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For Love of the Family

For almost 20 some odd years, I grew up next to and learned from many very wise people.  Two of these were a man and a woman, not related in any way, but were friends from within the same community.  The gentleman was born in 1904 and the lady in 1905.  Earnest Cannon, the gentleman, lived to be almost 95 years old and Helen Henry lived to be 99 as she died in August 2004.  I tell you this because it is through their eyes that I wish I could tell you this part of the story.  These two were born into a time where the only means of transportation was a horse and buggy and the only means of calculation was done by the amount of corn you had in bushels or head of cattle, yet each grew to see man not only fly but go to the moon, send probes to Mars, use radios, TV’s, and Home Computers.  They have seen at least 5 wars, countless conflicts, the great depression, and Atomic and Hydrogen bombs.  They witnessed changes in the world that were equal if not greater than the changes just 200 years earlier.  They witnessed mankind rise and fall by leaps and bounds in either direction.  They lived without things that we take for granted today.  What extraordinary lives they led.

Before 1910, Earnest and Helen would have been alive to witness in the papers Orville and Wilbur Wright make their first documented flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the mass production of the Automobile, Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, could have gone to see the world’s first silent movies.  By 1920, they would have witnessed firsthand the feelings of World War I, the Titanic sinking, and the Prohibition.  Between 1920 and 1930, they could have triumphed with the rights over Women’s suffrage, the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, and Charles Lindbergh flying over the Atlantic as well find out that leaders in the world such as Mussolini and Hitler were becoming too radical.  Earnest and Helen were living in Mississippi during the 1930s, and may not have felt all the effects of the Great Depression because of the poverty still lingering over the civil war, but they would have heard that the world was much  as themselves.  They would have seen governments struggle to create projects such as new roads, bridges, or the Empire State Building to make jobs for the out of work. 

By the 1940s, Earnest could have been part of the WWII after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, yet cheered as Chuck Yeager beat the sound barrier and while the Apartheid in South Africa was at its peak.  Helen would have been in her mid 40s, at the start of the 1950s as mankind climbed Disneyland’s Famous Castle, Mt. Everest for the first time, and Space for the Russians made it first in Sputnik.  She would have benefited from scientific break throughs such as Color TV and the Polio Vaccine but trembled at the thought of the creation of the Hydrogen Bomb and the Korean War.  Now with both being from Mississippi, they would have experienced first hand the racism that still remains in the area as Martin Luther King protested in 1960s.  Not to mention the youngest ever President of the US, John F. Kennedy who presided over the Cuban Missile Crisis and promoted the first ever moon landing in 1969.  Directly after the Korean War, Earnest could have been sent to Vietnam if he were in the military.  The Vietnam War stretched from 1954 to the mid 1970s.  The 1970s was the era of issues such as Watergate, Abortion, War, Communism, Disco, and the Movie Star Wars.  Oh, and the fact that I was born in 1971 has no bearing in History at all.  And after all they had lived through over an beyond most mortals, each would have still been surprised at the eruption of a volcano, Mt. St. Helens, in America along with the new disease AIDS.  At over 80 years of age, they may not have been too interested in Pac Man video games or personal computers, but their grandchildren sure would have.  And before they died they would have witnessed the invention of the Internet, the Nelson Mandela freed, Operation Desert Storm, the Waco Standoff, O.J. Simpson fiasco, and the Oklahoma Bombing.  They would have seen 17 Presidents, 5 English Monarchs, and 19 different leaders of France.  Can you imagine all the information stored up, the wisdom, in their heads?

Remember that in 1700, there were and estimated 250,000 people in the US, but by 1900 the US population was 76.3 million.  That is an increase of over 300% in 200 years or over 380,000 per year since 1700.  But from 1900, the population of the U.S. on April 1, 2000 was 281,421,906. XX That means that in 100 yeas the population more that tripled.  What has made so many people come to America?  America was the land of the free and immigrants from all over the world flocked here for the land, quality of life, and to get away from all the strife elsewhere in the world.   

At first America didn’t offer much to the world other than land.  A hurricane hit Texas in 1900 killing almost 6,000 people.  These storms have pounded our coast for years even today as many know first hand.  The First Olympics held in America was in 1904 helped open the eyes of many about the USA.  In 1905, the Wright brothers were flying better and further; a lot in Wall Street sold for $717,430 (not adjusted yet for inflation), and New Orleans was hit hard with yellow fever via mosquitoes.  I guess it didn’t hurt that President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt who also won the Nobel Peace Prize in the Russo-Japanese War became the first President to set foot on foreign soil while in office as he visited the construction of the Panama Canal.  In 1908, Henry Ford came out with is Ford Model T which was being mass produced some 20 years later to the tune of 10 million at an average price of $290 in 1924.  We made it to the North Pole in 1909, created the Boy Scouts in 1910, watch the Titanic sink in 1912, and start paying income taxes in 1914.  Not too much attracting anyone.

The first portion of early 1900 immigrants was a result of the war in Europe.  As there is no real direct cause of WWI, many place it on the assignation of the Archduke of Austria.  Although this isn’t the real cause, this incident began to stir up a strong sense of Nationalism in the central European countries.  Now as shoulders straightened and chests began to poke out, it wasn’t long before some one was rubbed the wrong way.  Once an argument broke out, lines were drawn and allies were called out.  Not to mention there were old grievances from older times still not settled.  The difference was the time period.  As we seen in most wars, it was one country against another, but this time the world was settled in, most land masses were accounted for and new countries were formed.  So when one country was in trouble, their allies came running.  The Americans; however, for some time remained out of the conflict.  Many thought they could get away from the fighting by coming to America.  We didn’t enter the fight till 6 Apr 1917 after the Germans invoked an unrestricted submarine warfare [sinking the US Lusitania in 1915 and the US Housatonic in 1917] and attempted to start an alliance with Mexico against the US.  US troops were in Mexico at the time hunting down Poncho Villa.  This meant that the US ships were at risk as well as our borders.  This is what brought Americans into the fight.  The Selective Service Act was passed requiring all men aged 21 to 30 to register for the drafting into the US Military.  The war ended in just over a year later in Nov 1918 [on the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month]. 

Despite the war, in 1920, the Bureau of Public health calculated that the Average American lived 54 years (up from the 1901figure of 49).  Things were getting better in the States until 1929 when “Black Tuesday” saw the American economy spin out of control.  By 1931, 2500 banks went under and 5,000,000 people were unemployed.  Just one year later in 1932, there was and estimated 13,000,000 people unemployed.  President Franklin Roosevelt was elected at this time and he immediately worked on helping the economy.  He began to create road works, bridge projects, and signed the Social Security Act all in the attempt to solve the current economic problems. 

Things were slowly getting better, but the worst of things happened which enabled the American economy to recover – World War II.  Obviously there were still tensions between Germany and the rest of the world, but this time a radical by the name of Hitler came to power.  All his life he had been thwarted in his efforts to succeed in life.  Not intentional but though economics.  He watched the rich Jewish community prosper as he didn’t.  Coupled with his mental disease and his dissent for the Jews, as he rose to power he began persecuting them.  Hitler had revived a Nazi Cult and wanted to rule the world.  Although there was no war yet in 1938, the tensions were tough between Germany and the US.  Just to stir things up in America, a broadcaster named Orson Welles announced on the radio his production of the “War of the Worlds”.  He pretended to do a music program as usual but interrupted his own show with news bulletins of Space Invaders.  The public who were just getting used to radio and had never been privy to a joke of this nature, believed it as tensions were still not over the WWI and there was an approaching WWII. 

In 1939, England and France declared war on Germany as Germany not only persecuted Jews but invaded Poland and threatened both England and France.  Russia had signed a pact to be friends with Germany and invaded Finland as Germany invaded Poland.  The US again remained out of it at first.  By 1940, the Olympics was cancelled due to the conflicts as Italy now allied with Germany declared war on England and France and invaded the Balkans.  Remember that Franklin Roosevelt was elected in 1932 as President of the US.  He had begun with the rebuilding of the American Economy and had dealt with the beginnings of the world war by 1940.  As things looked grim, the American public didn’t want to change leaders when they knew they had a good thing going, so they re-elected for a third term President Roosevelt and good timing too.  For in 1941, the Japanese had joined forces with Germany, Russia, and Italy, and bombed Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941 officially bringing us into the war on 8 Dec 1941.  This would be one of the worst battles the Americans would ever be in.  Due to this war effort though, many new inventions were created, mostly military in nature but adaptable; such as DDT to wipe out lice to stop the Typhus disease.  This also caused a realignment of manufacturing in the US.  Rationing was placed on many items such as Sugar and Gasoline.  Women began to enter the workforce producing guns, ammo, planes, and other military items.  Everyone was now working: the men in the war and the women in the factories.  You can now see how this terrible event helped the American economy get back on its feet.  By 1943 the Germans began loosing ground, Italy lost its leader, and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was made supreme commander.  On 6 Jun 1944, the Allied forces including thousands of Americans invaded Normandy.  But the War was not over yet.  In America it was time to elect a new president, yet the public wouldn’t change:  they kept Roosevelt for an unheard of Fourth Term in office, but died in office just a few months later.  His Vice-President, Harry Truman, was sworn in.  Truman came in at a good time and raised the minimum wage to 40¢ per hour.  Wow! You can’t get a piece of gum or a coke for that nowadays.  By now, General George Patton was in charge of the Third Army and invaded Germany.  The Nazi regime fell.  Hitler killed himself and Mussolini was executed.  But the war still was not over.  These two guys had involved other countries that just persisted, namely Japan; and America still had not exacted its revenge for Pearl Harbor.  In August of 1945, Truman order the Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  This instilled an immediate and unconditional surrender from Japan and signified the end of the war.

The thing I noticed in both World Wars is that the Americans remained out of the fighting until provoked and once provoked, went in, kicked but, and finished the confrontation.  Americans were proud once again to be Americans and the world saw it.  It inspired other countries to want to be part of the American Culture.  As the world settled down, America by the end of 1948 was refocused on other things such as TV.  There were four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Dumont) and only 9000 TV in Jan 1948.  By 1949, there were over 125,000 sets.  The first ever toy advertised on TV was Mr. Potato Head.  But they never forgot the effects of the war because in 1949, NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] was formed and the United Nations was formally established in New York (on an $8.5 million lot of land donated by J.D. Rockefeller) to attempt to head off any more disagreements result in a war.  

