James Smith in Indiana and Iowa  

Snapshots of 

James Smith in Indiana and Iowa

Transcriptions of letters written by family and friends 
to James Smith from 1852-1864, along with 
the contents of assorted other items belonging to James Smith
Revised 30 Jun 2007

© 1997 Beth Johnston

First, a little about James' parents, Berryman Smith (II) and Nancy Lopp

There were many Berryman Smiths in this extended family, a tribute to their Berryman ancestors. James' father, Berryman (II), was born 16 Jan 1801, probably in Scott Co., KY, to Berryman Smith and Elizabeth Martin. James was the eldest of thirteen children born to Berryman Smith II and Nancy Lopp (sometimes erroneously entered as "Clapp"), whom he married 2 Aug 1827 in Fountain Co., IN. Among their other children was yet another Berryman, who served with the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War and lost his life in September, 1864.

Berryman (II) died 13 Feb 1849 in Fountain Co. and  left no will. His widow, Nancy (Lopp) Smith, sued their children and vice versa –– or at least their attorneys did. The exact reason for the lawsuit hasn't yet been determined, but iIt may have been a friendly court battle as at one point an attorney states the children are still living at home, and in an 1854 letter James’ sister Elizabeth tells James that " . . . Mother sends her love," but the tone of that same letter indicates Elizabeth's tension over property transactions, perhaps the result of her father's lands selling for much less than their appraised prices.

The family battle continued into the mid-1860s. Nancy won a judgment against the estate’s heirs in 1858, but she died July 16 of that year, so it wasn’t much of a victory. Following Nancy’s death, the children inherited her estate; however, the guardianships of some of the children continued into the mid-1860s, thus prolonging court proceedings.

What follows below are transcriptions of letters written to James Smith, along with transcriptions of various notes and scraps of paper he saved, and some comments from me. Generally the original spelling and punctuation are used; uncertainty is indicated by "?," and "________" indicates the words are, at least so far, undecipherable. I feel very fortunate that all this, some of which is nearly 150 years old, has survived to help give insight into this family. This is still a work in progress, and we start with James, still a bachelor,  living in Fountain Co., IN.


January 25, 1851 Covington, [Fountain Co.] IN  ––  One year after date I promise to pay Joseph Allen or order nineteen dollars and --- cents, without any relief whatever from Valuation or Appraisement Laws; for value received. to baire [bear] six per sent after thirty ninety days

 December 17 1851 –– [Received] from James Smith the [unreadable] and eighty-three cents. ?John M. Thomas & Finney
 Recd Portland 18 ?Jan 1852 of James Smith fifty five [cents] in full of postage of Scots(?) Weekley up to 1st Feb ______.

february the 28 1852

Dear Sir I feel under obligation to wright you afew lines informing you that I received your letter dated January the 25 informing me that you had attended to the matter I had written to you about and I wish to let you know that I have attended to paying the tax on your land up to this date: and the amount I have payed since you was here is $6 40 cts and I will stil try to see to that matter if so directed until I see you: I would wish to inform you and all inquiring friends that myself and little family of three children are in common health and friends in general are well and hope these few lines may find you and all the friends in good health I would like to see you all but am not situated at preasant so that I can: but would wish the friends in that section of the county if there should be enny there to come and see me: uncle asa likely has forgotten me but I have not him: but would like him to wright to me and let me know how he is getting along in this world of trials. wright enny of you that feels so to do and let me know how all are so nomore at preasant but still remain your unworthy friend
Elias Owens to James Smith
Note: In an earlier version of this page I wrote: "As of this writing I don’t know who Elias Owens is; however, I’ve found an Elias Owens in Clay County, Indiana and hope it’s the right one." In late 1999 I was contacted by Elias' great-grandson, and although we haven't yet sorted out the relationship, I now know that Elias was "the right one" and that at one time lived in Fountain Co.
    Perhaps the "business" being attended to is paying taxes on the Clay County land James inherited when his father died. The Clay County land is puzzling because so far I have found no indication that the Smiths went anywhere near Clay County, but government land records show Berryman II did buy land in Clay Co., IN (as did Elias Owens). Use of the term "Uncle Asa" suggests that Elias is related to James in some way as Asa Smith was also James’ uncle.
15 Mar 1852  ––  James buys Lot 180 in Attica from Claiborne Glover.
Note: In 1863 James’ sister Samantha Caroline Smith married George W. Glover December 20, 1863; George was the son of Claiborne (Clabe) Glover. In September, 1998, an email message arrived from Samantha's and George's gggrandaughter asking if we might have a relationship. The noise of joy in this house must have been heard throughout the whole town! It turned out that Samantha and her husband, as well as one of James' and Samantha's brothers, had moved to the Idaho/Oregon border area, not terribly far from Adams Co., WA, where James is buried.

