed and a Colt automatic pistol under my pillow. They never molested me.”
At the outset of his law career, Claude Smith pursued the profession alone but in 1912 became associated with W. H. Barnes. He moved to
in 1924, but
they also maintained an office in Owensboro . “The firm of Barnes and Smith was in 1928 one
of the strongest legal combinations in Hartford
and established a large and desirable clientele. Mr. Smith has a comprehensive knowledge of
the principles of jurisprudence. ...Mr. Smith was chairman of the Red Cross
committee in Owensboro
during the World War (I) and did much to promote the success of the organization. He is a consistent member of the Methodist
Episcopal Church and is a republican in his political convictions. He is a Mason...and a member of the Owensboro
Lodge, No. 144, B. P. O. E. He finds diversion in hunting and fishing. Mr. Smith is highly esteemed by his
professional colleagues and has demonstrated his public spirit by actual
Claude E. Smith was married on
November 3, 1903, to Jessie
B. Tatum, who was born February 11, 1884, the daughter of Dr.
V. O. and Mattie
(Tichenor) Tatum. Jessie died on March 10, 1910, and is buried in at Oakwood Cemetery . Hartford, Kentucky
Claude E. Smith was married on
Their only child was Martha Mary Smith.
In 1912, he married Sue Wright, and the marriage lasted until 1922 and ended in divorce in 1923. On
April 22, 1939, he married Sadie ( Adams) Jones, and they had been married 33 years at the time of
Claude Everly Smith 88 years old
Jesse Baker Smith II, Sadie Adams Jones Smith
Mrs. Sadie Smith died at
Wednesday, October 25, 1972,
after a short illness. Her funeral was conducted at the Glenn Funeral Home in and she was
buried in the Owensboro there. Elmwood