Now this new organization had many countries join, but not all.  The UN massed a small army comprised of armies from each member.  In 1950, the UN forces were sent in to South Korea because North Korea invaded South Korea.  Since America had the largest force at that time with the allies, they sent the most amounts of troops and thus had command over the UN troops.  Gen. Douglas McArthur was the commander.  The Communist Chinese [who has the largest military of all time – national law says every male at the age of 18 must join for minimum of two years, and with a population of over 1 Billion it is easy to see why] and eventually the Russians joined the North Koreans and here we go again.  The Americans are back at war. This officially ended in 1953 with the signing of an armistice, but it never alluded to peace.  The same superpowers just transferred the aggression over to the Vietnam Civil war in 1954.  The civil war lasted till 1964, when it officially escalated into the Vietnam War which lasted till 1973; the Americans had never left the area after the Peace accord and caused much apprehension.  In my opinion, the events in WWI caused much discord and anxiety amongst the countries in the world that never really healed over.  These old wounds kept festering with new and inventive people.  To this day, there is still tension between the Communists of China, North Korea and the rest of the world. 

Back in 1954, the US had their own domestic issues as well; the same old issues since the early 1700s.  Although it wasn’t slavery as it was abolished, many still thought of the descendants of slaves as inferior even though they had their new rights; thus, racism had manifested.  The US Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that there would be no segregation of Black and Whites in public schools.  For most people in the South, this was an outrage.  In 1956, many schools in the southern states defied the Supreme Court saying the ruling was unconstitutional.  Federal funding for these schools was stopped and they closed, but the feelings only grew. There were a few distractions though, Grace Kelly married the Prince of Monaco to be a Princess; Elvis Presley became the King of Rock and Roll; Fidel Castro led a coup d'état  of the Cuban Government to become a communist nation; and the Russians sent the first human into space.   

John F. Kennedy became the youngest President in US History in 1961, saying “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what can you do for your Country” and stirred up American Nationalism, but was unable to quell the racism.  In his inauguration year, he had to order US Marshals into Alabama to prevent an all out civil war over racial integration.  Just two years later, a black man named Martin Luther King created his Million Man March and gave his famous speech, “I have a Dream”.  But no one was listening.  Radicals were setting off bombs in schools in Birmingham and Black activists were being murdered such as Medgar Evers.  Then out of no where it seemed, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on 22 Nov 1963. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as chief executive hours after the assassination. American TV networks dropped all programming and advertising to cover the event. Top 40 radio stations began playing sombre choral music. Two days after president's murder, alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Municipal Building, again on live TV. Johnson immediately signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 while Martin L. King received his Nobel Peace Prize.  The death of President Kennedy and the eventual murder of Dr. King in 1968 almost put out all the fires of racism as Americans tried to forget about it and focused on other things like Super Bowl I in 1967, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first stepping on the Moon, and the Vietnam war. 

America in 1970s was in a mess.  “Woodstock” celebrated music, sex, drugs, and rock and roll while protesting the War in Vietnam.  Charles Manson and his cult were on a killing spree.  Duct Tape became a house hold name after saving the lives of those on Apollo 13 in space.  And the completion of the World Trade Center was in 1970.  As young men at age 18 were considered old enough to fight for their country, a law was passed in 1971 to lower the voting age to 18.  These young men; however, were allowed to come home [to an angry and confused country] from the war in 1973.  Corruption in the White House as Nixon was implicated in the Watergate Scandal and resigned.  But there was some positive things happening, in 1974 the Freedom of Information Act was passed; 1976 we landed a probe on Mars; and in 1978 the average life span was now 67 for Americans.  But we can’t forget the crazies like Jim Jones, the operators of Three Mile Island Nuclear plant, an Jimmy Carter. 

 It is amazing that the Americans lasted this long with all the issues we had, but for some reason or another, no matter what internal issues we had, Americans always banded together when needed too.  The US was ready for a change and in 1980 they received two: Mt. St. Helens and Ronald Reagan.  Imagine a bomb that is 100 times more powerful than the Atomic Bomb dropped in Hiroshima.  This is what it was like when Mt. St. Helens erupted killing only 62 people and spreading ash for 250 square miles.  Bark was stripped from trees over 20 miles away.  The effects of the eruption were soon quieted though but those of Ronald Reagan will never be quiet.  He was the change America was looking for.  A revolutionary backed by radical thinking, the guts and fortitude to see it though, and a religious background.  When his attempted assignation failed, he was even more exonerated.  He raised the minimum wage to $3.35 per hour.  Funded the first ever artificial heart transplant,  and challenged the country’s weapons engineers to create what we call today as “Star Wars” [the system to fend off any Nuclear Attack on America].  Americans were feeling safe again.  The world started to resent Americans as terrorism began. First with the suicide bombings in Beirut, next with the Kuwait embassy bombings, and the attempted take over in Grenada by Marxists.  Reagan hated communism and fought to eradicate it.  He challenged the Russians to end the cold war and tear down the Berlin Wall.  There was only two bad things that happened from here till his last day in office in 1989: the Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion and the Iran-Contra Affair. 
Yet nothing comes without cost.  Everything Reagan did was good, but it came at a price after he left office.  Vice President Bush slid into the President’s seat from the coattails of Reagan’s good name, but was left with the clean up duty.  He promised “No New Taxes” but had to raise taxes to curb the oncoming deficit.  He had to handle a drug trafficking lord who also happened to be the leader of Panama, Gen. Manuel Noriega.  He had to help handle the Exxon Valdez Oil spill.  And this is all in the first 2 years in office.  The next year Bush had to deal with the $130 Billion Savings & Loan Scandal, America’s largest outbreak of AIDS, Operation Desert Shield in Kuwait.  In his last year in office, Bush was forced to deal with Saddam Hussein in Operation Desert Storm, the beating of Rodney King by LA Police Officers and the riots caused after the Officers were acquitted.  That racism issue just won’t go away.  Bush had it so tough while in office just before he was voted out Hurricane Andrew decided to hit Florida and cause over $20 Billion of damage. 

In Nov 1992, America just seemed to be going down hill politically.  After 12 years of Republican policy, the voters elected Bill Clinton into office [and gave 18 million votes to Billionaire Ross Perot].  America was just beginning to pay for its misjudgements.  Clinton took money from the defense budget and re-allocated it towards the main deficit and raised the minimum wage.  To some he was a hero, but to others his failures were about to expound.  In 1993, the first major act of terrorism in the US homeland occurred as a bomb exploded in the World Trade Center.  Cults were allowed to flourish as we witnessed in Waco, TX.  American GIs were sent to Somalia in to a no-win situation (such as Vietnam) to restore hope but as the Movie “Black Hawk Down” fairly accurately portrayed the situation we know that too late.  Then our President signed in the NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] which took jobs from the people that elected him and sent them to Mexico.  What he actually did was allow businesses to operate across the border with no restrictions and also allowing the migrants to come north and take our jobs here.  Some good news did come out of the 1990s when the Apartheid was voted out in South Africa in 1994 and Nelson Mandela was released after 30 years in prison.  But this was even tempered when the US sent troops to Rwanda to stop a civil war that killed over 100,000 in just days; and not to mention the fighting between the Muslims and the Serbs in Bosnia.  The US population had exceeded 265 Million in 1994 and most of the military was out trying to police the world in lieu of protecting us.  So as most people were glued to the TV watching O.J Simpson get away with murder, the worst terrorist attack on US Soil to date in 1995 killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing.
But this was not all folks.  Then we get people with the bright idea to send bombs through the mail; remember Ted Kaczynski from Montana in 1996?  In 1997, Princess Diana was killed in a car crash running from the tabloids; Mother Teresa, who as a person honestly did help out many in need died at age 87.  Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear as the Southern Baptist Convention boycotted all things Disney because of their affiliation and approval of a show supporting Gays.  But at last there is always one good thing; Tiger Woods became the youngest winner of the Masters.
Just as we thought there was no law in the land; President Clinton was accused of 11 impeachable offences’.  He cost the taxpayers over $40 Million screwing around, admitted it, and still got away with it.  His approval rating was at an all time high!  Americans had become obsessed with the dramatic.  As everyone was watching, he announced that the US had the biggest surplus Budget since 1969 of $70 Billion.  Wow!  That was awesome, Bill.  How did you do this?  He kept our eyes on the scandals while he diverted all military funds to the budget.  Looks great on paper, he was hero.  Until, we discovered the cost of not having a defense – September 11, 2001.  But who would look at Bill as the cause, he wasn’t in office.  In 1998, John Glenn, the first American in Space, went up again at age 77 and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates gave $1Billion to help children in other countries get their shots.  But there was another attack against the US at the US embassy in Kenya and Tanzania killing over 500 people.  Then there were three Texans who tied up a black man to the back of their truck and drug him to his death.  We just can’t shake that racism issue.  Not to mention all the kids getting guns and shooting up the schools. 
That is enough; I want to talk about some good things, our family during the 1900s.  At last we were discussing Vander Bill Smith who was born 9 Dec 1889 and died 30 Dec 1970 in Morton, MS and his wife, Mattie Moseley who was born 29 Jul 1893 and died 28 Nov 1974 in Brandon, MS.  Together they had 6 children:  Emma, Ruth, Vera, Eulon, Beulah, and Edward.  Let’s start with what little I do know and we can update it as we go.
Emma Smith was born the first child of Vander and Mattie on 17 Apr 1910 in Smith Co. MS.  She died 8 Apr 1996 at the age of 85.  She is buried at the Providence Luthern Church Cemetery in Burns, MS.  Emma married Mr. John H. Burns on 21 Jan 1928 in Smith Co. MS.  John was born 4 Apr 1905 and died 12 Nov 1985 at the age of 80.  He also is buried at Providence Luthern Church Cemetery.  Together they had three children that I am aware of: Lou Ethel Burns, Charlie “Bobby” Burns and Barbara Burns.  The first child, Lou Ethel, married a Mr. Beacher Calvary and had three children:  Bobby, Lloyd, and Sandra.  Charlie died early of cancer around the face and throat.  He died in the early 1950s and is buried at the Luthern Church in Burns, MS.  Barbara was nick named “Knot”.  Dad says that all he ever knew her by.  She had no children, but married a man named Charlie Threatt.  They live in New Orleans and own a Trucking company.
Ruth Smith was born about 1913 in Smith Co. MS.  From all reports she is still alive, but I have been unable to contact her.  Below is an abstract from a letter from Mattie Helen McWilliams (My cousin and Ruth’s niece) sent me in November 2005:

    …Aunt Ruth does better than me.  She still fishes in Mattie's pond; when she wants to eat one.  She gets Mattie to help her clean it or she throws it back in.  She still drives to Forest and Raleigh and Church. She is 93 and wears high heel shoes.  She still cooks corn bread, beans, fried onions, cakes.  She has trouble remembering names…