Covington [IN] August 18th, 1852. Received for Record a Deed of Conveyance executed by Claiborn Glover in favor of James Smith dated the fifteenth day of March A.D. 1852 for the Lot No. 180 in Attica. Wm. Hoffman, Recorder Fountain Co.

Note: This Attica in Fountain County, Indiana, should not be confused with the Attica we’ll run across later in Marion County, Iowa.
2 Apr 1854  ––  James sells Lot 180 in Attica to W. W. Knapp.

12 Apr 1854  ––  B. B. LaBaw writes out an application to be guardian of Andrew and Jane Smith (two of Berryman II's and Nancy's children) but does not file it with the court. The original, written on a scrap of paper was found with the rest of James' papers and is in my files. Why B.B did not include the other minor children is a mystery. B. B. later married an Elizabeth Smith but it’s not James’ sister, Elisabeth.

 "To the Court of Common Pleas of Fountain County Indiana I hearby give my consent to serve as guardian for Andrew and Jane Smith heirs of Berryman Smith if the Court se[e] proper to appoint me. Also if the Court se[e] propper to order a sale of the real estate I will if appointed guardian consent to sell. B. B. LaBaw."
Note (1999): I now have more information from a LaBaw descendant but have not yet developed it into readable form.
12 Apr 1854 James Smith sells his 1/11 interest in S 15, T 20, R 8 and also S14, T 20, R 8 to Andrew Caffing, subject to the dower of Nancy Smith, the Widow of Berryman Smith, and subject also to a mortgage for about $75.00 to the school fund executed by Berryman Smith (exact wording elsewhere).
Note: By selling both his lot in Attica and the land inherited from his father, James now is ready to move on (and perhaps already has as he marries Rebecca Jane Mathew in July of this same year), The rest of the family stayed in Fountain County, Indiana, but we next find James in Wheeling, Marion County, Iowa.


Note: Either it was a fast courtship or the families had known each other previously, for James and Rebecca Jane Mathew were married July 4, 1854, in Marion County, IN. In September of the same year James was granted a patent for the land he had homesteaded in Marion County.
The next letter’s writer is still a mysteryto me. H. J. Ulsh married Mary E. Brewer June 14, 1860, *** in Fountain Co., Indiana. An H. J. Ulsh shows up later on Marysville, Liberty Township, Marion Co., IA tax rolls.While in Iowa in 1992 I found several Ulsh graves and a good history of the family in Marion Co.; however, there was no Henry J. Later I did find two references to him in, of all places, Clay Co., Indiana.

The Egglestons referred to in the letter are a large family who show up in the *** census. While I haven’t found Alanson specifically, I have found a family that is missing a young son from one census to the next. And the Klines—again, hard to trace. Some Clines married into the Mathew family; however, I found Kline graves in Marysville Cemetery in Marion Co., so apparently it is two separate families. The Klines, like the Ulshes, came from Pennsylvania. Note, too, that Alanson is being cared for by a Dr. Robison; is that a mispelling of Robinson or is it part of the family that married into the Gerkings?

It was interesting to me that communication had to be by letter  ––  Ely (later to become Marysville) is on the east side of the county while Wheeling is on the west.

The envelope is with this letter and reads: “Paid 3 Ely August 15 Iowa”. It then is addressed to Mr. James Smith, Wheeling, Marion County, Iowa.

