Biography - George W. Smith

GEORGE WASHINGTON SMITH, A. M., dean of men and head of the Department of History and Civics in the Southern Illinois State Normal University, and author of the History of Southern Illnois as published in this work, is a native Illinoisan. He was born near Greenfield, Greene county, November 13, 1855.

Daniel Smith, a Virginian, of Patrick county, was born about 1740. He was the oldest of these brothers, namely: Daniel, John, Peter and Flemon. These brothers were all engaged in the battle of Cowpens, fought January 17, 1781.

During the earlier years of the Revolutionary war Daniel married Miss Reeves and from this marriage there were six children, as follows: Charles, Mollie, Peter, Elizabeth, James and John M. The last named son, John, was the grandfather of Prof. Smith. John M. Smith was born in Henry county, Virginia, April 23, 1781. He married Rachel Packwood in Patrick county, Virginia, about the year 1800, or 1802. The Packwoods were a numerous people in Virginia and helped to subdue the savages and the wilderness. Rachel Packwood's grandfather was captured by the Indians on Greenbrier river, a branch of the Great Kanawha, in 1710, taken to Chillicothe, Ohio, and there burned at the stake by the Chillicothe Indians in the presence of relatives and neighbors.

From the marriage of John M. Smith and Rachel Packwood there were born twelve children - Nancy, Samuel, Daniel, Stephen, Edith, Larkin, Elizabeth, Rachel, Exoney, Polly, Lucy and John.

Stephen Smith, the fourth child of John M. Smith, was the father of Prof. Smith. He was born in Patrick county, Virginia, May 23, 1809. When about two years old his parents moved to Cumberland county, Kentucky, and settled on Mud Camp creek, a tributary of the Cumberland river. Here Stephen grew to manhood. He worked much in the timber and in the building of flat-boats. He was an expert axeman and skilled in boat building. He made several trips to New Orleans with flat-boats between 1828 and 1838. The 13th of September, 1836, he married Sallie Martin Pace, a young lady who lived in the valley of the Marrowbone creek, at the mouth of which lay the county seat town of Burkesville.

Sallie M. Pace represented a family name which had been common in Virginia since the days of the Indian massacre of 1622. She was born February 22, 1816. Her grandfather, Captain John Pace, was born in Henry county, Virginia, May 28, 1751, and died August 20, 1825. He was a captain in the Revolutionary war. His son, John Pace, was born January 1, 1787, and died October 11, 1823. He was the father of Sallie Martin Pace, the mother of Prof. Smith. John Pace married Nancy Alexander who was born March 13, 1793, and died September 9, 1844, and from this marriage there were born eight children Milly, Lucy, Greenville, Sally, Frances, Robert, Julia and Elizabeth. Sally M. Pace, the fourth child, married Stephen Smith, and they became the parents of nine children: Thomas, Greenville, Nancy, Edward, James, William, John, George and Martha.

The Alexanders were prominent people in Virginia. They were of Scotch descent and belonged to the "Campbell Clan." John Alexander married Maryart Gleason in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1735. They came to Nottingham, Chester county, Pennsylvania, and from there to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and hence to Berkley county, Virginia. Two nephews of John Alexander moved to Mecklenberg county, N. C., and they and their descendants took part in the Mecklenberg Declaration of Independence, in May, 1775, five Alexanders signing that document.

Captain John Alexander was born in Berkley county, Virginia, in 1741, and moved to Kentucky in 1805. His oldest child, Thomas, married Mollie Ramey, and their daughter, Nancy, married John Pace, the son of Captain John Pace.

Stephen Smith and his wife and two children moved from Cumberland county, Kentucky, and settled nine miles east of White Hall in Greene county, Illinois, in the year 1840. The homestead was seven miles north and some west of Greenfield. Here they lived a full half century and reared a large and respectable family of nine children. The oldest, Thomas Alexander, grew up to the occupation of farming. He taught school and at the breaking out of the Civil war enlisted in Company D, 32d regiment, Illinois infantry, whose colonel was Dr. John Logan of Carlinville, Illinois, a cousin of Gen. John A. Logan. He became first lieutenant and acting captain. He resigned when Sherman started to the sea. He is now living near Willows, Glenn county, California. Greenville T., second son, was a sergeant in Company D, 32nd regiment, Illinois infantry. He marched with Sherman to the sea and in the Grand Review in Washington. He died in 1877 of disease contracted in the army. Nancy Jane married James Sanders, a musician, in the above company and regiment. She lives in Beatrice, Nebraska. Edward Bonaparte served in Company C, 133d regiment, Illinois infantry. He lives in White Hall, Illinois. James Turner is a retired farmer living in Greenfield, Illinois. William Fountain is a business man of Roodhouse, Illinois. John Clayton is a traveling salesman; he lives at "Willows, California. George Washington is head of the department of History and Civics in the State Normal University, Carbondale. Martha Belle married Thomas Ashburn; she lives in Decatur, Illinois.