She married Mr. Ben Eddy and had 6 children:  J.B., Mattie Lou, Van Taylor, Liston, Lonnie, and Zenobia.  I know Ben died early, and Ruth remarried to a Mr. Robert Kelly.  J.B. married a lady named Peggy Hammon and they had two children: Dewayne and Kristel.  Mattie Lou married Jimmy Bassett and had three children:  Martha, Evelyn, and Jim.  Martha married Ray Gomillion and had two children: Stephanie and Katelyn.  Stephanie has married to a Mr. Harrison.  Evelyn is married and had a boy and a girl according to reports, but I don’t know their names.  Jim is married and had two boys; again I don’t know their names.  Van Taylor, who has cancer now, was married and had a daughter names Melissa who now has a son named Will.  Liston was married and has a daughter named Stacey.  Lonnie, who died of cancer in 2004, married a lady named Sandra and they had two boys:  Mike and David.  The last child of Ruth is Zenobia.  She is married with two boys and a girl of whose names I have yet to discover.
Vera Smith was born in 1915 in Smith Co. MS and died 16 Jun 2002 while in the Rolling Acres Retirement Center in Raleigh, MS.  She is buried in the Homewood Cemetery, Scott Co. MS.   Her nickname in the family was Aunt Skinny.  She married Mr. Floyd Wicker.  Floyd died in 1989 in Smith Co. MS.  He is buried at Homewood Cemetery in Scott Co. MS.  Vera and Floyd had two children:  Andrew Wayne and Mattie Helen. Andrew was born in 1940 and Mattie Helen was born on 1 Jul 1934. Andrew married a lady named Rose, also born in 1940, and had four children, Lisa, Memory, Bobby Joe, and Robert.  Andrew and Rose have both had colon surgery; Rose for cancer which she ahs beaten and Andrew for diverticulitis.  Their first born, Lisa, married a Patrick Harmon and now lives in TN.  They have four children:  Maxamillion, Morrissey, Andrew, and one to be born in Feb. 2006.  Memory is married to Randy Parish and had two children: Makena and Raine.  They live in Counce, TN.  Bobby Joe is unmarried.  From all reports, Robert is unmarried as well. 
Vera and Floyd’s first child, Mattie Helen, is known to most of us as Aunt Helen even though she is really our cousin.  Helen was born 1 Jul 1934 and married W.D. McWilliams on 11 Jul 1955.  Together they had two children: Sheila and Mike.  Helen and W.D. were divorced on 4 Sep 1981.  W.D. has since died in 2004.  Their oldest,  Sheila, married a David Gainey and had three children:  Casey, Lacey, and Hunter.  Casey was born in 1981 and is now married to Mr. Brent Wade as of  May 2004 and now lives in Starkville, MS.  Lacey was born in 1985 and was married in April 2006 to an Unknown.  Hunter was born in 1990.  Their second son, Michael.  Michael was born 3 Mar 1961.  Michael married Alicia Pauline Swain who was born 26 Oct 1972, the daughter of Jimmy Swain and Mary Craft.  Michael and Alicia two children together, Michael who was born on 19 Aug 1987 and Austin who was born in 1996. 
The following is a copy of the obituary for Vera Smith Wicker:
    June 19, 2002
    Wicker, Vera Smith
Funeral services for Vera Smith Wicker, 87, were held at 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 18, 2002, at the Ott & Lee Funeral Home Chapel in Forest. Rev. Tam Maddox, Rev. Tommy Anderson and Rev. Carey Smith officiated. Interment was made in Homewood Methodist Cemetery, Homewood, MS. Mrs. Wicker passed away on Sunday, June 16, 2002, at Rolling Acres Retirement Center. Mrs. Wicker was a native of Smith County and lived all of her adult life in the Homewood Community from 1933-1993 before moving to Rolling Acres Retirement Center in Raleigh. She was a member of Homewood Baptist Church. She taught Sunday School at Homewood Baptist Church and also taught several years at Homewood Methodist Church. Mrs. Wicker was a member of the Smith County Singing convention, MS State Singing Convention and the Smith County Senior Citizens Quartet. Survivors include one son, Andrew Wayne Wicker and wife, Rose of Pulaski; one daughter, Helen Wicker McWilliams of Pulaski; one sister Ruth Eady Kelly of Pulaski; four grandchildren, Shelia and David Gainey of Pulaski, Mike and Alicia McWilliams of Raleigh, Lisa and Patrick Harmon of Brandon, and Memory and Randy Parish of Counce, TN; two step grandchildren, Bobby Joe Denton of Pearl, and Robert E. Denton of Pulaski; eleven great-grandchildren, Casey, Lacey and Hunter Gainey of Pulaski, Michael and Amanda McWilliams and Austin Means of Raleigh, McKenna and Raines Parrish of Counce, TN, Max Harmon of Brandon, Brandi Denton of Forest and Emily Denton of Pearl; and a number of nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Floyd Rush Wicker in 1989, parents, Van B. And Mattie Mosley Smith; two sisters, Emma Burns and Beulah Parkman, and two brothers, Edward Allen Smith and Eulon Smith. Pallbearers were Patrick Harmon, Randy Parrish, Robert Denton, Bobby Joe Denton, Michael McWilliams, Mike McWilliams, Hunter Gainey and David Gainey.
 Honorary pallbearers were nieces and nephews. Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Forest was in charge. - Smith County Reformer. Burial: Jun 2002, Homewood Cemetery, Homewood, Scott Co., MS.

Beulah Smith was born 12 Jul 1920 in Smith Co. MS and died 21 Dec 1997 in Smith Co. MS.  She is buried in Lingle Cemetery in Smith Co. MS.  Her nickname was Aunt Bute.  She married Lorenza A. Parkman who was born 8 Aug 1915 and died 2 Jul 1984.  He was buried in Lingle Cemetery in Smith Co. MS.  Lorenza was also a PFC in the US ARMY during WWII.  I am told they had three children:  Doyle, David, and Bobby.  Doyle had died but was married to a lady named Jeannette and had four children: Jeff, Timmy, Steve, and Mark.  David married a lady named Nita and have three children: Mike, Kevin, and Dana.  They apparently live in Brandon, MS.  Bobby is reported to live up north, close to Virginia.  He is married to a lady named Brenda and has two children:  Chad and Holly Ann.
Edward Smith was born 5 Jun 1930 in Smith Co. MS and died 5 Sep 1964 in Smith Co. MS.  He is buried at Sardis Baptist Church in Smith co. MS.  He married Ms. Audrey Gibbons who was born 1 Sep 1927 and died 3 Mar 1991 in Smith Co. MS.  She too is buried at Sardis Baptist Church Cemetery.  They had 5 children that I am aware of: Billie, Edward, James, Patricia, and Doris Jean.  Billie is married to a Jimmy Gould and they have two boys: James and Shaun.  Patricia is married to a Mr. Miller.  This is all I know and to be perfectly honest, as he died before I was born and no one really talked about him, I didn’t know he even existed until I began this research. 
Out of Vander’s six children, his first son or Fourth Child was Eulon John Smith, my grandfather. 
A man that only made it to the third grade did so much in his life and was a rascal while doing it.  Yet, his overwhelming quality was he loved his family, but I am speaking from a grandson’s perspective. I respect him for that.  He worked and supported his huge family the best he could.  Dad says they grew up desperately poor, but I think dad and all my uncles and aunts turned out great.  I have his last set of driver’s license and I sometimes just stare and look at him remembering.  Grandpa Eulon was born on 18 Dec 1917 in Smith Co. MS just as the WWI plight came to an end.  He was the son of Vander Bill Smith (b. 1889 / d. 1970).  Eulon’s male ancestors after his father were as follows:  Jeremiah Benton Smith Jr. (b. 1858 / 1935),  Jeremiah Benton Smith Sr. (b. 1826), John Smith (b. 1793 / d. 1881), Isham Smith (b. 1760),  and Nathan Smith (b. 1730).  He came from a long line of good, tough and stubborn men who were mostly farmers and had lots of time to make children.  As a matter of observation, I do believe that Eulon was the one who broke the mould from farming to public work when farming just wasn’t enough to support the family. 

I remember stories grandpa would tell us while he was older.  Dad remembers that Eulon was known for his fast driving.  He once told me that the highway patrol stopped him, walked up and said,” Sir, are you aware that the speed limit is 55mph?”.  Grandpa replied, “Yes sir, I was doing every bit of it!” What got the highway patrol’s first attention was grandpa using the yellow lines in the middle of the road as a center for his truck.  He explained that he was just keeping it between the ditches. Grandpa’s favourite thing to do was go fishing down at Cohay Creek.  While he and the oldest children were ploughing the fields, my dad, Carey T. Smith, was to walk behind them and pick up the worms, putting them in a Prince Albert can, so they could knock off early and go fishing.  Dad says that Eulon taught him to swim by throwing him overboard the boat in the local pond.  It didn’t work that time, but finally worked after several attempts.

Dad had another story: “Once while Larry was working behind the house, I stumbled across a huge watermelon.  It was on a terrace row and covered with grass and vines, it must have weighed 60 pounds.  I ran got Larry and we decided to eat it.  Of course it was too big for both of us to eat, but we enjoyed the heart of the melon with the salt.  We never told anyone that we ate the melon.  When your Grandpa was dying, he and I talked about a lot of things.  One of the things was that watermelon.  He said that was going to be his seed melon and he had hid it so no one would find it.  His words were, “I ought to get up and give you a whipping right now!”  Seemed like whipping was always his answer.”

Grandpa was always full of wisdom and how to deal with people.  Once while over at our house eating, I watched him rattle his glass on the table for a couple of minutes.  After a minute I realized he was politely telling my mom to hurry up and refill his tea glass.  He also dispensed a piece of advice to me one day while eating Sonic onion rings; he said, “son, don’t ever marry a fat woman, it will cost you too much money in powder to keep them smelling good!”  He always had such a way with words.  He even knew how to save money on finances.  Rather than use the tap water in the sink, I caught him using other cheaper, more inventive methods to wash his false teeth.  My idol.  He was even a great dancer.  He used to tell me that he loved going “jukin” because the people thought he was a good dancer at his age.  Later I found out he was just trying to stand up.  I have other stories of profound statements, but I probably couldn’t publish them.  Even with all this, I still love him.  He was himself, spoke what was on his mind, honest, and loved his family.  I remember dad telling me that he loved my grandma something awful. 