 Ely Iowa August the 14th 1854
Mr. James Smith

Dear Friends I again take the oppertunity to write you a small Letter yours (dated 5 of July) came to hand about two weeks ago I was very glad to hear from you Although you did not write very much but what you did write was very good:
I have now got some very bad news to tell you it is this. Alanson Eggelston and his Father was out bee Hunting. Alanson had a gun with him they had their Bee Bate siting on an old tree top Alanson s[t]ood up on some lims and as he went to s[t]ep down a lim broke and as he sliped down he nocked the gun loose with his foot and the ball went through his left hand (as he had it laying on the muzzle of gun) and passed through his left cheek (tore his jaw bone very much) and the ball came out back of his neck——about the joint

as it happened we was thrashing and the old man came running a cross the hill like he was crasy he said Alanson had killed himself Uncle Brobst and some others went up to where he was and they found that he was alive yet they went after the doctor in a hurry Father hitched up in the Spring Wagon and we all went out and tuck him home a dreadful time it was indeed Oh; he looked miserable I could scarsly bare to look at him I though I could not touch him at first but finaly I had to help carry him a piece and after a while I did not mind it much It is awful indeed to see how he has to lay on his bed in misery from a Wound of a Gun. It all most makes a person afraid to tutch a gun——this happend last Thursday he is geting along very well indeed, much better than could be expected Robison is his Doctor

I will now let you know that we are all reasonable well at present Father is not able to work steady yet but he can do a good bit of work if he takes his time to it the rest of the folks are all well about here now excepting Ruben Kline he had the Fever this Sunday and he got over that and now he has got the ague and he is midling bad off: as soon as he gets able he calculates to start to Pennsylvania on a visit

I hope that these few lines will find you and your familly in Good Health next time you write pleas tell me how you and Jane get along and how times are there [ornament, ornament and dashes] Times in Marysville are midling dull this summer on account of the Damn going off in the Spring so that they could not save any there is only one bilding going up now that is John Howards[.] Hiram B., Ely J., K. S______, and P. Kline was a-going to bild but on account of bad luck at the mill they could not Uncle has the Damn midling well secured he put in a Frame Damn a very good one I think!

I will now let you know that we Thrashed out all our Grain we had 3.68 bushels of oats and 3.40 bushels of wheat about 1.50 bushels of it was Fall Wheat we had a seperater and it wasted a great deal of wheat If I would say 25 bushels I do not think I would say any to many the expences of thrashing was about $60.00 Wheat is worth 80 cts a bushel and Flower is worth $3.00 per hundred at the Skunk Mills;

next sabath I expect to be at Atica [Attica] Perhaps you could make it suit to be there too I shall look for you there anyway We have some very good meeting here we still keep our regular meetings I must now bring my letter to a close Pleas write as soon as this comes to hand and tele me what you are driving and wether you improve your farm any or not try and write me a good long Letter I must now close Yours

Respectfully Henry J. Ulsh

 25 Sep 1854 — Solomon Claypool applies to be the guardian of Berryman Smith heirs: Milton, David, Samantha, Andrew, Berryman, and Sarah J.

25 Sep 1854 — John Allen applies to be guardian of Berryman Smith heirs. His list is the same as Solomon’s, except for the addition of Josephine (2nd from top).

25 Sep 1854 — Solomon Claypool named guardian of Berryman’s heirs. Heirs listed are Milton S., Josephine (guess he forgot her the first time), David, Samantha, Andrew, Berryman, and Sarah J.

Note: James’ sister Elisabeth was a teacher and one of the few people who sometimes used punctuation in her letters. The paper on which this letter is written also served as the envelope (very modern). It took some doing to track down this Portland; it is not listed as a post office in either the active or discontinued lists. It did turn up, however, in the old Fountain County newspapers Grandpa James had saved; thus we know Elisabeth was still in Indiana at this point.

Portland [Fountain Co.] Ind
James Smith
Oct 24
Wheeling Iowa October 22nd 1854

Dear Brother and sister

We received your letter late last evening and I take up my pen to write to you early this morning and let you know that we are all well at this time and hope these few lines will [find] you enjoying the same blessing. I expect my letter will faill to give satisfaction as it usually does for I know nothing of importance therefore I cannot write of importance there is no new trancepiration in my knowledge since you left that is worth writing to you

I have just returned from Boon [sic] County the people was all well there I was gone there ten days I got to see the cars but they did not look new to me I saw lots of people going toward the setting sun but that did not look new to me I saw Crawfordsville crowded with people but that did not look new to me I was urgently solicited to teach a winter school about a mile from Shannondale and also wanted at Mechanicsburgh I have had four calls to teach since my school expired that I was teaching when you left, if I could get of my interest money enough to make myself comfortable I never would teach again although I done quite well in my last teaching I heard no Complaint and they wanted me to go on with another term But rejected it and retired for the rest of the summer