George was a lad of seven or eight when the war was in progress. He was deeply interested in the outcome of the conflict, and remembers the presence of soldiers in the neighborhood sent by the authorities to arrest deserters and rebel sympathizers. He attended the country schools and has a very warm place in his memory for his teachers, among whom he recalls Miss Winnie Season, Miss Sarah Mason, Captain John Parks and Esquire Richard Short. The school house was on the corner of his father's farm and was therefore easy of access.

In the fall of 1874 he entered Blackburn University, Carlinville, Illinois, where he pursued advanced studies for one year when he was obliged to sever his connection with the school and devote himself to teaching. After teaching for a couple of years he returned to college, but was obliged to return to teaching, after another year in college. But his love of study kept him at work, and within a few years he was able to pass successfully the state examination for life certificate. Prof. Smith is very proud of this certificate of professional attainment, more particularly since it was issued by the Hon. Henry Raab.

Prof. Smith had now taught in several of the best rural schools in the county, and in the fall of 1883 he was called to the principalship of the White Hall High School. At the end of this year he was elected to the superintendency of the Perry Pike county schools. Before taking up his new duties in Perry he was married to Miss Nellie Adams, a popular teacher of White Hall.

Miss Nellie Adams was a direct descendant of Gov. William Bradford of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Governor Bradford's son by his second wife was Major Wm. Bradford, whose third son, Thomas, married Anne Fitch, daughter of the Rev. James Fitch of Norwich, Connecticut. Major Bradford's son was Lieutenant James Bradford. His daughter, Sarah Bradford, married Joseph Adams of Canterbury, Connecticut. From this marriage came James Adams who married Jerusha Knight. They had two sons, James Adams and Elisha Adams. Elisha Adams married Clarisa Cook. From this union there were thirteen children. On January 27, 1809, there was born to this marriage twin sons, Edward and Edwin Ruthven Adams. Edwin married Ellen Parsons of Chardon, Ohio. The Parsons were a numerous family in northeastern Ohio. Nellie Adams was therefore the ninth generation removed from Governor Bradford of Plymouth. The Adamses lived in Canterbury, Connecticut; later in Landaff, New Hampshire, and still later at Rutland, Vermont. From the latter place Edwin and his wife came to White Hall, Greene county, in 1856, where Nellie Adams was born, August 7, 1862.

The year's work in Perry was very successful and Prof. Smith was retained at an increase in salary, but on July 24, 1885, Mrs. Smith died, leaving a son, Clyde Leon.

Prof. Smith did not return to Perry. He resigned the work there and taught in White Hall the coming year. In the spring of 1886 he was elected, superintendent of the city schools of White Hall, which position he held four years. During the six years he was in the White Hall schools he was closely associated with Prof. David Felmley, superintendent of the Carrollton schools, and with county superintendent of schools, Mr. Win. J. Roberts, and he feels greatly indebted to these men for sympathy and encouragement in his work.

In 1890 Prof. Smith was elected to the position of training teacher in the Southern Illinois State Normal University at Carbondale. On June 16, 1888, he was married to Miss Nettie Caroline Adams, a sister to his former wife. In the fall of 1890 they took up their work in the Normal where for twenty-two years Prof. Smith has been a valuable member of the faculty. He held the position of training teacher for seven years and was then transferred to the Department of History and Geography. Later the work in Geography was given to Prof. F. H. Colyer who had been associated in the work with Prof. Smith.

In 1894 Prof. Smith arranged the topics for the Course of Study for the schools of Illinois. Later he published Notes on United States History to accompany the course of study. In 1906 he published the first text on Illinois History, a work of unusual merit. Prof. Smith has been a director in the State Historical Society for the past ten years and has contributed to the work of that organization.

No person has done more for the community in which he has lived. He has always been found in the front ranks of all movements looking toward a better community life. He has been an elder in the Christian church for nearly twenty years; has been superintendent of the Bible School, assisted with the music, and in other ways contributed to the on-going of the work. For fifteen years he was a director in the local building and Loan Association, and for the past nine years he has served on the city Board of Education. Within this period the schools have made great progress. Salaries have been nearly doubled, the number of teachers increased, and new buildings erected. Domestic science, manual training, music and art have been placed in the curriculum.

Prof. Smith has done a valuable work in the county institutes. He finds time to do a few weeks' work each year and his work is always appreciated.

At the last meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Normal University Prof. Smith was made "Dean of Men," a position of honor and responsibility. He has been secretary of the faculty for the past seventeen years. He is greatly esteemed by faculty and students.

Prof, and Mrs. Smith have three children: Helen Christine, Eugene Russell and Frances Adams. Helen has just finished the course in the Normal. Russell is a student in the Tennessee Military Institute at Sweetwater, Tenn., while Frances is in the fourth grade in the Training School of the Normal. Clyde, the oldest son, married Miss Mary Powers of Owensboro, Kentucky, and is a prominent young business man in Carbondale.

Prof. Smith is in the prime of life and looks forward to many years of useful service to his family and to the world in which he lives.

Extracted 05 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George Washington Smith, volume 3, pages 1714-1717

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