Eulon married Velma Erlene Taylor (b. 1 Mar 1921 / d 7 May 1975) of Smith Co.  She was the sister of his best friend, my Great Uncle Claude Taylor.  They had seven children (see History of Carey Taylor Smith) one of which died at birth.  After grandma died of cancer in 1975, grandpa was a bit lost.  He managed to get married a couple of times, but he split up with both ladies.  He lived on his own for a while in Canton at his house on Washington St. until he was unable to.  He was put in the hospital in Raleigh where on 7 Feb 1988 he passed away with Dad by his side.

This is what dad had to say:  “With a third grade education your grand father supported and raised a wife and six children (with one child born dead).  Mama said that he would walk miles to catch a ride to work, often with weather so cold his ears would freeze and burst.  While there were a lot of things that I could disagree with him on, he was a good daddy.  Those that knew him would have told you that he was a loyal friend and that he loved Velma Smith with all his heart.  He was quick to whip his children and slow to tell them he loved them.  Yet on his death bed he told me that he did the best he could with what he had.  He was talking about his education and training.  On the night Eulon Smith died, just before midnight he asked me to sing with him the songs of Zion:  Amazing Grace, What a Friend, and Rock of Ages.  Shortly after midnight his voice weakened to a whisper and then became silent.  But he held my hand till about 5 AM when peacefully he drew his last breath.  Daddy had left this world singing the songs the Redeemer.”

Now being the grandson of Velma E. Taylor (b. 10 Mar 1921 / d. 7 May 1975 of Cancer) I don’t remember much as I was only 31/2 when she died.  I have one memory of her in her bed in the first bedroom to the left at her home in Canton, MS.  I remember dad ushering me into the room to the edge of the bed of which I was only half a head taller than the mattress and her rolling over to grab my head and kiss me on the forehead.  I don’t know why this sticks, but it has.  I do know that she was the daughter of Robert William Taylor (b. 17 Mar 1877 / d. 3 Dec 1953) and Virginia Belle Butler (b. 3 Apr 1881 / d. 29 Dec 1965).  I know she had 6 other siblings: Elizabeth Ola Taylor Gates (b. 13 Apr 1903), Mattie Florence Taylor Boykin (b. 10 Feb 1905), Maggie Lola Taylor Burns (b. 1 Aug 1907), Vera Nan Taylor Raitman (b. 28 Jun 1909), William Claude Taylor (b. 9 Nov 1916), Thelma Dimple Pauline Taylor (b. 10 Mar 1921 / d. 13 Jul 1979), grandma’s twin sister.  I believe that she lived the majority of her life in the Bethel Community of Smith Co. MS.

I have heard stories of how she loved her Lord and how she loved her children ( see History of Carey Taylor Smith) and would protect them at all cost, even from her husband, Eulon John Smith (b. 18 Dec 1917 / d. 7 Feb 1988) as he attempted to chastise them for wrongdoings.   She would go to Sharon Baptist Church on Sundays even without Eulon.  She picked cotton with the family pulling her little ones behind her on the cotton sack.  But here are some thoughts from one of her children, my dad, Carey Smith:

“How shall I tell you of my mama?  She was born to Robert William “Bill” Taylor and Virginia Bell Butler Taylor.  She was born in Oak Grove, LA and they later moved to Burns in Smith County MS.  She was a twin.  Her twin, Thelma was a cripple all her life.  Being tied as a twin, mama always felt guilty that she could have the fruits of life like a husband and family while Thelma, Dimple to her family, was bound for life.

Mama was a beautiful woman.  Daddy said she was the prettiest bowlegged woman he had ever laid eyes on.  She grew up and married Eulon John Smith and gave him six children that lived.  She was fond of saying that she had loved only one man all her life.

She loved to have a good time.  The stories are too numerous to tell of her joking around, like dropping her false teeth down and chasing all us kids away from the house.  But when it was cold outside and the old house was freezing inside, she would warm quilts by the wood heater and bring them to your bed and stuff them around you.  Daddy said I grew up on a pallet lying beside the bed holding Mama’s finger every night.

She was a spiritual woman.  Even today, members of her Sunday School class at Sharon Baptist Church in Burns, MS still talk about what they learned from her.  When I was little Daddy said I died, but he also said that out on the back Mama was kneeling down praying.  He said nobody to pray like his wife.  His recollections of the events were that the minute she raised up off her knees, Aunt Emma said, “He’s Alive”.  Later in my life, while coming home from a date, I rolled my car three times off in a ravine.  When I got out and made the call to our neighbour’s house, Daddy came picked me up.  When we got home Mama said that at the moment I had the wreck she was awakened from her sleep and had been praying for me.  Mama was a believer in talking to God about the things of life.  She loved her Jesus!

When we would come home from the service to visit, somehow we always managed to get there after midnight.  But it didn’t matter, Mama was awake and with her duster house coat on, would meet you at the door and we’d get a Velma Hug.  There was nothing like it!  You felt her warmth, strength, and love as she pulled you to her.  Then we would all go to the kitchen, where in minutes, Mama would cook breakfast.  There was no telling her not to do it.  Mama had a way about cooking that she could make crap taste good.  Old people and young alike said no one could cook like Mrs. Smith.

At 54 years of age Mama developed pancreatic cancer.  Over the next couple of years, it ate her life away.  There is no way to describe how difficult it was to watch this grand lady go from 5’ 10” 180 pounds to nothing.  But even now, I can remember the conversations that we had about Christ, while she lay dying in the hospital bed.  In her greatest pain, you could hear her whisper, “Sweet Jesus”.  All my life there was nothing that Mama could not take care of.  No problems to great or small, but now as I relive watching her life ebb away all I can do is thank God that he allowed me to be her child.

There are no words to describe this Saint of God.  Even now, her memories bring floods of tears to my eyes.  Her love was so great, her strength so strong, her influence so positive, that I can’t bear reflecting on it for any length of time.  I do remember this, on the day we took Mama’s body to its final resting place at Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, overlooking their first home, it was raining.  A dismal day to match the way that I was feeling.  Then when the service was over, as we drove from the cemetery the sun broke through.  I do not remember it ever being any brighter or clearer.  God let Mama shine her light on us one more time.”  What else about a mother could a man say?  All I know is that I need to continue on with their story. 

Ok, Eulon and Velma’s first child was Jerry John Smith.  Jerry was born 28 Jun 1938 in Smith Co. MS.  Being born just after the depression, although the Smith family may not have known it was over, Jerry grew up always wanting more than he had.  He became one of the rebel boys, like James Dean.  Wayward and with little direction, he became mixed up with the wrong crowd and eventually began doing the wrong things.  He was convicted of some minor offences yet was placed in the Mississippi Penitentiary at Parchman till he was given parole in early 1965.  He soon met and married Ms. Bettie Bernice Heidelberg (b. 11 Mar 1942).  Together they had one child, Angela Smith.  Angela was born on 24 Oct 1965.  In 1966, Jerry left Bettie a few months after their child was born and returned to the wrong crowd.  Consequently, Uncle Jerry was shot and killed just two years later on 2 Jan 1967.  Bettie has since remarried to a Mr. Horn for quite some time now and is still living in Mississippi.  Angela married on 19 Jul 1987 to Charles Dewayne Pike who was born on 25 Oct 1963.  They have two children between them: Troy Christopher Pike (b. 31 Oct 1988) and Charles Houston Pike (b. 19 May 1993).  They currently reside in Mississippi as well.  Jerry’s life was so interesting that we have put together a full length paper on him.  To read more about Jerry’s life, click on the following link, Jerry John Smith.

The second child was none other than the infamous Major Larry Cooper Smith.  Uncle Larry was born 5 Oct 1942 in Smith Co. MS.  He is still alive and kicking.  Just from memory, he grew up much the way most poor kids did; on the farm.  Dad has told me stories of grandpa being sick and Uncle Larry working to support the family.  At one stage he was the only one in the family with a job.  As we found out earlier, he told us of riding bikes to his grandfather’s house, Vander, to get some farm equipment repaired; so we know he did have some fun back then.  Which came first I don’t know, but he was married and joined the military later in life.  He married Ms. Carrie Jeanette Ross.  Together they had two children:  Michael Keith Smith and Lisa Charmane Smith.  We will talk more about them in a minute.  Uncle Larry joined the Air Force which was good and decent job to support a family.  He was an enlisted man for a few years, but was able to get into the last class ever offered that took some enlisted men through a bit of training and they came out not only as officers, but as a Captain.  He worked in Supply for years and was stationed in Jackson, MS.  Some time later, he was promoted to the rank of Major.  Before he retired from the military he was transferred to be the commander of the Logistics squadron in Jackson, MS.  I remember when I was thinking about joining the military; he took me through the base and filled me in on a few things so I could make my decision.   After I did join, I went through basic training and off to TECH School.  When I was there, he came all the way out to Texas and made arrangements with the commander of my post to take me out to dinner.  My commander made the announcement during a roll call and everyone knew.  It was pretty cool.  They told me I was still supposed to salute him any way.  We went to the local Denny’s and had breakfast at 10:00 pm at night.  I will never forget him for that.  Larry and Carrie’s first child was Michael.  Mike was a very smart kid.  He was born 30 Dec 1964 at St. Dominic's Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi.  He graduated at Brandon Academy, Brandon, Mississippi in 1982 ranking the top 10 in the Nation.  Mike  then went to the University of Mississippi, graduating in 1988 with degrees in English literature and marketing.  Mike at one time entertained the idea to be a writer, but he changed his mind and has pursued a career as a Doctor in Medicine.   During these times he met and eventually married a Ms. Amy Virginia Watson (b. 26 Apr 1964), the daughter of Dr. Wallace Watson of Florence, SC and Susan Massengill of Brookhaven, MS, on 27 May 1989 at the French Huguenot Church, Charleston, South Carolina.  Together they moved and worked/lived in Washington D.C. for a while, till they moved to Boston, MA to begin work in his pre-med studies.  Next they moved to Charleston, SC as to be closer to Amy’s family as Mike and Amy were about to be parents.  He and Amy have one child, Elizabeth Cameron Smith who was born 15 Dec 1996 in Mt. Pleasant, SC at East Cooper Hospital in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Mike continued his studies at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston, SC between 1998 and 2002 when he graduated with his M.D.  He then began Psychiatry residency training in 2002 at MUSC, was awarded the post of Chief resident for 2006 – 2006 and has started child and adolescent fellowship in 2005.

Larry and Carrie’s second child, Lisa, was born 3 Sep 1971 near Brandon, MS.  She was the smart girl of the school and was cheerleader, I believe.  She and I were so close in age, we were good friends when we were younger.  She has however grown up and married.  She is married to Todd Stephen Smith (b. 24 Jun 1970) on 29 Jun 1996.  They have one child, Thomas Cooper Jenkins, who was born 30 Oct 2003.