We have no schools in the bounds at this time and no religion. The ministers is going t[h]rough the motions of preaching without any hearers of a consequence I am informed that the christians has of their monthly meeting days a congregation of twelve I know not[h]ing of these things only from hear say for I have not made an attempt to go to church but onc since you left and then I went to prayr meeting in Mechanicsburgh in Boon County last wednesday night a week and I heard some eloquent prayrs and delightful singing it was Methodist meeting, but here is nothing but cold and dull formalities and fashionable follies [end of page 1]

 Elijah [Lang] and Catharine is well. Eliza and family is sick Plug [?] is married Uncle John Robinson [married to Berryman II’s sister Elizabeth in 1806] and family was down this summer Jesse Smith is married

I did not mean in my last that produce had failed only with us but there is a general failure all through this County Wheat is selling for $1.32 cts Corn shelled 45 cts in the ear 42 cts Oats 18 cts Beans $1.25 cts Butter 15 cts eggs 10 cts Pork is selling from $3 to 5 for know. Flour for barrel $8.50 for hundred lbs $3.15 Corn meal 50 cts Dried peaches $2 for bushel Irish potatoes $2 per bushel we dried about 20 bushels of apples this fall—

we received a letter from Uncle Hamelton Lafife recently stating that Aunt Julia died of cholera we heard that Uncle Maras McGrath is dead but we are not certain of this—

I should be glad to go west to live, I long to go to a new Country I expect to sell out as soon as I can and go I dont know where. I am glad you did not take me at my bid but you could take twenty-five dollars in the Clay County lands and not make as great a sacrifice as you have done in this Fountain County estate, I shall not make a bid of seventy five dollars. I wonder why you did not say something about getting money in your letter for we was afeared it mite not go on well. Mrs. Napp is ded No more at this time give my love to all inquiring People in particular to Jane

Yours respectfully
Elisabeth Smith
NB Mother sends her love to you both I forgot to tell you to write as soon as this hove in sight
James Smith
Rebecca Jane Smith
Notes: Mother Nancy Lopp Smith appears to be living with daughter Elisabeth at this point. The spelling of "Hamelton" is interesting because James' brother, Andrew Hamelton Smith, also used the same spelling. "Uncle Maras McGrath" probably is Morris MaGrath, who married into one of James' uncle's family.

3 Oct 1854 —  Isaac Romine and Samuel Smith, who had been appointed appraisers for the Fountain County portion of the estate give their appraisal for that land: $1781.

Ely __________ Paid 3

Mr. James Smith
Wheeling P.O.
Marion County


Ely P.O. Iowa
Nov 1th 1854
Mr. James Smith

Dear Friend and Brother
I now take the opportunity to write you a small letter. I begin by telling you that we are all well at present and our neighbors are all well as far as I know, except Father Kline He is not very well neither is he much sick but he is unwell at present I will also let you know that we had a Three Day Meeting last week it was a very good one Mr. Scherer preached at eleven.O.clock after which he administered the Lords Supper Mr. Burnham preached at 3 o clock and Mr. Scheerer preached at night we had a very good meeting the members was very much livened up at that time there was some people down from Hamilton and we had very good singing I think better than we ever had before at least I thought so [end of page 1]

 Mr. Scheere preaches every 2 weeks Mr. Burnham preaches every 2 weeks we still keep up our sabath school and Thursday evening Prayer meeting and I expect it will always be cept [kept] up at least I hope it will for a better habit was never invented than the habit of going to Prayer meeting the people are very much interested in it too the meeting is very well attended too now days:

no more about that I will now give you the price of produce we sell our Wheat at $1.00 Corn 40 cts per bushel Oats 25 cts some people sell corn at 25 and 30 cts per bushel our corn is very good we will have about as much again as we had last year we have the crib filled and four loads on the hog bin two loads on the hog trough right over the crib this is a hard place to put corn and we have only about half of it husked out [end of page 2] the ears are very large it is the big yellow corn this is a very good fall for us but I am afraid it will not last long enough for us we have our house to plaster yet that is the old stairs 8 acrs of breaking to doo and the rest of our corn to husk out if it would last 6 weeks yet it would not be to long that is the weather keeps nice we have 20 hogs up too fatten just put them up yesterday we sold Buch and Broad to John Harber for $60 cash down

I believe this is the news at present next time I can tell you something else I hope so at least I must close So fare well but not for ever write soon and don’t forget tell me how you are getting a long and write me a good long letter So no more

Yours truly Henry J. Ulsh on to James Smith

 4 Jan 1855 —  Solomon appointed to sell property. All the children above are listed except Samantha, who married in December, 1854.

