THE SMITH FAMILY
The Smith family adopted John Thomas Phillips in 1831. As he spent 10 of his formative years with the Smiths, he obviously came to know them better than his blood relatives, even better than sisters Betsy and Martha and brother Isaac, all of whom grew up in Indiana. John's grandson Wilbur Phillips referred to three of the Smith daughters as "Aunt Julia Robertson," "Aunt Elzina Whitsitt" and "Aunt Evelyn Robertson," but went on to point out that they were related to him through the Stewarts. (Elzina also had married another relative, Joseph Whitsitt.) Wilbur does refer to "Uncle Robin Smith," but, again, Robin's sister had married Wilbur's great grandfather Stewart. Aside from these references and the family tradition that the Smiths raised John as a son, there seems to be no indication of how he felt about them. We can say only that certain things didn't happen: Robin didn't mention John in his will and, although foster brothers and sisters often marry, John didn't marry one of the Smith girls. But the latter fact reveals neither that John loved the Smith girls as real sisters or that he didn't like them. It would seem reasonable, though, that he lived out his life with special closeness to one or more of the Smith children. For that reason, here's further information about them.
Ruth Robertson, who lived in Deputy into the 1980s, provided the key to the actual identities of the characters in Our Little Old Lady: The characters Robin and Nellie King were, of course, Robin and Nellie Smith. Real-life daughter Louise was the "Little Old Lady," and her daughter was Eleanor Hoyt Brainerd. Mrs. Robertson said the Smiths had four daughters and a son. She identified the girls as Julia, Evaline, Elzina and Louise. The book mentions only two of Louise's sisters as "Peggy" and "Bess." Milton, the son, was called Joe in the book. Mrs. Robertson adds: "The boy who was the subject of the last chapter, "The Christmas Present," was John T. Phillips, whom Uncle Robin and Aunt Nellie reared to manhood."
There's some confusion about the Smith daughters that perhaps could be solved by consulting the original will and the 1840 and '50 censuses. Here is what's known about the Smith children:
SELENA SMITH was born in 1811 and died in 1826. Nothing was known of her until 1986, when Myron Phillips had Eleanor's tombstone reset. He discovered a fallen stone nearby, partly covered with grass; it is the only known record of Selena.
MINERVA SMITH seems to have been forgotten by Mrs. Robertson and Mrs. Weatherbee. Minerva isn't mentioned in family accounts but is mentioned in her father's will. She married before 1867. Perhaps she was the Minerva Smith who married John Gasaway on March 17, 1836 in Jefferson County. He was a preacher, performing marriages there and in Jennings County. He apparently was the man who performed the ceremony for John T. and Emeline.
ELZINA SMITH was born about 1822. She didn't marry until she was at least 38, then married Joseph Wright Whitsitt, who'd already had 15 children. He was born June 7, 1815 and had earlier married Elvira Foster. Besides their 15 children, he'd taken grandson Mort Spear to raise in 1865. Joseph died in 1892 and is said to be buried in Wesley Cemetery. He is not listed in the published records, though. Wilbur Phillips called Elzina "Aunt Elzina Whitsitt." Mrs. Weatherbee says Elzina married a boy from Kentucky but she apparently confused Elzina with a sister. Elzina's husband, Joseph Whitsitt, was no "boy."
EVALINE SMITH was born December 29, 1823. Her name is sometimes given as Evalina or Evelyn, but her tombstone is inscribed "Evaline." She married James Dowen (or Down) Robertson on Sept. 5, 1850. James had been born February 24, 1811. He and Evaline had a son who was a doctor, perhaps because of one of those tragic family epidemics that decimated this family. The doctor is variously identified as "Wilbur" and "David W.," so it seems likely he was David Wilbur. The 1860 census of Graham township shows James Robertson was born about 1820 and that he and Evaline had a daughter Margaret about 1855, a son Robert about 1857 and a daughter Mary late in 1859 or early in 1860. Also in their home were young men named Melville, born in 1841, and Dempster, born about 1842. There's confusion whether they were surnamed Robertson or Smith. All were born in Indiana. Published records taken from Robertson Cemetery tombstones show Evaline and James had: Asbury Robertson, who was born July 25, 1852 and died August 17, 1853; Maggie W., born February 5, 1855 and died January 26, 1861; Robert M., born May 8, 1852 and died January 12, 1861; and Mary Ann, born October 20, 1839 and died January 8, 1861. Robert's dates don't jibe but the family obviously lost three children in January 1861. Evaline and James also had a son Ellsworth, according to Ellsworth's granddaughter, Mrs. Weatherbee. James died May 1, 1886. A stone about 15 feet high marks his grave in Pisgah Cemetery. Evaline died Mary 31, 1906. Her name and dates are on the reverse side of James' stone.