The third child of Eulon and Velma was Linda Elaine Smith who was born 16 Jan 1946.   Linda was like her brother, Jerry.  She was a bit of a Rebel.  Linda first married Mr. Flynn Tanner.  But that marriage didn’t last very long.  She next married a very good man, Paul Johnson.  Linda and Paul were together for a number of years.  Paul was born on 27 Mar 1934 in Pelahatchie, MS. They were married in 1965 in Vicksburg, MS.  Just two years later on 10 Jul 1967, they had their first child, Donna Lynn Johnson.  She was born at Madison General Hospital in Canton, MS.   They had a second child, Craig Johnson born about 1971.  Linda has spent her life in and out of hospitals and clinics.  She has been married at least 7 times and is believed to have had a third child (older than the other two) yet no one knows her whereabouts.  As I have been unable to get in contact with Linda, this is all I can expand on for her.

The next child of Eulon and Velma was named Perry Smith (b. 1947) but he died not too long after being born.  The fifth child was Carey T. Smith, aka. - Dad.  We will save him for last. 

The sixth child was Aunt Ginny, or other wise known as Virginia Eileen Smith.  My aunt Jenny (b. 3 Dec 1951) was the glue of the family.  She is the one who scheduled family reunions, Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays, and just about everything else the family did as a whole.  She has a zest, for lack of a better word, for life.  She affected every one she came in contact with in a positive manner.  I remember she would be so organized at family functions, that she would always have everyone’s name on their own cup, in neat little letters.  I remember she hated the sight of birds.  Her story was that when she was a little girl, she saw a chicken being laid on the chopping block to be killed for supper.  When the head was chopped off the chicken fell to the floor and as anyone who had done the same could tell you the nerves of the bird still move.  To a little girl seeing bird run around with its head cut off would have been too much.  I am not sure that I actually seen her ever eat chicken.  When dad would tell us boys to load up, we were heading to Aunt Jenny’s we were always excited.  I knew we would get to see our cousins to play.  

After the Smith family moved to Canton, MS, she met and married Terry McFarland (b. 1 Jan 1948) also from Canton, MS on 25 Sep 1971and they lived there for the rest of her life.  Terry was in Law Enforcement all his life.  He began as a deputy sheriff to sheriff of Madison Co. and eventually became an officer in the Mississippi Highway Patrol.  He was good to her and stood by her through all her trouble in the end.  He looks tough but deep down inside Aunt Jenny turned him into mush.  Together they produced a son, Christopher Alan McFarland (b. 30 Nov 1975 in Jackson, MS).  Chris has now grown up and married.  On 23 Oct 2004 in Lexington, MS, Christopher married Ms. Crystal Rea Alford. 

Dad had this to say about his sister:

     “Ginny was the first of the Smith clan to be born in a hospital. [She was also the first in our immediate family to go to college].  She was born during our stay in New Orleans.  (Thus her Daddy called her his “little Diego”)  She grew up on a farm with the rest of her family, experiencing all the joys of picking, shelling and canning beans.  Killing, scraping and cutting up fresh pork.  I do not remember her ever liking any of that.  In my estimation she was the slowest butter bean picker ever. 
    After the family moved to Canton, Ginny met and married Terry McFarland and they had one son, Christopher.  Ginny was a natural at being married.  She loved it.  She adored her husband and without reservation loved her son.  During the 80’s she developed an interest in the truths of the Scriptures.  She made an in-depth study of “The Sovereignty of God” and “The Atonement Purchased by Jesus Christ”.  Finally, all life began to make sense to her.  She would need all this in the next few years.  In the nineties she was diagnosed with breast cancer and after a two year struggle, passed at the age of 42.  Ginny died 6 Sep 1996.
    At her funeral, her legacy was clear.  The Center Terrace Baptist Church in Canton MS would seat hundreds.  It was filled to capacity, with people standing inside and out.  Her sister, Darlene, sang and her brother, Carey, preached the funeral.  Her casket entered and left the building to the song of the Halleluiah Chorus.  She had touched the lives of so many with her grace, charm, and sincere care of them.  She lived and died a loving wife, mother, and sister.  She loved family and loved to have them around.  The passing of Virginia McFarland left a void in our family which can never be filled.”
    As dad said there were many people at the funeral.  As a matter of fact I am still amazed at the respect shown to her even at death.  My last memory of her included a funeral parade of not only around 50 cars or so of passenger cars, but I lost count of all the Highway patrol cars that preceded us with their lights on.  There had to have been over 40.  She was a remarkable woman.”

Then the last child of Eulon and Velma was Aunt Darlene.  She was born Vera Darlene Smith on 12 Jun 1957 in Forest, Scott Co., MS.  I wrote to her in early 2005 and asked her to tell me a little about her life and family and the following is her recount:

    “It's so funny thinking back on our childhood.  We were so poor, but I didn't realize it.  The house we lived in at Brandon, Mississippi didn't have running water or a bath room.  We had a room that served the purpose of a bathroom, but it didn't have a tub, sink or toilet.  It had a shelf on the wall that held the wash pan Daddy used to shave with and a mirror above it.  We had a big metal wash tub that Mama would fill with hot water that she heated on the stove for our baths.  We had a pot with a lid that was used for the toilet.  Carey HATED having to empty that everyday.  It is so weird to think that in my lifetime I lived in a house with no indoor plumbing.  We had a well in the back yard for our water.  There was no air conditioning, central heat, dryers and the like.  We did have a washing machine.  It was the kind with the rollers that you ran the clothes through to squeeze out the excess water.  We raised most everything we ate.  Mama worked so hard canning and freezing food.  Our home was clean as a whistle.  Even though we had the bare essentials, our home was filled with music, dancing, food, friends, family and love.  We had friends that had the extras but people were drawn to our home.  Mama made everyone feel welcomed. 

    My mother was a wonderful woman.  She was one of the most spiritual people I have ever known.  I never heard her say one curse word or express a negative thought about anyone.  She was a hard worker and the most wonderful cook ever.  She loved her family especially her grandchildren.  She died from pancreatic/colon cancer two weeks before I graduated from high school.  I wish so often that I could know her now that I’m an adult.  The things I remember most about her are: reading the bible; rocking the grandchildren and the songs she sang to them; the good food she cooked; her off key singing in church; her shyness when daddy would kiss her in front of us; her grieving when Jerry (my brother) was killed; cleaning house on Saturdays until EVERYTHING sparkled; on her death bed telling Michael to take care of her little girl.
    We moved to Canton, Mississippi when I was in the third grade.  We thought we were something.  We had running water.....hot and cold.  We could wash dishes without having to heat the water on the stove.  We even got a real washing machine.  No dryer though, we still hung the clothes out to dry. Not long after we moved to Canton, my oldest brother - Jerry, was shot and killed while attempting to rob a store.  That was the first time I ever saw Daddy cry.  That was a really hard time for Mama and Daddy.  Daddy always tried to put on a tough guy act, but he had a tender side, too.  One of the best memories I have of him happened one afternoon at our home in Canton.  The family that lived across the street had several children.  Their dad had bought them two or three used bicycles.  Daddy was outside working in the yard and I was across the street trying to get them to let me ride their bikes.  After an hour or so, Daddy called me home and told me to get in the truck.  He didn't tell me why, I just got in.  He drove to one of the local stores downtown and bought me a brand new, banana seat bike with a basket and streamers on the handle bars. He had seen enough.  He wasn't going to watch me beg them to ride their bikes. It was awesome.  He also had a mean streak. When I was about two years old, I picked out a puppy dog and named him Poochie.  He was wonderful and very protective of me.  When I was old enough to go to school, he would always meet me at the end of the long driveway when I got off the school bus each day.  One day he didn’t meet me. I was soon to find out that Daddy had gone coon hunting and Poochie kept interfering with his coon dogs – so he shot him.  To him it was just an animal. 
    I had a normal childhood.  Started working when I turned sixteen at Fred's Dollar Store.  It was nice earning my own money.  I paid my school tuition (Canton Academy), car insurance, gas, clothes, etc.  It felt so good to be able to contribute.  In 1971, my future husbands' brother - Jim Pate - came to Canton as the pastor of the church where we belonged - Calvary Baptist.  Michael came from Birmingham that summer to visit Jim and his wife Bea.  We met each other at church.  After he went back to Birmingham, we began writing letters to each other.  When he was old enough to drive, he would come to Canton to visit me during spring breaks and the Christmas holidays.  We basically fell in love through our letters. (I still have every letter he sent me)  After Michael graduated from high school, he joined the Army in hopes that we could marry sooner.  I graduated in May of 1975 and we married in August.  Three days after we married he flew out to Erlangen, Germany.  I wasn't able to get over there until November.  Ever since I had seen pictures of Germany from Uncle Claude's stay over there during and after World War II, I had wanted to go to Germany.  It is a beautiful and clean country and the food was absolutely wonderful.  I was only 18 years old but so very much in love.

    I had to grow up quickly because in mid April of 1976, we were blessed with a baby boy.  David Brian Pate was born April 16 in Nuremburg, Germany.  He was so precious.  It didn't take me long to spoil him rotten.  Being overseas away from family and friends, not being able to socialize much, he was basically my entertainment.  I'd bathe, dress, feed, rock and sing to him all day.  He had my undivided attention.  He was most definitely a mama's boy.  This came back to haunt me when we arrived back in the states….he wouldn't have anything to do with anyone for a long time.  He was always on my hip. 

    When we got back to Birmingham in 1977, we came with absolutely nothing but our clothes.  We stayed with Michael's Mom and Dad until he got a job and we found an apartment in Center Point – a little suburb on the eastern side of Birmingham.  He started working for American Cast Iron and Pipe Co. (ACIPCO) in April of 1977 and I began working as a receptionist/bookkeeper for Pizitz Beauty Salon.  I only worked there for a short time before I took a job as a bank teller with Compass Bank (Central Bank back then).  Before I ever actually began working for them, I was pregnant with son number two.  I worked up until it was time to deliver.  Michael Robin (Rob) Pate was born December 21, 1978 at Brook Wood Hospital in Birmingham. He was a butterball weighing in at 9 lbs. 12 oz. I had to push his little belly in so I could zip the outfit up that he was to wear home.  Needless to say, I had learned a valuable lesson in raising son number one....do not spoil son number two.  Very important lesson.  As soon as I was able to go back to work, I did.  When Rob was one year old, I found out I was pregnant with son number three.  Only back then we didn’t find out the sex of the babies like they do now.  Phillip Edward Pate, born September 17, 1980 was supposed to be my little girl.  I was so upset when they told me it was another boy....little did I know the joy that sweet little boy would hold for me.  He was the best child and has grown into one of the most tender hearted and appreciative people that I know.