 13 Jan 1855 —  Solomon Claypool reports failure to sell the Fountain Co. lands because of a lack of bidders. He asks to try again and asks for a continuance in Clay Co.

 22 Mar 1855 —  Received of James Smith no dollars and ninety-six cents, in full payment of his State, County School, Road-real, Road-personal and Poll taxes for the year 1854, including Taxes on the following described real estate, To wit: SW 1/4 NE 1/4, Sec. 1, Tp. 16, R. 12.

 5 Apr 1855 —  Solomon reports that he did not offer the land for sale because there were no prospects. He asks for a continuance.

1 Jun 1855 —  The Clay Co. land is said to be worth $745.00 and it is ordered sold.

 [Get date]  —  Something goes wrong and the Clay Co. land is not sold.

This letter folds and serves as its own envelope. The outside  is marked “Paid 5 Omaha City N.T. Nov 12 - Mr. James Smith, Wheeling po, Marion County, Iowa”

Omaha City Nebraska Try
November 11 1855

Dear friends

I take this this opportunity to inform you that I am well at presant but have been sick along time with fever and ague but I have out done it at last and got well I promised last spring to write to you before this time but you must not think hard of me but think that it is a wonder that I would write this soon as you [k]now that lazness has taken great efect on me our folks says that there is a boy about your house that has got lew [Lew] to his name and I expect to be along by the time he can talk plane and bring him a hat I thought I would come home this winter but I have give it out now

Let me tell you I am in a good country but you are in as good a country as this clames is as high here as land is in marion I have got as good a clame as ever any man had within 15 miles of the capital of Nebraks [sic] and one lot in the city worth 50 dolars and I expect to stay here until the land comes in market any how I want you to write me soon and tell me how the world uses you as I have not heard from you since robert and mary went home [end of page 1]

 There has been no trouble with the indians latly but all is right the misouri river is lower than any man ever seen it before but the boats comes up yet I am going to bath [possibly "batch" as in bachelor] out and cut would [wood] this winter for one dolar a cord and in the spring go to work on the claim flour sells at 4 dollars per hunddred her[e] and pork the same so far corn at the blufs is plenty at 2.5 cts I must bring my leter to a close and remain as ever

Clark L. Mathew
James and Jane Smith
Note: Clark Lewis Mathew is the brother of James' wife Rebecca Jane Mathew. The Robert and Mary mentioned in the letter are Robert and Mary Mathew Colwell, Clark's and Rebecca's sister and her husband. It is Robert who showed up on a census as a second male, leading me to believe there was another male child in the Mathew family. Robert and Mary paid an extended visit to Clark and happened to be there at census time. Information about Robert and Mary's trip originally came from Duane Bingaman, Columbia, IA, who is now deceased. Other Mathew family members have also shared information about that trip.

 7 Jan 1856 —  A hearing is held in the case of Solomon Claypool, Guardian of Berryman Smith’s heirs vs. his said wards. Claypool represents that the seven children:

  • (1) have no personal estate;
  • (2) the value of the real estate is $43,00 [sic];
  • (3) he’s received no rent from them;
  • (4) 6 of them are indebted to their mother, Nancy Smith: Milton, $96.00 plus damages and $12.64 in costs; Josephine $157.94 plus damages and costs; David $147.92 plus damages and costs; Samantha $157.92 plus damages and costs; Berryman $157.92 plus damages and costs; and Sarah J. $137.82 plus damages and costs.
  • (5) All children are still living with their mother;
  • (6) Each ward is sieized in fee simple of an undivided 11th part in value of the following real estate in Fountain County, Indiana:
  • 1. the W 3/4 of the W 1/2 of the NW 1/4 of Section 14, Township 20, Range 8 and
  • 2. the E 1/2 of the NE 1/4 of Section 15, Township 20, Range 8, there being in all 140 acres and each is entitled to the same fractional interest in the following described real estate in Clay County, Indiana:
  • 3. E 1/2 of the SW 1/4 of the S 25, Township 13 N of Range 6W and
  • 4. NE 1/4 of the SE 1/4 and SE 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of Section 25, township and range last named.
  • (7) Said lands are all subject to the dower interest of their mother.
  • (8) Said wards are entitled to the lands as the heirs of Berry Smith who died siezed of said lands and left surviving him 11 heirs and the widow.
    Solomon asks for an order for appraisement and sale and that the “avails” of the sale, after discharging the aforesaid indebtedness of each of the wards, be expended in other lands, for said wards by said guardian.
     19 Jan 1856 —  Solomon reports he has received payment of $392.00 for the Clay Co. land, which was sold to William Eaglefield. The land had been appraised at $745.00.