MILTON L. SMITH was born about 1827. He married Martha Jane Deputy on December 7, 1850. The 1860 census of Graham twp. shows Milton L. Smith, 33, farmer; Martha J., 34; Mary E., 7; Albert, 5; Robert, 70; Eleanor, 71; and Elzina, 38. The census notes that all where born in Indiana, except Robert and Eleanor, who were born in Kentucky. Milton inherited most of his father's property in 1875 but moved to Kansas.
JULIA A. SMITH was born about 1834. On December 30, 1852, she married William F. Robertson, brother of James. He was about 13 years older than she. They had a daughter Laura about 1859, a son Ed and apparently had a stepdaughter named Elzina Crawford, but the latter is questionable. Julia's husband probably was the W.F. Robertson buried in Robertson Cemetery. His dates were March 2, 1821 to October 9, 1892. There seems to be no inscription for Julia, but the stone next to W.F.'s is broken. Also buried there is Laura, who is noted as a daughter of Wm F. & Julia A. She was born August 4, 1859 and died September 3, 1860.
LOUISE SMITH became the "Little Old Lady" of daughter Eleanor Hoyt Brainerd's book. She is said to have been born in Kentucky, and her name is often given as Louisa. She married Walter Hoyt by 1867. He was from Vermont, but was living in Indiana then. The Hoyts were well-known abolitionists and Walter's brother Lyman Hoyt founded Eleutherian College in Indiana. Louisa is said to have been youngest of the sisters, to have married one of her school teachers -- presumably surnamed Hoyt -- and to have spent her adult life in Canada, Iowa and New York City before settling in Iowa. Walter Hoyt and longtime friend John Borland opened a manufacturing business of some sort in Iowa. The family is associated with Iowa City and Plum Grove. Louisa and Walter had four children. The oldest was Addie and the youngest was Eleanor. Walter died in 1869. The Hoyt family's affluence and social connections enabled Louisa to raise the children in relative luxury. Samuel Kirkwood, Iowa's Civil War governor, lived just down the street. Many years later she married Borland, but he died six months later.
This ends the generation's discussion of the Smiths. It will be continued in the next generation.
THE SMITHS (CONTINUED)
Data on the Smiths and Robertsons is confusing and the following is an approximation only. I will have to go back to sources on Mary. Myron says Mary Ann Robertson was born October 20, 1859, not '39. This seems to make sense.
(Mary Ann Robertson apparently was Evaline's stepdaughter. She was born October 20, 1839, died January 8, 1861 and is buried in Robertson Cemetery near Deputy.)
(Melville Robertson was born in 1841. He apparently was Evaline's stepson. He apparently was the college student who hid the horses during the Morgan raid. He served in a Union regiment during the Civil War and was captured. He kept a diary during his imprisonment in Andersonville prison in Georgia, where he died in 1865. Myron Phillips says that Lucy, Eleanor and Rose Robertson had the diary until they died. Melville might be buried in Pisgah Cemetery.)
ASBURY ROBERTSON was born July 25, 1852 and died August 17, 1853. He is buried in Robertson Cemetery near Deputy. (Evaline Smith, Robin)
MARGARET W. ROBERTSON was born February 5, 1855. She was called "Maggie." She died January 26, 1861. She is buried in Robertson Cemetery near Deputy. (Evaline Smith, Robin)
MARY ROBERTSON was born late in 1859 or early in 1860 in Indiana. (Evaline Smith, Robin)
ROBERT M. ROBERTSON was born May 8, 1857 and died January 12, 1861. He is buried in Robertson Cemetery near Deputy. (Evaline Smith, Robin)
DAVID WILBUR ROBERTSON was born in 1862. He was a doctor in the Deputy area all his life and was Myron Phillips' family doctor. He died in 1958. (Evaline Smith, Robin)
ELLSWORTH ROBERTSON is remembered as the "Colonel." He was Mrs. Weatherbee's grandfather. (Evaline Smith, Robin)
MARY E. SMITH was born about 1853. (Milton, Robin)
ALBERT SMITH was born about 1855. (Milton, Robin)
LAURA ROBERTSON was born August 4, 1859 and died September 3, 1860. (Julia Smith, Robin)
ED ROBERTSON. (Julia Smith, Robin)
ELEANOR HOYT, born in 1868, was Louisa's youngest child. After college, she became a reporter, then an editor, for the New York Sun. She married Mr. Brainerd and became a popular author. Among many other things, she wrote the aforementioned Our Little Old Lady. One of her works was filmed as How Can You, Jane? in 1918. Mary Pickford was the star, and William Desmond Taylor directed. Eleanor died in 1942. (Louise Smith, Robin.)
This ends the Smith information for this generation.
Our Little Old Lady talks about "Sally Lunn," which is a bread product. Here's a link to a site that tells more: http://www.sallylunns.co.uk/new_web_site/All_Sally_web_pages/P3HistoryBrief.htm