    When I was pregnant with Phillip, we moved to a house in Trussville.  We had to have more room.  It was a nice little home, with a big yard on a quite street.  One day out of the blue we received notice that the house had been sold and we had 30 days to move.  Phillip was about five or six months old.  We didn't know what we were going to do.  We were just a young couple with three small children and one modest income.  We were fortunate to find a home that was almost finished being built that was affordable for us.  We were so thankful!  We didn’t think that we would be in this house for long.   It was just a plain-jane house with four small bedrooms, two baths, a teeny, tiny kitchen, about 16 steps leading to the front door, a terrible yard - full of rocks and it sat next door to an apartment complex.  You’ve heard the saying “Home is Where the Heart Is” - well, we raised our boys in that home and lived there for 22 years. We were so involved in church, community sports and school activities that the years were gone before we knew it.  I know the boys probably wished they lived in a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood, but they never said anything. Their friends were at the house a lot. Some liked it better than at their own homes.  We always had something good to eat.  I love to cook and entertain and I love for people to feel at home when they’re in my house.  One of the best memories I have is our Friday night get-togethers.  When the boys were playing high school football, we would invite their friends and ours over to eat and watch the local TV sports highlights reel from the night’s games.  We were crammed in our small home, but it was so much fun.

    We were very blessed that Rob and Phillip both were offered football scholarships to Auburn University. These years were filled with travelling, tailgating and meeting new friends. It was amazing to watch the boys grow and mature during this time. After Rob's sophomore year at Auburn, he and his girlfriend from eighth grade were married.  Dana Howa and Rob were married in July 1999 and in June of 2001, God blessed us all with the birth of their daughter - Claire McKinley.   Their 2nd daughter - Ellie Brooklyn was born April 21, 2005. After raising three boys, I am loving these granddaughters.  Rob is in his 2nd year of Optometry school at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and Dana teaches 4th grade. 

    My youngest, Phillip is engaged to Katie Vest and they are to be married June 18th, 2005.  Phillip is teaching 6th grade history and is the Defensive Coordinator for the Douglas High School football team in Douglas, Alabama.  Katie is an Admissions Counsellor at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. They met two summers ago at City Stages.  It wasn't long before Phillip knew she was the one.  We are so glad to welcome her to our family.

    David – my oldest - has been living in Florida for about four years now.  He has a steady girlfriend and recently went from managing a sports bar to the tile business.   He loves it down there. He has bought a boat and spends his free time fishing.  Twenty miles out in the ocean is not my idea of fun, but he seems to really like it. 

    My husband, Michael - is a Fire Lieutenant with the City of Birmingham and thinks of retiring next April.  I'm not so sure about that.  I served as the office manager of our old church – Center Crest Baptist for almost 18 years. After the children were grown and gone, I left there and went to work for the City of Hoover (www.hooveral.org) in February, 2000.  I started working in the Court Office but transferred to the Human Resources Department three years ago.
    Michael and I moved to Chelsea, AL in July 2003.  We just love it out here.  We will celebrate out 30th wedding anniversary this August 29.  It seems so unreal that thirty years have past so quickly.  We have been so blessed through the years. The Lord truly made us for each other and I’m so thankful everyday for what we have.  Yes, after thirty years – I still love to hear his car pull up at the end of the day.  I pray my children and my grandchildren will all be able to find their one true love to share their lives with and be as happy as we have been.
    May each of you that read this know that our family has very strong religious beliefs.  I can’t ever remember a time growing up that we weren’t in church.  There was never a question of whether or not we would go to church on Sundays – that was just a given.  I’m so thankful I had a mother that took me to church, that instilled in me the values that I have today.  I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to be taught about Jesus and that I live in a country where I have been free to worship.  My prayer is that if you have not received Christ as your personal Saviour, you will seek and find Him.  I pray this for all of our generations.”

I really don’t think I could add anything else to this.  I wish I could written this good about every one in our family.  So now we have been through every child except one, Carey T. Smith.

Born May 18, 1949 to Velma Earlene Taylor  giving birth to her 5th child, she would have two more during her child bearing years, and Eulon John Smith.  [The picture shows Dad on the left, Darlene in the middle, and Larry on the right taken in 2004]. He was born a sickly baby and Eulon said that while he was a young child he died for an instant as his Aunt Emma Smith Burns (b.17 Apr 1910 / d. 8 Apr 1996) held him.  Whether he was actually dead or not I only have this story to bear witness, but whatever the case, I always believed that God had a purpose in his life.  He was named Kerry Taylor Smith by his parents for it was to rhyme with the other boys: Jerry John, Larry Cooper, Perry John, and Kerry.  However, Dr. Corsey changed the spelling to Carey without telling anyone.  He is shown here in the picture on the left with Darlene in the middle and Larry on the right.  All my family members called him KT for knew no different till he went to school and found out that his recorded name was Carey.  Still to this day he is known among the family as KT.

Dad was born into a desperately poor family.  This time was marked by many as the end of World War II but it was marked at the Smith house by the coming of the first refrigerator.  Because of his illness, Grandpa said he had to have medicine and things cold.  Up to that time the ice man came by and they used ice to keep things cool. The old house was not much, a framed building built up off the ground some 2 feet with no ceilings and just one side was covered with planks.  The floors had no covering on them and my uncle Larry says dad used to drop forks and spoons through the holes in the floor and he would have to crawl under the house to get them. 
His earliest memory was going to the cotton field with the family, there only source of income.  Eulon would try to raise, pick, and gin 4 to 5 bales each year.  This provided the cash to buy the necessities: flour, coffee, sugar, etc.  The family would buy on credit from Hershel Muckleraft and then when the cotton came in, pay him off.  Grandpa often said that we owed our lives to Hershel.  Dad’s earliest memory was of his mama setting him on her cotton sack (about 14 feet long) and dragging him up and down the rows as she filled the sack with cotton.  He also remembers his first cotton sack, it was a croaker’s sack (burlap sack) with a string for a sling, but he picked very little cotton.  Dad also recalls many other things (1) the old drilled well that Gr-Grandpa Vander Smith (b. 9 Dec 1889 / d. 30 Dec 1970) had behind their house in the Bethel Community in rural Smith County; (2) about 1954 his first ride to New Orleans in the back of Grandpa’s old pick-up truck where he was thrown out and ran over; (3) being sent to New Orleans to live with his aunt and uncle [Morris (b. 16 Nov 1900 / d. 8 Nov 1994)and Vera (b. 28 Jun 1909) Raitman, one Velma Taylor’s sisters].  It was Morris that gave dad the nick name Champ.  He says he can still hear him asking, “Champ, do you really want to go back up there to hockey country?”; (4) going to school in Burns, MS and the fights and spankings he would get; (5) the selling of their favourite mule, Shorty, to make the down payment on a television.  They were one of the last families to get a TV in our area.  The Vilas Arender family lived down the road and they had the first TV he remembers.  These were just a drop in the bucket of stories he tells (each deserving of their own history page).  Dad was a regular Tom Sawyer.

Dad grew up, going to school at Burns, MS till 1957, spent 3 months in Jackson schools, then moved to Brandon, MS from the 3rd grade to the 10th grade, then the final move to Canton, MS where he graduated from Canton High School in 1967, and joined the Air Force about 1968 and became an Aircraft mechanic.  He was honourably discharged in 1974 as a SSGT.  It was while stationed in California that he met mom, Karen Lea Marsh  while at his second job at the all male McDonalds, and eventually married her on 20 Jun 1970.    He was transferred to Oklahoma (Altus AFB) after reenlisting for another 2 years and also entered into a seminary school to begin preaching.  This is where I came along as well as my brother (see History of Jerry A. Smith).  After many more moves through OK and MS, he ended up in 1980 at Little Rock, Newton Co., MS and there he remained for 21 yrs.  He was the pastor of Greenland Baptist Church and became the Director of Store Operations at TWL, Inc.  Around 1999, TWL closed its doors for good due to the overwhelming growth of Wal-Mart and dad became self-employed as an insurance salesman and part time Entrepreneur. In 2001, he and my mother split after 31 years.  He now is remarried to a Ms. Carla Fleming and living in Pearl, MS.  This is only a brief history and can and will be followed up with later histories.  Dad wished to conclude as follows:

    “In my life there have been mountains and valleys.  But know this for sure, that God has been the Great Master who has moved my life to accomplish His eternal purpose.  It is the relationship that He gave me with His Son, Jesus Christ that has most effected and moved my life.  

In the autumn of my life, I find great comfort in my family: My faithful and adoring wife, Carla; My children: Jerry and Jimmy and their mates, Kim; My Grand Children: Jessica, Zak, Mickey, Austin, Madison, Jarrod, and Alexander.  My step children: Kristi, Carl and Melanie.

While History has left out our family in many ways, know this: There was a clan of people that had a zest for living.  In our ignorance we scaled life's peeks, ignoring the dangers.  In our intellect we tasted the wealth of history.  With our vision we prepared each generation for its future.  And By Faith we have touched the hand of God.”

My mom, Karen Lea Marsh, is a wonderful person.  Her life began in San Bernardino, CA on 23 May 1951, the daughter of Richard S. Marsh (b. 1928 / d. 2003) and Orlea Shirley Jones (b. 1928 / d. 2003).  She was the first of three children that followed: Richard “Ricky” S. Marsh Jr. (b. 1953 / 2003) and Annie Marsh (b. 1960).    The only story of her childhood that I can remember her telling was when her father smacked her with a leather razor strap.  She told me that she never got a smack again.  She was born into a family with modest means, as grandpa was a well educated man.  She graduated high school at Eisenhower High School in Rialto, CA with a class of over 700 people. 

After graduation, she began to attend nursing school.  One night, while out with one of her girlfriends at McDonalds (which was at this day and age, an all male operated McDonalds), she met my dad.  Her girlfriend was to go on a date with one of the employees at McDonalds, but would not go alone.  She said she would only go out with him on a double date.  The guy went back in and asked dad, Carey T. Smith who was working there part time while in the Air Force, to go on a double date with him by taking out her friend, my mom.    On their date, mom spilt Orange juice all over his pants.  Mom thought this was the last time she would see him, but apparently it sealed their fate.  He dropper her off at her house after the date and she asked him if she would ever see him again.  As the appropriate answer from any well groomed Smith would have been, he replied, “You never know!”  The following year they marred on 20 Jun 1970.  Dad took her back home to Mississippi to meet his family.  Being of modest means, meeting my dad’s poor family was a culture shock for her.  The comment I have heard many times was that when she met my grandmother, Velma, mom was given the seal of approval because she had great teeth. 