     18 Aug 1856 —  Received of James Smith in full of his book account 16 dollars 37 up to this date. John Long and Co.

    3 Oct 1857 —  Knoxville, IA Receipt for a subscription to the Knoxville Weekly Journal

    4 Feb 1858 —  Elizabeth Smith sells her 1/11 portion of the inherited land to Elijah Lang (sister Catharine’s husband), subject to Nancy’s dower.

     16 Jul /1858 —  Nancy Lopp Smith dies.

    25 Sep 1858 —  Andrew H. Smith sells his 1/11 portion of the land  to Elizabeth Smith without reference to Nancy, who has died.

    10 Oct 1858 —  John Allen appointed administrator of Nancy’s estate.

    1 Apr 1859(?)  —   "This is to certify that James Smith the bearer is authorized to exercise or use his Talants as an Exhortor in the M.E. Church so long as his spirit and practice is in accordance with the Gospel of Christ & the Church. Newburn Ct., Iowa Assn. done by order of the Class. T. Dixon Pin C"

    14 Jan 1860  —  “On motion it is ordered that this Cause [Berryman II’s estate; Nancy’s probate is still going on] be dismissed.”

    "Jary 19, 1860 Marion Co., IA Treasurer’s Office Received of Jas. Smith Eight dollars and 42 cents, in full for State, County, School, Road and other taxes for the year 1856 on personal property and the following real estate, to-wit: Poll and Personal.  [Note: This includes $3.61 in interest; the tax is 4.81.]

    "Jary 19, 1860 Marion Co., IA Treasurer’s Office Received of Jas Smith Two and 12/100 dollars in full for State, County School, Road and other Taxes, for the year 1859 on Personal Property, and the following Real Estate, to-wit: SW 1/4, SE 1/4, Sec. 16, Twp. 76, Range 21, Acres 40."

     "Feb. 22, 1860 Received of James Smith, ten dollars and fifty five cents in full of all demands, including a note for eight dollars and three cents, dated about Dec 25th 1856, which note is supposed to be lost. Brown & Kelly per A. W. Rouzo"

    21 Jul 1860 —  "The license of James Smith an Exhorter in the Methodist E. Church is hereby renewed by order of the Quarterly Conference of Newburn Ct. July 21st 1860. R. S. Robinson P.E."

    Notes: “. . . we believe James Smith was a “local” minister (exhorter) in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Local ME ministers performed essentially the same duties and sacraments as the regular conference ministers, and even rode their own circuits in some cases. The main difference between the two, however, was that local ministers lived and preached what and where they chose, whereas conference ministers were assigned by the conference to preach in a particular place and manner as prescribed by the conference. As a result, the appointments and obituaries of the conference ministers were recorded in the conference minutes, while those of the local ministers (in the early days at least) usually were not. This explains why you probably wil not find an obituary for James Smith among official ME records, even though he was in fact a licensed ME preacher (exhorter).”
    Letter from John R. Riggs, Archives Researcher, DePauw University
    February 27, 1989.
     “. . .This license was the first step in becoming a minister and many who were licensed as Exhorters remained local preachers and did not go on to become fully ordained ministers. . . .”
    Letter from Eve Pellegrino, Methodist Library Assistant,
    United Methodist Church General Commission on Archives and History
    February 24, 1989
    Note: When my son and I visited there in 1994 Newbern, IA was no longer a town or even a village; there are some houses and an old church, so perhaps “community” now better describes it. Robert and I found it by taking some pretty dicey roads in Marion County. The old church, apparently still in use as it has a handicapped ramp, still stands. Robert was fascinated because at the very top of the steeple was a six-pointed star, normally considered a sign of Judaism. I will never forget him lying on the ground in order to get a picture of the church from top to bottom so he could get a picture of the star! It now obviously is a Christian church—perhaps someone knows the history of the six-pointed star as a Christian symbol.

