Saturday, June 27, 2015

William Edgar Smith, son of Elias William Smith

William Edgar Smith, son of Elias William Smith, born April 1, 1874, at Ceralvo, Kentucky; died February 16, 1943, in a hospital in Evansville, Indiana, where he was taken after an accidental injury sustained on his farm; buried at Repton Cemetery, Crittenden County, Kentucky.  He attended Hartford College, at Hartford, Kentucky, and taught school in Ohio County.  On March 17, 1898, he married Ella Tilford, daughter of John Sylvester Tilford and Elizabeth A. (Woods) Tilford, in Rockport, Kentucky.  Ella Tilford was born February 7, 1875, at Ceralvo; died June 5, 1955, and is buried at Repton.  She taught school for a short time before her marriage.
William Edgar Smith and Ella Tilford
on their wedding day, March 17, 1898

William Edgar and Ella (Tilford) Smith's children were all born in Crittenden County, Kentucky, near a little village named Repton (five miles north of Marion, the county seat), and in 1972 all except one were living.  They are:

In 1899, Edgar and Ella left their families in Ohio County and moved to Repton (near Marion), which was the great distance of one hundred miles away.  (In Green's History of the English People a town in England by the name of Repton is mentioned.)  What prompted this move to Crittenden County?  Edgar's uncle, John Kimbley Smith, had bought land near Repton and needed someone to help cultivate it.  Later Edgar became owner of two farms.  He and his family lived on what was then known as the Robert Nunn farm, five miles north of Marion on U. S. 60.  The farm is now owned by his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. Collie Ray and Mrs. Ada Margaret (Smith) Brown.  On that farm, in the middle of a field, were two hickory trees that grew side by side, with trunks that touched at the base, and towered skyward.  In the summer they provided shade for the livestock and in the fall an abundance of large nuts that we children hurried home from school to gather.  The trees are now gone, time and the elements having taken their toll.

Edgar Smith was approximately six feet tall; had black hair and blue eyes and was muscular but slender of build.  He was one of the most progressive farmers in the area; he introduced hybrid corn and was the first to try some other crops.  He was a Republican; a Master Mason; and was active in community affairs.  He possessed a fine bass voice, and as far back as I can remember always attended one of the churches in the neighborhood on Sunday morning and sang in the choir.  He did not become affiliated with a church until his later life, then joined the Rosebud Methodist Church, which was the Methodist church closest to home.
In 1956, Dr. Allen Foster, head of the English Department of Ohio University at Athens, Ohio, wrote to Ada Margaret Smith Brown, Edgar Smith's daughter, after having talked briefly with her on a trip to Kentucky.  Dr. Foster had been one of the neighborhood boys and his father, Joseph Foster, had been a close friend of Edgar Smith.  Excerpts from the letter are quoted below:

Edgar Smith's home in Repton, Kentucky
"Seeing you brought up memories of your father [William Edgar Smith]  who was like a good uncle to me.  Not only his great regard for my father, but he was the chairman of my first Board of Trustees when I taught at Post Oak School and befriended me on many occasions.  Of course I remember him most in the hayfields and wheat threshings and church choirs, for we were always there together.  He loved to sing and he loved the friendship of the country choirs.  A kinder hearted man never lived than your father.

“You will pardon me if I say that both Mr. Edgar (William Edgar Smith) and Uncle Johnny [John Kimbley Smith--his wife, George Annie Caldwell, was Dr. Foster's aunt; he was Edgar's uncle], besides having a good mind, could be powerfully moved at times and gave vent to it.  I knew your father in his saw-logging days and what he could say to a horse that balked would make quite a catalogue, and I have known Uncle Johnny, when Aunt Annie served him a cup of coffee that burnt his tongue, to throw cup, saucer, coffee and all smash against the wall.  That was before he got sick.  A more patient man I have never seen than he was in that year of dying.  And your father could be the most tolerant and patient of men, too.  Beat of all he had a fine sense of humor and could always see the humorous side of a situation."

Ella (Tilford) Smith was perpetually young of heart.  Her home was always open to young people and she became their friend; many a freezer of ice cream was made on Sunday afternoon and many a square dance held on Saturday night, although they were called "play parties" as the connotation of the word "dance" was offensive to the narrow views of local churches.  Instead of music provided by instruments, a “caller" sang the words to the tunes and called the dance sets.  Thus a fine distinction was bridged. (Our father was usually the caller.)

Ella Smith had an innate fineness and dignity.  Always, she thought of the comfort of others and sometimes refrained from expressing an opinion if hers disagreed with that held by another.

Often, guests came home with us from church service for Sunday dinner.  Preparations on the day preceding would have been cake and pie baking, the gathering from the garden of fresh vegetables, and the killing and dressing of fowl if they were to be the meat of the day.  After everyone was amply fed, the remaining food was put away and the dishes washed, then there would be a gathering under shade trees in the front yard. Discussions would ensue on subjects of mutual interest: The crops, the weather, community affairs, international affairs, religion and individual interpretations of the Bible, etc.  Later in the day, the ice cream freezer would be put into use and many hands would be employed in cranking it until the ice cream was so hard the crank would turn no more. When everyone had had his "fill" of this delicious refreshment, the guests would depart.  On those occasions, I recall that my mother laughed a lot for she, and my father, too, thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant association of friends and neighbors and the mental stimulation these exchanges afforded.

Ella was of medium stature, of fair complexion with blue eyes and dark brown hair. She took good care of her hair and when she died just past eighty, it was white only at the temples.  She had been a “city" girl until her marriage, so she had much to learn about country living.  But learn she did.  With a family that later grew to six children, almost every hour of every day was filled for she did her own housework, laundry, ironing, cooking, sewing, gardening (flower and vegetable), canning of foodstuff, preserving and making jellies, and a multitude of other duties.  At that period of time, farm households were not blessed with refrigeration, electricity, or packaged food.  Each child had his assigned duties and, thus, was taught responsibility.  They learned to work and not one of them has ever unlearned the art.

In addition to caring for her own family, Ella attended to some of the needs of a few families in the neighborhood who seemingly could not always provide for themselves.  She also aided some elderly relatives who required assistance.

Ella Tilford Smith remained physically and mentally active until the last few years of her life.  She was deeply religious but this was a very personal matter.

Our parents gave us a good life as we grew to adulthood; we didn't realize how good it was until we had left home for schooling and employment.

All of the children of Edgar and Ella Smith feel they are fortunate to be active and in as good health as they are, considering the nature of some of their illnesses.  Their periodic family reunions, always at the "home place," are well attended by them, their children, children-in-law, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.  They are, indeed, a fortunate family.

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