From here, Dad was transferred from Norton AFB in CA to Altus AFB in OK.  And as a bright light, this is where I came on the scene on 16 July 1971.  Mom said that they were so poor that they could not afford a refrigerator, but it got so cold there that they would put my milk out on the porch to keep it cold (she said some nights it would freeze).  Mom always wanted two things: Family and Security.  Funny how these same things are all I ever wanted.  The Lord began to work in dad’s life and he joined the seminary.  With dad preaching at various places, mom never really worked anywhere and just took care of her family.  It was very hard for her, but she stood by dad.  A few years later, my brother, James Aaron Smith came along with many medical problems.  Mom says they don’t know how they made it through those years other than the Lord watching over them.  After moving around the country several more times (more than I care to remember), from California in 1970 they finally settled in Little Rock, MS in Sept. 1980.  Here we lived in the church parsonage.  Mom had her family, but still no security (a house).  She worked a few part time jobs to help pay the bills, ranging from a clerk at Sears, a cashier at Sunflower grocers, a clerk for the electric company, a bookkeeper for the Union High School cafeteria, and a stint as an inventory clerk for TWL retails stores.  Her main and most important job was taking care of us kids (and did a great job as far as I am concerned). 

As Jim and I got older and were doing our own things and dad being busy with work and pasturing, I believe mom and dad just drifted apart.  In Aug of 2001, dad called and said they were getting a divorce after 31 years of marriage.  It all happened so quickly that before Christmas mom was living in Nashville, TN close to Jimmy and me.   I moved to Australia that same year.  The following year, Jim and his wife divorced.  The following year after this, mom’s Father died.  Grief stricken, only two weeks after his death, Mom’s brother overdosed and died.  This was devastating to my mother, but to top it off with in two months after her father died, her mother died as well (out of loneliness).  Other than her children, Jim and I, her only living relatives were her sister Annie’s family.  Mom is still living in Nashville and working for an Insurance company.  To this day and even in this history I implore her to come live with me in Australia.  She has endured many trials in her life and has triumphed; she is still standing.  I am so proud of her.  She will always have her family: Her sons, Jerry A. Smith and James “Jimmy” A. Smith; Her grandchildren, Jessica Whittaker (b. 1990), Zak Whittaker (b. 1991), Makenzie T. Smith (b. 1997), Austin Atchison (b. 1997), Madison Smith (b. 1999), and Jarrod Smith (b. 2004).  Her security is in the Lord.

Mom and dad had two wonderful children, one of which I know quite well (that was supposed to be funny – you were supposed to laugh).  My brother, James Aaron Smith, a.k.a. Jimmy, was born 2 June 1976 in Oklahoma City, OK.  His life has been full of dramas since birth it’s a wonder he is still alive.  Being born with a few medical problems and having three surgeries before he was even one year old, he has proven to be fighter.  Dad, Carey T. Smith has told us stories that Jimmy would forget to breathe as a baby and he had to stay awake at night to thump Jimmy making him wake up and remember to breathe.  After things were settled down, our parents moved us to Clinton, OK then to Watson, OK where dad was to pastor Sulpher Springs Baptist Church.  After a year and a bit, dad moved us to Canton, MS and then a few months later to Union, MS and then a few months after this about September 1980 to a few miles down the road to Little Rock, Newton Co., MS where we spent the most of our lives. 

It was here at Greenland Baptist Church in Little Rock that Jimmy earned his nickname “Tex” from the church members when he showed up for church in a cowboy outfit.  From here he began his image and rebel ways.  Up until around 1983, my brother, due to his medical problems, had not tasted any sugar.  Meaning he never tasted a Coke, chocolate bar, or candy.  If he was close to 6 or7 years of age, I was at the age of 11 or 12, and I remember it clearly when momma, Karen Lea Marsh bought him his first candy bar and coke – I was proud for him.   He lived a relatively quiet life up until high school, except when he was being bashed by me for always messing with my stuff.  I believe I still have photo somewhere with him asleep on the toilet still holding his drum sticks and practice pad.  In high school he had already joined the band and was quite good, although annoying at home, at playing the drums; snare, bass, and most other percussion.  His only other real annoyance was his determination to perfect his image.  He wouldn’t wear anything that did not have brand name on it.  His motto was “Image is everything” from the old cannon camera ad with Andre Agassi. Jim graduated high school in 1994.  He obtained a band scholarship to Livingston University in Alabama.  Here he learned freedom and the ability to party.  He learned to stretch these new found skills.   He then transferred to East Central Community college and started classes towards medicine.   He did fairly well here, as long as he went to school.  The party man inside never left him, for he is the only man I know who can drive from MS to NC and return on a weekend ski trip and only spend $20.  It was here though that he discovered his passion for Para-medicine.  During his travels pushing himself working, school, and partying, Jim was driving down the I-20 and fell asleep at the wheel.  The next thing he knew was he was crawling out of his car in woods.  He crawled up to the road and hitched a ride back home.  He later went back out to the crash site (being battered and bruised) and discovered that he had flown off the road and snapped a pine tree in half over at about the 20 ft. mark.  The Lord has been watching out for my brother all his life.  He inquired and was accepted into the University of Mississippi Medical School in Jackson, MS and eventually graduated as a Paramedic.  While in Jackson, he met and married a Ms. Melanie R. Loper (b. 1974) in 1998 that had a three month old son (the father had died a week after his birth in a car accident).  They packed up and moved to Nashville, TN where Jim worked for Sumner County Ambulance Service.  It was here that Jim bought his first house in White House, TN and made me an Uncle.  From now on, Uncle UJ, Jerry A. Smith was in love with his nephew Austin Chase Atchison (b. Aug 1997) and Niece Madison Rebecca Smith (b. 18 May 1999).   Jimmy from here transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN to participate in pilot program to institute Paramedics as Emergency Room (Registered) Nurses and had done this for almost 5 years.  In 2002, Jim and Mel divorced.  Madison lives with her mother, but Jim is living near by.  He has moved to Brentwood, TN and is still single.  He now works for the City of Nashville Fire Department as a paramedic.

Then there was me.  So, who am I?  Born 16 July 1971, at an Air Force Base in the metropolis of Altus, OK, my life began on the move.  Moving a total of 15 times that I can ac count for in 30 years, keeping in mind that 7 were before I was age 9 and that I spent 14 years in one place between ages 9 - 23, I grew to be independent or self-reliant and basically a loner.  I thought, I learned, and explored things mentally on my own, drawing mostly from observations of others.  My parents were excellent.  We were not a wealthy family and was not exposed to many things I will call “stuff”; therefore, I never missed anything, nor did I ever need for anything.  Mom was always there at home teaching, caring, and loving for my brother and I.  Dad never once failed to provide what we needed from food, clothes, shelter, to theology.  It was tough and very tight, but I am here now healthy, apparently of sound mind, and happy.  I grew up knowing that stability existed only within the immediate family.  I came to rely heavily on my family for my foundation in life.  Once older, in high school (grad. 1989 at Union High School, Union, MS), I developed myself off of this foundation.  My independence allowed me to silently achieve many things from semi-popularity in high school to graduation of college (MS State Univ. 1993 with Bachelors of Economics) to 10 yrs in the military (SSGT Jerry A. Smith, US Air Force NG, 1989-1995 and SGT Smith, US Army NG, 1995-1998).  Up until now, I was allowed to think freely but was guided through my parent’s teachings; I had achieved most everything I needed to up until this point.  Now that I had my foundation, it was up to me to do the rest. 

I valued family so much, that I wanted my own.  I even turned down free education in the states for a chance at this dream.  Mr. Hall, dad’s former employer and my own, asked me to come and see him at his office.  We scheduled a meeting and he explained that every so often he offered to pay for the education of promising people he knew.  I already had my bachelor’s degree, as he was offering to pay for my Masters.  I do regret somewhat not taking him up on that offer, but at the time having my own family took priority as he respected that.  Shortly afterwards, I was married to Ms. Julie Jo Ruth (b. 17 Nov 1974) from Louisville, MS on 15 Oct 1994 in Winston Co. MS.   Along the way, God blessed me with my first son, Makenzie Taylor Smith (b. 23 Sep 1997 in Meridian, MS), of whom I love very much.  He made me a father.  He was torn away from me at age 1, when my Julie left me and took him with her in Jan 1999.  After much battle, divorce was the final result in Oct. 1999.  This was devastating to me in all accounts.  A year after trying to cope and do many things I should not have done, I moved, again, to Tennessee where my brother lived to start fresh.  I moved in with two other guys just outside of Nashville.  These two guys were work mates with my brother (Jim and Scotty).  I worked at the Family Dollar as a manager while Jim was a paramedic with my brother.  Scotty was a fireman at the same post as Jim and Jimmy.  Our schedules were such that they were never there at the house when I was.  I had the whole house to myself.  I had a lot of time to think and ponder.  There I began to discover who I was and fine-tune what I wanted or needed in life, through writing, poetry and just contemplating life.  As I was one to keep things inside, the only way I could release these pressures inside was through writing.   These pressures just kept mounting.   During this time, not only did I get divorced; I lost my family union I grew up with.  Mom and dad after 31 years of marriage were divorced.  My life was falling apart, but the Lord was watching over me still and within the same year I met Kim Marie Baker (b. 11 Aug 1969 in Sydney, Australia) and over several, countless conversations I started to fall in love with a woman who met my needs and wants.  She, however, lived in Australia.  With a will to change my situation, I left the states and came to Australia to meet what I knew in my heart to be a sure thing.  I knew that leaving meant that I would not see my family and more importantly, my son.  Never, was my intention to abandon him.  The move to Australia proved to be one of the three best things I have ever done in my life.  Number one was joining the miliary.  I learned and grew up so much from joining the military.  Not only did I learns skills such as being an aircraft mechanic, get to see and experience new places and cultures, it taught me self reliance, self sacrifice, and that there were greater things out there than myself.  It even helped me realize how much family was important to me.  Number two was becoming a father.  It is a life changing experience to become a father.  You think you know love and have feelings for others, but when you have that little one in your arms that you know came from you, who depends completely on you and loves you back for it.  It is the greatest gift God ever gave men on earth – Children.  And the third was as I mentioned earlier was marrying Kim Baker with children Jessica Whittaker (b. 12 Jan 1990) and Zak Whittaker (b. 21 May 1991).  And now there is one more reason, our new child, Jarrod Austin Smith (b. 16 July 2004 – My Birthday too).  There were smaller events that equal up to the whole story that were great experiences since I have been with Kim. 