    "July 30, 1860 —  Sixty days after date I promise to pay Robert Worley or bearer two dollars and fifty cents for value received of him. James Smith"

    "October 17, 1860 Knoxville, Iowa Received J. Smith One dollar on subscription for the Republican" [a newspaper]

    31 Jan 1862 —  John Allen files accounting and final settlement. This appears to be Berryman’s estate; however that case had been dismissed in 1860. Milton, Samantha, Josephine, Berryman, and David’s lands were all sold to George Shanklin. This is an interesting little twist as George Shanklin had been elected County Surveyor in 1854 (Fountain County Democrat, September 10, 1856).

    December, 1862 —  A cartoon envelope postmarked Springfield, Mo. Over the postmark is written “Soldier Lette,r” then a name which could be B.B. LaBaw, Maj 115 NY. The cartoon is captioned “Protecting Secesh Property” and under a picture of a secessionist talking with a soldier says, “Secesh:—Say Captain I’m a Secesh, so if yer please I’d like a guard detailed fur that Chicken Coop.”

    1862-1863 Winter Arrangement The Great Wabash Valley Railway route. From Quincy to Toledo (flyer)

     James’ brother, Andrew Hamelton Smith, wrote the next  letter while serving with Co. G, 15th Reg., Iowa Infantry during the Civil War. (Another great Civil War history page is here). His view of the Battle of Prairie Grove is different than you'll find in the history books! Prairie Grove isn’t the most famous battle fought, but it is mentioned in the World Book Encylopedia, a pretty basic reference. The letter is written on the back of the January 1, 1863 issue of a newspaper, the Arkansas Traveler. Andrew was wounded in the thigh at the Battle of Shiloh.

    Mr. James Smith
    Wheeling po
    Marion County
    Camp Elmsprings Ark
    January the 5—A.D. 1863

    Dear brother & sister

    It is with pleasure that I take my pen in hand to let you no that I am well at this time hoping thes pen lines will find you all well

    we started the second day after christmas a crost the boston mountians to a town on the Arkansan river buy the name of van buren five miles below fortsmith which was forty miles distent we waded won [one] creak therty two times we run on about five hundred cavalry rebbs and taken ther trane & a bout a hund prisners we run in van buren & hoisted a flag the rebles on the other sied of the river let loos with there cannon & had cannon aiding [cannonading] acrost the river for a while we hushed ther cannon & captured four steamboats which was loded with suger molasses crackers & corn won of our batrys went down the river about 8 miles & burned ther camp on the sied river we had a gay old time e[a]ting suger & scouring the town the rebs burnt two boats up at fort Smith is reported that they burnt fort smith we started back the next night & got back to our trane new yers coming & started the next day for fayetsville where our sick & wounded which was about fifteen miles distant thence twelve miles [end of page 1] to Elmssprings wher we are now we expect to march to morrow for white river which is about twenty five miles we are going to muster for pay today

    I have written you four or five letters since I havbin in the serves & hant got any from you I got won letter from berr[yman] about the first of november he wass at washington I am afraid I will never get another letter from him I got won from home about a month ago thay stated that thay was all well but Eliza lang [Lang] & had been sick for three or four months milt is marred & his has got a big boy I hant much time to write at this time I will bring my letter to a close hoping to here from you soon nothing gives me more pl[ea]sure than to get letters from my folks I want you to write as soon as you get this no more

    I remain your
    affectionate brother until deth
    good by
    A H Smith
    James Smith

    6 Jan 1863 James receives $90.90 “in full of my distributive share of the surplus of the Estate of Nancy Smith . . .”

    This letter was found with two envelopes, both addressed to Mr. James Smith, Newbern PO, Marion C.O. Iowa(y). Both envelopes are postmarked “D.C.” but the rest of the marks are illegible. One envelope has a cartoon picture of Gen. McClellan labeled “Our Commander-in-Chief," and the picture is surrounded by a combination of patriotic and martial symbols. Berryman III's mention that James had returned home, apparently to Fountain Co., probably shows the significance of the railroad flyer above.