I came to Australia with nothing but some clothes and the means to get back home if I needed to.  I had been talking to Kim over the phone for months.  She had called to speak to a room mate of mine back in TN, but as he was never home and I was always there I was the one who was answering the phone.  I felt that Kim was a remarkable woman and if she was half the woman I thought she was I had to meet her.  That voice of hers could get a man to do just about anything.  I felt so strongly about it, that I quit my job, bought a ticket to a land I have never been, to meet a woman I have never met.  Not to mention leaving my family and all that I had ever known.  This was going to be the greatest adventure (and still is) of my life.  Kim and I were married just two months after my arrival on 16 Dec 2001.  We had her two children, our selves, no furniture other than beds, a TV the size of a toaster, and an old green bomb we called a car that reminded me of some old junk yard.  I had no job and couldn’t work till the Immigration department approved me.  Kim worked night shift as a supervisor of a radio room for a taxi company.  It was tough.  But still I have managed to get a job with an airline company.  I have travelled many places in Australia (Great Barrier Reef, Tasmania, Gold Coast, the Great Ocean Road, and many more), been deep sea fishing, Sailing, Scuba diving, took flying lessons, read more of the Bible, started our family tree, and many more things.  I won’t get into any great details; I will save that for another time. This is where I came from in the short version.  Now, why did I do the things I done?  To sound short to some, the number one answer to why I am where I am is because “I am where God has placed me.”  Next to this, all else is pale.

Up until my first marriage, the answer to why I done the things I had done was due the guidance of my parents and friends (of friends I mean the older generation of people of whom I was blessed to grow up with and around who all had a hand in raising my brother and me, Melba and Frank Smith – Ernest and Madeline Cannon).  I regret nothing these people ever taught me when growing up.  I learned many things about life up till now, especially through my divorce. The Lord set this path out before me; I didn’t choose it.  I followed and have been blessed.  As a matter of fact, I have come closer to the Lord due the fact that I have been here.  I have read the bible and started believing even better as I see him at work in my life. 

Where is he going?  I intend to give my wife what she has wanted - A mate, a child, and a house.  These things give her security as all women, I assume, think.  I will say that this is also what I wanted which is why we are still together.  I am trying to be the best husband I can.  In return I get my dream of my own family.  I still dream of my own business. Kim and I dream of owning a business on the ocean where I can fly customers to our bed and breakfast on an Island and take them scuba diving (my other hobbies include movies, reading, and writing).  Kim will do her famous cooking and possibly a shop for her crafts.  I dream of being able to pass down the business to all four of my children to help them survive in this world.  We intend to travel the world.  I dream of having Mickey come to live with me at a time of his choosing so I will feel complete.  My Lord has not seen fit to give me everything yet, but I am hopeful.  I could never complain just with the family that he has given me now – and I mean my whole family.

Master Makenzie Taylor Smith (b. 23 Sep 1997) was my first son to my first wife, Julie Jo Ruth, the official first grandson on either side – destined to be spoiled.   He was born in the evening of the 23rd at Riley Hospital in Meridian, MS.  He was so big when he came out.  He was 9lbs 1oz and about 22 inches long.  He was healthy and had all his parts.  He spent the first night in the hospital with his mother and me.  And we went home the following day.  His first address was Melvin Leach Rd., Union, MS.  The house belonged to the James Cockerham (I went to school with his daughter).  Julie has an uncle on her mother’s side of whom died at an early age that they all loved.  His name was Mickey.  Julie wanted to name Mickey, Makenzie, but call him Mickey, after his great uncle.

The doctor did say he was a bit jaundice but all we had to do was soak him in the sun a few minutes a day.  He grew up so fast.  He loved his bouncer but quickly out grew it.  He had his own room that Julie’s mother painted with balloons, and all the Noah’s ark animals all over it.  He would have thought he was living in the clouds.  Mickey took his first steps at 7 months.  He was very smart.  He learned by being told things.  If we told him something was hot, he learned not to touch it.  I can’t remember what his first word was, although it is convenient to believe it was dada. 

At just a year old, he and his mother moved to Fulton, MS into a house that we had bought.  I stayed behind until I could find a job in that area.  After many months of trying to find a job to no avail, Julie and I drifted apart and eventually divorced.  This situation proved disastrous for Mickey and me.  I was able to see him on every other weekend, but as the distance was great; it was hard.  I moved to Nashville, TN and thus increased the distance.  I tried to see Mickey as much as possible but over the years it became harder and harder for reasons I will not disclose.  I have tried to maintain contact with Mickey but over the past couple years; he has been hard to reach.  Through my father, he is allowed to see Mickey, I find out how he is doing from time to time.  I now believe his mother has disconnected the phone.  To the best of my knowledge he still lives in Fulton, MS.

Master Jarrod Austin Smith (b. 16 July 2004) is the son of Jerry A. Smith and Kim Marie Baker.  He is my second child and son and Kim’s third child, but second son. Yes he was born on his father’s birthday.  Even now, he reminds me of my father’s son.  Kim went into labor at 20:00 on 15th   He was born in Bankstown Hospital in Bankstown, Sydney, Australia in the evening about 20:00 on the 16th.  He came out about 55 cm (23 inches) and weighed 3.56 kg (7.13 lbs), healthy and had all his little parts.

Jarrod came out purple and blue and had the umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck.  When the doctor held him up he instructed me to cut the cord.  The very instant that I cut the cord Jarrod took his first breath and cried.  What a wonderful sound.  Then he stopped.  The nurses cleaned him up and had to clean out his breathing passages to start breathing again.  He immediately gained some color and I was able to hold him.  He spent that night with his mom in the hospital.  That night he stopped breathing again.  They doctor put him in the Neonatal Intensive Care for the next couple of days and came home on the third day.

Over the next 6 months he was a happy baby.  He slept most of the time and would not open his eyes for the first month.  He hated the light.  The next 5 months he was open eyed and curious.  He looks like his dad, and his pappy dubbed him Lil’ EJ (meaning Lil’ Eulon John).  But to this very day he is still our bugger bear.  Towards the 6th month he was getting frustrated because he wanted to move but hadn’t learned how to sit up or crawl yet.  During the 7th month he learned to sit up great and has learned to get on all 4’s.  He still had to work out the mechanics of crawling. At 8 months, he was burning a hole in the carpet and mad because he couldn’t stand up and getting his teeth.  By the 9th month, he was standing up on everything, not sleeping at night because the rest of his teeth were coming through.  At his first birthday party, we had him a cake and just let him dive in and make a mess.  At the age of 15 months, he was sleeping all night and a pain in the bum all day.  He was so much fun to play with and watch him learn.  He was the happiest baby and darn cute.  His favorite color seems to be red (like his mother) and loves cars and balls.  At the age of 18 months, his favorite person in the world is his big brother, Zak.  Dad is a close second, but when ever Zak is in the room, he is his shadow.  Don’t get me wrong, he loves his mother and sister too.  He can say Dada and Mum pretty good.  He calls his brother “AK” and his sister “Gek ka”.  He is learning so much so fast.

Austin Chase Atchison, the step son of Jimmy Smith, may not be of blood, but in our hearts, the Smith family knows no difference.  Once you’re in, you’re in.  There may be uncontrollable things such as divorce or even death that happens, but when you get in to the hearts of us Smith’s, to quote a song, “you can never leave”.  Master Austin was born in Aug. of 1997.  Austin’s biological dad was killed in head on car accident just three weeks after he was born.  Jim and Mel met through some friends and were dumb struck.  Jim who had no responsibilities, assumed responsibility of being a husband and a father in one swift go in 1998.  And I might add, I think did a hell of job.  Austin was growing up fast and he and Makenzie (being only one month apart in age) were fast becoming buddies.  But Jim and Mel packed up and moved to Nashville, TN.  Here Austin learned to be very athletic.  He was very coordinated child and loved to play.  You couldn’t help but love him.  He started school but began to have a bit of difficulty learning.  Melanie took him to the eye doctor and discovered he needed classes.  With the new glasses and learning to cope with the separation of Jim and Mel, he began to do better in school.  To this day he is in our hearts.  I loved him so much, that I even named my second son after him (Jarrod AUSTIN Smith).

Now Jim and Mel together had a miracle child.  No one was sure Jim was going to be able to have children after his medical problems as a child himself.  But God wasn’t worried.  He gave Jim and Mel and the rest of us a beautiful, spirited little girl.  Not only was she special in this way, she was the first granddaughter (as mom had dreamed of having a granddaughter all her life).  Jimmy gave mom this dream.  And to put the icing on the cake, she was born on dad’s birthday.  Ms Madison Rebecca Smith was born on 18 May 1999 in Nashville, TN.  She came a bit premature, but you couldn’t tell that by looking at Jim’s face holding her for the first time.  What a proud papa.  Jimmy was getting ahead of me.  He had two kids to my one.  Madison grew up feisty like her mother.  Yet she was so sweet.  When I was at Jim’s house, I would come over and play.  When I got tired, I would set down and watch TV.  Ms Madison loved her uncle UJ so much she would not say a word but crawl up into my lap, position her self like she wanted, and would fall asleep.  She was as tough as her brother (and had to be) but was as feminine and prissy as you could want a little girl.  She is going to break every boy’s heart that sees her.  I mean just look at her in the picture.  Who could say no that little face?

We are not through yet.  My dad has got two more grandchildren (step) from his first born.  I married Kim Baker in Dec. of 2001.  With this marriage I gained two wonderful children.  I am back in front now with more kids that Jimmy.  I now have four children.  You know about Makenzie and Jarrod, but you don’t know about Jessica and Zak. 

Jessica Arahi Whittaker was born on 12 Jan 1990 in New Zealand.   She has lived all of her life in Australia though.  She was born a princess as all little girls are.  She loved to play and dress up and boss her little brother around when came on the scene.  She has a heart the size of Texas but it is getting in there that is the trouble.  Once you’re in, you’re in.  Those things that make it in quick are animals.  She loves animals as if they are humans.  She is very smart and has shown this in her grades, her knowledge, and her will to learn more has grown with her.  Her brother, Zak James Whittaker, was born on 21 May 1991 in Sydney, Australia.  He is very soft spoken, kind, and even thoughtful.  He is however a boy.  And as most boys, they are (WE ARE) lazy, more interested in playing with toys and girls than school work.  Kim has created two wonderful children with huge hearts; and has raised them on her own till I came along.  Of course she did have the help of her mother, who has recently passed away in 2004.  They both went to Panania Elementary till the 6th grade and are now attending Sir Joseph Banks High School in Revesby, NSW.  Each has been to America twice and probably seen more of America than most Americans.  Kim has tried to give her children everything she could.  These two have had some experiences in life already that most never get. 

By: Jerry A. Smith,
Smith Family Researcher


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