    Camp Byard, Va
    Mar the 9th / 63

    Kind Brother

    I wish pleasure embrace the present in writing two you a few lines two let you know my where a bouts & the condition off my health which is tolerable good It is my wishes these few scatring thoughts off mine may find you all enjoying the same Erthly blessing Well James it has been som time since I hav herd from you & I must asknolledge I have been vary negligent about my writing but thare has been a good part off my time that I was not able two write I was unfit for duty for a period off 4 monghts but I have a gain [again] gained my orriginal strenth

    I got a letter from home the other mail whitch iformed me that you had been home I shood liked two off been thare at the time you ware there but it was more than a step or two or I wood off walked over [end of page 1]

    Well James thare is nothing off any grate importance going on here at the present the Army is still in their winter quarters We have just returned from 10 days picket Thare has been puto [put to] a skiddaddle a mnng [sic-perhaps many] the Rebs Thare was _____ of the boys came over the other day & acknolledged our cos [cause] two be just & that they ware tiard of Rebellion I think this thing is going two burst eather in our faver or the Rebs for the voice of the people says it shall stop & the majority has ruled so far I think they will continue two.

    While I was on pickett I was at times entertained by the Rebs bras[s] band whitch made some very nice musick then at other times I cood here the Rebs sporting at all kinds off games we cood all so [also] converce with their Picketts who ware quite frenley you will understand we pickett one side off the River & they the other [end of page 2]

    Yesterday I withe the rest off my companions off the first Briggad was cold [called] to witness a horrible sight The Execution of two deserters the Brig[ade] formed a square then the forge was brot to the center Then the accused two privats off C.O. H ware brot two the forge then the Black Smith proceeded two brand them with a hot iron, it in the form off a letter D on the left hip Then their heads ware half shaved & then they war drummed off the ring it was a harsh sight but all rite I recon

    The after part off the Day was _______ in the presentation of a vary hansom soard two the Colonel by the Regiment it cost $700 Dolars you can recon whether it was nice or not this was folowed by a vary simpathising speach delivered by the Colonel. Thare is a grand review two day they are preparing for a livley campeign when they do start [end of page 3]

    Well James I shall soon close hoping two here from you soon please excuse hast[e] I have written in quiteahury I feare you will be bothered to read it

    No more

    I remain your brother
    Berry Smith
    James Smith
    Direct letters
    Berry Smith
    Harris. Laight. Cavalry
    C.O. Off
    Note: Berryman III died serving the Union Army in September, 1864. See below for more information.

    12 Jan 1864  —  John Allen’s guardianship of Samantha is settled.

     "May 8, 1864 This certifies that James Smith and Jane R Smith is acceptable members of the Christian Union Church on Plainville Circuit Iowa. K. D. Wolf Pastor"
    Note: Planeville was established as a post office June 7, 1855 (Alphabetical Listing of Iowa Post Offices 1833-1970). Although it no longer exists (see Iowa Ghost Towns), it was in Warren County, Iowa, which borders Marion County, where James and Rebecca lived near Newburn, Dallas Twp. Originally I thought this could be an indication of a break with the Methodist church. However,  I now think his Methodist church merged with others in 1863 to form the Christian Union Church of Plainville, and that is why the recommendation came from the pastor of that church. James’ Methodist exhorter certificates came from earlier years, 1859 and 1860. For more on Plainville and its location, see the Iowa GenWeb Warren County page..
    This is the last indication of James and Rebecca in Iowa, and more than likely was obtained in preparation for the journey to Oregon, where it would serve as an introduction and recommendation to a new congregation. They arrive in Oregon in the late fall of 1864, and the next record of James and Rebecca Jane Mathew Smith is an 1865 property tax receipt in Union Co., OR.

    22 May 1865  —  John Allen, guardian of minor Berryman (III) and administrator of his estate, asks to be relieved as guardian because Berryman (III) is now deceased. Whle serving with Company H, 2nd Cavalry Regiment New York Berryman becaome a prisoner of war 11 Oct 1863 during fighting at Brandy Station, VA. After initial confiement at Richmond, VA, he was sent to Andersonville Prison in Georgia, where he died "of disease" 23 May 1864.

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    Please note: The presentation of these transcriptions from the original letters written to James Smith, is copyrighted by the page's author,
    Beth Perry Johnston.

    This page may be freely linked to (although I would enjoy knowing
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